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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My secret weapon....

I'm not a breakfast person.  I like breakfast foods just not at a normal breakfast time.  I could easily go until lunch with just coffee.  Of course if I do that then I'm starving in the afternoon and make all kinds of ill advised eating choices...like 3 or 4 chocolate chip cookies.  A couple of years ago I started making a smoothie in the morning and that changed things, I can handle a smoothie and it really does help me all day long.  But the last couple of weeks I've been lazy about breakfast and I haven't been making my smoothie.  Boo.  Today I dusted off the blender and whizzed up some breakfast.  I feel better already.  I wish this smoothie also worked on kids.  A couple of them are waking up later and later, they got out of bed 10 minutes before having to leave the house today.  How many more days of school?


Smoothie Recipe
1/2 C plain yogurt
1/2 C orange juice
1 frozen banana (I slice bananas and freeze them)
1/4 C frozen mango
1 handful of spinach
1/2 scoop of vanilla protein powder
a little bit of water if the mixture seems too thick


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Joy and Sorrow

Life is a mixture of joy and sorrow, often smooshed together, and intertwined.  I've been very fortunate to have a much higher ratio of joy in my life but this weekend was surely a mixture of both.

We've been waiting years for a family bike ride.  We rented bikes in Sanibel on our spring break in 2010 and loved it!  By that summer I was too big to be on a bike so we looked forward to the next summer when we could ride again.  However the next summer Lucy was too young for a bike helmet so we got excited about the following summer.  Last year we had a little trouble early in the season and never quite recovered.  But this year we were ready!  Bike riding finally clicked with the kids a few weeks ago and when we realized they had a Friday off of school we were so excited to plan a family bike ride.   It didn't matter one bit that it was drizzly and overcast, we still  had a great time and the benefit of getting a little cold meant a stop at Starbucks to warm up.  After Starbucks we decided to check out the newly expanded WG library, which led to armloads of wonderful books. Joy!


We returned home and my dad came soon after so that Kevin and I could leave for Kansas City for the funeral of my cousin Antoinette.  She was only 43 and passed away on Tuesday.  This marks the second cousin I've lost in a little over a year, both of them in their early 40's.  Antoinette was an important person to me and I can still hardly believe she is gone.   I'm so thankful to have known her and to have had her as my older cousin as I grew up.  I'll miss her.  Sorrow.

Kevin and I had 8 hours in the car over Friday and Saturday and we were able to just chat the whole time.  That was a blessing, even though we wished it wouldn't have been for such a sad occasion.  We stopped in Columbia both times through and ate lunch at our two favorite restaurants, Main Squeeze and International Cafe, then got treats for the road,  ice cream one day and coffee another.  We definitely made the most of our time. Joy.

We got home from Kansas City yesterday in time to hang out with the kids for a bit before heading out to an auction dinner with some friends whose kids attend a really amazing daycare , which provides high quality early childhood education to all kids, regardless or their parents' ability to pay.  It did our hearts good to see dedicated, loving people doing what is right for ALL kids.  We need more of that.  Joy.

Today has been slow and easy.  Biking, running, playing in the yard, hanging around the house.   While my heart aches for a sweet soul, I am surrounded by goodness and peace and I know that life is indeed a mixture of both joy and sorrow, joy and sorrow.  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Guild 2013

Emma played in her second Guild Audition this morning.  Guild is a piano competition (only with yourself) where a judge listens to 8-10 memorized songs and then rates you based on your playing.  It takes lots of practice and involves some serious nerves in the few days before the performance.  

Unlike her judge last year, this year Emma's judge was tough.  Emma said she didn't really smile or make small talk.  I know these things based only on what Emma told me, not first hand because I'm not allowed in the room with her while she plays.  

After Emma entered the performance room her piano teacher told me that the judge had been pretty "liberal with the A's".  In Guild, an A=needs attention and a C=special commendation.  There is no set number of marks a student can receive but somewhere around 10 total points would be typical for a student Emma's age.  Last year she received 9 C's and 1A.  Which is why when we received her report this morning and there were 9 A's my stomach lurched.  I can't believe it but my immediate internal response was.... what was that judge listening to?  I read through her remarks quickly and you know what?  She couldn't have been more on target, every single item that she mentioned made sense.   Emma agreed and suddenly my worried heart felt tremendous pride.  I watched as Emma took constructive criticism with an amazing amount of grace.   She smiled and laughed and talked about how to improve.  What felt moments earlier like a terrible experience was in fact becoming a huge growth opportunity.   It's only fair to tell you though, since Emma has allowed me to tell you how many A's were given that she also received 17 C's.  That's right, 17.  In a competition where 10 total marks would be acceptable. Not too shabby.

 On our way to lunch I wanted to make sure Emma really was ok with everything so I brought up how I thought the judge might have been just a little hard on Emma.  Her response in her kindest voice, " mom, don't you think you're being a little judgmental?  I wasn't perfect and that's ok".  That little response made every single moment spent memorizing and practicing worth it in spades.  Thank you, tough judge!



  A few months ago Emma's teacher told me it was time to move from our keyboard to a real piano.  One of the items Emma was marked down on was pedal use.....I guess it really is time to start looking.  Today's performance was at a piano dealership in Chesterfield so we looked around a little.  I had a hard time keeping my jaw off of the floor.    Craigslist?


                                   Of course Lucy found one she was really happy with.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sunday

We often find ourselves  beat on Sunday evening.  Our weekends are full and fun and when Monday comes knocking we really want to tell him to come back in another day or so.  But he never listens and week after week insists on showing up and not letting Sunday linger an extra day.  In the past this has made us dread Sunday evening.  We'd try to cram more into the day and end up running late into the evening, trying to finish all the last minute business of getting ready for the week.  It  wasn't fun.  So at the beginning of the school year Kevin and I decided to change our tactic.  Now we try hard to stop everything between 4 and 5.  No more playing with friends, or last minute errands or any of the other gazillion things we might want to do.  The kids take showers and we eat an early dinner (which I try to make beforehand) and we ease into the week. We make lunches, choose clothes for the week, and take a look at the calendar to see what's going on.  It's funny but this all really does have the effect of slowing down the clock and easing us into the week.  Often we all watch something on TV together.  Which means (because we've totally exhausted the humor....at least for awhile....of AFV) The Cosby Show or Full House because the current shows for kids are pitiful.     The past few weeks though we've been watching a show called Granite Flats on our Roku box (BYU channel).  We are really enjoying it.  It's an hour long mystery set in the 1960s.  But last night we hit a little glitch and it looked like we might not be able to watch.  Eleanor lost it and yelled "OH, this is it!!  I mean it was a cliff hanger!!!!! and I had to wait all week to find out what happened plus  I've almost forgotten what happened last week.  I've just HAD it!!" Thank goodness we figured out our problem and Eleanor calmed down.  But guess what?  It was another cliff hanger.

The girls teaching Lucy how to curtsey.






Friday, April 19, 2013

So much joy!


Finding every puddle
Waking up ready to go, go, go!
Reading and telling stories for as long as you can last
The park, please?
One more cookie, please?
Tutus and princesses
I can do it by myself
Raffi and show tunes
Playing in the backyard and absolutely getting in the mud, every single time.
I 2 and a half!


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Baby Panda



Uncle Blake brought Lucy this panda cape back from China.    Previously unknown to Blake, Lucy has an ongoing, crazy, imaginative story that she tells us about a panda bear.  She visits this panda in his cave house in the forest and is often cold while visiting him.  I think this warm cape may have finally solved her problem.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Worry


Yesterday on the way to school Emma asked me if I was ever worried that gravity would just stop.  Recently I've not been worrying about that but I do vaguely remember worrying about such a thing when I was a kid.  It lead to a good discussion about worry and just what to do with it.  I told the girls that when I worry about something and I just can't seem to stop, I try to take time to make sense of my worry and put it into perspective.   I pray for understanding and peace and I usually feel relief.  Yesterday afternoon when I heard the terrible news from Boston, my heart sank.  We all work so hard not to spend our lives worrying about all of the what ifs and remote possibilities.  Then a tragedy happens and I just want to grab my babies and hide away, in a place where their biggest worry is momma catching them before they eat every single Easter treat.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Perfect!

Someone is missing.......
Last night when we got into the car, all of us exhausted, Lucy sighed, "that was the best party ever".  We'd just attended Meredith and Mike's wedding reception and it really was a wonderful time.  We seem to have a tiny little party animal on our hands who loved dancing the night away and had a whole cheering section of great aunts and uncles.  Throughout the weekend we've gotten to spend lots of time with family and have loved it.  One more small get together tonight and then I'm going to get some sleep......but darn I hate for this weekend to end!


there he is!







Friday, April 12, 2013

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sometimes it's hard....

Yesterday I visited my friend Steffani, her brand new adorable baby girl, and her equally squeezable 2 year old.   I couldn't help while holding the baby and watching her sister but to think back 7 years ago when the same scenario was my life.  And boy was it hard.  Today I am blessed to know people who have had kids about a year apart, people who have had a toddler and then twins, I even know a family who has 4 kids under the age of 6, and in the moments when my children seem to be outrunning my parenting skills, those people give me pause and allow me to realize that it could be harder, crazier, and involve way more laundry.  When I was a mom with a baby and a toddler I didn't know those people, and I chose not to believe that anyone I did know could possibly feel as ill equipped to be a great parent as me. After I left Steff's I reminisced, some crazy stories came back, stories that made me laugh, tear up and cringe all at the same time.   Something I'd never connected before hit me.  It was in those first few months after Ellie was born that I became a (mostly) confident parent.  Please don't confuse a confident parent with a totally enlightened parent.  I just mean it was in those months that I began to see that I'd never really have it figured out, that there's always a curve ball waiting, and that being a great parent doesn't mean that I'll always do the right thing or even know what  to do.   Ok, truth check maybe it wasn't actually in those months that I gained this truth but more like after I'd made it through those months.  

January 2006....Kevin, who didn't start traveling until Emma was 6 months old was traveling like crazy, and my mom, who I relied on so much when Emma was a newborn, was very sick and in Atlanta receiving treatments.  Things felt so different this second time around.  I felt more alone and scared.  What the heck was I doing?    Ellie came out a beautiful, healthy 9lb. 2oz. ravenous baby girl.  When I wasn't nursing her she wanted to be held, not in a swing, not in a bouncy chair, in my arms.   I could barely put her down to go to the bathroom, much less to try to play with Emma .  Within a week I'd gotten a baby sling,  I wore her in that sling all day long and often into the night.  In the same week I purchased the sling, and right before she left for Atlanta, my mom took Emma to Target.  I still remember exactly what they came back with.  Along with all of the necessities that I needed, they bought a Barney Goes to the Zoo DVD, a Toddler songs CD, pop tarts, and a princess nightgown.  Best Target trip ever.  Emma wore the nightgown to shreds and that DVD bought me precious time to make dinner, fold laundry, and catch my breath.  We listened to the CD a million times and for my previously sugar starved toddler the pop tarts were the best incentive for much needed cooperation.  Armed with my sling, my Target goodies and my new mom hormones, things seemed to float along pretty well for a week or so.  However, Ellie followed in Emma's footsteps and was a terrible sleeper so quickly I wore down and became bone tired.  I developed mastitis, a bladder infection and my episotomy was not healing.  Late one afternoon, after the antibiotics weren't doing the trick my doctor sent me for blood work.  It was nearly 5pm and we just barely made it to the clinic before they closed.  Stressed and tired I shuffled in only to realize I'd forgotten my wallet with my insurance card inside.   While they did insist I have my insurance card before getting my blood drawn, they must have seen my despair because  they were wonderful and stayed open long enough for me to load the girls up, go home, get my wallet and return.  That night Emma and I ate McDonald's in my bed while I choked back tears.  I hurt, I was tired and I thought... what am I doing?  I did have a little ray of hope though,  I felt at least like I had a handle on Emma.  She was a sweetheart at home, never acting up, even helping a little by getting diapers and things for the baby.  She continued to go to daycare for half days which was such a help too.   One day when I was picking up Emma from daycare,  I read her daily notebook, which I'd not read for some time.  In it her teacher described Emma's aggressive behavior; throwing chairs, hitting.  She wrote that this would be expected in such a stressful time in a child's life.  I bawled, right there in the classroom.  What was I doing?  I thought things were going so well for my girl.  The teacher calmed me down and assured me that this was good, kids need to act out on their feelings, and this would pass.   I don't think I truly believed her though.  We got in the car and as was customary on any length of car trip, Ellie screamed at the top of her lungs.  I was tired, sad, distracted and probably shouldn't have been behind the wheel.  Traffic slowed on Hampton and me with my sleepy reflexes rear ended the car in front of us.  Not hard but enough.  Ellie added a new octave to her repertoire and Emma started screaming "You crash mommy!!!"   Now, a fender bender is never a good thing but when the car you rear end looks like it shouldn't really even be on the road that's a really bad thing.  This car didn't have a panel on it that wasn't damaged and its bumper was a mishmash of duct tape and twine.  When the driver opened his car door all you could see was metal.  And when he smiled all we saw was metal...all gold teeth.  Emma yelled out the car door "Are you our friend?"  I was fumbling around trying to find my insurance card and he said something like, looks like you've got a lot going on, I don't want your insurance to go up and my buddy can fix what you did to my car for $200.  Without hesitation I wrote him a check for $200.   About half way home my stupidity hit me.... seriously, what was I doing?  For weeks after that Emma would tell people that mommy crashed up the car and the police came to our house.  And they did,  I called them once we were home to tell them what I'd done.  They came over and took a report while stifling laughter.  The weeks progressed along in that same sort of foggy haze with me questioning myself around every bend.  At six weeks I was hitting rock bottom.   Kevin had a trip that required him to be gone not only during the week but through the weekend.  My Dad and Kyra, who came often on the weekends to help out, were going to come but the walls were closing in, I needed to get away.  I knew driving was out of the question with Ellie.  So, we took the train to see them.  It seemed a little crazy at the time but it turned out to be such a great thing.  Emma , being a typical 2 year old, loved trains and I could talk and play with her while holding Ellie all without fear of rear ending anyone.  As for the weekend, I remember sleeping a lot during the day but I have no idea what anyone else, including my own children did.  It was a blessing not to be home staring a laundry or dishes and noticing all the undone things.  Looking back, I see that as a pretty distinct turning point...maybe it was Ellie turning 6 weeks, or me finally sleeping, or me just giving in and realizing I don't how to do it all, but it seemed like things got so much easier.  There were still crazy times  (that has never stopped) but I didn't feel so foggy or inadequate.  And now, I think it might not just have been a turning point in that small period of our lives but more so in my life as a mom.  I quit worrying so much about being perfect, messing up, and doing it wrong.  I started to see things as more fluid, more like--today is this way but next week won't be.   I started to realize just how resilient kids and parents are and to honestly believe that there has never been nor will there ever be a perfect parent.  These are kids (people with thoughts and feelings of their very own ) that we're raising not widgets we're making.  Maybe it was because those first few weeks were so intense, and I felt pretty alone and we still came out ok. And maybe it was all just a coincidence.   But whatever the case, I wouldn't change a thing, not a single thing because the other side has been so worth it.

One of my favorite pictures ever.  It totally tells the story of our lives at that moment.  I'm sure I was behind the camera looking just abut the same way.


And here they are awake, nearly the same pose.   Look how proud Emma is!  They really were crazy about each other from the start.    

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

China?

April is buzzing by, maybe it's the incredible weather but somehow the days are passing so quickly. I love it though, everyone is in good spirits and is responding well to some much needed sunshine and fresh air.   The girls are spending lots of time outside and that's a very good thing after a long winter inside.  I'm not positive but I think that maybe they are trying to dig up the yard.  They are making lots of holes, carting dirt around and keeping themselves busy and happy for hours.