Sunday, June 17, 2012

High Fives All Around

This past year, Matt and I have joked that we pass each other in the house giving high fives as that is about all the time we get together. It has certainly felt like we are merely roommates at times, but watching him with Madelyn, Henry, and Clara certainly make up for those fleeting high fives.

Happy Fathers Day to the best roommate, husband, best friend, and Dad. You simply amaze me.

Matt with Madelyn, an old pic but one of my favorites.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Their First Trip Around the Sun

Dear Henry & Clara,
You are big yet so very small. Sitting at the new table Papaw built for you and Madelyn, you look tiny. Yet, you sit there through an entire meal or snack feeding yourself, chatting with each other, or making music with your utensils. It's incredibly hard to believe it's been one full year since we first met both of you. It was a brilliant parent who once said, "The years go by so quickly but some days can take forever!"

Henry, you are quite possibly the funniest little man I've ever met. Absolutely everything is funny to you. You remind me of my brother (Uncle Stevie) who consistently made my mom laugh anytime she was trying to be mad at us. You are already picking on your little sister. You don't mean it that way, I think you mostly just want to play with her. But all that "boy" in you comes out and you often end up tackling her. Occasionally, she thinks it's funny and will laugh but more often she isn't too happy about it. However, your big sister is all about it! The two of you play so rough that I sometimes think one of you will get hurt. But after many giggles and squeals, you both need to be pulled off of each other. You are certainly Mama's boy, Henry! Some day, I'll remind you just how much you LOVE to snuggle. You are, by far, our most outgoing child. Always, smiling and reaching up for anyone who will pick you up (or laugh at you). You are taking 4-5 steps at a time on your own now. I'd call that walking! You get so excited when you realize that you are walking that you lose your balance and fall. I'm sure soon enough you'll be chasing after Madelyn. You've got some crazy hair that Daddy keeps telling me to cut but I can't bring myself to do it - it fits your personality.

Oh my sweet girl, Clara. You are such an independent little lady. While your brother and sister play, you are often found off by yourself exploring some other area of the room. You do not like to sleep. Just like your big sister, you are a cat napper and will often attempt to keep Henry awake with you. Somehow, he sleeps through all your talking. You are very sensitive, Clara. Just today, you were coloring with Madelyn. When I told you to stop putting the crayon in your mouth - you cried. I mean, REALLY cried...forehead on the floor crying. You are all Daddy's girl. Each morning after he leaves for work, you crawl over to the door and bang on it while crying "Dadadadada!" Usually a little redirection works for you but the moment you hear the door open at 5:20 - you smile and crawl as fast as you can to the door. You don't have much interest in walking but today you said, "uh-oh!" I said it when I dropped something and you just repeated it. It's the sweetest thing, I can't really put it in words nor do I think your pictures express just how sweet you are.

The difference in the two of you couldn't be greater. Watching your personalities grow and your relationship with each other change has been amazing. From snuggling because we put you next to each other to choosing to snuggle or tackle each other because it's fun....I look forward to what the next trip round the sun brings us. 

Happy, happy 1st birthday to my sweet babes - Henry & Clara!!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Ultimate Transition

Well, those few months flew by! Working more than full time and having so many kids (okay, I know I only have three but man, it feels like a whole lot more most days!) was certainly taking a toll on me. But, here I am now - transitioning to completely mobile infants (crawling and cruising everywhere) and adjusting to staying home with Madelyn, Henry, and Clara all day.

To me, this photo from Christmas morning sums up what Christmas and the last few months have been like for Team Gerker:

Blurry kids (they don't stop moving) and a Sleepy Daddy (it was only 6:30am - not too bad). In this pic, Madelyn had just kissed her new wheelbarrow - she was THAT happy about it. Henry and Clara are everywhere, as usual.  I can only imagine what next year will be like - this year, Henry was happy with a box and Clara just wanted to roll in the paper.

Transitioning to mobile babies hasn't really been all that difficult. I enjoy setting up the environment for the kids - although, this continues to be one of my biggest challenges, setting up a Montessori environment for a preschooler and two infants. Transitioning to staying home has created it's own bundle of challenges for  me (I'm still teaching classes at night). But staying home through the day - wow, I feel as though  I am working MORE now than ever! 

I continue to focus on the kids - the smiles from all three, the snuggles from Henry, the giggles from Clara, and the things that Madelyn says! Several times a day I think how lucky I am to be able to stay with them. And then, I remind myself of those things when moments are rough. 

Observing the babies interact with each other, interact with Madelyn, and the materials out for them....chatting with Madelyn and getting one on one time with her while the babies nap....those are the good times ;)

The not-so-good times include when the babies are climbing all over me for attention and then of course, these times are also when Mads says she "needs Mommy, cause I love her so much." Just today, as Madelyn was sitting on my lap on the floor and Clara was crawling towards us, Madelyn said, "Clara, you have to share Mommy!" It's easy to feel's a constant balancing act. Balancing attention for the babies, attention for Madelyn, for our home, for my husband, and for me. 

Maybe Madelyn has the answer to the balancing act - she seems to have everything else figured out, here are a few things I've heard from her this week:

"See those beautiful clouds!" - as we stepped out on the porch for a quick winter evening walk.
"You're my very own best friend."  - just because ;)
"Your bridge is so very beautiful" - referring to a "bridge" I'd built with blocks
"Mommy, I wish I could be your granddaughter." - hmmmm
"No thank you, I'm saving it for Santa." -response to me when I asked her to finish eating her cheese quesadilla
"Did you hear that??!! It was an eagle!" - as we stepped outside on our way to the library. She was referring to a bird calling - it definitely wasn't an eagle ;)
"He/She's happy now!" - anytime Henry or Clara is upset, she will do ANYTHING to make them happy - dance, sing, give toys, etc. 
"Clara, you have to try new foods because then you'll like them" -  this doesn't make any sense, especially since Madelyn hardly ever tries new foods!

We are only one week in to this SAHM transition, I know I have a journey ahead of me but as long as I have Madelyn around to chat with - I think I'm all set.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall...almost.

Although the weather is changing back to the 80's again around here - we can't help from celebrating the arrival of Fall and saying goodbye to hot, sticky Summer.

Matt and I were married four years ago in October. We wanted a nice Fall weather wedding...what we got was 90 degrees and super humidity! But that's okay because each year, we never know what weather we will have to celebrate our wedded bliss...this year, it was perfect. We decided to take the kids to the park for a picnic - a nice way to celebrate an Anniversary and enjoy an end of summer trip to the park.

Madelyn and I have been getting creative in our Fall art work - with the help of a fellow blogger, of course! The first project we did was apple stamping -

Madelyn, concentrating on painting an apple.

The materials.

The finished product.

We've been busy with the paints. But I think the most exciting thing that has happened around our house lately was the arrival (and departure) of Chi-Chi....

I had just returned home from our local Mother of Twins Club Sale - looking forward to an empty house that I could quickly clean while Matt had the kids at a birthday party. When I got home, I realized I was locked out of the house! Normally, I would have been angry about this. But one of the things I've been working on is to appreciate each moment for what it is....hmm, how does one appreciate being locked out of the house? Well, I decided to weed the front yard. 

While doing so, I spotted a caterpillar hanging upside down from a leaf. From my years as a Montessori Teacher, I knew this meant the caterpillar would soon be a cocoon...I couldn't wait to share it with Madelyn. 

When she got home, I showed her the caterpillar and told her what would soon happen. She looked at me like I was crazy. She knows a caterpillar turns into a butterfly but how abstract is that for a 3 year old?! I asked her if she wanted to create a home for the caterpillar and bring him inside...she quickly said yes and set to finding all of our supplies. After getting him settled in, she decided to call him Chi-Chi. 

I'm not sure who was more excited the next morning when we woke up and saw that Chi-Chi had formed his cocoon and was tucked safe inside. Mads still seemed a little confused. Chi-Chi stayed in his cocoon for a couple of weeks but each morning, Madelyn would walk by him and say "Good morning Chi-Chi!"

Finally, it happened. We came home from work and school and there was Chi-Chi once again but this time, a beautiful butterfly. Mads watched him for a bit then said, "Mommy, let's let him fly." So, we took him outside..after a few seconds without a screen blocking his way - Chi-Chi flew off and Madelyn yelled, "Bye Bye Chi-Chi, have fun at your new home!"

I wish I would have been quicker with my camera to catch the look on Mads' face as Chi-Chi flew away - pure joy.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Team Gerker Update

This picture pretty much sums up our days. Sweet little Clara Belle, Giggly Mads (I swear she gets out of bed running, she has so much energy!), and Looking for trouble Henry. Clara is like a little kitten. She purrs instead of crying. Madelyn has enough energy to keep the house going. Always making the babies laugh at her - she LOVES an audience. Henry is seriously looking for trouble. He attacks his sister, Clara, all the time, pulling her hair and trying to put his arms on her. She doesn't seem to mind much! 

These three keep us going, not a dull moment in the house. I feel as though we may be at the calm before the storm though - Henry and Clara are about to be mobile! Henry rolls everywhere and Clara gets up on her hands and knees and rocks. It'll be another big transition in our house - one where Matt and I need to do some serious childproofing!

We are very happy to welcome the Fall-like weather. Although, we are a bit nervous that it could be 95 degrees again any day now - so different from our New England days! But, we're ready to get everybody outside a bit more. Hopefully there are a few day hikes in our very near future - a baby on each back and a running three year old - is there a better way to say hello Autumn?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Who has time to breathe?

I've always wished someone would have taught me how to meditate when I was younger. Honestly, I wish someone would teach me now! It's challenging. I've attended seminars, read books, talked with others who seem to have it down, and have practiced...practiced...practiced but I'm still not sure I have it all figured out.

I think I can meditate. I mean, I can clear my head - breathe deeply - and feel present, aware, and much more relaxed after a "session." But does it make a difference if my so called meditating sessions have been taking place in spaces like the shower, in the kitchen while washing bottles, hiding in the basement (I swear I'm doing laundry), etc.?

These days, my life is so overwhelmingly busy. I fear if I need to schedule meditation I might start to resent it. That being said, I'm not giving up. I'm determined to teach my children that even when life is hectic and crazy busy - you can still find peace. And the only way to teach my children this is to show them.

When Madelyn gets upset about something, Matt and I have always said to her, "take a deep breath Madelyn...slow down, let's breathe together." We started this before she could even talk. I wasn't sure how much it was truly working until soon after the babies were born, Clara was fussy and I heard Madelyn whisper something to her. Clara stopped fussing, Madelyn looked at me and said, "Mommy, I told her to take a deep breath and she's happy now!"

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I've observed Madelyn breathing deeply on her own when frustration rears it's ugly head. I've observed her going to her quiet spot on her own when she knows she needs some down time (even if its only for a few minutes or even seconds). Not only does this make me proud, but it's a constant reminder that I need to take a deep breath...or slow down and focus on my breathing for a moment.

Our dear friend, Alisa, always buys the best books for Madelyn. The latest one was called, "Peaceful Piggy Meditation." I LOVE this book. It's perfect to not only introduce the idea of breathing deeply and walking away when frustrated, but it also explains ways to set up a quiet space for little ones. This has been a bedtime favorite for Madelyn since Alisa gave it to her.

Another great book for children regarding peaceful moments, is called - "At One in a Place called Maine." This book is extra close to my heart since we lived there for several years. Beautifully written with constant references to nature and the joy and peace it brings.

And then there is - "Each Breath A Smile." This is my all time favorite. I used to read this book in my classroom each year, and I'd leave a copy in our yoga center in the classroom year round (I read it to my adult students now!) It's such a simple yet powerful way to teach mindful breathing. The language is inviting, you'll find that you can't read this book without breathing deeply a few times.

"Let us put our hands on our tummy and feel our breathing. Our tummy goes in and then it goes out. Breathing in and breathing out."

These books, and the many others we have, are great reminders of the importance of mindful breathing. I love reading books with Madelyn, but even more so when we are both learning a valuable lesson through the reading.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Somehow, Henry and Clara are now 5 1/2 months. They are growing like weeds. When placed on their backs, they both immediately flip to their bellies. While Henry enjoys this, Clara gets quite fussy about it.

Somehow, we've made it through these first five months and are feeling pretty good about it. I joke with Matt that we just figured it out and now it's about to get even more interesting....they are going to start crawling!!!

Somehow, they are actually big enough to eat cereal each day. Clara isn't such a fan but Henry sure is.

Somehow, Madelyn will be 3 years old next week....

She's talking nonstop about her Pirate/Princess Party we're having. When I asked her what she will dress up as she said, "Mommy, I'm already a princess!" So, apparently she will be simply adding an eye patch to her daily clothes and will become a Pirate Princess.

Mads at the Childrens museum in NC.

Somehow, she has yet to really get mad about the invasion of her brother and sister. She continues to be the best big sister! Always offering to help and singing to the babes when they are upset. Her song goes something like this, "Its okay, its okay, its okay, calm down, calm down, its okay..." I'll have to post a video soon. It certainly cheers me up when I hear it!

Mads and her baby sling.
Somehow, we managed our first family vacation. It was a whirlwind trip that involved approximately 15 hours in the car within a 48 hour time period. But our children are rock stars. They seemed to handle it just fine. As for me, Matt, and my Mom - we were exhausted at the end of the trip!

Cracker Barrel!
Parking lot at Cracker Barrel
Somehow, my days are flying by me. Often, I have to pause, breathe deeply, and make sure that I'm soaking it all in.

Somehow, these three kids of ours will grow to be teenagers and then adults. I'm afraid to blink, for fear I might miss it all!