Feathered Aspen


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Friday Inspo

She asked me to take this photo❤

20 wk belly

Love this photo

First day of school and such long limbs!

She’s serenading me while I’m on the toilet…

Sickly girls watching boob tube. They’re feeling a bit better here 30 minutes after Tylenol! Ha! And then it wears off, and Lily says, “mama, I thought I was better, but I’m not.”

Sickly girl nap.

Walked to a bagel breakfast this morn with Val and Twins in our pjs… Good morning!


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All about baby no 3

As you may have gathered from my last post, we’re having our third baby!  For those of you that have the RSS feed and instantly receive the blog via e-mail, it may interest you to go back and look at the captions.  I uploaded the photos through an app on my phone and then I went in and edited on the computer to add captions…  Without them you may have been wondering why I was cupping my belly!

We’re not great surprise keepers over here, so although I did not post to the blog or other social media until 20 weeks (halfway! For those of you who are less week-by-week conversant;)), most of our family and close friends knew well before.  I know that sometimes the details of baby number three aren’t met with the same enthusiasm as the blow-by-blows of baby number one, but I’m also conscious of this blog as the only baby book or family journal through which I’ve faithfully recorded milestones and family news.  And, of course, we’re just as excited over this pregnancy and the addition of a new family member as we have been each time, so with that in mind, I’ll just continue the updates!

Getting Pregnant (Too much information ;))

The gap between Lily and Lu is two years and three months, and when that window came and went with no sign of a period, we decided it might be time to wean.  I had gradually been decreasing the number of feeds with Lu, starting with night weaning in November and then dropping down to twice daily in December, but it really did take fully weaning to regain my period.  I wasn’t quite ready to wean, and it made me quite sad to do it, but I also felt like my time as a stay at home mom is limited and I’d like to get at least a year in with baby number three🙂  Lu ended up nursing 19 months, and we loved our time together (and we both still miss it!  Lu asks occasionally, the sweet girl.  Especially when she sees her little baby friends nursing).  It’s funny how different that experience was with Lily and Lu.  I nursed Lily for 21 months, regaining my period at 14 and then nursing through the whole first trimester.  I didn’t really feel ready to wean her either, but I was receiving quite a lot of advice about when I should wean before the next baby…  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll never really feel ready?  After those first two brutal months, nursing has emerged as one of the most wonderful things about this stage of parenting.  I do love it.

Finding out

Anyway.  Just like the other two girls, it didn’t take long to conceive.  I took a negative pregnancy test in March, and then I took another negative pregnancy test on April 21st, but then on April 23rd when I was cleaning the bathroom, I noticed the faintest of pink lines on the cheapie Wondfo pregnancy tests I had been using…  What?!  I immediately took another one and after five minutes, another faint line popped up.  Well, I wasn’t used to these cheapies with their faint lines and long wait times, so I piled the girls in the car and ran to Target to get a real test, which I then peeled open and took in the bathroom of Target.  And it was immediately positive.

The girls and I eagerly waited for Joshua to get home from his run, and when he did, I could barely contain my excitement showing him the tests.  Funnily enough, we both had the immediate intuition that this little one would be a boy.  I felt like I was on cloud nine for the rest of the day, just beaming and so happy.

Telling

Initially, I wanted to do things a little bit differently with this pregnancy.  For a while now, we’ve been fairly certain (Joshua is very certain; I’m fairly) that our third baby will also be our last baby.  Seeing as this was our last chance, I wanted to try a couple of things that I we hadn’t before.  I wanted to try keeping it a surprise until 13 weeks, and from the beginning, I also said I wanted to try keeping the gender a surprise until the very end.

Well.  As I said, I’m not much of a surprise keeper.  Five days after we found out, I turned thirty, and I was just bursting with my good news and feeling like it would be a fun birthday present to tell some of my family.  So I did😉  And then by six or seven weeks, I was already dying to know what the gender would be, thinking of names and bins of hand-me-downs in the attic.  So when the 20 week ultrasound rolled around, I was already a hundred percent certain that I wanted to know.  Joshua just rolled his eyes at me from the get-go, knowing me well enough that I would a) want to tell everyone and b) want to know the gender.

How everything’s been so far…

Lordy.  Though I’m just as excited to be pregnant this time around, some of the novelty – and therefore the patience – has worn off.  I’m no longer quite as zen when it comes to accepting the debilitating exhaustion and nausea that accompanies the first 13 weeks.  While this pregnancy was practically identical in terms of how I felt the first 13 weeks, there were a few differences.  The first difference was that I didn’t have to wake up at 530 am each morning and then stand in front of students, no matter how awful I was feeling.  If anything, that made things a bit easier.  But I was still absolutely worn out by midday and then again at night.  I napped almost every day with the girls (bless them for napping at the same time!), and I was asleep by 9 each night.  Like before, I was very picky when it came to food, and I felt nauseous a lot of the time.  I’m forgetting if I had any early cravings, but at the moment, I’m loving toasts with cream cheese, tomatoes, and onions, and everything veggie on the grill.  I’ve also really been wanting pho and Ethiopian.  For some reason, whenever I’m feeling nauseous it’s fruit, carbs, and sweet that goes down the easiest.  And I’ve almost completely gone off coffee.  I didn’t touch it while we were trying to conceive or during the first trimester, and I’ve had it a few times since then, but I rarely finish a cup.  I’m back to my weakling status when it comes to caffeine, and it almost always gives me a headache.  I have, however, been loving iced tea and fizzy water.

Another difference is headaches.  I’ve been getting a lot of them in the second trimester.  I’m not usually someone who gets many headaches, and while I wouldn’t say these are migraines, they contribute to me feeling tired and drained by midday.  I also think that’s why I’ve been a bit disappointed with the second trimester.  Where’s my glow?!  I’m not feeling nearly as easy-breezy as I did with the first two.

The last really unglamorous difference is chin zits.  Ew.  I’m clear at the moment, but those suckers keep popping up!  I’ve had such clear skin throughout the other pregnancies and nursing that this was a very unwelcome symptom.

My varicose veins and my swollen purple left leg is coming back.  I can’t remember when it was really full force last pregnancy, but I wouldn’t say it’s full force yet.

I feel like I started showing at around 10 weeks but it stayed about the same until 16 or 17 weeks when I started getting bigger.  Now at twenty weeks, I can still wear normal clothes (with a few exceptions) and I’m not noticeably pregnant unless I’m wearing lycra.  Haha! In which case, I definitely look pregnant🙂

I started feeling the baby move a little bit at 16 weeks.  I remember thinking that I felt Lu move at 14?!  But that can’t be right…  But maybe it is?  In our anatomy scan on Friday, we saw that I have an anterior placenta (belly side), which I’ve never had before, and sometimes that means you feel the baby move less.

The Midwives

I’ve switched my midwives this time around.  While we went to the same midwives for Lily and Lu, I loved the setting of Bierstadt’s birth at the unattached birthing center, and I’ve always wanted to try to have a water birth (which is not available with the midwives I went to before).  It’s a bit of a trek, but that’s less of a concern for me because even if this labor is half as long as my last labor, I’ll still have 8 hours🙂

The Ultrasound

I had an early ultrasound to get a due date, and per usual, I working with a five week cycle so it was later than I had expected.  January 2!

The 20 week anatomy scan was on Friday.  I love seeing the little baby up on the screen.  It occurred to me that it was a bit abstract for the girls and they might think that their newest sibling is a skeleton, but there’s just something so special about seeing the baby move and all of it’s little parts.  The tech estimated that baby was 11 oz and said that all of her organs and proportions looked wonderful.  She was already head down (like Lily and Lu were at their 20 wk scans).

We asked the tech to keep the gender a secret from us and then write it down at the end on a folded piece of paper.  She obliged, and then we gave the paper to Melanie the next day.  Neither of us looked!  We swear!

The Gender Reveal

We bought a pinata and some food for the grill, Melanie stuffed the pinata with colored confetti and treats (pink for a girl), and we had some friends and family over.  We all dressed in either pink or blue, according to our predictions.

Joshua had long since changed his mind and determined that we were having another little girl.  The two sisters have been adamant about adding to their single sex crew, and I had held onto my early intuition that we were having a little boy (although I not-so secretly wanted another girl :)).

After food, we hung the pinata.  Stacy’s family contributed to a line up of children, and all six kids took turns walloping the pinata.  I was so nervous that someone was going to get hurt, that I sort of lost track of the purpose.  When L (the oldest at 8) finally smashed open the pinata, it took me a few seconds to register the pink confetti.

When I did, I just started grinning.  I am the luckiest woman in the world to be raising girls, and I always think of that quote:  Here’s to strong women.  May we know them.  May we be them.  May we raise them.  I know there are great men in the world – my husband is one of them – but I’ve always most admired the relationships that women form, and I’m so happy to be surrounded by a pack of women!  Plus, girl names are awesome😉

So we’re having another little girl!  Three sisters!  (I’m wondering who’s the squash, the corn, and the beans ;))

We’ve not settled on a name yet, but you know me, I’m not much of a surprise keeper, so it’s likely you might hear it before the birth.

xo

 


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Summer Photos

The day of Lu’s second birthday at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

Sherpa dad at Denver Botanic Gardens 6/30/2016

Snuggling my girls at the Botanic Gardens

Silly sisters cuddling on the couch

This one is actually from late March. Photo credits Brittany🙂

Another one from Brittany.  At the Audobon Center in MN.

Pretty roses in Edgewater

Most amazing photo ever.  Love this woman’s grace and poise.  Photo credit by Jonathan Bachman.

Another photo by Brittany.  Love this guy🙂

The day it was 106.  Oh man.  Soooo hot.

I’ve been coveting this linen jumpsuit.  Unfortunately, it’s like $100 and from Lithuania.

I make yummy salads, guys.

Walking to the P’s and these girls holding hands.  So sweet.

The three girls go rodeo in from the the Children’s Museum.

Another of the three girls on the gondola in front of the Children’s Museum.

These sweeties holding hands and baby wearing🙂

All the flowers for Lu’s birthday party.

A picture of the two girls at the same age side by side.  Lily on the left and Lu on the right.

Close up of Lu.  So sweet.  I miss her long hair!  At the end of July, Lily took a pair of scissors to Lu’s bangs😦  I ended up snipping off the rest and giving her a little cap.  She’s adorable, of course, but I loved putting little piggies or top knots in her hair!  And the girls’ hair takes SO LONG to grow!

Will with the twins!  Super dad🙂

Lily living it up in the mud.  #waldorfchild

Lu gives Bierstadt a hug/headlock.  Aggressive love❤.

Lily selfie in the chariot with Mama’s glasses🙂

Lu and Bierstadt.  This girl loves this little boy🙂

Pink nails🙂

Mom and I went to see Lyle Lovett at Fiddler’s Green…  Actually, we went to see Emmy Lou Harris, but she was sick!  Bummer, but still fun🙂

Another one of my salads🙂

A beautiful sight.

Anniversary night…  I’m 15 weeks here.  Oh hey!  By the way!  I’m pregnant!  Haha.  I suppose this is the first photo or announcement on the blog…

Baby butt at Lu’s 2 year check up.

My pretty dress for David’s wedding.  $7 at the thrift🙂

My dad requested a crew cut the first night of their visit.  I obliged, but felt jealous of his thick curly hair the whole time!  Yo, dad.  Where were you in the genetic pool on that one?!  On another note, the crew cut was meant to make my dad’s epic bike trip back home from CO to MN a bit easier…  It must have worked, because he finished yesterday – a couple of days early😉  Nice job, dad!

A shot of Joshua at mile 50.  This is his Never Summer 100k race.  He had a wonderful first 55 miles and then he tanked out for the last 8.  But he finished and with a 45 minute PR!

Ellison and Lu hanging out in the tent in Never Summer.  So cute!

Joshua has been working so hard on our place at Osceola!  Poor guy.  He’s had, like, one day off in the past 3 weeks.

Selfies in the car because my hair was doing good things😉

These girls playing ALL the time🙂

A Whole Foods treat.  Although I kind of messed up the cooking of the trout😦

Cuties.

Another day, another salad!

She’s a wonderful one.

The damages, but still cute🙂

18 weeks.

The wedding party!

Mom, David, and me.  Somebody tell my mom she looks gorgeous because she’s been second guessing herself ever since, the loon.  David looks quite dapper, I think🙂

So sweet!

Love Lily’s little leg pose here, haha.

They all look so lovely!

David and Melanie with the flower girls🙂

Melanie is lovely!  Such a wonderful woman – my bro is so lucky!

The happy couple

My hair did good things.  I documented.

More documentation of the good hair day.  People.  It doesn’t happen, but when it does, it must be documented.

Hollyhocks at night.

More nail polish.  And my fab Himalayan Salt Lamp🙂

The girls have begging to go on a run with me in the evenings.  So cute🙂

I adore Lily in her running outfit!  She’s great.  She’s been doing about a mile with me🙂

Woops.  I guess this one is a screen shot, but nice photo!

More selfies.  Red hair from Henna with Hannah😉

Could they be lovelier?!

Stunner

19 weeks on the wedding day🙂

The only presentable photo of the four of us😦  Guess we’ll have to try to get another one before the holiday card comes around.

Grandma and the girls.

Lily loves pushing Lu in the stroller.

Palisade Peaches are for Lovers.

Cutie

My little Puck

Eating ice cream

Sweet gals

Matching🙂

Fish tacos.  This time I nailed the fish.

This girl is on nap strike.  It’s horrible.  Two weeks of battle.  And, of course, hand down the shirt, silly girl.


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Two months in one…

 

It’s been ages since I’ve posted.  Luckily, Joshua has been picking up some of my slack with his fun videos, but it’s definitely time for an update.  I did begin writing another post at the end of June, ut I never finished it.  Here’s the news from last month:

June 28th, 2016

Last time I wrote, I was bemoaning our cool spring.  Well.  Summer has arrived.  Today it’s nearly 90, and we joined our friends at the park and splashpad.  Lily ran off and played hard, only coming back for snacks, and Lu hung nearby, occasionally following the older girls, but mostly wanting to be held or near mama.

June has been pretty amazing.  Joshua wrapped up the school year in the first week, and he was even awarded the Golden Apple Teach of the Year Award!  When he told me, I was so proud of him, I started crying.  Sometimes I feel like his workplace is evil and thankless, but I was heartened to see that at least they can recognize quality and devotion when they see it.  He’s also one of a very small number w

ho has been in the network for five years, making him one of the oldest and most veteran teachers on staff!  Haha!  At the ripe old age of 30…  Might tell you something about how rewarding it is to work there…

After a long weekend, we packed up and headed to Capitol Reef, a National Park I’ve never even heard of.  A couple of hours past Moab, this place is full of the red and tawny canyons and rock walls we’ve come to love.  With a river running through the valley and fruit trees all around, we set up camp and took turns hiking and dipping in the water.  Lily and Lu loved it, and with the exception of one very, very hot and sleepless afternoon and a nasty cough both of the girls had at night, we had lovely time.

In Grande Escalante, we hiked out a mile to a desert oasis with a 70 ft waterfall and an ice cool pool.  We jumped in, but mostly we hung out by the edge feeling pleasantly chilled and admiring neon blue dragonflies.

We drove from Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon after nearly a week of camping.  On the way, we stopped at a coffee shop along a remote scenic highway, and there we ran into a girl Joshua and I had gone to high school with…  Very bizarre.  Fun, but generally I hope to have bathed within the past seven days if I’m about to see someone I haven’t seen in over 10 years.

When we finally got to Bryce Canyon, we held our breath as we looked for a campsite.  The chances of nabbing a site in a National Park on a Friday at 2 pm were not great, but we got the last one!  Hooray!  And it even had a bit of shade🙂

Bryce was beautiful.  The hoodoos, if you’ve never seen them, are rock spires clustered in a canyon.  It’s a strange sight, and we enjoyed quite a few hikes admiring the park.  I was also a fan because there were showers less than a mile away and it was about 15 to 20 degrees cooler than in Capitol Reef.

We stayed for over a week, hiking and exploring the surrounding area, including Red Canyon, Powell Point and Reservoir, Kodachrome, and another day in Grande Escalante where we had the best hike EVER.  And we’ve hiked a lot, folks.  It was just amazing.  We drove out on this remote and not terribly well maintained road.  I was feeling a bit dubious by the time we got to the trailhead, but it was AMAZING.  The trail followed a small creek through a narrow slot canyon.  The girls loved it.  We loved it.  So much fun.

On our last weekend, K and Stacy showed up with their kids.  We had a good time playing in the dirt and some water we found, and on Friday, we packed up to crew for Joshua’s second hundred mile race.  Unfortunately, the first aid station was a bust, and so by the time we finally saw him, he was at mile 41 and completely wrecked, ready to quit.  With not a cloud in the sky, the heat compounded by some nagging injuries and tummy troubles made continuing pretty unappealing, and we all drove back to the campsite feeling a little bit sad.  Hundred milers are crazy races, and I really have no desire to ever attempt one (maybe a 50!), but it’s still sad to put SO.MUCH.WORK into something and not finish.  That being said, Joshua was not the sad-sack I expected.  He had a good attitude about the whole thing.

On our last day, we packed the P’s shade tent and found a spot in the river to set it up.  We sat in the cool water, shaded and munching on snacks.  It was a great way to end our trip.

We made the long drive back, waving goodbye to the Ps.  They were heading further west – all the way west, actually.  And while part of me wanted to go back to California and see the ocean and eat all the food, the other part of me absolutely refused to do the driving.  Nervous nelly driver/passenger over here, kids.  Cartwheeling down I-70 will do that to ya.

Once we got back to Denver, Joshua jumped into our latest project – the Osceola basement.  Usually, it’s really hard to give him up for those long hours of hard labor, but this time, it’s felt a bit more manageable.  He’s got help (and just as importantly, company!), and coming off of a vacation makes everything feel a little bit less of a grind.  We’re really, really hoping that this renovation will take a bit less time.  Right now, the goal is to have it finished and ready to rent by August 1st.  We’ll see!  The other funny thing is that now we have a garage?!  Haha!  That seriously happened in the blink of an eye.  We had been talking (and I had been resisting) for quite some time and then I realized that garages increase property value at least dollar for dollar, someone else does ALL the work, and with one we might actually be able to make our yard look presentable, rather than the scene straight out of rural Appalachia that it looks like right now.  So yeah.  That took less than a month.

And then the big news (well the first part at least) is that Lu turns two on Thursday!  Don’t ask me how.  I can remember the weeks leading up to her birth and then her delivery and those first few days like they were last week.  To me, she still looks like a little peanut, but then I get her around the crew we have going here in Edgewater, and she’s the third oldest and the second biggest outta six, so that kinda blows my mind.

So let me tell you about the girls and life with them right now.  Because it’s sort of the best.  As far as I’m concerned, Lily at four years old is freaking amazing.  Tantrums are at an all time low, and most of the time, she’s just the sweetest, most pleasant little girl.  She’s funny, chatty, and full of energy.  She’s a phenomenal hiker and a great big sister.  She’s caring and loving, imaginative and playful.  I love her to bits.  Also?  Somehow we brought back the nap?  And both of them are napping RIGHT. NOW?!  Because life is just that good, you guys.  We’ve had solid napping with only two or three misses since school let out three or four weeks ago.  HALLELUJAH.  Because these days, the only tantrums we have are borne of pure exhaustion or severe hanger.  So mostly they’re preventable.  It’s a huge shift, emotionally.  Tantrums began right around Lu’s birth, picked up speed over the next year, and then began tapering at about three and a half.  Throughout the rest of Lily’s threes, we experienced weeks of reprieve interspersed by weeks of renewed tumult, but as we progress further into four, the tantrums have really begun to fizzle out.  It is an enormous relief.  After long stretches where we would have big meltdowns at least once a day, it’s nice to have a little girl who can express herself with words and who is much better at asking for what she needs and responding to reason.  There were times there when I felt all wrung out and the toll of another meltdown was steep.  I realize that the language I use surrounding these episodes might be confusing.  I’ve often used the term tantrum, but it could just as easily be described as a meltdown.  The reasons were as varied as the wrong dress, pants with pockets, sudden hunger or thirst that couldn’t immediately be met or wasn’t met with the desired food or drink, exhaustion, or of course, the myriad of little things that were simply a masquerade for the real issues like jealousy and changes in routine.  The nature of the meltdowns varied too.  They could last half the day and consist primarily of whining, whimpering, and short crying jags, or they could last anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes and entail copious amounts of tears, headsweats, and snot.  The common thread was that there was very little I could do to extricate her from the meltdown.  Offers of hugs and kisses, peaceful time, or eventually my exasperation did little to lessen the outbursts.  It was an exercise in non-reaction – on of my first – and I met the challenge with varying degrees of success.  Reading The Conscious Parent and trying to see Lily as my little spiritual gangster was the most helpful thing I found.  Knowing that, yes, Lily is sensitive and so she perhaps experienced this phase for a longer period of time with more meltdowns than average BUT THAT THIS BEHAVIOR WAS STILL WITHIN THE REALM OF NORMAL, was also very helpful.

(Anyway, I go into this because I do feel like we have come to the end of a phase, and I am grateful for the end as well as the lessons I learned.  I also go into this because I’ve been thinking about those lessons and also how I’ve portrayed them on this blog.  It’s my hope that by being vulnerable I am also normalizing the behaviors and struggles that can be so challenging for a parent.  I have often felt alone or worried that I am the only person experiencing these challenges, but I have also been reassured by many parents that they are going through the same things.  From fewer parents, I have heard that these behaviors are NOT normal and that by describing my daughter’s tantrums and my responses to them I am not only injuring my daughter’s privacy but also disclosing my incompetence as a parent.  From those people I request humility, compassion for my own vulnerability, and perhaps the understanding that judging other parents – specifically mothers – is an exercise primarily undertaken to assuage your own insecurities. )

All this is to say that we’re in a sweet spot.  Lily and Lu play so well together, and they clearly love one another.  I see their sisterhood more and more as a gift rather than a challenge.  I’m alternately touched by acts of inclusion, generosity, thoughtfulness, and gentleness, and in the time we’ve spent with other children, I see these behaviors carrying over.  Yes, we still have our moments of grabbing toys and naughty behavior, but it also feels like those moments are easily outweighed and outnumbered by the time spent happily playing.  It’s a good, good place.

Hello!  Narrator moment again.  Back to July 30, 2016.  I haven’t gotten to Lu, but I’ll do that now, plus a few updates from the last month:

Ha!  Lu’s update may have been unadulterated praise a month ago or even a week ago, but the past week has been a bit of a doozy.  Such is life with a growing babe.  I never know if it’s a transition that’s setting them off or maybe a mild fever, but every once in a while we regress to a state of constantly wanting to be held, lots of tears, and me reminding myself that my children will only want to be held for so long and that some day I’ll miss it (and longingly wishing to eat a meal without a babe in arms and fantasizing about a 15 minute power clean without a sobbing child tugging at my knees).  Anyway.  Before last weekend, Weston (our neighbor) and I were talking about how chill Lu is.  So calm, low drama, one of those kids who’s totally at ease in a crowd but not much for the spotlight.  And to top it off, she’s gentle and generous.  She’s so sweet with our friends’ little twins, and she loves her little cousins, Bierstadt and Ellison.  For some reason I thought she might be a bit of a brute because she’s so tough when it comes to her own play and pain tolerance, but she’s really quite gentle and sweet.  These days, whenever I ask Lily for a kiss or a hug and Lily coyly refuses, Lu hurries over and plants one on me.  I love too how when I tell Lu that I’m disappointed in a choice she’s made, she’ll voluntarily stroke my arm and say, “sorry, mama.”

Lu’s other big development is all language.  She’s stringing together words more and more these days, and I’m even realizing that what I used to assume was nonsensical babbling actually turns out to contain the discernible sentence or two?!  For example, the other day she’s babbling along and all of a sudden I realize she’s saying, “go roll down the hill!”  We had our two year check up two weeks ago, and she’s doing well.  The only surprise is that she’s a bit of a mini:  she clocked in at just the 6th percentile for weight, even though she’s 60th for height.  Overall, it’s a fun age full of talking and more communication.  Her personality emerges more each day, and it’s so fun to see her grow.

And now!  I shall never get a post up unless I leave it at that.  Lu is currently sobbing for my attention, and there isn’t even time to tell you about the awful hair cutting episode this morning or my dad, Mandy, and Hannah’s visit this week….  More later😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Late Spring, an update

Lily’s last day of school was today.  She’s pretty excited for summer, but our mercurial spring is showing it’s colors.  Namely, gray.  It’s been threatening rain all day long.  Thankfully, we’ve had a bit of sun this week, so a rainy day doesn’t seem so oppressive this time.  It’s been such a chilly, rainy spring!  And though I’m not great with the hot, hot heat that Denver can throw at us, I’m ready for a bit of it! (Excuse while I knock on wood…  Please no two weeks at 100 degrees, please.)

It’s been a while since I’ve written an update about the girls, so I’m going to snag a moment here.  We’re in a really good spot.  I’m loving these ages, and for the most part, this month has been filled with sibling harmony and family highs, and I’m just appreciating this upswing in behavior!

Lily has been doing so well.  We’ve had a reprieve from tantrums, which has been SO NICE.  Last night we had the first one in maybe…  Three or four weeks?!  Overall, she seems to be managing her emotions pretty well, and it helps when we’ve had plenty of rest and readily available snacks to keep that blood sugar in check!  Last night’s can definitely be chalked up to a serious dip in blood sugar, so it’s at least nice to know where they come from when they happen.

A new development has been a bit of sass, but usually, she stomps off in a huff, and then she’s fine within a few minutes.  It’s not my favorite thing, but I’m hoping that if I keep my reactions calm and insist on empathy and kindness, we can navigate this new challenge.  It’s kind of a surprise to me because she still seems so young, but there’s been a bit of mean girl stuff going on at her school, and I’m guessing some of the sass is experimenting with behaviors she’s experienced there.  We’re encouraging her to stick up for herself and trying to reinforce self-confidence as well as social problem solving, but I must say my heart just hurts when I hear the mean things other kids say sometimes!  It sounds like the teachers are aware of and handling the behaviors well, so we’re just keeping a careful eye on the situation and trying to do some coaching too.  For the most part, Lily seems self-possessed and certain of her value, so as long as we’re there, I feel like we can deal with these normal social rough patches.

One of the things I’m really loving about Lily right now is her sweetness.  She’s very sympathetic when others are in pain, and she’s getting even better at offering help, whether it be a hug or something else.  Her example is so powerful that last night when Lily was upset, little Lu came up behind her and wrapped her in her biggest bear hug.  It was so sweet!

Lily is a lover of stories.  She’s always asking me to tell her about when I was a little girl or about before she was born.  She loves to hear about the farm or travels.  Sometimes she’ll also ask for a story about different animals in the woods.  She adores being read to, and sometimes I feel all tapped out on stories because she always wants them!  Occasionally, she’ll tell us a story, and they’re very sweet🙂

Lily has become quite resourceful!  She dresses herself, gets her shoes on, can get herself a snack, and clean up after herself.  She loves playing outside, and she can entertain herself out there for hours.  She and Lu often bury themselves in play for an hour or more!  Another fun thing Lily has begun to love is riding her strider bike.  She’s quite good at it, and she can really coast for quite a distance!  Last weekend she biked all the way to Rise n Shine, and she often bikes half a mile while the rest of walk after dinner.

I feel so lucky to be home with Lily during this time.  Her fantasy world is rich, and she is such a great conversationalist.  I love how much she thrives outside, and I feel like school and some of our parenting choices are really nurturing a wild and creative little spirit.  She’s so much fun to watch grow!

Lu!  This age is so fun.  She is so sweet, and her smile lights up the whole room.  She’s talking more and more, and she’s started to ask for and love books almost as much as her big sister!  She loves going on walks, and she’s quite good at forward progress!  I think having an older, faster sister definitely helps🙂  She’s still a snuggler, but she’s over the Ergo.  She naps and sleeps well, but still relies on me to put her down.

Lu loves following around her older sister, and whenever Lily is out of sight, she’ll call out, “Anya! Anya! Anya!”  Today I asked her if Lily is her best friend, and she smiled and nodded.  When it’s good between the two of them, it’s so good.  And then sometimes it’s not.  But let’s not dwell on that, eh?

Lu is a picky eater.  If it’s not bread or dairy, it’s a hard sell.  I’ve been squeezing in some greens with fruity smoothies and of course, she loves to pick out all of the olives and feta out of my salads.  Let’s see.  She’ll eat avocados, and…  Trying to think of ANY other vegetable and not coming up with one.  Sometimes she’ll eat beans, sweet potatoes, and eggs.  Stinker.  Sometimes at the end of the day, I try to tally the fruits and vegetables she’s eaten all day, and I come up with number of bites, so…  Yeah.  Pray for us.

Lu is talking SO MUCH!  The other day we were on a walk, and she just called out every word she could think of, identifying every flower, wall, fence, puppy, and baby she could see.  I ask her questions and though she doesn’t completely understand, she’s obviously following along.  She nods and shakes her head enthusiastically, and she even pulls out the occasional phrase like, “I want this one,” or “I don’t know” or “where did it go?”  They’re kind of garbled into one word, but she’s saying them!

I was telling Joshua the other day that Lu has a gift that I’ve never really experienced, and that’s just an ease and comfort in a group.  She’s never been the only baby, and she’s so accustomed to interacting with others that it’s really just her nature.  She’s neither the center of attention or the wall flower.  She’s really just in it.

And even though she’s getting bigger and wearing all of Lily’s old summer clothes that I can remember so clearly, she’s still my baby.  She holds up owies for my kisses and gives the best hugs, and every time she does, I just hold her close and breathe her in.  Such a sweet little girl.

As for me, I’m still enjoying my time with the girls, but in the past week especially, I’ve been struggling with isolation.  Joshua is training for his second 100 miler, and this week in addition to his regular work week, he ran 100 miles in a little over 19 hours, not including the time spent driving to and from trails.  So I spent over 60 hours alone with the girls.  And as luck would have it, we had no play dates and no friends to turn to this week.  I didn’t speak to another adult for most of the time, except for seeing my mom a couple of times and seeing Sarah for an hour or two yesterday morning.  It’s been a long week, and as much as I love my girls, it can get pretty lonely; not to mention that time spent with other kids and moms is a nice change of pace and break for everyone, including the kids.  I’ve been getting letters back from some of the women that I wrote to over my birthday, and though it’s been good, it does make me wish that I lived in a place where more of those women lived.  I’ve had a good and adventurous life so far, but growing up in one place, going to college in another, and then working and living as an adult in two different cities means that all the friends I’ve made are all over the country.  I can see the appeal of having all of those people in the same place.  Five years ago when Joshua and I moved to Denver, we decided to try and stay for a while.  We love traveling, but we also really wanted to form a community.  Five years later, we have a community of sorts, but I can still spend an entire long week completely alone.  Anyway.  Let’s keep it positive.  I’m digging deep for spiritual fortitude and hoping the universe can either send me some mother fuckin’ friends or dampen my extroverted spirit.  Over and out.

And not to burden the universe with my complaints, Ten Thankful Things:

  1. Sleeping between my two girls with the windows open and the chimes ringing.
  2. Little girls that LOVE playing outside.
  3. Runny eggs on avocado toast for breakfast
  4. The best train ride last night with the girls
  5. Reading library books on the front porch to the girls
  6. Listening to Lu sing to herself in the car
  7. Date night with Joshua on Friday (thanks mom) with Nachos and Fajitas at Matador
  8. House plants
  9. Sunny mornings and rainy afternoons and watching things grow in our garden
  10. When Rusted Roots comes on my Pandora station, and it feels like the world is playing my soundtrack

Be well,

xo

 


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A thirty page long post about turning thirty…

I turned thirty yesterday.  The morning started as it typically does with tears, pancakes, and bargaining.  Somehow, I managed to get both girls into the truck and Lily dropped off by 8:30 am.  I gave Lily a kiss and then Lu and I headed to an appointment to get a hitch installed on our truck.  On our way, it started to snow.

We ran while they worked on the truck, and an hour later, we were ready to drive home.  Chilled, we chopped up veggies for a soup and boiled water to put in a hot water bottle.  Snuggled up on the bed, Lu played while I tied a mala necklace I’ve been working on as a gift to myself.

After lunch, we headed to the thrift store.  I’ve been overspending my monthly allowance the past few months, and I’m feeling a need to embark on a spending Sabbath, but I decided to follow my impulse and comb through the isles, picking out a couple of small treasures along the way.  I do love thrift shopping!

We picked up Lily and drove home.  I finished my mala while Lu slept in the truck, and then Joshua surprised me with a slew of my favorites:  a tray of nachos for an appetizer, a sweet card assembled with the help of Lily, a can of cold La Croix, and later, my traditional birthday salad with beets, pecans, blue cheese, and spinach in a balsamic vinaigrette.  We went on a little walk through our chilly neighborhood, and afterwards, Grandma came up and we all had Berry Chantilly Cake.  Joshua sure knows how to make a birthday special.

So I have a confession to make:  turning thirty makes me a little sad.  I teared up twice yesterday, and in anticipation of this birthday, I had a few intentions.  One was a project.  I wrote a bunch of letters, I made some gifts for other people, and I carefully selected the stones for a mala.  Once I was done with all of that, I was going to write.  I was hoping to process why, even when I’m more content with my life than I’ve ever been, I’m not totally comfortable with getting older.

Well, the letters haven’t been sent, though they’re all written and most of them are in their envelopes.  My mala is looped around my neck, and it’s my favorite gift I’ve ever given to myself.  Last night was lovely, and I’m finally seizing the opportunity to sit down and write.  But even after all of these little projects, I’m still not sure what to make of this milestone.

Joshua breezed through his thirtieth birthday with a thirty mile run and stocked the liquor cabinet with nice whisky, scotch, and gin.  He did not seem shaken, nor concerned.  Thirty was just another birthday.  He reminds me that we’ve done a lot.  We’ve traveled around the world, married, had two children, and lived in different cities.

And it’s true.  We’ve done a lot.  I’ve learned so much, and life is good.  But that’s not where this weirdness is coming from.  I’m not sure where it’s coming from.

Anyway, I thought I’d use this post as a gathering.  Of memories and lessons and favorite things.  This is a photograph in words of where I am and what I’m thinking of at thirty:

Lessons

In parenting…  Oh man.  There are so many lessons to be learned here.  I’m sure that they won’t end and I’ll be an old lady (much older than 30!) and still be learning them.  I think my first lesson in parenting was surrender.  It was a process of saying goodbye to the life I had before and then the forging of a new life.  It’s surrendering to the emotions and needs of my little girls (something I’m not always good at).  It’s surrendering to a slower schedule.  Surrendering a life of individuality and self-designed pursuits to life as a unit.  Where decisions are made collaboratively and input is gathered before forward progress is made.  Where compromise and negotiations are as necessary as regular, frequent meals and lots of sleep.

And I know I’ve joked about it before, but my children are also my spiritual gangsters.  In fact, I took a thirty minute break just now to sit with Lu while she had her very first temper tantrum.  As her sister has taught me before (many, many times), I must let go of the feelings that rise up in me:  impatience, frustration, inadequacy, failure, guilt, dismay…   And simply show up.  Be near.  Be present.  I will not help if I react.  We will not move forward if I fight it.  The only way out is through, and so I sit with my hands open and turned skyward.  Ready for a hug or the chance to kiss the top of your sweaty head.  I’m certain I’ll still be learning this, down to the very last tantrum of my very last child.  It’s one of the hardest to learn.

In marriage…  Marry a man that gets hotter every year.  Go for the sensitive, nerdy ones.  And of course, never go to bed angry.  Notice when your partner is vulnerable or hurting, and show up or show concern.  Explain how you feel and ask your partner to do the same.  Consult one another on big and small decisions.  Go on long runs together.  Make time for each other.

In friendships…  I’ve discovered, after many years of feeling slightly bruised of heart, that people have different ways of showing love and different needs when it comes to friendships.  Sometimes, my most natural interpretation of an unreturned invitation or a quiet, pensive exchange is not the correct interpretation (in fact, in my case, it almost never is).

And while I wish I could share with you the secret to making lasting friendships, I’m afraid I’m also still learning this.  So far, all I’ve got is show up, keep trying, and be open.  Something strange about me is that I often have less than glowing first impressions of some of my most favorite people.  Oddly enough, I’ve learned not to trust my first impression and to still make the effort to get to know people.  Doing this has given me some of my dearest friends.

In family…  Ok.  Dear loved ones, please don’t take this personally, but I’ve learned that I’m not able to share my kitchen.  It drives me bananas.

I feel like the lesson I’m still learning is how to stay present and connected, even when there are many miles between us.  It’s not something that I excel at, and in fact, sometimes I’m downright terrible at it.  But I suppose one of the things I’m learning primarily through their example is forgiveness.  I’ve been forgiven for my imperfections, and I think that’s a beautiful thing to offer someone.

In mental health…  While everything in moderation is certainly a nice motto, I’ve learned that, for me, a Sabbath works much better.  If I’m getting a bit too compulsive checking my technology or having feelings of inadequacy and/or envy coming up from social media, it’s good for me to take a break.  It gives me time to heal and regain a bit of moderation.  The same goes for sweets and carbs.  Sometimes I need a bit of a break to restart.  And, as I mentioned earlier, I’m about to embark on a spending Sabbath.  For me, there’s nothing quite like a challenge to help me recalibrate.

Run.  Running is my pillar.  Seasons wax and wane, I move, have babies, and do different things, but I’ve run through it all.  It makes me feel strong of body and heart.

Seek connection.  I may not always find it, but oh, do I need it.

Read books.  The self-help kind, the hard kind, the kind that are an escape.

Write to figure out what you think.  To keep memories.

Learn to love yoga, to meditate, to slow down.  Learn to smell everything, to notice all of the flowers.  Stop to marvel over creatures.  Learn to pull your children into an embrace, to hear their heartbeats and breathe in their smell.

Get rid of things.  As many things as you can and then more.  Don’t become so addicted to buying more that you fool yourself into thinking that you can’t do with less.  Be clear about meaning and value and sentiment.

Listen to podcasts.  Feel a sense of connection and expansiveness to a big, bright world full of ideas and fabulously beautiful, smart people.

Try not to gossip.  Try not to complain.  Try to find the good.  Try to be thankful.

Be thankful.

In work…  Remain positive.  At the end of the day, tell the sweet story instead of the bitter one.  Build up each other.

(Somewhat more cynically, this is where admitting your weakness and asking for help has not been so great.  While this was always encouraged in academics, in my professional settings, I had to learn that how I described myself was largely how I was seen in the work place.  When I was positive and had good things to say about my classes and my students, I was evaluated similarly.  Not so much when I admitted my struggles.  I think this isn’t something that people would be super pleased to know, but it hasn’t been all bad.  Being positive helped me feel positive and while I didn’t admit my weakness to my employers, I became good at problem solving.)

And finally, don’t be afraid to start over.  Or even if you are afraid, do it anyway.

In life…  Travel.  Write it all down.  Invite all of your friends over for pizza or veggies on the grill in the summertime.  Eat an entire watermelon with a melon baller (buy a melon baller, or at least announce loudly that you’d like a melon baller and then have your aunt buy you one…  Thanks Ruth ;)).  Learn to love the ritual and comfort of a hot drink in the wintertime and a cold one in the summer.  Go swimming to feel weightless.  Hike above tree line to feel expansive.  Do hot yoga to warm up on cold winter nights.  Sleep with your babies and carry them everywhere.  Buy flowers.  Decorate with Christmas lights.  Shop at thrift stores.  Burn candles and use essential oils.  Learn how to sew.  Make something.  Dream big.  Think that you might be wrong.  Trust your gut.

Thirty memories

In all of the letters I’ve just written, I’ve included memories.  By now, I’ve written hundreds.  I can’t pick the thirty best, but here are thirty good ones:

  1. Exploring my grandparents’ property, walking through the old corn rows, climbing up deer stands, and combing the woods until we found the pond and streams to hop over. I loved playing in the barn, climbing up the bales and then swinging into the scratchy hay down below, kicking up dust motes and hearing pigeons and swallows fly from their nests.
  2. Long canal boat rides through locks and dams and stopovers for fish and chips. I remember laying out in the sun, watching everything slide by.
  3. Searching tide pools on the shore. Finding small fish and sea anemones.
  4. Driving through the country with my mom and stopping on random country dirt roads to walk.
  5. Swimming in Lake Mille Lacs, Lake Elmo, and Lake Superior. In college, finding lakes and swimming all the way across them and back.
  6. The sound of my skis on cold snow and feeling fast.  My favorite course was in Biwabik, hilly and lovely.
  7. Cross country. The girls, the running, the races.  Such sweet friendships and such a lesson in setting a goal and going after it.  I’ll never forget my fastest races and that feeling of accomplishment.
  8. Dahlin. She taught writing and Humanities, and she was my best teacher.  She pushed me to do better and think differently, and I think it was the first time I took risks academically.  It was the first time I loved poetry and the first time I appreciated art.
  9. Driving into Tacoma for the very first time, ready to go to a school I had never seen. Feeling relieved that it was just as lovely as I had hoped with Mt Rainier high on the horizon and the Sound stretching out below.
  10. Backpacking down the Washington coast on a leadership training. Seeing otters dive down for clams, float on their backs, and crack them on their breastbones.  Sleeping in the sand.
  11. Hiking through the Hoh Rainforest with tall trees and so.much.rain.
  12. Skinny dipping in Ross Lake and hiking to the top of Desolation Peak. Reading Dharma Bums in Religion class.
  13. Traveling for the first time in Peru and Ecuador. The salt flats, Lake Titicaca, Cuzco, Cuenca…  Teaching in Loja, crazy adventures in NeverNeverLand, bathing in hot springs and walking through colorful markets.  Swimming in the Galapagos.
  14. The first time I saw Oscar, a sweet little black dog shaking in the back of a kennel at the Tacoma Humane Society. When they brought him into the meet and greet room, he came over, circled round, and planted his bottom in my lap.  I was his.
  15. Driving down to New Orleans, through the Wallowas in Oregon, the Grand Canyon, up through New Mexico and across Texas. All in our little red Hyundai with everything we owned.
  16. Living in our first place just the two of us. Working a heartbreaking, confounding job, but getting through it together.  Driving across the bridge to the West Bank, driving up to Schwarz.  The windows that were painted shut, the missing floor boards.  The metal detectors and the unreliable electricity.  The fear and the frustration, and in the city, the parades and the food.  The wet heat and the Mississippi wide and high.  Running along the levee, biking over to the Ponchatrain.  Broad fig leaves tapping at our bedroom window.
  17. A hot summer spent growing strong biking through Grecian hills. Eating olives, yogurt, walnuts, honey, and stuffed tomatoes.  Laying on the beach in the sun.  Growing sooty from sleeping outside on the ferry.  And at the end of the summer, getting married.  In an apple orchard surrounded by so many loved ones.
  18. Our trip. The Six Month Sweat, as I like to call it.  I’ve noticed in the writing down of memories how so many of them come from travelling.  Those extraordinary moments rise to the surface.  They’re set outside of normal time, and every day is memorable.  That incredible bike ride, hiking the Wicklow Way, exploring a little bit of Spain, walking through fairy castles in Cappadocia.  Drinking tea above the Bosphorus.  Flying to Delhi.  Beautiful Leh.  Driving that terrifying road from Leh to Manali.  Cooking classes and yoga in Dharamsala.  The train ride to Varanasi.  Crossing the border into Nepal.  Exploring Kathmandu.  Meeting up with K and Stacy in Pokhara and rafting down the Kaligandaki.  Hiking the Annapurna Circuit and Sanctuary and then going back to Kathmandu so that we could go out again and hike Langtang, Temang, and Gosaikunda.  Walking through Delhi at night.
  19. Camping up on Weminuche Pass with Joshua. Reading Born to Run and scheming the start of our little family.
  20. Being pregnant with Lily. Walking to work each morning and watching the sun rise over the mountains, the snow fall, coyotes chasing geese.
  21. Exploring the foothills with Brian and Brittaney.
  22. Anniversary dinners at Duo.
  23. Convincing K and Stacy to move to Denver and starting a long and wonderful tradition of meal sharing.
  24. Oh Heavenly Day by Patty Griffin began playing the moment I held Lily for the very first time, and it was.
  25. A lovely labor with Lu.
  26. Our trip to Mexico. Swimming in Cenotes and exploring Isla Mujeres.  Sharing our love of new places with thI’me girls.
  27. Staying at home with the girls. Pancake mornings followed by adventures through the city. Train rides and long walks, playgrounds and play dates.  Walking through the Botanic Gardens and watching Foxy and Shmoxy at the Art Museum.
  28. Trips to Moab and Santa Fe. Time spent the four of us.
  29. Throwing parties and feeling thankful for these children, these friends, this family.  Eating too much good food.  Drinking wine.
  30. Walking out on Point Reyes with a backpack of wine, cheese, and bread. Watching the ocean and carrying Lily on my back.  Knowing I married the best man.  Laughing so hard I had tears streaming down my face.

I’m so blessed that I could easily write 30 good memories from the last year, much less the last 30 years, and there are so many more that aren’t on the list, and so many people who have made this life blessed.  And if you don’t see one of you here, let’s sit down and talk and find a list of our own J

Thirty(ish) favorites

Favorite podcasts…  On Being, The Lively Show, The Birth Hour

Favorite books…  Anything by Barbara Kingsolver (except, sadly, The Lacuna), Small Wonder by Ann Patchett, more recently, I’ve loved reading Juliet Marillier and I quite like The Secret Life of Violet Grant.  I just finished listening to My Accidental Jihad on audiobook, and that was a really good book.

Favorite runs…  Ashlee and I went on this run in Glendaloch.  Two lakes, two waterfalls, boardwalks, and a view.  My favorite running partner is Joshua, and in the past year, we’ve had a few dates on trail, which are the best.  I also love running for conversation!  What better way to have an uninterrupted talk?

Favorite cities…  Kathmandu, Santa Fe, Leadville, New Orleans.  Istanbul, Sevilla, Fira.

Favorite foods…  Huevos Rancheros.  I actually have a funny story about this.  Joshua asked Lily what mommy’s favorite food was, and she said, “Salad!”  And you know what?  I love me a good salad.  Try the Fiesta Kale Salad, my birthday beet salad, an Asian inspired cabbage salad, and you’ll see what I mean J  Also, grapefruit.  New peas and potatoes.  Baked camembert, portabellas grilled with Gorgonzola and balsamic.  A pulled pork sammie from The Joint.  A biscuit from Rise and Shine.

Favorite rituals…  I love making and consuming tea or coffee in the morning.  Recently, I’ve been trying to do less caffeine, and I’ve loved the Crio Bru brand cocoa and teas with cocoa nibs that are chocolaty and full bodied.  I adore lighting candles in the winter and using my diffuser to make the house smell like essential oils.  Watering my houseplants.  Turning on mood lighting.

Favorite crafts…  I’ve been sewing a lot recently.  I love making toys, and I’ve made a few items of clothing for myself, but I think my next project is some sweet pinafores and rompers for the girls.  Of course, I made the mala for my birthday, and that was so fun I’m already planning my next one.  I’ve always loved collage too, and seeing Lily’s card for my birthday reminded me how much I loved the therapeutic process of selecting images, cutting them out, and then creating an image.  I’m also really loving gardening these days.  I love my baby tulips and I.want.more.flowers.

Favorite places…  The Botanic Gardens.  A view of the mountains from Crown Hill.  Guanella Pass.  Kenosha Pass.  Arkansas Valley.  North Table Mountain.  Union Station.  Hopper Hollow Playground.  The thrift store.  Our home.  (This one’s too hard, so I’m just doing nearby.)

Favorite colors…  I have a thing for sea foam green.  There’s a lot of it in our home.  I also love pale pink and orange.

Favorite things…  My new Himalayan salt lamps, flowers, my oil diffuser, my orange Le Creuset.  Jeans, lipstick, good shoes, a beautiful tea cup.  My jewelry.  My rose lamp.  The house plants.  Shells, our artwork.  My Christina’s World print.  Our new chandeliers.

Favorite songs…  Oh Heavenly Day by Patti Griffin, Skinny Love and Bloodbank by Bon Iver, Send Me On My Way by Rusted Root, I Wanna Dance with Somebody by Whitney Houston, Hello by Adele, Fascist Architecture by Bruce Cockburn, Welcome Home by Radical Face, High and Dry by Radiohead.

Favorite movies/shows…  I thoroughly enjoyed watching Call the Midwife this winter.  In the past five years, I think the best TV I’ve watched was An Honorable Woman with Maggie Gyllenhaal.  So good.  Oh and Parenthood.  Made me cry almost every episode.  As far as movies go, I feel like I’ve seen less of those recently.  I still love Away We Go, Sweet Land, and The Family Stone.  I like movies that I can watch more than once and love every time.  I also enjoy a good suspense movie, like The Kingdom, Hurtlocker, or the Borne movies.

***

Well, if you’ve gotten this far, kudos to you.  I’m sure you’ve learned everything you’ve ever wanted to know about little old me and been thoroughly updated on my birthday angst.  I am, however, feeling better now that I’ve gotten a chance to write myself into my thirties, so thank you for your patience.  I have a feeling this is going to be a good year, a good decade.

Xo

Ellie

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