asa is 1

I would like to ask you to just try to explain to a group that includes an eight, seven, and four year old that you are not, in fact, going to really do anything for your one year old’s birthday. Call me un-fun but my plans were to pull out the birthday caterpillar candle and Asher’s old birthday crown (three cheers for names that begin with the same letter!), sing him Happy Birthday, and give him a small (perhaps previously used by three older siblings) present. Done.

My other children were horrified.

And thus my fourth child made out like a bandit in the gift department.

On his birthday morning, Omar and I heard the older three go into his room and sing to him, and I’m all weepy just thinking about how cute the whole thing was.

So Asa is now one. He is walking and jabbering and asserting all kinds of opinions. I’m loving his age right now. I’m loving how every morning he gets pulled out of bed by one or more siblings and then finds his way to me to just snuggle with me for about 10 minutes. I’ve never had one do that. I love it.

Happy Birthday, sweet Asa. You’re the best.

on to the next stage

I remember that moment in June of 2013. That moment that I knew, I knew, that we were done having kids. That I could leave baby world behind. We got married young (at least in my mind) and chose to have kids soon after marriage. I knew the day would come when the babies wouldn’t be babies any longer, and I could walk down more paths that wouldn’t exactly work for our family while there were tiny people in the house.

And at that moment in June of 2013 I thought we’d hit that day.

Guess who was pregnant at that moment in June of 2013? Ha.

Don’t so many of us have that conflicting cry when we find out about an unexpected baby? Joy for the life, guilt for not being totally thrilled, conflict because you just thought you knew you were ready to walk down a different path?

I knew I didn’t want to struggle in some of the ways I did when Lenna was a baby. Simply put, I wanted to do too much. I was overwhelmed with baby world and wanted to have a place in the world outside of daily mothering. At one point I seriously started to explore what it would like to homeschool, partner in ministry with Omar, go get another Master’s, and be the mother to a toddler. I can’t even type that now without laughing. I am completely aware that for some that might be doable. For me? I know my limits, and I would’ve gone down in a blaze of (not)glory while dragging a family behind me.

So in June of 2013 when we found out that Asa was on his way, I think some of the sadness was that I had to just wait. Just be patient for another couple of years. That to fight it would result in misery. My misery and my family’s misery. I knew there would be little to no travel for us for a year and a half or so. I knew there would be little time for classes and outside commitments. Soon after I decided to consciously enjoy the season. I’ve always struggled with enjoying pregnancy, but I gave it my best shot. I have really good memories of my time in the hospital with this last baby. Of night times with him in the newborn stage. Of watching older siblings learn how to love on a baby.

And as a result I think we enjoyed Asa’s first year the most out of any of the kids. We didn’t love him any more, we just enjoyed him more. He’s been a textbook easy 4th baby, so I know that helped, but I’ve just not sweated anything (regarding him) this past year.

Omar has always been great at shooing me away to some other city once the kids hit about a year or so. This time was no different. A few weeks ago Omar brought it up and we started planning. I bought a ticket to fly out to the west coast. It’s still so weird to think that the time has come where I can do these things again.

That season I was so fearing of having to go through again is over, and I got a pretty amazing kiddo out of it. And perhaps more importantly I learned more about what it means to hold my plans and big ideas loosely. This is important because about a week after I bought my ticket to Portland/Seattle area, our calendar started to fill up: classes here, conferences there, weddings, Omar’s work travels. I don’t always want to be looking forward to the next big thing or the next time to travel. I want to enjoy the days filled with school and laundry and not be caught off guard if God decides to place everything on hold again. No baby jokes, please.

the first of 2015

Last year’s first post told the world that my resolutions were to bring a baby boy into the world, transition to a family of six, and make it there and back again from Colorado. Done, done, done, and done.

This year I just chuckle when I think about whether or not I should try to set any lofty goals. Or even not-so-lofty goals. I think I’m going to take a pass and then surprise myself if I find myself accomplishing something out of the ordinary. I’m afraid that all the resolution-type goals I’d love to set would distract me too much from daily life. And right now daily life requires most of me.

But I love reading other people’s resolutions and goals. They give me ideas and often more books to add to my to-read list.

2014 was the year of Asa and of Colorado. Those are the first things that spring to mind. The biggies. But this was also the year that the boys became truly proficient at reading on their own, and thus homeschooling took a new turn. This was the year Lenna became a swimmer. This was the year that I found myself back in the (virtual) classroom. Back in the days of Latin classes and ancient Egyptian art classes I would have never dreamed that at 34 I would be in the middle of my second law class on immigration, and well, here I am. Quiz me on visa bulletins next time you see me.

I guess I do have something similar to a resolution, but I see it taking 2 to 3 years to complete. A few days ago I found the Palm Beach County parks map that I got about six months ago. I opened it up for a look and then decided that it would be fun to visit all 70+ parks with the kids. There are parks with beaches, bike paths, water parks, playgrounds, kayaking, snorkeling, and on and on.

And while we didn’t set out to cross one off the list today, we did. #1 was Coral Cove Park in Tequesta. Rocks were climbed, waves were splashed in, and 4 out of 6 of us got soaked.

Happy New Year, friends.

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.

when your grandma visits and you organize your photos

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.

eight years a mother

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.

asa joel ortiz in pictures

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.

 

these are the days

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

growing up

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.

on resolutions and photos

My big resolution of 2014? Bring a baby boy safely into this world and pray the Lord helps us transition to a family of six with as much grace and patience as possible. Done.

I think I’d feel like an overachiever if I tried to do anything more. Except for a certain trip we’re all taking to Colorado in June. All six of us. I’ll give myself a six month resolution: Don’t freak out about the impending trip for the next six months.

Overachieving aside, I did spend much of the day thinking about photos and cameras. For much of the past year my camera sat on the left stereo speaker. It didn’t see much action, and if you would pick it up there would often be a little Nikon-shaped dust outline. I love having the iPhone camera, but to be honest I haven’t even been taking many photos with it. My 2013 photo repertoire consists mostly of sporadic Instagram shots and many (many) photos of random things my kids make or just bring to me and beg, “Take a picture of this, Mama!!” (case in point – the above photo of Lenna’s lunchbox). I used to say no, but they’ve worn me down and it’s just faster and less painful for all involved to point and shoot. And when I do pull out the camera to capture some cute faces? They won’t. sit. still. So many blurry pictures (case in point – the photo below).

But there is an Asa coming. And a trip to the Rockies. And I miss the photos. I’m finally getting around to printing my blog books from 2012 and 2013. And last year’s Instagram book…and 2011’s 365 photo book. Oh my. It’s a bit of a backlog, yes, but it’s worth it. And prepping and formatting all those pictures into book form just makes me want to take more.

So there will probably be some kind of photo project this year. Perhaps a photo a day? A family photo per week? We’ll see where the next few days and weeks take us.

tripping and sliding into the second trimester

My gracefulness disappears a bit more each day as random things unbalance me.

Coffee reappears on the daily menu.

Accomplishing school work each day feels less like a marathon.

The kids’ tv watching has been greatly curtailed, again…for now…all bets are off the last couple of months.

So has mine. I won’t even tell you how quickly I’ve raced through the first five seasons of The West Wing.

Kids’ insights and questions into babies provide daily laughter and avoidance.

Baby is now known to be a boy.

Baby boy has a name: Asa Joel (my kids are becoming quick to point out that it’s pronounced Jo-ell, so watch out if you slip up around them)

In many ways it feels like we were just doing this whole announcing thing for Lenna. In other ways it feels ages ago.

My insatiable desire for burgers is still going strong.

My reading choices are a perfect match for a girl whose bedtime is often 8:45 – Gaffigan’s Dad is Fat or some of the many Maisie Dobbs, anyone?