Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Today is a very special day in my world - it's my mom's birthday. Now, I won't offend her by telling you which birthday (but compared to many of my friends' parents', she's a baby!). But suffice it to say, we are thankful for her birth today.

I always knew (well, maybe not for a couple of those years in high school) that I had an amazing mom. As a dedicated teacher she modeled that you could have a career and be there for your children. As a wife, she taught me that marriage is worth every bit of hard work. But it is within in the last few years I am learning just how much she taught me about being a mama:

- Mamas always let their children know they are loved - especially in those moments when they aren't really feeling it.

- Mamas teach you to love books - and therefore teach you to love fantasy and imagination and learning.

- Mamas let you make messes - and just as importantly, teach you to clean them up.

- Mamas know that modeling what is right isn't easy - but it's just what you do.

- Mamas understand that sometimes our children will hurt us, and that it is ok to let them know when they have. That's how we learn compassion, empathy, and the importance of kindness.

- Mamas have the tough talks, even when it embarrasses the both you. It's the only way you'll learn some of life's most important facts.

- Mamas hug, kiss, and soften the rough edges of the world.

- Mamas make mistakes too. And they apologize.

- Mamas know best. And help you to be better.

- And the number one mama job? To be your own personal cheerleader throughout life. Clap, Praise, Brag. No one will ever see you as such a wonderful being as your mama does. And we all need that.

My only wish right now? That everyone could have had my mom. She truly is THAT good.

Happy birthday mom. And thanks.

Monday, December 29, 2008


Being Catholic is just who I am. My mom regularly took us to Mass, and we attended religious education starting as soon as we started school. I went to church camps, and later became a counselor. Then I went on to attend a Catholic university and have a Catholic wedding. I can't imagine my life without the role that the church has played in every stage of my life.

Now, I am the first to admit that I am anything but devout. I refer to myself these days as a cafeteria Catholic - picking and choosing which parts of doctrine and dogma I believe in. But it is still a very important part of my life.

So it was with great joy that on December 20th, we had the wonderful blessing of welcoming Luke and my niece Savannah into the Roman Catholic Church. It was a beautiful semi-private ceremony, and we were very fortunate to be surrounded by loving family. My sister Erin is Luke's godmother, and I have the honor of being Savannah's godmother. It is so special for all of us to have shared this important sacrament together.

Here are just a few pictures of the day. I want to thank those of you who were there both in body and spirit to share in this event.

Monday, December 22, 2008

An Early Christmas Wish....

I'm so incredibly lucky. Tonight in a state covered with ice and snow, I am in the warmest place on Earth.

I have the blessed fortune of being surrounded by my family for this Christmas week. My sister, brother-in-law and beautiful niece are down from Canada. My father has taken the longest amount of time off work he has had since they came to visit me in Salzburg 12 years ago. My mother has planned and prepped and taken care of every concern so that we can all be together. My oldest is sleeping down with his grandparents and the baby is snuggled up with his rabbit in my childhood bedroom.

Does it get any better?

I am largely taking this week away from the computer (tomorrow we are headed up to the cabin where we are without any outside connections other than a local land phone line). While I am missing checking in with many of my favorite online friends (I love my NCB girls and my ELW-ers), it is a needed break to focus on that which is most important to me. Please know that you are all in my thoughts and prayers, and I look forward to catching up when I return.

I want to wish you all the dearest of Christmases. I know that not all are in a merry place right now, but it is in these times when we most need to hug our babies and our mamas. May the magic of the season find you, and may your heart find a moment of quiet joy amidst all the lights and sparkles and shouts.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ok, I'm still sick with this obnoxious cold (it's been three weeks now), but I decided there's been to much goodness going on to wait any longer to blog about it. So, in no particular order:

1. We went to Zoolights last night. It's a big light display put on at the zoo, and a lot of fun. We took the train ride, and both boys were fascinated. We lucked out, and the lines were short and the weather was dry. Totally worth it! (And a marked improvement from when we took Max when he was 4 months old and he cried the entire time!)

2. Max's patience with Luke amazes me. Over the last month, Luke has started to play really roughly with Max. He climbs all over him, pulls his hair, bites (yes, we are working on it!), and can generally be quite the menace. Max takes it all in stride. The big bruise on the arm? A few tears, but back to playing right away. A few minutes ago Luke clocked Max with a block and gave him a bloody lip. Max came for cuddles, and in the sweetest voice said, "That hurt me really bad, Lucas. Please don't do that." And 99.5% of the time there's no retaliation. For my impulsive little boy, that's really saying something.

3. Only 9 days until my sister, brother-in-law, and niece come for Christmas. I am SO excited. I miss them so much, and this time together is just incredibly needed. Plus, I have the world's cutest niece.

4. The constant changes in our lives. For the past several years, I have been very fortunate. All around me friends and family have been welcoming new life and love into their worlds. Marriages and babies have abounded, and celebrations have been the name of the game. But in the last few months, there has been a slight shift in that joyous balance. Two dear friends have lost parents, and several more have parents facing severe health concerns. My own parents have had their challenges (While blessedly remaining very young!), and all around I am more aware of the role that aging will have on our lives in the coming years. These changes are scary and heartbreaking. But this post was about goodness, right? So here's my take. This Christmas season I want to soak in every moment. Really be aware that the changes are inevitable, but we have so many wonderful things to appreciate right now. No guarantees for later. I'm going to be thankful for what I've got. And try to celebrate even in the face of change.

5. Luke's becoming a person. A communicative person at that. Now, currently responds to most direct questions with a "yep", but he tosses in the occasional "go" and has a great finger wagging that goes with "no". It's pretty funny. And Max is almost always the first to notice a new word.

Ok, think that's the brain spew for now! I'll be back soon with pictures from the Chirstmas tree "hunting" trip. Glad to know that a few of you have recently joined me here, and your comments make my day every time!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Climber....

One thing I love is how the boys always keep me on my toes. Many of Luke's peers right now are stopping their mothers' hearts with wobbly steps and full-on running. Luke is giving me my heart attack a different way. Like his brother, this boy loves to climb.

And I can't be too mad - he's just too darn proud of himself!

Friday, November 28, 2008

It's been a year.

Ok, I'll apologize first. This is incredibly long, and pretty darn personal. If either of those make you the slightest bit uncomfortable, please come back another day - I'll understand, I promise. But give this mama a chance to reminisce...

Luke’s Birth Story

You always hear that second children come sooner than first children. I fully expected that this would be the case for Dan and I, as we anticipated the birth of our second son. Max was born the day before his due date, so I assumed that Luke would also be born early. After all, I had left lesson plans at school every day, and our sisters were coming to town for brief visits over the Thanksgiving weekend to meet him.

So, imagine my surprise when Luke’s Thanksgiving due date came and went without his arrival. I had been having contractions off and on since 23 weeks, and although they were coming more regularly, they never had a pattern or were particularly painful. As the Thanksgiving vacation wore on, we tried to enjoy our time with Erin and Alex and my parents, but the stress and anticipation were becoming increasingly difficult to put up with. I felt like the watched pot that was never going to boil. Sure enough, Sunday morning came, and Erin and Alex had to fly home. Dad also had to go back to Bend to take care of things there. Since I had been having semi-regular contractions all morning, my mom wanted to stick around – but I finally asked her to go home (I just couldn’t handle having anyone watching me and anticipating every twinge or feeling of discomfort as “the big sign”). The house wasn’t empty for long, though. Dan’s parents, Carrie, and her boyfriend Garth came over. Garth and Carrie were going to make us all lasagna, and we were going to spend the afternoon/evening watching football.

It was during the 4th quarter of the Broncos/Bears game that my contractions started to increase in frequency. It was nice to be distracted by an overtime win by the Bears, but soon into the second game of the evening they also began to increase in intensity. After about 30 minutes, I slipped away to the bedroom to begin timing them. At 5:30 they were coming from 4-7 minutes apart and were lasting around 45 seconds to a minute and a half. No set pattern, but they kept up like that for an hour. Dan came in, and we decided to call Christine (our doula and friend) and see what she thought. She suggested that we call the hospital or our midwife for their recommendation. The triage nurse I spoke with at the hospital recommended that since I was a VBAC patient I needed to come in now to begin monitoring.

Dan and I started to gather our things, and said goodbye to everyone here at the house. It was so convenient – Marian had her things in the car and was all prepared to watch Max. Honestly, that was the hardest – coming out from the bedroom and seeing Max sitting at the table eating lasagna, and having him ask me if we were going to the hospital so Baby Luke could come out. I hated leaving him behind. I hated that I didn’t get to have a couple of minutes alone to just hug my “only son” for the last time – but we had to be on our way, and I didn’t want to make a scene.

At 8:30 we arrived at St. Vincent, and called Christine so she could begin the journey up from Corvallis. We headed up to the Maternity ward, and got checked in with a triage nurse. After a series of questions and an exam, I was found to be 4-5 cm dilated and was having strong contractions. The triage nurse consulted with Christine Barlow, the midwife on duty, and they decided I would be staying. We called my parents, and they began the drive from Bend (we were having everyone gather at our house, and would call them when Luke was born to come to the hospital). Around 9:15 we got checked into a labor and delivery room.

One of the hardest parts of being a VBAC patient was the need for constant monitoring of me and the baby. From the moment we checked in until Luke was born, I had two belts that monitored contractions and Luke’s heart rate. I spent a great deal of time trying to keep the heart rate monitor in the right place, and frustrating nurses with the inability of my very round belly to keep the flat monitor attached.

Kandace, our first nurse, was very sweet – she was 13 weeks pregnant herself, and seeing a midwife from the same practice. When she learned that I wanted an intervention-free birth she was very supportive and encouraging. As long as the monitors were working, she encouraged me to have as much movement as I wanted. We could only go a short way up the hall (with me toting the IV pole with the telemetry unit attached), but we could wander around the room, shower, sit on the birthing ball, and stay out of bed as much as possible.

As was already becoming evident, this birth was not going to follow the same path that Max’s had taken. My contractions were not as regular, and varied a lot in intensity and duration. My progress was also not as quick. By 11:00 pm, Christine (doula) had arrived, and Christine (the midwife) had checked me – I was around 5-6 cm and 90 % effaced. It was slow going, but felt very manageable. We were encouraged to rest, and as the night/early morning wore on, I did rest a little. When I did, the contractions slowed down and spaced out. I really wanted things to hurry up – I felt guilty for having Christine out in the middle of the night for such slow progress, and I wanted Dan to sleep, knowing we had a long road ahead.

The time was spent talking with Dan and Christine, wandering the short hallway on my leash, sitting on the birthing ball, and laying down. Time was dragging, and I was starting to worry a little bit about why things weren’t progressing. Christine Barlow and Kandace kept reassuring me that things were just taking their time, and that it wasn’t a big deal. Christine was great at reminding me that Luke was taking the time he needed for things to go well. Dan was a champion cheerleader, offering great support at every turn.

Shift change was at 7:30 am. I knew that Christine was leaving, and that Mary Lewis-Rott (whom I was supposed to meet two weeks earlier, but was out sick that day) was coming on duty. Christine did a final check around 7:00, and I was 6-7 cm – not much progress for as long as things had been going on. This concerned Mary when she came on, and even more concerned was Dr. Stull, the OB on duty at the time. For “active labor”, things weren’t very active. It isn’t that the contractions didn’t hurt – most of them did. They just weren’t consistent, getting closer together, or getting longer. Dan and Christine were taking turns providing counter-pressure on my lower back, and we were trying some lunges to see if that would help things progress. But unfortunately, nothing was a sure-fire solution.

It was around 9:30 that the timeline started to become an issue. Felice, the new nurse on duty, and Mary suggested nipple stimulation in the shower, and like everything else, worked while it was happening, but didn’t produce any lasting effects. Around 10 am I finally consented to AROM (artificial rupture of membranes). That’s when things got a little crazy.

Almost instantly the contractions began coming one on top of another, and were of a whole different level of intensity. I remember crying and really feeling afraid of the pain that I was experiencing. That level of being out of control was terrifying, and I remember yelling over and over that I couldn’t do this. I remember Christine saying that we must be in transition – and I couldn’t believe that things could have changed that quickly. I was yelling and screaming and crying – all things that weren’t part of how I felt I would deal with labor. I was sure that AROM wouldn’t do anything, but sure enough, it did.

I don’t know when it was it was, but I remember Mary coming back into the room and telling me that we could try pushing. In my head I was thrilled to have made it to that point – but was terrified to experience what would come next. I had heard that pushing felt better than transition – at least it was a productive way to deal with the pain. In many ways, I agreed – doing something was better than doing nothing. I pushed in several positions over the next hour and a half, surrounded by the best cheerleading team ever. Felice and Christine were constantly encouraging me, and just as I would want to give up, Dan would tell me that he was proud of me. That’s something I will never forget – his voice in my ear telling me that he was proud of me. Really, in those moments, I knew it didn’t matter how all of it turned out – the man I love felt I was doing the best I could to bring our child into the world, and was there to support me every tough step of the way.

While my support team was incredible, I kept feeling like things weren’t going quite as they should. No matter how hard I pushed and how long we went, I didn’t feel like we were making any progress. While Mary felt we were moving small amounts, I knew that even she was concerned when she wanted to bring Dr. Stuhl in to check my progress. I remember asking her to be honest with me that things weren’t progressing and that we needed to move to the c-section. She didn’t want to say that, but with the doctor’s exam, in combination with how I was feeling, I felt ready to agree to move to surgery. It sounded like a relief – the opportunity to be sure that our son would be born soon, and the pain would end. I felt that I had given it all I had, and I was ready for what came next.

What I didn’t know was that the hardest part of the whole process was waiting for the anesthesiologist so we could begin the surgery. I was told that I had to stop pushing so that Luke wouldn’t get stuck, but the pain and urge/need to push was still there. Plus I had to lay in bed and just wait. That was the worst feeling I can ever remember. I became rather unpleasant, and remember yelling at the anesthesiologist to hurry up. Finally I was rolled into the operating room where I was prepped for surgery, and then blissfully received an epidural and spinal block. The minute that took effect, I began apologizing to everyone around for being so awful – they laughed, and assured me that I hadn’t been too bad. Dan was let into the operating room, and I remember feeling absolutely glorious knowing that very soon Luke would be in our arms. The surgery felt very quick, and at 12:40 pm on November 26th, Lucas Kieran Young was born.

Luke’s beautiful little cry was the most relieving sound I had ever heard, and soon after, Dan went with him to be weighed and measured. A few minutes later I got to see him and touch him for the first time – he was absolutely perfect. And after a long adventure, he was here.

Luke’s birth was not at all what I expected. Late when I expected early, slow when I expected fast, and a c-section when I’d hoped for a VBAC. But it was a beautiful, fulfilling journey. The slower pace allowed me to experience every moment in a conscious way. I got to share the experience with a good friend – a blessing that forced me to share my weakest self with someone I ordinarily wouldn’t. I depended heavily on Dan for strength, and he delivered more than I ever could have expected. I got to experience a great deal of a natural labor, and was thrilled that I got to push – an opportunity I felt robbed of the first time. And Luke was born in a moment that I was totally conscious in – aware of the beauty of the moment, and not at all concerned about the circumstance. I got everything that was important to me – and that made this experience a true gift.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Don't send out the National Guard....

Sorry to disappear! I really didn't intend to. I've actually been trying in vain to post a video for the last several days and am only now willing to admit defeat. It was really cute, and would have been totally worth it. But I guess it wasn't meant to be.

Today's post is mostly a chance for me to catch up on those little parts of the boys that I don't want to forget - if I don't write them down, they disappear.

- Some of my current favorite Max pronunciations: aldaready (already) and patteren (pattern)

- Luke can now stand on his own! It's so cute to see how proud he realizes that he's doing it on his own.

- Max drew his first person today - his buddy Ollie.

- We have a climber on our hands - Dan discovered Luke sitting on the kitchen table all by himself the other day. Max did the same thing about this age - a little scary, but I'm impressed by the resourcefulness.

-One week until my baby turns one. Not ready - not at all.

- Luke's first word? "Ma" No, not as in mama. As in Max. Max tells us all the time that Luke is his best friend. I hope they always are as close as they are right now.

- Luke is like his mama - he adores the phone. Any bells, alarms, buzzers or rings and his hand flies to his ear and he says "ello?" or "aye". So cute!

- Max is doing a great job with the preschool program Lauren does with him every morning. He loves letters and sounds, and can't get enough of rhyming words. It is so fun to watch him be so proud of hte work he has done, and we appreciate all the work Lauren puts into making it fun.

- Recently, Luke has started screaming "Dayyyy" (daddy) when he hears the door open at the end of the day. He crawls as quickly as he can to the door to give Dan a big hug, too.

All good stuff. Nothing that will change any worlds but mine - but I'll take it. And I don't want to forget to pay attention.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Ok, I'll warn you. This post - I'm not really sure where it's going. Lots of things on my mind today, and I'm sure that some of them I may regret saying here.

1. The election. Honestly, I am thrilled. I know I said a few posts ago that I would leave politics out of this space, but right now I am not sure that I can. From the moment I heard Obama at the 2004 DNC, I have been energized by his vision and his passion. I certainly don't agree with all of his politics or beliefs, but I believe that he has the ability to lead our country in a direction that renews hope and inspires us to take care of each other. He makes me want to be a better, more involved person, and gives me hope that once again the rest of the world will see us for the amazing people that we can be.

2. The election. I know that there are people that I care deeply about that are hurting right now. That the results rock them to the core, and that their fear about the morality and direction of our country are real and genuine. I understand that hurt and the raw nerves irritated by the celebration they perceive all around them. We all only want what we believe is best for our country, and sometimes that looks very different for different people. I don't want them to be hurting.

3. Fall's grand finale. As I pulled into our subdivision this afternoon, the trees are decidedly more bare than they were yesterday. The amazing colors and crisp fall smell are on their way out, and will soon be replaced with grey. That's a tough pill to swallow.

4. My baby's birthday. At the end of this month, my baby will be one. And with the surfacing of two molars and increased babbling/copying of sounds, it is all too evident that the toddler stage is fast approaching. Knowing that this is our last child, this is feeling all too fast. In so many ways, I wish I could re-live this last year over and over and over again. I love this baby part of their lives and the reality is that it's almost done.

You know? It's all about transition. And when I look at it written out that way, no wonder I'm feeling off today. I've never been good with change. The interminable election coming to a close, the awkwardness of bipartisan relationships that an election highlights, the onset of winter, and the end of an important part of our lives. That's a lot for little old me.

So don't mind me. Like my oldest, I have trouble with transitions. I'll make them, but not easily. Give me a few days to catch up.

In the meantime, here's a little cuteness:

Friday, October 31, 2008

What a happy Halloween it was....

Ignoring the major fit at bedtime ("My body's not tired! NOT TIRED!!"), it was a great evening.

For the first year, Max was completely into the Halloween thing. We had costume debates, practice trick-or-treat sessions, and candy negotiations. But what it all resulted in was a double stroller carrying a duck and a lobster around the neighborhood, meeting some of our neighbors for the first time.

Hoisting Max out of the stroller, watching him walk (after usually asking his Daddy for help/courage) up to the door and ringing the doorbell, and gleefully picking a piece of candy out of the bowl was so much fun. Luke and I hung out at the stroller. Then Max would scamper back down the sidewalk to try and climb back into the stroller in his fluffy pile of feathers before we moved on to the next house.

We were afraid he would want to go forever. But after about 7 stops, he announced he was done. As we walked home he did decide to visit a couple more houses, but by the time we got home he asked, "Why did we go to so many houses?".

Luke? In typical Luke fashion, he hung out. Happy camper, fell asleep when we got home - didn't even get him out of his costume yet. Next year will be more fun for him.

So much fun - being a parent really makes the holiday.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A fun post...

My friend Emily did this on her blog the other day, and I thought I would give it a shot. You should try it - and if you blog it, please let me know so I can read it!

Ten Things I Wish I Could Say to Ten Different People Right Now:

1. "Please be careful. I still need you more than you know."
2. "Thank you. I can only hope that you know how lucky we are to have you."
3. "You inspire me. Someday let's meet."
4. "Thank you for loving them."
5. "I'm here. A long way away, but I'm here. And someday you might know what that means."
6. "Thanks for always being on my side."
7. "NO biting!"
8. "I miss you. I wish you were here."
9. "I'm so sorry. This stinks. You don't deserve it and it isn't fair."
10. "You are not alone. You don't have to be so strong. Lean on us."

Nine Things About Myself:
1. My feet are my favorite body part.
2. Sometimes I would rather be on the computer than playing with the boys.
3. I often only shave below my knees.
4. When I have a tough day ahead, I wear a necklace that was one of my Grandmother's diamonds. It makes me feel like she is there, and gives me strength.
5. I adore the Chicago Bears, and have been counting down to the beginning of basketball season.
6. I am often too lazy to do the creative things that I want to do, surfing the web instead.
7. If I could, I would wear a hoodie every day.
8. I can't live without TIVO.
9. I want to move, just to be forced to clean everything out!

Eight Ways to Win My Heart:
1. Rub my shoulders.
2. Support my crazy fixations with cloth diapers and baby wearing.
3. Praise the virtues of Walter Payton, Buck Williams or Rasheed Wallace
4. Play Jimmy Buffet's "Little Miss Magic"
5. Chocolate
6. Be honest. Tactful, but honest.
7. Surprise kindnesses
8. Love my boys

Seven Things That Cross My Mind a Lot:
1. How can someone still be undecided?
2. Why can't there be more hours in the day?
3. Thank goodness for half-time!
4. They are the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
5. I'm so glad we got the red couch. (Yes, I still feel that way after 6 years!)
6. It's all going too fast.
7. I'm not done yet.

Six Things I Do Before I Fall Asleep:
1. Turn off the computer
2. Drink two glasses of water
3. Brush my teeth
4. Take out my contacts
5. Read
6. Nurse Luke and watch him sleep

Five People Who Mean a Lot:
1. Max
2. Luke
3. Dan
4. Mom and Dad
5. Erin

agh! only 5?

Four Things I'm Wearing Right Now:
1. Nursing tank top
2. Penguin pajama bottoms
3. Wedding ring
4. Two toe rings

Three Songs I Listen to a Lot: [at the moment]
1. "Grand Canyon" Ani DiFranco
2. "Little Liza Jane" Elizabeth Mitchell
3. "Banana Pancakes" Jack Johnson

Two Things I Want to Do Before I Die:
1. Fight my own laziness to pursue those things which I am passionate about.
2. Raise good people. Inspire them to make our world more kind.

One Confession:
Sometimes my motivation to go out and do something is so that I have something to write about here!

I'm not sure whether or not to write this...

I haven't been on in a while. And part of that is that life is just busy. Sometimes by the end of the day, I don't have anything coherent to write. And sometimes I would just rather do something else.

But the other part is this: I don't want to offend anybody. I don't want to post things that could bother those friends and family that spend their busy moments stopping by here every once in a while. And my brain has been a little fixated on that which might offend. Yup - what I am beating around the bush is the upcoming election.

Here we are, 9 days before the election of the next president. And as much as I have always followed and been interested in politics, I am not sure I have ever felt quite as passionately as I do right now. I truly feel that the future of our country will be greatly shaped by the person that becomes our next leader. Maybe more so now than any election I remember. And I desperately hope that one candidate beats the other.

It's hard.

I know that people I care about feel very differently than I do. These are people that I respect. I don't understand where they are coming from, and I know that I will not change their mind.

So I've decided to leave my candidate of choice out of this post.

Instead, I have come to you tonight with my true agenda for this post. Vote. Just that. Please vote. Vote with your head and your heart. Research, research, research. Feel good about the choices we have. Make the choice that rings true with the hopes you have for our country, our world. Honor those who fought for our opportunity to complete a ballot. And then celebrate.

I cast my ballot last week (love that Vote-by-mail!). While I didn't get to model to Max and Luke the process of going to a local election site and cast my vote like my mom modeled for me, we did a little dance and sang an impromptu voting song as we marched to the mailbox. And I felt lucky to finally have an opportunity to vote for someone I believe in.

I hope the same for you. And I guess that's all I want to say about that.

Oh - and if you are in Clackamas county, please vote for our libraries.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pumpkin Patch....

One of my favorite things about fall is the chance to go to the Pumpkin Patch. I adore the "Charlie Brown-ness" of it all - it just feels right to be there. And at this point I don't think I could bring myself to buy a pumpkin at a store. Being surrounded by the beautiful leaves, the smell of caramel corn, and the field of pumpkins makes fall feel real and right.

Last Friday the boys and I met with our playgroup out at Liepold Farm to gather pumpkins and play in their play area. We lucked out and missed the rain that had been visiting all week, and despite the cold the kiddos loved running aroung pushing the minature wheelbarrows and picking pumpkins. The mamas enjoyed reminiscing about our pregnant bellies the year before, and how much busier our lives were now that all of the second children have arrived. A great time was had by all.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Our Soundtrack....

I LOVE music. Not making (as my parents and sister can attest after 8 years of saxaphone), but listening. I never was a trend setter, or felt the need to know the most obscure "cool" bands. I still don't! In fact, my own musical interests haven't changed much since my senior year of college when I tended toward "angry chick" and music that reminded me of home.

What has changed a great deal is my listening habits. Where it was never a big deal to listen to Snoop Dogg or Ani DiFranco as I cruised around town or cleaned the house, I now find myself becoming quite the prude about the language that the boys hear in the songs I sing along with in the car. Especially once Max started repeating back some of the lyrics.

So, often I find myself feeling relegated to the world of children's music. For the first couple years of Max's life, I was convinced that meant years of cringing to the cheery-but-annoying strains of The Wiggles and Raffi. I could survive it, but often chose silence over having to listen to "Toot Toot Chugga Chugga" one more time. I missed music.

But I'm writing today because, once again, I am in love with the soundtrack of my current life.

My ipod is still playing lyrically appropriate tunes - but now they are the joyous strains of three fabulous musicians. And because they make my rainy days brighter, I have to share them with you, too. Turns out that there is a whole world of non-annoying music to which my boys and I can sing and dance:

Dan Zanes - I first learned about Dan Zanes from Jessica Sprague's blog. Then I caught one of his songs on the Disney channel, and I fell in love with his goofy, non-creepy attitude. It turns out that his music is just as fun, ranging from classic folk songs to current tunes like "Thrift Shop". Max often asks for Dan Zanes, and he can almost always inspire a dance party. Our favorite CDs are Nighttime, Family Dance and House Party.

Elizabeth Mitchell - Gotta say that I'm not sure where I first learned of Elizabeth Mitchell. May have been over on SouleMama. But what I do know is just how much I am taken with her calm, quiet voice that is both simple and true. Where Zanes is dance party, Mitchell is for lunchtime and moving into nap - or any time my boys need a calming influence. Can't choose a favorite album, any of the three are delightful.

Frances England - This is my most recent. I've only got her first one, but the second is on the way from Amazon right now. Her sound is more indie-rock, but with kid tunes like "Diggin' in the Dirt". Have turned it on even when there are no kids in the room. And a fun fact? Her first album, "Fascinating Creatures" was originally done as a fundraiser for her child's preschool.

One of the greatest things about all three of these artists is the fact that their cds were available at our local library! I was able to check them out without investment, and now support them constantly by giving their cds to new parents I know. SO fun.

SO, check them out! And if you've got any other suggestions for me, I'm all ears - Max has recently fallen in love with Kool and the Gang's Jungle Boogie, and I need a good excuse to turn it off!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A week in the life...

This last week I found myself involved in a great project by the amazing Ali Edwards. On her blog she welcomed/challenged people in joining her in recording a week of our everyday lives. Since I practically worship at her feet, I decided to join in - but that definitely took over the time I would normally give to blogging. So I don't have a whole lot to say today - but thought I'd share a few of my favorite shots from last week.

Disclaimer: no photo editing (which they all need) and a strong overload of Luke - I have been so frustrated with all of my pictures of him lately that I was happy to get a few I even slightly liked.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Apples, apples everywhere....

(My sister and brother-in-law in 2004)

A few years ago (pre-children), Dan and I took a great trip to Ottawa to hang out with my sister and brother-in-law. While we were there, they took up out to a local apple orchard to pick apples. We had an incredible time - pure, little-kid-loving-the-moment fun. And since then, I have wanted to go again.

So when my sister mentioned that they were taking my beautiful niece apple picking, I went to my trusty laptop to find a u-pick orchard around here. After a little searching, Kiyokawa Family Orchards became our destination. Now, I am incredibly lucky because Dan is great at appeasing my whims, and willing to drive while I sit in the passenger seat and knit (gotta love that!!!).

We were lucky enough to get a beautiful day with incredible views of the mountain. The orchard had a great fort that Max enjoyed running around in, and the Golden Supremes and Galas were ready for picking. As always, the fun of the picking overtook any practical need for THAT many apples, but at 59 cents a pound, it's not a big deal. Max looked like such a kid, and Luke was thrilled to hold and bite an apple of his own. Our only worry? The potential for sunburn (mommy forgot the sunscreen on the last weekend of September). Talk about feeling fortunate.

No deep reflection - just wanted to share a great day and some fun pictures (photography by Dan).

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Our Garden...

Now, most of you know that I grew up "out in the country". We raised cows and pigs, rode horses, and had to change irrigation pipe on a daily basis. So it may surprise you to know that we never really had a garden. Just wasn't on the agenda for my parents (and who can blame them - they had enough going on). Plus, my Grandpa was a Gardener with a PhD in tomatoes - like hundreds of pounds a year - and they gave us a lot of their bounty.

So I was a little surprised last year when I was struck with this crazy urge to garden. No, strike that. I wanted cherry tomatoes. But I figured that while I was at it, we should toss in a few other things. Dan helped me build two raised beds, and my dad took me to go get soil to fill them. Then, this past February, Max and I started some seeds.

They died. I would forget to water them, and they never seemed to be growing past the initial sprout. And I almost gave up.

But we decided to give it a second go. In April we planted some peas, lettuce seed, and cilantro. And then in May we planted tomato starts, peppers, and some herbs. These didn't die. In fact, the tomatoes and peas grew like crazy, and we even had some pumpkins sprout from the seeds that were in the compost. And several times a week, Max likes to go out and check his garden. We talk about which tomatoes are ready to pick, and how to be gentle and not damage the plant. We stood outside and ate peas by the handful. We speculate over the pepper that has grown to be very obviously not what was on the little label from the nursery. And we soak in the enjoyment of time together in our special little space.

My original goal has been met. We have eaten more cherry tomatoes than I ever thought possible. And with trepidation I am starting to watch the weather forecasts for our first freeze and the end of the garden season. Having my little garden has made me feel more connected to the memory of my Grandpa while connecting with my child. I'm going to miss it. But at the same time, I can't wait until next season - there are more things I want to try, and for that we may just need to build another bed or two...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

On the move....

Can you see it? The twinkle in the eye? That's the look that brings the squeal of excitement to my lips and the catch in the throat. Our baby? He's on the move.

Luke is rapidly crawling his way out of that baby stage and letting us know that the toddler he will become isn't all that far away. He cruises the house at a rapid pace, and pulls up on anything in reach. From hoisting himself into the empty bathtub to trying to ride Max's push bike, he's taking life head on, and has the bumps and bruises to prove it. And while he isn't the comparative giant that he used to be (at his 9 month appointment he was 30 inches - 95th percentile, but only 20 lbs - 50th percentile) his personality and smile are bigger than ever.

One of my favorite things happened this last weekend. The light bulb went on in a major way, and he has started actively, consistently started signing "milk" to us when he is hungry. We saw it with Max, but it amazes me all over again to watch the glee in his eyes when he knows we understand what he is trying to tell us. Yeah, it's lead to an increase in nursing sessions, because he's often just trying it out to see if it still works. But you know what? Who cares?

The other change? For this month, anyway, Luke has become quite the mama's boy. I don't know if it is me being back at work, or just a phase, but he wants mama in sight or holding him almost all the time. It's tiring - especially at the end of a long day. But you know what? Since the rest of his day is dedicated to moving up and away, I'm going to take full advantage of those times when he wants to be held close. It won't be much longer.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The next great Orator?

Max's imaginary play has taken a fun turn lately. For a long time, it was all in his head - you'd see him moving toys around with definite intent and enjoyment, but exactly what was going on was anybody's guess.

No more - the imaginary play is now accompanied by full on dialog - sometimes in the form of conversations between one toy and another, and other times with Max addressing the toys as the leader of whatever action he is imagining. It is so much fun to watch the situations develop, the characters come out. His toys are gaining names (today we were joined by Edward and Travis - names that we have no idea where he got), and have tasks to accomplish.

The other day he gathered all of his cars and trucks on his parking garage where they could "watch a movie". The movie? Max standing in front of them singing the hokey pokey. Today he lined several of his people up on the chair so he could instruct them. He found his microphone, stood in front of them, and began issuing directions for building cages for a new zoo. He would throw in instructions like "be sure to be responsible" and "we all have a job to do here". My favorite was when Luke crawled over to join him, Max proceeded to tell the toys, "This is my brother Luke - he doesn't know how to play with you yet."

I just can't wait to see where this imagination and desire for leadership and direction take him - and feel pretty lucky to be along for the ride...