Saturday, December 21, 2013

Good Thing . . . or "Let it Go, Let it Go, Let it Go"

I'm writing this because I should be packing. I should also be sleeping - the week ended in me getting sick. Blessedly, K was in preschool and Judah took awesome naps . . . and I feel well enough to do what needs to get done to pack up.

Karis got up this morning and I told her it was going to be our special Christmas as a little family.  It ended up as running errands (which she loved - Sam's club had cream puffs, bubble water, and Despicable Me 2 on the TVs), her playing outside with our neighbor's granddaughter, Trevor shoveling, me procrastinating & laundering & mommy-ing. I told Karis we'd have a special dinner, like, maybe Potbelly's (HA) or frozen pizza (double HA). It ended up being "clean out the fridge/freezer". Even Trevor said, "Wow, that looks like clean-out-the-freezer stroganoff".

Before dinner, we watched the Veggie Tales version of Little Drummer Boy - that song continues to be my favorite this season, I'm amazed at how God does smile at any gifts we have to offer Him, He wants US, He delights in each of us. The song makes me think about Judah and the words "then He smiled at me" makes me think of the delights that baby smiles bring and what baby Jesus' smile must have looked like.

This year, I look at Judah, who we hadn't even met a year ago, and I'm so thankful for this gift we've been given. I watch Karis delight in the tree and the lights and wearing her zebra dress to church . . . This is a special Christmas indeed and we did have a fun day and I'm beyond blessed to keep discovering what the culture of our little family evolves into.

A memorable Karis-ism was tonight during "Advent by dim-light devotion time", we were talking about David and Goliath, and she and Trev had a little disagreement about whether he used a sling or a slingshot. Trev was not backing down, and Karis very wisely said, "Well, you can call it a sling and I'll call it a slingshot". Well said.

And, as it turns out, there is the "not to do" list, and then there is the "do later" list. The things that didn't get done before Christmas - "Let it go, Let it go, Let it go". As we like to say around here, "GOOD THING . . . "

Good thing we can make spritz cookies later

Good thing Uncle Ken gave us these so we can still fulfill the sugar craving (do you see the box of Cheerios on the table? It's a permanent table decoration. And the flowers have a story for later.)

Good thing Christmas time will come again and we can hang this somewhere next year

Good thing Sam's Club is so festive and fun

Good thing these kids are just so . . . everything!

Good thing it's bedtime.


Please stay tuned for some big news that involves weddings. One real, one imagined . . .

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Fa blah blah blah blah

Warning: bah-humbug post ahead . . . positive updates to come . . . later. As I write, we have a low level sick-something-ness lurking in our house and I'm willing it away by eating cookie-mint ice cream and reflecting on some choices from the last week.

A couple years ago I read a great blog post about a "not to do list". On it, I put many things, including:

- Piddly craft projects (I long got over my insecurity at being a non-crafty mom)
- Sewing
- Roll out cookies
- Elaborate gardening

I am loving the liberation that comes from deciding I don't have to do it all - I don't have to do anything. I'm all about "being" (in theory - I DO love to DO also).

Since Advent is a crazy season with all sorts of "extra" things to do, I decided it would be a great time to do several things that I don't enjoy doing (please detect sarcasm). Like, piddly craft projects and roll out cookies. Some pictures below. Self inflicted torture is a great way to celebrate the anticipation of Christ. Oh, and don't forget the extra shopping (also something I don't enjoy) and the extra (self-inflicted) pressure of using all the awesome coupons that come out this time of year: Kohl's cash! Hallmark $5 off! $10 off at JCPenney! Free lip gloss at Bath and Body Works! These places are tricky. Or I am gullible and compulsive.

Sometimes I can exercise self control, discretion and wisdom - and turn away from these impulses.

Other times, I cannot. I am calling these moments "blahs" and I have several from the past week alone.

Blah number one: I become overwhelmed with the compulsion to make a lion mask craft for Judah's 1 year "Lion of Judah" party:

For all the time they took (cutting construction paper, curling it around a pen, gluing 2 rows of strips, cutting circles in the paper plates, taping sticks to the plates), they are not that cute.  I thought of these as an investment, if I'm careful they can last for a few birthdays, until Judah is old enough to say, "Puh-lease. NOT another lion party!"

How about this blah, using the cake ball mix that was given to us (which had, I kid you not, 18 steps - gave up at the point of needing to insert a stick into the unmentionable part of a gingerbread person who was small and hard to cut out anyway). I named these "cake blobs" (Karis called them "lick pops"):

The next blah I signed up for, making gingerbread men for church. It's for the children! Trevor left the house this morning to a frustrated me lamenting my lack of roll-out-cookie skills. He gently suggested I use more flour. WHY is he always right?! I hope the children don't mind burnt hands and broken feet:

They DID make the house smell so yummy. AND, they prompted this post. AND we got to have "tea Tuesday" with the casualties.

Yes, that's a popsicle with the tea and cookie. Consumed at 10:30 am, right after coming in from playing in the snow. Good memories.

By the way, LOVE this quote: "The scope for failure in the last step alone [of baking bread] is so great that in every society in which bread has featured, baking has been turned over to professionals from the earliest stages."
- Bill Bryson in At Home

Let's remember the need to make family holiday memories, which leads to another blah: going out in below zero weather in bad traffic approaching bedtime . . . to use a great coupon for Don Pablo's. You know, because going to sit down restaurants with kids at this age is always soooooo delightful. I think I maybe tasted the enchilada a little bit and Karis ate maybe two bites of her hamburger. Double blah that night was going to Bed Bath & Beyond to get re-usable K-cups with a coupon and a gift card that I had . . . and forgetting to use the gift card.

I'm wondering if it means anything that our Advent wreath is sitting empty on my table? I DID try to find taper candles (and then Trevor gently reminded me that Amazon Prime is a useful tool that I should use more often).

For the record, I DID use the Kohl's cash, and that was my last blah - I ended up misunderstanding the price of some Godiva chocolates and what I thought would ring up as "free" rang up as $17. So, I was THAT crazy coupon mom who asked the nice lady to undo the transaction and ring up only as much as would use up the Kohl's cash. She was gracious but I know she was trying. As were those in the line behind me.

I'm done, for now. And I'm smiling, really I am. I think this is all funny and growing and . . . from now until Christmas maybe I'll deny all the extras and instead read Mr. Willowby's Christmas one.more.time.

Baby Jesus, thank you for being born! Thank for this season when I can laugh and learn and that these things are all humorous and that my life is really this simple right now. Thank you for my children who are joining the journey and teaching me so much about living in the moment, embracing the burnt cookies, dancing around with lion masks, doing Advent reflections in dim light instead of candlelight. I am blessed and grateful.

And to end on some more positive notes:

Some random media: 

This is a good one

And so is this

Here are some more Advent songs, by a gal with whom we went to high school

And just because, this is the cutest thing. Judah is obsessed with this hairbrush and it's cracking me up. Gives new meaning to the Veggie Tales song "Oh Where is my Hairbrush". By the way, don't judge me, the socks fall off, okay?:

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Giving Thanks . . . and Plunging into Advent

We just returned from an epic and exciting stay in Bismarck . . . and I know if I don't sit down and write some of the memorable moments and quotables, they will be lost and forgotten. This is a long one, buckle up.

The events and other happenings we enjoyed:

- My childhood/high school best friend's (sister, really) wedding. Blast from the past in so many ways,  and I was honored to be there. This also counted as a date night, which was so wonderful
- Thanksgiving feasts and gatherings with "both sides"
- Meeting a dear friend from college a couple times
- Having a date night that included two local restaurants and a dinner shared with brother J & sister C
- Going to cousin Courtney's basketball game
- Doing the Holiday Home Walk with my mom, grandma, and cousins. Followed by Perkins, always a treat
- Going through boxes of my childhood "stuff". Another throwback, and fun to pull out pictures to show Karis ("You look different!")
- Filling two homes with all our stuff, and knowing that our presence is so welcome and embraced
- Watching Karis get ready for and then return from the Turkey Trot
- Trevor got to hunt twice
- Watching Karis cook with both her grandmas
- Going shopping with Karis and my grandma
- Getting to know Marco, and enjoying my brother and sister-in-law's "first married holiday" with them. So fun
- Celebrating Grandma Carole's 80th birthday party at Peacock Alley . . .watching Karis love on the other great-grandchildren

One of the things I love about being in Bismarck is that our loved ones enjoy my children just as much (and sometimes more) than I do. I can gush about all the details of our daily lives (even more than I do here), and they are delighted to listen (not that others aren't, but you know what I'm saying). Family is precious, so very very precious. I'm grateful for many memories made to store away . . .  

Okay, Thanksgiving is now a memory, are you ready for Advent? 

We're in the thick of Advent season here. I was telling Trevor last night that as I think about it, this season becomes a somber one for me in many ways. It's a time of year when I feel increased amounts of anxiety - the ugly side of perfectionism and people-pleasing presents itself. And yet, when I think about that, what a "perfect" time to pray, to submit to my need for Jesus. For baby Jesus. To know that God's strength IS made perfect in weakness. That this can be a time of drawing near to Him. I'm thankful. I'm including a link below to some info about how the Eastern Orthodox church (and others) practice fasting during Advent. That reminds me that yes, this can be a somber time of reflection, and a true anticipation for feasting at Christmas, for rejoicing in Jesus's birth. The link below to "O Come O Come Emmanuel" is sung by a woman in our small group . . . I think it reflects the idea of fasting well, a tune in the minor chords with words that cry out for the coming of Christ. And the link to the "Drummer Boy" song I think is also powerful - sung a capella, and such an image of the gifts we bring to the altar. This morning I danced with Judah while listening to it and was a blubbering mess - thinking about a year ago and waiting for this little boy who is now such an intricate part of our lives. I'm amazed at how God delights in our offerings. Like the drummer boy, what do we have to give him? It occurs to me that He wants nothing and everything at the same time - none of our performance, all of our hearts.

And last, here's an Advent blessing that our church is praying this month (specifically for children): 

A Blessing for Advent
May you know the Son of God 
who came to demonstrate 
the love of the Father
May you believe the Son of God 
who came to be 
the Savior of the world
May you receive the Son of God 
who came to give 
you eternal life in His Spirit

1John 4-5

- I asked Karis what she wanted to chat about in the car one day, her reply was, "I want to chat about where babies come out of mommies"
- after Judah bit me while nursing, I told Karis I needed wisdom to figure out how to help that situation, her reply: "Mommy, I know how you could fix Judah's biting! You can teach him how to drink out of a baby bottle". Oh Karis, you are really almost always right
- "Sometimes, when I go 2, it startles me" (crude to report here, but true. Said while actually going - it was actually pretty cute)
- "Well, sometimes you scream at me" (said in front of both grandma's, who graciously told Karis that all mommies do that sometimes. And to which I reply, "Yes, I raised my voice . . . and I don't always make the right choices . . . and next time when I feel really frustrated I'm going to go outside". Yes, we are growing together here)
- "Here are the constructions" (which means, "instructions")
- "Let's play homemade!" (which means, "Old Maid", the card game)
- "I really, really want a Jeep for Christmas"
- "What's Judah wearing" (she likes to dress as closely as possible to him, especially for pajamas)
- "I'm building Bethlehem!" (with her "little people" nativity)
- "Mom, the tree is bending just like in the book!" (comparing our tree to Charlie Brown's. ha)
- "I have to go marry Everett at 7" (said as she laid out her wedding clothes - appropriately, all white. This is a separate blog post in the works)
- "Mommy, let's go in the maze!" (she makes mazes in the snow, and then I follow her around)
- "Mommy, let's go to the jungle!" (which is a corner of our yard with a big evergreen. She shows me the rhinos)

Judah updates: 
- He pulls up to standing on furniture, and is even taking some steps toward the furniture
- He got his two front teeth as an early Christmas present. Grand total now is 4
- He bites me sometimes while nursing. And then he laughs. He thinks this is a great game. Oh boy.
- He goes for outlets and cords and other dangerous things. I redirect him, and now he turns right back with gusto to get into the thing I just took him away from
- He LOVES the newest member to the Pandolfo family, puppy Marco Polo.  He talks to him in excited voices and his whole body goes electric
- He continues to chatter at dinner time, grasping for eye contact and interaction with Trevor
- He's eating most foods, and Karis is so kind to share with him. He loves to feed himself, and will only take food from a spoon as long as he also has something he can put in his mouth with his hands
- He pulls off his socks on every single car ride
- He is pure delight

In reading: 

From Two Part Invention by Madeleine L'Engle:
"For the human being to live is to live with the open risk of failure.
Being parents is a risk."

From Daring Greatly by Brene Brown:
"Wholehearted parenting is not about having it all figured out and passing it down - it's learning and exploring together . . . and there are times when children are way ahead of us on the journy, either waiting for me or reaching back to pull us along"

"Somewhere buried deep inside our hopes and fears for our children is the terrifying truth that there is no such thing as perfect parenting and there are no guarantees"

". . . the question isn't so much 'are you parenting the right way' as it is: 'are you the adult that you want your child to grow up to be'"

Psalm 31:24
"Be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart, all you hope in the Lord"

Karis is loving the Christmas books we reserved from the library . . . Mr Willowby's Christmas Tree, Little One We Knew You'd Come,  Bear Stayed Up, Charlie Brown's Christmas, Room for a Little One, The Mitten

Judah ripping it up at the library . . . he can really tear a place apart,  I appreciate his curiosity 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Only Treats

Oh Halloween, thank you for inviting Babe Ruth to join me for breakfast, and giving me butter fingers for my husband. Wouldn't you know, Karis's favorite loot from Halloween was these little books that a neighbor gave her - which is honestly surprising to me, because really books are not usually her favorite thing (I mean, break me off a piece of that kit kat bar!).

We had a delightful time here with dear family friends (thanks, momma Beth, for the minion hats!), chowing some Papa Murphys and then most everyone traversed the cul-de-sac for some treats.

Also worth noting, I witnessed a costume-wardrobe crisis before Karis's preschool party. I empathize, I have a wardrobe crisis for every event for which anything more than jeans and a sweater is required. So now I get to handle mine AND my daughter's - we will grow and learn together. Moving on, the party was the sweetest thing, and I got to go along: they walked across the street to an assisted living center. In costume, they sang a song, did a craft with the residents, ate Little Debbie cupcakes together. Not sweet was the way Karis flips out when I'm around in those situations, melting down and practically refusing to look at me. Interestingly, later, she played back everything I was doing (which was, helping other children and the teachers, I figured I might as well be put to use somewhere and I had a great time). This girl is complicated, and I'm continually grateful for the ways we ARE connecting, and trying to practice "good pretending". Turns out that's a good skill for life.

My two favorite memories from Halloween:

1 - Watching Karis come home from traversing the cul-de-sac, completely uninterested in the candy while being enamored by these dainty books that neighbor Joan gave her. Which honestly, is surprising, because Karis is not often "into" books.
2 - Trevor as Tobias, from Arrested Development (picture below). The whole genesis of his mustache involved the idea of this costume, picture below. His Facebook lit up all night, we laughed hard. But the best part by far was when he came back from trick or treating and told me that we have a neighbor who answered the door . . . and looked just. like. him. Sounded awkward. Hilarious.


"So, all the girls in nightgowns will sing, and all the girls sitting can listen" (guess who was in a nightgown and who was sitting?)
- "So, which way is it to France? Mommy, can we go to Paris someday?" (Madeline books in action)
- "I'm just looking at my hair, to see if it's beautiful"
- "Mom, does that melt your heart?"
- "So, mom, I have a great thing we can do . . . "
- "Mom, do you remember when . . . " (and then she recalls a memory from so long ago that I can hardly remember and then am shocked that she can)
- "Let's play book on tape!" (and then she recites scenes from Madeline)
- "Your voice is so sweet when you wear these clothes" (your guess is as good as mine)
- "Mom, do you know what mom?" (I wish I could count how many times I hear "mom" a day!)
- "Mommy, they look like to kids from our morning song!" (long story)
- "So mom, what opening did Judah come out of?" (oh boy - go ask your dad)
- "Mom, I'll do the laundry. I think you need a break" (Oh sweet girl, thank you!)
- "Mommy, he looks like Mark Storslee!" (talking about the handsome prince in Rapunzel)

Judah updates:
- He weighs close to 19 lbs, 28.5" tall
- He loves orange food, but swipes away green food. He will not pick up a bean and eat it, but devours meat and bread (and will eat the bean if you put it directly in his mouth)
- He does this really intense and adorable thing with his face and body when he is either excited or frustrated: scrunches up his face, squeals, clenches his fists and kind of shakes with intensity (is mellow man mellow no more?)
- He almost crawl up and down the one step to our "drop down" toy room, he can do what looks like a push up. Strong lean bean he is. 
- He struggled with his morning nap yesterday during K's preschool time . . . I nursed him to sleep in the rocker and ended up staying there for an hour. It was one of those moments I'll always remember and not regret. By some grace, I just loved slowing down instead of thinking "this is my only alone time". Yes, that's grace and I'm thankful for that memory of cuddling and watching him sleep. 

Other things:

From Jesus Calling:
"I will not leave you circling in deeply rutted paths. Instead, I will lead you along fresh trails of adventure, revealing to you things you did not know"

From Connections: The Threads that Strengthen Families
"Stay underwhelmed"
"Use time-in to connect/discipline"

From The Irrational Season (Madeleine L'Engle):
“It is within the small events of daily living we are given the grace to condition our responses to frustrations . . . My reflexes of blessing have been conditioned by my parents, my children, my friends. Blessing is an attitude toward all of life, transcending and moving beyond words"

From Carry On Warrior (Glennon Doyle Melton):
"My girls mostly scare me. How do I raise little girls before I'm finished raising my own little girl self?"

From Random Interactions:
At the grocery store recently, a kind man (grandfatherly in stature), stopped me (while I was getting the complimentary cookie for Karis and feeling a bit frayed at the end of the day). He said, "You really on have about 8 years with them, what you're gonna do is gonna be done by then. Kids listen with their eyes! They're watching you. Make sure you and your husband are hugging each other - chase each other around the house, see what your kids do . . . and play classical music all the time"

Whoa! Thanks man - seriously, it felt like a prophetic word to me. I hugged Trevor a few times when he came home that night.

celebrating Karis's 4th Baptism Birthday

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Vacations and Staycations

Because this is a journal - in large part, increasingly, for my children to read someday . . . the following is an account of our recent fall adventures. But first, some very random updates: 

- We have eaten soup perhaps every night this week. Fall is the best, and so are crock pots. And leftovers. As I write, chili is simmering (again)
- Trevor's mustache is quite full, as is his hair. We talk about both almost every day. Yesterday I received a picture of just his mustache. Funny to say, it's been a blessing of humor lately. In a way, it's like another family member. Call us weird, go ahead.
- I am getting away for some longer stretches, and finding much refreshment from some time "away". Yesterday I went to a ladies' luncheon for Treehouse Youth and heard Gabby Douglas speak, as well as a young woman transformed through the Treehouse ministry. Wonderful! 
- I have been thinking a lot lately about courage in parenting. Which has me thinking about the story of Joshua, and how God's most firm words to him were "Be strong and courageous".  Strength and courage, needed. 
- Lately I have been falling asleep on the couch as early as 7:45 pm
- We recently savored some fun friend outings, including one to Costco and then Nadia's Cupcakes. Wildly girl-y place, I witnessed a true sugar high on my daughter. Frightening. 

And now, a quick recount of adventures: 

We had a great opportunity to go visit dear friends a few weeks ago for our first family-of-four vacation: to the San Francisco Bay area. To be honest, the trip ended up being pay-back/redemption for all the travel Trev did with his last job (I know people travel for work all the time, I know there are single parents for whom doing-it-alone is their daily reality - but that travel time was not my favorite season of family life. Call me weak, call me needy, call me dependent. Yes, I can be). Anyway, Trevor took the lead and planned this trip and it was such a gift to us all. I'm going to just paste part of an email I wrote to a friend, explaining it all . . . (sure, call me lazy) . . . 

We had the best time on our trip, thanking God for providing in countless ways: the "basics" of smooth travel, safety, health. All the added bonuses of quality time connecting, watching Karis experience adventure with such joy and fervor (she literally skipped everywhere - often with Mark. Precious!). Friday Mark was a great tour guide: drove to and across the Golden Gate Bridge (the highlight for Karis!), had fresh seafood lunch on the Bay in Sausalito, drove up to the Muir Woods and went for a long hike. Majestic part of God's creation, the Redwoods are a miracle - over 300 feet tall. And everything so quiet, many people around, everyone talks in hushed tones. Like an outdoor sanctuary. Drove back to Palo Alto through San Francisco, stopped at a village (Karis: "I have to go to the bathroom soooo bad!") and found a bountiful bakery with great sweets and coffee a "ritzy" valley, sweet people served us. Met Christina at a unique burger restaurant for dinner on University Avenue - bustling with college energy, so fun to enter the culture. Saturday we went to a Sees Candy shop, had a picnic on the Stanford campus (gorgeous - even got to see some "debutante ball" Spanish girls and their parties getting pictures taken - huge and colorful dresses, immaculately done hair . . .). An outdoor cafe stop (on campus still), then a big hike at "the dish" - a steep incline that brings you to views of the bay, campus, and even San Francisco on a clear day (we didn't make it far enough for that. Karis: "I'm hungry!"). Back to Mark and Christina's for a dinner of fresh tilapia, bedtime, and then got to stay up and talk and see pictures of a big trip they took a year ago. Phew! I don't take for granted how well the kids traveled (Judah slept so much the first flight that I got to watch The Great Gatsby), Karis was such a trooper, and Judah soaked it in also as much as an 8mo can. Trev's planning and preparation for reservations, his directional prowess, everything - he was awesome, I'm so thankful for how he took charge, and that he really insisted that we all do this together. Delightful memories! Learned a lot about each other, how we travel/experience life/etc., which I think is always a benefit of vacations.

The next weekend, we had the joy of a "staycation" when my parents came to visit us. Uptown adventures for the girls (plus Judah), golf and football watching for the guys. Dinner at our new fave, Milton's, the traditional Jets pizza at our place, a day at Emma Krumbee's apple orchard. It's always sad to see them leave, the time is special and quality and just plain FUN. I really need them in such new ways - we must always need our parents, right? Ironically, I recently read a quote in a book about how kids might not thank you until they are 31 - which I am now. And wow, I am SO thankful. Thank you, mom and dad, you are both amazing. And, by the way, Happy Anniversary! 

And then just this past weekend we headed "home to ND" for a big pheasant hunting weekend. We loved it all - even the travel there and back was smooth, the journey enjoyable (although I did hear "how long until we're to . . . " about a thousand times). We must be growing together, because I didn't feel like I was losing my mind in the confines with a million questions. It made me excited for future trips - books on CD, car games, conversation - I have the best memories of those car times from growing up (although I'm sure memory recalls the best and not the poking and whining and impatience). Anyway, our families fed us to overflowing with time, attention, love and homemade meals. I took Karis to my dad's new office, which brought back memories of always having fun visiting him at his place of work. I got to watch Parenthood with my parents in their cozy basement, loved it. Trev's grandma taught us to make kuchen, which was a treat. Thank you, all. Home will always, always be home. We come back to this home strengthened and encouraged, grounded in our roots and ready to give out of the abundance we've been given.

In the daily-ness, I continue to struggle trying to connect with Karis . . . and if that is the worst of my worries now, I guess things are quite good. She is a complex young girl, perceptive and sensitive. I so badly want to know what is going on in her head and heart, but like us all, it really needs to be on her terms. I can't make her talk (I just didn't think this all would start so young). The temptation for me, though, is to put up walls, to feel rejected when my efforts at getting close to my daughter "fail". Sometimes it's hard to be the adult, and also to face myself through the magnified mirror of parenting (because really, the words "complex, perceptive, sensitive" are me also). I'm learning more always that there IS strength in weakness. 

I also am feeling like more and more of an introvert who needs quiet, so when I'm being talked to/ordered around all day by my four year old, by 5pm I'm about ready to go hide in a closet with a glass of anything from Prairie Berry. I do take this parenting thing seriously, perhaps too much at times. I just feel like this really is the most important thing I'll ever do in my life - and I really do want to do the best I'm able to. Sometimes I fear I'm perfecting the art of saying things in a fake-nice voice through clenched and smiling teeth (is that called "fake it till you make it"?).  And then again, I have to love that there are a million chances to try things differently, to make "imperfect progress" (ala Lysa Turkeurst in her book Unglued), to remember that nothing is by my own strength, to keep perspective, to laugh a little more even if it means caring a little less.

And as I finish this up, Karis is at her first sleepover with her aunt and uncle. She was SO excited (and so were we! Trevor slept in our bed ALL night, which happens rarely around here). What delighted me the most is that D & M were so excited to be with her - that fills my momma heart to overflowing. Thanks, you two. I have yet to hear the details . . . I will say that I dreamed about Karis at least 3 times last night. I miss her. 

Back to the introvert-getting-bossed-around-by-my-child, thought I'd record some examples that make me laugh as I write them, and want to  hide while I'm experiencing them (the paradoxes of parenting continue to amaze me):

Karis: "Mom, why are you turning the other way"
My internal dialogue: "Because I'm eating a piece of chocolate I don't want you to see"

Karis: "Mom, you need to clean the toilet"
My internal dialogue: "Good thing you're here to tell me what to do"

Karis: "What are you guys talking about?!"
My internal dialogue: "I was like that, and still am!" (wanting to know every.single.thing. going on around me, especially conversations between people I love)

Karis-isms . . . 

- "I'm ready to go in my limo!" (otherwise known as, Mark and Christina's baby stroller)
- "Save some Judah for me!"
- "Will you keep my seat warm?"
- "You be the kid, I'll be the mommy" (yes, please)
- "Look, the lights of Israel! The Israelites!" (HA! I laughed so hard)
- "I really want to go get my pajamas on" (said anywhere, anytime - including restaurants, the dinner table, when people are over)
- "Mom, is this the best part of your day?" (something I often tell her when we're sitting together reading)
- "So, mom, I have a really good thing we could do. We could go outside and put seeds in the flowers and make sunflowers!"
- "Oh, we're getting off the highway now? Are we getting on the low-way?" (after I told her we were getting off the highway)
- "Mommy, I'm leaving my baby here to have a sleepover with you. Make sure you leave her right there" (said on our way out the door to Karis's sleepover - I didn't fully realize what she meant until later, when I saw her baby doll all wrapped up in its own bassinet, perched on the rocking chair). Oh sweet Karis.

Judah updates . . . 

- He babbles "ma ma ma ma ma ma". I excitedly point to myself and say, "Yes! I'm ma-ma-ma-ma!
- He sits up in carts sometimes. The first time it happened it was just me and him and every woman in the store commented on him and I turned to mush and gushed unashamedly about my son

- He sleeps like a baby. Finally, so thankful. 
- He sits up on his own, goes from scooting on his belly to sitting and back again
- Like his sister, he gets wild and wound up when he's tired (do all kids do this?!)
- He chows his food, but also scatters it all over the tray on his high chair 
- He blows bubbles and raspberries and completely cracks himself up
- He loves undivided attention (who doesn't? I do love this about my little guy,  his eyes light up when you look at him)
- He still sleeps wondrously, 2 solid naps and 12 hours straight at night. Halleluia. 

In reading . . . 

From The Artist's Daughter

"Every daughter looks to her mother to see what a woman is supposed to be." 

" . . . if it's true that my imperfection as a mother is inevitable, how do I balance what I want (to be as a mother) with what I can realistically offer?"

"In all my attempts to live the right way, I wasn't doing what God called me to do: to love the people around me."

In listening . . . 

This song was played at the Treehouse lunch, along with images of the children who are finding hope and healing through this amazing program and its  people. I dare you not to cry.

Karis's favorites at the moment . . . 

Katie Meets the Impressionists

Because I Love You
Seven Silly Eaters (I laugh out loud at this one)
Mary Poppins (watched half an hour at a time - I'm loving this, such a great classic)
Listening to Madeline to the Rescue in the car (which is hilariously teaching her some French)

Friday, October 4, 2013

There Goes my Heart

As always, the below is written over the course of a month.  Too much is happening to keep up with - good things, all. I keep thinking I should have more time as schedules get more predictable and I even have some quiet time when Judah naps while K is at preschool . . . 

The big change around here is preschool for little Miss K, pictures below. I sure had a couple weepy moments that first day, but as I write (this sentence - the next sentence maybe written next week at this pace) she is at her 6th day and loving it. She's so "all in", the first day she found the play dough and with nail-biting intensity started to play. Even writing this makes me feel so deeply at the way she experiences life. Her joy is intense, and I so badly want to be right beside her all the time to tell her what is next, that she has so much to offer, that she is always safe. I think she knows these things, but the letting go can feel choking at times. One day last week I picked her up with a few minutes to spare, and snuck around to watch her on the playground. She was wandering around, looking nervous, biting her nails, made my heart want to collapse. I heard somewhere that having children is like watching your heart walk around, and I couldn't agree more. I know, I know, she is FINE. She's more than fine, she's 4, she's growing, she's thriving. I'm thankful. I'm also a crazy momma bear. 

This week I got to go on a field trip to a nature center with her class. Precious moments to have "special time" with Karis, which ended at Target where she got to pick out lunch and eat it in the cart where Judah is usually perched. We both loved it all. 

And really, the irony is that I look forward to this quiet time so much and then the moment I drop Karis off I can't wait to pick her up. 

And thus, my time is drawing to a close and I'm going to hit that "publish" button. Because, really, I typed all the above sentences in one sitting, and that is something! And there is so much more to reflect on, every day the thoughts swim in my mind . . . thoughts about connecting with my children & husband, the importance of family, what grace means, what self-care looks like, how to chill out and just enjoy these days. 

(an addendum before "publish" - heard this song on the way home from picking up Karis today. She was playing peek-a-boo with Judah and making him laugh like crazy. Listening to the lyrics flooded my heart with thanks and my eyes with tears: "You make beautiful things . . . out of the dust . . . you make beautiful things . . . out of us".  I often feel unworthy to be the mother of these beautiful children, God does indeed make beautiful things out of us, out of the dust. I'm grateful and humbled every day).

Karis-isms: - During her rest time a few weeks ago I heard her open the door and say, "Well, I'm looking for my mommy, but she's not here yet . . . I drew her a picture . . . ". Sure enough when I went up there was a picture. So cute. Today she went into her imaginary world for a while and I have a lot of fun trying to enter it and engage her that way. I tell her all about my wonderful daughter Karis, and she gets a silly smile on her face. 
- "I remember when I was still sleeping and Judah kissed me on my ear! That was the best part of my day" (said at bedtime after the first day of preschool. Precious)
- "Mark & Christina's baby is going to ride in my limo!" (long story for another post about recent adventrues)
- "T-O-L-O-M-A  . . . " (Karis pretends to spell things - taking a cue from us as we spell many words around here now)
- "When will it be morning time?" (said to Trev many nights before bed, this girl wants to soak in every minute of every day. Inspiring. And tiring.)
- "I'm Princess Paris! Come to my princess dinner and dessert . . . " (pronounced "pair-EES"). Pictures to follow in the next post - such a hoot, she really went into character - and had us all following her around the back yard in pretend play. Precious.
- "Mommy! That looks really nice, with that tea there and stuff" (as I was setting up to host book club. Which as it happens, I never actually told her was here . . . all happened during sleeping hours)
- "How old are you?" (asked at least ten times a day. Also asked of anyone who comes over)
- "I love my brother. Are we going to keep him?"
- "When are we going to move?"
- "Wind, be quiet! Okay, you can go sit over there and pray either out loud or in your heads"
- "When I go to preschool, you get to have special time with Judah" (this always makes me sad, even though I think it's a benign and objective statement. I'm often concerned that she thinks I'm always with Judah, he receives so much from me right now. Such is the sibling situation, though, and we're all learning and growing)

Judah updates:

- Too many to count . . . growing, changing, sleeping, eating, moving, laughing, observing, engaging
- He can grab and stuff puffs and other small things and put them into his mouth (this also goes for very miniscule non-food items such as leaves and twigs)
- Crawling ALL OVER. Love how he's exploring his little world
- Goes to sleep by himself (sucking his thumb) at every sleep time (even bed time). And sleeps a lot - 9-10:30am, 1-3pm, 7pm-7am. Wow, these babies and their development is so fascinating
- Loves to grab Karis's hair
- Kicks his legs furiously, when you pick him up or when he's on his back or on his belly or in the bath. He is a vigorous kicker and it's hilarious

In reading:

Verses that keep coming up in reading/reflecting:
Psalm 16:8 "I keep my eyes always on the Lord, with Him at my right hand I will not be shaken"

Deuteronomy 11:19 "Teach God's ways to your children. Talk about them when you're sitting at home, when you're out walking, at bedtime, before breakfast . . . "

A blog post that I almost sent to everyone I love to say "please read this to understand me".

Read this to "electronically meet" one of my dearest friends/sisters/kindred spirits

From Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris:

"Marriage is eternal, but it's also daily, as daily and unromantic as housekeeping"

"Paradoxically, human love is sanctified, not in the height of attraction and enthusiasm but in the everyday struggles of living with another person. It is not in romance but in routine that the possibilities for transformation are made manifest. And that requires commitment."

"If they (anyone dealing with routine and demanding tasks) are wise, they treasure the rare moments of solitude and silence that come their way, and use them not to escape, to distract themselves with television and the like . . . "

"The capacity for trust that begins in such ordinary encounters, as between a mother and child, can come to have deep religious significance, not only for ourselves, but for the entire community of faith". 

From Ex Libris by Ann Fadiman (ended up loving this book):

"Their selves were on their shelves" (talking about her parents)

Karis's faves lately:

Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel
Let's Make a Joyful Noise 
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
3 Little Kittens


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Wild and Wonderful

Apparently blogs and journals don't write themselves, even though the reflections are a constant din in my mind, waiting to find their way to somehow solidify and capture the daily-ness and the momentous-ness of what feels like an ordinary life.

Sometimes bullet points and writing one post over several weeks seem to be the only way . . . the past month was wild and wonderful (which is also the title of a book I recently devoured with delight: Your Four Year Old: Wild and Wonderful. Indeed!).
  • Birthday (well, covered this in a recent post . . . )
  • Bismarck and Bowbells: we traveled to Bismarck for a weekend of more birthday bashes (thank you, all grandmas and grandpas!) and a day trip to Bowbells (look it up on a map) for a cousin's wedding. Wonderful memories, so good to celebrate the covenant with family. Other highlights are Karis getting a "coup" and her first "big girl bike" with training wheels. Not to mention two cakes, hopping on hay bales, running around parks, going to get a pedicure, lunch downtown at Urban Harvest. Loved every minute.
  • Drew & Melanie's wedding: the summer all built up to this amazing occasion . . .  wow was the whole time blessed, and I can't possibly sum it up here. From the rehearsal (where Judah pooped all over me five minutes before it began), to the western-themed groom's dinner (gorgeous, fun, meaningful) to getting ready on Saturday (kids stayed home with Trev and my cousin until picture time), to the ceremony (sincere, spirit-filled), the reception & dinner & dance truly blessed. Karis has been recounting the event with sweet phrases: "Mommy, I had fun being a flower girl - did you have fun being a bridesmaid?", "Mommy, was Melanie the bride?". There's a video of our little family singing "In my Life" at the reception to get the couple to kiss - Karis loves to watch it and always exclaims, "They kissed!". 
  • Collapse: there was a week of let-down, the build up of the summer over . . . a bit aimless, a bit recovering, a bit of not much. Oh, and a weekend of filling the void by cooking way too much. Which just left me tired and wondering what compelled me to have two crock pots going at one time. This was the week during which the phrase "Whatever is not a nice word" evolved. I started it. Deep disgruntled sigh. 
  • On to the next things: 
    • Kids got fevers last weekend and thankfully recovered quickly
    • Trev and Karis had their annual trip to the MN State Fair, a blast for all (including me, who got a morning of quiet and quality cuddles with Judah). They came home talking about: nursing pigs, pregnant cows, butterfly gardens, big slide, beef jerky, idaho nachos, and mini donuts
    • A former coworker was here for part of a day last week, we wore her out - which made me feel oddly justified at feeling fatigued even though I'm getting more sleep. I have energetic and exuberant children - my introvert does scream at me sometimes
    • I've been reminded why McDonalds is such an iconic place for all ages: decaf coffee and ice cream for $1.71. Not to mention, to drive there it's five minutes all along Medicine Lake, and there's a play land for Karis - this is an escape when the heat index is over 100
    • Water hopscotch has saved a few steamy and long afternoons here
    • Karis's 4 year well child check that left me almost in tears thinking of how blessed we are to have such healthy children. That visit was followed by a quick stop by Karis's new preschool to get a small tour before her first day next week. The rest of that day was interesting, I could tell K was processing everything deeply but I just couldn't draw it out of her. Which had me flashing forward to how it could be in the future and how much I have to learn about how to best reach her, how to let go, how to let her know I'm here no matter what - and that when she's ready to talk, I'll listen. 
- When talking about what "four year olds do", BEFORE she turned four, she said: "Sleep like a big girl" (which around here means going to sleep by yourself). AFTER she turned four she said, "Oh, I'll sleep like a big girl when I'm five".
- "My mommy says . . ."
- "Mommy, what should we do now?"
- "I just want to be cold" (said on a day with heat index of 100 degrees)
- "Mommy, I had fun being a flower girl. Did you have fun being a bridesmaid?"
- "Can you tell Everett and Marissa to not come by me so they don't get a fever?"
- "Judah adores me" (yes, he does!)
- "My cactapus's name is Kerono" (she draws "cactapus's" ??? They look similar to an octopus)
- "Bummer!"
- "Mommy, 'whatever' is not a nice word to say"
- "Okay, now I'm all ready for Mark Storslee"
- "So mom, the youngest goes first" (when playing Memory - she's so good at this game)
- "Okay, now I'm ready for Mark . . . can you send that video to Mark . . . I'm going to be shy with Mark . . . I can't believe we got to see Mark again" (Trevor's best friend who was here twice in the past week)

Judah updates:

- He makes delightful "ah-bah-bah-bah" noises, and seems so surprised and delighted with his new babbles. He also squeals, screaches, and nearly exudes happy screams. Hilarious to us all, especially Karis
- He squirms and laughs through diaper changes. Like, it's hard to change his diaper because he's trying so hard to roll over. And his full-on giggle seems like he knows he's making it difficult. I start laughing, and it's a wonder his diaper gets on straight
- Twirls his wrists when he's excited, all you have to do is talk to him to evoke this response
- Does "head bumps" with gentleness and delight
- Squeals, screams, scrunches his face
- He's in that blissful stage of two predictable, long naps (9 - 11, 1-3). Otherwise known as "nap jail" for me and Karis
- Grunts when he's eating
- On occasion, he sleeps through the night. Oh, bliss. Sweet sleep
- I wrote all the above over the course of two weeks. Judah now CRAWLS!
- He also gets so excited to see a spoon full of anything on its way to his mouth: cottage cheese, yogurt, egg yolk, and beans are recent new things to the mix
- Judah loves shoes, he crawls to your feet with urgency. Melts my heart when he scurries excitedly to Trevor when he walks in the door. Contented sigh
- He is exuberant, joyful, pure delight

In Media:
  • Ironically, as we prepared for D & M's wedding, I was reading a couple books that made me ponder marriage: What Alice Forgot, and A River Runs Through It. A couple quotes for the record:

"Early love is exciting and exhilarating. It's light and bubbly. Anyone can love like that. But love after time, after you've hurt each other and forgiven each other, bored each other and surprised each other, after you've seen the worst and the best - well, that sort of a love is sacred. It deserves its own word."

"Savor the whole day, try to catch it, pin it down, keep it safe before all those precious moments become yet another memory" (both from What Alice Forgot)

"Let's never get out of touch with each other" (from A River Runs Through It)

  • We are enjoying being able to watch movies again . . . which as I see it, is really good for our marriage. Recent viewings that we both loved: Les Miserables and Silver Linings Playbook. Both tremendous in their own way.
  • I'm almost through East of Eden. There are many true-isms, one here:

- "Perhaps it takes courage to raise children."Yes, I think it does. Parenting continues to consume most of my thoughts: how to be intentional, real, graceful yet firm.

  • As I said, a recent read was Your Four Year Old, Wild and Wonderful. Some points I hope to remember:

- "If you can add respect for what is going on to your natural love and affection for your preschooler, you will add immeasurably to your enjoyment of these early years as well as to his/hers"
- "don't fail to enjoy this extremely amusing, lively, enthusiastic age while it lasts, even though some aspects of your child's behavior may not be entirely charming"

  • Karis faves lately are: Bear Hugs and I Will Rejoice by Karma Wilson, On the Night You were Born is part of bedtime at the moment
Ironically - read this page on a day when I was a bit weepy about Karis starting preschool . . . 

Super ironic - read this page while having a "special day" with Karis, watching Mary Poppins while Judah napped

Found when roaming the library aisles by myself one Saturday. While not completely true - I mean, bedtime isn't awful - it's defnitely not always the best part of the day. I thought this was at least good for a laugh.

That's a butterfly. And a 4 year old unsure of butterflies

Monkey suit! One of the few pictures I have from D & M's wedding . . . will I ever learn to take pics?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Birthday Bliss

So, I love Karis's birthday. I love having a reason to completely indulge her, and to watch her delight (makes me wonder, should I indulge her more on a daily basis? Or maybe we should have some birthday-spirited moments once in a while). I love thinking back onto the days leading up to her birth - finishing work, running an errand with my brother, making ice cream with youth group girls.

Walking into the hospital, talking to my mom. The midwife saying, "I think you'll have a baby by dinner time" and then we met Karis and then ate a late lunch. The first moments as a family of three, holding her, beginning this parenting journey. I would go back to that moment in time every day, to hold that baby in my arms. And that is the gift of memories - I can go back and smell and see and feel and remember (without the pain, yes, memory is a remarkable thing). Oh Karis, your name means "grace" and you embody this word - your movement, your heart, your character. You are God's gift to us, and we are honored and humbled to raise you.

I had the joy of attending a friend's baby shower this weekend, and I spent the drive thinking about Karis, and for sure cried a bit-  Karis's birthday has always made me emotional. I also spent time thinking about what to share with this mom (as requested by the host) as a hope for her in motherhood. I decided what I hope for her - for all moms, and a reminder to me: that she (that I, that all) would always have confidence that YOU are the mom that your child needs. And that your child is the exact one that you need in your life. You will grow and learn together. Always.

What we did:

In "Pandolfo style", birthdays are to be celebrated more than just one day. So, all week we talked about how we'd go to Freeziac on Friday, and then we'd watch a surprise movie. It was so fun to watch Karis anticipate a surprise, she anticipated and guessed what movie it might be (see below as to why the movie was Despicable Me). When we sat down to watch it and she figured it out, she said, "Oh, I was going to guess that, I just didn't tell you". Human nature at its rawest form!

Saturday morning we enjoyed breakfast together, I headed to the baby shower, and Trev took the kids to a guitar store to get new strings for Karis's guitar. I loved walking into the house to this scene: Judah happily on his tummy, Karis and Trev stringing her guitar. Then K & T headed to Canterbury for a work event, then went to a western thrift store, then to YUM bakery.  I stayed home to get ready for Saturday and snuggle up with some quality cuddles with Judah. And a quick nap. And writing this. Beautiful.

Saturday night Trev was on K's floor for much of it . . . as she got up many times wondering: "Is it 7 yet? Am I four yet?!". I love her excitement and anticipation. We stuck a candle in a muffin, cooked up bacon and scarfed a "gogurt" before heading to church - where Karis proudly walked around telling people "It's my birthday! I'm four!". Now that I think of it, I proudly proclaimed the same to all our friends there. Per K's request, we ate at Potbelly's on the way home, attempted rest time (too excited), and welcomed a yard-ful of family for tacos and Karis-requested strawberry shortcake cupcakes  (for K's future reference if she's curious, here's the recipe - a winner), waterballoons, and swinging. Like any celebration, the time went to quickly and I didn't take nearly enough pictures . . . but the memories will last. One of my favorites is when Karis confidently walked around in her zebra party dress, passing out the water bottles and ribbon-wrapped gum that she picked out for her uncles and their gals. Then there was the frenzy of water balloons with lots of "big kids" running wild. Her hospitable spirit continues to humble me, her pure joy for life is inspiring. To mother this miracle is the highest calling I could imagine; the responsibility of nurturing her gifts, the honor of getting to know her more - like I said, we need some more birthday moments, I think.

I have some Judah memories from the night too - he needed to be in my arms . . . I watched him from across the table, just staring and trying to figure out where he was and how he might get back to where he belongs. Even in Trev's arms, he eventually scrunched up his face in preparation to cry, and I realize now how aware he's becoming and how a situation like the party might have been pretty unfamiliar and overstimulating. These are melting mother-moments, as his face broke out into open mouthed smile when he found his way back to familiar momma territory. Also worth recording is how he would stare at cousin Lee - just intently stare, lock-eyed, serious face. Over and over again. Hilarious!

And a random party memory is when we were all eating our tacos, someone asked what the "pink stuff" was that they had put in their taco . . . my answer, "pink pineapple, just jello sprinkled over crushed pineapple". Many others piped up and said they'd put it in their taco, thinking it was some kind of salsa. Indeed, most people enjoyed crushed pink-jello-y pineapple in their tacos. One gal even went back for more . . . maybe we're onto something? Or not, but I thought it was pretty funny.

And now, writing this paragraph the morning after the party - Karis was up at 6:30am ready to play with all her new markers and coloring tools. And a cupcake was a part of breakfast this morning. Oh to be four! I think this year is going to be delightful.

And now it's evening, and as I finally get ready to hit "publish" on this post . . . we're birthday-ed out. Time for a little normal . . . I was wondering how the day was going to go when at 7:30 poor girl was having a meltdown about wanting to wear her flower girl shoes outside. I really felt badly for her, overstimulated and overwhelmed feelings have to come out somehow! She got over it pretty quickly (don't worry, M, the shoes never made it out the door!) and the rest of the day she really just seemed like a FOUR YEAR OLD. How is she FOUR?!

From recent reading: 

From Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber : "We all have pain and anxieties; it is all relative. Everything matters and nothing does"

From A River Runs Through It  by Norman Maclean (have you seen the movie? The book is profound): "You can love completely without complete understanding . . . It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us".

There's another long passage that made me weep when I read it aloud to Trevor - and it struck the same cords that it did the first time I read this over 6 years ago. It's too long to record here, but for reference (mostly mine with this as my journal, or your's if you happen to read it) it's pages 77 & 78 - a transparent, beautiful exchange that to me signifies marriage to its very core.

From Becoming a Person of Influence by John Maxwell: "If you become a major nurturer in the lives of others, then you have an opportunity to make a major impact on them"

Karis is enjoying: Jack and the Beanstalk, Toads and Diamonds, Mommy Date, Bumble-ardy, Where the Wild Things Are, Jane Eyre & Wuthering Heights (not the unabridged versions! There is a "baby lit" series that is so delightful)

Trevor is plugging through: The Odyssey


- "Daddy, Despicable Me is IN OUR TV! But it costs money, so sometime we can just pay money. But we need tickets to open it"
- "Mommy, do I have moosebumps?"
- "Mommy, look! I'm wearing jeans!" (this said after rest time, when she had re-dressed herself in a new outfit . . . way too big, jeans and a top. She has NEVER chosen jeans. Oh my gosh, my girl is growing up. Too fast)
- (as told by cousin Caroline): "Next year I'll be five, then six, then seven. When I'm seven I can be a mommy". Ha!
- "I want to color my princesses!" (said at 6:30 am the morning after her birthday. The excitement continues!)
- "Daddy, it's my special birthday wish for you to wear the buckaroo at my party!" (confession, I told her to say that one)
- "So, this afternoon I'm going to the youth group girls" (pretty sure she heard me telling someone about having the youth group girls over before she was born . . . goodness, this girl listens to everything)
- "Mommy, where is my (fill in the blank with any obscure object that could be in any of a zillion places)"
- "It's hard to have my eyes open" (said after a post-birthday nap this afternoon)

Judah updates:
- He's grunting and make his opinions known
- He's starting to "make strange", as my mom says. Sometimes he's only happy in my arms, and it's really the sweetest thing
- He continues to be the happiest little guy, always smiling with his whole body (because yes, that's possible when you're a baby)
- He continues to be mellow, observant, loves being around people and just takes in his surroundings
- He continues to get up three times a night. He easily nurses back to sleep (what baby wouldn't get up a few times for a mom whose willing to do that, I suppose?!) and his little content noises in the middle of the night are the sweetest. It won't last long . . . at least, not forever
- He loves to reach for my phone