The Last Day

Today marks the end to a very cherished period of my life, the value of which I will never precisely put into words.  Almost exactly eight years ago to the day, Jason and I arrived in Vermont, ready to make our life here and start on two pretty grand new adventures: the arrival of baby Jackson and a brand new career for Jason.  Ever since that day, I have spent every waking moment of my life putting my children first, building a life for them that was happy, healthy, well-rounded, exciting, safe, and loved.  I created this blog to document all the little details I knew would escape me as I got older, and as a place to share my photos.  From it grew my photography business, which kept me up late and busy on weekends, but every weekday from then to now has been about me and my three amazing kids.

This period isn’t about to end, not exactly, but the period of my life as exclusively a stay-at-home mom is.  I have always missed being a teacher, even while I knew that the three most important students I would ever have were right here in my home, and that providing them with a strong love of learning and school and books was the greatest foundation I could ever give.  Now, however, when Hannah is heading to preschool in the fall and my days at home with kids would be decreasing every year, I felt it was time to think about myself, and my career, again.  I am an awesome stay-at-home mom, but I’m pretty lousy at the domestic side that comes as a stay-at-home wife.  I don’t like (and also basically can’t) cook, and I have no interest in learning.  I have two degrees that are collecting dust in my storage unit, and it’s about time to dust them off.  So when the opportunity arose to apply for a job as the librarian at my kids’ school, I jumped at the chance, even though it means going back to grad school and the end to my days home with my babies.  And (alas!) an end to this blog, which I think will bookend nicely, starting with the days awaiting becoming a mom up to the final days at home with my kids.  Because even though I have loved being home with them more than they will ever know, and am so incredibly grateful to Jason for making the sacrifices necessary to make that happen, I have a need to be more than this.  My girls need to see me in the workplace, need to know that not only am I fun and loving, I am also educated, brave, and smart.  They all need to see me following my dreams and working hard to achieve them.  And they get to see me, literally, once a week (if not more!) at the library at school!  I get to continue teaching my own kids, and get back to teaching others’, in one of my favorite places in the entire universe–the library.  The manner in which the stars aligned for all of this to work out is astounding, and again, I am thrilled it worked out so well.

But….there’s one thing that I forgot to mention.  My baby, my girl.  My last little one, Hannah, will not get her full allotment of time at home with Mommy, and even though I know all of the zillion great reasons why it’s okay for her to be in preschool (She’ll be three and a half! We love her teachers! She’ll be in the same building as me in the afternoon! She’s ready!) my heart does ache a little thinking that today is literally the very last full day that I will spend home with my baby, ever.  After tomorrow the two biggest wild things will descend upon our house for summer vacation, and this blessed time for just us two will be over.  I had more than most and those days meant more than I ever dreamed possible. They taught me how to be a mom, and how to love these little people and show them that nothing matters more to me than them, no matter what.  I would only have taken a job if it meant I could still be supremely involved in their daily lives, but the small, quiet, comfortable, moments of my everyday life with them as babies is over.  Tomorrow is the last day of school and I am helping out at field day, then Jackson and Emmy will be home for the summer.  Today is my last day at home with my girl, just me and her, and after the summer, life as we know it will have changed.  All of this is for the very good, but I cannot believe that this time in my life is done.  It makes me want to run upstairs and go snuggle Hannah as she naps, and just breathe in every precious reason that she is her.

So you know what?  That’s what I’m going to go do.

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A Springtime Thaw, In Cell Phone Photos

Ah, the transition from winter to spring, from snow to grass, from cold to warmth, from darkness to light.  After a Vermont winter, there is nothing more delightful than glorious spring, and around here there is more changing than just the plants.  Don’t forget my two big kids, who have nearly completed the transition from kindergartener and first-grader to the first and second grades. Our lives have changed since the days have gotten longer, and whether it’s the end of diapers, the end of homework, the end of our first year with two in school–our last with me at home full time–I am more aware than ever how blessed we are with the small, everyday things.

PicMonkey Collage PicMonkey Collage1 PicMonkey Collage PicMonkey Collage PicMonkey Collage PicMonkey Collage All these green grass and blue sky photos make my heart so happy.  I feel like I am coming out of my winter slumber as well!  Four more days of school and then a summer to remember is just around the corner, I just know it!

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Saturdays

Saturdays for me and Little H look a lot like this…

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…while the big kids and Daddy spend their Saturdays like this.

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JDubbs is coaching both the big kids in t-ball, the reason why we held Jax back to play t-ball one more year rather than go on to coach pitch.  We wanted one year where both Jax and Em were on the same team with Daddy coaching them, in case Em didn’t take very well to baseball.  So far they’ve both been pretty good about it, and I hope they continue on, but if not we always have memories of this year!  Em is always trying her best and Jax does his best to boss everyone around, even kids on the other team!

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They both have the potential to be good enough to play, at least for fun, and I’m glad we will have these memories to start them on their baseball career.  Not all kids enjoy the slower pace of baseball, but playing is in their blood, on both sides.  I think with Daddy there to guide them and Little H and I there to cheer them on, they will continue on long enough to experience all the fun and camaraderie being on a team and baseball/softball has to offer.  There are too many fabulous memories for both JDubbs and me to look back on to hope that our kids don’t at least give baseball a try!  So far, so good!

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I could get used to Saturdays like this.

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Both my big kids have had a great start, thanks to their Dad!  He has had lots of patience and given up his weekend mornings to encourage them and help them feel successful and proud!

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They make quite a team!

 

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Batting Practice

The minute the sun decided to come out of its slumber, and the grass turned the slightest bit greener, the kids, JDubbs and I were ready to stop hibernating and start living again.  With t-ball right around the corner, Jax started growing antsy to start practicing his skills.  So we took the kids to the local baseball diamond and savored every second of it.

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At first the girls were more interested in being cheerleaders than participants, but we eventually won them over.  Life isn’t about being a bystander, after all.

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This particular boy is so no bystander; he is always eager to get out there.  Always eager to get better at everything he does.

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And he’s getting pretty darn good!  Come on, girls, your turn!  Batter up!

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Em might be a pretty good hitter, but she frolics along the base path like the ballerina she is.  It’s a joyful sort of way to move, and I hope she never loses it, no matter how many outs she makes.

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Little H doesn’t dance around the bases; she has and always will hustle.  She hustles through life and knows what she wants.  Two different girls, one crazy boy, and a life that is full of practice for all of us.

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 We just have to keep on hustling, keep on dancing, and stay eager for every season.  Play ball!

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Sunshine On My Shoulders Makes Me Happy

Spring appears to have finally arrived in our corner of Vermont, just in time for a lovely, low-key vacation wrap up.  Sunshine has two possible effects on me: complete and utter laziness or a compulsion to get out and explore.  This weekend we had a little bit of both.

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I finally found the motivation to get out for a run (see the good effects the warm weather has on me?), and when I came back, all I wanted to do was bask in the sun’s rays.  The kids thought that was the perfect way to spend some quiet time, so first we pulled out a blanket and a basket of books for some independent reading time, and then moved on to “cooler” activities.
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A bowl full of water that they get to refill with the hose, some paint brushes and a dry deck as their canvas.  Instant art with no clean up!  Plus I was still able to supervise in the sunshine.  Ah, glorious spring!

The next morning we had a bit more motivation.  I had run the day before past Dewey’s Pond and by the scene of one of my kids’ muddiest adventure and thought it was a good excuse for the kids and I to get out and explore.  I loved listening to their words and observations, and it was clear that they have learned so much in school about the world around them.  Jax was comparing the ripples the rocks thrown in the pond to “sonic waves” and they both were looking for signs of springs and animals.  It was a slow walk, stopping to look and consider and explore, but it wasn’t about cardio that day.  We were all about being out in the world in the sun.

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One thing I couldn’t help but notice about my little Em was her constant climbing! She climbed every rock and tree, even in her new dress! I think it has a lot to do with her forest classroom where she spends one day per week.  She is definitely not timid about being outside and testing her limits!  I was really proud to see my almost six-year-old blooming.

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Don’t let this guy fool you, either, though.  He had plenty to say and share–he loved looking for birds, and even insisted on calling Papa to figure out what species of bird was all around us.  Of course, Papa knew–red-winged black birds!  They followed us along on our walk.

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That afternoon was spent grilling dinner at Lake Pinneo, spending our first day of the year at the beach.  Even though we knew the water was going to be freezing with snow runoff, I brought bathing suits, just in case.  Good thing I did because the kids couldn’t resist the call of the water, and we made it home just in time for baths and bed to recuperate from a busy week!

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What a weekend!  What a week!  What a summer we will have!

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An ABC Egg Hunt

I would say one of the hardest things about being a parent to more than one kid is the need to remember that your third kid needs just as much of your time, energy, attention, and patience as your first one (or second, or third…).  Because there are so many people around to entertain her–her days spent with me, afternoons with brother and sister or friends, bedtime with Em–she isn’t the best at playing independently, but she’ll get there.  Her constant need for attention sometimes has the undesired effect of me just throwing up my hands and saying, “Can’t you just go play!?” instead of encouraging me to dream up some fun activity for the two of us.  I have been working on renewing my teaching credential–a process which has kept the blog low on my totem pole of priorities–so I have been even busier than usual, fielding emails and requesting transcripts during time that I used to spend perusing Pinterest for fun literacy activities like I did for Jax or Em (cue the Mommy guilt).  I could have just as easily spent this morning encouraging Little H to keep herself occupied, but with the recognition that both she and my blog were being grossly neglected, I pulled out an old favorite to meet the ever-increasing needs of my very bright three-year-old.

Alphabet Egg Hunt Matching Game @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I have come up with many upcycling uses for last week’s plastic Easter eggs that help my kids with various needs–spelling, counting, rhyming.  Little H already knows her letters, upper case and lower case, but I thought this would be a good exercise in letter sounds.  First I wrote all the upper case and lower case letters on egg halves, like so, and spread them all over our front deck.  Hooray for a warm spring day!

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Then she and I hung out, matching letters, matching colors, talking and smiling.  Since she does already know her letters, we focused on the sounds they make.  She would find a letter, I’d point out what color it is so she could find the match, then we should brought it to me she’d tell me what sound the letter makes.

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For a three-year-old, she’s one smart cookie, my H.

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Last kids deserve all the love and enrichment and attention as the first ones.  I’m lucky enough to be home with her, and I need to make every day matter, in big ways or small.

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 It’s good for both of us.

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Winter Cell Phone Photo Dump

As the winter fades, so do these bright memories of quiet, indoor life together as a family.  That’s my favorite part of winter–the togetherness.  Soon, their excitement to spring out the screen door to explore the woods in the sunshine will outlast any tantalizing treat I could conjure indoors, and why would I try?  They’re growing, exuberant, vibrant, and can’t wait to have room to stretch and run and flourish outdoors.  Spring is here, and the quiet peace that comes with winter is fading fast.

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I hardly ever remember it while it’s happening, but there is a reason the Earth has a quiet season…to survive, to contemplate, and appreciate.  That’s what the winter is for me.  To huddle close, savor, and remember that every season is dear.  The quiet moments are just as important as the loud ones.  Grateful for our quiet season, but looking forward to see it go!

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