Friday, July 24, 2015

Lady Crush

I'll be the first to admit that I am extremely thankful for the man in my life, and I honestly can't imagine Spahnville without him.  (But without him, this little abode might be called Bomgaarsville and that just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?) I love sharing hopes and dreams with him, I love discussing the tidbits of daily life with him, I love whining to him about work or the kids or life in general.  And while I consider the two of us to be great friends and I think we make a fantastic team, having a man just cannot fill the place in my heart that is sacredly reserved for girlfriends.

Over 30 years of my life has been spent next to a girlfriend who really does seem to be my other half. This comes as no surprise to anyone who knows us-- I think it would be impossible to hide the fact that she and I are as soulfully connected as two people can be.  And while she lives across the country, she's always close in my heart.  My relationship with Kelly has really taught me how important it is to hang on to girlfriends.  This seems hard to do with my generation and I'm not sure why.  Maybe it's because we're kind of obsessed with our kids or maybe it's because we are kind of obsessed with each other's kids.  Or maybe it's because we're kind of obsessed with the internet and what everyone else is doing with their kids and how that affects us with our kids.  Whatever the reason, I think it's hard to find good girlfriends these days.  Lucky for me, I've got quite a few.

Earlier this summer, one of my friends seemed a little down.  A quick plan with a mutual friend and we whipped up a little girls-only fun day;  Kid free and sun-filled.

 Here's how we gave her the news:

When we got there:

We chatted and took a long walk and drank wine.  We sat on the deck and looked at the lake.  We talked about our kids and husbands and jobs.  We kayaked and paddleboarded dipped our toes in the water.

We used a selfie stick!

Spending time with these ladies helped me connect with myself again.  Raising little kids is a lot of work and taking small breaks to rejuvenate with other women is so important.

And the Universe must have known I would need a little rejuvenating during that week because the following night I was lucky enough to have another ladies-only retreat.  This time, I met with ladies from my church for a mini camping trip.

We ate a delicious meal, drank good red wine, and roasted S'mores like little kids.  When night fell, four of the ladies drove home but I stayed and camped.  The weather was perfect for Midwest camping; cool and crisp with a little breeze to keep those pesky skiters away.  My friend, Juanita, and I talked into the night about so many things.  When I could no longer keep my eyes open, we said our good nights and snuggled into the comfy camper.

That night,  I listened to crickets and other critters scurry around outside the little camper.  I reflected on my previous two days and how much beauty I'm surrounded by with these women in my life. They all bring something unique into my life.  They each are knowledgable about different things.  They all have walked different walks in life.  They all have unique challenges or stressors that are happening right now.  But each one of them is kind and caring and thoughtful.  They all are accepting and encouraging to those around them.  They are not judgmental or rude or caddy.  I think about these things and how fortunate I am to have attracted these women into my life.  Every time I'm around them, I feel refreshed and hopeful and alive and I can't even begin to explain how thankful I am for these friendships.

On The Road Again...

Long ago, Mason and I decided that there is a huge difference between a vacation and a family trip. Traveling to Arizona with a nearly-two-year-old: Family Trip.  Just the two of us going to Bed Bath & Beyond: Vacation.  (Well, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration but you get my point.)  At any rate, we both fully acknowledge that traveling with kids in tow is a lot of work.  Some might even venture to say that the hassle makes the travel not worth it.  But for me, leaving home to provide my kids with the opportunity to see and experience new things and interact with people we don't see everyday is completely worth it.  This explains why our summer is usually packed to the brim with travel: day trips, weekend trips, mini-road trips, we travel our summer away.  And honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Last week, we returned from our annual St. Louis getaway (I'll post the pics when I can find time to catch up!) and about ten minutes after I finished the laundry that was waiting for me, I packed up the kids and the suitcases, loaded the minivan, locked the front door, and hit the highway again.

This time, we headed just down the road to Holiday Lake, where some good friends recently built a house and have left a standing invitation to "come any time!".  (Now, perhaps they are just being cordial but we take them at their word and try to do just that.  I figure Dee Dee will let me know when we begin to wear out our welcome.)

We arrived on Monday afternoon and were greeted by perfect sunny weather.  The temperature was in the 80's with a little breeze to keep us cool, and the water had been warmed up by the previous scorchers--making it super inviting to our little fishies.

This one enjoyed the water, but definitely enjoyed the sand more than anything.  I finally gave up trying to prevent her from eating it-- and just let her feast on the stuff.  

The boys loved using the paddleboard as a platform to jump from

Deidra got a good paddlboard workout with Max chillin' on the front of the board and towing Ellody behind. 
Somehow, we talked our husbands into taking Tuesday off so they all came down Monday evening and hung out Tuesday.  It was like old times, I tell you.  Well, old times in that they drank beer and played wiffle ball, new times in that they changed diapers and filled sippy cups and cut the pizza into tiny pieces.  But I think they enjoyed themselves, too.  I'd venture to say that we all had a pretty dang good time.  

Charlie would have tubed all-day-long if given the chance.  He was having a blast.  

And Little Sister seemed to love the boat ride--too bad her mom held onto her hat-- she really loved the breeze blowing through the few hairs on her head. 

I couldn't resist the invitation to go tubing...

She loved the shade... and the water table.  

And she might have eaten a flower or two while I wasn't looking...

No selfie-stick needed
The cutest little navigator we ever did see. 
I recently talked with someone who sighed and said, "I just don't know how you do it.  I think being on the go that much would drive me crazy-- I'm too much of a homebody to do that!" At first, I didn't know how to take the comment, but I understand where they were coming from.  What's funny is that I consider myself to be the ultimate homebody.  I love being at home and spending downtime right here in Spahnville.  I love sleeping in and watching TV and playing at parks.  I love grilling out on our deck, drinking Summer Shandies, and catching the lightning bugs that litter our backyard like glowing confetti.  But I also love my friends, and unfortunately, I don't get to see them very often during the school year.  If I had it my way, we would all live on one big happy cult-de-sac....but we don't.  However, we do live within driving distance and we do have time during the summer to drive.  So in summer, I pack and load and buckle in and travel and do it all over again.  And if there's one thing I've realized during this crazy travel-season, it's that being away really does make coming home to the Shandies and the lightning bugs that much more sweet.

Anna: Ten Months

Does it seem like I JUST posted Anna's nine month update?  Maybe it's because we're consumed with summer fun or maybe it's because I post things late or maybe it's because time just seems to fly by quicker every month!  At any rate, Little Sister has turned TEN months old.  Here's what she's up to:

* Has decided to boycott baby food.  We have a few servings of baby food leftover in the freezer but she's really not interested in eating them.  She wants what we are eating.  The other night, she ate half of a hamburger-- just mowed right through the thing.  Charlie had taken about two bites of his in the time it took her to chow down.  She also loves raspberries, peaches, watermelon, canteloupe, and bananas.  Lately, she's been eating sandwich meat and cheese and toast (she is crazy for toast) and she thinks she's very cool stealing water from my Camelbak.  (She had no problem figuring out the straw on that one.) When we give her the little baby "Puffs", she grabs them and whips them off her tray or intentionally drops them on the floor, as if to say "Baby food?  I don't eat baby food!" 

* Has also decided to boycott nursing.  I have mixed feelings about this.  She nurses in the morning and has bottles for her other feedings.  I would have loved to nurse her longer but she was like a lion in a cage and just kept biting!!  And though Mason would joke that, "It's just nipples-- what's the big deal!?" I assure you that once a baby with a mouth full of teeth starts biting, it's time to say bye-bye to the boob.

*  Speaking of teeth.... Anna has bunches of them.  I am the WORST 2nd kid mom because I have not recorded a single tooth popping through.  I keep trying to make a note of the day they came through but honestly, I've forgotten when they happened and in which order.  All I know is that when they come in, they really disrupt her sleep and she's not nearly as content during the day as she is normally.  I think she has seven or eight teeth now.

* Is getting closer and closer to walking!  She pulls up on everything-- and of course, I am her favorite "toy" to climb on at the moment (especially when I'm making supper).  She pushes things around in the living room and when we can't find her for a minute, she's always in the bathroom playing with the step-stool or (god forbid) the toilet.  I know it's gross but that's kind of the way we roll (when Mason's gone, anyway).

* Loves getting into EVERYTHING.  We never baby-proofed anything when Charlie was  a baby.  He seemed to understand that this world is a dangerous place from the beginning (and he's still that way!) and he never really let his curiosity get the best of him.  But Anna is constantly exploring and finding new things to get into.  Lately, she loves to open her dresser drawers and pull out the entire contents.

* Has some favorite toys: My shoes are at the top of the list (she especially enjoys my wedges, not sure why) and then step-stools are probably a close second.  She also really loves playing with phone and computer chargers, belts, and wet washcloths.  Oh, and any kind of cell phone is usually good entertainment too.

* Loves playing "Where's Anna?" after bath time.  She'll pull the towel over her head while we ask, "Where's Anna?" and then she'll push the towel off her and squeal with delight as we screech "There she is!" (This game is more fun in person and sounds pretty lame when typed out, doesn't it?)

* Is an early bird.  A very early bird.  I'm trying to get her to sleep until 6:30 but most days she's up by 5:45 or so.  Right now, I don't mind taking her for a walk before we get the day started but I'm a little nervous for this routine after school starts....

* Has a favorite person in this house and it isn't Mama.  It's her big brother.  She'll constantly crawl into his room or follow him around.  She smiles as soon as she sees him and bounces with excitement whenever he gives her love and hugs and kisses.  I have to admit that it's a pretty sweet sight.

* Continues to have the sweetest personality.  She's friendly and happy and loves to meet new people.  She doesn't make strange too often, although she checks to make sure I'm nearby when someone new holds her.

Every day I get to know her a little more and I love learning about the person she is.  I can hardly believe we only have one more of these 'month onesies' before she turns a year...  How on EARTH did that happen!?  

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Little Festival Called Felix-Grundy

Charlie spent most of last week with my parents (more about that later and once I have the pics from my mama) but he's now back home in Spahnville.  We're pretty sure life sucks here compared to life with my parents, but I guess that's probably normal.  At least he returned to some fun happenings in Grundy-- the annual Felix-Grundy Festival.

Every small town has it's little celebration and the weekend after the 4th of July is always ours.  The "schedule of events"  listed things like self-guided garden tour and story hour in the park.  These are in addition to the vendors and inflatables set up on the courthouse lawn.  Clowns paint faces, an artist draws caracatures, and home-based businesses sell their goods while musicians serendade us from the center gazebo.

This weekend, the weather was perfect (well, maybe a tad muggy) for Felix-Grundy.  We headed up to the courthouse on Friday night to grab a bite to eat and check things out.  Charlie and his friend waited in a forever line to get balloon hats that they then refused to wear.  (Seriously.  Kids.) We saw several people we knew (impossible not to, actually) and enjoyed the summer festivities.

On Saturday, we enjoyed more of the activities uptown (free inflatables!) and then sat back and watched the longest parade ever.  At least both kids were amused.

Charlie finally figured out that the more he eats at the parade....well, the more he eats at the parade.

Anna's first Fla-vor-ice.  Mmmm... green sticky goodness.

Oh, and Daddy was in the parade again!

Wasn't the Spahn & Rose float cool?  (Hometown Hoedown was the theme)

Mason tried to get Anna's attention...

but she was more excited about the candy...

Another Felix-Grundy celebration in the books.  Until next year....

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Rookie Season

I'm a little hesitant to bring up the topic of organized sports for little kids because, well, I basically think it's gotten way out of hand.  Friends of mine spend entire summers carpooling to ball practices and driving across the state to watch middle school kids play baseball.  They complain about not having time to go on a family vacation because baseball runs until this date and football starts on this date and lifting/ cardio/ plios is MWF all summer long.  They tell me that their summer is so busy and they are just running around like crazy all the time.  I get all weird and tingly inside because while I want my kids to have the opportunity to participate in athletics, I really want them to have the opportunity to participate in life and childhood even more than that.  But I digress and shall save that rant for another time.  (Someone remind me, please.)

At any rate, Charlie is really interested in baseball right now and begged us to sign him up for T-ball. Last year, I must have been living under a rock because I completely knew nothing about T-ball even though almost every child in this town who is under the age of seven participates in it.  I volunteered Mason to help coach once a week (he ended up helping out every single time-- supposedly because I told them he would but really because he loved it) and my two boys were assigned to the Maroon team.

The session ran twice a week during the month of June and after having a couple practices (where the kids "learned" to throw, and catch, and hit the ball off the tee) they played games against teams with different color t-shirts.  Charlie loved participating and knew several of the kids involved because they had been in his preschool class.  Each week we would hear him say, "Oh! Brayden is on the Green team!  Oh! Jenna and Evan are on the Blue team!  Tonight we play Keira's team-- the Yellow team!"

For the most part, the weather cooperated which meant that Anna and I were able to make it to most of the practices/ games.  We would sit on a blanket and chat with the other spectators-- and usually Anna tried to eat grass and sticks and little mushrooms.  (Seriously, the girl cannot stop.)

The proud grandparents made it to a game and were impressed by their little rookie.  On both occasions he had knock-out hits and they all started to dream about his professional ball playing days in his future.  (Okay, maybe that was just his mother.)

And while I absolutely loved watching Charlie and his little friends (some would dance in the outfield, some lied down, several would wrestle each other for the ball, some passed the person in front of them when running the bases, some would fall down while trying to swing, some lost their shoes, some cried, and some laughed), I just really couldn't take my eyes off Charlie's coach.

Without being too sappy, there is just something magical about watching your husband coach your little boy-- and do it in such a loving and caring way.  Mason always was the home-plate guy, assisting the little ones as they took their turn to bat.  He would position their little hands on the bat and help them get in the right stance before taking a swing at the ball.  Often, we could see him whispering things to them-- and later I asked him what he was saying.  He smiled at me and said that he always asked them if they were going to knock it out of the park.  Or if they  were ready to hit a homer.  He said this with such a twinkle in his eye-- it was impossible not so see the excitement that he had as well.  And as the little players rounded the bases and stepped on home plate, he gave each and every one of them a high-five and a little word of encouragement.

While I understand that sports change as kids grow older, I'm so proud of this little community for keeping the main thing the main thing when it comes to this little-kid league.  Each and every kid played, everyone batted, everyone fielded, everyone ran all the bases every single time.  The teams lined up and did the "good-game/ high-five" thing at the end of each game and then headed home to take baths and soak up the goodness of the day.