Sunday, December 29, 2013

These Shoes

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See these shoes?  In August, 2013, they became mine.  If they could talk, oh, the stories they would tell...
These shoes have carried me over 530 miles.  They've run races ranging from 5K's to Half-Marathons.  They've run in rain and snow and sleet and wind.  They've run on 90 degree days and 19 degree days.  They've run through forests, mud and streams.  They've run on sandy beaches and through rough terrain. 
These shoes have helped push strollers and have pedaled bicycles.  They've traveled from Ohio to Michigan and even Nevada. 
These shoes have helped me burn over 57,000 calories.  They've been sweat on, cried on and puked on.  They've carried me even when I wanted to be doing anything but wearing them.

These shoes have spent over 87 hours helping to make me a better person.  They've helped me reach goals I had never even dreamed of before. 

These shoes have taken wrong turns, and these shoes have carried me home. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Ten Years

Someone asked me today what I was feeling ten years ago...

Ten years ago, I was 27 years old.  I was living in Davison, Michigan, substitute teaching, and driving a Pontiac Aztek. 

Ten years ago, it was 2003.  I had spent the first part of that year moving into a new home.  A brand new house. I chose furniture to fill the rooms and curtains for the windows and artwork for the walls. And then, in August, I got to paint one room BLUE.  Baby blue. 

I remember the day I found out I was having a boy.  Up until that point, I had just been happy to have something growing inside me.  In an instant, my outlook changed.  My life would soon be filled with cars and trucks and trains and dinosaurs and dirt and bugs.  A boy.  A big brother to any more children I might have. 

A few short months later, he was here.  Owen.

After the birth, which you can read about here, I remember sitting alone in my hospital room with him.  Aside from the disbelief that I had just birthed another human, I couldn't get over the fact that they were going to let ME, someone who had no experience with babies, just take that tiny little bundle home and figure everything out.  No rules, just go.  I was someone's mother now.

If there ever was a textbook baby, Owen was that.  He slept well, he ate well, he sat up on schedule, crawled on schedule, walked on schedule.  He was a good baby.

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Then, all of a sudden, he wasn't a baby anymore.  He was a little boy.  A little boy who loved cars and trucks and trains and dinosaurs and dirt and bugs. 

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And while some kids might outgrow these things, Owen has not.  If he's not outside digging up worms or collecting insects or catching minnows in the creek, he's inside reading about sharks and tornadoes and volcanoes.

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Is he still my little fisherman?  Yes.

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Is he still playing basketball?  Yes.

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He's also added a new sport: Swimming.

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If you're a parent, I'm sure you've taken your kids to endless practices for extra-curricular activities, and your number one thought is, "WHEN IS THIS PRACTICE GOING TO END?!"  That's not the case when it comes to Owen and swimming.  When he is in the water, he transforms.  His awkwardness is gone, his shyness is gone and he is amazing.  I don't know very much about swimming or strokes or diving, but I'll tell you this: Owen makes it look effortless.  I look forward to his practices every week.  I love watching him, eager to see his progress. 

He's in fourth grade.  He wants to be an entomologist when he grows up.  He is soft-spoken, until he has something he wants you to hear.  He has a great sense of humor.  He loves Star Wars.  He loves guns, knives and swords.  He drinks a half cup of milk in the kitchen before bed every night.  He'll eat his weight in steak if you'll let him.  His mind is filled with endless trivia.  He is the best big brother I could've ever imagined having for my children. 

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Today, Owen is ten.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Nash's First Year

One year.

Twelve months.

Fifty-two weeks.

Three hundred sixty-five days.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes.

That's how long it has been since this happened.  (Click on that colored word ;) )

People always seem to be amazed when they hear that I have five children. They tell me they raised two, or three, or four children, but five? THAT'S A LOT.  The most common comment I receive from people is "You've got your hands full."    Well, guess what?  Yes, I do.

All of my children are unique in their own ways.  They choose their own paths, based on their individuality.  But when it comes right down to it, they wouldn't be who they are if they didn't have each other.  And Nash?  That boy fits like the missing puzzle piece. 

It's no secret that I take a TON of pictures.  And when I write my blog posts, I choose my favorites to help tell my story.  I actually select my pictures first, and then figure out the words later.  Although every year in everyone's life is important, there's just something about that first year that I cannot get enough of.  There is so much growth.  There are so many firsts.  There are so many hurdles to overcome.  I've said it before: pictures are memories.  Each picture tells a story.  Most of my posts contain about twenty pictures.  This one?  This one has more than forty.  I simply couldn't choose.

A year ago, THIS:

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Turned into THIS:

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And then that tiny baby turned into all of THIS:

There's just something about Nash...

He's got character.
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He seems wise beyond his years.
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He's got a twinkle in his eye.
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He tells the best jokes.
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You know that person that everyone just wants to be around? The one who's got "it"? That's Nash. I know he's a baby-he can't walk or talk, he's only got six teeth and very little hair, but he's got IT. He sucks you in and leaves you wanting more. He's happy. His smile is genuine. They say a baby changes everything, and they're right. I wouldn't be who I am today if he had not come into my life. So, yes, my hands are full.  But you know what?   I wouldn't change it for anything. 

Happy First Birthday, baby boy. 
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Very Merry Birthday

I have a confession...

 I've been sitting here, staring at an empty computer screen for an hour.  I suppose it makes sense, given the subject I'm going to write about. 

What's the subject?  Greyson.

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If you know Greyson, then you know why this is a difficult task.  If you don't know him, then let me start off by saying this: That boy marches to his own drummer.

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Of course, all of my kids are different and unique and have their own likes and dislikes, but Greyson?  He takes all of those things to EXTREMES.  He is the third of five children, and let me tell you, he takes that "middle child" title very seriously. 

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Grey is a kid who knows what he wants and he's not afraid to tell you.  For example, I asked the kids what they'd like to be for Halloween this year.  Without hesitation, here are the responses I got:
Owen: A vampire
Emerson: A vampire
Alayna: A vampire
Nash: A vampire (I may have nudged him that way)

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This fall, we let the kids each pick an after-school activity.  Their choices?
Owen: Swimming
Emerson: Swimming
Alayna: Swimming
Greyson: Track (He's as fast as lightning.)

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When asked what they'd like to be when they grow up, here were their responses:
Owen: An Entomologist
Emerson: A Teacher
Alayna: A Doctor
Greyson: I don't care what my job is, but I want to be a dad and have twin boys named Alex and Owen.

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As for Greyson's birthday list this year, at the very top: OFFICE SUPPLIES.  Specifically, a hole-puncher, paperclips, a stapler, a clipboard, and lots and lots of paper.

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Birthdays around here aren't extravagant, but I do let each of the kids decide on a theme and a location for their parties.  You might think a six year old kindergartener would choose to have a Spiderman theme, or to take some friends roller skating, but not Grey.  His requests were simple and to the point: He wanted his favorite cousin, Brady, to come for the weekend, and he wanted a Christmas party.  Genius, right?  So, last weekend, Brady came for the weekend and Saturday we celebrated Christmas.  There were red and green balloons, garland hung on the fireplace, a Christmas tree cake, presents wrapped in Christmas paper, and even a small, decorated Christmas tree.  Then, today for his birthday treat, I sent red and green frosted Christmas cookies to school with him, and he wore the new pair of Christmas socks I gave him for his birthday. 

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In November, we welcomed baby Nash into our family, and Greyson finally got the little brother he'd been waiting for.  I could have never predicted the bond that those two boys have.  For as wild and crazy and nonstop as Greyson is, when he is with Nash, he is calm and gentle and caring.  He's always willing to comfort him when he cries, and he can always make that baby giggle.

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After preschool in Michigan, preschool in Tennessee, and preschool in Ohio, Greyson finally was old enough to start Kindergarten this year.  And boy, was he ready. On the first day, they invited the parents to bring their children to school and stay for a couple hours to make the kids' transition easier.  I'd say he was more than a little nervous on that first day, but he quickly found his bearings and is excelling in his class. 

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While he still drives me crazy on a daily basis, and he has a smart reply for everything that is said to him, I'm pretty sure my life wouldn't be half as fun as it is if he wasn't a part of it.

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Happy 6th Birthday, Grey!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Get Rowdy, Get Tough!

It's almost September, and the kids are back in school.  We've had a couple chilly nights, but nothing out of the ordinary. Still, Fall is sneaking up on us.  The farmers are harvesting their crops, the orchards will soon be filled with cider donuts and pumpkins, the leaves on the trees are slowly changing colors and football season is upon us.

Growing up, football season meant games under the lights on Friday nights, wearing our letter jackets, cheering our team to victory.  We also had a great marching band that was sure to please at halftime.  But cheerleaders? Pffft... Not my thing.

Well, guess what? I've got a cheerleader of my very own.  If that's not funny enough to you, here's more: I am her coach.  That's right.  I grew up playing basketball, and softball, and the piano, and singing in the choir, and I am now a cheerleading coach.  Go ahead and laugh; it's pretty comical. 

Cheerleading practice started a month ago, and my girls have been hard at work, learning thirty cheers and a very detailed halftime dance.  These girls are dancers and gymnasts and tennis players and soccer players and swimmers, but cheerleading is all new to them. So we learned together. 

Earlier this week, the girls got to meet their football team for this year.  We met them after practice and I'd have to say there is nothing cuter than nine tiny cheerleaders handing out treats to 15 first-year tackle football players, who I'm sure all have hopes of the NFL in their future.  The night was filled with giggles and shyness and whispers and very little conversation between the boys and girls.

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Our season officially starts next week, but tonight was a special night.  Tonight was our Kickoff Classic, where all 14 football teams got their chance to play on the varsity field, and our cheerleaders were there to cheer them on. 

Pre-game Excitement:
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The Halftime Dance:

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The "Hello" Cheer:

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The Football Players:

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My girls might be tiny little third and fourth graders, but tonight they were ten feet tall.

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Alayna is Four

57 months ago, I held this in my hands:  photo 10-31digi_zps637c0cc3.jpg

55 months ago, I held this first picture of the baby growing inside of me:
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52 months ago, I held this picture of my daughter:
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 48 months ago, the day had finally arrived; the day I would finally get to hold her in my arms, and not just in my belly.
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It was a Monday. I was scheduled for an induction, a week before my due date.

After arriving at the hospital in the morning, I was hooked up to the machines, and I waited. In the afternoon, the contractions were strong and consistent and the on-call doctor came to break my water.

Things changed almost instantly. I wasn't surprised when they checked me and I was seven centimeters dilated. I told them to call my doctor, as I had had two very fast deliveries in the past. (You can read about them here and here.)

They smiled and nodded and basically ignored me. And then, it was time. For real. I asked to be checked again. I was ten centimeters dilated and she was coming. Quickly. They told me that my doctor was on her way, FROM THE OFFICE.

Really? This was happening again?

Don't push, they said. Just breathe, they said.

So there I was, breathing through contractions, holding back the intense desire to push, again. There I was, cursing the nurses for not listening to me, again. There I was waiting, again.

Somehow, finally, the doctor appeared.

And just like that, she was here.
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A tiny, bald, beautiful baby girl. Alayna.
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The little sister Emerson had been waiting for.
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The next 36 months turned out to be quite a roller coaster. There was a broken leg, a move to Tennessee, a move to Ohio. Through it all, Alayna was Alayna. Although shy upon first meeting, she'll quickly warm up to you and hit you with her infectious laugh. And that hair?  That hair turns heads everywhere we go.
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The last 12 months have been spent living in Ohio, but with frequent trips to Michigan and a spring trip to Florida. She had her first day of preschool, enjoyed dressing as a bumblebee for Halloween, caught her first fish, debuted her first pair of glasses, and became a big sister to Nash.  No matter where she is, or what she is doing, Alayna is a character.

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She turned four over the weekend. When I asked her what she wanted for her birthday, she answered right away: A penguin. A real, live penguin. And then she added that she'd also like a watermelon, with a knife to cut it. She is quite sensible.

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Alayna has always been a Mama's girl. If I'm cooking in the kitchen, she's on the counter helping me. If I'm changing a diaper, she's there next to me, ready to assist, if needed.  If I'm painting my nails, she's there, waiting to have her nails painted, too.  If I sneak away to take a bath, somehow she's there, stripping down to jump right in. While I enjoy my alone time, I enjoy my time with her, as well. I know that soon enough she'll be too busy and too "cool" to hang out with Mom. So, I'm taking what I can get, as long as she'll give it to me.
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Happy 4th Birthday, baby girl.  Mama loves you.