Monday, December 5, 2016

Another Year Around the Sun. Six.

Each year Thanksgiving comes around and then it ends and then it's December 5th. It's almost like the days in between aren't even there, because they are a rush of time.

This morning I spent my time running six miles for my firstborn on his birthday. At each mile, I wrote one of these wherever my feet landed. In six different places around my neighborhood, I left a mark for him.
I also spent the morning registering my rainbow baby for Kindergarten. Irony sure does enjoy smacking me right in the face. My would-be Kindergartner and my upcoming Kindergartner with worlds colliding. It's rare this happens, so I guess it's a sweet wink. (It would be even sweeter if the school wasn't going to a year-round calendar. Which likely means we're moving to another school zone.)

Tonight we will enjoy dinner out and quite a bit of dessert-eating and present opening, all to remember that boy who first made us parents. I miss him with everything in me. To think of how he would've shaped who is younger brother is and how happy it would make his little sister to have a great big brother to love and play with.

What I miss most, though, is knowing who he would be. How our lives would be different with him here and what he would grow to become. I really miss everything.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Kids Are Mean

A couple weeks ago, Benjamin mentioned to me that some of his friends at school weren't playing with him and even went so far to say that he didn't want to go to school one day because he had no one to play with.

I didn't believe it. Until I saw it.

I assumed he was exaggerating and placing all of these remarks on one isolated incident he didn't fully understand, like the allowance of only two kids in a center area or one kid really intent on his creation that he didn't react well when Benjamin went grabbing for that special project. Or that the one kid he wanted to play with at that exact time was unavailable.

Benjamin isn't an easy kid to understand and I think he struggles to understand others. He's not very social. He clams up and holds his emotions inside until he bursts. He gets hurt feelings, despite his tough exterior or appearance to disregard anyone and everything. But if you touch on something sensitive, he goes into defense mode and says and does things that he can't control because he lacks that full ability to express himself well.

But, like any mom, I felt horrible that he felt underappreciated and devalued. I want the kids to love him, but he's an introvert loner who doesn't seem to have the whole social awareness thing down. And it does bother him. So I wanted him to know that it does bother me, too. I want him to know I take his concerns seriously because I want him to love school and I love him. This whole social confusion is most of what preschool is about, right?

We were at storytime yesterday and in walks a girl from his class. He sits beside her, smitten that someone from his class was at our storytime. He's met other classmates there before and they've always been nice. This girl, wasn't. When the story ended or the librarian read a funny joke, he'd turn to look and see her reaction, as to connect with her. She turned her whole body against him and at one point actually moved herself away from him. Of course her mom was either oblivious (or a jerk) and didn't react.

I grabbed him up and told him she wasn't interested in being friendly and immediately he welled up with tears and started saying unkind things ("I don't love you", etc.). This is how he reacts when he feels threatened. I felt terrible and honestly had some ugly words in my head rolling around about that little brat of a four-year-old.

He has to know that life isn't fair. It's not. People are going to disappoint you. They will. Friends will come and go. Also true. It's just... really hard being Mama and seeing your little bird take flight, only to fall and gain those bruises. This is only the beginning.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thanksgiving Fun + Tree Adventures

About a month ago, my husband got word that you could cut down your own tree in the wild with the purchase of a $10 permit. That's it. You hand over $10 to the National Forest Service and they give you an official sticker and map of places you're allowed to cut.

We had a full weekend of fun, starting with a 10k Turkey Trot with our little turkeys in the stroller followed by dinner at some friends' house and asleep in a hotel bed at a cute little Inn in Incline Village, Nevada (it's on Lake Tahoe). Night one, we all take a swim in the amazingly heated (like spa-temps!) pool and find ourselves in bed late and then quickly awoken to the sound of vomit coming from the kids' bed. Mmmhmm. The shared bed. Benjamin didn't wake at all.
We grab Claire up and clean her up, manage the bed as best we could and put her back. She promptly vomits again. We clean her up again and the rest of the night was quiet, except I never slept much because I anticipated that terrible sound again... #momlife also, #vomitistheworstpartofparenting

She was good for the following day, so we explored three different ski resorts and I got a massage in Squaw Valley from my birthday gift stash. We explored South Tahoe and eventually made our way back for another warm swim and some Christmas shows on television before a good night of sleep.
Saturday was a day for more swimming, sledding and more exploration before heading back down the mountain and grabbing our tree permit for the following day.

We trekked about an hour south of our home into the Northern California Toiyabe Forest and promptly found ourselves in a winter wonderland that also made for some fun adventures trying to get our new Subie out of the deeper-than-we-estimated snow. We finally found a suitable spot and trekked about 1/3 mile into the snowy woods and crossing a stream to find our tree. There are just so many great memories from this, but probably not from Claire's perspective since she refused the gloves we tried to put on her. Instead she spent the better half of the adventure screaming, as you can see from the quintessential family picture here.
We'd been tree cutting at farms in the past, but nothing compares to trekking through the wilderness with just a map and your senses to find the tree! it's a wild tree, so it's not the perfect spruce trees you expect when spending $ at the tree lots, but it's perfectly ours and we love it. Benjamin was 100% into this adventure and wanted to be a part of everything. He complained nil and it was so awesome to share that adventure with him.
We typically wait until after Andrew's birthday for the tree presentation in our home, but our kids were excited and it's getting harder to hold them back as they get older. Plus, our weekends are getting more and more booked as the holidays approach and we had a free afternoon. Still feels foreign, but being from nature and in the mountains where I feel closest to him (and God), it almost felt like he was with us, exploring, adventuring and indulging in this excitement. Plus, an added bonus is having his ornaments up for the whole month of his birth.
It was quite the weekend and nothing short of memorable. Seriously, how have more people not found out about Reno? Most people give  me the confused look or question when I mention it, but I honestly bet you would be amazed... as amazed as we are. It's like a best-kept secret of the West and we're in love.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Shameless Chatbooks Post. Do You Get Them? + Giveaway Winner

I feel like digital images have made life both awesomely convenient and impossible to organize. I'm grateful that we don't have to just guess if we got the perfect shot or worry about wasting each image, but goodness. I spend hours on photos each month!

Sorting through the pictures and videos. Organizing them into folders. Deleting the 397 duplicates of each photo. Are you with me?

One of the only things that is made easy is ordering my Instagram pics through Chatbooks. (I'm brandywilson in case you want to follow.) My Instagram photos have made it so easy to share grandkids with their far away grandparents. I used to go to great lengths to share pictures. And even better, once I post 60 pictures, I can automatically print little booklets of pictures and give them as gifts. I can go in and de-select some pictures (like ones where I talk about running) and change captions if they are too long. You can select a cover image or have them do it automatically.

It's $8 a book, shipped to my door. I collect them as they come in and gift the printed volumes at Christmas to a very lucky set of grandparents who have those to flip through between visits.

Gives date, location (if provided in Instagram) and caption.

If you're interested, I'm totally up for earning free books if friends use my link. Not only do I earn free Chatbooks if I have 5 friends sign up by November 20 (so far, two have!), but you also get your first book totally free to check it out. I'm pretty sure you'll love it. I only shamelessly plug stuff I actually think is cool. I'm not being paid for the plug, but I'm down for some perks where I can get them and free books is totally a perk.

Here is my link if this is something you've been considering:

Christmas is coming up...and they can even print all the pictures you've had on Instagram up until this point, too! So you're not late to the game at all.

That is all. #chatbooksarerad


P.S. Random selection for the National Geographic Books... Kristi! I'll send an email to get the ball rolling and get those books to your kiddos. Endless perfect winter entertainment. :)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Gun-Loving Blue State

Our community has communal mailboxes. Each person has to go retrieve their mail from a large (actually 3) box holding the mail for everyone in the subdivision. I hate it. But, it's not a total dealbreaker and really, we don't even own the place. I guess it allows them to cover more ground and cuts down on the number of mail carriers they have to pay.

We teeter between wanting to own because we love this area and loving our stress-free lifestyle of having no obligation to repair, fix or cover the cost of home ownership. It's been a glorious (almost) 3 months of home-free living. Plus, two years ago, we could've owned a home here for about 30% less than they are currently selling for and before Tesla and all of the other factories moved to town. I don't want to pay 30% more than all my friends did just two years ago!

So back to the mailbox. We were scooting the .1 mile to get our mail and look to the left to see a big rack animal on a trailer in one of those 4x4 vehicles. Just chilling on the street. {insert wide-eyed emoji}

Vegetarians don't do hunting. And I'm an anti-gun kinda gal, who will never tolerate one of those in our home. No thanks.

I would've never thought that in this dismal Presidential election we all just witnessed (with our jaws on the floor as we stared at the television) that this gun-loving state would've gone blue. I was a contributor, mostly because I found our new President Elect to be the greater of the two evils, but never did I assume my fellow neighbors would be in agreement. In the end that didn't matter, but I'd like to think we are one with the rest of the western states on this one. And Canada. My friend on Instagram tagged me in this, saying they fixed the map so it makes better sense.

And for fun, this is a "Judgemental" map of the Reno area. We are in South Reno in the Democrats and Baby-Makers area (though we're swing voters and all done making babies). And yes, there are exactly two highways in Reno, making a "t" shape. That area where they intersect is known locally as the spaghetti bowl. #nowyouknow
This post is nothing more than jibber-jabber because I had to get the feelings of despair about this recent election out of my conscience and because I can't get the visual of that dead animal carcass out of my head either. It's almost perfectly fitting that the sight of our new President and this animal would come haunt my mind in the same week.