Pages

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Just write something

That's what I keep telling myself.  So here we go.

Olive weaned herself about a month ago, at 10 months old, and I was very angry at her, and completely heartbroken.  For like two days.  Then I was all, "Woo hoo! Party time!"  I don't have to wear tanks under my shirt every day!  I can wear dresses again!  I don't have to fight her to nurse when we're going to be out and about all day.  I can be out of the house at bedtime and it's NO BIG DEAL!  And speaking of bedtime, it takes about 15 minutes now, instead of 45.

Untitled

There are certainly benefits to the situation.

Untitled

(Obsessed with her pigtails.)

But man that first night when she refused to nurse at bedtime?  Pure devastation.  I sobbed.  And yes, I realize that is a dramatic reaction but, for real.  I was completely thrown off by her very sudden refusal to nurse, at bedtime of all times.  And her being my third and almost for sure last baby made it all the more difficult.

Both of my boys nursed until I got pregnant with the other, and then had to slowly cut them off, and that part of the process was always stressful for me and confusing for them.  Olive just cut that part out, so I guess I appreciate that.

So now I've been exclusively pumping for about five weeks or so, and it suuuuuucks.  I hate it.  Hate hate hate.  I am so impressed and amazed by any mom that ever had to or chose to exclusively pump.  Pumping moms, you are amazing.  I wish I could say I had an ample freezer stash so I didn't have to keep doing this, but at the time of Olive's weaning I only had about 100 ounces.  We have had to dip into it because my supply is very slowly dwindling away and every week or so we have to pull about 10-15 ounces in order to keep up with her.  We're managing, and the end is in sight, so I suppose I need to just buck up. But man, I hate it.  I feel like I am always washing pump parts, always remembering just as I am snuggling into my bed to go to sleep that I forgot to pump one last time.  The worst is when we're trying to get out of the house for something, which of course is no small feat with three young children, and I've managed our time in my head and plotted everything out and then all of a sudden realize that I have to somehow fit in another 10-15 minute task.

Yesterday I bought some whole milk so we could start mixing that in a little bit to ease the transition.  We're almost there.  3 more weeks until her first birthday.

Untitled

I made some New Years goals, not necessarily resolutions, but I sort of mapped out some of the realistic things that I would like to make happen this year.  It felt good to just put that time into myself, organize my thoughts, and think about the things that would make me a happier or more balanced person in 2016. 

One of my goals was to read more, and I want to read at least 12 books this year.  For those that read a lot I'm sure 12 books sounds like nothing, but I like my goals achievable, and I doubt I read 12 books last year.  One book a month sounds like something I could and should make happen.  Reading more is one of those activities that has positive effects on many parts of my life.  First, having a book to read helps me avoid mindless internet/social media consumption at night when the kids are in bed, which is fine in moderation, but it can become a crutch and makes me feel all around shitty about myself.  It also helps curb the mindless stupid TV watching & snacking that I tend to rely on for my "me time".  Shoveling popcorn in your face is easier to do without a book in your hand.  Finally, reading actually inspires me, even the frilly chick lit stuff that I tend to enjoy, to DO SOMETHING with my life, in a way that other forms of entertainment just do not do. Anyway, I am on track with my one-book-a-month goal, and read The Royal We a few weeks ago (loved), and then last week I figured out how to borrow Kindle books from the library, so I'm optimistic. 


Another of my goals was to discover more podcasts.  I am obsessed, especially with listening to podcasts while doing chores at home and commuting/driving all over the city picking up children from daycare and school.  I mostly have stuck with my tried-and-true parenting and feminist podcasts, but I am currently binging on a hilarious comedy podcast called Gilmore Guys, in which two twenty-something guys watch, analyze, and podcast their way through every single episode of Gilmore Girls.  It is amazing.  And hilarious.  And it makes my cheeks hurt from smiling... just all around silly, light-hearted fun.  

Untitled

Overall, plotting out things I'd like to accomplish has been SUPER motivating for me, and I've actually made an effort to do things I've put off for a really long time.  Like subscribing to and ordering Chatbooks of my Instagram feed (done this week!), making a hair appointment after 16 months of laziness (chopped 10 inches a few weeks ago!), and focusing on bringing breakfast to work rather than grabbing a muffin or a bagel from the coffee place on the way to work (doing this more often that not doing this, which is major progress).  We also signed Gus up for ski lessons in January and those went pretty great, and I hope just having it written down will remind me of my intentions to make swimming lessons happen this winter sometime.

Untitled

Best I have on my phone of the new hair.  

And yeah.  At some point we have to get Olive baptized.  So that's on my list.  Ha.

I'm giving myself a little bit of a pass on exercise right now, but it's something that I want to start doing again.  Twice a week seems manageable but of course right now it's not happening because it's just been so long.  So I am having some major failure to launch issues in that area of my life.

Blogging once a week also seems doable, but I'm already failing, so whatever.  But I'd like to try.  Even if it's just more of this mind-dump kind of stuff that you are reading right now.   And with that, I better end this, or I risk never posting it (another one of my blogging obstacles, I have so many drafts of non-starter posts that will never see the light of day).

Of course I can't not post a few recent pics of the kids if I'm going to actually blog...courtesy of the most recent snowstorm and a trip to The Works museum!

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Happy 2016!

Monday, January 11, 2016

He's Four

I love to watch Louie's face when we're all singing happy birthday to him. He is just so sweet and bashful, sometimes with a wry smile always with his head turned downward.  If he dares to look around and not down at the table he will still avoid eye contact. I get it.  It's exhilarating but also uncomfortable to have so much attention on you, to have so many people smiling at you and watching you, waiting expectantly for what you're going to do next.  I cherish that nervous and proud little face, and oh gosh I adore this child. 

Here he is with that face I love, at his ZOO BIRTHDAY! party with his little friends. 

140
 
And on New Year's Eve, his actual birthday, being sung to by his wild, giant, noisy extended family.  Many heads got in my way, so this was the only partial shot I got of that nervous face. 

095

Oh my goodness.

Last year, when he turned three, same face:

LouieBday3 025

LouieBday3 022

(I clearly have no idea how to appropriately use the focus on my camera.)

At his 2nd birthday party his bashfulness came out in him sticking his tongue out while we all sang.  Still with that same proud little smirk. 


And when he turned one, he basically just looked shocked and a little concerned by the bizarre attention and sudden communal singing. (Also, whoa, looking a lot like Olive here.)


So this guy of ours turned four years old, amidst all the craziness and extra family time and weird schedules that is our life over the holidays.  I'm sure someday we won't get it right, at some point he's going to realize and potentially resent the fact that he gets the shaft by having a birthday that is not only 6 days after Christmas but also lands on a day that people all over the world like to celebrate for something else entirely.  Eh. We'll continue to do our best to make sure he feels special, if anything over-compensate for this lot in life that he was given by being born on New Year's Eve.

I can't believe he's four.  I just... where in the world does time go?  Such a cliche, I know.  But man, his baby and toddler years were gone in such a flash and I can already tell the preschool years will also be quick. 

Our baby Louie.  



(Sigh.)

He was beautiful and scrumptious and relatively easy on us exhausted parents back then, and that hasn't really changed.  He is still a pretty easy going kid.  And he's still darn gorgeous if I do say so myself.

iPhone 207

014

He's funny, precocious, articulate, goes with the flow but at the same time can be very moody, as kids his age tend to be.  Kid can get HANGRY real fast, and then things get scary.  

January 23, 2015

The best way to combat the hangry is with a sandwich.  He loves meat sandwiches, of almost any kind.  Cheeseburgers, sloppy joes, pulled pork, turkey sandwiches, Sausage McMuffins... The way to Louie's heart is through some kind of meat stuffed between some kind of bread.

He is a snuggler and a sleeper.  Lately he's been falling asleep whenever we're in the car in the afternoon, which makes me worry a little that he's not getting enough rest. The poor kid could probably use a nap every day but we'd really rather he and Gus be on the same schedule, and he has shown that he can do without.  Still, every once in a while it's a good idea to get this kid a nap.  One day over the holidays when we had some sort of party to go to in the evening and I laid with the boys to get them to take a mid-day nap (Gus was furious about this, by the way), Louie cozied up to me and whispered, "Mom, I love sleeping, I love taking naps and snuggling with you, and I'm really tired.  Gus never wants to take naps but I want to all the time." 

Untitled

Louie is also a bit of a brown-noser, did I mention that?  As his mom, it's kind of awesome and I have to assume it will serve him well in life.  ;)

Despite his love of sleep, he is an EXCESSIVE bedtime staller, almost to an impressive degree, and he drives us batty with his frantic needs just before/at/after/or during the bedtime process.  His tactics are pretty standard... he needs a glass of water or a last minute bathroom run.  He's suddenly hungry for the dinner he stuck his nose up at 2 hours earlier.  Sometimes he has forgotten one of his (twenty-some) stuffed animals downstairs and he just CAN'T go to sleep without it, or his pillow isn't cold enough and needs to be flipped, he needs his back rubbed, the blanket is twisted around his legs and needs to be fixed.  I could go on and on.  As sleep deprived and over-taxed parents this bedtime stalling can be frustrating, even down-right infuriating, but it also feels like a part of his lore, one of those stories we will tell about Louie when he's a teenager or even a grown man himself with his own insane preschooler with absurd demands.

039

065

He's still obsessed with animals, (thus the zoo birthday party), and has been since he was a baby so this isn't just some passing phase.  He tells me he wants to be a "boy zoo keeper" when he grows up, hilarious that he feels the need to emphasize his gender.  He LOVED getting this gigantic giraffe for Christmas from Nathan and Eric, and we tried to make him keep it in his bedroom but the next morning at 6:30 AM he insisted on dragging it down two flights of stairs so he could watch TV with it.  So in our basement this massive giraffe has found a home. Temporarily, if I have anything to say about it.

Louie, you are a DREAM, just the most joyful little boy, you radiate sweetness and silliness.  You are always talking, always, essentially narrating life as you go about it.  If I'm being honest it can be a little exhausting, but it's also refreshing to have so much insight into what you're thinking.  You don't like to be alone, don't like to feel alone, and you refuse to go to the basement or up to your room to get something without someone coming with you.  That, is something I think we should work on, now that you're 4.  ;)  Maybe your first New Year's resolution?!

Preschool is your jam, little guy.  You love it.  You love to learn new things, you love to play with other kids, and you love to impress your teachers with your manners and kindness and eagerness to please.  You still have one more year of preschool after this one, before Kindergarten, but dare I say it you are so ready for "real" school.  I will have no reservations when the time comes, other than just typical mom sadness over the bittersweet passage of time. Because really you were just our baby, like yesterday.






































Happy birthday, my darling boy.  Do not ever stop being you, you are a shining star, you light up our life and make every day better than the last.  I will never stop loving you, sweetheart. 

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Fall Photos

Because more pictures of pumpkins and corn pits and apple orchards are what you want!

Minnesotans LOOOOOOVE to talk about the weather.  We just can't seem to help it.  We endure really long, really cold, really dark winters... a fact that makes us, I don't know, almost like weather warriors if you want to call us something.  We become obsessed with embracing the outdoors and enjoying the perks of each season and making sure everyone knows how wonderful this weather is and how horrible it is surely going to get and so gosh darn it we are going to pick apples!  And we are going to pet barn animals! And hike through the woods, and jump in piles of leaves, and flop around in pits of corn, and sit on trailers pulled behind tractors as we drive through farm fields.  And HELL YES, we are going to take pictures of our children on every hay bale/gourd/cornstalk photo opp landscape that is prepared for us!

You betcha!

So I am a Minnesota mom and I did all the Minnesota fall family things over the last two months and I took loads of pictures and I am going to dump all those photos here as proof that we enjoyed this fall and every beautiful sunny day it thew at us.

I so wish there was a way to capture scent in a photo, because that is truly the best thing about this season.  I just love how fall smells.  There's really no describing it.  I've tried, but nothing comes out right, my brain is a whirly tornado of cliches like crisp, and dewy, and maple. But all my favorite smells are wrapped up in this season.  It's the season of fresh baked bread, (fresh baked anything really), musty clothes being pulled out of storage, cinnamon and nutmeg, candy corn, backyard bonfires, fresh pots of hot coffee.

The air tastes different.  The breeze and the sun feel different on your skin.

1267

Fall has its very own energy.  And it seems to breathe life and energy into the everyday.  Some afternoons I get so caught up in this energy that I sing at the top of my lungs on my commute home from work.  I roll down the window as I drive and I feel the warmth of the sun on my shoulder and the cool autumnal breeze, and the leaves on the trees literally sparkle in their glorious shades of mustard and burgundy.  And I feel like I can conquer the world.  I can and I will do anything!  It is exhilarating.

I told you.  Minnesotans.  We can't help ourselves.  I can't help myself.

We've had a great couple of months.  Busy and fun and so many things happening, but also just getting into our groove with the new school year.  Figuring out our new normal.

1165

Some highlights?

Untitled

First, Gus learned to ride a bike in September.  It was one of those proud, spine-tingling, eye-welling parenting moments that I will truly never ever forget.  It was a Friday afternoon, the end of the first week of school, a big week for all of us considering all the change that week brought to our household.  Dan was home relatively early from work, and I finally convinced Louie to go for a walk with Olive and me, (he was very hesitant to leave his big brother who was unwavering in his desire to NOT go for a walk.)  So we made our way through our town's little main street, picked up a few donuts, some coffee, and ended up at the park.  I was nursing Olive on the bench when Dan called to ask where we were at.  He and Gus were out for a bike ride and thought they'd ride towards us, but he didn't necessarily want to come all the way to the park.  So Louie, Olive and I started heading back towards home and only got a few blocks when I saw that newly 6-year old boy, my boy, in his Catholic school uniform and his blue too-small helmet riding towards us on two wheels.  My heart caught in my chest and... well like I said, I will never forget that moment.

Untitled

Louie started preschool and he loves it so much.  As we knew he would.  He has a little best buddy at school and got his first birthday party invitation in the mail the other day, that was just for him, not him and his brother.  He is adjusting to not having Gus around at all times, I think it's been really hard for him and his behavior at home and especially with his brother has been symptomatic of that. Our daycare lady mentioned that it has been so much fun getting to know Louie on his own.  He is talkative and surprisingly insightful, and such an earnest little boy.  He's gotten really good at writing his name and is coloring a lot more, very serious about "staying in the lines", and a month or so ago began drawing people for the first time.  It's so fun to see what his people look like, and how different they are from his brother's.

Untitled

Olive is 8 months old and is a busy and joyful little baby, almost always perfectly happy to explore and crawl around, usually getting herself into trouble.  She is extremely good on her feet, she is scooting around furniture, can adeptly bend down to pick something up while holding onto a piece of furniture.  She climbs on top of things like pillows and tubs of toys and then back down almost always without getting hurt.  She loves to play in the refrigerator while I'm cooking, she pulls all the condiments out and then sucks on the tops of them or throws them around.  She opens up cupboards and pulls out pots and pans.  She loves to take baths, but more than that she loves to stand outside the tub in a diaper after her baths and shriek and laugh at the boys' antics.  She climbs stairs, but obviously we don't trust her on them on her own, so we're back to blocking the staircase from the basement with laundry baskets and bins of toys to keep her down there.  She puts everything in her mouth, EVERYTHING, so I'm starting to feel somewhat panicked about all of the little toys we have floating around the house.  We are trying to set ground rules about things like Legos, for instance (only in the boys' room!), but we really just have to be super diligent about making sure we have removed all potential dangers before setting her down in a room.  For example, most recently I can remember fishing out of her mouth little balls of dog hair and lint (they're her favorite), a tiny Lego gun, candy wrappers, glossy paper from the toy catalog that came in the mail, cardboard that she gnawed off of an old board book, a tissue from the trash can in the bathroom, and a Halloween themed temporary tattoo.  Oh and while I was in the same tiny little bathroom with her the other day, literally 10 inches away from her straightening my hair, she managed to open up the kids' shampoo bottle, dump half of it out all over the floor and start sucking soap off of the inside of the dispenser before I realized what was happening.

She's terrifying.  Louie didn't do this, Louie didn't put anything in his mouth, and I totally forgot about this part of parenting a mobile baby.

1185

She's also quite a chow hound, and is essentially eating the same things the rest of the family is eating for meals, within reason.  I am so happy the phase of introducing solids is O-V-E-R and we are on the other side of all that.  I hate that phase.  I hate purees, and I hate having to think super hard about what I'm going to feed her at every meal, Also, hate the gagging and the worrying about choking. Now she pretty much gets whatever we're eating, and for the most part she seems to love everything and I am going to thoroughly enjoy it while I can because I know how quickly that changes.  Of course now she is a complete mess after most meals, and she's getting a lot more baths these days, but whatever.  She's super happy to be part of the family at mealtime, shoveling food in her cute little face and giggling at the boys.

Now on to all of those fall pictures I promised!

Untitled

Mid-September we went to the Twin Cities Harvest Festival and Corn Maze with friends.  Dan was moving his sister to Florida that weekend, so it was nice to have something like this to look forward to.  I am kind of all about these little festivals, the kids ran their little butts off and played so hard with their friends, exhaustion levels were at an all time high by late afternoon when we finally made our way out of there.  And this one was insanely close to us and relatively cheap with an online BOGO deal.  Faves for sure were the hay bale maze that the kids mostly just ran and jumped on top of, the little traveling petting zoo full of bizarre animals, and of course the corn pit.  Fricken corn pit.  Why do they love it so much?  Olive wore her socks on her hands so she could play around in there but I was still on high alert when she was anywhere near that corn pit.  Lunches from home were consumed and shared and passed around between friends, and mini donuts were procured on the way out.  It was a great day.

Untitled

Untitled

Love these kids and their parents. It's fun to think of these babies growing up together, Carter is just a bit over 2 months older than Olive, and Harris is about three months younger than her.

Untitled

They could hold and pet the baby bunnies, and both boys were so sweet and careful and gentle.

Untitled

THE HAIR, as it's called, was doing... a thing, on that day.  ;) I will be so sad when (if?) we ever lose those curls.

Untitled

Untitled

BOOM. DOMINATED. (He did not just gleefully take out Kellen, Louie, and Graham, but I love that this picture makes it look like he did.)

Untitled

Friends.  Babies.  These women and their children are my people.

Untitled

Olive and I did this.

Untitled

While the rest of the clan did this.  Hayrides by the highway are where it's at!

The next weekend Dan's parents were heading up to his grandparents' hobby farm in rural Wisconsin and asked if we wanted to come up for the day.  We jumped at the chance because it had been a few years since we had made it up there, and it's such a lovely, quiet, relaxing place to spend a Saturday.  We feasted on Dan's grandma's ham and scalloped corn and cupcakes and basked in the freedom and ability to practice a little free-range parenting.  The boys spent the day exploring the land, learning to swing a golf club, chilling in the hammock, being pulled by grandpa behind the riding lawn mower, playing sweaty games of annie over with Dan's younger brothers and sisters and their friends.  I spent a lot of time trying to get Olive to nap in a little nest of blankets and pillows on the floor in the guest bedroom, but I really had no place to go and no tasks to complete, and a good book on my kindle, so I didn't mind the effort.  I was feeling pretty smug with my first attempt, after wearing her to sleep in the pouch I was able to successfully transfer her to the floor nest, where she continued to snooze, accompanied by white noise from my iPhone on airplane mode.  Then I went to check on her 5 minutes later and she was laying UNDER the bed on cold concrete clutching my iphone, eyes open, face to the cold floor.  Whoops!  A little later she went down for two hours and the day was saved from baby crankiness.

004

030

Such a peaceful, breathtaking place.

033

035

458

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

We made it to an apple orchard in October.  We decided to try a place out in Delano we had never been to, Fall Harvest Orchard, I had heard that even though it had new owners, it was much less commercialized than some of the other orchards have become, so no cow train or big play structures or bounce house, no bakery selling apple donuts and hot cider, it offered such a different experience.  It was great.  The drive out there in the morning was gorgeous, we arrived just as they were opening up the farm and it was so quiet and calm.  Louie fed the crazy animals way more apples than the allotted two per person (per the sign next to the bushel baskets) and he was instantly in heaven.  I hope this kid never stops with his animal obsession, makes him pretty darn easy to please.

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Dropping apple after apple after apple through the fence for the goats.

Untitled

Untitled

These kids ALWAYS beg for snacks and act like they're starving the second we arrive somewhere, even if we've just eaten breakfast.  Is this a my kid thing or an all kid thing?

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

The boys left the door open and one of those baby goats escaped the little petting pen.  Dan had to chase him around the grounds to get him back and I laughed and laughed at the ridiculousness.

Untitled

Get my precious baby girl away from those beasts!

Untitled

Had to tell Louie a number of times not to chase the chickens.  Kid has a death wish.  Birds of all kinds freak me out.

Untitled

The owner was taking people out on hayrides through the Orchard and the fields of pumpkins.  He made a number of stops to give us some history of the farm, and explain what they are harvesting and all the work he and his family does to keep it running.  At the first stop he hopped down and walked around with a basket of Honeycrisp apples, one for each of us to enjoy right then and there.

I was charmed, no doubt.  We all were.  Highly recommend.

Untitled

Untitled

Copying the big boys behind him and filling his shirt with corn to make a big belly.

Untitled

We actually picked apples!  The kids were so excited about this part, and they had a lot of advice for us as to how it worked and the best method for picking.  "You have to twist and pull gently, mom!"  I'm guessing they gained their expertise from TV.  Or school?  Who knows.

Untitled

The illusive family photo!

Finally, there was a weekend at the cabin over MEA.  Somehow we managed to not go up there for the entire months of August and September, I guess life was a bit nuts this summer, but what a bummer.  We missed the lake.

Well it was the perfect weekend to be there, peak fall color for the drive and high 60's and low 70's during the day.  (OMG I'm doing it again, I can't stop talking about the weather.)

There were s'mores over the campfire, rowdy games of kickball and ghosts in the graveyard, movie nights, cold mornings snuggled up under quilts in the camper, brisk walks through the woods to the swing set in the field, grandpa's pancakes and sausages for breakfast, and a trip into town on Saturday morning for another one of those fall festivals.

I was even able to tag along with Heidi on her run Saturday afternoon, and it was incredible. Fall will make a runner out of even the most reluctant exerciser.

The cabin in the fall is slower, kinder, easier.  There is no hurry to get the children all suited up and slathered in sunscreen.  There are no floaties to carry down to the lake and life jackets to find.  There isn't really an agenda, no urgency, less chaos.  We let the kids watch movies for longer on those chilly mornings, while we savor our 2nd and 3rd cups of coffee.

It's not better than summer at the lake, just different. 

Untitled

The first thing the boys did upon arrival. Some game with Lucas that involved swinging croquet mallets at piles of leaves. Super safe. 

Untitled

Untitled

This game of kickball had all the cousins and aunts and uncles participating. So much fun. 

Untitled

Untitled

Well these guys mostly just got in the way and ran around the bases, but they were cute. 

Untitled

Liela is not impressed. 

Untitled

Selfie-snubbed by my girl. 

Untitled

Looking related, no?

Untitled

Much easier to sneak campfires in before bedtime when the sun starts to set at 6:30. 

Untitled

Untitled

Ghosts in the graveyard was pure dumbness with this crew of rookies. But no one sprained an ankle so it was more successful than the last time this game was played up at the cabin. (Drunken pre-kid cabin weekends! Good times!)

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

I am in love with the above series of photos of Dan dominating John in a race on these weird bouncy horses at the pumpkin patch.  Kids forever, these two.

Untitled

There was no question, Louie had to be snoopy. 

1063

Gunny sack races! This place seriously was so awesome. Great find by Dannell. 

1074

1082

Gorgeous girls on the tractor ride. 

1088

1103

Corn mazes are definitely better earlier in the season. 

1105

1110

1121

1138

So hard to get a good photo of these three baby girls. 

1141

Taking out the dock. 

1153

The end. We have finally made it through. Reece's Peanut Butter cups for each of you who made it all the way to the end. (Get this Halloween candy out of my house!)