Friday, 13 December 2013

a first.

Today was tough. We've been indoctrinated into a special club-- first ER visit as parents. Thankfully Dani Lu is okay, she has quite the shiner after her fall but nothing major was wrong. My baby. What a helpless, sickening feeling watching

There are beautiful days when I'm able to laugh and find joy in all those little moments that are dear to me...Mila goofing off at the table, Dani wanting to be held close, whole shelves being emptied on an hourly basis, books and babies scattered everywhere. And then there are days where I feel weighted down by it all, overwhelmed with things I want to do for the girls, feeling torn by the girls' different needs and not having the time to meet them all. Frustrated by different circumstances in our life and feeling like that's limiting us. During the rare 1:1 moments I feel guilty that I'm not with the other and vice versa. I know I only have two. And they're two AMAZING, relatively easygoing (well, Mila's a threenager but most of the time I can talk her down from the ledge) girls. And there are people with so many more, so much more on their plate and tougher circumstances. How do they do it? I keep wondering when things will get easier. I know they are, and there are moments --a lot of moments-- when I think we've arrived, when I can take a breath and not feel like the other shoe is going to drop. But then there are moments when I'm taking a trillion deep breaths, when I'm sighing inwardly, just so tired and a lot of anxiety doing a number on me. I know the new house has a lot to do with it and am confident that Dani and Mila are on their way to becoming the best of friends. It's comforting to think that in a years' time everything will be that much easier. Dani will be starting to talk and we'll have painted walls, some new furniture, photos and art will be up on the walls and it'll feel like home. And the girls will still make their little messes and Mila will still fight me to clean up. And that's okay. I'm not looking for perfect. I'm just trying to find joy in it all. I know it starts with me.

Anyways. Just trying to keep this space an honest reflection of life these days. Sometimes it's great. Then it's not. Then it's great again. Then it's not. The good with the bad, that sort of thing. One day at a time while still trying to keep the big picture clear in my mind.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Advent Calendar.

Advent: "a season of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas." Advent is here! I kept this year's calendar very simple, and yet it just might be my favorite ever. I was preparing for a Christmas book/day advent calendar but a few weeks before December 1st...and still needing at least 15 more books...and wanting to seek out something a little simpler on our very full, very overflowing plates this season-- I spotted something similar on pinterest* and a couple clicks later was ordering the angel wings on amazon. Oh these dangerous smartphones and dangerous nursing-baby-to-sleep chunks of time. Also I've always loved the idea of 24 days of Christmas activities instead of yet another trinket/small toy/stuff. I haven't done the trinket calendar with Mila yet and have to admit it all seems a little overkill--24 days of stuff and little presents only to culminate in a huge day of presents and more stuff? I mentioned this before, I'm really trying to stay deliberate in our choices and keep the focus more on joy, in celebration of Jesus and giving rather than presents galore and Santa. Don't get me wrong, we'll definitely be visiting the big guy--we've actually seen him at a local Breakfast with Santa event already and surely he's coming to the Vero mall, right Santa? And you're cool with crying babies because that's most likely how it's gonna down, right Santa? But anyways. Trying to get back to more of an anticipation in our advent, thus the activities. Plus they're things we'd be doing going to see Christmas lights, a living Nativity, today Mila and I made snowglobes, tomorrow we'll try our hand in cutting out snowflakes, that sort of thing. Basically a Christmas bucket list. How I love my lists :) 

I think the calendar's pretty self-explanatory, but basically I wrote the activities on slips of watercolor paper dipped in different watercolors just to give it a pretty effect, then on the back of each a small adhesive number for that day, each hole-punched and attached with twine to the wings. Easy peasy. I pretty much busted it out the day before and only Dani was the wiser, since she woke up while I was tying the string up. Mila also has a window pop-up calendar from my mom with scripture verses each day (she loves it, and all the windows were already popped open in one excited, unsupervised moment). And she has yet another calendar, this time holding leftover bits of Halloween candy. And I justified that one by rationalizing she'll be driven to learn numbers 1-24 by sight this way. Ha! Or at the very least it keeps me from eating that candy. Yeah, that's more like it.

*Steve came home from work one day recently and asked me, "Have you ever heard of pinterest?" Oh boy. I had a good laugh over that one.

p.s. Other advent calendars: Last year's (look at tiny tiny Dani towards the end of that post!!).   2011. 2010. 2009.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Thanksgiving and all these deals.

It's Monday night and I'm all shopped out, folks. I'm not nearly on top of my gift-giving game as I'd like to be but the majority of the girls' gifts that I'm purchasing are done. Now to make some "specials" and find just the right thing for a few adults. Adults are so much harder! It takes so little to make a child happy; I'm really trying to keep that in mind as I shop for the girls. Simpler is almost always better. Anyhoo, cyber this, small business that, it was awesomely exciting typing in those promo codes in all caps and seeing the price subtract but I need a big gulp of fresh air now. Or at the very least just a break from the computer and smartphone. I'd love to not shop for awhile but new homes seem to bleed money, everyone warned me and ours is no different. There are lots of little and big updates we're hoping to do over the next few years and of course I would love them all done at once. But I'm kind of glad we can't afford a sweep-of-the-arms renovation since I think (hopefully) it'll result in more thoughtful and deliberate choices that help our home be perfect for us. 

Onto more delicious things. Thanksgiving! Ours was lovely. We were at my parents with family and good friends--but my favorite was the surprise guest who came just before we sat down to eat: Steve. He had been scheduled to work but ended up getting called off. Marmee worked tirelessly on an incredible meal, her turkey is always just right, the stuffing always ends up so yummy, all the sides are just perfect...she's amazing. The few times Steve and I have attempted to pulled off a Thanksgiving meal for just us back when we didn't live close to family we either a) ended up sick (undercooked ham! to this day I can't stomach glazed ham. I just can't do it cap'n.) and/or b) didn't eat 'till 9 pm. Not even kidding. 9 pm dinner is romantic like 99% of the time EXCEPT on Thanksgiving, apparently. I like to think I know my way around a kitchen and yet all those multiple dishes at once intimidates the crap out of me. Someday I'll conquer it, someday. Just not in 2013. So I contributed two pies and a simple side of swiss chard in a b├ęchamel sauce (Martha!) . I am quite proud of our person-to-pie ratio, we had 4 for 12 people. 11.5 really as most of Dani Lu's meal ended up on the floor, as did yours I'm sure when you were nearly 13 months old, don't lie. I loved my apple pie with 3 different kinds of apple slices layered in and a double crust. And a little late but I definitely shall have this book in my corner for next year. I've heard such great things. Aaaaaaaaaand, drumroll...this year's tried and true: Smitten Kitchen's green bean casserole with crispy onions. It sounds so unglamorous but green beans at Thanksgiving have always been a staple in our family and this recipe just elevates it. It's those dang crispy onions. And don't, DON'T, leave out the mushrooms even if you frequently can be found whining about the "texture" of mushrooms. Side note I'm married to one of those whiners. Chop them up superfine like Marmee did and they'll just hugely boost the flavor. And with that, pictures. There aren't too many, mostly because my hands were with baby and side note again, Dani was sweetly jealous of Robi :) She would practically tackle whomever was holding Robi in order to get in their arms. It was hilarious but a little stressful for the poor little Lu bug. 

Thanksgiving 2013 in the bag. I'm so grateful, so thankful for all of this.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Hello again.

Oh where to begin. Almost 7 weeks later and our little Dani has gone and turned the big one; one candle on her cake, one mama with her heart bursting watching her baby take it all in. It was as though she knew that day was all hers. I can't wait to share pictures and thoughts on our sweet and simple day.
And before that, Halloween whizzed by (ours was spectacular and I wouldn't change any of it, well except to buy donuts rather than frying them myself because sometimes storebought really is better). I also was all set to let loose my rant on how everyone seems to be glossing over poor Thanksgiving this year and all I see and hear these days is ChristmasChristmasChristmas. Already?! Maybe it's just me feeling even more overwhelmed than usual since we're knee-deep in wallpaper and hunting for the just-right furniture. My dear friend and I orchestrated a little Plymouth Day at our house last week where we made cornbread, corn husk dolls, talked about the first Thanksgiving (in puppet show form, which was a bust. Mila was all, "I'm not." Ha!) And today we experienced Vero's first ever corn maze, which although the stalks weren't higher than our heads like the midwestern ones likely are...was pretty crazy silly fun (related: snacks. everything's better with snacks!). It ended with ice cream and a giant tractor, what's not to like? 

The last time I blogged was the night before we moved. Now that was a terribly exhausting day. Steve and his buddy drove a big ole u-haul back and forth between our old apartment and new house 3 times. When he finally got home just before midnight, the girls sleeping on mattresses in our bedroom, we hugged and smooched and high-fived...we did it! We're home! didn't exactly feel like home? It felt like someone else's home. And it still does, in some ways. We're still adjusting and trying and often failing, stumbling when we grope around for a light switch that isn't there because we don't yet know where everything is by memory. Nothing is familiar. We're getting used to a new community. Getting used to a growing "Things We Need" list that lives inside my phone, ticking off everything from new drawer pulls (roosters in the kitchen, y'all are on borrowed time!) to shoe organizers to a drying rack. We're figuring out how to make this home work for us, and not the other way around. I think that's crucial. We're liking it here, but this in-between time is stressful. I wasn't expecting that. You would think I would be, what with all the moving around that we've done in the last 9 years (oh, an anniversary happened too! we even got away for a date, thanks Marm :) But there's something about having children...that protective mama bear instinct comes out and all you want to do is give them an instant haven, a place where everything is going to be okay. Home. I'm describing the essence of what home means to me. We're not quite there yet, but it's coming along. I feel it with every rip of wallpaper, every removal of ugly hardware and crossing of things off my beloved lists.

This Thanksgiving 2013, I am more thankful than ever for my family. My biggest driving force in carving out something special out of this new home of ours. They make it all worthwhile, over and over again.

I'll hopefully be back this weekend with pictures and maybe another tried and true recipe? Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, 13 October 2013


I know it's technically been fall for a bit now, and even more technically in Florida we never really get a fall, but I'm chomping at the bit (what is a bit? what does that mean? is it a horse term, a dog term?) to decorate our new home for Halloween. Our new home, which we're not even living in yet. Our new home which is covered in yucky, dusty, peeling wallpaper--some of which have farm animals! NOT EVEN KIDDING)--and we've already taken to removing some of it bit by excruciating bit. Actually we're haphazardly removing it which is likely most stupid of us...we'll start a wall, get sidetracked, then find ourselves in another room with one of the girls and spot a corner that looks like it could use a satisfying riiiiiiip. And that's how our home is looking like a foreclosure sale, all ripped up . Ha! I'm not worried. Steve and I are both motivated enough by our dislike of it that it's all coming down, priority number one. Followed by paint. You know, after we move all of our belongings and furniture into it. That still needs to happen.

Where am I going with this, this post titled Fall? I'm trying to be gentle on myself this year. I'll save my dream to cover our porch in pumpkins for next year. I'll try to squeeze in a week or two of bedtime stories read by candlelight, an October tradition borrowed from Design Mom, but for now our candlesticks have been packed away. And our Halloween books are still in a box labeled FALL that is sitting in Marmousch's garage. In other words, anything I can find the time and grace to squeeze in will be frosting on the cake and I'll pat myself on the back accordingly :) Of course there will be a pumpkin patch, trick or treating, I've already made apple cider donuts, and pumpkin donuts, beware! my new kitchen is coming for you! And not more than 4 minutes ago I was scheming how we could get to Boo at the Zoo, since conveniently this move has placed us significantly closer to our great little local zoo. And! Dani's skellyjams should be arriving any day now! And and and. Hello, fall. Even though we're very much in over our heads at the moment with a move and a very special person about to turn's nice to see you, taste you (mmmm this recipe comes to mind), and smell you (bonfires! can we do a bonfire in our backyard before fall is over?!) 

On that note, here's a peek at our new lil home. I really do love the outside. Oh! That picket fence is going down at some point in the next year. It cuts the yard by 2/3 and while I'm all for the charm of a picket fence, I wanna be able to run through our front yard more.  But I love the gables, the blue (I'm thinking a contrasting red front door sometime soon? thoughts?). And most amazing is the 3 year old hambone all barefoot on her new front sidewalk. She's pretty excited about this whole thing and really, that's all I can hope for. Pumpkin donuts, pumpkin shmonuts.

p.s. Sorry about all the exclamation points. I call them 1 am exclamation points.
p.p.s. I updated the summer bucket list. I think we did pretty good (who wants to camp in Florida in the summer anyway? November screams camping in the south!). The final hurrah was stalking the ice cream man.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Big news!

So after....

...9 years,
 8 apartments
 2 rental homes,
1 basement (!),
9 different cities,
5 different states,
7 cross-country moves...

...and let's not forget our two most cherished belongings that came along in 2010 and 2012...

we are proud to finally call ourselves...homeowners.

We closed on a house today! I'm excited to share pictures very soon. I'm also overwhelmed and scared like a deer in headlights but I'm told this is all normal. It seems fitting for such a big rite of passage day. 
Here we go!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Dani, you've been here 10 months.

This post's title isn't wholly accurate. You're actually closer to 10 1/2 months than you are to 10. (although in all honesty this post has been sitting on the docket for nearly 2 weeks now. things just take awhile to get done lately.) And you know what that means; practically 11 months old. Eleven! Which is just a tiny baby hiccup away from twelve. One year. Everyone (and I mean everyone) said that the second baby's babyhood goes by much faster than the first and I have to say that the general right. I don't know if I can throw excuses around like a cross-country move and endless house hunting in there, but it's been so bittersweet to realize my little sleepy bundle of curled-up baby is now a standing, almost-cruising, nap-resisting, much bigger baby. I won't say the T word that rhymes with doddler but you're sadly past the newborn stage. In between it all. Chubby feet, stubby toes (like her Papa's), four of the most adorable teeth I've ever seen gleaming in your mouth every time you smile, which is a lot. Even when tired you can usually still eek out a smile.

Ten months means you do a lot of pulling up to stand, exploring everything there is to explore (and with a Mila around there is never a shortage of that). Crawling a little, pulling up on whatever, and doing it all over again. And every so often we'll hear in your sweet whisper voice a-ba-ba-ba-BAAAAA which I swear is my favorite of the baby babble clusters. It was with Wugs as well. When I a-ba-ba-ba-BAAAAA back to you you'll get this huge smile on your face (there's those teeth again!) and start happily crawling towards me. You're so happy it's almost more like a prance than a crawl, every hand and knee hitting the floor with cheery intent. To me! You're coming to me and that big smile is for me. I'm always so honored and thankful to be yours, as long as you want.

Dani, you are sunshine. When you hear music, you start dancing from your perch on the floor. And when you dance, you dance from her gut. Really. It's like a gravity-assisted sit-up as you push that soft belly of yours forward and backward, and lately when you really get excited (again, often) you'll flap her arms and clap. I think you're trying to become airborne and this is what's going to get you off the ground. Straight to flying, my little bird.

I call you Nai lately. Papa's called you Scrubby from day one (actually I think he announced it on day two) because he said you looked like a teeny scrub monkey. All squinty-eyed, wrinkly and burrowing into whomever's arm crook you happened to be happily sleeping in. I never got on board with the Scrubby or Scrubs though. When you're overtired and upset you make this ninga-ninga-ninga sound and I started cooing it back to you in sympathy.  And then Nai somehow sprang up from Ninga. I know, we're crazy silly around here. I think you'll fit right in. We've already seen some glimpses of your humor--spitting water back out at your Papa for dramatic effect, blowing raspberries at the funniest moments, open-mouth kisses while trying to eat our noses while we egg you on. You're gonna do just fine.

Your favorite things: the B. toys interactive symphony toy...actually, any and all kind of music but your legs kick most wildly the second I turn on the 'solid gold oldies' music channel on tv. You're still crazy about Papa's guitar playing and he even calls it his milk (poor substitute but hey. He tries.) Your favorite corners of this home are the cabinet where diapers are kept (you love undoing all my nice folding) and the tub. Gosh do you make a beeline for that tub, just to pull up to stand there and see what there is to see there. It's your version of the Gold Rush.

You're in that tough 'tweener stage where you're starting to drop one of your naps, yet you still desperately need the rest. Ah. I think I remember this with Wugs. Mila's sleep patterns are all a little hazy and I imagine I'll be saying the same about you come a few years' time. I'll miss being able to curl up so perfectly around you and nap in our warm little cocoon. I'll miss scooping you up out of your crib at 1 am and us drifting off to sleep together for the rest of the night. And I need a few months' distance from it right now but I'm sure eventually I'll miss those nights where you're wide awake at 3 am and ready to party. Me rocking you sleepily in the living room and dreaming of sleep.

Oh Dani Lu. I think back to my pregnancy with you, fraught with anxiety and worry, feeling like I was cheating on Mila for bringing another child into her world, wondering how I could possibly be as lovestruck crazy for another child like I was (am!) with Wugs. I got amazing advice and reassurance from close friends. Underneath it all they just seemed to know something I didn't, something inexplicable. There was a quiet confidence and conviction to their words when they talked about growing their family, adding to it--taking away individualized attention yes, but gaining so much more. 

I get it now. I get it although words fail me too. I just know that I am deeply in love with you. All that anxiety fell by the wayside the second they placed you, still with umbilical cord attached, onto my chest. In its place came this fierce, protective love. You were there all along, Daniela Lu. 

I've loved getting to know you these last 10 months. I can't imagine the joy that is to come. Thank you for coming to our family.

*And also unrelated but it reminds me in the tiniest bit of one of our favorite songs, it's hilarious, go see.

Friday, 13 September 2013

A lil' party.

We threw Mila a little party on the Saturday after her birthday, nothing huge but it was the first birthday being back home where we actually had more than  two people to invite. Until then the California birthdays consisted of our dear friends Rylan and Cori, our huge supports and constant partners in crime on lots of adventures we had in those first couple years. And of course my parents, who never miss their girls' birthday. Which don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining! I loved those simple little birthday 'parties' and they'll forever hold a special place in my heart. But since being back Wugs has been to a few of our friends' birthday parties and she catches on quick, that girl. She knew that when her turn came around she was getting a party. With cake. And singing. And she was going to get the first piece of cake because dangit, she always had to wait her turn when it was other peoples' big day. These are the issues that weigh on one's mind when you're turning three. I don't know if we'll always do the party thing but this is how we did it for three.

I kept trying to explain the concept of a party theme...what do you like? what is your favorite thing? what would you like your party to be about? but Mila kept coming back to one singular focus. Cake. So cake it was. It spawned these invites, which once armed with an electric knife was actually an easy project. Wugs, Dani and I walked to the post office to mail them and the older gentleman behind me in line not-so-quietly asked the teller DID SHE JUST MAIL SLICES OF CAKE? when he thought we were out of earshot. Haha.
this is the only shot I've got of one! I could kick myself for not taking a pic of them all clustered together..late night crafting...bad lighting...that's my excuse anyway.

Everything else fell into place with the help of some organized planning. And some late nights but that's how I tick. The balloons' fringe I made using tissue paper I already had on hand and together Marm and I have a pretty rockin collection of blankets and tablecloths which we put to work on my parents' front lawn, complete with a slip 'n slide (is it just me or have these gotten waaaaaaay smaller since we were kids? or is it just one of those nostalgic things that are better in the mind than in reality?), kiddie pool meant for giant bubbles that didn't quite...bubble, and sprinklers. And I wasn't going to include a pinata (I know, even after my profession of pinata love!) but I saw one for $20 at Kmart and doctored it up with crepe paper in colors I liked. Clearly they're way young for the pinata stage yet but we all had a good laugh about how much pent-up frustration Steve was getting out by helping the littles with their whacks. Oh and bitter side rant, don't buy the huge 32" balloons calling your name online without calling your local party store first and verifying that it will not require a kidney plus a goodly wad of cash for them to inflate. You know, 'cause you may end up with some unused balloons that are "non-returnable." Bitter side rant over.

the littlest party guest :)

M requested chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting.

kindly note my number 3 cake :) and another M request, vanilla cake with chocolate frosting.

Squirreling away her cake as though it were matchsticks in a blackout.

"soon it's my turn." Sob.


she may be 3 but she still has the toddler belly. So I'm okay with it. Mostly.

oh those cheeks.

Mila pretty much spent the entire party with this little lady. Completely smitten. Little mama Wugs.

And in case you were wondering, Mila did get that first piece of cake. Oh yes. 

We love celebrating you, Wugs.