I have burrowed myself deep within the walls of my family, a hibernation of some sorts, I suppose. It's been really cozy in here and really good for us. And in the shifting and adjusting many positive changes have come about that I know we are all really excited and happy about. I totally speak for all of us, well because I'm the boss. Really, Jacob is, like most 4 year olds are, but he doesn't know how to spell, so I will do it.

We have surfaced and have grown in so many ways.

I will let those most excited share their most important news.

Our family of 5, will be expanding to a family of 6 very soon. And I realize my children look like they are in drugs in these pictures. I was getting ready to repose them and retake the pics while they laughed and laughed at their captured images. But then I realized the last laugh will be from me, because once their new baby sister graces us with her presence, this is how they will look on a daily basis for a little while, and it won't be too funny then, to anyone....but maybe me, in my lack of sleep induced delirium.

Yes. My uterus is now a hotel room for another little girl. Andy and I will now have a boy sandwich, made from sassy girl bread. This is going to be our last....so help me.

She should make her debut in the very beginning of May. Her older brothers birthday is the 4th, so if she could steer clear of that day, that would be super cool of her, because I don't think it will be awesome to them if they share a birthday. But see, this wouldn't surprise me either...the universe has only worked this way with us, so we will prepare for this, by not preparing, because this is how we evidently need to roll.

So needless to say, I have been nothing short of comatose in the past 23.5 weeks. They say women are in their prime around age 35. Not so sure that is referring to also being pregnant and having 3 additional children. I have been passing the days of this prime time, with well, sleeping. This broad ain't what she used to be, that is for sure. So if you feel left out, or if you feel like you thought maybe I had died, or moved to Mexico, I assure you, I have been right here. My energy and focus goes into my little family, and in my downtime, I can be found in a horizontal position with drool pouring out the side of my mouth. So my sincerest apologies...I still think of you, and wonder what you are doing and how you are, and how lucky you are to have the energy to do the things you are doing. You are my hero. I am here, with my growing belly, watching Andy on most days, taking on my role and his.

I will indulge in the joys of pregnancy at 36, which is old according to all the tests I get done, at another time. Right now I need another bowl of cocoa puffs.

But this lady, she's just had it. Too old for this nonsense....sometimes I concur.


Bacon is 4.

You know life, it happens.
This I believe is the perpetual fate of the third and youngest child.
Oh Jacob Have I loved, please forgive your mama.
It doesn't mean you're not my favorite, it just has to look this way so the others don't find out.

Talking about my youngest is just so easy, I don't know why I procrastinate.
Kid is smarter then me. I have to give him credit. He is going to be my Power of Attorney someday. Please my darling, Jakey Mikes, it has nothing to do with you, and its me being overwhelmed with the season, you unfortunately were born in it. I will make it up to you. You can pick the kinds of cereal we get next time we go food shopping.

Without further ado, this kid, my BAAAABY, turned 4 in May. I don't know why or how this happened. 4 on the 4th. He had a Super Hero Picnic with all his real life Super Heroes, who are also his uncles and Pop , and us girls could tag along, after some convincing and maybe a bribe. So we all wore some Super Hero tees and looked like those tourists in Disney World of the same family in their family themed shirts. I have no doubt this will be my family someday, no I'm not kidding. But this time it was just a trial run and we went to the Big Wheel Park in our matching attire, where Jake rode his scooter and weaved in and out of kids wobbling on their bikes, because dude as skills. And I apparently am his jaded mother who other mom's whisper about. "Can you believe she just lets her kid rip through here and make my Daphne more nervous on her Barbie Bike with training wheels and ribbons off her handle bars with her entire body covered in padding and helmets!!?!?!? The nerve of her, they need to be banned from Safety Town!!!" Look, your kid didn't fall off her 18 inches from the ground bike, and Jake totally stopped and let her pass before he and his scooter leaped from the roof of the bank.

This is life with Jake.
Always, always something, and always an adventure.

My Mom...the mother of only girls...in horror: Melissa, you do realize he is jumping on and off the cart while you are in movement, correct???
Me: Uh huh, just don't put anything under the cart, he likes to body surf from there after this gets old.

He was my buddy this past school year.
I loved that time with him while the older went to school.
Sure, some days I am sure he was bored out of his mind, but I was with him, and he filled my tank as much as I did his.

He is a blond headed, blue eyed, skinny and tall, force to be reckoned with.
He is the oldest child with the youngest age.
He is constantly looking out for every one of us, and every thing.
His eyes will not rest at night until everyone is taken care of. And for this I owe him all my adoration.
'Mommy!!! Your coffee cup is on the roof of the car!!!'
'Mommy!!! Ethan isn't buckled yet, hold on!!'
'Dendall!! Here is your hair brush!!!'
'Et-an! Don't forget your homework!'
'Mama!!! Lily got outside, I will go get her, don't shut the door!! Wait here!!'

He is very level headed and very black and white.
He is quick witted and sometimes has a feisty temper.
He loves big.
He is quick to admire all things awesome big boys do and love the camaraderie he has formed with my 'big boy' cousins.

He is athletic.
Kid just is.
He picked up his big brothers scooter at 2 and raced around with the handles above his head.
He wallops at a baseball.
He dribbles soccer balls all over the yard.
And the basketball hoop hanging on the back of his bedroom door?
Don't even play. He makes shots from across the room.
I was never athletic, so to watch someone be this is fascinating to me.
He lives in a petri dish, and I study him all day sometimes.

His laugh is infectious. When he laughs he can turn anyone's day brighter.

Jake ADORES his big brother.
I mean this guy is his favorite person.
Sure. They scrap like all brothers do, and probably always will, but their bond is melding together and I love watching this take place.
I mean come on, who doesn't enjoy a good choke hold every once in awhile?

When asked or about to do something, I see the jump start, and then the stall follows...
'What is E-tan doing?'
'What is E-tan eating?'
'Is E-tan getting dressed?'
'Is E-tan going?
 And sure, this can probably get really annoying to an older sibling, but that's why its really cool to have Ethan as your big brother. So far, he has taken this in stride and doesn't let it affect him. We will see once he has formed a close group of buddies and Jake is the tag a long, but for now having a shadow is the norm for him. I dig him. A lot. If I were to choose to have had a brother, I would certainly choose Ethan. Jake is mighty fortunate.

This kid is going to go to school. To school in the fall. Preschool, but that's enough to send me right on over the edge. I am going to sit in the parking lot on the first day and just cry. For the whole 2.5 hours. You think I am joking, no, not in the slightest.

I  love him.
I love him with everything a Mama has.
I am so blessed to have had him as my baby.

And pretty damn awesome to say the least.


To the boy whole stole my heart...and calls me Mom...

My boy turned 7 on the 25th of March.
This is the child that I look at and stand silenced by how fast time goes by.
How quickly time just picks up and runs and you just keep sprinting to get ahead of it, so you can tell it to stop...hold on one second...don't go so fast...please give me a little bit more time!

He is reading.
He sits there and he sounds out words like a champion.
The lights in his head have been going on like giant spotlights to a stage where he is the star.
He focuses. He smiles so proudly. His mind, a sponge.

He writes words he knows and wants to share on little pieces of paper.
'Mom and me.'
 'I love football.'
' I am nice.'

I adore his heart.
His giant sensitive and gracious heart.

I admire his focus.
He can sit. He sits honed in on what has captured his interest.
He will seek completion and is so intent on this task.

I love his quiet questions.
His imploring questions with such thought and honesty.
'Mommy, so what do boys do with their eyebrows? Am I supposed to take care of these?'
'Mommy, why do you think people do really unkind things to others?'
'Mommy, why do girls like to get flowers? They just die.'

He plays hard.
He dreams so much harder.

When his brother cries...unless inflicted and justified by him, he is the first responder on site.
He plays with his Jake. He teaches his Jake. He doesn't take crap from his Jake. He leans on his Jake. And he confides in his Jake.

He is the next great fashion designer of his time.
He has a great interest and eye for what he chooses to wear.
He instructs the hair stylist in just how he wants his hair 'shaped up.' What number and what product.
One of his favorite activities is getting to choose new clothes or shoes.
I can only hope to reap the benefits...someday. Right now he could care less what I wear. 

He loves to watch football.
He absorbs the rules of the game and can give you the play by plays.

He is starting to love hockey.
Tells me he would be an awesome hockey player if he could only learn how to skate.
His smile certainly looks like one now.

He enamores his big sister.
She gets under his skin, but he keeps patience longer then I even think is fair for her.
Sister better watch it...her brother is going to be drooled over by all her dear friends.

He is an artist.
His attention to detail.
His ability to tell a story with a drawing.
I love to post his art all over the place. It is so very frameable because it is so very adorable.

He is my first son.
I find boys fascinating.
Watching them grow.
Watching them do things that boys do.
Watching them interact.
Watching them eat. All day. Everything. Bowl upon bowl upon bowl of cereal.
I am like the zoo keeper sitting and watching the gorillas. Could do it all day long.

He is all lanky.
Long legs, neck, arms. His fingers long.
He will be so very tall. The nights when the growth spurts hit are so very long for him.
We spend lots of time soaking in a warm tub. Rubbing the back, arms, and legs until the advil finally kicks in and he can rest those stretching bones.

He walks with his hands in his pocket.
He smirks.
He giggles quietly.
He is a man of few words.
But screams when there is injustice.
He cannot eat too much candy.
Especially cotton candy. Do not give this child cotton candy. I swear its exorcist like behavior. I am not sure whether to run or take on the beast. I always lose. No matter what option. I need to invest in a straight jacket.

He is an observer.
Watches quietly before summing the courage to do it himself.
He hesitates before trying something new.

I love him madly.
I cannot believe he is 7.
His big brown eyes melt me.
His olive skin and smile with a dimple already have little girls chasing him on the playground.

My Ethan Thomas.
My sensitive soul.
I couldn't be prouder and I love you more each day.


My Banana Peel

I kind of feel like telling you that I am not perfect.
I kind of feel like telling you even more so that I don't strive to be perfect.
I have a long list of failures behind me and an even longer list in front of me.

I have kids that melt down.
I have kids that probably should be disciplined on certain occasions, but every now and then, I just don't.
I have kids that talk back.
I have kids that don't listen all the time.
I have kids that I sometimes cry over at night because I was too hard on them.
I have kids that I cry over at night because it's just too hard sometimes to do it right.
I have kids that I cry over at night because of the guilt I carry and the fear I have of messing up.

I sometimes say things before I actually think them completely through.
I talk out of turn.
I am loud.
I don't always say what I mean to say because the pressure I have put on myself for saying it right has made it come out sounding completely backwards.
I sometimes am really blunt.
I am sometimes really sarcastic to the point you might think I am serious.
I most likely require a censor button when asked my opinion, and even sometimes when I'm not.
I can have a mouth, that if played publicly would sometimes require bleeping every other word.

I am too sensitive.
I am self conscious.
I underestimate myself.
In many instances I anticipate what could go wrong, instead of expecting what could go right.
I hate change.
I am terrible in transitions.
I  am overly critical of myself.
I go over what I said, and what I should have said in my mind until I regret everything I said in the first place, even if it was the right thing to say.
I am the last person to stick up for myself.
I question things way too much.
I ask a lot of questions in general. 
I have a hard time believing I am worth it.
Compliments make me uncomfortable.

I have a family that loves me, but I fear being a burden.
I  love my nephew just like an aunt should...spoil him and send him home,
 but will definitely be the crazy aunt.
I have a Mom Mom who I let drive me bonkers, and then realize I do the same things.
I regret not spending more time with my Mom Mom and Pop Pop who have passed.

I have debt.
I worry about making ends meet.
I wish I had more to give more.

 I have really messy closets. And on most days, I really don't care.
I have a messy fridge and could sometimes really care less.
I hate folding laundry and putting it away.
My car is almost always cluttery and dirty.

I drive like I am being chased.
I wait too long between oil changes.
I hit pot holes and scream about them like it's all someone else's fault.
I use wind shield wiper fluid instead of scraping off the frost.
I have run out of gas and my dad has come to my rescue, at 35 years old.

I have friends I have lost because I let too much time go by.
I have old friends I miss way too much and probably just need to say so.
I have friends who have stuck by me and think they are so much better then me for it.
I have friends that have forgiven me, even though I think I probably don't deserve it.

Amongst all of this. I am me.
Feeling imperfect can sometimes be your saving grace.
Not measuring up can sometimes be your polite exit to stage left.
Failing can be your lesson for next time. And even next time, you still might not get it right, but at least you tried.

There is a saying, 'If you can't accept me at my worst, then you don't deserve me at my best.'

And this is for those that accept me.
I am constantly learning what I am and everything I am not.

I have a heart as big as the oceans are wide.
I love like I won't ever hurt.
I cry like I have PMS 30 days out of a month.
I love animals more then people sometimes.
I have stretch marks that I consider battle scars and remind me of how much I fought to bring these babies to me.

I have a family that is so close they are my dearest confidants and friends.
I will drop everything just to distract you from your pain.
I will cancel what I had planned to hang out with you because you need me to.
I will never tell you I did that and just act like coffee with you was the only thing I had planned that day.
I hurt when I see others hurt.
I would rather you be happy.
I go with my gut instinct.
I typically follow my heart.
I believe completely in my intuition. And although it can bring pain, should not be ignored.
I really do think my Pop Pop is looking over me right now, and I don't care if people think that's silly or not real, I'm just thankful he is.
I love good memories and love all the people in my past who gave them to me.
Sometimes we have ice cream sundaes for dinner.
Sometimes bed time is ignored to cuddle longer.
I messily go about almost every single day.

It might not be how you do things.
It might not be what you want me to say.

 I am definitely and clearly not perfect.
But I took my car to the car wash today.

So here's to you.
My fellow person of imperfection.
Banana Peels are going to be everywhere.
Trust me.
I slip on almost every one of them in front of me.
Just own them.
And know, you aren't the only klutz out there.


Don't Grow Up...It's a Trap

When having a daughter it at one time or another hits you. The decisions you are making need to mirror ones that you wish for her also to make. When you sit down and take something, you suddenly ask yourself...is this something I would want her to be o.k. with? When you take a stand, you now say, that's right, I would expect her to do no less. This was my past year. I looked deep into those blue eyes of hers and the freckles sprinkled all over her face and was hit with it...this girl is becoming a lady, I want what is best for her, and the best way to do that right now is to demonstrate for her, not navigate, demonstrate. Cause Kendall, she has her own way of doing things, trust me. I have obviously wanted what was best for her all along, hello, I am her mother, but as she ages and matures and becomes her own, the need for the best standards for her radiate even more so. And since she came out of me...I get to do most of the honors, in regards to modeling these, with some help from a few chosen wise ladies to pick up my slack. Because Mama is gonna slack once in awhile. PRESSURE!!! So those that say when they are wee infants, 'don't worry, it gets easier.' Um, sure they can brush their own teeth and deuce on the potty, but I couldn't disagree with you more. Heart and life stuff is much bigger.

Raising children in general is no small feat, raising a daughter...now this, this is astronomical. However, her and I are trudging through the terrain...and now we enter the age of 8...together, same as usual, just with some more purpose...like growing up should.

I am not quite sure where the last 8 years went when it pertains to this child's life.
I am not quite sure that I am prepared for the next 8 years to go just as quickly and for her to be then 16.
What the ?!?!
Whenever you think that time goes slow and nothing changes, have a kid. Or watch a kid grow from birth, whatever fits your fancy. Because there it is, walking around in front of you, all sassy faced and ready for action; the evidence of time flying and things changing faster then you can sometimes keep up.

For instance.

She just came home and told me they were prepping to learn times tables. Times tables?!?!? Didn't I learn them in like 10th grade? This new math baffles my mind. Grouping? What in the world is this? Google can't even make sense of this to me.

The teeth. I love me some 8 year old teeth. And so do the orthodontists in the future. 2nd grade is filled with all sorts of sideways, big and small, and holed up mouths.

The emergence of the, 'You're so mean' and 'I'm running away,' comments. I was wondering when these would come around town. I make sure to tell her that I am aware that I am so mean, and to wait until she is a teenager to see just how mean I really am, but a reminder is always helpful for the ego. And in good mom form, as she is marching out the door to stand on the front step, having 'run away,' I remind her to look out for strange people in unmarked vehicles that look like Mr. Slugworth in 'Charlie & the Chocolate Factory.' And like clock work, the realization of this description quickly sets in and she is throwing it in reverse and stomping to her room to blast, Kids Bop 25, her present form of Nirvana, instead, in a matter of 2 minutes. I start dying my slow and painful death each time these annoying kids of Kids Bop come on, however, at least we know she still prefers us, mean and all.

The gangly body. All limbs, with this skinny torso in the middle. On the whole, an 8 year old's body resembles spaghetti noodles. And they just keep getting longer and longer. I cannot keep up with the ever changing clothing and shoe sizes. I turn around and mid drift is out again, and sleeves don't cover wrists. I tell her to hold out on me, I will supply her with pants and shirts that cover where they must, cause we do go out in public. But that yes, for some time, in those in between moments, your pajama pants are either going to drag behind you and get you all tripped up, or have you resembling preparation for a coming flood. Sorry.

Barbies. You know you get them for them when they are like 3. And really, they don't even make sense until they are of an age where they get story lines and dreaming big. Age 3+ is just dumb. Because I have spent now 5 years dressing Barbie(s) and her counter parts Skipper, Midge, and Ken. I mean seriously Mattel. It is necessary to make tight cotton garments on rubber legs and arms that are not flexible? We have come so far in other things, and yet this still remains an issue 50 years later!  And to imply that a 3 year old can do this is just ridiculous. However, now at 8, she can do this herself and Barbie has been all over the world, from the beaches of my bathroom sink to the snowy mountains of snow drifts on our back porch. She really is a lucky gal. As I type thi,s there is a stiff competition between old Barbies and new birthday Barbies for a spot in tonight's fashion show, as the Kids Bop Dorks sing Miley Cyrus'. 'Wrecking Ball,' in the background. We are saving pennies for the Dream House by completing tons of chores. This is big people.

Notes from friends. Indoor recess, thanks to a really awesome winter, will only increase this. She comes home with a few each day. Circling of 'yes' or 'no.' I love them. 
Kendall, are you buying lunch tomorrow? Yes or No Circle one and give back to me. 
OK! Me to. Let's match on Thursday. Tell all the girls.

I'm 100% I did this as well with my friends. It's like gang symbols for the suburbs.

However, this has also led to notes from another gender as well...

Kindill, you are so fun when we play Apples 2 Apples. 
Your laugh makes me happy. I like your feckles.

This beauty I saved. Come on now. An admirer of things simple and her best qualities??? A boy after my own heart. I mean sure, he might not be able to spell her name, she and I have this also in common, but please, so innocent and sweet, I couldn't give two craps if he calls her Candle, like everyone under the age of 3 does. Who is this boy? I must compliment his mother.

She now looks in the mirror every now and then. I occasionally pay close attention when she does this. I know, supa dupa paranoid Mom. But you know, I want her liking what she sees and feeling really good about who she is. This simple act is an easy way for me to gauge this. For right now, she's doing just perfect... 
'Oh Kendall, I love those curls in your hair today. 
Did your Mom put hair spray in them too? I can tell. They smell good.Wow! They look great!'

You know...self affirmation is important.

Yet she is still just 8. That teetering age. 
Where you still want to cuddle with your parents. 
Where you still need your shoes tied because you can't get it tight enough when you do it. 
Where you get hurt and come crying for band aids and Mommy to fix it and make it better. 
Where sometimes watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with your little brother isn't so bad and you actually laugh. 
Where you can take showers on your own but still need someone to tell you if all the shampoo is rinsed out.
Where you are still afraid of the dark and grab someones hand when in a parking lot.
Where you still play with your little brothers because they are really the ones who get you and are your best friends, no matter what you may say.

listen. i love this shot of her and her brother. all discussing their other brother.
a conversation with a 3 yr. old cannot be serious. sorry sister.
When you're 8 being a kid is at its finest.
Swinging on swings so your feet almost reach the clouds is recess. 
Getting melted ice cream smudged on your nose and chin is still occurring. 
Dressing up and pretending to be anything you can dream of is still fun.

Seeing your aunts on the weekends is still worthy of countdowns.
Sleepovers at Mom Mom's and Pop's are a favorite activity.


Time outs are still your form of punishment. 
Snow Days are still awesome, because it doesn't matter when the last day of school is. 
Being the biggest cousin is a really awesome reality.

Kendall is my perfect storm. Born while it was snowing and it has snowed every year since on her day. I would expect nothing else in the form of weather on this day. Her spunk and tenacity slow you down a bit, and that's exactly her purpose.

She thinks she is hilarious. And she thinks we all find her quite entertaining. 8 year old humor...I plead the fifth. However, her teacher describes her as the class clown, and when I walk up to pick her up from school she usually has someone cracking up in laughter.


Yet. She is fierce. She is strong. She is passionate. She is a girl of aspiration and certainly has a mind of her own. She questions everything from hair color to our governments law making process. She is all about equality and making wrongs right. She is a first born in every sense of the role if you follow birth order. She would burn bras. She will challenge. She will dance when others won't. A spit fire. Watch out for her, she's dreaming big.

To my now 8 year old...

Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.”
~ Nora Ephron

                                                                                                        I love you wildly.
                                                                                                                           ~ Mama