Tuesday, August 12, 2014

RIP Robin Williams

Oh Captain, my Captain!

Oh, Robin Williams, where do we even begin to find the words?

You were certainly one-of-a-kind. I first remember you when my parents watched Mork and Mindy all those years ago. Then in your serious roles in Dead Poets Society (is there any better movie?), Good Will Hunting, Patch Adams. My favorite characters, by far, were in Mrs. Doubtfire and Aladdin. I can't wait until my girls can double up in fits of laughter because of your talent. No one else could have brought those characters to life in the way that you did. (The Genie is Justin's favorite character of all time. I know the girls have years of Aladdin viewings in their future.)

You were not the Hollywood of today. You were down-to-earth. Funny. Authentic. Talented. Kind. The way true stars should be. The way we all should be. Thank you for being one of the few who still had class.

I have a feeling God is very, very proud that you took the talent He gave you and stretched it to its limits, making the world a happier, more joyful place. You were so blessed. Not everyone is able to make millions smile.

It's impossible to overlook the tragic way in which you've died, but the brain is a very mysterious, powerful thing. Something we will never fully understand. I pray that God is with your family and friends - those who will feel your loss deep in their bones, to the depths of their souls. For this loss is truly theirs.

May we all remember you in the inspiring way that you lived, and not the tragic way that you died. May we all let loose and turn on the crazy once in awhile. May we laugh at the absurd. May we speak in funny voices and say ridiculous things and strive to make one another just a little bit happier. May we find something that feeds an unstoppable energy within us; things that ignite our passion. May we seek to find our own God-given talents and show them to the world, in the tremendous way that you did. And for the not-so-happy times, when our load in this world feels like it is too much to carry alone, may we reach out to one another and get through the dark places together.

You made this world a better place. Thank you for the smiles. May you rest in peace, Robin Williams. There must be a lot of laughter in Heaven today.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Carrot Costume Chaos

Ugh...my two-year-olds are moody and getting moodier.

I know, I know - wait until they're teenagers. They're two and I've probably heard that one about, I don't know, seven million times. I'm pretty sure every Target checker in town has used that line on me at least once. There's one lady there who I avoid now because I know the warning is coming. (And I'm just one Target guest. I wonder how many times a day she doles that clever one-liner out?)

But I'm not worried about the future. I'm so busy I have no choice but to take things as they come. Right now what I'm worried about is my mother - who selflessly watches our girls - throwing up her arms and walking out on us at any given moment. Because the crazies keep getting crazier.

And because this morning seemed nice. It seemed pleasant. Tess woke up, sleepy but happy, and Elin followed suit shortly after. But then I said the wrong thing. Moms do this a lot, I'm learning.

"Mama, I be carrot for Halloween?" Elin asks. She is sitting in my bed paging through her Little Blue Truck book and Tess is babbling and kissing the dragon on her exersaucer. I'm standing at the mirror putting on mascara. Anna, in an odd turn of events, is the last one sleeping. Justin left for work ten mintues ago.

"A carrot?" I reply, walking into the hallway to search for my hairbrush. I never know where the girls have wandered off to with my things lately. "Yes, you can be a carrot. But you don't have to decide quite yet. It's still summer." (I like to remind everyone it's still summer - do not rush my favorite time of year!)

"WAAAAHHHH!!!! I want to be a carrot!" Elin follows me out of the room and breaks down in tears. What on earth...

"Yes, honey, you can be a carrot. Please stop crying." Aha! I find my brush under Tess's crib, placed there by Annaleise, I'm sure of it.

"Noooooo!" Elin cries.

"Elin J!" I whisper loudly, trying to sound stern but be quiet at the same time. "Please be quiet so you don't wake up Anna!" In Elin's defense, it's usually Anna waking her up, but to be honest, I don't care who's awake or who's sleeping...I just want the sleepers to carry on, undisturbed, so I can enjoy the moments that haven't yet turned into inevitable full-blown morning chaos.

Anna's bedroom door swings open and I look at her, blondish-brown hair in a mess on top of her head, puffy eyes still swollen with sleep, and arms full of the books she insists on sleeping with every night. It never fails. Every time I see these girls in the morning, no matter what the circumstances, a wave of love and gratitude washes over me. My baby. My Anna.

"Hi, baby girl!"

"Hi, mom," she says with a smile. She is a morning person, thank God. "Got my books. What wrong with Enin?"

Elin stopped her crying for Anna's entrance onto the scene, but takes this as her cue to resume the root vegetable tantrum.

"Carrot!" she screams.

I think she scares Anna, who then starts to cry and says, "Mama! Enin say carrot!" like this is a completely normal reason to be crying inconsolably.

Good Lord. "Girls, please stop. It's morning." I close my eyes and take a deep breath so that I don't yell. It's not easy. This is so ridiculous. It's about a carrot Halloween costume. I say a silent prayer for patience.

I walk back into my bedroom and scoop my only non-cryer (for the moment) out of the exersaucer and head downstairs. Two wailing toddlers trail behind me. My head aches. I haven't had any coffee yet, which might be a good thing at this point. Something to look foward to. A cure for what ails me.

I decide to use one of the techniques I've read about, having no idea what kind of rationalization skills a two-year-old could possibly have, but feeling desperate nonetheless. I look at Elin who is laying on the floor; a sobbing pile of moppy blonde curls, pink bunny pajamas, sniffles, and tears.

"EJ, you have two choices. You can stop crying and stay down here with us, or you can go back to your room and have some quiet time."

"I wanna be carrot!!!" She wails. I'll take that as option 2. I set Tess down, scoop Elin up, and carry her back upstairs. Who needs CrossFit when you're lugging around 30 lbs of  kid all day? She starts screaming bloody murder as I place her on her bed. "Elin, cry it out if you have to, and come downstairs when you're done." I close the door, then close my eyes. Another small prayer for patience.

Downstairs, things are somewhat calmer. Anna is seated at the table, waiting for breakfast. She instantly asks about her twin. 

"Where Enin, mom? Enin need breakfast, mom!" They are always looking out for each other.

"Elin needs a couple of minutes to herself, Anna." Mom could use some, too, I think.

About ten minutes later Elin calls for me from her room, and I go. I love my current role in life, no matter how frustrating it gets at times. The call for mom is music to my ears...especially when it's not accompanied by whining.

I open her door slowly, because we never know what emotion we'll get from our Elin. What will I find on the other side?

She is sitting up, waiting for me. "I no cry, mama. Come downstairs?"

I scoop her up again and hug her, and for the first time without Justin or I prompting her she says, "I sorry, mama." My heart melts just a little bit.

"I forgive you, baby girl."

"Carrot for Halloween," she says.

"Yes, honey, I know."



"Tessie be potato."

Oh my.

"Good idea!" I exclaim as I lug blondie back downstairs. I'm not sure how cute a potato costume sounds, but I am not about to set the child off with my opinion. I will walk on eggshells to keep the Elin volcano from erupting. I slide Elin into her booster seat at the table.

"Can I have fruit, please, mama?" She asks.

I go the the fridge and return with two small bowls of watermelon for the girls, happy they are being sweet again.

"Here you go!"

Elin takes one look at the watermelon, breaks down in tears, and yells, "ME WANT FRUIT!! NOT WATERMELON! WAAAHAAAA!"

So begins round two.

Sweet Elin. (Not carrot morning, obviously.)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Last Year at This Time...

Baby Tess was just a twinkle in my eye...

and a big old basketball in my belly.

And now she's ten-months-old! With the twins, things were so different and time NEVER felt like it flew by. Now that they're bigger time is moving at a much faster pace, if you ask me. Tess is ten-months-old for goodness sake! I could have sworn Christmas was yesterday so I'm really not sure how it's 78 degrees outside today, but whatever.

Tess, you are so happy! A truly "chill" baby. We used to say that Anna always looked like she should have a margarita in her hand because she was so mellow. I'd say that you already had a few and are at that happily buzzing kind of stage (mom's favorite - is it 5 o'clock yet?)

One thing you do that your sisters never did is let out high-pitched screams that probably make the neighbor's dog howl.

Here's what I find weird. One of the things that makes you scream like a maniac is when Let it Go comes on when your sisters are watching Frozen. What is it with that song?!? The movie is cute and all, but I still think the scores from Little Mermaid and Aladdin blow Frozen out of the water! Anyway, you are ten-months-old! You just learned your name. You eat paper. How the heck do you get excited over that song?!? It's a mystery to us.

Where was I?

You love your sisters. They play with you all the time now, and they can make you belly laugh like no one else! Anna is always showering you with hugs and kisses and Elin plays "peeky boo" with you all the time. We are teaching Anna to be more gentle while hugging you...

You don't discriminate when it comes to food. You love to eat - especially every microcopic non-edible thing you find on the floor. Not to mention remotes, phones, your sisters' toes. It's a full-time job to keep things out of your mouth.

The dishwasher is your playground. Your Dad may have traumatized Annaleise the other night when he told her that's where you're getting your baths from now on.

You're up for anything. You'll let us run errands for hours and never make a peep. You let me shop at TJ Maxx TWICE in the last week (mom's happy place), riding in the cart and hamming it up for all the nice strangers that love a happy baby! Seriously, this age is FANTASTIC. Soon enough you'll be begging me to let you out of the cart so you can terrorize the place with your big sisters and then a certain level of my freedom is once again, gone.

Tess said she was cool with a Target run as long as we could pick up some Land Shark.

One thing you're not getting As in is sleeping technique. I blame your Dad and me. We're still so concerned with the twins getting their sleep that we pick you up the minute you make a peep, for fear that you'll "wake the bears" in the other bedrooms. Falling asleep and naps aren't your best tricks, but you do sleep like a champion through the night, so we'll take it.

Ah, sweet Baby Tess. I wouldn't change the last ten months for ANYTHING. Our hands are full, but our hearts are overflowing, which makes it all worthwhile. You are a special little thing, a true gift, a miracle.

 Xoxo, love always, your Mama

Thursday, July 3, 2014

No Me Sweet

Elin woke up this morning and asked me, "Is Anna up?"


"Is Tessie-bell up?" The girls have taken to calling Tess "Tessie" and it sounds so cute in their little munchkin voices. Elin always adds the "bell" which she hears Grandma call Tess, as a combo of her first and middle names: Tess Isabel. Tess-abel.

"Yes, Tess is up, too. You are so sweet this morning!"

"No me sweet, mama. Me Enin!" Enin is how both she and Anna pronounce Elin's name. Which of course, just made the sweetness that much sweeter.

My heart is so full.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Weekend Warriors

Do you know what one of the coolest things ever is? When your very dear friends, who have no children of their own at the moment, invite you and your three (adorable) monsters down for a weekend, and then help you manage them the whole time so you can get out and have some fun and breathe among the living again...monsters in tow.

I hate leaving my girls. Even for a night. I hate it. I miss them terribly. They are at an age where I don't want to miss a thing, and where I want to be there for each of their new experiences. They say silly things, and act adorably cute, and honestly, being at work four days a week is enough of a vacation for me. Justin would beg to differ, but this mama is addicted to her babies. I know they will grow up in the blink of an eye. I went through a great deal to bring these children into the world, and every moment with them is a blessing I can't describe with words.

So where I was going with that was just that it's so nice when we can ALL get away together.

That being said, three monsters are a TON OF WORK. Just packing them up for swimming lessons once a week is overwhelming.

Anyway. Kelly and Zak invited us down to Milwaukee for the weekend, and then very graciously offered up Adam and Lisa's new house for us to stay at. We couldn't refuse! Adam and Lisa and their one-year-old, Bennett, were the best hosts ever! Even when I had to wake our hosts up in the middle of the night so Adam could escort me to the nearest 24-hour establishment to get me some modern medicine, he and Lisa were awesome. I woke up with a migraine and nausea and looking back I can really only blame it on hours of sunshine paired with too little H2O...I was a wreck. I looked totally cracked out and felt like I was in labor when we finally got some meds in my system. That's the thing about kids - I'll pump them full of water when I know they need it, but somehow, I forget about me.

Other than the craziness of that late night Mobile run, the weekend was fantastic. The zoo on Friday, a nice barbecue and fire that night, and then a fun-filled Saturday with Farmer's Market, brunch, and swimming at Hoyt Park (where we didn't skip the beer garden.)

Once you have kids, things change. You don't get to sit at that beer garden all night and listen to the reggae band into the early hours of the morning. But you do get to sit there for a little while, and laugh at your toddlers as they show off their dance moves and just act like silly kids. You realize how much the little moments, and the little people, in your life make everything so worthwhile. And thank God for friends who don't feel like three littles ones are a nuisance, but help you out more than you could imagine so you can enjoy yourself, as well! It was such a relief to have Kelly take the girls to the park while we could hang out and have some drinks, or just to have Zak pushing strollers and holding babies, (or taking them on mushroom missions) giving us a little break from our normal routine. Lisa and Adam made an extra effort with making sure the girls were all fed and accounted for - on top of their own little one....it was all just so nice.

The girls had so much fun, too. They both kept asking about Bennett yesterday. They loved having another playmate all weekend. And our Monday morning started off with Annaleise crying because she wants Auntie Kelly to teach her swimming lessons class tonight.

I said, "Oh Anna, Auntie Kelly lives too far away to teach your swimming lessons. You had a lot of fun with her this weekend, didn't you?"

She nodded her head and said, "Yes."

Then I asked, "What was your favorite part about our weekend with Kelly?"

"Ummmm..." Anna did her "thinking pose", where she taps her index finger on her cheek and looks up, out of the corners of her eyes. Then a huge smile stretched across her face and she exclaimed, "Zak!"

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Bring on Summertime!

After the winter we had, it feels weird to say that summertime came early...but I think it did, right? Usually we're just warming up at the beginning of June, but the hot, humid temps and summer weather came in fast and furious with Memorial Day weekend. I'll take it! Can we keep it forever?!
In true Wisconsinite fashion, we've been soaking up every possible second of sunshine. Memorial Day weekend was spent working on our yard (Justin and his dad getting our lawn in, while I chased the girls around all day) and joining in on some of the holiday festivities in town. We spent time with friends, cooked out with family and hit up the big Memorial Day parade.

The girls were not exactly fans of the parade. First of all, we had no breeze and it was scorching where we had set up camp, and they were pretty tired out from the flurry of weekend activity. Justin's mom came up and joined us for the parade, and she helped cover their ears during the gun salutes, and even during the marching bands, which the girls complained were "too loud". I do have to say the gun salutes make me jump out of my skin sometimes. But it does make me step back and think about how horrific it must be to experience actual combat, and I am reminded that freedom is a truly amazing gift. The girls waved to the veterans with big smiles. They don't know who those men are or the extent of their sacrifce for our freedom, but Justin and I will certainly make sure they do as they grow older.

And then June showed up, as at always does, and had me thinking, Where the heck did May go? This week has been more of the same: getting outside, hitting up playgrounds, visiting with friends, grilling out. In Wisconsin, we're starved for the outdoors by the time summer rolls around, and the pink skin and sunburns popping up everywhere are the proof!

This weekend we had a "swingset party" - our awesome neighbors gave us the swingset that their kids outgrew, and it took five guys to lug it down the street. Then we did some more BBQing on Saturday and hit up Breakfast on the Farm on Sunday.

I was also able to meet Amanda and Shawn's sweet new baby girl, Nadia. She's every bit as precious as she sounds. I should have taken pics of her - she's as sweet as they come!

The coming weekend will be dedicated to yard work and planting flowers; we have so much work to do. Sometimes it feels overwhelming, but we're so lucky to have this beautiful yard and I love the idea that for now, it's a blank canvas just waiting to spring to life. The girls are excited to get planting and I'm looking forward to teaching them.

Ah...summer. At last.