I live very ordinary days. There isn't much sophistication in my life right now. I cook meals, clean the house, change diapers, play with my children. But even though my days aren't filled with glamor, they are full of beauty.
Yesterday I looked out the kitchen window and watched as huge, fluffy flakes of snow fell. The air was full of feathery bits, and it was a wonder to behold.
Sometimes when I feed Ethan in the dim light late at night, his chubby fingers reach for my face. During our afternoon dance parties with Evie, he lets out peals of laughter. When I wash dishes, I often put him in the bouncy seat on the kitchen counter where he coos to me, little conversations. Such sweetness is in that tiny voice.
Evie has the biggest smile you will ever see. It brings out her hidden dimple, lights up her face. She is full of music, constantly singing under her breath. She surrounds herself with pretty things - things that are pink and shiny. Things that sparkle, like her. And her voice saying "I love you, Mommy," has to be one of the most beautiful things on this Earth.
Tuesday, when Evie woke up from her nap, she said "It smells beautiful in here." It did; her favorite pot roast was simmering away, filling our house with savory smells.
There is beauty in answered prayers from my loving God. And sometimes, there is even beauty in the unanswered prayers.
There is beauty in my milky coffee with hazelnut syrup. In a gleaming floor I just mopped myself. In a shaft of sunlight falling on the carpet. In a watercolor picture from my daughter. In a phone conversation with my sister. In a look from my husband. In a bead of sweat from a good workout. In sharing laughter with friends. In my mother, waiting to hear her PET scan is clean. In the still quiet of nap time.
Especially in winter, the gray can take over. Sometimes, you just have to look closely at your life to see the beauty. And oh, I live a beautiful life.
Right now, you are behind me at the kitchen table. You're coloring and singing a Taylor Swift song. It still surprises me how independent you are. Most of the time when you want something now, you get it for yourself. You choose clothes, and bring them to me to help you get dressed. Sometimes you come out of your room, already wearing your outfit for the day - shoes and all! You get your own lip gloss, your own coloring books, your own toys. And I've stepped out of the shower to find you at the kitchen table, eating lollipops you took from the pantry on your own.
Whatever Daddy and I are doing is what you want to be doing. You love to type on the computer and send email. You make lists all the time - To Do lists and grocery lists. You breastfeed your baby dolls, then you burp them and change their diapers. You help Daddy chop veggies for dinner and you help me cook. You try to pay at restaurants with your pretend credit card. You vacuum and dust and wash dishes. Your purse is next to mine on the counter, and your baby bag is lined up next to Ethan's. Yesterday, I saw you holding your baby in a sling, patting the doll on the bottom and swaying from side to side. You were my mirror image, and it made me laugh.
You love your little brother. I like it when you drag your step stool into his room and put it next to his crib. You stand on it and talk to Ethan if he's fussing. And it almost always makes him stop. He watches you and smiles. You tell him things all day - "Ethan, this is my baby's bottle." or "Ethan, look at my gum!" or "Ethan, we're going to the dentist!" You're a constant narrator of our actions.
And you never, ever stop talking. Mostly, it's cute and funny. Occasionally, it's purely maddening. You talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. Then you talk, talk, talk some more. You tell me things you see, things you think, things you remember. Your memory, seriously, is better than mine. You have a mind for details.
You still like to play games. In addition to our tried-and-true games, you like I Spy and Sequence for Kids. But most of all, you are addicted to the Wii. Several evenings a week, you and Daddy disappear downstairs to play video games. When I describe things you like to other people - art, dressing up, singing - you always chime in "And I like to play the Wii!"
Your favorite foods are Ramen Noodles, rice, butter bread, and pot roast. Your favorite treat is bubble gum. You love fruit and vegetables of any kind. You have discriminating tastes for a pre-schooler - your favorite restaurants are Macaroni Grill and Hacienda. You must be eating well, too, because you finally made it into the 10th percentile for your weight!
You began taking gymnastics a few weeks ago. This is the first class you've taken where I don't participate with you. After class, you describe what you did, and you often demonstrate for me. And you'll excitedly tell me your plans for next week, "Next week we're going to do tumbling, and maybe the balance beam!"
You love reading books of any kind. Sometimes you look at the pictures on your own and try to come up with the story. Sometimes you "read" a book you've memorized. But our very favorite is when you curl into the bend of my arm, and I read you stories before bed. It's such a cuddly and special time for the both of us.
I remember when you were growing in my womb, imagining what you would be like. And you are better than anything I ever dreamed. You are sweet and funny. You are kind and sassy. You are tiny and smart. You are generous of heart. You are beautiful.
And you are mine. My first miracle baby, growing up right in front of me. I don't want to miss a single second.
Please stop manufacturing clothes for Barbie that can be removed in less than a minute by a two-year-old, yet take a thirty-three-year-old woman ten minutes to put back on. You are wasting my life. Unless you think it's fun to have a naked doll party in your living room every. single. day.
Monday, we were driving in the car when we passed the dreaded McDonald's.
Evie: Can we please stop and get some apple dippers? Me: No, we already passed it. Besides, we have some yummy Asian pears at home. Evie: Are you going to eat one, Mommy? Me: Yes. I love Asian pears. Evie: But, you're not Asian!
This cold and miserable weather has me wishing for the beach lately. When I look out the window at the gray expanse of, well, everything, I pine for the sun and the sand. So I pop in my new Kenny Chesney CD and play one of his "beachy" songs. I sing along while I'm doing the dishes. And I dream I'm in Mexico.
I love the beach. I love the warmth of the sun on my skin. I love the powdery sand underfoot. I love the sound of the waves. At the beach, I don't even mind the freckles on my nose. I love how the salty air makes my hair wavy and wild. I love having nothing to do but sit by the pool and soak up the day. Maybe read a book. Maybe nap in a hammock. Maybe just watch the ocean.
At the last resort we visited, they made the best Mexican Coffee. On cold days like this, it's a perfect way to reminisce...
Mexican Coffee 3/4 c. coffee beans, ground 2 tsp. ground cinnamon 6 c. water 1 c. milk 1/3 c. chocolate syrup 2 Tbsp. light brown sugar 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Place coffee and cinnamon in filter basket of coffee maker. Add water and brew as directed. In a saucepan blend milk, chocolate syrup, and brown sugar. Stir over low hear until the sugar dissolves. Combine milk mixture and brewed coffee. Stir in vanilla.
Lisa hosts Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays over at Blessed with Grace. Visit her for more yummy recipes!
With a new baby and a very active preschooler in our home, romance is sometimes put on the back burner. I focus my attention on Ethan and Evie and their needs. And then on things like dinner and washing bottles and going to the gym. And then on sleeping. And then, finally, you get the time that's left over. Which is very, very minimal.
So today I want to remind you about all the reasons I am in love with you. I want to remind you about why I chose you "until death do us part." Because there is not a better partner for me on the entire Earth.
I love that you are a Christian. When all is said and done, that's really one of the most important things I can count. Saturday night at church, I was so happy watching you talk to Evie about how we will incorporate daily faith-building into our lives. And I know we will. You make sure we say prayers at dinnertime and you talk about Jesus. Out of all the reasons I love you, Honey, this one is for Eternity.
I love the father you have become. Remember how scared we were when Evie was first born? From the Daddy-Daughter Dance to what seems like millions of diapers, from breastfeeding to dining out in restaurants, from The Backyardigans to Word World to Yo Gabba Gabba, from turtles to Princesses, you were there in the trenches with me. I love that you scold me for buying too much for Evie, and yet you always come home with a treat for her. And now we have our beautiful Ethan, whose smile is just starting to light our lives. I look at you holding him, your mirror image, and my heart melts.
I love that you help with household chores. I haven't done a single load of laundry in almost ten years. I've never mowed the lawn or raked leaves and grass clippings. I don't know how to use the weed whipper. Since Ethan has been born, I've only been to the grocery store once, and that's because I wanted out of the house! I don't take the trash to the curb or haul the empty cans back up. I rarely even have to put gasoline in my car.
I love your scientific, rational mind (most of the time!) You think things through clearly. You do your research. And then you research some more. You're a good match for my emotional decision-making tendencies. Between the two of us, we make a normal person. But I love that you can also let go and be silly. Whether it's making funny faces, threatening to dress up as DJ Lance, or imitating me, you can always make me laugh.
I love that you are a good provider. I don't know many husbands who are willing to make the sacrifices you've made so I can be home with our children. It means the world to me.
I love that you've always been there for me during hard times. When I hated my job, when I fought with my roommate, when we tried and tried and tried to have a baby - both times. Somehow, when things are difficult for me, you know how to cheer me on. I know I will survive because you're by my side.
I love you for all the million little things you do to show me you care. You warm up the Bed Buddy and put it by my feet each night. You hold branches back when we take walks. You give me your arm when it's icy out. You spent tens of hours on complicated painting techniques for both nurseries - not for our kids, but for me. You kept my cat for seven years, even though he gave you asthma. And you changed his litter box. You chop veggies for me when I cook. And I will never, ever forget when you jumped in front of that firework so I didn't get hit.
I love your kisses. The sweet little kisses and the big passionate kisses. I love that you sometimes wrap your arms around me in your sleep. I love being cuddled next to you. I love holding your hand in the car.
I love that you let me be exactly who I am. I am more myself when I am with you than when I am alone. You center me, you ground me.
I can't imagine going through this life without you.
Motherhood is hard. Motherhood is wonderful. It's both, all at once.
When I was pregnant with Evie, I imagined holding her while she was sleeping. And kissing her sweet head. And tickling her fat little toes. I imagined hearing coos and whispering songs in her ear and contentedly rocking her in the dead of night.
And those things happened. Those were blissful moments, to be sure.
But I didn't imagine how I would handle a baby in the backseat of the car, screaming her pretty little head off. I didn't consider what it would be like to try to coax her back to sleep for hours at 2 AM. I had no idea how hard it would be to get poop stains out of her clothes after she'd been on antibiotics for a week. And don't get me started on the balancing act of keeping up with dishes and vacuuming and taking a shower and working and commuting and still finding time to mother her.
So I was much more prepared for Ethan's arrival. I knew what I was getting myself into. I was prepared for all the pitfalls. All the bumps in the road. All the exhaustion and mundane routine of the first months and years. I was terrified.
Other than that first week in the NICU, though, he's been an easy baby. He's sweet and fat and sleepy most of the time. My fears have been largely unfounded. Evie loves him, wants to be near him, talks to him, sings to him, wakes him up just to try and play, "shares" her lip gloss with him.
Oh, does he have my heart! When someone else is holding him, Ethan looks around for me. I can see his little eyes searching me out. He puts his head on my shoulder and curls his legs in and sleeps. He coos sweet nothings to me.
And he has the best smile. The worst day could be cured by his gummy grin. I don't even have to do anything to earn this reward - he just looks at me. In the morning, in the afternoon, at dinner, in the middle of the night... He only looks at me and breaks into a wide smile. His face brightens and his dimple appears.
These smiles from my children - Evie's over-the-top, head-tilted, laughing smile and Ethan's toothless, bright grin - are all the payment I'll ever need for this job with the title of "Mother."
I have been married for more than 11 years to my fantastic husband, Chris, and we have two beautiful and energetic children. Evie is 5, and full of spunk and sparkle. Ethan is 2, and has taught me about trains and construction vehicles and Buzz Lightyear - and about sweet boy cuddles.
I strive to be gentle and kind - a reflection of the love Christ has shown to us. I don't always live it perfectly, but I am working towards a life of gratitude, joy, and love!