First off, um, classic Lyla. Take noodles out of bowl and lay them on the table to eat.
So this next picture is of a bunch of cheapy but cool toys I bought at WalMart for Lyla. Seeing this gave me a huge wave of anxiety. (It’s been 5 months since then)
My ex, the kids’ dad, took me back to mediation to make changes to our custody arrangement. It was a huge battle. Disagreements. Frustration for me. Obviously I can’t share a lot about it but it was so bad.
One small part of the anxiety I had was leaving Lyla with a sitter while we went back to mediation. Children weren’t allowed in the appointment so I had to either find a sitter or leave Lyla with Brooklyn. Brooklyn has never babysat the kids, despite practically everyone I know telling me to leave them with her. She is dealing with a WORLD of issues of her own and I’m going to leave 5 kids with her? No.
But the OTHER option was magically find someone I trust. I don’t know if you are new or have followed along but I lost all my friends in my divorce and have yet to make a deep connection with anyone new. Sure I’ve had new friends and dated people (not that I’d EVER leave my kids with a man, nor even introduce them to anyone I date) but no one I trust.
So I asked Brooklyn what she thought about watching all the kids for a few hours. I told her they could watch movies and I’d buy brand new toys she could open up and that it should be okay because of that, and I’d pay her, and she seemed totally into it. So- at least that problem was “solved.”
And by solved I mean I still hated it and felt anxious the whole time I was in the appointment. BUT did you know that when you do mediation you can be in a separate room from your ex? I didn’t know that and wasn’t excited about having to sit at a table with him watching him lie, which is what I assumed would happen, but instead I got to be in a room and talk to the mediator alone. She went back and forth quite a few times as we worked things out.
Nothing about the appointment went well for me. But whatever. Am I still angry? Yes. Very frustrated with the legal system I’m in. But whatever. I try not to think about it. I try to just be the best mom I can possibly be when I have my kids and be thankful it’s not worse.
Today was the kids’ dentist appointments!
Thy all love these bear statues around the dentist office.
And our dentist always has guessing games and coloring pages for the kids at the front desk.
Today the kids got glasses from the dentist! Lyla was the biggest fan!
I love taking group pictures on this bench outside the office.
A quick stop at the store before…
Everett was SO nervous! Of all the kids there he was the most timid. He didn’t want to do most of what the teacher was requesting. I wasn’t too worried since it was his very first time and just getting used to being in a class setting with someone else in charge and water exposure was plenty! He loved being with other kids his age and he liked his teacher! He mostly loved sneaking away from the class toward the other end of the pool and splashing like crazy.
Next was Lyla’s lesson! She’s only two so it’s a mommy and me class which meant the other 5 kids sat on the side of the pooll. Brooklyn and Sierra kept an eye on the little kids. Mostly they all watched the parents and kids in Lyla’s class.
Next up Payson and Ember had the same class! While they were in their lessons the rest of us got to swim in the part of the pool that wasn’t used for classes. It had this tall water fountain in the middle and the little kids were thrilled!
Payson and Ember at their first lesson!
First day of swim lessons was a hit!
I’m in the bathroom while my youngest two kids are in the shower. They are splashing and giggling together. I’m reading Margaret Bourke-White’s autobiography. Enthralled- I’m lost in the past when I hear,
“Mom, I think the hotdogs need to be turned!”
That’s Payson and I set the book aside for later. A pang of sadness that I only got a few pages in… I walk into the kitchen listening intently at the squeals of the little two; they’re in a shower and not a bath so the risk of drowning is temporarily nonexistent but I can’t stay out long.
“Thanks for reminding me, Payson, I forgot.”
I use a plastic fork to turn the hotdogs in the pan, plastic to save on dishes. I occasionally use disposable and occasionally use washable. Even alone and invisible to the rest of the world in my own home my guilt is touched at the plastic ware.
The smell of the hotdogs mixed with the nostalgia I was feeling while reading hit me hard and my eyes tear up. I am thinking of America and childhood and memories and family… hotdogs in general do that to me. Nothing like a hotdog to make you think, “American.”
I count out 7 paper plates to get ready to dish out hotdogs on pieces of bread. I learned long ago that buns aren’t necessary. Half my kids won’t even eat them; why bother?
The number seven prompts thoughts of my ex husband to flood into my mind. Every time I count out plates I think of him. A family of 7 is what I have and a family of 8 is what I thought I was meant to have. The funny thing about “meant,” though, is it isn’t true.
My stomach churns a bit in sadness thinking about this family I’m surrounded by every single day… this family of me and my six children. A one-parent home. The reality of that often leaves me with a combination of feelings: lucky, free, and fearful mostly. I feel free making my own decisions, safe without the barrage of opinions I used to be accustomed to, and I feel terrified having never planned on plan B being: I support an entire family with nothing more than a high school diploma and exactly zero years of quality work experience.
Oh sure, I did the restaurant employee in my teen years but all that qualifies me for is… more restaurant work. Which is fine if it’s all I can get but it doesn’t cover the bills of 7 people very well.
And still I am thankful. Immersed in history literature and biographies, I am reminded constantly of the difficult plight of most of us. Many more women had it many more times more difficult than I do. Knowing that buoys me. Quotes I read inspire me. Feeling connected with millions of women throughout the world and time inspires me.
So on I go with fear in my chest and perseverance in my soul, squeezing ketchup and mustard onto bread, listening to the sounds of my children. Checking in on droplet-covered, grinning faces and drenched bathroom floors… happy and sad and fearful and thankful and amazed all at once, in all of the minutes that are my life.
My sister says.
“Yes. When and where?”
And here we are at the lake with family. My sister and her family and her husband’s, my brother-in-law, family!
As you’ll see from the photos, there were a lot of kids and a lot of water and if you’ve followed me for any length of time you probably know my top three fears are:
1) my kids drowning
2) my kids getting kidnapped
3) germs/bugs (but those are more phobia-ish and not REAL fears, they only come out when I’m anxious about other stuff in life)
I bring this up because I was on HYPER ALERT the whole time I was there. Max anxiety for the trip. It made holding a conversation difficult because I was screaming in my head the whole time.
HOW FAR OUT IS THE DROP OFF?!
PAYSON IS OUT TOO FAR?!
(Vocally, outside of my head:) “Payson, closer to the shore!”
LYLA STILL BY MY SIDE? YES! COOL, GREAT. EVERETT? YES… NO?? A LITTLE TOO FAR.
“Everett, come a little closer to me!”
PAYSON, PAYSON, PAYSON. I was always searching for Payson because he didn’t have a life jacket and didn’t know how to swim yet (different blog post, coming soon!) and is a risk taker.
I almost drown several times as a kid doing the same stuff he does so… I mean… as my therapist told me, maybe he got some of that risk through my bloodline? lol
As you can see in all these pictures (I didn’t have my camera a lot so I took several dozen all during like five minutes so I could put it away for the most part) they found logs floating in the lake and got the biggest kick out of it! I would have too at that age! So fun!
Portrait of the happiest boy:
Snapshot of the girl with no fear who thinks she is a big kid:
I tried to sit on the beach with my sister talking but…
My kids didn’t really care about the sand. haha
We need to go visit them again soon. Maybe for fall break.
Guess what Costco had this year! Fireworks! I was so dang excited when I saw them because for a huge box it was “only” $50! Normally when we buy fireworks at the fireworks stand it’s twice that! So I got a big box of fireworks from there and then we went to a stand to get sparklers and pop its! We got a variety of sparklers to try out!
Brooklyn had stayed home, she doesn’t like to go on most errands. Once home I painted nails… anyone who wanted them painted got them painted. Me, Sierra, Ember, Everett, and Lyla.
I had bought 4th of July themed shirts the second I saw them in WalMart probably a month or more ago! The kids finally got a chance to wear them!
We packed up our fireworks and lightweight camping chairs in the back of the van and I noticed someone had thrown an applesauce pouch into the back and it spilled everywhere! Luckily I keep baby wipes in the van and was able to wipe it up but sheesh.
One more sad part of getting divorced and moving into an apartment is we don’t have a yard and legally you can’t set off fireworks unless you have private property and I looked up the laws and you can’t set off fireworks at parking lots or parks or on streets that aren’t yours… luckily there is a special parking lot set up for people to set off fireworks! It wasn’t close to where we were going to watch the fireworks in the sky so I was a little worried about making it back in time to see the big fireworks but it all worked out and I was so thankful for this area to do personal fireworks!
The kids’ dad was there, we share holidays, and I have pictures of him with the kids but I’m not posting them because ya know, I keep him off my social media, but in case you were curious, he was there and so far we’ve decided on sharing custody on all holidays and birthdays.
Payson and Ember doing peace signs ♥
And now… fireworks!
Lyla was thrilled. She kept trying to run up close to them so keeping an eye on her was a full time job. Like with every second of every other day. haha!
I told the kids that I think once they’re 10 years old they could light fireworks as long as they light it and then immediately hurry back toward the van. So Sierra lit her first fireworks!
These are tightly cropped photos from larger versions since her dad was with her. The originals (which is what I’ll use for our scrapbooks) are so cool! I think cropping up close like this is better than blurring faces though! Do you?
I didn’t get pictures of the other kids lighting fireworks because I was also filming parts of our day…I vlogged a lot. So as soon as I edit that I’ll add the video to the end of this post.
After we set off our last fireworks we drove back to our city to see the fireworks in the sky. Our city does a really good job and we always get “front row” seats. Literally as close as you can get, we get. It’s AMAZING! It’s like we’re sitting right under the fireworks!
Several of the kids wanted to sit right between me and their dad to be close to both of us during the fireworks. That was tricky setting up chairs. We were basically bunched together in a big group. It worked well and was touching that they were so concerned with being next to both of us.
Lyla liked the fireworks, she sat on her dad’s lap through most of it and Everett sat on my lap. But you can bet that she also wanted mom and mom’s boobs a few times throughout the night. haha
After the fireworks ended the kids’ dad went home since it was late. We went and did sparklers over by where we’d parked our van.
It was awesome having three different types of sparklers! We liked each one for totally different reasons. It was a blast. Such a perfect day.
I was 12 when the first Toy Story came out and I loved it. I’ve seen each movie since. We went on the opening day of Toy Story 3 back in 2010!
So when I heard about the fourth Toy Story of course I planned on going opening day! Unfortunately we couldn’t but we did go a few days later!
I actually didn’t even get that excited from the trailer, it didn’t look all that funny, weirdly enough. But my whole family was laughing the entire time! I hated the ending and my kids really hated the ending (Woody LEAVING his child?!?!) but whatever. It’s a movie. haha
Oh my gosh Forky: my kids were roaring with laughter.
After all that laughing and good endorphins my kids had so much energy. They wanted to run around and play outside the theater for a while before heading home.
They always want to have pictures here:
Back to the van.
We needed to go to Costco for some groceries and Lyla fell asleep on the drive over so I put her in the ergo while we shopped!
She woke up in the store and wanted to breastfeed before heading home!
It was such a great day! 🙂
Payson got Pokemon tattoos for his birthday and decided to share them with all the siblings. All of them were SO excited. Here are a couple pictures and then a video!
I can’t believe Lyla is already three years old! Just typing that makes me want to cry! I’ve adored raising her the last three years, I feel so lucky that she is my daughter and I have the privilege of watching her grow up! She is such an amazing person! She has had the most fiery personality from the time she was an itty bitty baby! She may be the youngest but she is definitely a leader!
For birthdays lately I’ve been taking my kids to Chuck E. Cheese but since Lyla is still pretty young I decided to go to the mall and let the kids ride the carousel instead. It has been a while since we did that and I thought it would be fun to do it again!
Speaking of carousels, threw this together for fun because I’m a sentimental, nostalgic mama. haha
I think all of those are from when we lived in Arizona from 2009 to 2012. There was a cool carousel at the mall and one at the Bass Pro Shops during the Christmas season.
We ate food after the carousel. The older three kids had chinese food and the younger three had grilled cheese and fries.
And then we had a very non-birthday activity to attend: Payson’s dentist appointment!
After the dentist it was time for the rest of the birthday celebration! Woo hoo!
I had wanted to get Dora decorations since Lyla loves Dora. Or anything kitty related. But Party City had neither 🙁
Lyla also really loves beanie boos, especially the mini ones, so I settled on those and hoped she’d like them! She was sleeping in my arms as we shopped.
Well, when she woke up and saw everything she was THRILLED! She immediately pointed out the beanie babies on her balloons and said, “aww, babies!” Then it was time to open presents!
Lyla loves loves loves loves Calico Critters so I got her a few new sets. She opened the each set and said, “Awww, baby. Awwww, mommy daddy. Awww, Payson Ember Sierra…” etc. etc. She names all her toys after our family.
Everett picked out this toy controller for Lyla.
More Calico Critters!
Brooklyn was filming at the time!
One of Lyla’s presents was a new baby stroller and after cake and presents we went outside so she could push it around in more space as well as I could snap a couple of birthday portraits of her with her balloons!
I couldn’t believe she actually let me take some pictures! She loved her balloons. She loved the whole day! She had this small, shy smile on her face the entire day and every time there was some new birthday thing and we said, “Lyla it’s your birthday cake/presents/lunch/carousel!” she’d raise her shoulders and shyly smile at us. It was so dang cute! She loved her birthday!
Sierra snapped a couple pictures of Lyla with me 🙂
I love my birthday girl!
Lyla went back to walking around the apartment playground. I loved the sight of her walking behind her balloon bouquet ♥
Those were all the pictures I took on Lyla’s birthday!