Feathered Aspen


Lily, Lu, and the first bit of the year…

Oh, hello!  It’s me again, Ellie, and it’s kind of nice that Joshua has kept you up to date, so all I need to do is share the fun stuff :)

2016 has already brought in quite a bit of change, and though January is the longest month of the year (I swear it is), we’re so thankful for its gifts.

As most of you know by now, Lily got in the school of our dreams, and this fact alone counts as one of the best strokes of luck we’ve had yet.  It’s such a relief to know that Lily is going to a place that holds and encourages the same values we share, and even better that now our other kiddos get to circumnavigate the harrowing experience of school choice, lotteries, etc.  I could go on and on, but it comes down to this:  though we are blessed with family and friends, I’ve often felt we are parenting alone, and I mean that in the sense of both community and lifestyle.  With this school, I finally feel like we’re connected to a group of families and vision that resonates with us.  This might seem like a weird analogy, but whereas we had hoped to find this at church (and didn’t), I am so hopeful and already see so many indicators that this is the place.

Initially, Lily enrolled for five full days a week, which was the spot that was available.  That first week, she attended every day, and though it was good, when I heard that there was a Tuesday/Thursday spot open, I leapt to take it.  Not only is the tuition much more manageable now, but I also wanted to tip the balances back toward the home.  I’m so grateful that now I get to have Lily most of the week, and she also gets to participate in a larger community and start engaging as an individual.  This schedule just feels like the perfect gradual release.  Some day, she’ll attend school five full days a week, but for now, she’s three and we’re enjoying this special time at home.

Ok, so I am going to go on (and on).  One of the other things that has really just exploded since enrolling Lily into school is her creative and independent play!  Oh my goodness.  It’s insane.  I know it seems crazy that even just after two days at her school, I could see a huge difference, but it’s true.  Her storytelling has gotten more complex and she can sustain 30+ minute stories often.  She regularly disappears into her room or some corner of the house with her art supplies or toys that she’s self selected and then proceeds to play, thoroughly engaged, without prompting.  Just today, we went to the playground after school, and she sat down in the sand and built four little ‘bear caves’ (they were pretty good!) and then started telling me all about this family of bears that lived ‘before there were humans.’  It used to be that Lily would encounter the blank canvas of the playground or our home (not really blank, but let’s roll with the metaphor) and desperately need the engagement and guidance of an adult to help her figure out what to do and how she was going to play.  Now, I feel like some barrier has lifted.  One thing I really notice is almost a trance-like state as she’s imagining her world, story, game, art.  It’s like she’s tapped into another plane.

Which I know makes me sound like I’m really reading into this, but there you have it.

So Lily is doing quite well.  On days that she’s not in school, we try to get outside as much as possible.  We’ve gone sledding a couple of times, and the weather has even allowed a number of playground trips in just our sweaters.  We’ve hit the Children’s Museum and the Art Museum as well, but to be honest, January has got us closer to home.  This doesn’t make a lot of sense given the cabin fever we’ve (me?  Yeah, maybe it’s just me.) been feeling, but I guess we’re full on contradictions ;)

We’ve made friends with another family and we try to get together with them once a week for playdates.  Their girls are the same ages as Lily and Lu, and the older two get along especially well, so it’s always a treat to hang out with them.  For whatever reason, connecting with other families and getting a pleasant, regular playdate together has been challenging for me in the past year and a half since I’ve been staying home.  I know I’ve mentioned this here before.  I attended meet ups and arranged play dates.  I showed up at the same locations week after week after week, hoping to become part of the scenery and the communities that form around story times at libraries, the play areas at the art museum, or the sidelines of the Children’s Museum.  For a long while, I made the resolution to strike up conversations with anyone who seemed willing, thinking that if I just kept showing up, kept talking, it would happen.  Does this make me sound desperate?  Cuz yeah, I felt a little desperate.  For mom fellowship, for someone for Lily to play with.

Last year, there were stretches of time when we’d spend time with another family and have those regular playdates, but rather than growing our community, we saw more of an ebb and flow, revolving door scenario.  Schedules would change and we would be back in the same spot, looking for our people.

Though I’ve felt a little dislocated in the past, I’m starting to think that this isn’t personal.  The ages, gender, and number of children makes a difference.  Schedules make a difference.  Sadly, I suspect our world is not really designed to foster long term, meaningful friendships.  Which is not to say that I’m not still trying.  Which is not to say that when I see a group of moms laughing, their kids tearing it up, that I’m not completely green with envy.

Anyway.  Our schedule is changing!  And though I can’t say I found the answer, at least our perspective is changing and good things are on the horizon.  Families at Lily’s school are warm and quirky, and for now, our playdates with this other family are really, really nice, and I’m feeling so thankful.

Now for Lu!  Lu is growing up, you guys!  It’s throwing me for a bit of a tailspin.  I mean, didn’t I just give birth to her?  I’m sort of in denial that she’s a year old, much less closer to two than she is one.  I think part of the reason I can keep that fantasy going is because she’s such a little peanut.  She really still looks like a baby to me, and her 12 month clothes still fit her pretty well.  She’s also still a HUGE mama’s girl.  She loves to be held, she loves to snuggle, and she is just so darn affectionate.  Some mornings, I go crazy with all the begging to be held, but I keep reminding myself to snatch those snuggles while I can.

Despite the denial surrounding my youngest’s advancing age (haha), there are a few telltale signs that she’s growing up:

1. Weaning.  Oh dear.  I’m one of those mamas that would happily nurse their babies until three…  Yes, I know that disturbs all of you.  But I love nursing.  It’s a good break, great snuggles, and so special to know that you’re providing something so healthful and beneficial.  And it melts calories, but that’s a pretty vain reason :) :)  I love knowing that I’m giving my girls immunity, a healthy gut, and a special bonding experience.  After those first five weeks with Lily (which were hellish), I’ve had a primarily love/love/love relationship with nursing.  I love it, my girls loved it, and it loved me.  So dear nursing, thanks for everything.  We’re so grateful!!!

So how is it with all that love that Lu and I have not nursed in nine days?  Well, I’ll tell you.  I want another baby, and there were some essential ingredients missing, even after dropping down to nursing just twice a day.  So here’s hoping that this does the trick ;)

Lu is doing well.  She was upset the first night, but already on the next morning, she cried just a little bit and then seemed to understand that we were done.  She’s pretty handsy just like Lily was, but she’s doing way better than I could have predicted.  Her appetite has also exploded.  She eats more than I do some days.  I probably shouldn’t have let her, but yesterday she ate an entire bag of frozen blueberries all by herself.  So yeah.  Her love for blueberries is voracious, and I’m not winning mom of the year.

Weaning has also meant that Lu is sleeping much longer before she’s comes to our bed.  And getting her down is easier.  She falls asleep in less than ten minutes, and most nights, she sleeps from 7:30 – 3 before she wakes up and wants to snuggle with me.  (Just in case you’re wondering, this is way better than her older sister who never sleeps for more than 4 hours without waking up, sobbing, begging for snuggles.)  That’s the other news in the family.  We now officially have two bedrooms.  We put the girls down at 730 (earlier bedtime for school and because Lily is completely done with naps) in their bunks.  We lay with them until they fall asleep, which is usually about 10 minutes or so.  When Lily wakes up, Joshua goes and lays with her, sometimes finding a way to come back to our bed after a while, and sometimes just spending the rest of the night with her…  So.  Not really winning over here, but making progress all the same.  When Lu wakes up, Joshua is usually already in their room, so he brings her to me, which is superhero status.

2.  So Lu is still pretty quiet.  She’s not a big talker, but she is getting more words.  I was thinking I should write down as many of them as I can here, because it’s fun to look back and see a similar post for Lily.  I will say that she understands A LOT more than she can say.

she says:  Mama, Dada, sister’s name, didee (diaper), poop, boot, more, mine, woof, bloob (blueberries), shoe, Oscar, boob, water, cheese, please, thank you, no, hot, cold, hi, up

she signs:  all done, water, more, please, thank you, bye

There’s more to update, but I’m going to post this for now.  Dinnertime!

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Lily takes a picture

This one just cracks me up. Lu’s face is hysterical. Daddy has the art museum sticker on his back away from destructive little hands. Lily’s perspective is nice because it includes the upper part of the wall (and the twinkle lights!).

Poor little Lu just hasn’t felt well all weekend. Lots of cuddles for me. Lily actually staged this photo, putting the pillows by U.S. And saying, “I want the pretty flowers by your face.” 



Lily and Lu

Lily – 3 years, 8 months

I promised myself I would write down some Lily-isms, and while I haven’t been totally faithful in jotting all of them down, I do have a few for you:

  1. Mom, don’t be a victim.  (I can’t remember the context now, but I do remember thinking, you’re right.  Buck up, Ellie.  Haha.)
  2. My option is to go for a walk.  I need to stretch my legs.
  3. Lily:  “What did you learn today?”  Grandma:  “Actually, I was teaching today.  I teach new parents things to do with their babies.”  Lily:  “Do you teach them to regulate their emotions?”
  4. I’m jealous when Lu nurses, but I don’t really want to nurse.  It doesn’t taste very good to me.
  5. Mommy, can we go to nursing school together?  I want to be a nurse too.  We can go at the same time.

Oof.  She’s a gem.  Love her to bits, that one.  We’ve rekindled our love affair with naps, and it almost immediately solved our tantrums.  She is such a sweetheart.  She asks great questions, and she’s so loving.  She plays well with Lu and helps her out.  It’s not always smooth riding, but for the most part, I feel pretty dang lucky that the two of them get along so well.

Lily has been loving sledding, trips to storytime, the Children’s Museum, the Art Museum, and especially playdates.  She loves reading books, playing make believe with her “baby” Rosie (a pink stuffed dog), and having conversations.  She also loves to eat, especially beans and rice, hot chocolate, pizza and biscuits.  Although we have a suspicion that pizza and biscuits don’t love her…  Poor thing needs a steady diet of probiotics and exercise to keep her from having tummy troubles.

Lu – 17 months

Lu is walking all over the place these days.  She loves to empty out the sock and underwear drawer, the lower cabinets in the kitchen, and the storage in the bathroom.  She also adores pulling every single solitary wet wipe out of the bag, strewing toilet paper all over the house, and playing in the recycling.  She’s very, very cute, and she produces an astounding amount of mess.

I night weaned Lu about a month ago, and it’s been going… Ok.  I remember night weaning Lily and thinking, “Oh my god.  I haven’t slept in 18 months, and it was THAT easy.”  So when Lu started showing the signs that it was time (wanting to be latched all.night.long), I was all like this ain’t my first rodeo.

But Lu isn’t the same little girl Lily was, and whereas Lily was devastated for three nights and then over it and slept well, Lu has yet to really loose it like Lily did.  But now four weeks in, she’s still waking up, crying and frustrated 2 – 4 times a night.

We’re still not terribly verbal, but both Joshua and I are really recognizing the signs.  We feel like she’s just on the cusp, using some of the signs we’ve taught her, attempting the first syllables of words we stay, and occasionally pulling out a dead mimic.  She also understands quite a bit.  She can go and get her diaper and wet wipes.  She can get her clothes or her pjs.  She can show you where her shoes are.  She can give kisses and gentle touches.

So far these are the words we’ve heard:  mama, dada (very consistent now), hi, uh oh (very appropriately used :)), no, wa (water), duh (diaper – very consistent too)

She also signs please and more :)

As for eating, she’s picky, but not in the ways I might expect.  She doesn’t go for eggs like Lily did, but she loves raisins, broccoli, beans, blueberries (especially when teething), cheese (of course), and oatmeal.  She also loves my green smoothies (which are not that delicious…  Basically three cups of kale in two cups of water with a cup of fruit).

Lu’s been standing on a little chair in front of the kid’s kitchen, and she can be so independent walking or playing.  At other times, she’s all momma’s girl, all the time.  I guess I’d better soak it up :)

At our last doctor’s visit (about two weeks ago), she clocked in at 19 lbs, 8 oz.


Thanksgiving 2015

We had such a wonderful week.  Joshua had nine days off, and we squeezed every last drop out of each of them.

Friday Night – Dinner with David, Melanie, and mom to celebrate David’s 25th birthday and thanksgiving.

Saturday – Joshua and I went and saw Mockingjay Part II with Sarah and friends in theater, while Nana took care of the girls.  Afterwards, we both fit in a run, I tackled painting the rest of the kitchen and stairwell (FINALLY), and we packed for a little adventure.

Sunday – We grabbed breakfast from the newly opened Rise and Shine.  We’ve missed our biscuits, and we’re so happy they’re open and even closer than before!  We happened to run into friends there, and then afterwards we drove to Granby.  On the way, we stopped at Berthoud for a little hike in the snow.  We didn’t get very far with the steep slope and all the snow, but it was fun.  Lily was such trooper :)  We stopped for lunch and groceries in town, then we went for a run with the chariot.  It was cold, but the girls were all bundled up and snuggled in together.  So beautiful.  I love the pale, cold sunset.  Once we had checked into our AirBnB, a simple, cheap little studio with a kitchen and fireplace, we took advantage of the outdoor hot tubs.  So fun to see the steam rising off the pools, the moon, and the mountains!

Monday – We drank coffee, made breakfast burritos, and headed out for another run.  We’ve been hitting up plowed dirt roads with the chariot, and it’s been working pretty well for us!  Lily is getting a bit heavy to carry, and with a run, the outings tend to be a bit shorter, so that’s a plus too.  We pack plenty of snacks, hand warmers, a thermos, a hot water bottle, and a big snuggly blanket for the two of them.  I think we could have gotten a couple of hours out of them like that, but they actually slept almost the whole time!  I guess there’s nothing quite like being warm and toasty next to your sister :)  They did get out and walk at the beginning and end, and we got in 8 miles, with which we were very pleased!  Once we got back, we hit up the tubs again, plunging into the heated but much cooler large pool to cool off.  We had a blast.  Back at the studio, we had a great dinner, and then Lily suggested we go on a little night walk in the snow.  I think she immediately regretted her decision when we got out in the cold, but Joshua and I loved it :)  When we got back, Joshua lit a fire, Lu fell asleep, and Lily, Joshua, and I sat in front of the flames drinking tea.  It was pretty perfect.

Tuesday – We woke up, ate, finished packing, and snuck down to the hot tubs one last time.  Lily is getting to be quite the swimmer!  She can get herself across the larger hot tub without touching, face in water, and she LOVES it.  Afterwards, we drove back over the pass.  We had decided to stop for a little run with the chariot in Idaho Springs, but that turned out to be a bit of a bust…  It was a mile and half straight up, not really runable, and then the girls started freaking out.  We drove home, Joshua and the girls went to get groceries, and I did some more painting.  My dad, Mandy, and Eamon arrived that evening, and we kicked off the visit with a delicious salad Joshua made and a little walk.

Wednesday – We had a slow morning with plenty of coffee.  Eventually, we headed up to Alderfer Three Sisters for a hike.  For about the first mile, I was thinking, “oh my god, I’m freezing, it’s super slippery, and I CANNOT carry Lily on hikes anymore.”  I was a little crabby and feeling like we had made a bad choice, but for whatever reason, after we stopped early on for a snack, the last two or three miles were great.  I warmed up, the trails didn’t seem as slippy, and my dad was a trooper and carried Lily for quite a long ways…  Hopefully he enjoyed the last half as much as I did!  It’s always nice to walk with my family.  We’re big talkers, the Kuhnes, and running and walking really gets our conversations going.  Sheesh, I miss them.  Back at the homestead, Mandy and I went for a run, and then afterwards, we all headed over to some friends for a yummy dinner and some more conversation (my kind of evening :) ).

Thursday – We spent most of Thanksgiving cooking, baking, and cleaning.  Mandy, my dad, and I did get to sneak out for a longer 7 mile run, which was perfect.  Dinner was amazing, and Joshua was, of course, showered with praise for his two stuffings, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry chutney, turkey, and salad.  I mean.  For dessert, we had pumpkin and apple pies, and we definitely were all quite stuffed.  In attendance were Mandy, my dad, Eamon, Joshua, myself, Lily, Lu, Sarah, Yvonne, David, and Melanie, so we were a very full house.

Friday – We headed down town to the Art Museum.  Last year, Dad and Mandy bought us a membership to the Art Museum, and we’ve taken advantage of it quite a lot.  I bring the girls two to four times a month, and it’s a fun place to take guests, too.  This time, we headed up to the American Indian exhibits.  I had never been before, and I have to say, it’s now my favorite room.  I love all the colorful textiles, beading, and thoughtful manipulation of stereotype.  I especially loved the cradleboards.  I want to make one now :)  Afterwards, we had a slow day at home.  Joshua and I went for a run, and the girls had many, many books read to them.

Saturday – My dad and Mandy declared that it would be a trip to Denver if we didn’t go to the biscuit place, so we made the hike.  Rise and Shine, you never disappoint.  Back at home, dad and I went for one last run together before they headed home.  We said goodbye, sad to see them go, but pleased with our visit.  Afterwards, I finished painting the kitchen and stairwell (finally!), and Joshua and I watched the documentary on tiny houses after the girls went to sleep.

Sunday – We went out and bought a tree, took down decorations, and put up lights.

So there you have it!  Thanksgiving 2015 was a keeper.

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These are the days

Sometimes it’s overwheming to be needed so much by two little people all the time. Sometimes I feel even a little claustrophobic with hands on my shirt and arms wrapped around my neck.

But I am thankful. I really am. My cup runs over. In this, life is abundant, and I am so grateful.


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