Our pastor did a fantastic series on simplifying. It really resonated with me. Week by week, we were given a challenge on different areas to simplify: stuff, noise (like all the input from music and the internet, etc), food... I realized there are so many ways in which we have so much excess. Sometimes I fantasize about just picking up my family and moving. Only taking a couple suitcases of clothes and essentials with us. Just leave all the excess behind and figure out a simple life. Or moving to another country like Aunt B and Uncle P did. Now that would sure make us simplify! Reality tells me that I would never actually do any of those things. I'm a homebody who shies away from change. But it doesn't spot me from entertaining the thought.
In the meantime, I'm going to keep trying to simplify right where I am at. Pull out what I know I don't need and either sell it or pass it on to someone who could use it. And try desperately to show my kiddos that more is not more.
This week we will be parenting in a different location (otherwise called "vacation"). I love it when people say "have a relaxing time!" I smile and say thanks. But what I really want to say is "have you traveled with three small children lately?"
We planned to leave at 9:15. So I packed all day Friday and finally fell I to bed at midnight. I set my alarm for 6am so I could at least get myself ready before the kids were all up, which ended up working well. And we would have even been on track to leave on time if one of the kiddos hadn't started complaining of symptoms sounding suspiciously like a UTI Friday night. So off to urgent care we went first thing Saturday morning. Impressively, we were almost completely packed and at urgent care a full 10 minutes before they opened. A nasty UTI was diagnosed, and a prescription for antibiotics was called into a beachside pharmacy. We raced home, loaded all children and headed out around 10am. I was feeling pretty good about it all, until about 5 minutes later when we had to make our first potty stop. Fifteen minutes later (with 2 Carmel frappes) we were back on the road. For about 5 minutes before the tears began because a potty stop was desperately needed. The signs were looking ominous- this trip was going to take slightly longer than originally anticipated. Three car accidents, another potty stop, lunch stop, and feeding for Gracie baby am we finally made it to the beach. A mere four. Hours. Later. Did I mention we live about 1.5 hours from the beach?
It's easy to feel frustrated with all the stops, and the needs of small children. But somewhere along the drive, it hit me: this is what it looks like to live life with three littles. Life is not particularly more difficult for us. This is just par for the course when you have three that are 5 and under with the smallest being a mere 12 months. Life is not easy. But at least we are doing life. We are attempting our adventures. We are parenting indifferent locations. And we are making memories. And for that, I am grateful.
Yep, it's my birthday. Well, yesterday was. And a lovely day it's been. But even though it's my birthday, I'm still a mama. Therefore, in some regards it's just another day. I started my day by setting my alarm earlier than normal to ensure I had both time to get ready and time to open presents with the kiddos before Daddy left for work. Because we all know the kiddos can't keep secrets. So the presents needed to happen first thing in the morning.
Next up was hitting our two main grocery stores. Birthday or not, the fridge needs filling. And of course, no trip to the grocery store with all three children is complete without some fights over why we can't fill the cart with "special treats" and buy boxes of sugary cereal.
We also hit up Walmart to buy school supplies. Honeygirl found many things she felt were vital for kindergarten, but if it wasn't on the list, it didn't go in the basket. Therefore our lawer-in-training was ready with arguments multiple times over.
There were still melt downs from tired children, and the dramatic cries of "nobody loves me!" from Honeygirl when she didn't get her way. Children pouted and cried. Naps were skipped. Food was thrown on the floor. I listened to the VBS soundtrack on a continuous loop until 4:49pm this afternoon and got flack for changing the tunes when I finally did.
But it was still a great birthday. I am reminded that I have three adorable little girls who need and love me. My parents too us out to lunch and my in-laws had us over for dinner. My house got cleaned by someone else and my husband took the day before off to hang out and take me out for a special breakfast. And I got 4 (yes, for real!) gift cards to Craft Warehouse, a local store I could spend hours in. I am a blessed mama.
I'm always up for new ideas to keep the littles busy. This was an idea I had stumbled upon awhile back and handily stored on one of my Pinterest boards.
Because we had pancakes a few days earlier, we had some leftover buttermilk in the fridge. We put some in a shallow dish, then added a bunch of random drops of food coloring. We all know that a drop of food coloring in water makes a beautiful firework effect. But on buttermilk, it just sits there like a blob. However, when you coat a q-tip in dish soap and dip it right in the middle of the food coloring, the effects are rather fun. We played with it until we had a dish full of swirls. Then, just for fun, we decided to grab some multipurpose print paper and see if we could make a print from it. Turns out we could! The girls had a blast creating our swirly masterpieces. They only thing left to decide is who to send them to!
How can it be? Has it really been a whole year since Gracie girl burst into this world so quickly? I'm so glad I wrote out her birth story because as much as I would love to think I will never forget the details, I know otherwise. They have already started to fade. Sad.
On a happy note though, I wouldn't trade this past year for anything!
Gracie, I love your smile and your laugh.
Your ticklish little feet (they are really rather tiny!) and your high-fives.
I love that you can clap, crawl with lightening speed, and have used your resourcefulness to convert the little wooden chair into a walker to get around the kitchen!
I love seeing you light up when your sisters bound into the room, or daddy gets home from work.
It warms my heart that a simple whisper of "milk" in your ear is all it takes for you to snuggle down in my lap expectantly.
You love the water, your sisters' toys, wooden puzzles, the play kitchen, and your blankie from Miss Demetria.
You also love emptying out drawers.
You bring our family so much joy.
I can't even begin to imagine life without you.
I'm so glad God blessed us with you!
I will always love you, little Gracie girl.
It all goes by too quick. I'm sitting here nursing her...her sweaty little hand laid on my chest one minute and pinching me the next. Her litte laugh while still nursing. The legs kicking in the air and pushing on the rocking chair armrest. Then the eyes start to droop.
You are growing up so fast, little Gracie girl. What happened to my little baby? This year has flown. You now have a specific blankie you want to snuggle when you are tired. You are very skilled at signing "all done" when you are finished with something- specifically the food being offered to you. Although, yesterday I caught you signing the same thing and reaching for more. Hmmm... You can climb the stairs and are getting dangerously close to walking. I love that you use one of the little wooden chairs from Grammie's childhood as a walker to get around the kitchen. It's quite adorable.
You have the greatest laugh ever. And thanks to your cousin Winston, you have gotten skilled at screaming for no apparent reason. We need to work on inside voices! You also know how to fake-cough, which is pretty comical. You search the floor for small things and readily pop them in the kisser. Fortunately, you just seem to roll them around for awhile, but not swallow. Good thing since your sisters leave so many little treasures around! Beads, rings, food, stickers...you find them all.
You love being part of the action. You want to see it all, which means naps are a challenge. And you love your sisters. Honeygirl loves carrying you around and trying to mother you, which you allow ever so graciously.
I remember someone saying that you must cherish the moments when they are small and in your arms because you won't be able to remember exactly how it feels to hold that child when they were that size. I get it now. Already, I can't remember what your little body felt like when you were a newborn snuggled against me. Or when you were small and didn't kick the armrest of my rocking chair. I can look back at the photos, but the weight of your body in my arms compared to now? I can't quite picture the difference. And I have no recollection of how exactly it felt to hold Honeygirl and Sweet Pea when they were this same size. It's gone. As you are about to turn one, Gracie girl, I'm sad you are growing so fast. That my baby isn't a little baby anymore and that we are done with that stage for good. But I am also excited about what is to come. The little girl that will emerge this next year as you grow. And all that will come with that.