Friday, December 27, 2013

Two.




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Happy birthday to the darling girl who stole our hearts two years ago today. We love you more than you'll ever know, little Lou Boo. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

T-shirt.



I adore this kid. He is charming and brilliant and hilarious and kind and tenderhearted and so darned loveable.

He's also struggling with what appears to be a behavior disorder. Right now Nate and I are swimming in paperwork and copays and appointments and evaluations and the overwhelming knowledge that there's a long road ahead for our little guy.

In the midst of all this uncertainty, fear and sadness, I wish I had a t-shirt that explained our situation.

WE KNOW.
WE'RE TRYING.
THIS ISN'T WHAT DEFINES HIM.
BE PATIENT.
BE KIND.
LOVE HIM ANYWAY.

Please love him anyway. Please don't exclude him or give us dirty looks or keep your child away from ours. Please don't stare at me with judgment while I try, my cheeks flushed with embarrassment, to coax him to do things that come easily to most children while he runs away and screams at me. Please forgive him when he does something he shouldn't. He knows better. He just can't always do better. We're working on that.

We're good parents.
He's an awesome kid.
We're trying.
Be patient.
Be kind.
Love us anyway.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart).

"Why are you so sad when I go? Is it because your heart misses my heart?"

So little time for blogging about our life right now. We're too busy living it. But these little moments, these small, gentle conversations between my children. The tenderness with which my big boy talks to my little girl, the friendship and joy they have in each other right now...I don't want to forget this.


She answered her brother with a tear-filled "yesh." I don't doubt it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Big kid/little kid.

After a summer of collecting dust in the garage, I'd all but given up on Calvin riding his bike. He didn't like it, he didn't want to do it. And no amount of coaxing, pleading, or bribery could get him near it.

But then one afternoon in September he hopped on and took off — riding up and down the alley all by himself like the big kid he is.





Well, not entirely by himself.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Full day.

I'm about two and half months behind on posting pictures. I finally sat down and went through my camera and iPhone shots, and came up with a list of eight posts. EIGHT. Although it could have been worse — at first I thought this was three separate posts where my kids were wearing the same outfits.

That was before I remembered I am a shopaholic and Audra rarely wears the same outfits twice, much less three times in a two month span.

Whew.

So, here's a bunch of pictures from one day in early September where we apparently went to the farmers' market for frozen yogurt pops, checked out the newly remodeled Union Depot, did some cooking, and cried over the injustices of life.

Audra hates sweets but loves accessories, so she pretty much just stood there and waited until it melted all over her face and arms like makeup.


Calvin's was pina colada or coconut or some sort of tropical goodness. I wanted to steal it. Bad.



Lovies in a line.


Audra's first time "cooking" (i.e. stirring of misc dry ingredients like marshmallows and barley). Still my favorite boredom buster for this age. She's wearing my apron, which is tied around her waist approximately 8,700 times.







Calvin got some bug gear for his birthday this year, and he really wanted to capture a butterfly. Well, he did...and he was SO excited. 





Until we told him he should let it go. He was heartbroken. We explained that the butterfly was scared and needed to fly so it could find food and return to its family. Poor buddy was beside himself at the thought of letting his precious butterfly go and kept telling us he didn't want to. But after a few minutes of thinking about it, he came over and said with great sadness "okay, I will let him go." And he did.




Look at those tears! We hugged and talked about how hard it is to do the right thing sometimes. Proud mama for sure.

Monday, October 21, 2013

14 days.

This came in the mail last Thursday:


A friendly little reminder that the only thing traveling faster than light is time.

Four years. Zap, bam, boom. Gone. My baby's heading off to kindergarten next year. As a working mom, I wonder how I will feel on his first day of school. Will it be any harder than handing him over to a stranger for 10 hours a day at four months old? Peeling him off my legs every morning for two months straight after a childcare transition? Listening to him scream my name as I walked down the hallway and back out to my car for a quick cry before heading off to work?

Last night as I snuggled with him before bed, Calvin asked if he had to go to school again today. I said yes, and he said "I don't want to go to school tomorrow! Can't we just stay home for 14 days?"

That kindergarten letter hit me hard. But it was nothing compared to the wave of grief I felt hearing him ask "can't we just stay home for 14 days?" Because, no. We can't. We can't stay home for 14 days this month or next month or any month in the near future. We can't stay home for 14 days while you're small and needn't be anywhere but home, and I'm not sure we'll be able to stay home 14 days when you're big and off for summer vacation and all your friends are home, either. Your mom works, so…no. We can't stay home. And it breaks my heart, because I know how much of your childhood I'm missing. How much we're asking of you to spend 10 hours a day somewhere other than your home with people other than your family. How unfair it is for you to have a school schedule before you've even reached school age. I know you don't want to go to school tomorrow, buddy. I wish you didn't have to.

I didn't say that. I hugged him tight and told him I understood, that I don't like Mondays either, and that I wished we could spend 14 days at home together because that would be so much fun. I sang to him, prayed with him, kissed him goodnight. And then I went downstairs and watched last week's Grey's Anatomy. The main storyline? How much it sucks to be a working mom.

Does it ever.

I know I'm a good mom. My kids are loved and treasured and safe and happy and we make the most of the time we have together. I work because my family needs me to and because I (mostly) like to, and I try not to feel guilty about that.

But sometimes? Sometimes it just sucks.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hold the cheese.

Audra, who didn't smile for the first year of her life, has recently become rather agreeable when it comes to taking pictures. The trick? Teaching her to say "CHEESE!" whenever I need her to smile for a photo. She loves it. And she belts it out at the top of her lungs like it's her job, which is fine by me. I'm not going to deter a kid who's willing to work, even if she's loud enough to interrupt phone conversations two towns over.

We took the kids to the Children's Museum on Saturday afternoon, and in typical mamarazzi fashion, I spent the better part trying to capture their fun on my iPhone. Expecting nothing but more "CHEESE!" from Audra, I crouched down with my phone to take a picture of my big girl carefully navigating the steps on her own — a newly acquired skill.

But I did not get "CHEESE!" I got this blurry picture:


and a stern "NO CHEESE! NO. CHEESE. MAMA!"

Well, okay then. Guess I'll be resorting to Cal's preferred method of photographic bribery (candy corn) sooner than I thought.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Love it and list it.

1. I'm wearing red skinny pants today. I think I love them. Can't speak for anyone else, however, as I am not skinny and they might not love seeing me in them. But I did go the extra mile and cover my rear end with a tunic, so hopefully that helps keep most of the "ew why is she wearing those pants" thoughts/comments at bay. Anyway, red pants offer a nice bit of cheer on a dark and dreary day. Even if they draw more attention to my "assets" than the general public would prefer.

2. Said tunic is this year's Target special and you should all get on it because they go fast. I snagged last year's version too late and ended up with a color I would not have otherwise chosen but it is dang hard to find tunics if you don't shop at Chicos. And I missed the previous year's version altogether which makes me want to cry a little because it had front pockets. Do you know how much I love a good front pocket? Last year's version had side pockets that came out when I walked (this probably doesn't happen to girls without a chip and dip hobby) and this year's version has no pockets. Next year's version may not even have sleeves, since it seems to be losing a little bit of fabric every year, so I would highly recommend you strolling through the Merona section and picking up one or five of these suckers…particularly if you own red pants and need the coverage.

3. If you noticed a frizzy blonde girl in a black minivan singing her heart out on the way to work, it was probably because of Sara Bareilles's The Blessed Unrest. I. am. in. love. This album, seriously. Every time I hear Little Black Dress I want to get up and sing into a curling iron and dance around. Which is awkward, since I listen to it a lot at work.

4. Audie stayed home sick with Nate today, and when I got ready to leave she came over put her arms up and said "I hold you?" My little Calvin used to say that exact thing and to this day it is one of my very favorite phrases either of my children has uttered. I wanted to cry, but instead I just scooped up that little muffin and hugged her so so so tight. And then she kissed me on the lips and I got in the car and smeared hand sanitizer on my mouth because I HATE BEING SICK and they don't make antibacterial lip gloss.

It did not taste good. But it tasted better than puke, which is the alternative. And probably the reality even after the hand sanitizer lip scrub because I have a knack for getting whatever they get. 

5. On the subject of kissing, Audra honks our nose after every kiss. And says "honk." She's real cute.

6. I've had my first, second, and third pumpkin spice latte of the season. Our freezer is stocked with various homemade breads and I'm going to make soup this weekend. It's officially fall. Time to break out the panel pants and settle in for eating season!

(Don't make that face. I know I'm not the only person who hung on to those post-pregnancy.)

7. Trying to decide what my fall fashion must-haves are. After attending a few runway shows with my friend Jo last week (it was Minnesota Fashion Week. Stop laughing.), I know for sure that I need an ankle-length octopus sweatshirt, a feather headdress, and an oversized hospital robe. And maybe some oxfords, since women wearing clunky men's shoes is a trend I just can't get enough of.

The highlight of the night was definitely when a frumpy middle-aged teacher asked us where we got our shoes and we were able to coolly answer "Payless" and "Aerosoles."

Those two responses summarize Minnesota Fashion Week better than a photo ever could.

8. I think I'm going to grow my hair out. I don't know why, except I miss the option of having a messy bun and I'm tired of haircuts that grow out too fast because I don't have time to get them as frequently as needed.

Nevermind. I guess I do know why. SLOTH.

9. Let me know if you're watching anything new that you really love this season. We didn't add much to our repertoire. Nate's watching The Blacklist, we're both watching Brooklyn Nine Nine (not sure how long that will be amusing), and I kinda liked the pilot for Mom, but haven't watched a second episode. I also gave The Mindy Project another shot and I'm glad I did. So funny. But I need to know if I'm missing anything great. Besides Scandal and Parks and Rec. And please don't recommend the Big Bang Theory because I do not get nerd humor, math, science, or the appeal of that show.

10. My kids are obsessed with their Bibles. We finished reading The Jesus Storybook Bible with Calvin last week, but he's still requesting it every night before bed. I will gladly read that with him every night from now until forever because I love that he's soaking up truth and also because it means I don't have to read Dr. Seuss. (I am such a scrooge.) Also, Audra's little My First Read and Learn Bible is a bedtime staple. She likes to point out Noah. And say "Bible." Upwards of eight hundred times per day.

Nothing like a toddler running around shouting "Bible" to make you feel like you've done something right.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Turning the page.

We're done having babies. We don't have the money, room, or sanity for more children and while I fully believe God spends a lot of time laughing at my plans, Nate and I are doing our part to prevent the arrival of any more Breyer babies. If God chooses to send us more despite our best efforts, well — that's up to Him. But they'd better be accompanied by a bag of cash or giant check because oh boy. Childcare is not cheap, friends.

Most of the time I have peace about this decision. Working full-time and raising kids is no easy task, and I tend to hover somewhere between "stretched pretty thin" and "about to snap" as it is. I can't imagine needing to attend to another person's needs when I'm barely attending to my own. Do you know how many days a week I show up to work with food on my pants? Most to all.

There is no way I could handle a baby right now. Knowing that doesn't seem to be enough to deter the pregnancy and baby pangs, though.

My sister-in-law, who just gave birth to her first child, recently told me she felt like she was the only pregnant woman on earth. And I laughed, because I've felt the opposite. From where I stand, everyone is pregnant. Friends, family, pretty much everyone at Target. And adorably so. I can't help but look at their bellies wistfully, remembering how it felt to have my own tiny babes kicking away inside me.

Last week we met our nephew for the first time, and I turned into a puddle of sweet-talking goo. Nate and I left the NICU and I was like "Remember when that was us? Don't you miss those early days with a newborn? Doesn't it make you want to do it again?" He said "no" without hesitation. But the memory of rocking my babies into the wee hours flooded my mind and my heart and it hurt.

It also made me question our decision. Is this it? Are we really done? How can you ever close a chapter that sweet?

Deep down, I know that our family is complete. I love my children, and I feel so blessed that I get to not only experience motherhood, but the unique relationship between a mother and daughter and a mother and son. My kids are such a gift. But they are also a lot of work, and right now we have our hands full. I think ahead to school and sports and activities and all the exciting things Calvin and Audra will be doing soon and I have no idea how I will be there for them in the ways I want to be while also working the way I am now. How much harder would that be with another child?

It's easy to romanticize having another baby, because there is nothing in life more wonderful than breathing in the smell of your baby's head while they sleep on your chest. Heaven on earth. But that form of heaven only lasts so long. And that, right there, is my problem.

Every baby I see, every pregnant tummy I meet, reminds me of one simple truth: my children are growing up, and I am helpless to stop it.

Calvin is a kid now. He climbs everything, jumps off everything. He talks back. He bites his nails and his feet stink from days filled with running. He hates taking baths and he begs to watch TV shows featuring superheroes and Lego Ninjas and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He says he wants to be a crystal finder when he grows up, and the tiny sparkling rocks all over my house support his claim. He dresses himself every day and his hair sticks up and he almost always has snot on his sleeve. He doesn't need help brushing his teeth anymore. He clears his own plate, gets his own glass of water. His beloved bear has been mostly relegated to his bedroom, and he no longer asks to take it to school. There is nary a trace of baby left in my firstborn.

Audra is nearing the end of her babyhood. Three months shy of turning two, my girl looks older every day. She chatters constantly, and has pulled together a full sentence or two within the last week. She sings little bits and pieces of Ring Around the Rosy, ABCs, Are You Sleeping, Jesus Loves Me, and various pop songs. She can count to five, and has started identifying a few colors. She wants to stand and pee in the toilet like her big brother. Her hair has gotten so long that we have to do it every day — pigtails, ponytails, barrettes. She helps dress (and undress) herself, and can put her shoes on without help. She runs, climbs, giggles, and plays. She's far more interested in her brother's toys than her own, and has claimed his Woody doll as her own. She pushes Captain America around in her stroller. She feeds her babies dinner and rocks them at bed. She throws tantrums that can be heard five towns over. She still has dimples on her hands and rolls on her thighs, but I'm not fooled. I know how close we are to kid-dom.

Those pangs I keep having? They don't have anything to do with me wanting more babies. I don't want more babies. I want the babies I have to stay small, tucked safely in my arms where I can breathe in the smell of their little heads forever. Having more children wouldn't stop the pangs from coming. If anything, it would only distract me from them for another two years — a band-aid fix for a heart condition without a cure.

It hurts to let go, to close such a sweet chapter with my children. But that's what motherhood is. Sweetness and sorrow. I may never be able to hold a baby without my heart aching a little bit, but that's good. That ache serves as a beautiful reminder of all I have been blessed to experience as a mother to my children.

We're done having babies, but we're just getting started raising kids.

There is still so much sweetness ahead.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Summertime and the livin' is easy.

If I had a list of things I love most in life, sitting in the sun on the beach with a book and a drink would be at the very top. Right above Diet Coke, Friday Night Lights, and sweater weather. And that list would be laminated, because I have nothing but love for days spent like this:

 







 




















This is the only one where we're all looking. A real framer.

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