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Oh yeah, and this happened.

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I keep feeling like I need to come back here and say something. That I’m here? That my dad is doing okay (but is scheduled for open heart surgery 5 days after my birthday)? That I am determined never to get old and/or die? That I am scared witless about reading a piece at Listen To Your Mother about losing my mom two days before my dad’s surgery? That my couches are awesome (even if we didn’t get the walls painted this weekend, due to this pesky mega holiday we kind of forgot about)?

Speaking of Easter, bask in the cuteness of my children.

Easter 2011

Easter 2011
(Sand trap, sand box, same thing, right?)

Easter 2011

Easter 2011

And two pictures from Cali Jenae Photography. If you are local to Spokane or Pullman, she is wonderful.
Easter 2011

Easter 2011

 

Alright, I feel a little better. Tomorrow I’ll write something sweet and thoughtful, but tonight I am going to go lay in bed and read book three of the Game of Thrones series. Because nothing distracts a girl from sorrow like reading 2000 pages of scheming, war, and dragons. Oh yeah.

 

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Retail therapy: not necessarily cheaper than the real deal.

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Yesterday I found out that my dad is facing open heart surgery soon, so I bought a couch.

New couches

And, because I found out about it on Facebook, I bought a loveseat too.

New couches

When I called Tom at work to tell him all of this (“My dad’s heart is going to explode and I found a couch set for a great price and I am going to go pick them up as soon as you get home”) he saw the connection right away. “Why don’t you stop at Home Depot and buy paint for the living room as well?” he asked, knowing that this was exactly what I need to spend my weekend doing – moving, changing, sweating and not thinking. If I wasn’t certain the wall between the dining room and living room is full of asbestos and lead paint, I would be tearing that down as well. (The plan is to pull it down this summer or next, when the girls and I can go visit family.)

I could have sworn I had shared my living room idea board before, but I can’t find them, so here they are again. The couches are not perfect, but are a good balance between the clean lines I want, and the overstuffed monstrosities Tom is drawn to.

living room

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Aaaaand that’s all I’ve got. I do not have the energy to go into all my anxiety about my dad’s health, because I spent all day eating ice cream and painting canvases. Also, eyeballing that wall.

 



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Year of Pleasures #14

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In a previous life I would have said that fall was my favorite season, but I can whole heartedly say I have changed my mind: Oh spring, spring, spring of my soul, I am so glad you are here.

Yay spring!

Yay spring!
(Rhubarb that we’ve dug up three times and still comes back each April. I never eat rhubarb, but it is working it’s way up my list of favorite plants.)

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Happiness is a habit I do not intend to break.

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A few months after Becky was born, some friends and I were talking online about this question of “the next child”. We were pretty evenly spread, with a handful eager to start trying as soon as possible, a handful joyfully planning their husband’s vasectomy, and the rest of us in the middle, covering our ears and shouting “I can’t hear you, LALALALALALA.” Obviously in the months since I’ve come to the “big is beautiful” side of the family size debate, but at the time I was still struggling with feeling like the family we “should” have (two replacements humans, with an extra for good measure) was not the family we were meant to have. Sara, (whose blog you should be reading if you are interested in the journey to becoming a midwife) said something then that I immediately brought to Tom, and have thought about nearly daily since. I wish I had saved her exact wording, but in essence it was this: At Thanksgiving dinner in 2031, who is at the table?

At our table, there are more than three children.

Over the last few months I have started to embrace this family at the table, but then an article comes out that gives me pause. According to Bounty.com, families with four children (and more specifically four girls) are less happy than smaller families. According to their survey, we’ve already passed optimum happiness when we grew from two girls to three, and possibly adding another girl is asking for a lifetime of drudgery and misery. I will admit that, just for a moment, I thought “What have we done?!” I looked over the negatives of having four daughters list, and thought, we do struggle to get the girls into bed some nights. We did have to buy a larger car. When they are sick it is impossible to keep up with them all, and oh they are loud and whiny and picky and and *deep breaths with my head between my legs*

Of course, then I read through the positives of having two daughters and recognized my children in each of those criteria as well. Looking over just this list is almost as laughable as the quote “Two girls rarely annoy their parents with too much noise, confide in their parents and are unlikely to wind each other up or ignore each other,” because this family does not exist. Every family has moments of harmony, but every family also has the chaotic, frenzied, “WHAT HAVE WE WROUGHT” moments, and the claim that the key to harmony is the right combination of children (something that we have no real control over) is at best laughable, and at worst cruel. Where is the accountability for parents, the compassion that not all children are “typical”, the joy in the unexpected?

I don’t claim to know the key to family happiness, but I have a very good idea that it doesn’t have to do with the number or sex of my children. For me, it has to do with the strength of my marriage, with the supportive friendships were are fortunate to have, and with our daily habits of gratitude, curiosity and faith. Having four children (even four daughters) will have its challenges, but I can not even fathom the joys it will bring.

Of course, if we go nuts and decide to have a fifth eventually Bounty.com seems unable to quantify our torment and suffering. *wink*

 

Year of Pleasures #13

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Sweet baby James.

James

It’s no secret: when we were planning on having a third baby, we were having a boy. It wasn’t that we hoped we would have a boy, or we wished for a boy – we thought we were having a boy. Tom and I both had a feeling that there was a boy waiting to join our family, and we flirted with not finding out the sex of the baby at the 20 week ultrasound because we were just so sure. That pregnancy was so different from the first two (I was so big, carried differently, had hyperemesis) that the idea that there was just one average sized little girl in there was laughable. No, I was carrying a boy, or maybe two.

Or not.

It’s a touchy subject, this gender disappointment thing. “What do you MEAN you are disappointed that Becky was a girl?” the critical voices in my brain say, aghast. But it wasn’t that I was disappointed that the baby on the ultrasound was a girl.. it was that she wasn’t a boy. We felt, and still feel, like there is a boy missing in our family, and the fact that our third child, the child who was going to be our last child, was not that baby boy… well, it meant we had to reorganize our plans. Our family. Our home. Tom and I sat in the parking lot of the ultrasound lab, alternately grinning like maniacs and looking confused. This baby, our sweet Becky, is exactly who she should be, and we cherish her, but we also long for the little boy.

We have shifted our ideal family from three children to four. We avoid talking about whether we would go for five should the next baby be a (very loved) girl, but we also talk about where we could add bedrooms in our home should we need a few more. We coo at baby boys in supermarkets, we hold up small blue things in stores, we debate middle names (he will be a Thomas, but will likely go by his middle name to distinguish him from the 4674 other Tom’s, Tommy’s and Thomas’s in his family). We don’t plan on meeting this baby for a year, hopefully longer (my poor body needs a break), but we anticipate him all the same.

Which brings me back to James, my friend Gretchen’s little boy. When she confirmed that they were having a little boy after two girls I admitted I was jealous. Overjoyed for her and her family, but also oh so envious. That was what my family was supposed to look like. I lovingly bought James gifts, hoping that someday Gretchen would be able to loan them to us for our little boy. I knit hugs and kisses into every stitch of my strip of the blanket our tribe made her, and prayed that someday they would make us a little blue blanket as well. I cheered when he was born, and breathed in deeply when I was able to hold him just a few days later. I adore him, and I reach for him, cooing and making a fool of myself to make him smile. And each time, I think ”Okay. I can wait.

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But not too long.”

Playgroup is exhausting. And amazing. And exhausting.

(Becky loves to snuggle James as well. Hopefully she will be a bit less smothery and a bit more helpful by the time she has to give up the baby moniker.)

Year of pleasures #12

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CCTV in our basement, so I can sit upstairs and nurse a beer the baby while the girls are downstairs tearing the place apart.

Playgroup is exhausting. And amazing. And exhausting.

Yeah, it’s totally creepy, right? There’s also a camera set up in their room, which IS really handy at night when they are supposed to be sleeping but are instead jumping off the bunkbed ladder. Friends who come over are either really impressed by Tom’s forethought in wiring cameras into the walls (yay, we can see who started the fight!) or weirded out. I am a bit of both honestly, but tell myself that people buy wireless video baby monitors that can be tapped into by neighbors, so at least this one means the guy down the block isn’t watching my kids play dressup.

Also, marvel at our astounding entertainment center. A small bookshelf anchored to the wall, with the TV ziptied to it. I wish I were joking. All this effort to build an entertainment cabinet so the TV would be wall mounted and the wires would all be hidden, thwarted by a year of procrastination on buying a mount. Tom is vying for a larger TV (hence, not buying a mount until we know what size TV we will have) but I remind him that this TV is what he bought for mother’s day a few years ago, and we’re keeping it until it falls apart at the seams. Which, now that I think about it, may be his plan with ziptieing it to a bookshelf.



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Year of pleasures #11

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Having a tribe of people who are not referring to the weather when they say “I’ll be there rain or shine”.

Becky's first birthday party

Becky's first birthday party

And if you are not completely fed up of Becky’s birthday talk, two flickr sets: DITL of Becky’s actual birthday, and a few shots from her party on Sunday.

One trip around the sun

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The story of Becky’s birth is, in some ways, very straight forward – after a week of “false” labor due to her positioning, she was born at home, in water, into my arms. Chelsea caught these beautiful pictures, and they say so much more than my words can right now.

Becky's birth, from Chelsea

Becky's birth, from Chelsea

Becky's birth, from Chelsea

Becky's birth, from Chelsea

Becky's birth, from Chelsea

Becky's birth, from Chelsea

The longer version still needs to be written. I have the rough, straight out of my head, 3 days postpartum version over here (and videos here), but I’ve been trying for a month to rewrite it, and have a mental block. Surely… surely Becky can’t be one yet. I don’t know if I have even been this bone deep sad about one of my kids getting older – I miss their baby days, but I also look forward to their growing independence and all the discoveries four, five, six, and beyond will bring. But the idea that Becky will be… is… no longer my tiny baby has caught me off guard, and I’m not quite ready to admit it.

I swear it went twice this fast.

High above the chimney tops

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Ella recently started asking to learn to play the ukulele, and after watching a handful of Victoria Vox‘s youtube videos, and I’m thinking I will learn along with her.

Ella has not seen The Wizard of Oz yet, but immediately fell in love with “Somewhere over the rainbow” after seeing this video (mixed in with another of our favorite songs). She begs me to sing it constantly, but it has been raining here for weeks, Becky’s birthday is coming up on Friday (*sob*), I’m struggling with being an adult child in a family I feel very far away from, and right now I’m more likely to sing “No body loves me, everybody hates me, I’ll just go eat worms” than showtunes. But then a little voice will trickle in from the other room, singing about troubles melting like lemon drops, and like a little prism she takes ordinary old sunlight and reminds me there are rainbows everywhere, if I will just look.

Rainbows

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Year of Pleasures #10

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My handy handy husband. I was complaining one day about not having a place to start seeds (or rather, about all the seed starts on my desk, which is also where I sew, facebook and pile things when I do not know what to do with them), and then left to go run errands. An hour later I came home to a triple decker seed starting castle, made out of an old cabinet, a broken countertop, spare lumber and a couple elbow brackets. Since I took this picture he’s also built me a riser system to raise the seeds up to the lights and lower them as they grow.

Seed starting

Becky helped.

Becky loves powertools

Now that I had these amazing space to start seeds, I’ve been going a bit overboard. This is what I am starting this year so far, but I can’t stop scanning seed stands and am fairly certain this list will grow. Tom is doubling our garden space this year, and I’ve promised extra starts to friends, so I’m not overthinking it (much).

planting peas

We also started planting out this week, though we probably jumped the gun on that one. We planted our snow peas, onions and beets, with the intention of just planting them again in a few weeks if nothing sprouts. Like I said: I have a few extra seeds.

And since we are so hungry for spring right now, we’ve also ushered it in with Hawaiian dresses and picnics. So what if it is 35 degrees outside?

Little ducks in a row

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First picnic day of 2011

Dear winter: I’m done with you.

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