24 March 2015

Happy Birthday, Micah-boy! Two!!!

December- Erin's Studio

Happy Birthday, buddy!

So, it's your birthday.  This week it's all about you!
From the new clothes, to the balloons and cake we ordered, to the brand new toys we are wrapping up, we are going all out to make your day tomorrow extra special...but first let's take a look at how much you've grown since last year!

March 2014 - Erin's studio
Last year you looked so handsome during your one year photo shoot with Ms. Erin!  She said you were her most mobile 1 year old.

June- COTW
We had such a fun time at Camp of the Woods this summer!  You loved the sand and the lake, and going to the Sonju gym to play basketball and volleyball!  It was your second time there but this time you could walk, and run, and play in the water!

July-7 President's Beach
You loved our other trips to the beach and you loved your binky (ni-ni).  But for the past two weeks you have been Binky-free!  Mommy is so proud of you!

August-At the Car Wash

You got to enjoy being the baby for a few months before Miss Amelia was born and then you became a Cool Big Bro!

September-Erin's studio

You have been so good with Amelia...I love how you call her Baby Girl and kiss her gently (most of the time).  I like how you want to share with your toys with her (we won't mention the few times you threw toys into her crib).

October-Pumpkin Picking at Battleview Orchards
So with our new home and our new baby we had a wonderful Fall.  Your hair seemed to glow extra blonde, and you loved exploring the back yard and meeting new neighbors when we went trick or treating!  You were a very cute Super Man!

We noticed how much you look like your big brother and we see how much you look up to him and copy him.  You are most happy when Julia and Mark include you and you really want to be with them.

November -Thanksgiving Day at Uncle Tio and Aunt Debi's
We love you so much Micah.  Mommy and Daddy are so glad you were born.  You fill our day with so much joy and so much fun.  You make us laugh out loud and we can't help but hug you and pick you up when you say, "Up-a-high."  Which I will never ever correct you for saying, but it means "pick me up."  You are just the sweetest boy!  

December- Christmas Morning at home
This year at Christmas you really enjoyed visiting all the family and making everyone smile.  You loved eating all the yummy desserts at Uncle Michael's house.  You especially loved eating the strawberries!

December- Erin's studio
Sometimes being in a big family is rough.  Everyone has something to say.  Sometimes it's really loud.  And a lot of times you just don't understand why Amelia is crying!  One thing I have learned about you Micah is that you are very honest.  If you don't want someone to hug or kiss you or touch you, well, you let them know!  I think that is good!  In this family with so many people you have to be able to stick up for yourself!

Jan/Feb Sayre Woods Bible Church (Classical Conversations)
I love how you get ready to go to school each Wednesday when we go to Classical Conversations and you bring your own lunch box and back pack!  You are so grown up and talking so much like a big boy now!  I also have noticed how polite you are with your "please," and "thank-you."
March- On St. Patrick's Day at home

God has great things in store for you buddy!  He has an awesome plan for your life and I am so glad he let us be your parents!  

Sonju Complex at Camp of the Woods
You fit right into our crazy family...you complete us!

You have the best smile that melts our hearts!
You really are our pot of gold!  So glad you were born on March 25th, 2013 at 2:21 p.m.  I can't imagine a single moment without you!  Happy Birthday...


16 March 2015

Do You Love Me?

They need to hear it...

My sister Sara and I are 8 years apart.  I clearly remember being so excited when she was born.  I wanted a baby sister so badly.  I knew we would be close.  I knew I'd have a playmate.  I couldn't wait til my mom had her.

But...when she got here, I clearly remember the moments of feeling like my parents loved her more than me.  

Of course they never said that!  Of course there were no favorites.  But...I saw the way my Mom looked at her as she held her and I saw the way my Dad talked to her when she was in her car seat on the table, and I saw the love in their eyes.  And I felt...jealous.

So one day...(remember I was only 8) I told them how I felt.  We had a family meeting and I said, "You guys treat Sara like she is gold and we are silver."  And it was a great dialogue because they told me that a baby just needs more attention but the baby isn't more loved.

There are days that I have heard Micah (my almost 2 year old) say, "Put baby down, hold me!"

There are days I will be holding Amelia and hear Julia say, "Mom, do you love me?"

Just this morning as we were getting ready for church I heard Mark ask John, "Dad, do you love me?"

It's these moments that I take the time to say, "Of course I love you!" and hug, or kiss, or tickle, or put the baby down and swing Micah in the air.  I let them know, there are NO favorites.  I let them know that Mommy and Daddy love them so much.  We actually play a game where they get to ask me how much I love them and I have to come up with clever things to say like, "I love you as big as the ocean or as high as the sky or as deep as the Grand Canyon."

Because even though I have no favorites, and even though they hear me tell them I love them...sometimes, you just need to hear it one more time.

And it's natural to feel jealous.  It is a very human emotion, however, there is no need for our children to ever compete with the baby or feel like we love them any less.

They are all our favorites for so many different reasons.

Julia is my favorite because she is the first born and she made me a mommy.  So that makes her extra special.  Plus she gives the best hugs, has the kindest heart and asks the deepest questions.

Mark is my favorite because he is the first boy and he has red hair and because he is so smart and funny.  He makes us laugh on a daily basis and he has a sense of style that reminds me so much of John.

Micah is my favorite because he is the baby I prayed and prayed and prayed for because I knew someone was missing from our family.  He completes us with his happy-go-lucky attitude, his adorable dimples, and has kept us on our toes with his very advanced motor skills!  We call him the genius baby.

Amelia is my favorite because not only do I adore girls, but she is the sister Julia prayed for, she is always smiling, she always wants to go go go, and she is the joy on all of our faces, she perfectly completes our family of 6 and is the best bookend for her her big sister (they are twins in so many ways!)

I love all of my children equally and I treasure their uniqueness.  We wouldn't be Team Mac without all of our team members, and I feel really lucky for each one.  And I hope they always know how much I love them.  I try to take time each day to say it, to show them, to hug them, to kiss them, to compliment them, and find something special about them.  I also defend them when they are being teased or picked on (which happens sometimes in a big family) and I am always everyones biggest fan.  I believe that all of them are here for a purpose and I know God has great plans for them.

When my children ask if I love them...I remind them again that I do...and like my mom always says, I love them no matter what!  Even when they make a mistake, or mess up, or say the wrong thing, or spill something, or they are having a bad day.  Because love should never be conditional, should it?  Love is always unconditional.

I'm thankful for parents who love me no matter what, and I pray I can love like that too.


04 March 2015

Tales from an OVERWHELMED Mom

Not My Finest Hour

See this happy picture of us?  This is Christmas morning.  This is not how we look everyday. We don't always smile.  We don't always get along, and we certainly don't all sit on the  couch in perfect harmony.  This moment lasted about 10 seconds.

Lately I have been so overwhelmed with having 4 kids.  I've said on more than one occasion this week, "There are too many people in this house!"  There are so many little people and everyone needs me.  Everyone has a question, (especially during school time, which is probably the hardest part of our day). somebody is always crying, somebody is always hungry (even directly after a meal) and somebody always needs a diaper change!

And sometimes I lose it...

Sunday on the way to church there was a detour on route 18 right where you are supposed to go onto route 1.  Of course I got lost.  And with 3 kids in the car (Mark went to the first service with John) I just broke down and cried and yelled at my phone which was NOT helping me get un-lost! I'm pretty sure Julia thought I was nuts.  Why are you crying mom?  Why are you mad at your phone? Where are we?  Are we still lost?  I imagine she was thinking all of these things...she only asked out loud, the last one.

Monday during homeschool (we started at 7:30 a.m. because Micah was up at 6 a.m.) I literally threw the broom into the laundry room. (Definitely not my finest hour) I was trying to explain to Mark what Spring was (apparently he has no idea that there are 4 seasons! How does he not know this! He's almost 6 for crying out loud!) I'm teaching two different Math lessons at the same time...Micah is bouncing off the wall because he's bored, and Amelia is tired and ready for her nap and Julia is asking me a completely different question while I am explaining Spring to Mark...and for some reason I was sweeping the kitchen at that same moment (breakfast crumbs?) when the broom broke...that's when I proceeded to throw the broom across the room and yell..."There's too many people in this house!"  I stomped upstairs to my room with Amelia to calm down...

After a breather I came back to apologize and Julia goes...

"It's okay mom, I understand, it's just overwhelming right, because everyone needs you and it's hard, right?"

God, I love her.

"Yes, it's very hard, but Mommy should not be throwing brooms in the house or yelling, or stomping, and I'm sorry."

I can't explain just how overwhelming four kids is.  But it's not hard all the time.  There are moments of wonderful.  Moments of joy.  Moments of utter and complete failure.  And times when I just feel so blessed I can barely take it in.  I'm praying that I can handle the hard times with more grace and dignity and excuse myself before brooms go flying.

I need to remember that these times will pass.  I need to remember that I was made to be all of their moms and that God chose me to raise them for a reason.  And I need to remember to breathe and laugh, and ask for help.  My friend Angela today reminded me, "Kristi, it's okay to ask for help!"  (I hate asking for help...I don't even like people holding the door for me...I want to do it all...but I can't and it's so humbling.)  I have so many great friends who are in the same boat as me so I know many can relate.

Being a parent is hard.  And sometimes overwhelming.  And sometimes we have days that we never want to revisit...thank goodness we don't have to! 

What do you do when you are overwhelmed???


03 March 2015

Our Favorite Spring Outings

Terhune Orchards in Princeton

Bring on Spring!

Thank goodness warmer temps are on the horizon for us!  This weekend we spring ahead with our clocks and we are back in the upper 30's and mid 40s temperature wise.

This is the month when the sun comes out, the snow melts, and the wind comes, and blows away the frigid winter air.  My boys are going stir crazy.  Today Micah ran circles in my living room for at least 10 minutes just to get his pent up energy out. Thank goodness for indoor sports like martial arts and gymnastics class for us so that we can at least get some exercise these past few months.

But we are so anxious to go outside, feel the sun on our faces and see the color green again!  I am looking forward to smelling a freshly mowed lawn, and hearing the birds chirping in the morning.  I am tired of still seeing snow!  Spring will be here in less than 3 weeks!  Here is what we plan on doing!!!

(Within each place there is a highlighted link in yellow you can click on to visit the website!)


Liberty Science Center (great for rainy spring days) There is a new Body exhibit by Sesame Street for ages 2-8 (perfect for my tribe...I mean kids) this shows them what is under their skin, and inside their bodies!  My kids love LSC because of the exhibits, the zoo, and the 3-D movie theater (I always try to end our trip with a quick educational movie and they love to wear the 3-D glasses.)

Turtle Back Zoo

 Holmdel Park Longstreet Farm.  This is where my kids learned all about how to milk a cow, grow and shuck corn, sheer a sheep, get chased by a peacock (poor Mark is still traumatized, lol) and see the new piglets and baby chickens.  And after a trip to the farm we have a picnic and hang out by the playground up the hill.

Terhune Orchards

 Green Meadows Farm in Hazlet.  We went this past October and Julia and Mark and even Micah were in LOVE with the animals and personal tour guide.  The beauty of this farm is that every exhibit allows you to touch, pet, and actually hold the animals.  So, after lots of petting and chasing the the animals I used a ton of baby wipes and Purell to disinfect my kids hands!  But they experienced each animal which was really cool and there were a lot!  

Green Meadows Farm

 Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange.  Every May we go to this sweet little zoo in honor of Mark's birthday.  It has been our tradition since he turned 1.  This year we are planning to take a group of Kindergartener graduates with us from our homeschool group.  This zoo is wonderful because it is the perfect size for younger kids and Elementary age school kids.  It's not overwhelming and grandiose, it's just the right fit for little people.  I remember going to this zoo when I was a Kindergartner!  Peacocks roam, there is a reptile center, a train that you can ride, a huge playground and carousel, and a petting farm area, there are also pony rides.  You just can't miss this place at least once or twice a year, it's great in the spring and fall!

Terhune Orchards

 Terhune Orchards Princeton Read and Pick Program.  My kids love the read and pick program which starts up in May.  This farm is one of our favorites, it takes us about 45 minutes to get there, but it is totally worth it!  The staff is so helpful and nice and they encourage so much learning out of the little ones.  They let the kids ask a ton of questions about the farm, what they grow, how they grow, the animals there, etc.  It costs $7 per kid and first they gather all the kids and parents under a tent or in the barn to hear stories about whatever you are picking or learning about that day, then they discuss it and answer questions, then they allow the kids to pick their own fruit, flowers, or veggies and bring it home.  Plus you have to stop at the farm store for treats!  We've picked flowers and berries before, and in the fall of course we've picked pumpkins (in the pouring rain, but it was fun!).  They have tractors for the kids to ride, and animals to feed, and a shady area for picnics.  Plus, it's Princeton, so the area is really pretty, and there is a lot to do.

Liberty Science Center
Holmdel Park

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