Friday, April 1, 2016

Baby Love

I am not afraid of affection. I love me some affection. I kiss and hug my kids constantly. If Josh would let me, I'd kiss and hug him constantly, but he likes to "breathe" and be able to "eat with two hands" and "look single."

Luckily, most of my kids are super affectionate too, but Luke - my sweet little Lukey - is affectionate to the max! Sometimes I will be doing the dishes or something and I'll look up to find him smiling and making little googly eyes at me like a love-struck Romeo. If we're at playgroup, or the library, or somewhere someone might give him eye contact, he'll stare hard at his intended until she (or he - he's an equal opportunity lover) looks back and smiles, and then he'll bring out the cheeks and the eye lashes and before you know it you're giving him all your money and promising to run away to Mexico with him.

And lately, he's gotten into kissing. Like, really, really into kissing. Often when I pick him up he's so thrilled and in love with me for giving him attention (which is 99% of the day), that he'll start kissing me on the lips. But not just a light peck, it has now turned into deep, long, dare I say it - passionate kisses.

We almost frenched the other day, you guys.

He is really forceful with his love.

This is mid-make out sesh.
How can you not love that little face?!

I love him so much, and I love that he wants to kiss me (and everything that's ever laid eyes on him, just because they looked at him) but I can't tell if I feel uncomfortable or not when the kiss lasts more than three seconds. I tend to just end it and pull away, but then he just goes in for more.

I've seen him do this to Josh to, and Josh (a 190 lb, 6'2" man) gets pinned to the ground with the sheer force of Luke's love and he cannot escape it. He'll start doing the uncomfortable giggle-kiss where he's like, "Oh, thanks for the kiss Luke *kiss* Oh, one more? How ni- *kiss* Wow, I missed you too buddy *kiss* Ok, jeeze you're reall- *kiss* Alright, maybe I could just sit up *kiss* Can I just *kiss* Thanks, uh *kiss* Mom *kiss* Hey, Mom! *kiss* Mom! *kiss* Little help! *kiiiiiiiisssssssssssssss*"

He's a very romantic baby, you guys.

If you ever feel like you need someone to make you feel special, call Luke. He'll love the crap out of you.

About to attack Tula with his charm.

Henry's trying to escape Luke's advaces, straight out the doggie door.

Easter cuteness.

They have these amazing things at the mall, that are like giant robot stuffed animals you can ride on. They blast Michael Jackson and go about .04 mph and the kids LOVE them because they get to drive around the mall like big shots.

So fun!

Luke sending his lovey kisses through the tupperware, so you can keep it fresh.

Addie and Tula rockin' their dad's old t-shirts from when he was a kid.

Luke, charging me so he can tackle, and kiss. 
Just a normal day.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Playing Sofia

Sometimes having three siblings super close in age to you is rough. Mostly, it awesome. Adeline always has someone to play with, someone who follows her around, someone who lets her boss them around. But we all want a little one on one time now and again, and Adeline needs it.

She's always the one who gets pushed to the side if someone gets pushed to the side, because she's the oldest and she can do it herself. She can go to the bathroom alone, she can get dressed, she can draw, she can paint, she can read (memorize) books, she can work the iPad, she can do it all. And I actively have to remind myself she's only four years old. She's still a teeny tiny kid!

So, now we have a routine at night where after we put the other three to bed, Addie gets to play a game with me and/or her dad. All by herself.

And it is so joyus!

I didn't realize I needed it as much as she does. I miss her during the day. I don't miss Luke or Henry because they are all up in my biz all the time. And Tula. She's even more up in my biz, if that's possible. They demand attention. But Adeline will sit patiently and wait, for hours.

She is an amazing kid.

Right now she has two options: two rounds of Candyland, or something she calls, "Sofia". Candyland is self-explanatory and so fun.

Sofia, is a game she only plays with her dad. I didn't really understand what it was until I stumbled in on it last night. Basically she plays with her Sofia the First doll and Josh listens to her, and occasionally hands her things. All I saw was her going, "Ok, Dad. Now I want the green necklace." He hands it to her. A few minutes go by and she says, "Dad, now I need the pink one. No, that pink one."

It is hysterical! And also, he is so soft and patient with her I want to cry.

When we got in bed that night I said:

"So, 'playing Sofia' means you hand her the pieces of jewelry she asks for?"

"Yes. And then I watch her march Sofia around and position her on different pieces of furniture."

*near hysterical giggling* "Why don't you get a doll to play with?"

*dead serious* "That's not my roll."

I mean, that's a good dad right there.

Also, the other day we went to the mall and the Easter bunny was there and the kids BEGGED to see him. So I let them.

Addie would not get off his lap.

Tula would not get within 100 feet of him. That's why he's no where near her in this picture.

Luke, however, was overjoyed! Henry doesn't know why we won't let him down so he can tear all those gigantic fake flowers down.
Which he did five seconds after this picture.

So cute!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Anniversary and Prepartum

On this day three years ago Josh and I got married.

It was a cold, gray, ugly-snowy day, and I was 7.5 months pregnant with Tula. I wish I could say the wedding was the sunshine on the day, and we didn't need anything else to make it a great day. And actually I kind of can. It turned out to be sort of an amazing little ceremony at the courthouse and then a lovely dinner at my in-laws afterwards. Josh and I both cried, Addie yelled, "Guy!" the whole time, pointing at the judge, and I wore a black dress.

Because I wanted to wear a white one at my "real" wedding. One where I was not insanely pregnant. I told all my friends, and the rest of my family not to come because we would have a big thing later. And I still believe we will some day. When the dust settles.

Also, black is slimming.

Addie was SO little!

But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.

So, that day three years ago was a bright spot in a lot of not so bright spots. Postpartum depression is talked about a little bit in the after effects of having a baby, but not enough. So, not enough. And depression while you're pregnant? I hadn't heard of that. I heard a lot of, Oh you're just hormonal. Or, She's crying again, those hormones!

"Hormonal" is a super popular catch-all for any emotion a pregnant (or just normal) woman may be having. And while part of it is true, pregnant women are more emotional,  I think it's irresponsible to just brush it aside as "hormonal." Irresponsible to the pregnant woman, and irresponsible to her loved ones.

I had a lot of emotional days when I was pregnant with Addie. But I had hundreds of "hormonal" days when I was pregnant with Tula. I was miserable. I was sad all the time. I was depressed as heck and barely holding it together. Luckily, the only thing I had going for me was that I still had the desire to take care of Addie. I still needed to wake up and get out of bed for her.

But I was lucky. That's not always how depression works. And if I hadn't gotten help I might not have continued on like that. I might have stopped getting out of bed.

But I did get help. I saw a therapist regularly, and I saw my OB regularly, and used her as my 2nd therapist. And she was so wonderful. She was so kind. She let me sit on the table and cry and tell her how nothing made sense. She handed me tissues. She didn't run out of the room because she had other patients and I know she had other patients. She didn't tell me everything was ok, because it wasn't. She just said, "Yes. This is hard." And, "Yes. sometimes it feels like you can't do it." And "No, you are not a bad mom because you wish you weren't sometimes. That's called being normal."

 And I had a prescription of Zoloft waiting for me at the hospital for the minute I delivered Tula.

The only reason I had the strength to get help though was because I literally have no stigma attached to seeing a therapist. I don't, and have never, seen it as a sign of weakness, and I don't think there's anything wrong with talking to someone even if you don't know what's wrong but you think something might be.

Because we take care of our teeth every six months whether we need to or not. Why wouldn't we take care of our brains? Or our hearts and souls? Aren't those things as important as our teeth?



You can get dentures if your teeth fall out, you cannot get a new brain.

But most people are not as hippie, free-spirited thinking about therapy as I am. Most people say they're not opposed, it's just "not for them". And fine, maybe it's not. But maybe you've never felt like crying in the middle of the grocery store for no reason. Maybe you've never fought with the people you love the most because nothing makes sense. Maybe you've never looked at the steering wheel in your hand and thought, just one quick turn and maybe the pain of the impact would make me feel something. Anything.

It didn't cure me. All the therapists and drugs. It didn't magically make things go away. But it helped. It helped me survive it.

And once Tula was born I was again super lucky because I didn't have postpartum. So, I basically had the opposite. I had prepartum depression. That's not a real thing, but that's what it was. Nine months of pregnant depression.

And I got married in the middle of that.

Needless to say, my relationship with my husband-to-be was not thriving in the midst of all of this. Without going into details, we were having one of the hardest times of our relationship and then we threw in getting married, because, why not!?

(Why we did is a whole other post!)

It was a rough time AND we got married still. Maybe because we thought I was just being hormonal. That's I'd snap out of it and we'd start to get along like gangbusters again.

I sort of defy anyone to tell me they had two kids in less than two years and their relationship didn't suffer the slightest. And if they do, they are a liar, liar, pants on fire.

Part of the reason we still got married in the midst of one of the trickiest years ever, was because I think we knew it was still there somewhere. Buried deep under the stress and the depression and the confusion was the core of how we became a "we". And that's because we love each other a lot. And we respect each other. And we support each other. And not just the sort of love like, Oh he's cool and we had good sex so I'm pretty much in love.


 It was more than that.

We knew we wanted to have kids together almost immediately after we started dating. We knew we wanted to live together. We knew we wanted to share a life together, and not just in a side by side sort of a way.

We don't always succeed with what we wanted. Especially not now that we have four kids. (Four is a boatload of kids, ya'll!) But we will. Because of what's underneath. Because of the fact that we still like each other as well as love each other.  

And because We are our family. Without us it didn't happen, it doesn't work. We need to be the ones there for each other, and loving each other before we can take care of anyone else. Because we are the foundation for this rickety, messy, loud, boisterous, darling, fun, hilarious, crazy, did I mention loud, colorful, happy, exuberant, joyful, heart-bursting, amazing house that is our family.

Three years of marriage. Six years of being together.

And I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Because I love him so much.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Note To Self

I am so not good at the typical "mom stuff" stuff. I don't keep a memory book for any of our kids. I put Addie's first lock of hair in a special holder, and now I can't find it. Last Easter I told Addie the Easter Bunny needed a bathroom break because I forgot to hide the eggs before she woke up. And then I told her Santa wasn't real.


But I keep thinking I'll remember everything cute they do and say and of course I don't. And I don't remember to write it down either, so I'm trying to get better at it.

For instance, right now, if Tula is talking about that black silhouette that the sun casts on the pavement she says, "Mom, is that my eye shadow?"

Luke is saying Mommy, Daddy, Addie and for Tula he says, "Doy!" It is beyond adorable. We'll be yelling, "Tula! Come here!" and Luke chimes in, "Doy! Doy!"

Henry says Mama, Dad, and Nah. As in, no. "Nah!"

And Addie can say everything, she is extremely well-spoken for a 4 year old, but sometimes things are so overwhelming she just can't stop talking about it. When Tula had an allergic reaction to Amoxicillin we were at the doctor's office every day for a week and one of those times Addie was with us and the doctor had to check Tula's nether regions because there were hives everywhere. EVERYWHERE.

So, she put on her gloves, and started checking, and Addie just happened to be in the line-of-vagina-sight and the look of horror on her face was so mighty, and so hysterical I wish I had been filming it.

Immediately she said, "MOM! I do not like looking at her vagina! Oh no. No. No. No. No. Is that what mine looks like inside?"

She was practically in tears for poor Tula and her totally normal vagina.

And then she talked about it every hour for about four days.

Ah, kids! They are so adorable!!!

She needs her goggles for the wolf petting.

No time for Daddy, she's got wolves to pet!

Luke has his sixth ear infection in six months. Such a bummer. It's ENT time.

So, I did something silly and let my friend talk me into running a St. Patty's day 10K. It turned out to be super fun, and I ran it faster than I've ever run before thanks to my friend C who sneakily paced me! Felt good to feel like a real person again, and not just someone's mom.

Plus you get a beer at the finish line! God bless the Irish!

My sister dyed her hair! 
She's so gorge.

Just a little stroll on a pretty day!

Henbo and Boris have a strong love affair going. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Group Hug

Today while I was pushing all four kids in a cart through the Target parking lot a woman stopped her car and rolled down her window to talk to me. If this had happened in LA I might have braced myself to start cussing back. Or to defend myself for crossing the road so slowly with my heavy ass cart full of a shocking amount of kids under 5.

But not in Bozeman.

The woman stuck her head out and said, "Way to go Mom! You're doing a great job!"

And I just smiled and mouthed, "Thank you," because I was afraid I was going to start crying if I actually spoke.

"Really awesome! What a good mom you are!"

And then she drove away.

She didn't see me yell at my kids in the car for dumping an entire bag of Goldfish on the floor.

She didn't see me tell them they could wear slippers to the store because I couldn't find two matching shoes. Anywhere. For anyone. (WHERE DO ALL THE SHOES GO?!)

She didn't see that they were wearing two different slippers on each foot because we couldn't find matching slippers either.

She didn't see me laugh when they threatened each other with being thrown in the "Fart Room" if the other one didn't play kidnap the right way. Yeah, kidnap. That's their favorite game. And the Fart Room is where you go to be punished with farts. There's so much wrong with that whole scenario.

She didn't see me let Tula eat only yogurt for 2 days because she was so dang cute when she said, "I Tuwa. I eat dis yogurt, ok Mom? It's super duper yummy. You wike it much and much?"

Much and much, you guys! I mean - c'mon! Who can say no to that?!

But she also didn't see me reading to the kids for hours on the couch.

She didn't see me giving them a billion kisses, or telling them I love them a hundred times a day.

She didn't see me let Addie stay up a little past her bedtime because she really needed time to just talk, just breathe near me without her sister or brothers interrupting her.

She didn't see me checking on Tula every hour all night long for several nights when she had a super scary and severe allergic reaction to amoxicillin.

She didn't see me take all four kids to the park by myself because the sun was out and they needed it. And it was so glorious.

So, how did she know I was a good mom? How did she know I was doing a good job, or that my kids were actually thriving and not abused into behaving in the parking lot?

I don't know.

I don't know that she did. But she saw me, and I happened to be smiling at my kids and maybe she assumed. Or maybe she's had kids and she knows the struggle is real. She knows that sometimes moms just need to hear that they're not messing it all up. That even though they yelled too much one day, or are probably causing yogurt-induced malnutrition, or that they can't keep track of clothes - they are still doing a good job. They are still being a good mom.

You shouldn't have to have validation to continue fighting the good fight of motherhood, but gosh darn it if that woman didn't make me day. She made my week.

Stopping and rolling down her window to tell me I was doing a good job. That will stay with me for a long time. That will keep me going. That will make me be a better person today.

Words are so amazing and so powerful. She could have just driven away and had the thoughts to herself, but she said them and changed my day.

And in return I said nice things to people I saw at Target, at the post office, at the library.

And my kids saw me do that. That's the best part.

Addie actually asked me, "Why'd you talk to that lady?" And I said, "Because it's nice to be nice to other people." And she said, "I know that mom. You tell me that all the time." And then she walked up to a homeless woman sitting inside the library, out of the cold, and said, "I like your scarf," and walked away.

Good, little lady. I hope that radiates from you in ten years, and twenty, and thirty like it does now. I hope you are just as positive and wonderfully happy when you're old and gray.

I hope you stop playing kidnap soon, because that's starting to worry me.

But that's a different post for a different day.

Today I am happy to be a mom. I am happy to be part of the whole thing. I am happy to be a woman who is doing a good job. Most of the time. And you should be proud of yourself too. Because it's hard to do - be proud of yourself. It's really f*cking hard. There's always room for improvement and there's always something you can nitpick, but honestly - you are doing a great job.

And so am I.

And so are my kids.


We have had some gorgeous days lately.
And some wild hair.

So thrilled to be allowed outside!

Sunshine! Heck yeah!

First haircut! Took of almost 5 inches!!!

Someone is super stoked to have her first board game! 

Because this month is about women.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Michael, My Heart

For some reason I don't write about my brother a lot.

Or even, at all really.

I don't know why.

I love him more than almost anyone else. I think about him every day. I talk about him every day. Every thing I do in life, whether it be a major milestone like getting married, or having kids, or a small one like finishing a job project, or making my bed before I leave the house in the morning. I think about my brother.

I think about him every time I make peanut butter toast because once when I was about 7 or 8 years old I watched my mom take him out to the bus, like she did every morning, and I remember thinking to myself, "When I'm a grown up I'm going to take care of Michael and I'm going to make my toast like this and then I'll have to rush him out the door in a hurry before I grab my briefcase and rush off to my job." Because to me, being a grown up meant a lot of busy rushing around. But it also meant taking care of my brother.

I think about him when I put on Disney movies for my girls because Michael loves Disney anything. I absolutely cannot be in the room when they watch Lambert the Sheepish Lion because it is so my brother, like every single word of that movie was played a hundred million times when we were young. The combination of the fact that he was a kid, and a kid with severe autism, made it so that we watched the same movie over and over and over and over and over, until the tape literally crumbled from so much wear. So, when I hit play for the girls because they beg to watch it, I almost sprint out of the room because I am so overwhelmed with emotion I cannot be in there if I don't want to start sobbing.

I think about him every time I go swimming or get in a hot tub, because in the water is the one place he's sort of free. The weightlessness of the water, and the being surrounded by something with equal amounts of pressure on you must make him feel comforted and safe, because in the water is the one place he wants you to hold him, and hug him, and play with him. Outside of the water his autism makes everything too harsh, too uncomfortable, too much. We used to joke that he'd give you a hug and a shove. He'll lean in for a hug because he knows he has to, but it's an immediate shove away because it's too close. You're in his space. But in the water you can hug him for hours. In the water, he's free.

I can't call him on the phone like I can my mom and my sister, both of whom I talk to every single day, sometimes several times a day. I can set up Skype appointments with him and my mom, but it's dicey. He might not be in the mood. My kids might not be in the mood to let me talk. But when we do talk and he lets me sing to him, I will sing as long as he wants. I will sing a song we made up about the Galleria Mall a hundred years ago. I will sing Miss Mary Mack. I will sing Ant Go Marching until I'm hoarse and there are no more ants to count. So, I miss a daily connection with him. I miss being able to see him for dinner and call him "Sugarbutt" to his face which he love/hates. I want to feel him hug me and shove me away.

One day I'll write about him. Like, really write about him. The little things. The going out to dinner. The home magazines. The word books. The cloth corners my mom used to stay up late at night sewing so he'd have something to stim on that wasn't the shirt he was wearing. The lock on his bedroom light. The reading. The constant, horrible ear pain. The trips to Catalina. The snuggling. The swimming. The time he started to lose his hair like our dad, which was such a shock because he and Becky are still my little babies. My little twin brother and sister. (Who let them grow up?) The tantrums. The homes. The achievements. The laughter. The music. The smile.

But not today.

Not today.

Because I can't.

And I know you've all probably seen this, but this video made me so happy. So extremely happy. And this guy is so much more functional than my brother. Like, light-years more. But still. It's awesome. It makes me glad I worked at Starbucks once.

Whenever anyone asks me what my favorite job was, I always say Starbucks. Where I live now Starbucks is like a dirty word because it's corporate and not local, and that's a major sin for a lot of Bozemanites. But I loved it, I loved talking to people all day, and constantly working, and that's where I met one of my BFFs Jessica. Plus, I love lattes made the same way every single time. Sorry local coffee shop. Don't be weird and we can be cool.

(Just kidding local place, I love you too!)

Anyway, that video is great. And it reminded me that people are great to each other sometimes. And it reminded me of my brother.

My heart.

photo by Jimmy Bui

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Nothing is Even Open Yet!

Well, I started doing something dumb. I signed up to take Pure Barre classes at 5:15 in the gee dee morning. 

That means I get up at 4:30 am. It's basically like taking a workout class in the middle of the night. When I show up the first thing I think is, "How did I get here. Am I still drunk from last night?"

I drove, and probably.

I take a glass of wine to bed with me the night before I have to wake up super early (my logic is ON POINT people!) because I want to be sure I fall asleep, but then I wake up like, "Oh my god I'm tipsy and I have to figure out how to put this thong on. Do my hands go here? What's this pocket for?"

But seriously, why is there a little crotch pocket in some women's underwear? Should I be storing things in my panties? Is it for love letters? No one has ever written me a crotch note. I feel a little gypped.  

I guess my kids won't find my gum in there. 

(I had to look up how to spell "gypped". I had no idea that's how it was spelled. Uh. . . is that from "gypsy". My best friend is Romanian, I'll take offense on her behalf. That's super racist ya'll. Now, if you'll excuse me I gotta go Jew someone down on a price.)

So, I'm way too tired from my ridiculously early Barre classes and my late night Bachelor watching (only three girls left! rumor has it he sleeps with them all! yay tv!), so I can't write anything else. But here's some pictures!

Matching hair and matching outfits. I don't dress the twins like twins, but I love dressing the girls like twins. 

Auntie Becky came to visit!

So did Auntie Elspeth!

Lukey is actually trying to hug me in this picture. He's so lovey it's insane. I want to have him permanently glued to me.

And Henry is just a card! Look at that face! Jokes galore!

The girls eat a lot of peanut butter toast. I'd say 9 times out of 10 that's their breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


The sun came out and all the snow melted! The boys were in heaven!

"What's this fresh air stuff, Mom? It's Amazing!"

My silly little monkey