Friends & Family Archives

Did you know that I run every day? I’m not exaggerating. My legs do at least one mile each and every morning and most of the time I run longer. Sometimes I run in the evening too.

Rabbit and 5 of my kids run every day too (6 if you count Lanie in the stroller) and even though we all prefer to run at different times of the day, we run in pairs and I always have at least one of them running with me.

There are things I’ve noticed since my family started running together that are definitely worth telling.

When I started running every day I was not new to running. Matthew(13) and I had been regularly competing in local 5K runs, and I was pushing Lanie in a jogging stroller (Lanie is another reason I run. I’ll explain that in another post later). Pushing that stroller, however, was taking so much out of me that I decided to do a little bit every day to build up more strength. Matthew joined me in that every day running challenge. Two days later, Sam(9) decided to start running with us and the day after that Ben(12) opted in too.  Since then, Gabe(16) and Rabbit started up with our little running club. And just a few days ago, I bought Jesse(8) a pair of running shoes because he wants to start running with us too.

Kait doesn’t run with us because she’s out on her own but she runs every day too and joins us for 5k races.

And now Joe(19) is considering it.

A while back my sister and I were having a conversation about getting kids to be active.  She said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that it should be a family thing and that she had this idea to start a family exercise program to get parents and children working together to achieve fitness goals.

And what she said is really starting to make sense because, while that wasn’t my goal when I started everyday running, I have noticed that in this short time of doing something hard together every single day our already bonded family has become considerably closer. We are setting goals together, encouraging one another, and holding each other accountable. We keep each other working toward something bigger. We keep each other running.

Running every day has become this huge bonding experience that I could never have predicted.

I’m not saying that you need to run everyday or workout or start this crazy, sweaty, heart pounding program to bond with your kids.  What I am saying is that doing something hard with your children, setting goals with them and meeting those goals with them, being proud of what you have accomplished together…  This is the kind of stuff that binds people. And while they grow up and morph into adults in the blink of an eye, and it sometimes seems like there is not much you have in common with them anymore, you’ll have this big thing to give you that common ground.

I am really having trouble figuring out how to end this post so I’m just going to leave it at this.
Don’t be afraid to do hard things with your children.

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I blogged on Friday and then I didn’t blog through the weekend.  I had expected I would pick it up again on Monday but then I didn’t do that either and now it’s Wednesday so I figured I’d just post an update of sorts.

Things that happened while I wasn’t blogging:

— Our main toilet has started flushing on it’s own.  If you have read this blog for any length of time you know that it was about time something like this happened again.  We are known for appliances and other supposedly inanimate objects to start deciding things for themselves.  Remember the Tell Tale Microwave? How about the range?

— Kait’s guy sprung for dinner on Friday night and it was a great evening.  I really enjoy double dating with those two.

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I almost spit water out of my nose, which is par for the course when I’m around Kait for any length of time.  I would explain why she’s sitting on the ground by the trash can but you kinda had to be there. You really missed out on that one.

— Rabbit got me exactly what I wanted for my birthday, which we celebrated on Sunday night.  I wanted my own Aden & Anais bamboo blanket because Lanie’s is so soft and I felt bad for constantly stealing it from her.  He got me two of them.

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I’m over the moon in love with these blankets. And him.

— Will somebody please make an infographic to help husbands understand that if an Amazon Prime package is delivered to our door we will be compelled to open it unless we know that we shouldn’t because you tell us there is a Prime package coming that we shouldn’t open? Because that happened.  Again.

— I turned 42 on Monday and now have the answers to life, the universe, and everything. This should be a very informative year for you all. You’re welcome in advance.

— Spring happened on Monday as well and BAM! Just like that, it’s 85 degrees. Loving it.
I love Spring weather. I love the sun. I love warm afternoon rain showers. I love the rosy glow of my kids’ cheeks when they’re warm from running around outside. I love their bare feet and dirty toes and wild hair.  I love Florida.
Also, I love free ice cream at the Dairy Queen.

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— Tuesday was World Down Syndrome Day. We are still trying to figure out how our family will celebrate this day but yesterday we wore our Nothing Down About It tee’s and went to the library.

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Then we went to eat a Chick-fil-a.  There wasn’t one table open. Not even outside.  We ended up having to have them bag our food so we could take it home, which was sad because the kids couldn’t trade their kid’s meal toy for an ice cream cone.  I gave them a dessert anyway but now I have all these little kid’s meal toys all over the place.
Rabbit commemorated the day by wearing mismatched socks under his flight suit and I also did my morning run in mismatched socks.

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— Matthew and I have been running at least a mile every day. We do 5K races together but pushing Lanie in the stroller was killing me and running was no longer fun. We have some good hills in our neighborhood so I make sure to run some every day to help make pushing the stroller easier and help keep the enjoyment in running. Today was day 8.  Lanie loves it.

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The hills are still killing me but I can tell that I’m getting stronger. I’m starting to wonder how it would feel to run without pushing a stroller. I bet I could run like the wind blows.

Oh, and Maggie decided to floss.

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I asked her what she was doing and she said, I need to floss. My tongue is stuck in my tooth. 

And there you have it, my (mid) week in review. Now go and make yourself a Bavarian Crepe today because it’s National Bavarian Crepes Day.  Who knew.

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Out at the farm

We’ve been more busy than usual lately and while that means that I have much more to blog about, it also means I have less time to blog.  I used to be able to hammer out a blog post in 3.2 seconds flat but something happened to the writer in me and I am no longer able to do that for some reason.  I still love to write. I long to write. I just can’t seem to fit it in but where there is a will there is a way or some such nonsense, right?

We went to a friend’s farm on Saturday.  They weren’t in town but Kait was farm sitting and there were a ton of baby animals that Maggie just had to see.

She couldn’t even be bothered to stop for a picture because COWS! so I barely got this picture of Lucy and her.  She wasn’t able to hold still enough for more than that.

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Until we were getting ready to leave and she became very upset and made many statements about her feelings.

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“I just want to stay here with Kaity.”
“I just want to stay here and pet the cows.”
“I just want to stay here for a really, really long time.”

Turns out that all the mamas had put their babies down for their afternoon naps.  The sow was very protective over her piglets and you don’t mess with a mother pig. The calves were sleeping too and a couple of the mama cows made it quite clear that we’d better not wake their babies.  I experience this feeling every single day so I understood.

Kait said she was taking a picture of a different cow and this gal just walked up behind her and nudged her shoulder for a selfie.

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And she got some pictures of the babies while we weren’t there.

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The 1-year-old was clearly annoyed by his younger brothers’ antics.

And the piglets.  Kait said she sat on a fence at a safe distance because that’s a big angry pig right there.

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Hopefully, I’ll be able to take the younger kids back out there this week for a better look.

One particular cow took a liking to Rabbit.

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A serious liking.DSC_0486

She kept trying to rub her face on him and wrap herself around him. He told her he was a married man but it seems she took that as a challenge. It was quite humorous.

Joe met a Lady.
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Lady is a dog.  She’s a Great Pyrenees and she is so sweet and much larger than she looks in this picture.

Super friendly cow again.

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And Gabe with Lanie.  He was holding her most of the time so I could take pictures.

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She was super smiley until we took her over to see the animals. Then she just stared and stared at everything and everyone.

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Before we hiked it out to the animals I got a bunch of pictures of her being super happy and adorable in her new Carters duds.

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I’ll write about my new love for Carters and Oshkosh in another post because what they are doing in the T21 community really deserves some extra attention.

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She’s growing and learning and achieving milestones and I’m so proud of her.
And just like her typical counterparts she’s curious and wants what she wants…

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And often what she wants is to put leaves in her mouth so she is actively learning the word no.

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I had a picture of everybody walking out to the pasture but it disappeared and that is disappointing to me.

Can you tell I have a better camera? I appropriated one of Kait’s Nikons and now if I snap enough pictures I can usually get a few decent photos. That’s the type of photographer I am.  Just point and shoot and shoot and shoot.

And hope for the best.

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We took the whole family to a hockey game.

I say it a lot, I wish I would have gotten a picture because…

And that was true once again at the Pensacola Ice Flyers hockey game Saturday night when my boys sat slack-jawed as they watched two grown men throw off their gloves and start punching each other.  Joe, especially, could not wrap his mind around this and why the crowd was hootin and hollerin very excitedly.

It was their first hockey game and afterward we spent some time explaining about the protector and the goon and that every team has an enforcer and this is part of the game.

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I was wondering what effect that was going to have on their opinion of the game and it turns out that they all loved it and are excited to go again.

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Gabe looks bored but he wasn’t, he just wasn’t feeling great. He gets low blood sugar easily and once he got some sugar in him he was back to his normal self.

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I took a bunch of pictures but when I got home I noticed that most of them were gray with no image at all, sort of like when you forget to take off the lens cap but I was taking them on my phone so I am not sure what happened there. I’m a little disappointed.

My pictures of Maggie were some of the ones that didn’t turn out so I stole this one that Kait took off of her Facebook page even though it’s backwards and why is it backwards?

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All that girl wanted to do was go down and skate with the guys.  After the first period Kait took her down to the glass to watch the zamboni. The driver waved to her numerous times and that seemed to satisfy her temporarily.

Lanie though. Oh my goodness she was so cute the whole time.

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She wore her Ems For Babies and slept for the first half of the game (can’t say enough great things about these ear muffs for protecting little ones’ ears) and then was either clapping and dancing, or snuggling for the second half of the game.

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We’ve realized lately that the hardest part of getting all 12 of us out doing something together is actually getting out of the house.  Once we’re on our way to where we are going everything else seems to work out just fine.  People ask all the time how we do it and to be honest, I don’t know.  I think a lot of it is that we just aren’t afraid to try.

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Our number 2. Joe.

When he was little, maybe 5, Joe wanted more than anything to be a superhero.  He switched between Superman and Spiderman and when he started to jump off things to see if he could fly or swing from a web, I decided it was time for a conversation. When I told him he couldn’t actually become a superhero, it was just pretend, he broke down in tears and told me that he thought he already was one.  Realizing that I had just broken his heart with that news made me unbelievably sad but he quickly moved on to believing he was actually Link and everything I said to him suddenly made sense.

(picture of Joe dressed as link to be added as soon as I locate it because it is awesome.)

Joe is 18 now and while he has not given up on his dreams of being a superhero, he has certainly reevaluated what that dream will look like in the real world and is working on a criminal psychology degree so he can help put the bad guys away and save the streets of Pensacola from madness and mayhem.

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He also has this huge heart and a compassion that most people don’t get to see.  I wish I could predict the next time he was going to sit on the side of the street with a homeless man so I could get a picture without him knowing. He brings them food, breaks bread with them, and gets their stories. He sees their needs, individually, and does what he can to provide.

And he loves his siblings.

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He’s a very serious person but that doesn’t stop him from playing with the littles just about every day. He asks them questions and gets silly with them.

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He encourages them.

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And cares deeply for them.

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He invests time with the older siblings because relationships are important to him.

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They are important to him.

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Joe takes advice very seriously and while he doesn’t always agree with his father and me, he considers what we say and holds our opinions in the highest regard. He meets with our pastor on a regular basis to ask questions and gain a better understanding of The Word. He wants to do life right and is constantly working to create good habits, meet goals, and learn more.

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I am so proud of the son he is and the man he is becoming.

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And I cannot wait to see what his future has in store for him.

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The library and back again. A large family tale.

We went to the library today.  We haven’t been in years, not that we haven’t tried.  For some reason the library tends to call to us to make a visit on days when it’s closed for unscheduled librarian meetings or book inventory or we forget our proof of residency requirements. Again.

Today, however, we hit the jackpot.

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Not only was the library open, but we were able to get library cards and check out books.

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And the place was almost empty because public school was in session and homeschooling definitely has its perks in times like this.

Lucy was so confused by how the library worked.  I think she was trying to look at as many books as possible before we left because she didn’t realize that when I said we could borrow any books she wanted to read, she thought I meant just while we were there.  I figured it out after her 7th or 8th book and told her that she could pick some to take home.  Her intensity immediately calmed, she picked out 4 books to take home, then started showing Lanie some board books.

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Lanie was particularly fond of one particular book and spent about 5 minutes completely enthralled with it.

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She used up every bit of her energy on the little starfish page, which is funny because that’s one of her nicknames.

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Then melted into a pile of exhaustion, nursed for a few minutes, and fell asleep, which was appropriate because today is National Public Sleeping Day and we were in a public library and she was sleeping. I should have gotten a picture.

Matthew found a book quickly, then Maggie snapped him up to read something to her.

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Sam and Jesse were all but silent the entire time. Seriously. I showed Jesse where the dinosaur books were and he was content to quietly look at all of them one by one and Sam sat and read one book, the first in a new series he’s now excited about, the entire time we were there.

Other than Maggie being noisy and wanting to check out every single book in the juvenile section and stacking them in great piles while I was distracted by reading a ridiculous book to Lucy about a kid who ordered a penguin from Santa Claus (I’m sorry Librarian and I hope we got them put away properly), we had no anomalies while we were out and about. Unless you count our Whataburger experience. We don’t eat out often but when we do they never get our order right so a gold star goes to Whataburger for getting it correct the first time today.

And we’ve been home for about 2 hours now and I think we’ve managed not to destroy any borrowed materials yet so that’s new.

Before I go, I would like to make a public statement that I am firmly against not being able to check out reference books because when a teenage boy who has already graduated high school wants a math textbook for fun, you let him have a math textbook. And Ben wanted the Guinness Book of World Records but no, it was for in-library use only. I call foul on that one. What a dumb rule.

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It’s odd to me that even though it is super easy to lure Kait is over here (food) I never can seem to get her in a picture with the younger three girls.

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I’ve also realized that I take way more pictures of Lanie than I do anybody else.  I think that is partly because she’s the baby and we’ve always had more pictures of the babies than the older kids, and partly because of her rough start and me not wanting to take any moment for granted.

And any pictures I do take of the older kids quite often involve them holding Lanie.

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Because I love how they love her.

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And I want to keep these moments forever.

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Because they are so, so good.

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If only I could stop and really live in every moment.

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Somebody get me a pause button. Quick.

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My dad had this mug made for me 22 years ago when my oldest child was just a baby.

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It’s lasted through many military moves and 100’s of cups of coffee and many kids drinking hot cocoa. The picture on the mug of Kait at less than a day old has faded but that child has grown and flourished and is now well into adulthood and I couldn’t be more proud to call her my daughter.

At 22 she’s managed to wrangle herself a training job at NFCU, teaching employees how to do mortgages and helping them keep up with the ever change laws and regulations.  She has her own place and a dog and a cat and a guy who is over here all the time because he is very serious about her.

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She loves her family and even though she doesn’t live here with us anymore she manages to visit us numerous times each week and spends every Sunday hanging out with us even when there is no football game to watch and that is really saying something.

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I’ve always said that Kait and I have our differences but the further into adulthood she gets, the more we talk openly with each other, the more I realize that we are quite similar and our differences aren’t really all that big or numerous.

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She is delightful and funny and has such a child-like silliness that keeps us all smiling.

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And she knows how to have fun and helps us to not take ourselves so seriously all the time.

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Just being around her makes me spew coffee out of my nose.

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And being her mom has made me a better person.

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I could go on and on about this girl but Lanie is getting hungry so I’ve got to abruptly stop writing and get this blog post up because if I don’t publish it right away I’ll forget about it and it will get lost.

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I have thought about it so much lately, how I so suddenly put blogging on the back burner 4 years ago after many years of blogging almost daily.  I still can’t put my finger on why I did that and, try as I have, I haven’t been able to figure out how to make it a part of my daily life again.

I’m not sure what I want to say right now but there really is so much to write and I feel an incredible urge lately to return to this place where I have archived so many memories, this place my kids love to come and read about our family’s life and they laugh at themselves and talk about how much they have grown.

This place that has been quiet far too long.  It’s time to wake it back up.

For today I’m going to post pictures.

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You can probably tell from the new header that somebody got into the paint recently.

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Guess who.  I’ll give you a hint.

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Yeah. It was all of us.

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In November my friend Marty did a family painting photo session with us and it was hilarious and needs to be written about in detail because apparently when it comes to family pictures I’m Claire Dunphy.

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And Kait is whatever character pays good money for the supplies and special lens needed (it was a very cool gift from her) and then totally forgets about the whole thing until her dad calls her asking where she is and she jumps out of bed where she was watching a show, runs out the door, and STILL shows up looking amazing.

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I think this one is where Kait is telling the boys that they’d better not get any paint on her.

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All Maggie wanted to do was paint the canvas purple.

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She did not understand why we were putting paint on each other.

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But Lanie absolutely did not want to paint the canvas.

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As a matter of fact, this paint session was not her most favorite activity ever.

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While she wasn’t her most cheerful, Lanie did give us a few good smiles.

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We had a great time but I do regret not thinking it through a bit more. Like not have a ladder in the background and maybe moving the little trampoline out of sight.

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The important thing was that we had a terrific time, made a fun memory, and ended up with some really great pictures.

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And some really awesome family art.


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Perfect Chaos.

I think my perfect sleep hours would be 9:30 pm to 5:00 am. I’d sleep undisturbed and wake feeling completely rested and ready for a new day.
I would get up while the house was still quiet and actually drink an entire cup of coffee without having to reheat it 4 times and write a complete blog post and update my bullet journal.
I imagine I’d have thoughts. Real, uninterrupted thoughts. The kind of thoughts that adults have when they’re adulting. Thoughts about the meaning of life and foreign heads of state and who on earth invented algebra because I’d like to have a talk with them.

At around 7:30 my kids would one-by-one begin to make their way out of their rooms. We’d talk about dreams while we eat bacon for breakfast and then get our day started.

Reality, however, has 10-month-old Lanie falling asleep after midnight and waking up between 8 or 9 so when I get up for the day chaos has already set in.

Maggie is wearing her tights as pants and her shirt is on inside out and backwards and she is trying to get the last bit of oatmeal powder out of a used oatmeal packet she found in the trash can. Then I step in a half-wiped up orange juice spill while trying to clean a glob of something off the front of the dishwasher because my teenage sons started a ninja fight while making some breakfast. And while attempting to get the morning sorted out I misplace my fresh cup of delicious hot coffee which totally defeats the purpose of brewing it in the first place and who on earth thought it was a good idea to put a pull up in the washing machine?

And I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!

But then.
The boys argue over who gets to hold Lanie first and she is all smiles with them fawning all over her and my heart melts at how much they love her. Lucy reminds me again how much she missed me all night while she was sleeping and Maggie says the blessing and she thanks God that Joe (her oldest brother) gets to come visit so often (he lives here) and somebody finds my coffee in the microwave because I had forgotten that I had reheated it just as Joe walks in from his early morning shift at the coffee shop with a white chocolate mocha all for me.

And we all laugh.

And I’m reminded that in the chaos, life is so good. So worth all of the sticky and smelly and accidentally washed pull ups.

Once my kids put an entire package of bacon in the pantry instead of the fridge and we didn’t find it for days and had to throw the whole thing out and I think if we could make it through that, we can make it through anything.

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