Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The look of love.

We've got family pictures coming up this weekend.

Does that statement incite the same feelings of panic in you that it does me?

Let's be honest — the three other people in my house couldn't care less what they wear for an hour on Saturday morning. In fact, those same three people would probably prefer to be in their pjs and not forced to prance around a park in tidy outfits and hair bows. But someone has to care, and that poor sucker inherits the responsibility of choosing clothes for the whole bunch.

As with every year past and future, I am that sucker.

Lucky me, getting to dress four people for photos! And not just any photos. The Photos. If I was one of those good moms who hauled their kids over to J.C. Penney every three months to document their growth, this would not incite panic. But instead I try to lump a year's worth of milestones into a single hour every 360ish days.

No pressure there. No, sirree.

I've had nearly six months to figure out what everyone's going to wear. And I had it figured out…until I realized it's only going to be 73 on Saturday. In July. For the HIGH. And our pictures are at 9:30am, so it will probably be in the 60s. This, I did not anticipate. I anticipated the opposite, actually. My backup plan was hand fans and ice packs shoved down the back of our shirts and pressed powder and a LOT of Frizz-Ease.

But you know I'm all about things being effortless (snort), so with a few minor tweaks I think we're good to go. And thank heavens for that, because you know you can't have a family picture without PERFECTLY COORDINATED OUTFITS.

What's that all about, anyway? When did that start? I feel like the pictures of me and my siblings as kids aren't all matchy matchy (can't speak for Nate's, though…his twin brothers had matching sailor suits! Awww!), but now I feel like I'm doing it wrong without a defined color palette and lots of textural layering. Thanks, Pinterest!

Seriously, though — color palettes aside, it's hard not to have a perfect family picture complex. Have you seen what's out there right now? Do a quick Pinterest search for "family photo inspiration" and be prepared to feel inferior.

We will never look like those people. No matter how many pops of turquoise and layers of tweed I work into our pictures, our life — our family — will not look that good. I mean, first things first — have you seen my hair? Uncooperative at best. Also, I have a fat roll. Where do these mothers keep their post-kids flab during pictures? Is there a removable option no one told me about? And let's not forget that one of my children hasn't smiled more than a handful of times since birth…

It feels a little hopeless in these days leading up to family pictures. Every time. The clothes will be wrong, the kids won't cooperate, the fat roll will inevitably be on display no matter what I wear. And you know what? It kind of is. The first time we had pictures Calvin wanted nothing to do with it. The second time, Calvin wanted nothing to do with it and was overdue for a haircut...and I was ginormous and swollen. The third time, it was like eleven hundred degrees below zero and Audra's shoes kept falling off.

We had no chance. And yet, we ended up with these treasures:

My hair looks weird. My kids aren't always smiling. There's no doubt I could stand to lose some weight. But this is what we look like. And we love each other — not in spite of these things, but because of them. I don't want to forget that about us.

However hot or cold or uncoordinated or unflattering we are come Saturday, I know the love will be in every shot, plain as day.

Why would I ever want to layer that under turquoise and tweed?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Little Lou.

At the beginning of last year, I truly thought I'd be able to keep up with my blog with two kids. Guess I forgot about the part where the baby grows up and I stop being on maternity leave.

I'm really sorry, Audra. I look back at all those posts about Calvin and all the cute little things he did every week (or day) of his first two and a half years and I feel so bad. Does it help to know you are in good company and that every other second (and subsequent) child on earth feels like they got the shaft, too?

I promise that there are plenty of pictures of you, if not posts. But I wish there were more of those, because you are just so adorable in both looks and personality. Your big brown eyes, your wispy blonde hair, your cute little grin. You're tall and you've lost some of your baby chubbiness, but you still have those pudgy hands and upper thigh rolls...not to mention those cheeks. Your skin is perfectly porcelain and so soft. Every bit of you is pure deliciousness and it's hard to stop myself from kissing you all over, so I usually don't.

You are a true girly girl, my sweets. You are obsessed with shoes, and carry yours and mine (and even Cal's) around the house with you at all times. You love to brush your hair, and every time you find a stray clippy or bow you put it on your head. You've gotten much better at letting me put your pigtails in for school...even if you try to pull them out as soon as you see yourself in the mirror. You love hats, and I know you miss them now that it's summer and they aren't readily available. This week you started dressing yourself...the other night you put your jammies on with very little assistance, and one morning I came in to find you wearing your baby's pants around your ankle. You've got style, kid. I hope you always love clothes and shoes the way you do now, because we are going to have some serious fun as you get older.

Your vocabulary has exploded in recent weeks. You now say please and thank you, diaper, ball, car, amen, Cal, Abby (a friend at school), Mickey, Grandma, Grandpa, school, shoe, cheese, snack, juice, milk, book, toes, hat, gummy ("gummy, gummy, gummy" is always accompanied by clapping and your signature happy stomp) and a plethora of other words. You understand us so well and can answer questions and follow along with our conversations and directions. When I ask "what's your name?" you proudly point to yourself and say "Audie!" And then you point to and name each of the people in our family. You've added a few phrases, too, like "sit here," "bye bye, daddy!" and "yay, mama!" (that one is usually reserved for me putting my shoes on, and is always followed by some clapping).

You love to say "by-ee!" and often do so gleefully while slamming books shut. Right now you are obsessed with The Belly Button Book (you say "be bo" in all the right spots!), Each Peach Pear Plum (love pointing out the baby), Down By The Bay, and Let's Dance Little Pookie (you have some serious moves when it comes time to reach, march and shimmy!). Reading with you before bed is one of the sweetest parts of my day.

Outside is your favorite place to be, and you play so well in your playhouse, at the water table, and in your car. You are an independent girl, my little Louie. As soon as I open the playground gate at school in the morning, you're off and looking back. I know you're headed straight for those swings, and will cry when it's time to go in. Your teachers adore you, and tell us you are so laid back and easygoing. Such a relief after all your brother put us through at the same age!

Cheese sticks remain your go-to snack. We took you to your first movie last weekend and you completely devoured the popcorn. Pretty sure that's a choking hazard, but there was no keeping you away from that bucket. I eventually gave up on my efforts to crumble it into smaller pieces, because you were eating it so quickly. G-Pop would be proud, though he would likely advise you to go light on the butter and salt. Luckily, you're a pretty well-rounded eater and devour your share of fruits and vegetables, too. Last Saturday at the farmers' market you desperately wanted a bunch of radishes. Lots of pointing and signing and saying "plse plse plse." Still not sure what you thought those were, but it was really cute.

You love your babies. Last week you wanted them all in bed with you, and after I put you down I heard lots of scraping noises in your room. When I checked on you before bed, you were fast asleep in the corner and all of your dolls were crammed in between the wall and your crib. Daddy and I thought that was hilarious (and so did everyone on Facebook).

Calvin considers you his greatest friend and greatest enemy right now. You are both very jealous of my time and affection, and if one of you gets a hug the other one is right there clawing at me. You've started to bicker and fight with regularity (one of the primary reasons is that you are a HUGE instigator, little miss), but there is no doubting your love for each other. Watching you play and wrestle (?!!) together is hilarious and heartwarming. I'm so glad you have each other.

There have been a million moments worth documenting over the last year and a half, Audra. Even though I haven't captured them all in writing the way I'd hoped to, it would be impossible for any one of us to forget the sweetness and joy you've brought to our family.

We love you so, little Lou.


**Audra's 18 month stats: 33in (77th), 23lbs 3oz (30th), and hitting those two year milestones with ease!**

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Before we had kids, "getting away" meant far away. Like, on a plane. To a beach. With drinks and sand and books and guacamole.

Guacamole is definitely one of my love languages.

When you're in the trenches of parenthood, "getting away" takes on a broader definition. Like a trip to Target alone. Or a root canal.

Seriously. Some days a root canal would honestly be preferable to one more minute in my house with bickering children. At least I'd be alone and the only one screaming.

Nate and I are definitely in the trenches. And it's not fun. Filled with beautiful, joyful, precious moments with our sweet kids that we will surely miss someday? Yes. But fun for us as a couple? Eh. Honestly, right now it's a lot of work just getting from point A to point B every day without biting each other's head off. Turns out when you spend 15 hours a day giving everything you have to your children and job, there is very little left to give your spouse. These days the bulk of our conversation takes place on the couch from 9-10pm and is usually a combination of the following statements:

"Should we water the flowers?" (Yes. Ugh. Be back in a minute.)
"What do you want to watch tonight?" (Arrested Development.)
"Do we have any ice cream?" (Silly question.)
"Will you get up and get it while I switch the laundry?" (Sure.)
"Did you remember to give the dog her pill?" (Yes, Abby. I always do.)
"Don't forget we have to take more diapers to daycare." (Run upstairs for diapers.)
"I'm exhausted, let's go to bed." (Finally.)
"Ugh, the sheets are in the washer. Let's just sleep on the mattress pad." (Too tired to care.)
"Will you let the dog out while I get us some water?" (Sure.)
"ARGHHHH, the outside light is still on!" (I'll go back down.)

Riveting, right? I just can't understand why we're not having more fun!

Thank the good Lord for grandparents. For our anniversary this year, Nate's parents gave us a gift card to a hotel in downtown Minneapolis. It graciously included free childcare, which was a good thing because my feelings on staying in a hotel with small children lie somewhere between "NO" and "HECK TO THE NO."

Saturday morning we shipped our kids off to grandma and grandpa's, traded our minivan for my mother-in-law's convertible, and headed downtown for 24-hours of much-needed fun.

It's amazing what 24 hours can do for a relationship. 

Look, I got dressed and put on makeup! On a weekend!
Hot dogs at the Walker. Enormous.
Cute hubs.
So close.
Game faces. (He beat me by 2 points.)
Sorry, I'm one of those annoying people who take pictures of my food.
Bacon confit. If you insist.
Well-rested and well-fed.
Wind in our my hair.
We may not have gotten away away, but we did get far enough to remember just how happy we are to be in the trenches together.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Free to be you and me.

No better way to celebrate freedom than with friends who let you be who you really are...who don't care how messy your house is, how dirty your kids are, or whether you serve them leftovers on a major holiday.

Or who are maybe just too polite to say anything.



These two. Seriously.

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