Friday, June 29, 2012

The Kids

 Baby J, asleep in his favorite place, on my chest. Baby boy is happiest in someones, usually my, arms. He is sweet but smiles are hard to come by still.
 Boo Belle. A whole lot of attitude in a pretty small package. She is SUCH a 2 year old, swinging from wanting to make all the choices and having total control to wanting to be the baby and be in my lap.
 Eliana is every bit the big sis. Take charge (sounds so much nicer than "bossy") and over all pretty helpful...if she can remember what it is exactly you asked her to do. Loves to talk. And talk. And talk.
 These two are peas in a pod, becoming such good friends as big sister is sometimes a bit too old to play there games.
Addilyn Joy. Such a character. Most likely to make a mess, and if you look closely at this photo you will see yogurt still smeared on her face. Falls out of chairs at least once a day from being squirly.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Book every child is given

I think I could say with some degree of accuracy that most every child in this great US of A owns a copy of a Dr. Suess book. Many, if not most, probably have in their possession a copy of  "Goodnight Moon". Neither of those are the books to which I am referring. This book is much more secretive. Think "large conspiracy" like the Masons or something. This is a book entitled "How to keep you parents humble". Each child is made to memorize a copy before being born, it is the playbook-of-sorts for all of childhood.

The first chapter in this uber-secret book is called "Birth-Keep them on their toes". It covers things like swift kicks to mama's bladder to make her pee and think her water broke, choosing not to be born anywhere close to your due date and the super speedy entrance into the world that happens in things like trains and taxi cabs.

Least this first act be usurped in any way, the next chapter is entitled "Infanthood-The best time for a big Scare!". Children learn in this chapter how to make all kinds of disturbing baby noises that convince first time parents that they must call the peditrition immediately, despite the fact it is 2 a.m and Saturday. It also covers pooping with such volume, both audible and measurable, that the poor, harried physician is yet again rung. Also projectile vomiting while parents are nicely dressed, embarrassing noises while in the grocery store, and screaming while anyone but mommy holds you are all detailed. Rolling off the couch/changing table/bed before anyone even knew you could roll is under the heading "for extra credit humility..."

The book is long and complex, containing all the ways these little people in our lives remind us that we just don't have it as together as we would like to think. With chapter titles like "Pooping on the floor of TJ Maxx" and "Asking the waiter if he has a penis" you know these kids didn't come up with this stuff by themselves. I mean, how do they know that the exact wrong time to sneeze and blow massive amounts of snot out of your nose is while your great Grandma is holding you? And really, the frat-boy-would-be-proud farts during prayer time at church? Just classic.

I am not sure why God feels the need to give our children this special set of instructions. Maybe it is because kids so often come along when we as grown ups feel like we have gotten our acts together. Children are God's little reminder to not take ourselves to seriously.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Be a MAN

I am not a man. Big shocker, I know. Nor is there any part of me that wishes I was. I dig being a chick. I like that I have soft skin, soft curves, wear make-up and grow babies. I like that my hips sway when I walk, I enjoy wearing heals and pretty dresses. Being a girl is cool with me.

I think being a man would be hard. I believe that, just like our culture reduces women down to pretty faces with empty heads, men are often reduced to being nothing more than a paycheck with a penis. Sadly enough, I think Christian culture has fed this lie without meaning to. We have boiled down the word "provider" to be synonomis with "money maker". Especially in the single income family, stay at home mommy realm.

The work/life balance of the east coast sucks. People work crazy hours and for a while, Matt did too, and I could see how torn he was. There is no peace to be found, identity to be had, in a career driven life. So many people have such little respect for all the other ways a man is called to provide for their families that a man who chooses a different path can catch a lot of flack.

I understand, if only on an intelectual level, that men find identity in their careers. The problem comes when we forget that income is only a piece of what it means to be a "provider" for your family. Matt provides so much more that that; he keeps the girls feeling safe, he is my confidant and best friend, he is an intricate part of our family, not just the dude who brings home the money.

So today, on fathers day, I choose to honor all the men who get that a real man has tea parties, changes diapers, chases away the bad guys in nightmares, and takes time to ask about his wife's day. A real man understands that it is just as important to take his kid to the park to play as it is to provide money for new shoes. A real man engages his kids in conversations while ignoring his cell phone. He makes eye contact, gives kisses and snuggles, rocks babies and sings silly songs. A real man, a real provider, meets his families needs, monetarily, emotionally, spiritually and physically As a woman, I have a deep respect for such a man and am so blessed to have one in my life.

Friday, June 15, 2012

5 a day and a CSA

My children dress better than I do. I think I care more about weather or not they look cute and I can usually find cute stuff for girls, generally name brand, at the thrift store. My children also eat better than I do. Once again, I think I care more about what goes into there little, growing bodies more than I care about mine. My kids eat lots of fruit, some veggies, mostly whole grain and very little "junk" like nuggets, pizza, chips or fruit snacks. They do get a treat after nap, usually home baked, and if we happen to be out of baked goods I will hear about it.

In an effort to be healthy and put my money where my mouth is, both figuratively and literally, we joined a CSA. For those of you who are not quite to the hippy extreme that I fancy myself to be, CSA stands for community supported agriculture. Basically, a farm share. We pay the farmer up front, when a small farm needs the money, to get a share of whatever they produce over the next 20 weeks. This way we are supporting local, small businesses, eating local and reducing our carbon footprint, eating fresher food that is organic and introducing more veggies into our diet. All things I say I hold in high value. This is good for the farmer too, they get the money when they need it and share the risk.

The daily recommendation is 5-7 servings of fruit and veggies a day. My kids do pretty good with this, I serve them a fruit for breakfast, a fruit and veggy for lunch and a serving or two of veggies for dinner. Usually at least on snack a day is dried fruit like mangoes, raisins, apricots or crasins.

When my world is running smoothly, I eat pretty well. After the birth of each child, my world is generally a sleep deprived haze of caffeine rich beverages, easy simple carbs and whatever my children have left on their plates.While I am not quite ready to give up my caffeine, I have come to the conclusion that I can do better. And so the contest is on.

Matt and I are competing to see who can eat five servings a of fruit and veggies a day most consistently. This serves several purposes: first it allows us to go through all the veggies we are getting, it also helps us loose the extra pounds acquired (because when you have had five servings of lettuce you just can't find room for the brownie/milk shake/chips), and it keeps us healthier.

Eating like this takes a bit of creativity and planning. I have found that I do much better if I prep all my veggies from the CSA the day I get them. I am much more likely to eat a salad if it is already washed and torn and I can just chuck it in a bowl and top it with whatever I have on hand. I have started adding a banana or blueberries to my bowl of cereal. I eat my hummus with cut up radishes and carrots instead of crackers. I top pasta with  cooked veggies and pesto instead of cream sauce. We have meatless dinners.

So the next time you see me I am shockingly svelt and glowing, blame the veggies. When Matt is rockin' the bikini on the beach this summer, you can thank our CSA. And when are sitting at the table happily gobbling down the broccoli, you will know it is because we had more veggie than we knew what to do with.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Brown Rice

I can't cook rice on the stove. Especially brown rice. The problem is that brown rice takes at least 40 minutes to cook and I always manage to either boil it over in that time or boil and dry and burn the bottom. Nothing says "yummy dinner!" like the smell of scorched brown rice. 40 minutes is a long time to be mindful of something, especially because it isn't like rice is the only thing I am making for dinner. Usually an evening meal for us includes a protein, carb, hot veggy, and salad. So really the problem is that rice is only 1 of 4 things I am trying to manage which is why I love my rice cooker, perfect rice every time.

And so goes my life. My children are my brown rice. New born babes just take a lot of managing to keep them happy. He is not a particularly hard baby, but he is still a baby. He eat every 2 ish hours and poops at least that often. He loves to be held and rocked and prefers to sleep on my chest. The problem with that is he is one of four "things" I am trying to manage, not to mention my house (which, frankly, right now is unmentionable) and everything else in life like laundry, bills, shopping, and OH YEAH my husband...

The other day I had an epic fail/ I-am-an-awful-mother moment. Eliana said she was going to walk around our neighborhood and try to find a friend. Ugh. What a gut punch. We have acquaintances here in Jersey, but have had a hard time making a lot of deep connections, which just take time. Since baby came we have been solo most of the time. Eliana is lonely...and bored. She is a trooper, usually with a great attitude and plays wonderfully with her sisters. But she longs for her real friends, just as I do. I would love to get together more often with the kids we do know, but none live very close and frankly just making it through the day with everyone fed is an accomplishment many days. Elie longs to connect and to do this she talks non-stop, asking questions and trying to engage. In my sleep deprived state, more often than not she gets short answers. This makes her push more, trying to connect. It is a madding cycle.

Annabelle has not adjusted to having a brother very well. No one is surprised by this. She is my least adaptable child, thrives on status quo, and really has no desire to be an independent "big kid". She held the baby for the first time today, he is 3 weeks old. She has been clingy and whiney, if I am not holding Jamison then she wants to be in my lap. I have a child on me most of the day. I know it is a phase, she will adjust and she is already, I just hate that I feel like I can't give her more help in the adjustment.

Addilyn Joy is so happy and go-lucky...until she is not. When all hell breaks loose and she is being ugly and defiant, it is almost always because she is feeling neglected. The sad part is, she usually is neglected. She flies under the radar, not whiney and clingy like Annabelle and not in-your-face chatty like Eliana. She is independent and helpful, but even she has her limits. The other night, after a particularly rough evening of ugly attitudes, I crawled in bed with her after lights out. We snuggled and I told her all the things she had done that day that had made me so proud of her. She glowed and woke up a different child. She is one whos heart must be captured instead of disciplined.

I have heard it said that motherhood is choosing to have your heart walk around on the outside. With four little hearts to guide and manage, some days I feel like there just isn't enough of me to go around. My children are such a blessing in my life, I enjoy them more than words. But every morning I wake up wondering if today is the day I will screw them up beyond repair.

Grace. Knowing that God knows them, loves them, treasures them more than even I do; I guess makes God my rice cooker. And maybe they won't end up boiled over and scorched, but perfectly cooked with just enough dysfunction to make them interesting.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

2 weeks of Firsts

 With baby #1 you are careful to document "firsts" of all kinds, both with photos and little notes in the baby book. By baby #4, you are thrilled if you remember to bathe everyone at least weekly. Be that as it may, we do have a couple of pictures for posterity of baby J's first couple of weeks of life. I hope to get more, but right now I am working on keeping everyone fed and in clean underwear, or any underwear at all.

This is Jamison's first check up, performed by one of our lovely midwives. As you can see, the girls were very interested in all the goings on. It was so nice to not have to take him somewhere, have him poked and prodded in a nursery while I sat waiting for someone to bring him back. Instead we were all a part of the action.

First bath! He wasn't thrilled. He is now, if he has completely lost his cool he loves to take a shower and it calms him down right away. He is also very tollerant of being tossed in the bath with his sisters, where he is treated like a glorified bath toy.

 And here we are on our first outing. First car ride! And where are we headed?

To Five Guys of course! Hey, a girls gotta eat. He was so good, didn't fuss at all while we ate and on the way home Addilyn sang to him the whole time.

And here are some sweet pictures...just because. We are doing well here at the Crocker house, Matt goes back to work on Monday but he has been such a great help while he has been home. We are not getting much sleep, but that is to be expected I suppose. And he is so kissable that I think I will forgive him for being up at all hours.