Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dear Keaton: 2 1/2 years

Dear Keaton,

As of the end of June you are now 2 ½ years old. For the first couple of years we spoke of your age in months, now it is only years. A couple of months ago we said you “will be 2 ½ in June” now you are “2 1/2 “ and in a couple of months you will be “almost 3.” This transition in the way we refer to your age makes you feel so old to me. And when I look at you, hear you speak, and see you interact with others I realize you are getting so old. No longer a baby and moving quickly away from being a toddler, you are becoming Mama’s big boy. At your 2 ½ year well visit you weighed in at 29 lbs, 15 oz. (50%), were 37 inches tall (75%), and had a head circumference of 50 ¾ cm (90%).

Your biggest development in the last six months has been in your language and talking. I just reread the letter I wrote to you after you turned two and see that at that time you were still calling a train “dee dee” I don’t even remember the last time you said that it’s been so long ago. You are talking so much these days, repeating word for word things we say to you, forming (sometimes quite long) sentences and while some words still sound funny you don’t have any “pet names” for things like you used to have for choo choo. Well, I take that back, you do still call Papa Grizz, Pa Drrr, so much so that we call him that as well. And you do still call yourself Tee, however in the past week or so you’ve started saying “Teaton” more and more. You’ve also recently started saying water instead of just wa. Some of my favorite words you say right now are boo-bury (blueberry), ca-no-ya (granola), and My-ya (Maia). While your language skills are still developing there are times when we just can’t understand what you are saying. That’s when you take us by the hand and pull us to the object saying “Tee show you.” The reaction is always the same, Ahhh! you want lettuce (or, fill in the blank with whatever it is you are looking for.) Of course, there are other words, like oriole, that roll of your tongue so easily I can’t help but stop and stare in amazement. You are becoming a little person; one we can have conversations with, right before our eyes.

You have always been a pretty independent little boy, but it has gone into overdrive lately. Everything is “Tee do by self.” Getting into your car seat, cutting your toast, pouring your juice, washing your hands, carrying large toys - you do not want any help, you want to do it all by yourself. It is hard for us to be patient with this at times, especially with the car seat, but we have to force ourselves to take a deep breath and just let you be, even if it takes an extra couple of minutes, because if we don’t the fit you will throw could split the earth in two. And really you are just learning, becoming more in tune with the world around you, so we shouldn’t stifle you because in the end an extra 2 or 3 minutes really is nothing. Of course, I’ll have to remind myself of this again the next time we go for a car ride.

I cannot talk about you at the age of 2 ½ without talking about your relationship with your brother. Oh you two, some days I don’t know what I’m going to do with you guys. The biting, pushing, hitting, screaming, it can be a little much at times. I read an article recently that said the most peaceful family dynamic is one with two girls. I about spit my water out in laughter when I read that because you know what that must mean, right? Two boys, the opposite, is probably the most unpeaceful. I can definitely attest to that. Of course I wouldn’t change our family for the world, I am so thankful to have you two boys. I am so thankful that you will grow up with a brother. After we had you your Dad and I said if we could choose we’d have another boy next, just for that very purpose, because for as much as you fight you also love each other fiercely. You play cars together, laugh at books together, and mimic each other constantly. My wish for you guys is that the bond you share now only grows deeper and deeper, that one day you will not only be brothers, but best friends.

At 2 ½ your favorite toys are anything tractor and your play chainsaw. You love to haul things in your tractors and cut trees down like Papa and Daddy. You are in the midst of potty training and every night before bed you ask for yo, or yo-yo (yogurt), with granola and berries. You love animals, your favorite bird is an oriole and you and Mama Boosh like to take walks to feed carrots to the horsey. You can count to ten but usually miss seven. You can also count in French if we help you along. You’re working on your alphabet, having mastered O and P and a few others, and your colors. Right now everything is green. You love going on tractor rides with Papa (it’s actually the lawn mower, but you don’t care) and can unhook and trailer to unload it by yourself. I was amazed the first time I saw you do this, that thing is pretty heavy. You love nature. Love it. You collect leaves and feathers and acorns and pine cones from the woods and keep them in your nature box. You know the sound of a woodpecker and grasshopper and always stop what you are doing, put your finger up, and say “Mama, woodpecker/grasshopper” when you hear one. You are curious, determined, and usually shy but also love snuggles and hugs and kisses. And thank God for that because I can’t stop squeezing you, you light up my life.

I love you little boy,

Thursday, August 25, 2011

WeDay: Enjoyment amid stress

It was a Saturday night, the boys had been tucked in bed and we put An Inconvenient Truth in the DVD player.  I must have been under deadline stress at that time too because I remember the way it hit me, like a speeding freight train, putting it all in perspective.  It was one of the scenes where Al Gore is giving a presentation and there is a picture of the earth.  The cameras then pan out so you see Earth surrounded by miles and  miles and miles of dark, nothingness.  Well, atmosphere, but virtually nothing.  As the cameras continue to pan Earth becomes smaller and smaller.  It was then that I thought about my place on that earth, which is so large, but so small when you look at the vast darkness surrounding it, that I realized the stress pulling me down at this moment is beyond minor in the grand scheme of things.  Deadline stress is minor in the grand scheme of things in my own life, let along the grand scheme of things on Earth, or beyond.

Of course that doesn't entirely stop me from freaking out when I have deadlines that I'm never going to hit, but once in awhile it does make me slow down, think things through, realize that missed deadlines are not the end of the world.

So it's interesting that last week, when I was further away from my deadlines and could, at that point, still potentially hit them, I was stressing through our WeDay more than I did this week - when the deadlines are here and there really is no hope.  It all comes down to perspective.

I got up yesterday morning and clocked three hours of work before Collin had even left the house.  Once he was gone I turned it off and spent the day with the boys.  It was a simple day, one I imagine many summer days would be if we had more down-time at home together.  We spent the morning playing in the basement, we met a friend downtown for lunch, we came home and slathered on the sunscreen to play outside, Keaton busy cutting down trees, Hutton learning to walk on the horseshoe pit stoppers like a balance beam.  Later in the afternoon I put the boys in the stroller and walked a couple miles down the road to our neighbor's farm stand.  They both fell asleep a quarter of the way into the trip and it even though it was pretty warm it was so relaxing to be outside, getting a little exercise under a crystal blue sky.  We had chicken breasts and corn on the cob for dinner and then headed back outside - Collin and Keaton working on the play set, Hutton and I watering plants.  Right before we made the boys come in for baths they found the sprinkler and delighted in running through it, coming in the house sopping wet.

Despite the stress I'm under right now it was really a great day.  A reminder of what's important, in the grand scheme of things.

There was nothing but melted ice left in this by the time he got hold of it, but he didn't care because he was drinking WATER out of a STRAW!
All he needs is a job to do and he's happy.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

WeDay: Savoring Summer

My alarm went off at 5:30 am yesterday, alarms are not usually allowed on WeDay but I had missed my workouts on both Monday and Tuesday mornings and since my mom was here to help watch the boys yesterday I decided I needed to get up and run.  Except when the time came I wanted to do anything but step foot out of that bed.  At 6 am, after I had hit snooze a few times, the covers were suddenly ripped off of me and there stood Collin, "Get up" he said.  No, I whined, I really didn't want to get out of bed.  But he insisted, get up, go work out, you'll feel better.  And he's right, I did feel so much better after getting out there in the cool morning breeze and getting my heart rate up.  Yesterday I did some speed training.  I'm determined to shave some minutes off of my race time and it felt good to go out there and really push myself rather than just run x amount of miles.

Unfortunately my early morning run didn't quite shake my crappy mood.  Work is busy right now and it's going to be that way for the next two weeks at least.  I realized again this week that I don't handle deadline stress very well, I let it consume me, I think of the worst possible scenarios - late nights, time away from the kids, not getting the work done.  When really I should just focus on putting one foot in front of the other and trudging on, because that's what is going to get the work done, not sitting here fretting about it.  It has become evident lately that I need to learn to focus, learn to put 100% to whatever task is at hand at that moment.  Work during the day, the kids during the evening (and Wednesdays), the house/laundry/dishes/all that other stuff when the kids are sleeping.  I need to be more present.

And so that's what I tried to do yesterday. 

We had a number of errands to run in the morning, the blueberry farm to pick up some more berries for the freezer, the bank, library, and co-op. Then we were off, headed north to meet the cousins at a nearby park.  We had lunch under a small tree and afterwards the kids spent the next 2+ hours climbing all over the equipment, going down the slide, playing in the mock school bus, and running the bases and sitting in the dughouse (dug-out) of the adjoining baseball field.  It was sunny and hot and I had forgotten Hutt's hat so the kids were decked head to toe in sweaty sun screen but it didn't feel quite right to end our day here.  So we went  to the local ice cream stop for cones, shakes, and sundaes. 

Last night we froze some green beans for the winter and made another batch of jam, blackberry this time.  As August plows forward, seemingly picking up speed as she goes, I find myself looking forward to fall.  Which made our WeDay, one in which we savored these last few bits of summer, so enjoyable. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Our Feathered Friends

When we picked the boys up from Collin's parents on Sunday afternoon Keaton came running out to us, wearing nothing but his undies, screeching at the top of his lungs and running around the yard.  I think he was actually happy to see us.  After a couple of laps he grabbed my hand and said "Tee show you."  I don't remember what  he showed me first, there was a whole list of things Tee needed to show us after spending the weekend with Busha and Papa, but one item on that list was his nature box.  A little box Busha has for him to keep all of the treasures he finds while they are out exploring the yard and woods.  In the box there were three bird feathers and when Busha grabbed the bird book Keaton paired the feathers to their previous owners.

This child loves birds.

While Collin and I like them, Keaton's love was inspired by Busha.  As a baby he'd sit in Busha's arms or propped up on the counter as they watched the birds fly in to eat from the feeder that sits right outside her kitchen window.  He'd come home and talk about seeing cardinals and feeding the orioles oranges and it quickly became apparent that he knows more about birds than I do. 

While many "loves" are passed down the generations, from parent to child, the love of birds in this house has been passed up. I've been so much more conscious this spring and summer about keeping our feeders full and one of the things on our spring soul season list was to place some bird houses in the yard (I believe I originally wrote it as bird feeders, but houses is what I meant to say.) Almost instantly after putting them up we had a tenant.  And this spring when we peeked inside we saw that there were at about seven eggs snuggled peacefully in her nest.  The new babies have since hatched and grown enough to leave the house and venture off into the woods on their own, but watching the mama swoop in to feed her littles was one of my favorite daily sights this summer.

Next year we have plans for more houses and more feeders.  My wish, which was inspired by my toddler, is to create a little bird haven on our property to foster Keaton's (and now Mama's) love for our feathered fiends.

This is the last post I have planned for my Spring Soul Season list. Sadly, the remaining items on my list, plant an herb garden and celebrate May Day did not get completed and while we did have fresh flowers at Easter, I did not take a picture. The upside to not completing an item is that I'm very much looking forward to these things next year. 

 Since I skipped over my summer list I plan to post my fall list on September 1st.  I spent some time on Sunday talking about and looking at fall decor with Busha and my heart is about to leap out of my chest just thinking about autumn.  But there are still a couple more weeks of summer that I need to focus on first. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

6 years

As I pulled the clean laundry out of the dryer and started making piles of folded clothes it became absurdly clear just how much our life has changed in the last six years.  Back then my main task in doing the laundry was to get the smoke smell from the bar we were at last night out of my new jeans.  Now I'm trying to get blueberry stains out of a size 12-month shirt and poop stains out of 2T undies.  Back then we met our friends for dinner and drinks on weeknights.  Now we can pickles and make jam on weeknights.  Back then we traveled to far away places to scuba dive in the ocean and discover new islands.  Now we go to the zoo and ride on choo choo trains.  Back then we were a couple.  Now we are a family.

It's been an amazing six years.  The only thing better than looking back on those memories is looking forward to new ones.  Happy Anniversary, Collin.  Here's to the next 6 years!

Totally random picture from our wedding day, but anyone in that limo can attest to the fact that that might have been the best 1-hour of the entire day. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

On Hold until September 1st

You may (or may not) have noticed that I never composed a Summer Soul Season list and that my Enjoying Today pictures have been sorely neglected. I had planned on writing a summer list; I thought through the items in my head but I never got them down on paper and I think that is because for the first time in… long as I can remember, I was actually excited about summer. This year I felt myself welcoming the heat, and even the humidity, with open arms. I’m not exactly sure why, I’ve been known to hate on summer, but I think it was because the kids were at the age that we could really enjoy it. Last year I was pregnant for the month of June and Hutton was just an itty bitty baby for the remainder of the season. Though I loved, loved, loved having my maternity leave during the summer, having an infant made it difficult to enjoy all that the season offers. There was the sun and heat to consider during the day and the bugs to consider at night. While we enjoyed ourselves, we spent a lot of time indoors. This year I knew the boys would be begging to get outside. And I knew that would give us the opportunity to live and take part in this season.

We haven’t done everything on our list and in fact we haven’t done the one thing we really, really wanted to do: take the boys camping, but we’ve been enjoying these past couple of months and we have grand plans for the remainder of the season. At the request of Keaton we’ve had a number of meals outside, on the deck, picnic style. We’ve spent time at the beach and caught a baseball game. We’ve made strawberry and blueberry jam, canned pickles, and picked blackberries. We planted a garden and although it hasn’t done anything spectacular we’ve spent evenings out there together as a family weeding (were there some tense moments with children pulling and trampling plants? Yes, of course, but also good memories.) We’ve gone on walks on our running trail and bought food at the farmer’s market.

Though I look forward to fall, because fall is my favorite of the four, I can honestly say I’m not quite ready for summer to be over. I want to soak in a few more rays of sun, I want to put veggies in our freezer for winter, and I want to fire up that grill several more times. So for the next few weeks we’ll be doing just that. But once that calendar reads September 1st my mind will be on autumn, on crisp leaves and pumpkin soup and a trip to the apple orchard. And a turning of the seasons feels like the perfect time to bring back Enjoying Today and to post a new Soul Season list.

Here’s to the last few weeks of summer, may you enjoy all the season has to offer.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The ebb and flow of Motherhood

Oh sweet boy, I love you so but you are my difficult child. I know it is partially due to your age, at 2 ½ you like to push the limits and test the boundaries. I know it also has to do with your personality, you’re Type A, like me, you are particular and you notice when things are out of place or out of routine. I know we just have to trudge on, that we will get through this stage.

Oh sweet boy, I love you so, you are my easy child. I know it is partially due to your age, at 2 ½ you can understand our requests, we can reason with you and you comprehend the consequences. I know it also has to do with your personality, you’re Type A, like me, you’re a rule-follower and like things in order. I love this stage!

Oh sweet boy, I love you so but you are my difficult child. I know it is partially due to your age, at 1 you aren’t able to fully communicate your wishes and desires. I know it also has to do with your personality, you are intent and determined and a little wild. You are no wall-flower, you want to be noticed and heard. I know we just have to trudge on, that we will get through this stage.

Oh sweet boy, I love you so, you are my easy child. I know it is partially due to your age, at 1 you just want someone to play peek-a-boo or patty-cake with. I know it also has to do with your personality, you’re a little crazy, you have fun and smile and laugh and giggle at everyone you see. And you love to cuddle. I love this stage!


Difficult, easy.  Easy, difficult.  The ebb and flow of motherhood.  It changes in this house daily.  Nay, hourly.  Sometimes I love these ages and stages so much my heart could just explode.  Sometimes these ages and stages are so difficult my head could explode.  The only thing predictable is that tomorrow will be a new day, new blessings and new challenges.  And we will continue on, learning how to navigate though the tough times, wishing we could hit the pause button during the easy times.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

WeDay: Blueberry Edition

The note in my Central Wisconsin Farmfresh Atlas says that the blueberry season usually starts in July until mid-August. While some of the produce is late this year due to the chilly spring temps we had, blueberries seem to be right about on track (although when we asked how much longer they'd be open they told us two, maybe three, more weeks - so maybe they too are a little behind.)

We're lucky enough to have a blueberry farm right down the road from us, within walking distance.  From the end of our driveway it is 0.9 miles to be exact - by crossing the road to the first telephone pole I hit my two-mile running route.

There is a big sign in front of the farm that notes the next picking dates.  For the past couple of weeks I've seen the dates come up and down and I knew if Mimi and I wanted to take the boys to pick we better do it soon.  

So yesterday we loaded them into the stroller and wagon and made our way down to the patch.  It was supposed to be cooler, less humid, but standing in an open field under the midday sun it was anything but cool or less humid.

But that didn't stop us from picking and picking and filling our buckets.

Hutton spent the first half of the trip sleeping in the shade...

...while Keaton ran up and down the rows, bucket in hand.

Keaton also did a lot of running through the rows, which resulted in more than one time out.  I guess that's the beauty of still shots, they look so serene and pretty.  The don't capture the Mama's anxiety about the bushes her young one is trampling or the frustration of his lack of listening with his ears. 

Looking at these I just remember how he was giggling as he ran up and down, up and down, and would stop every now and then to put a berry in Mimi's basket.  And I suppose that's all I really want to remember.

Hutton did finally wake up and when he did he went straight to work.

And by work I mean shoveling blueberries in his mouth by the hand full.

He didn't even stop to chew.   I know this because I changed his diaper.

Finally, an hour or so in, we decided to call it quits and head out to lunch.  We hauled our berries in, had them weighed, and put all 13+ pounds in the wagon where Keaton ate them one after another on our walk home.

The rest of the afternoon/evening was spent sorting and cleaning.  Putting some aside for Busha and making blueberry crisp.  The remainder of our blueberries will be made into jam, muffins, pancakes, and a good many will be put in the freezer so we can enjoy our "booburys" all winter long. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dear Hutton: 12 Months

Dear Hutton,

I can hardly believe this buddy, but you are officially one year old. I remember racing to the hospital on that Monday morning and swearing at all the early-morning commuters who were leisurely making their way into work. I remember stepping out of the car when we finally made it into the parking lot, looking down and realizing you had dropped so far that I asked your Daddy if you were still in there. I remember your Daddy whispering to me that “it’s a boy!” and feeling my heart explode. A boy. A son. A brother. It felt so right. I remember this all so vividly that it absolutely blows my mind that it was a whole year ago.

You melded into our family so seamlessly that it felt like you had always been there; an extension of us that we just hadn’t known yet. And I suppose in so many ways that’s exactly what it was. What it is. You were a part of us even before you were born, before you were conceived. God had a plan for our family and you were always in it. Just thinking that makes my heart explode all over again.

The first year of life is so amazing to me. The development and personality explosion that takes place this year will never be replicated. Sure, you’ll continue to growth and change, but nothing like in the last 12 months. Your biggest milestone this month is that you started walking. You had been taking a number of steps last month but two days before your actual birthday, on the afternoon of your birthday party, you officially started walking. You are so thrilled to be independent and if you could I know you’d give your Auntie CaS a big kiss and hug to say Thank you for holding your hands so much that afternoon while you tooled around the yard until you finally just got it and took off.

While you love the freedom that mobility brings, (and I should point out that your Daddy and I love it too, some people dread the walking phase but we look forward to it, prefer it actually) you still love to be cuddled and held; especially when you are tired. When I try to put you down during these times you suspend your legs at waist height and cling to my shoulder. When we finally pick you back up you lay your head down and melt into our shoulders, wrapping your arms around our necks. The response from your holder is always the same; we cradle your head in our hands and whisper awww! because really, it is about the sweetest thing ever.

For as much of a sweetheart as you are, you are equal parts stinker. You like to throw and bang things, just to hear how much racket you can make. You’re a daredevil, climbing on everything to see how high you can get. And when you’re not getting your way you scream. This loud, ear-piercing scream that is so annoying. I’m sorry buddy, but it is. And it’s also embarrassing when we are in public. While there are many things that will make me sad when you stop doing them, I actually look forward to the day that this little development ends.

At 12-months you still have six teeth (four on top, two on bottom) and we’re just waiting for the day that some more break through. Your first word was ball, which is not surprising as you have always loved them. You love climbing up on Daddy's tractor and you still hate sitting still to read books or get your diaper changed. While the bathtub is filling you swing your little leg up onto the side in attempt to get in by yourself and you form a perfect circle with your mouth and make this adorable little ooooh sound when you are excited. You’re still nursing and I’m so proud of us for making it all the way to one year, a goal that I wasn’t positive we’d be able to achieve, but at dinner time you are a big boy, using your own plate and silverware. You still shove most of the food in with your hand but you love hanging onto spoon like you mean business.

A year ago we didn’t know if you were a girl or a boy. We didn’t know what life as a family of four would bring. Today I can’t imagine it any other way. You have brought us so much joy, little boy. I love you with all my heart and I look forward to what the next year will bring.

Eskimo kisses,

*Pictures in this post were taken by CaSondra Shim Photography.*

Monday, August 1, 2011

Vacation 2011: Lumberjack Steam Train

If my memory serves me correctly, children under the age of four were not allowed in the NICU.  I believe it was four for siblings, 13 for non-siblings, but I could be mistaken.  Either way, Keaton was definitely too young to come inside the big grey doors that only swung open when one of the hospital staff granted a visitor access to the locked off halls, to see his baby brother.  So every night for that week when Collin or Busha would arrive with Keats in tow I would come out and spend time with him in the family waiting room while everyone else went in to spend some time with Hutt.  There were toys in there, a dollhouse, chalkboard, books, and cars.  And a train set. 

Keaton instantly fell in love with that train set and he would build, tear apart, and rebuild the track numerous times each visit.  When he couldn't get the puzzle like pieces to fit to his liking he'd hold it up to me, rather impatiently, and ask for my help.  At the end of each visit it was a battle of the wills to get him to put the trains down and pack up to head home.  I think this was partially due to the fact that he loved that train (he is still like this with sets in public places) and partially due to the fact that his world had been turned upside down - mom was no longer coming home at nights, we weren't spending any time together as a family - and he was acting out because he was confused.  

It was June 2010, he was 18 months old, and it was the first toy/thing he really showed an interest in.  I mean, he played with his toys at home just fine, but from that week forward the boy was in love with trains.  So much so that before the summer was over we knew what Santa would be bringing for Christmas, in October he was a conductor for Halloween, and in January we celebrated his 2nd birthday with a train-themed party.

So it's not surprising to me that the day trip Pa Drr planned over vacation to the Laona Lumberjack Steam Train was a huge hit.

Keaton has ridden on a couple of small trains like the one at the zoo, but this was a real train. A steam engine that ran on coal and had a whistle and a conductor that yelled All Aboard! and took our tickets.

We rode the train through the woods to Camp5, the location of an old logging camp that is now a museum.

We had packed a picnic lunch for our trip so after our 20 min ride we found some picnic tables and the grownups ate while the kids mostly played on the swing set and slides. 

The camp has a number of different things you can see and do.  Unfortunately, we didn't have time to do them all but since we plan on making a return trip no one minded too much. After lunch we headed first into the old barn and petting yard.

There were a number of different farm animals, chickens, cats, bunnies, goats, horses, pigs, cows, etc.  Some of them were a little to nosey for my liking (I'm looking at you, donkey and you, pony) but this little guy was a sweetheart.  Definitely my favorite of the bunch.

After the barn we headed into the museum where we saw the blacksmiths pounding and shaping iron.  We made a special request for four letters: a J, two H's, and a K, which will go on the wall in the kids room at the cabin.

In the back of the museum there was a replica cook shanty and bunk house.  This was definitely my favorite part.  I love learning about and seeing "the olden days."  As kids, my parents took us to a number of different historical sites and houses and museums.  I love walking through them and imagining myself living in those days; making food from scratch, knitting/sewing/making our clothes, raising animals and growing vegetables in the garden.  I know those days were hard, in a lot of ways harder than our days, but they seem to have been simpler.  In this fast-paced, corporate world that I find myself in now, the thing I crave most is simplicity.

Collin loved learning so much about logging in Wisconsin.  While the kiddos loved the train ride, Keaton's favorite display was the chainsaws. This will not surprise his grandpas.

Tee cut tree down!
There were two trains left for the day and while we'd planned on taking the later of the two we would have been the only ones left at Camp 5, so we jumped on the earlier train and rode back through the woods to the station.

A great family trip.  One I'm excited to go on again in the years to come.