Something new

Please meet Aurora:

Jessica's new pet

This is my daughters newest lovey. Aurora comes into an already robust family of stuffed animals, Sniffers is her rival.

If her dragging this dog around town is any indication of how she’d actually treat a living one … this was the buy of a lifetime. (Because we saved one, a life … that is)


Don’t worry, I’ve got it!

I’ve had to reach WAY down in my parental arsenal lately (read: since school started) because the child who cannot sit still wants nothing to do with my laid back approach to tackling each and every day. She wants a schedule! Something on the calendar! An activity!

So imagine my wariness when looking at the calendar today to see an absolutely blank slate. Inside, I’m thinking, Oh, thank you. How wonderful to have a day at home. On the outside I’m scrambling because the countdown has just begun to Whining 301 and Attitude 504. She’s advanced in these subjects.

After discovering that I had left my stroller in the van I needed a back up real quick to killing half the time this morning.

Big surprise here: I’m a bit of a home-body. Only, the child I am trying to raise to be her own person is the most social of butterflies I know. That coupled with my favorite phrase ever “Careful. Please be careful! Are you being careful?” I am riding high on the train that is Parenting A Child Who Will Challenge Everything About You And Your Ideas. Also? Parenting A Girl.

It’s been awesome, to be completely honest. I love being challenged most days in this way because it forces me to live outside of my box and in return, it forces her to do the same.

We compliment each other, one would say. However. The keeping her busy throughout the day went from adventure walks in the woods and baking at home to ENTERTAIN ME! TEACH ME! LET’S DO SOMETHING ELSE!!???!?!!!!!!

And so today, we are.

This morning started with my genius warming up in the play department and we set up a “Grocery Store”, this is also a very sneaky (and fun!) way to work on math skills and decision making. We priced pantry items and set up shop, gave each child a basket and made a “check out counter” stocked with play paper money and a calculator.


Once that wore off and they started actually eating their groceries we cleaned up the Grocery Store and moved onto to Library. There are puzzles at our local library which is probably my sons favorite part and I went in the back of their book closet to find books that are less often read and set them out on “a shelf” for their browsing efforts.

Pretend Library can also be called “Quiet time” but no one wants to play that game.

This was also a sneaky way for me to be able to do some dishes, put away some laundry and listen to my girl teach my boy how to go about the more difficult puzzles together.

They “checked out” their books and went on to pretending to go home and read them, then return them and start the process all over.

Once we were done with the Library I decided it was time to either play outside (cold, and again no stroller and close to lunch time) or we could play “Movie Theatre!!”. Guess what we did?

We moved the furniture in the living room to mock a movie theater and the seating, we decided on the matinée and created tickets. I gave them a quick browse through the possible concession options and sat them down with their favorite blankets and a small paper cup of mini m&m’s.

It has been quiet ever since.

More than once my daughter said “Mom, this is so fun!”, “Mom!! You’re the best mom ever, even better than Carson’s mom!” (I must meet this Carson’s Mom … apparently I have some shoes to fill) So before these comments were even made I had already patted myself on the back for reaching down under and remember the best parts of my imagination as a young girl myself. The fact that she loved it so much made it worth any mess or effort on my part and has me reeling with ideas for once the “Movie Theatre” wears off.

I’m thinking a relay race is in the works this afternoon.

I own a stop watch, dare me to use it.

But what about you?? Are you a teacher, nanny, babysitter or parent yourself? How do you go about keeping it fresh not only for them, but for you??


Distilling homemade vanilla

I had to pick up some booze from the grocery store in order to finally make some homemade vanilla and I had already run a couple errands that morning so I knew that just popping in and out of the store for this ONE thing would be OK. I wouldn’t be stretching the patience or my luck with 2 kids in tow.

Except, when did I ever think that my luck ran that far?

I was holding my son, two years old, through the store because my daughter, 5 years old, asked to push the smaller version of a grocery cart to which I said yes, she could.

Half way through the shopping trip my son decides that this set up is not fair and he loses his marbles. Literally kicking and screaming in my arms. The folks in the aisle infront of me stop, turn and watch as I pass with my five year old pushing a cart with the biggest bottle of vodka available and me holding my thrashing (and filthy) two year old in my arms.

There wasn’t blood. I hadn’t been hit or bit or scratched, so it wasn’t that bad right?? He did finally get his stuff together and we make it through the check out line.

He’s sniffling and I have to tell them both that, No, we are not going to be riding the Penny Horse today – I almost get out of the store (Vodka in hand) when I walk right into the exit door. Still holding my son.

Which means that I smacked his head into the exit door, while holding Vodka and trying to corral my daughter into following me more closely as to not run into traffic.

Which I stopped dead when he started screaming from the pain of getting his head smashed into a door. It was an accident!! And the vodka wasn’t for me (kind of) … I wasn’t going to be drinking when I got home (although, who wouldn’t have thought that after seeing me?).

People from a good 300 feet away turned around, stopped returning their carts or loading their groceries and watched me walk to my car with my vodka, filthy/hurt/screaming child and my daughter.

I got in my car after calming my son down and making sure he was ok and sat there.

Just. Sat.

I was in shock, stunned.

And then I called my mom.

I thought about taking a shot when I got home, don’t you worry, but I saved it for the vanilla.

There are two, and he’s two

Our baby boy turned two on May 5th.

Birthday cake

It was a big day for him. Lots of frosting and presents.

Uh, yeah. I think Oliver liked his cake.

Gluten Free birthday cake, SO GOOD

It was a big day for the whole family, really.

Family of 4

We celebrated the joyfulness he fills us with every single day …

Got it!

And how incredibly in love with life he is, he’s made us and he continues to be as his own little two year old self.

It was a very low key celebration with just Grandpa’s and Grandma’s, a few aunts and uncles. It’s not really our “thing” to make a huge deal out of birthdays outside of our own family of four. We like to celebrate each other in a big way, without fanfare or 17 primary colored toys.

Because celebrating life isn’t about getting, it’s about giving.

And he gives us so much.

Loves the 4-wheeler

Being the baby of our family is fun, I think. My daughter and I like to cater to him but we also like to treat him like a big boy – because that’s what he prefers. She said to me yesterday, driving around in the car, that she can’t wait to be a Mommy! Hearing something like that from your own child is a pretty big compliment – because their frame of reference of mothering is you. It’s me.

I get pretty paranoid about screwing them up. Am I telling them I love them enough? Am I smothering? Am I strict enough where it counts? Do I establish boundaries well enough? It’s always about being enough and doing enough and accomplishing it all when really they see me being me. Just me.

Short comings, pitfalls in my own character, crabby and sad. They see it all. Of all the people in my life – my kids know me, my heart, the best. We’re with one another every single day, all day. But she chooses to see the happy, well adjusted person I try to be. She chooses to see me for me.

And she said she wants that, too.

Happy birthday to our little guy, to our special girl and to our family of four. We just might be doing this right – and we’re loving every single minute.


rabbits feet

Grand Haven

This photo was taken weeks before we decided to start adding to our family. It was in August of 2009. We took our little fam to Grand Haven for lunch and a walk on the pier – I remember getting a beer and sitting there thinking how perfect life was. Sitting outside on a deck eating with the people who meant the most to me.

Our little girl. Our world. In a pink dress and barefoot, she cascaded the rocks on the pier, always looking for something else to climb. Another mountain to over take. A challenge to over come.

I think back to this day often, actually. I knew in my heart that we were spending one of the last weekends as the three of us before a fourth became a reality in my womb. I knew, in the bottom of my gut, in all of my instincts that this weekend was for all of us. For Aaron and I to remember how sweet it is. For Jessica to remember how much fun it is. For me to know how peaceful my life really is.

We’ll never forget those years with “just her”. We wouldn’t trade that time for anything and we wouldn’t redo it or decide to not move forward and build a bigger foundation in our family.

Before we knew it – her bare-feet were tangled and touching his.

Most adorable sailor I know

And then we could breathe. We could exhale. We didn’t know we were holding our breath, trying to hold on to every moment and every feeling. Trying to touch our souls and reach for that moment.

I don’t know if we’re complete, yet. But I know we’re lucky. We are so damn lucky.