Thursday, February 22, 2018

On the eve of 5

Dear Jackson,

I rarely update this little blog anymore, but for your birthday, dear Jackie boy, I come back to this little space of the Internet reserved for our family and I commemorate your birth. When you were born the doctor said you were born like Superman, shoulders square (we can discuss your payment plan for the damages later) ready to take flight. Looking back, that description fits you perfectly. You are hero obsessed, always cheering on the good guys and taking down the bad ones. What's more, though, is you are always looking forward, ready to take flight. You are all personality. Every inch of you exudes emotion and feeling and I so love that about you.

When you are happy you are SO SO SO happy. You light up a room. Your dance moves are epic and watching you dance brings me so much joy because you just let music move you. You tell me you love me no less than 100 times a day, in little out-of-the-blue moments that always catch me by surprise. I hope you do that until forever because it's my favorite. You love your sisters in equal measure and take care to watch out for them. Even though you aren't the oldest, you are the biggest, and I truly believe you would take down anyone who dared hurt Lily or Harper. Despite your protective nature, you look up to Lily like she's a goddess and live for 4pm when she gets off the bus. I know Harper can cramp your style sometimes (9-month-olds are so needy!), but it's always big bro-bro to the rescue when she is crying or needs a snuggle-hug. You've loved little Harps since before she was here and your gentle nature with her is heart melting.

This year has been a big growing year. You're counting, and reciting the alphabet, and learning to spell and read. You are make huge strides in pre-K and are very much looking forward to Kindergarten in the fall. You sweetly ask if Lily will hold your hand and walk you to class and in my heart I whisper that I hope you will ask her to hold your hand forever, through everything. You are curious, and talkative, and that means I am asked a million questions I rarely have answers to (thanks, Google).

My only boy, my sweet middle child, you are sunshine in so many lives. I cannot believe that you are already 5 years old. It seems like just yesterday we were shocked at your birth weight and nervous to bring you home to a crazy 2 year old sister. I hope you keep saying silly things and making up funny stories and singing crazy songs. Our world can be a scary place, buddy, but knowing that you are in it means that it is all the better. Keep shining my little superhero. Here's to 5!

Love, Your mama

Monday, August 14, 2017

My dearest little Harper,

I never blog anymore, so I haven't written nearly the number of posts about you that I have about your brother and sister. I have your monthly pictures, but no monthly updates. You were born nearly 4 months ago, but there's been no birth story.

So what have I been doing?

Well, I've been staring into your big, blue eyes. I've been smiling at you, just so you'll grin back. I've been breathing in your baby smells and committing each detail of your baby-ness into my memory because you are our last baby. You don't sleep very well during the day, but have been a great night sleeper since the second week of your life. You have these delicious rolls on your legs and arms and have this adorable double chin that you've had since you were born. You squeal and giggle and coo because you have already figured out that getting a word in around here is a challenge and you need to start early if you're going to a word in. You are the apple of Lily's eye and will be forever protected by Jackson. You like to grab my hair while your nurse. You also seem to like me a lot because you cried for basically everyone else until about a week ago. You are a little angel right here on earth and I am so happy to be your mama.

So you may not have the number of blog posts dedicated to you that your brother and sister do, but know that my time has not been wasted. I've been loving on you. Soaking up these early months of your life before you aren't a baby anymore. I've been sharing the pride and joy that Lily and Jackson just exude when the see you. You complete us in every way. I am so glad you're here.

Love, Mama

Friday, February 24, 2017

Jackson is 4!

Dear Jackson,

It's hard for me to believe, but you are officially 4! You've been looking forward to turning 4 for months, and now you are a certified 4 year old. You are the shiniest star I know. You are sweet, silly, sensitive, and goofy. You have so many friends at school, who, as you lamented, "follow me around too much". You are just so funny that other people are attracted to your personality. You are a little lover through and through. You love your sister, mommy, and daddy. Right now, though, you really love the baby. You love to see my belly and talk to the baby and give him or her hugs and kisses. You whisper "love you baby" and "Hi! I am your big brother!" at least once a day. I know you will be the sweetest, most protective big brother that any sibling could ask for.

This year you have really come into your own. You are certainly not a baby anymore; you are a kid through and through. You love to play outside; right now you love to swing, play baseball, and play any kind of chase game. You aren't very interested in learning to write, but you enjoy going to school. Your favorite things are Batman (and other superheroes), Paw Patrol, Power Rangers, and Trolls. You've watched the Troll movie about 50 times since you first saw it a week ago and you always tell me that love is in our hearts. Batman has been your love for over a year now, and it doesn't seem to be letting up. You've really opened a new world to me, as I was not very familiar with much about Batman (or any other hero) beyond the very basic stories I knew from children's books and movies. You still say funny things like panpakes and yogrit. You love to eat buttered bread and even suggested it as a good birthday dinner idea. You are a little obsessed with your hair and can't stand when you have duck fluff sticking up.

While you seem to be growing up so quickly, I still see traces of your baby self when you climb in my lap and nuzzle your head in my shoulder or when you fall asleep on the sofa. I couldn't imagine a sweeter boy. You make my life so much funnier and happier. You have boundless love for your friends and family. I love each surprise your bring into our lives. I can't remember my life without you in it, nor would I want to.

Love you stinkeroodle mctoodle!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Summer/Early Fall Weddings

This year we were lucky enough to attend 4 beautiful weddings. Two of the weddings--my cousin Greg's and Tom's cousin Lauren's-- were trapped in the camera. I can finally show off some of our summer travels!

In July we traveled to California for my cousin Greg's wedding. We spent about 24 hours in San Francisco before going north to Guerneville. We stayed at a beautiful bed and breakfast on the Russian River. The pictures really do not do justice to the beauty of our surroundings.

In September, Tom's cousin Lauren got married at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Southern MD. Being the proud Loyola Alum that I am, I basically geeked out over the location. The area was gorgeous and we had an awesome time celebrating!

The kneelers were all embroidered! They were beautiful!


We have a camera cord, so now pictures will come fast and furious! This year for Halloween we continued our tradition of trick-or-treating with the Hohlfelds. It's a fun tradition and the kids have a great time together. A few of the best shots from the evening...

Saturday, November 5, 2016

17 Weeks Pregnant with Baby B #3

Well, I am almost officially halfway through this pregnancy, so I figured maybe I would blog about it. I haven't blogged lately because I like to include pictures, but I cannot find my camera cord anywhere. This is a problem. Once I find that cord I will update everything that's happened between August and now {this will likely culminate in an EPIC photo dump}.

To catch you up-- in early August I found out I was pregnant. Things were fine for the first 4 few weeks. Just short of week 5 the morning sickness started with much more vengeance than it did for either Lily or Jackson. I wasn't at all sick with Lily, just tired. With Jackson, I experienced some morning sickness between weeks 6-13, but then it subsided. This time I full one threw up once day. I was nauseous most of the time, and was completely exhausted. It probably didn't help much that all of this coincided with the opening of the school year. The result: the first trimester trudged along (and I mean trudged). I was sick from 5 weeks-15 weeks. I still feel sick when I wake up in the morning, and generally need to eat immediately. I cannot tolerate coffee with caffeine {sadness}, and some days cannot tolerate coffee at all. I have only gained about 2 pounds up to this point, I think because of the sickness and because it's hard to eat a lot at meals (I am not complaining about this...).

There are some perks of being almost mid-way through. I got to hear the heartbeat at 14 weeks. A beautiful 160 beats per minute. On November 16 we have our anatomy scan. We are not finding out the sex of the baby this time around, but I am just as excited to see the baby. We decline the genetic testing, so this will be our first peek.

If this baby follows in his or her siblings' footsteps, there will be some sort of surprise. Lily had choroid plexus cysts, which resulted in follow-up scans (the cysts did go away). Jackson had an echogenic bowel, which also resulted in follow-up scans. It, too, went away. The doctor attributed it my body being a good body to scan. Apparently, some women can have more detailed, brighter ultrasounds than others, which can result in the fetus appearing brighter in parts of the scan. This history of surprises does make me nervous. It helps that both potential problems were resolved in subsequent scans, but there is still some nervousness there.

I am also starting to feel some movement from the baby. It's not consistent yet, but it's definitely there. This is my absolute favorite thing about being pregnant. I am looking forward to stronger movements, so the kids can feel the baby on the outside. They have been so excited about having a sibling. Jackson likes to kiss my belly and say, "mommy, I love babies!" Today, Lily exclaimed, "God, thank-you for letting mommy have another baby!!" They are just so happy this little baby will be joining us in April (I will update this once they realize that newborns cry a lot).

We've started planning out what we need (very little), what we have (a lot), and what we can give away (also a lot). We will have some adjustments to make to the house-- need to convert Lily's room to Lily and Jack's room-- and we need to update the nursery. I got the cloth diapers out and sorted; they just need to be washed (later, closer to my due date). We also sorted through all of the baby clothes and tried to figure out some storage system, so we can be prepared when the baby is born.

Overall, I am very excited for everything to come. I am trying to savor every part of this pregnancy because I know it will be the last one. Three kids is the limit in our house, so I want to enjoy everything I can about being pregnant and, eventually, in April, having a newborn. I feel so lucky to have such a great support system of family and friends who are also excited to share this journey. Like Lily said, thank-you, God, for letting mommy have another baby! I am certainly very grateful.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Black Lives Matter

There have been a lot of loud voices lately saying, why do only black lives matter? All lives matter! Well, friends, I can tell you why, right now, there is an urgency regarding black lives...because they really haven't mattered. Yes, my white friends, the lives of our black friends haven't mattered. They didn't matter when we brought them over on boats and held them as slaves, they didn't matter when the Founding Fathers espoused freedom and equality and went home to plantations filled with slaves, and, this may be news to people, but, even as our nation elected its first black president, black lives still didn't matter.

We are kidding ourselves if we think we live in a society that values equality. When you look at a black man and wonder, before anything, if he is a thug or a criminal...When a black woman has strong opinions and suddenly she's an angry black woman...When parents choose not to send their child to "that school" because they have "heard things", but really the school is predominately black (and therefore bad). When these things happen we are reinforcing the deep rifts that our system was built upon.

I am setting aside anything involving police violence here because even without those murders, black lives haven't mattered nearly as much as those of their white counterparts. Unfortunately, white privilege allows us to not worry so much about it and, foolishly, say things like all lives matter (even when we don't mean it-- I've seen many people blow off (and say terrible things about) refugee lives, immigrant lives, etc...).

As an educator, my role is so important in helping my students navigate their role in this movement. I worry because it is, sort of, a leaderless movement. I look to the Civil Rights Movement as an example and see leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. The demonstrations, sit-ins, and protests were well orchestrated and organized. The leaders were calculated in their movements and messages. It's not that the current movement doesn't have a message--it does--but I worry that without a few strong leaders the movement won't be as strong or unified as it could, or should, be. Either way, I want my students to feel empowered. I want them to feel like their voices can be heard and that they are valued. I want to give them literature, essays, poems, and speeches from which they can draw strength and power. I want them to teach me. 

My eyes are wide open as we negotiate these turbulent times. I am an eager student of the time and, I hope, can be a sounding board for my students as they work to make sense of their role and their identity within this movement. #blacklivesmatter #mystudentsmatter