Monday, 8/18/14

A tale of two summers

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us… Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

This summer has been such a complex contradiction. In some ways so laid back… less traveling, less visitors, fewer expectations, more help (thanks to a local college girl!). In others ways… so difficult. I turn 37 at the end of this week. I’ve learned more about myself in the last 6 months than I ever have. Things that caught me off guard and have me reeling a little. You can only spend so much time sweeping things (in my case, emotions – and even more specifically, anger) under the rug before one day you simply trip on them.

I’m flat on my face.

I’m dealing with things – big things – things that should’ve been dealt with long ago. Long before children, long before marriage. And because I haven’t, they affect both. I’m starting there and working my way forward. Not sure how pretty this is going to be.

I’m also not sure how much is appropriate for this space, but it started in the spring when the Lord graciously showed me the fear I was living with. I thought only my daughter dealt with fear and anxiety. Ha! Nothing like having a human mirror to finally show you your reflection. While our fears are different, we both live with it.

With the realization of fear and the determination to cast it off, I uncovered a mess – one that needs cleaned up. After recovering from my post-partum Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde personality, I had about a month of bliss, before having split personalities again. Happiness and practicalness floating on the surface, with depths of grief and anger lying just underneath.

Some of that is because the distraction of four children will put a damper on any emotion other than the will to survive… I get that. The three oldest spent some time at their grandparents’ a few weeks ago and I had plans for cleaning, organizing, writing and reading. Instead I spent several days staring at the walls. But they are back and the minutiae of every day has taken over. I’m a little afraid of the return of school – it will be quieter and I’ll have more time to think. I’m also looking forward to it a little though – as I have swept things under the rug for far to long. It is time. My hope is this time next year I’ll be in completely better spot – a healthier place – where I can stop being happy for everyone else and be happy for me. Until then, I ask for your grace, your understanding, and your friendship.

Saturday, 8/16/14

RIP Bubbles

Another one bites the dust.

It was a deadly winter for the hamster (who was replaced on Ainsley’s birthday), and a deadly summer for the fish (who may or may not be replaced). Bubbles was with us almost three years, about the lifespan of a Beta in captivity. He was Natalie’s… can you tell?





They buried him beside Chubby under the big oak tree.

Friday, 8/15/14

Jack in the ‘Burgh

This man.


Took me to see this man.


The moment he walked on stage was so surreal. I highly respect Jack White’s musical talent and creativity. If you’ve never heard of him, don’t just listen to one song – you won’t get the right feel. He’s extremely eclectic – definitely rock n roll, sometimes hard, sometimes not, and sometimes even with a touch of blue grass or classical. It’s just hard to tell what’s going to come out of his mind. His concert was all about the music – not about entertainment. It was just him and the crowd (and the band).

Standing in the rain was totally worth it. Thanks, hon.

Thursday, 8/14/14

This is why.

I sit here in the high heat, sweaty and hot, even in the shade. Two little girls call to me from the pool, one to watch, the other beckoning me to play. A little boy tugs on my arm begging me to hold him in the water where he is too short to touch the bottom and obviously too old to play in the baby pool. For we all know the baby pool is for babies and a five-year old is NOT a baby.  Meanwhile, a cranky infant cries as if she is melting, unconsolable on my breast. It’s the middle of her naptime and she is anything but asleep.

I wonder what in the heck I was thinking when I thought bringing four kids of differing ages to the pool was a good idea.  Four kids of the same age, heck yeah, doable. Totally doable. And sometimes even fun. Four kids ranging from tween to infant? Not so much.

I look with envy at my friends – the ones who are my age – sipping their water and watching their kids play happily in the pool. Their kids are either just reaching the stage where playing with their mom is totally uncool, or the age where they’re enjoying the freedom that floating around in a lifevest affords them. Apparently (and usually thankfully) all my kids still think I’m cool.

About the time I want to cry she does this….


The girl who clung to the side of the pool for the last 3 years, the one who fought so hard NOT to be on the swim team, the girl who was mad at me for weeks that she had to go to the pool. This is the same one. Or not….. she isn’t the same. She’s free from fear. The fear that had her clinging, and hanging, and crying. She broke through to the other side and is having the time of her life.

And it dawned on me. This is why. This is why I drag four kids of varying ages to the pool. This is why I’m a hot, sweaty mess… trying not to be embarrassed or jealous as I watch all the moms who seem to have it together so much more than I do.



Wednesday, 8/13/14

Piper – 8 Months

Tah-dah…. Piper is crawling! She was so close to crawling in her seventh month but saved it for the very beginning of her eighth. She experimented one or two days getting up on her knees. I looked at Henry one morning while she was playing on our bedroom floor and said, “She’s going to crawl any day now.”  She chose that very moment to rock up on her knees and crawl four paces. Whut? Whut? Henry and I just looked at each other and laughed at how quickly my prediction came true. And then we went to Vegas.


She’s also eating some great foods. And sleeping more consistently at night, although not as consistent as her mommy would like. *Yawn*


The girls are having a great time dressing her up and playing with her as she is becoming more social and interactive. She sees them coming and flirts and coos at them. She’s really working this being the baby of the family thing.


With crawling around, we’ve taken to baby proofing the house. She’s putting everything in her mouth and drooling up a storm. Teeth are certainly on their way, I’m sure of it.


One of her favorite activities is playing in the bath. I let her play while I get ready in the mornings and she splashes around with glee.


She really couldn’t be any sweeter (well, unless she suddenly started taking a bottle and sleeping through the night!)

Friday, 8/1/14

Backyard Therapy.

I’d like to preface this by saying I’m a little bit weird. I’m not sure why I feel the need to say this since once you read the post it’ll be absolutely clear.

I’ll get straight to the point.  When I smell things like honeysuckle and fresh-cut grass it’s like my insides take a deep breath. I don’t how to describe it any other way. My shoulders relax, my heart rate slows (even if just for a moment), and I might even start to smile. I used to think this was normal. Now I’m not so sure.

But it’s true. There’s something about nature that really soothes me.  You might remember when I was grieving for my grandfather I headed for the woods.  Like Thoreau, nature does me good.


I’m pretty sure I was meant to be a farmer. I love working in the sun and the feeling of dirt in my fingers. Earthworms get me excited. Enough said.

I’m pretty sure I was not meant to be an animal farmer. While I do love cows and think they look very docile, I do NOT like smelling them.  Nor do I like cleaning up poop. Ask me how I know. I’ll give you a hint: I have four children.


However, the vision of neatly planted rows of growing corn or sprouting beans makes me smile. I’ve been known to eat a green bean straight from the vine or open up some peas and throw them back as if I were a college student taking my first shot. Peas on the rocks.  Green beans shaken not stirred. Cherry tomatoes straight up.  These are my forms of intoxication. Yep, pretty sure I was meant to grow food.  And so I do. In my own little way, in my own little corner of the world.



Wednesday, 7/23/14


We don’t do big birthday parties for our kids every year. And even when we have them, they’re at home and are not over the top at all…  so when Natalie asked me if she could throw Ainsley a surprise birthday party I had to mentally take a deep breath and recalibrate.

Natalie’s totally competent at planning parties so I knew I wouldn’t have to do too much, and I know it’s good for her confidence to plan another one successfully. And who can say no to making another kid feel special? Nevermind that we’d be coming off of two weeks of hosting families with five or more children or that I’m having a hard enough time keeping up with just maintaining.

Natalie and a little girl down the street planned for a month and I finally got on board two weeks out when I finally sent out text-message-invitations. About a week before the scheduled date, Ainsley asked if she could have a birthday party. She told me the names of the girls she wanted and specified she wanted a penguin party. Luckily, we’d invited almost all the right girls but we quickly switched from a jungle to penguin theme.  The little girl who was helping invited Ainsley and Ryan (and Natalie, who politely declined) over for a play date for the 2 hrs preceding the party. As soon as they left, Natalie and I switched into high gear. She started making lemonade and decorating.


I started icing the cake that I’d baked the night before. I’ve never iced a cake so fast in my life!


Since Ainsley thought she was having a party on her birthday (which is really tomorrow), the girls made this game together earlier in the week. All Natalie and I had to do was tape it to the wall.


We did simple decorations in shades of blue and white.


And stuck a penguin in the middle of the table (I couldn’t find any penguin decorations at the local stores – - at least not the fun, little kid ones. There were plenty of Pittsburgh Penguin hockey decorations!)


Natalie made place cards with fish cutouts.


Her friends all arrived and hid in various places near the door. And then the moment came…. I could see her running up the walk from her playdate.


When she came in she saw me standing there with the camera and was very confused.


And then her friends jumped out and said surprise!


Natalie got them going right away on games while I cooked the pizza.


Henry ended up coming home early  - another surprise! He helped with pin the beak on the penguin.

IMG_8415 IMG_8417

After dinner, the girls were excited to watch Ainsley open presents.



Ainsley had so much fun with her friends and Natalie felt so great making the day special for her sister. We celebrate her actual 8th birthday tomorrow. It’s hard to believe my second baby is already 8.

Monday, 7/21/14

Piper – 7 months

Piper turned 7 months on July 4th. Still smiley and happy, she continues to grow and develop. She’s giving us such joy.


She still doesn’t take a bottle so Henry and I are spending a lot of quality time with her on our dates!


And here she is with me at the dentist.


She’s tagged along to plenty of swim team practices and meets.


She even visited Niagara Falls and Chicago!



Probably the biggest development this month is that Piper is sitting up. I was starting to feel bad that she wasn’t sitting up yet and even mentioned it to a few people (whisper – Piper isn’t sitting up yet and she’s almost 7 months – gasp!)  I resolved to work on it…. the first time I plopped her down she was a little wobbly but just sat and looked at me. After 3 days she was a pro…. I guess I waited a little long to have her start trying!  Or better yet – I waited just long enough that I didn’t have to prop her up on pillows and set her back up every 5 minutes!  Anywho – - she’s sitting up now. This is her about the first time she sat up. Not kidding.



Piper – 7 months (picture by Dottie Ward)





Friday, 7/18/14

Playing our way through Pittsburgh

They say when you’re behind on photos to start in the present and catch up by working your way backwards. Soooo, my sister Johanna is here this week. We’re having a blast hanging out and taking the kids to do fun things. It reminds me of my mom and Aunt Karen when I was growing up.


Night one we took the kids to see The Croods in a nearby park. It was a little colder than expected so we all wrapped up in our blankets and chair covers.

movies with davis 2

I’d never seen it before and was pleasantly surprised at how cute it was.

movies with davis

Wednesday we headed down to The Frick Historical Center. It’s no secret I love The Frick House. They have a free art museum, car and carriage museum, and greenhouse. With ten kids (we had an extra friend) free is awesome. Even better is that The Frick offers free family tours to children 12 and under on Wednesdays throughout the summer. Um, done…. so we made a day of frolicking about the grounds and touring what we could. (unfortunately the car museum is closed for renovations)

kids at frick house

We hit the art museum first and the kids did a pretty good job walking through and looking at the paintings. They have a Edgar Degas exhibit right now that I was excited to see.  Johanna and I probably had the best time out of all of us. The kids moved on to the scavenger hunt in the greenhouse, which was more their style.


It was getting to be that time so we pulled out our picnic lunch and made ourselves at home on the lawn. Mi casa es su casa, as the Frick’s used to say. (I kid, of course)


Piper had her first “solid” in the form of a veggie stick. She basically sucked on it until it disintegrated.


We had a few minutes to kill before our scheduled tour since the car museum was closed so we (and by we, I mean the kids) played sharks and minnows in the park across the street from the estate.


At 1:15 we took the Clayton House by storm…. I’m not sure our docent was excited to take 10 kids on a tour… we’ve definitely had better in the past but the kids didn’t complain – in fact they were quite the angels asking questions and keeping their hands behinds their backs. (no pics allowed inside… boo)


After our tour, we finished out our day by sharing a few desserts at the Cafe. I could’ve eaten all the coconut creme brulee by myself, but I was nice and shared it with those brave enough to taste the “fancy pudding.”


Thursday Johanna and I spent a few hours in the morning out and about (namely shopping for supplies for a surprise birthday party that will be posted in the next few days), and then spent the afternoon with the kids at the pool. The day was perfect and with that many older kids, Johanna and I managed to sit under an umbrella chatting and posting selfies to Facebook (I see the light at the end of the tunnel and I like it!)


The little girl fell asleep in her chair surrounded by the sounds of kids playing in the pool and birds chirping in the trees. I couldn’t help but snap a picture of her tiny painted toes (compliments of her sisters and cousins)


Today we’re finishing up our visit and will sadly part ways in the afternoon. I’m trying to hold in my tears until they leave. It’ll be a sad day in the Marquiss house. Kidding – - Johanna’s right here as I type and I want her to feel guilty enough to stay another night. Tee Hee.

So much more to catch up on… stay tuned for Chicago, Piper’s 7-month update, family pictures, and more!


Thursday, 6/26/14

Things you should know.

I have never done so many loads of towels in my life. Swim team plus daily showers for my kids. What is this world coming to?

I don’t know how to relax. (shocker) I’ve been trying all week and have yet to do so. My head is so full of things that need done I’m fidgety when I sit down. I HAVE to keep moving but I’m not sure how much I’m really getting done. Hate this feeling.

Weeding never takes 5 minutes. I’ve worked in the yard at some point each day during the last three days. I get out of the car and think, I’ll just XYZ. In my head XYZ is going to take 5 minutes. It’s averaging an hour or more and sore muscles. So far I weeded the veggie patch, pruned three large shrubs, and weeded several beds that just needed “quick” cleaning up. I hold serious resentment toward Adam and Eve.

I decided what color to paint my bedroom. It’s been eating at me all week. I think that’s one reason for the restlessness. I saw an inspiration photo in Better Homes and Gardens a few weeks ago and decided on the spot I wanted to paint the walls a warm beige – - like a golden beige, but not yellow. But yellow is not my thing… even if it calls itself beige. I ruled out cream too. I’ll have to take a picture when it’s done…. I’m shooting for a brown/gray compromise. I feel much better.

Piper slept through the night 3 nights in a row. Ainsley and Ryan did not. Dagnabbit.

In two more days we have family arriving for the weekend. Yeah!

We’re into our second week of summer. I have yet to get us into the routine I had in my head so I’m giving it up. I consider this progress.

I’m off to buy bedroom paint, then to read Catch 22 I’ve only had it out of the library for 8 weeks. I’m hoping to finish by it’s due date of July 1. I think 9 wks is long enough to read one book.

The end.