Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Winter in Wisconsin

The snow was coming down hard as I pulled into the parking lot.  I jumped out, quickly herded him back to his seat and then cleaned the wipers before getting back in to go.

"Why did you do that, Mom?  To the wipers?"

"They were covered in ice, hon.  It's nasty out here, isn't it?"

I had tried to run my errands before picking him up, but it just didn't work out.

"Stomp your feet really hard," I told him before we went into the clothing store.  He obliged and as we walked in a thick white circle of powder clearly defined where his boot had been.

He practiced his monster face in the mirror while I tried on outfit after outfit.  I was in search of work clothes, as I have to be in the office the next two days.  Periodically he'd look up and say - that's pretty!  Oh, Mom, that one's GREEN!  You could wear it on St. Patrick's Day!

It took a good 35 minutes but we finally exited.  Pulling our coats down over our hands we ran back to the car; a layer of white covered us as we climbed back in.


It was quiet as I pulled off the highway and with no cars around I glanced over my shoulder.  His head lay softly on his shoulders, hands still tucked in his jacket his eyes were closed and he breathed easily.  It was just me and the road.

With the exception of the two gray lines heading north, likely from the previous car to have passed through here, everywhere I looked it was white. Even the houses were hid by the snow that was falling.  I gripped the steering wheel and drove a lot slower than normal, making sure not to slide into the ditch.  I felt like I should be frightened, normally, I would have been frightened.  But instead I was just swept away by the beauty of it all.

Winter in Wisconsin.


Thank you all for your emails, texts, comments and messages yesterday. As I told a friend tonight, sometimes when you are in the dark of it all you forget there will be sun again. You (I) also forget that you're not alone.  You guys reminded me of that. I thank you all for your friendship. xoxo

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


The car was still spinning through the slush and snow, about to make its way out of the drive, as I sat down at my desk.  I looked out the window and couldn't even make out the tree lines to the east, the fog was that thick. The stark white snow was startling to the dense gray that enveloped it.  

And that's when the tears started to flow.

Gray.  Heavy, thick gray.  

The emotions that I've done pretty good at pushing down have found a way to stir themselves up again. Feelings I haven't had since summer have crept back in.  

Sometimes, scared of myself.

I'm doing too much.  
I'm doing too little.
I'm spinning, churning, trying hard to find the color.

But all I'm coming up with is gray.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dear Nolan: 8 Months

Dear Nolan,

At the beginning of January you turned eight months old.  Every month I say I’m going to write this letter on time and every month the day comes and goes and then goes the next and the next and the next.  As your dad would tell me, as he tells me anytime I complain about not being able to stay on top of things, Three Kids! As much as I maybe don’t want to admit it, I know he is right.  The fact is, it’s hard to keep up with life when you have little ones to tend to.  I know in the grand scheme of things these years will go fast, so I try not to let myself get too worked up when I’m falling behind. And speaking of the years going fast, look at you already eight months old!  Eight months.  It is really, really hard for me to believe you are this old.

Photos by CaSondra Shim Photography

Your eight month marked the celebration of your first Christmas.  You were into the opening of gifts way more than I expected.  In fact, you were in to the whole season more than I expected.  I’ll never forget the picture we have of you sitting on Mrs. Claus’ lap staring up at Santa.  I know you had no clue who he was, but your eyes were full of wonder and it was just so precious to see.  And the train at Papa and Busha’s, you sat with your big brothers and just watched it go round and round and round.  I was shocked you didn’t grab at it, but you didn't, you just sat and watched politely.

Photos by CaSondra Shim Photography
Unfortunately, just after Christmas you got your first ear infection.  You had been battling a cold off and on in the weeks leading up to the holiday and it was almost as if you just crashed as soon as it was all over.  The three nights of continuous screaming started on New Year’s Eve and it took a few days of medication for you to finally start feeling better.  It was miserable for all of us and not exactly the start we were hoping for the New Year, but thankfully, we survived. Unfortunately I’m afraid we’ll be dealing with many more cycles of sickness and viruses before this season is over.  I feel so bad for you because I feel like every month you’ve had to fight off something.  I know it’s because you have big brothers who bring stuff home and I don’t want to keep you in a bubble, but I kind of wish I could, just until you were a little older.

Photo by CaSondra Shim Photography
This month you have been on the move.  You’re not crawling on your hands and knees yet, but that does not stop you from getting to where you are going.  The Army Crawl is your preferred method of movement right now, but you keep propping yourself on your knees and rocking back and forth, so I know the actually crawl is not far off.  You also got your first two teeth, the two bottom middle ones, and they made their appearance at practically the exact same time.  Your other big milestone, which I probably should have included in last month’s letter, is your first sound.  Much to your father’s delight, it is da da.  I’ve tried numerous times to work with you on ma ma and each time is the same result: you give me a huge smile, take a deep breath as if you’re concentrating really hard, and you blurt out Da Da!

Photo by CaSondra Shim Photography
It’s been slow going introducing you to new food because its seemed to cause a flare up in your reflux and at eight months you really still weren’t all that interested, but this month you did try both oatmeal and butternut squash (you loved the squash!) You weigh approximately 16 pounds and wear 6-9 month clothes.  You love water.  Love water.  The bath, the sink, the shower, it does not matter to you.  You don’t even mind it coming straight down over the top of your head.  This makes me excited about taking you swimming your first time. With the exception of when you were sick, you are still pretty good natured, except when you are getting your diaper changed.  At eight months we have solidly entered the diaper changing stage I like to refer to as “wrestling an alligator.”  For good measure, you like to throw in a few good screams along with all the wiggling. You are getting so big so fast and while I hate that you are moving out of the baby stage, I look forward to all the milestones to come.

Photos above by CaSondra Shim Photography

I love you sweet boy,

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January weekend

I have a bad habit of making too many plans. I tend to over schedule us with activities and outings. And while 90% of those things are most definitely in the "fun" category, even too much fun can be....well, too much.

After the flurry of activities following Christmas and Keaton's birthday I promised Collin I wouldn't make any plans in the month of January.  No going.  No doing.  We both wanted, needed, to hunker down and spend a lot of time at home this month.  The term hermits was thrown out there and neither one of us was opposed to it.  In fact, I think we were welcoming it.

Of course, staying home didn't necessarily mean it was going to be weekend upon weekend of relaxing.  In fact, very seldom do we have time to "relax" with young children.  I'm sure most of you can attest to this.  Oh yes, we have been lucky and had all three nap simultaneously more than once over these past few weekends and while maybe we should have used that time to curl up on the couch and read or watch football, the reality is that "relaxing" time is spent folding laundry without two little boys pulling half of the clothes out of the tub and landing on the floor before I'm able to catch it.  And it's spent loading/unloading the dish washer without having to tell someone to please not step on the door or fold the door up before the drawer has been pushed in.  It's spent picking up stray clothes without worrying about who is hitting/pinching/fighting with their brother.  And it's spent sweeping the floor without having to keep a constant eye on the baby and what cords he trying to get to now.  So really, it is relaxing. Kind of. Sort of.  Okay, no, not really.

With the calendar open in the beginning of this new year and with spring looming all too soon, it is time to get down to work inside this house.  Spring? All to soon, you say?  Yes, all too soon.  Because once spring is here we have a huge task ahead of us at getting our yard in working condition.  The spare hours, any and all we have, will be spent getting seed replanted, huge machine tracks taken care of, and flower beds back to being presentable.  So yes, when I look at the calendar and see we are already nearing the end of January, in my mind spring will be here all too soon.  

Each room in this house needs some work.  Some more than others, but pretty much everything still needs to be touched.  Whether it's unpacking totes and boxes, hanging curtains or decorations on the wall, or just a general organizing/cleaning, every single room needs some help.  We moved in at the end of September and very quickly found ourselves in the heat of the holiday season.  After the holidays we had the task of taking down and putting away all of those decorations (the birthday stuff still isn't all put away) and then we all had our first round of sickness, so we've cut ourselves some slack up to this point, but now it is time.

The first thing on my list was our master bathroom/bedroom/closet.  The closet was the biggest task.  There was so much stuff in there we could hardly get to our clothes.  Boxes and totes from the move, suitcases still unpacked from Christmas, and a random laundry basket full of stuff to be put in various storage boxes.  In our bedroom I wanted to put down rugs, hang some pictures, and scotch guard the rocker (those things are process.)

It's funny, the closet, the mess I've been dreading, took a total of....I don't hour? It was during one of those simultaneous nap times.  Of course, Nolan woke up before we were able to completely finish and so while Collin and I were cleaning up one mess, he was making another.  Ahhhhh, this is life with children, am I right?

This is the first weekend I felt like we found our groove. The grocery shopping was done. Various errands run. And a project was started and mostly completed. It felt good, a nice January weekend.

Friday, January 11, 2013

From the Archives: Ice Cream Dots

September 2, 2012.  Our last month in the duplex. I ran to the grocery store that was just a mile or so away and the boys asked me to bring home an ice cream surprise. A Green one!  Keaton yelled.  A Blue one! Hutt chimed in.  Ice cream dots were the answer.

This feels like a million years ago.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

PS  Look at Hutton's HAIR!!!  OMG!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Yesterday I turned 33 and I threw myself a pity party

I thought the next time I jumped on here I'd be telling you about how happy we are to see 2012 come to a close; how happy we are to shut the door on a year that has been so difficult on so many levels.  We are optimistic about 2013; a new year, a fresh start. This year will be happy, we are determined.  Unfortunately the year just hasn't started on the best foot.  The craziness of Christmas and traveling shot right into practically pulling an all-nighter to get ready for Keaton's birthday party.  Just as we were recooperating from that, the baby spent three straight nights screaming all night long.  Ear infection.  The day after New Years I finally got him in to the doctor and he's on medicine now but of course not before each one of the rest of us has come down with fevers and colds.  I think we are finally on the mend, but its been at the cost of a house that is now a complete disaster and being behind on a number of things on the to-do list.  Not exactly how I had hoped to start the year.

Yesterday was my birthday.  33.  It feels, I don't know, like a lot older than 32. If I could have anything I wanted for my birthday it would be a spa day followed by a little shopping, dinner, and maybe a movie.  A full nights sleep would also be top on that list, but lets not get greedy.  While I knew those plans would not come to fruition, I was hoping maybe some plans would.  But when we all got sick earlier in the week I knew it was not even worth trying to plan something, at least not for Collin and I, or for the family, instead I was going to take a couple of hours to myself in the afternoon.

Sunday morning rolled around and after another night of practically no sleep I finally got up with the boys to make pancakes.  We had just had pancakes on Saturday, but pancakes were the request so we got the bowl and ingredients out.  They helped me pour in flour and beat the egg and mix it all up, but when it was time to pour the batter onto the griddle, they were off, spatting with each other.  The first four turned out quite perfect, if I do say so myself.  But the pan was hot and as I poured on the final three the boys were yelling, the baby was crying, and Collin was clanging dishes in the sink nearby.  I could barely breath from all the snot and my head was ringing, the noise! Noise! NOISE! As I fumbled to open the bag of chocolate chips (a secret surprise) the smell of burning batter wafted up into my nose.  I quick flipped them but it was too late, they were black.  I threw the spatula on the counter, turned and screamed at my children, grabbed my coffee and stormed out of the room.  The pancakes are burning! I yelled over my shoulder as I made my exit.

I got in the shower, trying desperately to wash away the bad start to the morning.  I spent the next several hours solo.  Church, a couple of stores, lunch at Noodles, Starbucks.  At one point I missed my exit and found myself about 10 miles out of the way, so naturally I started crying.  I think the emotions were largely due to my feeling physically ill, but all I could think was, is this really how I want to spend my birthday?  Alone?



Oh Gawd, I don't know. No answer feels right.

After talking to a friend and my sister-in-law and brother on the phone I found myself back in my driveway.  The boys had spotted me pull up and were in the window waving.  When I came in the door they came running, Happy Birthday, Mommy!  It kind of felt like I hit the reset button.  And that was a welcome feeling.

Shortly after I got home Collin's Mom called to wish me a happy birthday and said they had left a message on Collin's phone that morning saying they'd take the kids for a couple of hours if we wanted to go out to eat.  It was 5 pm and I'm not sure she meant the offer still stood, but within 10 minutes we had three pairs of pajamas packed and coats and shoes on.

We ended up at one of my favorite restaurants in town.  The special was lobster.  I also had a glass of Cabernet and followed my meal with creme brulee.  It was only an hour and a half, but it was the hour and a half I so desperately needed.  As we were sitting at dinner I looked at Collin and said, if this day is a representation of this entire year - it starts with burnt pancakes and ends with lobster.....I'm okay with that.

So here's to 2013!  Let's make this one happy.
May your year be peaceful and full of abundant blessings.
May your year be less burnt pancakes and more lobster.