Sunday, December 20, 2015

Remember This!

In the next week or so, life is going to change drastically. We'll soon be meeting the newest member of our family and I know that transition is going to be rocky and lovely and full of cuddles and tears and heart-swells and meltdowns {from all of us}. Part of me cannot wait, especially since I got my final grades submitted and I am officially done with work for the next few months, but the other part of me wants to bottle up as many memories of our family of four as possible before all of our lives change forever. Between the stresses of work and the to-do lists before the baby arrives are these moments when I am acutely aware that this phase of our life is so incredibly fun and special. The boys are each in a crazy awesome stage and, even though I totally dropped the ball never even picked up the ball on many holiday traditions this year, I feel like this Christmas has the potential to be one of the most magical we've ever had.

So, in order for my soon-to-be-scrambled brain to recall the way life was right now, here are some observations of our life lately.

Every morning, the boys wake up and come into our room to get one of us up. It was always me they got first until a few weeks ago when Gehrig started waking Jason instead. I didn't question it because...why would I mess with a good thing? Then one morning Jason overheard Gehrig whispering to Milo, "Just don't wake up Mom! She needs to rest because of the baby in her belly." Since then, they both climb on Jason's side of the bed and let me "sleep in."

One of my favorite things to do is listen to the games the boys come up with while they play together. It's of course fun to play with them, but discovering what they dream up on their own is amazing to me. Most of the time they get along and will cooperate with the other's ideas, though Milo still gets "scared" when Gehrig {as whatever animal he's chosen to be that day} attacks or chases him. This is ironic because when the game does get too rough, Milo is always more aggressive and his older brother is usually the one getting hurt.

Gehrig is constantly impressing us with his desire and ability to read. He picked out an Easy Reader "for the baby" {it's about dinosaurs...} and read the whole thing in the car on the way home with very little help from Jason. When he read it to me that night, I cried. It's sort of incredible and my current brag-worthy topic. Also, I'm pregnant and emotional.

Milo is one of the funniest people I've ever met. If you need a laugh, come have dinner with him. He spends the entire meal trying to get everyone at the table laughing and, even though I shouldn't encourage some of the behavior {eating like a dog, burping, not eating any of his food because he's too busy making "jokes" etc.}, the facial expressions and giggles he makes are just too much for me to handle. Jason says Milo gets away with so much more than Gehrig does/did, and I'm not sure if it's actually true, but something about his delivery makes it impossible for me not to smile. In fact, when he does get scolded, he furrows his brow and laments, "ohhh, dat was just joke.."

Other things to remember about Gehrig right now:
He talks about animals, all day every day; cries when the snow melts {what is up with this mild Michigan winter??}; was called "the definition of a good listener" by his teachers; thinks the baby is a boy and we should name him Owen {his friend at school}; likes bossing his little brother around; wants to be a Wild Kratt when he grows up.

Other things to remember about Milo right now:
He loves playing cars and trucks; is not interested in potty training AT ALL; has the poutiest lip when his feelings are hurt, but also has the biggest attitude when he doesn't get his way; cuddles with me more than his brother ever did; thinks the baby is a boy and we should name him Owen; repeats everything his brother says.

Both boys are obsessed with the baby. They check my belly constantly and give the baby hugs and kisses. Milo continually asks if he'll get to hold the baby, which ends in an argument between them about who gets to hold the baby first {mom! mommy does!}. They're going to be amazing brothers to this kid.

All-in-all this pregnancy has been pretty smooth. Emotional? Yes. Uncomfortable? Yes. Weird symptoms I've never had before? Absolutely. But when it's all said and done, this baby has been good to me. The semester kept me very busy, which is always an excellent distraction, but now that it's OVER {if I could drink, I'd throw myself a giant fiesta with alllll the beer and margaritas}, I am overly excited to relax for a couple days {weeks? hours? who can tell?} before baby comes. Unfortunately I'll just be drinking tea, water, and orange juice to try and kick the cold I caught from my germy preschooler while I try to stock up energy for labor. Along with the end of work stress  always comes the beginning of viruses, which is not ideal right now, but when is it really? Just give me all the good vibes and prayers and clementines you can, ok?

So, off I go to wait for labor to start. Have the most peaceful of Christmases with those you love!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Jason & Brenna - A Love Story {Part II}

See {Part I} here.

Where were we? Ah, yes. The breakup...

There are some important logistical factors to understand here. I am originally from Saginaw {east side of Michigan} where Jason was going to school, but he is originally from Temperance {southeast Michigan} and I was attending school in Grand Rapids {west Michigan}. There is a 2-3 hour drive between each of these places.

We had been dating for three months in the Fall of 2004. I was home for Thanksgiving break. He was home for Thanksgiving break. We were frustrated with the situation and with each other and the giant triangle between all our separate homes. It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving and we were having a tense conversation about not seeing each other or being able to spend the holiday together. I had still never met his family and my family had very little opportunity to get to know him. Things just did not seem to be in our favor. I can't remember who brought it up or how the conversation actually ended up there, but we decided to break up.

Later that night I went to a friend's house with a group of people, including my roommate, Katie, who knew more about Jason and I than anyone. I told her what happened and confessed how much I hated it. I realized then that I wasn't ready to be done with our relationship, but didn't really see how it could work, especially if he was ready to be done.

I tried to sleep that night, but ended up awake watching Pirates of the Caribbean and crying about our breakup. Halfway through the movie, Jason called. 

We spent the rest of the night talking about how we both sort of regretted it coming to this, but also decided that we must have broken up for a logical reason, since neither of us were the emotionally dramatic type who would dump someone in the middle of a fight just because we were upset. We decided to continue talking, but to stay broken up so that we could figure out what we really wanted.

For the next month we tried to give each other space, but I'm not sure how well we did since it turned out we both just really wanted to be together. Jason had a wedding to go to right before Christmas and asked me to be his date. I of course said yes. I wore a Claddagh ring every day back then, which, when worn with the heart facing out means you're single, and if the heart is facing in toward your heart, it means you're taken. When Jason picked me up for the wedding, he gave me white roses and asked me to turn my ring back toward my heart. So, we were officially back together. {Whew! Aren't you relieved? I know you were worried...}

We spent the next three years becoming really good at our long distance relationship. I was kind of a stressed out mess in college and Jason proved to be my steadying ground, as he continues to do eleven years later. I filled my time with friends and school, he had baseball and his own friends and school. Looking back I recognize how being content in our own separate lives made it much easier for us to be content with each other and our relationship, too. We also accepted that keeping score was never going to make this work, so we tried our best to keep the tallies about visits and phone calls at bay. It definitely was not easy, but there was a whole lot of trust and a whole lot of patience involved to get us through.

Jason proved to be the master of surprises. One rainy night I had class late and missed the last bus back to my apartment, so I called Katie to come get me. Ten minutes later, Jason pulled up, all suave and stuff, as if it was perfectly normal for me to see him on a Wednesday evening. One year on my birthday, I got home from class to find him sitting outside my apartment. Those surprise visits were the best.

I tried my hardest to reciprocate them.  By year two I finally had a car and could contribute some weekend visits. On Halloween, my roommates and I were in Ann Arbor for the night. Jason was at his parents' house about an hour away and thought I was heading back to school the next day. Instead, I drove down in the middle of the night to surprise him and stay the weekend. Unfortunately, he was sound asleep and didn't hear his cell phone ringing 200 times when I arrived. My choices were: sleep in my car in the driveway and just see him the morning {but he was right inside!}, drive back to Ann Arbor and try again in the morning {I was broke and gas was expensive}, or ring the doorbell and hope he woke up before his parents {ugh. This seemed like the best option}. I'm still embarrassed about scaring his mom and dad out of their bed while Jason was sound asleep in the basement and I learned that I am not awesome at surprises.

When Jason graduated in 2006, he moved back to Temperance and started working while I still had a few semesters left to go. I studied in Ireland that summer and after living across the state from each other for two years, being across the ocean didn't feel that different {except that I was, you know, in Ireland}. By this point we had talked about our future and knew that once I graduated we'd be getting married.

In Summer of 2007, I was still living in Grand Rapids, finishing an internship and working while he was also working/looking for a different job {though options were limited and he started to consider going back to school. A story for another time}. In August Jason was coming for a visit to celebrate our 3-year anniversary. I was working in an office with my roommate, Kendall's, boyfriend, who had told me all about his plan to propose to her that weekend. I was so excited and kept telling Jason updates about it - "her ring is so pretty!"- and when he came to pick me up to go to dinner and my other roommates, Katie and Sarah, stood on the porch waving excitedly and breaking into some sort of tap dance, I was somehow oblivious to something else going on.

He surprised me {again with the surprises} by taking me to a swanky restaurant by the river in Grand Rapids. We had the most delicious, most expensive steak I've ever had before taking a walk along the river. As the sun was setting, Jason told me to turn around and when I looked down he had the ring out and he asked me to marry him. I said yes {did you figure that out already?} and, once Jason got over his fear of the ring falling into the river, he let me put it on. We spent the rest of the evening calling family and friends to tell them the news. Our parents already knew since he had driven to Saginaw to ask them for their blessing {my dad's initial response was, "you know she's still in school, right?" which remains one of my favorite stories ever} and his mom had found a picture of the ring he had saved up for that year. My roommates also knew, hence the tap dance as we drove away. And it turned out that Kendall and her now husband got engaged on the same day, which Jason knew would happen because of all my gabbing about their proposal.

I graduated that December and moved to Toledo, Ohio, down the street from Jason. For the first time in 3.5 years, we lived in the same town and were planning our wedding for October 18, 2008. Luckily, it turned out that we still really liked each other, maybe even more so, when we saw each other daily and didn't have to plan the next weekend visit. Yay, love!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Jason & Brenna - A Love Story {Part I}

Jason and I are celebrating our 7-year wedding anniversary this weekend. I've been wanting to write down our story for a long time and this feels like a good year to finally do it. So, here is the first installment...

It was the end of my senior year of high school and I needed to find a second job for the summer before I moved across the state for college. A friend of mine recommended a local 9-hole golf course, so I applied and got the job along with another good friend of mine. It was sort of the perfect gig - working with friends, flexible hours to make time for my other job, laid-back owners who didn't really care how much pop or cookies I consumed, a TV in the clubhouse, downtime to read in between customers, and a bunch of guys who worked outside, one of whom was suuuuper cute.

I actually remember the first time I saw him. I was at the cash register, probably getting the cart key for an 80-year-old regular, when a guy walked in dressed in dirty blue sweatpants, a Cardinals Baseball t-shirt, and sort of messy blondish hair. He was tan and cute and....didn't say a word to me. I found out his name later by snooping through the time cards and figuring out, by process of elimination, who he was.

All the employees at the golf course had to help at a kids' league every Thursday morning {never mind the fact that most of us knew nothing about golf}. The owner, Bud {his name really sums up who he is}, would pair up the employees and send us out with a group of kids to play. I was usually paired up with my friend, Jessica, and spent the entire time talking about how cute that Jason guy was while she gave me tips on what I should say to him or how I might get him to talk to me. At the end of the day, everyone ended up back in the clubhouse to eat and make sure the kids didn't break anything. One day, Bud paired Jason and I together {I think he prided himself on matchmaking his employees} and I was straight up terrified. Here's what I knew about him: he was a college guy, he played baseball at Saginaw Valley, he was quiet, and I had no idea what to talk to him about. I'm sure most of our conversations were sort of lame. I mostly remember him bickering with a little boy named Peter who teased Jason for being a Yankees fan. I also remember the day I chipped one in from the green {according to one of the kids I "eagled" that hole, and I still have no idea what that means} and Jason said he was very impressed. So, I was clearly catching his attention with my confidence and charm.

We started to sit by each other in the clubhouse after golfing and played cards a few times. He taught me how to play Rummy, which we would come to play a lot over the next decade. After a couple weeks of this, I somehow got up the nerve to ask if he wanted to, "I dunno, go play putt-putt or something, sometime, maybe?" He said something along the lines of, "Yeah," and wrote his number on the Rummy scorecard and I tore off a piece and gave him my number, too.* 

*This is a good time to point out that there remains contention about this part of the story since a certain someone refuses to confess that it was, in fact, the girl who asked the boy out first. My blog, my version, dear.

He called that night {fluttery stomach!} and asked if I wanted to hang out that weekend. We decided to meet up the next night at the tennis court, which was a big nighttime hangout spot when I was in high school since there were lights on as long as you put a quarter in before they went out. I don't remember that much about playing tennis, though Jason maintains that he dominated the court and won me over with his natural athleticism. Come to think of it, he may have referred to himself as Andy Roddick a lot. What I do remember about that first date was sitting by my car {actually, no, it was my mom's car because I had been in a bad accident that Spring on my way to the golf course, so I had no car. Minor detail...not important...but, my blog!} in the parking lot after playing and just talking for a long time. We decided to go out again soon, and so began our little summer fling.

If I could go back and watch some of our first dates play out, I would probably hate how terribly quiet I was. On our second date we went to Outback Steakhouse and I ordered a salad {Seriously? Order a steak, girlfriend!}. And I barely spoke. This is true in both versions of the story - Jason had to carry the conversation that night. And if you know Jason, especially the younger Jason, you'd know that was not his comfort zone. I guess he really liked me though since we continued to go on dates for the rest of the Summer. The first movie we watched together was Tommy Boy and he grabbed my hand for the first time and held it during the rest of the movie. I know, I know - so cliché! Who doesn't think of that movie and have some romantic story to go along with it?

As the summer was coming to an end, I was getting ready to move across the state for my freshman year of college and really didn't know what would happen. I liked him a lot, I knew he liked me, but I was about to start this brand new phase of life and really didn't expect to be starting a relationship at that point. But, alas, the day before I moved away, Jason asked if I wanted to be his girlfriend. I didn't even hesitate before saying yes. And so, mere minutes before I said goodbye and moved 3 hours away from him, before considering what being in a long distance relationship meant or wondering if it was maybe not the greatest idea, Jason and I became an official couple. 

Here's one thing I'll say for dating long distance, especially in a brand new relationship: it forces you to talk A LOT. I didn't have a car and both of us were busy with school, so we were limited to the weekends Jason could come visit me, which didn't happen very often. We wrote emails. We talked over AIM {throwback!}. And we talked on the phone. A lot. His family maintains that this part of our relationship completely boggled their minds. The fact that he could talk on the phone to me for hours had them stumped. Have I mentioned that Jason was very quiet when we met? 

This went on for a couple months - the emailing, calling, talking. I missed him and really wanted to live closer to him. But I also loved college and was making good friends and was excited about this relationship and everything going on in my life. It was all really good. Until Thanksgiving when we broke up...

To be continued....

Monday, September 14, 2015

Five Routines Keeping Me Sane This Fall

With our fall schedule in full swing, I'm starting to appreciate the structure of our week and relying on some pretty firm routines to help keep things under control. We're a pretty extreme case as we go from everyone home all day in the summer {read: no schedule} to a whacky routine that changes every 3 months based on my teaching assignment and what childcare we need, but we're starting to get in a groove that works.

Anyway, I have some methods for making the weeks run smoother that I thought I'd share, and that I can look back on in case I need reminders should I fall off the organized track.

1. Meal plan. I don't want to be overdramatic, but this has literally changed my life. About a year ago I realized that I would get anxious and frustrated whenever dinnertime rolled around, especially when Jason asked "what's the plan for dinner?" So, I had this novel idea: make a plan! I use printouts I found here {but if you search Pinterest for "meal plan printable" there are lots of great options} and have them hung in the kitchen in picture frames so that I can write on them each week with dry erase markers. On Sunday, I write out our schedule for the week and use that to plan our meals, taking into account if Jason or I will be gone some evenings for meetings and the like. 

There are so many reasons I love this. First, I use a meal planner with a grocery list next to it, so I include any needed ingredients in the shopping list for the week. This actually makes our grocery bill lower, too, because we're not buying unnecessary ingredients or things we already have in the house. Second, it makes it easier to use up food so it doesn't go to waste. For example, if I'm buying certain veggies for one meal, I make sure to include another with those ingredients so we can use up the rest. Third, it makes us try new recipes. I am admittedly not an awesome cook {luckily my husband enjoys cooking}, so if I don't have anything planned, it's not easy for me to whip something up with ingredients I happen to have in the cupboard. A day with no plan usually results in frozen pizza or pancakes for dinner {Don't get me wrong. Sometimes pancakes is the plan. What is life without brinner, really?}. When I have all the ingredients I need for a recipe though, I have found I enjoy cooking more and I think I've gotten much better at it since including this blessed weekly ritual. And most importantly, it has completely eliminated the anxiety that used to come from the question, "what's for dinner?" 

2. Snack plan. Okay, so this could be included up above, but I recently decided to be more intentional about planning out snacks along with dinners for the week. It's a big money-saver {not to mention healthier} to make things like granola bars and muffins, rather than relying on store-bought snacks. So as I make our meal plan, I also decide on two or three snacks to make throughout the week. This way I include ingredients I need on the grocery list and even plan out which day I'll make each. Again, it makes our food stretch further and helps with the budget, too.

3. Don't sit down until the dishes are done. I'm definitely still working on this one. I find that in the evening, once dinner is done and the boys are headed to bed, my preggo feet are ready for a rest and all I want to do is sit on the couch, get some work done, or watch Seinfeld with Jason. But this usually results in the kitchen not getting touched for the rest of the night, which means I wake up in the morning to dirty dishes in the sink and no time to do them before leaving for work. So, my new rule is that I can't sit down in the evening until the dishes have been done. A clean kitchen in the morning is a really beautiful thing.

4. Alternate bedtime with the kids. A few months ago Jason and I found ourselves in a conundrum every night. Each of us had work to do and secretly hoped the other would volunteer to do bedtime with the boys. This actually was causing some animosity between us each evening {stress and pregnancy hormones and exhaustion may have played their part, too}. So, we took an idea from some friends who had been alternating nights doing bedtime with their kids. I think we have both said at some point that this method has saved our marriage {we're all about the melodramatic around here}. It's not that I don't love reading books and singing my kids to sleep, but as teachers we both always have work to do at home and usually need the evening to prepare for the next day. Plus, the boys put up a huge fight for Jason if he only does it sporadically. By taking turns, our kids are now used to both of our techniques, go to bed easily, and we never have to discuss whose turn it is. This works great for our family and may or may not have saved our marriage...

5. Have a designated laundry day. Everyone has a chore or two that they just can't stand. Laundry is mine. I usually let it build up or just throw in a load or two when there's something specific we need. This makes for such a hassle! I could be {and was} doing laundry every day of the week at that rate, and since it's such a dreaded task for me, this was definitely not working. I decided to make Tuesday my laundry day, since I don't teach that day and I know I'll be home to get it done. Everything gets washed, folded, and put away every Tuesday. I start the first load as soon as I get up in the morning, after stripping the beds and gathering all the towels and I usually put the last load away before I go to bed at night and say goodbye to that chore for the rest of the week. Hallelujah! 

While we're only two weeks into the semester, I really feel like these routines are going to help us stay on top of everything as life get crazier and closer to the holidays and baby-time. Any other good tips for a girl just trying to play the part of a real adult?

Friday, September 4, 2015


Our years seem to be divided into very distinct seasons around here. Some are predictable: baseball season, summer, the start of a new school year. Others, less so: my schedule each semester, kids' phases and needs, other random life things. I started the fall semester this week, Jason goes back to work next week, Gehrig begins school the week after that. And so another season begins around here. We say goodbye to a summer of camping, house projects, sleeping in, visits to and from family, and hanging out just the four of us. While I'm reluctant to let go of the freedom of summer, the structure of our fall schedule is always inviting and sort of exciting. It also makes me want to buy new pens and a backpack and organize my whole life. Does that happen to anyone else?

Anyway, before we jump full-on into the busy-ness of the next few months, I need to document some noteworthy things about this season right here. Because before I know it we'll be entering winter and adding a third kid and everything will seem so very different.

Gehrig is a big kid all of a sudden. Neighbor kids ask him to play and he gladly runs out to join them. He tells made-up jokes {the punchline of which is usually something to do with eyeballs? They're never funny, but that doesn't stop him from trying}. He is still the pickiest eater I know. He asks everyday how many more days until Christmas, only because he's ready to meet "our baby." His stubbornness is frustrating and he has started to tattle on his brother a bit too much. He wants to sit and read books for hours each day. He completely took us by surprise while Jason and I were playing a board game about brands and logos and he {unprompted} read the words Gap, Luvs, and Bing. So I guess we have a budding reader on our hands. He's thoughtful and observant. I recently gave the chair in the boys' bedroom a makeover by painting the upholstery and after it was back in its usual place for a day, Gehrig ran across the house to tell me, "Mom! The couch in my room looks really nice!" Apparently "words of affirmation from a 4-year-old" is one of my love languages because it was a highlight of my week.

Milo is almost as tall as his brother, and maybe weighs more. Despite being a tank, he spends most of the day climbing up on my {shrinking} lap to cuddle. About a month ago he started calling me mommy, which neither of my kids has ever done {I've been mom, despite my protests, since Gehrig started talking}. I think Milo senses my excitement over the change because about ten times a day he snuggles into me singing "Mommy, mommy, mommy, mooommmmyyyy." We call him a cartoon character because it's The Milo Show all day around here. He makes all of us laugh constantly and as he keeps learning to string longer sentences together, he gets more entertaining. He can be such a stinker, usually instigating fights with his brother or throwing an epic pout session when he doesn't get his way. He got a time out for jumping from our ottoman to the couch after being told not to. Afterward I told him to give hugs and say he was sorry for disobeying, so he tenderly hugged the ottoman and whispered to it, "sowwy." Am I the only one who cannot keep a straight face with their 2-year-old? 

Babe 3 has been pretty good to me lately. I got all nesty a month ago and, thanks to a motivated and helpful husband, cleared out a ton of junk and rearranged our house to make it more usable. We moved all the toys downstairs into a well-organized playroom and our living room, where we spend most of our time at home, stays pretty clean for the most part {...she typed while sitting between five giant piles of laundry on the living room floor}. I have a pretty fair amount of energy these days, although I noticed myself getting out of breath while teaching the other day. Maybe I talk too much? Maybe I need more cardio in my daily routine? I'm not proud of it, but it happened and I'm calling it a pregnancy symptom and hoping it doesn't happen every day this semester. I also have crazy red, dry spots on my face and I'm not sure what to do about them. Coconut oil helps a smidge, but I'm in the market for some kind of redness-reducer/concealer/foundation for dry or sensitive skin and I know nothing about skincare products. Help a lady out with some recs.

So now we say goodbye to my daily nap and spending all day with these boys and having ample amounts of time to hang out with my husband and spontaneous trips to the zoo or park or friends' houses and slow mornings when I can sit and enjoy my cup of coffee while Jason makes us breakfast and this really awesome season of our year that I'm really really thankful for. Bye bye, Summer. You've been a good one.

Friday, August 14, 2015

All Star Game Party 2015

Last year Jason and I had a discussion about family traditions, not just those surrounding holidays and birthdays, but also the little rituals we both remember from our own childhoods. We really like the idea of adding unique traditions to our kids' lives that will add fun to the year and build memories for them to look back on when they're older. While I love holidays, I also love the idea of making a big deal out of less mainstream days: a Pi Day party on March 14, a red carpet affair for the Academy Awards {I've wanted to do this ever since college because I get oddly excited for award shows}, or a pirate-themed party for National Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day {my sister's in-laws do this every year}. Isn't there pretty much a "national" everything day now? So, I guess you can take your pick.

If you've met my husband or even just know our oldest son's name, you know that baseball is kind of a big deal around here. So on the day of the MLB All Star Game last summer, I got home from work to find the living room filled with baseball decor that the boys had made while I was gone. Gehrig got to stay up late to watch the game and we had fun making a big deal of it.

This year, since we could now call it the "2nd Annual," things got taken up a notch. We invited my sister and nephews so that more kids could partake and, rather than just celebrate during the game, we decided to make a whole day of it. {I use the term we very loosely here as this became Jason's summer obsession project. He spent so much time planning and putting everything together that I really just got to show up and enjoy it with everyone else. Don't feel bad for him. That teacher energy has to go somewhere during the summer and he loved every second of it.}

The night before, while the boys were sleeping, we decorated the house and put out little gifts for the boys {Jason dubbed it "Baseball Christmas"}. They each got a jersey and a custom book for their baseball cards. We had baseball donuts for breakfast and watched replays of the Home Run Derby from the night before. 

Jason made a mini baseball field in the backyard, complete with a fence so that we could have our own Home Run Derby {won by yours truly, thanks}. The snacks were all baseball themed {the pepperoni on the pizza was even put in the shape of seams on a ball} and there were little crafts to do in the afternoon.

Basically no detail was forgotten. Probably the coolest part was when Jason surprised the boys with their own baseball cards, complete with stats and personalized descriptions. Did I mention that he's awesome? Or that he gets a little excited about projects like this? Or that he really loves baseball? 

You know it's a successful party {at least I do} when the next day you start planning next year's festivities. As the kids get bigger, this tradition is bound to grow as well, with the boys inviting their friends over someday for a highly-competitive Derby, or filling our yard with family and friends for a barbecue before the game. It's sort of great to make up your own holidays sometimes. I highly recommend it.

Monday, August 3, 2015


So apparently I'm 20 weeks now, which is pretty cool. Full on into that blessed second trimester and feeling a little bit more human-like, despite the stomachaches that hit every few days and the exhaustion that just keeps hanging around. I told Jason last night that I was just going to complain about always being tired and then realized that this might just be my life now. So I really shouldn't even talk about it, right? Of course right.

I must confess that I'm sort of a silently-neurotic pregnant woman. I like to keep it cool and collected on the outside, but really I worry about every little twinge and ache that comes along. Luckily {for my midwife} I'm good at talking myself down from my "what if??" scenarios before rushing to the hospital. After going through this twice, I've come to accept that this is how pregnancy after miscarriage goes. I usually ride the high of hearing baby's heartbeat for a couple weeks after each appointment and then spend the remaining two weeks quietly panicking until my next appointment. My best advice for anyone else like this {or my future self}: stay away from Google.

Despite my sometimes-tormented mental state and constant exhaustion, things have been good on the pregnancy front. So far I feel less uncomfortable than I did with Milo, who sent me to physical therapy for hip pain that drove me to tears. Staying active and doing yoga helps, though I haven't been as great at this as I should be. I'd love to be able to commit fully to either regular pants that usually still fit in the morning but are a no-go by afternoon, or maternity pants that are still just a tad too big to stay up all day. Most clothes look sort of ridiculous on me, maternity or not, so I'll be happy to be out of the 'tweener stage.

This summer has been a wonderful mixture of slow and busy, with camping trips and beach days, a little work and a lot of play. My summer class ends next week already {!!!}, which is exciting, but also a bit disappointing since it means that fall is quickly approaching. I'm not ready to let go of my endless Saturdays yet. Somehow I always am once the time comes, but this year it might mean giving up my daily nap, so a bigger protest may be in order. Anyway, as my niece used to say, "I'm walking away from that talk." Here's to the last month of summer and the last 5 months of pregnancy!

Monday, July 27, 2015

that time we went out west

Here we are at the end of July, so naturally I'm giving the people what they want: a very timely and relevant post about our Spring Break trip that we took four months ago. I aim to please. And I'm clearly right on top of my blogging game...along with every other type of game. Cleaning game, grading game, cooking game, haircut and yard work games - the person right there on top? That's me.

So, Spring Break!!! At the beginning of April we went out to Portland to visit my brother, Justin, and sister-in-law, Jamie, and had such a great time. They completely spoiled us by making tons of kid-friendly plans and making us feel so welcome, despite the fact that my sister-in-law was leaving for a month in Nicaragua the day after we left!

Before flying out, we stopped for a night in Toledo to spend time with Jason's brother and his wife. The kids were thoroughly entertained by their cat - I think Milo spent the majority of our time there either chasing her or asking where she was {hiding from Milo} - and thoroughly freaked out by the number of stairs in their house. The next day we walked down to the Mudhens Stadium and the farmers market before packing up and heading to the airport.

I don't want to brag too much, but the boys were completely awesome on our flights. I had prepared myself for the worst {meltdowns, vomit, embarrassment, and tears}, and there was literally none of it. Gehrig spent the entire first flight looking out the window exclaiming, "This is amazing!! I can't even believe this!" And Milo, while he was freaked out by take-off, just clung to me and Jason for a while before settling in with an iPad and snacks. The worst thing that happened was a spilled Sprite all over my lap, but I'm fairly sure that was my fault. You can't take me anywhere.

We arrived late the night before Easter {the boys were troopers with the time change and still woke up around 6:30 Portland time every morning, which was another pleasant surprise}. The next morning Justin & Jamie set up an egg hunt for the boys before we trekked out to see the Columbia River Gorge and Multnomah Falls. All the green was a welcome sight when everything was still so gray and leafless in Michigan.

We did a lot of walking around their neighborhood {Gehrig loved the goats in the front yard of a house down the block}, drinking delicious coffee and eating amazing food. Those food trucks?? I'm still craving more of the Hawaiian pork stir fry I had on Easter. Jason said he'd fly back to Portland just to have another Dutch turkey club sandwich on a waffle. Not to mention the free malasadas Gehrig got for finding an Easter egg outside the Hawaiian cart. Dreamy.

The next night we had dinner at Mississippi Pizza where "Mr. Ben" performed kids songs and we got to eat amidst an entire restaurant full of families with 1-6 year-olds and it was so loud and so fantastic, especially because that was our kids' crankiest night. Meltdowns are no big deal when literally everyone in the restaurant has kids with them. Other fun things included a stop at Powell's and a park {grass! green grass!}, staying up too late playing Settlers of Catan, a trip to OMSI, which had so many awesome things that captivated the adults right along with the kids, and watching Milo go crazy every time he saw a dog, which happen to be everywhere in Portland.

On our last day we headed to the Oregon coast with Voodoo Doughnuts in hand. I was so excited to see the ocean {large bodies of water calm my soul} and it did not disappoint. We had fairly rainy weather all week except for our day at the beach, which was sunny and peaceful and magical. We dug in the sand, gathered shells, played frisbee and baseball, and almost had to leave when Gehrig scream-cried over a dead crab. We left with sun-kissed cheeks, sand in our shoes, and the memory of the boys' first time at the ocean.

After a home-cooked meal that night, we packed our things and got ready to leave early the next morning. It's always a bummer saying goodbye to family, especially when we don't have a "next time" in mind. Milo especially misses Victor, their cat {notice a theme with him?} but I'm so glad we were able to take the boys on this little adventure to visit our far-away family.

Happy Spring Breaking! {If you're into that sort of thing in the dead middle of summer....}