Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Wishing you all a happy, healthy Christmas full of peace.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

the best of 2012

I should probably save this video for after Christmas when you, and the rest of the world, will be reflecting on 2012, but when you make something that makes you happy, it's kind of hard to keep it to yourself.

I've been thinking a lot about this past year over the past two weeks. My gut reaction to this year is that it was hard. It was our first full year here and that brought with it lots of newness and opportunities to be stretched. At this point in the year, I can say that was good, but in the thick of it, it hurt. I lost a very dear friend early this year and that grief has attached itself firmly, but quietly, by my side for the rest of the year. Some friendships that seemed promising ended up falling apart and each time that happened, it hurt. Pregnancy, while such a blessing, was challenging. I was sick, tired and struggling with body image for most of it.

But as we struggled to make this (beautiful) place home, time marched on. And now, at the end of December, I feel much happier. We have a few good friends. We are finding our favorite places and things to do. I am no longer pregnant and, therefore, have a lot more energy.

As I sat down to make this slideshow, I had forgotten all the good that transpired this year. I went into it thinking I wouldn't have too many good shots to pull together, but as I scrolled though the hundreds of pictures, I stood corrected. This year, for all its hard moments, held so, so many more good ones. Moments we shared as a family, with friends, at home, in new places, as we traveled. Our home saw the coming and going of many guests. It witnessed the arrival of a new baby, heard laughter between new friends and provided a safe place to share stories, cry, create traditions and enjoy each other's company.

I would love for you to watch this video. It holds the highlights of our year. It's long, but each and every picture has a precious memory attached to it and with each passing image, I am reminded how blessed I am.

Best of 2012 (final) from Beaktweets on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


My two babies, hanging out with dad.
Meredith, two months
Mattias, three months

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Gingerbread houses.

Since we now live in a place whose weather doesn't reflect the holiday season, I am realizing that it takes a little more effort to create the holiday spirit. While I do miss snow, and at least the chance of a white Christmas, I'm not complaining. I like being creative with Christmas activities and I also like that we can still get outside without too much bundling.

Last week we had a few of our favorite friends over for a gingerbread house-decorating play date. We had so much fun! It was as chaotic as you'd expect it to be with four toddlers hopped up on sugar running around, but I loved it. I love having people into our home. I also love watching Meredith love her friends. It is, by far, one of my favorite recent developments. She was just so excited to have so many people she loves in one place.

The houses turned out as you would expect a toddler-decorated house to turn out. Not the most beautiful, but cute nonetheless. And all four of them definitely ate way more candy than they put on the houses. I think it's safe to say we all had a good time.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

three months.

Dear Mattias,
Today you are three months old. Except for the fact that you are giant baby, this doesn't seem at all possible. But alas, it is.  You are three months old. And baby, you've made these three months so great. So much better than I thought possible.

Simply put? You are an easy baby. You hang out in your bouncy seat or swing when you're awake. You eat like a champ. You sleep. Oh, you sleep. So much better than  your sister. I've done a few things differently this time around (like not shoot out of bed the second you make the slightest sound) but mostly, I think it's just you. You are chill. You sleep when you're tired. You eat when you're hungry. And otherwise, you're happy to just hang out. You do have trouble falling asleep for the night. It can often be an hour (or two) (or three) of repeatedly going back to rock you or pat your bum, but really, that feels like nothing compared to how easy going you are the rest of the day.

You are already a sweet little brother. You are half terrified, half madly in love with your sister. She loves you. She really does. And sometimes she shows you that with hugs and kisses and cuddles. Other times, she shows you that by piling shoes on top of your head or chucking toys at you. In any case, she means well and it seems you know that. I can't wait until you two can really play together. I hope you'll be the best of friends.

My favorite thing about you so far is your smile. Baby boy, you light up like a million twinkle lights when you smile. When you smile, you smile with your whole face, your whole body. Your eyes twinkle. Your cheeks swell. Your arms squish up under your chin. You are a happy boy and anyone that can see you, can see that. I wanted to think I was above needing to see you smile. That I could give tirelessly without getting anything back, but I'm not. Being on the receiving end of your smiles has made all the difference. You give them freely- in the middle of the night, during diaper changes, abruptly, after a tear-filled cry- and I accept them gratefully. They have bonded me to you, sweet boy.

Mattias, I am so happy you are here and that you are part of our family. We feel so complete. Maybe one day we'll add to our family (but maybe not), but for now, you have made us whole.

I love you, precious boy.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Just me and her.

I mentioned in my post last week that Chris and I have a good teamwork system going with the kids. It's only been natural that I mostly take Mattias and he takes Meredith. He does bedtime for Meredith most nights now. When I had my good friend in town last week, Mattias crashed our girl time, while Meredith and Chris enjoyed some quality daddy-daughter time. I was really worried when I was pregnant that I wouldn't get the same amount of quality time with Mattias that I had with Meredith when she was a newborn. Between babywearing, early morning co-sleeping, Meredith's one day at preschool each week and the hours logged nursing, I haven't seen that fear come to pass. I have felt like Mattias has gotten a pretty decent amount of one-on-one attention. It wasn't until this weekend that I realized it was Meredith and me that haven't gotten that same quality one-on-one attention since Mattias's birth. Actually, aside from in the house while Mattias is napping, we haven't had any mommy-daughter time since he was born.

On Saturday, I decided Meredith was overdue for a haircut. We found a place and took the plunge. I hovered nearby and watched as my baby girl aged five years right before my very eyes. After the cut, we went to Starbucks for a treat of "chockie milk." As we stood in the long line, I caught myself squatting down at her height hugging and kissing her as if it were my last ever chance to do so. And that's when it dawned on me that, after over two years of it almost always being just me and her, it hadn't been just me and her for three months. That's when I decided we wouldn't head straight home as we had planned, but would instead prolong our outing and get a car wash.

Meredith loves the car wash. She can watch each step of the cleaning process, getting slightly misted in the process, and there's free popcorn. I loved the car wash because it was 30 minutes of just me and her. I kissed her cheeks until my lips were chapped and marveled at how big she is. I soaked up her sweetness and the way it takes so very little to make my little girl happy.

I texted Chris as were wrapping up that he had no idea how happy he had made me by taking Mattias for the morning so we could have an outing just us. Those two hours healed me. They healed a little tiny hole that I hadn't even realized was there. My firstborn will always be my firstborn. There is something that is just so special about her- the girl who made me a mom. And while I thank God everyday that I now have a baby boy as well, Saturday, with my best girl, was just what I needed.
eating popcorn is serious business

Thursday, December 6, 2012

on being a mama of two.

I've been a mama to two babies for nearly three months now. These are early days still and yet I can't quite believe it's been that long. It seems like only yesterday I was carrying a watermelon in my belly and waddling down the street. Every time I dared schlep myself out the door, there seemed to be one person or another telling me how hard life was about to get. How crazy it would be. How exhausted I would feel. How everything would be harder. People would say it in passing, or in jest, but it infuriated me. How is that helpful? Baby number two was well on his way and there was no turning back at that point. So since those late pregnancy (admittedly, hormonal) days, I've been eager to write this post, to tell you that all those naysayers were wrong.

And truthfully, I can. But also truthfully, I can't. Having two little ones is hard. To me hard isn't really the right word. I guess I would say more like nonstop. It dawned on me a few weeks ago that days go by when I haven't opened my computer. Of course, I do stay somewhat connected with my iPhone. Thank the good Steve Jobs for that. But computer time is my time. The time when I zone out and catch up on blogs and, once upon a time, actually commented on them. So when I haven't opened my computer in a while, I know life has been busy. Busy. That word that is fitting for two. Someone is almost always needing something. Frequently I am bouncing a tired baby while tossing a toy to Meredith. Or nursing a baby and grabbing a snack for the toddler. And while before, on the weekends or at night, one of us could catch a breather while the other played with Meredith, now we're both always on duty until nap or bedtime. So, yes, I think it's safe to say I'm more tired these days.

But what I can tell you about the hard parts, is that they don't nearly outweigh the good. It's the same as when you had one tiny newborn to take care of. Those nights that you rocked, and rocked, and rocked that little babe, crying from frustration that they wouldn't sleep and then they would smile, or finally soothe and you'd forget all that came before. I have hard moments, but mostly, it's just good and that's what I remember. Not a day has gone by that I don't feel immeasurably blessed by being part of this family of four.

I get to experience the baby stage all over again and I stress much less about schedules and "Is he breathing?" and "Am I reading to him enough?" (Whyyyyy did I worry about that?) Because of that I am much better able to just enjoy it. I marvel at him, knowing that this stage will pass cruelly fast.

I get to see the beginning bond of a brother and sister. My brother is one of the most special people to me and I can see that forming in Meredith. She has adored him since day one. Sure, she has to learn what gentle truly means, but she loves him. Lately, she sits in front of him at his bouncer and says, "Hug? Ok." "Dance? Ok" and then makes his leg dance. Mattias lights up when he sees her and she gets some of his biggest smiles.

I've experienced more support from Chris than I can remember experiencing ever before. I was afraid that the added busyness and stress would hurt us, but in fact, it's helped.

And sometimes, more than ever before, I just feel proud of myself. Proud of myself on the days that we're all dressed and cleaned and fed. Proud of myself that I get us all out the door for fresh air or a playdate. 

The bottom line, is that, at the end of the day, I have another person in my life teaching me about unconditional love, enriching my life with smiles and coos and cuddles. Another person I get to watch develop and grow. So, yes, having two has changed us. But, trust me, it's good. So good. There's a reason people keep on making babies.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving weekend

Phew! We had quite a weekend.

There was just something about hosting our first Thanksgiving, making (and carving!) our first turkey that really made me feel grown up. Having two kids and taking them on little adventures also has that effect on me.

This weekend was the perfect balance of laying low and getting out to explore. We set up the Christmas tree and enjoyed some TV. We ate out and ate leftovers. We found a new hiking spot. We trekked up to San Francisco. Mostly, we just enjoyed being together.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving.

This year we won't be traveling for the holidays. Not for Thanksgiving or Christmas. We won't be with extended family for either holiday. Part of me is sad about this. Another part of me, a bigger part, is happy.

Happy to avoid the chaos and cost of holiday travel, yes, but more, I am excited to begin our own traditions. I am excited to take the traditions passed down to us and meld them into something that is our own. We will watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and make the foods I grew up eating. But instead of my parents' dressing, we'll make Chris's parents'. We'll add corn to the table. We'll savor the pies I've watched my own mom make countless times, but with my own spin- a braided crust and lattice top. And instead of being surrounded by our own parents and siblings, we'll be surrounded by each other, our two babies and new friends.

I love Thanksgiving. I love the extra emphasis on gratitude, for there is always much to be thankful for. I love spending time baking. I love all the food that you only eat a couple times a year.  And for us, I love this chance to make it ours. I have such fond memories of Thanksgiving growing up. Watching the parade and then watching The Miracle on 34th Street after. Observing my parents work their magic in the kitchen. Seeing my parents open their home to friends- other people who, for whatever reason, weren't spending the day with family. I remember some quirky yearly attendees- weird, but it wasn't Thanksgiving without them. I remember loving the chance to have a day off, in the middle of the week, to spend extra time with my siblings.

Having chance to create the same for my children is such a blessing. Today I baked pies all day and encouraged Meredith to help. I was so excited for her to be a part of such a happy tradition. As I cut the extra dough from the first pie, I got so excited to make her the same treat my mom made for us.

Of course, she thought it was disgusting and didn't understand what all my fuss was about, but we've started.
    We've started making memories surrounding special days. Hopefully one day, she'll look forward to a day of baking with mom and the next day filled with food and friends. And hopefully one day after that, she'll look forward to days of baking with her children and opening her own home to friends (and maybe her ol' mom and dad).

It's fun to think about all that- what the future might hold for this little family of mine, but today and tomorrow I am focusing on what I am thankful for. This cup of mine is filled to overflowing- from the smallest of details to the biggest of gifts. I am blessed.

So wherever you are this year- enjoying an age old tradition, or beginning a new one, spending time with family, old friends or new- I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.

And just because he's cute:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

little artist.

Meredith's interest in doing art projects is slowly increasing and I couldn't be more excited. It's so fun to see her creativity coming to life. I also love these quiet moments, just me and her.


This year, as Thanksgiving approaches, I have felt overwhelmed by all that I have to be thankful for.  Mostly, I am grateful for my family. I'm grateful for their health and their happiness. I'm grateful that my husband is also my best friend and that adding a second baby to our family has helped us work better as a team. I'm grateful that he works hard in his career and makes being home for dinner a priority. I'm grateful that after a long day of work, he doesn't veg out on the couch, but instead gets right down on the floor to play and entertain Meredith.

I'm grateful for this toddler phase. There are moments, of course, that frustrate and anger me. But those moments are heavily outweighed by the good. She has the most clever things to say. She yells, "Mama, waaaaaaait!" when I leave the room and she wants to show me something. She calls, "Baba, aaahhhhr you?" when she's looking for him in the house. She sings the ABCs, Jesus loves me, Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star and Hush Little Baby in the cutest garbled way imaginable.

I'm thankful for my little boy. He's a peaceful presence in our home (except around the 8pm hour). He's letting me sleep and giving us smiles. I haven't felt as strong an emotional bond to him quite as quickly as with his sister.  It's more like a slow burn- day by day, I love him more.

We've been in California a year now. I'm thankful for the people we've met who are helping this far away place feel more like home. I'm thankful for our friends back home who stay in touch and remind us we're loved and known deeply. I'm thankful that we live in such a beautiful place. That I can take Meredith outside to play on most days. That trees are heavy with fruit and mountains are in sight almost everywhere.

I could go on for ages, listing more and more, but I won't. We have been blessed with so much and not a day goes by that I don't thank God, especially for my babies.

Monday, November 19, 2012

a day off.

Last week, after a busy few days following our trip to Texas, I declared a day off. Now, how exactly does a stay at home mom take the day off? It mostly looks the same as any other day. Emotionally, though, it's different. No guilt over screen time. No pressure to get dressed, be on a schedule or accomplish anything. Of course the irony of that is Meredith had less screen time and I accomplished more around the house than on a normal day.

But it was a great day. PJs, hot chocolate, Cars, cuddles and baking.