If there ever comes a day when we can't be together, keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever. Winnie the Pooh

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I have a secret to share. I almost need to whisper this because honestly, it breaks my heart to hear anything negative about this topic: Chris and I have decided to try for baby number 4. Yes, you heard me right, 4.

My family is new to Austin. Relatively new. We moved here in April of 2010 and fell in love with the town almost instantly. Then, summer arrived. One day I walked outside and my breath was taken away. I complained to my friend, "How do you people breathe here?!" The humidity and heat were brutal, not to mention the man-eating mosquitos that seemed to mostly dine on poor Max and me. I'd take my three Lovlies outside to play and we'd last about 20 minutes before raising the white flag and surrendering to the cool retreat of the air conditioned house. Fall, winter and spring came around and we were back to enjoying all the goodness that Austin has to offer. Then, summer 2011. It was a doosey. We had record setting tempertures. Something like over 100 days of 100 degree heat. And that blasted humidity. Again, I wondered, why did we move here?!

But here's the thing. Seasons come and go. I knew that the heat and humidity wouldn't last forever. And here we are, a few days before Christmas, and we are enjoying cool temperatures (and NO mosquitos, Texas' state bird?!).

I know some friends and family will think we are crazy. Strangers (and maybe even people near and dear to my heart) will surely judge me when they see me with my three kiddos and (hopefully soon to be) pregnant with a 4th. What they will wonder and maybe even ask: You have a 5 year old and 2 year old twins?! How can you handle a 4th?!

What I hope to say to them but may never have the nerve: Seasons. Because like that brutal summer, the hardest parts in life don't last forever.

I remember my firstborn, Claire, waking up one night when she was about 2 months old and not wanting to go back to sleep. I rocked. I swayed. I sang. I fed her and changed her. But nothing would make her go back to sleep. And yet I knew not to wish her baby stage away. I knew it wouldn't last forever. And sure enough, she went back to sleeping through the night. Now she is a kindergarten student. Yes, that time passed by more quickly than I could have imagined possible.

A few years later, my sweet twins were born. I'll never forget the month of September 2009. Wanting to exclusively breast feed, I started nursing them from day 1 in the hospital. I thought we had a good thing going because from May through August, they were awesome nursers and sleepers. September came around, and they started waking up every.single.hour. for the entire month to nurse. I couldn't hand over the night time duty to Chris because of my committment to breastfeed. I remember being afraid to fall asleep because I knew, without fail, the moment I fell asleep, a sweet cry would be waking me to nurse them. A whole month. Every.single.hour.

On September 21st, my birthday, I sat in the kitchen and started crying. My mom was visiting and I whispered, almost scared to admit: "Mom, I think I'm depressed." My mom hugged me and answered, "No, mija. You aren't depressed. You are just tired." Moms are so very wise. Sure enough, about a week and a half later, they started sleeping again. The foggy feeling of depression lifted and I was able to enjoy being a mom again. And as strange as it sounds, even then, even in that dark, sleepless month, I didn't wish them to be older. Because I could see my walking, talking 3 year old and I knew, I just knew, I'd blink and Madeline and Max would be out of the baby stage. I blinked. And they are now 2 1/2 years old.

I remember hearing the words 'physically delayed' to describe my son Max when he was 17 months old. Going through physical therapy and hoping and praying that my non-walking boy would become a walker tested my strength as a mom. Even then, I didn't wish those days away. A hard time, most definitely. But today, as I chased my son through the Children's Museum, that tough season was just a distant memory. A blip. One we overcame together.

Chris and I have talked this out. Prayed it out. Waited it out. He was hoping we would be 'done' after the twins were born and yet, his heart has changed. He's always been wonderful about letting me have some 'me time' on the weekend. Whether it's to shop, get a pedicure or go for a run. But his policy has always been to 'hunker down'. He and the three Lovlies stay home while I'm away for an hour or two. A few weeks ago I was heading out to shop for some Christmas presents. As I was leaving, he shouted, "Hey, take my car and leave the van for me....in case I want to take the kids out". And that's when I knew. Chris' tough season of handling all three kids on his own out in public was over.

So when people wonder and judge us about our decision to have a 4th child, I hope I'm strong and confident in my answer: we love our 3 children dearly. We care for them with every ounce of love imaginable. Adding a 4th is right for us. Our family. You may not want a 4th child, but please, don't judge me for completing ours. We'll get through any tough seasons life has to offer and try to enjoy all the sweet moments in between. photo by Kay Harmon Photography

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dear Santa

If there ever comes a day when we can't be together, keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever. Winnie the Pooh

When I was growing up, one of my favorite things about Christmas were the traditions we had. It was a given that we would end up at my Grandma's house on Christmas Eve. All the cousins tucked away into various rooms, pretending to sleep, as we waited for the grownups to come back from Midnight Mass. We would be wearing the new pajamas Grandma gave us and finally drift off to sleep. Finally, around 1am, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and parents would gently wake us up, saying "Santa has come!". We would rush out to the living room to see hundreds of presents (there were over 20 of us kids). I remember looking into Grandma's kind eyes and I just knew her heart was happy having us all in her home.

Grandma is now 88 years old. She doesn't have the memories of our traditions because she has dementia. When I look into her eyes, I see and remember the Grandma I had growing up. She doesn't see me. Because my grandma can't remember me. When she sees me now, she'll grasp my hand tightly and whisper, "Mija, take me with you". In my heart I know she doesn't want to go away with a stranger, which is how she sees me, her granddaughter. I know she is hoping I can take her to wherever it is she will finally remember and see someone or something familiar.But I remember after opening our presents how each family would make the drive home to sleep for a few hours. And then we'd wake up and drive back to Grandma's house. Because we wanted to be there. Because it was our tradition to be with the ones we loved most on Christmas.

Traditions. They are precious memories tucked into my heart. A snapshot in time of favorite moments. I'm trying to provide these for my own children. Though we are far away from family, our own little family is creating memories to cherish. I fear that some day, my mind will begin to fade, just like Grandma's. My wish is that my children will have these moments tucked into their hearts: memories of our own Christmas traditions.

I have a snapshot in my heart of one of our traditions: my family attending the Zilker Tree Lighting Ceremony. The first Sunday in December, the city lights the tree and that was our advent calendar activity for the day. I told the kids about it in the morning and all day they kept asking if it was time to see the Christmas Tree. It rained all day and when Madeline and Max woke from their naps, the first thing they said was "Go see Christmas Tree!" I warned them that it was cold and raining outside but that didn't seem to be so much as a warning to them but a promise of "really, we might get wet!?" So off we went, our picnic dinner packed and plans changed to eat it in the car instead of outside. As we stood under the band's tent, listening to the beautiful songs being sung by the choir, I hope to never forget these images:

Snapshot: Sweet Claire spinning the umbrella round and round while dancing to the music. Madeline, my delicate one, snuggled against me, her little red nose pressed against my cheek. My boys: Chris holding Max while they laughed as Max threw his head back to catch raindrops on his face.

Snapshot: When the tree was finally lit, the look of awe in three little children's eyes. As we walked away from the tree to go back to the car, all three of them kept turning their heads back. So Chris and I paused, huddled closely and we just stood, snuggled together to show them the tree one last time.

Snapshot: After buckling three soggy kiddos into their car seats and covering them with warm blankets, I told them I had a treat. I gave them their thermoses and a graham cracker. I hope to never forget the look in their eyes as they realized it wasn't water or milk, but hot chocolate they were drinking.

Precious memories. Our family traditions.

And so, just as I had Claire write her letter to Santa, I too would like to write one. I ask for one thing:

Dear Santa,

Please. Please let me remember.


Photo by Kay Harmon Photography