Monday, October 28, 2013

morning wisdom: the carter edition

"Dada, sometimes your panties is inside-out.
Sometimes they inside-in.
My panties is inside-in.
[Pulls out wedgie]
Now they inside-out."
Cupcake Carter in her Halloween Costume 10.13


Thursday, September 26, 2013

pudge fudge nudge budge sludge judge grudge trudge

This little man is blowing my mind/melting my heart too, too much lately. 
Which, really, only leaves, like, a spleen and liver and stuff...
Let's just say I'm not 100% most of the time. 
So you'll please forgive me if I, like, forget your name or trip over aboslutely nothing.
I am a walking Medical Miracle, after all. 
That face! That pudge! I'm a goner.
This guy is rolling, scooting on his belly, smiling and laughing, sleeping through the night, and winning Biggest and Best Owl Eyes awards the whole world over.
And just last night he discovered his toes
SWOON.
Honestly, I couldn't possibly love him more. 

Because he's changing so quickly, I find myself anxious to spend all of his waking hours staring at him.
Usually while doing this, I secretly wish that Avery's nightly prayer ("And please bless that Finn will stop growing and stay little and cute forever.") would come true.
I'll eat you up.
...Just kidding. 
That would be tragic. 
Because, however fun it is to have this teensy roly-poly-pudgy-wudgy guy in my life, I can't wait to see how he will change and grow tomorrow. 
And the next day.  

You know, as long as looking at his adorable cheeks doesn't, like, collapse my lungs next.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

first aid in the first grade

Call a medic. 
My heart is broken. 
The summer has flown by and my baby is in the first grade. 
And isn't she the cutest ever? She picked out every single thing from her leopard leggings to her fox earrings. And she made me straighten her hair even though it's rainy and humid which equals frizzzzz. She is the most beautiful thing around. Darn it- I'm pretty sure this caption stopped being a caption a long time ago. It is now officially a short story. Not even a good one. But let me skip to the end... Blah blah blah and then you find out that The Lottery is a drawing to decide who will be stoned to death in the village square.*
 Which means she is gone.
All. Day. Long. 
And I miss her already. 

*If you didn't get the joke in my caption, then congratulations! You are not a huge nerd. 
...Also, I apologize, but I may have just ruined the ending of one of America's greatest short stories for you - The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.

Friday, August 16, 2013

if I could turn back time

Today was another of those days when I felt like Finn was growing leaps and bounds before my incredulous eyes.
All at once he felt a little heavier, a bit longer. He talked more, touched more, was more patient with the ever "loving" (i.e. mauling) Carter. He even noticed when K got home from work, tracking his every movement and smile hugely at him for fifteen minutes straight.

I mean, I know that he is always changing, but some days his growth seems to hit fast-forward. And every single time it leaves me reeling (and pathetically humming
Slipping Through My Fingers to myself).

How many more days and weeks do I have before he's crawling out of my reach?
How many more times will I get to scoop him up in my arms and sing to him (without spraining something and/or being told, "Stop! You're embarrassing me," that is)?
How many more times can I get away with plastering Instagram with his sweet cheeks before I'm lynched by an angry mob of my peers?

Not enough.



Tonight I teared up (That's right, I'm a crier. And I'm not ashamed! ...much) as I snagged him for a late-night feeding, running over with gratitude to be a mom: to be his mom and Avery's mom and Carter's mom.

The life of a mother with small children is so bleepety-bleeping frustrating and tiring too often.
But nothing, nothing, could outrun, outweigh or outdo the joy of being Mom.

But, Time (Do you mind if I call you Time?), listen. If you could slow down just a little... Just so I have these days where I glimpse his not-too-distant future (the one where he's riding his bike up and down the street one day and getting married and starting a family of his own the next) a little less often... Well, then maybe I could skip the panic attacks (and sappy Abba-inspired montages) and enjoy life more fully.

...some days that just feels impossible.

Yesterday at Finn's four moth check up, the doctor said two little words that I never before imagined would strike such poignant fear in my heart: Solid Foods.

My throat felt dry and I nearly shouted at the poor doctor with a frightening look in my eye (judging by his slightly-terrified reaction): "I'm not ready!!"

How have we come to this little milestone, I ask you?

And why did it freak me out so badly?

Most importantly, where has Time gone?!

...turns out that Time is a real jerk.

So I guess it really is up to me to be the one to slow down life, put down distractions, and get down with my little ones while they're still little.

And while they're still mine.

Today there's Time enough for that.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, August 5, 2013

R.E.M. and My Apocalypse

 Please read this post knowing that until fairly recently, I thought any saying ever put up on a Pinterest board with a rippling pond in the background or on a motivational poster with a picture of a kitty cat hanging on by his wittwe cwaws was pure and utter garbage.
 I am very, very ashamed to say that I also believed that anything anyone got in life, they probably deserved. I had a limited, black and white perspective on life, and that included on myself. I was never, ever anything enough - smart, funny, pretty, interesting, worthwhile - not ever. An internal dialogue of criticism and scarcity is something that I continue to struggle with. But today I want to share some pretty serious things that are on my mind -- Please tune in again next time if you want to skip the Self Help portion of this station and get back to the regularly scheduled Looney Tunes reruns that are my usual fare.
I remember this wittwe kitty when I'm feewing bwue.
Today marks the three year anniversary of the day that my life fell apart. 

Do normal people celebrate such macabre milestones?
Huh. 
Oh well. I certainly never claimed to be normal. 

This date will be forever black in my calendar- a day I probably should reserve for mourning. Or crying. Or at least eating my weight in Ben and Jerry's. 
 But, instead, here's how I [try to] see it.
Our lives are a battle for control.
We battle to control ourselves, the people around us, and the elements. 
Two out of three are a complete lost cause. 
But still, we try.

...let me back up a little bit...

 BrenĂ© Brown, famous (and absolutely brilliant and wonderful) TED speaker, author, and shame researcher, writes about living a whole-hearted life from the perspective of the enlightenment she found through a mid-life spiritual awakening (i.e. nervous breakdown).
I can definitely relate. 

Three years ago demons I didn't know existed popped out of the woodwork of the life I had built to destroy every ounce of peace that I had. It left me without appetite for days, broken and shaking, and on my knees begging for mercy and relief in endless, pleading prayers. 

I'm sorry for the discomfort of this retelling. And the lack of specific detail given. Unfortunately judgment is so easy -- at least it's something I struggle with -- and I would hate to share my very real, raw truth with someone I wasn't looking in the eye. In my experience, though, we each have wounds concealed, and so I hope acknowledging mine without divulging exactly where I was tripped up and exactly how much blood I lost will suffice.


We all know and love and possibly are people who have encountered infertility, marital problems, struggles with faith, terrifying medical emergencies, loneliness, death, addiction, illness, and countless other trials where life just doesn't quite go to plan.
I have never been quick on my feet when it comes to my plans going awry. 

But working through the fallout of my dark day has meant making peace with my control issues.
The serenity prayer goes something like, "God give me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." 
Stuff like this, as well as the oft-overused "One day at a time", definitely used to sound unbearably cheesy to me, but I now understand what they are getting at and how the spirit of these mantras applies to my life. 
Lame! But true.
 Everything about me is just a little bit different than it was three years ago. Not because we're all always changing, which is true, but because my faith has been tested and my eyes have been opened to the fact that Everybody Hurts (sing along with me... "sometimes" ...Stuck in your head now, aint it?). The things that hurt us are different but the instinctive reactions are the same: close up, shut off, try to make it stop, fill gaps with anything and everything we can, avoid, lash out... 
Fight or flight is not just for the unwitting prey of jungle cats, my friends. 

But the only real solution is to give up control. And since no one on earth is perfect, that means that no one is trustworthy enough to be given control. That's where I have found the real life application of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in my life. Now, the Atonement is something that I have heard and read and studied and prayed and thought about my whole life, but I know that I never really understood what it meant until I was finally given a personal experience that I couldn't survive alone.

As I struggled for months with my disaster fallout, reading one sentence finally clicked everything together in my mind and allowed me to piece together the answer to all of my questions: How am I supposed to let go of control? How can I ever have trust - for myself or my loved ones or my future? How can I keep from becoming so broken ever, ever again? Will I ever be whole?  

This was the sentence: "The love of God, yours for Him and His for you, will help you form one relationship to which you can give yourself without reservation."
That was it - the key to beginning to unlock the answers to my aching, up-at-night, tear-soaked-pillow questions. 

I have always believed these the following: God is perfect. He made me. He loves me. 

And because those things are true, I don't have to worry about protecting myself by fighting with or fleeing from pain and disappointment. I don't have to worry about screwing up everything. I don't have to worry about the choices of others hurting me. I don't have to be afraid of my future, whatever it may bring. 
I just have to take one day at a time living my life, trying my best, choosing the best things I can, and trusting that God will take care of the rest. 

 Because, really, I have no other choice. 

Trust me, if I could, I would snatch up the Life Steering Wheel for myself and everyone around me in a heartbeat! I would be so darn good at fixing other people's problems and making other people's choices!
Or so I'd like to think.  
 But I only can control me- my choices, my reactions, the things I fill my life with. 
And that's where the one day at a time part kicks in. Every day as I pray I promise to give control to God and ask for help and peace in return. So far, I have been blessed beyond reason, even though my life is far from perfect. 
A new kind of Serenity Prayer.
Most of us will have one day, or perhaps many (but gosh, I hope not) days in our lives that level our world. Fragile buildings of relationships, trust, confidence, happiness, safety- all can be destroyed without so much as a by your leave. And in those moments we will feel alone and covered in dust, scrapes, and probably more than a little asbestos, with the choice to pick up the salvageable pieces, dust ourselves off and rebuild, or lay down, take a deep, satisfyingly carcinogenic breath, and die.
I just want you to know that 
with Christ, there is always, always, always hope.  
 And, to me, there is nothing cheesy about that.

It feels as though my life revolves around the events of my black day three years ago. Although a large part of me would be glad to have the power to erase that day from my and your and every calendar, I have to admit that the End of My World as I Knew It ([and I Feel Fine]... now try getting that song out of your head!) became the foundation upon which I am, with the help and strength that my faith brings, rebuilding everything I can. And I believe I am building it all a little stronger, a little brighter, a little taller. 
My buildings all still have weak spots - glaring vulnerabilities that I try to embrace or crappy craftsmanship that I have marked for remodel if only I ever get the time/patience/balls. There are buildings that I have rebuilt slowly, with fear of collapse and a vivid replay of the awful destruction I have already survived in every brick and beam. 
But I kept building.
Because I don't have to be afraid of collapse. I don't have to feel the pain from old scars.
I just have to choose to trust God. I have to do the best I can today, and hang onto the knowledge that God is aware of me.
Every day.
One day at a time.

P.S. To order your own motivational t-shirt (the ones that I print in my mom's basement) please send $5 to 5555 Hang In There Wittwe Kitty Lane; Unicornia, OR 55555

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

sister, sister. birthday, birthday.

Finn was born two days too early. 
I mean, he was born three and a half weeks early, of course. 
But, you see, my girl's birthdays are 5.16 and 6.17, so if Finn had been born two days later, his birthday would be 4.15. 
Which would just be really cool and nerdy. 

I know what you're thinking- with a mom like me he has zero chance at the cool thing and already has a place reserved for him among nerd royalty. I'm good with it. 

Anyway, Avery's birthday came quickly after Finn came home, but we had a plan to make her sixth a special day AND keep me sane! It worked brilliantly.There were balloons and presents and doughnuts and school and then a small party at a ceramic art store nearby. The store took care of more balloons and cupcakes as well as an hour of painting for my little artist and her little friends. They each got to take home their work of art (once it was fired and all shiny and pretty), then we went back to our place to play Sardines and that one game where everyone sits on their balloon and the first to pop it wins! I think it should be called Butt Balloon, but that probably sounds more like a game to see who can smuggle more cocaine across international borders, so... not appropriate for six-year-olds.
 Maybe next year. 
We capped off the night by leaving Cartie with the Kestners and taking Av and her best friend, Drew, to dinner. Avery's choice? Sushi! In Portland just about every sushi restaurant involves a conveyor belt that travels around the restaurant space delivering sushi to each table. You pay per plate, and it is Avery's favorite thing ever. I guess it makes sense- what kid wouldn't love feasting their eyes and their bellies on delicious, fresh (?) sushi all night long? They both tried octopus and shrimp sashimi and calamari - they had an amazing time. Avery isn't a huge cake fan (or maybe I just used my powers of influence for evil - cake is boring) so we hit up a fro yo shop on the way home. All in all, it was as good a six-year-old-double-date-with-your-mom-and-dad as anyone has ever had!
I know it's not as elaborate as birthdays past, but I think she had a really lovely day anyway. And there's always next year!

Avery's Sixth                                            Carter's Third



















We celebrated Carter's third birthday a few days early, since it fell during our yearly trip to San Diego. We decided to throw a big nursery bash in the park. AND we decided to do it the day before we left for a week-long vacation, which, in hind-sight was not my most brilliant plan-- boy did we sure need that vacation when we were done, though!
Carter was so excited that she smiled from ear to ear all day. She asked frequently what we were doing next, and every time I would go down the list: "First we'll eat your special doughnut, then we'll open your presents, then playtime, naptime, and then... your birthday party!" She would respond, "Yeah! And it's my party. It's Carter's party. It's just my party! And not Avery's!" She never said this in a mean or taunting way- it was honestly as though she could hardly believe her luck! And it was the most adorable thing I've ever heard each and every time she said it.
The poor middle child.

We set up Carter's party at a local park and had loads of three-year-olds along with their older and younger siblings join us! We played Duck, Duck, Goose; Freeze Dance; Red Rover, Red Rover (again, completely age-inappropriate for the littles!! But we had so much fun trying to organize it- I highly recommend you try to teach all of the toddlers on your block a game that involves running into each other at full speed. It's awesome.); and Ball Pop. K was in charge of the games, and he really rocked it. All of the kids had a great time, especially when we pulled out the Ice Cream Sundae Bar (more my territory). The littles got cones and the biggies dished up ridiculous amounts of cold goodness and sugary toppings. Carter's favorite part was absolutely the present opening hand-in-hand with the constant attention. She really loved knowing that it was her own special day, and that had me smiling from ear to ear.

Happy Birthday my wonderful, hilarious, special, beautiful girls!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

B Y O Horn

Is it just me, or is it pretty hard to make friends?
There's all of that small talk and feeling things out at first. 
Then there's time spent building up things in common to talk about, and then talking about doing together, and then actually doing together.
Parents of young kids often make friends with other parents of young kids in order to trade stories, recipes, child-rearing secrets, and petty gossip about how other parents are royally screwing their kids up.
These friendships are good, but so often it takes lots of work to make something really real stick.


 So meeting someone that makes you instantly comfortable, with whom a first-meeting feels like the middle of a long-time-running conversation, with comfortable silences and blithe banter peppered throughout...
well, I would consider that about as rare as a unicorn sighting. 

I recently moved in next to a unicorn.
(A unicorn who, as she reads this, is surely rolling her eyes and cursing the day she met me. Deal with it, Lady.)

This unicorn first rescued me from a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day involving Avery, a neighbor girl's hair and a pair of scissors. From there she went on to save me from pregnancy illness and exhaustion, boredom, depression, and ever feeling ordinary. 
Who could possibly feel ordinary with such a friend?!

I have been able to make some great friends since our move here nearly a year ago, and I feel like I owe a lot of that to being so at home in my little corner of our little street -- something I am sure I could not have done without moving near my insta-friend.

I mean, not only is she extraordinary and so thoughtful and a good person and all of that dumb crap, but she is hilarious and adorable and witty. 
AND she can reach things on the top shelf!! And I mean the tippy-top! 
I can't believe I didn't mention that last one first.
Living across the street from her has been a dream.

Just over a month ago, when she told me that she and her family were leaving our little corner of Skid Row for a better job and better house with better pay in far-off town (...okay, it's only two and a half hours away, but still!), I cried so hard and so long that it was like the end of Old Yeller, Armageddon, Titanic, Romeo + Juliet, My Girl, Beaches, Steel Magnolias, and season 3 of Downton Abbey all rolled into one.
Of course, I did my best to pretend to be happy for her (don't worry- she didn't buy it), but there was some ugly, ugly crying going on. 

Thankfully for the past few weeks I have been able to pull off an oh-so-casual "Don't Cry Out Loud" act and put on a mostly-brave face through all of the packing and final weeks of being a unicorn's neighbor.
But the truth is that I am heartbroken.

Their house was empty by noon on Saturday.
 I spent the weekend away from our place in the daylight hours, dragging my family anywhere-but-here, just avoid the empty windows from across the street.
I have spent endless hours, too, dreaming up a move that we can't afford to a different street or city or suburb just to avoid missing them so much and so often. 
And it's only been a few days.

So for now I'm stuck here missing our kid's crazy playtime, our daily chats, weekly movie dates, quarterly girl's nights out/double dates, and the constant stream of laugh-our-faces-off texts.
 ...actually, I don't and won't miss that last one since I am determined they continue. I mean, just because that crazy couple-from-every-Nicholas-Sparks-book-turned-movie couldn't figure out the whole letter-writing thing doesn't mean our long distance opposite-of-bromance will fizzle!

I guess all of this is my way of publicly declaring (i.e. convincing myself) that I don't have to go back to a unicornless existence just because of a big, dumb Uhaul truck.

P.S. I know. There's a "horny" joke in here somewhere with the whole unicorn thing that I am a little too sad to make, so I will just reference it here so you don't think I'm losing my touch. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I be on my Suit and Tie: Finn's Blessing Day

 6.2.13
There's nothing like a baby blessing to exhaust everyone in sight! ...I mean... count your blessings?
Either way, man did we have a good time! My parents came to stay for a long weekend, K's parents came over for the blessing, and we had lots of amazing friends around to help us celebrate Finn's first ever Big Day! I don't remember much about anything (1. Thank heaven for pictures and 2. Like YOU would remember anything nearly two months later when you were running full-time on four choppy hours of sleep for weeks on end! You don't know me!), but I remember feeling lots of love to be so blessed with such good people in our lives.

Five.
Finn looked so handsome in his white-knit-shorts-tuxedo (loads classier than the tuxedo t-shirt that K wore to bless him in), and he loved spending the long weekend being held and 'ooh'ed and 'aww'ed over.There were quite a few firsts for him that weekend, too. First trip to the ocean. First time meeting his namesake (Finn's middle name is Michael for my dad). First time having a luncheon in his honor. ...first time wearing a knit short-xedo?

Grandpa's here!!
Michael, Adam Michael, and Finn Michael.



Pooped.
Proud grandparents!

THE uncle.
No seriously, he pooped.