8 month Asa

My littlest boy is 8 months. He is now very curious and seemingly has some sort of paper radar. He loves it. It wears me out. And though his curiosity leads him all around the house, he’s still content to lounge on our lap. (I’m actually typing this with him snuggled up on me. Sigh.) I don’t remember having an 8 month so willing to just hang out on us. His family fan club of five showers him with more attention and kisses than I thought was possible. He’ll eat whatever is on your plate, minus any avocado. He’s crawling and cruising and stood up on his own. Once. And it scared him so he screamed. He’s a delight.

october came and quickly left

October was full of birthdays for seven year olds. Of cider doughnuts to celebrate the season opening of West Palm’s green market. Of children scheming and planning Halloween costumes. Of boys dressed up as Percy Jackson, Draco Malfoy, and a pumpkin. Of a girl dressed up as a fairy. Of afternoons spent in the backyard running and playing. Of gardens growing. Of trips to huge Ikeas. Of ambitious spray painting projects. Of exterior paint samples, after exterior paint samples, after exterior paint samples. Of a baby Asa who is as joyful as they come. Of older brothers who have discovered the fun of the duet. Of pumpkins carved. Of first immigration law classes finished. Of the realization that this might, indeed, be the fastest year there ever was.

oh, television, how often i love you…and hate you, but that’s for a different day.

Some day soon I want to write out what we’ve been doing for school this year. I want the record of it. I want to remember what this stage was like. I like to think I can simply remember on my own…that doesn’t work. I also love to read what others are reading and teaching and learning themselves. So much of what I do with my kids is based on what I’ve learned from others.

But sometimes those lists are overwhelming to others. But don’t we (mostly) know that those lists don’t tell the whole story? I am not one who finishes every book or assignment that goes along with a specific curriculum. I don’t even use much of the curriculum in the way the writers intended.

Today I am ignoring all the books and all the curriculum lists.

Because I am sick.

Because when you’re sick and coughing and feverish and find yourself in the, for the duration of the sickness, unfortunate position of being a homeschool family, the very last thing you want to be doing is teaching and reading to your kids. And still being on the young side, the kids can only complete so many assignments, chores, or piano practice sessions on their own before I need to step in. And while I would love to have hours of independent reading time on sick days, 30 minutes is about all they can take in one sitting. Here is where I declare without shame:


And did you know you can cover almost all the 2nd/3rd grade educational bases with tv shows? YOU CAN!

So here is my current line-up of shows that correspond (somewhat) with what we’re learning. It’s a list that won’t overwhelm you. It’s a list that will make you look forward to that next sick day(s). It’s a list that will demonstrate that we do, indeed, watch television. It’s a list that makes me thankful for television. And finally, it’s a list that will make you and your budget thankful for the internet and local library. I’ve gotten all of these through the library, Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Youtube.

History :: Liberty’s Kids and This is America, Charlie Brown and various Nest Learning historical biographies (whatever our library carries)

Geography :: Where On Earth is Carmen Sandiego? and the occasional Rick Steves’ travel show. (It brings back childhood memories.)

Science :: We’ve got options here, especially related to chemistry, which is what we’re focusing on this year. Want to combine home ec with science? Alton Brown’s Good EatsCartoon series? The Magic School Bus. Straight-up science (on the cheesy side) that reminds me of something I would’ve watched in school? Rock N Learn science DVDs. Animal science? Wild Kratts. It’s scary the kinds of things my kids know about animals from this show.

Math :: We’re learning all about money, and Rock N Learn has a money DVD, as does School House Rock.

Bible :: What’s In the Bible? Hands down, the best tv show that explains the bible to kids.

Spanish :: Salsa Spanish language program produced by Georgia Public Broadcasting.

7 year old 2nd

Somehow it’s been 7 years since Asher was born.

He’s an easy birthday kiddo. He requested pancakes, a watch, and Smashburger. Done, done, and done.

Lego are still his toy of choice, but now we just toss him the box and instructions. Before, I used to choose which set we’d get him based on number of pieces, because anything over a 100 or so used to make me hyperventilate. Now, if we each had the same set in front of us, he’d probably beat me to the finished product.

But that wouldn’t be good for our relationship because we both have a competitive streak a mile long, and sad to say, it’s not our best quality. Ha. I’m trying to tame the person inside that lets her 7 year old’s taunts during a game make her want to take him down.

I love this boy. He’s a lover of books and swimming and chess and make believe. And he’s just not that little anymore. Yesterday morning I realized that with the oldest two we are sort of past the “says funny things all the time” stage. I like to think that’s one reason we have one still in that stage and one waiting in the wings because really, who doesn’t love the insane stuff 2-5 year olds say? But then Asher gave me what I like to think of as a parting gift from that stage. Omar and I were talking about Asa and food. Omar casually asked me to help him remember when babies start eating finger foods. Asher quickly piped up with, “Finger foods? You mean like cream puffs?”

Yes, buddy. Like cream puffs. I love you.

the business of partnering and serving

A friend asked me some questions about my marriage. Partnering and serving came to mind. Prayerfully striving to be a partner and servant to each other are our goals. And doing so in tangible ways. Ways that often times are not glamorous. Ways that look like this morning.

He told me to take the day off. Come home to nurse Asa but then just go.

So I stood in the bedroom getting ready to just go. The kids were at the table. A certain daughter became unhinged when she was told there were no more frozen blueberries for her oatmeal.

“But!…But!…(sob)…My oatmeal won’t turn purple now!! (sob sob)”

He breaks out the freakishly colored food colorings. Boom. Girl had her purple oatmeal, one boy had blue oatmeal that tinted his teeth, and the other chose green which turned his gloopy oatmeal an awful color that reminded me of things we don’t need to talk about.

He says he’ll take the kids to Costco. They’ll love him for it, even on a Monday morning when the samples are sure to be scarce. They’ll talk him into pizza. And he’ll love caving to them.

One boy coughs and hacks and we use up the last of the expired medicines. So he says he’ll take him to the doctor for a quick checkup. With the others.

“Now he’s just showing off,” I think to myself.

But I laugh knowing this is not true.

This is the man who took all four kids to Costco when Asa was just a two week old. I woke up from a nap and everyone had gone off sampling.

I’ve never taken all four to the doctor’s office by myself. I think I’ll continue to try and keep up my streak. He’s more adventurous than me.

I know that what serving and partnering look like will change through the course of our years. But for now, food coloring the oatmeal, doctor visits and the like are where serving and partnering take us. And I love him for it.

evening comes

The morning was full of school. Sometimes they surprise me with the parts of school they love. Today I read them The Mouse of Amherst as part of Morning Time. A book about Emily Dickinson told from the perspective of a little mouse poet? I thought the boys might last a page or two, but they loved it. And then reciting our grammar definitions? Couldn’t get enough of it. Weirdos.

The afternoon was full of non-napping babies, a not so quiet quiet time for the older kids, and me trying to figure out how to read for my Intro to Immigration Law class (which I’m taking to help start up an immigration ministry at our church) in the midst of not napping and no quiet.  It’s been awhile since I’ve taken a class, but I’m loving it thus far, even with all the acronyms.

The early evening was full of driving to try to lull an Asa to sleep (negative). So I did what all wise moms with fathers out of town do: go to Costco for samples. And it was a jackpot. Not only did we eat chicken quesadillas, hummus and pita chips, and more, but there was also a little something for Asa. 3 samples of banana/applesauce = dinner for Asa. First time Costco sample win. His sixth month is starting out on a high note.

The late evening will start with me trying to work my way through a book stack that is too tall at the moment. But as my eyelids start to weigh down at the embarrassingly early hour of 8, I’ll switch to my current television addiction, A Chef’s Life, that takes place not too far from where my parents used to live in eastern North Carolina. It makes me hungry and even a bit homesick (which is funny because I never really lived there long term) for that part of the country.

today in September

Today was a day off for Omar.

Today there were older two kids at a class, a girl at the grandparents, and a baby with us.

Today there was coffee.

And coffeecake.

Today there were drawing lessons and piano lessons with the grandparents in the afternoon. 

And a napping baby in their room.

This all equals a Curbside Gourmet lunch date for Omar and me.

I’ll have the buttermilk fried chicken sandwich with a side of crab cake sliders, thank you.

And together we talked books and kids and our town. 

This was all followed by an afternoon at my parents.

Kids scootering, baby drooling, turkey roasting.

I figured I should clear last year’s never-cooked turkey out of the freezer to make way for the next one. 

Then a crazy rainbow followed us home, and we saw half of our town out enjoying it.

Kids crashed.

Mama crashed.

And now there is chai, Bach, and my bed, which is surely the trifecta of something.

sometimes a light

Sometimes a light surprises 
The Christian while he sings; 
It is the Lord Who rises 
With healing in His wings: 
When comforts are declining, 
He grants the soul again 
A season of clear shining, 
To cheer it after the rain
Sometimes A Light Surprises // W. Cowper & K. Twit

I love this hymn. 

I’ve been thinking about it lately.

I need to stop thinking about and sing it more. Out loud.

Maybe I’ll corner you and belt you out a verse.

This season? It is clear shining after a season of rain. A rain that made things and thoughts foggy. A rain that seemed to wash out our path except for the space a foot in front of us. 

This ministry thing Omar and I are a part of…it’s tough. And yet also good and beautiful. But it can be filled with hurt that runs deep. And confusion and doubt and the desire, at times, to just get out of it. Sometimes I think the life of an accountant sounds lovely. But even if our life revolved around the world of accounting, we would still be part of a body of believers. We would take vows to be part of a church family. And I am well aware that there would be many similarities with regards to the joys and hurts of life lived in ministry.

I write little about our church here, and on the whole, I think that is wise and it will probably always remain that way, but I realized the other day that there have been plenty of times where I thought if I could only share and write about some of the crazy that has come our way, then I would feel better (cause it’s all about my feelings…ha). And let me tell you, friends, there’s lots of crazy in this world. But it’s not so much that. There is crazy everywhere and always, ministry or not. We just get the (sometimes odd) privilege of witnessing some of the depths of it. 

But I was convicted that there have been few times where I’m dying to just get on here and share the good, the beautiful, the encouraging. So, here I am. 

I am proud of our little church. I am proud of the people who’s eyes are being opened to the changes that are so rapidly happening in our neighborhood. Anglos are the minority in our town, but our church is not a reflection of that. But that is changing. The people of our church are opening hearts and eyes and arms and time to people who are very different from them. I am proud that men and women in their 80s to their 20s are lining up to meet the needs of the immigrant, the poor, the struggling. We thought it was such a stretch – a dream! – to think that we could get 7 volunteers to start ESL (English as a Second Language) classes, which are desperately needed around here. God thought it would be good to bless us with at least 20 people who are seriously interested. ESL, immigration ministry, discipleship, teaching, community, worship – we are doing it or in the process of seeing it come to fruition. It is not perfect. Not by a long shot. It is not all happening quickly, and we have lost people because they think it’s not happening fast enough or to their liking. It is not what the world would call exciting or sexy. We are still a simple church. And I love this. And I love it. And I feel so thankful and privileged that God has called Omar and me to live here and raise children here and be a part of this family. Our God is a generous God. One who loves to lavish good and blessings on his children. 

Thanks be to God.


colorado in pictures

Here is part of the photographic evidence for Asa to prove that he went to Colorado. Four children (one strapped to me most of the time) and a new camera and insanely intense mountain sun didn’t exactly make it ideal for me to take a lot of photos. And at one point all of those factors made me want to set the camera down, but I resisted the temptation. I wanted us all to have a record of our time out there, over/underexposed pictures and all. 

The sunrises and sunsets were breathtaking. The flowers and trees were gorgeous. Everything around us was such a stark contrast to where we live. I never got quite the photo of an aspen tree that I wanted. I would be content to live in a forest of them. So beautiful.

Asher commandeered Elisha’s camera for most of the trip. That boy took pictures of everything. I loved it. I have a great series of him taking photos and included a few here. 

Our last few days were spent in Denver. In good Ortiz fashion we made sure to organize our days around food. We hit up Pizzeria Locale a couple of times for lunch. Biker Jim’s fulfilled Asher’s reindeer hot dog eating dreams. Breakfast at Devil’s Food was delicious, and the ice cream at High Point Creamery was definitely something to write home about.

You were pretty fantastic, Colorado. 

4 months and then some

17 lbs // 27 in

Hey, baby Asa! YOU are going to have a post about your 4 month stats. Because these months are flying, and I want to remember what you were like at this fast-changing stage. And I am not too proud not to start now even though I missed your first months.

You are oddly large coming after your oddly small sister. My point of reference in baby world is your sister (the previous two seem like a lifetime ago).  She was a peanut. You’re more the elephant to her peanut.

At your doctor’s appointment the other day it was recorded that at 4 months you weigh more than your sister did at one year.

You are an amazing sleeper (usually).

You are an amazing drooler.

You smile for all and fuss for few.

You are well loved.

the 10th in photos and words

Four years ago I wrote a post that informed the world that Omar and I were going to go on a big trip for our 10th anniversary. It came across like perhaps we would be bringing our children on this trip. Oh, no! I was quick to clarify. This would be a kidless trip. A big, kidless, international trip.

There was a trip.

Not kidless.

Not international.

And it came with a mortgage in our back pocket and another baby on our hip.

It was a good trip. A wonderful trip. A trip we could have never done on our own.

The big, kidless, international trip will come.

Instead, I spent the morning cutting up pancakes, downing Howley’s crab hash, and sipping mimosas so orange you’d think they were made with Tang (they weren’t) all while dodging drool from the littlest. The kids loved that we celebrated with them. We loved that we had a coupon.

And the rest of the day was just utterly ordinary. A trip to Target. A mid-morning coffee break. Phone calls. Reading. Settling of disputes. Swimming in the pool. Bedtime routines.

Omar had to work tonight which is perfectly fine. I get time to pour a glass of wine and reflect and be thankful for 10 years with him.  And lest you think this is all peaceful and solitary, one of my kids is drawing a picture of the wineglass and another one is peeking out the window onto the back porch so she can watch me.

Happy 10, Omar. I love you.



recovery and my kitchen

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.

hey, colorado! they’re coming for you

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.

and you do it again! and again! and again!

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.

hey, Tuesday!

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.