Best Day of My Life

{Have you heard the song ‘Best Day of My Life’ by American Authors yet?}

I woke up this morning to the sound of my daughter stirring in the room next to ours. Peeking into her room, I saw her sitting up smiling brightly in her teeny toddler bed, still tangled up in the flannel sheets with her lovey beside her.

Her eyes met mine and I managed a sleepy grin and a “Good morning, Sweetie” as I walked over to turn off her fan.

She hopped out of bed and I opened my arms wide to hold her and start our morning off with a hug. Her legs wrapped around my middle, wrists gripped snug behind my neck, she declared the perfect start to our day:

“This is going to be the best day evah!”

Yes, my sweet girl. With that attitude, you’re right. It’s another day we have together.

I made chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast because that’s what’s on the menu for the best day ever, of course. As I flipped the last of the golden brown circles into the pan, I eavesdropped on the conversation between my two littles at the kitchen table. They were exchanging giggles over whether to feed their Transformers tangerine slices or bites of pancakes, and I couldn’t help but catch it on video.

They play together while I do dishes and between sudsing up the pan and rinsing it off I look up through the steam to notice the snow that has started to fall outside the window. In the back of my mind I’m hoping this is the last time we see the white stuff this winter, but as I dry off the pan I am reminded of my daughter’s declaration and with that I remember the art project I had been saving for an occasion just like today.

A few minutes later the kids are elbow-deep in tempera paint when my son looks up at me and says, “Mommy, sometimes my dreams look like this."

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And I think, you know what bud? My dream looks like this, too. Except it’s not a dream. It’s real and it’s every day.

It's the best day ever.

That First Cup {Just Write}

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Mornings like this are rare. My alarm began softly buzzing at 7am as it normally does, but the kids hadn’t begun to stir yet. Muted light was apparent from behind the blinds in our room as I started to stretch before finally swinging my legs over the bed to drag myself out of it.

Tip-toeing down the stairs, I watched their images flash on the monitor. Still heavy with sleep, neither seemed to notice that I had risen. Good, I thought. Maybe I could have a cup of coffee in peace this morning.

In the kitchen, I put the monitor down on the center island counter so I could wash out the glass carafe of our Mr. Coffee and make a fresh pot. I would have preferred a cafe latte from the Verismo, but we’re out of pods. I heard the shower turn on upstairs as I dumped out the leftover coffee filter from yesterday into the trash and started sudsing up the sponge with dish soap to scrub out the pot.

My mind wanders as I prep the coffee. Tomorrow we’ll be waking up at the beach. I’m anticipating broken sleep as everyone adjusts to borrowed beds and shared rooms for the kids. Despite the forecast of more than fifty percent chance of rain each day we’re there, I’m still looking forward to it. The shore is the shore, rain or sunshine, we’ll still have fun spending time with our friends making memories.

The coffee pot starts to buzz to life, black liquid dripping into the clear carafe, sputtering and collecting in a puddle at the bottom. I open my email while sitting at the island and simultaneously watching the coffee brew. Light spills into the kitchen from the window over the double sink, but no sun is visible today. Just gauzy clouds covering the sky which makes for a drab start to the day.

I’m only able to enjoy ten minutes of writing and three sips of my coffee before my little miss is calling for her mama. I can see her brother begin to shake off sleep as I stand up to go retrieve my baby girl from her crib. That was all the quiet time I’d get for today.

Back to Normal Life

AirplaneHomeOur view on the flight home from Cancun.

It feels good to be home. Terrible-two-girl-tantrums and all.

There is nothing like the anticipation leading up to combined with the time spent enjoying vacation to the fullest.

We definitely milked that vacation for all it was worth. After nearly a week of indulging in gourmet meals (sometimes brought directly to our room), one-too-many drinks during and after dinner, and the lazy, I’m-not-going-to-exercise-I’m-on-vacation mentality, lounging by the beach and pool with fruity, boozy drink in hand for six days, my body was ready for a detox when all the fun came to an end. All good things do end sometime.

 

We’d soon be back to our regular family routines. But first, we had one more day with all the family together to celebrate Father’s Day at the marina where my in-laws keep their boat.

Smiles all around as week took a leisurely ride around the bay before circling back to the dock to gather around the picnic table for a lunch spread fit for a king, three actually, courtesy of my mother-in-law. Owen and Vivian squealed and giggled as they chased each other in the grass, busy bees at work playing while we ate.

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They displayed for us all what was spinning around within my heart: joy and gratitude.

How did I get so lucky with these three amazing, loving, kind, smart, funny, fathers in my life? They’ve each given their children so much in life by just being themselves. And I’m so proud of each of them.

 

Today, I find myself back in my little mothering moments.

Rising early to the sound of my son’s voice at my bedside.

Calming the third tantrum of the day before naptime by the little miss.

Smiling as I gaze out the window above our kitchen sink, washing fruit for lunch.

Piling laundry into the washer, folding the load that just finished.

Blowing bubbles on the deck for over an hour, surprised at how big it seems they've gotten in just a week.

Catching up with friends I’ve been missing, making dates to get together soon because it’s been too long.

Crafting with the kids, snapping pictures of their masterpieces as we go.

Picking up the same toy I picked up a few hours before. Repeat. Repeat.

Pondering what to attempt to make for dinner.

Eagerly awaiting my husband’s arrival home at the end of the day.

These are tiny moments in my day. Each day a little different than the next, but always full of my three favorite people living life within my favorite place to be, always. Home.

 

Linking up with Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary who has just arrived with her family in their new home in Austin, TX. Welcome home, Heather!

Wedded Bliss

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{image by Stacey Windsor Photography}

This August, my husband and I will have been married for 10 years. Ten years of wedded bliss. Well, if you consider the roller coaster ride of being married to someone who struggles with bipolar disorder to be blissful, then yeah, I guess you could call it that. For better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.

There obviously was no way he could have known. My illness conveniently broke through the surface after we had only been married for two years and four months. It threatened to tear us apart. But, instead of letting it knock down the little life we were building together, we used it as an opportunity to grow together. Stronger. Closer. Richer.

One day at a time.

On August 30th, 2013, those days will equal ten years. Best 10 years of my life.    By far.

My friend Stacey, a very talented photographer in the DC area, asked me recently if I'd be willing to get back into my wedding gown for some pictures so she could build her portfolio. I jumped at the opportunity, especially since this year is a big anniversary for us. We had planned on shooting down by the Cherry Blossoms in downtown DC, but the Cherry Blossom 10-miler was this past Sunday, the same day we had scheduled the pictures. We would have to find an alternative spot.

Hair and Makeup ladies arrived at my house at 4:30am on the dot, and within an hour I was transformed from sleepy mom to elegant bride, complete with airbrushed skin and side-swept cascading curls. I slipped on my dress and we headed downtown to find a spot where Stacey could snap away. We ended up taking a bunch of photos on Teddy Roosevelt Island which was such a perfect consolation location. Then we headed over towards Gravelley Point Park, but ended up stopping along the GW Parkway to shoot in a daffodil field and under some weeping willows. By that point we had met up with my husband, the kids, my sister-in-law and my in-laws. It was a frigid morning, but one I will never forgot. It was an incredible feeling to be a bride again for a morning.

My husband watching, smiling at me posing for pictures, was the icing on the anniversary cake.

One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life. That word is love.

- Sophocles

Running with the Wind

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Yesterday I reluctantly pulled on my running shoes, tied them up, and left my husband with the kids for a thirty minute jog. My mind was telling me to just skip it, given that the temperature had plummeted from seventy degrees earlier in the day to forty-five at 7pm when I finally made it out the front door. But it felt good to be moving after all the sugar and heavy food from Easter Sunday.

My phone provided music while I trotted along, my legs still sore from my first jog of the spring two days before. Now that the weather is changing I just want to be outside again. Too much time passed without us being able to go out due to snow, rain, or plain frigid temperatures. The air smells different when spring emerges. Trees and flowers perfume the breeze, along with the fresh mulch that neighbors spread to make everything look fresh. My favorite is the scent of hyacinth at this time of year. I slowed my pace when I ran past a house seemingly anchored in them, taking in the heady fragrance.

The wind was fierce, slapping my face with its icy coldness. But the extra oxygen I sucked in from the air flowing at me propelled me forward and it was as if I ran faster. My bad knee held out thanks to the patella strap I had pulled tight around my knee cap. The rest of my body got a thrill from being on my old route. I didn't do the whole loop, but it was enough to remind me of last year's jogging nights. Made me long for the strength I felt back then when I was running almost every day. I'll get there. One step at a time.

Yesterday my second post for WhatToExpect.com's Word of Mom Blog went live. Please head over and check it out if you have time! :)

Spring Break Snow

“Mommmmmeeeeeeeee!” I heard her wail from her nursery, the room next to ours.

I pulled my weary self out of bed and found my way through the dark to her door, guided by the soft light of morning creeping in through the miniblinds in our bedroom.

5:45am. Fun.

“What, sweetie?” I whispered gently.

“I wost my paci, Mommy,” she whimpered.

I felt around her crib with my palms, not able to locate the missing pacifier until I ran my fingers into the crack in her crib bumper where it had wedged itself so neatly.

“Here, honey.” I said as I put the rubber nipple back into her mouth.

“I want to sleep in your womb,” she mumbled, paci gripped ever so gingerly between her lips.

Ugh. There goes my last hour of sleep this morning.

I carried my baby girl into our bedroom and placed her in the middle of our king bed. I tried to fall back into my sleep, but it wasn’t happening. The snow that had fallen during the night was reflecting what little bit of sunlight that was emerging from the sky and our room was starting to welcome the morning. I spent the next fifteen minutes caressing her soft cheeks and hands, a sweet luxury I don’t always having during the day when she’s rushing about playing so busily.

I savored those minutes.

“I wan to go downstairs, Mommy,” she declared, after tiring of my affection.

And so I pulled on my fluffy yellow fleece bathrobe and picked her up so we could go downstairs and admire the last snow before spring while we ate breakfast.

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Books for a rainy day

One more hour and the kids will be home for the day. I should be working, but yet I find myself drawn to the pen and my notebook. Needing to write. This morning after dropping them off at daycare in the pouring rain, their little raincoats slick with wetness from the sky, I drove over to volunteer at my son's preschool book fair. I love this church school, feel so at home here.

I quickly learn the cash register and ring up several orders of cute kids books, casually chatting with each parent as they pay for their order.

My half-hour shift is over quickly. The rain is coming down in buckets now, and I can't help but notice as I peek into the classrooms, how cozy and safe it feels. I love that this is my son's home here three days a week in the afternoon. His first school experience is so filled with love and smiles.

And books. Lots and lots of books.

As I pack up to head home, I ring up one last sale. I couldn't leave without buying a few new reads for my little ones. My little book lovers.

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The artist in him

{I'm a day late, but I still wanted to link-up with Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary's Just Write series. Better late than never, right?}

It was day three of Baby Girl's stomach bug. She had woken up on the wrong side of the bed, and because of this, threw three massive tantrums in a row during the course of breakfast. By 9:30, she was wiped. So much so, that she laid down and fell asleep in the middle of the family room.

I asked my Little Man if he wanted to color beside me while I worked so that he wouldn't disturb his little sister's much-needed nap. He nodded enthusiastically, asking for the coloring book that his Grandma had given him the week before. "The one that teaches you how to draw, Mommy."

I set him up in the seat next to me and we both dove into our work. He was studying the lines so carefully as he moved his marker over the white paper. I love how he draws grass on most all the pictures he colors. And the way he draws faces on his stick people is so incredibly cute. Big holes for eyes and a nose, then a huge line of a smile that goes all the way from one ear to the other.

Makes me wonder what my drawings of people looked like from when I was his age.

The only one I remember is a dinner plate that I drew on at preschool for my mom and brought home as a Mother's Day gift. It was a big circle of a head and the arms came right out of the sides of the head.

My son is obviously much more of a gifted artist than I was at that age.

I've always had a fascination with art and it warms my heart to see my son so happy as he colors, draws, or paints. He makes me so proud.

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I looked over at him drawing this picture of a giant man and said, "You're a very good drawler, bud." {I know there's no "L", I just remember how I used to say it that way when I was young. I was speaking his language.}

"Am I like an artist?" he asked, a serious tone to his voice.

"You sure are," I replied.

"I'm your little artist," he declared.

 

My creative heart skipped a beat. And smiled with pride.

On angel's wings

She was gone in a second. My post last week was unintentionally appropriate. My mother-in-law called that evening to tell us that my husband's grandmother had been in the hospital with pneumonia and now she wasn't eating or drinking. Things did not look good. We starting looking at travel plans.

It was decided that my father-in-law would fly out the next day, and my husband and sister-in-law would join him in Wisconsin on Thursday evening and would stay the weekend. My mother-in-law, the kids and I would stay back and wait for an update.

Unfortunately, the update we were hoping for never came. Instead we got the call telling us she had passed away.

My father-in-law missed saying goodbye in person by one hour. A mere sixty minutes. 3600 seconds.

In my heart I know that she peacefully entered into heaven. I am absolutely positive she knew how much every member of her family loved her. I know that my husband's grandfather and cousin who left this Earth before her were there to hold her hand. And I believe that Jesus wrapped his loving arms around her and told her he was so proud of her for a life well lived.

And I was grateful for our last trip out to Wisconsin to see her this past May. I wrote about how I was sad that I forgot to take certain pictures, but that I was so glad to have had the time together to make memories that would last longer than the pictures I would have taken.

I spoke at her funeral service. I spoke about one of those memories we made during our last trip. It's my favorite memory of Grandma. After dinner one night, I suggested we pile all the great grandkids onto the couch around Grandma (6 of the 10 great grandchildren were there) to take some pictures. It was silly and challenging to get all the kids smiling and looking at the camera, but we got some great pictures. The five boys toppled off the couch and resumed their play, while Baby Girl climbed over to sit right next to her Great Grandma.

What happened next was the highlight of my eulogy. Baby Girl stood up and started patting her Great Grandma's beautiful white perfectly curled hair, as if to say, "Pretty, Grandma! So pretty!". Only our little lady wasn't talking quite yet. So it was just an adorable exchange of giggles, smiles, and high-fives. Such a special moment that I did catch on camera. Although I didn't even need the photo to remember the moment. It was that memorable.

Grandma was laid to rest on Saturday. That evening, the ladies of the family went through her (many) jewelry boxes to decide who would keep which pieces. We reminisced on the times we saw her wearing various bracelets, earrings, and necklaces. My little princess sat on my lap the entire time and would open up one of the wooden boxes, and then slip bracelet after bracelet on her tiny wrists. Everyone agreed that she should keep that bracelet box. Her brother later enjoyed "decorating himself" as he referred to donning the baubles on his arms.

In the end I chose one simple necklace that reminds me of how dainty, elegant, and pretty my husband's grandmother was. She was a gentle, loving woman who is now an angel who will always watch over her family from heaven.

Her necklace reminds me of angel's wings.

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Rest in peace, Grandma.

I love you.

Precious baby moments

1-IMG_6982 "Up! Mama! Uuuppp!!!" came the wail from down by my knees.

I scooped up my squishy, paci-sucking baby girl and swung her around so we both faced the mirror hanging in the hallway.

She clutched her pink and white lovie blankie in her chubby fist, blonde curls now reaching down past her shoulders, and I smiled at our reflection, seeing more wrinkles around my eyes and mouth than I had remembered being there last time I checked. Not a bad thing, I told myself. Means I smile and laugh a lot. I like that.

My precious daughter seemed to notice me studying the lines on my face. She took my cheeks in her pudgy little hands and turned me to look at her. We were nose to nose.

"Boo eyes, Mama. Boo eyes."

"You're right, Sweetie. Mommy does have blue eyes," I whispered with a proud smile.

I gave her a quick dip backwards and swung her back up to kiss her bright red lips. She giggled so sweetly as I took a long breath of her curls to take in her baby scent and remember the moment.

Moments like these are going by so fast lately. When I realize I'm experiencing one of these beautiful little moments, I try my hardest to make it last as long as possible.

But I know in my heart that they'll forever live in my memory.