Monday, March 19, 2018

The Kids...

So I just put all (except one...) the kids to bed.  They are not all asleep, but they are all in bed and for the most part quiet.  Quiet.  Oh what a sweet sweet word you are.  When the noise level in my home gets to where I have to try hard not to pick up a knife and stab my ear drum I try to remember that someday all too soon my house will be all too quiet.  Also I think as soon as Thomas isn't sleeping so much of the day I might not mind the noise quite so badly.  So I try to savor time while also rushing it along.  Such is mom life!  I watched a video of Mikey from when he was two the other day.  Three years ago.  Just three years ago.  I almost cannot imagine it, Mikey being two.  That floppy blond hair and baby dimpled fingers...

Anyway, tonight as my children slumber (or are at least making a minimal amount of noise....) I am thinking about all the things I love about them.  It is so easy to think of these things as they sleep rather than when the noise is happening! Sleeping children magically turn into precious snowflake angels that can do no wrong!

Oh Lukey Pie!  You are the constant companion in my days.  Right now I cannot get enough of listening to your sweet baby voice and all the new words and expressions you are trying out.  Some of my faves include, "Oh my goodness!" "That is De-Licious!" "What the Heck?!?" "Sorry Mommy" (you are the very best sorry sayer and I am learning from you in this area!).  You love to repeat things that your big bros and sis say too.  You repeat Mikey all day and think he is just the coolest.  You call Thomas "buddy" and it melts my heart.  You also like to burst into song.  Right now "Country Road" by John Denver is your favorite.  You will belt it out in an ever increasingly louder and higher pitch!  One of these days you will become fully potty trained although tonight it seems like it will never happen.

Oh Tommy Boy!  Right now you are crying in your crib.  Go to sleep baby!  Rest your weary eyes!  You are such a role-poly little thing right now.  Over 18 pounds already and in 12 month clothes at 6 months.  Definitely my biggest baby!  You are smiles and giggles and chewing on everything.  You are pulling my hair and grabbing my coffee.  You are rolling around and trying to get to the toy.  I was telling Gil the other day that I feel like you are right on the cusp of starting to move because you are getting frustrated with life.  You want things that you cannot reach and so you will have to start going to get them!  You study things so carefully.  You love my chew toy necklace and your binky that I never thought you would love at first.  You love your brothers and sister and your toes.  You love chewing on celery and I hope start to love eating baby food again soon.

Oh Cora Clare!  You are such a girlie girl and I am so happy for it since you are the only one I get!  You love clothes and want to look beautiful (you do!).  I love your style and your personality and your fearlessness.  I love your spirit.  You love everyone openly and without question.  I feel that you are still your authentic self, not trying to impress or be what you feel you are supposed to be.  I love that you want to be a doctor and also an artist and singer and own your own shop.  I love that you are learning to read and always try your best.  I have much to learn from you as well.

Oh Judey Moody!  You and I just finished reading the book "Wonder."  This was my first experience reading a book with my own child.  I used to read aloud a ton to my students and reading aloud always made me emotional.  It has proven to be about 100 times more so with my own child (sorry!).  I loved reading that with you.  You are funny and have a great sense of humor.  You laughed at all the right parts.  And you understand kindness and are getting much better at it.  That is something you will always need in life and always need to work at.  I love your love of reading and writing.  I feel that you get that from me (although your dad would probably claim it too!).  You are creative and visionary.  You are a leader.  You are not afraid to feel and express your feelings.  Thanks for being my first and teaching me how to be a mom.

Oh Mikey Boy!  You are so full of energy and spunk!  You finally learned all your letters today and earned that bag of gummy worms I bribed you with LAST SUMMER!  Man, it has been a long, hard road, but you did it.  And you did not give up.  You are smart and witty and think about things in important ways.  I love that you can play by yourself and are doing so much better at playing with others.  I love that you love preschool and are thriving there.  I wasn't so sure at the beginning of the year.  I love that you love to play outside.  Right now when you talk you always put the wrong past tense ending on words (i.e. work-ed, shop-ed, goed, etc.) it is so wrong, but so cute!  I love that you are a great eater, but a messy eater and still end up with a messy face and table after each meal.  I love  our time together in the afternoons.  I love how ticklish you are!  I am so glad God gave me you!

This is a good pic of each of their personalities!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Breaking News: Luke Turns Three!

My little Lukey pie just turned three years old yesterday!  He held the "baby of the family" role for longer than the rest and also since he is the fourth he just seems to carry on as the "baby" in my mind.  But he will correct me promptly if he ever hears me call him that!  He is not a baby!  He is not a big boy!  He is Lukey!  Luke is such a happy camper.  He is a boy with big brown eyes (and gorgeously long eye lashes!) that can melt his mama's heart.  He is with a blanket and a sippy cup saying "juice." He is smiling and laughing and keeping up with the big kids.  He is crawling in my lap whenever there is one to crawl into.  He is animal loving, outside loving, candy and juice loving, question asking, non-stop jabbering. He is sweet through and through.  

All Luke wanted for his birthday was a whistle and a blue sucker (he is still working on colors, but has blue down!).  I guess it must be all of Jude's basketball games he was drug along to that inspired the whistle.  We did get one for him, but as predicted it has been confiscated numerous times already. We also got him a giant semi truck to go with the combine and grain cart.  

His birthday was on a Sunday and after talking about how it was coming for so long (since Mikey's) he couldn't really believe it had come and insisted it was tomorrow.  Anyway Gil's parents joined us for church and then we had lunch at Godfather's.  My parents joined us later at our house for some cake and ice cream.  I made some Super Why characters to go on the cupcakes and Alissa made him an adorable shirt to go with the theme.  I thought Super Why was a fitting theme not only because he loves the show, but because 'why' is one of his current favorite words.  He needs to know all the things!!!

This year Luke has learned to play by himself, become a big brother, become nearly potty trained (oh heavens!), moved to a bunk bed with his brothers, bottle fed some baby calves, helped with lots of chores, got many rides on the side by side, and so much more!

our crazy family

the grandparents

luke and his whistle!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Growing Into Yourself

I recently gave birth to my fifth (and final) child.  I also made the difficult decision to quit my job and just focus on being a mom for this season.  I wanted to soak it all in.  All the "lasts."  The last newborn baby of my very own that I will hold in my arms.  The last tiny newborn clothes to wash.  Even the last sleepless nights.  I wanted to make sure to cherish them all (just like I have been instructed to do from the mothers who have come before me).  But of course life happened and I got tired and hungry and exhausted from being needed all the time by my five tinies.  And while I would say I really did cherish those first "lasts," they still flew by before I knew it.  My wee babe is now nearly six months old.  And my first wee babe is nearly nine years.  How did that happen?!?!  As I was thinking about time and cherishing it I realized something that astounded me: each day we become more of who we were created to be.  This is especially true for children.  And why it is so bittersweet to watch them grow.  My tiny newborn was not meant to stay a tiny newborn.  He grows and changes EACH DAY, SO MUCH!  And each
day he is becoming more himself.  More of his personality grows, more of his looks become evident, and the more I fall in love with him.

The same can probably apply to myself as well.  While our society begrudges growing older and idolizes youth, I cannot help but ask why?  Why do we try to stay where we are (or even go backward) when what we are becoming is so much greater?  We become more ourselves.  We gain wisdom, experience, understanding, joy, and even pain.  We are better off for having these experiences, for doing the hard work of living.  And while there are plenty of great things about being 20, I wouldn't go back.

And that is what I try to remember about my children as well.  While I sometimes grasp for time to slow down I try to remember that the joy really is in seeing the transformations.  Seeing the wee babe, so fragile and helpless, become a smiler and a sitter and finally a toddler.  And the toddler begins to talk! Then run!  And climb!  The child chooses to share!  To help someone in need.  Learns to read! And play an instrument!  To try a nw sport! Drive a car!  Get a job!  And so much more.

We are all meant to grow and change.  Each day is a chance to become more of who we are.  And to watch our children do the same.  My fifth little one will soon be the chattering two-year-old asking "why" every two minutes.  I will miss having one of those around.  But I cannot wait to see what a ten-year-old can do!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Mikey's Golden Birthday!

Mikey boy turned five on February fifth!  Happy "Golden Birthday" big boy!  I didn't really know what to do for a golden it was pretty much like all the others!  Our next one won't be until Jude turns 18, so I guess I have some time to plan for that!  

Anyway, I seriously cannot believe this crazy boy is five years old!  He has given me a run for my parenting money that is for sure, but he is so full of life and laughs and loves that it is totally worth it.  I still believe there are BIG BIG things in store for this one some day.  

He had a "Paw Patrol" theme this year.  He got some more mission cruiser toys and also a new outfit to sport to school on his big day.  Dad also could not resist getting him a lego, so he got another Lego Batman one: the dune buggy.  Oh, and Grandma Carolyn went all out on his five year old quilt.  Just look at that beauty!  Bonus he actually loved it and is so happy to sleep with it each night (that does not mean however that he has given up any of his other blankets or quilts and now sleeps with a whopping two quilts, three blankets, and two pillows.  He and Luke have moved to the bottom of the new bunk bed while Jude is on the top.  It has been a pretty smooth move so far (now to get Thomas into the crib in Cora's room...)

As I said, Mikey is just so full of life.  He loves playing loud, laughing loud, going to preschool where he is thriving (and has almost learned all his letters...finally!), being outside, having computer/ipad time, Legos, books, songs, animals, he just loves life!  He is my buttercup, my blond haired blue eyed boy.  He and Cora have gotten to playing together very well this year.  And sometimes it even happens with Jude or Luke and if I am super lucky all four can play together for spurts before one or another comes tattling about something or another.  He had his first year of showing a calf at the fair, his first year of swimming lessons, his first year of preschool, and his second year of cubbies.  He is sure that now that he is five he is bigger and heavier and stronger.  He is a challenge and a joy.  We love you Mikey!!!!!

birthday morning

he loves a present!

birthday cupcakes he helped make

quilt from grandma

proud boy

sad boy...hang in there luke, your day is coming!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Grandma Mary Lou

Great-Grandma Mary Lou Koester, Grandpa Lindy Koester, Shannon Koester Ridenour, baby Thomas Koester Ridenour
Last night Grandma Mary Lou passed away from complications due to leukemia.  She was 86 years old.  The "greats" (great grandkids) took to calling her simply "Grandma Lou."  She LOVED the kids and was always doting on us/them.  She had six of her own, 14 grandkids, and twenty greats and counting!  A week before her death my family got to have a "Christmas" celebration with her.  My dad and Jon Rastede went to her house, found lots of presents she has been buying all throughout the year, and wrapped them up for each of the kids.  What special gifts.  Right now I am wearing a gold locket she gave me for my high school graduation.  It has my name and year engraved on the back side.  As the last week wore on I was able to sit with her on two occasions, feeding her ice chips, and talking with her.  What an honor.  I remember a couple months ago telling my uncle Doug that he has really been busy after having taken grandma to multiple doctor appointments recently.  He said the same thing: what an honor.  Monday of this very week marked my grandpa Duane's 21st year not being with us.  Grandma lived twenty one years without him.  She was an amazing woman.

So many of my childhood memories include Grandma Mary Lou.  When I think of her old house on highway 9, my memory explodes with childhood nostalgia.  Playing with cousins, building "tents" to sleep in, our Christmas stockings that she crocheted with our names (mine was green and a little brighter than the others!), the hallway to the basement stairs, the storage room with wonders to explore, dressing up in square dancing skirts and performing skits for the grown-ups, grandma making pancakes with hot dogs in them for breakfast (yummy!), the dining room table full of extra places for aunts and uncles (this very table and the matching hutch now reside in my very own kitchen!), sitting on the couch in the front room reading my English assignment before late basketball practice, the famous snack drawer in the kitchen, and the list goes on...

Her new house in Allen symbolizes more recent memories, and is what my own children will remember of "Grandma Lou."  Her great box of toys in the closet, her fridge always stocked with juice boxes, her graduation pictures of us in the hall, her baby pictures of us in the basement, riding our bikes across the street at the Methodist Church, spending our Halloween nights with her trick or treating, Christmases, Thanksgivings, summer family nights...

There was never any doubt in my mind that grandma loved me.  She could be blunt and call it like she saw it (maybe that's where I get it???), but in the end you just knew she cared so much.  She was incredibly proud of her family.  I remember many times when we would go out to eat in Allen at the Village Inn together as a whole family.  She would walk in proud as punch to be the charge of this Koester Klan.  I have been thinking lately how none of us would be here without her.  What a debt we owe to those who go before us.  To our elders.  To our grandmothers.  I wrote her a note shortly before her death to let her know how proud I am to be her granddaughter, part of her legacy.  We live on, and so does she.

Thank you grandma.  I love you.

P.S.  I am so glad I got this picture.  As you can see Thomas can't take his eyes off of grandma.  She got his very first big grin about a month before this picture and this day he was talking her ear off.  We found out about grandma's illness very shortly after Thomas was born.  I am also glad I chose Koester for his middle name:)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

random tuesday

Privilege continued...

Yesterday was Tuesday.  When Mikey got home from preschool we ate lunch with Luke, fed Thomas, cleaned up the kitchen, and then he and I made gingerbread cookies.  This is something he has been begging me to do with him for a few weeks now.  And we did it.  Just he and I.  Jude and Cora at school, Luke and Thomas napping.  Just Mikey and I and some ingredients, a blender, an oven, and cookie cutters.  We had a great time (amazing how doing something with one kid can actually be enjoyable, even for a control freak mom such as myself!).  And I was thinking.  Wow, how lucky am I that I get to spend my afternoon making gingerbread cookies with my four-year-old on a random Tuesday.  I LOVE it!  There are long days.  There are hard days.  There are lonely days.  But I am so so so privileged to have my dream job right now: taking care of my little tribe.  Oh, and I also made chicken and dumplings for supper on this random Tuesday:)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

My Privilege

I have been thinking a lot about and learning a lot about privilege this year.  I have many I have come to realize.  We like to focus on what we lack.  Money, accomplishments, things perhaps...But when we take a look at what do have our perspective shifts.

Today I realized my greatest privilege.  While having lunch with my parents, brother, uncle, husband, and our youngest three sons (what a privilege!), my husband said about halfway through the meal, "Where's Tommy?"  Tommy is our youngest son at nearly three months old.  I informed Gil that he was right there beside me in his carseat carrier.  Gil said, "Wow, I hadn't even thought about him."  Now to his credit he was helping with the other two boys on the other side of the table.  But my immediate response was, "Well, you have that luxury, that is your privilege!"  As I thought later about this interaction I came to see I had it completely backward.   It is my privilege.  It is my privilege to know the constant whereabouts of this sweet little babe.  It is my privilege to know his schedule; when he needs a nap and when he needs fed.  It is my privilege to provide him with all the food he needs to grow at this point in his young life.  Yes, it is even my privilege to wake up with him in the wee hours of the night to give him this sustenance which also soothes him back to sleep.  What an incredible privilege to get to come home from that lunch and hold him in my arms for an hour while he eats and squirms and smiles and kicks and finally drifts off to sleep.  And then hold him sleeping in my arms.  No place he or I would rather be.  True, I am sometimes overwhelmed and even feel burdened by this immense privilege and wish that just once someone else could feed the baby, someone else could wake in the night, someone else could try to get him to sleep.  But it is my privilege and I will keep at it.  I have an amazing husband who stands beside me, whom I could never parent without.  But I get to privilege of being the mommy; of being this tiny babe's almost entire world right now.  And I love it!