Tubing and Tragedies...

Another week has come and gone. And I don't know where it went. 

Matt's birthday was this past Tuesday, so his request was for our family to go away for the weekend. One of his clients has a house a few minutes from a resort called Montage Mountain in PA. They have mini tubing hills that are perfect for little kids, so we thought it would be a great time for our family. Sidenote... from previous posts, you may have gathered that I hate snow. I have been skiing a few times before (my dive coaches never really allowed me to) and I was perfectly capable... I just don't enjoy it. I would SO much rather be having fun in the sun... water skiing, wakeboarding, whatever. Matt, on the other hand, was born in Colorado which seems to mean he has an innate love of cold weather sports. I have told him time and again that I would be perfectly fine plopping myself down at the lodge bar while he is out gallivanting on the slopes. With three little ones, that plan doesn't really work. So we hit the road on Friday... 

...and didn't pay attention to the route the GPS was taking us. A schmillion hours of traffic later, we finally stopped for food. Our rule of thumb is anywhere that is brewery-related is usually pretty good. Lancaster Brewing Company is where we ended up, and I enjoyed a delicious Strawberry Wheat beer. Matt bought the variety pack so he could enjoy some later. The girls were joyous to be out of the car... 

We loaded back up and hit the road again. While the girls were half asleep, I discovered the younger two in a sweet moment...

It reminded me of when I used to cuddle with my sister's foot to go to sleep when I slept on the trundle next to her bed. Melted my heart. 

We finally arrived and pretty much went straight to bed. The next day we put on our layers and got to the resort. Conveniently we went the one day that they had this massive tournament taking place at the resort. We finally got our passes, climbed up the hill to the tubing area, and started the fun. 

We had a great time. It was absolutely exhausting, but the girls had a blast. By the end, the three of them were going down by themselves in the double tube. Originally, I thought the three-hour pass was going to be short, but pretty sure I thought we had been out there for an eternity and it had only been 30 minutes. We did last for a while, and then went to the resort restaurant for some food and a bev. 

The ride back home was quiet...

And we all took at nap when we got home. Dinner was an utter debacle that evening. In a town of like 500 people and one stoplight (Matt's great quote... "Well we must be getting to downtown, they have a CVS"), I'm pretty sure everyone goes to the same restaurant... leaving us with an hour and a half wait. We gave up after a while and ended up at a teeny place right near the house, complete with peeling paint and no alcohol. I repeat, no alcohol. Pepsi products. Only. I got some gross excuse for pasta, and Matt got a dish that resembled chicken with some lovely pieces of foil still stuck in it. The girls nibbled on their food, but we all ate the butter-soaked bread... the only redeeming quality of the place. We got back home and made it another early night. My cuties got in their matching pajamas and wanted to cuddle up...

What you can't see is that I am wearing sweatpants that very nearly match their pj's. Although if I had the opportunity to wear an adult size of those, I would be all over it. All in all, we had a great family weekend. I love creating our own traditions and memories with our little family. I love that Matt wanted that for his birthday. I picked a good one.

Now for a complete change of subject... 

One thing I have realized from having a major loss in my life is that I have this looming fear that it will happen again. It's like, I know it can happen and rock your world in an instant. I know that no one is immune from tragedy. I know it is always a possibility... so I am essentially terrified of something happening. When I can't get in touch with Matt and it feels weird, immediately my mind goes to him in a ditch and I start trying to figure out how I am going to be a single mother and go on without the love of my life and the father of my girls. Yes, I go there. I'm scared I will get cancer and die young, without seeing my girls grow up into beautiful women. I'm not even going to mention my thoughts of the girls. I have to consciously distract myself from thinking this way at times because I just can't live like that. 

Something happened this week that fully renewed those nightmares. A family friend was killed in a car accident. Just 25 years old. His family is the sweetest, most genuine, loving, adorable, supportive group you can imagine... They are just downright wonderful people. Now they have this massive tragedy that will fully consume them. Their son, brother, cousin, nephew, uncle and friend is gone. 

Whenever someone passes away, I feel like I always have an unnaturally sad reaction to it. Even if I barely know them, it just brings me back to the horrible place that I remember so vividly. I can empathize all too well. My heart actually hurts for them. 

In light of this tragedy, it puts everything in perspective for me. My stupid annoyances don't seem quite as big of a deal. The difficulty of every day life isn't so hard. The absolutely silly things I worry about just seem trivial in comparison to what this family is now going through. It makes me want to just hold on to the girls so tightly and never let go. I want to put them in a bubble. Thoughts of wishing they were a little bit older so things were easier just leave my mind. I want to enjoy these moments. I want to pay attention to the things they tell me that I half-listened to before. I want to fully relish in the nuzzles and the cuddles. I want to freeze time. 

I know it is impossible to be grateful for each and every moment of the day. I know I will get in a bad mood, and get upset over some dumb little thing. I know I will stress about the shower I am hosting, or when Livi melts down in the grocery store. I never want to be one of those people who doesn't allow myself to enjoy things or be upset over things just because others don't have food or have experienced tragedy. But I do want to be more grateful. I remember thinking in college that the girls who were out-of-this-world devastated over not getting into the sorority they wanted to were silly and shallow. My dad was dying. I had something real to be upset over. But everyone has their own struggles and problems that are real to them. Knowing people with an unthinkable tragedy just puts things more in perspective. I have been through hard times, but I am ridiculously blessed. I know it. I just need to remember it every day. 

Happy Thursday


Negative Nancy, Major Messes and a New Wall...

So I've been a bit of a Negative Nancy lately. Bitter Betty, if you will. Until yesterday's glorious sunshine, I was just so utterly, epically, insanely sick of COLD and SNOW. The cabin fever up in here had reached unimaginable heights. I just can't deal with another snow day stuck in the house. I.Just.Can't. I daydream daily about the amazingness of warm weather, the sun, OUTSIDE. Being stuck inside all day has become torture. I have nothing left to entertain the girls with. 

So of course, being me, stuck inside with three small children for eternities at a time, I decided to embark on a few new house projects before the next shower I am hosting on March 8. Naturally. My problem is that I start 17 things at once, fail to finish any of them, then have to restart said projects because they get totally screwed up by my housebound children. 

One source of major angst for me is the failure of my kids to clean up after themselves. I get so excited to buy them all these fabulous things. After what seems like a nanosecond, pieces are lost or broken. Games. Games are my nemesis. There is no point to a game if you don't have all of the pieces. We got the girls Hungry Hungry Hippos for Christmas and I seriously went psycho keeping track of those little balls. There are 20. At one point I believe we had four with the game. It became a celebration whenever we found one of those little suckers. You can't play Sorry without all of the little Hershey Kiss-looking pieces. You can't play Jenga if you only have six blocks. You can't play a Barbie Matching card game if half the cards are gone. You can't play Operation without the little pieces to extract. You can't do a 25 piece puzzle when you only have 14 pieces. You can't draw with markers if they are dried out from having their tops left off. You can't play with rock-hard play-doh. I question at times if I have unrealistic expectations of them... but I really don't. A two year old can certainly put a freaking marker top back on. I have just failed at being consistent and making them do it. 

By bedtime, I am practically pushing them into their rooms. I don't want to deal with the slowness and distraction of cleaning up. I'd rather do it myself, quickly, properly, putting things in the right place. The problem with that is I don't always have time to do it. I try to send them down to the basement to get out of my way while I am trying to cook dinner, and I end up calling them up, never actually stepping foot down there... and when I finally do, it looks like a bomb hit it. Then my blood pressure goes through the roof as I furiously put away what always looks like every bin dumped out and stirred together. The same thing goes for their art area in the office. I was so excited to create a space for them to be creative, and I swear they purposely put a sheet of paper or something on the floor to cover every square inch. It is incredible the amount of mess and chaos these girls can create in such little time. Oh, the bags of stuff... the bags of stuff kill me. For whatever reason, kids just love to fill any bag around with pretty much any random item. And they take it to a different location and make a mess there. I'm telling you, it's a thing. The randomness I have found in an old purse in the bathroom is sort of hilarious, if it weren't so annoying. Basically my point to all of this is that I have royally screwed up my girls in this department and I am not quite sure how to get back on track. I don't want them thinking we can just "buy more" if their markers are dried out. They need to take care of their crap. 

So in trying to make sense of their inability to clean up, I decided to try to reorganize their toys. I wanted to see if I could figure out a better system that would help them be able to know where everything goes. Kind of like my psycho clothes labels (which have totally worked by the way... yes their room can be a total mess, but they are able to clean it up because they know where their clothes go). What I hate most about reorganizing is that you need to essentially make a bigger mess before you can actually accomplish it. So I proceeded to try to box up old baby toys they don't play with and sort through the endless chaos. After a while, I was to the point of just roaming around and moving things from one place to another. It just wasn't working. I took a break from that and went upstairs to start on my new gallery wall. I got stressed from hanging placement decisions so then I started on the toys in the family room which were overflowing from the basket. I began to find a mixture of toys I was just working with downstairs and got overwhelmed again. I went back to hanging pictures. 

So at this point, the family room is a disaster, the basement is an epic disaster, and I have a few pictures hung on the wall. Not awesome. The only thing I have (sort of) finished since then is the wall. 

To make things worse, all of the sorting work I did the other day in the basement has now gone completely to waste. My sister is throwing a shower this weekend and I have been watching her kids for her a few days this week to help her out. Combine a six year old, a four year old, a three year old and two two year olds in the basement because their shrieking got way too loud for my sanity, and here is the result: 

Yeah. I know. And this is just one corner. I'm also pretty sure that every one of those five children has bled at one point these past few days. Cousins who act and fight like siblings... There's nothing better. 

Yesterday I went through the books in our cabinet and had them perfectly sorted into hard cover, baby, beginner reading, chapter books, etc. Approximately 12 seconds later it looked like this: 

At least I finished hanging all of the frames and whatnot on my wall. I'll take a small victory.

So this was before: 

I did it quickly and without thinking too much. It turned out way too symmetrical, which is so annoyingly me. I measure psychotically. My sister painted curtains (don't ask), and she came over to my house so I could measure for her. She is the artistic one. I am the OCD one. "Eyeballing" gives me nightmares. 

So the wall drove me insane, and I ended up amassing a lot more frames, pictures, and a big focal piece I had custom-made from Etsy. 

The shop is Little Monkey Business. It is way adorable and they were awesome to work with. I also got our wedding date framed for Christmas from my mom... my cousin makes these and I'm obsessed. Basically, if you invite me to your wedding, this is what you will get. Here is the link to her website. She does really amazing stuff. 

I got help with the layout, did some eyeballing while hanging, and this is the result (ignore the lack of actual pictures in the frames. One step at a time): 

I had to get Emmie in it again. :o) So I love it. Some symmetry but enough randomness. It makes me happy every time I look at it, even without pictures in frames. Don't look too close because I haven't done any of the final official leveling of everything since I haven't even filled the frames. 

***updated pictures***

I also got a ginormica clock. I'm talking 49" diameter. Now I do a lot of things I probably shouldn't attempt, but I know I am only 62" tall. That ratio does not seem to work in my favor. So I was actually intelligent in this situation and asked a very handy neighbor to come hang it. It is a massive statement piece (needed, because the ceilings are so high). 

No one will ever be able to complain that they don't know when 5 o'clock is at our house... 

With my new and improved wall, and my huge clock, the space above the entertainment center looked very lonely. My sister gave me a fabulous idea (which I am half-excited/half-want to kill her for putting in my head), which I will show you when it is done. Shoot me now... 

So that is what I have accomplished over the last week. Well, in addition to an amazing 80's Valentine's Day party (The Reagan Years performed if that means anything to you. It didn't to me, but they were great). I also printed, addressed, and sent out 87 (zero exaggeration) invitations. And went to gymnastics: 

Cursed more snow: 

Went to two rescheduled Valentine's Parties (we had all those extra days and we still didn't get the Valentine's done until the night before): 

Oh and had a dance party: 

This weekend we are off on a snow tubing adventure, because we just haven't seen enough snow already this winter. Sidenote... I most definitely bought waterproof fishing gloves instead of ski gloves. My hands look like claws. Aghhhh

Happy Thursday! 


Our Sweet Summer...

Oh Summer. Our old soul, girly, ridiculously sweet, mature, stylish, kind eldest daughter. 

I am of the belief that you will never actually be ready to have kids. I don't care how long you have or haven't been trying (I mean I do care, but you know what I mean...). What hits you when you have your baby is something that absolutely no one understands until you experience it. I recently posted a quote on a friend's facebook wall who just had her first baby. It is one of my absolute favorite quotes because it really captures the essence of motherhood. 

"Making the decision to have a child- it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." -Elizabeth Stone (I don't know who she is either, but she is spot-on with this)

Matt and I got married November 17, 2006. We had previously discussed children (which I most definitely recommend prior to marriage... you think I'm joking, but I'm always shocked at the couples that just don't talk about the big stuff). We actually had a very serious conversation before even getting engaged. Around age five, I had really bad kidney reflux issues, kidney infections, etc. I had emergency surgery where they discovered peritonitis (basically an infection of the tissue surrounding my abdomen and other organs), and I ended up having my appendix out as well (for no major reason, it was totally fine. They were just in there already and why not). Since then, my doctors had warned me that I have a lot of scar tissue, which could most likely affect me getting pregnant (I know... Laughable now). So growing up/in the dating world, I considered this a possible dealbreaker for my future husband. Matt and I had a long talk about the possible difficult journey of getting pregnant, what we would do, adoption, and the like. As we had discussed, we did want to have kids relatively young so we decided to not prevent it as of Matt's birthday on February 25, 2007. We figured we could see how things went, knowing that most fertility places don't even see you until you have been trying for a year. 

So three weeks after making this decision to 'see how things go', I was just so beyond tired. I was working as a bartender at the time, and all I wanted to do after my day shift was go home, snuggle up on the couch with a glass of wine and read my book. So there I am, 22 years old, married for four months. Now when you aren't trying to prevent pregnancy, you (or maybe it's just me) think you are pregnant, like, constantly. I knew my issues but I just couldn't get past it... I'm talking I would seriously get pregnancy tests in bulk from Costco. I had taken several over the last few days (I just felt uncomfortable having anything alcohol-related without knowing for sure). All three in the past few days were negative so I just pushed it out of my head. As I sat reading my book waiting for Matt to get home, I finished my first glass of wine and decided to go for a second. As I poured it, I decided to go take just one more test. I really didn't think anything of it. I actually left the bathroom to go finish up the dishes. I returned. And that second line appeared. My heart started racing. I quickly dumped my wine down the bathroom sink. This couldn't be true. I had been preparing myself my entire life for this to be a long, difficult thing. We just got married. I am only 22. Why were my tests negative the last few days????? I am so excited. Holy crap. I don't believe it. OHHHHH wait, why are all of these tests in the trash POSITIVE?!?!? I guess that is why they tell you to wait a full three minutes for the results. I am such an idiot. Who really takes pregnancy tests wrong??? This gal. I have a living alien inside of me. Oh.My.Gosh.

With four positive tests in front of me, I still didn't believe it. I grabbed my purse and raced to the store. I got another pack of tests... and diapers. Don't ask me why. I was freaking out. After drinking about a gallon of water to make myself have to pee again, yet another test confirmed what the previous four had. 

I was pregnant. 

Happy tears streaming down my face, Matt came in the door and saw all five tests (and the diapers) lined up on the table (don't worry, I washed it after). His face was priceless. He looked at me and just said, "Are you serious??????" Even though it was a totally boring way to tell him, it was a perfect moment. 

Nine months, 47 pounds, (aka, far too many TGI Friday's Fried Green Beans) later, I gave birth to the most beautiful little person I had ever seen in my life. I will admit that labor was most definitely horrific. We got to the hospital far later than we should have (I was 8cm before I got an epidural which only ended up working on the left side of my stomach. Not helpful). Summer was way too big and was in serious fetal distress. They discovered meconium was present (she pooped in my uterus and it is majorly toxic for babies to inhale that) so a NICU nurse was brought in. I just couldn't get her out until my mom whispered to me, "Your sister (Joy) did it. Can't you?" She clearly knows me and my competitive streak because that is all it took for me to go psycho and push her out. She was limp and blue, and they immediately cut the cord and ran with her. All I heard was counting, what sounded like suctioning, rustling of tools... but no crying. All I kept saying was, "Why isn't she crying?" Thankfully I was quite unaware of how serious it was. Her one minute APGAR score (what they rate infants based on how well they are doing post-birth) was a 2, which means she required immediate life-saving efforts. She was intubated and resuscitated (I found all of this out later) and what felt like years later, I heard that first cry. And then, finally, they gave her to me. 

You are my Sweets. You are wise beyond your years. You have the memory of an elephant. You are smart, you are beautiful. You are the biggest snuggler in the world, and would sleep in mommy's arms every night if I let you. 

You were talking before a year. Full, articulate sentences by 18 months. Your 'Summerisms' are famous on Facebook. You were and still are my buddy. We were pretty much inseparable. 

You went to every bar around. You got a passport at four weeks old to go to Mexico for your Aunt Stacey's wedding. I had to lie you down on a white sheet to get this picture of you. (Try getting a four week old to look straight forward with their eyes open and hands not in their face. Good luck.)

You loved the beach and water from day one. 

You are mature. You are my fashionista. You tell me when you don't like something that I am wearing. You compliment me when you love it. By two, you fully voiced your opinion on what you wanted to wear so much so that you started picking out your surprisingly cute outfits. 

You love your daddy. And you have no idea how much he loves you. 

You love Emmie. And she is your one and only 'big sister.' 

You are silly. 

You are kind. You love everyone and everything. You are shy at times but the life of the party at others.

You are hard-working. 

Your ability to empathize with people and animals is absolutely incredible. Your preschool teacher when you were three said she had never seen a child with so much compassion. 

You love your Redskins and Caps. 

You absolutely adore your sisters and take such good care of them. 

You are our amazing Summer Grace. 

 You were the best first-born I could imagine. In fact, you spoiled us. 

Before we had you, I couldn't imagine life with you. And then, all of a sudden, after that day, I couldn't imagine life without you. You were my world. You were my craziness. You were this little person, who I just met, who I could just stare at all day long and think, "You. You were just inside of me. This is nuts." 

You made us a family. Thanks for being ours. We love you more than all of the chocolate in the world. And you know your mommy... that is a ton. 

Happy Thursday!!!

And ps... I.Hate.Snow.