Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My 30th Birthday

One week ago today, I officially turned thirty in a hotel room in Palo Alto, California.  My celebration amounted to some birthday cake M and Ms in the airport and a free downloaded season of Parenthood to my iPad.  My work trip wasn't ideal timing with the end of summer, the start of a new semester, lots of preschool transitions for the Cruz Man, and the start of a new decade for me, but it was a great opportunity professionally and I couldn't pass it up.  It's just not every day you get the chance to co-author curriculum with Stanford University.  Beau's mom graciously came to stay with Beau while I was gone and the kiddos loved their time with Grandma.  And as I rolled into the driveway a few minutes past my birthday early Thursday morning, Beau was waiting up with a single lit candle in a Scratch cupcake to welcome me home.  I was exhausted, a little sad, but above all, so thankful to be home to my three most precious gifts.

We did celebrate this weekend, though, with one last getaway before a new semester starts up.  After getting surprised with not one, but two flower bouquets from my hubby and my parents and the sweetest homemade succulent gift from a friend, we left around lunch time on Friday for a little staycation in our state's capitol.  We had lots of outdoor plans for our weekend - an Iowa Cubs game, a morning at the Farmer's Market, and some shopping in the East Village, but when it poured the entire two hours there, I began to think otherwise.  Cruz would have been happy to be stuck in our hotel room the entire stay - all weekend he kept asking when we could go back to our hotel!  We unpacked our swimsuits and checked out the showtimes for the Ninja Turtle movie just in case, but decided to take our chances and hope for the better half of the 50 percent rain chances that loomed over us for the weekend ahead.

Beau's motto when buying flowers for me...go big or go home.  This time, with lilies that are bigger than my head!  Lots of them!  

We had dinner at the Flying Mango on Hickman Road, and by the time we had reached Principal Park, the sky was beginning to clear up. It ended up getting pretty nice outside and the previous forecast had scared many people away, so we enjoyed an open row to ourselves just three rows up from the first baseline.  We had ample room to spread our family out and our first baseball game as a family of four went off without a hitch.  We made it the entire nine innings and even stayed for the fireworks show, thanks to a bounce house intermission, a plastic helmet full of blue ice cream, and lots of attention from a super nice father son duo in front of us.  Mila wore Cubbie blue and looked exactly like her brother when he was a baby.  And everyone thought she was a boy, white rubble butt and all. :)

After a late night Friday, the kids slept until 8:00 on Saturday morning, a new record for Mila girl.  It was overcast, but the rain chances for the day had fizzled and we headed to the Des Moines Farmer's Market for a burrito bowl, some croissants from La Mie, and a fresh flower bouquet to add to my collection at home.  When in Rome, I figured, even though now my kitchen table shows signs of a new baby, a funeral, or a birthday girl feeling a little self-pity for being four states away on her thirtieth.  

We had sushi at Miyabi 9 in the East Village and I snooped in a few stores before the kids started getting tired and we decided to head home.  Sunday, we met my family at Pfeiffer Park for a pizza picnic, some playground fun for the cousins, and a frog ice cream cake picked out just for me from my little love.  Turns out an ice cream cake isn't the only thing Cruz purchased for me while I was gone.  Beau took Cruz shopping to the Dollar Tree and he picked out some special gifts he just knew I would love.  A Captain America coloring book, a camouflaged water bottle, a sparkly baton, and some sour patch kids.  He knows me well. :)

Here's to thirty.  To a decade filled with celebrating these little blessings that make every day feel special. 


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Your First Day of Preschool

Today, we got ready for your first day of preschool.  For the most part, it felt like any other day getting you ready for a place we've called "school" since you were a baby, but I walked around the house last night searching for ways to make it more real, more authentic for you.  I got your navy blue backpack out of the closet, took out the snow pants still tucked away from the winter, then scratched my head as I meandered around the house looking for something to put in it.  Finally, I stuck in a water bottle.  I scrubbed you extra good in your bath, brushed your teeth, and made sure you were tucked in bed early to get a good night's sleep before your big day.  I laid out your clothes, double-checked the daily schedule to make sure I had the drop-off time right, then crawled in bed myself and thanked God for my little boy who is growing up so fast.

This morning was a special one.  Instead of eating breakfast at home or at school, I took you for pancakes and bacon at Village Inn.  We talked about which centers you were going to try out today and sang Frozen songs while waiting for our food.  We got to school a little early and I snapped a few pictures of you by your school sign.  And then,  we walked in to see your class, made of both old and new friends, lined up by your new teachers.  I thought you would run up and stand in line confidently and casually like always, but you threw your arms around my leg and said you wanted me to go with you.  That was all it took today.  A little kiss, a little nudge, and a little reminder to "be a good friend," and "listen to your teachers."  And then you were off and I cried the entire way home.

Today, was a growing up day for both of us.  You are going to learn so much this year and we can't wait to see how you spread your wings as a pre-schooler.  We pray that you will learn more about Jesus and what it means to have a heart for him.  We pray you will meet new friends and learn new ways to be a good friend to everyone in your class.  We pray you will continue to develop your talents, to use your natural born leadership skills for the good, and to experience a few new challenges that will help you expand those ever important fruits - patience, kindness, and self-control.  Most of all, we just pray that you will feel love in little ways every day, show love through learning and exploring new things, and give love to those around you.  Be salt and light, little man.  You can do it.

As parents, the growing never stops.  A part of me felt like I was playing house last night and this morning, fully absorbing the little details that I used to dream about when I thought about being a mommy.  Combing your hair and cinching your backpack before heading out the door, holding your little hand and kissing your soft cheek as I dropped you off in that line, and organizing preschool folders and hanging first day pictures on the refrigerator, wondering what you're doing and counting down the minutes until I get to see you.  But there's this side to being your mom, a side I never dreamed up when I was rocking those baby dolls and feeding them with plastic bottles.  A side that feels so deeply this raw mix of emotions - of question and guilt, responsibility and urgency, helplessness and fulfillment, all wrapped up in this package of deep deep love and desire to do it right and raise you well.  Every day is new territory, and we just keep learning, just keep growing, and just keep loving.  It's a wonderful journey, being your mommy.

Here's to one more 'first.'  You rocked it.

Monday, August 18, 2014


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

Cruz: This little boy, who calls our builder Wade a "lumberjack", who knows the entire opening sequence of Rapper's Delight, and who informed his new preschool teacher little known facts about triceratops at his open house last week, is starting preschool tomorrow.  Boy is he ready.

Mila: Is going through some changes of her own this week, too.  She's been babbling up a storm the last couple of days, is working on her fourth tooth, and has learned that if she cries when someone sets her down, chances are someone will pick her back up.  She's ready to be on the move and always wants to be in the middle of the action.



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