Sunday, June 18, 2017

Summer Sunday

It's Sunday at 4:45 and I just sent all three kids up to their rooms. That's after I dragged Felix across the yard and scolded Louise for unhooking Bluebelle before she got to the house and telling Ainsley that NO! Right now is NOT a good time to make hair bows with hot glue!  And it's not even Monday.

I'm grappling a lot lately with why this all still feels so hard so often. It's also super not helpful when parents of older kids tell me that it never gets easier, just harder in different ways.  Not what anyone needs to hear even if I know it's true.

It's hitting me like a ton of bricks that a lot of what makes it hard is me.  I'm having a hard time letting them go.  Whenever they are out biking or at a friends house I'm worried.  I'm getting some babysitters for the first time ever this summer and I'm worried about leaving them in someone elses care.  I have a hard time relinquishing control but I feel so out of control anyways.  It's a hard place to be.

This summer I'm trying hard to just let things be.  We got some workbooks that the kids love which helps occupy some of those "what to do now" hours of the afternoon.  We're finding new beaches and parks and I'm utilizing audio books for the first time so we can just cruise around town with the puppy and get her used to the car for the trips up north coming soon.  I spent about 5 minutes on pinterest today and have some fun ideas for new crafts.  I'm desperately trying to figure out how to get the treehouse finished, but I'm able to get about 3 cuts and 4 screws in before I'm needed and that's been a bummer.  Plus Ian leaves for a week for a fishing trip soon and then I'm really in survival mode.  Thankfully the girls are also in camp all week next week so it's just Felix and I.  I know we'll all make it.  I just wish it felt like we were thriving more.

Today I'm excited for our first full week of summer without any camps or activities.  Tomorrow we have a new babysitter coming over so I'm excited to get groceries ALONE!  I'm excited for a beach morning or two, bike rides with the kids and runs with Bluebelle, making salads with all the lettuce that's in the garden, cousins, parks, playdates.  It's blissfully easy to fill a day, that doesn't mean they still don't feel long sometimes!

Hope everyone is having a great start to their summer!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Books!

One way I pay homage to that half of a double major I got in English is to constantly be looking up and reading books.

I find such comfort in turning to books.  Ian and I have been known to read a few parenting books when things get rough.  I so love searching for books for each stages of life for my chidren.  Now that my girls are growing and can both read on their own it's a whole new world of book searching.  I can search all I want but it's what they like that they are drawn to.  I'm still finding some winner, some new personal favorite too.  I thought I'd share because there is SO MUCH out there.

Adult Novels

The Woman in Cabin 10  - this caught my eye at the bookshop so I snagged it.  It's a great page turner, thrilling, an escape.  All the things I like in a good get me back into reading book.

The Baker's Secret - I love historical fiction about WWII and this one didn't disappoint. I like that it was from the perspective of a young incredibly resilient woman. The characters were memorable and the plot was original.

Delicious - I LOVED this book. If I could live another life it would be the main character's of this book.  Living in NYC, working for a food magazine.  BUT! There's a dark secret.  Wonderful characters, touching, picturesque.  Loved it.

The Kitchen House-I'm pretty sure I found this one at the thrift shop.  Another historical fiction that gripped me.  The characters drew me in and the story was so sad and profound.  It's rare I get through a book this long these days! It was worth it!

Cook/Craft Books

Keepers - I got this from the library and ended up buying it because I wanted to make everything in it.  It's geared towards people who cook for their families every night.  Bing! So good.

The Best Homemade Kids Lunches on the Planet- I bought this at the end of the year (of course!) but was so inspired by the simple ideas it has.  The kids were getting so bored of sandwiches (and I of making them).  This has some really fresh great ideas. (the biggest hit at the end of the year were the ham and cheese puff pastry wheels and make your own parfaits)

Knitbot Essentials - I got this book for my birthday and am SO excited to have a book of things to knit for me! I want to make everything!

Martha Stewarts Craft Book for Kids - Ainsley grabbed this from the library and it's fantastic.  Fresh hands on ideas that kids can make on their own.  Great easy things like popsicle stick villages and experiments.

Great Things To Do Outside - I mentioned this one on facebook.  I love that this kids can use it on their own easily and the ideas are so accessible and realistic for tired parents to execute in the summer.

The Who Was/Is Series - Louise is slowly working her way through all of these.  We started with Sacajawea, then Beatrix Potter and Julia Child and Helen Keller and Abraham Lincoln.  Now she has Andy Warhol and Anne Frank (which we may wait on!).  She gets 2 or 3 at the library each time.  Great informative age appropriate biographies.

The Magical Animal Adoption Agency - One of our favorite series.  The girls (and I) hope they write more!

Illustrated Harry Potters - I cheated and read them book 3 two even though they are coming out with the illustrated version this fall.  I LOVE them so much and since I don't have my own copies anymore this has been a nice way to rebuild my collection.

The Saturdays (Melendy Quartet Series) - We are only on book 1 but I know we'll be reading the lot.  An older series about a family of 4 children living in a Brownstone in New York right before WWII.  They realize they never have enough allowance money to do anything they want to do so they decide to combine their money each week and do one big awesome thing all together.  As a direct result of this book Ainsley and Louise did just that to buy a shared Kitty toy that you can feed and walk.  I can't wait to read the rest.

Half Magic - a classic I read to the girls a while ago.  They loved it!

Wellie Wishers Books - Another new favorite of Louise's.  These books are perfect for her age and the pictures and stories are cute.

Irene Haas - one of my FAVORITE authors and illustrators.  Her stories are so sweet and whimsical.  Too bad so many are out of print.  I'm glad our library has some.

10 Little Ninjas - The kids new favorite bedtime book.  A cute twist on 5 little monkey jumping on the bed.

5 Minute Stories - We started with the comic book superheroes and Star Wars and now have the Pixar and the Snuggle stories.  They are great before bed and to take on trips and the kids love them. Win win win.

You Read to Me, I'll Read To You- Ainsley still loves reading these with me.  Such a clever idea by the author to have a book meant to be read with someone else.  The girls have both loved these for reading aloud together.

The Barefoot Book of Faeries - Ainsley is still very much a believer of Fairies and this book is so perfect for her age.  It talks about the history of fairies in literature and gives some great background and sweet stories.

Patricia Polacco - I doubt the girls will every truly grow out of picture books (I never have!) thanks in large part to this author and illustrator.  Her longer beautifully illustrated books are so perfect for this middle elementary age.  Many are about tough topics, written about carefully and accessibly for children.

26 Fairmont Avenue - This is an autobiographical series by Tomie DePaola about his childhood.  It's one of the girls favorites and we've read almost all of them.  We can read one in one sitting if we give ourselves the time and they love anything by Mr. DePaola.

I'll add more or make another post when I have enough new books.  I'm sure I'm missing lots but this feels like a good start.  Yay books!



Thursday, June 8, 2017

Not Thinking, Not Planning, Just Doing.

This is the longest break I've ever taken from posting.  Notice how I didn't say writing?!  I still write a lot, in un posted posts, in numerous small adorable notebooks, on the backs of receipts or discarded childrens' art.  I write! But share? not as much.

So much has happened since March.  We went to Florida for two whole weeks.  I planted an epic veggie garden.  Felix learned to swim.  The girls learned two piano recital pieces each.  We adopted a puppy.  I'm building a tree house!

If I think back to life even two years ago, it feels like miles and miles from here.  A new-ish mom to three, wondering if our dreams of settling down in Minnesota weren't to be, deep in a free fall of love with the village we'd found, in so much need of help, not knowing how to ask.

We're here! Where I always wanted, and it's still strange and hard and weird and at the same time so perfect and beautiful.  I'm still not used to our perfect house and plot.  I pinch myself when I take Bluebelle for running walks with Felix on his bike after walking the girls to the bus.  How is this all real?

Then my kids pull me back.  I'm in the final moments of them wanting me all the time and I know that so acutely.  Ainsley would go to college tomorrow if it were an option.  She pushes at every boundary we set, always has.  To think of her going to middle school, getting her drivers license, going away to school, it's closer than I think, but I know it's there, and I'm holding onto now with her with both hands.

We had our 10 year college reunion last weekend and it was nothing short of perfection.  I hope my children all find a place that they love as much as Ian and I love St Olaf.   For people who didn't go to a crazy small rural school, well, I just can't help them see it, but it was unique and special and exactly where we were meant to be.  I'll never forget meeting Ian.  His slightly gangly gait walking down to town for the Jesse James days festival.  My nervous boisterous too much too fast talking.  I just knew.  So early on I knew.  It'll be 10 years married with the man I never knew was in my dreams all along this August.  Almost 14 years together.  It's not always been easy, but it's pretty damn easy to love that man.  He just gets better (though I'm pretty sure I get harder). But he still loves me.  Do you see what I mean??!!!

I started this post with the title which is not typical for me.  It's my new motto.  Remember all that writing I said I do? It's lots of lists too.  Lists of things I want to do and make and ways I want to be.  This summer I just want to DO.  I want to look outside and see what the sky says.  Is it a beach day?  Is it a bike riding to the library morning?  Is it a decorate the inside of the treehouse day? (because there WILL be an inside of the treehouse asap, hence all the doing).  I know myself better than I ever have.  When I get in a doing mode I can do so much.  When I'm paralyzed with the plans I can sink for a bit in the possibilities.  Just do.  Look in your children's eyes and let the day unfold.

I am sad to see the school year end for Louise and Felix, happy for Ainsley.  Happy for all of us that we get to be together and for three months I get to relive the best days of my life; being at home with my kids, being their teacher, caretaker, activities director, always mom.  I feel so lucky to have us 5 that most days are all that each other needs.  In a world that moves so fast and requires so much, it's nice to remember that.  These (more than) four walls, my gardens, my hands, my people, they are all I really need.

To a beautiful, not too planned, DOING summer.  Here here!


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Changes

One of my favorite bloggers recently wrote this...

When my kids were babies, people liked to tell me that the intensity of nursing one baby while another sat on belly holding a stack of books would naturally ease up when the kids were older and more independent. And that school would crack open an expanse of time in which “I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.” I always cringed at that sentence.
Our daily routines feel more intense today than ever before. Everything is bigger: our children, our grocery bills, our laundry piles, our social calendars, our needs, our responsibilities, our worries, our joys. Sometimes I dream about having those baby days again. As a new mom, I found a content stride and purpose I hadn’t perviously known. Everything felt dreamy and safe with my kids dangling from my torso 24/7. I was good at it and I loved it. I wasn’t even sure I’d ever have kids and then I wanted to breastfeed forever and quit my career to pursue work that allowed me to wear babies all day. Time measured in carrot purées, walks around the block and writing for giant chunks of time during my daughters’ naps.
Oh, that rose-colored hindsight. I know those early days weren’t easy but they feel like they were now that we are navigating things like peer influence, increasingly full after-school sport schedules and pushback over earrings that I find *too* dangly. Also: the fact that my kids have outgrown my wingspan. They fly on their own, sometimes out of sight. But always on my radar, my chickens. Always.
      Nici Holt Cline (digthischick.net)

I couldn't have written somehting truer about life currently myself.
As we fast approach Felix's, my baby's!, FOURTH birthday I find I have so many emtions running through me.  We knew almost from the moment he was born that our family was complete.  I knew to savor those baby and toddler days even more knowing they were our last.  Growing is so bittersweet all the time.  I really had no idea what a ride we were getting on just over 8 years ago.  An unpredictable never ending ride of raising children and being parents.
I've realized that part of why I've stopped blogging so much is that it's stopped feeling ok to write about my kids and my struggles as a parent.  It's been really rough since we've moved, harder than it's ever been.  I knew if I came on here I'd gush and that didn't feel right.  Their stories are becoming their own.
Ainsley is 8 which seems so old.  If she had her way she'd spend all her home time biking around the neighborhood buidling fairy houses and making clubs with friends.  She believes so much in magic and is still so innocent in so many ways.  I love that so much and am glad she's been thus far pretty unaffected by peer influences.  For all our struggles with that girl she's one of the strongest people I know.  When I can step back and remember that I'm completely amazed by her.
Louise has really come into her own this past year.  Just this morning she said, "Mom?  What does a crush mean."  "It's means you like someone, usually in a different way than how you like your friends or your family." "I thought so.  Well, I have a crush on Evan,"  Then she blushed! and giggled! in such a sweet way that I knew it to be true.  My girl has her first real crush.  How sweet.  It makes sense for our Louise.  Her whole first grade class is one big gaggle of friends.  She's sobbed the few times she's had to miss school this year.  She LOVES it.  She is super into doing her work and is so on top of everything.  She still loves art so much and is most happy when coloring or writing or reading one of her new chapter books or playing with friends.
Felix is such a great little guy.  He's totally into super heroes and playing pretend, soccer and swinging.  Most recently he loves listening to jazz music with me and trying to pick out what instrument is playing.  He loves doing everything his big sisters do and takes really good care of himself.  He's so proud to be able to do so much for himself and third child, I am glad to let you.
I feel like I may always mourn those baby days.  They were so special.  It makes it even more magical that it was in Oak Park, this idyllic urban village, in so many ways. It's easy to over romanticize that time of life, still it's hard to let go.  Being home all day doesn't feel as good as it used to.  Home used to be where the action was! Now it's starting to feel lonely.  I really relish my alone time but find I'm this odd balance of introvert and extrovert.  I really miss my connections in Oak Park and seeing friends every day.

I'm still finding my rhythm here.  I'm trying to relax and enjoy Felix's last preschool years with him home and trusting that my new path will make itself clear to me soon.  

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Catch Up

Well hey there! It's been a while.  I finally got my act together and cleared off my computer and phone so I can take more/post more photos.  Yay!

So to catch up...

 
Christmas Fest at St Olaf with mom (Ian and Ruth too)

(the tiniest cousins, but not for long! notice that bump behind Rory?)

 The last 8th floor Macy's visit ever. I'm so sad, but so glad we got to go one more time!



 winter break bliss







winter days, school projects, walking errands, lots of time with my little man (who only wears shorts and t shirts and his cubs baseball hat!) life is good and fuller than ever

















Family Fun Day for Skijammer with Ainsley.  This girl can ski anything now.  It was so fun to spend the day with her and Pop (on his 61st birthday no less!) 




Now we are looking forward to Spring, though we just got a good few inches of fresh snow last night.  The kids are SO excited for Florida in 3 weeks, me too.  Just yesterday Felix and I found thrifted sandals for everyone.

Hopefully I'll be here more regularly now.  I miss it!


Thirty Three

What a year it has been.

After the flurry that was moving and settling in and a summer so full with my little people dare I say we are starting to feel truly settled.  This wonderful home that we've found is taking shape.  I'm starting to get antsy to change the few things I'd wanted to and the first few repairs have been made helping us learn more about this 50+ year old house.

I am more excited than ever for spring.  Now I know the beauty that is to come in the yard and am as determined as ever to maintain and improve it.  I planted garlic for the first time last fall and am SO excited to see that sprout.  I'm thinking of motivating to make some starts inside the house this year.  The few things I was able to can were so enjoyed this winter.  I'd love lots more of that this next year.

But enough about all that.  I'm 33! Closer to 35 now than 30.  I still feel 28 inside.  How is that?  I've had a hard time getting into my groove here.  So much of my energy has been spent on the kids, getting them acclimated and trying to keep this much bigger home in order.  I find I'm most excited this year just to get back to what worked so well for me in those younger mom years in Oak Park.  Planning our days and our meals well, using our time together as best as we can.

I look around me and notice the other women I encounter.  Many have jobs and children.  It can be hard for me to not feel insufficient sometimes.  I am so happy to be able to be home with my kiddos.  They need a lot still.  Now that Felix is in school three mornings a week for 3.5 hours each I am starting to see a glimpse of what is to come.  I find myself noticing opportunities more.  Part time florist at the locall shop.  Subsitutes needed at preschools.  Tutors needed for middle school English. Part time activities director at a local nursing home. I've been a mom for so long part of me has forgotten about the other things that I can do and right now it feels scary to even consider comitting to anything else.  I hope that changes.  I feel like I'm yearning for more someday soon.

Right now that feeling for more is being chanelled into making.  I am so thankful for some wonderful gifts I received for my birthday to help with that.  I've been stocking up at the thrift stores to make lots of old favorites, pillowcase nightgowns and lap quilts, potholders too.  I've been meaning to try my hand at some sewn art for a while now.  There are a few blank wall spaces just crying out and the phrase "why not!" keeps taunting me.

The why not right now is purely tied up in my motivation.  I've been struggling all year with those after lunch hours and am determined to figure them out in my 33rd year.  Felix is my first preschooler to have completely dropped his nap (excepting on weekends with Ian) and I'm at a complete loss.  He is so zonked after preschool but won't sleep and while I hate letting him watch things for rest time I'm not sure what else to do.  When he plays he plays rambunctiously and that little body needs a rest, me too!  I'm hoping to start using that time to sew.  Maybe my little guy will get used to hanging with me and the fabric like his sister's used to.

For my 33rd year I see me focusing more on me, in the hopes of being able to have more energy for others.  I've been so wrapped up in the kids and my struggles with the move and anxieties and i'm ready to put that all behind and look forward.  I forced myself to start tunning again, on the treadmill which I hate, but I'm doing it 3-4 days a week and that with the yoga has helped my energy so much.  I'm drinking more water, not eating after dinner, and in general just trying to be more mindful of wha tI put in my mouth. It's helping and I'm optimistic.

So aging so far isn't so bad.  I'm excited for what's to come this year.  An almost 2 week trip to Florida soon, a summer up at the cabin (now that I can drive us there on my own!) Lots of time spent in the garden and outside after a long snuggly winter.  I'm loving it here.

To 33! and beyond!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

January

Oh January.  I'm struggling with you.  As usual I am so sad that Christmas is over and so wishing Christmas were still to come.  We had a wonderful holiday but it seemed to go to fast.  I find myself already looking forward to next year.  I really want to do a homemade holiday again.  I loved that so much.

Even so there are so many wonderful things ahead for this winter.  The first is Ainsley's skiing.  She's doing a ski program that runs for 8 Saturdays.  I was a bit nervous dropping her off for that first day last weekend but she had a blast and did so great and after 9 hours away from us hopped off the bus no problem.  Relief! and Excitement! She's LOVING skiing.  I'm excited to watch her grow.

Louise is loving first grade.  Her class this year is pretty boy heavy so the 7 girls have become really tight.  She comes home laughing with stories every day and cried the one day she had to stay home sick because she missed school so much.  Looking back to a year ago this time I'm SO thankful for her happiness at school.

Felix is still my little buddy.  I've had a hard time shaking off that his preschool years look a bit different from his sisters.  He loves school so much but outside of school our lives are much quieter.  No musikgarten or library storytimes, no neighborhood playdates.  I reason with myself that he's my third and that seems to be different across the board.  He and I both need those few quiet mornings we have left before sisters come off the bus and activites gear up.  He is SO excited for a preschool soccer class he's taking later this month.  I'm thankful for my easy going sweet boy.

I have been so thankful for the yoga program I jumped on 4 weeks ago now.  I can hardly believe I've made it 4 weeks without a break!  I still wish the weather would cooperate to make some outside running easier, but mostly I'm really satisfied just getting something in every day.  Plus yoga feels SO GOOD.  It's just what this almost 33 year old body needs.