"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."

~Robert Frost

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Bit of Dinner Conversation

Hannah, holding up a spoonful of meatballs and rice: "I'm going to start with this bite!"

Me: "Ok, honey, that's good." Then to Lamont: "So at the women's ministries meeting this morning, we agreed that --"

Ashley: "When I was a little tiny baby, I was this small!" (hands spaced 2 inches apart)

Me: "You were when you were still in my tummy, but you were this small when you were born." (hands spaced much wider)

Ashley: "Oh, well I remember when I was little --"

Lamont, poking her: "You're still little!"

Hannah: "Now I'm going to have this bite!"

Lamont: "Ok, that's good. You know, Ashley, your mummy can remember when she was four years old like you. Isn't that neat? That means when you're older, you will probably remember some of the things you're doing now."

Ashley: "I already remember before we lived in this house, when we lived in our other house and my sister was a little tiny baby, and I got to hold her at the hospital!

Me: "You remember that? Wow! Bethany, your apples aren't supposed to dance, just eat them."

Lamont: "Holding new babies is kind of like holding puppies..."

Ashley: "Yes! I can't wait until we have a new little puppy! It will be so cute and I will hold it and it will lick me!"

Hannah: "I'm going to start with this apple, ok Mummy?"

Me: "Ok, but Hannah --"

Hannah: "I'm not going to tell you about any more bites after this apple!"

Me: "Ok, thank you. And Ashley, I know you're excited talking about puppies but you need to sit still to eat."

dead silence

Lamont, looking at Ashley: "Excuse me?"

Ashley: "Excuse me!"

Me: *snort*

Lamont: "No, I mean -- Mummy told you to do something. What do you say?"

Ashley: "Excuse me?"

Me: *choking on silent laughter*

Lamont: "No! I'm not telling you to say excuse me, I'm telling you that you need to answer Mummy when she says something to you!"

Ashley: "Oh...yes Mummy!"

Hannah: "Now I'm going to eat this apple next, and then that one! But then I'm not going to tell you about the other apples."

Me: "Ok Hannah, thank you!"

Lamont: "How many more years do you suppose she'll inform us which bite she is going to take next before she takes it?"

Bethany, mouth stuffed to overflowing: "I'm finished!"

Me: "Good job, now you just need to chew that whole meatball you just stuffed in your mouth! And don't wave your plate around, please, just set it down on the table."

Ashley: "I need to hurry, Bethany is almost done and I want to get down first!"

Me: "It's not a race, you can just eat your dinner and not worry about your sisters. Are you actually full?"

Ashley: "Yes, I'm full. So I just want one more piece of apple, please!"

Lamont: "What were you saying about the women's ministries meeting?"

Hannah: "Now I'm going to eat this apple!"

Monday, January 24, 2011

On torturing myself....

Brace yourselves, people. The end of the world as we know it is at hand.

Yes, that really means what you think it means...I will not have another sip of coffee until February!!!

moment of silence. shock and awe.

Do not fear, experts predict that many people's lives will continue as normal, unaffected by this momentous occurrence. But in my small corner of the world, they issue dire warnings of a tidal wave-like impact on my life -- a situation so extreme, so severe, that it is difficult to predict exactly what might happen.

No coffee for over a week? Why would I do this terrible thing? That was precisely my husband's question (and in all honesty, I'm still asking myself the same thing...). You see, much as I would like to, I can't bring myself to believe that the following sentiment is true:

Coffee...daily coffee...daily sugary lattes and macchiatos and mochas and cappucinos...this doesn't make for the best "me". Since moving, I have used my lovely espresso machine to turn coffee into my daily comfort food. It was my coping mechanism in the beginning -- coping with stress, with loneliness, with worry, with homesickness -- and turned quickly into a habit. A crutch, and an unhealthy one at that. While I joke about it, I'm really not ok with the reality that I have this huge addiction going unchecked. Plus, just to be real: we're talking about a lot of calories, folks. And yes, they've added up.

I mean, look at this! Can you imagine how awful it is that I've been drinking something like this every single day?? (Yes, I know it looks amazing. Yes, I want it. Yes, that is the problem!)

Now if you're wondering if I plan to give up coffee forever...hahaha!!! Not a chance. But for several weeks I have been trying to ease off on the frequency of my coffee habit, and I can't do it. It is way too ingrained right now, and I am way too good at justifying it on any given day. So I'm going cold turkey, just for a week (it's actually 8 days...way longer than a week!), and hoping for a fresh start after that. I want to make it a treat again, not an everyday occurrence.

Look, I know I'm being all dramatic about this. I'm only partly serious about the drama, but if you know me at all, you know that I really do love my coffee.... So help me out, would you? Check in on me, remind me that you know I'm doing this -- hold me accountable! And in return, I promise to not think, even for a second, about the gorgeous, endless Starbucks cups in this picture....

Friday, January 21, 2011

I knew this day would come...

From the time each of her little sisters was born, Ashley has always had a very maternal side to her. She was only 13 months old when Hannah was born and even so, she cuddled her, sang to her, watched me with eagle eyes as I cared for her to make sure I was doing everything properly...by the time Bethany came along and Ashley was 25 months old, she was a regular little mama. It continues today (as long as they aren't having an argument!), as she is just super tender and really very maternal toward both her little sisters.
So I laughed, but wasn't too surprised, when she came to hang out with me in the kitchen this morning and started bemoaning how quickly Bethany is growing up. "Mummy," she told me earnestly, "I just feel like my little baby isn't really a baby anymore! I miss having a baby."
Then she continued, "I think now I would like to have a baby brother. Would that be ok? How should we get one? Can we just buy other people's babies?"
When I picked my jaw up off the floor and told her that we really couldn't just go buy a baby from someone else, she responded, "Well then, can you just make a baby? I really want to have a baby brother! How do we get babies??"
.....yay. Knowing this day will come doesn't make it any less startling when it does!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Picture this....

Picture this:

It is 2:30 am. You are fast asleep in your cozy bed, hoping not to be awakened by little people any time soon. You are probably also having marvelous dreams. Suddenly the blissful calm of your subconscious is pierced by the misplaced discordance of...of...what on earth is that?!

A tried and tested mom who has earned every badge in rapid awakening, you take a mere heartbeat to realize there is noise downstairs. Noise, and talking, and -- a lot of noise. Your instant assumption is that your little people are downstairs for some reason, at 2:30 am, doing something very loud which they are mere seconds away from regretting very much.

As you lurch from your bed and zig-zag in a sleepy run down the hall, your subconscious brain madly processes back through the last 10 minutes or so of your blissful sleep, and rejects your hypothesis, informing you that no bedroom doors have been opened and closed recently, and no little footfalls have traveled down the hall. As you launch yourself down the stairs, you further realize that in order for your children to be responsible for the noise downstairs, they must have the night-time ability to transform their voices into high pitched, annoying animation. Rounding the corner as you grapple with these bizarre bits of information, you come to a dead stop at the sight of the tv blaring something about very happy, animated bears. Why is the tv on??

You cautiously approach the tv and hit the power button, immediately grateful for the blessed silence, but then wary of it as you stand frozen in the darkness and consider further the question of just how, exactly, the tv came to be turned on at 2:30 am, considering that your entire family was fast asleep. None of the options that spring to mind make you feel at all comfortable about standing alone in the dark downstairs, and in a fit of cowardice that you will later try and fail to describe in a more flattering light, you spin around and flee back up the stairs, racing down the hall and leaping back into bed.

Your husband, who is still working on earning his first badge in rapid awakening, sits up halfway. "What was that?", he asks in confusion. As you describe the situation you are relieved to note that he is becoming more and more alert, and your gratitude knows no bounds when he swings his legs over the side of the bed and declares that he will go look through the house. Ever the brave and stalwart back-up person, you creep to the top of the stairs as he heads down them and assure yourself that standing prepared to call 911 while he does the really scary part is quite noble indeed.

Your straining ears catch no sound of mortal combat, and a couple of minutes later your husband climbs back up the stairs, looking puzzled. He has peered into every space in the house that is larger than one square foot, and found them all empty, checked all the doors, and found them all still locked. Unsettled, you both return to bed. There follows a period of half an hour during which you both repeatedly pretend to be sleeping, until one of you moves too sharply, the other realizes you're both still faking, and you have frequent intense mini conversations, each of you putting forth increasingly bizarre possible reasons for the tv to have suddenly blared forth into the sanctity of 2:30 am silence.

At 3:15, your husband suddenly leaps out of bed again, declaring, "Ok, that's it. I'm looking online!" A few minutes of clicking and typing later, he returns to announce that page after page of posts on the DirectTV website are filled with other people describing their own tv-turning-on-in-the-middle-of-the-night experiences! DirectTV has not offered any explanation, so there is a distinct possibility that what is really going on here is some sort of illicit communication with aliens. Or a company expansion mind control project. Perhaps if they had targeted a different household, one in which nobody had earned any badges at all in rapid awakening, the inhabitants of that house would have all awoken in the morning with an overwhelming urge to purchase the "Choice Ultimate" programming package.

As it is, you and your husband are finally able to drift back to sleep, processing the strange new knowledge that apparently tvs are able to turn themselves on at 2:30 am. Who knew?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

On big hugs and best friends!

The girls and I just spent two days of non-stop action in Spokane. We crammed in seven different social visits or events and at least six hours of driving, plus one carsickness incident with Bethany which I would talk about except that I am trying to block it from my memory. Suffice to say that it ranks right up there in the top 5 most terrible clean up jobs of my mothering career so far.

Possibly top 3.

Possibly top 1.

So since we're not talking about that...! It really was a wonderful two days of recharging with family and friends. Much as I've been loving building new relationships here in St. Maries, I miss the amazing support system and daily interaction with the people I love back home. Before we moved, we lived about 20 seconds away from one of my very dearest friends, Holly (owner of her own amazing photography business! http://www.hollyclousephotography.com), and the day to day "real life" friendship we built while we lived there is one I will always cherish. She knows me so very well and though I pray someday we may live close to each other again, in the meantime I love knowing that she'll always be one of my heart sisters! Here are our darling kiddos enjoying our visit together yesterday....

Goodness, judging by the ferocity of that hug I would say that maybe Bethany has been missing her little friend too! :-)

Now that is one lucky little boy! These five sweet kiddos have been friends literally since their births and have played together almost every single week of their lives. How neat is that??
Anyway, we are home (despite the lovely icy/slushy roads we encountered on our way back last night), and since for some reason I've spent this whole day subconsciously thinking that it is Monday, I'm happy to keep rediscovering that this is Thursday and it's almost the weekend again! (Don't laugh at me. You know you do it too. "Wait, what? This is Wednesday? I totally thought it was Friday!! .....drat.....)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Tale of Two Heads

My friend Hallie told me I needed to do before and after shots of the girls' hair after Ashley went crazy with the scissors on Thursday. And I pretty much do whatever Hallie tells me to do! (Just kidding, Hallie...except, well...kind of not. ;-) Good thing you're usually right!) So without further ado, here is Ashley's before shot:

Do you see how high up she hacked it on the right side?? Like 8 inches! It was in pigtails when she cut it and somehow that resulted in a really strange cut pattern, worst on each side. Turns out we still were lucky, though, because I was told yesterday about a girl whose sister cut her entire pigtail off. Her entire pigtail.

She loved sitting in the big chair at the salon and felt altogether too special and happy about it, if you ask me. :-P We ended up taking off about 4 inches and layering the rest; it doesn't look perfect, but it's way improved and easy to handle now with certain hairstyles. The back looks unremarkable now that it's fixed with just some length off, so her after picture is from the front to show that she's still adorable!

Bethany's is more dramatic from start to finish. I don't even like looking at her before picture. See how those beautiful red curls are going along and then they just...stop? Yeah. :-(

Bethany was a little doll at the salon and completely won over the stylist. I was stunned that my daughter who seems physically incapable of not moving for more than about .3 of a second actually sat motionless for her whole turn in the chair.
We didn't have to take off 100% of her curls, but more came off than stayed on. And I know this is terrible of me to say, but...I think my little girl looks a bit like a little boy now! And no, this picture isn't her reaction to the haircut, I just thought it was hilarious. ;-)
One last note: thank you all so much for your response to my request for more "followers"! You took us from 19 to 27 all within twenty-four hours! It makes me feel special. :-)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

On Curly Heads and Not So Curly Heads

Hannah has been able to sleep again the last couple of nights (thanks largely to some great tips you all shared with me!) and she is back to her silly, mischievious self. This morning she was rampaging around the livingroom while I tried to corral all the girls to change out of pajamas. She somersaulted to a grand finish in front of me and popped up apparently expecting applause, but I was frustrated by her selective hearing and said, "Hannah! You need to listen and come get dressed like I told you to!" Not at all pleased with my response, she muttered to herself as she pulled on her clothes, "Wow, tough crowd!"
On a very sad note, I have another picture for you today....

That is Ashley's hair on the left, and Bethany's on the right. And this is illicit hair, folks. Suffice it to say that Ashley has been told she may not use scissors again until she is 5. Since this is the second time she has handed out haircuts to herself or her sisters (to be fair, the first time was almost 2 years ago), I am dead serious about that. Grandmas and aunties reading this, take note!

I have always cut the girls' hair myself, but I am taking Bethany and Ashley to the hair salon this afternoon -- I already called ahead and described the damage to a very sympathetic stylist who promises she can help. Let's just say that Ashley is probably going to have shorter hair than she has since she was about 2 years old, and that the few baby curls that still remain on Bethany's head after Ashley's artwork may not survive the fixing process. :-(

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sleepless in St. Maries

It was a looooooong night here in the Miles household last night -- at least it was for my little Hannah, and therefore also for me. Out of all our girls, Hannah is the one who catches every.single.thing that is going around. Sometimes it seems like she finally gets healthy and we're lucky if it lasts for a week before she's coughing or sneezing again. I know that there are lots of times she's healthy for a few months at a time, but in the middle of a long sick spell it's hard to remember. And winter is usually worse for her, which is proving true again this year.

Anyway, she has this terrible cough that comes and goes, and no matter how many times I take her to the doctor they always dismiss it with, "Her lungs sound fine, so here's some prescription cough syrup to help her sleep and you don't need to worry about it -- sometimes kids just cough." The codeine cough syrup doesn't seem to do a thing for her. Not only does it not help the cough, but it doesn't make her sleepy, which is a side effect they always tell me about that sounds like it would be wonderful for both her and me!

I have certainly tried other things for her as well. I searched high and low and found an all natural, honey based cough syrup. I make her warm honey-lemon tea, and give her fresh orange juice, as well as just lots of water. Night after night I've tried running a humidifier by her bed, using vick's vaporub on her chest, or helping her breathe warm steam. None of it seems to help her! So this is my cry for help...do any of you moms have tried and true tricks that help your children overcome a cough and get a good night's sleep?? Hannah and I would be so grateful for any ideas that might help her.

Last night she coughed so hard that it repeatedly made her throw up, at least 4 times throughout the night. She always is considerably better during the day, but I dread night time for her when she's like this. She trusts me completely and clings to me in the night...it is so humbling that she lets me comfort her, and such an honor that she wants me to hold her when her poor little body is being wracked like that. I want so badly to be able to do more to help her, and will gratefully try any suggestions.