Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Give Thanks

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday.  I love the four day weekend, the delicious food, the beautiful fall weather.  I love getting together with family, watching football, taking a long afternoon nap. Thanksgiving feels like the simpler, slower version of Christmas, the calm before the shopping and gift giving storm.  It is a chance to just get together and BE, to reflect on the happiness and love in our lives, to recognize each other and the important things we are all experiencing.  It is a beautiful holiday.

We've been busy all week getting ready for our Thanksgiving weekend road trip.  We are traveling to north Louisiana to spend the holiday with my aunts and uncles and cousins and we are all so excited for a change of scenery.  It will be baby River's first road trip and I have high hopes for my sweet and peaceful boy.  We tackled several projects around the house this week including rearranging our living room furniture and FINALLY opening up our fireplace.  When we moved into our house 4 years ago, we placed the TV on the fireplace "temporarily", planning to hang it above the mantel "eventually".  Cut to FOUR years later and the TV was still sitting on the fireplace, preventing us from ever lighting fires and using this beautiful feature in our home.  Isabelle has been begging us to rearrange and move the room around to remedy this situation and Shawn and my Dad finally came through.  I came home from work one afternoon and noticed smoke coming out of the chimney, pleasantly surprised to walk in and find the room looking completely different and a fire roaring in the fireplace.  We've spent the last week obsessing over the whole thing, putting down a new rug, watching movies all cuddled up, and completely loving the warmth of the fire.  Thank you, Isabelle, for making us get our butts in gear. This was our best home improvement project yet!

We spent the afternoon making handprint turkeys, the kind of craft that meets all of my crafting criteria: requires 3 or less supplies, takes less than 10 minutes, doesn't destroy the house in the process. A crafter I am not but I do try to find little projects that the kids and I can do together, added bonus for preserving memories in the form of handprints.  This kept them busy and happy and River woke up from his nap just in time to make his own little turkey. We hung them on the door in the kitchen and they go perfectly with the pumpkin spice scented candles, the fire burning in the den, the big blankets laid out on the sofa, the cookies baking in the oven, and the chili cooking on the stove: everything fall and warm and cozy.

This holiday season, I want my family to really focus not on the things, but on the people.  I want us all to spend more time saying "thank you" instead of "I want".  I want us to give more than we receive. Together is all we ever need.

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Friday, November 22, 2013

The First One Up, Last One Down

I am the first to wake up in the morning and the last to go to bed at night.
I like it that way.
I like the quiet, the calm, the stillness in our house.
I love opening the curtains to the early morning sun, putting the tea kettle on, setting out bowls of oatmeal and little cups of milk.
I love laying out school uniforms, packing lunch boxes, watching the early morning news.
At night, I love dimming the lights, turning off diffusers, and locking the back door.
I love putting an extra blanket on sleeping girls, putting Barbies back in their mansion, placing baby dolls carefully into their cribs.
I love seeing our home in all of its chaotic glory: the wear and tear brought on by our family of five more visible when no one else is up yet.
Crayon markings on the walls in the hallway, cheerios spilled behind the rocking chair, socks left strewn on the floor in the office.
Fingerprints all over the TV, crayons left on the floor under the dining room table, bracelets and ponytail holders and barrettes in every nook and cranny imaginable.
I try to overlook the pile of clothes that needs folding as I walk by the laundry room. I never can, stopping instead to fold each piece with as much precision as I did when I was in the military.
Dishes to be washed, letters to be mailed, dinner to be planned.
This beautiful, exhausting, rewarding, perfectly imperfect family life.
The morning and evening rituals that fill me with pride and love and a sense of purpose.
These small, simple, and never ending tasks that no one really notices or thinks about too often but makes them feel loved and nurtured anyway.

I am the first to wake up in the morning and the last to go to bed at night.
And for that I am so blessed.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Brees Is Three!

At the beginning of the year, Shawn and I made a commitment to simplify the holidays this year, birthdays included.  Instead of big parties, we would go on adventures as a family, making memories instead of hosting big shindigs as we always have in the past.  The kids were completely on board from the beginning, loving the idea of picking their favorite destinations and activities all in the name of celebrating their big day.

This weekend, Brees was able to have her own special 3rd birthday adventure. She requested a "pink cake with purple stuff on top".  On Friday afternoon, while Belle was at school and River and Shawn napped, I made her a strawberry cake with purple cream cheese frosting. It came out horribly ugly (as all of my baking projects do) but really, really delicious.  She played at my feet the whole time I baked, helping me stir and licking the bowl clean.  It meant the world to me to have that one on one time with her on her special day, just the two of us in the kitchen.

After Belle came home from school, we dug out the party box (a box filled with banners and leftover decorations and streamers and party favors) and sent Brees to her room to "hide her eyes". Belle and I decorated the kitchen and dining room with a hodge podge of colors and sparkly things as a few of the cousins came in to help us celebrate.  We called Brees downstairs as we all sang "Happy Birthday", her little face all lit up as she took everyone in.  I made homemade pizza and we went through the entire cake as Brees opened up her presents: a Sofia doll from Belle and a balance bike from Mommy and Daddy.  She was so happy to have her pink cake, a new doll, and her favorite people all together.

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The fun continued on Saturday when Brees woke up to her room filled with balloons!  She woke me up and said, "My room!  Balloons everywhere, Mom!".  We set out for a fun day, just the five of us, that included a trip to the bookstore, lunch at Brees' favorite burger joint, frozen yogurt, and an afternoon at the children's museum.  Every time we got into the car and made our way to the next destination, Belle would say, "This is your day, Brees!  It's all about you today!".  And Brees just smiled and laughed in her easy going, sweet Brees way.  It was such a special birthday weekend, so simple but full of quality time that I know we will remember always.We had the best time playing and laughing with our now 3 year old.
Doesn't get much better than that.

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Happy Birthday Brees!

Time really does fly when you're having fun...


Work It, Mama

They say a picture is worth a thousand words...


This picture speaks volumes about where I am in life right now: trying to get my work done while simultaneously trying to nurse my baby.  Refusing to delegate any of my household/mothering duties regardless of deadlines or work commitments.   Pushing through and getting things done even when the lists keep getting longer and the hours of sleep shorter.  Neglected hair, under eye circles, rarely finishing a meal.  Attempting to not only conquer the newborn phase while simultaneously working but committing to actually ENJOY it.  Even on the days that are not so enjoyable.

It's been a busy week of taking call and catching up on work shenanigans.  I'm learning how to set new boundaries and be firm about my limits: there's a new baby in the house and I just can't do the things I used to do.  What you don't see in this photo is Isabelle sitting across from me, working on the practice math test I made for her.  Brees is to my left eating a bowl of soup I cooked up this weekend and coloring in her Dora activity book.  River loves nothing more than nursing on the Boppy while I type away and call out spelling words and make conference calls.  My kids are so accustomed to hearing me talk about diabetic foot ulcers and congestive heart failure and the correct way to use an asthma inhaler that I think they might actually be able to create nursing care plans of their own.  It's their normal.

Shawn is constantly telling me, "You don't have to do that, I'll get it".  But I WANT to do it.  I know that I could very easily pass the kids off to him for bath time or sit back while he takes over bedtime stories but those are the things I want to be a part of.  I miss out on them during the day and there's just no way I'm going to miss out on them at night, too simply because I'm tired.  When I get home from work, I am a mother.  I cook and clean and do laundry.  I give bathes and clean up boo boos.  I harvest vegetables from the garden and hang up cloth diapers.  When the baby is crying, I hold him tight.  When Brees asks for a dance party, I go all out.  And I try to never, ever appear too busy to talk to my ever growing Isabelle for she has so much to say these days.

Things are slowing way down this weekend: I am off the call rotation for the next month which means work will stay at work and our home life will be all ours again.  We are spending our weekend celebrating Brees' third birthday and I can't wait to watch her little face light up when she sees all of her surprises.  She has a fresh new boo boo on her forehead after an unfortunate encounter with a brick wall. Having a nurse for a mother means rarely going to see the doctor, much less visiting the ER.  That little gash on her forehead was doctored up right at our kitchen counter and she was such a trooper, showing us her "monster face" as an example of how tough she is. It is so fitting for Brees' personality to have a battle wound in all of her birthday photos.  Isabelle attended an etiquette class this week complete with proper table settings, leg crossing, and how to walk with grace and poise.  She was most impressed that the teacher's home included a powder room with a bidet and begged Shawn and I to install one in her bathroom ASAP.  That girl... 

They say you can't have it all, there aren't enough hours in the day, being a parent is the hardest job in the world.
Well, they're right.  We are so far away from having any of this figured out.  But day by day, moment by moment, we are doing our best to learn what we can and make it all work.  
This is the good stuff.  And I wouldn't miss it for the world.

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