Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Catching Up: A Tinkerbell Birthday Party

Let's pretend it's June 1st.  Let's pretend the kids are just getting out of school and summer is just on the tip of our tongues.  Let's forget about the fact that I haven't posted anything in, well, a really long time. Let's pretend Miss Nora is just turing FOUR!!  

Hey Anna, do you like to party?! 

I was worried about not getting photos of people so I handed the phone over to my trusty assistant: Charlie, who captured the following pics. 

As evidenced by the photos, the party was great fun for grown-ups and kids.  My cousins (who live just down the highway from Liz) were able to make it with their littles-- and judging by the amount of pixie sticks and goodies they indulged in, I think it's safe to say they enjoyed themselves as well. 

The weather was a little chilly early on, but eventually it warmed up enough to be outside.  The kids ran and played and slid and swung and the grown ups enjoyed a little fresh air.

You may notice Miss Anna is noticeably absent in these pictures-- because she was taking a colossal nap upstairs!!  

Everything was beautifully coordinated and simply stated.  We had plenty of delicious food (complete with Linda's famous egg rolls) and yummy treats and even a few fun games.  I would say the party was a huge success.  And most importantly, this little one seemed to have a fantastic time celebrating!  She's such a sweetie, we can't believe she's already four years old-- but in other ways, it seems she should be turning sixteen years old instead!  I think great things are in her future.

Happy Birthday Miss Nora.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Time I forgot to Post About Mother's Day

It's almost a month later and I realized that I hadn't posted anything about Mother's Day 2015. Honestly, I can't even remember what we did.  I know that Mason and Charlie were out of town until Sunday evening but when they came home, Charlie gave me beautiful flowers and an adorable card. Oh, and Anna's first tooth came in!  But that's it, that's all I know for sure.  Which is exactly why I have this blog-- so that I have some way of remembering all these things that fly by so quickly.

And we captured a quick picture before Anna zonked out.  (I'm not sure why the color is all funky-- it's been edited in Photos but isn't synching or something.  Ah, technology.)   

Some time, I will write more about motherhood and having a mom and being a mom and having 'mothers' who are not actually my mother-- who are just amazing women in my life.  I will write about how I love being a mama to two littles, who are so similar yet already so different.  I will write that I can't believe my heart found room to love Anna as intensely and faithfully as I love Charlie-- but she fits in perfectly and there's plenty o' love to go around.  I will close that post by admitting that these two little lives are my whole heart-- I'm sure of it. Everything else in my life is just icing in the cake (I have a lot of icing!).  Yes, someday I will write about all of those things.  But right now, I'm headed to bed-- After all, I'm a mother and this mama is tired.  Sweet dreams y'all.      

The Circle of Life

Everyone who knows me knows that I'm a sucker for theater.  Anything involving the lighting and anticipation and energy of live stage shows and I'm all in.   If I had unlimited resources (and that little thing called "time"),  I'd get myself to every possible Broadway show (or off-Broadway show, as is the case when you live in the Midwest) and memorize every possible musical soundtrack.  I'd get chummy with the actors and learn the ins and outs of live production.  I'd volunteer back stage or with ushering or even selling booze at intermission.  But right now I have little kids and so the next best thing is to get them interested, and do it while they're young.

When I heard that The Lion King was going to be in Des Moines, I was on it.  A quick text to Sara (I knew she'd be going too) to coordinate dates, and I bought tickets quicker than you can say "Hakuna Matata".  We ended up going on her son's 5th birthday, which made it an extra special night. Charlie had a fantastic time hanging with his buddy before the show and the two of them were sooooo excited as we drove downtown to the theater.  Their energy was contageous as we posed for pictures before the show and talked about what we were about to see.

As we entered the Civic Center, Charlie and Vincent took in the spacious area and huge sweeping staircase.  They were excited and wound up but managed to stand in line long enough to purchase a stuffed animal and a t-shirt (of course).  And I might have splurged on the most beautiful Christmas ornament ever-- it almost makes me excited for Christmas.  But not quite.  (Too bad Christmastime has to equal wintertime.)  Anyway, we bought our souvenirs and then found our seats in time to take a few selfies before the lights dimmed.

If you've seen the show before, you know that it's action packed with singing and dancing and has quite a bit of off-stage action with the actors walking through the aisles or singing at the end of rows.  But most people know that the costumes definitely steal the show.  Charlie and I took turns looking through the binoculars at the intricate costumes and makeup and while I thought he would be absorbed in the story, he was most concerned with the technicalities of the show.  I love the way his little brain works as he would lean over and ask things like, "How does Mufasa fall so slowly?  How did he land and not get hurt? When do they hook up the cord to his back?  How does the puppet guy move Zazu's mouth? Where does the air come from? Where are they playing the music? How does the guy in the giraffe costume get on the stilts?" and on and on and on.  He was tired by the end of the second act but hung in there and managed to make it home.

We spent the night at Sara's and had time the next morning to relax.  We played outside, enjoying the beautiful spring weather-- and Sara and I fantasized about the day we'd be able to sit and have a conversation that wasn't interrupted every five seconds.

We took a short lunch break before we hit the road (and I experienced Chick Fil A  for the first time, finally!) and lookie who we ran into!  What a small world!

Oh, and someone may have tried ice cream for the first time....I think she liked it.

Then, with our bellies and hearts full, we buckled into the minivan and headed back to Grundy county.

As the kids slept in the backseat, I couldn't help but smile about our little adventure.  Live theater was such an important part of my life; it provided me with so many friends and wonderful memories.  It's something that I enjoy so much and hope to become more involved with in the future.  And it's something that I hope Charlie grows to love as well-- and someday he can share that love with his own children.   Because after all, isn't that what the circle of life is really all about?  Hakuna Matata, my friends. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Anna: Eight Months (and a few days)

So, mornings are Anna's happiest times.  She's playful and giggly and generally fun to be around.  She gives out smiles and little grunts and plays contentedly on the floor while we all bustle around and try to get out the door by 7:15.  (Seriously, it's a miracle every time it happens.)  But, while she's happiest in the morning, it's crazy impossible to add "take a quick picture" to our list of things to do.  Which is why, her eight month picture didn't happen exactly on her "8th month birthday".  I think it's fine-- at least we got 'er done.

Well, we tried anyway.  The little stinker is obsessed with trying to crawl....which doesn't always go so well when you're sitting on a glider.  

So.... I thought this was more appropriate for her onesie picture:

Anna right now:  

Fine motor: Loves to play with her spoon when eating-- often grabs it and seems to want to do it on her own.  Her mom thinks it's cute and adorable and lets her get covered in baby food (and remember, this is a girl who has plenty of folds for baby food to hide), but her dad is more strict about eating the food off the spoon and not playing in it.  Fun haters gonna hate, you know.  

Gross motor:  Anna is sooooo close to crawling!  She likes to go from sitting to hands and knees, and then rock-rock-rocks.  When her legs give out from under her, she scoots backwards until she's backed herself into a chair or wall or something and then she cries for help.  She's capable of going from tummy to sitting up, but she always seems to amaze herself when it happens and I'm not sure if she has any idea how her body completed that task. 

Teeth:  FINALLY!!  A little bottom tooth popped through after months of us saying, "maybe it's a tooth!"  We were kind of giving up hope that she would ever get teeth but it looks like she's actually going to have the pearly whites afterall.  

Talking:  Happily, Anna's favorite word seems to be, "Mamamamam.....maaaaam.....mom, mom, mom".  And even though she says this to everyone, I"m convinced she's talking about me.  And I'm also thinking that this might hinder her speech development because I'm totally not encouraging her to say anything else because, well, "Mama."

Toys:  Anna's favorite toys continue to be 'non-toys'-- things like socks, bowls, and especially cell phones and remotes.  Oh, and my earrings-- you know, only the ones that are the perfect size choking hazards, naturally.  She also received a hand-me-down ride on car, which she LOVES.  Her brother equally enjoys pushing her around in it, and Mason and I get perma-grins just watching the two of them in it.

Food:  This woman eats anything.  She's not crazy about succotash, but will eat it and seems to really love her squash and sweet potatoes the most.  We've given her raspberries and strawberries and bananas and steamed veggies like broccoli and couliflower and yesterday she sucked on a dill pickle for a good 30 minutes.  I think it was more intriguing than anything.

Outside:  We purchased a little half-tent thing that provides shade in our desert of a backyard and Anna seems quite content hanging out on a little quilt with a handful of toys.  She's a little unsure of the grass and isn't quite ready to roll into it, but she's starting to touch it and eye it with a little more curiosity and not as much disdain as before.

Sleep:  What's that!?  Just kidding.  She's actually doing pretty well, but after I posted that thing about her sleeping through the night she didn't sleep through the night for two weeks.  So, I'm really worried to jinx it.  Anna continues to prefer sleeping on her side or tummy, but can fall asleep on her back and likes to watch her mobile as she's drifting off.  We had a rough stint there for awhile when she was waking up at 4:30 for the day, and while she still sometimes wakes early, these days are becoming less frequent and usually she's able to go back to sleep eventually.  (You know, around 6 or so.)

Travel:  We continue to drag this poor baby around to little events and she seems to be okay with it. Last month, we spent time in Des Moines overnight and Dubuque for a day and she did great.  She's a little bit hesitant with new faces but seems fine if her lovely mother is standing nearby.  (naturally, wink wink.)

School is finally out and we're just heading into our crazy summer schedule.  It's crazy because we can stay up late, sleep in late, play, walk, swim, bike, and drive the open road.  We have good intentions of doing all of that and can't wait to get started with this sweet lil' peanut (more like a pumpkin) in tow.   

Can't forget the obligatory picture with the big brother!
(I'm in love with the way she's looking at him)

Oh, and I tried for another picture later in the day and got this:
This is definitely her at 8 months!

Monday, June 1, 2015


  1. 1.
    (especially in former times) a brave or experienced soldier or fighter.

If you're familiar with Glennon Doyle Melton, (the now somewhat famous author of the blog, Momastery) you know that she frequently refers to everyone as "warriors"-- as in, we're all fighting hard battles at any given moment in time.  And while we don't always know what our neighbor's battles may be, we need to remind ourselves of this fact and also be forgiving to ourselves (and others) because of this fact.  

I heard Glennon speak a few years ago and was so inspired by her story and the way she talked to a crowd of 1,000 like we were sitting in her living room.  She recently gave a keynote speech in Des Moines and I was lucky enough to attend with my aunt Sandi.  Sandi, (Hi San!) is one of my dad's younger sisters.  I have so many memories of Auntie San-- she was a huge presence in my childhood and continues to be a major part of my life now.  And while I have little kids and a family and a job and we live in separate towns, social media and the beauty of texting keeps us close.  So I was so excited when San agreed to attend Glennon's speech in Des Moines earlier this year.  

The two of us listened as Glennon spoke freely about some of the struggles in her life and how she has dealt (and continues to deal) with them.  She also spent quite a bit of time discussing the importance of loving those around us-- even though it may be hard to do at times.  Glennon frequently reminds us that many little things done with big love can lead to great things.  She also reminds us that many times women tend to competing against each other instead of working with each other.  We seem to have a scarcity mentality-- thinking that if success or achievement or reward or happiness come to someone else, there's not enough to go around.  We hear of someone doing something amazing and we instantly diminish it or put it down-- as if to protect ourselves, when in truth, there is plenty of good fortune and success and happiness to go around!  G's entire message was uplifting and inspiring and of course, intertwined with her own quirky sense of humor. 

And while our warrior-meeting was great, our day wasn't over!  Oh no siree! After listening to Glennon, we headed over to West End Salvage for a little retail-therapy (which wasn't really necessary at all because listening to Glennon was pretty therapeutic in itself).  But we hadn't been there before and we both agreed that we could have stayed for hours just checking out the place. 

And THEN, just when you think our day was over, we went and got inked!  Yes, for real.  

San went first and got this:  Isn't it beautiful!?!?

And then it was MY turn!! 
(A quick little story about me and tattoos:  My first experience in a tattoo parlor was when I was a teenager.  My aunt Trisha had just gotten a wrist tattoo for her 50th birthday and she wanted to introduce me to her tattoo artist. We headed down to State Street and checked out the little parlor where she had gotten her tattoo.  She was super enthusiastic about me getting one and we looked through huge binders of designs for what seemed like hours.  Of course, I didn't end up choosing anything because everything seemed so....final.  And permanent.  Duh.  But, on that day, a little seed was planted and I knew I wanted a tattoo someday, if I could only figure out want I wanted.  So fast forward twenty years to 2013-- the hard year.  I spent a good portion of that year feeling sad.  And angry.  And confused and worried and pretty bad in general.  But the one thing that made me feel better (aside from Charlie's super-duper-squishy-hugs) was meditating.  I felt peaceful for the first time and gradually a sense of calm and acceptance seeped into me.  Later that fall, I began meeting with my church ladies in our purpose group.  During that time, I also realized how important being authentic is-- to myself and those around me.  My tattoo is a henna-inspired version of the OM symbol, which basically means "the sound of the universe".  Everything that exists pulsates, creating a rhythmic vibration that the ancient yogis acknowledged with the sound of OM.  We may not be aware of the sound in our daily lives, but we can hear it all around if we stop and listen. 

Namaste, my friends.