Monday, March 30, 2009

Lucky Thirteen

3 Reasons to Celebrate Finn

1) Humor. Finn has a magnificent sense of humor, subtle at times, surprisingly sophisticated and powerful at others. He isn't afraid to throw giggle fits or spread contagious laughter throughout the house.
2) Compassion. Finn is perhaps one the most compassionate people in our family, although he wouldn't want to announce it or anything (that's what step moms are for), he takes delicate care with his siblings and they all adore him for it.
3) Courage. Finn has a courageous heart, forgiving and generous. His loyalty and forgiveness show a strength of character unmatched by many.

Well it is official, we are now the proud owners of an actual teenager.....Today is Finn's 13th birthday!!!!! Which is hard to imagine, even for a step mom. When Brendan and I first met, Finn was 7 and in second grade. Here we are 5 years later half way through middle school with a brand new teenager paving the way for the rest of our brood. Amazing that the same little freckled face boy I met all those years ago is now talking about high schools and signing up for coed softball teams. In some ways he is still the same, freckled and calm, and in so many other ways he has completely changed, the way children should as they grow. I missed out on important parts of his life, and have had to sort of put all the pieces together and gather stories and history the way any step parent does, but I'm very fortunate in that Finn has an incredible memory and will often times recount tales from his earliest recollections with out any prompting on my part. I love to hear what he remembers, what his perceptions were at such a young age. Despite what I missed out on, I feel incredibly lucky for what I have been a part of and the last 5 years together have held many wonderful memories for us. I can't wait to see what the future, what the world and what Finn himself has in store for the next leg of his journey.

I have to say that having the twins around has really shown me a different side of Finn. He has always been a wonderful big brother and a solid role model for the other kids. Fortunately enough for all involved he REALLY enjoys babies and has a lot of fun playing with them and taking care of them and he is actually quite naturally skilled in doing so. It is a lot of fun to watch his relationships with his youngest brother and sister unfold. He is undoubtedly going to make a wonderful father some day. 

I feel that Oscar in particular has given me a window into Finn's past, as there is something so similar, so familiar that is shared between them. There were often times during Oscar's infancy when an expression or a mood of his would suddenly strike me as rather Finn-ish and I would find myself smiling and feeling as if I had a momentary glimpse of what Finn must have been like as a baby. It's hard to explain really and it's not a physical likeness by any means, what with Finn so fair and Oscar so dark in comparison. No, what they seem to share is more of an inner balance and harmony with the world, a similar spiritual essence if you will. Giggle all you like, but it's true!

I would be lying however if I said that I wasn't a bit nervous about the teenage realm we are about to enter together. I remember quite clearly what it felt like to be that age, and more to the point what I acted like, the decisions I made and the roller coaster ride I took my mother on during those years. Clearly Finn and I are very different people, but still I squirm a little with anticipation. These next 5 years will see him through high school and on to college and adulthood, really it will be here before we know it and I want to feel confidant that we are doing all within our power, within our capabilities to ensure that he has all the support, all the encouragement, all the proper and necessary tools and all the love he needs in order to reach his highest potentials, to achieve his dreams in life.

As is the case with most of our parenting I am always questioning myself, asking if there is something else I can be doing, offering, sharing, giving? What is missing? What did I forget? I want to be able to look back in 20 years with as few regrets as possible, not for myself (although it will be nice to sleep easy at night) but for Finn, for all of our children, because they are essentially the ones who stand to lose the most from our mistakes as parents. We have been blessed with this opportunity, this immense responsibility, to see them through childhood and to help build and strengthen critical foundations for their futures, and I really hope that we have been using the proper blueprints all these years. This is what parents do, they wonder and ask questions and strive to make improvements all the while knowing that their questions could take years to generate lasting answers. I will ask them anyway.

This weekend we had a joint birthday party for the boys, Finn and Micah who share birthdays less than a week apart. Finn was absent for most of the celebration (scheduling error on our part) but didn't seem to mind since he was busy reciting a Rudyard Kipling prose piece at the State Forensics Tournament!!!!! He brought home the silver medal along with the second place trophy for his category. I am so proud of him, for all of his dedication and hard work, for overcoming small fears (hey, it takes courage to speak in front of an audience) and for giving it 110%. Every step was worth it, just to see how excited and happy he was after such a grand achievement.



Happy Birthday Finn, I hope the school day is treating you well and I can't wait to celebrate tonight!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

I can hardly believe it, but Blogger actually allowed me to upload these videos in a timely and nearly effortless manner. I have to admit that I have been avoiding videos lately because of what a pain it is to get them through security. Micah's kindergarten class performed on the big stage yesterday afternoon, doing an adaptation of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Needless to say, the show was a big hit and they have been asked to come back for an encore evening performance. Prime time here we come! 

Since the actual running time of the show was well over 13 minutes I took the liberty of posting just a few glimpses of what these incredible kids are capable of. Micah is in the Blue costume.

video

It's hard to tell in this small frame, but the children are using sign language to describe each food item....

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The footage gets a bit gnarly when I shrink it down, but I know that Micah will be extremely proud to see his show on our blog.

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Coincidentally, this book just happens to be a new favorite of the twins, and they made for captive audience members in a theatre so full it was standing room only.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Thirty

It has come to my attention that this is the year I will be turning 30.
I feel pretty good about it actually.
If there is anything I have learned during my twenties, it's that this life just keeps getting better and better with each passing year. I have experienced so much growth as a human being, as a partner and a friend.
As a mother.
Yes, I am truly looking forward to what the thirties have in store for me and I am excited to see how much further I will grow along the way. 

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Today I am 30 weeks pregnant. June8ug is now supposedly 18 inches long and approximately 3 pounds, which would obviously account for how gigantic I suddenly look and feel. Obviously. I am beginning to feel a little nervous again about life with a newborn and how we will all adjust to our newest addition. For me, it is really a matter of sleep, or should I say LACK of sleep. I am getting at least 8 hours daily right now and it is still a struggle to get up each morning, how on earth will I do it after nursing a newborn all night? I have flash backs to when the twins were born and just how insane the sleep deprivation eventually became and it makes me shudder a little bit with actual fear. I found this journal entry today, back from when the babies were 5 months old....

April 8th 2008

Ode to sleep deprivation~

Oh sleep deprivation how do I loath thee?
Let me count the ways.....
2am, 3:45am, 5am, 6:15am.

I would try to come up with something a little more clever, but the lack of sleep seems to be inhibiting my creative wit.

I've actually been considering putting in my two weeks. I'm sure the babies will prefer having someone who is more energetic. Of course I'll stay on until they can find a suitable replacement. Someone who encompasses all of the desirable qualities that I seem to be lacking lately.
Such as general housekeeping skills, a basic makeup regime (snarls and zits need not apply), an optimistic outlook, an ability to read minds and/or decipher baby babble, a natural talent for multi-tasking, staying organized and one step ahead of the game at all times. A woman who can predict the future, have eyes on the back of her head, ears that can hear everything and a killer smile to boot.
Juggling a plus.

I joke around with all who will listen about how ONE baby will be sooooooo easy after weathering those first few twin months, but then I actually think back to when I did just have one baby and I can't help but acknowledge the fact that even just ONE baby is a lot of work. So that's where we're at, I've got the third trimester glow, I am nesting like an insane person and I have re-invited my fear to tag along for a bit. Fear and I were frequent visitors at the beginning of this pregnancy, but for a time we parted ways, sought other companions, made different plans. I can only hope that this recent reunion is short and sweet.

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We have begun renovations on the bedroom that all 3 girls share. My lips are sealed until the job is completed, which will hopefully motivate me to finish the work, but here's a sneak peek for now.....





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Micah got his ear pierced last Thursday. He has been talking about it for years now, and we have always jokingly entertained the notion, but this past week he meant business. He's never been one to cry much for needles, he watches each vaccination being administered with silent curiosity, and so he wasn't even nervous before hand. He sure did cry though once it was over and he had a minute to absorb some of the shock. 



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We are entering a very busy time of year here for us, Finn, Micah, Brendan and Maija all have birthdays coming up in the next 5 weeks and we are also hosting Easter dinner this year, so we will be very busy indeed. Perhaps all the festivities will make for some serious spring cleaning, nothing motivates you like a party or two or five!

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Lastly, we had another gorgeous weekend here, and so I'll leave you with a couple of pictures I captured of Maija and Brendan who were surprisingly willing to humor me long enough to catch them on film.....or at least on memory card.







Monday, March 23, 2009

Smile

Tonight Brendan and the older kids had some business to attend to, which left me and the babies alone for the evening. Nuala, always one for gadgets and mischief, very quickly located my camera while I was making dinner and brought it to my attention with a couple of giggles and purposeful clucking noises. Almost as if she was chastising me for leaving it out where little hands could easily find it.
I thanked her for the reminder by sitting down on the dining room floor for an impromtu photo shoot. We even persuaded Oscar to join the fun.









Although, oddly enough I think he may be teething despite the fact that he has had all 16 of his baby teeth for a while. Are there additional molars that I forgot about? 



At A Loss

So there we were 
The three of us in the kitchen enjoying a nice lunch together
Peanut butter and jelly and bananas
Nuala and Oscar and me.

I stepped over to admire some of my families magnetic poetry
I remained within 3 feet of my crust munching companions
I smiled while reading my husband's work.



Suddenly the room was quiet
The energy was shifted 
The air was still....



Do you know the great lengths I once traveled to get THIS child asleep?
The hoops I struggled through? 
The stunts I pulled?
WHAT IN THE WORLD?
Consider me at an official loss for words.

***Just to clarify, I really was standing 3 feet away from her when she decided to start nap time a bit early. The fridge is practically within arms reach of her high chair.....***


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Now and Then


After importing 9,000 photos from my laptop onto my desktop and browsing through some of our old albums, I have come to the conclusion that:

A) I have a lot of work to do with regard to editing, deleting and organizing my photo library.
B) I need to back up ALL of my photos immediately. This is actually what lead me to transfer them all in the first place, since my laptop is slowly losing it's life force and will soon retire.
C) I really, really, REALLY want a new camera. *Sigh*. Or maybe even 2 new cameras??? *Double Sigh*.

For the time being a simple basket post will have to suffice.
Here is Nuala in November 2007, around 2 weeks old......



Nuala in March 2009, 16 months old.......





Oscar November 2007, around 2 weeks old.......



Oscar March 2009, 16 months old.......





Both 2007.......



Both 2009.......



I get the feeling that as I continue sifting through this new project of mine we will find ourselves taking a couple more glances back, which is a favorite past time of mine every now and then.

Friday, March 20, 2009

How Soon We Forget


So I had nearly forgotten how babies are extremely talented at making the most unusual faces.
That is until I began transferring all the photos from my laptop to our family desktop and happened to run across Oscar making some goofy magic all of his own....







And while Nuala was not quite as expressive with her facial features, she did in fact know precisely how to express herself very clearly!



But oh how beautiful and tiny they were.....





Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Socks With Sandals!!!


We will not have another day like yesterday for a couple of weeks, but that doesn't mean we can't still enjoy being outside. Who am I to turn a nose up at 50 degrees? Sure it's no 70's, but this is March in Wisconsin after all and we'll take what we can get, which in our case happened to be a wagon ride before nap time.





And would you just look at what someone made this poor child wear.....
SOCKS with SANDALS. 
Yikes!!!


Peaches

In preparation for St. Patricks Day dinner, Brendan set our brisket a simmering on Monday night. After work on Tuesday he somehow managed to get the potatoes mashed, the soda bread baked, the cabbage steamed and the leek & blue cheese soup stirred. Oh how that soup filled our house with the most delicious aroma! The twins usually eat ahead of us and are in bed by the time we all sit down together, so in order to keep them up long enough to enjoy our traditional Irish feast, we did what any responsible parents would do.
We bribed them of course.
With peaches......














The jury is still out on whether or not they actually enjoyed the taste!
What do you expect from March peaches?




Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Slacker

I have been slacking a little bit here on our blog.
What can I say? I am busy. We are all busy.
Here are some quick updates....

I am now 29 weeks pregnant (out of an even 40) and I am starting to feel it. The third trimester is always the hardest on me, and I am beginning to actually feel very large and awkward, and I wasn't exactly dainty to begin with. So.....

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Nuala and Oscar are in love with spring time and what it means to them (honestly, aren't we all?). We have FINALLY been set free from our winter hibernation to explore the outside world around us. For the past few months they have been shuttled from the house to the car, from the car to the house, and have had to view the outdoors from behind the straps of their car seats, through tinted windows. Now that they have been let loose to actually WALK around outside they are in heaven, and now every time I have to load them into the car they scream and cry and wail and arch those backs and make it generally miserable and quite nearly impossible to get them loaded into the car. 

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Yesterday we took Finn, Sidhe, Ruari and the twins to Jacobus park to go rock hopping in the creek that twists and winds through the woods there. The older ones are seasoned rock hoppers and have spent many warm days traveling the creek's path. Nuala and Oscar even went a couple of times last summer, but of course were not walking yet at the time, so yesterday was essentially their first true creek experience. They of course loved it, Oscar was actually giddy about throwing little pebbles and stones into the water and Nuala was even able to dip her fingers into the flowing stream. Neither one wanted to leave, which of course lead to the type of scenario described above.

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Today we are supposed to get highs in the low seventies, a veritable heat wave here in Wisconsin and the older girls want to set up their shop outside after school, cleverly named "The Three Sisters". What began as a lemonade stand quickly changed into a lemonade/bakery/craft shop and they actually did pretty good last summer, considering all of the construction we had to deal with on our block. I helped with the start up, but they have enough of a profit margin now to buy their own supplies and maintain their shop. They even have enough to hire seasonal help every once in a while, which really makes Micah's day!



See how even the UPS delivery guy and the Harley riders couldn't pass up some refreshing lemonade? You have no idea how proud these children were at the end of each business day. I implore you to support your local stand, you have no idea how happy it will make someone!





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In honor of St. Patrick's Day I actually painted my toe nails green while the twins were napping. Sorry for the squishy moments there June8ug! Here I am 3 hours later cleaning green nail polish off of my daughter and off of my hard wood floors, all the while wondering if maybe a call to Poison Control is necessary. Either I didn't screw the cap on tightly or she really IS that good......at getting into mischief! 

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This weekend was chore central around here. We started by opening up the garage and getting to work cleaning it out, and by this I mean getting it organized enough so that 7 kids can have access to their scooters and bikes and go-carts and wagons and helmets and shovels and sand toys and well, you get the gist of it. As is the nature of work like this, one job can very quickly lead to another and before I knew it we were hauling fire wood off of the front porch and finding a new home for the entire heap. Which of course meant that Brendan and I spent a good 2 hours pricing out patio furniture at 4 different stores later that afternoon. Naturally this lead to me deciding that perhaps we didn't need a whole brand new set after all. So yesterday I went back to the old house and got some of our old patio furniture off of our old porch. Two trips to Menards and nine cans of Oregano spray paint later our out dated white wicker furniture looks brand spanking new and I have saved our family nearly $800! Phew. Who knew I was so thrifty?





That's all I have for now.
We are heading outside to relish in this gorgeous day!