Category Archives: Family

My girl is FIVE!

Five??? Come on, how is that even possible? It feels like just yesterday I put a number “5” on her dress representing five months.

I’m putting all this down now because if I don’t it will never happen. I always wait too long and then it just falls off my radar, all the pictures drifting farther and father back in my iPhone album.

This post can’t possibly do justice to what is going on in my heart right now… my little girl is growing into a beautiful young woman right before my eyes… so I won’t even try. Instead I’ll just write what happened this weekend so I never forget it.

Friday morning before preschool Grandmommy Erkel surprised us with a birthday cake! We sat around and sang happy birthday and had coconut cream cake for breakfast!

We were driving to preschool and Brielle was already saying “best birthday weekend ever!” It’s not hard to win her little heart. 🙂

We made Funfetti cupcakes with sprinkles for her preschool celebration. They love to help in the kitchen… It’s always messy but always fun.

Brenden and I went to her classroom to read two of her favorite books: Why Should I Help? and How to Pick a Pup. The kids in the class were SO CUTE sitting around interacting with us and talking about the books. She has such sweet little friends! Michael loved to be there too. He sat on the floor and basically made a huge commotion while we read.

Then we went to Red Lobster for her birthday dinner on Friday night. Don’t ask me WHY she wanted to go to Red Lobster. We don’t ever go there as a family… and I hate that they keep live lobsters in a tank until they kill them! But she wanted to go so we did. They had Shirley temples and picked at their rice and shrimp. It wasn’t a huge hit other than the cake and liquid sugar with cherries in it. 😀

(Brielle is showing off the bracelet her daddy gave her.)

We had her birthday party at Classics Gymnastics and it was a blast!! Her favorite activity during the week is her gymnastics class and she LOVED to share it with her friends.



It was so much fun having all her girlfriends there to celebrate with us! The kids had rosy cheeks after running around and doing obstacle courses and different activities with the awesome leaders. The favorite was the foam pit and the monstrosity of a bouncy house!

I made myself a promise that next year we will keep it simple and have a small family party. I loved this big to-do but there’s something so valuable about keeping it simple too. I don’t remember having these kinds of birthday celebrations as a kid, I mean, the presents alone…. It will take a month to open all of them!!

This morning when she was eating her birthday chocolate chip pancakes before church she said: “So am I a ‘plain five?’ I want to be an older five like five and a quarter or five and a nickel.” Brenden and I died. These kids seriously never cease to amaze us.

This “I want to be older” mentality was very welcome after Friday when she cried all day because she didn’t want to turn five. Her concerns were: “Is it hard to turn five? How will I know how to do it? Will I still fit in my clothes? I don’t want to get any bigger. Will I still look like me?”

Some of her questions made me laugh and hug her, others made me want to cry with her. Like when she said “I don’t want to get big like Aunt Lizzy. Can’t I always stay small like I am right now?” Sob. I mean, these are my thoughts too… coming from her makes them even more real and painful.

Then we had a long talk and looked at her Peppa Pig calendar. We looked at the day before her birthday and the day after her birthday. I told her she would be the exact same size before and after her birthday… she would just have a different number.

Crisis averted.

This morning she opened her presents from us and her favorite, (surprise surprise) was her makeup kit and nail polish. Michael and I already got our makeovers!


Brenden smoked ribs all day and we had a family dinner tonight. We went to another dear friend’s party, (yay for drop off parties! It is how I was able to write this post!!) And then Michael gave Brielle his gift to her: A beautiful orchid. (Thank you Daddy!) Their relationship is a treasure to my soul.

She went to sleep so so happy. So full of love and hugs and joy. And her favorite new doll!

She will be my baby forever. I love you so much Gabrielle Elise Grace.

 

 

 



7 Reasons We “Only” Have Two Kids

There’s something so beautiful and personal about a family dynamic, whether it be big or small.

Here are some reasons, (7 to be exact) we are a family of “only” two kids.

1) Two is a lot. Sure, three is more than two, and four is more than three, and five is more than four. But two is still a lot. One is even a lot. We are talking about human beings here. Humans, who for the rest of our lives will be intimately connected with us and involved with us. Read: Effort and selfless work. And joy and fun and laughter, yes, but effort and selfless work nonetheless. Just because some families have ten kids doesn’t take anything away from the fact that two is still a lot.

2) It’s okay to want two. I remember telling my therapist a while ago that I didn’t feel called to have a big family and I felt a lot of guilt about it, like I should want more kids. I mean, wasn’t that the “godly” thing? Shouldn’t I be selfless and sacrificial in this area to the extreme?

Women all around me were having more kids and it was difficult not to compare myself to them. Why could they handle more than me? Why did they want more responsibility than me? Was it a deep and telling deficiency that I had? Did it mean I had less love to give? So many questions and insecurities pop up when we compare ourselves to others. We are not everyone else! I am me and they are them. God made us different for a reason. I’m embracing the crap out of that.

3) Children are a lot of work. My parents had three more babies after I was in my teens so I spent a lot of time with amazing/hyper/sweet little kids all around me. Even being intimately involved in that beautiful chaos didn’t prepare me for the emotional, spiritual, and physical work that goes into each one when they are your own.

4) I know my limitations. I want to be of actual use to my community, my family, and my world. I want to have the capacity to foster children in the future or be children’s advocate in court (CASA) or maybe even adopt? I know if I continue to grow our family from my own body I will be tied up with little time and energy for anything else. I want to create time and space in my life to be available and capable.

5) I’m thinking about my marriage. Yes, having another child would mean more richness when they are older and even more grandkids for us to enjoy later (yay!!) but it also would mean more stress on our marriage overall. (See #3.)

It’s no secret that babies add stress to a marriage. The lack of sleep, the hormones raging and dipping, the fear of my baby suddenly just ceasing to exist. (Why do they have to be so fragile for the first few months??) And then there’s pregnancy…. I’m a tyrant when I’m pregnant, and that’s being gracious.

There’s something so sweet about having the time and energy for my husband that I simply wouldn’t have the luxury of if we added numbers to our crew. It would be there, under the surface, dormant and waiting to come out at some future time when things were calmer and the baby was older, but it would be pushed to the back burner. I feel like we have arrived in this area and it feels good.

6) Age is definintly a factor when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth. I know I don’t take the term “advanced maternal age” lightly. (Geez, could they come up with a more flattering name for women having babies in their late thirties?? How about “overly-ambitious” or “glutton for punishment”?)

7) Labor: I just can’t leave out the obvious… I don’t want to go through labor again. I chose to do it all natural, twice. And both times were the most intense, incredible, empowering experiences of my life. And I have no desire to do it ever again! There are babies who are already on this earth who need someone to love and care for them. That can be meeee!

I’d love to hear your story!

XOXO

(Pictured: Michael and Brielle, ages two and four. Michael had a microscopic boo boo and was getting sissy’s sympathy.)



All Other Ground Is Sinking Sand

Watching Brielle deal with her Great Grandmommy’s death has been fascinating and painful. I’ll be be buckling her in her carseat and she’ll say, “Mommy when is great grandmommy coming back from heaven?” And I gather my resolve to answer yet another question. Because this one holds weight and consequence, un-like the previous five-hundred questions that morning. Well, except for this one:
“Is God shy?”
No sweetie, He’s all powerful and mighty!
“Well is He invisible then?”
No sweetie, (well, sort of?)
“Well, why isn’t He HERRRE then??”

But the Great Grandmommy question… She’s asked it before. And every time my heart breaks when I tell her, she isn’t coming back, we are going to see her… And she is so much happier where she is, with great-granddaddy… And Jesus… And will be even happier when she sees us!

Then with her 4.75 year old wisdom, Brielle continues…

“But mommy, it will take forever to see great-grandmommy then. I have to have white hair to get to heaven. And I still have to be a kid. And then I have to be a parent. And I’ll miss her so much until I’m old.”

And it cracks my heart in half and takes my emotions to a new heightened level that I didn’t know existed.

What do I say now? The words choke in my throat. They feel so unnatural as I speak them to her huge eyes staring back at me. I say some things out loud and I think some things internally, not even sure what I should say at all:

Just be happy and live your life and savor the memories of your great-grandmommy. Your heart will grow to feel this less and less as the days pass. Your life will take on so much adventure and excitement that it will pass by in a blink. And… Not everyone goes to heaven when they are old and grey. Some people go to heaven when they are young and half-way.

STOP.

That is the realization that caught in my chest last night as I lay in bed after a delicious day of loving on my babies. I’ve never feared death before. Well, I’ve feared getting caught in an elevator and flying on planes but I’m not sure I’ve ever thought the concept of “death” was as terrifying as the thought of being stuck in a metal box slash tube.

But last night I feared death. Hard-core and completely. Dark thoughts and crying. Because I wasn’t just fearing it for myself. I was fearing it for the little love of my life, who if I let my mind wander, would be sitting in her carseat asking whoever was buckling her in: “When is mommy coming back from heaven?”

The mind is a dark scary place. It is also a bright joyful place. I can choose to think thoughts that are life-giving or think thoughts that are depleting and paralyzing.

Last night I chose to watch the shows in my mind that were soul-sucking and depleting. And I couldn’t find the remote control to turn the channel. I remember doing this as a child too. Laying in bed, crying because my mom might die and leave me. Now I’m crying because I might die and leave my daughter. And I imagine her dealing with it. And it’s not hard to imagine, because I see how she’s processing her great-grandmommy’s death, and I add a trillion percent. And my soul and spirit and mind and heart get so spun up and out of control that I am shipwrecked on a dark shore.

Brenden lay next to me and told me “This isn’t healthy. You aren’t going to die. You are thinking the worst thought you can, and making it a reality in your mind.” Funny thing about anxiety, it’s not logical. So I keep crying.

I wish I had a recorder going for seventy-percent of our conversations. I would replay them over and over and write them down and keep them forever. Last night was one of those times and I can never do what he said justice. His words were balm to my soul. They calmed my spirit and I was able to sleep, the feeling of not being there for my baby in her darkest hour of need, gone.

If I allow anxiety into this area of my life it can and will lead down a destructive path. It will fester and breed, taking on new form and new depth. Anxiety is anxiety, no matter the flavor or category. This kind of anxiety is not somehow more honorable or courageous because I’m thinking about my daughter and her well-being. No, it’s still sin. Christ wants us to look forward in Hope, not dread and fear.

And only God is in ultimate control.

The pilot of the plane we will be boarding for Key West in March is not in ultimate control.
The driver heading toward me in the opposite direction going 60 miles an hour is not in ultimate control.
The doctors who care for me and try to keep my healthy are not in ultimate control.
I am not in ultimate control.
Control is a myth. No matter what I do to try to gain and maintain it, it is not attainable.

Only God is in ultimate control. And He wants me to find Freedom in that. And Trust. And Joy. Christ wants me to look forward in Hope.

This morning I sit here reliving all this. I’m having my coffee and feeling alive and refreshed. I feel a joyful surrender. It’s the kind of surrender that brings life and peace and is not of this world.

And I remember an old hymn that I haven’t thought of in years.

His oath, His covenant, and blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.



Plans Are Funny That Way

I’ve been thinking a lot about school lately. Brielle and all her little friends are slated to start kindergarten this Fall…

I told Brenden last night out of the blue: “I think I might want to try homeschooling.” He looked at me and blinked and said, “But you said, there is no way in hell I am ever homeschooling. Not once, but many many times.”

He’s right. We decided two years ago to send our then 2-year-old to public school when she was ready. We toured schools and then based our home-buying solely (literally solely) on that decision. We would never have chosen this home otherwise. I’m not sure either of us even like this house. Poor house. It’s a split level brick house in a neighborhood where all the other homes look the exact same.

It’s a great neighborhood though. Family-friendly and safe. Deer wander through our backyard which is a great quality depending on if you want to keep plants or not; and we are walking distance to one of the better ranked public schools in the area.

Ever since she was three years old, whenever we drive past the playground I say “There’s your school and your friends!”

But so much for planning. Because now I feel another think coming. I feel equal parts dread and excitement at the thought of home-schooling.

I am no stranger to the feeling of crazy and loneliness and exhaustion that a day as a stay at-home-mom can bring. But I also am no stranger to the feeling of wanting what is absolutely best for my kids. And letting it fuel and guide me…

Brielle thrives at her now-preschool. She has the most perfect little block letters and writes as fast as I talk. “Mommy, how do you spell “Happy New Year.?” I start spelling: “H. A. P. P. Y. Space. N. E. W…” She writes adorable little letters. Usually going in the right direction. (I think writing from left to right occasionally instead of writing from right to left is a “leftie” problem??) Who knows.

And I love my me-time three mornings a week and our schedule. I’m excited about her little neighborhood school and our upcoming adventure there this Fall.

But just yesterday I started to hear a small-voice: “What is best for her.” Yes, she may thrive and do well after a bit of an adjustment with her new schedule and longer school days. But what is over-all best for her?
And I find my mind wandering. I find myself reading homeschooling articles and researching curriculums. I find myself feeling equal parts dread and excitement.

Wish me luck. Just like everything in motherhood, there is rarely a decision that we make that is all tied up in bows. Comfort and pros. No matter what we decide there will be a lot of cons too. Such is life. But I am determined to do what is best for her to the best of my ability.

Be still my anxious and excited heart.

XOXO



My Week Of Single-Momming It… Coming To A Close

Ah what a week! Spurred on by the imagination and ingenuity (and straight crazy) of these little minds around me.

I feel like this is a stage of life where there is so much to contemplate and express and it’s also the stage where there is absolutely no time to do so.

All I want to do is write (all caps: w.r.i.t.e.) about it all day long. But I don’t get the chance.

But here I finally sit.

Scanning my mind and thoughts for the beauty that was this week. The beauty that I savored and want to keep forever. The difficulty. The trying moments that came and went. Remembering it all. Summoning it and asking it to the surface.

Brenden has been gone since Monday. He doesn’t travel much anymore so when he’s gone it’s a huge deal. It makes me realize once again how amazing military wives/single moms/anyone who is alone with their kids are.

We went to the library and checked out a book showing exactly where he is. Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The Capital of hipster-ness. Truly.

Our favorite bakery is there, Sweethaus.

It was started in Charlottesville by two Brooklynites (Is that what they call themselves?) who moved back to Brooklyn to open a store there as well. We took this picture last year.

I love this place for so many sweet reasons.

So there have beens lots of “I miss Daddy”s this week. And today, with tears from Brielle, “I miss Daddy to the Galaxies and back.”

That’s kind of a big deal. We usually miss each other from “Brazil to India” or “New York to Africa” but to the Galaxies?? What does that even mean.

More tears.

And then from Michael in the back seat:

Mommy I so hot turn on the heat.
I so hoooootttttt!!!! Turn on the heat!

I rolled down the window hoping to distract/cool him down. In came the cool air.

Roll the window DOWN!! I cold!!!!!

All day every day.

Depending on my mood I will either laugh hysterically, because let’s be honest, kids are freaking halaruous if we have the sense of humor and sleep under our belts to enjoy them. OR I will sit with twitching eyelids as my body goes into shock. My nervous system shutting down; shock.

Thank God for the reintroduction of preschool this week. Oh preschool. Three weeks away from you is far too long.

And last night my sister came over for dinner with her kids.

Older kids are heroes, just because they are. But older kids who are “cousins”?? Don’t even. This is one of my favorite pics of cousin love ever; from this past summer.

Brielle made a “pig-naut” party-hat for Ivan. (Think “astronaut” in pig form.) It was a huge hit for the moms in the room. Namely me.

I mean, this is incredible.

Sisters are built in best friends. And I am so grateful for mine.
This was last year in the same NYC. What memories!

I’ve realized this week that a toddler who misses his daddy is the same as a toddler who thinks his daddy has deserted him; doesn’t love him anymore and all other negative/similar things either existing or imagined.

A toddler who misses his daddy doesn’t just “miss” his daddy. He thinks his daddy has abandoned and left him forever and for dead. And so of course his mom is going to leave too. Cue attachment anxiety.

This week I’m learning how Michael processes things. And it’s very different from how Brielle processes things.

Brielle says: mommy I miss daddy. Huge tears.

Michael says: Throw. stomp. rage.

He speaks in actions, and I’m not used to that, because I have a daughter who literally says things like, “Mommy, I’m jealous.” I don’t have to read her mind or her emotions. They are laid right out there for me. And I hope that doesn’t change.

Michael says more with his facial expressions and his throwing and stomping and biting (yes my kid bites) than his words ever do.

And it’s my job to interpret/read his emotions from his actions. Most of the time his horrible actions.

Yesterday I found myself in public saying: “you miss daddy don’t you.” As a response to him throwing trains. I love how as moms we feel the need to explain everything to everyone around us. Us poor moms.

Last night I was tired and running on empty. And I knew Michael was on empty too. He’s been dad-less for the past four days. No 5pm daddy coming in. No wresting and talks and star wars battles. No DADDA. Poor guy. You don’t just erase that part and still be okay 4 days later.

My kids are very different in what fills up their cups. Sometimes with Brielle it’s kisses all over her face and I feel her tank being filled and her security coming back. “Kiss me on my lips” brings a light to her eyes. “I love you THIS much.” Hands from here to here make her smile and warm inside. Sometimes it’s just lots of books and conversations. Connecting and talking. Communicating.

With Micael a lot of the time it’s tickling and wrestling and all the physical things Brenden is so good at. But he also loves talking about tomorrow. And what we did today. And praying. Which is amazing. I love that he loves praying.

Last night we read lots and lots of books. Lots of time on each page. Pointing to this and that. Not turning the page when I desperately wanted to be done. “That’s a grader. That’s a steam-roller. That’s an excavator. That’s a front loader.” Over and over. The details. The care. The time. It filled up his cup and he was happy.

The time I spend with my babies is what makes them feel secure.

And when they feel secure they go to sleep happy.
And when they sleep I sleep.
And we all wake up happy. And healthy. And then I can laugh at those harrowing/crazy conversations that only a toddler can create.

Time and attention. It’s priceless and more valuable than anything else on the planet. And it’s not an unlimited resource. Which is why I am so grateful that Brenden is on his way home.

Wow this post was all over the place! Kind of like our week.

Happy almost weekend and we are doing a hope-for-snow-dance over here!
XOXO

 



Christmas Day! Joy To The World!

I was completely off social media this Christmas and it was such a beautiful change. Normally I would fill the tiny cracks and spaces with posting and liking and scrolling. But the last few days have been nothing but “being.”

No running dialogue in my head of things I’ve read or things I’ve posted or things I want to share. No extra “noise.” Just lots of being with family, enjoying/not enjoying moments. Life and thoughts. And I cherished and valued the small quiet moments that would normally be filled with distraction.

It was A Sunday on steroids! Laying around, mess all around us. Literally digging through paper to find this and that to play with. Zero plans to clean up. It’s a Wonderful Life in the background. This. is. Christmas.

Brielle’s request for Christmas breakfast was chocolate chip pancakes. Seemed reasonable enough. I ate three.

Then we went downstairs.

Before:



After:

And lots of in-between:




I love keeping track of what the kids have asked for in years past. It’s so precious because they could have asked for so many things, but the requests have remained simple and sweet. For now. And I’ll enjoy it while I can.

When Brielle was two she asked for a yo-yo. She didn’t even know what a yo-yo was. I’m sure of it.

When she was three she wanted a Cinderella dress and glass slippers.

This Christmas Brielle asked for a beauty kit and sled, and Michael asked for a “real football.” I honestly didn’t know what she meant by “beauty kit”, but she was more than thrilled with the mixture of things I found at Big Lots, (lipgloss, nail polish, cute little adhesive stick on nails, etc.) and a real compact with glitter-y makeup in it from Amazon.

Michael’s favorite present were his light-up shoes. Words can’t explain the love this boy has for those blue and orange Puma shoes! He wanted to sleep in them tonight.

After we opened gifts we headed to Grammy and Grampy’s in Fredericksburg for dinner and more gifts. Brielle brought her new doll, “Cora Bruce.” It’s amazing the names she comes up with for her toys!

Everyone napped, except Brenden. I woke up with my contact lenses stuck to my eye balls. Favorite kind of nap ever! And much needed.

Brielle and Michael were so excited when Grammy’s purple house came into view. I love that Brenden’s mom picked this color out herself, it’s so pretty!

Of all the presents the beautiful sugar cookies were the biggest hit. Or at least for the moment. 




Oh what fun.

And on the way home we prayed to God for snow and talked about the New Year, and what “a new year” even means.

There’s so much more I want to say, so many small details and prayers and conversations that happened throughout this beautiful Christmas day. But I’m going to sleep, and if I put this post off until later I may never re-visit it again. So I am publishing it now and moving on.

One of my favorite quotes (Brenden says it often) is “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” Mmm hmm. If I waited for perfect I would never complete anything.

Merry Christmas and JOY TO THE WORLD!

XOXO



Christmas Eve (This Christmas is Special Because…)

Sometimes the simplest comments make the most impact. Today Brenden said: ” You know what’s so special about THIS Christmas??” And we all stopped our whining and complaining and looked at him like we were about to get an early present.
“What??”
“It’s the only Christmas Brielle will be four and Michael will be two.” And then we had a long discussion about how Christmas comes once a year, and so do birthdays, and no, Brielle, you were not four last Christmas, you were three. But all that constant banter aside, Brenden’s comment was not lost on me.
So here I sit, desperate to get some memories down before they are lost in the abyss of “too many pictures” land.

Today we celebrated Christmas with the extended family. All 45 of us. Brenden and I made exactly three turkeys. Well, one turkey and two turkey breasts. We didn’t have the oven space for all three so one was slow-cooked (and turned out a little gross) the other was cooked in the oven as usual, and the third Brenden smoked. Outside. At 6 am. In the rain. Talk about commitment!



Remmy is always under-foot, waiting for something to drop.. and something always does. 

I made my favorite cranberry sauce. It’s four ingredients and the prettiest/tastiest sauce ever. 



3 cups cranberries, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup orange juice, 1 tsp orange zest- simmer for 10 minutes. Delish.
Then we headed to Grandmoms! Actually Great-Grandmom’s… who passed away just a couple months ago. This was mom’s way of honoring her, having Christmas at her house and closing that chapter properly. So we all happily obliged. And surprisingly only a few tears were shed. We miss her so.

The house was decorated beautifully and there were tasty treats everywhere. Brielle was in heaven. My favorite was the little mouse mom made out of hershey’s kisses and chocolate covered cherries(!!!) And Brielle’s face… oh my.


So many cousins and noise and fun! Mom and the kids put on the most adorable nativity play and we sang carols to accompany it. 


Gifts! Grandmommy always gave books and this is the last year we will be getting her thoughtful reads. *tears*

Cuddles with Uncle Ethan.

Kitchen time. Lots of it!

We left after tons of food and fun and headed to Christmas Eve service where we volunteered to help with the kids. Turns out all the kids wanted to stay with the parents in the service so we got to do the same! Michael went up on stage to “sing with Paul Zach” who is the praise and worship leader and his absolute hero. Brielle was too shy and wanted to sit in my lap and watch from a safe distance.


He may look like he’s singing but he’s not. He didn’t sing one word, he just looked around and LOVED being up there with all the big kids!

Everyone was over-tired and couldn’t get bathed and in bed fast enough. ME TOO. What a day!
Can’t wait for Christmas morning!!!!



Single Parenting… In The Summertime

Brenden left on Monday for a week-long trip to Manhattan for work. We dropped him off at the airport and when he leaned in to give everyone a “hug and a kiss!!” Brielle cried for the first time while saying good-bye to him. Which of course broke my heart.

So much love for her daddy!
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Brenden rarely leaves for work trips but when he does my appreciation and respect for single moms sky-rocket. How. do. they. do. it? I’ll tell you how, they just do what they have to do. And when they can’t anymore, they just keep going.

Mad respect.

Well this week thankfully I had my little sister Gen stay with me for a couple days. It’s the 5:00 hour when they expect fresh blood to come in the door, (aka daddy to walk in and throw them around the room and tickle them,) that I have the hardest time with. Michael needs so much physical interaction these days. I toss him and tickle him until I collapse. And it’s still not enough! Boys are so different than girls!!

He keeps me laughing though. This was us on Wednesday. We walked to CVS after playing at the Discovery Museum on the downtown mall. His shorts fell off (somehow??) and he wouldn’t let me catch him. He was screaming and laughing and running around the store like crazy. Brielle volunteered herself to get him. The result: A four year old dragging a screaming two -year-old in his diaper down the isle. People thought I was such a great mom.
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I was laughing hysterically. The kind of laughing that makes you weak and you can’t lift things. I was laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation and that this was my life. And I had to somehow get us out of here. To no-doubt another ridiculous situation.

We were on the other end of the downtown mall from our car and I didn’t have a stroller. And I had already made the mistake of actually BUYING something… which I now had to carry back to the car with my two kids.. in the 100 degree weather. I hate elevators (long story) so there were flights of stairs involved in getting back to the car in the parking garage.

I picked up the screaming diaper-only Michael and the bag of crap I should have just left there and Brielle said “My legs are tired, hold me mommy!” I said, Brielle, I have to hold the bag and Michael.” Her response: “It’s okay mommy, I’ll hold the bag and you hold me.” Someone helllllp me.

We made it home, in case you were wondering. Just barely. And at home I was greeted by absolutely no-one. Except my dog and cat who happen to always need something too.

I’m complaining because it’s fun, but really it was a good week. Thanks to Gen we had some successful dinners at the pool that were relatively stress-free.
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And with a (lot) bit of help from Gen we made a Welcome Home sign for Daddy.
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Soooo ready for the weekend and co-parenting again! Have a beautiful weekend!

XOXO



What A Blur!

Preschool ended and it all became a blur. I haven’t written a blog post in… how long?? If mommy-hood is full-time during the school year it’s full-time x 100 during the summer. I literally don’t have a moment to myself. Helllllp.

So what have we been doing… hmmmm.

We’ve been taking swim lessons every morning. Talk about hard-core! Every morning for two weeks Brielle will plop into the pool with Coach Chris and Coach Lauren. Even if it’s raining! She’s already feeling more confident and I’m thrilled.
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We’ve been playing with our friends. Yay for summer tea parties!
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We celebrated Father’s Day with our amazing daddies.
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We gardened. A ton. And as fast as we planted the deer said “thank you” and ate everything. EXCEPT for the Ferns. So bring on the ferns!!
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We celebrated my birthday! My favorite girls took me out for a night on the town. I haven’t been dancing in AGES! We had so much fun.  IMG_5796

Brenden and I had a hot date at the new Bebedero in town. Uber and all! It was so life-giving sitting next to my love, enjoying amazing food and talking about anything and everything, with no two-foot-tall interrupters!
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We’ve been taking full advantage of the ACAC outdoor swimming pool. The kids love it!
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And Michael is playing T-ball!
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Sort of. 🙂
And Brielle’s been enjoying the benefits of her gymnastics classes.. She’s feeling stronger!
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And whew it’s been so hot out.. Hello ice pops and hydration.
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We went camping!! With tents and all. 🙂
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We’ve been making lots of messes. Lots. This is flour and salt and water. I wish I had the “after” picture.
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We’ve been having so much fun pretending and playing and just being lazy. Children have such amazing imaginations.
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We have been having a little more screen-time than usual… Sorry Dr. Donovan. I’m doing my best!
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Whew. The first day of summer was yesterday and I feel like we’re already a month in! Can’t wait to see what the rest of the season brings. What are YOU doing this summer???

XOXO



Coconut Rice

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Genevieve, my beautiful adopted sister, is home after a six hour surgery and a week’s stay in the hospital. To say my mom and dad are strong is an understatement. But I worry for them. I worry for their health and energy. But they are so steadfast in who they are and what they do that I just say “okay.” And get back to my life.

And tonight my life is this:

A house that is literally shaking at its foundations.

Is that everyone??

I have TWO kids. What about a house that has 3-+ kids?? My house seems like it’s about to explode at any minute!

My neighbor Kim was outside tonight gardening, happily trimming this and that, and I could see her peace being disrupted through her beige visor as my children’s voices escalated.

What a spectacle.

So I decided to check something off my list: Make Gen Coconut Rice. Yes, it’s as mouthwatering as it sounds. And it’s her favorite. So I got busy. And as usual the kids joined me.

I put some oil in a pot
Added some minced garlic
1 tsp of Cajun seasoning
1 cup of coconut milk
1 bay leaf
And brought it to a simmer.
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Then I added 1 cup chicken stock
2/3 cup white jasmine rice
1 teaspoon salt
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I brought it all to a boil and then simmered on low for 15-20 minutes until the liquid was almost gone.
Then rinsed and drained 1 can of dark kidney beans.
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And folded them into the rice. (Oh and I took the bay leaves out here too.)
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Then I added more salt (never be afraid of salt!) and more Cajun seasoning to taste.
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Michael and I had some, (we had to taste it before we sent it off to Gen!) Brielle wouldnt eat it because of the scary beans. 🙂

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Absolutely delicious. Next time I want to play with it a little:

1) Maybe add raisins instead of beans? At the beginning so they can cook and get plump?
2) Double it, there’s always reason for leftover rice.
3) Add sliced almonds instead of the beans (and maybe even with the rains??)
4) Add a pinch of brown sugar to the Cajun seasoning at the beginning?
So many ways to tweak it and make it even better!

And oh my this boy.. he just loves being in the kitchen with his momma.
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His personality is off the charts.. His hair cut is way past due and I love the look of it! He just learned how to “put your lips on my lips for a kiss” instead of his huge forehead on my lips for a kiss. I’m so in love!

XOXO