Thursday, September 20, 2018

Be Grateful

The night before school started, we sat the kids down for a special family home evening. For years now I've wanted to create a family motto of sorts. So at this FHE, we introduced a new theme we are going to focus on this year. If all goes well, we'll just keep it as our family motto.

Be Dilligent
Be Kind
Be Grateful
Be Brave

Tonight, as I was grudgingly cleaning the kitchen I asked myself, "what could I do to be more grateful." And this little blog, and the year I wrote a post every day, came to mind.

I need to keep capturing these fleeting moments, so my heart is filled with gratitude as I lay down to rest each night. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

First Day of School

Yesterday was Reid and Nell's first day of school. My favorite part was so simple. Reid woke himself up, took a shower on his own, and then came upstairs with his hair done all by himself. It's the small things, really. I'm not sure why, but that simple act (mostly the hair part) just made my heart beam.

And little Nell. She woke up at 3am because of the lightning. I think it's the first time since she moved downstairs (at the beginning of summer) that she's come up and crawled in bed with me. I think the best part is that she brought her clothes with her and put them on the couch. She was ready to go at 3am! Luckily, she did manage to fall back asleep until about 5:50. She woke up so pleasant and eager to start the day. 

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Time Marches On

Last night all the girls were sent to bed with out reading any books. It was an awesome evening until all three of them decided they didn't need to help clean before bedtime. By the time the house was finally tidy and they were all tucked in, I was just too worn out to get through a whole chapter of Reid's latest Wimpy Kid book. But darn it, he did earn his book time. Luckily I happened to have my phone on me, so I came to this blog and searched "Reid." I found some posts from 2013 and 2014 and read him a few.

It was such a small pleasure that filled both of our hearts right up. None of the three posts I read were about anything significant, just simple little day to day happenings. It really made me sad to think Coraline and Mara won't have those kind of memories captured.

But man I tell ya, they have been living a glorious summer life the last couple days.

I can't even begin to explain how excited I am to have just these two little bugs home each day. I love Reid and Nell to the moon and back, but it's time my youngest two get some serious special time with their mama. They are both at such a fun (and trying) stage. I'm just going to soak their adorableness up while I can. Cause if I've learned anything from parenthood, it's that time definitely does not stand still. 

Friday, August 24, 2018

Nabed BuBee

Mara just loves to mimic her older siblings. One of my favorites has to be "Nabed BuBee," which is naked butt-cheeks or maybe naked bummy. I'm not really sure which, because I can't remember now exactly what it was Coraline said one night as I got them both into their jammies. But whichever phrase it was, Mara threw herself into a fit of laughter and started pulling down her diaper so she could dance around shouting "nabed bu bees" as well.

Tonight (8/24/18), when I told her and Coraline it was time to put on their jammies, Mara opened up their jammie drawer and picked out her own set. I was so impressed. Then, when I undressed her, she started doing a little shake shake dance and said "my butt, my butt" as she patted her little behind. We've come such a long way in just a couple short months!

This girl just cracks me up daily. She does the cutest things, and as Ben pointed out, she does it all with the cutest little pitch and tone in her voice. She is seriously adorable. I can't imagine what we did to deserve such a perfect little caboose!

We love you Joyjoy!

*all photos dated 8/21/18

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Volcanoes at the Library

Somehow at dinner tonight Nell brought up this little library adventure photoed above. I think it was last Thursday. There was a mini class about volcanoes for kids 6+. Reid and Nell were so excited to find Julian waiting in line when we arrived. The three of them quickly found a table together and then J's grandma and I ditched them (I did ask the "adult" in charge if it was alright that I take the two little girls and leave -- by "adult" I mean young college/HS student). 

Oh, that's right. Nell brought it up because she started singing about their volcanoes name. They named it Mount Cola, because the experiment used a bottle of coca-cola. They worked so hard together and were so excited by the experience. I just love this community, and our little neighborhood, that we live in. As Nell talked about how fun it was, she said something about wanting to remember it, so I told her I'd "put it on the blog." The kids use to ask me to blog about a lot of things. I know it is important to them to remember these fun things, so I am once again committing to blogging just a little more. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Build-A-Bear Workshop

Oh Kids, we had a fun day today. You woke up at your usual time (6 am). We ate a light breakfast (just cheerios), changed our clothes, packed up our bags and headed to the Fox River Mall. I think we managed to avoid this mall for four years straight. Somehow, we've been there five times in 2018.

We arrived at 7:30 and sat in line for the Build-A-Bear pay your age day. This is an outrageous sale that escalated quickly in some areas. Your dad read about riots in the UK. Police closed down stores in some US cities. But you, my sweet children, are lucky enough to grow up in an area that is consistently rated one of the best for young families. Our experience was wonderful.

There were three families in front of us, and one lone teenage boy that I couldn't quite figure out (I'm always trying to figure people out, by the way). Near opening time, which was 9 am, three mothers with young children showed up and took that teenage boy's spot. I get it. Why take your little kids in early when you can just pay your teen to go wait, but I'm glad you were there with me, to wait it out yourself and earn your own little bear that you love (you'll probably only love it for like a week, let's be honest).

Reid, you started asking for a Build-A-Bear about a year ago. Lately, I've been telling you all we'll go for Coraline's fourth birthday. It would still be more money than I'd like to spend, but at least if it's on someone's birthday (and close to Christmas) it will feel a little more justified. So when I found out about this deal, I knew we had to go.

I am not a Black Friday shopper. Sure, I love a good deal and rarely shop without coupons, but I do not think $85 in savings is worth more than two hours of my life. And you're in luck, because this whole experience took exactly 130 minutes of our life.

We had books, games, toys, and snacks packed in our bag. We made friends with the people in front of us and behind us. We avoided potty accidents, played together, and waited patiently for those store gates to sail open. Coraline, this photo of you stuffing your bear just might be my favorite one yet!

We were all in shock and awe as we left the store. The line was all the way down the end of the mall and wrapped around back to the food court -- and the rest of the mall wasn't even going to open for another 20 minutes. It was insanity. And I just kept thinking "Try not to look like you're gloating, while your four little kids proudly carry their bear boxes home." Man, it was hard to wipe the gratitude off my face.

There were a lot of frustrated parents and disappointed kids in that line, I am sure. We ran in to some neighborhood friends at the mall play area, and they weren't going to stick around for the line (I wouldn't have either). I'm sure it hurt for them to see you with your new stuffies. But here's the thing I want you to remember the most about this day: those kids, those sweet friends, were happy for you. Their wonderful mama messaged me to say how glad she was that you guys came home with bears. They went home empty handed, but still had a good day. They checked out some other stores, spent quality time together, and went home happy their friends bought bears even when they couldn't.

Another friend of mine saw us as we were leaving (since she was in a crowd of some 500 people, I did not see her). She messaged me to ask about our experience and give me updates about her wait. She and her son were in that line for four hours. Four hours! And you know what, they had fun doing it. They ended up getting a spot on a local news blurp about the whole event. How cool is that?

I want you to know that a lot of people chose to turn that chaotic moment into a teachable one. They taught their kids to be happy for their friends, even while they were disappointed. They taught their kids to lick their wounds with fresh ice cream and go home empty handed. Others taught their kids to just stick it out and enjoy the unexpected delays. 

Our day turned out super fun. You were all on cloud nine the rest of the morning and well into the evening. You were dancing with your bears, playing games with your dino, and snuggling your dog. Some days won't turn out this well. Sometimes you'll show up for a deal only to get burned, and I hope you decide to be happy for others in those moments. 

Nell, you probably stole my heart the most. You took Panda along for the car ride, but left her in your seat while we went into the mall. As we were pulling out the parking lot you said something about trying to make sure Panda wouldn't feel bad. Then you held up your new bear and said "Rainbow is the second cutest bear in the whole world." 
I smiled back at you and asked (knowing the answer), "whose the first?" 

Then tonight, after Reid's prayer (in which he mentioned his gratitude for our new bears and that our line wasn't so long and that the other people who waited long would be okay), you looked up with a bit of sadness in your eyes and said "I'm sad when I think about other kids who couldn't get bears today."
I made deep eye contact, but didn't directly respond.
As you pulled your bear close to your chest you continued "It makes me think that I don't really need this bear. I could give it to someone else." 

What a tender and thoughtful heart you have my sweet girl. The world is better for having you in it. 

Oh sweet kids, always make the world a better place by simply having you in it. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018


After screaming for five solid minutes, Coraline finally fell asleep at about 2:53 this afternoon. Mara crawled off my lap and crossed the front room to the couch where Lou lay. Mara gave her big sister a gentle snuggle. Then she looked at me and smiled. That smile said so much. It said, "I love Coraline." It said, "I'm glad she's happy now." It said "I'm growing up mom. I'm a big kid now. I understand emotions and needs and I love being part of this crazy family."

It was such a sweet little smile.

And as I watched that smile spread across her face, I remembered that I have virtually no record of Mara's growing. Her toddler years are in full swing, and I've written down no memories -- shared no pictures.

She started reading Coraline (who was fast asleep) her favorite book; the book I had been reading to her as Coraline screamed on and on from the adjacent couch. "Squeak, Zoom, Vroom" was clutched in one fist and her other hand was swung across Coraline's neck as she leaned in with more and more hugs. She was cuddling her (finally calm) big sister as she read her a book.

I didn't even care that this loving act would likely wake Coraline up out of the slumber she so desperately needed. I just wanted to stay frozen in that moment. "Keek um gee, keek um gee" were the noises she mimicked as she flapped the pages near Coraline's sweet face. I couldn't believe my baby was big enough to read a book to her sister as she lovingly cuddled her.

That's where we're at in life right now. I remember thinking, "I need to blog about this." In recent weeks I've been thinking a lot about blogging again. I figured I'd just start back up with a bunch of word vomit.

We went to Kalahari resort with the cousins back in December. Nell has rocked 4K. Reid sleeps in the basement now. I ran for public office. Yup, I was on televised forums and everything. I voted for myself. I took my three little girls with me and voted for myself. Oh, and Ben was on TV one week too. He was forced to represent a crazy narcissist who took a bike shop hostage and shot at the police when they arrived (the police returned fire and killed a hostage). Yeah, I could spew a lot of word vomit on this here blog.

But today as I watched Mara kiss Coraline repeatedly, I knew that that was the moment I had to start blogging about. Just before I sat down to write this Mara started screaming from her crib (which is in Nell and Coraline's room now). As I dragged myself into their room I felt how tired my poor body is; I remembered why I haven't blogged for so long. I'm so tired each night. But no more excuses. I want to keep capturing the sweet moments of motherhood that make all the tired worth it.

I want to remember Mara's cute curls, her sweet snuggles, her favorite books, and the beautiful way she fits right into our family.
A photo I snapped while shopping at Costco 10 days ago
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