Friday, June 12, 2015


She was due on June 10. Her aunt came from Michigan around her due date, expecting to meet a baby since her big brother was born one week early. But this babe was staying put. No amount of spicy food, pineapple, long walks, and anything else anyone has ever said would make a person go into labor worked.

I wasn't sad or impatient about it. I wanted the baby to come when the baby was ready and I knew from Isaac's birth that I'd miss being pregnant the second he was born, even while I was overjoyed at finally meeting my baby. I savored the time with my two year old and held my husband's hand while we walked the block yet again in hopes that Jim's sister could meet her new niece or nephew before having to drive back home.

We said goodbye to Jim's sister, put Isaac to bed, and hit the hay ourselves. I woke up at around 1:30 with contractions and went downstairs to fold some laundry. I was sitting on our basement floor folding when one of the contractions rocked me and I had to get on all four on the floor and rock back and forth. I decided I should wake Jim up and make plans to get someone here to watch Isaac.

Things went quickly and our baby, our little girl, our Audrey, was born even before her aunt made it back home. We met her, our little girl who decided to wait until she was good and ready to make her grand and quick arrival, and marveled her perfection and fell in love a million times over and wondered how in the world this could be our life.

And now she's nine. And she's had a really rough year with lots of uncertainty, tons of question marks, many ups and downs, and more addresses than a well traveled military family. So, so much has changed since we celebrated her 8th birthday, the one where Jim was out of town and approved a showing during the middle of her actual birthday party. Yet all the most important things remain the same. We love this girl. We celebrate her life and love and enthusiasm and smile. We thank God for the gift of her every darn day and count ourselves as the luckiest on the planet to share this journey with our loving, kind, silly, vivacious daughter. Of all the girls in all the world and all the parents in all the lands, we got her and she got us and we couldn't be happier or more proud or more honored to share this life with her. Just her.

We've learned a lot about our daughter this year. About what scares her and what makes her tick. About what makes her smile take over her whole face and what makes her open up her heart to share with others. 

The next year is her last trip around the sun before she hits double digits. I don't know how the time has passed so quickly. It's the biggest cliche in the parenting world, but that's because it's the truest. I only know that my love grows for her as she becomes her own person, finds her own way, discovers her own truths. 

Happy 9th birthday, Audrey. I love you because you are who you are! No matter what, forever and always.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


I read this book, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, to Isaac approximately 30,528,539 times when he was one and two. And by 30,528,53 times, I mean per day, of course. He loved it. The rhythm and the silliness, the time spent on my lap and the love we shared. I loved it, too. When we went in the car and I forgot the book I would say it from memory because he just loved those words.

Now I watch him read it to my 21 month old and it stirs up all of these memories that are happy and beautiful and happened far too long ago. And I love all of it all over again.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Story of Bear

Meet Bear.

He's the cutest and we're in love.

Here's the implausible, yet true, story of how we for Bear. Or maybe Bear found us.

The kids have wanted a dog since our Sophie died, but Jim and I were not even close to ready. Then there was another baby and a few moves and it was not even an option. They kept asking and we kept saying when they were older and could really help with the dog. Now we are settled and the kids spend a fair amount of time with Koda and Khyah, my mom and step-dad's dogs, and they love helping with them.* They feed them and take them for walks and even help with backyard clean-up.

We decided to get a dog, but said we'd get one in the fall after I'd trained for and run my first marathon, which will include another road trip to MN. Then Jim and I got antsy and thought about it some more and decided that our schedules are a lot more flexible in the summer so we'd rather do it now. Plus, puppies are really cute and if you look at pictures you will need one.

*Now, we know the kids will not be fully responsible for Bear Bear. We'll be up with him at night and potty training and all of that fun stuff, but they can help with the feeding, watering, walking, and clean up.*

Audrey and Elliot have been the most vocal proponents for getting a puppy so we decided to surprise them for their June birthdays. Jim and I started looking at our local puppy adoption center's website and found two pups from a litter that we wanted to meet. We filled out the application for two little girl puppies. Our requirements were puppy, female, medium sized, meaning 30-50 pounds. We know a puppy is more work, but we'd rather start with a clean slate than get an older dog with unknown issues, especially since I have four kids home all day with the pup.

We waited to hear back from someone about the dogs, but didn't hear anything. I called again and left another message, then they left a message with me, and on and on.

Then our next door neighbor came over to introduce herself on Wednesday. She apologized for how long it took her to come over to say hi, but said she'd been fostering some puppies since Mother's Day. I pointed right into her face and squealed/shouted, "Are you Spice and Splash's mom?" She said she was and I told her that we'd been trying to meet those puppies because we wanted to adopt one of them. The kids looked really confused and I realized that cat (dog?) was out of the bag. I had to quickly tell them that we were surprising them with a puppy in June instead of October so. . . . "SURPRISE!"

Then it got really noisy as they jumped and screamed and hugged. We put our shoes on and walked next door to meet the pups. Oh, the cuteness! We learned that Spice was already going to another home, but Splash was still available. Splash looks so much like our Sophie girl and has a very sweet demeanor.

But then there was Bear. Brown and fuzzy and calm as can be, falling asleep in Jim's arm almost the moment he held him close. The foster mom said she almost named him PJ because he slept so much when she first got him. He is more playful now, but still very sweet and relaxed. We tried to want Splash more and almost decided to go with her because she'll likely stay smaller and she's a girl. And she really was so, so sweet.

But there was Bear.

We went home and talked and cast our votes and talked some more. The boys were in camp Bear and Audrey didn't care because PUPPY! Jim and I said Splash, but really only because she is a she. We loved Bear. So Jim brought Elliot to baseball and we said we'd think about it some more, but I called him and told him that I thought it had to be Bear. He agreed wholeheartedly. Well, actually, he said maybe we should get both and I, for maybe the third time in my whole life, was the voice of reason and said there was no way we could handle more than one puppy. Aren't you proud of me? Voice of reason? So out of character. It was like we swapped personalities for a second there.

So, our next door neighbor had our pup all along. Can you even believe it? Which is weird enough on its own, but gets almost creepy when you consider his name. A few months ago we started talking about dog names and Elliot wanted to name our dog Bear. He loves the story of Lewis and Clark's giant, adventurous dog, Seaman, and his interactions with American Indians on their travels. He especially loves the story of when a group of American Indians saw him and said, "Bear?" because they'd never seen such a large dog. Lewis tried to explain that it was a dog so the story goes, "Bear?" "Dog." "Bear?" "Dog." "Bear-dog?"

We said that Bear was a boy's name and we were getting a girl dog, but if she looked a lot like a bear we might name her that. We picked our girl name for the someday moment we'd get a girl dog.

So, our next door neighbor had our pup all along and he had the name that Elliot wanted to name our dog. Now, really. Can you even believe it?

Bear will be ready to come to his forever home on Sunday. We are beside ourselves with excitement. The good news is that we get to visit him when he's outside playing with his siblings. He will go to lots of baseball and softball games, get lots of cuddles, and require the grown ups of the house to give him some space since the kids will want to be all Bear all the time. His mom is a mutt and his dad is unknown, so Bear is a mystery pup. Bear, his mom, and siblings were strays when they were picked up and sent to a shelter to be euthanized. The local animal shelter swooped in on Mother's Day and found a foster home, our wonderful neighbor, for all of them so they could be adopted out. Hooray! Making it all the more crazy is that this is the first time she has fostered puppies so, really, Bear was meant to be ours and we're meant to be his. He'll likely be much bigger than we wanted, but then again, so far we're batting about 0% in getting what we thought we wanted, but we at about 1000% for getting just what we need.

And that, my friends, is the story of Bear. Can you even believe it???

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

celebrating. time.

We celebrate milestones. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Graduations. We mark growth on the little piece of trim that used to be in the boys' closet in their blue room in Minnesota, but made the trip west and now resides in Asher's closet in Colorado. We take pictures on the first and last days of school and marvel how they've changed, their hair length, height.

Yet some things can't be measured. Yet they matter just the same.

Isaac. Eleven years old. Tall and lean like a blade of grass blowing in the wind. All elbows and kneecaps, baggie shorts and flat brimmed hats. He stands next to a few boys his age and towers over them, yet others dwarf him with their broad chest and muscular arms, their thick legs and man feet. He is at that age where change seems to happen overnight and the school pictures look like a mismatched collection of kids from many different ages.

He was telling me a story last week. He was excited and his hands were gesticulating as he's seen mine do all these eleven years. His voice was rising at the end of the sentence as he gulped a quick breath to continue speaking.

And then it happened. Just a flash. A glimpse. He made this expression and I saw him, my Isaac boy, but also him, the man he'll be. It was over, the moment passed, and I think my face fell in renewed recognition of this light speed passage of time. Time that I am so beyond honored and delighted to be a part of, but that I am also so beyond confused as to how the clock has ticked so many ticks since I first held that boy and professed my love in all the words I could muster up. I tried. I really, really tried, yet none of those words even touched the depths of my love for him. It is an easy love that will stay with him for all the days, all the nights, all the mistakes, all the triumphs. It is a complicated love that will ache when he aches and burn with anger when he burns, want to protect him from the harsh winters of life, but instead arm him with a giant, wool parka to make his own way through those winters.

There's no place in the baby book for those moments. Those moments you see the future and it fills you with excitement and fear and joy and dread. Those moments that quietly make up a life.

What moments, quiet or noisy, are you celebrating today?