Friday, December 5, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

My goal was to post our Thanksgiving pictures before Christmas so clearly I am blowing my own expectations out of the water.  Now, if Anna wakes up in the next twenty minutes, I will retract that statement.

Our Thanksgiving began on Wednesday afternoon when we loaded up the minivan (really, we loaded that sucker up!) and headed East toward Dubuque.  (Funny how in four years we totally forgot how much stuff traveling with a baby actually requires.)  My gracious sister-in-law offered to host Thanksgiving, ("Sherry, we could head to your place if that works for you!") once again leaving me off the hook to do so.  One of these years I might have to admit that I am an actual grown up and capable of hosting Thanksgiving and all that goes with it... but just not yet.  Sherry will always be a couple years older than me and much much wiser.

Our roadtrip was uneventful and Anna got the memo to sleep the entire time.  (Good Baby)
I annoyed Mason by taking selfies in the car.  Charlie & I were much more amused even though he smiled in the blurry one.

We were greeted in Dubuque by the cousins and their Golden-doodle puppy, Penny.  She's absolutely adorable and we secretly think that when she becomes too much of a pain for them, they'll pass her off to us (yay!).   The cousins played, we ordered pizza, Charlie and Sullivan entertained each other with air-hockey and race cars, and then settled in to watch a movie.  With all the excitement and noise and new faces, Anna decided it would be a good time to try staying awake all night.  She and I ended up touring Dubuque around midnight.  Fun times.

The next morning, Jeff, Sherry, and Sullivan participated in the Turkey Trot.  I was tentitively planning on walking in it as well, but with Anna's little late-night party, I changed my mind.  Instead, Charlie helped me make the fruit salad (a new recipe involving home-made pudding--two thumbs up!)

Yes, I'm breastfeeding.

I love the chaos of Thanksgiving morning.  I love the smells, the sounds, the hustle of figuring out where things are going and what needs to be done.  I love the mis-match of chairs at the table and getting everyone to the table at the same time (somewhat of a feat in itself).  I even love the cleaning up-- how everyone pitches in, still happily  carrying on the conversation that began at the table.  Quickly loading the dishwasher and stacking the plates---all the while saving forks on the table for the pie that's about to be served.  It's one of my favorite days of the year.  

Amelia had magical abilities to make Anna smile over and over. And over.

Grandma Carol made penguins out of black olives, cream cheese, & carrots.  They didn't last long-- sorry guys. 

On Friday, we headed to Huxley to see the other side of the family.  Mostly we watched the Hawks give their lead away to the Huskers (so disappointing), which got the men all worked up.  Anna slept through most of it.

She woke up long enough to take some pictures, although she seriously looks annoyed.  Eloise just looks pissed.

I think this one is my favorite.  Poor Eloise.

As always, we had a great Thanksgiving and have so much to be thankful for.  Don't worry, I'll save my thoughts on that for another post at a later date because sometimes it overwhelms me and I can't get over how blessed and lucky we are.  (Although I'm not above admitting that I'm disappointed we haven't received a windfall that has let us retire early, travel the world, and settle down in a little bungalow on the Gulf Coast.) 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Just a little Charlie-ism for your hump day....

Last night, I was putting away laundry and came out to the living room.  Charlie was bent over Anna, who was gazing up at him with her bright blue eyes.  She was babbling and cooing and locked in on Charlie's words.  What were his words?

"I love you so much Baby Sister.  I've always wanted a baby sister.  
I wanted a sister just like you and now I have you.  I just love you so so much."

Charlie is far from perfect.  He's maddening and infuriating and frustrating at times (I'm told this is normal for four year olds).  But man, that kid was born to be a big brother.  And so far, he's rockin' it. And me? Well, I couldn't be happier.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Grateful and Humble and Happy and all those other things

For several years, I've followed Glennon Melton's blog, Momastery.  I love most of her essays but every year my favorite thing to read is her "Holiday Hands" post.  Each November, she opens up the blog and asks readers to post needs/ requests they may have.  Other readers then reach out and offer to fill (or partially fill) the request.

Last week, I logged on and gave myself five minutes to read some of the requests.  Then, I proceeded to sit there for 45 minutes reading page after page of requests.  In the back of my mind, I kept thinking, "Anna's sleeping so..... I should shower, I should clean the kitchen, I should vacuum, I need to change the laundry, I should empty the dishwasher, etc. etc."  But instead, I read and read and read and read.  And then, I realized my eyes were brimming with tears and my throat was becoming tight and I had little uneven heart palpatations-- the things that happen to me when I get a little over-emotional.  But as much as I tried to tear myself away from the computer, I couldn't.  There were pages upon pages of listings for things like:

 *Cards for sick daughter
* Family of five can barely pay bills
*Car payment for my mom
*Stroller needed
*Safe bed for my son wanted
*Letters to lonely stay at home mom
*Groceries on the table
*Warm clothing for two teenagers needed
*Coats, hats, boots needed
*Penpal friends for 10 year old daughter
*Clothes---anything helps!
* Fresh fruits and vegetables
*Heat for our home
*Holiday dinner

And the list goes on and on and on.

Sometimes, life in Spahnville is tricky.  We have hard days.  There have been evenings when I look at Mason and consider our day a success simply because everyone in our family is alive and (relatively) healthy.  We have crazy days and busy days and logistical mess-ups.  (I thought YOU were taking Charlie that day!) Sometimes we eat cereal for supper and we have had a cookie or two for breakfast-- just to stop-the-whining.

But we have it ALL.  We have groceries.  We have heat.  Sometimes, we turn the heat up to 73-- just because it's cold and we don't want to wear thirty sweatshirts over our Underarmor.  We "waste" electricity on electric blankets and baby sound machines.  We have two vehicles-- and we can afford to maintain them and fill them up with gas.  We have every possible infant accessory, we have safe and warm places for our children to sleep, and we have plenty of warm clothing for our children to wear.  We have shelves overflowing with books and an entire basement filled with toys-- where our biggest problem is figuring out what we can get rid of.  We play and travel and indulge in luxuries like swimming pool passes, and college football games, and theme-park day trips.

It's easy for me to get caught up in the daily hum-drum of life, but reading these requests made me stop and really focus on what we have and how grateful I am.  Oh, and those penpal requests from people?  I was all over that-- and instantly fired off an email to the requester!  Can't wait to connect with my new pal.  :)

(Don't you love that crooked smile?)-- So thankful for what we have. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Charlie's Love: Anna Rose

When my sister and I used to get together for Christmas shopping in Chicago (was that in another lifetime?) my mom would gush about how much she loves that we enjoy spending time with each other.  Liz and I would roll our eyes and smirk at the comment, never really understanding her emotion.  But fast forward a few years (like ten) and suddenly that comment takes on a whole new meaning.

For us, deciding to have another child involved many factors, but chief among them was having a sibling for Charlie.  I understand that siblings argue and bicker and don't always end up being the best of friends.  Sometimes situations arise that create rifts between siblings that unfortunately can't be easily repaired.  But other times, siblings play and create together and form lasting friendships.  They care for and protect each other,  inspire and influence each other.  They share formative years and only siblings can commiserate about the disfunction of their particular family.

When people ask how Charlie is handling a new little sister, we always explain that he is the best big brother.  Ever.  He loves Anna more than anything and dotes on her constantly.  Usually, people will smile and say, "Just wait!  That will change once she starts getting into his things!" or "Well you better enjoy it while it lasts!"  And while there may be some truth to these comments,  I wouldn't be at all surprised if Charlie continues to enjoy having a little sister around.

Here's a glimpse of what he thinks of her:  

First thing in the morning, Charlie will come into our room and say good morning to me.  Then, he always follows with:
"Mommy, I need to see my baby sister this morning."

Often if Anna is crying and I can't get to her right away, I'll find Charlie right next to her, softly saying
"Don't worry Baby Sister, Don't cry.  Big Brother is here!  Big Brother loves you.  You don't need to cry honey."

Sometimes, if Anna isn't settled by Charlie's words, he'll stay right by her side and yell,
"Mommy!  Baby Sister is crying!  Mo-om, your DAUGHTER is CRYING!"

He wants to play with her often and doesn't quite understand that she's too little to play.  This doesn't deter him from trying.  Usually she's nursing and he'll often ask:
"Is Baby Sister done milking yet?" or "Do you have to milk Anna?"

And he's always concerned about her emotional health.  The other night, we were reading books before bed.  I had Anna in my lap and she was becoming a little fussy.  The books we were reading were all about 'prehistoric beasts' (surprise surprise) and contained phrases like, "The fierce predator rips into his prey with his razor sharp claws..."  The illustrations are equally graphic-- much to Charlie's enjoyment (Look at all the blood, Mom!).  But as we read these books, Anna became even more fussy.  I'm pretty sure it was due to the fact that it was 8:00 at night, Charlie had an entirely different idea.  So he leaned over and in the sweetest voice said,
"Don't worry Baby Sister.  They're not real!  These dinosaurs lived millions of years ago.  Don't be scared little sweetie." 

When he leaves for preschool or goes to bed, he will often say:
"Goodbye Baby Sister.  I love you so much!  I love you more than the whole Earth and all of Outer Space.     Mom?   How big is Outer Space?"

And finally, my favorite was this:  A few weeks ago, I was snuggling with Charlie before lights out.  He turned to me and said,
"Mommy, I don't want to say this but I have to tell you.  I'm really sorry, Mommy.  But I love Anna so so so much.  I love her more than you.  I'm so sorry, Mom."