Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Mixed Bag of Kids: FAQ About Our Family

We are a very diverse looking family. Diverse, young, and with kids aplenty. Naturally, people are curious about us. Each time we venture out together we get stopped and asked one thing or another. It occurs to me that we may get asked the same sorts of questions here we do in public all too often. As such I've decided to form and answer an FAQ just in case.

First, a bit of background: I am biracial and my husband's family hails from Eastern Europe (the former Yugoslavia/Croatia, to be exact). Surprisingly to us, as it seems to be to many others, this gave us a mixed bag of kids. Oh genetics, you're so fun! On top of this we started having kids in our teens and had them all close together. We're not exactly your modern standard American family.

1) "Are they all yours?" / "Are they adopted?"

Yes they are all mine. No, I carried and birthed all 5 of them.

2) "Do they all have the same father?"

Yes. They are all, every last one of them, biologically my husband's.

3) "But you look so young!" / "How old are you?"

We are. We started at 17 and had all 5 by the time we were 23/24. We're currently 28.

4) "Are they twins?"

Mable and Olive? No. But they are close in age- 14 months apart. Birdie and Poppy? Yes. Bi/multiracial couples can have what some refer to as black-white twins or mixed twins. Birdie and Poppy are similar to some other twins out there that pulled from different sides of the genetic soup.

And no, they aren't identical (yes, we actually get asked this. Twin moms, you know what I'm talking about). 

5) "You have a lot of kids! You do know what causes that, right?"

Oh yes! We're quite good at it, actually, and very much enjoy it.

6) "Are you done?" / "Will you try for a boy?"

As far as we can tell we are done. But, of course, it's not just up to us. The last time we tried for a boy we got twin girls. Message received.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Marriage Blessing

Rob and I. Luckiest girl in existence, I promise you that!
This past week we had our marriage blessed in preparation for my entrance into the church this coming Easter (when the blessing will become a Sacrament). Originally it was just going to be us- meaning Rob, me, and the 5 kiddos but my mother and brother* came down to stay with us for a few days and were able to attend purely by coincidence.

I will admit to being a bit torn up about this whole thing. Confused emotionally, maybe? This was the third time Rob and I had stood before someone and had our marriage initiated/blessed/sealed/etc. The first time was in jeans at a courthouse a few months after Lily was born and a year to the day after we had started dating (also Rob's 18th birthday). We have no pictures of that day and I remember it mostly as being that time I had to stand up and declare to the government I wanted to enter into a union with the love of my life all whilst pretending to be coherent when I was running a high fever and drenched in cold sweat (the flu always comes at the best times, doesn't it?). The second time was when we were sealed in the Redlands LDS temple. That was a wonderful experience and we do have pictures thanks to some awesome friends.

And now, of course, this.

I kind of feel like I am cheating, like I have had my chance to do the whole ceremony thing a few times now and "Come on, Maggie, it's getting old", etc. That kid that keeps getting in line for seconds annoying family and friends in the process. I didn't want to make a fuss so I didn't invite anyone, didn't even tell anyone, as is often just how I do things. But as I stood up there staving off emotion like the pro I am at it it occurred to me looking into Rob's eyes with a silly grin on my face that wait a second, I did want to make a fuss out of it! Because, yes, it was worth a fuss. Oh well, what's done is done. And the reality is that just the right amount of fuss was made by just the right people- Rob and I. Lost in each other standing before God and family, giddy like the 17 year olds we were when we first met.

The running joke now is that we'll meet again in a few years to sustain this marriage in some new religion as seems to be our style. I'm in the planning stages now for an extravagant ceremony this next go of it, one we "missed out" on all these other times. Only joking, of course. Although I do really want an excuse to wear a really nice dress and eat really nice food...

But in all seriousness the experience was a great one. Anytime I get to stare into my husband's eyes and declare my love and devotion to him before witnesses is a great experience. Anytime we are before God is a great experience. It was wonderful, it was moving (Lukas cried, the sap that he is, and I wanted to but am really great at not, especially when I really do), it filled my heart with joy even though I thought it couldn't be filled anymore by this marriage of mine. What more could a girl ask for?

So without further ado here are some of the pictures we took:

All of our ladies!

Favorite picture of Lukas and Mom.
The three eldest girls: Mable (8), Lilith (10), and Olive (6).

Poppy and Birdie, the twinsies (4).

Beautiful spot just outside St. Theresa's.

* some readers may be confused by this knowing me for some time and therefore knowing that I only have one sister and no brothers. My sister, Martha, is in the process of transitioning from female to male. Pronouns and names have been changed- he is now known as Lukas, something that I am still trying to get use to and so may slip up on here. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Starving Bookworm

On my to-read list.
Reading. I have really really missed it.

Life gets in the way, you get so busy with kids and the perpetually messy house... then one of the things you love the most in the world gets knocked way down on the priority list, everything else piled on top of it like it was never even there to begin with.

"I feel like I'm forgetting something..." the thought nags you. "Wasn't there something I use to love?"

I feel alive when I am reading, energized with life itself; awake, happy, serene, engaged, fulfilled, and on and on. Reading is... Oh my, I could write endless love letters to books. I had forgotten how replenished and nourished I feel falling into a good book. Instead, I wilted trying to keep up with everything but "needless things that take me away from the dishes". Oh, the ignorance! It's a classic story, though, isn't it? Mom's too busy to show herself some love.

So this is becoming a priority in my life. Right now. Right this second.

I deleted my old Goodreads account and started a new one. What can I say? I like fresh beginnings. I am compiling a massive To-Read list. A physical one I can keep by my bed as a constant reminder and log of my progress. 

Funny enough I never stopped buying books I just stopped reading them. Time to make a dent in the dozens of books I have collected over the past few years. Dusting off the Nook, the Kindle, and my mini-library surrounded by cobwebs next to my bed. 

Mansfield Park is all queued up on my Nook, I've made a nice dent in Pope Awesome already and A History of God is calling my name from its new home on my nightstand. 

30 minutes a day. That's my goal to start with. Preoccupy the girls and relax with a book. Get back into the habit of reading myself to sleep and taking my book with me wherever I go. Let the kids see me lost in a book, devouring it, it'll be good for them. Enjoying reading is good parenting- remind myself of this often. 

Oh yes, this is going to be fantastic! I'm besides myself with excitement!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Here I Am

Blogging... it's been a while. This blog as a Phillips family blog has been around for some number of years. Its name has changed, its layout, and it has definitely had to expand more than once to accommodate new babies (and yes, I'm envious that blogs don't get stretch marks) but it has always been around in one way or another as I tried to get a handle on the whole "mommy blog" thing. That really never happened and a year or so ago I pulled the plug, put it all in the back of my mind, and fled near all forms of social media. I did have the intention of keeping this blog up to date for family and friends who would miss the girls' growing up since we were no longer on Facebook but those plans fell through as near all other plans in our life did.

So what have we been up to this past year-ish? A lot. Like a lot a lot.

  • We lost a dear loved one and found out we had to move in the same week.
  • We tried to buy a house, decided against it, moved across the valley (around 45 minutes away for those non-desert natives) to a town I went to for the first time to sign the paperwork for our new home.
  • We have had the privilege of becoming even closer to family during this time while becoming less close to others.
  • We officially resigned from the LDS church; a loss in and of itself but a relief*.
  • We started the process of conversion into the Catholic faith.
  • I changed my last name (finally) in a big push to leave my past behind me (and after 10 years of marriage to a wonderful man it was beyond time).
  • We became far more reserved, far more conservative (yes, that means what you think it means), and just overall... quieter.

In short, we shifted. A lot. Like a lot a lot.

It was a big year, a transformative year, and all things considered we loved it. We let go of a lot of things that were weighing us down and suddenly the sun started to shine brighter, life started to have meaning again. We spent so long trying to make things work that wouldn't (because they shouldn't! Lesson learned) that we hadn't realized we were frayed and miserable. Or, at least, hadn't realized just how frayed and miserable we were.

I decided to start blogging again for me, mostly. Of course I will include the kiddos and the husband but in reading some of my new favorite "Mommy blogs" (I'm looking at you, Haley!) I realized I actually missed the whole sharing part of blogging. Social media is limited, it's like being in the middle of the mall catching your friends as they pass by; blogging is far more personal, like an invitation to sit with you in your living room and have a nice chat. Being the semi shut-in that I am this has served for a nice outlet in the past and hopefully can again. So consider this my invitation to you to come over and have some tea/coffee/rum/wine with me while we go on and on about what's on our minds.


* I refuse to be that former Mormon; the one that leaves the church but can't leave it alone. A relief, yes, I'd be lying if I said otherwise; but I hold no animosity towards Mormonism as a whole or the mainstream church. Don't fish for a bash-fest because you won't get it. Don't think you can't talk to us anymore because we're filled with hurt and hate because we're not. It just didn't work out. Of course we have deeper reasons than that but that is the only reason that really matters here and now.