Year One Down

So we officially made it through our first year of homeschooling.

Let me tell you, saying you plan on homeschooling, and actually doing so, are two completely different things. I’m not sure I fully realized what I was getting myself into until it was too late, ha.

But trust me, I’d do it all over again. Obviously. Because this year I will have two being schooled.

Fortunately for me, I’m super unschooly, so it made things easy this year. J loathes the term “unschool” because he says people associate it to watching TV all day as opposed to a belief that children can lead their education into the directions of their interests.

We used a formal reading curriculum. It’s important to me that they learn to read properly, at an age appropriate time (not aged 5, unless they’re truly ready on their own, but somewhere between ages 6-8, when they’re naturally ready). We did a few lessons here and there from All About Reading, but didn’t get serious about it until the end of April. She plowed through it like nobody’s business and I cannot wait to start the next level with her, as well as All About Spelling.

Because H was technically kindergarten aged this year, and she had done half-day kindy the year before, I didn’t feel compelled to be too overly ambitious with her. Which turned out to be a good things, because the last 6 weeks of my pregnancy did me in, and about the first 12 weeks after sweet M was born we did nada in terms of actual school.

So what else did we do for the school year?

Well, the two absolute most important things was that she PLAY and that I READ to her. I pushed H and B out the back door nearly every day for some free range play in the yard . I think there is very little in life more important than kids being outside and being able to play unhindered from their parents. I definitely value this as an infinitely important part of their homeschooling.

And it should go without saying that there isn’t much more you can do to help your child’s education than to read to them. And then to read some more. And right when you think you might go absolutely hoarse, or possibly insane from reading the same book 20 times in one day, read a little more.

She helped me cook daily. She helped do the math to double recipes, to add up how many 1/3 cups we needed to get 2 cups of flour. We did science experiments like they were going out of style. Okay, okay, J mostly did the science experiments with the kids. The really cool ones anyway. They built things with hammers and nails, painted pictures, wrote her own stories. She got her groove on in dance class, gymnastics, and soccer. Practiced her piano every day. We read so, so much about Paris because she’s obsessed. And we read so much about dinosaurs because he’s obsessed. We counted snails and baby diapers.

We discussed the miracle of childbirth until I was nearly miracled out. We watched so many videos on YouTube about it. And then she got to put her hands on her baby brother’s body and help him enter the world. You can’t really top that.

So I’d say all in all, we had a super successful first year of homeschooling. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us!

Today is Dad’s day

I am so fortunate to be surrounded by so many amazing dads.

My own dad: the amazing human who makes up half of my DNA – mostly my twisted sense of humor. He’s always been one of the best people in my life, and one of the few people who I know would drop everything and do anything for me if I ever needed. You don’t get that from very many people; Lord knows I love him to pieces.

My ex-step-dad: you know you are deeply loved when another human makes the conscious decision to stick around be your parent, and to be an amazing grandparent to your children, when there is nothing binding him to do so. I genuinely couldn’t be luckier to have this guy participating in our lives.

And J. My sweet, amazing husband. The dashing father of our three babes. He is everything I ever hoped for in a partner, and then some. I grew up knowing a lot of not-so-stellar dads, so I was a wee bit leery in the men department. But I was upfront with him from the beginning; if we were going to do the kid thing, then he had to be all in. He didn’t get nights and weekends off. He didn’t get a free pass because he’d had a crappy day at work. He was there. Committed. 100%. It was kind of a silly discussion; because he was so committed even before then.

Those tiny babes have each had him wrapped around their tiny fingers from the day of conception. And more so, they’ve been fully wrapped around his heart.

There is nothing more beautiful, or sexy, than a man in love with his children. I do not take for granted for a single moment that he has always been an equal parent. He’s changed just as many diapers, paced the hall in the middle of the night with a colicky baby just as often, mended owies, kissed hands, been spoon-fed spaghetti by toddlers, and had eyes rolled at him just as frequently as I have.

He’s ever-calm in a way I still don’t understand how he manages. All hell can break loose and he’s the one cradling kids and meeting everyone’s needs while also making it explicitly clear in the gentlest of voices that families must always work together and be loving.

And there are other dads that we are surrounded by that are so great. J’s best friends. The husband’s of some of my dearest momma friends. My step-dad. My future brother-in-law is going to be a bang up dad; he’s so great and loving with my kids all ready.

When scary stuff in the world happens, it always makes me so sad. But then I remind myself of all the men I know who are raising strong, kind, loving children who will never hate another human based on race, gender or religion, and it makes me feel so confident that slowly this world will be a better place. Because of J, because of other hands-on, gentle, forward-thinking papas, there will be a whole generation of kiddos one day who only know love. (And obviously their mommas are helping there, too!)

So here is to all the dads today! To all the papas who love their babies fiercely. This is your day. You so deserve it.

Strengths Based Parenting – Giveaway!

What better way to kick off The Learning Momma finally having its own domain (previously located at thelearningmomma.blogspot.com, and I will keep that blog up for the foreseeable future) than by having a giveaway!?

Anyone who knows me knows I love books vehemently. Next to my children, they may very well be my greatest love. So it is no surprise that I absolutely love parenting books. My two greatest passions combined!

Last month my aunt gave me a book called “Strengths Based Parenting: Developing Your Children’s Innate Talents” written by Mary Reckmeyer, Ph. D. with Jennifer Robison.

Guys, it’s a winner. I devoured it in a few short days while M napped on my chest (and the big kids partook in too much TV). It discusses both parent’s and children’s innate strengths, and how to proceed, foster, and work with them in positive ways. It’s a book for your personal library that you definitely want on hand whether you are a parent, caregiver, or just want more insight to yourself!

And one of my lucky readers are going to win a copy! All you have to do is  “like” The Learning Momma on Facebook, share this post on your personal Facebook, and comment below what you feel is your best strength. One winner will be chosen next Friday, June 24th.

The End of a Lovely Breastfeeding Journey

H and B are weaned.

Officially.

Done.

All gone.

No more milk. (Okay, it’s still technically there, but it’s drying up slowly but surely).

They weaned in December. Sometime right before Christmas.

But it’s taken me this long to write about it.

It was a lot easier for them to wean than I anticipated. A complete breeze for them.

I was an utter hormonal mess.

H self-weaned. I knew it was coming. It has been a slow self-weaning process for her since last April. That was when she suddenly significantly reduced her nursing to not even 1x a day every day. She’d go days in between without asking. I knew it was coming.

But it always seemed that just when I thought, “Oh, maybe she’s done,” she’d ask to breastfeed again. But then by October when she was asking, she was literally breastfeeding for less than five seconds at a time. I knew those moments were fleeting. That she was nearly done.

And then it just puckered out. By the time Christmas Day rolled around I’d realized that she hadn’t asked since the very beginning of December. She was done.

And so was B at that point.

I made the conscious decision to cut down breastfeeding sessions with B after his second birthday. I needed it. For my sanity. He was nursing 6-8x a day, sometimes for over an hour.

So first I lessened the length of time. Then how many times he could nurse.

It was hard. I felt so mean. He’d cry and I’d hold him and offer him anything under the sun except for the one thing he wanted, and then I’d want to cry with him, because I knew I could stop the tears if I just nursed him, but I just didn’t want to. I mean, I did. I wasn’t trying to wean him at that point. I just wanted the breastfeeding to happen less.

And once it started, I’d put the ball in motion and he weaned right along with his sister. It was done and over with before I’d realized what had happened.

Truthfully, I was ready to be done. So ready to be done.

But then again, I wasn’t. Not even remotely. I totally could have been that mom still breastfeeding her 6 year old. I wouldn’t have cared. Because I wanted it to be on his terms. So I feel a bit bad that I kind of forced it along instead of letting him self-wean like his sister. I’m sorry his sister got nearly 4 years of awesome momma milk and he only got 2 years and 4 months. Not like I counted or anything.

So long as he wasn’t, you know, nursing 6-8x a day we’d have been good.

But B is kind of an all or nothing kind of guy.

So now it’s nothing.

But I’m glad we’re done. I’m fantasizing about buying a REAL bra. I bought a few spring/summer dresses (because it will get warm again some day, right!?) without thinking about being able to nurse in them (although my subconscious clearly was, because they’re all totally compatible. Alas!).

I’m glad I don’t have enough milk to let down when I hear another baby cry (for real, that happened all the freaking time).

I’m glad that I had the ability to nourish and sustain two healthy, strong babies. That I could tandem nurse them. That I could breastfeed H while pregnant with B. That I had an overabundance of milk and their tummies were always full.w

I’m grateful that I was able to connect with my children in this way. That we were able to share so many beautiful moments together.

I’m grateful that weaning wasn’t traumatizing for them.

I didn’t know what to expect when they weaned. My hormones were a mess. I’d be chopping vegetables and I’d burst into tears. And not because I was sad they had weaned. Just because I suddenly felt compelled to cry.

I cried in the supermarket once when reading a box of cereal.

I’d watch something on TV and something ridiculous like a lion hunting a zebra would bring on the waterworks.

It was a tumultuous few weeks. I’m glad those hormones have figured themselves out.

I believe in breastfeeding. I believe it is the best thing for all babes.

Although I’d encourage anyone to breastfeed to a minimum of 2 years, I’d mostly encourage everyone to do it for a day. A week. A month. As long as you feel you possibly can. Because every drop is awesomeness for your babe.

But this relationship with my children is now over. It was beautiful and fantastic. And some days made me want to pull my hair out. But I’m glad I was able to do it for them.

And on a closing note, here are some booby pictures. 😉 It’s certainly been a good run!

Newborn Miss H. Look at that nose! I just love it.

 Taking a break from the beach and sun.

 

The day B was born. Fist tandem nursing.

Newborn Mr. B

B needs in on this milk on the beach thing, too!

I’m so glad to have this picture that one of my dear friends took for me.

My heart is full.

Aruba, Aruba!

We finally went on a much needed family vacation. It has been too long.

The kids were gems on the long flights. I had purchased some clearance out aquadoodles a few months ago which turned out to be the right pick for H. She is really into spelling, so she’d have me tell her a random word and sound it out and spell it. And she’s getting pretty damn at spelling!

We were super fortunate that my parents were able to go with us to Aruba. The kids (and J and I, of course!) adore them, and always have a great time with them! J and I would chuckle during the times when my dad and step-mom would have one kid with them, leaving us with only one child, about how easy one kid is. Oh, how quickly that is forgotten. Ha!

Most of our time was spent on the beach or in the pool, or feeding the iguanas. But we did venture around the island and see and so much! We also took the Jolly Pirate out for snorkeling the Antilla and rope swinging off the ship. They were so impressed that H and B even tried to snorkel, let alone were completely successful at doing so. They said they had children come along often, but none as young as them ever attempted to snorkel.

The week went by far too quickly. H was not impressed with cold we met once home. They’re both itchin’ to go back. And I am too. Though truthfully, I have zero desire to ever fly again, which is surprising. But I’d rather drive any given day than fly. The kids are awesome travelers, but I just have a hard time being surrounded by that many rude people. It gets harder and harder to deal with stupidity the older I get. Alas, for some sun and family fun, I’d do just about anything!

I have over 1500 photos, but don’t worry, I’m not going to post that many! But here is a peek at our adventure (and still way too many photos!).

My brave girl swinging off the ship into the ocean!

 Ready to snorkel!

 

 Always a ham!

 

 I almost didn’t post this because you know, I’m not a tiny person exactly, but then realized if ever my kids read this blog some day I don’t want them to think I was even a tiny bit uncomfortable with the amazing body that created them.

 This boy was ALWAYS covered in sand. He’d plop right down and do “snow angels”!

 

Oh, how I love him!

My little tiger

Feeding iguanas.

Making sandcastles!

The way B looks at H always melts my heart.

B sharing the sand with Grandpa S.

My beautiful step-mom.

Feeding animals.

Oh, he kills me!

Those two monkeys make my heart so full!

Always the adventurous girl.

He stacked his own good luck rocks.

I’m still not sure how such a beautiful girl, inside and out, came from J and I.

Water guns are not just for kids!

B took this picture and it cracks me up!!

Atlanta

Oh, man, I feel like time is flying by so quickly and we are just so busy I never get a chance to sit down and breathe.

And breathing is good.

Last week was the kiddos spring break. Right before leaving we received “The Letter” that stated Miss H did not win the lottery for our charter school. Admittedly, I was initially a little bummed because the school is just so great, but I’ve come to see it as God or Fate or whatever telling me that we are supposed to homeschool and we just need to follow our kids’ lead. They know. They just know.

That being said, the application for St. C is still sitting on my desk. As much as I fully believe in homeschooling, as much as I, without any doubts, know in my heart it is the right thing for my family, it’s still absolutely terrifying. It’s such a responsibility and it’s excruciatingly daunting as I don’t really know anyone who has chosen this route or grew up this way. But then I remind myself that we also chose a way of parenting that I also hadn’t known anyone who had chosen to parent the way we did (when we first decided we wanted to be gentle, non-punitive parents – now we know many!), and that’s been working out freaking stellar for us. We have such sweet, fun, empathetic, polite kids! And there didn’t have to be any tears or punishments or harsh words for us to get these lovely kids. So I know their education will be the same. We’ll work together and educate them just as we parent them – with endless love and understanding, countless second chances, more mistakes then I’ll ever be able to count, so much talking, and lots of fun and togetherness – they’ll end up on top of the world no doubt.

Anyway, back to spring break.

J had a class in Atlanta so we ventured down with him. It was pretty exciting as we’d never really been to Atlanta. We left Monday morning and returned Friday night, making it a super quick trip – for us.

Our first night there the kids were excited they got ice cream. Really, other than the fact that Miss H knew a ferris wheel existed and was very insistent upon that – we could have just fed them ice cream daily and I think the trip would have been a win.

On Tuesday the kids and I ventured to the zoo per my aunt’s suggestion and it was amazing! The kids are definitely animal people and zoo-lovers, so it was an easy success.

Wednesday we headed to the Fernbank Natural History museum on a whim, which turned out to be a fantastic find! The kids loved the dinosaurs, and learned all about different poisons, and then played for hours in their amazing play area.

The kids also went to their first IMAX movie while at the Fernbank Museum. It was about humpback whales so we were all sold. I have, much to my delight, spawned some whale-lovers. I think I’ll keep them!

And that evening we finally made it to the ferris wheel to Miss H’s absolute delight.

And Thursday we headed to the aquarium. H was all excited about this because the Atlanta aquarium is the only aquarium in the US with whale sharks, and she can still vividly remember the ones we saw in Okinawa two years ago. In fact, when she saw the whale sharks here she proclaimed, “Oh, they’re babies! They’re so much smaller than in Okinawa!” And she was right! Who’d have thunkit?

He begged me to take his picture here, just like this. Who can say no to this insane cuteness?

That evening we had dinner with my lovely cousin and her husband, which was much overdue. I really, really need to work on staying in touch and having better communication with my family. And friends. And really, just everyone, because Lord knows I’m terrible at it. But I was very happy we were able to catch her while we were there.

B was pooped out by the time we made it back to the hotel from dinner.

I must admit, Atlanta was probably one of the very best vacations we’ve had in a long time. I mean, obviously we missed J during the days, but overall. The drive there and back was easy and drama-free. The kids were so exceptionally well-behaved I had to double check they weren’t Moor children. There were no fits, no fussing, no bickering…nada. It was just so ridiculously easy, I was amazed. I mean, they’re typically pretty good and easy, but long car rides and being out of sync some place new can throw even the best of the best off. But they were absolute gems.

Tomorrow we go back to the routine of life, but last week will definitely be cherished forever. So many smiles, giggles, sticky hands, and sticky kisses. What about it wouldn’t be?

Oahu

In this season of life we travel. A lot.

Okay, so the entire time J and I have been together we’ve travelled a lot. But I still do recognize that it is simply a season. And it likely will not last forever.

There are so many pros and cons to it that I’m not sure, if forced to choose, I’d rather the life in which we aren’t gone so much, or the one where we are.

For every trip the kids and I take, J takes five more. At least. Probably more. And since we all actually like him, that’s not our first choice, obviously. But since he’s on the road so frequently, he acquires miles like a bandit, which allow us to go places with him that we otherwise would never be able to afford to go because plane tickets are a killer – like going to Oahu.

But us being gone a lot makes things a little chaotic and discombobulated. H is such an active little extrovert and is insistent on participating in activities. But that means she also misses a lot, too.

It’s also another huge factor in educating them. They’ve missed over 6 weeks of school this year – they cannot do that in “real” school. And the kiddos need to be with their papa. Sometimes, even if it isn’t some place “fun,” they just need to be with him. Because he’s their papa and they’re his babies and that’s just how it works.

But there are so many perks to travelling. All the new places, new people; always learning new things hands-on. I’m not sure the kids would know what to do with themselves if we stayed put for too long.

I know I wouldn’t. I’m nomadic at heart. An ever-moving gypsy. Planting roots too deeply in any one place is actually a bit daunting to me. And travelling helps prevent those roots from becoming too deeply seeded.

So when J said he was off to Hawai’i for two weeks, the kids and I were eager to go. Mostly because, well, beach. I’d been to Oahu twice before, and admittedly there are a lot of other places I’d rather go, but I’ve got water babies and who in the world is going to pass up an opportunity to Oahu (especially when the alternative is Indiana, ha)?

The kids were stoked. They’re such awesome little travelers. J flew out a few days before us so it was just the kids and I, our carry-ons, and two car seats making the trek (seriously, if you fly with kids who still are in a 5 point harness seat, it’s worth the pain in the ass to take that seat onto the plane with you. Trust me. So worth it. Not mention safer, but that’s for another day. It’s just genuinely an easier flight when they’re in their car seats).

In Oahy, they got to go on several hikes. B was so proud of himself for hiking up one 570 foot mountain all by himself. H perfected her back float. They both couldn’t get enough of the ocean. Or the pool. They met a sweet little boy who eagerly helped teach them to surf. They were pretty bad-ass, not gonna lie. They snorkeled their little hearts out. They hiked some more up mountains, volcanoes, and waterfalls. They enjoyed the Honolulu Zoo. They held crabs and sea urchins at the Waikiki Aquarium, and learned about sea-cucumbers and other aquatic life by pushing the correct numbers on their audio devices as we walked around the aquarium. They played real-life I Spy in an aquarium full of the some of the world’s tiniest sea-life, including itsy bitsy seahorses. They learned how pineapple is grown at the Dole Plantation (and indulged in a dole whip!), and navigated themselves through a giant maze using a map! They made new friends every where they went. They ate their weight in fish tacos (and maybe J and I did too!). They chased feral chickens and swung on tree vines and stood their ground in some pretty fierce wind on a mountain top. They had so, so much fun. And my heart only swelled a little bigger watching them in all the wonders, always in awe that I could possibly love these tiny people and their papa more than I did the day before. But I will end this now before it becomes a mushy love story about my stellar family and leave you with a bazillion photos of these great people!

Never mind it was past 1am their time; they insisted on playing on the beach our first night there. And were absolute soaked by the end of it. It was lovely!

 Sometimes, you just need a papa to give your tired tiny legs a break.

 

 He braved the dole whip, even though it was outside his chocolate ice cream comfort zone. And he loved it!

 

 They had a pamphlet of the different birds found in Oahu and were diligently searching for them all.

 

 B’s “stop taking pictures all ready” face, and Miss H trying to smile but definitely not into it, ha.

 

 A coffee farm? With free coffee tastings? This might just be better than a winery!

 

Some pretty serious wind at the top of the Pali.

 Totally stoked to find some brightly colored popsicles that were made with natural dye!

 

4th of July in St. Louis

We kicked off July by spending a long weekend in St. Louis with my dad and step mom. We’ve kinda created a new tradition over the past few years of taking a mini-vacay together some place within fairly easy driving distance. And they’re always a blast.

Before we even made it out of town Wednesday, B displayed a little cousinly empathy when his cousin O was terrified of the little chipmunk we were re-locating from our back yard. Despite him being in a cage, she was still pretty frightened. So B offered to hold her hand to keep her safe. Needless to say, my heart melted. There is a little chivalry yet in that sweet, terrible baby dinosaur of mine.

Our first evening there it was a unanimous vote to eat at Joe’s Crab Shack. Mr. B immediately decided on the kids’ crab pot and, truth be told, if I had someone to shell all of my crab for me, I might have chosen it too!

The next day we took the train into the heart of the museum. To be honest, we likely could have just rode the train for hours and had perfectly happy kids. But we decided to let them have some lunch and excitement, too.

We came across some live music and a bunch of food trucks as we made the trek to City Museum and we all were happy with that fine dining cuisine. J and the kids boogied like crazy to the music. I have some great photos of that, but my camera battery died and I currently cannot find my charger in order to upload those. Whoops. Just don’t tell J, I’m trying desperately to convince him that I still have my brain, ha. I’ll offer ice cream for a good camera charger hunt here in a little bit.

The City Museum might have been the single most coolest place I’ve ever been. I wish we had something remotely similar around here. Think human gerbil maze. And then throw and overzealous, helicoptering J into the mix who was too big to fit through most of the tunnels. Oh, good times! Plus huge giant slides, a Ferris wheel on top of the building. Dad even got conned into going down one of the giant slides and got a good bump on the top of his head for it. That’s true Grandpa love right there.

 Because he’s a big kid at heart!

 

B was completely tuckered out by the end of the day. Tula for the win!

Somehow I don’t have any photos from the inside giant maze and tunnel part. B was pooped out by the end of the day and completely slept through dinner. He’s really got a thing for sleeping in pizza joints, I’m learning. But hey – I don’t judge. One less kid to occupy.

The next day we headed to the St. Louis zoo. It was huge and a lot of fun. We didn’t even make it through the whole thing.

 He’s such a pro!

 

 We ran into some really great friends from home. It was a pleasant surprise!

 

I’m fairly certain H would have stayed with the guinea pigs all day.

 

 

 Or the goats. H really loved the goats.

 

 I’ll eat you up, I love you so!

 

 B and O before the 4D dinosaur movie.

 

 Hitching a ride back to the car because eating your kettle corn while walking can be tricky!

 

And this is how one small, precious boy can take up an entire bed!

 

We spent the 4th of July at Grant’s Farm, which was really cool. Other than when the goat started eating my dress. No joke. I apologize to all the poor bystanders who saw more than they were hoping for that day. B got a bite taken out of his clothes, too. Hungry goats!

 

And we finished the day off at a nice restaurant a bit too fancy for us to be at, but we made it work.

No fireworks this year. I figure eventually we will in fact get to see them some day. But right now they just cannot stay awake that late and good sleep is just more important than watching some fireworks. Because I will pay for bad sleep. For days. Ha.

 

We had such a fantastic time. As always, we are glad to be home though. And are eagerly anticipating our next few trips that are going to make the rest of summer and then autumn fly by and BAM! The next thing we will know, we’ll be in the heart of winter.

D.C., Philly, Lititz, Oh My!

We’ve had an awesome whirlwind of a week.

A really great trip to the East Coast.

We saw a lot of people we love and didn’t get to spend enough time with any of them. Ah, as is life, I suppose. I’m so thankful for the time we did get though!

We started out last Tuesday. The kids and I left around noon after their soccer was over to join J who was having meetings all week a little over an hour south of D.C. We arrived around midnight, despite all the “terrible blizzards and snow” I was warned about. The roads were perfect. We had less than an hour of very, very light snow. That didn’t stick to the roads, ground, or windshield. So we were good.

Wednesday morning the kids and I moseyed around, had breakfast, and then headed to the nearest park and ride to catch the metro into D.C. They were super excited about the train for about two minutes. Then the thrill wore off.

We met up in D.C. with one of my dearest friends, Kate, and had lunch with her (well, the kids had chocolate croissants – that counts right?). Kate is gorgeous and glamorous and fun as always. I almost apologized for having not done my hair or make-up, but then I didn’t, because fortunately you don’t have to apologize about that kind of stuff with some people.

Then we ventured over to the Natural History Museum. I think the kids liked it. Especially the caterpillars and butterflies.

Then we brilliantly decided to walk to the Lincoln Memorial.

An easy walk when you’re not lugging around two small children, for sure! And they weren’t eager to walk themselves.

We wised up and took a cab back to Kate’s apartment. One little somebody passed out cold during the very short drive. Another little somebody fought it hard, and managed to stay awake until 9p.m. that night!!

Thursday I had wanted to return to D.C. for more sightseeing, because you know, looking at monuments is fun. Even if you’ve seen them like 40 times all ready. Okay, if you’re me, it is. The kids weren’t keen on that idea so instead I took them to a nearby historical plantation. I didn’t win any points with that one either. But it was gorgeous. I just wish my real camera hadn’t died on me, or I could have gotten some good photos there!

H was so sweet and polite, despite her obvious lack of enthusiasm. I would explain something historical to her like the smokehouse or the blacksmith and she’d muster up a smile and say in monotone, “Oh, wow.” B didn’t even pretend to be having fun.

Yeah, guess they didn’t get my history gene.

So we went back to the hotel and swam and watched Disney Jr. for 3 hours. The kids were fairly certain they’d gone to heaven, ha.

Friday morning J was done with meetings, so we hightailed it up to Philadelphia where my dad, step-mom, brother sister-in-law, niece, mom, and mom’s boyfriend all were for the commissioning of the ship my brother is currently on – Somerset.

After a few plunders and mishaps, we finally met up with everyone at the ship in order for my brother to take us on a tour.

Miss H could not have been more excited to see her cousin, O! Before we’d headed out East we had gone to our local kids boutique because H had her own money to spend and wanted nail polish (and I’m a freak and only buy her “safe” nail polish). Well, she found a Hello Kitty necklace and wanted to buy that for her cousin instead with her money. It absolutely melted my heart (and I went ahead and bought her the nail polish myself, don’t worry!). H promptly gave O the necklace and then they held hands and sang “Let It Go!” as we walked to the ship.

We were given an excellent tour of the ship by my brother.

Afterwards we headed for dinner and then passed out in the hotel room my mom so kindly got for us. I was out solid until 12:30 until the Bogans next door decided it was great time to have a spat. The dude yelled incoherently. The girl would randomly scream, “I f*cking hate you!” or “Don’t f*cking touch me!” I was all about calling down the lobby, but Mr. B had unplugged the phone and was sleeping on top of me. Since it didn’t disturb the kids or J I listened to the carrying-on until nearly 3am. Awesome fun, of course.

The next morning we headed out to the commissioning ceremony.

That’s my brother!

 

The kids were all pretty awesome throughout the ceremony. I was impressed anyway.

 Ignore the fact that I have three pairs of mittens stuffed into my coat pockets. I try to keep things real.

 

 

We met up with everyone and went out for lunch at the City Tavern. It was a grand time and my sister-in-law got me a gift while we were there…

 

And then we walked back to where we were parked. The girls immediately broke into the cannoli chips and dip on the walk over. Never mind we’d just had a 3 hour lunch, ha.

And then we made the 2 hour drive west to J’s sister’s house in Lititz to spend the night. B cozied right up with J. Melt my heart.

And then we spent the morning visiting before finally heading off to return home.

We had an incredibly good time. It didn’t last long enough with any of our family or friends. But we are so glad we got to see everyone.

And the kids and are happy to be home again!

For a few weeks anyway. 😉

Mary Stood

I’m not one to talk about religion very much, it’s just such a personal thing.

But lately I’ve had Mary on my mind.

I picked up my Bible the other day; something I haven’t admittedly done in years.

I’ve been exhausted and spent with sweet M’s late afternoon/early evening wailing. I was prepared for this. All through my pregnancy I reminded myself that I only produce colicky babies. Although I hate that word. “Colicky.” It makes me think that a baby is crying for no reason. And I think there is always a reason. Even if I don’t know exactly what it is.

The story of Jesus’ crucifixion is a powerful one. He allowed himself to be tortured, nailed to a cross, and murdered so that the souls of all people could be saved. Even if you’re not religious, it’s still a powerful story. This guy had the ability to stop what was happening to him by calling out to his Father, but he chose to endure it in hopes of saving people. In today’s world, we’d call that a hero if nothing else. And that’s still pretty cool.

But as I read this story, for the first time in my life as a mother, what really struck me and pulled deep at my heart strings was Mary.

Mary.

The mother of God.

A simple human.

But she was so strong. So mighty. So collected.

While many mothers would have screamed, begged, pleaded, been absolutely hysterical as their son sacrificed themselves for the good of others, Mary stood strong. Mary stood brave. Mary stood.

She watched it happen.

The baby that nourished from her breasts. The toddler whose sticky hands no doubt wrapped her legs in hugs. The gangly child who lost his milk teeth and smiled a toothless smile to her. Her heart, disconnected from her body.

That was her child.

And yet, Mary stood.

She was strong, and brave, and as composed as she could be. She knew that in those hours of agony, and during his hour of death, her child, Jesus, needed her to be strong. Needed her to be brave. Needed her to love him like no one else ever could.

So when I read this story, the gift Jesus gave to us is so blatant; the gift of cleansing our souls.

But when I read this story as a mother, the gift Mary gave her son is so beautiful. And a gift that only a mother would, and could, know to give.

For her child, Mary stood.

A colicky baby will never come close to the torture I’m sure Mary felt; not a fraction of it. Her pain is that of which I could never even begin to imagine. But goodness, if in her darkest hour with her child, in such unfathomable emotional pain, Mary could be the calm, loving, strong presence her child needed, what in the world can I not do for my children?

I mean, Mary stood.