Monday, May 2, 2016

Musings from the rocking chair.

This morning I rocked Gabriel prior to his first nap of the day. As we sat in the low light of the morning and swayed back and forth, we each sighed and let our bodies soften into one another. He slowly relaxed his grip on his board book and let his body go to a place of comfort. That can be a hard thing for a 17 month old toddler to do. I leaned back into the rocking chair and let my mind wonder.

In my fourteen years of mothering, I have spent countless hours holding and rocking my children. Some have been hours of tears and worry. Many of have been hours of fatigue and half-sleep. Some painful, others restful. A blessed many have been full of contentment. The brand of contentment that comes from doing what is meaningful, even when it is not easy. So many hours that I wouldn't trade for anything.

These moments with each of my five children have left their mark on my memory. Tanner loved a simple Winnie-the-Pooh book and would chortle out loud when I buzzed a make-believe bee to life, straight from Pooh's honey pot, and tried to sting him each night. Then we settled down with a few familiar lullabies and finally a prayer. Thus a routine of comfort and love was born.

Its a simple routine. A pattern that has shifted with each of my children's differing needs, but that has remained the same in it essence. We read. We sing. We pray.

Andrew could have been rocked all night and been happy. I read less to him and sang and hummed much more. His chubby fingers twirled my long hair as we both drifted off to light sleep. I would rouse with a tangled braid of hair and gently unknot his fingers from the plait. Then I tip-toed to his crib with the prayer that this might be the night when he would finally sleep.

My sweet singular girl was a joy to rock. Margaret was content with her story, her silky blanket and her song each time. We would read in the pink glow that only a long-awaited-daughter's nursery has. She cuddled her silky and learned to lull herself to sleep by running her hands along its ruffled edges. Her song was always Teach Me to Walk in the Light. 

Nathan was our baby. He seemed to belong to the whole family. He was born a decade after our first and we were certain he would be our last. So everybody read to him, held him, prayed for him. We gathered our whole family into his nursery and talked about our day in hushed tones as he settled down each evening. We all watched as the energy of the day drifted away.  Then all would pray together those sweet prayers of childhood and quietly leave as he calmed, and then swayed in the rocker and then went to sleep.

And then sweet Gabriel surprised us all. Amongst the rushing to and from basketball, ballet and violin lessons he decided to join our family. Gabe has reminded me to slow down. We still read (Goodnight Moon)  and sing (Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing)  and pray, but this pattern that was once a routine I clung to for sanity has transformed into a tranquil escape. It is precious to me as only a fleeting thing can be.

I see the end of my hours in the rocking chair coming. This summer will be the end of morning naps. Then in a matter of months, my last baby won't need to be rocked before he drifts off. So while it lasts, I am going to love these moments. I am going to choose to be present as his breaths slow and his weight settles in my arms and his eye lashes close against his round cheeks.

And of course, I am going to pray. Pray for me. That I will not ever forget these sweet hours I have have consecrated to my children.


I remember that shortly after Tanner was born and when I was a young mother, in every sense of the word, a well-meaning relative remarked to me, "Well Sarah, you just haven't found your niche yet." Thank goodness I had the presence of mind to reply, "Actually, I have!"
You see, being a mother is something I have always strived to do with intention. A full-time mom. A stay-at-home-mom. A purposeful mom. Its more than a season of life.
Even when I was new to this, I knew. I knew that motherhood was not something I could casually attempt. I knew that it was going to require all of me, in order to do it well. And it has.
This life choice has required my mind, my heart, my attention. In its path it has left behind bits of well-earned wisdom, a deeper heart with a much increased capacity to love, and the knowledge that I made the right choice when I decided to devote my life to serving these people that are my family.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Just an ordinary day.

Gabriel eating some sweet potatoes straight from Grandma's garden. Yum!

We have settled into a fairly smooth schedule for this fall.  Our older three are of course at school most of the day, and at least for now we have limited after school activities. Which leaves me with a little breathing room (hence the attempt to post on here:) and some one-on-one time with my two little boys. Nathan is in Pre-K and loves the idea of finally going to school with the big kids.  This has been a big adjustment for him, but one that we were both ready for. His class is a little under 3 hours long each morning. When he comes home he is full of reports about the playground, songs, and the other kids. 
As a result of all his big siblings attending school, Gabriel has a routine nap schedule and I am sane again. Summers are wonderful for spending time together, but not so great for infant nap schedules.  This fall has been a welcomed relief. 

Nathan still loves to help wash dishes.


I can not even imagine having this blog up to date. That is too much of a job to comprehend right now. However, I recently read over some old posts and am hugely grateful that they exist. The small details that they capture are moments from our family's history preserved. How quickly time erases fleeting habits, schedules, nicknames. Even trials and challenges are somehow gone from my mind with the passing of days. And because I fully realize that my full, busy, chaotic days will at some point be just memories, I have to try.
 Some for the next bit, I am just going to try.
Not everything can be captured on camera, because my hands are full of a sweet baby boy and his quicker than lightening big brother. These hands are busy driving and cooking and helping and holding. Photos will not be edited. Descriptions will be short.
But they will exist!!
I have to try!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Happy Birthday Tanner

He keeps growing!
 This past year has been full of so many wonderful things and accomplishments for Tanner:
-A great big brother (now to 4) and example in our family.
-An example to his Burke and McMullin cousins, all 24 of them.
-Advanced in Boys Scouts to the rank of Life.
-Actively involved in ALL young men activities at church (it helps that his Dad is the President).
-A diligent Deacon class president at church.
-Is learning his second instrument; saxophone.
-Inducted into Beta Club and competed at State convention.
-Won honors for Calisthenics for the Mind.
-Competed in Scholar Bowl, his team placed 2nd in the region.
-Science Fair Project won at school level, regional level and earned Gold at State.
-High Honors recipient at school.
-Continues to master his fear of public speaking.
-Held large role in school Drama production, "Unplugged".
-Loves to play soccer, swim, run, exercise, baseball and football with cousins.
-He truly wants to do what is right!
If his first year of being a teenager is an indicator of things to come, we will take it!

On way to school with his traditional doughnuts for his homeroom class.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Pizza Friday

Pizza is a Friday tradition in our family. Quatros, Papa Johns, Dominos- We love them all. Dear to my heart though is our homemade version. Margaret and I whipped some up last week.

Gabe isn't quite ready to eat it yet, but he can still get in on some of our Friday night fun.

So glad that I get to spend my time with these people.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Margaret's Baptism

Margaret chose to be baptized to follow the example of Jesus Christ and to become a member
of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
We were so happy to celebrate with her and that her Aunt Julia and cousin Lizzie were able to be here with us.
All of us just before her baptism.
The entire Burke family (minus Jason) just after her baptism.
I failed to get a picture of all of the McMullins together. But we were happy to have them at our house for lunch that afternoon.

Mr. Asher, just a few weeks old.

The Cisternas Family was in town for Asher's baby blessing and we were so glad that they came for your baptism as well.

Abe and baby Caleb.

Lizzie and Caleb.