Thursday, April 10, 2014

Once Upon a Time

Tuesday marked our nine year anniversary and this image is from our honeymoon in Costa Rica. I don't remember much about where we were in Costa Rica, or what we had been doing that particular day, or even what meal we had (except that it was probably delicious as 99% of all our meals were!) But, I remember thinking, at that moment, I could not be more insanely happier that I was in that moment with J.

Now, nine years later, as I sit across the dinner table with two crazy (and messy!) daughters sitting beside us I look at the life we created together, and I realized that I could not be more insanely happier than I am in that moment.
The best part is that I know it will just keep getting better. Here's to another 99 years!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Better Late than Never: A Letter to my Princess Monkey

Dear Daisy, 

The other afternoon I went to get started cleaning up and prepping for dinner while you and your sister played dress up in the family room. You acted out the story from Tangled and then added a few of your quirky twists, and soon the two of you were giggling and laughing and having so much fun. 

One day we will live under different roofs. One day life will take you both away from here, expose you to fantastic new ideas, tug you in exciting new directions and these days will be distant memories. So while I soak up these moments, I find myself hoping that they are enough to build you a strong foundation of love, respect and sisterhood between the two of you. May you always delight in one anothers company. May you always appreciate making each other laugh. 

May you always be the very best of friends.
Besides spending half our day engaged in imaginative play, your literacy development has really started to take off. Most notably your recognition of words and vowels and a sight words. You love to trace and sound out letters, but your favorite is to play rhyming games. I love watching you learn. I love fostering your passion for language. A few months ago we picked up the Draw Write Now book and you ended up spending almost two hours look at the instructions and trying to mimic the illustrations. 

While your language and physical development is crucial, I find your kindness and ability to love even more amazing. Mother Teresa once said, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” And to me, this quote perfectly describes you. You constantly want to help those who need helping, and do so with a smile on your face and a light from your heart. You love to teach and encourage your sister. You two sit at the breakfast table while you quiz her on colors; when she gets them wrong you gently explain why. When she gets them right, you praise and cheer her on. And this encouragement extends beyond your family and friends, but to those around you. Last week while at the playground a little girl had fallen and scraped her knee and was crying. You stopped playing, walked over and and put your arm around her shoulders and asked if you could help. You have such an ability for compassion and innate skill for making others feel connected and cared for. It astonishes me each and every day. 

When you are struggling with something - anything from fighting with your sister to asking for a big brother - you have started praying. And sweetheart, I cannot tell you how proud this makes me. I love watching you develop a relationship with Jesus and learning to trust him first with your prayers. For me, this is something I work on every day and I hope, nay pray, that you continue to walk in faith. A few months ago, you asked me what the meaning of grace was, we talked about the two different meanings, both secular and related to theology. You have been obsessed with understanding God’s grace, and honey, after nearly 34 years I can barely comprehend it myself. 

I know that we tell you this ALL. THE. TIME., but your father and I love you, darling girl. We love you with a thousand beating hearts and you are such a light in our world. We love watching you grow, we love watching your spread your wings, and we love watching you fly. 

Friday, February 28, 2014


Last year, I did this same questionnaire: You ask your child the same twenty question on their birthday every year, so you can see how they change. So this morning, while we snuggled in bed for a few minutes I fired away: 

1. What is your favorite color: rainbow 

2. What is your favorite toy: legos 

3. What is your favorite fruit: blueberries 

4. What is your favorite movie/TV show: Robin Hood 

5. What is your favorite thing to wear: dresses

6. What is your favorite animal: zebras or giraffes

7. What is your favorite song: The Beatles! (Momma note: I was also surprised by this answer, but then I remembered she is her father's daughter!) 

8. What is your favorite book? Anything with Fairies and/or Dragons and/or Princesses. (Momma note: We have been reading an awful lot of Bearnstein Bear books as well). 

9. Who is your best friend: Stella or Grant or Karly 

10. What is your favorite breakfast: bagels

11. What is your favorite lunch: peanut butter & jelly (Momma note: she NEVER tires of this!) 

12. What is your favorite dinner: Macaroni & Cheese 

13. What is your favorite snack: any type of strawberry smoothie

14. What is your favorite dessert: ice cream 

15. What do you sleep with at night: Blankie 

16. What is your favorite thing to play outside: chase, or pretend on the playground 

17. What do you want for your birthday dinner: Cheese pizza and strawberry cake. (Momma note: which was successful! She also declared a Pizza movie night and choose The Lorax to watch). 

18. What do you want to be when you grow up: An astronaut or maybe a zebra (Momma note: You have slowly become obsessed with all things space; as well as all grassland animals). 

19. Where is your favorite place to go: to the zoo (Momma note: I was very surprised by this answer, but we did just go last weekend to the Oakland Zoo where she LOVED watching the zebras.) 

20. What is your favorite game: tag or Candy Land 
I also owe you your birthday letter, but alas your father and I are heading to Las Vegas (leaving you in the very capable hands of our grandparents) early tomorrow morning to party with a bunch of fourty-year olds. And by party, I mean sleep, read silently to oursevles, and eat dinner while enjoying our own conversation. (And I only speak for ourselves, I believe the fourty-somethings will be able to party our thirty-something bums under the table!) So, your birthday letter will be a little late this year. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Letter to my wild bird: 2 years

Darling girl, 

I love you, I love you, I LOVE YOU. Every morning, when you wake up with hair that defies gravity and you snuggle into my arms for a morning cuddle, I marvel at you and am hit with an overwhelming sensation of love. Every afternoon when we build (and then destroy) Lego castles or kick the soccer ball at the park or cut out fun shapes with homemade glitter play-doh I am amazed by you. Every evening when we snuggle in our chair to read the millions of books you have picked out before bedtime and I skim the top of your head breathing your freshly bathed scent, I am thankful for you. And I love you. 

Over the last few months, your personality has really started to shine through, and my love you, are hysterical.  As well as independent, adventurous, outspoken, fiercely loyal and my favorite, so very loving. We are of course, still working on your patience, but that’ll come love, that’ll come. We have entered the dreaded “terrible twos” stage - complete with loud, public temper tantrums when things don’t go your way; however, you are the BEST little sharer, and willingly share your toys with your sister or friends or strangers at the park when asked. You are determined to do everything with “no help.” Climb into your carseat and buckle the top clip: “No help, Momma.” Walk across the balance beam at gymnastics class: “No help, Momma.” Drink from a water fountain that you can’t quite reach. Instead, you look around for a couple of items to pull near the fountain, stack them up, climb up and drink all by yourself: “No help, Momma.”

Another big development over the past few months has been your comprehension and language development. Every day you make associations that stun me. You love to organize things in clusters of two or three and then name them. You also make color associations. You can identify most colors, but you only communicate the word blue. You wash yourself in the bath, following your father’s directions: shoulders, face, elbows, feet, meticulously scrubbing each body part with a huge grin on your face. 
 You, my love, are getting inceasingly more difficult to photograph, and as such have very few pictures of you. I am working hard at trying to take your 24-month photos.  

You are entering into the repetitive stage of verbal development and as such I have completely lost track of how many words you use. But, my favorite word so far is PLEASE (which, ironically sounds like “peas”). You have also learned that if you use the word PLEASE in conjunction with your beautiful smile, I will grant you anything you wish. More juice, look at me with that grin and your sparkling brown eyes with a giant “peas Momma” and you have another cup. Want to listen to your favorite Mickey CD for the billionth time today, as long as a “peas” follows “more HI” - your wish is my command. But, darling, I just can’t help it….you are so darn cute. 

Yesterday was your second birthday, and I can barely believe it. We spent the morning kicking a soccer ball around the soccer field in our community soccer class (although, honestly I think your favorite part is the water break) and met Daddy for a mid-morning brunch sans sister. We read every book you fancied all pressed together before our afternoon nap and sang every nursery rhyme we know at the top of our lungs. We ate dinner together as a family of four and feasted on roasted chicken, spinach and corn enchiladas with avocado, tomatillos salsa and your absolute favorite, sour cream. We topped it all off with homemade chocolate cupcakes with rainbow sprinkles. 
Rockin' it in your Minnie Mouse sunglasses, shirt and shoes. Obviously, there are few things you love more than Minnie (aka: "Hi")

Lily, my love, I have always loved you madly, but every evening when we sit and snuggle one final time before bed I think I love you a bit more than I did the day before. And last evening, thinking on it, I realize that I only love you two years over. I cannot wait to find out what it feels like to love you three years over, or twelve years over, or thirty years, and even fifty years older. You are my brilliant shining light. 

I love you more than all the stars in the sky and the water in the ocean. 

Love, Momma 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Two special people

I have to say that I honestly love my in-laws.

At first, I wasn’t so sure. When we first met, my mother-in-law said about three words to me, and I’m pretty sure they were in reference to J’s ex-girlfriends. And then there was that time after the honeymoon she called in tears because the song she and J danced to for the mother-son dance was playing on the car radio. Red flags were everywhere.

But, I really do love them. I love that they drive 100 miles twice a week to baby-sit their granddaughters while I am at work, and they do so happily. I love that they always run a load of laundry while I’m gone. I love that they always unload the dishwasher as well. I may not love having to hunt for everything the next day, but I love how they do it to help. I love that they buy fleece pajamas for the girls in the fall and cute sundresses for them in the spring.

I love how they make blueberry muffins and always have coffee creamer for me whenever we come to their house to visit even though they drink their coffee black and out-of-season blueberries are expensive and hard to find. I love that my father-in-law is a good man, a reliable man; an honest man. I love that my mother-in-law is loyal and dedicated to her husband. I love that they remind me to not take life too seriously. I love that they are intelligent and thoughtful and considerate. I love having them in my life.

But, the one thing I love more than anything is seeing how much they love on their grandchildren. I love when Lily runs into Papa’s arms after a surprise visit. I love how Grandma Jo lets Daisy make a mess with the rainbow sprinkles when they bake cupcakes. I love how Grandma Jo lets Lily decorate her with stickers. I love how Papa entertains Daisy with princess stories. I love how they brag about their grandchildren to everyone they meet.

But mostly, I love their devotion to the family they created.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

And a Happy New Year

Happy New Year's Eve from under a blanket on my couch while holding a feverish toddler, where I am about to have the most crazy, insane, balls-to-the-wall, rock n' roll evening ever, and by this I mean I have bought a chocolate fruit tart. Yes, you heard me right. I also have a couple of beautiful pieces of salmon in the kitchen, a variety of infused olive oil and balsamic vinegars and a load of laundry in the wash, plus a stack of board games sitting on my dining room table and a half finished Cloud Atlas movie in our blue-ray player. Do we know how to live or do we know how to live?

We’d had grand plans, but I’ve been feeling really rotten for the last few weeks with this cold that I have not been able to shake since Thanksgiving and Lily has spent the past four days with a fever. And then this morning, at Draeger’s (whilst picking up my salmon) she threw up all over me, so I’m very glad that we are staying in. As a consolation prize, I bought myself the chocolate fruit tart. I think we can all agree this is pushing the boat out a little, even for New Year’s Eve.

Because I am feeling sort of crummy, and because I delight in the usual sort of list-making and stock taking that runs rampant this time of year, I thought I might attempt a question and answer thing for my review of 2013.
  1. What did you do in 2013 that you have never done before? Went whale watching. Took the girls sledding. Drank $100 of wine for my anniversary. Played Bocce Ball. Went to Orcas Island. Discovered my favorite tinted moisturizer. Had a miscarriage. Survived having a dinner party for twelve. Dipped Lily’s toes in the Pacific Ocean. Enrolled a child in preschool and made a earthquake survival kit. Went apple picking. Enjoyed a perfect picnic in Half Moon Bay. Ran a Turkey Trot.
  2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions and will you make any for next year? Last year, I resolved not to make any resolutions – easier not to break them, which I invariably do by February – and instead just to “work hard, be kind, and let things happen.” I definitely did the first and the last, and I’d like to hope I did the middle one too, so maybe I’ll just go ahead and make that my resolution for 2014 as well. Ah what the heck, I’m feeling hopeful; let’s amend it to “work hard, be kind, let things happen, and run more miles.”   
  3. Did anyone close to you give birth? One of my oldest childhood friends had an adorable baby girl in April and several good college friends had babies over the summer. Several other nearby friends also gave birth this fall. Also, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, but I suspect we are only besties in my head. 
  4. Did anyone close to you die? No, thank goodness. But, we did travel back to Minnesota to celebrate the life of J’s uncle who passed away in June.
  5. What countries did you visit? Unfortunately, I believe our international travel is extremely limited for the next decade. We did do a bit of US travel though; we took a road trip to the Pacific Northwest, which included stops at Crater Lake, Bend, Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainer, Seattle, and Orcas Island. Also, we had a few weekends in San Luis Obispo, Lake Tahoe, Minneapolis & St. Paul, Healdsburg, and Palm Springs. Oh, and Orange County a couple of times to see my parents.
  6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013? More time for this blog. I really enjoy having a creative outlet of my own to write the things I feel like writing when I feel like writing them. My job has kept me incredibly busy this year, not to mention having two young children, and these two things have used up a lot of the ooh-I-feel-like-writing headspace that I used to have left over for my blog.
  7. What was your biggest failure? I tried desperately hard to read Dubliners. A goal I have had for years, something I feel that all lovers of Irish culture and literature in general should read. And I read the first 50 pages and then gave up.  Major fail.
  8. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory forever and why? You know, I cannot remember a single one. This is why I have a day planner.
  9. Did you suffer illness or injury?  Hmm, apart from a D&C in the spring, and our current low-level malaise, not really no. 
  10. What was the best thing you bought? Probably our tickets for Whale Watching in June. That was something I’ve always wanted to do, but was afraid I’d get sea sick. In the end, Daisy got sea sick, but it was still totally worth seeing all the whales! Although, I haven’t had my chocolate fruit tart yet, so my answer may still change.
  11. Where did most of your money go?  Graduate School Student Loans. Savings Account.    
  12. What did you get really excited about?  I kept getting sent all these 40% off coupons for the Gap! It was crazy! I bought, like three sundresses for $12 at one point!
  13. What song will always remind you of 2013? Roar by Katy Perry. Lily loves that songs and loves to “ROAR” when it comes on.
  14. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? Thinner or fatter? Richer or poorer? Happier and fatter. Maybe a little poorer, thanks to all those 40% off coupons.
  15. What do you wish you'd done more of? Eh, I suppose I should say “exercise” or something, but I was actually a lot better about exercising this year, and you know, in general, I just had a very satisfying year. I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I feel happy and content, which I realize is a very, very short distance from “smug and annoying,” a state I hope to never accidentally cross into, but I can’t think of anything right now that I wish I’d done more of. Oh okay, I guess that’s always room for more exercise.
  16. What do you wish you'd done less of? Commuting. Worrying. Having a short fuse.
  17. How did you spend Christmas? With my family and J’s family and J’s aunt and uncle from Minnesota all here in our townhouse. We had lasagna and opened presents all day and took the kids to the park and munched on cookies. It was pretty much perfect, although we were all wiped when the day was over.
  18. What was your favorite TV program? White Collar, I anxiously spent all year waiting for the next season to come on Netflix.
  19. What were your favorite books of the year? Oooh, I have a post that I am brewing for this, but for now I’d say it’s a tie between Families and other nonreturnable gifts by Claire LaZebnik or Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. I also became obsessed with Her Royal Spyness Series by Rhys Bowen. Basically, it was all things British. 
  20. What were your favorite films of the year? I think maybe....Frozen? I took Daisy to see it yesterday, and I can't really remember watching anything else, although I know I did. Why, what did you watch? I probably should have watched that. 
  21. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you? I was 33, and wow, what did I do? Oh, we were in Minneapolis with my in-laws spending the weekend celebrating J’s uncle. We also went to the Como Park Zoo before we spent the afternoon at one of the aunt’s house. Plus, they made me a blueberry pie (my favorite), so I felt very blessed and loved.
  22. What kept you sane? J. He is so calm and level-headed to my crazy. Also, my girls. Remembering that they are only little once. One day they will be grown and won’t climb into my bed at 3am for a snuggle. They won’t vomit on me in the market (who, am I kidding, that’s a good thing!) or come running to me when I walk in the door after work. They won’t beg me to play with them or smother me in kisses. Days are hard, but every moment is completely worth it.
  23. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013. It all works out in the end. This is basically the same lesson I learned in 2012, but you know, I really don’t think you can learn it enough.