I seem to be having "one of those days". My first realization upon awakening this morning (much too early, I might add) was that I had one awful stiff neck, a backache, and a horrible pounding headache. I had just settled in to our big comfy recliner in the living room to nurse Meghan when I heard Dylan shout from our bathroom "NOOOO, CAITLYN, WE DON'T WASH THAT IN THE TOILET!!!!" Great. So into the crib went a wailing Meghan while I went to investigate what all the commotion was about. Caitlyn was soaked from head to toe in toilet water, and let's just say that my porcelain bowls are not the sparkling white wonders they maybe should be...at least not today. So, needless to say, an impromptu bath was in order for Caitlyn! Breakfast was yummy, Darren had surprised us with scones, but as soon as the kids were down from the table it was non stop arguing and fighting. I tried seperating them, punishing them, yelling...way too much yelling, which only compounded the headache and my sour mood. Now it's after lunch and naps are nowhere in sight...these kids are so full of energy today! That nagging headache has evolved into a full blown migraine, one that even 800mg of ibuprofen and two Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Peppers haven't been able to touch. But....all hope is not lost! It's still a beautiful day, the sun is shining, Meghan is full of joy and laughter, and Dylan and Caitlyn have stopped fighting long enough to enjoy some quiet time drawing and reading together. I just heard Caitlyn say "I love you, Dylan", to which he responded "I love you, too, Caitlyn". My funk is lifting...in fact my head's feeling better already! I think I'm going to pile those little rascals onto my bed for a mid-day movie; I'm thinking maybe "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" (I do love that bear!) A little snuggling is just what I'm needing right now!
This morning, as I was getting ready, Caitlyn was sitting alongside me playing with my makeup. At one point she looked up at me and asked, "Mommy, when I grow up to a lady, will I still be a little girl?"
No, sweetie, I'm afraid not...which is why Mommy tries so hard to cherish every precious moment of every day that you are my little girl. These days are all too fleeting, and one day you will be grown and gone from me. But you know something? To me you will always be "my little girl"...and I will always love you.
Meghan and I have been enjoying an exclusive breastfeeding relationship for a little over six months now, but lately, she's been giving us some not so subtle clues that she is ready to move on to something a little more exciting. (Such as by lunging for and grabbing at every bite she sees us take when she's sitting in our laps at mealtime!) Tonight she got her first taste of "real" food, a bit of single grain rice cereal, and she LOVED it! Dylan and Caitlyn never showed as much enthusiasm for the stuff as Meghan did--she just couldn't get enough! And so begins that wonderful stage of sticky babies, messy bibs, and crusty high chairs...and we couldn't be more thrilled!
I remember holding you in my hospital room on the night you were born. So small and new, I marveled at the miracle that was you. Here at last was our son, the baby that for months Daddy and I had been so eager to meet! As I gazed into your tiny face, I never imagined that you would grow so heartbreakingly fast. I blinked, and you've become the most incredible little boy, one who finds new ways to amaze me each and every single day. Today you were remarkable...you read your very first book! (Books, actually...two of them! "Mat" and "Sam", books 1 and 2 of your Bob Books for beginning readers.) Words can't describe how proud I am of you! Daddy and I have enjoyed reading to you from the time you were born, and I hope you will always love books the way you do now. Countless adventures await you!
Lately, with disturbing regularity, I have found myself exceedingly frustrated and angry over things which, really, are so trivial and insignificant. This morning, I decided to do something about it. With heartfelt prayer, I placed my day in God's hands and asked Him for help to be more patient, loving, and kind. Immediately I felt uplifted, hopeful, and ready to start my day. Never underestimate the power of prayer! Throughout the day, as I encountered minor irritations, I tried to react in a manner completely opposite of what I would usually be inclined to do: so when I felt like yelling, I whispered; if I was tempted to spank, I hugged; when I felt myself ready to use my voice in anger, I used it instead to remind my kids of how very much I loved them, and how lucky I was to be their mommy. When Dylan and Caitlyn wanted to play with every single Fisher Price Little People set they own (and there are many!), rather than complaining about the mess, I helped get them down and set them up. When they wanted to have Cheetos and soda at 4:00 in the afternoon, I let them. And I found myself having a great time! We read stories. We made puzzles. We drew pictures, sang and danced, watched cartoons, and really enjoyed just being together. After dinner tonight, I was starting to get things ready for bed. My plan was to have everyone down early so I could have at least a couple hours of sleep before going in to work at 1:00 a.m. Instead, here's what happened: Dylan noticed that the sprinkler was on in the backyard, and while Darren and I were distracted, he raced to his bedroom, stripped off his clothes, and put on his swim trunks. Then he dashed back outside, jumping through the spray of water, and he was just so ecstatically happy that all I could do was laugh! So instead of getting to bed early, Darren and I sat together at the patio table for a while, watching Dylan and Caitlyn play, and then it was back into the house for baths. Bedtime came much later than I would have liked, and I sure didn't get much sleep, but truly, I wouldn't change a single thing about today. It was perfect. I am at peace. I am happy. I am so very, very blessed.
I am always amazed at the ways in which being a parent brings back so many memories of my own childhood. Watching Caitlyn and Meghan, I am often reminded of how, as a young girl, I longed for a sister more than anything else in the world. I treasured the relationships I had with my brothers, but in my mind, nothing could compare with what I imagined to be the magical bond that is shared between two (or more!) sisters. While my girlfriends complained about having to share their bedrooms with a sister, I secretly envied them. How I would have loved to have someone to whisper with in the dark, giggling long past bedtime! Someone who would be a constant companion, in whom I could confide all my hopes, dreams, heartaches, worries, and who would be a great source of love, comfort, and friendship.
I pray that my girls will find in each other all of this and more.
Here is just one example of the many, and often unexpected, moments of hilarity that reveal themselves on a daily basis around here: yes, that's Dylan. And yes, that is my breast pump. Needless to say, Darren and I enjoyed a great laugh over this one last night!
You are the answer to all my prayers, my every dream come true...my best friend, my soulmate, but best of all, the most incredible Daddy in the world to Dylan, Caitlyn, and Meghan. Thank you so much for all the wonderful ways you love each one of us. I thank God every single day that I have you to share my life with. I love you, sweetie. Happy Father's Day.
Yesterday afternoon, my mom surprised me with this early birthday gift--a beautiful angel fountain for our patio, one that I've wanted forever! Dylan and Caitlyn were almost as excited as I was, and couldn't wait to get it set up. It didn't take long for me to figure out why! I had stepped back into the house for no more than an instant when, under the watchful gaze of the stone angel, the kids stripped off every stitch of clothing and splashed, bare butt naked, right into the small pool formed by the base! Oh, the horrible, wailing drama that ensued when I tried to patiently explain to them that this was not a toy but something to be enjoyed by simply watching. Somehow, in the process, I ended up promising them their very own swimming pool...which brings us to todays fun! When Darren got home from work this afternoon (he only worked until lunch time) we loaded into the van and headed to Target. There we found the perfect pool that could easily be set up on our back patio (under the shade!) and Dylan and Caitlyn were positively giddy the whole way home. Darren and I hadn't even brought all the bags in from the van before both kids were undressed and searching for their swimsuits! Such impatient exuberance! Not bothered a bit by the cold water, they jumped right in as soon as the pool was filled and played happily until it was time for dinner. They're already looking forward to tomorrow, when I'm sure they'll be asking to "swim" again the moment they get out of bed!
This sweet little baby is growing up! Here she is during one of her first attempts at sitting unassisted. I love the age she's at right now, all dimples and rolls, smiles and laughter, and eyes that light up at the mere sight of any one of us. She absolutely adores her big brother and sister, and they are completely captivated by her. I love to watch the three of them together, and remember what my two older kids were like at her age. How quickly time passes! I wish at times that I could slow it down, keeping my babies forever the way they are now, yet as my children grow I'm finding that there are always new milestones and achievements to celebrate. And the best part is that with each new baby, we'll get to celebrate them again and again!
When Darren and I were newlyweds, I delighted in waking up before him on Sunday mornings and secretly preparing a delectable breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes, or waffles, or coffee cake, or sometimes even homemade biscuits (with his, always, in the shape of a heart). We would savor these in the laziest sort of way, then shower together before heading off to Mass where we would enjoy a peaceful, prayerful hour spent holding hands in one of the front pews. These days, Sunday mornings are more often about me coming home from work and sneaking into bed, hoping for at least a few minutes of rest before everyone else wakes up. When they inevitably do, it’s a chaotic heap of small snuggling bodies piled into my bed, and all thoughts of sleep are quickly dashed. After a while we get up, and then the real fun begins! Rounds of baths for the little ones, fingers crossed that they actually stay clean until it’s time to leave for church; checking and rechecking the diaper bag at least twice (so I’m a little OCD); final trips to the potty and putting shoes, again, onto the small feet to which they belong. After securing all three angels into their car seats, we spend the drive into town rehearsing church manners with the reminder that we are there to visit Jesus and that we “must behave”! Once there, we take our usual seats in the back and settle in. Sometimes the next hour passes beautifully, with the children well behaved and both Darren and I actually paying attention during the Mass; other times, I’m embarrassed to be seen with those same children.
Whereas Sunday afternoons back then were spent in leisurely pursuits such as reading, studying, watching movies, or (when we were feeling really frivolous) fine dining, these Sunday afternoons most often find us making a mad dash through Wal-Mart, and any dining out experience is usually preceded by the words “Daddy, can we please get a Happy Meal? Because look, they have a new [insert latest Disney movie toy]”. Books that would have been read in a matter of days now sit on our nightstands for months. Movies that we rent for ourselves are often returned with late fees after having not even been watched! Falling into bed after a long exhausting day, I so often remember what it was like before….but I can honestly say that I would never wish to go back. Because in the end, this is all I ever really prayed for all those childless Sunday mornings ago, anyway.