Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Advent Post that is "la" instead of "blah"

The Happenings:

Elk hunting . . . . success! We all survived, except for one Elk (good job, Drew!)

Lefse making . . . helped make Elk hunting a success, we loved our week in Bis with lots of family - including a cousin-night with lefse and meatballs.

Thanksgiving-ing . . . always delightful and we love the traditions. I don't know many people who just get to show up with their kids and contribute only noise and messes (delight and entertainment and joy too, I know). We are so blessed.

Duck hunting . . . where they didn't even really hunt ducks, but carried on a 14 year (or something like that) tradition of camping out in Bismarck (at a house) and watching their mustaches grow. And then shaving them off (yay!).

Cousin-weekend-ing . . . which made the duck hunting weekend so fun for me and the kids. What a treat to have extended time with my sister-cousins. Staying up late, and watching them play with the kids endlessly and getting to actually talk. What a treat.

Old Fashioned Christmas-ing . . . while the cousins shopped, sister Kate came over to watch Frozen (for the first time in forever!) and then go with us to an Old Fashioned Christmas. Lo and behold, we got to meet 3 reindeer, be by a bonfire, listen to a choir sing carols and play on a sweet playground. SCORE.

De-mustache-ing . . . it happened. I love kissing Trevor's smooth face.

Well-seek-ing and cuddling . . . lots of ickie sickies here. Judah's feet didn't hit the ground for a full two days, and by some grace of God I really savored getting to call off life to hunker down with my littles. Karis got it next, and I sure did enjoy those cuddles too. Memorable is how jealous they each are of my lap. I'll take it.

Water park-ing . . . Judah got better just in time for us to carry out our Christmas celebration plan to go with friends to Waterpark of America. A winner for sure, maybe a tradition (please Groupon do that one again). Memorable was that Karis wouldn't touch me with a ten foot pole, so my vision for togetherness and fun was re-adjusted. Also Judah lost it every time I handed him to Trev. I did manage to go down all the big ones, with glee. And Karis had a blast, so fun to watch her joy.

More Lefse making . . . thanks to Stevie & Debbie, Karis got to roll some more and make marvelous memories dancing around to Chipmunks Christmas music. They topped off the time by gifting her with a belly button thrower, a huge hit.

Pizza party-ing . . . some more festive family time with an out of town aunt and uncle, and nearby cousin/wife/baby Asher. Love.

Christmas Program-ing . . . with our dear little daughter as Mary! What a special honor for her to represent this beloved mother. I thought we might have some stories from this one, but wouldn't you know - she put on her dress without a fuss, and said on the way there: "Momma, at first I was shy to be Mary, but now I'm just really excited!". Despite being tired and recovering from a nasty cough, she was so precious and sweet. She was especially tuned in to Judah, waving to him and whispering to Joseph while pointing out Judah to him. Sweet memories.

Engagement-partying-Dinky-towning-Lights-Looking . . . our last day in MN before traveling we got to go to a friend's engagement party at a quaint spot by the river, then hit up Potbelly's in Dinkytown and swung around Hopkins looking at ridiculous lawn/light displays. Memorable.

Some quotes I'd like to remember from past months' readings . . .

St Teresa of Avila
Let nothing upset you, 
Let nothing startle you, 
All things pass;
God does not change, 
Patience wins all it seeks
Whoever has God lacks nothing. 
God alone is enough. 

From Pilgrim's Inn: 
"Holding a child in your arms gives you much the same feeling as pushing your fingers down into the earth when you were gardening, or having your horse nuzzle the palm of your hand for sugar. Quite suddenly you felt that your life was not an isolated thing, but existed in all other lives, as all other lives existed within yours. There wasn't anything anywhere to which you could say, 'We don't need each other'"

"You could awaken response in children just by giving them love, she'd found, like putting baking powder into a cake"

From Happier at Home:

"Yet even though I stood in my own kitchen, with my family in the next room . . . suddenly I missed them terribly"

"It's hard, so terribly hard, to please yourself"

"I thought how breathtaking, how fleeting, how precious was my ordinary day. Now is now. Here is my treasure."

From A Year of Biblical Womanhood (by Rachel Held Evans)

"The Proverbs 31 woman is not a star because of what she does but how she does it - with valor. So . . . . do what you do with valor"

"It has to get messy before it gets clean"

"It's not what we wear but how we wear it . . . and like clothing, modesty fits each woman a little differently"

"Okay, I'm going to just come right out and say it: A lot of women secretly dislike Christmas. Oh, don't get me wrong, we love the picturesque moments. . .  we just hate the anxiety disorder we developed while attempting to produce it. By the time December 25 rolls around we're all out of fight. Drained of our humanity, we have more important things to attend to: dishes, returns, disappointed family, and a mild addiction to whatever holiday-themed coffee product we were pumping through our systems that year"

Hinging on that last quote, I have to say with joy that this year I have prayed (and seem to have received the ability, not always by my own effort) to keep the simple choice in whatever is in front of me - no gingerbread rolling (just dough making, and friends rolled!), no significant crafts except what Karis requests (painting baby cribs with fun glittery paint, playing with dried beans and coloring them as her "treasures", drizzling chocolate and sprinkles on pretzels, making tons of coffee filter snowflakes), very little coupon/deal grabbing urgency. Staying home more and cuddling up instead of trying to do all the festive things to offer around here (which sound fun, but just not right for these ages/stages). I'm grateful. I've mostly been able to replace the hurry with reading with Karis by the Christmas tree, lighting the Advent wreath candles at dinner, not seeing events/ideas as "all or nothing". Some is okay.  It's liberating to be "enough". We've had fun thinking of gifts and the joy we can find in giving people things that bring them delight, talking about the gifts God has given us that we can share, small ways we might show love to those around us every day. My year for the word is/was "present" and I hope this is so in the final days of this year.

Advent listenings and readings: 

"Prepare the way of the Lord" has been our focus

This broadcast had me choking up while driving around one morning with Judah

This friend's blog  I find myself re-reading, trying to soak in her beautiful memories and wisdom

This book has been so meaningful during the past few weeks and will carry on into the 12 days of Christmas/Epiphany

This Advent song

a quote from St Teresa of Avila
Let nothing upset you, 
Let nothing startle you, 
All things pass;
God does not change, 
Patience wins all it seeks
Whoever has God lacks nothing. 
God alone is enough. 

As I write this paragraph at the day of hitting "publish", today's Advent reading was about Mary - which means we're getting so very close to Christmas. Karis and I sat down to read Christmas in the Barn and I found myself a puddle of tears through most of it. I was remembering what it felt like to have my children on my chest right after they were born, and was wondering what it felt like for Mary? To hear the angel, to trust and grow large with baby and then give birth. What was it like to be His mother? She treasured all those things in her heart.

I hope to remain present and treasure many things in my heart the coming days. Karis and Judah are at such sweet, special, hilarious, wondrous ages and I know we'll look back on "these days" before long - and with longing.

Karis's Christmas books (many of which have made me cry and helped center me on the reason for this season. In fact, it's been my favorite part of Advent . . . Karis now looks up at me with any pause to see if I'm crying. The STORY is just so powerful, and beautiful when explained in so many creative ways in children's literature):

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
An Orange for Frankie
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree
A Charlie Brown Christmas
The Christmas Tapestry
The Christmas Eve Ghost 
Great Joy

- "Well, I'll just sit here and figure out life"
- "I love being busy!"
- "I love being at my grandmas' houses because they let me do whatever I want"
- "Mommy, did the governor say we can't go outside in this weather?"
- "Judah, hugs not shoves!"
- "No way, Jose!"
- "Grandma knows what you don't like, because she's your mom!"
- "Well, there's not enough time to work and play!"
- "Let's just enjoy the drive"
- "Momma, you can't LIE about the fire!" (said when I told Judah the fire didn't work at the grandparents' home)
- "The Mexican citizens!" (mimicking NPR, seconds of listening before I switched the station)
- "Momma, is the Governor's rule to be quiet during naptime? I know it's his rule to be quiet late at night"
- "So daddy, [some friend of ours] want to go to college, so they're putting coins in a deer and then they bring it to the bank. Hey daddy, should I go to college?" (we ended up deciding she could live here and go to college. HA)
- "Judah, I don't have time to answer your questions right now" (I swear I've never said this!)
- "Judah, let's go take care of our pet flies!" (that were in the bathroom. How?!)
- "Daddy, what did you get an award for? Did you win money?!"
- "Mom, I'm giving Judah Epiphany gifts for his room!" (a drawing of a Christmas tree and a spice bottle filled with small jewelry-making pieces)
- "Kids kinda are in the mood of getting things more than sending things" (!!!!)
- "Momma, do artichokes make you choke?"
- "On the twelfth day of Christmas, my grandma gave to me" (she was serious)
- "I'm having my suck vitamins" (cough drops)
- "Mommy, when I was 3 years old, at rest time I used to sneak . . ." (and then she goes on to confess all sorts of things she did during rest time when such a thing existed)

Judah Updates:
- We were at Trader Joe's one morning after preschool drop off and Judah got so excited and kept telling me "Ee-ah! Ee-ah!" and then peeking his head around a corner. Sure enough, his sweet friend Liam was there with his mom (my friend) Nina. Judah recognizes his friends now and gets so excited to see them (just like his sister)
- He walks up to garbage cans and says "Ishhhh"
- When we get ready to go anywhere he says, "Go, go, go!"
- He loves to say "ho, ho, ho" (his mouth makes the perfect "o" shape)
- He loves vacuums
- He needs all the lights on
- He cannot help but jive to music
- We think he said "Hi daddy" when Trev walked in the room
- He's starting to enjoy books, especially ones with dogs or birds in them
- The best transitional term for Judah is for him to say "Bye!" to things he can't/shouldn't have
- The tantrums have lessened, he's mostly a jolly little fellow
- I love watching this guy run around the yard in his snowpants
- He loves to turn his noise machine on, and has started carrying it around and lovingly placing cloths and wipes over it. I love watching his little mind work
- He loves the snow and being outside, he'll come find me to put his gloves back on if they fall off
- "Hugs not shoves" continues to be something we teach around here, but Judah practices "shove, then hug". It's actually kind of cute, and also quite frustrating
- He loves to "name" everything in his room when he wakes up (which means pointing to them and saying something and waiting for us to say what it is): noise machine! humidifier! monitor! noise machine! light! diaper!
- He loves to put on his boots and walk around (sometimes just one boot and then limps around)
- He likes to sit on things and scoot on the floor
- He traded toothbrushes for water bottle caps and fuzz balls and chap sticks
- He loves apricots and saying "ah-cah"
- He loves to color and lately insists on having the crayons broken in half (???? Funny human being)

Gearing up for some sliding

Judah's roughest day, he couldn't stay awake

Ironic to meet sven 30 minutes after watching Frozen


4 stellar generations
The one that didn't get away

Mary & Bright

Getting suckers while I paid on an errand to our fave restaurant

Friday, November 7, 2014

Life Metaphors (or something like that)

Security in Security Blankets
A horrible thing happened about a month ago: we lost the "back up pootsie". Judah has two security blankets, literally called "pootsies" (made my a lovely woman in ND, given to Karis by my mom when she was a baby - HOW Judah attached to them, I cannot recall, but they are vital for his comfort and sleep). They are adorable and soft and the perfect rectangular size for bringing around. We keep one in the car and one in the house. I searched high and low: grocery store, park, people's homes, library and church lost and found. Finally I just contacted the lovely lady and had a fabulous Facebook conversation with her about my desperation to get MORE POOTSIES PLEASE! She was so understanding (I'm not the first in this situation), she made more and sent them right away. I should've known, my son is smarter than that and screamed in disgust when I handed him the fresh pootsie (slightly different color but same pattern, size, feel). Seriously?!

Karis and I made a master plan to wash them and sleep with them and wear them in for Judah. We each had one. They are delicious. Our plan didn't work.

So it really all got me to thinking - how much security I put in his security blanket! I felt so unsafe with only one Pootsie. It became our "precious" around here, obsessive tracking, leave it in the house (which meant some sad car rides). Pleas to Judah to please love the new pootsies (hello, I spent a silly amount of money on them!). Not a great feeling.

Wouldn't you know, last weekend Trevor PULLED THE POOTSIE OUT OF HIS COAT POCKET. Like a magician. I was having a grumpy morning, but THE PRECIOUS WAS BACK! I was too relieved to even be the least bit upset that the pootsie was in his pocket the WHOLE TIME.  What a day maker. True feelings, how ridiculous. However, Judah melted right into his old pootsie with equal joy and relief. And so, we feel secure again.


Stripping down to build up
Our demolished, bare bones basement has me thinking about how to make something beautiful it has to be stripped down. Aren't we like that too? Before we can be formed into our truest selves, we have to know the foundation and sometimes it's messy work. And slow. And costly. And in the end, rewarding. And always in progress.

Speaking your own language that is understood by only one other person (maybe two if you count your big sister)
I wrote this sentence well over a week ago, and now I don't know what I was thinking. I vaguely remember wanting to hold in memory the feeling of being so wonderfully tied to Judah - this sweet feeling of being the one to spend so much time with him and understand him so well. To be a student of his ways and development and words, what an honor! I love looking into his eyes and trying to figure out what he's trying to tell me. He still loves to be held and he'll often turn my face towards him, and then point and "tell" me what he's trying to communicate. He loves for us to name things for him, he'll hold something up and say "eh" until we tell him exactly what he's holding. Oh Judah.

Just a family story
I referred to this in the last post. It involved Karis explaining to her friend in the nursery why she had chocolate on her shirt "So, my mommy was frustrated and she threw a granola bar" (in my defense, I tossed a granola bar, and my frustration was at Trevor, not my children - and THAT is a whole other post, as I really was able to pinpoint some things that were helpful in marriage growth!). Anyway, I laughed and thought: "How do I handle this? I do not want Karis to think we hide things, because we don't. I will tell anyone the granola bar story. But, there is a time and a place - I think that's called discretion? Oh sweet 5 year old, full of grace and transparency. I love her.

The Happenings: 

- Norwex party . . . turns out I like Norwex, had a fun and chill party here. Also turns out that the hostess benefits are awesome as long as 1 person from your party books a party. Now I see how these businesses keep going, I'm in the middle of going against my nature to gently pressure friends to host one. =)

- Trevor's mustache . . . yes, it's a happening all itself. I call it my third child, it receives affection and attention, is talked about and much loved by Trevor. I do not love the mustache but I do love how happy it makes him.

- Halloween . . . family pizza party here with cousins and aunts and uncles, so much fun! Halloween memories for me include cousins coming and going, my parents opening their home with joy for a get together. It was wonderful to be with them and to watch everyone delight in the kids and make connections. Karis canvassed the neighborhood with her dear friend Lucy

- Halloween dressing up . . .  I'm learning that K doesn't like dressing up. It was a crisis before her school party - one that I prayerfully navigated and am thanking God for. I wanted to understand and help her, also knew she was going to have to work it out herself. She decided (after many ideas tossed around and plenty of materials) to be "sunset shimmer" (My Little Pony). Hilariously and wonderfully it was the exact outfit she often wears to school. What is so awesome is how confident she was in her costume - I received reports of her being the first to speak into the mic at the assisted living home and tell everyone about her costume. I'm so proud of/grateful for her confidence and her imagination. 

- Baptism birthday . . . again, a tradition I remember from childhood when my parents would light my baptism candle at dinner. Karis requested "burgers on daddy's grill, because he makes the best burgers with seasoning". We loved celebrating her, reading her verses from Psalm 139, looking at pictures from that special day five years ago. 

- Daylight Savings time . . . makes the days eternal for parents with little ones. I suppose some day I might relish the extra hour. Thankfully the kids have been chipper in the mornings and seem to love playing in the near dark on the deck before dinner.

- Mice . . . Trevor checks his traps every night. He goes to the basement, head lamp firmly attached and a huge smile on his mustached face. I think he loves to torture me as I wait in suspense upstairs and tell him NOT to tell me if there are any caught - but then he tells me if there aren't any caught, which means that if he doesn't tell me it's "clean" then I know there is a dead mouse that he'll bring up after I go to bed. I finally asked him that if he needs to talk about mouse hunting he should maybe call a friend. 

- "Sometimes Mary doesn't want me to sit at her table" (I asked if that made her sad - it made ME devastated to hear this) . . . "Don't worry, mom! I trust her judgement" (my heart is breaking as I write this)
- "I'm waiting for my daddy. Is he at the Norwex party?" (said to cousin Caroline from the top of the stairs . . . while I was hosting a party)
- "Daddy, we need to pray for mommy at the T-rex party, that she would have confidence, grace and love"
- Goes around singing "Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free . . . "
- "Mommy, I ate a jawbreaker, and it didn't even break my jaw!"
- "Bird nests are like hospitals for momma birds"
- "Mommy, how to birds get out of their . . . wait, how do birds get INTO their shells?!" (ask your dad at dinner tonight)
- "These milk duds taste DELICIOUS!" (said through a mouthful)
- "Momma, why is it so DARK?!"
- during "work time" one day (i.e. I email and she does crafts before we cuddle with books in the afternoon) she created a hilarious game called "Go the Cobweb". We played it. She won.
- She's super into playing house, and also set up a delightful "garage sale" in our back yard.
- "Mommy, is it a WHOLE moon?!"
- "I'm drawing Armstrong in outer space"

Judah updates:
- He says "mmm-mmm" with a sweet inflection when he likes eating something
- He loves rocks, and picks some up outside every time we go in to get K from school
- He loves to dig in dirt. And then smear it all over his face
- He says "mmm" when he thinks something tastes good
- He can point to and kind of say "mustache" (Trevor loves this more than you can imagine)
- He lately goes to the very edge of the driveway, looks right at me and says "Nnnno!"
- He goes around doing anything he should not do and says, "Nnnnno!" This includes but is not limited to: hitting me, hitting Karis, opening the garbage door, climbing on the table, climbing on top of the piano . . .
- He is still my squishy little cuddle man, and sometimes comes up for a hug in the middle of play
- He loves to wrestle and be tickled
- He still has a "thing of the day". Always different, you never know what it's going to be (less and less it's a toothbrush - recently it's been a jar of sprinkles, toy spoons, or medicine dispensers)

Baptism memories with 2 outta 3 Godfathers

Sunset Shimmer
another baptism memory, washed in the water . . . sealed with cross

This is one of my very favorites. Judah gets busy to work, and his objects of play are always changing. I wonder what he's thinking? 
The baptism burgers on daddy's grill were satisfying to this dear girl

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Time for Everything Under Heaven

Psalm 131:2
"But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me"

I came across that psalm weeks ago, and wrote it down for reasons I don't remember. As usual, I've been storing up writing in my head and wanted a specific post on different griefs that have surrounded us lately - ones that have given us perspective, taught us how to "be there" and humbled us in that sometimes we just can't "be there" except to pray (why is that such a helpless feeling?).

I'm thinking of the friend that I sadly don't talk to enough, a fellow ND-er who lost her dad months ago . . . and welcomed a nephew this summer. I admire her courage in grief and her openness. Thank you, E, for teaching me by example how to be real.

I'm thinking of some framily (you know, friends that are like family) who so suddenly lost the husband's mother to a heart attack.

I'm thinking of a friend who struggles with chronic health struggles that leave her weary.

I'm thinking of our neighbors who have dear friends who lost their son in a tragic traffic accident, the way they've immersed themselves in their friends' grief.

I'm thinking of my friend whose daughter recently passed from her arms into those of Jesus - at two days old, Mirabel Rose lived longer than they thought she would. Their joy in her life and celebration of the time they had with her . . . well, we learn from others always and their love is legacy-leaving in action. The way these friends let us into their journey with a prayer shower, memorial service and quiet and intimate night of telling stories of Mirabel's life - it's been a tremendous gift.

I'm thinking of my friend who just lost her twin boys, Willem & Thomas at 24wks.

I'm thinking of how, even when we're removed from the immediate grief, that we can bear one another burdens and that God can meet us there intimately and offer his own comfort. The day of our friend's mother's funeral I happened to watch Philomena with Trevor. If you haven't seen it, talk about grief surrounding a mother losing her son. I sat there watching and just so badly wanting to hold my children . . .and then out of nowhere Judah started crying. Never happens, he had gone to sleep and woken up disoriented - I went in and he clung to me and sobbed in a way he never has. I rocked him the dark, clutched him as he burrowed into me, and we sobbed together. For the pain of our friends, I cried for the grief I sometimes still feel at the nursing strike, I cried for joy to have those moments with him that I know I'll always remember.

Random life updates

  • Preschool is in full swing, Karis often sings on the way home, updates me on whether or not she played with Mary,what Mary wore . . . comes home and heads for her bedroom for some play/alone time that she seems to need. Introvert/Extrovert combo, I think. While she's there, Judah and I be-pop around connecting with different friends, most with a tot his age and/or older kids in school. I love getting the time with him and also savor the afternoon hours with Karis while he naps
  • Karis started a jazz ballet class, and she looks forward to every Tuesday for this reason
  • We frame our dinner conversations around: "Happy, bummer, weird". So refreshing, and hilarious when Karis tells us what Judah's were! 
  • We had family in town for Labor Day and squeezed all we could out of the time with more DayBlock and Izzy's and a girls' outing in the afternoon
  • We went to Bismarck to celebrate cousin Hillary's wedding (record driving time, 6 hrs)
  • We went to Medora! Toured our old stomping ground, went for a walk with Karis, ice cream, dinner at the Roughrider, the musical. Karis loved it all, so fun to share a sacred part of our past with her. Bully!
  • On our way back into Mpls from that trip, we got to meet baby cousin Asher. We love every minute we can spend with him
  • Dear friends and their three gorgeous girls visited for the weekend, it was a joy to "do life" here with them and make some memories at Glam Dolls, sculpture garden, meals, church services (for the 10th birthday of the church)
  • Trev successfully ran his half marathon, so proud of him
  • Karis loves any play dates she can steal with the neighbors' granddaughter Lucy, in the past months they picked plums, had a lemonade stand, and went to a concert at Centennial Lakes 
  • I went on a women's retreat (overnight, a first away from both kids). Refreshing to be with friends in the fall beauty of Stillwater - Trev and the kids had a great time without me =) 
  • I went to a church staff retreat the following Saturday (so many breaks in a row, crazy and great)
  • We both kept up with our book clubs
  • Trev demolished our basement (with help from brothers and his cousin)
  • We loved having family here in October and enjoyed lots of quality time, meals, IKEA, football, celebrations
  • We got out on some dates for burger splitting at Milton's, and also snuck out to a concert with our brothers/sisters - Angus and Julia Stone. Note to self: concerts that start at 8 are just getting started at 10:30, so get the sitter to basically just sleep over. Loved the music and the venue (Cedar Ave. Cultural Center). Especially loved being with Trev in an atmosphere he knows and adores
  • Friday park and pizza and apple cake and dress up with friends in our old neighborhood
  • Trev took the kids to the curling club to watch cousin Micah today . . . and left me at home. I love that guy! I hummed and whistled my way through the library and Target
I'm noticing that now the Judah updates are as many as the Karis-isms. Sweet Karis is growing up so fast, is articulate and aware and figuring out the world in precise ways. I'm so thankful for her, her character shines through kindness and exuberance and thoughtfulness. Judah is becoming quite the little man, expressive and exuberant.

- "And do you know what, Judah? Lions eat people!"
- "Isn't it great that God created bathrooms?"
- "Daddy, what is 'farting'?"
- "Oh momma, you're the best momma in the world . . . I mean, in the family"
- "Look, mom! Kids eat free here!" (said while walking down the stairs at a church potluck)
- "Oh boy, mom, these french fries really saved the day"
- "I hope I can stop crying before daddy gets home"
- She's recently attached to "Giraffe-y", a little stuffed giraffe that she found in one of her toy bins
- "I'm having bad thoughts about robbers"
- (while combing Trev's mustache): "Daddy, it must feel good. If you grow your mustache a little more then it might be a real mustache"
- She uses the word "although" with panache and precision, I love this
- "Mom, we know that Wonderwoman is an Amazon Princess!"
- "Let's watch Guardians of the Galaxy!" (which is actually an age appropriate show called Creative Galaxy)
- "But that can just be a family story" (a whole other post coming)
- "Momma, see, this is how my Barbie does Yoga. We can bring naked Barbie on our next trip to Bismarck and get her clothes there" (a thrift store find with her dad, her reasoning was apparently hard to deny - for a dollar)
- "There are just so many CHANGES right now! Things are so DIFFERENT! We went to a different park. The season is changing, and I don't WANT it to be winter. I don't WANT it to snow!" (said while - poor girl -having a meltdown in the car after a Sunday afternoon trip to a new park. I was really amazed at her articulation and accuracy of naming feelings and reasons)
- "Mommy, sometimes in the morning I sneak on my Halloween costume"
- "It turns out you're not crabby!"
- I overheard her and her bestie Marissa arguing about who has more blonde hair. Ironically, a different Charis arrived at that exact moment and she has platinum blonde hair and settled the dispute quite well
- That same day, Karis decided to cut her troll's hair . . . and her own! She brought me a baggie and proudly said "Mommy, look at my hair!". I had not a mad bone in my body and almost laughed - after all, I'd never told her to NOT cut her hair, right? Great opportunity for a haircut (which turned out so cute)
- Preparing for her haircut, Karis got her billfold all ready with coins to give Melanie. For some reason, that sign of responsibility made me want to cry, she's just growing up so fast. Her company every day is a treat, I am blessed beyond belief to be the one to spend so much time with these precious children (oh, you want some real here? Ok - ask me at 5pm every day and I may tell you I wish I could clock out. I'm writing this while the kids are on a bike ride with Trevor, the rose colored glass are really rosy)

Judah updates
- He loves to "say" two syllable words, variations on "eh eh", such as "woo-woo" (woof woof) "oo-buh" (toothbrush)
- He continues to call Trevor "mama" and sometimes calls other men "dada"
- He is amazingly gentle with other little babies and is completely delighted in anyone/anything smaller than himself
- He leans over and talks excitedly to said smaller things
- He loves to engage and play, lately he enjoys when I swing him around by his arms and then lay him gently on the floor to tickle his belly
- He has curly hair that curls on the sides and on the top, making him look like part of the lollipop gild from the Wizard of Oz
- He is wild about lights. He walks around the house pointing to each one with a "ah-ah" sound until I turn on every.single.light he can find
- He is also crazy about music and points to the CD player until I turn it on, then he starts dancing delightedly and makes us all wildly happy
- When he wants me to pick him up, he grabs my legs and forcefully turns me toward him and then lifts up his arms. I laugh so hard, his nonverbal communication abilities are astounding to me.
- He recently thinks it's hilarious to throw food down my shirt if I'm holding him and he has any morsel of food in his hands
- He must love "s" sounds, because new words include "shirt" and "socks" in addition to the ever favorite "shoe"
- He has bitten me a couple times, I think out of frustration/excitement/cuddling . . . he is one physical little guy, loves to wrestle and roll and have me swing him around and drop him to the ground
- He is learning deliberate defiance in seeking danger. He'll come up to me with a hair band in his mouth, a sparkle in his eye, "What're you gonna do about this, mom?!". I try not to laugh, I'm trying to re-visit how to parent a toddler who's will is so wonderfully and rapidly developing.
- He scratched me as I held him during a tantrum, and drew blood. On my face. Ironically, a day later Karis got scratched on her neck on a playground by a boy just 5 days younger than Judah. Weird.
- He had an ear infection recently, only his 2nd round of antibiotics in 2 years - doesn't seem too bad
- His language is picking up and he loves to mimic our words, although I'm likely the only person who understands the slight (but oh so distinct!) difference when he says: sock, shoe, shirt. All gone, all done. Bye, hi. Dog, bird. French toast, smoothie.
- He occasionally hits me playfully at bedtime and thinks it's hilarious and I have a hard time not laughing. He's really exploring (read: testing)
- Part of his morning routine is to "ask" me to turn on both lamps and the music in the toy room
- He likes to hit me in the face and thinks that "No!" is a very funny exclamation. I'm open to advice
- His favorite bedtime book is now You Are My Sunshine
- His favorite place to play is in the top drawer of the main floor bathroom. His favorite things to find there are toothbrushes and daddy's contact boxes (now emptied of contacts and replaced with pennies)
- He still loves toothbrushes, but only the one you are using at the moment, not the ten other laying around that are his
- He says "cheese" for the camera
- He says "Hello" to anyone he sees, with the cutest inflection
- He can be a shy and cuddly guy in new places

Recent reads:
The Bird in the Tree
Good and Angry
Life After Life
Where'd You Go, Bernadette?
Lost Daughters of China

Raising Your Spirited Child

Karis's recent reads:
Superheros (she adores Wonderwoman, oh my)
Nora's Chicks
Zin Zin Zin a Violin
A Ballet for Martha
Christina Katerina and the Box
The Rag Coat
The Snow Princess

cheering Trevor on
I'm too sexy for my pj's

Such a right of passage, a hair cut after giving yourself a hair cut. Great job Aunt Melanie! 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Birthday Season - that didn't exhaust us

I started this post in the usual way - weeks ago. The paragraphs have been written piece by piece, and I'm not going to go edit it . . .  this is the positive stuff birthday update.

The title was very true at the time, after low-key-ly celebrating Trevor's birthday (which has been known to be a self-imposed exhausting holiday here). I got smart and realized that a great gift to him would be: fun with guys, soccer, and getting something done. So, Saturday I took the kids away for a few hours while he crawled onto the roof, tinkered with a closet and who knows what else. When we got back, he was glowing. On the actual birthday, I invited some guys to join him at a restaurant to watch the World Cup final . . . outsourcing worked so well this year. Happy birthday, Trevor - your life is a gift to many but especially to me. You bring grace and truth into our home, you live an inspired life that is true to who God has made you. I love to watch you bring light and life to any room, the way your laughter can fill a whole theater (I really am itching to see Guardians of the Galaxy with you). Your gentleness and genuine heart and love for life are a gift to all. Your loyalty and friendship and conviction are highly esteemed.

Anyway, Trevor's birthday, restful. And then things got wild (more below in the summer happenings), we've enjoyed it all and it still hasn't been (too) exhausting. I'm learning to go with the flow (thank you, God, for children who force us to grow always in ways we need to) and enjoy the journey with a sense of peace and presence and joy. Learning.

On my mind this Summer Birthday Season, now that it is officially over, is learning to embrace who God has made - me, you, us. What beauty there is in variety, but also how much judgement and insecurity can linger there! I've found both these things in a couple situations this summer, and I've been so gently and generously reminded if the flavors there are to enjoy in everyone. My heart's cry is to love with abandon, especially my family, and that means studying them and knowing them - not as I think they should be, but how they are. To do that, wouldn't you know, I have to practice seeing myself that same way, loving how God has made ME, not the way I think I should be (you know, re-visiting that not to do list is part of this practice).

I randomly picked up a book from my childhood - after a weekend of self doubt and inner conflict - and read it to Karis. It was simple and profound, called God Made Me (a Happy Day Book), a story of how God made us a certain shape and we can't/don't/shouldn't try to be a different shape. This book met my heart in a powerful way.

As did this poem from one of Karis's books lately . . .

"God whispers to us in our hearts:
'Do not fear, I am here,
And I love you, my dear.
Close your eyes and sleep tight,
For tomorrow will be bright.
All is well, dear child.
Good night.'"

Also a relatable quotable:

From Delancey:
"I have never been good at change. Even small, positive changes . . . I thought I could trick my system . . . I couldn't change in the way that I had wanted to . . . I saw my own limits, walked right up to the edge and even over it and saw that I could more than all right. I learned that my life could reshape itself completely, and that, maybe if I stopped trying to fight it or to hurriedly reshape myself before anything else did, I could instead let it slowly guide me, bend me, bring me along."

Birthday Memories

In true "us" fashion" the celebration started early and stayed late, we enjoyed a succession of little celebrations - a bbq here with the aunts and uncles, a tea party with Lucy & Joan, a little gift giving at the lake with Uncle J & Aunt C, gifts and dinner out with Gpa K & Gma N and Uncle D & Aunt M, dinner at Milton's (her choice) with the Storslees, her friend birthday party here with water play and donut holes and pink zebra plates and napkins, another August birthdays celebration here with Gpa B & Gma L (and the two other August Pope b-days, Uncle Steve and Aunt K).

The day of her birthday was memorable and special. She slept, and even slept in (I was shocked, last year she hardly slept the night before her birthday). I got all excited, she had picked out her "birthday cereal" (fruit loops) and I arranged them on a pink tray with a little flower in a small vase and everything. We walked into her room and sang her happy birthday and presented her breakfast in bed - she looked at me like I had three eyes and said, "Um, no thank you mommy. I don't want to eat breakfast in bed". Of course! That is classic K, many of my "fun" ideas are met with odd looks, so this was fitting. The day progressed with morning swimming lessons with the Galstads, shopping for her birthday party . . . I love to leave birthdays as open as possible to see what little gifts might await with the time. Sure enough, neighbor Michelle texted as we were getting ready for lunch and asked us over for tea and trampoline play. Delightful! During book time in the afternoon we read her baby book and set a timer for when she would REALLY turn five (she'd been asking all day) - we rejoiced when the timer went off and then plopped on the couch to watch some Tinkerbell. Later, neighbor Joan asked us over to see her garden, so we got to do that before meeting Storslees at Milton's (her choice!) for dinner. A truly beautiful day.

The day after I relished watching Karis tell every stranger on the street, "I'm five!".  I also loved her friend party and getting to make it about HER. I love her joy in life, and it's a gift to watch her share her heart and brighten some days (most people smile and engage).

Karis - sometimes I envision you reading this . . . maybe soon, maybe when you're my age, I don't know. But I want you to know I pray always: that you would know what a gift your life is. God has made you with a beautiful heart and sweet spirit. You have the gift of joy, and I tell you often now that you are a joy bringer. I tell you that you have a heart of gold (and that makes you smile). I tell you that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, that you are the "one and only ever you". I pray always that you would know the deep love that I have for you, but I pray more so that you would know my love as only a flicker of God's perfect love for you. I pray always that Jesus would be your all and all. I tell you every day that "I love you always and forever, no matter what". I tell you that I am not perfect, that only God's love is perfect. I watch who you are becoming (at just the tender age of five!) and my heart bursts that you are so sensitive to others, how much you delight in God's creation in nature and in people. Your exuberance for life, for any adventure no matter how small - well, to be the one who gets to spend so much time knowing you and learning about you and going the journey with you, I am so grateful. I can't wait to see what the year looks like as you zoom towards 6 (you're already talking about your next birthday).

By the way, as I write this sentence you are sleeping and I want you to know that your daddy peeks in on you sometimes several times a night. You are one beloved daughter, Karis (I think he might miss sleeping on your floor sometimes!).

Other summer happenings

Just for the journal sake, I want to remember someday how much we can pack into a few months - a reminder that I can indeed be stretched in flexibility and spontaneity and fun. We had cousin Courtney here for a week of adventure and connection: Mall of America, library, Glam Dolls, Sculpture Garden, downtown, lots of Disney, nail painting, talking. Loved it all, she is a precious young woman.

Swimming lessons, every evening for two weeks straight. Karis was so brave, a good intro: "Mommy, God is answering your prayers, I'm having so much JOY at swimming lessons!"

Had a cousin (Trev's two in town cousins) outing to a friend's "furnishop" and then to Wise Acres Eatery. Always a success when we can enjoy a nice meal out with three little ones at the table (including little cousin Micah).

We had a lake weekend with friends of Trev's from college, where Karis caught her first fish and learned all about catching bugs (with two of their boys, her age).

Hosted a baby shower here for cousin Caroline, always an honor to bring people together to celebrate - she is a gracious momma already.

We went to the lake to spend the weekend with Uncle J & Aunt C. So good. Fishermen and fisherwomen (C & K) soaked in some sun, looked at pictures of their trip to Haiti, C & I went to Guardians of the Galaxy. Hopefully a tradition. Came home to some time with my parents, refreshing and fun and kicked off K's birthday celebration at Bacio.

We've made a sometimes tradition of meeting good friends at the Farmer's market on Wednesdays. Meandering, bouncing to the live music, getting samples of sour gummy worms.

Trevor ran a 5k race and is training for a half marathon trail run.

Karis has savored time with neighbors' granddaughter Lucy, her "best play dater". They plant seeds, dance, sing, draw. At the time of this writing, they're supposed to go to a kids concert today.

We traveled to Grand Forks for cousin Caitlin's wedding, such a joy. One highlight was watching Judah cut a rug on the dance floor. Wild man! And Karis prances and is so delightful - one of her highlights was when the bride came over to chat with her. Precious. We spent some more time at the lake that weekend, always refreshing.

We had a downtown outing with the Storslee's (baby Hank is quickly becoming a kindred spirit and fave of Karis's). We walked around Gold Medal Park, got quite close to the Guthrie, enjoyed the view of the Stone Arch bridge, walked to see the stadium construction, walked to Day Block for bacon and pizza (!) and then to Izzy's for treats. It was one of my favorite summer days.

We lately enjoyed a family Friday, with appetizers (corn on the cob, adored by the kids), pizza, and Tinkerbell (request by Trevor, no joke). Love those normal memories together. The next day Karis and I had a morning date and I just love her company on errands - like shoe shopping. She's amazing.

We loved getting a visit from Gma Lorie & Gpa Bob, some Good Day Cafe corner table and garden chats, snipping beans from their garden at the counter and celebrating August bdays here with the Pope clan.

We fill the days with connecting with friends, having age appropriate adventures, starting spontaneous dance parties, baking, tea party-ing, being outside as much as we can, and doing what we feel we can to brighten the days of those around us.

Trevor works hard and hard and hard and he plays a little bit, too. We're so grateful for time together.

- "If you want to pick your boogers, just pick your boogers. If you wanna blow your nose, that's another way for getting your boogers out, too"
- "I'm like Thumbelina!" (while curled up in laundry basket)
- "Look mom, I'm clipping my nails by biting them. I have an idea, should I save the nails for a craft project?" (I laughed so, so hard at this one. Dear frugal/resourceful daughter)
- "Pretty foundational. That means pretty easy" (said while writing letters, self directing her education)
- "Boating's not so great, but tubing is THE BEST!"
- "Yeah, like in KidsCAN, God rescues us. And so do life jackets"
- "Momma, people who work in stores have to wear a unicorn" (oh, uniform, right Karis?)
- "Mom, we should leave out some dried raisins and they'd turn into grapes!"
- "Well, we'll just have to see how life goes!"
- "Let me rephrase that into a different plan"
- "There are ants everywhere out here! Good morning ants! My dad killed some of you!"
- "Okay, so let me rephrase that plan"
- She loves to rip up pieces of paper and pretend they are noodles (reminds me of when she was around 2 and loved ripping paper into small pieces and putting stickers on them)
- "Oh yeah mom, you know what you can do for my birthday? You can knit me a sweater!"
- "Momma, don't leave - the plants will die!"
- "It's so good to be free in America!"
- "Being five is a big deal!"
- "Mom, did you know the smoker things make your teeth yellow and your brain black?" (heard from friends)
- "Ohhh, I'll never put myself in a chemical bed" (talking about tanning beds)
- "I think I'll be a really good mommy someday. Except I'm not good at taking slivers out. So, I can just drive my kids to your house and you can take out their slivers"
- "Mom, you're going to lose my brother!" (as he headed out the door at Culvers)
- "Mom, I have a great idea! You could burn a copy of this CD and I can play it in the car for my kids someday"
- "I need an appetizer" (said in a withering voice)
- "Excuse me, momma? I'd like a treehouse" (thank you, Daniel Tiger)
- "Oh no! I don't want to see it! Did we pass the butt picture?!" (said while driving down 169, where we pass by a billboard for a colonoscopy that has a guy basically mooning the highway)
- "It's so nice that we have lots of leftovers!"
- Melts my heart, every time we go to the library she picks out one board book for Judah
- "I know momma! Someday when I have a husband we can stay up late together. And we can go on a date and get a babysitter for our children" (said while rocking her before bed. Oh Karis!)

Judah updates:
- We're pretty sure he was words inside his head that come out in the form of "uhhhhh uhhhh uhhhh" grunting. When he really needs to make a point (like, at our church VBS when someone else is holding him) he will cry out "maaaaaa maaaaaa!"
- We read I Love You This Much at sleep times, and he loves the bear in that book - only at bedtime, he will roar like a bear when I ask him what sound it makes. His roar is something like a low pitched "ahhhhhhh". Then we kiss the book goodnight (more as a transition attempt to get him to let go of it)
- He can run, and is so delighted every time he tries
- He happens to love lions, and if a book has a lion page he turns to it and won't look at anything else
- He is super cuddly, he buries his head into your shoulder and puts his arms down by his side
- He often has a "thing" of the day. For example, one day it was a (clean) wash rag, another day it was two fuzz balls that he had to carry around on a plate all day. Sometimes it's a toothbrush, or a certain crayon, or washcloth, or box of tic-tacs, or a tiny blue handled cup. For a while it was the flower girl basket from Uncle J and Aunt C's wedding
- He can say "shoe" (in a very Judah way, something like "shaaaa") and lately it's his favorite word (he loves his shoes and carries them around if he's not wearing them)
- He loves to dance. He went wild at my cousin's wedding. Wild.
- He loves animals of any kind
- He goes up to other children and leans his head in and tries to "talk" to them. Hilarious.
- He is closer to 2 than to 1. I will not pretend to be okay with this.
- He loves to sleep and to lay in his crib. In fact, getting up is a long process, he just wants to stay in there and keeps begging to go back in (doesn't remind me of his dad or anything)

Some of my reads the past several weeks:
Paris Wife
The Midwife
The Goldfinch
Sparkly Green Earrings
We Die Alone

Some of Karis's latest faves:
Anna Hibiscus's Song
One Morning in Maine
Miss Rumphius
Little House picture books
A Walk in London

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Big 1-0

Things the 22 year old bride couldn't have imagined ten years into the future (including, but not limited to):

Driving around with our kids, singing "Let it Go" louder than them.

That my husband would be more organized than me.

Getting irrationally irritated when he starts cleaning closets and cars, or vacuuming the living room furniture at 10pm after a date.

Looking so forward to quiet dinner dates at small plate restauarants.

Loving how he asks if we should go get Caribou with a guilty look on his face, like we'd be getting away with something if we did.'

Going to a restaurant called "The Pig Ate My Pizza" to celebrate (and furthermore, consuming unidentifiable meat).

Watching our kids as extensions of our love and personhood.

That I would understand his love of Harry Potter books.

That he would understand my love of endorphins.

That marriage would be so fun.

That marriage would be so much hard and refining and illuminating and rewarding work.

That we wouldn't always sleep in the same bed . . . because he'd be on our daughter's floor (careful, this could happen to you, ha!)

That we'd seemingly meet in the middle and influence each other. For example, at restaurants I am now more likely to order a steak and Trevor a salad . . . and Trevor is more disciplined in working out now than I've ever seen him.

That I'd send him a 10th anniversary gift via email. That it would take me ten years to replace the ill-fitting-returned-to-the-store cowboy boots I gave him as a wedding gift.

To mark the celebration (in true gotta extend the party as long as possible), we've enjoyed a series of little things to make the week special and memorable:

- The kids and I ventured downtown to see Trev at his work/meet his coworkers, then went to Rustica bakery for special bread and treats to last a couple dinners

- During bathtime one night I played all the different songs from our ceremony while Karis asked questions about our wedding: There is Love. Threads of Love. Come Thou Fount. How Beautiful. We had a lot of music, goodness.

- We had a great little date to downtown Robbinsdale where we visited Wuollet bakery, had dinner at The Pig Ate My Pizza, and a stop by Caribou on the way home (the kids loved their time with neighbor Chelsea and they were all eager to show us how Judah was chasing the ducks and "quacking). We also watched a favorite "Office" episode after bedtime, and remembered just how great that show is for our marriage.

- There was a "tenth anniversary of your bachelor party" gathering for Trev, including the brothers and Pizza Luce delivered to Dangerous Man Brewery

- I dug out a box of wedding "stuff" that we sorted through after dinner (which was leftovers, in case you're wondering what kind of special meal we had)

- We met my parents in Alexandria and while the kids entertained them, we had a 7 hour date (perhaps the longest time we've been alone together since Karis was born). We canvased the town, covered so much ground in that time: lunch at Broadway Bistro, meandering through a used book store and antique store, a stop at County Market for movie snacks and a text mishap, went to see Maleficent, went to Carlos Creek Winery for short stroll and a tasting, to Zorbaz for guacamole, to Dunn Bros for "bogo" Father's Day coffee. Whew! As it turns out, spending time alone together is really good for your marriage, and it also turns out that we still enjoy each other's company and doing the same things together. What a treat.

- Uncle D & Aunt M came over to do dinner and bedtime while we stole away to Nonna Rosa to squeeze one last toast in. This relaxing time on the restaurant patio included (and was funded by) Trevor's bean bag toss championship status (a work competition)

- "Oh, do they take the wind away?" (she was going through our DVD's and found Gone With the Wind)
- (looking at our wedding picture), "It doesn't look like a wedding dress. It looks like just a plain old dress"
- "Mommy, I'm like Sacagawea!" (while dragging Judah around on a blanket . . . and yes, she looked like a picture from one of our books)
- "And I pray that me and Marissa would get along, and I thank you that me and Everett are getting along"
- "Oh, we're so blessed they had donuts left!" (after a trip to a shop that we had heard sells out early)
- "My marker didn't listen to me, so that's its consequence"
- "I better not eat too much fruit so I don't smell like eggs"

Judah updates:
- The boy loves to be outside and will go cry by the back door almost first thing in the morning
- He loves to be wearing something around his shoulders (such as a sleep sack or sweatshirt)
- He insists on wearing his sleep sack on his shoulders (unzipped, like a robe) when he wakes up. Sometimes "needs" to wear it until we go somewhere for the day
- He was hilarious when he put on a lifejacket this weekend, he loved it and danced around like crazy
- He dances like a crazy man to any music, lately Okee Dokee Brothers is a fave
- He is quite wary of new situations, likes to stand by and scope things out before diving in
- He has the roundest, most adorable belly. I carry him around and rub his squishy little tummy
- He carries around the book Snuggle Puppy
- His main mode of communication is grunting
- His sign of choice right now is to raise his arms and wave his wrists. While this is "supposed" to mean "all done", for Judah it means everything ("more", "all done", "get me my milk", get me whatever that is on the table that you're eating", "get me my pootsie" . . . )

Wary little man, scoping out a park before jumping in to explore

Karis at a really cheesy outdoor puppet show that she absolutely loved

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Best of TImes, the Stressed of Times

In the usual post-along-the weeks way, I'm starting these thoughts on Thursday, June 5. The kids are sleeping later than usual, which is a mercy because they're recovering from croup and an ear infection (Judah, his first). I'm listening to my morning show on KTIS am 900, which is always a treat. I'm continuing to think about the grand start to our summer with a wonderful wedding followed by a reunion (in which over 30 people crashed the honeymooners, yes really!). It helps that, as we resurface, friends are asking about it all, and so we get to re-live in the re-telling. I tried to include some videos here, hopefully they work . . .

Images that flash to my mind:

The bridal party girls watching (through the windows at the golf course reception site) K & T steal their first look. Karis walking so seriously and beautifully down the aisle. The processional music that was beyond moving. The parents praying for their children at the altar while this song played. The pastor (friend of all the Pope boys) sermonize with grace and passion, telling a story about ducks and to "not be that duck" (you maybe had to be there). The look on Tay's face as Kate walked down the aisle, the vows they confidently affirmed, the Spirit moving in powerful ways as they entered the covenant He created. The joyous reception, the songs to get the couple to kiss (Trevor sang a rendition of brother Tay's "Congratulations to You", Karis sang "Jesus Loves Me"), the speeches, the words of thanksgiving and prayer that T offered to all those there to celebrate with them. Watching Karis see the bride for the first time, her look of enamor.

Standing across from Trevor at the altar of our church, glimpsing up at the stained glass picture of Jesus and the etching "Come to Me". Being in the very place that we receive the body and blood every week. Watching a marriage of loved ones begin.

We are beyond thrilled for T & K, and selfishly thrilled for us too. It's a joy to share the journey of life, to be able to understand each other, support each other, encourage. My brother reminded me that years ago I bugged the brothers, saying, "Come on guys, I'm ready for some sisters!". My heart is full to now have three amazing sisters, each of them radiant with love and grace and faith-filled beauty.

Now how about some cousins? Ha!

(continuing on June 6)

So many things about these weddings ring eternal: "the brothers" have all been in each other's weddings, starting with our's ten years ago. It's been ten years of watching our brothers find their loves, which has been such a joy. And that they all are such an integral part of each other's lives (meaning, my brother, Trev, Trev's brothers) - how unique and amazing. The bachelor party weekend tradition has been a hoot to witness (they have plans to retroactively do bachelor parties for cousins and friends). The speeches they've given to each other, the gifts, the memories. Quite a heritage.

Then all the traditions, I've been pondering the importance of them all - and for me, so much of the meaning of those traditions is the memories they bring up, of when Trevor and I went through those same motions. To be a part of all the showers, parties, ceremonies, dinners, dances - not only are these bonding times, but to reminisce about our own such times is always strengthening.

And then there's the children element, that Karis got to be in each wedding is beyond special, and to watch the progression across three years of how she's grown in independence and inner beauty - well, it takes my breath away to think about it all. Not to mention that the next time she walks down the aisle could very well be her own wedding (God only knows). At J's wedding at just under 3 years old she needed to walk down and stand with me, at D's at just over 4 years old she walked down with the other little flower girls and stood quietly at the front. And this time, she walked down by herself (choked up momma!) all serious and confident and radiant, a beautiful symbol of purity to precede the bride's grand entrance. She sat quietly with gma and gpa Pope the whole time, and then recessed behind the bride and partied the rest of the evening.

A Karis quote that continues to come up is, "Everyone just wants me to be their flower girl! It was a really special day for me. It was a special day for Kate, too". HA!

I will always remember Karis first seeing the bride - completely enamored. Which reminded me of the presence of the Spirit in the covenant celebration. We've been calling her "Aunt" since they got engaged, but something truly changes on the wedding day when the promises of marriage are sealed with a ceremony full of loving witnesses.

(June 7)

Apparently we're still crashing, kids continue to sleep late and my throat is tickling with whatever they must be recovering from. Which brings me to the title of this post: the best and stressed. Based on how relaxed I feel now, I realize how much we all gear up for weddings in our own ways. I think anyone who has any part in such occasions experience this as we're all concerned with our own part in making the day beautiful and as special as possible. The joy is huge, and so is the preparation and so is the unknown: will be healthy, will Karis put on the dress and walk down the aisle and not have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the ceremony (ahem, which she did during the rehearsal). Anyway, the variables with children continue to confound me and be a means of growth to "Let it Go" (thanks, Elsa), trust, execute plans with as much calm and grace as possible. And then to be in the middle of everyone's detailed preparation in their part, to watch the plans unfold so well, to watch everyone relax into the day . . . well, I suppose those relaxed and joyful feelings are pronounced from feeling any amount of stress in the process. The dance of life, always.

With each brother wedding, I can't help but think what a grace it was that Trev and I got married when we did - I really don't remember feeling stressed at that time, and I wonder if we just didn't realize what we were doing?! We've realized that if we got married now, I'd enjoy the day less and Trev would enjoy it more. Anyway, it's fun to think about these things in our little world.

(June 8)

Time to just hit publish post.

In reading and other encouragements . . . :

From Resurrection Year
"Some dreams may not come true, but most of our fears won't either"

From Harry Potter (book 6):
"It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more."

The words "joy and peace" seem to pop up a lot lately - it's how I pray for the nursery volunteers, and recently a friend told me this is how she was praying during the wedding season, and then that same day these two words were part of Jesus Calling.  A few days later from Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, Romans 15:13 - "The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope . . . " I'm grateful.

This article

And this one

From Loving the Little Years
"Little girls need help sorting out their emotions, not so they can wallow in them but so they can learn to control them. A well controlled passionate personality is a wonderful thing. That is what dangerous women are made of. Don't be discouraged - it's just a lot of raw material"

From Bread & Wine
". . . they are very real, very normal children, not angels or devils, just children - difficult and sweet and exhausting and wonderful all in the same moment, all the time"

"despite my aching, desperate baby-love, it's my job to help into being a big boy. It's my job, my honor, to walk him, quite literally, from baby to toddler to boy to man"


- "It was my day. And it was Aunt Kate's day, too" (said from a true flower girl)
- "Can you check on the monitor for me?"
- "Oh mommy, you just sit and rest. I'll clean up the toy room" (mimic-ing Trevor - oh so thankful for his example)
- "Let's have a doll picnic" (mimic-ing Fancy Nancy)
- "Momma! I'm afraid for when I lose a tooth you might lose them all and I won't have any teeth. Momma, will that happen?"
- "I can almost taste the apples from the apple tree"
- "Coming! Coming slowly so not to upset my books" (which she was carrying)
- "Mommy, isn't it neat, I made them kiss!" (by singing "Jesus Loves Me" at the wedding reception)
- "Good luck! Au Revoir!" (said as she scurries upstairs before bedtime)
- "Oh mom, do they make pasta?!" (said as I explained the plants she was examining were hostas)
- "I wonder why it's number 1 and number 2?"
- "I put Daddy to bed, I tucked him in"
- "Lucy's my best play dater"
- "Can we take our stuff to heaven? Will there be food in heaven? I think heaven has just eggs to eat"
- "Yeah mom, you have to make it fun because we have colds"
- "Daddy, do the neighbors smell like eggs?" (let me know if you want more background on this one)
- "God made even more than the song . . . " (said while watching this song in the mornings. She often looks to me to see if I'm going to cry, which I sometimes do)
- "I'm going to stay here forever and ever. Even when I'm grown up. Maybe when I grow up I'll like eggs"
- "Mommy, I have a great idea. Maybe when I get married I could get my groom to live at our house and live together!"
- "Mommy, I have a great idea. When I'm an adult, I can be a mommy and you can be my children's mommy!"
- "I just keep thinking about shots. What can help me to not think about shots?" (oh these lessons start early and remind me to guard and choose my thoughts as well)
- "Mommy, let's pretend you're a bus driver. Wait, you can't be a bus driver, you're a MOMMY!"
- "You should write down what I just said cuz it's really adorable"
- Latest fave books: Those Summers, The Top Job, We Were Tired of Living in a House, When I Was Young in the Mountains
- "Mommy, is Grandpa Jim lonely" (I am amazed that she "gets this" as great grandpa Jim gets used to his wife, Linnie, now living in a care center)
- "Daddy, can you say 'whaz uuuuuuup'? I like it when you say that"

Judah updates:

- He's so gentle with things he's supposed to be gentle with: people's hair, pets, other kids
- He loves to wave, and does it so well with deliberate wrist movements. He waves to me when I get him out of his car seat, I love that
- He is the happiest when clutching onto one of Karis's toothbrushes (hilarious)
- He weathered a nasty bout with wheezing/labored breathing. I held my breath a lot those days, took him to the doc where they found an ear infection
- He loves to wear this certain yellow hat, which is such a wonderful thing because it keeps the sun from kissing his face too aggressively
- He loves to carry a blanket or a dress around, putting it on his head and walking blindly (I remember Karis doing this)
- He is territorial, when Karis tries to sit on my lap when he's there, he pushes her away
- In church he likes to walk across the aisle and climb up onto an empty pew and just sit there (in the balcony). When I'm working in the nursery, he has a 6th sense for when I step out . . . and then needs to be held the rest of the time.

Flower Girl through and through, having fun with the apple blossoms

Celebrating Eliza's 2nd birthday at Glam Dolls Donuts - too fun!

Judah dancing away at Glam Dolls

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Latest

(as always, this was started . . . over a month ago! So here'a  little catch-all update)

On the morning of K's most recent sleepover at her aunt and uncle's, I was reading a book that held this so-true reminder: "Grieving in parenthood begins at conception. Children will eventually leave. A woman who gives birth, or any mother,  knows it, although for awhile she may be in denial. Letting go is a daily event. Children are never really ours. It is an illusion to think otherwise"

As I write, we just returned from a wonderful trip to Bismarck and are now heading into "wedding week" for Uncle T & Aunt K. We are so thrilled!

Things to remember: 

One morning a couple weeks ago, for the first time Karis was sad when I dropped her off at school. So I walked her in and straight to her beloved teacher, Miss Julia (our friend, and daughter of my boss). She kindly took Karis and . .  Karis was smiling brightly when I picked her up . . . and in her cubby was a beautiful drawing by Miss Julia with a bible verse on the bottom. I cried. Feeling thankful. We all learn and grow together. 

At this stage in the game, we're enjoying the kids' early bedtimes . . . and once in a while we sneak out when they're asleep for a gathering here or there. Our favorite date spot is Milton's, we sometimes go there during the dinner hour while the neighbor girls come over to feed our kids noodles and play with them. I've been enjoying leaving at dinner time every now and then to meet friends for dinner, go to book club or attend a church meeting. It's easier to leave two kids than it ever was to leave just Karis - I find that interesting, liberating, and healthy. I'm always grateful for how hands on Trevor is, and he also sets a good example of maintaining identity and pursuing new interests (lately: pilates, 90px or whatever that is, hunting, hiking, running, reading new things for his book club, networking during his days, reaching out to those around him with joy). 

Something I think about lately is how we're all really just trying to live together peacefully and with as much kindness and joy as possible. There are always countless chances to practice daily. To end the days with a pile of regrets and another pile of victories . . . knowing that tomorrow is another mystery that will unfold with more things to add to the piles.

Life is precious, the days fly, the years do also. Trevor and I are quickly approaching ten years of marriage, yet I sometimes feel like I'm still 22: "How did I end up with these two kids and a house and neighbors and . . . ". This is a sweet season, I'm aware every day of the snapshots that will make up the memory book in my mind . . . 

Some snapshots in my memory (note that these reflections are written in the morning after I have a 12 hour break . . . I wonder what I'd write at night, or in the middle of a road trip?):

Watching Karis hike in the valley behind my parents' house, picking "bouquets", the breeze blowing her hair and her free spirit so evident. She also loved to twirl and twirl in the backyard . . . in her new "princess Ariel" nightgown/dress. 

Watching Uncle Karl teach Karis to ride a trike. 

Watching the kids bang on the piano together, practically head banging as Karis sings various renditions of "Let it Go". 

Watching Karis's "Spring Sing" at her preschool, and the way people commented on her exuberant expressiveness. 

Watching Karis and Judah interact in the backyard - Judah waits for Karis at the bottom of the slide. 

Watching Karis talk on the phone to my grandma, composed like such a little lady.

Watching Judah wake up, stretch out his arms

The way my kids laugh while riding in the car during torrential downpours

Rocking Karis before bed, the way she spills over my lap but still fits, reading her the part of Proverbs 31 that I've read to her since birth, singing "Jesus Loves Me" . . . wondering just how long we will do that? 

Rocking Judah before sleep, the way he maneuvers himself into the crook of my right arm (he makes sure it's my right arm). Saying his baptism verses, reading from I Love You This Much, singing "Jesus Loves Me" as I zip him up in his sleep sack and nuzzle him as lay him down in the crib.

Carrying Judah around, making sure that he's in my left arm (he makes sure it's my left arm). The way he rests his hand on my shoulder while securing his other thumb in his mouth. 

"Rise and Shine" in the morning, followed by reading from Karis's beloved "big girl princess books" in her tiny toddler bed (but only after I shower, insisted by Karis). More "Rise and Shine" when Judah gets up, more books . . . singing through our "morning work" (usually unloading the dishwasher), playing "morning music". Mornings are the best.

In random reading/watching/listening: 

From Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris
"What is enough? As always, it seems the more I can distinguish between my trued needs and my wants , the more I am shocked to realize how little IS enough"

"They have large human hearts, getting larger. As they age, they're becoming more intensely themselves, and it's so good. Good for them, good for us, good for the children to see" (talking about her parents)

From Resurrection Year
"Dreams are the precious gift of our imagination. They create worlds that aren't yet real. They beckon us toward these worlds to inhabit them . . . they are uniquely ours. At their best, our dreams reflect our own personalities"

From Call the Midwife (the last lines of the show - sniff sniff, I'm grieving the end)
"For what is joy if not recorded, and what is love if not shared"

From a podcast by Shuana Niequist
"Don't let logistics get in the way of purpose/passion/calling during this crazy time of life (with young children)"

Lately there were three verses and/or quotes that popped up in various places of reading. I figure when that happens, they must be things that deserve thoughtful attention:

2 Timothy 1:7
"For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self control"

Chuck Swindoll
"Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children"

Ecclesiastes 9:9
"Enjoy life with your wife (or husband, I suppose), whom you love, all the days of your life"

A random attitude check: 

I had to (well, I guess I offered) to run an errand for Trev this morning: bringing his rifle to a gun shop. Ironically, I knew this shop well, because I drove by it sometimes multiple times a day - it's located on the corner of the road to our first apartment when we moved to Minneapolis. It made the most sense to do this errand on the way to preschool this morning. I was inwardly grumbling the whole way, irritated at the urgency of this errand in what is a plenty busy week (whoa, attitude). I was hoping it would be easy to just drop it off lightning fast and leave the kids in the car. Nope, no windows by which I could watch them - so I quick ran the gun case in, explained myself to a gruff and unsmiling man, then went back for the kids. Bring the kids in to this unlikely place to bring kids. I'm then greeted by a different, smiling man - a man that I recognize right away and tell him so: "Hey! I used to serve you coffee at Caribou!". He was one of my fave regulars, oh so long ago, and he remembered me (and I really think he did, didn't seem to be politely pretending). Well anyway, it was a good reminder that what I grumble about can turn into the highlight of the day. And it was a fun memory with Karis, later in the day she exclaimed, "Mommy, wasn't that a blessing that we saw the guy you knew at the gun shop?!". By the way, I never said, "Hey kids, here we are at the gun shop!". She figured it out (of course).

- "Mommy, let me tell you a story . . . " (and proceeds to tell me stories about our lives. Such as a story about a busy mommy, or a baby who decides to stop nursing)
- "Daddy, can you text mommy and tell her that I miss her and that I hope she's having a special time. Let me know when she texts back"
- (playing outside) "Hi Robins! HI ROBINS! Are you friends? ARE YOU FRIENDS?!"
- "Are your hands wet?" (she doesn't like when my hands are wet)
- "I'm the leader!" (yes you are!)
- "Mommy, we have caterpillars at school! And they're going to turn into RACCOONS and then butterflies!"
- "Don't bite! Judah, no biting!" (laughing hysterically as Judah chases her around trying to bite her)
- She loves to stand on our furniture and sing concerts for us. I love this.
- She loves to wear her princess dresses (and she has many)
- She calls Trevor "Trevor" (refuses to call him daddy. Picking my battles here - especially since Trevor doesn't mind one bit)
- "Grandma Carole is the chief of shopping"
- "Mommy, do you know where I think the owl mother went? I think she had to go to book club!" (while reading Owl Babies, in which they are concerned about where their mother went)
- "The stinky cheese umbrella is too small for me, I think we should give it to Joshua Asp" (the stinky cheese umbrella is a sponge bob one, HA)
- "Praise God we're out of bad traffic" (indeed)
- "Daddy, I made dinner. Do you like the quiche?" (a tricky way to get K to eat eggs: have her make the quiche)
- "I'm so blessed to have rain boots. I think you should look for some, mom" (true)
- "Look mom, the church has a moat!" (on a rainy day)
- "Mommy, remember to be silly every day!" (I asked her to remind me, it's helpful)
- "Mommy, did I get too small for that dress?"
- "The sir didn't come back!" (after someone at our table at Perkins called out 'sir' to the waiter)
- "Other people can't call you mommy. They only call you Andrea"
- Books she's loving lately . . . An Angel for Solomon Singer, The Secret Remedy Book, Mr. Putter & Tabby, Alfie & Annie Rose 

Judah updates
- Walks. Like, really walks. Started taking steps at exactly 15 months and now by 16 months it's his main mode of transportation. I LOVE the beginning walking stage, I wish it would last forever. The look of pure delighted self-satisfaction . . . the tummy sticking out . . . the sideways walking and holding one arm down to balance . . .
- I love how he toddles over to me almost falling over himself, smiling in the hugest and squintiest way. Sometimes he squeals.
- Still crawls super fast. Sometimes while wagging his head back and forth. This kid is part puppy and still says "woo-woo" whenever he sees an animal or even a picture of an animal.
- He calls Trevor "ma". He is obsessed with Trevor and throws a fit when Trev leaves the room.
- Went on a nursing strike and never went back (deserving of its own post that will likely not get written)
- He loves milk and says, "Meh! Meh!" when he sees his sippy cup
- Judah adores music, loves to dance, and plunks away on the piano like a pro (well, like a 16 month old pro)
- He loves to climb on anything. Lately he hoists himself up on chairs and just sits there. He can easily find a way to climb on top of the dining room table.
- Asks for "more" by doing a little shoulder shimmy
- LOVES being outside. We discovered in Bismarck that he has a thing for collecting rocks - that is, collecting them in his fists and giving them to you
- He loves his thumb and pootsie. He loves for me to carry him around all morning, with his thumb in mouth and holding his pootsie.
- He has a mullet (for another day or two, anyway)
- He loves placing things on his head: such as blankets, crowns, headbands
- He loves to burrow into piles of clothes on the floor and roll around
- He loves to walk around with a blanket over him, playing peek-a-boo with himself and stumbling all over the place
- He's super social and observant
- He sometimes shakes with excitement
- He loves to empty the laundry basket
- He loves to hand things to others
- One of his favorite games is to dig in the cupboards for k-cups (future coffee drinker!)
- He is still "Squishy" to me, another fave nickname is "Judah Rudah"

Just passing the afternoon away in their jammies

in the church nursery