Per the norm, I try to deflect the attention away from my sister and back over to me. I'm so shallow, what?!
"You know, Eliza" I say. "Our family has a blog too." Because she is not allowed to have her own instagram account, Eliza thinks blogging is pretty cool.
Appeasing her dear old Mom, she clicks to my most recent post and settles in for a solid twenty minutes (possibly longer). When her reactions become audible, I stop what I'm doing and lay on the couch across the room from where she is sitting. Having waited a long time for this moment, I allow myself the pleasure of taking in the ever changing expressions on her face. My heart swells with delight as she laughs at my jokes.
"Good one, Mom!" She says. I even catch a little heat for the post about our recent outings with the Blasers.
"That 'goodbye' was not awkward!" She insists, rolling her eyes. My stomach sinks for a moment. I hope there isn't much else in my blog's history that could possibly hurt or offend one of my kids. Other than that fleeting moment of concern, it was a validating and rewarding experience for me.
As the comments from my posts and many blogging friends have disappeared, there have definitely been times when I thought about disappearing from the blogging world too. I've tried other journal type methods but nothing suits me quite like this. Instagram is loads of fun, feel free to find me @aliflegal and we can be friends, but I don't want my insta friends to grow insta weary of all photos and documenting that must be done when you have four kids who are growing up so darn quick. And, it must be said, I like to play with words. I love the backspace button and the freedom it affords me to change, correct and begin fresh as needed. I like that (the two) people who visit this blog are here because they want to be and not because they have to be. And now, knowing that one of the stars of this blog is frequenting it and enjoying it, I feel very happy.
In the days that followed that first reading session, Eliza's ventured into the archives. The other day she found photos of Lottie when she was two months old and together with Henry and Lottie they marveled over her cuteness. When I return to the archives myself, the posts I enjoy most are the ones that described a "mundane" type of day. It may have felt ordinary when I wrote it, but now it's a (excuse me as I cover my keyboard in syrup) treasured memory considering how that particular phase, that type of day, is forever out of reach. Those babies aren't babies anymore. In fact, they're getting ready to start third and first grade in a week and a half and now share the attention they once had to themselves with two more siblings (as an example).
So, future Ali, here's what you and Andrew did today.
Do you remember the leather couches you bought off of Craigslist in South Carolina back in 2008? We bought them for $400.00. For our family it was both a steal and a splurge of a purchase all at once. It was also quite scandalous as we bought them on a Sunday; which was confessed openly to our home teacher when Andrew called to ask if he could borrow his trailer to pick them up. These well loved and over used couches were recently retired. Banished to the garage a few months ago, Andrew's been forced to park in the driveway. Finally, today, Andrew sold one of them and then broke apart the other one because it made him feel like a man. He plans to haul its remains to the dump. The garage was then cleaned and his car returned to its home.
As for me, I've been in the process of cleaning out children's closets. It's tedious and sometimes slow moving when a certain fifteen month old is in the room (not) helping me. Between monitoring the toys he's tempted to put in his mouth and watching in dismay as he unrolls the stack of clothes that were previously neatly stacked next to me... it can be frustrating. I've put off Lottie's section of the closet because I don't want to wonder right now if I should donate them all or save them for a possible, future baby. Andrew's strong opinion is that those clothes are ready for a new home. :)
Having persevered through Eliza and Henry closets of chaos and their overstuffed drawers of doom, we were rewarded with shopping trips for new school clothes and shoes.
That's not even the half of it.
"Hey pal! Do you want to come with Mom to go look at some new clothes for school?" Not wanting to hurt my feelings, he hesitates. I throw the kid a bone:
"You don't have to, honey." What I wanted to say was "Please come Henry! I want some time alone with you! It will be fun and I will buy you a treat. That's a personal win for me because I like to eat treats too!"
"I think I'll stay here and keep working with my Dad. Thanks though, Mom." Andrew beamed at me from inside of the chicken coop.
"So are you okay if the girls come instead and help me choose some cool clothes?" Andrew and Henry both nod. Forrest was napping, by the way. Lottie didn't want to come which left Eliza buzzing with excitement. She and I do love our one on one time together. It didn't bother her for a minute that the shopping we'd be doing was for Henry.
Fueling up at Cafe Zupas
while out on our "back to school" shopping trip for Henry
Alone in the car, I turned off the radio as Eliza made it clear that it was time for some serious girl talk! Not wanting to embarrass her, I won't repeat what her specific questions. I wanted to take her seriously without being too serious; if that makes sense. She has many grown up questions that she anticipates future Eliza will need to know the answer to (ie: love triangles). You want to prepare your children without stressing them out completely. She's a romantic! And I don't want to spoil her ideas of love by telling her how ugly relationships can be when you make crappy choices. The seriousness of that warning will be taught, I assure you. But for now, I feel that the best thing Andrew and I can do for her, is to love each other openly and try our best to keep our marriage healthy and strong. That example is what they need to see daily. Thankfully, she's only eight. And we have time to prepare before that season truly arrives. During our conversation, there were many times when I had to default with, "I'll explain that better when you're a little older..." even so, I still had plenty, age appropriate, experiences to share. I apologize for the tangent.
I'm so curious how Lottie will approach these thoughts. Will she be an open book like her sister? Eliza really does hunger and thirst for knowledge: secular, spiritual and all things "girly girly" I'm so blessed to be her Mom and hope she'll always come to me for things like this (more syrup... sorry) instead of the Twilight novels (among other sources).
Insert cute Lottie pictures here:
Lottie rocks the 80's summer hair magnificently.
I'll pay better attention to her amazing curls when school begins.
How about a moment of silence for her eye lashes?
Henry may have skipped out on his back to school shopping, but he can't always manage his way out of a trip to the store. That lucky duck heard Target slushies were involved so he happily signed up for this trip. These two...