Friday, June 23, 2017

May Day(s)

The usual catch all/catch up journal-ish way . . .

May Day
Raining, pouring, donut eating play date here, paper bags full of treats, knocking on doors, giggling, memory making.

The splurge for the school worked. Even missing several lessons, these kids rocked it and made wild progress. Judah went from being scared to dip his head in the water, to being able to swim with his head in the water (supported by a floatie). He still doesn't like to be wet/sprinkled. Karis maybe swims better than me now and her joy in this sport is through the roof.

Frog & Toad, Best Day Ever (caution)
"SEEDS, START GROWING!". That's my favorite quote from Frog and Toad, we say it all the time around here. We got to visit the Children's Theater to see this production (after listening to and reading the books over and over). SO FUN. Just a sweet memory with my kids, laughing and seeing art unfold. Oh we laughed.

And here's what happened that day. We were driving to the show and it was just one of those mountaintop days. Do you know the kind? Sun shining, everyone feeling happy (at the same time). A "house doctor" dude had been to our home that morning, and told us that what we thought might be a lot of work needing to be done was actually just fine (except, "I have to come back tomorrow and look around the attic"). We were flying high on this particular Wednesday. And I remember thinking prayerfully, "Wow, this is a special day - not every day is going to be like this, days like this are rare. Help me now to just savor and enjoy it, and help me to be grateful no matter what, even when the days are dark."

Well, the next day, sure enough . . . the attic diagnosis ended up being bleak, and the news felt crushing at the moment. Karis cried because she couldn't find something before school. Judah spilled water on himself (which is tragic to this sweet sensitive boy) on the way to work and I didn't have extra clothes (he walked around with a towel between his legs all morning and didn't want to see anyone). And in the midst while driving I thought, "Well, here it is. Time to call on that gratefulness." And that might sound cheesy, and it's just so real and powerful. We got to church and got to process out loud the happenings in real time, which was meaningful. And to be honest, for the next week, things like that just happened. Nothing tragic and awful, just things. Times like this I think we're practicing our thought choices and attitudes and reactions . . . name the pain, say the ick, get it out, call on gratitude. At the time it was all visceral, the lesson unfolding.

NBD Gardening, Update
Seeds, they started growing! So fun to scatter seeds, even if just to see the green sprouts. Love my little helpers, Judah had fun with a visiting turtle one afternoon. Also, something is chomping our pretty flowers in the front yard.

Friend Friday
With my college bestie and her two little boys. Oh the hilarity. To get to chat and watch our kids and do all the routines together, how could we have envisioned all this 15 years ago. 15 years!

Mother's Day
I finally had appropriate expectations, it's taken this long. Delightful day of being with my family, pre-church-family-nap (ha), planting, Trevor did landscaping (thank you!), free free free winner dinner at Damico, sat in the yard and looked at photo albums of baby Karis, ahhhh, it was just sweet and fun and I sure soaked in time with my littles. There was a time when all I wanted for Mother's Day was a nap and a quiet house - and while those things are crave-able still, on this day the gift was in togetherness.

We took a quick trip to Bis for my cousin's bridal shower, so fun to connect with family and explore and drive (yes, drive - pictured below, so wonderful to see dreams come true for my kids! I always wanted one of these, wouldn't it feel so free to drive one of these?). A day on the prairie including exploring the new barn, and then a day at the shower with fabulous fam, and my mom's help driving us to and from Bis (so appreciated), sweet memories.

Meadow Man and Field trip Fairy
School has become a safe and sacred place for both kids, Karis loved a recent field trip and Judah continues to frolic in the nearby meadow.

Pretend Last Day of School
Because we're into early celebrations here. On a Wednesday, just because. Classmate play date for Karis, McD's for dinner (my mom always took us there on the last day of school, sweet memories). The last week of school was a blur of classmate playdates, picking up donations for the Shakespeare Festival, getting ready to head outta town.

A Little Life (epic, beautiful, hard to read. And oh my word, some of the quotes - too many to write here. And Frog and Toad was referenced, which was wild)
Out of the Dust, a young adult novel about a girl in the dustbowl in the 30s

Finishing Things
Mostly, Gilmore Girls. Oh, why can't good things just go on and on and on and on? What I loved about this show (well, just one of the things), Trev could pop in and enjoy it at any point. And he did enjoy it. And I could analyze their Enneagram numbers and relationships. I recently saw a poster that said, "I'd rather be in Stars Hollow". Sigh. I finished A Little Life in the same week as this, so there's room for some more epic and long media/reading input here - any suggestions?

Trev Tales: 
Work hard, play hard. Race hard. He ran a ten mile trail run in a speedy way, good job Trev. He started reading The Hobbit to Karis at bedtime, reading time all of a sudden got longer. We enjoyed a date to his bro's 30th "Nascar" birthday party, we do love dating.

- Oh this girl is growing up. Some sweet times lately are laying in her bed reading Boxcar Children and watching the Great British Baking show
- "I finished the book! I just wanted to come down and tell you" (after bedtime. So dear).
- "I had fun looking at pictures with you" (on Mother's Day, looking at pics when she was a baby)
- "Can we just go to bed please?"

Judah Jabbers:
- "These pants smell stinky, I need new pants"
- "Can you please wrap me up like a burrito?"
- "Mom, your talking is hurting my ears" (he in a grumpy way, I was simply chatting!)
- "Momma, does the turtle need alone time? He can be my pet"
- "Can you please come help me play?" (at a grad party where he didn't know anyone)
- "Are you going to come give me a good night kiss when you get home?" (if I leave before bedtime)
- "Let's go investigate!"
- "Karisee, bake! We only have 2 more minutes!" (while playing with play-do, imagining the Great British Baking Show)

Friday, May 12, 2017

Easter Rememberings

I am a forgetful person. Which is ironic, because (well, Trev would tell you) I have a great memory. It's easy to forget the seemingly basic things . . .

Every single year, I forget - Good Friday is about Grace. Every year I walk in to the dark, candlelit, rose-petal-strewn church feeling pensive - wondering, stubborn, ashamed that I put Jesus on the cross. Ashamed of how I just can't seem to get it right, just can't seem to love as well as I think I should, ashamed that I keep forgetting the fundamentals of love and love in action. And then - the readings, the songs, the Cross, the words spoken over me . . . are Grace. I need to go to remember. Lost Sheep that I am, I'm so grateful. The cross is not about what I did to put Jesus there, it's about what He did to redeem humanity and bridge the gap and welcome us into His fold. Forgiven, restored, sent forth. No matter how many times I forget, the Grace is there. Will I receive the gift and move forward?

This ballad: Sing to Jesus . . . "Lord of our Shame, He is our Great Redeemer". Oh Amen. Oh thank you for the chance to remember.

Every year, the Vigil - powerful. The story of creation, the lightness, the hope, that every story points to: ALLELUIA. This year the song Behold our God hit deep. Karis was part of a dance to the Ezekiel "dry bones" reading. A week later, it was one of the daily readings, and recalling the children's movements with the music (The Creed), soul stirring. We are brought to new life through powerful breath.

Every year, I forget - Easter is a season - 50 days! April Showers and Easter Joy have so far held . . .

Easter - my parents and Grandma Paula were with us, so special.

Easter Monday
I forget, every year there's a small group of friends who celebrate together - play date and cheers style, so sweet.

Hydrangeas - instead of lilies, in memory of (Becky & our Grandparents in-Glory)

Beach Day. Including Judah's bed being the airplane that took them to Florida (on a towel in Karis's room). In the pic, notice the noise machine/i-pad beach scene/sounds.

Great British Baking Show. A new thing here for us, very bonding for me and Karis, the cuddles and wonderings - "Who do you think is going to win?"

Tea Tuesday revisited (it's gone by the wayside because of hip hop dance class . . . we skipped picture day and cozied up instead)

Fresca Fridays
It's our thing, books and bikes and popcorn are the side dishes.

Spring Concert
Just so sweet, Karis was on an end of a riser and totally rocked out, love that girl.

Baptism Class
Trev and I were invited to talk about our parenting journey . . . putting together thoughts brought me back to Grace again. Receiving, giving. Growing together, learning alongside our kids, needing others to join us on the journey. Grateful.

"NBD (no big deal) Hosting"
 Some of our hopes for opening our home during Lent are coming true in the Easter season, starting with Easter Sunday. Continental-come-as-you-are-whenever-you-want spread after church (thanks for baking, momma). Maybe our new thing, it was relaxed and refreshing. Grateful, joy. I love watching the kids find their hosting rhythms, Karis reading to littles and Judah mostly sharing his toys and welcoming his buds to play. We've enjoyed neighbor friends here for grilling, classmate play date lunch, my bestie from college and her boys, Monday donuts with friends who needed to get out of their under-construction house . . . and now the deck is open for glorious spring and I'm pondering NBD gardening. Hmmm, stay tuned.

Some good reads: Divine Dance, Falling Free, Hillbilly Elegy, Underground Railroad, A Little Life, The Memory of Old Jack

He really amazes me and I continue to be dazzled by this journey together. Not perfect, growing, changing. Laughing, learning, loving. Together. He is diligent, gentle, hard working, fun loving. His new thing is Trivia night at Pizza Luce, I love that he has this way to meet friends and take a break. Training for a 10 miler (ask me later what I think about that - glad he's healthy and has goals . . . there's an "and"). Working hard, reading Calvin and Hobbes to the kids, teaching Judah to 2 wheel (and then taking him on risky rides) . . .

Karis-isms (the flavor of the quotables is changing - she's growing up and the reality is that I'm with her less now (sad!). Her questions and ponderings are often articulate and deep . . .)
- "I just love that moms are there to comfort you when things seem hopeless" (after she kind of broke her slinky)
- "Mom, could you not be on the phone as much tomorrow"
- "Can we talk about fun, not-work things at dinner tomorrow?"
- "Come on Judah, let's go play with our hudge pudge soup!" (the games they play in the back yard)
- She continues to be full of joy and zest and positivity, we are so blessed by her
- She asks questions that have me studying at night for answers
- She does this sweet thing when we're reading, nuzzles her face into my arm and sniffs me and tells me I smell good (sounds funny, right? She's always had an acute sense of smell)

Judah Jabbers
- "I can't tell you what I'm doing cause you might get upset"
- "Are you done phone calling?"
- - "Is he a merry-go-round-man" (while reading Miracle Man)
- "Hugs make me warm"
- "Karisee, I really liked your dry bones dance!"
- "But mom, I didn't get to read my books!" (on a morn I had to wake him to take K to school)
- "Mommy, what's silly of?" (if I laugh, he wants to know what's funny)
- "Daddy, you need to keep better track of me!" (on a bike ride, when he fell)
- "Mom, don't you just love me?" (after he's been a stinker - oh this guy)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

March Madness

The Happenings . . . 

Happenstance House Party/Ash Wednesday
The 4 year anniversary of being in our home was March 1st. We were supposed to have a family over for dinner, and we set the table in a way we rarely do. And then . . . they had to cancel last minute, as the meat was on the grill. So, we turned it into a house party! We enjoyed the carefully set table (why not do that more? It feels so good), and finishing the movie UP, which has to be a new tradition, so perfect. We're ever grateful for this home.

Another Tooth Loss
Every loss is just too adorable! This was another after-bed one and her giggles and gap mouth and sweet speaking are just too much.

Lent, in a few phrases:

Making Room - that tends to be our theme, and this year we did that by:

Fasting from health and friends
Canceling plans
Learning to not idolize plans

First the miracles that unfolded. Ash Wednesday found us at the service, thinking about two dear family members were facing some serious health concerns. The ashes and words were so very real that day (always are, but the feeling was tangible). And then - over the course of Lent both these concerns were lifted in truly miraculous ways. Those things marked this Lent more than anything else.

The other markers . . .from Ash Wednesday to Holy Week, one of us was ill . . . what I think was Influenza (Judah and then me), ear infection (Judah), Bronchitis (Karis and me), Strep (Trevor), sinus infection (Judah). Lent went fast! And the list of mercies was huge. Like, medical care. No hospitalizations. Pockets of health to be able to have family visit, for Karis to fully participate in Pinocchio Puppet Show preparation and performance, for lots of togetherness (I mean, spring break was sprinkled in there too and we were quite quarantined for much of it) and I think we got along pretty well.

And then the bigger things, like - not getting so attached to my plans (oh how I idolize plans). We had a date before Lent to "plan" Lent. You know, host neighbors and things like that. So, we learned some plan-letting-go (because hello, no choice. Nothing like feeling gross to take the edge off needless anxiety). I learned to deeply appreciate the connections we have, we missed being with people because it's what we do. We made room for lots of togetherness and settling into quiet rhythms here at home. And some ice cream outings too. I think the kids maybe loved when I was sick: TV, snacks, cuddles, markers to faces.

What hard work Karis's dear class put in to create their puppets, learn their lines, and perform this puppet show. Remarkable, memorable, joyful. Many grandparents were here to see her, so grateful. Trev was the puppet man and helped Karis create her Pinocchio and practice her lines.

Sweet weekend, donuts with my brother's family, ice cream with a cousin's family, family movie time on the couch (Moana, Sing), MIA and Red Cow with Trev's fam, so fun. Aster cafe with my mom and gma. My fave for sure was Karis's party for me - 8:20am, balloon volleyball and gifts. She gave me a box she decorated, inside was a sweet card and several books full of pictures of what we do together: reading in our reading chair, cuddling in her rocker, tucking her into bed, sitting around the table . . . we played the song You Make Beautiful Things and I felt in that moment the day could be complete.

Some bonuses to the day included coffee, leftover donuts, and finishing two amazing books (The Great Good Thing and The Road Back to You) in a quiet house in my favorite book chair, sunshine streaming in.

Baptism Birthday Burgers: 

Because it's what we do. Oh sweet child of God.


Strep kept us from the overnight away we planned, We DID get to go enjoy the co-worker's wedding at Radisson Blu.

Sorta Awesomes:
Breathe easy oil diffusing

"Pride and Prejudice" Pandora station

Trying new things in the kitchen, like roasted fennel. Well, that might have been the only new thing.

Gilmore Girls. You know, the new Grey's (which I conveniently finished the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, so I didn't "have" to give it up for Lent as planned. Hmmm.)

Bangs (thanks to M!)

Swimming lessons to prepare for summer. As expected, Karis can now swim better than me ("Mommy, that was AWESOME!"), and Judah started of very timid ("Mommy that was scary for me") and is quickly getting more comfy.

Random Reading - some quotables from Your Four Year Old, Wild and Wonderful
"The four year old is a funny little fellow, and if you can accept him as such, you will appreciate and enjoy him for what he is . . . for the most part we have found the boy or girl of this age to be joyous, exuberant, energetic, ridiculous, un-trammeled - ready for anything"

"there may be a strong distaste for anything that changes the mother in his eyes" (yes, like wearing my glasses, or shorts, or  . . . )

"their own buttocks are especially important to them" (he likes to stick his out and spell it: "b-u-t-t")

"if you want to know what's on your child's mind, you don't need to ask directly - just talk to him"

"our own feeling is that if the child needs the comfort of his thumb, perhaps he's lucky that nature provided this handy device for consoling oneself" (yes! I'm often saying 'it's a big scary world out there, I'm so glad you have your thumb')

"nobody will ever appreciate your humor more - so enjoy yourself while this full appreciation lasts . . . he especially appreciates it when you appreciate him"

"this is a top age for questions. Endless "whys" and "hows" are uttered partly just for the fun of keeping a conversation going . . . he also often makes extremely touching personal remarks" (yes yes yes)

- "Mom, you can stop asking if I'm okay. I know when I'm sick, I'll tell you"
- "I think the music will do the trick" (during an insomnia morning when I offered to lay on her floor)
- "What are twinkies?" (during Calvin and Hobbes reading)
- "Mom, wanna see all the hair I've collected for my wig?"
- "Mom, did you just change subjects with Judah?" (as I tried to distract him from a very negative spin of thinking/acting. Smarty pants observant girl)
- "Oh, I hope my brain doesn't turn to mush" (a day when we watched lots of movies)
- "It's so nice I know all the rules at my age"
- "this is a movie where they believe in false gods" (watching Muana)
- "I find it kinda hard to receive compliments"
- "Come quick! You need to look at your son!" (her helping him do headstands)

Judah Jabbers: 
- "Is my machine the right noise?" (in the middle of the night)
- "You forgot to put me in my bed" (oh sensitive baby of mine, when I didn't literally plop him in his bed one night)
- "I'm making communion bread" (with kinetic sand)
- "What's silly?" (whenever we're laughing and he doesn't know what at)
- "Can you get that box eater bug?!"
- "Can I just have a teeny tiny bit?" (in the cutest voice)
- "Hey Karis, I'm spitting on your floor with milk"
- "I'm sorry for spilling water all over"
- "Oh you're a big squishy mommy"
- "Is Lukas's mommy bigger than Lukas's daddy?" (looking at a pic on the fridge where the wife was standing in the pic, dad sitting)
- "Oh, isn't he so generous?"
- "Jane Eyre is kinda serious" (we have a counting primer, so fun)
- "How did hot lunch go, Karisee?" (when she got in the car one day after school)
- "Is that a movie for older kids?"
- "When the airplane's in the sky it's small, but when it lands it's big"
- "Me and Karis are best friends"
- "Mom the house can't go to sleep, it doesn't have eyes!"
- "the black ones are rotten" (jelly beans)
- "see Momma, daddy taught me how" (to put on pajamas)

Friday, March 10, 2017

More than Pink Milk

Full February . . . started with Half Birthday

Because, why not. Funfetti cookies, fried burgers, Psalm 139 and affirmations about who she is. This night led to a very dear chat and bedtime that I'll always remember.

Memorable markers:

Two front teeth cuteness. It's SO cute. She has the perfect lisp and the gap in her smile is just the dearest thing.

Clothes making cuteness. This is her new thing, drawing clothes and now cutting out clothes for their little beanie animals (a pug and penguin). Adorbes.

Finger knitting frenzy - went through a whole skein in a couple days.

Reading. She's reading and I can just see the lights going off as she reads labels, signs, book covers. No hiding anything from this girl now, ha.

Love. She is just full of love and joy and exuberance. She is flexible, inclusive, adaptable, perceptive. Basically surpassing me in every way and I learn so much from this precious child.

Bestie. She has one. L is a kindred spirit and I remember that feeling and I'm grateful she has this gift of friendship.


Because, we were invited! We spent a week with gma N and gpa K on the beach. Oh, the beach. I can still smell the ocean and hear the waves and feel the sun and sand. I can see the sun rising and the moon setting, and Karis & Judah digging and running and discovering. It was a lovely week of togetherness, we quickly settled into a routine of pool swimming, beach combing, lunch-ing, rest-ing, adventure-ing, dinner-ing. Sprinkle in some Charlie and the Chocolate Factory reading, gma and gpa doing every bedtime . . .

Super bowl. Karis learning to swim, really swim! A trip to see the manatees that weren't there (Judah: "Where are the bananatees!?"). Stopping to see sunsets. A trip to a bird/wildlife reserve and dinner at Captiva. Day trip to see aunt K and uncle M (butterfly garden, swimming, fish dinner, cupcakes), morning speed walks on the beach, chats and coffee and dolphins (out the front door almost!). Dream like. We are deeply grateful for these memories.

Oh, and let's remember "Delta Club". Karis led a game, sparked by their Delta wing pins

And then "Toyza Hoyza", what Judah called the toy store they visited.

We bottled up lots of sunny and warm memories to last way beyond the winter months here.

Just so memorable, grateful.

Sunday afternoon we did our traditional run to Barnes and Noble to spend grandma/grandpa gift (My Little Pony, Thomas) and to use a gift card at Jimmy's. Yum, fun, done.

The day of Valentine's was simple and sweet, fresh biscuits and raspberry jam and purple play-doh and reading Bear Hugs and pink milk and then - well, I just fell into 1 John and then 1 Corinthians (you know, ever pursuing meaningfulness at the busy breakfast table . . . rarely works this way). And I was just really reminded, humbled, challenged to love in action and truth. Some very "duh" things, for sure, and I so need reminding: love is not a feeling. And then sister C sent an article about just that thought, that we can't rely on feelings to love well. Clearly I needed that message.

And then we listened to Love Never Fails. So good.

And then the next day at a meeting I shared all this with my coworkers and a dear friend titled this blog for me: "it's more than pink milk". So true. I didn't even cover St. Valentine - I mean, what a guy, it sounds like .

Felt like a memorable, special day of knowing Love.

More Birthday bliss

L & C turned one, how joyful to celebrate their precious lives! They did a fundraiser-open-house-party, inviting people to party and also give to Ronald McDonald house in lieu of gifts - what an awesome idea. We adore you, love to you all.

Books lately:
Karis - Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, All of a Kind Family, Beatrix Potter stories
Judah - Spaghetti & Yeti, Wonder, Wild Ideas, Hand Hand Fingers Thumb, Beatrix Potter Stories
Andrea - Present over Perfect, Your Sacred Yes, Everyone Brave is Forgiven, The Royal We, Silence, The Art of Memoir, Your Four Year Old: Wild and Wonderful
Trevor - Confessions by St. Augustine, Unfettered - short stories, Bilbo's Last Song, lots of random JK Rowling

- "I wish we could've sat on the other side of the restaurant"
- "Mommy, watch. With a very careful gaze, please"
- "Okay Judah, let's do the feelings dance!"
- "I wonder if they have a bbq side and a dining room side. I hope we can go on the bbq side tonight" (while going to a restaurant, bbq equals bar)
- "What are you giggling about? Am I cute?"
- "I will drink the remains of my milk"
- "Mom, you're a superhero!" (after I pulled a bed out and found her toy underneath)
- She's super into My Little Pony, oh kindred spirit
- "Mom, what does 'duh' mean?"
- "Which honey are you talking about?"
- She loves to create play for her and Judah - recently making beds for their panda bears in their tree house, doing "feelings dances" after dinner, dancing to music before bed . . .
- "No mom, it's a storm trooper"

- "Hey mom? Why . . . ?" (all day every day)
- "Is the bug alive or dead? Where did the bug run away to?" (still scared of bugs)
- All in one short car ride: "Why is Judah Moon's skin brown? Why do frogs croak? Why is the sky not blue today?"
- "My favorite princess is Mommy" (awwwwww)
- "Can I hug you at Karen & Martin's?"
- "What are the swimming pool and ocean doing?"
- "Why do Drewie & Melanie have two babies?"
- "Oh yeah, mommies and daddies can get bugs"
- "I NEED SOME PEANUT BUTTER!" (he rarely asks for food, but this is oft requested)
- "I HAVE TOYS IN MY ROOM!" (at bedtime, after lights out . . . rule follower, knows no toys at bedtime and so this upset him. We laughed!)
- "Everett thinks I'm cute"
- "I FORGOT TO EAT MY PANCAKES!" (on the way out of a church pancake breakfast)
- He loves to put his socks on toys . . . hilarious. Over trucks, legos, trains, animals (as gloves on their hands)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

And a Happy New Year

January is behind us, the dark days feel gone (already!). I love the cozy winter days. Every year has a different flavor, here's the way this one started . . .

Why not celebrate New Year's (or, keep celebrating Judah's birthday depending on how you look at it) at MOA - I mean, everyone's doing it (read: it was wild). On the 30th We hit Crayola with the kids and met Tay/Kate and Courtney/Dara at Shake Shack. Memorable, wonderful.

Questions for reflection:
What worked this year?
What didn't work?

Having these q's in the back of my mind has helped in stepping back to both affirm all the things that are working here, and empowering to remember we can make some changes for things that aren't. So much is working, I'm grateful.

And then the irony - as I think of what works, many of the things that work are things I wish didn't work. Like weekends - what works is a fair amount of tag teaming kids . . . I wish we would be blissfully together all the time, but that's not what works. Just one example. It's been good to process - even in moments when things are sliding to the side of crazy, I can say, "This doesn't work!" and try to think about a fix (acknowledging not everything is fixable, but there's this thing about parenting that brings out problem solving muscle training).

Word for the Year:


I don't even know why, it's just what popped up when thinking about it.

Another thought for the year:
"To Should or Not to Should - that is the question". Another just life long pondering, wanting to live out of not-obligation. Then again, there are times to "should". Hmmm.

Verse for the year: 
The wise woman builds her house (Proverbs 14:1)

Retreat/Work Weekend/Adios Mustache
Why not pack it all in. Mid January found me at a fave weekend away in WI with coworkers, listening and praying and feasting and laughing and connecting and walking across the frozen lake and wearing wool socks, doing morning yoga. It's as great as it sounds. Trev had an intense work weekend and totally rocked it, kids got to spend the weekend with gma/gpa/aunt/uncle. I always enjoy reuniting (even when it doesn't look the way I think it will - sometimes connection rejection). This time there were lots of cuddles and reading and being.

Trev went from work straight to the church so his mustache could be in the annual church video, then he came home and . . . shaved it!

Friday Fun Day
Per work weekend, Trev took a Friday off. Which I tried to not make MY day off . . . we played all morning with Judah at Modern Times Cafe, Minneapolis Institute of Art, World Market. Picked Karis up, popcorn picnic (new Friday tradition), movie dinner, ahhhhh.

Revelations from Hyperventilations
Funny how subtle feelings can be, how I stuff them without knowing. We had some house stuff going on one weekend, which I've learned is an anxiety trigger for me (the unknown, the lack of control?). And by Sunday night my breathing was shallow . . . and then pretty soon Karis was blowing into a balloon while also getting really upset at Judah and Trevor . . . and then pretty soon she was on my lap and both of us had paper bags to blow into. We prayed and breathed and got light together. It was memorable and beautiful. The victory is that I think even a year ago I might've felt guilt and/or shame at feeling anxious, concerned to set that kind of tone in our home. This time it felt natural to just be weak, to seek strength together, to seek help together, to breathe together, to know relief together. Strength in weakness felt tangible in that moment, freeing.

Books the past couple months: 
Karis - Elena of Avalor, Betsy and the Boys, Missy Piggle Wiggle, Armstrong, Sacajawea
Judah - Green Eggs and Ham, Tractor Mac, Old MacDonald had a Truck, Alfie Weather
Andrea - Four Seasons in Rome, Mr. Pettigrew's Last Stand, Flash, My Berlin Kitchen, A Man Called Ove, One Shall Chase a Thousand, Dear Sugar, The Year of Living Danishly, You are What You Love, Essentialism
Trevor - The Brothers Karamazov

- "I know that"
- "Wonder Woman doesn't believe in Jesus"
- "You got to do all these things, and grandma and grandpa lived on farms and I just feel like I'm missing out on so many things"
- "Oh, I just wish I could see those babies every day!"
- I'm amazed by her flexibility and she continues to be a joy bringer in our home and everywhere she goes. Welcome to Judah, a leader in play, sharing and teaching and loving so purely

Judah Jabs:
- "What is that man doing? Is he in a dark and spooky place? Is he dying?" (about the print in our kitchen, the traditional old man with white hair praying over a loaf of bread . . . what is it called?)
- "Are there no more spiders in my room?"
- "I got a HUGE gummy at the Mall of America"
- "Did I used to be a baby?"
- "I wanna keep mommy"
- "Kids make cars dirty"
- "Spiderman saves the day!"
- "Well, I'm a smarty pants too!"

Monday, January 30, 2017

Birthday Boy

I was thinking what a gift it is that Judah has the post Christmas birthday - the timing suits my chill, go with the flow, more introverted child. He's delighted by anything (well, at this age anyway) and was happy to own the day in his little ways . . .

I asked him questions about what he wants for his birthday, here are the answers: 
Brown cake
Sing "Hark the Herald Angels"

A Day in the Life of Judah:

As it turns out, Judah loves to narrate his day and will often tell me about his routine: "And then we . . . . ". I think this means he likes the flow. Judah loves a slowwww wake up - time in his room, just rolling around and dozing (we can watch him via video monitor. If we go in too early and interrupt his alone time, uff da). He asks right away, thumb in his mouth, sleep sack on, pootsie in hand: "What are we doing today, Momma?". I tell him, he jumps on his bed and then hops over to me to get dressed (which he can almost do by himself but I do anyway). He hops downstairs and sees what's on the table for breakfast, grazing and playing until we need to leave. Each morning has its own flow - Mondays with Karis (usually playing with friends), Tuesdays random play dates & library runs & sometimes Chick Fil A play. Wednesdays & Thursdays church play group and then work, Friday fun day. Most days we're home by noon, where Judah eats in my lap while I read to him (fave for us both). The nap timer goes off, he grabs a toy and beats me to his room and when I meet him there pretends I scared him and dissolves into giggles. He plays, rests, sometimes sleeps for a while, gets up and we hit the road to pick up Karis. He loves when I read books to him in the pick up line, and he's happy when Karis joins us for the rest of the day . . . usually home to play and rest before a short show, dinner . . . daddy takes him upstairs for "potty/jammies/teeth/Calvin & Hobbes/Bible/pray/bed". We take turns putting each kid to bed, when it's me we read a book, pray, sing Jesus Loves Me, he gives at least four rounds of "Hug! Kiss! One more!" and I say "sleep tight" and he says, "I will!". Or sometimes he beats me to it, "I'll sleep tight!"

Who Judah says his friends are:
Leah, Micah, Mitchell, Teddy

Favorite Color: 
Deep black

Favorite Books: 
Anything Dr. Seuss (Hand Hand Fingers Thumb especially)
Toy Boat
Three Little Pigs
Alfie Weather
Darth Vader and His Son (cartoon-ish - Luke is 4 in this book!)
Yeti Spaghetti

Favorite Activities: 
Rolling tractors around the ground, making roads for them
Playing in the snow, taking all his vehicles out on a parade, sledding, eating snow
Reading in my lap
Washing all his trucks in the bathroom
Playing with friends
Scented markers
Sneaking into Karis's room and messing up her stuff (and putting on her lip gloss)
Kinetic sand
Anything Karis is doing (hero worship, so adorbes)
Making cozy places
Putting dominos into socks as "presents" for others

Favorite Clothes: 
Crocodile shirt
Superhero socks

Favorite Foods: 
Banana pancakes
Cheesy beans and peas with curry (or curry and cheese melted on anything)
Peanut butter grilled sandwiches
Dipping anything in mustard (even almonds)
Cheesy dates
Big donuts, cake, pop rocks, m&ms

Favorite Question: 
"WHY???". To everything, all day long!

Favorite Shows: 
Sid the Science Kid, Goldie & Bear, Busy Town

Well Visit Stats: 
I'm always grateful for positive well check appointments, I really loved watching Judah this time - answering questions and engaging and pretty much wowing them with his agreeableness and sweet heart. So grateful for health. And just for fun, he's 3' 5" and 36.8lbs.

You are a Precious Child of God and He has a Good Plan for Your Life 
I'm his mom, so of course I'm going to say this guy is just so special. So full of love and life. He's coming into his own with humor and dancing and engaging and thoughtful. If Karis is hurting he is so concerned. If a character in a book looks angry he asks, "Is he rude?". He is sensitive and sweet - and can be plenty spicy too - red in the face mad if you get in his business when he doesn't want you there. He adores people and also knows when he needs his space and loves to be alone to recharge. He either wants to do everything on his own or have everything done for him. He pushes buttons and also badly wants to do what's right. He imagines and chats out loud with his toys and invents his own little games every day.

. . . This guy is so cuddly and spilling over with affection. Many times a day now he'll run up to me saying, "Huggie! Kissie!". Or, "I love you mom. I missed you mom" (if I'm ever away and come back). If I sit down on a chair, he's sure to crawl into my lap and burrow in to suck his thumb and find some rest. He goes with the flow and is mostly agreeable and happy to be exactly wherever he is. He is sincere & tender, silly & solemn.

What Karis wants to say about Judah:
This girl loves her brother. The following written by her on the computer:

judah is fun and loving and kind .

Oh Judah: 
- "Is it still my birthday, momma?"
- "It's my birthday, then it'll be Karisee's birthday in 12 days!"
- "But I just can't MOVE"  (while groaning and standing in place waiting for one of us to come to him). Oh the games.
- "I have lots of love but I can't get it out because it's way deep in. It's deep deep inside me" (in reply to Trev asking Judah to give Gpa Jim lots of love)
- "I need alone time"
- "Mom, Simon says took my special toy" (he called his friend Simon 'Simon says' on a recent play date)
- "Oh, it's okay momma. It was just a little accident. It's okay"
- "Is this steak? I love steak!"
- "Hey mommy, I listened!"
- "I do want to go to school, I promise I won't cry!"
- "Well, DADDY knows!" (when I said "I don't know" while reading a bedtime book)
- "Luke I am your father - do you have to go potty?"
- "I made 5 play dough snails and they're all going to the bathroom"
- "I like to wrap my arms around people's shoulders and give them hugs"

Memorable moment from Judah, in December: 
Recent chats with Judah end with him telling me what he's going to do, but "not youuuuuu, mom". Driving to a friend's house he saw a pond frozen over and here's what followed:
J - Mom! The pond is frozen! Me and daddy and Karis can go skating on it! But not youuuuu, mom
Me - Oh, well, what am I going to do?
J - You can do the dishes . . . and when we get back we'll have dinner.


The Celebrations

We started with super snowed in pancakes on paper Thomas plates, Thomas cup, Thomas balloon. Watched Finding Dory, all meat lunch, opened gifts.

He helped make a sprinkle angel food cake one day on the prairie, and family gathered to dine and sing. I loved watching him eat his cake just like a puppy, face all in.

For the first time, he caught on that one often receives more than one gift: "Where's my other present?" Yes, he's growing up.

His actual birth DAY we were driving back to Plymouth and he was in charge. I surprised the kids by getting little beanie babies in Steele (where we stop for Caribou and they always play with the beanies while we wait). He chose qdoba for lunch in Fargo, Sid the Science kid for video time when we got home, Burger King for dinner (um, big sister whispered in his ear what she was hopeful for - I totally get that, I STILL do that. Oh my girl, it's hard that little brother has a voice now!).

A couple days later we did the Crayola Experience and met fam at Shake Shack for dinner (highlight for b-day boy was the "HUGE gummy worm I had at the Mall of America!"). This covered New Year's/B-day, pretty efficient we are . . .

Happy birthday, dear son. We're grateful for your life and amazed to watch you live into the fullness of who you are.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Stolen Advent

First . . . backing up . . . pre Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving and after

Elk hunt, happened. All safe, one got an elk, all had fun, all made it home. Grandma (after a week here and a wonderful birthday weekend) drove us to Bismarck where we met Trevor.

We're grateful always to spend holidays in Bismarck - where we really just show up and stay in beautiful homes with amazing people and get fed and watch our kids have a blast. Amazing, we appreciate it more all the time.
Grandma led our very own turkey trot!

This Thanksgiving Day held sadness - my paternal Grandfather, Rodney, passed away suddenly that afternoon. We got the call late afternoon . . . and went to sit with my parents for a while, a precious memory already. I don't have many words, death does bring a new clarity to life and the days we're in right now. For me, death triggers fear (always has). Everyone processes differently as they grieve and navigate new territory of losing a loved one. We are thankful for Rodney and his legacy. The wild gift to me was that I talked to him on the phone that morning, in a flurry before getting out the door to dinner - and I can't remember if I ever ever had talked on the phone with him before? We had a nice short chat, and what peace that brings (and also some regret at how little I reached out to get to know him more). One of my lasting memories is his greeting questions was often, "Hi, whaddya know?". It's a good question, what if I would've answered more fully, or asked it back?

Rather related, as I finish this post in a haphazard way, I'm reading A Man Called Ove and this quote is one I want to plug in here to remember: "We fear it (death), yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves . . . ". True, true.

And then, Minot.
We came home for a few days and then hit the road for Grandpa's Rodney's memorial service in Minot.  Journey soundtrack included some of Grandpa Rodney's tunes, Sinatra and Sons of the Pioneers. An afternoon in Bismarck with my parents and brother's fam was a time of reminiscing and togetherness. We got to spend a bit of time on the prairie and on Saturday we stopped quickly at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center before settling in at Sammy's Pizza in Minot, an old family tradition. As does happen, loss brings loved ones together and it was meaningful to be with my grandma, dear cousins' families (met their babies!), uncles. The afternoon flowed beautifully with music, rememberings, readings, pictures, honoring Rodney's life. Remarkable. We moved on to a hotel, reconnecting with my grandma, aunt, uncle, cousins - meaningful, grateful, blessed. Watching the kids get comfy around this family, others love on them, inviting them into the fold, heart filling. Not to mention swimming and Karis got a sleepover with grandpa (late night watching Full House & woke him at 6!). Family is it.

And then, Stolen Advent
I think most years I have this feeling of being robbed during Advent. Craving simple, quiet, slow - and that's just not the way the season generally goes. Trying to squeeze in connecting, celebrations, gatherings, programs . . . all so wonderful, loved, intentional, wouldn't trade them. But that feeling, robbed, it's usually underlying. It had to go this year. One night we had our Life Group here and played the "greedy gift exchange" game - hilarity ensued watching the kids get into "stealing presents!". We laughed at the irony of teaching our kids to steal during the Advent season . . . but then, that week, I thought - "Yes, steal! I'm stealing Advent". And sure enough, as the days unfolded, the stolen moments piled up. Quiet moments with my kids at home. Dark night dinners. Slow evenings. A couple silent mornings, listening to choral music and feeling overwhelmed at our need for Jesus, the Gifts we're given. The waiting.

Stealing new ponderings, like the way Mary stayed with Elizabeth 3 months. Two pregnant women together for 3 months, with so much to wonder (worry?) about - what must that've been like? Also, the Wise Men, they captivated me this season. Traveling afar, rebelling, honoring, giving. I wonder what they looked like? Were they good friends? What did they talk about on their journey? Did they hold baby Jesus?

We stole back a cozy Friday night when Karis's Christmas program was moved to the afternoon on a Friday. We stole a donut date with our godchildren and their parents, so sweet. We stole a family sub-zero-Sunday date to Milton's and then drove around looking at Christmas lights - Karis: "This is the best night ever!". I thought so, too.

More stolen moments . . . SNOW/Frostbite/Fake Snow Days

It happened here and what fun. I'm all about bundling up the kids even if it's cold and sending them out for a few minutes - on the really cold days I set a timer, and one time I explained frostbite to Karis. Oops! I forgot my literal child who holds on tightly to ideas. We talk often about frostbite here now. We stole some pretend-we're-snowed-in days, slow days where the kids were able to create and flow and rest and even get a little bored. Books and popcorn by the tree. Painting. Hot chocolate. And, you know, running around inside and putting on summer clothes.

And then, Advent Nights: 
Candles & readings right before bed. The stories and wonderings and repetitions: "The people walking in darkness . . . have seen a great light!" . . . "Come, Lord Jesus, Come". The rhythm of this after dinner ritual brought calm and depth. Oh, and there was that night Uncle T & Aunt T stopped by for dessert and devotions and surprised the kids with gifts and a song/dance . . . just wonderfully stolen.

And then, Christmas: 
"On the Road Again" (Willie), "Country Road, Lead me Home" (Brandi Carlisle), "Must be Christmas" (Jim James). Our soundtrack for the week as we drove  here and there. Celebrating Grandpa Warren's 91st birthday, so much hanging out with our fave people at our fave places. Lunch with a dear cousin. Space Aliens! Church, dinners, presents! Traditions, birthday boy celebrations. Sledding for some, baby cuddles, laughs, chats, late-for-us-nights. Truly tasty, all of these things. So much so, driving back to Plymouth looking at pics and listening to "Country Road", the tears flowed. Thanks sister Cassie for the pics!

And then, a stolen favorite gift: 
Karis retelling the Christmas story before gift opening. The video will play in my memory forever. The next day, K gave us gifts she had shopped for with grandma, precious and spot on and just adorable. Love her heart.

Oh and she also went shopping with my mom to get gifts for us - so genuine and thoughtful.

Oh and there was Judah who, every time I said "Merry Christmas!" would reply, "Merry Christmas to one another!"  (the first time he said it he followed with, "What does that mean, mommy?"). Surely got it from a movie or book?

And then, stolen snowed in memories: 
What adventure to have a Christmas Bismarck Blizzard, sneaky sweet stolen moments. We packed up and unpacked and put our jammies back on and ate frozen pizza.  Watching the wind blow and snow swirl from a safe home on a hill with huge windows. North Dakota weather is unique and unpredictable (what did the pioneers do?!).

Oh, and that night Karis lost a front top tooth - many hands were in her mouth before Aunt M suggested biting into something . . . brilliant and did the trick! An apple bite and pop, it was outta there.

And then, the 12 Days of Christmas:  for future reference, I'm stealing these ideas for later years . . .

Songs & books that flavored this Advent

The 24 Days Before Christmas (SO good), Becky's Christmas, Amahl and the Night Visitors
Henri Nouwen's Advent & Christmas, Invention of Lefse (Woiwode)
Picture books: Christmas in the Barn, Christmas is Here, Drummer Boy, The Animals' Christmas Eve, Little Fur Tree, Story of the Candy Cane, Grandfather's Christmas Tree, Christmas in Noisy Village, Christmas in the Country, The Donkey's Dream

Book Quotables: 
From Four Seasons in Rome
"I'm thankful that everything sweet is sweet because it's finite"
"Not-knowing is always more thrilling than knowing. Not-knowing is where hope and art and possibility and invention come from. It is not-knowing, that old, old thing, that allows everything to be renewed"
"Every story seeks, in Emerson's words, 'the invisible and imponderable.'"
"To be a parent and take an occasional day off from being a parent is a special kind of joy - a lightening, a sweetness made sweeter by its impermanence"

- "I'm talking in a secret burp language!"
- "If only jaquins were real!" (flying creatures in Elena show)
- "So, are you there when the women get pregnant?" (asked to my cousin, Dr. Caitlin)
- "Now THAT'S a garage dad would love to organize!"
- "Please don't write that on your blog"
- "I hope you feel better!"
- "I'm going to write a note to Santa that says 'Dear Grandma and Grandpa, Thanks for the stocking presents!' Because you know, Santa's not real"
- "No, we're not great friends - we're BFF's!" (when Trev said they are great friends)
- "Wow mom, you actually look pretty stylin'" (when I was wearing one of her winter hats)
- "You don't seem very humble about your mustache"
- "I can't sleep until my tooth comes out!" (before losing her first front tooth)
- "I just wanna cry first!" (when Trev told her to take a deep breath before they yanked her 2nd front tooth)

Judah Jabbers
- "You really hurt me, mom" (sometimes every time I simply touch him)
- "Oh, sorry 'bout that, mom"
- "Ow!"
- "You're the best cooker, mom!"
- "You're welcome mom!"
- "Mom, I prayed in my room this morning"
- "Will you stay with me mom?" (while playing with sand)
- "That's what mommy's do mom!" (when I said, "yes, I'll stay here and play in the kitchen"). "And I'll play with sand, that's what boys do!"
- "Can we finish it? Oh yeah, we can finish this one" (books)
- "Hey dad put lights all over our house, can you believe it?! It's all over our carpet!"
- "Oh, that's so grateful of you!"
- "I don't want you to speak to me!"
- "I smell bad breath. Do you have bad breath?"
- "Look at the sunset, isn't it beautiful?!"
- "Hey mom, I listened to you!" (when I called him back inside on a subzero day)
- "No, I need the light on - it's too dark and spooky in here!"
- "Someday I'm gonna grow up to be a daddy and have hot coffee!"