My Valentines

I have to admit that I get almost as excited about Valentines as I do Christmas.  Clearly, the birth of Jesus means more to me than a Hallmark holiday.  And what I love about Valentines has very little to do with Hallmark.  My mom always made Valentines a family celebration.  She didn't make a huge deal of it, but always made it special.  Well, I say always...when did we start that tradition?  Maybe it was once I became an only child...which is the way things always should have been.  Ha!  Just kidding.  I can never pass up an opportunity to drop my brother in the bucket.  Truth is I wouldn't trade my big brother for much.  Anyway, once she inaugurated the tradition, Mom would get us just a little something special (usually something chocolate and raspberry) and cook a nice dinner.  That was really it.  But I really enjoyed it.  And another truth is, sometimes I get too wrapped up in the routines and rhythms of the day and forget to stop and say/show love.  One of my big ways of showing love is through service and so I think if I am washing their underwear and making their dinner they should know I love them.  But it does not always work that way.  So Valentines is a chance for me to practice saying it and showing it in their language...which for Olivia means candy and Joseph, physical affection and Greta, one on one attention and Henry, milk.  For Mike all of the above...except probably the milk. :)

 And of course we had to sing Happy Birthday and blow out candles because we were eating cinnamon rolls and we usually eat those on birthdays and Greta thinks whenever you light a candle or eat cinnamon rolls you have to sing Happy Birthday.

The After Party

Oh, the drama

Can you even guess what her problem is?  

"Don't take my piiiictuuuure!"
Sheesh, chill out.
I usually would not force the issue, but by this point I was documenting the fit she was pitching, not the cute outfit.


So they did.

And with very little help.

Boy howdy

She makes me crazy and keeps me sane at the same time.  Is that possible?  I never cursed much out loud in front of the children before she came.  But, yes, that's right, there has been a shit or two let loose around here in recent the time she peed on the living room rug...and the time she peed 3 times in one day (not in the potty).  This girl knows how to use the potty.  Don't let her fool you.  In fact, she may be the smartest of all our kids at this age (no offense other kids).  She's got a vocabulary of a 5th grader.  She can cut her supper with a fork and a knife (that's right we let 2-year-olds use knives in our house - under the premise that it is always safer if they just know how to use it correctly - or the premise that we just looked over and she was doing it correctly so we just let her carry on - I don't remember for sure which premise it was).  She's been able to dress herself, including sock and shoes since, well I don't really remember how long she's been doing that, so for drama's sake let's say since she was 15 months!  I am pretty sure she could nurse Henry if given the opportunity.  Just kidding, he's still a little too heavy for her to pick up.  
 I love a kid with hands in their pockets.
 Always wants to be involved and included.  Likely asking here, "Isn't it bootiful?"
 Real show of love - sharing the Popo.  Though she has always loved Henry.  It was me she was a little perturbed at when we brought him home.
 Once again, wants to be included - big kids are learning piano, so she has to practice too.
 Packing up for our trip to Palomar Mtn.  We told her to expect snow.

I'm not sure how it all works, but she does keep me grounded as much as she makes me feel like I am losing my mind.  I guess she helps me remember not to take myself, my plans, the cleanliness of my home, etc too seriously.  She forces me to slow down and give her the attention she needs.  She pushes me to the absolute edge and then in an effort to reconcile and end the day in peace, I reach over her crib, stroke her chubby little cheek and whisper good night.  She rolls over and roars at me.  And we both go to bed with a smile on our face.

Flamingo with your coffee?

The one where they try to catch a bird

We have a couple of feeders up now that we are really enjoying - one we can see out the front windows and the other is right outside our dining room window.  Getting them up and filled got the kids excited...and thinking...that maybe they could catch one.  So, they gathered their materials...
 ...set the trap...
 ...and waited - at a safe distance so as not to scare the birds.

To date none have been caught, but you never know...

Calendar Boy - January

One day I will really work on my photography.  As it is, I will just keep snapping pictures to supplement my quickly fading memory.  Here are a few to keep up with Henry's growth.  
 His sisters do love him; although, I think this one scares a little sometimes.  Especially when she looks a little wild due to a haircut need.
 Pushing up!  I was so diligent to get the first two on their bellies for tummy time.  I remember the day, when Greta was around 6 months old and I realized I had never put her on her tummy.  They still develop.  Pish posh to all the silly charts!

 I mean who couldn't develop with all these cheerleaders?

 Still love and use the hats made by our friend Jewell Maghee in St. Louis.