February in rural Alaska

Yesterday it was 21 degrees outside.
And the sun was shining.

 As soon as Wyatt woke up from his nap, we bundled up and headed out.
The twins were overjoyed that they could play and not have to wear scarves.

 I was overjoyed to feel the sun on my face.

Most of February has been too cold to get outside.
Twenty one degrees felt like a Godsend.
 We were able to stay out for almost an hour.

 Angel (our neighbors dog) was happy to have company.

The boys love to collect these little pine cones. 
I always find them in their coat pockets later.

 You can see the effects of the wind around the house. 

This "Wind Mountain" outside Susan & Leah's house is one of them.

 Jack climbed immediately to the top...

  jumped off...

 and proceeded to bump his way down on his bum, giggling all the while.

 Then he started climbing back up again...

 and fell before reaching the top.

 Once he started going down, that was it!  He went all the way down.

 Look at those happy boys,
and those clear skies!!!

When the weather warms up construction workers come to Marshall to work on various projects.  They leave their vehicles behind over winter, and here you can see two of them completely buried in snow.

Wyatt walked around for some of our time outside. 
While toddling awkwardly in the snow he says to himself,
"Keep going... Keep going... Keep going..."
It's so cute!

Once he tires of walking in the snow, he says to me, "Pick up!"
I happily oblige, even though he weighs a ton!

 Once I had him up on my hip, he kept asking me to sing to him.  So I stood in the sunshine, singing to my baby, watching my big boys bump down Wind Mountain.  It was a beautiful hour!

... And I had to add this one from this morning just because it is so cute.
Happy Friday!!!


26 & Tuesday

Psst! Hey kids, wanna freak your mom out?  Develop a rash to go along with your fever, and then, while playing Lego's with your brother, tell her your neck hurts.  

Did it work?
It did?
See, I told ya!

That was my Sunday.  With Logan.
Holy mother freak out. I don't think I took a breath from the moment he said it, until twenty minutes later when the advice nurse had talked me down off the ledge.

Here we are on Tuesday and both his fever and rash are gone. 


 Wyatt must be reading my posts on his genius and then researching ways to out-do himself.
Yesterday he counted to ten completely independently.
He never ceases to amaze me.


My sister wrote this post about sleep.
It's brilliant.
And also funny because I was going to post about sleep today.  Since Logan has been sick, the last few nights I have stopped into the boys' room to check on him before I go to bed. I normally don't allow myself this luxury because the risk of waking them is too great.  But last night I quietly crept in, brushed the hair off the twins' foreheads, pulled their blankets cozy around their growing bodies, and thanked God for them.  

I watched the baby the longest.  He was asleep on his belly, with his right hand balled up in a fist and the other curled around his beloved taggie.  His back rose and fell with his breath, and I felt such tenderness for him.  

I told my sister in my comment on her blog that in those moments, watching them sleep, my love for my children, my dedication and my resolve to do right by them is renewed.  They are so innocent, precious and vulnerable.  It really puts my role as their mother in perspective.


I like today.
For two reasons.
26 is my favorite number.
And also, Tuesday is my favorite day of the week.

Do you have things on your to-do list that never seem to get done?
Yet you refuse to remove them from the list?
I have the following on my list:

Find a new recipe album/notebook idea that works
(right now I have everything folded up or wadded into a tiny recipe box that is a disaster. Cakes next to appetizers, drinks mixed up with main dishes... It makes me want to memorize all my recipes... Or maybe I could just actually/finally put together a useful recipe organizer.)

Re-do my phone book
(I bough a new phone book for myself before Wyatt was born. So, sometime in early 2011.  Maybe even in 2010. It sits on the shelf in our house in Alaska now, waiting oh-so-patiently to be filled with neat handwriting and correct addresses.  I use my address book now more than ever, and still it sits undone.)

Sort through my magazines
(This one I actually started yesterday. I was quite proud of myself.  I have a stack of over fifty magazines on a shelf in my room. I never, never pull them off to look at them once they are there, so it's a total waste of space.  I have committed to passing my magazines on to Susan & Leah from now on, but I still have to get rid of the old ones.  Why can't I just throw them out? What is wrong with me? Instead I spent the two hours of Biggest Loser looking through each magazine before tossing it.  Hey, at least I am making some progress!)

Hang a picture in my room that came down when I re-arranged our furniture
(This one is tough cause every time I am in my room and think of it, it's bedtime.  And I resolve to remind Josh- my handy man- that I'd like it hung. And inevitably I forget. I really wish I would remember because that picture brings me such happiness. It reminds me of the birches we had in our front yard as a girl.  In the summer they would be full of caterpillar nests.  The fuzzy orange and black caterpillars would fall out into the grass and we would carry them around the neighborhood in tiny caterpillar homes we would make from old margarine tubs with holes poked in the top.  We did the same thing with potato bugs we found.)

Clean the bathrooms
(This is perpetually on my to-do list, and actually only gets accomplished twice a month.  For a while I was cleaning the bathrooms, the whole house actually, once a week, but it was exhausting and I felt like it was not the best use of my time.  I try to remind myself what they always say, "There will be time for a clean house later.")


 My husband is the best. 
And I am a wimp.  

I cut myself yesterday while making dinner (slicing onions) and then last night I had a hangnail and I pulled it. This resulted in a bleeding fingernail and ridiculous amount of pain in relation to the size of the injury.  So this morning I asked Josh if I could have a BIG favor. I asked him to do all the dishes.  The sink (both sides) were FULL from dinner last night. (Remember, after I laid the kids down I sorted through magazines while popping mini York Peppermint patties and watching The Biggest Loser instead of doing any chores???)  He said yes, and washed every single dish before leaving for work.  He is my teeny-tiny-finger-injury hero.


my three kids crack me up...

The other day Logan was playing with some guys and they were, of course, fighting and one of the guys goes, "What are you doing? Trying to rip out my DNA?" 

When Wyatt wakes up in his crib, and we don't go in quickly, he starts talking.  "Poop Einstein!" is one of his favorites because it cracks the twins up.  He will also say, in a sing-song voice, "Daadddy... Where are you???"  And yesterday he combined the two with, "Poop Daddy! Poop Daddy!" causing the twins to giggle in hysterics in their beds.

This afternoon Jack noticed that the weather widgit on our computer screen said 10.  
10 is the magic number. 

If it's 10 degrees out, and not too windy, I will take the boys out. He was so adorably excited. "Mom! Mom! It's a ten! And it's got sunshine!" 

I went and got more clothes for them to wear, and when Jack was putting on his under shirt he was like, "I'm glad this isn't a snake shirt."
Confused, I asked what he meant. 
He goes, "You  know, the one that touches all over my neck? Like a snake?"
Giggling, I said, "You mean a turtle neck?"


And lastly, I wanted to give you an update: we managed to move forward with the twins.  It took some bribery (read: LOADS of bribery) but Monday morning they slept until the light was green.  In return, they got gum, stickers, tablet time, special cereal for breakfast, and a chance to play Wii Resort Sports, which they have never played before.

They (obviously) loved it!
My plan worked perfectly and they slept in again today!
I hope they do it again tomorrow!!!


wholeHEARTedly {self love}

Yesterday I got my twenty month old down from his high chair as he protested.  He had eaten his snack, and had drunk his milk.  But then... then he saw the cookies I had been making. And he wanted one.

I told him no, he couldn't have a cookie until after dinner.  I put him down and went about folding laundry in the living room.  Bustling about the house, all three boys were chasing soccer balls and squealing. It was a bit of happy chaos.  

A few minutes later, things had quieted down and Josh called me into the kitchen.  I peeked my head around the corner and there was Wyatt.  Proud owner of a fresh-baked peanut butter cookie.  He had carried the stool in from the playroom, placed it near the cooling rack, climbed up, grasped a delicious cookie in his sweet, pudgy fingers, fallen off the stool, got up, dusted himself off and began to enjoy the fruits of his labor.  

That cookie was hard won.

Today as I considered blogging about it, feeling a need to share these adorable pictures of my not-quite-two-year-olds' ingenuity, I thought what a beautiful metaphor his afternoon cookie escapades are for life.

Go after what you want. Go after it wholeheartedly. And don't look back. More importantly, don't apologize. I have been doing some reading about self love (over on Gala's blog) and one of the most brilliant pieces of advice she gave me was to not apologize.  She suggests we make a list of things we promise ourselves to not apologize for anymore.  So I made mine.

I won't apologize for:

  • Being an open book
    • "To conceal anything from those to whom I am attached, is not in my nature.  I can never close my lips where I have opened my heart." -Charles Dickens
  • Thinking I'm awesome cause...
  • Loving my husband
    • It's so much more socially acceptable to man-bash.  I will not partake. I respect my husband, I am thankful for him, and how he enriches my life.  He is my best friend, and I wouldn't want it any other way.
  • Being content
    • I do not want a career or to further my education.  I'm not apologizing for this anymore.
  • Not going to church
  • Loving my kids more than anyone else
    • That doesn't mean I don't love other people.  Or that loving my kids means I love anyone else less... I just love my kids most.  That means I will fight for them. For their fair treatment, for their health, for their better futures.
  • Being happy
    • I am happy living here, in the middle of nowhere, raising my children like I always dreamed.  This isn't what I expected, but here I am blooming anyway.
  • Thinking single parenting was the hardest thing I've ever done
    • I think back to that time in my life almost every week.  It's good for me to look back and see how far I've come.  It makes me appreciate my co-parent and being together once again.

In addition to writing your "No Apology" list, she suggests you take pics of yourself, and don't apologize for that!  So here are some pictures Logan took of the baby and I last week. I was not going to use them because I am not wearing makeup, and am struggling to get my acne under control... but here they are nonetheless- this is me.

The last piece of advice I'd like to share is to pay as much attention to compliments as you do criticism.  This one is really hard for me, but if I am going to learn to love myself, the compliments people give me deserve as much time and thought as the hurtful things, right?!?

I mean, we spend hours trying to fix/figure out our flaws or what other people mean, like with the recent comment on my last blog post, but when someone tells us something wonderful, we brush it off or file it away. Why not stop and celebrate it?  This week I was told I am beautiful.  I was told I am a good mom.  I was told that I'm a lifesaver.  Those were all wonderful, kind words that people purposefully shared with me, and I deserve to dwell on them, just as I would anything negative someone said.

There is so much more to share about self love, the advice Gala gives, and what I'm working on to improve... But they will have to wait for another day. It's Sunday, and I wanna go hang out with those boys I love more than anyone else!!!


red light/green light

So the twins have this nightlight that looks like a traffic signal. There is a red, a yellow and a green light. You can use the yellow for a nightlight, or you can use the red/green as a type of alarm clock for young children. 

We have it set so the light is red from bedtime (7pm) until our desired morning wake-up time (6:30am).  So at 6:30am, the red light clicks off, and the green light turns on.  This has worked for a majority of the time for a few years now.  But the last few weeks it seems to be working less and less.  

I guess I should preface this conversation with a few notes about sleeping arrangements here.  Josh and I share the master, which is upstairs, and all three boys share the second bedroom, also upstairs.  We use the third bedroom (located downstairs) as an extension of our living space-- as a playroom.  

The twins sleep in bunk beds (rotating who sleeps on top monthly) and Wyatt sleeps in a crib on the opposite wall.  We spent our summer like this, at Josh's parents house, and found we liked having all three together.  When we left Alaska in May, Wyatt had been sleeping in the "playroom" downstairs, but traversing the stairs so often in the night got old pretty quick.  We weren't comfortable moving the twins downstairs because of Jack's escape attempt last year.  So here we are, three little boys, four and under, in one room.

{He's so stinking cute taking pictures, it kills me!}
The trouble began two weeks ago when Wyatt started waking up three and four times a night, thanks to teething.  It created a bad habit of early waking, usually at 5am, and it's been downhill from there. Now we are back to sleeping through the night, but our morning wake up time has still been 5am.  I usually go in and lay Wyatt back down, and he'll sleep until 6:30am if his brothers are asleep.  But the last few days the twins have been awake with Wyatt at 5am.  And none of them will go back to sleep.  Such was the case today.

Logan is sick.  Like, really sick. Awful cough, horrible fever and a painful headache.  He needs more sleep right now, not less!  Luckily when I need to, I can lay the twins down for an afternoon nap, and they don't fight me on it. So Logan took a nap with Wyatt this afternoon. I hope it helps him start feeling better.

But for tomorrow, I am at a loss as to how to get them to sleep through until 6:30am.  I have bribed, threatened and begged.  And they are at the age where they know when they wake up and don't feel good, or are grouchy from being tired, and I make sure to point that out. "You're having trouble making good choices today because you are so tired.  That's why you should sleep until the light is green."  

Often their excuse is needing to use the bathroom, so I do know I need to better monitor their drink intake after 4pm... But I sometimes question the validity of their early morning bathroom needs, especially since some days they can hold it until 6:30am.  My not wanting them to get out of bed is two-fold.  I don't want them waking up the baby on their way out, and I don't want them coming into my room to wake me up.

I am hopeful that with the right rewards (or punishments) they will start respecting the clock again. I am such a better mommy when I can get six or seven hours in a row!  Which brings me to the other topic of interest this afternoon.  Babies.  Or a baby.

I have been thinking (daydreaming really) about our children, our family, our future.  I know I spent the majority of this post complaining about my early risers, but really, I am sleeping more now than I have in years.  And things during the day with my three sons is pretty manageable.  I am able to take care of their needs, the house and my own needs fairly easily.  It's a good place to be.

But it has me wondering if I am up for more.  Do I want more children? Do we want more children?  Right now, we have agreed that we are content, and the next Cunningham baby will be Josh's Master's Degree. It, too, will take nine months of blood, sweat and tears, and in the end voila! Josh will be a genius. (Or something like that!)

But we have talked about after that.  Later, when the boys are bigger, the degree is achieved and our time in rural Alaska is nearing its end... Maybe then we will have another baby.  After finally getting Wyatt weaned, working on giving up the binky and eventually potty training him, I wonder if I will want to go through it again.  If I will want to start all over.  And I start to think, no way. NO WAY!  I am good. I am great! These boys are amazing. They are healthy. They are funny. They are our family, and they are enough.

Then I open my March issue of Parents magazine and find this bleeping Easter dress ad for Gymboree 
and I am plagued with questioning.  

Will I really go through life without ever buying my daughter an Easter dress?
Can I do that?
Dare I get pregnant hoping for a girl?
...Only to have our fourth son?
Am I meant to have a daughter?
Will I have some kind of hole in my heart if I don't have a girl someday?

Each pregnancy, in the early stages when you don't yet know what you are carrying, I was certain it was a girl. Our baby girl, Bailey Kate, exists so wholly in my imagination. I spent months of my life with her.  Particularly during my first pregnancy when I had little else on my mind and no little ones demanding attention.

And so I ask, how do you know when you are done? How do you know when your family is complete?  I am lucky in that I am only thirty; Josh is open to the possibility of more; and I don't have to make any kind of decision any time soon.  But I enjoy thinking about it, and imagining all the possibilities.  Which include me one day dressing my daughter in an Easter dress from Gymboree.  It's possible.