Bug will be 4!

This week, my middle little turns 4. In my on-going effort to document the year, their traits and my love, this particular milestone came on like gangbusters. I won’t blame this time of the year because it’s not her fault she was born 12 days before Christmas.

Bug: Your start in this world was definitely more chaotic than any of us would have hoped. It wasn’t bad, but you let us know early you were a force to be reckoned with. That’s okay. You may be a mini-whirlwind, but you also happen to have a heart the size of China.  I can’t believe you’re 4. But I also can’t remember a time when you didn’t exist.

In the last year, you’ve grown from my toddler to my big girl. You go to preschool and we never hear anything but good stuff. You are learning your letters, and numbers and working ever so hard to take the next step to reading. You are doing great with your new friends and figuring out the rules of school. You are becoming even more self-sufficient so when you let me help you, I try to enjoy it. Snuggling and cuddling you have become a highlight since you get to do it on your terms now. Imposing your will already.

You are a big sister, a little sister – a middle sister, if you want to get technical about it. I had no idea how much you would take to being the big sister. I know you have no memory of being the baby, but I’m amazed every day at the love you have for your little sister. You could teach the rest of us a thing or two about family if we’d take the time to listen to you. You would follow your big sisters to the end of the earth because you love them and admire them. If only they would realize how much you would give just for them to be happy… (Wait, on second thought, one of them would totally use that against you, so we’ll just leave that between us for now.) For now, I’ll just be content to watch and admire your demonstrations of love for us.

I’m impressed at your physical growth, too. If there were a prize for willing to try something with a smile and a giggle, you’d win that hands down. I love watching your spirit and your willingness to just keep at it. It’s not that you’re naturally athletic, you are. You figured out the batting thing super quick and hit line drives this summer. You bike like a maniac and next summer we’ll be without training wheels already. There are times your aim is better than Bert Blyleven’s. But, when you aren’t perfect the first time, you still try. And that makes me prouder than when you just naturally kick the ball through the goal on the first try. Even your Crossfit for Kids coach comments on your “not quit”. The pride in that is something I hope you keep forever.

Your emotional growth is pretty cool, too. Your patience with others. Definitely something to admire. I can’t tell you how often you would be the last one out of your activity, because you were patiently waiting for that boy to make up his mind about where to put the stamp instead of just shoving him out of the way (I’ll be honest, that would have been my inclination.)

Your smile for when I come home or just because. Your heart, your soul, your everything. I’m super proud to call you mine. I hope you will forever keep your patience for others and yourself. I hope you will continue to be the sticky glue for this family in your love for us. I love you my Bug.(Pictures in vest courtesy of Megan Stans/Digitalbean photography)

Talia preschool hair cut Raw Kiddos (6) Raw Kiddos (11) Raw Kiddos (32)

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Going to church

I decided that I needed to be a better role model and make church consistently. And, that my daughters should join me. I figured the first day of advent is a good time to start. Mike is not Catholic (or practicing at least), so it was my 7, 3, and 2 year olds and myself off to church. My girls are not the best at going, but I expected Peanut, at least, to behave. She hits church once a week at school, and she gets the routine. In self-defense, I planned to be there early enough to get the last pew. And that was the last thing that went right.

As we’re waiting in a calm, quiet church, Bug hops up on the kneeler and proceeds to shake her money maker, while loudly proclaiming she’s shaking her booty. Finally calm her down, and I kneel to pray for a second. And I pray for patience and calmness. Not sure who God gifted with those prayers, but myself and my kids were not very patient or calm.

At about this time, they start what I think to be the opening hymn, and I say “girls, it’s starting”. They finish the hymn, and the leader says “We have a problem. We are missing a priest. We’ll sing another song, and hope one shows up.” At this point I remember God has a sense of humor. Clearly, the lesson in patience was also going to take on a sense of the ridiculous. (Breathe, Erin, breathe).

Another song in, and the priest comes sprinting in. (Or a fast walk, looking dignified while trying to adjust robes and get the show on the road). An announcement is made that he is not our expected priest, but willing to pinch hit. From the back he sends a thumbs up, and we begin.

By now, both little girls are nowhere near defined by calm. More like wild cats kept trapped in a cage (or pew). Peanut is happily telling her sisters that they cannot leave the pew. They are not so happily taking the news. Bits feints left and goes right, right out the pew. I leap Bug, move Peanut and snag Bits just before she goes swimming in the baptismal fountain. (fortunately, the fountain is above her head, so I have an exra second to grab her. (Did I mention this was during the Gospel so everyone can hear her?) The indignity of getting caught causes her to chuck her pacifier. These don’t just land. Oh no, the land and roll. The usher sees me trying to figure out how to hold her and grab the pacifier under the pew, behind some boxes. The gentleman takes pity on us and crawls between boxes and under the pew for me. Bug now makes a break for it as well. I catch her by the arm, she cries as though I’ve beaten her. (I snagged her arm, that’s it, I promise, and given the volume of noise we’re making, I’m pretty sure there’s people who saw me not abuse her.) (He, he, whooo, he he whooo – deep breathing)

Bits then decides to start taking apart the diaper bag (who taught her zippers?)… Extra clothes go a-flying, and then out came Bug’s extra underwear which Bits proudly shouted out. Then, the dreaded word “snack” begins to be shouted. Yikes!!! I have no snack. But problem solved. Bits finds crackers from a previous family and begins snarf before I can leap over and around the other two who have now conspired (I’m sure of it) to prevent me from taking those out of her mouth.

After more incidents of similar vein (from arguing over Doc McStuffins and Stuffy), to vying over who has the aisle seat, to finding the pacifier that had gone over 4 pews in front of us,  we get to communion. The second grader isn’t quite old enough to get communion (give us 7 months), so I ask her to sit and pray while we go up. I heft the 2 year old up, and snag the 3 year old by her collar. We begin the long slow walk up to the front for communion. Bits demands to walk. Bug is walking at her snail’s pace which happens to be mostly appropriate, but her drunken sailor walk nearly takes out a few elderly and their canes on our way through. (Tight aisles, what can I say). We return and begin to get coats and hats and scarves and mittens on. I take my eyes off Bits for a split second, and there went the bulletins that had been hanging off the back of our pew. To the mom of the little girl who was behaving, thanks. The help picking up the bulletins was almost worth the glares that seemed to say “parent them, would you?”. (I swear, I focused more on them than on the mass… Not sure if that’s good or bad.)

After an hour plus of sitting in church (late start made us a go a little over), my take away was “watch”. Watch for the coming of the Lord (or in my case, watch your daughters scatter bulletins everywhere, throw underwear, find someone else’s old food, book it down the aisle, and generally cause mayhem).

For those of you wondering why I hadn’t been taking my kids to church regularly, and thinking I was owed this experience, you are right. I was. Look for us in the back of the church again next week, but I might have reinforcements… My mother-in-law is scheduled to be here to celebrate a birthday, so one more set of hands might help…