Monday, August 24, 2015

On Borrowed Time

I know the end of summer is trying for lots of moms. One of the best things about summer is that everything slows down and there's less of a set schedule.  By the end of summer, that lack of schedule and routine starts to get to everyone I think!

While I miss having a more set routine, I actually love having my kids around me. (OK...honest moment.  I love having all my kids home except Peter!  Peter is hard and I have a whole other post in my head about vacation time with special needs kids! Extended periods of time with Peter 24/7 is challenging.  I love him...but he burns me out.....)

For the rest of my kids....I love the opportunities that summer holds for long, lazy days of swimming and playing and spending time with them.  As summer draws to an end and a new school year is upon us it makes me cringe a little because, by the time summer time rolls around once again, all of my kids will be a year older and everything will change once again! And even though it seems as if each moment will last for ever, it truly doesn't! I have personal experience with that one since we have a college graduate who has recently moved out on his own!!!

This year in particular is a hard one for me.  Luke is going to full day kindergarten.  My baby boy is growing up and I know all too well how fast this next year will go by!  I know I'm on borrowed time!  The little boy, (that slept for the first time in his very own room on the TOP bunk all night long), came into my room this morning so proud of his independence and in the next breath asked me to snuggle.....that little boy is growing up! I'm on borrowed time! I'm still the center of Luke's life but it won't be like that forever.  I'm on borrowed time! I love the relationships that I have with my older sons, but there is no snuggling involved and I'm definitely not the center of their world anymore! (Nor would I want to be bc that would just be unhealthy and weird!) But I still miss the little boys they were!

Since I've had the experience of raising older children, I have appreciated the time I have with my littles so much more!  But it's still going by!

One of the books on Luke's Kindergarten reading list was The Kissing Hand.  We read it last night...and I was holding in tears by the end! It's hard to let your baby grow up!

Seven years ago, I sent Ellie to Kindergarten! She was the baby of our family(at the time) and was our sixth child to enter school.  I had no idea what to do with myself.  Being a stay at home mom with little children had defined my every waking moment for 15 years at that point in my life and in that one moment everything had changed and I felt SO lost!  I started working part time for my parents but I felt like I had no purpose. (I seems melodramatic but it was a huge life change and it was how I felt!) It got better over time. Between late August and early December, I went from feeling like I had no purpose and was just waiting to die to finding a rhythm I enjoyed that included getting to talk to grown-ups in my job, having a little free time to myself to shop and clean, and volunteering at school.

Then, just when I adjusted to my "new" life....I found out I was pregnant with Luke!  God totally has a sense of humor!

Next year, Kate will go to half day pre-school! Knowing this is my last year with her home with me full time is VERY bittersweet!  I'm close to entering another moment in life that will re-define me! I'm on borrowed time! It's really not easy. (Not to mention that next year, Andrew will be a senior in college, Sarah will be a senior in high school and Ellie will be an 8th grader!!!! I'm SO going to need some Valium!)

It's exciting...and it's all good things.  But change is hard!

(And I'm going to miss this little guy!)

Friday, August 14, 2015

A Glance into Summer

Summer always goes by so fast! August mornings usually start off on the cooler side, reminding me that Fall isn't too far away! It's bittersweet!  I LOVE Fall...the weather, the football Sundays, cooking in the oven all the time again, wearing sweatshirts! But, I'm not ready to let go of summer just yet!

Blogging has been on the back burner for me, but here's a look into some of the things that have been taking up our time recently!
#1. Pool Time
(Lots of it!) It's such a blessing to have a pool!  It makes every summer day special!

#2:Celebrating Babies!
My friend, Laura, is expecting her fourth baby in January and let me throw her a gender reveal party!  I love hosting parties...and gender reveals are some of the most fun! Laura is blessed to have three boys so EVERYONE was anxious to find out whether baby #4 was another little he or, just maybe, a little she! I got silly string in the appropriate color and when we all counted to three, her boys gleefully started spraying.......




(insert LOUD cheer and a few happy tears shed by many!)

Happy and excited!
 Laura's husband was away on business but he got to see it all through Skype!
 #3: Birthdays!
Last week we celebrated Luke and Peter's Birthday with our families!  This was Luke's gift from us...a digger toy!  He opened it at 7am and spent almost playing on it!! At one point in the morning he was playing in full sun and his red, sweaty head told me it was time for a break!  

Me: Luke, go jump in the pool and cool off for a while. You're all hot and sweaty and I don't want you to get sick. 
Luke:  Mom....real construction workers get hot and sweaty all the time.  I'm supposed to be this way!
Me: (laughing) Go jump in the pool anyway!
(10 minutes later he was back on his digger! :)

Peter's airplane cake that Jay's mom made! She is super talented!

Luke's X-wing Fighter Cake!

Peter with his Grandma whose cake he LOVES to eat!

Oh my goodness I can't stand his excited cuteness!

#4: Cousin Time
Luke and Kate are blessed to have cousins their own age who live in the same town!  They get together at least once a week!  This week they came over and Sarah made them a giant fort in the family room!  The kids loved it! :)


Playing in the rain
 #6: More Baby Celebrations!
Another close friend, Brea, is expecting her fourth baby in just a few short weeks!(gender yet unknown!)  This morning my book club crew celebrated Brea and their new baby with a little "sprinkle". 
Kim and her girls made this cute fruit bowl!

Our beautiful expectant mom!

What does a mom expecting baby #4 need?
 Lots of diapers and wipes..and a couple of books and toys! :)

Most  of us moms...we had a couple missing today!
Book club is definitely more for mom socialization.....
broadening our minds just happens to occur occasionally, too! :)
#7: The "S" Word
I'm trying to put off the "s" word as long as possible!! School for Luke and Ellie starts in less than 2 weeks.  This Sunday is an ice cream social at their school so they/we can meet their teachers and drop off their school supplies. (I haven't bought any yet!) They all need new sneakers, three of them need dress shoes, plus everything on their supply list. (sigh) August is an expensive month!

That's it for now!  I still have about 400 pics to go through from our Vineyard trip in July!  Hopefully I will get around to that sooner than later! (But the way things are going, I'm thinking it will be later!)

Hope you all have a great weekend!

p.s. I'm looking for people that live in/have friends or family that live in Australia or New Zealand! I'm still working as an Independent Consultant for Jamberry and they are debuting in the Aus/NZ markets on October 1st! Super exciting and a great opportunity!  If you, or someone you know, are interested in learning more please contact me!! :) 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Happy Birthday, Luke!

I have completely neglected this blog space!  Life has been full and going by fast in our neck of the woods!  When I think of how many pictures and moments that I want to share it simply overwhelms me!

But, today.....well, today is a very special day!  Our littlest man turns 6 today!!! Six!!! He has to use 2 hands now to show how old he is! And when he smiles, there's a missing tooth and a 1/2 grown in adult tooth grinning back at us!(yeah...that's one of those pictures I've yet to post!)

Today is a day to celebrate!  I feel a little sad that my baby boy is growing up!  Luke is such a special part of our family!  I've been reflecting lately on the gift that he is in our lives, so I thought I'd share a little of that a 7 Quick Takes Friday kind of Way!

Why "bonus babies" are such a blessing....

1. Surprises Can Be Good
6 years and 9 months ago(give or take), we got an early Christmas present.  A few weeks before Christmas, 2008, I realized that there was a strong chance that I might be pregnant.  Ellie, our youngest at the time was 5 and 1/2. After such a long break, (we had 7 children in 10 years before that!), Jay and I both thought that our family was complete.  Obviously, God had other plans!

I was trying to find a moment to tell Jay....when he gave me a hug and whispered in my ear, "Are you disappointed that we never had any more children?" To which I answered, "Well....". Then Jay's eyes lit up brighter than the lights on the Christmas tree and he ran out to CVS for a pregnancy test! (He has no patience when it comes to finding out if there might be a new "littlest Hamel" on the way!)

Luke at 6 credit Deanna DiMarzio Photography!
2. A New Level of Appreciation
It had been a while since I had been pregnant and had a baby in the house!  After having such a long break between babies, I appreciated and enjoyed Luke's pregnancy a lot more!  I enjoyed each moment in a whole new way. (Well...maybe not the morning sickness...but all the other moments!)  I knew there was a good chance that this could be my last pregnancy, so I tried to see each moment as the gift that it was!
Luke at his 1st birthday!

3. The Appreciation Continues

One of the benefits of having a "Bonus Baby" is that your have the experience of seeing how fast your children grow up!  When Luke was born we had three teenagers!! Mike was 16, Andrew was 14 and Jon was 13.  It didn't seem like that long ago that they were newborns in my arms!  As the song says, "Don't Blink"! With Luke, I knew how fast it would go! So I tried to soak in each experience....I stressed less about getting things perfect and enjoyed living in the moment more!

.....and yet, I still am dumbfounded that my baby boy is 6, losing teeth, and heading to school full time in just a few short weeks!  Sigh...guess I blinked somewhere!
Luke about 2

4.  Family Changes
Luke is one of the best things that has ever happened to our family!  We worried at first how it would work having teenagers and a baby in the house..and all the other kiddos in between!  Teenagers are interesting creatures!  Having Luke when we did kept the teenagers connected to the family in ways that we never would have predicted.  The teenagers didn't want this new little person to not know them as he grew up.  They made sure to be around so they could be a big part of Luke's life! Luke kept his older brothers grounded in our family life in such a unique and awesome way.  I think Luke's birth made his brothers more selfless because they had someone else to focus on other than themselves.

Our boys...Luke at 3 months!  Photo credit: Deanna DiMarzio Photography

 5. Experiencing Things Through A Child's Eyes
It is SO cool to see the older kids want to do things with Luke that they enjoyed doing as a child!  They love watching Luke's reactions to the movies/cartoons that they loved as a child.  They love watching him enjoy the zoo and going to the beach. Going to Disney is SO much more exciting for them because they get to experience it through Luke's eyes, too!  It's so special to see Luke bring out this childlike excitement in his siblings!
Jon and Luke: almost 4

6. How Does It Feel to Be a Hero?  
When Luke was born, ALL his siblings wanted to hold him all.the.time!  Seriously, it was a good thing I was nursing him otherwise the only time I would have gotten to hold him was the middle of the night!! As much as all of his siblings love him, Luke loves all of them with his whole heart.  They are his heroes!  His big, cool brothers and sisters!  They surprise him with trips to the park, zoo, ice cream store, and the occasional toy store visit for Legos!  They play with him in the pool and make up games in the yard!  They run around the house "pew-pewing" with their Lego creations.(and Luke loves that Andrew and Jon have super cool Lego sets that they let him play with...and that they play right along with him!) 

Luke looks up to his siblings as his heroes!   That makes all his siblings feel pretty special and important!  What does it take to be a super hero? Just spend time with a 'bonus baby' sibling!

Kate, Mike, and Luke, 5 1/2
7. Just Because He's Luke!  
The biggest reason our 'bonus baby' is a blessing?  Because he's Luke!  Luke is our truck loving, Light Saber wielding, Star Wars watching, Lego building little goofball who is so incredibly loving and lovable!  He is so expressive and silly that we often question whether he might be part Muppet!

Luke is clumsy and awkward and happy and loving.  He still loves to snuggle and ALWAYS wants to play with Jay and build Star Wars Ships and construction trucks every moment of every day!  

Luke is such an easy going little guy! He gets so excited about things he loves!(aka trucks, Star Wars, and Legos). He is a very patient and loving big brother and such a joy to our family!  I cannot imagine our lives without him!  

I am so grateful that God blessed our family with this very special bonus baby! We all love him so much!
Luke...2 days before he turned 6!

Happy Birthday, Luke!

Now I just need to figure out how to stop blinking....My baby boy is growing up!