Friday, May 30, 2014

The Start of Summer

Ah, summer it is.
I still can't quite believe that it's here.  After such a long hard winter and quick cool spring, it's here.  The girls are out of school, the trees and late spring flowers are in full bloom, we've had the AC on for a day or two here and there, I guess it must be true!

Last Thursday was the girls' picnic with their preschool at one of our favorite park.  We were there for the full two hours, lunch bags and picnic blanket in hand.  The girls just ran every which way with all of their buds, filled up on gummy worms and popsicles, drank in the charismatic storyteller, and had a blast.

I spent most of my time wrangling Felix.  He's gone from sweet complacent on my hip or back tiny guy to LET ME OUT! LET ME RUN!!! I'M A BIG KID!!! Over night.  Oh boy it's going to be a long summer with that little one :o).

We made it home on bike and stroller and scooter and everyone crashed.  Poor Ainsley sobbed herself to sleep.  She is so very sad about school being over.  All I could do was hug her and remind her of all the fun coming up.  Gymnastics!  Playdates! Lazy mornings in jammies! Pools! Splashpads! Picnics!  I mean really the list goes on and on.
Still she sobbed.  So sad about not seeing her teachers and friends every day.  I was that way too in school.  I hated the end, even when I was so ready for summmer.  But then that next year is always great too right?  It's just the way it goes.

Memorial day weekend was a great fun flurry.  On Thursday Ian called me around 10am to mention that his dad was thinking of visiting.  By 10 pm he had arrived.  I had fun on Friday alone with him and the kids.  We walked up to the bakery, I got to go grocery shopping alone, we played in the yard all afternoon.
Ian and Sonya joined us after work and we had a great weekend all together: parks, the pool opening, a run to the farmers market and a run home with rhubarb and asparagus under my arms.
Dan left on Sunday.  Monday we enjoyed the River Forest Memorial Day parade, grilled lunch and shish kabob dinner.  That strawberry blueberry rhubarb pie was one of my all time favorites.

I remember two summers ago.  I was preparing to run Ragnar, just moving along with life with two tiny people.
Last summer I could hardly wait for those wide open days.  No preschool drop offs to shuffle through in the mornings, a new tiny baby to care for and snuggle.  It seemed to breeze right by.
This summer is different.  Rather than a seamless transition of mere seasons it feels much more monumental.  At the end of this summer is kindergarten, it all seems to be leading up to that right now.
I am feeling more pressure than normal this summer to make it count. I've been making lists of crafts, books to request and read, things we must do.
I've been using this first week to feel out summer.  So far so good.
Our mornings are great an easily filled.  Felix is still getting his morning nap.  I'm getting the things I need done (mostly) and enjoying my time alone with my big girls.

Making bike shorts out of all the girls' too short leggings...

 running the block over and over again

 My little walkin' dude

Last year one of my biggest regrets of summer was not making more popsicles and ice cream. Silly I know, but it's true.  I just never got into the groove.  This summer we're already on our second batch of popsicles and bought half gallons of cream and half and half at Costco today for ice cream making.  We're prepared.

Our first batch was mixed berry coconut lime pops.  SOOO good.  Smashed berries with sugar and lime juice and zest, mixed with plain full fat yogurt and coconut milk.  Mmmm.
Waiting in the fridge for snack time right now are orange creamsicle pops, simply coconut milk and fresh orange juice with a few spoonfuls of yogurt.  Yum.

On a sad note, for us, Auntie Sonya is moving back to Minnesota this weekend.  It's been three wonderful years having her close.  Living so far from all the rest of our family has made it all the more special to have her here.  We are so going to miss our Sunday dinners, summer afternoons at the park and in the backyard, and I know the girls will always remember this special time with their Auntie (no one paints tiny fingers and toes quite like Sonya).  Who knows, perhaps someday we'll live close again.  We sure hope so!

Oh boy, now I'm all sad again.  It's the end of an era!

Even so, we're easing into this new season well.  This weekend the girls have three birthday parties between the two of them and our village has a fun festival on Sunday with half of the festivities right at the end of our block.  Right now I'm feeling very thankful for all the hustle and bustle right out our front door.  It makes summer parenting pretty easy (so far!).

Today I'm looking forward to a full easy weekend, gymnastics starting up for my girls in a few short weeks, a trip with my big girl ALONE To Boston shortly after (!!!) and hopefully a Minnesota cabin trip or two to boot.  Lots of good things right now.

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The End

Today was the last day of preschool for my girls.  The end of preschool for Ainsley.

I'm honestly amazed that I was able to hold it together.

Pilgrim does such an awesome job with little people.  Before school starts the teachers visit our homes and take photos of the children with their families to have waiting for them on their first days. They start the year with a sparse room that they get to fill with their own artwork and projects throughout the year.  As the year winds down the children help with that too, cleaning their toys, putting things away for the summer, taking down bulletin boards and packing up their cubbies.  It helps them understand that it's ending, for those little minds that can't quite wrap themselves around the concept of change.

I on the other hand know.  I know that today marks the end of an era for my big girl.  I can let myself wallow in that sadness, or I can focus on those two amazing years at a most perfect school.  Perhaps a bit of both today.

So after our Pilgrim school picnic tomorrow morning (and a visit from the garage door repair man in the afternoon :op) it's officially summer over here.  I'm mostly very very excited.  Just today at lunch Ainsley was wanting to sit on my lap while we ate, Felix was shoving quartered grapes in his mouth just as fast as he could at my right and Louise was humming a happy tune to my left.  I put my arms around all three of them and took turns drinking in the (mostly) sweet perfume of their tiny heads.  I'm a lucky lady.

And as for all those extra hours together?  Well, if the last few days are any indication, I think we're going to be just fine.

We're getting into the rhythm of being outdoors, walking everywhere, hauling bags with snacks and water and diapers just in case.  
Yesterday I signed the girls up for summer gymnastics.  Today I bought them leotards online and we discovered a "biketard" style.  As I scrolled the girls called out "biketard!" and "biketawd!" respectively.  Even Felix joined in with his "BI-TA!" exclaims.  I am most excited for lazy mornings, many walks to the bakery and mornings at the splash pad parks.  I am very excited for projects and TIME to get a lot of fun in each day.  

Today I'm taking a moment to be so thankful for this past school year and all the wonderful memories my girls have made.  I'm allowing myself a bit of sadness about the end of it.  I'm reminding myself that summer is the saving grace to all that change the end of a school year brings.  We'll always have our summers together.  I really need that light today.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Lonely Night

I'm sorry I can't help it.  Here I am again.  It's been a rough day, this seems like the place to be.

Ian went to bed early.  He's zonked.  Felix was up from midnight to 3am last night just screaming his tiny cute face off.  He's had a bad cold that he can't shake and was just out of sorts.  Ian was up with him for the most part on his own because I've caught Felix' cold on top of my lovely spring allergies. I feel awful.

The girls should finally be asleep.  Somehow they managed to sneak a large bag of candy upstairs from a birthday party Louise went to today.  Louise gave it away when she asked for help washing her "very sticky hands".  I heard Ainsley coaching her on what to say so they wouldn't get in trouble. Oh boy.

I hate weekend days that don't go as planned.  This weekend I was SO hoping for a good run.  I'm really missing that in my days.  Life has gotten so so hard with my three little kids.
There's just not an ounce of extra time in a day anymore.

This week is the girls' last week of school.   I'm actually sitting here with a half finished pile of hot pads to my left.  This pattern calls for hand sewing the back bias binding in place.  I thought it'd be annoying but I'm finding it's a nice change of pace.  I actually really like bits of hand sewing here and there.  For me it is the ultimate in handmade.

Ah so on to the hard stuff I guess.  Hmm, how to start that.

I'm struggling right now with me.  Perhaps it's hitting 30.  I didn't think when it happened that it'd be a big deal, but maybe it's bigger than I thought.  It's such a rude reminder that time just keeps marching along.  I have no control over that, over growing and changing and aging.  It's been hard.

I'm still really struggling with Ainsley going to kindergarten this fall.  I know it's months away, but it's coming, marching closer one day at a time.
It's not so much that first day I fear or even the weeks to come, but the trajectory it puts us, her, on.  Her path to big grown up kid, gaining independence, not needing us so much.  I don't like the thought of that right now, even though most mornings as I'm trying to get all three with shoes and jackets and filled bellies and empty bladders I'd BEG for a bit more independence.
It's funny that way.

I'm realizing that I took a lot for granted as child, just being on a path, moving along.  Being adult, being a parent, and the one that has to choose that path, is terrifying.  I question every moment if I'm making the right choice, with food, with discipline, with explanations of things, answers of questions.  Sometimes it can be completely paralyzing.

So there's that.  Parenting has gotten hard.  And if I hear from one more sweet little old lady "enjoy it now!  they grow so fast!" I'm either going to completely breakdown in public or just start screaming.  Trust me sweet little old people, I know.

Then there's just me, who, if I'm frank, I don't even know anymore.

I love to delve into stories over the course of  a day, how I was as a little girl, funny stories about friends from high school and college.  It all seems so incredibly far away.  I look back, especially at college, and try to recapture that feeling of invincibility and confidence.  I can't even grab a wisp.

I feel like on my best days I have tried very hard to capture who I am now as an adult mom wife woman.  I have honed in on what I love about my gig, planning fun crafts and reading interesting books, sing songing through the day, making every possible thing that I can for our lives, simplifying in every way that I can.

I've realized lately though, that in doing this, I've left behind a lot of who I thought I was. I'm not entirely sure how this happened but it has.
Being a stay at home parent has electrified the introvert in me.
I am around tiny people all day long so when Ian gets home and the kids are in bed I can't even begin to fathom going out, cultivating the friendships I've made here outside of the schools and parks.  I need that alone time to refuel.  So I stay up too late just to be awake in quiet, and then I start the day tired and never quite satiated.

Then there's how I look.  Something about this third pregnancy of mine has changed my body in a way that it wasn't changed before.  I am thicker and squarer, my eyes are sunk a bit deeper and those tiny hairs that keep growing back in are stagnating at about 3" giving me a fluffy halo around my full face.  It's been very very hard for me.

Today I am feeling the isolation of this path I've chosen.  I watched the friends and families walking around our block this evening with profound sadness.  It's a day when everyone else seems to have figured it out, and I haven't.  I am alone here with my family who needs me, and I just want to not be needed for a bit.
That's not even really true, or it.  But I don't have the words for what it is so it will have to do.

It takes such great strength and determination to make a change in a life, a big one that really matters.  When everything feels like its so big and life changing, well, that gets exhausting pretty fast.

Tonight I'm trying to take a deep breath and sink into the pull of it all, try to think of the happy, not sad.  Tomorrow promises to be sunny, and perhaps I'll be able to breathe steady enough for that run I so desperately need.
Thanks for listening.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Frivolous and Amazing

Okay, so this is going to be a totally ridiculous frivolous posts, but after lots of heavy stuff it feels ok right now.

This past spring when I pulled out summer clothes for Florida I was thoroughly depressed. Not only was I still the same size I was last summer (thanks coldest winter ever and endless baking), but I was VERY unhappy with my clothing choices.  Last summer I got by wearing lots of stretch skirts and not so flattering post baby pants and roomy tops.  I made do for our trip but was determined to figure out something for the summer so I didn't hate getting dressed every morning.

I used to love shopping and now I hate it.  Clothes are WAY to expensive, all of them, and I just don't know where I fit in anymore.  I don't want to dress like a teenager (though I could totally go for for that boho maxi dress, cute sandals and jean jacket thing I see going on) but a lot of "mom" type clothes just make me feel old.  I was down to plain colored t shirts and saggy capri pants.  It was bad.

So two nights ago I found some things I was excited about online and decided to go for it.  I wanted to share in case you're in the same boat as me (aka, desperate).  I got my first order today and am very excited about all of it.

The item I needed most were shorts.  I'm petite so capris don't look great on me, plus I get HOT outside with the kids. IT's so hard for me to find shorts I like that aren't too long or too short.  These 7" ones from old navy fit me amazingly in the petite size and were $15 on sale.  I'm even more excited for it to hit 80 again now.  I got them in black which is new for me.  Usually I go with khaki or navy.  Black feels a bit more chic right? and it goes with everything.

I also decided to get a pair of jean shorts.  I haven't owned jean shorts in, well, a VERY long time.  Again, they're usually too short and I just felt like they looked too "young" for me now.  But I found these 5" ones and I love them.  They are cute and casual and will be great to garden in, or even throw on over my swimsuit.  Again, on major old navy sale.  Yes.

And I bought these pants, because lets face it, I still wear my knits most and these look like a step up, but still super comfy.  I'm trying here guys.

I also needed some new tops.  It was getting dire in the sleeveless department.  So I tried a henley tank top and now I wish I'd gotten more.  It's super soft and comfortable and I like that the henley design gives it a bit more interest.  I got the black one, my first black shirt!  I love it with the jean shorts.
This smocked top is awesome.
This top is still on it's way.  I'm very excited about it.

It was actually incredibly hard for me to narrow it down at old navy.  They have some awesome stuff for summer.

I had a coupon at Lands End and I'll admit, the mom in me loves this place.  Everything is so high quality and pretty classic.  I was actually going to get some new shorts from here until I saw the cheap ones at old navy.  I did still get a new shirt, a pair of chinos and a swim top.  I had a coupon for here too so it was all very reasonable.  I'm hoping all this stuff works as well as the old navy stuff.  I'll be set!

Ooh, and as a total mom of girls aside, I found two packs of bike shorts at old navy for $10.  I've been searching since spring break.  The only other place I'd found colored bike shorts were at Hanna Andersson for $18 a pop.  No thanks!

Ah, for all that I love a good save I also love a good spend.  It's nice to feel excited about getting dressed again.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Vagueness and Fun

Our life lately has been teaching me a lot.  Mostly about patience, living in the moment, dealing with massive disappointment, picking up, moving on.  I'm sorry I'm being so vague. It's all I got right now.

Vagueness aside, life is great.  We're in the last weeks of the school year for the girls, making plans for summer fun.  We've had enough hot days to remind us of all that we love about the coming season (backyard pool! ice cream! red faced bike around the block afternoons!).  Lots of good stuff going on.

Felix is learning how to walk!  Two days after his 1st birthday he took his first real sequence of steps. He's up to five or six in a row a few times a day.  It's such a profound amazing thing watching a little baby figure out movement.  

We're loving on spring right now.  Most afternoons find us out in our garden, water color painting, digging in the dirt, riding bikes around the cul de sac over and over again (and Ainsley's just on two wheels now!  If I thought that girl could fly on training wheels, well, I had no idea).

Last week the girls both had their end of the year spring teas at school.  This is such an adorable tradition, kind of in lieu of a graduation.  They prepare all week first with invitations, making drinks and picnic snack boxes, rehearsing songs. On the big day all the families come for the last half hour of class.  We lay out picnic blankets on the lawn and enjoy our kiddos.  It's such a calm awesome way to commemorate their growth over a school year.  I loved every moment.

Louise's Tea

Ainsley's Tea

So now, as always, we're finding a new groove.  Two weeks left of school, a whole summer in front of us.  Ainsley's all registered for kindergarten after we visited the open house and fell a bit in love. My big girl wore her purple birthday dress, gave each teacher firm handshakes and did every writing and math activity they had laid out.  She's ready for her big kid work and while quieter than normal at first I could see she melted a bit into that place and I know if that's where she ends up in the fall it'll be just fine, for us all.

Ah my cute baby.

pouring over their latest highlights

 enjoying the pull out adds from highlights

And then, of course, mother's day.  It's really kind of turned into a weekend around here.  Ian's always super dad on the weekends giving me lots of time to do what I need or want.  This weekend I got to run without a jogging stroller, cook a fancy meal without kiddos underfoot, lounge in the sun and read my new book (SO GOOD), order a batch of yarn for a frivolous project (I decided it's been too long since one of those).  On Sunday we went the the Arboretum and enjoyed the beautiful morning, then we picked up some delicious burritos for lunch and just snuggled into the rainy afternoon.  It really was perfection.

And the first family portraits by both of the girls that include Felix (and on my mother's day cards to boot!).  I guess it's official now!

Ooh, and I almost forgot to show progress of our teachers gifts.  These amazing potholders.  They look just like adorable ladybugs don't they?

Yum.  This yarn feels as delicious as it looks.

This week I'm excited to get the girls signed up for summer gymnastics, enjoy a few rainy afternoons sewing and baking and playing with that new electric pink play dough we made this weekend.  I'm happy for our bursting garden and lawn, friends up and down the block to play with outside when the weather is nice.  Life is good right now.

Hope you all are having a great start to your week!