20 May 2015

Finn | Eight Months

Did I just type eight months? Great, now I'm crying.

These short months keep speeding up faster and faster. I wish I could slow them down with all my might. 

At eight months, the inchworm crawl is Finn's preferred mode of transportation. All of those crumbs and lego pieces under the kitchen table are no longer safe. He has also become our household mop since he constantly drags his belly across the hardwood floors. 
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I finally toughened up and let him start crying it out a bit during the night. It broke my heart, but eight months of multiple feedings a night was really wearing on me. I was quite the grump when I was awoken at 1:30am, 3:30am, 5:30am, 6:30am, 7:30am...you get the picture. I was no good for the rest of my family. When Troy came home from a two-week business trip to Virginia Beach, I asked him which of our boys' bad nighttime habits we should tackle first; binky hoarding, thumbsucking, bedwetting or constant nursing. Without hesitation, he said we should start with Finn so I could get some sleep. 
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It's a good thing Finn can put himself back to sleep with his thumb. He grasps on to anything he can find while sucking his thumb, including berry twigs. I kind of love thumbsucking, even if the habit is hard to break when they are five. I'll take the years of sleep in the meantime.
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12 May 2015

Mother's Day

As a mother, I experience the rawest of emotions.

I struggle and ache and worry and hurt. 

I am frustrated and exasperated and exhausted and harrowed.

I have a tattered body and frazzled mind and tired spirit.

But because I am a mother, I also experience moments deep, deep love that make it all worth it.
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I gathered up the boys a week before Mother's Day to attempt a shot of all four of them to send to the grandmas. I was grateful for one decent shot since most of them looked like this:
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Could they be any less enthused?

The boys sure make me work for those smiles.
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Mother's Day weekend started out like many weekends do; taking a trip to the beach.
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It was cool and overcast and I forgot the sand toys, but the boys had no problem finding entertainment with logs and sticks. 
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Mother's Day was filled with handmade cards and meals from my boys and church messages expressing appreciation for mothers. We topped off the evening with a walk around the neighborhood and stopped at our favorite lemon grove where the lemons are free for the taking.
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I only got one (blurry) shot with only one of my little ones. 
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If I'm being honest, Mother's Day is a bittersweet holiday for me. I always expect to have only joy as I appreciate the great gift it is to be a mother and recognize all of the mothers who influence my life and the lives of my children. It should be a relief to have a break from cleaning up messes I didn't make and cooking for little people who don't appreciate the effort. And who doesn't love sweet hugs and phone calls and presentations of homemade gifts? Especially when my seven year old proclaims, "She is the best mom I had in my whole life!"

I feel guilty that all of those things aren't enough to make this day a welcomed celebration. Although Mother's Day is always filled with feelings of love and recognition and gratitude, it comes as a surprise to me each year that feelings of mourning also creep up. I can't help but look around at other mothers and children and feel the unwelcome intrusion of jealousy that comes with comparison. It seems as if all of my inadequacies as a mother are brought to the surface as I am reminded of all of the areas where I am falling short.

My mom happened to be in town over the weekend and we ran out to a few stores late on Friday night after getting the boys to bed. We were laughing deliriously about the scavenger hunt we were on to find a few items. I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard while trying to keep my composure in the checkout lane. The guy in line behind us overheard our conversations throughout the store and asked us if we located everything on our scavenger hunt. That made us laugh even harder. The evening was hilarious and memorable, but it was also a stark reminder of the mother/daughter relationship that I will never pass on.

And so, Mother's Day for me means joy, but it also means tears. Just keeping it real.

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07 May 2015

Counterfeit Money

The tooth fairy paid another visit to our house this week and it reminded me of the first time a tooth was lost. Blake was beyond thrilled about his dollar bill that he received under his pillow. A few nights later, he proudly walked upstairs to show me that he had doubled his money. He exclaimed, "Now I have TWO dollars!"
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I died laughing. He had taken his dollar bill and made color copies of both sides, cut them out, and glued them together. He even went as far as to chalk the edges in yellow to give his new dollar an "aged" look.
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We tried to explain to him that he couldn't actually spend the duplicate dollar. He did not understand why until we thoroughly explained the process of minting to him.  Now, he's convinced that he is going to go to jail if someone finds his counterfeit money.

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06 May 2015

iPhoneography: Childhood Unplugged

My friend combined a collection of iPhone clips into this short video. It's a little glimpse into how just about every day ends around here; friends, water and running galore. We really love our neighborhood if you can't tell.

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04 May 2015

Girls' Weekend

Eleven years ago, I hopped in a car with two of my friends from college and one of their younger sisters and we drove through the night from Michigan to Florida. Our spring break consisted of snorkeling, boating, lying out at the beach (childless!) and creating a synchronized swimming routine to Josh Groban's "You Life Me Up." Friends episodes were watched on repeat and there wasn't a moment where we weren't talking nonstop or laughing hysterically. An instant foursome was formed and we spent the next few years rooming together in various combinations until all of us were married.

We've been through final exams, graduations, missions, careers, break-ups, hook-ups, engagements, weddings, funerals, sickness, pregnancies, miscarriages, infertility, births, moves, and parenthood together. We've supported each other though the happiest days of our lives and cried with each other during our deepest trials. We've sought advice from each other on just about every topic imaginable.

We used to dream about becoming moms and meeting up in the middle of the day to push our strollers around together. Instead, we spread out all over the U.S. and our gatherings became few and far between. But not even distance could lessen the bond of friendship we share.

We always pick up right where we left off when we have the opportunity to be in the same place at the same time. We've been able to gather in groups of two or three during various trips to Michigan or Utah, but it has been three years since all four of us have been together.

When my friend Kristen moved into her newly built house in Utah and extended an invitation for all of us to come visit, Troy almost pushed me out the door to make it happen. It seemed silly to go back to the state that I just moved away from two months ago, but I couldn't pass up an epic girls' weekend. Especially since I usually get my fill of friends in Michigan and we're not planning on making our annual trip this summer. I just couldn't go more than a year without seeing these faces.
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Troy willingly volunteered to take a vacation day so I could go enjoy the weekend with my friends. He battled coughing and multiple rounds of throw up with the three older boys at home while I sat back and enjoyed the company of my one little travel companion. 

I had to drive myself to LAX which made me a tad nervous, considering it is one of the busiest airports in America and I had a baby in tow. I didn't know how much traffic I would have to battle or if the parking lots I researched would be shady. Thankfully, I arrived with time to spare and the parking situation went smoothly. I snuggled up sweet baby Finn and thought to myself over and over how easy it was to travel with one child.
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My friend Stephanie brought her kids along with her so they could spend time with their cousin. They doted over baby Finn. 
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It was strange to be back in a place that felt like home, but it wasn't home. The roads felt so familiar and every direction I looked, I had a memory. The Home Depot where I shopped for endless home repairs. The gas station where I filled up countless times. The movie theater that Troy would have moved into if they let him. The hospital where I delivered my babies. The mountains that could always tell me if I was driving east or west.

It seemed a little dramatic to get so emotional when we've only been gone two months. It was just a really weird feeling to see everything in the same place and everyone going about the same routine when we've gone off and started this whole other life. 

Since the location for our rendezvous happened to be in a city where I had lots of nearby friends and family, it ended up being a crazy weekend of trying to see everyone in addition to my college friends. Immediately upon landing and jumping in a rental car, I rushed to my sister-in-law's graduation open house. My parents were in town for that so I saw them briefly before they headed home. I went to lunch with the girls from my book club and we chatted for three hours. It seemed so normal to be meeting up for lunch; like I hadn't ever really moved away. I had dinner with Troy's family, too, who were overjoyed to have a grandchild in their house. It was much quieter and the house stayed much cleaner than it usually does when we invade.

Even though there was so much to fit in, I felt so blessed to spend time with the majority of my favorite people all in one weekend. I don't know if everyone is as lucky as I am to have such strong circles of girlfriends. 

I loved the chances we had to talk, uninterrupted, for hours on end. Both my college friends and my book club friends have played such significant roles in my life and I will forever be grateful that they were placed in my path just when I needed them. My friend Stephanie put it this way:
We relate to each other on so many levels with motherhood but also with womanhood and how we balance our needs/goals/work/passions with those of our children and families. It's so nice to have a support system of females who "get" where we are in life and are so loving about whatever we want to talk to them about. We laugh so hard and weigh all our issues and cry with each other about the things that are rough. We talk about how the stresses of life affect our marriages, how to know when we're done having babies (and how that feels), how to pursue things just for ourselves (and not feel guilty), how to talk to our kids about hard topics, how to balance busy church assignments on top of everything else we have going on, how our bodies have changed with motherhood (and the details that only other women really get), how fast our babies are growing up (and how that feels), how to balance relationships in our extended families, how we discipline in parenting, how we each manage our money, how we still like to buy cute clothes and not feel like schleppy moms, how we make things special for our families, how we still have dreams, how we still have funny recurring nightmare dreams (pregnant on top of the cheerleading stunt, lost on the first day of college, unable to remember our locker combinations, back in our dating lives but still married...), how we feel about growing older, how we still want to travel places, how we all end up traveling to Disneyland instead (but, oh, the magic that we moms know when we see our kids' eyes). We talk and talk and talk and talk and somehow when we part we all feel buoyed up. We're not in this alone. Even if our conversations don't solve our problems, they're enough to make us feel better. 
Women need women. I didn't used to understand that, but I really do now. Especially since I am outnumbered five to one in my house full of boys. I feel so blessed to have a few circles of female friends that bless my life with so much joy.

I could probably go on mushing all day, so let me change to the subject of bread before the tears of gratitude start pouring out. Can we talk for a minute about how California has no good bread? I have tried probably 13 different brands since moving here, and for the love of toast, they are all awful. Everything else about California is amazing but I have been dying for some Grandma Sycamore's bread for months (I know, first world problems). It is only sold in Utah, apparently.

So, an extra perk of being in Salt Lake for the weekend was a trip to Costco on the way back to airport. Also known as the land of plenty; where rows and rows of neatly stacked Grandma Sycamore's bread are just there for the taking. 
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I settled on bringing home six loaves. I would have bought more if I had more suitcase room. Five of the loaves are safely tucked away in my freezer and I'm rationing one slice a day for my morning peanut butter toast. They key is to toast it just the right amount and remove it from the toaster instantly upon popping. Wait to eat it for a minute or two after spreading the peanut butter on the hot toast and it gets all buttery smooth. It's basically like heaven in a slice of toast. 

While I was at Costco, I figured I might as well pick up some Hibachi Chicken as take-out from my favorite nearby sushi joint. I don't like sushi. But it is my favorite restaurant because I love the Hibachi Chicken and noodles so much. 
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I eventually did board my plane with a full heart and a full tummy. I even snagged some Pinkberry frozen yogurt in the terminal, so I basically hit the jackpot of my favorite foods all within a few hours. I came home late at night to a husband that was more than ready to hand the parenting reigns back to me. But they managed just fine while I was away, as Blake so frankly summarized:
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I was home for about six hours before Troy took off for a work trip. I am incredibly grateful for a husband who sent me off to spend time with my best friends because he knows how important they are to me. Minus the cold rain, the weekend was delightful in every way.

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