First Day of School 2013

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Another year, another milestone. Here’s the progression so far…

Drew’s First Day of Infant Classroom (2009)

Drew’s First Day of Younger Toddlers Classroom (2010)

Owen’s First Day of Infant Classroom (2011)

Drew’s First Day of Older Toddlers Classroom (2011)

Owen’s First Day of Toddler Classroom (Featuring “Foxy” and a sippy cup of milk) (2012)

Drew’s First Day of Younger Preschool Classroom, 2012. Featuring “Timmy” the cat and “Brown Taggie.”

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Owen’s First Day of Older Toddlers and Drew’s First Day of Older Preschool, 2013. Featuring “Beaw and Taggie” and “Milky” the cat and “Brown Taggie,” as well as slightly bluish lips post-donut.

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BTW Drew’s hair is 100-percent naturally spiky. And platinum. I cannot believe how old he looks here. And sleepy.

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[[tiptoes onto WordPress to see if she remembers her password]]

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“We are nearing the halfway mark of life’s greatest indulgence–VACATION! ”  <———— These are the words that I so optimistically typed back in mid-June, before life got in the way of my favorite hobby, writing about life! That post has been gathering dust for so long that I’ll have to review our photos to even remember what we did with our time off. ;)

Blogging is a fun way to document our family adventures so that we can later revisit this time in our life. In the sleep-deprived world of a parent, that can be incredibly valuable–I’m amazed at how many little details about my kids’ infancies have already begun to grow fuzzy in my mind. In many ways, blogging also became a way for me to write about some of life’s important transitions and experiences in a way that helped me understand them more fully. Writing therapeutically, really.

I’ve given lots of thought to how Drew and Owen might regard this blog in the future. Heck, Drew can already sound out some words so it doesn’t take too much of an imaginative leap to think about him reading these posts. About him. Thus I’m starting to feel a bit differently about writing about my kids’ emotions, behaviors, and challenges. I don’t want my words to reshape their memories. I don’t want our family and friends to make assumptions about who they are, based on what I’ve written.  So my desire to blog has lately been set aside for my desire to journal privately. Still a writer at heart, but a bit more introverted these days.

However, Drew and Owen each quip their fair share of funny comments. The adorable pictures of boys with sky-blue eyes and golden blonde hair continue to overstuff our computer. The blog isn’t disappearing forever… but it’s definitely (obviously) on the back burner in my life.

Thanks for stopping by. :) Talk to you soon, internet!

This kid's joy is so palpable.

This kid’s joy is so palpable.

Drew's first fish!

Drew’s first fish!

S'mores at Itasca State Park-- the kids are SO zonked here!

S’mores at Itasca State Park– the kids are SO zonked here!

Crossing the MIssisippi Headwaters

Crossing the MIssisippi Headwaters

My little animal-loving sweethearts.

My little animal-loving sweethearts.

What We Learned from Soccer

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As I mentioned before, Drew took part in a five-week soccer league through our local community ed. It was seriously SO fun for the entire family and I can’t wait for more experiences like this. I was struck by how much I could learn and observe about Drew through this experience. So, please enjoy this little video, and the five things we learned from soccer this spring.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VP6Iw-8va9o

1. Keep it simple, and Drew will nail it.

Knowing that Drew would be a bit nervous in such a new environment–especially with an activity where he lacks confidence–I was very thoughtful when we talked about soccer. I did as much as I could to describe what it would be like and I gave him just one “rule.” (He kind of loves rules, especially when he can remind others to follow them!) His rule was “Listen to Coach Mark. That’s it. That’s all you need to worry about. If you are listening to your coach, then you’re doing a great job.” I knew this would set him up for success and would make it easier for him to try new skills. This was a great strategy for us because Drew reported back after each game with a smile: “I listened to Coach Mark!”

2. What you lack in stature you can make up for in tattoos.

There’s a picture in the video linked above that says a thousand words about our sweet boy’s personality. Specifically, note the puppy and kitten tattoos. :)

3. His best qualities–his intelligence and his sensitivity–were magnified on the field.

On the day of the last game, Drew was enjoying his budding friendship with his teammate Wyatt. While we waited for practice to begin, they had started to play tag when Wyatt tripped and fell. I watched as Drew sped away from his friend on the ground. I leaned in and reminded him that it’s kind to check on a friend who got hurt, even when it’s not your fault. Drew spent the rest of that practice and game crouching over every fallen child on both teams. This is a full-time job with preschoolers as they fell often on the uneven lawn. My reminder to Drew ultimately   served as a major distraction, my heart is full knowing that he cares about the people around him.

4. That child is observant as hell.

Drew is able to catalog, synthesize, and report back on basically everything that happens during a game. You might imagine that preschoolers would be living in the moment, but it seems to be more of a “soaking up the moment” effort, as he remembers every push or shove, every failed shot on goal. He immediately understands without any acknowledgment or signal from grown-ups that he’s a bit slower than the other kids. It all seems to feed his perfectionism, so our job as his parents really becomes that of a cheerleader.

5. Sometimes your big brother’s soccer league is an opportunity for you.

Owen learned about the world of patience required for an active little boy to observe dozens of soccer balls flying around without joining in. He also performed the task of ‘water boy’ beautifully and on several occasions enjoyed the attentions of his grandparents and parents on the sidelines. Love the picture (in the video) of an upside down monkey in his Grandma Barb’s lap at the end of the last game.

Next up for this summer? T-ball!

Friends Dinner, May 2013

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I really can’t remember if I’ve written previously about our monthly dinners with three other couples from college. Let me catch you up to speed. Every month since 2006, we have had dinner with three other couples from college. We call them “Friends Dinners.” We are really creative like that. ;)

Actually, we really were quite creative to start with. We’d take turns hosting, set a theme, and each couple would bring something to share– either main dish (host), side, drinks, or dessert. I think the following photo is from December 2009′s Friends Dinner:

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And this is July 2011:DSC_5289In recent months, we’ve tried to keep the menu a bit simpler than some kind of fancy roast that requires baking twine and stuffed apples. While the fancy factor has dropped decidely, I think I can say that we all agree that this is a FABULOUS tradition that we plan to keep. On Memorial Day we hosted FD with burgers:

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and (brace yourselves) hot dogs. Normally I wouldn’t be embarrassed of them, but THIS is how they turned out when I boiled them for too long. Grossy.DSC_3013

Jill ambitiously planned some wonderful sounding bars, but realized later in the shower that she’d never added the flour. ;) We’ve ALL done that before (in my case I doubled most ingredients but quadrupled the butter and then set the dessert on fire from all the extra butter), and we ALL appreciated the replacement dessert, ice cream cones.

Isaac (age 2, will be 3 this summer):

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All the boys (left to right: Owen, Lars, Drew, Isaac, Finn):

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For comparison’s sake, the same crew from two summers ago  (left to right, Finn, Lars, Isaac, Owen, Drew):

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Owen, age 2:

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Finn, age 2:DSC_3047 Lars, age 4 (5 this summer):DSC_3046

This dinner also marked a very momentous occasion– the induction of two beautiful little girls into the “Friends Dinner” family! We’ve waited a long time for Greta’s inaugural dinner, but needed to wait for the flu season to pass before she could come within a 10-mile radius of my germ vectors children. Both Greta and her beautiful, five-week-old cousin Elise were rockstars, barely flinching in the midst of the chaos that comes with five boys under the age of five.

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Elliot and Greta, who snuck in a little porch snooze. :)

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Elise and her totally smitten father, Anders.

Monday’s gathering also featured a Turtle Release Party. In case you didn’t know, this is similar to a CD Release Party, but with no musicians and it includes a ceremonial dumping of a painted turtle into the grass. Andy had caught “Rainbow” while mowing on Saturday and we kept him for a few days. A quick Google search and we knew that turtle care FAR exceeds our skill set, but it was fun to observe him for a few days and catch worms for him. (Which of course he never ate.)

Owen was particularly interested in our little “pet” and frequently pulled a chair up to the cage so he could sit quietly and watch Rainbow. Even though I’ve sworn several times that I refuse to buy fish again, I think I will probably cave after seeing Owen’s sweet interest in the turtle.

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Social Butterflies Lately

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A few brief recaps from last weekend for you. This post started out at least twice as long but when I imported some photos, they wiped out a bunch of text and then WordPress immediately “autosaved” the draft so the words were gone. Rats…. 

My best friend has recently started a new gig as publisher of a Macaroni Kid newsletter for the Plymouth-Golden Valley-St. Louis Park area of the Twin Cities. (Check it out if you are local!) Her enviable job (though it’s a big one) is to check out kid-friendly activities and events in the area, and let parents know what fun stuff is coming up. She’s working on a series about staycations and invited us to check out an area hotel/pool this past Friday. I balked a little bit at the task of collecting all the STUFF necessary for a day at work and school plus swim gear, but I’m so glad that I did. Do you remember the inexplicable thrill of walking into a hotel room as a kid?! I particularly enjoy this as an adult, but as a kid it’s like passing over a threshold into “let’s be crazy” zone. The boys spent lots of time driving toy cars in the window sill while Becky kindly cooked us dinner in the kitchenette. After a delicious, warm dinner and a THRILLING elevator ride, we checked out the pool.

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Even with man-on-man defense for our little swimmers, I still didn’t have an opportunity to take photos of the swimming. Sorry! Drew and Owen were very cautious and quiet at first. Let me tell you… feeling Owen’s chubby, goosebumped arms wrap around my neck as we walked towards the pool made me feel very needed. He seemed to be especially taken aback by the noise level that accompanies an indoor pool. He whispered to me, “Mommy? I can’t tell if people are talking to me!”

This excursion was confirmation that the boys are pretty nervous around the water and I’m vowing to get them more exposure this summer. We’ve been remiss in finding opportunities for the boys to swim–be it in lakes or pools. Drew took swim lessons before Owen was born, but I’ve never been able to figure out how to fit lessons in since then.

On Saturday the boys accompanied me to not one but TWO “grown-up” parties– a baby shower for my cousin Katherine and a housewarming party for our friends Karen and Brett. Karen and Brett’s brand new house has a soon-to-be-dismantled putting green in the backyard and the kids enjoyed using the little flags in each hole to putt balls in.

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This is my aunt Jody trying to help me corral the four boys into a picture together. Drew is also being “helpful” in trying to demand that Robert stand in a line with them. We never quite accomplished it! Robert is my cousin Emily’s son and Parker in the red hat is my cousin Kelly’s son. I’m not sure we’ve had them all in one spot previously!

 

The boys did pretty well with all this socializing, but we were happier with a simpler schedule for Sunday– a casual late afternoon meal at my parents’ house. Grandma and Grandpa came as well thanks to our newfound proximity, and the boys had a blast playing in the yard. Memorial Day will go up as a separate post as soon as I remember what the heck I was going to say!

After such a long and lovely weekend, we were already pretty wiped out when we started this week, which included Drew’s final soccer game on Tuesday (post forthcoming). Bedtimes have been a bit rough with all this excitement, and I’m hoping for a little extra rest and relaxation this coming weekend.

HELLO, world!

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How do you even begin to blog when three jam-packed, filled-to-the-brim, larger-than-life months have passed by? I’ve heard the expression that you need to “eat an elephant one bite at a time” but I always found that metaphor to be particularly grotesque. So… word by word, bird by bird… here we go!

Owen is now two and Drew is now four. I have some draft “Dear Drew” and “Dear Owen” letters filed away in my computer, waiting to be paired with some favorite snapshots from the past year. However, I managed to fill my computer to the brim and am catching up on my triple back-up system before I can free up enough space for the computer to even function. So with the birthday letters and oh-my-gosh-they’re-getting-so-old post on the back burner, that leaves the everyday stuff!

(Yes, triple back-up. I’m a total nerd that uses two external hard drives–one in daily sync with the computer, another that is cumulative of all files and kept in a fireproof safe–and an unlimited space SmugMug account. I could never live with the Guilt with a capital G if I somehow managed to lose family photos!)

Soccer

Drew started a five-week soccer league and loves it. During the first practice, he was a bit nervous. He was focusing SO hard on not touching the ball with his hands when the ball seemed to say “PICK ME UP! THROW ME!” With all this concentration on the rules and a watchful eye on his coach, Drew didn’t see much action. I hoped he wouldn’t notice and that he was having fun. However, nothing gets by him. ;) He walked over to my blanket after practice and said, “How come I only got to try to kick a goal a few times? I think I need to be faster next week so I can get more chances.”

The following week, you could see his determination from the sidelines. He kept his focus and stayed right with the ball. I cried a few happy tears when he scored his first goal. I laughed and cheered when he scored his second goal (on his own team- ha!). Tonight was his fourth game and he even scored two goals. I am SO proud of him for working so hard to stay with the ball and focus on the game. I have to say that being a soccer mom is a total blast, and I hope that he continues to enjoy soccer nights as much as I do! (Not to mention his dad and grandparents and brother that have cheered him on at various points!)

Cabin

My grandma and grandpa sold their lake home, which was their full-time home that had separate living space in the walkout basement that served as our family’s ‘cabin.’ As much as I will miss our family’s occasional trips to the lake, I truly am so happy for them. They had been working on selling for a long time, and now can focus on getting settled in a lower maintenance place. Plus, this saves a few extra weekends for our beloved camping trips! Andy and I made it up north to help a few weeks ago and I bid a farewell to the lake life. I will miss it, but like I said– it’s a good thing for G&G. Me with Grandma at Easter, modeling our beautiful “amamal” necklaces.

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Summer Plans

I really had my heart set on a road trip to Oregon this summer to visit my baby sister. I had scoured U.S. maps and picked a beautiful route that would bring us to Glacier on the way there and through Yellowstone on the way home. We took two consecutive weeks of vacation at the same time (MIRACLE). And then we crunched the numbers and really didn’t feel like there was a place in the budget this year. Boo. :( I’m trying to look on the bright side and not think about how much I miss my baby sister! Fortunately, we’ll be seeing her for a very special trip home about a year from now when she gets hitched. She’s been gone for around eight or nine months and we’re getting better at employing a mix of email, text, FaceTime, and good ol’ phone calls to keep in touch. The boys are so thrilled about Amy’s engagement news and have already started calling her fiance “Uncle Rob.” In fact, he often makes it into their prayers long before “mommy” or “daddy”!

Longest Winter EVER.

It seriously snowed for six months straight. It was interminable. We were SO done with it. Whine. Blah. You get the idea. We spent several afternoons and evenings spreading snow into the culdesac to try to get it to melt faster. Desperate times, desperate measures.

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Drew’s Story

Drew told me a story a few weeks ago while I typed. The story is entitled “Drew’s Farm,” and here’s what he shared. It may be important to note that his little buddy had just lost a family dog, so I apologize if you find the, eh.. theme of this story a bit odd. Ha!

“Once upon a time it was Drew’s farm. There was one baby chick in the forest. His name was Speedy because when you picked him up he speeded away. The mother went rushing after him because the dad was dead and could not be in the family anymore. And then a daddy horse galloped by. Then a horse and the mother and baby were dead and the dad, so they needed a mom. Here was the dad. The baby horse ran as fast as it could. Then he jumped over a net. Then there was another net that was even higher and he got stuck and could not get out but he was still alive. Then some sheep came by going to the farm. Three sheep came running by then three more then one more. then another cow came by and that’s all.”

Owen

Mr. Owen continues to be his easy-going self with some comedic antics and stubborn meltdowns thrown in. I think someone sent him a memo that two-year-olds are supposed to throw fits, and he can arch his back and roll around screaming with the best of them. However for the most part he is blessedly redirect-able. In the following picture I believe that his second giant bowl of mac-and-cheese was not coming quickly enough-

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We managed to get him to part ways with the Nuk, so I can’t help but realize that he really isn’t a baby anymore. Especially when you hear him talk, it is absolutely crystal clear that he is growing up FAST.

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And because I’ve truly been such an awful blogger, I’ll pick a few favorite photos from each month and consider this boring update ‘complete.’

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Random Musings of a Sleep-Deprived but Generally Cheerful Mama

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Drew last night referred to his humidifier as a “formid-ifier.” So adorable. I must incorporate into my own vocabulary immediately. Many of Drew’s mispronunciations have disappeared without much fanfare… I guess that’s exactly how children grow up right before your very eyes. Thankfully, he still mispronounces flamingo as “flingolo.” I will most definitely cry the day he figures that one out!

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Within 24 hours of his creation, this is what has become of Lurkey the snowman. By the time we left for work and school on Monday, morning, she was leaning terribly. By Monday afternoon, this:

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The following weekend, we created a snow unicorn. He lasted maybe four or five days before Andy called me to the front door late one night. “Uh, Kels? I think the snow unicorn went to the big Lisa Frank folder in the sky.” We are practically operating a snow creature cemetery in the front yard.

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A few months ago, Owen picked up this bear that had been given to him by the EMTs when he had pneumonia in  August. The bear had been ignored for months, but suddenly he couldn’t put it down. Nor should he. I love how he twists his hand into the bear’s t-shirt. His interests have expanded to other clothed bears (Winnie the Pooh for example), but this remains his favorite. He calls him “Beaw.” A few nights ago around 3:00 in the morning he started crying in his room. As I stumbled in, I saw him crouching over a crumpled brown sweater and gingerly lifting it from the ground, wailing, “Noooooooooooooo! Beaw!” In his 3:00 a.m. logic, bear had morphed into a sweater, and this was the most tragic thing to befall him in his young life. I tucked him back in bed and hooked Beaw under his arm. Owen said, “I feel bettew” and drifted back to sleep.

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A few weeks ago I gently rubbed Owen’s belly to wake him up from a deep sleep. After he slowly sat up, he suddenly shouted, “I’m ready for donuts!!” Fast forward to this morning. I pull into the gas station and Owen shouted out, “Donut please!” This child has a mild donut obsession, dontcha think?

In the dead of winter, color is so important. I surround myself with it. A prism of happiness. Do you ever read whatever? It’s basically a love letter to God and rainbows. And I love it. (I initially had to look past the title of the blog. I hate the word “whatever.”)
It was -14 degrees when the kids and I left the house one day last week. After work I bought Drew a swimsuit. I needed to remember the good things that are to come. I needed to hold these good things in my hands.
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A few Fridays ago, the boys and I met up with Becky and Isaac for the “Gym Jam” at Bierman Field. This is the indoor practice field for Gopher athletics, and the event was a fundraiser for the Lab School, which is another school for kids that’s affiliated with the U of M. It’s pretty much the best idea for a January fundraiser… ever. Open up a space with nice green bouncy turf, add about 50 playground balls, and let the kids RUN RUN RUN. Wide open spaces for jumping, throwing, running, spinning, and tumbling is exactly what these boys (and their parents) needed after being shut in during a full week of sub-zero temperatures. We will definitely be going again next year.
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Andy’s much-liked Facebook status from last week: “Today at daycare, Drew noticed that he and his 30-something female teacher both had on grey shirts, blue t-shirts and and jeans on. He then proceeded to drop his pants and say ‘I’m wearing red underwear, can I see yours?’”
I love how the following photo really captures ‘everyday life’ at our house. Andy is wearing a necklace that Drew had just made–all the blue beads plus some animals. Drew and Owen are reading books to  Daddy while he eats a late dinner after work. Scout is begging for a scrap. Colorful and imperfect and US. :)
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Drew has a CRAZY long attention span. Last weekend, we played “lion” for about 2.5 hours without taking a break. This was our den. When we finally moved on to a new game, it was to play “tiger.” Ha! Random Musings Adventure Mama 11