Sunday, August 14, 2016

A decade as Mom.

Miss Molly,

For the first time in your forever, I look at your precious self as you walk by me... unnoticing...thank goodness unnoticing... because I gaze a bit longer than you would ever knowingly allow and I don't feel sorry for a single minute. My Mama heart just soaks it in. It takes my breath away in the most unexpected of instances and I can barely recognize through these bleary eyes the beautiful, young lady in front of me. How are you this old? For all those longest of days in the beginning and now it is like the years pass by in a whisper of a thought. I want to just slow, slow, slow that roll. I'll try to be better at keeping up. 

My, you are so very ten already. You have been for quite awhile. Funny how for the youngest of your grade level, you sync right along with those buddies and don't even miss a beat. I expect that you will do that for always. Makes me giggle at the wide-eyed former version of myself worrying that her teensy, curly girly of a kindergartner would struggle to keep up. Ha. Silly me to underestimate you. 

This is such a season of transition for us. One of many I am sure. We are living somewhere in the realm of Mama knows nothing and I can't tell you enough. That budding independence, lofty sense of self and unique sense of fashion sure keeps me on my toes. At the beginning of this year, I purchased you a bunch of Justice outfits that seemed "totally you" to uncover that while they might be... they weren't yours to choose and that made all the difference. Rookie mistake. My goodness how we bickered about clothes. But you know what? I finally got it. I woke up that morning and gave in to the ridiculous everyday mismatched wind shorts and weirdy tees and for the smile that spread across your face, I would do it again in an instance. I'm learning too. 

This year brought you group sleepovers, soccer, breast buds, beanie boos, deodorant, blackheads, crushes, Draco Malfoy, song writing, body talks, staying home alone for bursts of time, walking home from school, solo neighborhood bike rides with buddies, your own spotify account and a WHOLE bunch of Youtube videos. 

You'll be here one day. I'll laugh with you about how silly it is to feel like you can't keep up and look back at all your wonky fashion crazes. I'll remind you to look for the in-between moments. The deeper conversations. The fun of shared interests like baking and writing and rabbits. The problem solving situations that can't be fixed by Mom. I'll remind you to have patience when it feels like you can't even muster it and when all else fails to just watch your child walk by unnoticing. Look for the beautiful light of their growth...because, sister... that light pouring out of you is perhaps the most beautiful bit of good I have ever seen. And it's all you.

Rock it. 

Love to your whole two hands of life. Here's to enjoying you.

*Turn up the music*

Molly's 10 from Julie May on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Our Second Time Birthday Babe.

Sweet Nanners.

I don't quite know how long I am going to be able to get away with calling you my baby but if I have it my way, it will definitely be nothing short of forever. Oh, sweet girl. If only I had known all along it was your beautiful and bright face I would be meeting one day, I would have whispered to my former,anxious self to just take a breath and be'd be here soon. You see, my heart beats in balance with you around.

You, lovely lady, are my gifted, extra burst of sunshine. How very fitting that you walk this world with the most golden of hair. Kid, you are nothing short of magical. 

I have never felt as very loved as I do when I am in your presence. While I know that we, too, will face some growing pains one day--more than any other child-- you have marked me as your person. Chasing those silly siblings and exploring the world, you absolutely never lose the awareness of where I am. Before bed every night, after books and songs (you prefer to hum), you always look up, take you hands under my chin and just study my face as if to hold it in memory until morning. Sometimes... after the longest of days... it takes my breath away.

You stop and just soak in a lovely moment. It is all I need and yet, in the hustle of the day I forget. My tiniest teacher. How grateful I am for the gift of you. 

Unsure of Mickey Mouse and yet you can pick Harry Potter out of a line up. You prefer Meghan Trainor to lullabies and will do just about anything for a chance to play Barbies with your big sisters. How very fourth child of you! I thought I would feel guilty that our life is so very centered on the hustle and bustle of your siblings' activities but truth be told... you absolutely love it. All those other tiny mighties we live with? They completely can't imagine a world without you in it, either. At the most random moments, I witness them holding you, reading to you, splurting out over dinner that they "are so glad you were born." All of our cups runneth over, babe. All because there's an Annie in our lives.

This year: you learned how to walk, run, jump and CLIMB. Swimming, dogs and cheese are among your favorites. You are dying to wear panties but nowhere near ready to say goodbye to your "yaya." You go in to "gremlin mode" every single day around 430pm and there is no amount of destruction too vast for Gremlin Annie. You keep us on our toes for sure. I am so excited for all the newness of year two. What an adventure, little love. How I can't wait to share it with you! 

Tomorrow we will wake up, and have our cinnamon-sugar birthday donuts and toast the greatness of your special day. Even though all days feel pretty dang special with you around.

Goodness, I love you so. 

Happiest of birthdays, Annabel Jane.

***Turn up volume for sweet tunes***

Annie's 2nd Birthday! from Julie May on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Firefly Skies

The other night working at the hospital, I drank this crazy coffee from a can and had all these glorious ideas come to me.

It was a night of caffeine and curiosity. And germs. But it's a pediatric emergency department... what's new?!

So, here I am. Embarking on this fun new adventure called Firefly Skies. Furniture restoration, decor and a whole lot of music infused dates with a paintbrush and sander. Yes, please!

Excited to see it all unfold! Look for updates on the website and facebook page. 

Cyber Stress

So, I am going to take a moment and open the idea of a discussion on something that has been playing on my mind for a while now. Feel free to chime in with the comment button below... or even later if you see me in person because I mean it when I say, I think that this is an important conversation and one that I very often default to what may not be the kindest course of action.

I'm talking social media, friends.

There are so many incredible articles out there about cyber bullying, and raising welcoming children with an awareness of other's feelings, etc. A friend posted (ironically) this great article the other day and I absolutely agree with the message wholeheartedly. Social development and relationships are uniquely challenging across all ages and then the added component of social media sometimes feels as if we are "kicking the hornets nest" of problems. Despite our very best of intentions.

Let me be the first to say that I am perhaps the most guilty of not being the kindest in terms of social media. I blog, I Instagram, I Facebook like it is going out of style. All this to mean that I am so very annoying communicative. (Sidenote: I completely understand if I have been hidden on your feeds... heck, I'd probably hide me if I wasn't posting about my people.) This whole invention of chatbooks pulled together by images you've posted on social media and cataloged by volume, date and in an adorable, little hardcover book? I mean, come on... it is genius. What an ideal way to document pictures of my children, as a mother of four, who has no time or desire to scrapbook. (It's just not my bag, baby).

Yet. This is where the problems ensue. The more you post... the more gets documented in those dang, adorable chatbooks... leaving you with great images from memorable moments in your life. How do you go about posting events that are special to you without overstepping the lines into exclusionary, elitist and unkind? While I can recognize that what I see on Facebook is not an accurate depiction of reality, what kind of message am I sending to my child about how it is okay to treat others?

An example.

Say I have an incredibly fun birthday party for my son and it is wonderful and unique and a total blast. I post the pictures (for the chatbooks, of course), friends tag me in their pictures (after all, it was a really fun party) and it is so great to have all these photos logged in one spot for easy documentation/book binding goodness. But... what about my Facebook friend's daughters that weren't invited to this party? What about that buddy from last year that really isn't a close friend of my son's anymore? I mean... we can't invite absolutely everyone we know that would be unmanageable and completely off budget. Yet that child's mother is my friend. Her children are wonderful. She sees the party pictures... perhaps I forgot to have the awkward conversation beforehand and this is how she is realizing that her child (or self) has been "left out"? I am ashamed for the role that I took in exposing that exclusionary facet and yet, isn't this what social media (either intentionally or not) does on a regular basis?

As a confident, educated woman, I had hoped that I would be able to understand that parties happen, friendships change, maybe this "one event" was a unique occasion that just wasn't my best fit for an invitation. Yet, several times this year, my own feelings have been hurt when I have felt left out. Sure, perhaps it was on a more fragile night post shift when my feelings are a bit more raw or on the brink of a good ole visit from "aunt flo" but regardless... I have seen pictures of people I love and thought really loved me having a grand ole' time and feel forgotten. So I wonder... If as a grown up, with a stronger sense of self (most days) and abundance of healthy friendships... if I am capable of falling in to this ostracizing and lonely world of social media... what are children capable of doing to each other?

With Molly entering middle school in one year (gasp!), these topics of cell phones, cyber bullying, texting feuds... it is all quickly becoming our reality so very soon. Good gravy, guys. I am so under-prepared for it. And that... that terrifies me.

Give me back all the stinky diapers, sleepless nights and toddler tantrums if I don't have to navigate the social footfalls of middle school at a time where technology is absolutely NO comparison to what it was when I was in a similar stage of life. Sure we passed notes about people and called friends on our land-lines (with phones attached to a wall) and had sleepovers that not everyone was invited to. BUT it wasn't on social media. The pictures weren't staring our younger selves in the faces cataloging every agonizing moment of fun that we missed out on. It is so much harder now.

So. What's the solution? Moms and Dads of older children...I'm talking to you. Help a Mama out. I'm all for building my child up, working on her understanding of what it means to not only be kind but seeking out friends on the sidelines, helping her to feel loved even if she can't always see that through her own eyes. There is just so much more I can't protect or prepare ahead of time. Banning all social media, cell phones, technology... turning our tv in to a cardboard box... it isn't our reality. Our children are growing up in a technological era and quite frankly... the world is their oyster because of of it. There's a lot of greatness that comes with technological advances.

Too bad it totally scares the shit out of me.

Monday, April 18, 2016

A 5th birthday--- Hogwarts style.

So, I don't know if I have mentioned it here on the blog but the May children are 100% obsessed with Harry Potter these days. I like to credit myself for this magical idea. You see... I was going to possibly jump off our 2nd story roof if I had to endure too many more mornings of Star Wars trivia from Gabriel May before I had even opened my eyes for the day. It was a dark time in my parenting and I needed a change like YESTERDAY.

Enter Harry Potter.

I mean what's not to love? Magic? Adventure? Owls that bring you mail? Now there is an obsession I can rally behind.

We started out slow. Book one. Each night... three older Mays sprawled on the floor and Mom or Dad would just read aloud. Two butter-beers, some wizarding chess and a magical stone later and BAM there were hooked.

Surprisingly (and yet, somehow not...) Lucy might be the most obsessed about HP of the group. Well... that is discounting Molly's love of Draco Malfoy... a post for another time. Lucy is like legitimately living in Hogwarts every single day. There's a bunch of magic in that kid so it totally makes sense. She has been sorted in to a house by on online quiz (Slytherin...duh.), taught her entire pre-k class about "dementors sucking out your soul with the kiss of death" (awkward) and sorted all her friends in to houses on the playground (precious.) So when asked about what kind of birthday party she wanted, I was less than shocked to hear the request for a HP theme come rolling out of her mouth.

Oh, Lucy. You know your Mama loves her a theme. Park party... lots of friends... no real structure... it just screams of success really. Even better... is when my crafty ideas come together too. I dare say, Mr. May was even a bit excited how this one turned out.

Each child was sorted in to a house and given a broomstick...

To compliment their wands of course! (Dream birthday gift from the McWilliams clan right here).

After a brief flying lesson and safety with broomstick course led by one Madam Hooch Molly May... they were off to the games. House tournaments for the cup... those adorable Hufflepuffs sure were pretty all over the grid... followed by wizarding red light/green light and a little bit of follow the leader on brooms. 

Not kidding when I say that the flying version of my husband is what makes me love him the most. 

I mean frozen wands...

and Owl cupcakes just scream Harry Potter success.

It sure helps when you get to celebrate with families that have been in our lives before any of these kids were even born (well...technically the blondie on the bottom left was a week or two old.)

Even more magical than HP is this lot. What a great way to ring in a golden girl's big birthday!

Annie's 18 Months! (And 20 months too but shhhh.)

Wow, this ole' blog is about ankle deep in some backlogged posts. Shameful.

So, as I gaze at my sleeping 20-month-old on the monitor, we are just going to tiptoe back a little in time to good ole' Feb 3rd where we celebrated this little Missy's half birthday.

18-months bitty bit! Seems so short but in many ways there were some looooong days in there too. Time is funny that way.

18-Month-Old Stats
Height: 28 inches (<1%)
Weight: 19.0 lbs (8%)

This girl is a full fledged toddler!! She is running, walking, complaining right along with the bigger Mays. Hard to believe that Feb 2nd marked the one year anniversary of Annie in her first Spica cast. I look at her now and can't believe all the things that she is able to do. A child's resiliency is unlike any other superpower I have ever known. These little people make the HULK look like a wimp for sure.

At 18-months, aside from Mommy (her beloved!!) comes a continued deep love of all things "Ro. Ro". Good ole' Rosie George. She lets Annie just torture her from sun up to sun down. I don't feel too bad for her though because loving on Annie means that she will feed you the very best scraps from her plate when she is done eating. I like to think that they have mutual understanding. Tolerance of Abuse = delicious people food. Yeesh. I might need to rethink things. Rosie might be a battered woman.

Are these the eyes of a dog pleading for freedom? Say it ain't so!

Annie continues to be deathly afraid of the Rudy's car wash, the vacuum cleaner and the scale at her pediatrician's office. Her crying on the scale sure is a lot cuter than when I cry on the scale at my doctor's office.

We went for her 18-month well check and helping a friend out, I thought it would be easy breezy taking her two daughters along for the appointment. I mean, we are talking the easiest 4th child on the planet here.


Two seconds after this picture, once inside the doctor's office ... one ANNABEL MAY lost her S&!*

Like woah.

Her little friends and myself were speechless. Seems 18-months is when you decide you HATE your doctor. Fully noted and we will no longer submit little buddies to that sort of raw version of Annie.

When not freaking out at a doctor office, Annie has been having a bunch of fun with friends these last couple months.

If only she weren't such an aggressive lover. (Think form tackling friends just to kiss them.) It really is the worst unique.

At least she found one man that doesn't mind a nice strong woman.

 It's only a matter of time before they figure out just how adorable they are for each other... right???

18-months. You are full of all kinds of new. Like eat with a fork better than my 8-yr-old brother, Mama's signed me up for preschool next year sorts of new.

That's right world. This girl's going places. 

Consider yourself warned.

Monday, April 4, 2016

A Golden Birthday.

Height: 40.2 inches (11%)
Weight: 36.4 lbs (25%)

Well. You did it, kid. The very first of all your siblings to hit your golden birthday. Not surprising though in the slightest. You are made of only the best kind of golden magic after all.

Oh, Lucy May. A whole hand old. Goodness, those five vivacious fingers have been ready to birthday high five for the past 364 days. Today. We have finally arrived.

I like to think that God took a little glance at our family before you arrived, had a bit of a giggle and whispered "Now for some fun..."

Quite honestly, I don't know that I have ever met a more fun child in my entire life.  It will probably be okay if I never meet another. You are my one-of-a-kind, love all, live all, afraid of nothing, streak the neighborhood while thinking of ways to change the world kind of gal. For such a small person you sure pack in a whole load of personality. It is pretty much my favorite thing in the world. Aside from your fantastic voice.

Last week, Molly and you were playing school together. Each were teachers and each had their own bedroom classroom to teach in. I walked in to Molly's "classroom" to find all her stuffed animals sitting quietly in a row while she read aloud from a chapter book. So serene. So calm. I then opened the door to the guest room to find animals that looked as if they had just survived gail force winds and you, the teacher, jumping on the bed chanting "No homework, More freedom". Way to stay true to you, dear. Don't ever change that.

Our resident megaphone, there isn't a soul in the neighborhood that doesn't know when you have some mighty opinions about something. I have absolutely no idea what you will become when you are older (you are pulling heavily for rockstar these days) but whatever it is... it will be spicy and alive and holy will be LOUD. Dad and I will be right there, front and center cheering you on to greatness.

Big changes to come this year. Kindergarten has absolutely no idea what is about to walk through their doors. I can't wait for them to learn all about wonderful, lovable, you.

You live every color of the rainbow, toots. Gaining a Lucy in my life has been like finding the most wonderful pot of gold. You make my Mama heart smile as big as the sky.

Happy GOLDEN birthday, buddy. We sure do love you so.

***(Turn up your speakers for birthday video music!)***

Lucy's 5th Birthday! from Julie May on Vimeo.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Gabe's Eight.


Hey there, birthday boy.

I can't even begin to tell you how much it causes my heart to leap straight in to the depth of my belly when I think about you being eight-years-old. My goodness, we got here fast. Yet, when I stop and think about your insatiable hunger for all things both food and worldly knowledge... eight seems just about the most perfect place for you to be.

Each year I go into the start of it weary of the unknown and then find myself longing for just one more day of that age come year end. It is a measure of the greatness of you, Son. Of all my children, you are the one to grow me the most as a Mom- consistently taking me out of my comforts of my childhood knowledge and plopping me right in the world of all things Minecraft, Pokemon and Starwars. My google search history is the most ridiculous smorgasbord of all things Gabriel May. It is a struggle to keep up with that curiosity, kid. I promise you this... I will never stop trying to see the world the way you do. 

Such a year of growth for you, buddy. About 5 inches taller, 10 lbs heavier and 15 more freckles in, I'd guess. This year sure had some weight in all that fun, no? You experienced loss when your very best friend moved away, some frustration when you couldn't keep focus in school and for the first time in forever, took a pause to see where it is in this family you fit. While the growing pains of year seven were steered through some uncertain waters, I feel we have all emerged stronger swimmers with a healthier senses of selves. We've got this, buddy. You see... I feel all the feelings too. 

While you clutched deeply to non-fiction and all things tangible, I introduced you to Harry Potter. Suddenly, the magic of each day was renewed and just twinkles in your sweet, dimpled smile. I have to say... non-fiction is grand and all but I selfishly am loving all the imagining and exploring in our days. The tree climbing, fictional drawings and Lego creations are truly incredible. Your ideas on how things should work (and will work when you're through with it) never ceases to amaze me. Every day, I get a little glance at the man you are becoming. A loving, kind-hearted, curious, gentle baby-whisperer of a kid. Sounds a lot like another great guy in this family I love. Funny how that happens.

So here we are. Ready to explore all the greatness of eight. Regardless of what we meet, it sure feels lovely to know we're in it together. 

Love you so.

Gabe's 8th Birthday from Julie May on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Life Mirrored.

Last week, I had seven children spending the night in my home. As I rounded on each room on my way to bed, I was met with a similar scene... huddled humps of person, all twisted in their sheets, the deeply-contented snore grown from a day full of play and about a million little popcorn pieces from a covert movie/dance party that took place some time after the parents were out of sight. All these little heaps of love... four of them mine...three of them from other families... all so very much loved.

I walked out of their rooms, heart full, rounded the corner to my room and proclaimed to my husband, "Dang. We're pros."

As a new wife, I rarely got lost in the make believe daydream of what my family of the future would look like. For such a wistful romantic, I have absolutely no idea why I didn't play that game.

Oh wait, yes I do. 

I had limited opportunities as newlywed to daydream about a family before I was actually in the process of growing one (it was a quick seven months.) Whenever we would settle into any sort of routine, within a month were expecting again. Routine, schmootine. I will never be able to say I've had a boring life, void of surprises.

So often in this space of growing littles, I became too lost in the hours without sleep, elbows deep in diapers, always balancing out the ever-negotiating and peacekeeping that comes in a house full of people. Every once in a while, I wanted to throw my own toddler-sized tantrum and at those times when I actually attempted it... for some reason... I didn't acquire the same attention the tiny-hineys of my household managed to muster. How incredibly unfair! In these moments, I felt very much the opposite of a pro. I think we all feel this way as parents at some time or another.

Yet, because of my children...and my job... and my crafty projects and whatnot, the same phrases are thrown my way over and over. The "Wow. I don't know how you do it" or the "when do you sleep" or even the "No way could I manage all that."

The truth of it? You don't manage all that. Not all at once, at least. Nobody does. Big families are not some rare and exotic species. It's a progression.

Your level of comfort grows steadily as the need arises. I believe this happens for everyone in this world. We are all adapting to our newest version of now. In the moments when the stretching and growing feels so uncomfortable and overwhelming... those days where you feel so outnumbered that you just might burst... that's when life mirrors.

Let's be honest, this mirroring effect (and tequila) might just be the only thing keeping this world procreating most days.

Because all it takes is just one moment...

 a gentle reminder...

A familiar scene that takes you back to that moment when you WERE a PRO. You've been here before--- came and conquered. Life's kindest reminder that you'll do it again soon.

It's as fleeting as an expression... so look for it!! Extra points if you happen to capture it. One dose of familiarity can carry some tremendous power. It will steady even the largest wakes of your waters.

The stability to measure our growth.

Life mirrored. Thank goodness.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


Each year, I step back in review of a year's worth of candid moments on my hard drive and feel unprepared for the absolute change staring back up at me. So much growth in my people, my ideals, my heart every single year and yet still, despite the seemingly predictability of it all, I am continually swept away.

How I love this messy, chaotic, beautiful life. Thank you, 2015 for helping me remember that.

This year, I was reminded...

*Big or small, there is always a bit of excitement when we have something new to share. 
January 2015

*True strength is not measured by the size of our bodies but rather the fierceness of our spirit. 
February 2015

*Joy hides in the corners of our hardest days, casting the softest glow. Hold on to it.
March 2015

*A decade can feel like it was yesterday and a lifetime ago all at the same time. 
April 2015

*Authenticity is everything. The real. The hard conversations. The uncomfortable versions of yourself are perhaps your most beautiful ways of connecting to another. Live an authentic life. It might not be pretty but it sure will be true. 
May 2015

*Sometimes the very best days never even find us out of our pajamas.
June 2015

*Mays grow best with wind in our hair and our feet in the sea.
 July 2015

*Find your tribe. Love them hard. 
August 2015

 *Sometimes all the effort, expense and exhaustion is forgotten in one precious moment.
September 2015

 *My heart feels stronger when I live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink of the wild air...that...and the realization that pants are completely overrated. 
October 2015

 *Sometimes in a room full of people, you really do just need one person.
November 2015

 *Adventure doesn't have to take you far from home or even anywhere at all.
December 2015

Hello, 2016. Can't wait to see the story unfold.