Dear Public Breastfeeding Mom,

I noticed you tonight in a packed restaurant. I glanced at you a few times. And I smiled. You caught me glancing at you. I think I made you feel self-conscious. I’m sorry.

I wasn’t looking at you for pervy or judgmental reasons. Not at all. I glanced at you because I was a breastfeeding mom a long time ago. Because I still mourn that I just had the one child that I *could* breastfeed. Because I saw a beautiful mommy loving her baby. Because you are brave. I wish I had been more brave like you. Any time I see a parent being an amazing parent, I kind of want to sneak a peek. I want to cheer them on. I wanted to tell you these things, but that might have been awkward. So instead, I made you feel uncomfortable and then I left without you knowing why.

When I see a Grandpa tickle his grandkid, when I see a Daddy carefully put his little girl’s hair behind her ear, when I see an older sister grab the hand of a little brother to walk across the street before her mother tells her to, and yes, when I see a mommy breastfeeding her baby… those are just some of the beautiful moments in life that I want to actually notice.

You shouldn’t have to be brave to openly feed your child in public. But you are brave. May you continue to be brave no matter how many glances you get. ❤

Gird up your loins.

Sounds gross, right? Loins. Just the word sounds slimy and unappealing. It’s a really old school phrase that basically means to get your tunic (men) pulled up and out of the way to prepare for a fight. I’m going to compare it to the phrase (ladies) to “Put your big girl panties on.” Roll up your sleeves, crack your knuckles, grit your teeth, and get ready to stand your ground. Take on the day. Take on the problem. Get ready to fight.

I think many of us have some things we need to fight for. Right now, I feel like I need to fight for my kids’ innocence. That is my battle ground right now. That’s a fight I’m not prepared to lose. And I will gird up my loins (do girls have loins) and fight. We’ve been through some rough patches where we had to fight for our marriage. We’ll be there again, I have no doubt. Maybe we need to fight for our health. Maybe we have friendships we need to fight for. Maybe we need to fight for our integrity.

And when it comes to these kind of fights, I think these things are important to remember:

  1. Prayer is seriously a great line of defense. (And I admittedly don’t do enough of it.)
  2. We need a good support system.
  3. Humility is our ally. Pride is our enemy.
  4. When in doubt, just tell the truth.
  5. Limit distractions.

And just for fun, here’s an illustration of how to literally gird up your loins. It’s a good thing guys now have Hanes. This looks complicated.




This never happens.

First of all, what’s up with all of this recent blogging, right?? I don’t know. I think I’ve finally decided that I need to actually start photographing my kids again.

Anyway, I decided to *try* to take just a few decent pictures of our kids at the local pumpkin patch. I don’t remember how long it’s been since I’ve done that with the “real camera.”


I bribed them with cookies. I begged them to be cooperative. And guess what?! THEY WERE!!! I was stunned.


We were in and out of there in about ten-fifteen minutes. And nobody cried. And I didn’t get mad. Amazing, I tell you.






I honestly don’t even know how this happened.

It’s facebook’s fault. And maybe instagram’s fault too.

iphone pic warning…seems to be all that I have time to take anymore.

I hate how I never blog anymore. I really do. It bugs me. I blame facebook. And instagram. I put everything there so I feel no need to put anything here. I’ve really thought lately about ditching facebook and just getting back to blogging. Ditching facebook would probably seriously improve my quality of life. Maybe one day I will. If I do, don’t be shocked.

Anyway, things are going really pretty well around here. I’ve got three in school all day Monday-Friday. That’s awesome!! Katie is stuck here with me quite a bit and we’re trying to learn how to deal with one another. It’s slow going, but maybe we’re making progress. Hard to tell most days. She can be so funny and clever, but the regularly seasonings of crying and whining and tantrums just wear on me. I know she’s three and I know things will continue to get better. I know that, but that still doesn’t make me any less tired and frustrated. Just keeping it real.


As of right now, Jack is making straight A’s. I’m hoping he can hold onto that for a few more days so that he can finally get straight A’s on a report card. He’s done very well in school since going back mid year last school year, but he hasn’t pulled straight A’s yet. He went to church camp last weekend and had a great time! He’s just a good kid. I don’t have many pictures of him…poor guy.

Mikey is doing pretty well in school. I love his teacher and she’s great at communicating with me. He’s had a few bad days, but nothing too extreme. He’s learning to read so that’s been fun for all of us. He loves reading to his siblings. Even Jackson will sit through his early readers and cheer him on. He finally got a haircut that is totally different than the haircut he’s had his entire life! That was his choice and he loves the new do.


And Brittany has become the most mellow and easy going of the four kids. I can take her anywhere. She’s pretty much always in a good mood. She has moments, but for the most part, she is seriously just a sweet, easy kid! I can’t believe how far she has come! She’s doing great in school and just seems to enjoy pretty much every situation she’s put into.


After almost getting rid of (or worse) our dog, Scott, I’ve decided for now to let him live in the house and I have to bathe him far more often than I’d like to. But he’s a pretty good dog and we rarely even know he’s around. Now that he lives inside again, he’s totally stopped digging out of the yard and running away. I think he was on some kind of suicide mission there for a while. It’s nice to not have to sweep up food as often.


So that’s pretty much all I have for an update right now. Things are good. We are in a pretty simple season of life right now and I just seriously can’t, or shouldn’t, complain.


Either Way – revisited

Almost two years ago, I posted this.

It was a low time. I couldn’t really talk about how low it was, but it was low. And things stayed low for a while, maybe as long as a year. I don’t really know.

Mikey has been tough most of his life. Beautiful, funny, awesome in many ways, but still very tough to parent. He improved leaps and bounds…and then we got the girls. And I don’t mean to make this a negative post about the girls. Not at all. But the truth is that he regressed much more than I could have anticipated when we added the girls to our family. At the time of posting these song lyrics two years ago, I was very depressed. I was afraid we had made a mistake. I was afraid he might not recover. I was afraid of a lot of stuff.

Maybe the sun will shine today
The clouds will blow away
Maybe I won’t feel so afraid
I will try to understand
Either way

Maybe you still love me
Maybe you don’t
Either you will or you won’t
Maybe you just need some time alone
I will try to understand
Everything has its plan
Either way
I’m gonna stay
Right for you

Maybe the sun will shine today
The clouds will roll away
Maybe I won’t be so afraid
I will understand everything has its plan
Either way

Wilco Either Way

But at some point, without me really noticing, the sun began to shine a lot more. The clouds did begin to roll away. They came back off and on and sometimes they came back with a vengeance. But somehow in the last two years, we have all found our place and our rhythm.

Somehow Mikey and Brittany have bonded to a degree I never would have predicted. He despised her with his whole heart for quite a while. He was mean and hateful to her so often. She loved him with her whole heart from the beginning and has never wavered. And I think that’s what Mikey needs. People who will love him with their whole hearts, without wavering. How could Brittany have become exactly what he needed when 2 years ago, I thought she was going to destroy him? And oh my goodness…how I love her for it!

The clouds have been coming back more frequently lately. And I’m starting to feel afraid again. Or maybe my expectations are just too high. But I heard this song again today and I felt hopeful because he and we have come so far in the last two years. Maybe he’s just hit a rough patch where he needs us to love him as hard as he hits back. He needs us to stay right for him.

Mikey turned six yesterday. And I would say that in the six years of his life, there has been infinitely more sun than clouds. But for whatever reason, sometimes the clouds seem more prevalent even though they’re not. And I just needed to take a moment to write this down to remind myself how far we’ve come.

Dear blog,

Dear blog,

I’m so insanely behind on messing with you that I don’t eve have the desire to look at you anymore. Plus, your photos are too small and I don’t know how to change it without starting from scratch and I don’t want to do that. Whatever. Here are some quasi recent pictures of the kids that are taking up all of my time and energy.

Phillip is home for the summer and I’m so glad, but I’m so sad because the summer is almost over. This is what Phillip thinks of the kids a lot of the time. 🙂

Oh, and do you remember this post??

Well, Ms. Riley went and got herself adopted!! And we were there. It was great. It was very important to me that our kids be there for her adoption.

Toldja she looks quite a bit like my baby…

I love seeing them together. I love that these kids will all grow up together. Oh, and just for kicks, they’ll most likely all even go to the same elementary school. When God pieces things together, He doesn’t screw around. It’s super cool. I will eventually get around to finishing her adoption photos! Can’t believe I haven’t done that yet. Oh, wait…yes, I can believe it because WE HAVE FOUR KIDS!!

Anyway, I also went to Singapore/Cambodia for two weeks in July. Hopefully I’ll get some of those pictures up one of these days too.

And with that, I feel somewhat more caught up than I did ten minutes ago. Kind of like cleaning my house… it’s better than it was.

Settling in

When you first get married, you don’t really know what you’re doing. You argue about stupid crap all the time. You don’t really get each other in many different ways. You want to win. You realize the person you married is flawed.

But as you stick it out and get used to living together, you begin to see how compromise works. You begin to see what sharing and waiting your turn really looks like. You begin to grin at the flaws rather than wanting to throw something. You begin to settle into that person and your life together. It can be good and bad. Some settling in means the newness is gone. It means that even though he may have hung the moon, he hung it ten different times and it still ended up crooked. But there’s a familiarity that brings such peace. The sounds, the scent. Just the feeling of being home wherever he is.

And when you buy your first house or maybe rent your first apartment, you want it all just right. You want the towels to match your kitchen. And you want your canisters to match your towels. And you buy cute salt and pepper shakers because you want your life to be cute and you might as well start it out with cute salt and pepper shakers. You make your bed for a little while. You stand in the widest part of your probably small house and think that you’re all grown up because you have place mats on the table even though nobody eats there.

But then you settle in and you use tattered Christmas towels in the kitchen year ’round. Your coffee cups all have broken handles and you don’t care because coffee is coffee regardless of what the handle looks like. You only make your bed when you hope to take a nap that day because you’ve learned that’s how it works. And you stand in the largest part of your house and think that you’ve done pretty well for yourself, but you really should dust. And you really should get a new sofa, when the kids are older and won’t tear it up.

And when you’re a new parent, you make the nursery perfect. You always put ointment on his bottom when you change his diaper weather he needs it or not. Because you can’t be too careful. Your heart races and you feel your face and neck grow warm when you see someone give him sweets that you think he’s too young to have. You have to either freak out or leave the room if someone gives him a sip of soda. You catch him every time he falls. Or you at least try. And you feel like a failure if you miss or if you’re too late.

But then you settle into being a parent and you realize that he’s not as breakable as you thought. And when you add siblings to the equation, you see that you only change diapers when the other is seriously about to leak. And you don’t use baby wipes most of the time, let alone ointment. And you laugh when they fall in hopes that they will join you. And they eat dirt so who really cares what else they put in their mouths.

At least that’s what settling in has looked like for me. There’s a certain amount of acceptance and familiarity that comes. But I don’t think there’s really an end to the settling. Not until our lives are over. I continue to grasp onto things I shouldn’t. I continue to learn to let things go. I continue to think I have it figured out only to realize I have no clue. But we are settling in.

Our lives have changed so much since that first little loft apartment on Tanglewilde. I know someday I’ll look back at this time in our lives, this crazy time, and realize how much I’ve learned and changed and grown. I hope I’ll become more selfless. I hope I’ll continue to settle into this life that I have and that I’ll feel more at home in it as the years go by.


So this is a post to toot my own horn. So if that rubs you the wrong way, then skip it. But I have so many days that I feel like a failure or a lazy bum, that I think it’s okay to post a WIN for today! I accomplished a ton of stuff today! So, here’s what my day looked like today, just in case you care.

7:45-8:45 – kids up and fed. Jack done with spelling and math lecture (which I don’t teach)
8:45-9:45 – middles dropped off at school/granny’s, 2 miles on treadmill and sauna at Rec Center while Jack read and finished math at Rec Center
9:45-12:00 – grocery store (with list!), groceries put away, laundry, pick up Britt from school
12:00-3:00 – lunch for myself and three kids (I made soup), shower, history & bible with Jack, read to Britt, worked on photos, did NOT take a nap, more laundry
3:00-4:00 – Picked up Mikey and a family friend from school, brought them home for snack
4:00-5:00 – took three kids to Cherry Berry (The buttered popcorn flavor is GREAT, btw)
5:00-6:15 – Phillip cooked burgers and we ate, more laundry
6:15-7:45 – Rec center again where I walked about 2.5 miles and sweated in sauna
7:45-8:45 – took Mikey to Wal-Mart to buy him a yoyo and a couple of other things. Mikey memorized my phone number while we were there.
9:45-11:45 – 2nd shower of the day, talked/emailed/texted with two friends about our upcoming trip to Singapore/Cambodia while finishing up a senior gallery

And now I’m done and I should go to bed, but I’m going to go read for a little while. I just need to sit and be alone for a little while. I’m exhausted. Most days aren’t *quite* as busy as this one, but they are close.

Let’s see here…

How do we do this? How do we take pictures of our family of 6, plus Phillip’s brother and his family, and Phillip’s parents? How do we do it in my house with my stuff?

Here’s the setup. Two alien bees, one with an umbrella and one shooting through a big diffuser thing. My 30D on a tripod hooked up with a remote release. For some reason this remote release won’t work with my 5D. Crappy iphone pics…

Then we have the practice… Yes, I took these of myself. Yes, they’re awesome.

Then we have the real deal. So did we do it? Did we get a good family picture of all of us? I had to swap a couple of heads in Photoshop, but we got it!

We also got these winners. I know these will make the folks proud. I think we all should be pretty proud.

I didn’t use the remote release on these. Debbie took these.

And my favorite…

And then I got a few individuals of the kids. It was mostly successful.

This bow looks better!

But not completely successful.

I also tried to get a few of my four kids together. Also, not really successful, but pretty funny.

So there you have it. All of the foolishness, all of the setup…all worth it.