Death of another summer

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Summer was here, and we grabbed it up, desperately squeezing each moment out of it.

We used it to race up the hill at the blue park, and learned how to roll down. We swung for hours, sometimes pumping our legs, mostly not. We chased the daylight, going fishing at dusk….and those dying rays caught the oldest boy helping the youngest catch his first fish…and throw it back. Summer watched as training wheels were removed, and another child learned balance, then speed. Summer nights taught us to catch lightning bugs, and watch them on our fingers.

We felt it ending. The heat came, finally…. but so fast we knew it would burn itself out.

We were desperate to claim every free moment of every day. Throwing it up like a kite, begging the wind to catch it and keep it up just a little more.

A million walks for ice cream. Out with the hose, spraying each other, and the car. Amusement parks, big and small. Face painting, fireworks, big girl underwear–FINALLY! Hot and sweaty stroller naps, and the crash of summer thunder storms.

Late nights, too late…. but we don’t want to waste it!!

Slipping through our fingers. Even the two year old can’t sweet talk it into staying.

A sigh.

One final week before our summer dies.

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Goodbye summer..... until next year :/

Goodbye summer….. until next year :/

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Squeezing in together time

It’s here people….. ice cream time is here!! To be very honest, the ice cream place by our house is open all year (yay!), but we generally don’t walk up there until all the snow is melted. Takes a while in Ohio….

Yesterday, was the first trip. ALL 4 kids came with me, none able to withstand the lure of blue cosmo, cookies n cream, or that peanut butter banana smoothie. I love…. LOVE when I can get the 4 of them to go somewhere with me. Especially because now, the clock is ticking. The oldest is counting down the days until she flies the coop for college, having them all together after that is going to be a lot less frequent.

So in honor of our togetherness, I forced encouraged them to smile at the camera as I tried to snap some candid moments around the ice cream table.

They are THRILLED

They are THRILLED

Most of the time, these are not amazing pictures. It is impossible to get them all to look at me, or smile, at the same time…or at all sometimes. But I keep them, because I am that emotional mom who likes to think back and start crying sometimes when I reflect on how much each child has grown/changed over the years….. I think they like it when I cry….

I am also that embarrassing mom who likes to save these pictures, and them bring them out and show everyone how much they’ve grown or changed since last year, or years ago.

For example, I just so happened to remember that just last year…. we were sitting around a table at this very same ice cream place, and I also made them asked them to smile nicely for the camera…

last year

last year

Isn’t that so cute!!!  Can you believe Jenna FINALLY has hair? Can you believe how long her tongue was/is??

People, I live for this stuff. It’s what I do.

Christmas then.....
Christmas then…..
Christmas now!

Christmas now!

See what I did there??

I know one day, I’m going to miss having all these kids under my roof. (I keep telling myself this….) So I do my best to keep a record of the times they actually LOOK like they are getting along, as they grow up, and before they grow away.

sniffle.

Nothing beats writing in a journal

I started my first journal as an assignment in high school. January 25, 1991, 10th period composition class. Hmmmm, I was 15 then.

Back then, it started out as something I had to do for credit. We were given different things to write about and turned in our journals to be graded each week.

I enjoyed it. And I kept writing even after I didn’t have to.

There were more journals after that first one. Early ones filled with teenage uncertainty, drama, angst. Later, as life got busier with jobs and kids, I wrote less. I stopped writing in my “all purpose” journal, and started a pregnancy journal for each child. Each would chronicle my pregnancy, hopes and fears, body changes, and later would also include notes about the baby. How I felt (depressed initially, elated eventually), and every once in a while I go back into those journals and jot some notes about, or a letter to that child….talking about them and how much I love them.

Once in a while, I will come across my stack of journals and page through them…reading things I can’t believe I’d forgotten in some cases. Sometimes, when I’m feeling REALLY wild and crazy, I will look up the same date in different journals to see how my life changed over the years.

journals

Here’s how it works. Usually, I’ll check out what I was doing “today”, or a date close to it. So……..On May 1st, 1991, My teenage self was focusing on the very important topic of boys, which one’s I liked, which ones liked me, and how I can’t believe one of the guys I’d been drooling over was actually dating an old friend of mine from middle school…. and WHAT is up with that, “She’s not as pretty as me and her personality is just strange!”

That journal is really hard for me to read. I’m just….embarrassed for myself.

5/1/1997, Pregnancy journal 1: I was up to 155# at the doctor appointment that day, complaining about back pain, hip pain, worrying about labor, and getting up all night to pee still sucked.

4/28/2001, Pregnancy journal 2: “Today was one of the worst days. I cried today a few times.” The baby (3 weeks) has been crying so much, I’m sleep deprived, I saw blood in his diaper and was taking him in to the doctor.

5/1/2010, Pregnancy journal 3: “Sammy is 3 weeks old tomorrow….I’m feeling much better, I feel like we’ve finally bonded. Doing better with breastfeeding-don’t feel so much like he’s not going to survive or something.”

5/13/11, Regular journal: “Rachel will be 14 tomorrow…in a lot of ways those days were really the happiest of my life, I miss it. Things just get busier and harder, I have less and less time. I miss those days with her, I really was the center of her world. I hugged her yesterday after her game, she was upset for playing bad. She didn’t give me much of a hug back. She always seems to be holding back now, doesn’t want to get too close. I hope this changes, I miss her hugs. She’s almost a grown up now. I’m so sad about it, it came too fast!! I wish I could just go back to when she was younger, just to visit and feel those memories happening around me again. Thank God the kids are all good and healthy, I really have been blessed!”

5/1/2012, Pregnancy journal 4: It’s hard to study, I’m so tired at night I fall asleep whenever I sit down to relax. “Six weeks pregnant now, baby is the size of an ice cream sprinkle.”

5/9/2013, Pregnancy journal 4: “my Jenna-Bean, you are amazing! Why do I find you so wonderful, cute, perfect, adorable and fun?? Because you are!! Thank you God for this angel, I could not have asked for anything more…”

These journals are a treasure for me. They really are a way for me to get back into the moments we can’t hold onto forever. Yes, I can’t stand the teen I was, superficial, selfish, and sooooo annoying. But I sure can relate to my own teen as I read the entries of a teenage me, and cringe the entire time.

I visit painful memories. Happy memories, sad memories. I empathize with the depressed me suffering with PPD and worrying that she/I may never feel better again. I enjoy silly memories of my kids growing up. I have mixed feelings still when I read entries about preparing for my first wedding, and the wishes, hopes, and dreams I penned onto those pages. I shake my head at how young that girl was, and how grown up she thought she was.

I realize that time will not stop. My kids will continue to grow, and one day have families of their own. I feel like my daughters will probably want to read the things I’ve written about them, starting with my first positive pregnancy test…..and only ending when I no longer have the presence of mind to continue writing. I’m not sure about the boys….but I still keep writing about them, and writing to them.

There is something special about choosing a new journal. It must be hardcover, not too thick or thin. I hold it in my hand, flipping through it’s empty pages, and wonder where I will be in life by the time I fill those pages. When I find a new journal that looks and feels just “right”… I take it home and open it up, usually 12am or later when everyone in the house is in bed. This is my time to be alone with my thoughts. I put the date on the inside cover, and  wonder who will eventually read these pages, and what will they think of me?

And then I start writing.

 

 

 

 

 

A taste of my life

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I love food.

I think about it a lot, and recently realized that so many of my important memories and “great moments” have been cemented in my head partly because of their association with my digestive system.

Not just those stolen moments with a bag of little chocolate donuts… of which there are many…..

but really significant and special moments.

Like being 4 years old. Kneeling on a chair in the kitchen as Grandma rolls out the dough to make noodles for her chicken soup. I can smell the flour, feel it spread over the cheesecloth she had covering the table; cool, smooth, whispery between my fingers, the dough soft and eggy. Grandma in her housedress, one of thousands it seemed. I can hear her voice talking to me, I can close my eyes and I am THERE. God, I miss her. And her soup.

My first trip to France, what else to do but literally eat my way through Paris?? We found the best gelato. Amazing. And it became necessary to stop and get more at that same gelato stand each day until we went home. I still pine for it, both the chocolate and the mango. It was too good for me to even try another flavor. Refreshing, yet somehow complex, like all things should be in Paris. We walked everywhere there, ate crepe’s from a street vendor (of course!), took a very long walk to the Sacre Coeur, and found a delightful candy shop along the way. Finished our walk eating from a bag of bulk candy and ended with an amazing view and black licorice breath.

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Oh, there are the bad associations of course. Who could ever forget the flavor of mom’s steak teriyaki after tasting it at dinner…..and then repeatedly during the night as the entire family shared a delightful gastroenteritis. I won’t. I won’t ever forget that taste. And I will never eat it again. We always remember what that last meal was before our GI tract shifts into a hard reverse….

No photo necessary.

I think it must be true that when we really experience a moment using all of our senses, including taste,  that moment stays with us. Forever I hope… at least the good moments.

This is what being a Mom IS…

I love to smell my daughters feet…….

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I don’t know how I realized this, but I find myself grabbing those little feet and just inhaling whenever she is near….and just loving that they are so soft, and little, and warm. And they ALMOST smell…..like feet. I cherish it, because one day they are going to REALLY smell like feet, and doubt I will willingly bury my face in them anymore.

I have these little moments, in the middle of the chaos that comes with having 4 children, where I just take a minute to savor the odd moment, before I need to scream at someone for tracking play-doh all over the floor. again.

I’ve got two teens, and they find great pleasure in suddenly turning on me, usually in the middle of my speech about growing up, taking on more responsibility, chewing with their mouths closed…and holding me down to tickle me. This freaks me out, and I really fight to get away, all the while laughing and trying not to pee myself as I try to call them off. My gasping pleas for release are ignored, as they assume my threats are not real because I can’t stop laughing. I really hate that. But I love it, and then I ground them…. for like 5 minutes.

It’s not always fun and games. I’m strict and if you ask my 4 year old who the “mean” one is, the pointer finger zooms right to me. BUT, I’m the one he runs to for kisses, I’m the one he picks as his “favorite” whenever I ask him (ssshhh, I know I’m not supposed to do that), in fact, the only time he runs to his Dad, is to get away from me at bedtime, when he decides he’s not so fond of me after all.

My days home are a blur of cleaning, laundry, cooking, spacing out at the computer for brief moments, changing diapers, feeding, shopping, and plenty of yelling and threatening to never get you a slushy from Target again if you don’t pick up those toys Right Now!

My own 16 year old daughter is convinced that being a mother is the worst job a person could have. I am her reason for never wanting children…as she loves to tell me. I think it’s funny that I felt the same as her, at her age, living with my mom and being one of her 5 children. UGH, talk about a circus.

And yes, I dream of sleeping in one day, and not having to take care of anyone but myself, getting my hair done whenever I want, or just going OUT…..alone!! It’s so exciting when those moments happen!

Yet, as I tell my daughter, I would be lost without them. I’ve had kids for so LONG, I don’t even know who I would be without them. They define me by this point. My time is measured by their first steps, first smiles, even the first time my son told me he hated me. Ouch. I don’t forget these firsts, and I love to remember and cherish those million random things that just make this job extra special.

Like squeezing little butts, using social media to embarrass my teens, and trying to squeeze them all onto my lap for a quick pic before I am squished to death. They are crazy kids, they often do really really stupid things…. no really, it’s true. But they are MINE, and I cherish it, I do. I love watching them grow, sharing their lives, and of course…smelling their feet. 🙂