Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Family Wedding Weekend

This weekend, my cousin John got married.  It was our first family wedding since my own seven years ago and we got to travel together to Lincoln, Nebraska for the festivities.  Cruz and Charly were asked to be John and Amanda’s ring bearer and flower girl, so we were excited to be there for the long weekend together, stay in the same hotel, and watch our littles get all dressed up and bust a move on the dance floor.  It would also be our first experience in a hotel as a family of four and I was excited to introduce Mila to the hotel lifestyle for the extended weekend.  Packing was a bit extensive, with bottles and diapers and a cooler of homemade baby food, but I have a weird obsession with organizing for this kind of thing.  I have it down to a pretty good system by now and get a sort of thrill from laying out freshly washed clothes, planning car activities for Cruz, and packing everything just so.  I think I could do it for a living... :)
There were so many memories made this weekend.  We had about 10 hotel rooms blocked off on the second floor of the Hampton Inn and spent most of the weekend with our doors cracked open, meandering in and out of hotel rooms.  The kids, of course, turned into energizer bunnies the minute we got to the hotel, jumping like monkeys on the bed, chasing each other down the halls, and going up and down elevators.  Mila continued to amaze us all weekend, chilling on hotel beds, smiling and being passed around from one relative to the next, and sleeping all night in her hotel pack and play.  After rehearsal dinner on Friday, Cruz requested we read the Bible we found in the hotel dresser as a bedtime story and after finally getting the kids down for the night, the adults sipped seven and sevens and sat in the hallway outside our rooms so we wouldn’t disturb the sleeping kids.  We played the name game, laughed at the same stories we’ve heard a hundred times, and stayed up way too late. 
Saturday was a bit of a whirlwind, but everything came together and ended with two very cute toddlers performing just as they should and one perfect-for-each-other couple being announced as husband and wife.  Having been through this ring bearer thing before, we knew sleep (and a great bribe) were the key to a successful afternoon, so we wore Cruz out at the hotel pool the morning of, got him an early nap, and promised him his very first Transformer if he agreed to wear his tux, smile for pictures, and sit like a big boy during the ceremony.  Our day went as planned and he looked like a little hunk in his gray suit and suspenders.  His pants were a little short and his white button down a little big, but with his gray suspenders and rolled-up sleeves he looked like he belonged in The Lumineers.

We got lucky and scored some precious pictures of the little couple right before they walked down the aisle.  The flower girl dresses were show-stoppers and Cruz had his hands full keeping up with the gorgeous little girls.

There are so many things I hope to remember about our weekend.  I hope I remember the sweet ceremony, how special it was to see John’s face when those doors to the church opened and he saw his bride for the first time.  They were so sweet with each other, Amanda holding John’s hand with both of hers and pulling it close to her as the pastor read the scripture.  I hope I remember how good Cruz was all day – how he patiently stood still when they helped him with his vest or fastened his flower to his lapel, how we smiled so sweetly walking hand in hand with Charly down the aisle, and how he asked to sit by his papa during the ceremony.  I hope I remember how emotionally raw the reception was, my cousin, Derek’s best man speech that left us all in tears, Cruz and Hayes wrestling on the dance floor during the cocktail hour, and Mila dancing with the Hoodjer boys in her diaper, well past her usual bed time.  I hope I remember dancing with my siblings, Cruz getting chased around by little girls hoping for a dance, and grabbing McDonalds chicken nuggets and eating them in the lobby at 11:30 at night with my little ring bearer.  Weddings just have a way of bringing out this raw, sentimental, charged up kind of love, one that leaves you feeling a little breathless, watching your kids and realizing that one day that will be them.  It was really special to all be there together and we were so honored our little man was asked to be a part of it. 

More memories from our weekend...

The kids couldn't touch in the hotel pool, but Jordan saved the day and found us some water rafts from Wal-Mart.

Next in line to tie the knot?!  :)


Monday, July 21, 2014


"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2014"

Cruz: Our week included seashells and safaris, pixie dust and frozen fireworks, and a virgin daiquiri on the pier watching the dolphins swim in the distance.  It was a good week.  

Mila: We missed this little one, of course, but were so thankful she was getting spoiled at home in the fall-like temps. here instead of battling the humidity and heat with us in Florida.  Disney in July is no place for a baby!             


"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2014"

Cruz: His second stint as a ring bearer at my cousin John's wedding in Lincoln last weekend.  His shirt a little big, pants a little short, looking like a band-mate in the Lumineers with his suspenders and rolled up sleeves.  He earned his very first Transformers toy for doing such a good job taking pictures, walking down the aisle with Charly, and sitting quietly with Papa Curt during the service.  And he danced til' he crashed!

Mila: This little girl deserves some accolades, too.  She was a dream all weekend, sleeping all night in her hotel pack and play, smiling and snuggling with strangers, and going with the flow during a wild morning of wedding preparation.  She even busted a move in her diaper with the groom on the dance floor!      

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Mundanely Beautiful

When I was preparing for our wedding day seven years ago, one of the main pieces of advice I received from others had to do with remembering it all.  "Don't forget to step back and soak it all in for it goes by in the blink of an eye," they would tell me.  I remember feeling anxiety about this, attempting to will myself to remember every feeling, every look, every detail about the day that I had dreamed about for so long.  Seven years later, there are things I remember vividly, like the way my sister-in-law Gina so effortlessly decorated the entrance to the reception, how soft my satin dress felt against my legs, the look on my dad's face just moments before he walked me down the aisle, and how surreal it felt to stand up there and say my vows to the man I was about to marry.  I remember feeling like such a little girl standing in front of all those people.

Unfortunately, there are things I don't have the foggiest memory of.  I don't really remember our first kiss as husband or wife, or what we talked about on the way to the reception.  And the only memory I have of cutting our cake was being slightly upset with my brand new husband for smearing a piece in my face!  I am fascinated by how the mind works, why we remember the smallest details of moments as if they happened yesterday and can't recall other bigger ones.

We are accustomed to want to remember the big things, those milestones that are often labeled as the best days of our lives.  They are the mile markers - babies' birth days, wedding days, big trips to new places, and those ever important 'firsts' that you won't ever get back.  We put lots of stock into these moments, build them up in our minds and envision how we want them to play out.  But in my floods of memories, sometimes I'm surprised by the things I remember - the tiny, seemingly unimportant snapshots that stir up the same senses and emotions that I felt in real time.  I often wonder if there is some greater significance to be found in the things my mind remembers.

The older I get, the more I realize the importance of the in-between days.  The ones that start with a breakfast of blueberry muffins and a scrambled egg for Cruz and some cereal with a swirl of peach puree for Mila, the ones where I prop Mila up in her carseat and drink lukewarm coffee, where I am somewhere between a strung out restaurant waitress and dancing around the kitchen like the queen of some kind of castle, these are the days I want to remember as the best of my life.  The days of the mundanely beautiful.  I want to remember the way Mila's lips pierce together when she blows her bubbles and the sound of Cruz's giggle in response.  The days when it takes me an hour to pack for an hour at the pool, but that hour, when I hold Mila's hands and glide her through the water as she chases her brother who smiles from ear to ear, well, it makes my heart sing.  There's no build-up, no preparation for those moments for they flow like water.  Those little moments, often mundane and messy and thrown together, they are full of so much beauty.  


This summer has been one to remember for me, however, sometimes I wonder if I'll remember any of it.  I hold Mila's little body against my side, feel her tiny hands grab the sides of my face and watch her mouth open like a baby bird as she proceeds to suck on my chin and I wonder if I'll forget what it feels like to hold her.  Lately, I've been attempting to jot down the little things as they happen, those moments where I'm standing in the midst of a very lived-in house and something happens that makes me smile.  Those moments where you stop and really notice how cute, or big, or precious those babies are.  Those times when you feel so blessed, so honored to have a front row seat to the art that unravels as you watch two little souls deepen a connection they've seemed to have from the start.  The mundanely beautiful moments of this life where I am content and they are happy.


A few of my mundanely beautiful moments lately...

...Oh, the great catch-all of naptime.  You never know what you're going to get.  The other day, the three of us climbed in our bed and attempted to read a few books together.  Mila was in between us in her little Paddington Bear marmalade shirt and immediately craned her neck and attempted to roll onto her tummy.  She wouldn't stop touching our faces and every now and then, Cruz would nonchalantly reach up and grab her little hand.  All of a sudden, she lets out this little 'hhmph' sound and it sends Cruz and I into a fit of giggles.  All plans of a nap plummeted, we laugh together and lay there as long as they let me.    

...Somedays, I feel like all I do is prepare and clean up meals, but it brings me joy to cook for my family.  Some days, this looks smoother than others, but it always ends the same way.  Cruz's little profile in his usual spot by the window, diving into his second muffin or grabbing both sides of his juice cup, and Mila, fists in her face and kicking her feet as I spoon her bites of rice cereal with fresh berry swirl.  We make small talk, but I mostly enjoy the few minutes of predictable calmness around the table as both babes fill their tummies.    

...I was trying to put Mila to sleep the other morning in her room and had the door shut.  She was overtired and fighting it and I was bouncing, patting, shh'ing fervently, waiting for her eyelids to start their anticipated flutter.  Soon, Cruz cracks open the door to her room, peaks his big brown eyes in and says, "psst...Mom, are you putting Mila to bed?"  Her eyes pop open, she cranes her neck to catch a glimpse of her visitor, and I attempt to remain calm and acknowledge Cruz in a patient way.  After the third or fourth 'psst..." I realize Cruz just wants me to know he knows what that means.  I smile and look down, only to see Mila smiling at me, too, her pacifier hanging halfway out of her mouth. 

...The other night, I watched Cruz try his very best to keep up with Beau as he mowed the lawn.  He had bed head from his nap and he looked so tan from the pool, especially when he followed suit and stripped down to his little cotton shorts that say, "see ya later" on the waistband.  He was concentrating so hard pushing his little mower through the grass, looking up every now and then to make sure his daddy was approving of his lines.  They'd exchange sweet smiles every now and then, but it was mostly all business.  Adorable business.

...And our pool days, how blue Mila's eyes look against that water and how cute she looks in her white pool hat.  I love how she is pretty serious on my lap, but the minute I put her tootsies in the water, she's all smiles.  I love that Cruz would rather play restaurant with us and that his absolute favorite thing to do is have Mila chase after him in the pool.  I grab her hands, glide her through the water humming the "na na, na na" from Jaws, while Cruz giggles his best giggle and attempts to run away.  She always has the biggest smile on her face and Cruz's giggle is my favorite sound in the whole world. 

...Carrying their heavy, sleepy bodies to their beds afterwards before sinking into the recliner, exhausted, satisfied, and happy.

Thanks to Darcy from At Play Photo for capturing our mundanely beautiful life this spring...  


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