It is that time of the year where everyone is sending out holiday cards and newsletters, and while I know some roll their eyes, I love it all.  Here is the Womack Family Newsletter for 2015:

Big news for Kate--she is potty trained!!!  When Kate was 20 months we were swimming at my uncle's pool and she suddenly got out of the pool, said "te-ee" and then peed.  And I remember saying confidently to my Mom, "I could potty train her, she is ready."  And then Sophie started crying, and Zachary wanted me to watch him do a trick, and Sophie needed to be changed and you know the revolving door of children and their needs.  Fast forward a year and change and we celebrated Kate's third birthday with cake, pizza and her still in diapers.
The breaking point of our dependency was when she demanded to be changed in the middle of the night, started crying when I tried to prevent her from cuddling with the full diaper, and came down the stairs in the morning cradling her diaper like a baby.  Creepy. And weird. And gross.

In other news, Kate loves to help make eggs and cookies and pancakes, and she loves going to preschool.  Her teacher told me she has a little friend in the class and they are always together playing dolls and dress-up.  When I asked Kate what her friend's name was, she looked at me a little bewildered and said, "I don't know."

Sophie wakes up at 5am every morning.  She doesn't take a day off for holidays, late nights or good behavior.  There is nothing I can do to gloss this over for the family newsletter, it is by far her worst trait.

Other than catching that damn proverbial worm, she loves reading books (no shows for this intellectual baby!), her bathing suit (suit-tay) and going in the hot tub (hot TAA!!). This past November we spent a week up in Park City and went in the pool and hot tub everyday.  Really it was the only thing we really did on that vacation.  I have never seen Sophie more content; warm water, cheeks flushed, round belly, big smile.

This year Zachary learned how to swim.  Or really I should say he learned how to not drown.  Learning how to swim is the next installment.
Learning how to not drown was not going well in the beginning, he was reluctant to go under, it was a pain take all the kids and then keep Kate and Sophie occupied and alive, and one day it was so hot in that indoor pool that as I started to sweat I decided that this would be our last day.
But then I found out you have to cancel four weeks in advance or pay a fee, and I am way too cheap to pay fees, so instead I called my mom and complained.
"Is this what it takes to get a kid to swim??!!!  I mean can you believe how expensive it is??!"
And for some reason the person who shelled out money for my own private swim lessons, not to mention four years of college, failed to react.  So then I had a heart to heart with Zachary and told him that I really wanted him to learn how to swim but until he 'went for it'  he would never learn, and have to wear a floaty the rest of his life.  And we talked about being brave and doing things even if you don't like them.
The next swim lesson he 'went for it.'  And every swim lesson after that he 'went for it.'  What a stud.

This past November he turned five.  I love this age and all the funny things he says.
When he failed to listen one day I said, "Zachary, you are five now. You are old enough to listen and follow directions."  And his reply was, "Dude, I am only five! Like maybe when I'm fifteen or something!"
And one day when he was acting crazy I told him, "Zacahry, I am not very impressed with your behavior." And he said, "Hmmmm that's fine.  I'm still your kid, right?"

Clint is a super-dad.  Whenever he takes a kid, (even only one of them!) to the grocery store someone confirms it.  This obviously is annoying to me because I never get those accolades.  This senario climaxed when he took the three kids to Costco one Saturday, which is impressive but something that I do ALL the time, and there happened to be a Chinese tour bus. (Why I have no idea, although now we do have the biggest Costco in the world.)  Clint came home triumphant and smug; "You are not going to believe what just happened.  I was putting the kids in the cart and like ten people from this tour bus start clapping and taking my picture.  I don't know if it was because our kids are blond or there are three of them, or maybe because I'm a Dad doing the grocery shopping with three kids??  But it was so awesome."

Besides being super-dad, Clint is still running his company, binge watching TV, and is going to start playing in a flag football league come January.  He loves his family and he loves chips.      

Now that I am officially out of the newborn stage I find that I have a bit more energy to be on a health kick.  I love eating healthy because it makes me feel so much better than everyone else.  How else could I be any more superior than when I am mindfully dining on soaked chai seeds with fruit, sipping a kombucha, and Clint walks in and pours himself a bowl of gluten and sugar with lactose???!  It's sad really, I feel bad for him.
I also feel bad for him when he doesn't get the satisfaction of seeing me hiding in the pantry eating microwaved cookie dough and ice-cream.  But that's life.

Soon I will have two years of having three kids at home under my belt (kindergarden looms in the future!), and while at times I feel that it is getting easier, there are other times I just want to lay down on the floor and give up.  So that is what I do.
Aren't you supposed to play dead when fearing for your life from certain beasts and wild animals?  This is where I took my cue, and the first time I did it it was very effective.
"Mommy is dead??!!" they all said, and there was a feeling of alarm and importance.  Clint helped, Zachary and Kate settled, and Sophie just kept wailing.  (You can't expect 100% success.  There will always be one rouge beast.)  The technique was so effective that every time I was feeling overwhelmed, I would immediately drop to the floor.  Problem is, it happened one too many times, and it became classic 'boy calling wolf syndrome.'  Me laying facedown on the floor became common-place, I was an extra piece of furniture that you now had to walk around.  It was the new normal and the demands kept flying.  Getting a new coping mechanism is my New Year's Resolution.  If you all have any ideas let me know.    

I love this time of year; the music, the gifts, the decorations, the food...everything.  I love the feeling of building traditions for my family and making things special.  Over the summer we were at my parents house in California having movie night, and while they have every Disney VHS created, their kid DVD collection is pretty slim, so the kids were watching the 'Polar Express.'  And there is this scene where the boys sees Santa for the first time and there is a feeling of awe and faith confirmed.  In that moment I felt something special, and Baby Kate, who is not the most verbal of my kids, looks at me and says, "That's Jesus."

We felt the Christmas spirit in August, and I have been actively searching for it all this month.  The hope of something better and brighter, of peace and love in the midst of darkness.

Happy Holidays to you all!!!


the womacks


baby kate turns three

 The other day Zachary came zooming past and yelled, 'See ya later alligator.'

You scrunched up your face, made two fists, and yelled, 'I not a gator!!!! I BABY KATE WOMACK ROSE!!!'

Happy Third birthday Baby Kate Womack Rose.  While you were the one child that was planned, you are the one that surprises me the most.  You intrigue me.  There is a quiet power in you that is hard to place.  In this way I think you take after your father, you say what you need to, but stop there. While the rest of us gush and annoy, express and then apologize, you two watch and calculate.  I wish your father would fawn over me, but after 20 years with the man I know that his independence is what drew me in, and in this same way you draw us in.

The other night I came into bed, your dad in that place of sleep where you can still be pulled out of it, and asked 'Do you think that you understand baby Kate more than Z and Sophie?' 
And he rolled over a bit and said 'No I think I understand them all the same.'
And of course I wanted to have a long conversation where we figure everyone out and feel good about ourselves and how we are living and solve all our stresses in the way that parents only can when their children are finally asleep and you can parent without them being there, but I heard the breathing deepen and it was done.
Regardless, I see so much of your father in you and seeing you two play and laugh and wrestle fills my heart.  I like to imagine you becoming very close as you grow, hopefully you admiring the strengths that you inherited.

While your brother and sister never give me the luxury of not knowing where they are, two bees buzzing all day, you are often off by yourself, organizing your dolls and animals, transporting them from one room to the next.  You love collecting your loot in a big pink polka dot bin and when you come into our bed (every night around midnight) you drag the big bin behind you.
I can count the number of tantrums that you have had in your life on one hand, you are easy-going and undramatic.  I've never put you in a time-out, partly because you don't mis-behave, and partly because you mostly get what you want.  When you say you're done with a meal, and I say 'ok, just have one more bite of carrot',  you say 'no I not, I done' and climb down and walk away.  And I really don't know how to respond other than smile at your little person-ness. 

Kate, you are so many things...you are so beautiful.  When I was pregnant with you I knew you would have brown eyes and brown hair, just like I knew your siblings would have blue eyes and blond hair.  But I couldn't predict the softness about you.  I'm always trying to capture that softness with my camera, but because I'm not a great photographer I never quite do you justice.

I remember holding you after you were born, you so quiet, just taking everything in, and thinking I could do this a million times.  And I could.  If I could have a million of You I would.  But instead I will cherish the one You that I have.  Happy Birthday my daughter.   

Ok wait, I could have a million of you......if you got better at sleeping. You. Are. The. Worst. Sleeper.  Please work on it this year.  Seriously, go to sleep Kate.


sophie turns one

Sophie! You are one!

We made it!!

The other night your father and I sat in bed with the lap top, looking over our genealogy and filling in information and photos to our family tree.  And there your name was: Sophie Jean Womack, like it belonged from the beginning and made perfect sense.  I felt content in that moment, to know what wasn't there before is now a fixture.  Seeing your name and your brother and sister's, so neat and clean,  branching off of your father's and mine, made me want to just add a couple more to the list, so we could have this robust little collection of people.  What a feeling of accomplishment.  And because all you children were sweetly sleeping in your own rooms, your bellies rising and falling with the even breath of deep sleep, the soft glow of night lights and shadows of stuffed bears and figurines drawing shapes on the walls, well in that moment it all felt possible, I mean why not?!
But there are novels that aren't told in these organized family trees, details of joys and anguish that are missing behind each name.  I saw three of my mother's siblings that have passed away and found myself staring at the starkness of their names and dates of birth and death in slight disbelief that that was the only information included.
So Sophie, my point is this, we are so glad that you are part of us, that we could add your name to ours, but this first year of your life has had its  …. details.  When I was pregnant with you I remember saying, Well this baby will just have to be mellow and learn to go with the flow, because whew! its going to be busy!!

What an idiot.  Pregnant delusions and wishful thinking.  Babies don't go with the flow, they create the flow.  And then they destroy the flow for sport.

Your father says that you feel you were destined to be born in a royal family, the next Middleton baby to be exact, but somehow things got switched, and you were born into our family instead.  And so you are jilted.  And pissed.  At first I just laughed when he said this, but over time I have become a believer.  I really think you should have been royalty.

This year has left me exhausted and hagged (a new word I made up when I was crying to your father about how I felt, I think its a cross between haggard and ragged??)  
On the bright side, this year has given me a new respect for yoga.  I used to always get frustrated with yoga.  Like for example during shavasana I would think I know this is constructive rest, but wouldn't it be more constructive if we rested while stretching?  Now I cannot wait for that moment in class where I just lie on the floor with my eyes closed.  In fact about 30 minutes into yoga class I start to think Can we just get to the punch-line already?!  
When I had one child multi-tasking meant making dinner while the baby played with the tupper-ware drawer.  Now mutil-tasking means nursing the baby, while wiping the boy's bottom while yelling out a safety precaution to the toddler.  True story.  And I did it all without breaking latch. 

Queen Sophie, you haven't been an easy going baby, but sometimes we still have a good time.  Now that you are eating more you and I have bonded over food.  The other day we shared yummy coconut and chocolate chip cookies, and then when I declared that it was time to lose this last bit of baby weight and limit desserts, we shared a big bowl of fresh berries.  And then the following day, when I found a blessed loop-hole in my plan with coconut and chocolate chip pancakes, we jointly devoured those.  You had a big smile and a ring of chocolate around your mouth.

You squeal and pump your legs when you see your brother Zachary, and after not seeing Baby Kate for a couple of days scooted up to her and gave her your first deliberate hug.

Which brings me to the distilled version of this post, my royal daughter:

you are loved, happy first birthday.