Dec 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012

I sort of feel like we should be celebrating the last day of the year with some sort of big hoopla or something. But instead it is almost one in the afternoon and the three of us are still in our jammies, lounging around the basement, playing with new toys and watching TV. We are dressing and redressing Hope's American Girl Doll, building treehouses out of Legos, and making up games with the Calico Critters. We are eating peanut butter sandwiches in front of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and munching on cookies while dancing to The Fresh Beat Band.

It has been busy busy for the last couple weeks with family celebrations, visits to out-of-town family, and a birthday party for a little girl who turns FIVE tomorrow. (Hold me.) I've been feeling kind of upside down since around Christmas, knowing that had I not miscarried we would've had another babe to celebrate with. It seems extra hard knowing that no one else recognizes this would have been a first Christmas for the baby we lost.

So, I guess my point is that there's been so much going on that I'm kind of okay with ending this year on a very quiet and somewhat lazy note. In fact, I'm really looking forward to a full day of snuggling followed by a low-key evening of Indian take-out and some Anderson Cooper.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year, in whatever way you end up ringing it in!



xoxo,
Christine


Dec 22, 2012

Christmas is Coming

Sitting in front of the television, watching "Miracle on 34th Street" with tears in my eyes, waiting for my sister to fly in. I'm surrounded by Christmas and Love and Joy to the Worlds and I am so incredibly grateful. We get a few days of celebration with my family before celebrating with Adam's family. I just can't wait.

The magic of the season is here, take a deep breath and let it all in. Crank up the holiday music, eat a couple holiday treats, sit in front of the Christmas tree. Whatever it is that feels right to you, just go and do it to get as much out of this time as you can.

Scenes of our season:

Trip to the grocery store for food shelf donations.











Christmas Traditions of cookie cutouts with the cousins.







The gingerbread house made at school.
(please ignore the pacifier in the background... along with the dirty counter)


I'm gonna cozy on up and keep getting my Christmas on.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a blessed holiday!

xoxo,
Christine

Dec 19, 2012

Night of Silence

I don't know how to process tragedy. Especially one of this magnitude. I go back and forth between wanting to plug my fingers in my ears saying "la, la, la" and soaking up every minute detail I can find, but either way with the urge to throw up.

I have nothing to say because there are only feelings. Feelings and tears and tears and feelings. I have nothing. Nothing but that deep, dark, gut-wrenching ache. And the fear of hopelessness.

And why. I always want reasons, even though I know there is absolutely no reason that will appease me and make something like this understandable.

There is fear and darkness. And I don't want that fear and the darkness to take over. And yet sometimes it's so very hard to find the light. How can I laugh and be silly when so many mamas are crying? Yet, how can I not?

I hug and I kiss and I let it roll off my shoulders when my preschooler accidentally finds a Christmas Santa gift. I shudder and twitch knowing I was preparing for a school tour for Kindergarten next year, when horrific events were unfolding.

I take a breath. I say a prayer. I let myself be sad. And then I let myself be happy. I hug my children. I vow to be love. I vow to be more and more love.

And I try to find hope. Let there always be hope.

xoxo,
Christine

Dec 11, 2012

Let it Snow, Let it Tow

Laying in bed over the weekend I could hear Paige's voice echo through the house.

Mom! Dad! It towed! It towed today!

To the untrained ear one might not quite know what our little two-year-old it hollering about, but as any parent knows, our ears are long trained to understand our own babies words. So while it might not make sense to most, I knew right away how excited she was about the fresh snow. Tow!




Our dear Paige, while an excellent speaker, seems to have a complicated rule when it comes to words that start with "s" followed by another consonant. Skirt becomes kirt, star becomes tar, and snow becomes, well, tow. (Then, like any good English language rule, there are exceptions to the rule, like swim, because that stays swim.)




Anyway, her excitement about the "tow" was pretty contagious, especially because it's the first big snowfall of the season. So like any good Minnesotan, we all bundled up and got out in the fluffy white stuff to shovel, throw snowballs, and make snow-dinosaurs.




Another favorite? When she kept asking me to make tow-balls.

Although I'm not super thrilled to deal with the mess the snow brings inside the house, and all that goes along with that, I am glad we should actually have a white Christmas this year.




Hope you got out to enjoy some winter this weekend! Let it tow, let it tow, let it tow!

xoxo
Christine


Dec 9, 2012

All I Want For Christmas Is

Almost every time I see a baby, something happens. My uterus starts crying tears of an empty womb, my boobs ache like they are getting ready to nurse, and my heart beats love for another child. I know the pain of a miscarriage, and I know the pain of being ready for another child before my husband is, but I know that I do not know the pain of infertility month after month. I imagine that what courses through my body is only a fraction of what those experiencing infertility feel time and time again.

Still, it hurts. I hurt. If my body had cooperated and cooked my baby the accurate amount of time, our little junior would have been alive nine months by Christmas this year. We would have five stockings hanging instead of just four. There would be a new "Baby's First Christmas 2012" ornament dangling from a branch on our tree. And our little babe would be crawling (or even toddling), and yanking ornaments down, only to promptly stuff them into his mouth.

There's nothing quite like the Christmas after a baby was supposed to be born. While the moments of magic are all around me, and I am even able to get a tree with hardly a thought of the babe that might have been, it suddenly hits me hard. The ghost of the baby I see crawling on our dusty floors, or stuffed in a fluffy gray snowsuit, or belling laughing and clapping as he tears Santa paper off a present.

I do not have illusions that a new baby would bring only happiness and rainbows. Like all mothers who've experienced miscarriage (because we all are mothers, are we not?), I know that no new baby could ever replace the baby we lost. That a new baby won't "fix" things. But I also have this love that I was ready to give and it is still ready, just waiting waiting waiting. And I can't adequately explain how much I feel like I need another baby to heal.

Perhaps this is not possible. Perhaps it is unhealthy. Perhaps one has nothing to do with the other. Even on those days that I. NEED. A. BREAK. My heart and mind still chorus together: Four kids. Four kids. Four. FOUR. FOUR! I'm not sure where this comes from, or what kind of mother I'd actually be to four children. Maybe it's God. Maybe it's biology. Maybe it's just my crazy self-talk determined to drive me insane.

I want it to be okay. I want to be able to enjoy this time before we are ready to try for another baby. Because as much as I want a baby, I do not, in a trillion years (although maybe a trillion and one?) want my husband to agree to a baby before he feels ready.

And I do enjoy this time. Oh how I enjoy Hope's journey into girlhood (I mean, she's going to be five next month people!) and Paige's transformation into the delightful, and often frightful, Threes (can you say potty-trained?). I just can't help but sometimes wish that I could be enjoying these things while simultaneously leaning over the toilet bowl with the reminder that I am growing a delicious little bundle of joy.

I can't do anything to change the fact that we will not have a nine-month-old with our family this Christmas. And it certainly is not my year to have the gift of a positive pregnancy test on Christmas morning. But to all of you praying and wishing, I am hoping for a Christmas miracle just for you.


xoxo
Christine

Dec 6, 2012

Joy to the World, this was our week

It's December and Holiday Seasons abound. While I have grandiose plans of sugar cookie decorating, gingerbread house building, snow angel making, and present wrapping, our Christmas quota was filled this last week with the tree cutting down and house decorating. Can't cram it all into one week, am I right?

And now a look at our week:

Today is Thursday which means (cue the trumpets) that tomorrow is Friday. And that just brings a little excitement around here because, Yay! Adam is home for the weekend. Of course, tomorrow is Friday and I have yet to call any of the schools to set up a time to visit. I'm sure they all will LOVE having me come visit right before winter break.

And I must say, there is nothing quite like spending an evening reading in front of the tree with my husband, which is how we spent our Wednesday night. Even if said husband does not scoot his butt over to share the couch. (But I'm not bitter about that or anything.)

I was all super-womany yesterday and threw together some ingredients for wild rice soup in the crockpot to heat up today. But I think my last-minute decision of adding twice the amount of rice kind of backfired because now it is more like a wild rice casseroley type thing than soup. I'm sure it'll be fine. And when I tasted it, it did not taste bland. At all. (Good thing I don't claim to be a foodie.)

Tomorrow I am taking Paige to enjoy some magical Disney on Ice. She has no clue what it really is, but is overly excited every time it comes up because: Disney! Mickey! Princesses! Hooray! Last spring I took Hope, whose awed facial expression I hope to never forget, but despite her obvious enjoyment, she did not want to miss school for some mother-daughter fun. But, it's all good because Paige will get a little one-on-one time. Something she probably gets way less of than I realize.

The week has been good, despite an attempt to quickly paint a doll crib that has turned into a million-hour-project-that-will-hopefully-get-done-before-Christmas-but-I'm-not-stressed-about-it-at-all-(but-really-I-am) mishap earlier on. It's a little hard figuring out how to fit in painting time when the girls are by my side almost 24/7 and I would kind of like to keep it a surprise until Christmas.

But, I'm happy. It's Christmas time and we're Decking the Halls and Fa-la-laing and talking about Christmas and Birthdays and Joy to the Worlds.

xoxo
Christine

Dec 5, 2012

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like

We finally got our Christmas tree last weekend, going over the river and through the woods to a local tree farm to saw that bad boy down ourselves (or Adam's self), timidly take a candy cane or two from Santa, and lose our way on the drive home. I guess I say "finally" even though when we lumberjacked our tree we still had twenty-four days until Christmas.




But when I was growing up we always got our tree the Friday after Thanksgiving. Always. In fact, I didn't hear the term "Black Friday" until several years ago and was completely confused and convinced it wasn't a real day. Of course now I know what Black Friday is all about. But in our house the Friday after Thanksgiving was all about driving out to the tree farm, taking a tractor ride with jingly bells to the middle of the rows and rows of coniferous trees, finding The One, taking turns with the saw, warming up with cocoa and cookies, and getting that tree home ASAP to turn on the Christmas music and decorate.




So even though we were a weekend late this year, we have our beautiful, sparkly, magical tree. You can be sure to find me in any of the next twenty days, sitting (or laying) on our couch, tree lights twinkling, nursing a hot cup of joe, (or tea, or cocoa). It's pretty much what I do all day long. Maybe.

The girls, like the sweet little children they are, are just the right amount enamored with the tree. That exact amount between touching, and potentially breaking, every ornament and not really caring that it's there at all. (Does anyone ever get to the point where they don't care the Christmas tree is there? I hope not.) Most of the time they steer clear from the breakables, but sometimes the ornaments do have to be rearranged. It's a child's prerogative, you know.




It's Christmas. It's CHRISTMAS! Time to get excited, people. I am feeling the magic and excitement, even if the cold is kicking my butt. Excuse me now. I have a cup of coffee to warm up and a tree to admire.

xoxo
Christine



Nov 30, 2012

Into The Future of School

It's the last day of November, and I can hardly believe it. How did this happen? I mean, I know how it happened, Time and all that, I just can't believe that December will already be here tomorrow. How does that saying go? The days are long but the years are short?

It's true you know. How many of us are just waiting for Friday all week long and then Bam! a whole year has gone by. I look at my daughters and I still see Paige as a baby and Hope as a little toddler. And then I look at pictures of them when Paige was born, and I just can't believe that Hope will be five next month and Paige is already older than Hope was when Paige was born.

This is Hope's last year of preschool. Next year she goes off to Kindergarten and Paige starts her first year of preschool and I just might have two mornings a week without kids. And I just can't imagine it, sending Hope off on a school bus, her big backpack banging against her little back. And dropping Paige off in the very room that Hope is in now.

It's all so crazy and terrifying and amazing. I'm realizing that this parenting gig gets scarier and harder as the kids get older. (Probably why we start out with babies instead of teenagers.) I mean, really, once you get past the stage of taking the newborn home and figuring out how to meet her needs, it's really not as hard as it seems at the time. Of course, maybe that's always how it is. When the girls are preteens, I'll look back at this time and think, Gee, sending the girls off to school wasn't hard at all! But when you're in the middle of it all. My goodness. Some days are HARD. And SCARY. And OVERWHELMING.

What if I choose the wrong school for my daughter? What if the adjustment is too hard for her next year? What if she's doesn't make friends? What if she's lonely? What if she cries every single day all year long?

I know it'll be okay. Right? Right now I can't see out, but once it's past I'll see just how non-scary it really was. But the responsibility of finding a school for Hope feels like a huge weight on my shoulders, an aspect of parenting that I wasn't prepared for. And every time we hit one of these new stages of their lives I just pray I don't mess them up too bad. And poor Hope, as the oldest she kind of bears the brunt of our trials and errors. I'm just hopeful for a minimal amount of errors.



Tomorrow is December and I am determined to visit the potential schools sometime in the month before winter break starts. I think.

Happy last day of November everyone. And remember, if you haven't already, it's time to crank up that Holiday music! :)

xoxo
Christine

Nov 29, 2012

Dear Santa...

For the first two Christmas's of Hope's life, we had her visit Santa. Paige, on the other hand, suffering from Second-Child-Misses-Out-Because-She's-A-Second-Child Syndrome, has yet to sit on the jolly guy's lap. In my defense, neither of the girls actually want to visit Santa. Call me a scrooge, or lazy, or whatever, but I just don't think forcing my kids to sit on an old man's lap when they are adamant against it, is something that has to be done to complete our holiday season.

(Or course, I have nothing against those of you who choose to take your kids and get those cute crying pictures with Santa. We have two of those from when Hope was a little and I love them. I'm just not up for the fight with my girls.)

This year, like last year, we decided that instead of visiting a Santa we would write him letters. Only this year, unlike last year, we actually sat down and wrote the letters. Hope was excited to do some writing and cutting and taping, and Paige pretty much just got some practice with the scissors. But both girls seemed to have fun, and I even let go of making a huge mess right after cleaning the dining room. (Or course, no need to mention that when it was time to clean up I kinda lost my patience. Who me?)













Now I just need to make sure that we get them in the mail. Or whatever it is that one does with letters to Santa.

Do you take your kids to visit Santa? Do they love it or hate it?

xoxo
Christine

Nov 26, 2012

Anyone Wanna Come Over and Fold My Laundry?

I have four piles of unfolded clothes that have been mocking me since they were washed last week. Although they have gotten smaller, it is not because of any folding that has taken place. Laundry is scattered on the floor like a bucket of dropped beads, the piles shrinking but widening as we rummage through the baskets to find a pair of socks or that specific dress needed for the day.

I tell myself, as I put a new load of dirty clothes into the washer, that I will fold all the clothes tonight. Much like, when eight o'clock came too early this morning, I told myself that I would go to bed at nine tonight.

These goals I seem to be setting a lot of lately. Goals that, at the time they are set, seem very feasible and realistic, but are, in fact, not so. Not because they can't be done. I don't run out of time with the cookie baking and toilet scrubbing and ten bedtime stories reading I'm squeezing in at night. No, my "after kids are in bed time" is not filled with anything but an enormous need to kick up my legs, turn off my mind, and stare blankly at the television screen.

And lately, I'm okay with that, which is why our shirts are wrinkly and our dust bunnies are mating. I don't always like it, that I can be okay in a house with a layer of dust on every surface and a Kilimanjaro mountain of laundry. But the alternative, being stressed out and crabby and obsessed with keeping a clean and organized house, I like even less.

As it is already we are in a constant push and pull between the ever-growing To Do list and the most-importants of Life.

So, even though I tell myself that laundry will get folded tonight, I won't be surprised when it doesn't, and I end up going to bed after ten. But I won't hold it against myself either.

xoxo,
Christine



Nov 21, 2012

Tis' the Season for Black Friday and All That



So, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. And all around Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere, people are doing daily thanks and all that. And yes, I am thankful. But to be honest, I've be kinda feeling "bleh" this year. Not about being thankful because yes, I realize I have A LOT to be thankful for. But you know that someecard that is floating around that says, "Black Friday: Because only in America people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have."? Yeah, that's how I'm feeling this year.

Don't get me wrong. I am an equal opportunity consumer. I have happily and willingly participated in Black Friday in years past. I enjoy shopping (mostly) and can get as excited about a good deal as the next person. But this year? I'm just not feeling it. My husband was quick to point out that it's because, It's not even THANKSGIVING yet! He is a firm believer in no Christmas before Thanksgiving. And while he makes a good point, I know that this is not the reason for my feelings this year.

My heart is sad for all the commercials about buying and buying and more buying. It gets harder and heavier every time those all-knowing advertisers tell me that I need something new, something sparkly, something anything and pretty much everything I don't have in order for me to be happy and fulfilled.

What happened to this season? What happened to simplicity and peace on earth and joy to the world and holiday magic? How can I teach my children to be excited about the lights and cookies and traditions just as much as (and even more than) the presents? Where did the spirit of Christmas go? Because it feels like it's lost somewhere between the five dollar fleece zip-ups, the hundred dollar tvs, and the thirty dollar Barbie houses.

Trust me, I am not on a high horse. I'm about as high on my horse as a ten foot hole in the ground. And maybe that's partially why it's bothering me so much, because I have thoroughly gotten swept away in the material side of Christmas before. And I really, desperately, do not want to take my raft down that river again.

I am excited about the gifts we have chosen for our daughters. And just to prove to you how not-high on my horse I am, I will admit that we are getting our daughter, who will be five one week after Christmas, an American Girl doll. I am happy and excited and have put a lot of thought into the gifts our girls will be receiving this year.

But I am so already annoyed and irritated and mostly just sad by the commercials and advertisements and bombardings of buy this! and you need this! and this is what's most important! The holiday shopping, especially Black Friday? It's not filled with happy and considerate shoppers spreading the joy of the season and looking out for each other. No, we are all out there to grab that great deal before the person next to us does and look-out-because-I-will-use-my-elbows-to-get-you-out-of-my-way. Where's the holiday spirit in that?

It's true, it's not even Thanksgiving (quite yet) and I am already bemoaning the loss of a simple and traditional and non-consumer driven holiday season. But I guess that's why I'm feeling so Blah right now. It's already started. And I am all for starting some Christmas excitement before Thanksgiving. (I have most definitely had Christmas music on in the house already.) But not because I want to get the greatest deal or have the newest thing, but because Christmas only comes once a year and I want to get as much of that deep-down goodness of the season as I can.

Happy Thanksgiving, from my holiday-filled heart to yours.

xoxo,
Christine


photo credit

Nov 19, 2012

My Blanket of Anxiety

You know those moments during the month (or every couple months if you're lucky) that feel like there are about one trillion things to do on top of the already long list of To Dos from the regular day-to-day? Yeah. That's where I am right now.  It's cyclical. I go along just nicely minding my own business, feeling okay about life and where I'm at and then, Bam! At some point during the month I have this blanket of anxiety that starts to suffocate me with all the things that "should" be getting done and aren't.

The house hasn't been thoroughly cleaned in I don't know how long, and the disorganization that started last February when we started work on our half-story is still scattered around in random places. I have responsibilities for Hope's school (which, yes, I did take on myself so it's my own fault) that hang over my head, and this whole "being a parent of a kid going to school next year" gives me a mini panic attack at least once per day.

I feel so much pressure and responsibility to pick the "right" school for my daughter. It is so overwhelming that instead of just making the appointments to visit the schools, which is really the only way I can make an informed decision, I feel stuck in my tracks, like a deer in headlights. The thought of making numerous visits, finding childcare for the girls while I'm gone, and doing this without my husband's input, terrifies me. This fear has been lurking around for awhile, although I didn't really understand it until time started to slip away from me and it's almost December and I have yet to call one school.

When I have all these things that feel important, all of these To Dos, instead of getting myself energized and just doing them, I go into shut down mode. I'm sure that part of this is my personality and part of it is the depression (although that is being managed fairly well right now). That blanket spreads over me, so heavy, and instead of fighting it and checking things off my list, I just want to surrender to it, snuggle up, and sleep.

And I hate that it is such a struggle for me. I wish that I could remember, every single day, what the important things truly are and what are not. Even if I have a To Do List five pages long, I think that's okay, I just think the not remembering those items are not of true importance, that gets to me. Why does it even matter if our house hasn't been cleaned in a long time? So what if we still haven't gotten things put away from our half-story remodel?

Sometimes I think I need to cut myself a little more slack. And then other times I think I've been cutting myself too much slack and that's why everything gets so overwhelming. I have been known to procrastinate a time or two. Obviously, this is one of those times right now, and while I'm really tempted to surrender to the tired and let myself sleep sleep sleep, I also know that the only way to feel better is to take a deep breath and just do one thing at a time. But maybe I'll take a quick nap first.

xoxo,
Christine

Nov 15, 2012

What's In A Name?

I am constantly checking Facebook this afternoon. {refresh. refresh. refresh.} I know it's funny because, aren't I always spending large amounts of time on Facebook anyway? {refresh. refresh. refresh.} But this is different. Different because I am waiting with eagerness to hear some more exciting news.

One of my oldest friends just had a baby this morning. And by "oldest" I don't mean old. Our families have been friends since I was a fresh-faced four-year-old. Our dads met on a city bus on their way to work. This was back in the day when people weren't glued to their cellphones (because, hello, nobody had a cellphone in 1985) and strangers were more likely to strike up a conversation with each other.

You know how sometimes there are people in your life, friends or neighbors or other families, who become part of your own family? And I mean, really like family? That's what they became for us. I always say that they adopted us into their family, because we were just the four of us and they had a large extension of family members, but I guess we really adopted each other.

And now, just like family, we are scattered across the country. Or at least, we're kind of scattered. I am scattered. My sister is of course the closest to both girls as one is in New York City too, and the other in the state of New York. (Can you see the jealousy oozing out of me?).

My dear, Chosen-Cousin just had a baby and I am over the moon ecstatic for her. I mean, a) she just had a baby, b) it's her first baby, and c) it's A GIRL! As a mother to two lovely (if I do say so myself) girls, I am overjoyed to be able to give her so much unsolicited advice that her head explodes. Okay, so I don't actually want her head to explode, and I also won't actually give her unsolicited advice but, SHE HAD A GIRL!

So, back to this whole Facebook thing. Why, if she already had the baby, am I obsessively checking and rechecking Facebook? Because this dear sweet baby, my first Chosen-Niece, is waiting on a name and I am dying for it to be revealed. Dying.

{refresh. refresh. refresh.}

xoxo,
Christine

Nov 9, 2012

I Won't Be a Chicken

Lately I kinda feel like I'm running around like a chicken with it's head cut off. Which is actually a pretty gruesome visual if you think about it. Do chickens actually run around without heads? I'm too afraid to google it.

Run, run, run, Bonk. Run, run, run, Bonk. -- This is me as I'm running around and randomly hitting obstacles I don't, or can't, see. Sometimes it's because there's so much going on, and sometimes it's because I don't know what I'm doing.

I really dislike it when I feel like I don't know what I'm doing.

This is probably why I'm not good at trying new things, stretching myself to do more, or taking risks and putting myself out there. It is why I like when people give me step-by-step directions so that I don't mess up or feel confused. I don't like it when I don't know what I'm doing. I don't like feeling confused. And trying something new, always involves a learning process. Which usually starts with overwhelming feelings and a lack of knowing what one is doing. (Let's not even get started on my fear of failure.)

You know, I wish I could be one of those people who embrace new things with zest and excitement. Who laughs at herself when she doesn't know what she's doing, and is energized to figure out just how to do it. I am slowly learning in my life to accept who I am (although sometimes I'm still not exactly sure who that is), and one of the things I guess I need to accept is that that person? That is not me.

I have to figure out a way to be okay with this part of who I am. But that doesn't mean I can't work to be less stressed in new situations or with new responsibilities. It doesn't mean I can't try to slow down and relax and figure out a way to enjoy the newness instead of dread it. I'm just not sure how I go about doing that.

But that chicken who is running around all crazy-like? I'm going to try to not be that. Having busy moments or hectic days are pretty much a guarantee in life. But I can certainly control how I respond to them. And I'd rather have my head on, thankyouverymuch.

xoxo,
Christine

Nov 6, 2012

We Interrupt This Day to Bring You a Party

I am plugging away. Plug. Plug. Plug. My mind gets all in the way with all it's crazy there's-way-too-much-to-do, how-am-I-going-to-get-everything-done, and I'm-so-overwhelmed-I-just-want-to-shut-down-and-cry. But then, surprisingly, I'm all {deep breath} take-one-thing-at-a-time and just-do-it. And it works.

We interrupted the busy fall, which already has whispers of winter, for a very minor get-together with a few friends today. I am lucky to have inspiring people in my life (and not in my life because some of the blogs I stalk also inspire me), who throw such lovely gatherings and parties and get so much joy out of doing so. And I've always wanted to be a party-thrower I'm just usually too terrified to do it, so I threw my hat over the fence last week and invited a few people for a little Election Day fun -- for the kids, of course.




I'm not going to get all Election Dayie on you, but I thought it a cute idea and promised the few parents that we wouldn't actually talk politics. But the kids got to vote for the puppy or kitty and we had some patriotic treats. And then everyone just played. Or rather, the kids played and the moms stayed in a different room to chat.








I got an idea of the craziness that would involve six kids, which is not actually on my life plan. But I do eventually want four kids (much to Adam's dismay) so it was good practice for me to be able to stay calm and not freak out about messes or broken toys.

We only had one casualty (ie. one thing got broken), a record I thought was pretty good for a five-year-old, two four-year-olds, two three-year-olds, and one two-and-a-half-year-old.

The fact does not escape me that these children were not all mine, and having them at our house for a few hours is nothing like having four children twenty-four hours a day. Don't worry, I am under no illusion. I know I have a long way to go to get to the laid back nature I probably need to possess (if it's even possible for me to possess) to be calm around the chaos of more than two kids.






In any case, I learned something very important about myself. I actually enjoying throwing parties. Or, at least, I enjoyed this one. Which was little. And minor. And not very overwhelming at all. So, I'm maybe not on my way to Martha Stewarting my parties, or even throwing a huge one any time soon, but I feel good. I feel happy.

I am proud of myself for making something special for my kids (and even keeping it low-cost) and inviting more into my life. I'm not always very good about inviting more into my life. But today it was good.





























Happy Election, everyone! And don't forget to vote.

xoxo.
Christine







Nov 1, 2012

Halloween Memories Made

Here's what I want to remember about Halloween 2012:

When initially asking Hope what she wanted to dress up as she had no idea. We gave the standard suggestions of puppy and kitty (well, standard suggestions for our animal-loving girl) and then the other standards like witch, princess, soccer player, etc.

Several days later, when asked again, she finally decided on what she wanted to be. Herself. My not-quite-five-year-old daughter decided that she just wanted to be herself for Halloween. And she even thought up a costume. Her own pants and her shirt that has H-O-P-E scrawled across the front.

This is what she wore to school
when the kids could wear their costumes.

I tried half-heartedly to convince her to be Hope the soccer player or Hope the gymnast. But she stuck to her guns, basically until I worried about her not wearing a costume but asking for candy. I probably didn't actually need to worry about anyone saying anything to a little kid, but I did. So she was finally convinced to be Hope the gymnast. But even to the end, she was adamant that she was not A Gymnast. She was Herself, dressed in her gymnastic clothes.

Hope, as Herself, in her gymnastic clothes.

Paige, on the other hand, seemed to know what she wanted to be from the get-go. When she was asked I was surprised to hear her excited exclamation that she was going to be, "A PRINCESS!" I forgot that Hope also had her mind made up on what she wanted to be for Halloween at that age. Unfortunately, I already had a Minnie costume free for the borrowing, so I didn't really want to have to find something for a princess. (Plus I thought Paige as Minnie Mouse would be pretty darn cute.)

Luckily, Paige was fairly easily persuaded that Minnie's dress is very princess-like. Thus she was Minnie Princess for Halloween. And we were all happy.

Paige as "Minnie Princess"



Her little buns made the perfect ears to complete the costume.

They went trick-or-treating with a sweet little vampire. Hope's timid "trick-or-treat" contrasted Paige's thrilled shout, "We're not done yet!" after every house. Don't mess with a two-year-old and her free candy.




Happy Halloween!

xoxo.
Christine






Oct 25, 2012

A Note From My Sister

Today I am welcoming my sister, Elisabeth, to this space. I have written several posts about how wonderful my sister is and how much I love and admire her. After the most recent post (for her birthday), she informed me she wanted to guest post for my birthday. I am honored to have her here today, and humbled by her thoughts and words.

******


Twenty days ago, my sister wrote a beautiful blog post for me on my birthday. Although I can’t hope to write as humorously (see number 2) or eloquently (see number 5) as she, today is her birthday, and I wanted to share with you the reasons why I look up to my “little” sistah:


1. She challenges me: I was twelve and she was nine when we went on our first ski trip. We weren’t the sportiest kids, but somehow our Austrian genes kicked in and soon we were snowplowing down the exceptionally gentle bunny hill. The ski lifts, however, continued to terrify us, especially unloading from the lift, when we had to skid down that short, icy hill. My coping strategy was to preemptively crouch as low as possible on my skis, bum skimming the snow, until I was safely on even ground. ...until my little sis decided to zip down, STANDING UP on her skis. What?! On the next run, I was determined that if my nine-year-old sister could manage to get off the ski lift without wiping out, so could I. Without my sister there to challenge and push me to take risks and grow, I am certain I would be in a very different place today.


2. She’s funny: My sister has mentioned in previous posts that our Austrian grandmother referred to her as the family clown. This was an endearing term – I think my sister reminded Grossmama of her fun-loving Uncle Karl, whom she adored.  What my sister didn’t mention was that we didn’t speak a common language with Grossmama when my sister first earned her title. My grandma knew my sister was funny, and they didn’t even speak the same language!


3. She’s intelligent: In high school, my sister and I had a phenomenal history teacher who challenged his students to question and think critically about the world. As part of one of his trademark assignments, he told the story of a man who was to be executed in a revolution. This man wrote a letter to his unborn son, leaving him with one word by which he hoped that his son would live his life. Our assignment was to choose one word and write a letter as if we were this man, writing to his son. It wasn’t supposed to be a guessing game, but I remember trying to figure out what my teacher would want to hear, and being mildly disappointed with a mediocre grade on the assignment. Three years later, my sister was in the same class. Her paper received the highest grade possible. While I was busy trying to figure out what my teacher wanted me to think, my sister really thought about the assignment and wrote a beautiful, heart-felt letter.


4. She has a successful career: I see it in the way her two-year-old asks, “Would you play with me, please?” I see it in the way she pulls aside a whining four-year-old and whispers something in her ear. The whispers are greeted with a pout and a huff…and acceptance. I see it in my nieces’ tea parties, their “guessing games” in the car, their silly versions of “The Wheels on the Bus.” As a mom, my sister has the most challenging and important career that exists; she is a wonderful mom and is raising two amazing little girls.


5. She’s brave: The fact that these, my words, will soon be published on the internet for all to read is intimidating enough for me. My sister not only publishes her words on a weekly basis, but shares her deepest struggles and fears. Despite a growing awareness of depression, many people who share that they are struggling with depression experience judgment or rejection. My sister’s courage in sharing her perspective gives a voice to the millions of people who live with depression, ultimately contributing to acceptance and understanding.




Sistah, I love you more than I could ever express. I hope that you know how much I admire you. Whatever happens in life, I will always be here for you. Happy birthday!

*******

Elisabeth, thank you for the wonderfully sweet post. I love you and am thankful every day to have you as my sister.

xoxo,
Christine

Oct 23, 2012

I Wish For Love

photo credit

My birthday is this week. And if I could have just one wish it would be for everyone to have more love. To feel more love, to express more love, to just be love.

I wish that there was less hate and anger and more love. Less indifference and hypocrisy and more love. That we could look at each other and see the good and love inside. That we could forgive more quickly, assume the best more readily, and love more easily.

And as I wish this, I wonder, is it harder to love, or to be love? Is the verb to love easier than the noun to be love? Because I know that as much as I love certain people, man, sometimes it is hard to act lovingly toward them. But then I also think the act of love is a bit easier than to be love, because if I am love than I will, of course, act lovingly.

To be love, is to give love. And to be love, means to give love to everyone, not just to people I think "deserve" that love.

If the world was love, peace would fall into place. If we are love it is our natural tendency to help more, to give more, to see the good more, to sacrifice more, to care about others more.

I wish for love. For you, for me, for my neighbor, for the crabby guy in the Starbucks line, for the driver who cut me off. For the world.

xoxo,
Christine

Also, my sister wrote a beautiful guest post for my birthday on Thursday. Please be sure to come back and check it out.

Linking up with Shell.


Oct 19, 2012

The First Weekend

I was sad saying goodbye, even though I know it will only be two days until I see them again. But my heartstrings, they were still tugged, not so much for them, but for me.

I know they will be fine. In fact, I know they will have much for fun laughing and playing with their Grammy and Grampy and cousins than they would waking up early Sunday morning to hover in the cold, watching people run by, waiting for daddy for the ten seconds we might actually see him. I know Adam will have a better run without them there the night before keeping us awake, without them causing his sleep to be interrupted or lessened. And I know I will have an easier time, because there will be less to pack, less to take, less to worry about or watch for or take take care of.

But, oh, I miss them. This is the first time they've been away from both of us at the same time for more than one night.

I am a bit taken aback, because Mommy sure doesn't mind having some time out with friends, time to be distracted, to have a dinner out without worrying about two kids getting bored, to have a morning to sleep in with her husband. But I guess I'm also not surprised, because Mommy also misses them when they're away, even for one night. And this is two nights. Two whole nights.

We will all be fine. The girls will have fun. Adam will have fun. I will have fun. I know this. I know that when I pick them up I will feel excited and refreshed and even have some extra patience after a weekend apart. It is good things. It is all good things.

But still, I was sad saying goodbye.



xoxo,
Christine

Oct 18, 2012

Growing Together at Raising Humans

I am not the same person I was before kids. In fact, the person I am today, isn't even the same person I was after having my first baby. Being a parent has brought so many changes and opportunities for growth. Some changes are fast and quick and go by unnoticed by me. Others are slow, maybe even difficult, a process of learning and relearning.

Today I am honored to be over at Raising Humans. Please come over to read one way I've found myself growing since having kids. Tricia is a beautiful soul, a mother (who just happens to be due with her second, right this very week, so be sure to wish her happy laboring, soon), someone who I am happy to have found through this world of blogging. Be sure to check her out.

And thank you, Tricia, for giving me this opportunity. To be a part of your space. To take a moment to really think about some of the ways I have grown and changed since having my girls.

xoxo,
Christine

Oct 12, 2012

He's Still The One

The early morning stillness is broken by the alarm. The talk-radio he so likes pulls me out of my sleep into a semi-conscious state of dreams. When he gets up my body rolls over, eager to feel the remainder of his warmth, to breath in the air on his pillow. And when he comes to kiss me goodbye, I smile, knowing that he is mine, that I am his, that we are ours.

Sunday will mark six years of marriage for my husband and I. My mind plays dreamy scenes of the day, sunny but brisk, a day full of smiles and tears, laughter, and most of all love. How even with the hundreds of photos snapped not one smile felt forced or fake. The feel of his hand in mine, the newness of the ring on his finger.

The certainty I felt that day as I looked down the aisle at him waiting for me. The certainty I still feel today.

He is many things to me, my husband. A sweet and giddy crush, an honest and caring man, a support for all my ups and downs, a loving and involved father, a faithful and giving husband. The life I share with him is not something I could ever have dreamed up, the rightness of it all, the way we fit together our two lives into one.

And every day, every morning, is a reminder that what we have together, our life, with each other and with our girls, is exactly where we are supposed to be. From that chance meeting ten years ago, to our wedding six years ago, to today.

Happy Anniversary, Adam!



xoxo.
Christine

Oct 5, 2012

Happy Birthday, Big Sister


I am eleven-years-old. It is early fall in the Midwest. Cool enough for jeans and and sweatshirt, but warm enough to be outside. I leave the school playground with my head held high, but as I shuffle home in my Keds, I don't stop the tears.

And when I finally make it home, with my blotchy, red, face, she is there. With tissues and hugs she listens, and with the advice that only a big sister can give, we get out our tennis rackets and start banging balls as hard as we can, pretending that they are the heads of those mean girls.

My sister. She has been a guiding light since my birth. When I am weathering the stormy seas, she is a lighthouse that brings me back safely to shore. And on the rare occasion we brewed our own storm, she'd ride it out like a wise fisherman, until the waters died down and we could row back to safety, together.

There is no one who knows me like my sister does. We are linked by our common blood, by our sixteen years of living under one roof, by our thirty plus years of shared experiences, by our spirits that feel missing pieces when we're apart and sing whole again when we're together.

And even though we are equals, even though she is my sister and friend and a light of my spirit, I will always look up to her.

She will always be my Big Sister. Someone I want to make proud, someone I want to understand me.

Happy Birthday, Elisabeth. To a piece of my heart and a piece of my soul.

I love you.

xoxo.
Christine

Oct 3, 2012

Happiness: It's a Start

I feel like October (now that it's October, by the way, how did that happen?) is the unofficial start to my Happiness Revival. Except that all I'm really doing is reading books, maybe jotting down a few ideas, and making half-hearted attempts to come up with some resolutions. I kinda feel like I should have a major plan and be implementing it right now.

I used to be fun. I used to be light hearted and silly and just... fun.  In middle school a couple friends and I tried to sell baby carrots door-to-door. Just to be goofy. In high school I used to drive around town and take random pictures with friends: wearing big hats and sunglasses in Target, pretending to ride the little cow by Dairy Queen, posing crazy in front of corn fields. A friend and I walked neighborhoods making up off-the-wall backgrounds about the home owners.

I used to run and skip and dance. I use to laugh and sing. When I was a little girl I had stories in my head that would go on for days. My imagination was in constant motion, I was brimming with adventure.

And now I feel so unadventurous, so un-silly, so un-fun. Maybe part of it all is just the disappearance of childhood. The innocence and ease and carefree moments of being a child slip away as we grow older. It's harder to hold on to all those qualities as age and maturity and life happen. But I want to find those qualities again. I'm going to find those qualities again.

It's just, being a fun person feels so hard some times. It takes so much energy. Energy I don't have. Or, I tell myself I don't have it and then I'm like a self-fulfilling prophecy because where is my energy going to come from if I'm constantly reminding myself how tired I am and how little energy I have.

Perhaps it's time to adopt a different mindset. (I know, this is only occurring to me now? Really?) I hate to admit it but sometimes all I have to do is act the way I want to be, and it helps me actually feel that way. At least, to a certain degree.

My sister and I used to both be very reserved and quiet people. She admitted to me once that she wanted to change that about herself, so she started to just act like she was more outgoing than she really felt. The result? It stopped becoming an act, and became her true self. She is now a less reserved person.

Her experience is my lesson. If I want to have more energy, start by pretending I have more energy. If I want to feel happier, start by acting happier. It may not be the exact answer, but it's a start. And if I want to revive my spirit to it's former happiness, I've got to start somewhere.

Today is going to be a happy day.

xoxo.
Christine



Oct 2, 2012

The Quiet


This morning before the sun was up, before my husband was even gone for work, I was awake in bed. In my bed, snuggled under the covers, debating whether falling back asleep was a good or bad idea. Usually I don't debate I just do, because getting more sleep is never a bad thing except that when it's time to wake up again I have that whole oh-my-goodness-it-is-so-hard-to-get-up painful feeling all over again.

While I was debating, my children made my decision for me, one by her tiptoes in the hall and the other by her groggy I wanna go in Mommy's bed! calls from her crib. And we spent a good part of the darkness just laying together and giggling and singing. When each girl put a head on my shoulder, squeezed me tight, and said, Mommy, I love you my MommaHeart grew ten sizes bigger.

But even tucked between whispers and stories and morning smiles, my mind was already planning for tonight because oh how I'm not a morning person and oh how I love my bed. And getting up before the sun is never enough sleep for this tired mama.

And yet, with every intention of going to bed at nine thirty, with a husband who actually did go to bed at nine thirty, here I sit awake. I'm not sure why, even with my resolutions for more sleep, with my tired eyes and mind, why I can't stop what I'm doing and make my bed a priority in the evening. It's like I can't give up hearing the quiet.

After the girls are asleep and the television is off, the quiet feels so good and so needed it's like I can't break away. The day is filled with much noise, and how wonderful that noise is because it means kids and happiness and vibrance and life. But sometimes my mind just craves the renewal that only can come from some quiet.

And then I realize that sleep is sometimes better than a quiet renewal because sleep means renewal and more patience. This body of mine, so wired for sleep, unable to function at it's best with the minimal recommendations, can get the quiet it so seeks in the comfort of bed.

But man, some nights it's just hard to get there.

(And if I go to bed now it's only an hour after my goal. That's not too bad.)

xoxo.
Christine

just write.

Oct 1, 2012

On Happiness

I am working on exploring my happiness. Specifically, how to find mine, or have more of it. Depression aside (because that is a whole other thing), I don't think I'm necessarily unhappy, but I also don't think I'm a very happy person either. In fact, as much as I don't want to admit it, I probably fall more closely to unhappy. Some how I have become heavy and serious.

So, I want to live to my full happiness potential. I have been reading books like Happy Yoga by Steve Ross, as well as Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project. On my list next: also by Gretchen Rubin, Happier at Home and Brene Brown's Daring Greatly. I am still in the very beginning steps of my process, but I am excited. I know that I can be a happier, lighter, more contented person. I want to start living life like the gift that it is. To appreciate each little day.

To start Rubin suggests answering these questions:

What makes you feel good? What activities do you find fun, satisfying, or energizing?
What makes you feel bad? What are sources of anger, irritation, boredom, frustration, or anxiety in your life?

I'm not entirely sure yet, if I'm going to go about this process similar to her Happiness Project or not, but I feel like these questions are a good place to start. That, and going through and doing a deep de-cluttering of our home. How better to feel lighter than to get rid of some of the weight in our home?

Within the past week or so the major declutter has begun, with minor areas like the girls' art box, our bedside table, and the girls' top dresser drawer. It's not much, but I'm feeling good about the progress already.

I love the life that I have with the girls and my husband, now I just want to be able to feel I am enjoying this life the best that I can.

Here we go.

xoxo.
Christine

Sep 28, 2012

A Few Small Things

There has been a lot going on around here lately, which is what I'm using as my excuse about the lack of pictures and postings (including Project 365) in this space and life. It's okay, really, most of the time I don't feel too guilty that my photography has been sitting on the back burner, except that sometimes I do.

But it is okay, because life is like that. Sometimes one thing has to take a back seat while other things are pushed to the front, and then maybe the next month things are turned around. Something I know for sure though, I always want my family to be in front.

Which for some reason has been a struggle lately, not that my priorities are mixed up, but just that I find myself not appreciating what I have as much as I want to. It has been a nagging in the back of my mind for quite some time now, and within the past month or so has been knocking loudly in the front of my mind. Which is why I am actively working to change it.



********

In the mean time, a few small things I am enjoying:


Good friends and fruit snacks. They always go well together.




A newly organized art box.




Fall apple picking and eating apples fresh off the trees.




Big hair.




Four-year-olds with mustaches.




And special doughnut dates.





********

While I sit here and type this I hear Hope sneaking into the kitchen for snack. She's become a sneaky snack eater lately, something I find amusing and bit unsettling too. It's pretty much my fault because I ask for some alone time while Paige is napping, so Hope is left to fend for herself. And by "fend" I don't mean eat, we did just eat lunch within the hour, but somehow she doesn't seem able to watch her TV show or play with her Pet Shops without also needing something to munch on. A habit I am desperately seeking to break.

But, it is also funny that she thinks I don't hear her, every.single.day. Good thing we have fresh apples as an option.

I love fall.

xoxo.
Christine