Yes, it has been quite a while since I've posted anything. It is no coincidence that my last entry was two days before I returned to work full-time. Between working, spending time with the family, getting through Easter and a baptism, trying to exercise enough to lose weight, and being in the middle of buying a house, I have been completely overwhelmed. I have a list of ideas that I'd like to write about, and a bunch of cute pictures to share, but no time in which to sit down and create actual blog posts. It's frustrating, but there is no room near the top of my priorities list for this blog. As it is, I'm not doing a very good job of juggling all of my responsibilities right now. If you've ever worked in a restaurant, then you've heard servers use the phrase "in the weeds" to indicate that they're so busy with all of their customers that they can't keep up. That's how I feel just about every day lately. I'm not complaining -- we are all healthy and reasonably happy, and the idea of owning a home very soon is beyond exciting!!! I just want my handful of loyal followers to understand why you haven't heard from me. Please be patient and I'll be with you as soon as I can! In the meantime, feel free to flag down a hostess to refill your drinks. ;-)
This May, we'll be taking a very special trip to Canada! My sister Janice just gave birth to her third daughter, Noelle Chapin Fisher, and I have the pleasure and honor of being her godmother! Lonnie and I plan to rent a minivan, pack up the boys and make the road trip to Toronto for the baptism.
Today we went and got James, at the tender age of almost 12 weeks, his very first passport. We picked up his birth certificate, stopped by Sears to have his photo taken (it's actually challenging to get a proper passport photo of a young infant, but the woman at Sears did a great job!), and then headed to the post office to submit the application.
"Yay, I have a new baby cousin and I'm going to Canada!"
He cooperated for the photo, but sadly his hair did not.
Waiting our turn in the post office
It seemed so odd to order a passport for my infant son when I did not get my own first passport until I was 20 years old. My first opportunity to travel abroad was my college choir's performance tour in Austria. (Actually I did go to Toronto twice during college, but back then passports were not required for travel from the U.S. to Canada.)
Growing up, my family rarely traveled far from my hometown of Charleston. Our "long" road trips were to Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. My parents raised eight children and sent us all to Catholic schools on a professor's salary. They sacrificed a great deal to make this happen, and that included their own dreams of seeing the world. My father spent some time overseas in the Army when he was young and was content to stay closer to home thereafter. My mother got to visit London in her later years, but her travel fantasies went mostly unfulfilled.
There seems to be an intrinsic part of the "American Dream" that we should all strive for a better life than our parents had, and then in turn we want our children to do better than we did. When I look at the life my parents provided for our family, I don't feel the need to live in a bigger house, drive nicer cars, or wear fancier clothes. I never have been misled into thinking these material things could improve the quality of my life. But if there's one thing I could provide for my children that my parents could not provide for me, it would be travel. The amazing adventures and life experiences they could gain by exploring the world would be priceless, and might in some way help fulfill my parents' dreams for themselves and for me.
I know I'm getting excessively sentimental over a simple visit to family in Canada, but just having passports can mean so much more. It represents a certain freedom and ability to seize fortuitous opportunities. Just recently, a friend posted on Facebook that she had come across an amazing deal on airfare to Moscow, around $250 round trip from DC. Without a passport, you can't just jump on a limited-time offer like that. With a passport, you can make a spur of the moment decision to travel halfway around the world!
A passport can also come in handy in emergencies as well. Lonnie's uncle just suffered a stroke while vacationing in Mexico. His wife, Lonnie's aunt, has had no choice but to deal with the difficult situation on her own, because no one else in the family has a passport with which to go join her. With some help from the U.S. Consulate, hopefully they will be back home in Michigan tomorrow, but in the meantime all the family can do from afar is pray.
The truth is, right now we can't afford international travel any more than my parents could. Except for the occasional visits to my sister and her family in Toronto, the boys' passports likely will go unused for most of their childhood years. (And really, the kids are such a handful right now that it's hard enough to take all three to the mall, much less to a foreign country!) But I like to think that just getting them the passports is the first step towards fostering their curiosity and love of adventure. I may not be able to provide them with trips around the world, but the passports provide them with possibilities. So in a way, I have already given them the world. I feel pretty good about that. :)
I'm a big girl. I'm just a hair shy of 5'10" tall and I have a pretty large frame. Even at my thinnest and most fit, my clothing size is in the double digits. In fact, I've been wearing adult women's sizes since middle school. I have never been dainty a day in my life. Add to that the extra 50+ lbs I've been carrying around for the past several years, and you have an idea of what I mean by "big."
Despite my size, I try not to let my outward appearance determine my self-worth. I'm in the process of trying to lose a lot of weight, but primarily so I can be healthy, not skinny. Even though my body image is mostly positive, I do have my moments of insecurity, self-consciousness, and embarrassment. It's just not easy being a big girl in our culture.
Every once in a while, something happens to remind me of the value of our earthly bodies. We do so much more than just get looked at and judged by others. Our bodies are constantly doing useful things in our work and and personal lives. Obviously being pregnant and giving birth are huge reminders of the amazing things that a human body can do. Parenthood provides other such reminders as well, and I received a wonderful one this weekend. For a little while, I held all 3 of my beautiful sons in my ample lap! It was a tight squeeze; I really don't know if I could have held them all if my legs were shorter or my thighs were lean and small.
I had Lonnie snap a picture because I wanted to remember the moment. Gabriel is a big kid already, and I know James will be a toddler like Luke much sooner than we'd like. Who knows how many chances I will have to hold my boys like that? And it was such a lovely, organic moment too. I was holding James in my lap for a minute so he could watch some of a Baby Einstein DVD. The music caught Luke's attention and he came right over and plopped down in my lap too. Gabriel has to do everything Luke does, so within seconds he was filling up the remaining space, and there we were! Unfortunately our camera was not quick enough to catch another precious moment...after Lonnie took the first photo, Luke turned and hugged James! It was too sweet!
So here is a photo of a big girl who for once was glad to have a really big lap. :)
Let me tell you something about Gabriel: he is obsessed with snow. He has been longing for snow all winter. He didn't think Christmas could come until snow covered the ground. (By that logic, I would have celebrated my first Christmas at the age of 12! ) We have had a couple of small snowfalls this winter, but nothing substantial enough for him to have a snowball fight, build a snowman or snow fort, or have any of the fun snow-related adventures he'd heard about from Daddy.
December, January, and February came and went. Then March roared in like a cold, wet lion and dumped 9 inches of snow on us! I will let the pictures speak for themselves...Gabriel's glee is clearly visible. And even Luke, who so despises cold weather that you'd think he had some Southern blood in him (and he's the one who looks like me too! haha!), had a great time in the early spring winter wonderland.
Within a week, every snowflake had melted, and we had traded our heavy coats and mittens for short sleeves and bicycle helmets. Making snow angels gave way to rolling and scooting down a grassy hill. Digging in snow became digging in dirt. Yeah, I really could have done without that last change. My boys need some tutoring in the subject of Hand Hashing and Other Personal Hygiene.
While the snow was great fun and well worth the wait, I'm glad the weather is starting to warm up. These guys have more energy than this apartment can contain, and some days they are only happy when they get a chance to run around like lunatics outside!
I want to share some recent photos of the kids, to help bring this blog up-to-date. This will probably be a pretty long entry, but without too many words to weigh you down in your scrolling. :)
We had a small snowfall in late January (photos from the much bigger March snowfall will be posted later!), and the boys just loved it!
This photo is special to me because the wagon was a gift from my Dad for Christmas 2007. We have a photo of Gabriel and Luke in it last winter, and this photo looks almost identical to it except that the boys are bigger!
Luke's godfather (Lonnie's friend Charlie) sent him a gift of some really awesome art supplies. I have never seen these guys so excited to color and paint! (Please excuse the mess in the background...I told you our home has not been really clean since my sister left!)
I like to take these cheesy pictures so we can see how the baby grows. I'm horrible at taking them on the actual month-birthday though...so consider the signs to all be approximations!
Random Luke cuteness
On Valentine's Day, we all attended the birthday party of Gabriel's best friend, Kira. We were a little nervous about keeping track of all 3 boys in a crowded play place, but it was a lot easier than we'd expected! They were well-behaved and everyone had a blast (even James, who was all decked out in Valentine's attire). :)
JAMES OVERLOAD!! I can't help it...I just adore this little guy!
Okay, I realize I'm still a month behind, but some of the pictures I still want to add deserve their own posts. My goal is to be completely caught up before I go back to work, which happens on March 26th. Stay tuned!
I run, I swim, I have babies, and I write about all of it because blogging is cheaper than therapy. Most of my time is devoted to raising four crazy little boys and one rapidly growing baby girl with my awesome husband of 12 years, and also working my day job to support the large brood. I moonlight as a 30-something woman on a journey from obesity to fitness, with a triathlon as the end goal of that journey. I love getting feedback on my efforts, both physical and mental, so if you follow my story, feel free to share your thoughts whenever you wish!