Okay, so I have finally come up with a new blog title and site, since I am way out of date on the number of shining stars that I now have! Here is a link to my new site, NatureMama Narratives. I'll be posting there from now on, and it should be where I stay, because I have not limited myself in my title in any way. Drop by, follow me there, and leave a comment now and then if you like what you read and see!
Last but not least, I'll share Max's adventures from our recent hike. After hanging out with me and Laini while the disc golf got rolling,
he was anxious for a turn with the grasshopper that Bella had caught.
She passed it on gladly, and he giggled as it tickled his hand.
He spent some time pointing out these fun mushrooms that we found. They were all over the place, and I'm still trying to find my field guide to ID them, as I can't find a website that's extensive enough to help out.
But the most fun was had in the creek. While the rest of us were salamander searching, he was having a blast tromping, sitting and splashing in the water.
The it was on to filling up his Frisbee with water.
While Laini was chillin' and Bella was exploring, Kaney was leading the way. He likes to be the leader all the time, and I struggle to keep him from being the rude, pushing-in-front-of-everyone-else kind of kid. But as soon as he gets the chance, he leads the way. He was the first down the paths with his Frisbee for disc golf.
After Bella led the way into the pine grove, he quickly made his way to the front of the line to lead everyone to the creek.
And he lead the way flipping rocks for salamanders. But along with being a leader, he is a big helper, and volunteered to road-block the salamander for a picture.
That's my boy. And we got a good shot of our salamander with his help. This one was a Norther Two-Lined Salamander, one of the most common that we have in this area. We also had a bunch of tiny mud puppies, but they were way too fast to photograph even with Kane's help.
He's my laid-back, quiet boy, but he knows how to have fun.
While Laini was nursing, napping, and enduring tons of smooches at Broughton Nature Preserve over the weekend, the rest of the kids were hiking away. While still in the field disc-golfing, Bella took her first try at catching a grasshopper and succeeded.
True to her recent nature, she said, "Mama, I liked the way it felt to hold that grasshopper. I like the way he wiggled!" Really, until this summer, she was freaked by bugs, worms, spiders, which was totally opposite my love of the above and the way I was trying to raise her to love them, too. So I was surprised when she dove right in to capture him when I suggested it. She did, however, do the girly squeel and jerk back the first few attempts, but I'm so proud she went through with it.
When we got to the wooded part of the course, Bella went off-trail for a bit, through the luscious, yummy undergrowth, and posed for a couple of shots.
B: Here Mama, take my picture!
B: You better put that picture on your blog, lady!
See, dear daughter, I promised I would.
Bella lead our party into the small pine grove that we've been wanting to explore. But the mystery of the pine grove wore out quickly, as the creek is just below it and all were sweaty and dirty and ready for some stomping and rock-flipping.
The rock-flipping brought an ample supply of slallymanders and even a little group of mudpuppies, which I so tried to photograph, but man are they fast.
Although the frigid water felt wonderful on my feet, I wasn't up for the wading into deep pools, but Bella lead the way happily. That's my girl.
With today being another beautiful mid-80s day, we went to Broughton Nature Preserve, our favorite summer-time haunt. Adam took the frisbees to do some disc golfing, and we spent hours hiking and playing. While he and the older two climbed to the first tee, Laini and I hung out with Max for a bit while she nursed.
Not the best composition on this pic, but I had to share it, because of the look on Max's face. Right at this moment, he is saying, "WOW! MOON!!!" because the light reflecting in the lens opening looks like a moon.
Helena did a little bit of napping...
...a little bit of putting up with Mama's relentless head-smooching (a direct result of being in a wrap all day)...
...some riding through murky, mucky water, thanks to big brother's ceaseless stomping in said water...
Science lesson for the day? Using leverage to remove a huge pipe from the ground presents the opportunity for more lessons on levers and fulcrums, which has been a fun topic over the last couple of months. Whether he has been making simple models to teach with a box and an old ironing board, breaking walking sticks in the woods between two trees, or pulling out pipes from the ground, Adam has been constantly showing the kids how useful the knowledge of levers is. This time it was a second-class lever, where the load (pipe) is between the fulcrum (board) and the effort (kids and Papa!). He is an awesome teacher, and I am so thankful that we have him as a solid participant in our homeschooling efforts.
This past week, with Helena at 3 weeks old, I finally took the time to sit down with her while she was awake and snap a million pictures. It started off with her on my lap, making a ton of fun faces.
I just love this girl's expressions.
Already, the eyebrows lend so much feeling to the expression.
Then big big big sister dropped in for a kiss.
Don't you just love that face??? Next it was big big brother, which was a little better.
Then big brother...
And at that point the kisses were tolerable. We moved on to hiccups, which are crazy strong for her. There is no wondering now why/how they shook my entire belly before she was born.
The hiccups can always be helped with some serious Mama lovin', though. Thanks to Kane, that was captured perfectly.
Once Kane got in on the pics, Max had to try, too, and this is what he took.
I love this picture. I call it Love In Focus. I love that my hand is in focus, while we are not. It is love that becomes the focus of the photo, the emotion that resonates. It is perfect. There were so many more pictures taken of all four children. I'll share them at a later time. There are too many for this one post. And if you're wondering, Bella was too busy reading to join in on the fun of taking pictures... Surprise, surprise... But we had much fun taking photos that day. I hope tomorrow to take some time for another photo shoot. I have tons of ideas, and I haven't taken a picture of her perfect little feet yet! Darn winter. But we may be outside too long to have the time. Which I will be quite alright with. Today we ended the day with everyone in the bath having sand in various locations. I love it.
I desparately want to sit and write a meaningful blog post. My mind is full of things I want to say, topics I want to explore, pictures I want to share. But the pictures I want to share are the most important right now, as there seems to be no time to deal with the other things. No time for the composition of meaninful words and topics. I'm lucky to be able to have these few minutes to get a few pictures up here to share. And then I will feel I have accomplished something other than nursing and half-completed household chores. Ugh, and as I'm sorting through pictures I realize that if I put them all up to share, then I'm shooting a few good posts in the foot because there are stories behind them to be shared, also... So here are a few pictures that require little words and stand on their own.
Helena had her first outings this weekend - Saturday to the store for our weekly shopping, Sunday to church and then for a walk at the biking trail later in the afternoon. Ah, that's one that I want to share the story of... It was glorious - just what I needed. But for now, here she is, all bundled in the earflap hat that I knit her and her cozy warm "jacket" hand-sewn by my dear friend Sarah 6 years ago for Bella. Awwwww...
Go ahead, let all of the AWWWWS out. We all know how absolutely sweet she is, especially in her pink carseat that matches her sister's.
Oh, and here is what she does while she's awake and in the wrap, which I think is absolutely adorable. As long as those eyes are open, she has her head back, looking around at everything. Speaking of looking at everything, ignore the table piled with dishes from lunch time... Here she is in pink. Right now it's the only pink outfit she has, bought by her Nanny the day after she was born. The rest of our nicely sorted and labelled bags of girly clothes are still in our storage unit. I suppose we'll get around to getting them out while she can still fit into them.
Here's Papa with a lap full of offspring. Gotta' love that.
And here's how Max spent the morning. It's Super BiBi!!! He flies around the house, whooshing everywhere he goes, creating havoc. Wait, aren't super heroes supposed to save people, you ask? Well, not 2-year-old super heroes. Nope, they are creators of chaos, pure chaos.
For those who don't know BiBi, there are three of them (originals), and they go everywhere we go, especially to bed. And if they are found after being misplaced and/or forgotten for a time, they are happily shoved in Max's mouth, and you hear a muffled yet clearly intense "ERRRRR."
Okay, now I have finished a post. Feels good. Back to the nursing and half-finished chores...
So by now most of you who frequent this blog know that our fourth shining star arrived this past Monday, February 8th. Our Helena Anne (pronounced He-lai-na, not Helen-a or He-lee-na) graced us with her presence at 9:29 pm. Yes, that would be nearly 56 hours or so after time-able contractions started. Mind you, they were not strong contractions. I even slept through both nights just fine. But they were still working contractions, muscles and tendons continually doing work every 10-8 minutes for days, and I am beat. All well worth it, however. She was born at home into the hands of our wonderful midwife, and is perfectly healthy and lovely. She weighed in at 8 lbs. 12 oz. and was 21 inches in length. She is a wonderfully calm and restful baby.
Yes, eventually I will get around to changing my blog to include our fourth star. But for now, enjoy the new title pic with all four shining stars, and a few of miss Helena (loving called Lainey, although we're not sure yet how to spell that... Laney, Lainey, Laynee....).
Here she is, one day after birth, soundly sleeping.
Here she is, four days after birth, in one of her many quiet, reflective times throughout the day.
She is eyes wide open for 45 minutes, taking all in, and sometimes we get a good crooked grin.
We love her dearly, and I can't wait to share her stories with you here.
Ready for some honesty? Here it is: ME, with piles of sorted laundry behind me, in one of 2 or 3 shirts that still fit over my belly without me constantly yanking my pants up to cover its watermelon-cold rind...
Yep, that's it, my thermal. And one of two pair of jeans that fit. I have my black yoga pants, but you can only wear those so many days in a row (with three kids making sure they don't stay unblemished) before they are out of commission until laundered. So most of the time I'm in my flannel jammy pants and a long sleeved T (I have confiscated all of Adam's, but if they're mine, once again, three inch strip of 65 degree belly skin above those jammies...). There are times that honesty does NOT feel the least bit beautiful. But so much depends on where your focus lies; not just your photographic focus, but your mental focus.
Right now I am typing through a contraction. Here comes more honesty - turn your head for a line or two if you're squeamish - I lost most/all of my mucus plug by yesterday afternoon, so these contractions that I've been having for weeks are getting stronger and doing their job. I can feel the pull, opening up that door for our precious baby to come through. I went to bed early last night after talking to the midwife and labor team with contractions at 10 minutes apart or so. I slept right through them (except for the ten times to get up and empty my bladder) and I haven't timed them today, but last Friday I was 90% effaced and 3 cm, so we're looking at the next couple of days here as being a new birthday to mark on the calendars. It's exciting at the same time as being frustrating, tiring and emotionally draining. So there's some honesty...
(Insert space, which this stupid blog won't put in for me right now, no matter what I try...)
Now, are you ready for some artistic shine to it? There is beauty to be seen in everything, especially in bringing a new life into this world. And sometimes you just need to get over the every day mundane blah of the end of pregnancy with a little self-love for what you're cookin'. So yesterday I spent some time with my camera and my "fitty." (Pause for another contraction...) After I took the first shot you see above in an attempt to get a real picture of me at the end of this pregnancy, I had to find some beauty in what I KNOW is beautiful - not necessarily the honest, tired portrait of me, but the reality of what my body has been working on for the last 9 months. And these are the shots that me and my 50 mil came up with. I love them.
I love the lighting.
I love the focus.
I love my stomach.
Not necessarily for the old stretch marks from three previous pregnancies, or the visual effect of the network of veins, like the roots of a tree, sprawling all over, but for what those landmarks signify and what they are doing for my fourth little bundle of perfection. I love the artistic interpretation of honesty. The honesty of life is beauty if you know how to look at it and where your focus should lie. So I'm going to go put in a load of laundry so I can labor in my one pair of yoga pants, knock that nasty cob web out of the corner above the computer that I just noticed, put on a cup of chamomile tea and drink it out of my favorite tea cup. It's simple, white, with the word "Enjoy" raised on it's side. It helps keep my frame of mind on the here and now, helps me enjoy frustration, tiredness, and unknowns. It helps me remember my artist brain, which sometimes gets lost in the day to day. And that, honestly, is beautiful.