Saturday, August 20, 2016

t h i r t y

During the very early hours of the day I turned 30 my ears were greeted with the sounds my baby stirring in her crib on the far side of the room. I got up and stumbled through the darkness to scoop her up and bring her back to bed to nurse. The best birthday gift everyone could give me right now would be a stretch of sleep longer than three hours. But with a baby cutting four teeth at once, that was a lot to hope for.  A streetlamp on our block shed just enough light for me to make out her features in the darkness, wispy hair, long lashes, a little button nose, and the chubbiest cheeks you every saw. My body ached for sleep, but I still couldn't help but smile as a little hand reached out and wrapped around my index finger. I know all too well that nothing in life is guaranteed, not another child, not even another day. So I stuffed my tiredness down, whispered "happy birthday to me," and decided to enjoy this early morning snuggle.

A couple hours later we could hear our toddler coughing in the other room. He'd had a cold the last couple days and it always seems to get worse when he's lying down. My husband was just getting up to make sure he had enough water when I heard the unmistakable sound of a child throwing up. Then we were both up, one of us comforting Johnny, and the other one changing the sheets on his bed. "So, it's going to be one of these night," I thought to myself. But it was impossible to feel mad when my three year old, who normally doesn't have to time of day to sit and cuddle with his mama, was sitting on my lap with his arm around my neck and his head against my chest. Some of the most rewarding moments of motherhood for me have been when being with mom is the only thing that comforts my babies.

Growing up we had a tradition in my family of birthday breakfast in bed. We all knew it was coming, but would stay in bed and pretend to sleep until the rest of the family came marching in with a breakfast tray, singing the birthday song. Alex and I have adopted that tradition in our own little family. But it's getting harder to execute with small children. Johnny was having such a rough night that Alex ended up sleeping in his bed with him. Trixie was a up once more during the night, and then up for good at 6:30. When Alex realized Trixie and I were awake he tried to convince me to go back to bed so he could "surprise" me with breakfast, but at that point it seemed better to just stay up.  So I wrestled two babies through two diaper changes while Alex made coffee and put together a tray of the international cookies from Whole Foods. My favorite. We had a nice little breakfast picnic on the playroom floor. Coffee that I didn't have to make always tastes better.

My parents came over to watch the kids so Alex and I could go out for dinner. We slid into a plush corner booth in a very hip lounge that my very hip younger sister recommended.  After the server had brought us our cocktails Alex leaned back and said, "It's nice to be out without kids." I agreed. I also observed that our server did not card us. When Alex and I were dating and in our early 20's we always took it as a small triumph when that happened. I was about to have a similar reaction just out of habit when I noticed her carding the much younger looking couple at the table next to us.

I'm 30. And I guess I look it.

But in all actuality, I'm really ok with being 30. Sure, the baby weight is not coming off as easily the second time around, and I may be a dress size or two larger than when I was in college. But my body has grown and birthed two humans. It's ok with me that it looks like it's done that. There are a few more life skills I think I should possess by now, like how to file our taxes, and deal with insurance stuff, and make a spread sheet. I guess that's why God gave me Alex. (Wink.) But I'm proud of the other things I've accomplished in 30 years. Staying home with my kids is challenging, but I chose it and there's nothing else I'd rather be doing. I'm happy with where I'm at and I feel comfortable in my own skin. Yup, even the looser skin.

As nice as it was to go out with Alex and have an uninterrupted meal, it was even nicer to come home to our house with our sleeping babies in it and sneak into their rooms to plant little kisses on their little heads. It's a good life, even though I know in a couple hours one, or both of them, will wake up needing me.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

trips with babies.

We had our final trip of the summer last weekend. We did our second annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse with our good friends (and Trixie's future in-laws) Ian and Jacqui, and their boys. Last year was our first trip and I was pregnant, this year Jacqui's pregnant. Maybe next year no one will be pregnant. Ha!

We've had a lot of vacations this summer, and by vacations I mean doing all the things we usually do with our kids, only in a different setting. It's been really great to have so much together time, but the introvert in me was starting to feel a little burned out. Going to the Shrine, however, is the perfect little trip to make with little kids.  It's about a two hour drive for us, we stay one night, and we keep expectations pretty low.

The main objective is walking up a hill to the church. The scenery is beautiful.

We were a parade of  double strollers.

 Once we got up there the grown ups took turns going to confession while the kiddos played in a fountain.

 There's a beautiful garden with a shrine to the unborn. Jacqui and I have both lost little ones to miscarriage, so there's something very special about seeing all our children there together.

Next on the agenda was trying to get 4 kids under 4 to all smile for a picture.  It didn't happen.  Better luck next year 

 After that we hit up the hotel pool and wore the kids out so that they would go to sleep and we could stay up and drink wine out of plastic hotel cups and talk without being interrupted.  Until 12:30. Yikes! Not smart with babies that wake up multiple times during the night!

Trixie loves chilling with dad in the hot tub.

Sunday morning we got one final dip in the pool, went to mass at the Shrine and then ate a Jimmy John's picnic down by the river. We got a tip from one of Alex's classmates about an old-timey ice cream parlor in La Crosse, so we walked there for some ice cream. By the time we finished the babies were turning into pumpkins so we loaded and made it home without any stops. Success! And next year will be even better. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Family Vacation Photo Dump Pt. 3

From the Family Farm in Ohio we headed just a little further east to stay with Alex's sister in Pittsburgh, where Johnny got some extra time with his cousins "Bictor, Hemby, and Belo" (Leo). And Alex and I even got out for dinner one night sans la babies.

On our way home the AC went out on our car and with temps in the high 80's and two babies in the backseat, no AC was not an option. We took a long lunch break somewhere in the middle of Ohio to get it repaired, and Alex and I may or may not have gotten margaritas with our Chipotle. We spent tht night in downtown Chicago where we met up with another one of my cousins for lunch the next day.

All the driving was starting to be a little too much for our kids by the end. But I think they did pretty well considering they are 3 and not quite 1. When we finally made it home and I think we were all very happy to sleep in our own beds. But Johnny keeps asking for all his out-of-state cousins.

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