Jul 29, 2012

Scenes From New York

On the off chance you missed it, we recently got back from a our first big family trip.  A first plane ride and visit to New York City for the girls, a visit to celebrate my sister's wedding.  For all my anxiety and stress leading up to our departure, everything went smoothly, from the morning drive to the airport, to the bumpy landing back in Minneapolis.

I don't know what to say about the trip, except that I didn't want to come home.  Being in New York is excitement in its own, but being there to celebrate a couple (one-half of which is part of my heart and soul), brings another level to my love for the city.

Because we live so far away, I have not seen first hand Elisabeth and Jürgen's relationship grow and develop, so to be a part of their wedding, and to hear from friends who have gotten a close-up view, felt like a completion in my love for their love.

Except that it also made me feel sad because I am not there to be experiencing it myself.

The weekend was filled with so much warmth and joy.  Mostly because of the couple getting married, but also because of the close family and friends who were there to witness Elisabeth and Jürgen's rooftop-shouting love.  Because isn't that kind of what a wedding is?  Making that commitment to each other and shouting your love for one another from the rooftops?

I am over-the-top thrilled for my sister and her new husband.  I am equally thrilled that our two little girls traveled so well, as traveling is a love both Adam and I share, although have done it significantly less after having kids.  But is still something we want to pass on to our children.

Anyway, without any more rambling about love or travel, before I start tearing up, here are some scenes from our visit.

The trip:

The wedding:

The City (and us):

Let me just say, the girls's favorite part of flying: the big pink bubble gum (Hope), the orange sucker (Paige), the iPad with movies (Mommy).  How in the world did my parents survive over-seas flights with my sister and I before the DVD player and/or iPad?

Definitely one of my favorite family trips.  When can we go back?


Jul 28, 2012

Let The Meldowns Begin

So, after wondering about the lack of meltdowns, three days later here we are. And holy cow, watch out. I recommend keeping clear our house by at least a five mile radius. Poor Paige just doesn't seem to know what to do with herself. And heaven forbid I actually get her the milk and cereal she asked for.

But, to be fair, it has been busy around here, and I think we're all feeling it. I just hope that a few quiet days in a row will lift her spirits a bit.

In other new, I am working on a post with way too many pictures from our trip. But until it's done (Monday?), I'll leave with the last two weeks of Project 365.

Week 29

Week 30

Happy Weekend to all!


Jul 26, 2012

It Was a Trip, Not Quite a Vacation

They say that taking a vacation with children is not actually a vacation.  It is a trip.  Vacation implies rest, relaxation, and renewal, and traveling with kids is pretty much anything but those.  You know, because everything with kids takes more time, more stuff, and more energy.  (The diapers, the toys to distract, the changes in schedules, the general disruption of normal, daily, quasi-easy life.)

All of this I think is true.  Our trip to New York was exactly that, a trip.  However, even though it wasn't a lot of R and R, the girls did so well, that I do feel a little bit renewed coming back.  You know, when I'm not so bummed out to be back.

Being away from home was so good for us.  I loved not having laundry to fold or cleaning to do.  And my absolute favorite was how my husband didn't have his usual To Do list hanging over his head and interfering with spending quality time together.  We all had no home (and Adam had no work) responsibilities to keep us from just Being.

Being in the moment.

Being together.


There is an energy to New York that I have never felt anywhere else.  And although I was worried about how our girls would be received in a city stereotyped for it's indifferent residents, I was pleasantly surprised to find that even some New Yorkers can't help but smile at my two little kids dancing down the street.

The pace is crazy fast, but also invigorating, and although I imagine living there could get exhausting, the vibe of New York City makes coming home to suburbia feel very... blah.  Of course, this could also be some post-trip blues.

(My blues are made worse by the photos from the trip.  Although I took almost 700 photos I did not get many quality ones, which has left me feeling even more inadequate and self-conscious as the novice photographer I am.)

Photography woes aside, it was a perfect first family trip out to visit my sister.  Made more perfect by her wedding, and so many close family friends all gathered together.


Look forward to at least one more post about the trip, detailing some of my favorite moments.


Jul 25, 2012

We're Back

Well, my sister is married, the girls were in their first wedding, and we survived our first family plane trip.  After a week of changed meal times, less than normal amounts of sleep, and just a general lack of usual routine, I fully expected to come home to the girls crashing.  And by crashing I mean having major meltdowns.  And while they have yet to have one, I seem to be having a meltdown of my own.

I am tired and crabby.  Exaggerated by the dramamine I took before the flight this morning and unpacking the suitcases in a stuffy house.  But despite my end-of-the-trip, Oscar-the-Grouch attitude, it really was a wonderful week.  Full of laughter with friends and family, good food, dancing, and nurturing the love of travel and exploration in our children.

More from our trip to come.  For now, I'll just leave with this.

More of these to come later too.


Jul 17, 2012

Leavin' On A Jet Plane

Even though I have been flying since before I was old enough to collect memories, I don't really like it.  I find myself always releasing a stiff breath as soon as the wheels hit the ground.  My body just barely relaxing as we taxi into the terminal.  My only requirement for flying is a good and long book because that is the way my mind can be distracted to avoid the anxieties swirling around.

I will still bring a book, but, this time, I imagine that there will be no time to escape into it.  There are two little girls who will be excited, anxious, and a whole bucket of emotions on their first airplane ride.  I am constantly thinking, thinking, thinking of the necessities for a successful trip with a two-year-old and four-year-old.

It is overwhelming, even though I know we can do it.  Even though I know we will do it.  Maybe it will be horrible.  But maybe it won't.

I've already promised my husband that we must say goodbye to the savvy journeyers we used to be.  My life-long goal (finally reached at my last solo visit out to my sister) of just using a large purse as my carry on, will now be a distant memory until we are retirees hopping from one continent to another.

No, we will most definitely be the annoying and s-l-o-w and harried family of four, juggling a stroller and car seat and carry-ons and two whining children, and avoiding the eye contact of all other passengers.  We will be those people.

And that's okay.  Because we are a family of four.  And it takes more to travel with small kids.  And we've never done it before.

It is nerve-wracking, and overwhelming... and exciting, and joyous.  The pounding of my heart, I can feel from my head to my toes.  The roller coaster riding my stomach is doing, will only get worse and worse until we are there.  But seeing my sister, taking the girls on an adventure, it is all so wonderful it makes me giggly.  Giddy.

Any pain from traveling the unknown, will be worth it.  That is something I feel from my head to my toes, too.


Jul 15, 2012

To Hold In My Hands

I thought I was going to be okay today.  In fact, until about five minutes ago, I really was.  I could think about one year ago and not get tears in my eyes.  Now my heart just feels so heavy I want to curl up and cry.

The due date passed back in March, but today was the day I lost the baby.  Not the day the doctor called me to tell me my hormone levels were dropping.  But the day I actually miscarried.  The day I wondered with every flush of the toilet if I was flushing my baby down too.

I still remember being on the couch when I got the call.  Putting the TV on mute, hearing my doctor tell me my numbers from the Friday blood draw and the Monday blood draw.  Her asking if I was okay.

The cold.  I remember the cold.  How, even though I was expecting them, her words felt like a blast of cold air, my heart fluttering and flipping and falling into my stomach.

And a few days later, in a crazy rain storm, I called my mom asking her to watch the girls so that I could run to the store for some pads.  I was not prepared for soaking up my body's traitorous failure.

The rain soaked my skin, matting down my clothes, matching my outside to my inside.  Only to really match it I would need to be ravaged by a wild animal.  The ache in my heart mimicked the ache in my abdomen.  Each twinge, each cramp, piercing my soul.  Reminding me of what was gone.  What I was losing.

And now I am left wondering.  Is this it?  Is this the end?  We've passed the due date, the anniversary of the pregnancy test, and now the anniversary of the miscarriage.  Surly now I will stop envisioning a third child with the girls.  I will stop telling myself, I could have had a four-month-old right now.

But I know it's not true.  I know that this baby will never be forgotten, nor would I ever want it to be.  Maybe it won't happen all the time (because it already doesn't), but I know that I will periodically, for the rest of my life, look at the girls and see their little sibling next to them.

Because even though I never got to meet him, or hold her, or find out if it was a him or her, this baby will be with me forever.  Which is exactly how it should be.

I just wish I could hold her in more than just my heart.


Jul 14, 2012

Just Look At Our Fun

It's Saturday at 11:30pm, which means I'm reflecting on the week.  Or just gathering photos to make a collage for my weekly Project 365 post.  I love looking back at the pictures from the week and remembering some of our fun.

Hope had her first swimming lessons this week.  (I guess they're technically her second since she took a session when she was eighteen months old, but I feel like I can't really count that since she doesn't remember.)  I love to watch her learn new things and practice.  And pretend to dunk her head in the water, but only tip her head back so the back of her head and hair gets wet.

Paige has been cracking me up lately, too.  She's started using the word "actually" which is quite funny to hear out of her two-year-old mouth.  (A word she surly learned from her sister.)  And she's been making up her own little dance that always ends with a big leg kick.

Today I decorated some cookies in preparation for our trip to New York.  And we had a playdate at the beach with all the cousins.

It's been a good week, for sure.

Project 365 Week 28

Happy Weekend to all!


Jul 13, 2012

We Might Have More Tomorrow

Today I am participating in The Spill over at Little White Whale.  She provides the quote and I'm finding my inspiration from the quote.

Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.  
~~Dr. Seuss

Today was a good day for ice cream.

We love ice cream.

Tomorrow is a good day for ice cream too.

 Because, really, every day is.

Can you tell how much I love ice cream?


Jul 11, 2012

Rejection: A Few Steps Back

Over the weekend I heard of a study reporting on people's biggest fears.  I'm not sure of any details, aside that it found people's number one fear is of failure/rejection.  (Followed by loneliness, then death.)

It is amazing how frequently I end up feeling rejected, even if I don't necessarily spend time worrying about it.  Most people probably don't even know that I feel like they're rejecting me because it's not always about what they are doing, but what they are not doing.

Rejection is ugly.  I am not good enough, pretty enough, funny enough.  I'm not happy enough or interesting enough.  I am just not enough.

It is sad and lonely.  I easily forget about all the wonderful people who do think I am enough, and instead wonder, Why doesn't anyone like me?  My critical self interprets rejection in a tiny interaction.  My self-esteem is still struggling to be strong enough to support my heavy self-doubt.

I want to not care.  But not in the I'm-pretending-like-I-don't-care-but-I-totally-do kind of way, but in a true, it-really-doesn't-matter-because-my-self-esteem-knows-I'm-good-enough-and-so-I'm-not-going-to-let-it-bother-me kind of way.

I want to be strong enough for me, to not be bothered by perceived rejection because it starts to get too heavy, to be too much.  And I want to be strong enough for my girls.  I want to be the kind of role model that is not so sensitive that every little thing feels personal.  And I want to be the kind of role model that can be upset with real rejection, and then grow from it and move on.

It is hard, but I am working on it.  It's one of those "one step forward, two steps back" kind of thing.  Sometimes I'm one step forward.  And sometimes, like now, I'm a few steps back.


Jul 10, 2012

Swim Baby Swim

Hope is becoming a little fish.  She loves the pool more this year than any other summer.  But when it comes to swim lessons she is timid.  Nervous.  Scared.  Which is why, being the first lesson since she was 18 months (don't judge), I signed her up for the Parent and Child class.  It is also why, at four and half years old, she was easily two years older than the next kid.

She was not at all bothered to be in a class with babies.  But it was obvious her comfort with the water and skill level was beyond the class.  She kicks, paddles, floats (assisted), and blows bubbles with ease.  I didn't need to be with her at all.  But when I tried to talk to her about moving up to the next class, the class where she would swim without me, she became sullen and upset.

We talked about it a lot.  We tried to figure out her hesitation and fear.  And with a lot of conversation, some encouragement from the teachers, and yes, some tears, Hope participated in the preschool level swim class today.  On her second day of swim lessons.

I even saw her smiling.

I know how hard new situations are for her.  I know how hard trying this class was for her.  And she did it.  And I am so proud.

Afterwards she ran up and gave me the biggest (and best) wet hug.  Wrapped in her towel she curled up into my lap, and we rested on the lounge chair.  She had fun, as much fun as the day before when I was with her, she told me.  But even so, it was apparent that this new and big experience left her drained and needing a little mommy snuggling before moving on to the next part of the day.

She assured me that she had enough fun that she wants to do it again next time.  And my heart feels full.  She is growing up.  We are growing.  And it makes me happy and sad and everything all at once.


Jul 7, 2012

Yup, It's the Weekend

As has been with most of the country, this week has been disgustingly hot.  I imagine it to be much like hell.  One million degrees with humidity about the same.  Or is hell a dry heat?  I'm not really sure.  In either case, it's been hot.

We had some friends visiting from England the past several days, and tried to experience Minnesota without melting.  We only semi-succeeded with a baseball game in the 101 degree mid-afternoon, shopping at the Mall of America, and ice cream in Linden Hills.  Today is feeling quite lovely finally, which is unfortunate only because the friends left this morning.

With all the jam-packed fun from the past several days, I am feeling a bit hungover.  Even though I think the only time I had alcohol was the one sip of wine last night.  Perhaps it's a heat-hangover.  Which means today I am happy to sit around and nurse my headache with rest and quiet.

Project 365 Week 27

Happy Weekend, all!


Jul 3, 2012

Step Back From The Busy

Shortly after my post about my crazy month, I read an article about how our busyness is all self-imposed and we would all be happier if we were less busy, but we wear our busyness like a badge of honor.   (Or, you know, something like that.)

Which I think is true, my busy month is pretty much all self-imposed, except that in my defense,  it's not like I've got a kid in five hundred activities on top of five hundred activities of my own.  And I kinda just needed to vent.

I would LOVE to be part of a culture that recognizes the importance of idleness and doesn't over-emphasize the importance of keeping busy.  Please, sign me up for living in a little villa in the south of France.  The problem, of course, is money.  How would we make any?  Because as much as I don't have to worry about that (thank you, Adam, for being our breadwinner), and as much as I would love to not need it, we kind of do.

I am in this culture where busyness and things are important, and it's hard not to get caught up in it all.  Would I rather be in a quaint village with nothing to do?  Absolutely.  Well, most of the time.  Except for those times when I'm desperate for things to do with the girls.  But then I'd be required to use my creativity.  Like going for more walks and finding a deeper appreciation for nature.  Picking wildflowers.  Baking more cakes.

I feel like I'm starting to romanticize living in a small village in the south of France.  Maybe?  Nah.  It would be awesome.

I digress.

The point is, I have to remember that I have control over how much "busy" there is in my life.  And just because our society seems to equate busyness with importance, doesn't mean that I have to too.

Here's to a little less To Do and a little more Free Time, for playing with the girls, meeting friends for cheesecake, reading good books, and walking a little more slowly through life.


Jul 2, 2012

Warning: A Month of Chaos Ahead

It is July, and suddenly I am hyperventilating.  My sister is getting married this month and I am thrilled to be going to New York, to be taking the girls on their first visit out there (and first plane ride).

But this month has turned into crazy.  Swim lessons that are desperately needed for a four-year-old who doesn't like the deep end even when being held.  Which makes it two weeks straight of needing someone to watch the little one.  Appointments upon appointments, at least three more times a babysitter is required.

I can't quiet the noise in my head.  The laundry and cleaning that's needed day in and day out.  And everything else that must happen before we leave.  I'm afraid I'm not going to get it done.  But I can't pack my suitcase this week.  I have clothes I want to wear between now and then.

How do I step back?  Take a deep breath?

One thing at a time.  Relax.  It will get done.  Playdates will be enjoyed, appointments will be attended, water comfort will be learned, and packing will be completed.

Sometimes it's hard to remember to slow down.  I like to have things to do.  But I can't say I like to be busy.  Except that sometimes my "things to do" turn into "busy" and then I get overwhelmed and like I am today.

Breathe in...  Breathe out...  And take a nap.  Naps make everything better.  Kind of like cupcakes.


Linking up with Elaine.