Friday, January 30, 2015

These are the days

We've almost made it through January! Hoorah! Most of our snow melted weeks ago and now that temps have dropped again we sit in a deceptively mild-looking but secretely frozen landscape.

 Did you know our kids don't nap anymore? Haven't for several months now - if they fall asleep, say, in the car, they are up way late.  Here are some ways to spend the afternoon with no-nap toddlers:

I'm in documenting mode after reading this post recently and it sticking with me.
"Years later, and the little bundle that lay in the sling that morning at Coles will become a teenager this year, and begin high school next year. I try to conjure her voice at age two; the pitch, the tone, the divine mispronunciations. Those little things slip through our consciousness and become tiny memory fragments we will never feel, hear or smell again."
I know it's cliche but, these kids are growing up so stinkin' fast.  I don't want to forget the feel of their arms clutched around my neck and their little people lisps. Riley is in this really cute stage where she in any moment will twine her arms around us and say, "I love you." I will never be the first to let go of those hugs.

Let us also remember:

  • Riley fell on her behind at the grocery store today and came running, yelling that I needed to kiss her butt. She was most insistent so we had a talk about private parts there in the cereal aisle and at length she let me off the hook.
  • One of her favorite songs, "Lips Are Moving" was on and she was singing along like a pro but Joe didn't like it. He covered his ears and yelled, "Noise! Noise, noise, noise, noise, noise..." (quoting from the Grinch I think). I switched the station and a more masculine song came on  with a heavy beat and male vocals, and he got all excited. "Yeah! That's a Daddy song!"
    Took my carrots for noses.
  • When we were at the park I kept asking Riley if she was cold and should we go in and she kept saying no, no, no, but when we finally did go in and ran into Dave on our way up the stairs, both babies jumped him and were so excited to see him and Riley squealed, "I'm cold, Daddy! I told Mom I wasn't but I am!" Like, dude. I'm right here. haha
  • Riley always says, "Hey, guess what," before she tells on someone.
    Riley recalls this visit every time we pass Olive Garden now.
  • Joe loves to hide random things about his person. He usually has some little toy or key chain or marble in his hat on his head. Today he stuck a book up his shirt and then asked Dave to zip on his coat over it and when Dave asked him, "Over your book?" he got all shifty eyed and secretive like, "what book?" and wanted him to just "zip it." He also tried to wear a soccer ball under his hat on his head. It did not fit.
  • Dave and Riley used to rub noses like cute little woodland creatures. It's evolved into Riley just pressing her nose down on yours and she won't quit till you say "gross" and she laughs and goes away.
I think that covers all the important stuff. Dave, you should put your China pictures on here. He had one heck of a trip!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


The past couple years I've jumped on the blogger bandwagon and picked a "word" to work on for the year. was kind of a good idea, although with "gratitude" I sometimes felt like John Cusack on America's Sweethearts. "I'm grateful for the earth. I'm grateful for the stars and the sky..."

I read this quote somewhere that said,
"The things you take for granted, someone else is praying for." 
 It stuck with me and has helped me foster gratitude in my thinking. It went from, "I am thankful for this rain because the farms need it," to "I'm thankful for this cold because it means that I enjoy such good health that a little cold is my big concern." It crosses over to a lot of other aspects of life and it has helped me get through the hard stuff. You know, the ones that didn't make it on our Christmas card. Everyone has 'em. We don't talk about them if they are close to our heart or embarassing or whatever, but you have them, and I have them, and gratitude has made the burdens easier to bear, I'm telling you.

Totally got sideswiped by that tangent. What I was about to say was THIS year's resolution word eluded me. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood. JANUARY - looking at YOU. But about a week ago I was walking some cool down laps and I'm not sure but I might have experienced runner's high. But I was walking? It came as I was having a Maleficent day dream (if you've seen the movie, you will know what I'm talking about. Basically I was dreaming I had wings. Oh my gosh. I'm such a dork. Good thing I like to over-share on the internet.)
My eyes were up on the horizon instead of track like they usually are, my posture was erect, and I just felt an incredible sense of freedom. All the worries were lifted and I was breathing deeper and it was weird. Not that I think of myself as a "weighed down" type of person, but anxieties can build up, and just being a mom and keeping track of everyone's diets and poops and sleeps and activities and such, it can be a constant pressure that your brain doesn't often get a break from. "I need more of these moments!" I knew. I need more moments to set aside the "should's" and "what-if's" and relax my brain. My sister Lora has mentioned "brain breaks" in dealing with stress and I totally get it now. I didn't know how much I needed it till I had one.

"Freedom." "Peace." "Rejoice." "Brain-break?" haha.

I'm not picking a word this year. 

What I should probably do is learn to meditate, but in the meantime, I remembered one way I could always get that feeling. Soccer - I get so focused and caught up in the game that worries never trouble me out there. Hot Dang! Yep this whole long post was to tell you my New Year's resolution: to play more soccer. Andrea and I were talking about it the other day and I resolved to go to 9o'clock soccer at church, even though I love my sleep sooo much and have never  bothered to get up and go to the late night game, but I DID tonight and it was wonderful. I was the only girl and impressed my team by not sucking and it was a good night. I really need to learn Spanish though - I'm always on the Mexican team in pick up, probably because they assume I'm  the weak link so they put me with the better team. You know, to even things out. Ha. I'm a little smug.

And now it is super late and I need to wrap this up. I have so many more interesting things to catch up the blog about. Dave was gone for two weeks in China. Riley and Joe are hilarious. Dave and I went on a real live date to the ice skating rink downtown, but I'm going to go to bed so I don't hate myself tomorrow.
Oh, one more thing: Dave is getting face surgery tomorrow, btw! After months of worry (doctors giving us the run around and creams and what not till finally they biopsied this red spot on his face) we were happy he got diagnosed with the non-bad type of skin cancer, but it has to be removed so that is what Dave gets to do tomorrow. They cut off layer by layer till they reach a non-cancerous layer of skin, so hopefully his beautiful money-maker won't be too cut up.
One of his China pictures. I love the face mask haha
I love him so much.

PS: Riley and Joe are a delight and in no way standing in the way of my "freedom," just to be clear. Dave and I love being their parents; it is our great blessing to be fiercely raising them in this world we have. Thanks, Riley and Joe, for being your beautiful, exciting little selves.
 And thanks, Dave, for not letting them sleep in our bed. They totally took over while you were gone.
In case you were wondering how much space they gave me.
For reals though, good night.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

What you missed you today

"No more dinner, Ma. Belly's too big." (The bump on his head is from when he went sledding yesterday, face first.)
 Shortly after, they both started singing, "Someone's in the kitchen with Di-na," except "Di-na" is changed to "poop-in'," and it was then that I smelled the diaper.

So Dave's in China now, with his school peoples. I was kind of jealous because of the Great Wall and all, but then the poop song happened and I feel...less jaded.

But we sure miss him! xoxo

Thursday, January 1, 2015

To Virginia we go!

 For Christmas in Virginia we left on the 19th. But first we went to the Mall of America aquarium with some of Dave's classmates. It was impressive! I've never seen an underwater tunnel that long and that diverse. Of course, Riley and Joe raced from tank to tank so quickly, we missed a LOT but it sure was fun.

 Following the aquarium, and lunch, and haircuts, we went home and packed up the car. We left at four o' clock and drove through the night to Virginia, arriving at 11 on Saturday. Whew! So exhausting, but the kids slept pretty well and we had perfect weather and there was little traffic to speak of so overall, two thumbs up.

So good to get home! The house was decked out in all that holiday glory and the weather was so warm we never needed our snow gear we'd packed along. Best of all, Mom, Dad, and all my siblings were there and made me realize how much I miss them all over again! It was so sweet to be with them all this Christmas.  Although, you know, there are 18 of us now, and even in Mom and Dad's big, 5 bedroom home, that's a tight squeeze. Plus, like half of the women were erm...menstrauating. It wasn't the bloodbath it could have been (ew no not literally! gross) - we played and laughed and walked and ate. People bunked wherever there was room - beds, air mattresses, couches, some even in a tent. It was imperfectly perfect. I almost said perfect, but you know, the holidays, as much as we love them and look forward to them all year, get us out of our comfortable routines and spaces and shake things up a bit and we love them not because they are perfect, but for the perfect moments in them that we share. Also, I read this essay and it really left an impression on me, especially the bit about how on the first Christmas, Mary had nothing but rags to wrap her baby in and was sleeping in a stable. I referenced it on Facebook and now am doing so here! I guess I liked hearing someone say we can celebrate the messy parts as well as the shiny parts of life.

But really, it was a beautiful, memorable couple of days that we had together. Enough chatter. Pictures time:

The Sunday before Christmas, the sun burning fog off the mountain on a warm, damp day.
 Warm enough for Riley and Abby to play a lot of "orphan" on the boulders. That game seems more insulting now that I am the mother! Like, seriously? I used to play it too, but I blame the Boxcar Children for that.
We took the kids to Kid Zone a lot too. "Two straws!"
Uncle Tim taught them some walking songs and now Riley wants to sing "The Noble Duke of York" all the time.

We also celebrated Andrea's birthday. We have 3 December birthdays, so really a holiday at home wouldn't be complete without a chocolate mint torte cake and birthday candle run-around.
 I loved seeing the grandchildren play together. Abby was organizer/captain of the motley crew - she even had a schedule prepared to keep things running smoothly. :) That Abby - I asked her what she would do if she had a million dollars and she said, "Buy a violin, and if I had any left over, pay for lessons too." She 7 going on 70. (6?) Meh, I don't remember my own age sometimes, don't mind me.
They all kept us very entertained and busy.
The traditional contaminated frosting of the sugar cookies with neighbor friends.
Dad needs a bigger chair.
And of course, the yearly trip to the Y for swimming.

It's no wonder Riley keeps asking to go back to Grandma's! (She loves Grandpa too, but it's to GRANDMOTHER'S house we go!)

Christmas 2014

Christmas Eve: Lora hosted a cozy soup and delectibles night (never mind being 29 weeks pregnant). Jon, Mira, and Chris all got in just that day after a red-eye flight and gamely joined the festivities. It was a lovely, relaxed evening - good dinner, good company, oh, and we watched Maleficent, which I surprised myself by really enjoying.
 Christmas Eve hilarity: chasing around Joe in his underpants.

 Christmas morning. Hark the herald angles sing! What a happy time this was. Riley and Joe are blessedly too young to wake up at 4 for present opening. We woke up at the usual 7 and led them to their stockings downstairs.

Breakfast, my favorite! Angie made us brazilian, I think it was, toast with strawberry compote and whipped cream. Mmmm....I could eat it all day.

 After breakfast you visit and shower (though not simultaneously) and then we gathered for family pictures. Robert and his fiance were in from China too, so we got the rare "whole group" shot. I'll post those at a later date, as they were taken on Darren's camera. After pictures, before dinner: presents! Oh the squeals!

 Kids table!
Charming, as always.
 Dinner outdid itself (Ang and Mom mostly, performing culinary miracles.) And then the following calorie coma and pleasant after-dinner conversation, phone calls and playing with new toys. Isn't Christmas grand?

Evelyn hopes for a kick:
One of life's sweetest moments.
Getting real.
And of course, a Christmas walk.

Warm memories there! I thank God for days like that day. Here is what I wrote that evening after the festivities were over:
 "We celebrate this miraculous gift God gave the world on Christmas day. I wonder how God felt on this day. Was he happy to see the plan moving forward. Was He sad for His Son to be leaving His presence? Embarking on the hardest journey anyone could be asked to travel? Was he happy because he loves each one of us so incredibly and proud that his eldest was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for us? ... I am truly grateful for the gift I was given. Thank you, God for the gift of thy Son, and thank you, Mary for the same. For being incredibly mature and self-sacrificing for your age. Did you ever tell Joseph when he came in after carpentering all day, "You will never believe what Jesus said today?" What must it have been like to have the privilege and weighty responsibility of raising God's son..."
 My journal entries often turn into kind of prayers. I should journal more often.

 Now it's New Years and our thoughts have turned to other things. Resolutions, gearing up for a new school year, work year, what have you. I think I want to emulate Ebenezer Scrooge in his goal:
"I will honour Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year."
God bless!

In summation, and for those looking to kill three minutes, I give you: a holiday compilation of phone videos:
 Mazel tov.