Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ten Years Today.

If "A" looks up to "B"
Then by nature of the physical universe
"B" must look down on "A"
Rather like two birds
One on a tree
And one on the ground

Or so thought She
Who had always wanted to marry
A man she could look up to
But wondered where that
Would place her
If she did.

Imagine her astonishment
When she met Him and found
That together they stood
Physics on its head.

You could never 
Draw this on paper
For it defies design

But year after year
They lived a strange 
That by all known laws
Could not occur.

She looked up to him
And he looked up to her.

-C.L. Pearson

This is one of my favorite poems, one that I often think of when I consider the blessing and intent of our union, and being the luckiest partner to such a good man.

Here's to continually defying design, and standing physics on its head.

Marriage is the best.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Wedding and an Anniversary.

We recently drove to Northern Cal to attend a family wedding. It was a beautiful event. It was fun to see and spend time with Tyler's side of the family.

Tyler and I also were able to squeeze in a mini-anniversary celebration! No kids for three whole nights!

{having a little too much fun with my big, flowy skirt. Something about the outside breeze and the pleats awoke all of my childhood dress twirling fantasies. This skirt can move!}

After the wedding we drove to South Shore, Lake Tahoe.

We stayed at the Marriott Residence Condo Village. 
Oh. My.
It was beautiful.

It had great food options, cute shops, a gondola ride to the summit, a private beach! We are normally North Shore loyalists but this South Shore Tahoe gig has its perks too. 
We will definitely try to come back at some point with the kids.

However, it did pour rain while we were there.

We didn't mind. We stayed locked in with a fire going and opened our windows to smell the fresh, misty air and hear the sounds of rain hammering the balcony. It was insanely cozy and romantic.

We talked and watched movies and gratefully considered our past ten years together.

We asked each other:

What would you change?
What do you regret?
What are you proudest of?
Where do you see us in the next 10 years?
What are your favorite memories so far?

It was an incredibly good weekend with my favorite guy...

Love you so, my Tyler. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Life these days.

"The little ones leaped, 
and shouted, and laugh'd 
And all the hills echoed."

William Blake

It's that time of year again! It feels so good. The time when school supplies become the centerpiece of store displays and life settles back into routine and the evenings hint at your surrounding's first nudge towards Autumn; quite possibly the best season ever because it always brings with it darker evenings and more time for noses to peek into books while a hearty soup simmers away on a stove-top. Isn't that what it feels like to you? Sigh, nothing brings back the nostalgia to me like a good back-to-school season.

I'm not the only one loving it. The girls have repeatedly arranged and re-arranged all of their supplies. Pencils and markers and paper and outfits assembled courtesy of a generous Nonna, who took them school shopping while we were in town. Even Nonna was in on the nostalgia of the season. In keeping with a loving tradition, she recounted to us how her Nonna always bought her a new dress every school year. Except, my girls' Nonna bought more than a dress, let me tell you. Those girls came back stocked and ready, with insanely cute Hello Kitty side-sling backpacks to boot, from their favorite Hello Kitty store. Only with Nonna are such luxuries permitted.;)

 { Sigh. Just look at them. My third grader Lily and first grader London. Weep...}

They scurried off to school today excited, and I was left to console my aching (gosh, always aching! it's just TOO fast) heart with the little munchkins.

Who are mighty fine company, I might add. They play beautifully together and I repeatedly pray thank You to God for our little surprise package Emerson arriving exactly when she did.

Ellie Jane and Emerson are becoming quite the pals.

 And...occasional foes.


A few weeks ago I took the girls to the salon for their annual school year grooming. We browsed the adjacent downtown, tree lined streets in Redlands, rotating hair-cuts and selecting new lunch boxes from the side shops in-between. It was one of those random, unexpected, perfect kind of days. The sun is burning bright but somehow the air still feels fresh and breezy and the girls are uncharacteristically extremely well-behaved and we eat lunch outside and browse an old bookstore while I pinch myself to think this is actually my life kind of day. Life is peppered with those kinds of days, and when I am really lucky I can sometimes notice them right when I'm smack dab in the center of it all. I take notice and think, hmmm. well my my. isn't this nice?

{Lily giving the proper instructional on how to manage a school lunch-box. You know. These things are important. Especially for the younger siblings, who were - as Lily assessed quite accurately - encumbered by an astonishing level of school lunch-hour naivete. Well done Lu.}

This summer has been such a good summer. We've been making a few changes in our house and life lately, and I am feeling really good about it all. I've had a few a ha! moments that have helped to shift my life in areas that needed some good shifting.

One shift of greatest importance came from an random conversation with my Mom. Of course. Always with that lady. I love that I can complain and go on and on about how mind boggling exhausting a life with children and a husband and bills and houses and friends and church and school etc etc etc! can be with her. There is never judgment. Praise heavens there is NO JUDGMENT. Just laughter, and encouragement, and perspective. School has been particularly taxing on my motherhood experience as of late. After exchanging a few thoughts with my Mom I've worked out some of the schedule to allow more breathing room. Something I rarely seem to allow myself. Why do I do that? I swear I will literally drown myself in pace and momentum and progress and goals! goalsgoals! unless someone steps in and and says SLOW DOWN. I need this sort of intervention about every three weeks. Slow down. Calm down. Look around you. 

Enjoy this.

Enjoy all of it.

This. This is where IT'S AT.

And so I gave myself permission. I've slowed down.

Another good change? The institution of the post-dinner hang out.

Backstory: I've always felt like the family dinner would be the glue that would keep our family connected on a daily basis. Life is just so serially packed and fast-paced. We are busy from sun-up to sun-down. So, I pictured that we would carefully carve out a dinner hour that would be like one of those hamburger helper commercials, the one with that smiling happy two-child family passing each other the macaroni and laughing and being all perfect family-ish. I have always been going for that damn look.
It's been years now, and I largely have felt repeatedly defeated over how lame our family dinners are. Even when I cook and we sit to eat together, it's all very chaotic. For starters, there has pretty much always been a two year-old in the mix of our family throwing food and climbing on the table. Tyler and I spend the majority of dinner disciplining terrible manners or cleaning up a spill or chopping food or refilling plates. Everyone eats at different paces. Kids climb under the table. Emerson demands to sit on my lap the entire time while eating only my food with my fork. We manage about 5 minutes of a scrambled family conversation and then Tyler and I are like "Great! Check! Family dinner done! BED-TIME!". Then we spend the rest of the evening in a clean up, bed time struggle/routine. Or worse, Tyler begins the routine and I sit at the table alone trying to finish the food that I cooked and didn't get a chance to eat while surveying the mess of a kitchen and mentally composing my latest martyrdom eulogy, wondering why we didn't just go to McDonalds with all the other normal, pre-diabetic families.

So. Are you still with me? Because this is where it all becomes hamburger helper happier. I listened to an interview a few months back when the interviewee casually mentioned that their family gathered around after dinner in the living room for about 30 minutes together. This wasn't even the point of the interview! Just a side note! Anyways. They said they had no television on during this time. They would just sit, read, visit, and hang out. It had become such a habit for so many years that it became a sort of cherished tradition - even when their children became teenagers.
Ah. haaa! I thought. I mentioned it to Tyler. How about we slow down and reserve a chunk of the evening strictly for hanging out after dinner? He was game. Because he's awesome like that. Quite the family guy. Sigh.
I have decided we aren't shooting for quality family time during dinner anymore, at least until we have passed through the children/monkey/primate stage. We will still sit as a family, and have dinner. But to expect to really enjoy it to me is like asking a woman to expect enjoying childbirth. You do it. It is meaningful. You will be glad you did. But you will most likely, unless you are some crazy person especially privileged and smiled upon by the woefully unjust and cantankerous gods of fertility, not enjoy it.

Last night, for our post dinner hangout Tyler read Harry Potter aloud to the girls and I played blocks for a bit with Emerson and Ellie Jane. All felt right with the world. I had actually stopped and enjoyed my family. Imagine the possibilities people!

I guess in a nut-shell a few of my summer a ha's! could be described in the following formula :

Decrease speed + Lower expectations = Enjoyment.

 {tea time with "Supergirl Juice", aka Green Smoothies. and marker on our faces. and dirty clothes.}

In the coming weeks, we plan on having our new annual back to school family party {last year here}. I have a few scriptures I'm narrowing down on to decide our theme. We also have other potential changes in the works. I'll have to fill the blog in on all of this at some other time.

I'm hoping to get in more regular writing, but I fear my posts will stay sparse for now. I've debated shutting this whole operation down more than once. But then, you know, I keep on keeping on. I love this space. I feel like it's taken on its own life and I love to check in and share and reflect.

So for now, that's it. 

 Happy Back-to-School Season!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

For the kids.

We're off to a family wedding for the weekend!

In the meantime, I thought I'd share an activity that kept my kids happy for a few hours on one of those lllllllong, summer afternoons. The kind of day when Emerson is napping and the older ladies cannot refrain from repeatedly reminding me how boring their life is.:) 

*Grab a roll of butcher paper (I always stock up on mine at IKEA - so cheap!) and a sharpie marker. 
*Roll out over floor in sections (I used three)
*Illustrate whatever comes to mind (or you could google some cartoon images for better ideas). Mine was a rather feeble, embarrassing attempt at an underwater castle land. The maimed octopus only had five arms, one fish was ridiculously large, and the mermaid boobies were nothing short of proportional scandal. I didn't intend on them having such big round knockers. But you know, sharpies don't come with erasers. 
*Tape to wall
*Pull out any art supplies you have on hand and voila!



Monday, August 4, 2014

The Sweet Life Presents:


For our last official weekend of summer, we decided to do what we had promised ourselves to do over multiple weekends during the summer. Which was, explore So Cal. How is it that summer has slipped by and we have not been to the ocean but once? Insert shame face.

Pleased to present the photo documentation of our last official summery beachy awesomey vacationy weekend of 2014.

Wow. Malibu. You are every bit as cool California-feeling as I thought you'd be. Like. Totally
If I wasn't so crowd averse, traffic averse, and wealth deficient: we'd definitely scoot our way closer out west towards you for a more permanent stay. I'd live in those rolling hills any day.

 {a bit much sand caught in your swim suit, ellie dear?}

But really. I probably wouldn't hit the beach much with my children. I am still not ocean proficient. I just don't know how to sit on the beach and watch my children play without dying of cardiac arrest. I prefer stationary bodies of water. I can't get comfortable with the movement of the ocean. And it certainly doesn't help that the entire body of it is filled with dead pirates and sunken ships and sea monsters and the devil and whatnot. Way too much freak potential up in there.

Those darn waves can just knock my kids out and churn them all over the place. It can even scoop Emerson right out from under me in her floaty device. Consequently, it's nothing but a panic stricken Rae's worst nightmare at every turn. Sure, my kids are laughing and smiling and giggling through the whole event, but that's just because they don't understand that while they are busy frolicking and laughing they are also constantly almost dying. Kids mix these signals up, a lot, in my estimation. Therefore I have no choice but to properly re-interpret their distress signals {laughter! smiles!} for what their true meanings are {I'm dying! Help me!}. I remain in a state of desperate chasing, lunging, rescuing, and screaming. And all the while I keep thinking: why not allow them to play hopscotch on the edge of a cliff while I'm at it? At least then their permissible childhood play activities would be consistent. Going to the beach GOING TO THE SCMEACH. This is absurd.

Which as a side note, shrieking on the beaches of Malibu? It was a bit of a scene I suppose. A place filled with college hipster lover couples and environmentalists and dog people. Family of six scattered and splashing and running around followed by a shrieking mother? I got the sense we were a bit out of place. But meh, you know. whatareyagonnado?

{gather in, gather in ladies, mommy will protect you.}

And of course, there was Tyler.
Chill, calm, relaxed. playing with the girls. enjoying himself. while ON VACATION. 

phff, Show off.
{the nerve.}


Later that evening we took the girls for their first Tepanyaki experience. We've discovered that a showy combination of knives and fire help to keep them sitting and at attention while eating. We'll be trying that more at home in the future.

The hotel digs.


Next up!

{I couldn't resist. Had to get myself a pair. Mother/daughter times a bazillion!}

 Bike riding on the beach!
We asked for the Suburban versions. 

 {fun street shows}

Even though traveling around with our family can be pretty exhausting, and often expensive, man is it good. We are together. And I love showing the world to our girls. They are the most delightful little observers. They love life and we love them and the combination of it all is pretty magical if I stop to notice it enough. These little people are worth every bit of the trouble, I tell ya.

{emmie not. interested.}

And sure, it's a total chaotic mess at times too. We find ourselves crammed in a car in traffic and Emerson is screaming while London is yelling " I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!" and Ellie Jane is ordering that her window be rolled down even though it's a million degrees outside and the air conditioner is being wasted while I am insisting that Tyler quit tailgating and Tyler is insisting that he is NOT tailgating and all four children in unison are declaring that they are are "starving" because they haven't eaten "anything EVER!" (i.e, in the past 30 minutes). Meh. You know. Whatareyagonnado? 

Besides! This is the stuff that legendary family vacations are made of. When I was a kid{teenager}, my Mom pulled over once and left our entire family in the car, on the side of the road, while we were traveling on vacation. She told us we could "sit there and rot!". Lucky for us, she came back later after a brief walk. True story.

I love my family.

I love these happy little faces.

a warm, healthy summer. 
our family together, 
and a little adventure.

What more could a girl ask for?