My husband and I have been friends with Adam and Alyssa for a long time. We've known Alyssa since high school and her husband, Adam, since they were dating. They were one of our first visitors when we brought our baby Jonathan home from the hospital and their oldest, Micah, joined the gang a little over a year later. We attempted a camping trip in 2011 with baby Micah and two year old Jonathan. We still laugh at our attempts to cook all meals over a fire while catching crawling babies and preventing them from coming too close. We'll never forget how they had to head out early because little Micah had a leaky diaper on the first night, causing every single bedding item to be affected. (Yikes! That is a lot of laundry!) Should I mention that this was serious camping - in a National Park! We were brave. The memories are good ones. We are thankful.
I was thankful to get a chance to photograph these wonderful people who were celebrating the first birthday of their youngest son, Isaiah. I had to ask Alyssa questions about parenting four children. Here, you get to read what she has learned. Enjoy, friends.
Celebrating the Milestones...
Isaiah was standing so well. He loves to clap and is a very smiley baby. I brought the red chair to coordinate with their Red, White, and Blue summer clothes. I can't resist a baby in bib overalls! :) How about you?
Alyssa on the growing joy of parenting 4 children...
"I love that the stress that I experienced when going through all the 'firsts' with Micah (the oldest son) are subsiding; I actually enjoy the day to day experiences because I'm not constantly critiquing the outcome or trying to create a bubble of protection from every bump or stressor that may occur. I feel like I'm able to focus my attention on the moment that they're in. Even though we still have a ton of firsts still occurring with Micah, there's a sense of calm now, versus the panic I remember feeling as a newer mother."
Alyssa on the challenges of parenting 4 children:
"Surprisingly, the challenges of the different stages are the same that they were for us with just 3 children. Fortunately, the two oldest are very much on the same page with just about everything. At this point, our main challenge is keeping the youngest two occupied while the older boys participate in sports so that we can actually catch some of the game."
How to stay connected with opposite schedules:
I know that Adam and Alyssa work on opposite schedules so that they can be the people who are with their children the most. That means that Adam and Alyssa don't get to spend very much time together though. I had to ask her how they make it work. How do you stay connected to each other with that schedule?
She gave this advice:
"With working opposite schedules, we have found the best time to connect is at the end of the night - he may be tired after work and I may have to stay up later than I'd like, but even having 10 minutes to talk about the day and prep for the next day helps us feel like we're not 'adulting' alone."
On having 3 other little helpers...
I know how much my boys make me laugh. I asked Alyssa about moments in the last year that have made her laugh when one of the other kiddos try to help or "love" so much on baby Isaiah? Here is what she had to say.
"Each of the kiddos have been absolutely wonderful with Isaiah and their personalities and ages are really standing out. Raena is very much a little mother - helping me with diaper changes and feeding Isaiah, as well as, performing the same functions with her own baby (taking for walks, cooking meals, putting to bed). Jonah is the most loving and empathetic of my kids. He talks to Isaiah, enjoys making him laugh, attempts to hold him (often finding that Isaiah wants to be on the go instead). Micah is a true oldest child - always watching out, protecting Isaiah from too much mothering (courtesy of Raena), encouraging and teaching him new things. So, I don't have a specific moment that stands out, but I laugh to myself pretty regularly when I see each of them interact in their own way."
Playing in the Creek
It Takes a Village.
I asked Alyssa about the people who are her greatest supports, emotionally, physically, & spiritually. She said that Adam is a given because he is involved in everything with her and then she described others who help support her.
"I don't know that I can choose just one person as my greatest support. Every day brings new challenges or triumphs and I call on different people to share in those depending on the situation. My sisters are there for me to share in the stressful moments since they both have multiple kiddos in the same age ranges and they help me find humor. My mom, grandmother and aunts are there for guidance and to remind me to make prayer a continual part of my journey since it will bring greater joy to the good moments and greater comfort to the less-than-good moments. I'm also thankful for my dad who provides us all with encouragement and support."
Alyssa on organized chaos:
"The most significant triumph in the past year has been establishing a routine that brought balance to our chaotic lives. When working full time, it felt like life was happening and we were reacting and not enjoying. Now that I'm part time, I feel like the chaos isn't bad because it's organized (if that makes sense); we are in control of the direction we are heading. Life is still crazy because there's so much energy and lots we like to do, but we are better able to manage everything and live in the moments."
Alyssa's advice to other parents:
"To the parents of little ones.... do your best to enjoy the moments, laugh at yourself, and organize the chaos. And just hold on tight because the whirlwind won't last forever!"
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