It is friendship

I first noticed Jenny in our dorm hallway, years and years ago, before I had wrinkles and she still had bangs. Those were the days before everyone had cell phones, so she would pull her dorm room phone cord into the hallway to talk to a boy from home. He was the classic "not my boyfriend" who called every day and made her cry. She cried a lot that fall, and I watched from afar. I'd never seen someone so okay with crying in front of others. She wore her heart on her sleeve. Eventually, she taught me how to do that too. 

Chris lived downstairs, right below Jenny, right down the hall from Jonathan. He was easy to like, easy to spend time with, and always up for an adventure. He still is. He's the kind of guy that came into college with stories and adventures that none of us had experienced, like riding across the United States on a motorcycle, and he's the kind of guy who still does things like jumping in freezing cold glacier water to water ski. With a smile on his face. 

When we were all freshman, a guy in our dorm invited a few of us to the mountains for a ski weekend. We were new friends at this point, and our weekend together is, in my mind, a solidifying marker of our relationships. When we reminisce about that ski weekend we tend to tell the same stories; like when someone left their ski boots on the open furnace and almost started a fire in the middle of the night, or how Mike put all the guys in one cabin, and himself and the girls in another. It was the first time I heard the Nelly song Ride Wit Me, and by the end of the weekend we had it memorized, because, hello 2001

Last week we took our big kids to Alaska to visit Chris and Jenny and their three children, and on one of our many late nights spent cooking and eating together, the boys told us a story we hadn't heard before. It was that first night in the mountains, all those years ago, when Chris confessed to Jonathan that he liked Jenny, and Jonathan immediately confessed to Chris that he liked me.

Within the year we were all dating, and then four years later, unbeknownst to them, the boys planned proposals in New York City, just a few weeks apart. The next summer we all got married, just a few weeks apart. And years later, we would welcome our third guessed it.. just a few weeks apart. 

When people ask me about our Alaskan trip, I've been telling them the highlights: like the boat rides and the float plane and delicious fish dinners and how for the very first time traveling with children, it actually felt like a vacation. But while the fish were indeed biting, and the whales were jumping, and the mountains were taller and more majestic than I remembered them to be, it was more than that.

It was the wonder of seeing their son shoot a tiny bird and catch a huge fish with his dad cheering him on. It was the delight of seeing my friend's beautiful face mirrored in her six year old, and it was watching our kids laugh hysterically in the back of a minivan while we shared our hearts in the front seats. It was the glow of a solstice sun over icy calm waters while our children fell asleep to our laughter on the boat deck. It was sweet little Kate, smiling every time I came out of our room in the morning. It was memorizing the contents of Jenny's kitchen drawers and pantry as we did life together. It was talking about baby names and school choices and theology. It was catching up on each other's families and dreaming about our futures and feeling 100% okay not having makeup on. It was being with people that knew us before we were us, and who helped us become us. It is watching our friends be exactly how we have always known them to be, but better. More responsible. More adventurous. More in love. It is understanding that we, Jonathan and I, are those things too. 

It is being kids together, and raising kids together, and realizing that no matter how much time passes, they are always part of our story. 

Stuff to Love in July 2016

It was a full and busy month! Here's what kept me busy: 

Books: Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist (I got an advanced copy and you can read my review here). As usual, I have about 10 other books going at the same time but I can't seem to finish any of them. Maybe I'll have more book recommendations next month. Or maybe I'll just continue to watch TV. 

Food: Loving $2 Taco Tuesdays at our neighborhood Los Agaves, brownies from the box, Fourth of July flag cake, Shauna's blueberry cobbler, McConnell's ice cream, and whatever easy pre-made meals I can scrounge up for dinner. This ain't the time for cooking and baking elaborate meals, my friends. 

Podcasts: Trump and the Evangelical Inferiority Complex, Sally Clarkson's May 1 episode: Expressing Love to Our Children Through Appreciation and Honor; Modern Love's Episode 14: My First Lesson in Motherhood; The Simple Show Episode 28: Fighting ISIS with Soap; Revisionist History's Carlos Doesn't Remember. 

Television/Movies: Season 1 of the Gilmore Girls; Born This Way (a reality show about adults with Down's Syndrome); The Beginning of Life (documentary about the early childhood years); The Drop Box (about a Korean man saving young babies); Ali Wong's one hour comedy special on Netflix (raunchier than I usually like but very funny); The Bachelorette, and The Newsroom. (Thank you nursing baby for giving me permission to veg out in front of the TV!) 

Wearing: Maternity shorts, maternity shirts, and sandals. All day, every day. Thank you summer for giving me time to fit into my regular jeans! 

Favorite purchases: Beautycounter's tinted moisturizer and new Rainbow sandals

Things we did: Sent the big kids to their grandparents for a weekend so we could rest, play and hang out with Zach and Dana; spent lots of time with Jonathan's brother Matt and his wife Elizabeth who were visiting California; hosted Jenny from Alaska for a special girls' weekend, celebrated birthdays, recorded several amazing interviews for the C+C podcast (get excited for August!); emptied the dishwasher 30+ times, went for walks, spent lots of time at the beach and pool, got very little sleep, nursed around the clock and snuggled a super sweet 2 month old baby boy. 

Stuff I love on the web:

Two questions to help refine your personal style (fact: my closet needs some attention.) 

I could totally relate with Get the Epidural and Why First Time Moms Can Have It The Hardest

Dear White Parents of My Black Child's Friends: I Need Your Help

Moving as a Child Can Change Who You Are As an Adult

I Have Cancer...For Now

Resources to consider when thinking about racial reconciliation

Anticipating/dreading: Anna's first day of kindergarten. Cue the tears. 

THREE and FIVE, My Oh My

The kids' donut hole cake, lovingly put together AT THE PARTY but ONE OF THE GUESTS because I just couldn't quite do it all, you know? 

The kids' donut hole cake, lovingly put together AT THE PARTY but ONE OF THE GUESTS because I just couldn't quite do it all, you know? 

Birthday month is officially coming to an end at our house. We now have a big five year old and a big three year old, and I can hardly believe I've been a mama so long. 

I love birthdays and find pure joy in making our children feel spoiled on their special day. There were lots of presents, lots of balloons, lots of gifts, lots of visitors and a donut birthday party thrown in the mix. With the kids birthdays only five days apart, and the party smack dab in the middle, it felt like a very FULL week. At one point (9:30pm on Sunday night as I tended to a crying baby and Jonathan was baking a strawberry birthday cake for Anna) I questioned why we didn't tone it down a bit. But, truly, I love celebrating them and they love the attention...and so it's worth it. 

Thanks to my mama, we are now carrying on the YOU ARE SPECIAL red plate tradition which both kids loved. I let Owen have ice cream for breakfast on his big day and that will likely become a tradition. Anna, ever the responsible one, said no thank you to ice cream; she prefers oatmeal pancakes. That I can do. 

Below are some photos from their party that Jen Yau took (thank goodness she took some because I was distracted and didn't get any good ones of their party deco.) Plus Anna's five year old video and Owen's three year old video.

The kids lining up for the piñata. They came in their PJs, decorated donuts, ran around the park, and left high on sugar. (Oops.)  I love Anna's little knee pop in this photo.

The kids lining up for the piñata. They came in their PJs, decorated donuts, ran around the park, and left high on sugar. (Oops.)  I love Anna's little knee pop in this photo.

This year, Anna officially dropped her nap, completed her second year of preschool, went skiing for the first time, developed a deep love for water, and became a big sister again. Anna's favorite things at age four: tortellini, pizza, hot dogs, pancakes and oatmeal, her scooter, Jana Alayra, playing with Legos and her science kit, reading books, watching Dinosaur Train, playing doctor, dressing up, spending alone time with mommy, and reading. A few things she said this year that made us laugh: "If Jesus live in my heart, how does he live in all of your hearts too?" and "I'm going to biblecation school" and "Mommy, I fell asleep all curled up like a tiny little bug!" and "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!" 

And the past year was also HUGE for Owen's development. He started preschool, learned to talk, learned to ride a scooter, moved to a big boy bed, potty trained and continued to steal our hearts with his snuggles. Owen's favorite things at age two: hot dogs, oat-a-more (oatmeal), Trader Joe's strawberry yogurt, fruit, turtles, looking at "cool cars," music class, singing in the car, the zoo, reading books, visiting the "old library," playing baby birds and doctor with Anna, being called puppy by his sister. I never want to forget the way he says "OTAY" instead of Ok, and who-see-um instead of museum, and "No thank you please" if he'd prefer not to do something. 

They say the days are long but the years go quickly...and isn't that ever true? 



The sweetest of days

There is nothing like the newborn days, both in their sweetness and their exhaustion. We're seven weeks into being a family of five and everyone—including Owen (!)—has adjusted well. Luke is currently the favorite sibling at our house, receiving nonstop kisses and hugs from his big brother and sister. Both of them always want to know where he is in the house, when he'll wake up, and when they can hold him. To be honest, I'm more than shocked neither kid has exhibited any jealousy, especially the little boy who didn't let me put him down for the first 18 months of his life. 

I'm adjusting to this big change better than I have with past babies, although the lack of sleep and lack of schedule are always hard for me. (More on that in a minute...)

When people ask how I'm doing it feels good to say that I'm happy. Nothing about newborns are easy, but this has been our easiest postpartum transition. (It helps that he's super cute. You don't even want to know how many times per week I say to Jonathan, "Isn't he the most adorable baby you've possibly ever seen?" This is usually met by a smirk of agreement and an eye roll.) 

I still worry occasionally, and over analyze his nursing patterns, and ask God, "WHEN WILL THIS CHILD SLEEP BETTER?!?" but I'm not having crying hormonal meltdowns. For the most part I feel I can roll with the fact that he only naps 45 minutes at a time, and nurses every two hours. (Let's just say that I'm doing a lot of feeding in the minivan, and I'm getting really good at nursing standing up while children run circles around me at the park.) 

The best part is our overwhelming happiness that stems from knowing this baby completes our family; he's the missing piece of our puzzle and with him comes a joy and sadness realizing how the baby years of my motherhood story are in their closing chapters. 

I think the other thing that has made this adjustment easier is that I have an incredible man by my side who is very much my equal partner. We make an amazing team, and I'm humbled each day as I watch how he serves our family. He works long days at the office and then comes home and helps with dinner, puts the kids to sleep and goes to the grocery store. Without his hard work I'd be drowning. Instead, I've been able to get a shower everyday, sleep when I need it, and the ability to continue recording the C+C podcast. 

Speaking of the podcast—I'll end this post with a link to the our latest episodes. Thanks for reading (and listening!) It's been a joy to record these!

Pregnancy Perspectives // Living the Balanced Life // Growing a Family Through Foster Care