Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Glimmer

There are those moments that will pass us by unless we are truly present. Little glimmers that get covered by the whirls of busy days. Today, I caught one.

We've been cooped up in the house all week due to Reiley's strep-like infection. The days have involved much of the usual rhythm: eating, laundry, playing, cleaning, eating, napping, playing, eating; but have lacked some of the most vital aspects for me - regular outside time and getting away from my house. I'm more than a little stir-crazy and am missing some of my spunk. Meanwhile, Sawyer is full of I'm-going-to-walk-any-day mania. He's cruises round and round the table until he's exhausted; he flops around on beds, throwing off all of the pillows; diaper changes are medieval torture. Add to the mania a sick, screaming child and her less-than-stellar napping sister, and any spunk or even friendliness I might have is disappearing.

So when Sawyer was eyeing our premier learning-to-walk toy (our beaten-up, well-loved stroller), I wanted to hide it in the closet. I just didn't have the energy to make the dozens of circles my near-walkers demand of me while I ensure that while pushing the stroller, they don't body slam the hard wood when their feet slip out from under them. However, my mama guilt from days of neglecting Sawyer due to Reiley's sickness pulled me from my jobs and over to the stroller. He pulled himself up and started pushing. I was behind him, steadying the stroller, and he started saying "vroom, vroom", then stopping and doing his baby booty dance in celebration. He started pushing again and then looked straight up at my face above him. He smiled this incredible smile, and his eyes twinkled: Can you believe what I'm doing??? I'm doing it!

A moment almost lost. Rather than giving myself the typical guilt trip where I obsess over what other moments I must be missing other days, I stopped the judgment. Inevitably, moments are going to be lost because of various circumstances. I can't try to keep score about which children's moments I keep up with, and which children are going to grow up and hate me. I chose to be grateful for the little glimmer of happiness Sawyer and I shared today, and be thankful for motherhood and the everyday blessings it brings.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sick Day

Reiley has been down and out for the third day with a "much like strep but not strep" virus. The doctor took one look at her throat yesterday and said Oh my God, if I were a betting woman, I'd say this was strep. But, no, some unidentifiable painful virus is apparently what we have. I think she was pretty close to dehydration yesterday because she has been refusing to eat and drink because of the pain. Luckily, she made a turnaround overnight and is still hesitant to eat, but willing to play with Ainsley, and actually stayed awake all the way until 3:00. Progress! I'm hoping she can be back to school by Friday.

While we've been held captive in the house by sickness, we've been trying to have some fun. Here are Ainsley and Sawyer giving Reiley and I a concert.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fall Recap

I'm starting to lose hope of ever being caught up on the blog. But I'm at peace with that reality. We've been living in the moment and enjoying each one! Here's what we've been up to!
In September, we made a 6 hour long journey to Ohio for my cousin Holly's wedding. We hadn't seen any of my cousins and aunts for about two years, and it was wonderful to spend time with them again! We were a bit nervous to embark on a 48 hour trip in which 12 of those would be spent in the car. The first night was rocky, and led me to swear we'd never travel again...EVER. But all in all, the kids did really well. One of our sanity savers was this outside picnic at McDonald's. The kids (and Mom and Dad too) got some wiggles out.
The weather for the wedding was absolutely perfect, and we managed to get a family shot where almost everyone was looking and no one looked weird. Quite an accomplishment!

The girls couldn't wait to dance at the reception, and Grandpa and GrandMar did NOT disappoint them. Check out my Dad's twistin'! He should expect a call from "So You Think You Can Dance?"
Wedding season sent us to Kansas City for the wedding of one of my best friends from high school. Due to the tumultous travel with the entire family a few weeks before, we opted to have the girls have a slumber party at our house with GrandMar and Grandpa while we took Sawyer to KC. This was the first time that we have left the girls overnight (except when I was having babies), and it went fantastically! I had a great time laughing, dancing and talking for hours with Betsy (the bride) and Bri, my other high school BFF. It was such a fun getaway!
While we were gone, the girls played "cover sick GrandMar with blankets"

And feasted on a Dairy Queen dinner that included ice cream AND fries. Now THAT'S what grandparents are for. I've been hearing about the ice cream and fries for the last two months!
The next weekend we made a trip to Mill's Apple Farm for our annual apple-picking trip. We've found a new apple home in this farm that is much more mellow and less crowded than the ones we've been to in the past.
This was Sawyer's first apple-picking adventure. He grabbed on and ate almost the entire apple before we realized that he was ingesting it seeds and all.
Reiley's been working up her courage to climb an apple tree at the farm and finally did it this year! She was very proud.
Next up was the Pumpkin Patch. Ainsley is sporting some awesome shades for the trip.
This horse swing was the main attraction for Ainsley.

Ainsley rode the bucking bronco swing while Reiley and Daddy scaled the hay pyramid.
And young John Deere found some acreage to till. I'm unsure if this is even correct farm lingo. but I'm going with it.
It was VERY wet and muddy, and we were the only ones attempting to go to the fields to pick our pumpkins. I, however, was determined. If I wanted to get an already-picked pumpkin, I would just go to the grocery store. That is why we are at the pumpkin patch. So, in true Heffern Family style, we decide to go against the mainstream way of thinking and pull the kids in wagons through the sludge, over a huge mud hill, and get to the patch. It was well worth it. Sawyer had a great time crawling around in the mud.

Reiley wrangled her chosen pumpkin from the vine.

A week later, Reiley's Kindergarten class went to same pumpkin patch. Sawyer played with Daddy while the girls had a girls outing. As you can see, it was unseasonably cold!

The next weekend, Reiley's Daisy trip had the opportunity to learn about caring for and ride miniature horses. This was a confidence-building trip for Reiley because she was very nervous about touching and riding the horses.
She was a bit cautious at first, but after watching almost all of the girls take their turn riding, she walked into the ring with no fear, just excitement. It was inspiring to watch her summon up her courage and truly enjoy a new experience.
Sawyer also spent much of Fall enjoying his mobility and exploring the many sensory experiences our backyard has to offer. Mud, sand, rainwater overflow and a hoe...could he be any happier??
He also had a great time painting pumpkins with girls. Well, painting pumpkins after he painted his face, hand, shirt and paper:-).

Many, many fall adventures!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nonessential...but fun

I've been gone far too long because blogging falls into the "nonessential" category of my life. And though it is not essential to me or my family's functioning...I think it's fun. That's a good enough reason for me to make a return from my hiatus.

The end of summer sped by and it's hard to believe that we're now in the middle of fall! I'll give a brief (yeah, right) recap of what our family has been so busy doing!

At the beginning of August, we took a week-long trip to Chicago with Kevin's parents and siblings (Mike and Kalinda already live in Chicago, so we go to play with them a lot). Kathy and Lucy flew in from New York and we all stayed in a lovely hotel in Evanston. The location was great because it was just a few blocks from the beach, and the rooms were close enough and large enough that we could party with our wine and board games after the kids were sleeping. This vacation was a big milestone for our family because we haven't taken a long trip with all of the kids since Ainsley was about 6 months old. The sleep difficulties and difficulty transitioning would have just been too much to be able to enjoy a vacation. Now that everyone sleeps well and is a bit older, we though we'd try our luck, and I'm glad to report that everything was great! The kids made the 6 hour drive there and back fairly well, they napped while we were there, and we got to to do a lot of fun things without many crazy meltdowns. All in all, a very successful trip...and it was so nice to spend so much concentrated time with our out-of-town family!

The family enjoying tapas. I love tapas (and sangria...and margaritas...)

Sawyer and Lucy shared some baby blanket play time on the beach

Sawyer enjoyed pouring bucketfuls of water on himselfBeach fun with Grammi and PaddyShedd Aquarium w/ Aunt Kali

A few weeks later, Reiley started Kindergarten at Shining Rivers Waldorf School. She's going three half-days until Christmas, and will step up to five half-days after Christmas. I've been grateful for this option since she didn't do preschool. It's a nice transition to full day next year. She went to summer camp at the school, so she already had some buddies prior to the start of school. This tipped the balance of scared/excited to about 20/80, which made us all less tense about the first day.

Putting things away in her cubby

Playing with friends in "The Meadow" - their AWESOME outside playspace that has these huge tires, two huge sand areas, hay bales for playing/building, huge fallen trees stacked together as a climbing structure, wheelbarrows, shovels, buckets, ropes, bungee swings...a child's dream play area. They play outside at least two hours every morning in every kind of weather. We are well equipped with rain and snow gear for the coming months!

Saying our last goodbies on the first day. What a big girl! In the past six weeks, she's started separating more and more quickly in the morning. What started as a 15-minute drop-off has turned into a cubby drop-off and run to find friends with me calling, "Are you going to give me a kiss goodbye?!" She also has rave reviews about school. Last week she told me, "Mom...I love school more than ANYTHING!"

That got us to the start of Fall...I'll post again later with pictures of all the Fall Fun we've been having!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Reiley turns 5!

Here are some highlights from Reiley's big day! We started partying the weekend before her birthday with a party-filled Saturday: family in the morning and friends in the afternoon. She has been reading a lot about space lately, and chose that for her birthday theme. We had a space cake for the family party and rocket cupcakes for her friend party.

Here are she and Ainsley and their good buddy Carter standing by the string of spaceships we painted and then flew to collect space rocks.
Her actual birthday was on Monday, so we spent the morning playing at the Museum of Transportation, then met Kevin for lunch at Reiley's choice: Bob Evans (our family loves breakfast for any meal!) Reiley was particularly excited by the surprise sundae she received for her birthday. What better way to say happy birthday than with a free dessert??
In the whirl of birthday preparations, I didn't really have a chance to truly grasp that my girl is 5. FIVE! She's taller and leaner and more "kid-looking". She calls me Mom instead of Mommy (though she's now throwing in a Mama, which helps me think that maybe time isn't moving as quickly as it is). She tells me "you can leave now" instead of clinging in fear at separation. She chooses her own books at the library, reads them, and then tells me everything she's learned. It's bittersweet to watch her grow and learn and change and need me less. I feel so proud of the great strides she has made in independence and confidence, but I like to remember the way I would carry her on my hip and talk to her about the world. She walks on her own now, but at least she will let me walk side by side walk with her, and hold her hand.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Flashback to Father's Day

So I'm really trying to play blog catch-up. Only about a month to go:-). We've been so busy making memories that I haven't had time to record them for posterity!

Father's Day was a multi-activity fun day. We spent the morning opening presents and swimming at our neighborhood pool. This was truly the best swimming shot - check out those baby moobs (man breasts for those new to the term)!

Later that afternoon, we went to the Missouri History Museum to attend an African Dancing Class with Kevin's parents. They had taken the class a few weeks before and deemed it a very fun, family-friendly high-impact workout. I had my doubts about the high-impact exercise, but I was sorely mistaken. It was an hour and half of dancing accompanied by six African drummers. It was awesome! The girls were so entertained that they stuck it out for a whole hour before they had to take a break and explore the museum. Here are Pat and Kevin in action - serious concentration!

The drummers let the kids try their drums after class (OK, OK...I tried them too).

We ended the day with dinner at Fitz's, complete with a milkshake treat! This picture just "melts my heart", as the kids like to say.

I have to include some video so that you can hear the incredible music (and giggle at my kids gettin' down).

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Leaf Bag Joust

Last winter, a creature was born in our backyard: The Leaf Bag Person. When I rake leaves, I always open the leaf bag by putting my arms and head in it (while standing), and shape it open with my arms. One warm day last January, I was trying to finish bagging the last little area of leaves left to bag (and ward off some cabin fever). Reiley bundled up and went ouside with me to get some winter swinging in, and my half-crazed winter brain thought it might be hilarious to walk around with a leaf bag on my body. Fortunately, Reiley must have inherited my hilarity, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We both took turns playing the Leaf Bag Person, getting lost in the yard, bumping into the swingset, etc. Leaf Bag Person has made several other appearances since that fateful day, and we have the footage to prove it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

He's a maniac...maniac...

Sawyer's newest party trick is clapping. He just started doing it in the last week or so, and now it's the first thing he tries once he's got your attention. He likes to look at you, raise his eyebrows a little bit, and give you a clap. It's so cute with his chubby little forearms! We managed to capture a video the first day he was trying out his new skill. He pairs it with a pre-clap headshake to look a little bit like a drunk, crazy frat guy. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fishing Fun

My plan of more frequent posting hasn't panned out - maybe because we've been too busy with the fun of summer! Early in the summer we took the girls on their first fishing trip with my parents. "Trip" really just means a short drive to Tilles Park, which has a great shady pond with many ducks and geese to keep us entertained.

My dad talked through all of the steps of preparing your rod with Reiley. She was very serious and concentrated on the whole endeavor. Reiley really wanted to catch a fish and wanted to ensure that she was doing things the "right" way.
Ainsley sat in the chair and spent about 90 seconds jabbing the water with her pole before she got up to chase the ducks around. And just where did the gals get their awesome camo hats, you may ask? My dad (who works in sales) picked these up from a client and deemed them as the perfect fishing hats. The girls loved them!

Here's Ainsley with some of our duck friends. This might have been about the time that Ainsley decided that the ducks were a little too friendly for her comfort. Unfortunately, Mommy (ever the animal enthusiast) made the mistake of encouraging the girls to feed the ducks their leftover bagels when we first got to the lake.
That may have been why the gang of ducks and geese trailed us the entire time. Reiley was unphased by the distractions and waited for a bite (with a few near-catches) for two whole hours! I was pretty impressed with her patience. We didn't get a catch on this outing, but we learned what fishing was all about.Sawyer took a little snooze during the trip, and then played happily on the blanket. He loves to be outside!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"God, are you there? It's me, Ainsley"

We love us some prayin' in this house. We say two kinds of prayers at dinner to reflect our different spiritual upbringings. We start with the tradional Catholic mealtime prayer, and then say a "holding hands prayer" where we go around the table and anyone who wants to say something to God says it. Ainsley's been listening to us do this for a while, and has recently wanted to join in. Reiley has a variation of the same prayer each night at dinner, which typically includes "people who don't have food or a place to live", the summer edition of "people who don't have air-conditioning", and general thanks for whatever fun thing she did during the day.

A few nights ago, when it was Ainsley's turn, here's what happened:

Ainsley: " (eyes closed, head bowed) Dear God, thank you for bringing me my delicious apple juice...(looks up, eyes open) Did God bring me my apple juice??"

Me: "Well, no, Daddy brought the apple juice to the table, but God made the trees where the apples grow, people pick the apples and make them into juice, we buy it at Trader Joe's, and Daddy brought it to you"

Ainsley: "God made the trees?"

Me: "Yes"

Ainsley: "The apples grow on trees?"

Me: "Yes"

Ainsley: "Oh," (head bowed again) Amen.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Baby Love

Sawyer and I have developed this fun little game over the past few weeks. I give him a kiss on the cheek, and he grabs my face with his two chubby little hands, gives me a really wet baby kiss, and laughs. I LOVE it! I wanted to see if he would share some love with a baby too. Here are the results (try to filter out the far-too-enthusiastic Mom-talk from yours truly)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Update and New Strategy

My current blog strategy is clearly not working. The purpose of the blog is to keep family and friends near and far updated on our happenings since work, the kids, and life in general make me a HORRIBLE (really despicable) email and phone communicator. Phone messages get forgotten, accidentally deleted, or written down on a piece of paper that gets recycled when I try to declutter. My email box is currently at 300, kids at times have been known to hit delete while my inbox is open, and I'm sure I've accidentally coded a friend's email address as a spam source. I thought a blog was the answer. My problem is that I save blog ideas thinking I'm some sort of paid blogger who is followed by hundreds of adoring fans waiting for the next installment. Though that would be an awesome job, I don't have it, and I think all of you mostly want to see pictures of my kids and less musing from me:-). So that's the new strategy: put up pics when I've got them and limit the words.

Here's an update on our latest happenings:

We got to meet Cousin Lucy! Kevin's sister, Kathy, has (clearly) the most adorable 8-week-old baby girl. She was in St. Louis for the past three weeks and we got to spend lots of time fawning over Baby Lucy. Holding her, singing to her, bouncing her, and loving on her A LOT. It's so fun to have a cousin! I loved having Kathy here to be one of my full=time "Mom friends". Chatting while nursing our babies together, watching the other girls run around, indulging on afternoon coffee to keep ourselves awake - so great! Now that she's back in NYC, we'll have to resume our afternoon Skype sessions (maybe drinking coffee simultaneously:-)).

Reiley has been spending the last few months starting her first season of softball. Here she is sporting the much-too-large uniform with matching visor. I'm very proud of her because playing in full-sun, heat, and humidity is NOT her forte, but she's been a trooper. She's declared being in the field as "pretty boring", and her favorite part is the snack after the game. Though she does say that batting and running the bases is "pretty awesome."

Dance class resumes this month, and her summer camps at her soon-to-be Kindergarten, Shining Rivers Waldorf School, will be starting in a few weeks. She's growing up!
This picture of Ainsley explains it all. She is in a fantasy world at all times. It has been months since she will willingly respond to her actual name of Ainsley. We've all gotten in to the habit of asking her "Who are you being," in fear of the rage that will ensue if we call her Ainsley. She will play any animal or human character she creates, but typically for a maximum of 15 minutes. She and Reiley are often partners in pretend play until the fighting starts over who gets ownership of a pretend character (Madeline, the Angel Gabriel, and Mary, the Mother of Jesus, are hotly contested alter-egos). Ainsley is certainly entering the age of 2.5-year-old independence, but she's still very affectionate and always a hoot.
Sawyer turned 7 months old this weekend and he is seriously this happy 90% of the time. Full-time sitting up seems to have made him even happier. He will play contentedly with all of us around him for sometimes up to an hour (silent thank-you prayers are being sent up often)! He's still very big. At this 6 month appointment he was 21lbs, 3 oz, and he sure seems heavier every day! He loves to laugh at his sisters and be outside.
Obviously, I'll need to work on limiting the words

Sunday, May 3, 2009

"Sawyer Got Baptismed!"

This was Ainsley's jubilant exclamation after we finally had Sawyer baptized last weekend (at nearly 6 months old - he could have sat in and filled up the baptismal font:-)). Older babies can also make ridiculously silly faces at the priest during their baptisms, which is humerous for all. I think God smiled too.
Sawyer's godparents are Kevin's brother, Mike, and his wife, Kali. My dad served as the reader, Kevin's mom read the petitions, and Kevin's dad sang a special prayer. It was such a blessing to have our family surrounding Saywer as we asked God to lead him through this life.
I have found each of my children's baptisms to be profoundly powerful because it allows me to reflect on the importance of motherhood, and the overwhelming responsibilty God gives us to help shape our children into loving, compassionate, and moral individuals. It reminds me that the repetitive tasks that fill my days of caring for little children (diaper changing, feeding, laundry, song-singing, scrape-kissing) are a reflection of the care that the Father gives to me. Through these tasks, I show my children how to love and care for others, and to be loved and cared for in return. I am comforted knowing that though the days are long and the appreciation is unspoken by little voices, God sees and knows the weight of the work I am doing. May I strive to meet His expectations, and never underestimate the impact that the seeming minutia of my days can make.