Asher at High Point Creamery in Denver
The whole needing a vacation after your vacation? That almost held true for us. And we kind of got it. Omar took off the whole week once we got home. It was perfect. I don’t remember anything we did, and I’m pretty sure it’s because we did nothing.
Monday will mark two weeks since we got back from Colorado. Back from a week of playing and hiking and exploring. And not making meals. You know you’re a mother of four when the first thing that pops into your head when asked about your favorite part of Colorado is, “Not! Making! Meals! For Five! Days!” But then I recover my thoughts and say something about mountains or elk.
Thank you, kitchen staff of the YMCA of the Rockies. I love you.
But now we’re back in the routine of our days, and feeding kids and kitchen things are back on the brain. Things like this timer app called Thyme that has a timer for everything on your stove and in your oven. It’s brilliant, and I see it ending our kitchen conversations about which timer was for which dish or pot.
I had s’mores on the brain while we were out there, but somehow it just never happened. And then this morning I saw this – skillet s’mores dip. And while I should be detoxing from vacation food, it’s high on the to-make list.
And lastly, all transitions back into post-vacation reality would be made easier with a KettlePizza. I’m not usually excited by grills and grill accessories, but this. It turns your Weber charcoal grill into a pizza oven. What’s not to love?
More Colorado photos and stories to come.
Alright anyone and everyone who has been to, lived in, loves Colorado. Comment, email, or private message me and share what you love! Share what a family of six should do or see in the Granby and Denver areas of your great state. Because we’re all coming. ALL. Together. The six of us. To sleep in the same room together. For eight nights. Together.
Kidding aside, we’re all very excited. For all the traveling I’ve done, I’ve never made it to Colorado. And truth be told, I never would’ve thought it could happen in the near future. But one day last fall Omar saw an ad for a seminar titled “Imaginative Reading for Creative Preaching” in Books and Culture. He applied and got accepted. And amazingly, the kind people who have organized it have invited all the families along, too. The mornings will be class time for Omar, and then the afternoons are open for exploring and family time.
The kids are thrilled, though I know they have no concept of the sites they’ll see. My south Florida coastal children believe the big overpass in Miami is a “mountain” and think a high of 70 calls for a sweater. Their little minds are going to be blown. We got a list of everyone attending and where they live, and I believe we’re the most southern by quite a distance. We will be wimps in the evening and early morning temps but we’ll be tan wimps.
So here we go. Next Sunday is the day. Let there be short security lines and seconds on in-flight peanuts.
The other day the kids watched the original Cheaper By the Dozen (they loved it). This led to a discussion at dinner about what would happen if we had 12 kids. Typically in the oft-occuring discussions led by my tribe about how we need many more kids, I can’t stop laughing to participate in the conversation. But that day I held myself together to add to the discussion.
Prompted by the movie, Lenna was very concerned about who would take care of all 12 kids if Omar were to die:
Me: I will!
Lenna: Are you sure you know how to take care of children?
Me: Pretty sure.
Lenna: I know how to.
Me: How does it work?
Lenna: You wake them up in the morning, dress them, feed them ice cream, play, go to bed, and then wake up and do it all over again. And then again! And again!
Me: Amen, sister.
It’s the “again-ness” that can get to me. I can easily get overwhelmed by the sameness and repetition. But to my girl? It is beautiful. To wake up again! And do the same things again! To just be with each other again! And truly she is right. It is.
You were waking with the sun.
You were coffee delivered in bed while the littlest stirred awake.
You were hours spent on the couch reading The Penderwicks to little people who offered to rub feet and brush hair in appreciation.
You were siblings arguing and fussing and forgiving. Repeat.
You were a friend stopping by to have a much needed 1/2 hour of adult conversation. Even if that 1/2 hour included holding my baby who gifted her with drool upon drool.
You were an extraordinarily napping Asa.
You were swim lessons and splashing under a cloudy sky.
You were cookies.
You were a girl who watched her brother suddenly stop screaming when put in the sling and said in all seriousness, “Well, that was magical.”
You were a completely below average dinner.
You were a boy feeling queasy who just needed to fall asleep on the couch. I think I believe him, but who plays around when it comes to queasiness?
You were that perfect mix of good and hard.
My computer died about a year ago. And then my old camera started acting up. And then I got pregnant and couldn’t have cared less about computers and cameras. And then I got a new camera. And had a baby. And became completely overwhelmed as to how I should go about finding and organizing all my old photos. And so I did nothing. And then my grandma visited.
And while she was visiting she asked to borrow all of my blog books (I’ve had the first few years of my blog published in book format). When she did this it made me curious, and I went back and read through them, too. Simple and funny stories of kids. Food we’ve made. Places we’ve traveled. Just life. This all made me realize that I currently don’t have the same record of life that I did from a few years ago. This blog just hasn’t found a place in my days as much as it used to. But I want a record of days, no matter how normal and repetitive they can be. So I worked up the courage, tackled hard drives, and found a safe and accessible spot for all (well, most all…) of my photos.
And now here we are.
Back to stories of things my kids say.
Back to things I’m learning.
Back to things I’m reading.
Back to learning more about my new camera that still fascinates yet also unnerves me.
Back to pictures of things I’ve made. Like vanilla cream and fresh fruit tarts that don’t quite come together the way that they should, but that make excellent deconstructed tart bowls.
Back to pictures upon pictures of Asa yawning and sleeping and smiling and fussing because like all seem to say these days, babies don’t keep.
It kills me that this photo is fuzzy. But it’s perfect and real. I love it. And I love them. Elisha’s birthday was yesterday, and I spent a lot of yesterday thinking back on the past eight years. I think it was partly because the picture above kept showing up in my head. My oldest holding my youngest. My oldest old enough to hold and carry and help care for my youngest.
Some days it feels like the past eight years have flown. On other days I’m so weary I want to do that whole combined years nonsense. You know like when a group of people or business want to inflate their experience by combining the total working years of the people involved. For me it would sound like, “But I’ve been parenting for a combined total of eighteen years, seven months, and eight weeks.”
But it has been a mere eight years. Eight years of learning what it means that children are a blessing from the Lord. Eight years of learning how to best love my children. Eight years of learning how to serve my children. Eight years ago today Elisha wasn’t much smaller than Asa. And today he is a lanky boy who is the big brother to three, who loves to draw and talk about all things Harry Potter and whistle and make Lego creations and make us coffee in the mornings.
And that last thing? It’s amazing. He loves doing it. We want to shout it to the rooftops to encourage parents with kids smaller than ours, wading through the toddler years, that yes! that toddler of yours will one day make you coffee! and bring you a mug in bed! And you will love him and kiss him and praise him for it.
when there is rain in the forecast
when the house is dark and cool and shadows are long
when roasts are roasting
when we finish up school before lunch
when Asher declares this the Best Day Ever! because school finished up before lunch
when I think I’ve figured out some of the changes that are needed for next year’s homeschooling
when Asa shows the slightest hint of a smile
when Lenna’s older brothers praise her Lego creation
when kid bickering is minimal
when Omar and I go on a date for his birthday…kidless
when kids pick out pretty hilarious gifts for their father (I nixed the idea of giving him a dollar bill on top of a box)
when Elisha whistles on pitch to every song that plays on the stereo
when books are read: The 21 Balloons and Jan Brett books for kids, Stephen King (the non-horror variety) for me
when I see the boy below reading all the time
There have been moments over the past few weeks when four kids seemed like 40. Lots of questions and squabbles and things they must tell me now and tears all at the same time. Or like when the A/C guy came in the other day and the kids started doing their darting around quickly thing and the baby started fussing and everyone was in the same smallish room, I really think I saw the A/C guy counting how many kids there were. I know there’s only four but in that moment it felt like tons.
But on the whole, four has been smooth. We’re finding our groove in school again. Everyone is sleeping rather well. I even baked muffins the other day, people. And that was much to Asher’s shock. Have him tell you about it, and he’ll make it sound like it has been ages! eons! forever! since that happened.
You know how when there is a big event on the horizon for a long time (graduation, start date of a job, wedding, birth, etc) your mind can’t really see life past that date? Well, now life is happening past that date, and while some days are a struggle most are full of good things. Mondays are our “sabbath,” and I’m finding I am guarding them more than I have in a long time. Everyone needs the rest. Everyone needs a break in the routine. And like last Monday proved, everyone needs a doughnut from a local shop and a trip to the wildlife sanctuary sometimes.
He came quickly on a Friday morning. And like those that have come before him, the Ortiz genes beat out mine in the facial features department. But he can always say he got long fingers and skinny, big feet from his mama. Nice. Omar and I placed bets on his weight. We both undershot and lost. There turned out to be 9 lbs and 2 oz of baby boy tucked up in me.
What follows are pictures upon pictures. Our hospital room had spectacular lighting, so the camera came out more than with any other kiddo. They told me I could possibly go home the day after I had him. When I started laughing they agreed to another day. I love the quiet and nothing-to-do-ness of the hospital. And if we hadn’t had that second night, then Omar and I wouldn’t have had a “date” after the visitors left complete with wine and cheese and a most romantic viewing of Clear and Present Danger.
The kids love. LOVE. this new little guy. Asa will never know what “personal space” is, but I think he’ll be ok with that. He has yet to flinch or be startled when they burst into a room or hold him in awkward positions. Perhaps he really is familiar with their voices. What does startle him? Me eating nuts. Gets him every time.
The nurses were fantastic at the hospital. The oldest three were fascinated with the many bracelets Asa and I wore. And when they saw Omar wearing one, they asked if they could have one, too. A kind nurse obliged and made some up for them. The photo below is proof of their excitement.
Asa’s already a regular at a favorite restaurant of ours. A restaurant where we ate on my birthday just the day before he arrived and where we returned four days later so I could enjoy a beer rather than a milkshake.
I remember the nights being the hardest with the first kiddos. With Elisha it was figuring out the whole parenting, nursing, sleeping, everything. With Asher there was a toddler in the house, and well, I get exhausted just looking back on it all. And Lenna? There was a 2 year old and a 4 old. Again, makes me tired just thinking about it. But now that the youngest is almost 4, there’s a lot less “neediness” in the house and a lot more independence. Now I look forward to the nights. The house is quiet, and it’s the time we get one-on-one time with this boy.
I am so glad you are here, Asa Joel.
I have never found myself on a 39th week pregnant sewing spree. Until this time. It has accomplished a few things: biding my time, getting rid of my fabric stash, and making things that are actually useful for a baby.
The Boppy cover was a quick sew with this fabric, and now I can add zippers to my sewing repertoire.
The embellished burp cloths kind of confuse me. You cover the place they spit up on with not the most absorbent fabric? Yes. Because it’s cute. Done.
Have you seen the prices on the simple cotton gauze swaddle blankets on the market? 40 bucks for 3 or 4? Or a few bucks for some fabric at Joann’s. Add in a box of dye and you’ve got yourself an ombre swaddle blanket.
And finally a simple quilt. No binding, measuring, or pinning required. I’ve had the Echino Japanese fabric for 5 years now and decided to stop waiting for the perfect sewing inspiration and just make use of it.
Sewing spree complete.
Asher asks me the most often when Asa will get here. Asher asks me the most questions about anything. And everything. All the time. He asked me if I would teach him how to use my new camera. Um, not quite yet, buddy. He asks me which of his Lego models is my favorite. Or which of his shirts I like on him the most. Or why they call the eye socket a socket. Or how long it takes to build a city.
On the way to the coffee shop this morning he asked what will happen when the red chariot you see below gets just a bit snugger when we add a 5th kid to the mix. I said that’s just probably not going to happen.
He did not like that answer.
Since everyone in the world has seemingly given birth except for me (including a friend’s dog which oddly made me jealous, too), I’ve been trying to break out of the childbirth tunnel vision and get excited about other things in life. Like my new camera.
After almost two years of researching and saving and researching and changing my mind and a little more researching, I settled on the Fuji x100s. I was already leaning away from purchasing another DSLR when I stumbled upon this guy. I had spent the previous three years shooting almost solely with my 35mm lens. I was also using my phone more and leaving the bigger camera at home. And the camera I initially wanted to upgrade to was even bigger than the one I already had. Articles like this one by Zack Arias (this guy loves fuji…whoa) and this one started popping up on my radar, and it didn’t take long for me to decide to go for the Fuji x100s or something similar.
The camera came a few days ago, so I thought I’d share a few test shots. There’s nothing very creative or mind-blowing here and they are all straight out of the camera. I’d heard there was a learning curve, so I’ve been shooting anything and everything. And the daily life of a 9 month pregnant woman isn’t exactly thrilling, so here you go.
The skin tones are just lovely on this. The built-in neutral density filter really is great. I shot the outside pictures here in harsh light. It was overcast and noon. But it made me realize that the camera follows the “Sunny 16 rule” almost perfectly.
And how about automatic mode? Omar will use this mainly in auto mode, so I’ve been playing around a lot with it, too, in case I decided I wanted to program some settings on it. But it’s quite good. It underexposes outside a bit (kind of expected that), but indoors? and at night? Check out the sixth picture down. It’s a random picture of my living room at night, but it’s a real life everyday lighting situation. Its exposure blows away any photo my old nikon took on auto at night. The colors are true to life.
And now I’d give anything to practice on a baby.
of waiting for Asa
of being absolutely convinced I will be pregnant forever
of everybody, except that girl you see above, dropping like flies from one sickness or another
of introducing that concept of movie marathons (Harry Potter 1-3) to kids because of the above
of me reading to kids (everything from The Apprentice to Little House on the Prairie to Dragons Love Tacos)
of kids reading to me (I am loving this)
of me reading to me (Desiring the Kingdom by James K.A. Smith, 11/22/63 by Stephen King, Parenting With Love and Logic by Cline and Fay, Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller)
of not finishing any books because I started too many at once
of washing and folding little boy clothes
of working my way through recipes in Whole-Grain Mornings: New Breakfast Recipes to Span the Seasons (make this oatmeal! and then make these muffins!)
of fitting in dates with Omar before Asa comes
of Swedish pancakes with butter and lingonberry jam breakfast dates
of Chinese food lunch dates
of corn and crab beignet dinner dates
of kind and generous family and friends helping with kids and meals and my sanity
trying to establish a more consistent and calm Saturday evening routine
stories with kids
back scratches with kids
putting kids to bed on the early side
listening to kids read and chat because it’s on the early side
lining them up
folding some laundry
leaving some laundry
coffee waiting for the “on” button
colored bowls all in a row
It’s been strange/fun to watch this girl become so excited knowing that she gets to be a big sister. I haven’t even had to do much prepping in this department. She’s quick to inform me as to what she will be doing in this new role. Today she told me she would take care of wet diapers. The other day she was floored (FLOORED!) that she was not going to be there at the hospital for the whole birth. A few days ago, Omar was having a familial chat with the kids about being extra kind and helpful when Asa comes because mama will need to give him a lot of attention in the beginning. “And he’ll need LOTS of attention from Lenna, too!” she chimed in.
She loves to come up and talk to the belly and touch it. And comment on it. Many a recent morning I walk into the kitchen and she cries out, “Wow, Mama! He is sooo big!” Thanks, kid.