Happy Birthday Luke

Writing can give you what having a baby can give you: it can get you to start paying attention, can help you soften, can wake you up.   ann lammott, Bird by Bird

 

We celebrated our Lukey today with friends and water balloons, a big pile of sprinkled donuts and a slip n’ slide in the backyard. We ended the night with pizza on the grill, grandparents and chocolate cupcakes.

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We just came off a week away as a family. Seven full days and nights as a family of five. We played hard; riding our bikes and walking all over the small town, swimming in the cold mountain lake, and taking boat rides whenever we could.

Our last night, Bopa (grandpa) bought a tube for the boat and everyone excitedly loaded up in the boat to go tubing. As each person took their turn, getting dumped in ‘whirpools’ and skipping across the lake, Lu’s face was priceless. He was worried, horrified, frightened and in complete awe watching his brother, dad and uncles get whipped around the behind the boat.

As his brother took a spill out of the tube, Luke shook with sobs. Worried Jack might be hurt or in danger so perfectly illuminated Luke’s personality and heart.

Tender-hearted, good-natured and easy-going for sure, but in the same breath he is tenacious, determined and flat out stubborn. He is charming and witty and gregarious. He knows how to talk himself out of trouble and is constantly sneaking out of timeout. He is a lover, often climbing into bed with us for a snuggle and tells all of us he loves us throughout the day.

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I want to remember.

I want to remember the callous on his left thumb from sucking his thumb and the little chip in his front tooth. I want to remember that he was klutzy, constantly tripping and banging into things, covered in bruises. I hope I remember the way he lays on the kitchen floor cuddling Sadie and absently pats Rem’s head while he sits at the bar eating.

I want to remember how he was always the last one to fall asleep, always needs one more kiss or a drink of water. He loves cereal, snacks, ham sandwiches, hummus and any kind of fruit.

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He taught himself to ride a bike this year, refusing our help and advice, slowly figuring it out for himself and building confidence along the way.

And Jason, the beloved imaginary friend, he still comes around nearly every day. I hope he stays a little longer.

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Happiest of birthdays Luke Michael. You are a treasure and a joy. You were the surprise of a lifetime and every day I wake up wondering how I won the lottery with you.

I love you.

I figure I have 10 minutes max before my dilapidated laptop crashes on me, but one of my resolutions this year was to write again and four months into the year I haven’t done a thing.

I decided my desk in the kitchen is no longer good inspiration. The debris from daily life is too distracting. So I unplugged and went outside. I even took a picture for proof…or maybe as a reminder to try this again another day.

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A mom at preschool drop-off this morning asked the ever-loaded ‘what are you up to these days?’ question. Why does such a simple question feel like a punch to the gut some days?

‘Just momming,’ I answered casually.

But it stopped me in my tracks. What am I doing these days? Mothering. Cleaning. Pushing swings, wiping butts, countertops and toilet seats. Driving my car, reading stories, cooking food, saying no, saying maybe, doling out timeouts, jobs, discipline, hugs and kisses.

Also, I’m working out. And as I was running today, the thought occurred to me that for literally six years to the month my body has been working hard at sustaining other people’s lives. I have literally been pregnant or nursing with only a tiny 3 month window from January 2008 through January 2014.

And when my body was working so hard during that time I was proud of it. All those flaws that bothered me faded to the background just a little bit. That stuff that eats at me when I look in the mirror and echoes in my brain; it was just background noise. I had this intuitive respect and kindness for my body. It gave me three precious babies and I fed them with my own body, watching them grow and thrive. You can’t hate yourself when you have such tangible proof of its usefulness.

And then that season came to an end. As it was supposed to. My baby and nursing years are over. And I’m all wrapped up in relief and grief. What is my purpose now? Of course it’s to continue mothering…

But I am connecting how much I appreciate the feeling of my body at work. And so instead of growing babies, I’m hitting the pavement. Slogging along, huffing and puffing, feeling equal parts deflated and elated as I compel my body towards strength, resilience. The soreness in my legs and the burning in my lungs, pushes all those thoughts into the background. Those flaws melt away just a little and I’m simply me. Breath in. Breath out.

All to say, I’m not really sure what I’m up to these days. It’s a loaded question. Surely the sweet spot of balance is out there somewhere, maybe I’ll find it this year?

A New Day Rises

A post sitting in my drafts for two weeks and finally the words came. Little glimpses of the kids, what they are doing, talking about, the things I want to remember.

And when I go to grab a few photos to add to the post, the computer shakes and smokes, freezing up and forgetting those precious words.

Grrr.

Stupid technology. Stupid me for taking two weeks to write a dang post.

And now the baby cries from her crib, because that’s how it works. So much has happened this winter, packaged up in the regular everyday. The kids growing and changing and I want to remember. So for today, just pictures, and hopefully hopefully when I look back a few years now they will remind me and I will laugh. Luke’s first trip to the doctor for glue on his forehead three days before Christmas, Jack’s never ending love for all things Cabelas, an unbelievable family vacation, Scarlet’s infatuation with shoes and jewelry and babies. The sweetness and the chaos.

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Instagram is My New Blog

Instagram kind of took over my blog this year. I love sharing little snapshots of our days. I love seeing friends and family and all the little mini stories and photos they post.

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But Instagram is just a tiny piece. A singular moment. And blogging is a fraction more than that, but still,  it’s a little bigger. It forces words and thoughts. It’s storytelling. And I want more of that.

***

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I’m fully embracing my love of indie pop. Regina Spektor, Mumford and Sons and Of Monsters and Men are my Pandora stations of choice. I’ve been making a concentrated effort to eat less carbs and more vegetables the last couple weeks but then I make a batch of cookies ‘for the kids’ and eat the dough straight from the freezer when no one is looking. Ridiculous. In trying to fight the winter blues that chase me all through January and February, I cashed in a gift certificate a dear friend so generously gifted me for some hot yoga. The stretching and warm room are divine. I wish I could do it every day.

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***

The holidays feel like months ago when in reality they were just a few weeks ago. I took down all our Christmas decorations including the tree the day after Christmas in anticipation of our trip to Hawaii. It was so NICE to come home to a clean fresh house, but all the hustle and bustle this year combined with our travel really changed the feeling of the season. Maybe I’ll get around to posting some pictures one of these days. My computer just told me I uploaded 227 pictures from my phone, so I’m sure there’s something worth posting eventually.

 

 

This and That

I wake up on Mondays and think ‘this is the week I’m going to get organized…slow down…set time aside to read, cook, finally build that marble run for Jack…’

HA.

Even though none of that is happening, other really good things ARE.

Game after game of Spot it. Bike riding in the driveway (because we’ve had exactly one skif of snow this year). Chocolate chip cookies. Trying out hot yoga. Attempting to pitch crap from the garage, my closet, the ridiculous amount of toys in the basement.

Just regular life stuff.

I have a regular column in our local magazine and before the archives get so old I can’t reference the recipes anymore, I thought I would link to a few of them:

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Balsamic Roast Beef

Cinnamon Rolls

Cheese Tortellini Soup (which I think is posted somewhere on the blog already…)

 

I’m also reading a really good book. Actually, I guess technically I’m re-reading it. It’s called Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. I loaned it to a friend and she ended up ordering me a new copy because she splattered so much stuff in her kitchen cooking recipes out of it. The pages are dog eared and starting to stick together. A small group of my girlfriends started a book club/dinner club based on the book and it has been SO fun. We cook the recipes from the book, drink wine, talk late into the evening and even though we are as different from each other on paper as can be, we are finding so many lovely connections.

 

We had our first lazy weekend in months and I actually woke up this morning refreshed. We went to Lowes and Costco as a family, watched football (go Seahawks!), the boys skied a half day on Sunday and Scarlet and I vacuumed out the car and went to the library. Seriously, it was awesome. We need more of that margin in our life. I know we do and I know I am responsible for creating that space in our family, but it just doesn’t come easily.

If I had any new year’s resolutions this year, it would be to create margin. To learn to say no. To be ok with home and the occasional bout of boredom. To turn off the TV, Instagram, Facebook more often and open a book, the window, my own brain on a regular basis.

So that’s what I’m thinking about these days…more food (duh), more books, more time as a family. Less other (even the good other).

How about you?

 

 

Egg Nog French Toast

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This was a rogue experiment that turned out delightfully delicious. I know not everyone fall into the pro-eggnog camp, but if you do, this is a yummy breakfast to indulge in.

Eggnog French Toast:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups light eggnog
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 9-10 slices hearty multi-grain bread

Heat griddle to 325 degrees or a pan to medium heat. Whisk eggs and eggnog together along with 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. Soak bread in egg mixture and then place each slice on griddle. Flip after a minute or two until both sides are golden brown. After cooking one side, lightly sprinkle toast with pumpkin pie spice.

Top with butter and (real) maple syrup.

*to be honest, I didn’t measure the eggnog at all, the 1.5 cups is my best guesstimate. Just slowly pour in the milk, whisking until your egg mixture is light yellow.

Halloween

Haters might hate, but here’s the truth:

I could care less about Halloween.

GASP!

Way back in the day, getting dressed up for a Halloween party would completely stress me out. I could never decide if my costume should be funny or ‘ahem’ sensual. Oh fine. Let the truth be the truth. Slutty. I could never decide between funny and slutty.

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And then, thankfully, I had kids and the holiday became about them. Cute costumes, candy, carving pumpkins. And yes, some of it is super fun. Of course it is. But it’s almost never what you think it will be. Somebody cries or refuses to wear their costume. I remember begging Jack to wear a costume to his class party the first year of preschool. I think I might have even been mad at him for refusing. Now that’s ridiculous.

But something changed this year. We really and truly legitimately had fun. The boys were super excited to wear their costumes and go to their school parties. Jack wore not one but two costumes over the course of the day. Scarlet loved being a clown and was enamored with the pumpkins. The boys had fun trick or treating in our neighborhood and I gorged on their candy when their backs were turned.

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It was a win-win for everybody.

 


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