Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day 2016





Eight years ago I celebrated my very first Mother's Day as a mom.  To be honest, I don't really remember the specifics of that day, I believe we had a cook-out at our house but I could very well be mistaken.  What I do remember though is the Mother's Day just before that one.....nine years ago today.  I was actually pregnant but didn't know it yet and I remember that day being really, really emotionally difficult.  All I wanted, more than anything in the world, was a child of my own. I've been thinking a lot about mom's this week and especially of those to-be mama's and those who wish to be mama's; I know this day can be very difficult for the latter. 

Today I found myself reflecting on all of those mother's who have gone before us, my Grandma Bender and Collin's Grandma Lu in particular.  Last night my mom and I were talking about her parents....my mom lost her mom when she was seven, my grandma lost her mother when she was 12 and she and her sister were raised in a orphanage.  I never knew this before last night.  I honestly can't fathom growing up without a mother and it made my heart ache for all of those that have had to endure that pain.

The weather was gorgeous here today and Collin and I were lucky to get to spend the day with both of our moms having lunch on Papa and Busha's back deck.  The baby was passed from lap to lap and the boys played in the woods while the rest of us soaked in the sun, listened to the birds, and chatted.  It was the perfect Mother's Day celebration.  

I feel so thankful to have the opportunity to mother each of these children, grateful to have my mother and mother-in-law guiding me along the way, and so happy to be surrounded by friends and family who set such amazing examples of motherhood

Happy Mother's Day, everyone!



Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Easter Highlights







~ Chocolate before breakfast ~
~ New sunhats and field guides ~
~ First Easter dress ~
~ The return of the Alleluia ~
~ Celebrating at Papa & Busha's ~
~ 150 hidden Easter eggs ~
~ Lemon Meringue Soup (opps!) ~
~ Basketball, basketball, basketball ~

We had a fabulous Easter Sunday and hope you did too!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Dear Stella: 3 Months

Dear Stella,

You are now three months old and quickly careening your way to four months. It has been on my to-do list to sit down and write this letter for the past three weeks but February has been a busy month…more on that later, let’s talk about your third month…


Your third month, the month of January, was quite possibly one of the best months on record for our family.  Compared to the hustle and bustle of November and December, trying to keep up with your brothers’ school schedules and all the holiday preparations, January was a nice calm after the storm.  Our family made some big life changes this month and I think we all benefited from it.  Our mornings were lazy, sleeping in on a daily basis, and our afternoons were just the right mix of work and play.  Because we were no longer constantly on the go and shuffling you from place to place you were finally able to settle into a nice routine; and if there is one thing you should know about your Mama it’s that I love routine! In the morning after waking you are typically up for an hour or two (that time seemed to grow over the course of the month) and then you go back to sleep for a nice solid stretch of 3 to 4 hours.  This is when your Dad and I would tear through the house cleaning or trying to get “projects” done while your brothers played. You usually wake up around noon or 1 pm ready to eat and then spend the afternoon entertaining us.  You nap sporadically in the afternoon but not typically for very long stretches. The very best part of this new routine, though?  Bedtime!!  A month ago I remember telling myself over and over that “this too shall pass” in regards to your nightly scream fests.  But to be honest with you, I’m not quite sure I believed it.  If I could I’d go back to the Mama from last month and give her a hug and assure her, it will pass. You have officially declared your bedtime to be 9 pm and I typically bring you into bed with me and read a book while you nurse and then dose off. The only thing that isn’t delightful about this is if we miss it.  Ooooh Baby Girl, you are feisty when we miss your bedtime.

 


I think if you took a poll around our house it would be unanimous that our favorite thing about this month has been your smile and coos. Your brothers do not pass up a moment to sit in front of your bouncer, hold your hands, and make you talk to them. You and Hutton have a particularly strong bond at the moment.  He likes to entertain you and knows how to calm you when I need to set you down for a moment to get something done. Equally as much as they love to hear you talk it breaks their hearts to hear you cry.  When we are at home they call for me frantically when it appears that they can no longer settle you and when we are in the car they sing your name, Stel-la Be-a-trice, Stel-la Be-a-trice, until you calm down.

 

 So, now it’s time to talk about the not so great moment of this month. My return to work. On February 1st I had to jump back into the working mom role, a role I would, quite frankly, love to leave in the dust.  I tried hard not to allow myself to get caught up in the thought of returning, knowing it would do no good to focus too much on it and instead tried to enjoy every last second I had as an at-home mom.  I think we all did pretty good and to be honest my return has gone about as smoothly as we could all ask for.  What didn’t go quite as smoothly was my very first day back, which required me to be in Milwaukee and required you to take a bottle.  Oh your poor Dad, you cried a lot that day wondering what the heck this thing was and where the heck was your milk already? You only drank 5 ounces the entire day but you made it through. Taking a bottle is something you still aren’t very good at and something we should probably practice a little more.



At three months I’m not quite sure how much you weigh, but I know you are growing nicely as you are really filling out your clothes.  You were still wearing size 3 month clothes and size 1 diapers at the three month mark but it was apparent that those both needed to be moved up soon. You still have blue eyes (can you tell I’m not yet convinced they will stay blue?) and your hair is a mix of darker strands on top and strawberry blonde on the side. You warm up to the idea of baths more and more each time we put you in there. You like to be carried facing out so you can see everyone or facing in when you are tired so you can nuzzle your head into my neck.  You loathe the car.  LOATHE. I am hoping you will grow out of this soon but for now I dread having to take you just about anywhere. You have the chubbiest little cheeks and thighs and I just want to gobble you up on a daily basis. I thank the Lord daily that he sent you to be with us.




All my heart,
Mama



Wednesday, February 24, 2016

an anniversary


On Monday we celebrated the anniversary of Keaton's baptism.


This is something we were good about doing with the kids when they were young and we've been really terrible at doing the last few years. And speaking of terrible, I did a terrible job at frosting the back side of this cake. This, top-layer-is-about-to-slide-off, cake.  Ah well, cake is cake, it matters less what it looks like and more about how it tastes, right? (It's already gone, so I think it tasted okay.)


We all gathered around the table, brought out his baptism photo, found a white candle to light, and sang the "Happy Birthday" song except used the words "Baptism Anniversary" which doesn't work all that well but Keaton didn't care, it was a special day and a special cake made for him and he was beaming none-the-less.


Then he opened his little gift, a hand painted St. Francis of Assisi, his very favorite saint, the patron saint of animals and the ecology (would you expect this nature-lover to pick a different saint?) He asked for this for his birthday and I had ordered it but once it arrived decided to hold on to it for this occasion instead. I think that was a good decision.  Keaton was thrilled and it made this special day just a bit more special.


Isn't he just beautiful?  When I opened up the package he took my breath away; I think he is even prettier in person than in this photo.  He was custom made from In the Loft on Etsy.

Back in 2009, I wrote about Keaton's baptism day here.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Stop the Presses!



This guy requested Tea Time with Mom!

How can I not oblige a request like that?

So we were swept away to a chimney-corner nook where we found flowing brooks, trees and crooks, and flying fairy looks in our winter picture story-books.


Oh you guys, I am seriously loving poetry time. I still have so much to learn but these sweet little poems have increased my appreciation for this art so much.

Speaking of learning, this guy is also trying to master the "tea pinky". We might have a little ways to go.


When tea time was over I noticed Keaton's cup was still full.  

"Aren't you going to drink your tea, Buddy?" I asked.  He was raving about it to his brothers who choose milk instead.

"Nah." He told me. "I only like it with cookies."


Ahhh, I see how this goes.  Oh well, looks like I'll be making more cookies if it brings them to the table for poems.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A "Wheel-y" Great Valentine's Day








I woke up earlier than usual on Sunday morning because it is our tradition to have waffles for breakfast on Valentine's Day (and because I am the opposite of an expert waffle maker and so I knew I needed extra time). Shortly after I started the coffee machine and fed the dog I heard the pitter patter of the little boy (becoming big boy) feet coming down the hall. 

"Hi, Mom" he said to me.

Before I could tell him it was too early to be up and that he should lay down for a little while longer he continued, "I needed to get up early to write a Valentine for my brothers. I made one for you and Dad and Stella but I need to make one for Hutton and Nolan. Think it is okay if I make them one together?"

And seriously, how can I send a child back to bed when he is up for the sole purpose of writing a nice note to his brothers?  I couldn't. I didn't.

We had our waffles and headed to church and had intended to come home for lunch; but when we got home and realized we had accidentally frozen the lunch meat we were planning to eat we packed everyone back up and went to our favorite little cafe down the road for sandwiches and burgers. That night we had our traditional seafood alfredo and cake for dessert.  It was really a normal little Sunday except that we spent it surrounded by construction paper hearts taped to every wall, string and red clippings strewn on the floor, and notes of love from sibling to sibling, which made it the best kind of normal little Sunday.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Snowy Days






If I'm not mistaken I think her official name was Winter Storm Kayla and she blew in last Tuesday, on Groundhog's Day, which was perfect timing for me as I had to be in Milwaukee for work on Monday. They knew she was going to be a doozy so by the time I left the office at 4:30 school the next day had already been canceled. I stopped on my way home for milk, Collin and the boys packed the wood room with logs for the fire and we settled in with no intention of leaving the house for the duration of the storm. On Tuesday we woke up and we waited and we waited and finally, just before noon, the flurries began. The kids and I were both excited and there were chants of "it's starting!" echoing throughout the house.

Kayla left us with a good 7 inches of white, heavy snow; perfect for building snowmen and forts. This was the first big snowfall of the season and the boys have been enjoying it ever since. Last Saturday they were outside with friends for three straight hours; with the temperature warm up last weekend their sled hills are perfectly slick. I watch them from the window and smile, it brings back so many fond memories of my childhood and bundling up to head to the golf course to sled the day away. 

As adults there are so many reasons to not like the snow: slick roads, sidewalks to shovel, salt on our cars, but for children all they see are snowmen and angels, catching snowflakes on their tongue, and of course, sledding.  Up and down, up and down, you'd think their little legs would get tired but no, they don't come back in the house until their cheeks are rosy red and their mittens are soaked though. And then, of course, it's time to warm up with some hot cocoa.  And when you put it like that winter doesn't seem so bad after all, does it?









Even this guy, a self professed hater of winter, has been enjoying himself.


Happy weekend friends! If there is snow where you are at, get out and play in it and then come in for some hot cocoa, you won't regret it.