Monday, April 29, 2013

Great and tiny heritage.

During my devotional last night, I was asked to consider the following verse as it applies to motherhood:
"Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him."
I wanted to share my response.  In no way is it meant to be preachy.  I'm posting it in the hopes that it will encourage someone who is struggling with some of the same things I am struggling with on their mother's journey.
This verse reminds me of what a sacred bond exists between mother and child.  Not simply a gift or a joy, but a very intentional, divinely-inspired pairing.  My job here is not little - "to whom much is given, much is expected."  My approach, then, must always have God as the foundation.  Love, service, integrity, honesty, grace and prayer.  To love in the way God intended: with patience, kindness, selflessness, hope and perseverence. 
Emphasis for mothering small children: PATIENCE AND SELFLESSNESS.
These precious ones are not burdens - no, not even when Leah throws all her shoes on the floor or runs a sink full of water and fills it with toilet paper or Logan wakes up four times in five hours.  They are my gifts, my heritage and reward from the Lord.
The prayer of my mother's heart:
Lord God, please instruct me in your ways so that I might love as you have loved me.  That I may put aside my own desires and instincts to give love and guide with wisdom while expecting nothing in return.  Thank you, thank you for my two beautiful blessings. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Eight months brings:
Two teeth popping through (finally, they're actually popping through!!).
Crawling.  So much for the days when I could put him on a blanket on the floor and expect him to stay there.
Kids who legit play together.

Some very serious, very unhappy screaming.  Poor little teething guy.
He says HI, HUNGRY, and MORE (this one in sign language).  I swear he's also said Leah.  Scout's honor.  I feel like she'll be his first foresure word.  He also said I love you.  Okay, so he didn't so much say it as mimic the exact tones I use when I tell him I love you.  It counts(ish).
He's back to his old hyginx of waking up several times through the night.  I'm not sure why, but I really wish it would stop.
Has tried some actual solids (not baby-food "solids"), including puffs (which are now a hit and demanded every day as he pounds and screams waits patiently for his meals), peas without the little green shell, and tiny, mashable pieces of bread.
Sister loves to help in this process.

Chugs water like a college kid at a frat party. 
Loves to play on his tummy.  And rolls constantly. 

He is sooooo giggly, and ticklish.  It's hillarious, and we just laugh at how adorable he is.

Is a grabby-grabhands, and looooves to pull hair, grab toys, tip things over... whatever he can get to. 
I wouldn't classify him as an easy baby.  He definitely likes things a certain way, and he doesn't calm as easily as sister did.  But I can't imagine my life without him.  I'm totally smitten. 
It's also a little shameful to realize just how few pictures I've taken over the last month.  Luckily... this is officially Logan's last birthday on which I'll be working.  Like - with any luck, for a really, really long time. :)  To say I'm excited about it would be the understatement of the century.
Challenges included, I don't think we could have asked for a better addition to our little family.  I love this little guy more than words can express, and - as always - I feel so lucky to be his mommy.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Casa es Bonita

Once upon a time, I dove off some cliffs.

Then, I had babies, so that wasn't really my thing anymore.

But one day, the two intersected.  And I was totally stoked.  And it looked like this:

I have been this pirate.  Oh yes, I have.

The food?  It's still totally disgusting.  I used to get Taco Bell as an upgrade before I came into work.

The lighting no es bonita.

One of the coolest high school jobs ever?  Um, yahuh!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

On YOLO and a post-4/20 world

My 8th graders have a new saying this year: YOLO. 

You Only Live Once.  As in, Oh man, I got an F on that test in math.  Oh well, YOLO.

For the record, I really despise this particular acronym.  (I also despise the word SWAG, as in Hey Mrs. Strassner, those shoes are really swag.  I got rid of it in my classroom by using the everloving crap out of it, because if there's one sure-fire thing that will make adolescents think something is totally uncool, it's when an adult adopts it as their own.  YOLO.)

Much like it's early predecessor, carpe diem, YOLO is all about the live-for-today attitude, but without the redemptive, inspirational undertones.

It's difficult to express to a teenager just why this phrase is so darned obnoxious to me.  Perhaps because I know firsthand exactly how true the sentiment is. 

YOLO wasn't a saying we adopted.  It was laid out for us as teenagers.  Right there, smack-me-in-the-face obvious.  And at 14 years old, the question of why some of us did and some of us didn't (live, that is) was never especially clear.

The last several months have been tough on that front.  It feels to me like we've been hit numerous times with tragedies - tragedies I can't help but take extremely personally.  There were shootings at a theatre in Aurora, there was the all-too awful elementary school shooting, and, at the beginning of this week, bombings in Boston. 

I spent a lot of time after that day 14 years ago thinking about who I was in light of what had happened to me.  Many hours were devoted to figuring out who I was and how I wanted to deal with the cards I'd been dealt.  The truth was, I didn't want it to define me.  It was something that happened, and it was very sad.  But it would not become who I was and what I was about. 

I wasn't naiive enough to think that I could get away entirely unscathed - I absolutely spent the next two years searching out exits in every single building I ever entered.  It got to a point that my brain could monitor that without me consciously thinking about it (which is why, ironically, I've always had a fear of movie theatres.  No exit in a mass-shooter type scenario.) - but I saw the obstacles that lay in my path as a result of Columbine, and I doubled my efforts to consciously overcome them anyway. 

As a teen, I went to see movies, even though there was never a single time that I didn't carefully monitor every person that walked in from a bathroom break, just in case they might actually be a shooter.  Sounds paranoid, right?  That's what trauma does to you.  The point, though, is that I went.  I never let the fear get the best of me or stop me from doing something that would have been easy if my life hadn't included Columbine.

Oh, how things change when you're a mom. 

Now I admit to the part where I let the fear rule: After Aurora, I don't think I'll ever go to a movie theatre again. 

Perhaps, maybe.  Sometime in the distant future.  The variable that's changed here is that I'm no longer living just for me.  I no longer feel the need to do something just to prove that I can.  I've dealt with the parts I need to deal with for myself.  I've been tough and strong. 

Walking this road with kids is, like, a thousand times more difficult and complicated than it was when it was simply my own heart I was protecting. 

The irrational part of me wants to snatch them up, stick them in a closet and keep them there until... well, until the world isn't so crazy, unpredictable and dangerous.  So, forever. 

To keep them S-A-F-E.

Unfortunately, S-A-F-E literally requires me to lock them up in a closet for forever.  And that's not even close to the life I want for my kids. 

Because it's the moments in life where there is much at stake that character is forged.  It is these experiences that teach us the greatest of life's gifts: compassion, empathy, wisdom, love, beauty, faith, determination.  So often they are borne out of trial.  They are borne out of struggle.

Sometimes we make a friend who betrays us.  Sometimes we bet on the wrong man.  Sometimes we go to school or the movies and get shot at.  Sometimes we get picked on.  Sometimes our parents disappoint us.  Sometimes we get sick.  Sometimes we lose people we love.  Sometimes we end up as sobbing heaps on the floor because of the cards this world deals us.

But the kicker - the most important part of all this unpredictability - is that it isn't about what happens to us, it's about the choices we make as a result.  The life we choose, the people we decide to be after the world falls down around our ears. 

S-A-F-E isn't realistic, because if they are safe, they never have a chance to grow.  They never have a chance to choose.  They never have the priviledge of falling down - and the lesson that comes with knowing that they are capable of picking themselves up.

It is here, I would tell my 8th graders, that I take issue with your casual and cavalier use of YOLO.  If you're justifying outrageous and stupid things with the rational that it doesn't matter since you only live once, you've missed the entire point. 

The lesson is: You only live onceOne lifetime to become our best selves.  The lesson is: keep a careful eye on your choices, words and actions, because it is these that will one day make up the tapestry of your life for better or worse.  The lesson is: Life doesn't just happen, passively, to any of us.  It is a series of choices we make for ourselves that determines our character, even in the face of events we can't control. 

The lesson is: Live the life you've imagined for yourself, take chances when it's worth it - even when you are afraid.  Even when there is much to loose.   

Monday, April 15, 2013

What a dishwasher wants to be when it grows up

...or, it's possible that we're just very, very tired.  And Leah was in bed.  And all the letters had to be used. 

Have I mentioned that we're very, very tired? 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A {DIY} sign {with love}

So here's the thing: I've already said that my first priority when we moved into this house was the little girl's room.  And, although my timetable wasn't exactly realistic, we did eventually get it done(ish). 

My second priority was the baby's room.  (Even though it's still not remotely finished, I'm for sure standing by that story.)  Now, to be fair, the room looked like this when we moved in:

Floor to ceiling purple.  And by "ceiling," I mean that the ceiling was this same, very delightful (and only slightly maddening) shade of lavender. 
And so we painted.  The ceiling and mouldings are now white, and the walls are painted and decorated(ish).  Oh yeah, and carpet.  That was kind of important.
But, beyond that, I'm not especially happy with the way my special little guy's room is turning out.  It's alright.  A little cliche.  But mostly, there is simply nothing that sets it apart.
So, we set out to change that.  I'm a big fan of word artwork, particulary anything that states that name we so carefully selected. (Plus, when they get bigger and letters and spelling becomes a big deal, built in name-recognition practice.  Score!) 
I wanted something that felt very vintage and authentic, not steril and manufactured.  


First of all, please pardon all the bad pictures.  It's worth noting that pretty much this entire project was done after 11:00 at night when the kiddies were in bed...

The blue on Logan's wall is Behr's Light French Grey, so I already had that on hand.  I also ran to my favorite, go-to white, Behr's Decorator White (which we also had on hand since we're re-doing the kitchen).  We needed a few additional things:
We decided on a size that would go well over the crib (roughly 4x3, although Casey's math was slightly off so it wasn't quite that tall in reality) and purchased some loose white pine planks from Home Depot.  Hubby put them together, joining them together with two vertical planks at the back.

Then, I attacked it with stain in random places.  If I had it to do over again, I'd stain and paint the planks prior to joining them together to give it a bit more of that vintage feel, but I'm still satisfied with the outcome nonetheless.

Once the stain was dry, I covered the stained areas I wanted to remain exposed with Feed-n-Wax and painted on the white using a brush, making sure to give it a rough wipe with a cloth after painting.  Ta-da!  Instant age and authenticity.

Once the paint was dry, I used a projector to enlarge a printout of what I wanted on the board; in this case, Logan's name.  Because I'm a self-proclaimed font snob these days, I chose Fanwood Text to get the job done.  Beautiful, but not too fancy and lightly masculine. 

When I finished tracing, Casey and I added the letters in paint.



It was good, but I wasn't quite satisfied, so I went back and added a bit of interest and dimention to the letters with stain and a really tiny brush. 

Next, it was time to frame it out, a job Casey took on.  Once he had it framed, I went over the frame with a 50/50 mix of the two paints, hitting the grooves with a little bit of stain, and here we are:

We have a unique and special, handmade piece of art to hang above our little Logan's crib. 

I will admit, for a girl who doesn't classify herself as "crafty," I'm pretty pleased with how this turned out.  I think it's the coolest thing I've ever made.  Besides these two cute things, of course.

I think I'll make another for the little girl's room.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Frederick Experience

It all started with a simple doll.  Darn you IKEA and your irresistable, cheap crap.

My sister has one of these, and sometime around November when we were at her house, Leah began playing with it.  Oh and also?  FYI, if you google images of "IKEA wooden mannequin," you will get lots of pictures of these little guys doing all sorts of sordid things.  Not what the manufacturers intended, I am certain.
When asked what his name was, it was decided that he would be called Frederick.  And from there, Frederick took on a life of his own.
Since then, Frederick has become her imaginary friend.  For the record, he is a friendly monster who lives in California with his mommy.  Yet, he also frequents our dinner table, Leah's room, the car and, when the occassion warrants, he becomes Baby Frederick and can be rocked/sung to/swaddled or otherwise mothered. 
Yes, Frederick and Leah have had quite the adventures.  I even snapped this picture of them building a tower together.

Aren't they cute?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The cheese stands {happily} alone

Well, it's official: Everyone I know is pregnant.

After going almost literally years months between regular visits, our little group of friends is trying to rekindle the bromance and put the spark back in our friendships. So in that effort, we hosted 15 people in our house for breakfast today.

Except, like really, really soon, it's not going to be 15 people anymore.

Because, folks? 2013 has been dubbed "the year of the baby." I believe posters are being made up as we speak, and a national celebration has been planned with mocktails and condom-balloon animals. (Get it? Because nobody needs them! See what I did there? Hillarious.)

{Picture from Christmas 2009. Ironically, in this picture, I'm the only one who is actually prego}

Fertility? It's here on an epic scale. I was afraid that I might get pregnant-by-proxy simply from being in the same room with these women.

Even though my youngest is zero and my life consists almost exclusively of pumped milk, yoga pants, counting diapers and going on three hours of sleep rampages, part of me is all, hey girls! I totally would have synched my cycle and been part of the knocked up club! It's that time in high school when the other girls decided to ditch class to go smoke but nobody told me ('cause I was always too much of a goody-goody - and I liked school - to do anything like that. Plus, smoking is way gross) all over again.

Actually, the truth is that I'm thrilled beyond words for all of these ladies.

Although I do envy the fact that they all get to be pregnant together AND somebody else has done it before them (I was obviously the first to go down this road from our group - there were definitely times I wished I could have called somebody else who had been through it, if only just to help frame my new-mom-crazies), I will admit that I'm pretty darn content with our world right now.

It's a funny thing, because as my baby inches closer to being less a baby and more a toddler, I am super calm and in no hurry to start trying for #3. Which is pretty much the opposite of the way I felt the first time 'round. I desperately hope that is in the cards for us, but I am just so stinkin happy with our family of four. It feels "complete" somehow - even though I know hope it's not.

I'm suffering from a complete lack of jealousy, which, as you might remember, is definitely not the way I was feeling as 2011 came to a close. God is pretty awesome.

And, these two faces?

They're a one-two punch of pure happy.

I changed my font at