Showing posts with label family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"take a deep breath, mama"

Dinner prep did not go well this evening. I'm back to monthly meal planning, and tonight's dinner was tacos. Here's the thing about tacos at our house: I have to make everything from scratch. Everything. I dream about those taco kits from the store ...

Taco night is tricky because I need a long stretch of time to make dinner. Like two hours if I do it all in one go. I usually make the tortillas halfway while the kids are resting then finish them off while I am making the filling and fixings, but today during rest time I crashed on the couch with my Bible and a chocolate bar.

I started with the taco seasoning, which I knew I needed to make more of. A few spices, shake the jar up, done. Then I began making the tortillas. When I went to add the baking powder I discovered an empty jar. Gah! I quickly mixed up a batch of baking powder (we don't buy it from the store because we don't eat corn).

J and I had recently discussed why the tortilla recipe had sugar in it. We concluded that it was for flavoring purposes so I decided to leave out the sugar, but the end result was so sticky I ended up throwing the batch away. I told B, "We don't normally do this - in fact Daddy would never do this - but if Mama doesn't throw this away and start over she is going to start yelling."

While I was mixing the tortillas Ainsleigh was screaming as loud as she could because a) I wasn't giving her peas fast enough, and b) that's what Ainsleigh does. Queen Squawkers is the perfect nickname for her. I think the Lord thought it would be helpful to make her super loud so that all of my worries about her verbal skills failing to develop well because of her hearing loss wouldn't have a leg to stand on.

Then B joined in the yelling, because he is three. And then I yelled, because I am human.

I was mixing the dough, getting more and more frustrated, and then B, who was standing in his helper tower, looked at me and said, "Mom, you need to breathe. You need to take a deep breath, mama," because that's what I say to him when he gets frustrated.

The tortillas did not come out perfectly, but I got enough done and pressed that we could have dinner. I threw them onto silicone mats then pulled the griddle out so I could cook them. Two weeks ago when I made tacos I had two silicone mats full of beautiful little circles all laid out and ready to cook as soon as J got home from work. This time I wanted to throw all the tortillas out the door, or have J fix the problem - which he is brilliant at - but I knew J was going to be home late and I didn't want to make him walk in the door and fix dinner (foreshadowing!)

Tortillas done. Spanish rice started. Taco meat started. Fixings done. J almost home. I thought I was home free.

Oh, wait! While I was busy cooking Ainsleigh was pushing the kid chairs and table all over the dining room, which I thought was no big deal because she does that all day every day. But little miss was scheming and plotting and when I peeked in the dining room I saw this:

She used the small chair to climb on the big chair and was doing her best to get up on the table!!

J finally came home and whisked the kids upstairs with him to change/bounce on the bed. I put dinner on the table. I taste tested the Spanish rice before putting it on the table since it was my first time making it. SPICY!! I tried to figure out what I did wrong while eating cheese to ease the burning in my mouth.

"Something is wrong with the Spanish rice," I told J. "You can try it if you like, but it's really spicy."

I served the kids then made myself a taco. I took a bite, then my eyes began watering.

"J! This is SPICY! B, stop! STOP! Don't eat the meat."

He tried a bite. His eyes got huge.

"Eat some cheese, baby!! Quick! It helps!"

"It must be the chili powder, J! The chili powder we bought from the bulk bins this weekend."

"There's different kinds of chili powder?" he asked.

"I don't know! I guess so."

Then another thought crossed my mind.

"Oh my word, that's a pound of grass fed beef!" 

"Stop freaking out, let me try to fix it."

And he did. Mostly. Of course. He used his science brain to add a certain ratio of fats to the meat to tame the spice, then he rinsed it out, and it was edible. Ish.

I just put my head in my hands and ate a plain tortilla.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

my people

We spent the weekend at a big house on the Deschutes River with my family. This is on the other side of the mountain, about three hours from here, in central Oregon.

We had a lot of fun this weekend even though the weather wasn't great (and one of my sisters didn't come). One day we had hail, snow, rain and sunshine. My mom said,"if you don't like the weather wait two minutes." She wasn't exaggerating.

Have we talked about my family before? There's a few of us.

I have -

a sister - she was adopted into our family when she was 12, but I was young enough that I don't have memories without her present. I still forget she's adopted sometimes. She's just my oldest sister. Married, parent to three girls.

a sister - three years older than me. Married, parent to a boy and two girls.

a brother - eighteen months younger than me (or maybe sixteen. I can never remember). Married, parent to a boy.

Then there's me of course. Married, parent to a boy and two girls.

So my parents have four kids and ten grandchildren, with five of those three and under. It's a busy crowd.

And we all get along. Though they may not be happy with the following candid shot:

We all have interesting stories. We've all lived a few years.

My brother is a veteran. He's been to Iraq twice. His stories are not mine to tell, but one night when we stayed up late chatting - my brother, his wife, J, me - I remembered what it was like when he was overseas. Charlotte died while he was over there, so those emotions are blended into the larger picture. 

Every time the phone rang at an odd hour my stomach turned inside out. If I had any artistic skills I could paint a picture of where I was when my dad called to tell me my brother was injured. Minimally injured, but the incident was bad. Others were not okay. That memory is still vivid in my mind.

I think if I called my brother a hero he would brush it off. Laugh. Make a joke. But he sacrificed a lot to serve our country. This weekend I was reminded why my sister named her son after our brother. We admire him.

Our family has seen its share of sorrow. And some days it feels like we have been asked to carry more than most. But in the sorrow we still have each other. When my sister-in-law's mother died we were there for her as best we could. At the funeral we circled around her as if to say, "we'll be your people now." And when Charlotte died three months later they circled around me.

We're not perfect. We do disagree some. But it's nice to have a good relationship with the people I grew up with. Even if they have photographic evidence of that embarrassing high school stage when I was very hardcore (read sarcasm) and a punk (read a little annoying) with purple hair and questionable clothes. I am so glad my teen years occurred before the rise of social media.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

the kids, the kids

Ainsleigh will be FIVE months old in a week. I'm writing this post now because it's 6:30 am, she's happy playing on the floor, and I may not have time to write it next week. Ainsleigh is busy and curious - as are all babies. Her favorite toy is the baby wipes package because it crinkles loudly. She loves her monkey too. Ainsleigh is in love with Bennett. He makes her laugh and laugh and laugh, just by being Bennett. He doesn't even have to do anything whereas I have to play three thousand rounds of peek-a-boo with her before she will laugh. Ains loves to use her voice to make her wishes known (she YELLS a lot) and she just learned how to blow raspberries. Ainsleigh is trying to sit up, and scoot, but I told her she's not allowed to do either of those yet. She is a master at rolling over, and she prefers spending time on her stomach. Ainsleigh loves to be held. I used the stroller for Bennett a lot, we went on many long walks, but Ainsleigh often cries in the stroller and her car seat so I use the Ergo a lot. I have no idea how much of the need to be held is her hearing loss and how much is because of her babyness. She needs more holding than Bennett did, but I think the world can be very overwhelming for her.

Bennett is a VERY busy boy. I know, I know. Toddlers are busy. Boys are busy. But you guys, this kid takes it to a whole new level. He's busy and smart, most days he outwits me. This is a challenging phase for me. Bennett is testing a lot of boundaries - as all toddlers do - and I am sleep deprived and slow. We're figuring out how we want to parent and what our household should look like and some days I call J in tears and say, "I don't know what to do!" I honestly forget Bennett is only two sometimes. He is so verbal I expect more of him in other areas, but that's not fair. Sometimes Bennett frustrates me, but he also amazes me with his knowledge and makes me laugh. He'll still cuddle on the couch with me for a long time - sometimes even an hour! as long as there is a big stack of books to read. Bennett loves to sing, he has many songs memorized and he likes to make them up as well. Bennett loves church, running around outside, books and spending time with his friends. 

We're transitioning into spring, a time when we remember our first child. I can feel it coming, and I can sense it's going to be a rough anniversary. I should have a four year old is a constant refrain in my mind. Three babies in four years. No wonder I'm exhausted.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

oh bennett

We do this game at story time called "Elevator." You put your kiddo in your lap, pretend to press a button -"ding!" then lift them up in the air before setting them gently on the floor - first floor, second floor, third floor, fourth floor, down!" I don't know if that little explanation makes sense, but I hope you get the general idea. 

The other day Bennett was really struggling so I sat him down on the couch and said, "What is going on? Why are you pushing Mama's buttons? What do you need from me?"

Bennett looked at me with confusion, then understanding dawned on his face. He reached his hand forward, pushed an imaginary button and said, "Ding!"


J took B to the store a few days ago. When he came home he asked me if Bennett pointed to items and yelled, "get it out!" while we were shopping. I said, "no, maybe it's a new thing." Yesterday at Costco when Bennett asked for a snack I pulled a granola bar from the bag. He rarely gets granola bars. They are really expensive (because we have to buy them at the health food store) and the only reason we have a box at home right now is because he had allergy testing and we wanted to give him a treat afterwards.

As soon as he saw the granola bar Bennett yelled as loud as he could, "TREAT! GET IT OUT! GET IT OUT!"   


This morning I told Bennett we had to dress in layers. "We're going to the library for a concert and we'll probably have to wait outside," I explained as I was dressing him.

A few minutes later I was taking care of Ainsleigh when I realized Bennett had disappeared. I found him standing by the back door. When I asked him what he was doing he said, "wait outside concert."

"No, no, no!" I said, "Oh, honey, we have to go to the library and wait!"


And here is one of my better moments, brought to you by sleep deprivation and the general stupidity that comes with children:

"Angela, I'm going to the store after dinner. Do you need anything?"

"You're just going to the health food store?"


"No thanks then. I want chocolate, but all they will have there is an $8.00 free range chocolate bar."

"Free range chocolate bar! What's that?"

"Not free range! Fair trade! I meant fair trade!"

"Nope, I like free range. This grass fed chocolate bar ..."

Saturday, November 30, 2013

christmas tree hunt

It's too big. It's always too big. Although this year we have a width problem instead of a height issue. I'm not very good at decorating so I buy a statement tree, but this year half the living room is tree. At least it was only $10. It was $20, but we had a coupon. Yay Oregon

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

give thanks

We spent our day with my side of the family. At the end of the Thanksgiving meal we shared what we're thankful for. I cried, and I'm not sure I made much sense, but I talked about how thankful I am for my children. Four years ago as we slogged through our first Thanksgiving without Charlotte I was broken and sad. I couldn't fathom being happy again.

I try to be honest and authentic when I write. I do my best to be true to my sorrow and joy, but enough time has passed that I'm afraid the grief is somewhat overshadowed. Just the other day I realized that some of you have been following our story for four years. While this is a really good place to be in I want those of you who are struggling to be thankful to remember that I have struggled too. I know pain, grief, and how it feels to wish you could set one more place at the holiday table. We are in a joyful season, but if you are not do not feel guilty. Have hope. My dream of having living children - and especially a girl to raise - sustained me through some very dark, lonely times.

This evening we arrived home to a package containing Ainsleigh's newborn photos. As we looked through them I thought, this is what I am thankful for. This warm house, these sweet (sometimes crazy) children who fill it with joy and laughter, my J, my family, my friends. This blessed, beautiful life and all the joy and sorrow it brings.

Photos by Aleina Roberson. I did my best to only pick a few. There are SO many I want to share!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

holding the pieces together

Our family is so blessed. We are being loved and served well during this time of transition. From friends who stop by at the perfect moment with cupcakes and kiddos to distract the Bennett whirlwind, to the gifts that keep arriving, (I admit, gifts are one of my love languages) to my mom who has given up days to help us manage our lives.

Three birds for three babies 

Custom bowl - three eggs for three babies 

This is a delicate time as I find my way in the parenting of two (ahhh it's hard, how will we ever leave the house alone??) while still holding space for Charlotte. I find myself in a strange place as I try to incorporate Ainsleigh into my parenting narrative. I could not connect with her, or comprehend what it would be like to have a living daughter, before she was born and now I have three unique life strands I am trying to blend into a cohesive whole so I can better understand who I am as a person and mother. I am lucky to have so many acknowledge our three children, our family of five. It gives me permission to be confused, and it allows me time to find my footing as a mother to two living, one gone. 

I am waiting for grief to wash over me. If I have learned anything in the past 3.5 years it is this: grief is circular and thinking one is beyond a certain stage only guarantees a swift and painful fall into darkness. But it may not come for a while. I cried enough tears while in labor my heart may not have any more just yet. There have been a few tears while nursing as the quietest, sweetest mama/baby moments find their existence within those frequent feedings, but it's very different from the early days with Bennett when I wept absolute buckets. 

Having a deep net of support beneath us is helping immensely. There are so many in my life who know and understand this confusing path, and those who have not been to this particular place of deep joy and great sorrow have been silent witnesses and strong shoulders. I've always felt that we are blessed to know and feel so much love as we build our family. Thank you for celebrating Ainsleigh, spoiling Bennett, and remembering Charlotte.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

day out: enchanted forest

A while back I got it in my head that I wanted to take Bennett to Enchanted Forest, a local theme park, before the new baby comes. I often fixate on an idea and decide it must happen, but the end result is always different than I expected/planned and I'm always left a little disappointed/confused.

Bennett is (nearly) 2. How could he not love a theme park full of fairy tale characters? Well, he did not. Now, I wouldn't say he hated the excursion, but shortly after our arrival he tripped merrily up to the 3 Bears house and the ensuing roars scared the pants off him. After that things were a little touch and go and he was not going anywhere dark or enclosed thank you very much. Bennett is so brave so often I sometimes forget he's still quite young. And he doesn't usually cling to me so it always surprises me a bit when he decides mama is the only answer. (Although there has been quite a bit more of that lately. I think he senses big changes on the horizon).

He liked the Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole and he enjoyed the Old Woman and the Shoe slide as well as the train but most of it he felt rather meh about. And J and I felt it was a little spendy considering all rides (of which B could only do one, poor thing inherited a slight lack of height) cost extra. We did pay $1.00 so he could "pan for gold" and he has been carrying the four rocks he found around all day so that was one win for everyone.

We also saw a terribly fabulous production of Pinocchio, which I thought we were going to have to abandon in the first few minutes as Bennett's lip was protruding quite alarmingly, but we stuck with the thirty minute performance and Bennett thought it good enough to high five Pinocchio at the end. I thought it was dreadful, but J said it was funny for kids and my annoyance at the play and its pop cultural references that flew over my head could be chalked up to general pregnancy irritation. He's probably right.

But it was fun to get out and spend time together as a family. When we go on fun outings we try to remember to thank the Lord for giving us the means and opportunity to partake. This summer has been full of fun vacations and day trips and we are blessed a thousand times over to be able to do the things I decide must be done.

I am painfully aware of how little time is left before the three of us become four. I know taking Bennett to a quirky local attraction will not make the transition to four any easier, but it makes me feel a little better to give him as much time and attention as I can before I have to shift my focus a bit.

This next week is a big one. Actually the next two are big ones. This week I have a prenatal with my midwife, a desperately needed adjustment with the chiropractor and a big, fat ultrasound/consultation with the maternal fetal medicine doctor. Everyone cross fingers and toes and send prayers that baby girl is growing well and we will be released to the midwife for the final stage of this pregnancy. Released to the midwife, now that's a strange phrase, but you know what I mean. Next Saturday the little ministry for those who have lost babies a friend and I are trying to start at our church has its debut at the fall kick-off for women. We'll just be sitting behind a table offering resources and talking to people, but that's still more than we've been doing so I'm feeling a bit anxious about that.

And then on the 9th my sweet Bennett turns TWO and at the end of that week we're having his birthday party. I keep thinking I have his birthday party to crank out and then I can just sit around until the end of October, but there's a lot more coming up after the 14th. I'm just not ready to think about it.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I'm back! {and a little bit tired}

What a weekend! Bennett is so overdone he is falling to pieces. We spent four days at a family reunion and the overtired darling is having a spectacular meltdown as I type this. I guess going to bed at 11 pm and waking at 7:30 am will eventually catch up with a little person.

I can now say I've successfully planned a family reunion for 30 odd people. My mom and I were reluctant planners, but we had a lot of help and the end result was a lot of fun. We were way out in the hills on a ranch, totally unplugged for 4 days - except the day trip into town where everyone whipped out their smart phones as soon as they could pick up a signal - which was actually really nice.

We played games, (including a really fun version of the Amazing Race which involved far too many children and pregnant women to even come close to the real event) splashed in the creek, made cards, let the kids run wild (we didn't shower Bennett until our last night there because he was always too tired at night and by the time we tossed him in he was pretty stinky and dirty) and visited up a storm.

I got into the Amazing Race - though not nearly as much as my mother who was so into the game J labeled her "savagely competitive" - I thought doing a bit of running to help my team would be a good idea. No. It wasn't. We came in last and I had to sit down for a good long while afterwards.

I am so wiped out. We had a lot of fun, but I think I'm going to need a week of sleep to recover.

Sunday, March 31, 2013


Favorite, favorite, favorite day. I imagine my sweet girl having so much fun in heaven on Easter Sunday, and the promise of the day always reminds and reassures that I will see her again because my great and mighty God triumphed over death.

After church we have a big family day with bunches of children (the growing one is grand-baby number ten for my parents), good food, an egg hunt and Birthday Bingo (due to our family's size my mother celebrates all of the birthdays in one go by putting small amounts of money in plastic eggs. We play until everyone has an egg).

J created bubble makers for the kiddos from string and straws

B ponders the egg hunt and his role

Also: look how much weight he's gained!!

And the growing one - 9.5 weeks, hello bump


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