4th of July in St. Louis

We kicked off July by spending a long weekend in St. Louis with my dad and step mom. We’ve kinda created a new tradition over the past few years of taking a mini-vacay together some place within fairly easy driving distance. And they’re always a blast.

Before we even made it out of town Wednesday, B displayed a little cousinly empathy when his cousin O was terrified of the little chipmunk we were re-locating from our back yard. Despite him being in a cage, she was still pretty frightened. So B offered to hold her hand to keep her safe. Needless to say, my heart melted. There is a little chivalry yet in that sweet, terrible baby dinosaur of mine.

Our first evening there it was a unanimous vote to eat at Joe’s Crab Shack. Mr. B immediately decided on the kids’ crab pot and, truth be told, if I had someone to shell all of my crab for me, I might have chosen it too!

The next day we took the train into the heart of the museum. To be honest, we likely could have just rode the train for hours and had perfectly happy kids. But we decided to let them have some lunch and excitement, too.

We came across some live music and a bunch of food trucks as we made the trek to City Museum and we all were happy with that fine dining cuisine. J and the kids boogied like crazy to the music. I have some great photos of that, but my camera battery died and I currently cannot find my charger in order to upload those. Whoops. Just don’t tell J, I’m trying desperately to convince him that I still have my brain, ha. I’ll offer ice cream for a good camera charger hunt here in a little bit.

The City Museum might have been the single most coolest place I’ve ever been. I wish we had something remotely similar around here. Think human gerbil maze. And then throw and overzealous, helicoptering J into the mix who was too big to fit through most of the tunnels. Oh, good times! Plus huge giant slides, a Ferris wheel on top of the building. Dad even got conned into going down one of the giant slides and got a good bump on the top of his head for it. That’s true Grandpa love right there.

 Because he’s a big kid at heart!

 

B was completely tuckered out by the end of the day. Tula for the win!

Somehow I don’t have any photos from the inside giant maze and tunnel part. B was pooped out by the end of the day and completely slept through dinner. He’s really got a thing for sleeping in pizza joints, I’m learning. But hey – I don’t judge. One less kid to occupy.

The next day we headed to the St. Louis zoo. It was huge and a lot of fun. We didn’t even make it through the whole thing.

 He’s such a pro!

 

 We ran into some really great friends from home. It was a pleasant surprise!

 

I’m fairly certain H would have stayed with the guinea pigs all day.

 

 

 Or the goats. H really loved the goats.

 

 I’ll eat you up, I love you so!

 

 B and O before the 4D dinosaur movie.

 

 Hitching a ride back to the car because eating your kettle corn while walking can be tricky!

 

And this is how one small, precious boy can take up an entire bed!

 

We spent the 4th of July at Grant’s Farm, which was really cool. Other than when the goat started eating my dress. No joke. I apologize to all the poor bystanders who saw more than they were hoping for that day. B got a bite taken out of his clothes, too. Hungry goats!

 

And we finished the day off at a nice restaurant a bit too fancy for us to be at, but we made it work.

No fireworks this year. I figure eventually we will in fact get to see them some day. But right now they just cannot stay awake that late and good sleep is just more important than watching some fireworks. Because I will pay for bad sleep. For days. Ha.

 

We had such a fantastic time. As always, we are glad to be home though. And are eagerly anticipating our next few trips that are going to make the rest of summer and then autumn fly by and BAM! The next thing we will know, we’ll be in the heart of winter.

D.C., Philly, Lititz, Oh My!

We’ve had an awesome whirlwind of a week.

A really great trip to the East Coast.

We saw a lot of people we love and didn’t get to spend enough time with any of them. Ah, as is life, I suppose. I’m so thankful for the time we did get though!

We started out last Tuesday. The kids and I left around noon after their soccer was over to join J who was having meetings all week a little over an hour south of D.C. We arrived around midnight, despite all the “terrible blizzards and snow” I was warned about. The roads were perfect. We had less than an hour of very, very light snow. That didn’t stick to the roads, ground, or windshield. So we were good.

Wednesday morning the kids and I moseyed around, had breakfast, and then headed to the nearest park and ride to catch the metro into D.C. They were super excited about the train for about two minutes. Then the thrill wore off.

We met up in D.C. with one of my dearest friends, Kate, and had lunch with her (well, the kids had chocolate croissants – that counts right?). Kate is gorgeous and glamorous and fun as always. I almost apologized for having not done my hair or make-up, but then I didn’t, because fortunately you don’t have to apologize about that kind of stuff with some people.

Then we ventured over to the Natural History Museum. I think the kids liked it. Especially the caterpillars and butterflies.

Then we brilliantly decided to walk to the Lincoln Memorial.

An easy walk when you’re not lugging around two small children, for sure! And they weren’t eager to walk themselves.

We wised up and took a cab back to Kate’s apartment. One little somebody passed out cold during the very short drive. Another little somebody fought it hard, and managed to stay awake until 9p.m. that night!!

Thursday I had wanted to return to D.C. for more sightseeing, because you know, looking at monuments is fun. Even if you’ve seen them like 40 times all ready. Okay, if you’re me, it is. The kids weren’t keen on that idea so instead I took them to a nearby historical plantation. I didn’t win any points with that one either. But it was gorgeous. I just wish my real camera hadn’t died on me, or I could have gotten some good photos there!

H was so sweet and polite, despite her obvious lack of enthusiasm. I would explain something historical to her like the smokehouse or the blacksmith and she’d muster up a smile and say in monotone, “Oh, wow.” B didn’t even pretend to be having fun.

Yeah, guess they didn’t get my history gene.

So we went back to the hotel and swam and watched Disney Jr. for 3 hours. The kids were fairly certain they’d gone to heaven, ha.

Friday morning J was done with meetings, so we hightailed it up to Philadelphia where my dad, step-mom, brother sister-in-law, niece, mom, and mom’s boyfriend all were for the commissioning of the ship my brother is currently on – Somerset.

After a few plunders and mishaps, we finally met up with everyone at the ship in order for my brother to take us on a tour.

Miss H could not have been more excited to see her cousin, O! Before we’d headed out East we had gone to our local kids boutique because H had her own money to spend and wanted nail polish (and I’m a freak and only buy her “safe” nail polish). Well, she found a Hello Kitty necklace and wanted to buy that for her cousin instead with her money. It absolutely melted my heart (and I went ahead and bought her the nail polish myself, don’t worry!). H promptly gave O the necklace and then they held hands and sang “Let It Go!” as we walked to the ship.

We were given an excellent tour of the ship by my brother.

Afterwards we headed for dinner and then passed out in the hotel room my mom so kindly got for us. I was out solid until 12:30 until the Bogans next door decided it was great time to have a spat. The dude yelled incoherently. The girl would randomly scream, “I f*cking hate you!” or “Don’t f*cking touch me!” I was all about calling down the lobby, but Mr. B had unplugged the phone and was sleeping on top of me. Since it didn’t disturb the kids or J I listened to the carrying-on until nearly 3am. Awesome fun, of course.

The next morning we headed out to the commissioning ceremony.

That’s my brother!

 

The kids were all pretty awesome throughout the ceremony. I was impressed anyway.

 Ignore the fact that I have three pairs of mittens stuffed into my coat pockets. I try to keep things real.

 

 

We met up with everyone and went out for lunch at the City Tavern. It was a grand time and my sister-in-law got me a gift while we were there…

 

And then we walked back to where we were parked. The girls immediately broke into the cannoli chips and dip on the walk over. Never mind we’d just had a 3 hour lunch, ha.

And then we made the 2 hour drive west to J’s sister’s house in Lititz to spend the night. B cozied right up with J. Melt my heart.

And then we spent the morning visiting before finally heading off to return home.

We had an incredibly good time. It didn’t last long enough with any of our family or friends. But we are so glad we got to see everyone.

And the kids and are happy to be home again!

For a few weeks anyway. 😉

Mary Stood

I’m not one to talk about religion very much, it’s just such a personal thing.

But lately I’ve had Mary on my mind.

I picked up my Bible the other day; something I haven’t admittedly done in years.

I’ve been exhausted and spent with sweet M’s late afternoon/early evening wailing. I was prepared for this. All through my pregnancy I reminded myself that I only produce colicky babies. Although I hate that word. “Colicky.” It makes me think that a baby is crying for no reason. And I think there is always a reason. Even if I don’t know exactly what it is.

The story of Jesus’ crucifixion is a powerful one. He allowed himself to be tortured, nailed to a cross, and murdered so that the souls of all people could be saved. Even if you’re not religious, it’s still a powerful story. This guy had the ability to stop what was happening to him by calling out to his Father, but he chose to endure it in hopes of saving people. In today’s world, we’d call that a hero if nothing else. And that’s still pretty cool.

But as I read this story, for the first time in my life as a mother, what really struck me and pulled deep at my heart strings was Mary.

Mary.

The mother of God.

A simple human.

But she was so strong. So mighty. So collected.

While many mothers would have screamed, begged, pleaded, been absolutely hysterical as their son sacrificed themselves for the good of others, Mary stood strong. Mary stood brave. Mary stood.

She watched it happen.

The baby that nourished from her breasts. The toddler whose sticky hands no doubt wrapped her legs in hugs. The gangly child who lost his milk teeth and smiled a toothless smile to her. Her heart, disconnected from her body.

That was her child.

And yet, Mary stood.

She was strong, and brave, and as composed as she could be. She knew that in those hours of agony, and during his hour of death, her child, Jesus, needed her to be strong. Needed her to be brave. Needed her to love him like no one else ever could.

So when I read this story, the gift Jesus gave to us is so blatant; the gift of cleansing our souls.

But when I read this story as a mother, the gift Mary gave her son is so beautiful. And a gift that only a mother would, and could, know to give.

For her child, Mary stood.

A colicky baby will never come close to the torture I’m sure Mary felt; not a fraction of it. Her pain is that of which I could never even begin to imagine. But goodness, if in her darkest hour with her child, in such unfathomable emotional pain, Mary could be the calm, loving, strong presence her child needed, what in the world can I not do for my children?

I mean, Mary stood.

To Fail is Not Failure

H is a perfectionist. She comes by it honestly. Her momma was/is a born perfectionist. I spent my entire childhood and adolescence in the mind frame that if I tried once and was not immediately excelling at whatever it may be, then I should find something else that I was good at. Eventually this evolved from being very leery of trying *anything* new because there was always that risk of being imperfect, not the best; essentially in my brain: a failure. And thus I stuck with what I knew and what I was great at because I couldn’t stand to let others down by being less than.

As an adult, and most specifically due to motherhood, I have *mostly* learned from, and outgrown, my perfectionist ways. They still creep up on me every now and then.

But this made it so, so easy to notice these tendencies in my daughter at a very early age. 

I’m still figuring it out, but I am absolutely determined to help her handle her perfectionism in healthy ways and cultivate it for good.

No one ever told me it was okay to not excel at everything. No one told me that being challenged and thus, not instantly the best at something, was a good thing. No one told me that simply not being good at something at all was perfectly acceptable. No one told me that is was okay to do something I loved even if I wasn’t good at it at all.

And so H will know these things (as will her brothers). 

She is the only 6 year old in her gymnastics class. Her classmates are all 10 and 12. H loves gymnastics passionately (I’ve come to realize that ballet will never have her heart as I wished it would, and that’s okay!) She did not immediately excel at running round-offs and back bends and cartwheels on balance beams. She had to work *so hard*. Sometimes she’d get mad or frustrated and that little girl in me would want to say, “It’s okay to stop. You don’t have to do this.” Because I knew the pain and frustration of feeling like you’re less than. Don’t worry though. I put a muzzle on that little girl and duck taped her into a closet and the momma in me instead let her lament her frustrations to me and listened patiently. And then I validated those emotions and pointed out how far she’s come. And how far she’ll go with more hard work. Being challenged is a *good* thing. That’s how you learn and grow.

She auditioned for a show choir recently. I held my breath. She can carry a tune better than her momma, but she’s definitely no prodigy. But I encouraged her to try it if she loved it, and prepped her that it was also okay if she didn’t make it.

After her audition I asked her how it went and she replied with, “Mom, I was amazing, of course. I’ve got this.”

Ya’ll, this girl *has got this.*

And she made it (I’m pretty sure all the little kids did). And she’s over the moon and ready to challenge herself. Which is a good thing. Because I eventually gave up a deep love of performing because I wasn’t half as confident as H. I didn’t know it was okay to be confident and not be the very best.

So this morning while H was reading a book to me and got jumbled up on a long word she’s never come across and immediately began sobbing (see this is where little Ki and momma Ki are two useful people to have in my head. The momma was like “wtf, this is not a rational response” and the little girl was like “this is so rational. I get it. Would you like me to throw that book across the room for you?”) I was able to help her.

“I’m terrible!” She screamed at me. “I don’t know that word! I’m such a failure.” (Note to self: discover who introduced her to the idea of being a failure and cut their tongue out. In a very kind and loving way that is for the good of all humanity, of course).

“You are not a failure. Even if you never learn to read this word, you are not a failure. You failed to read the word correctly, yes. But we rarely get things perfect the first go around. To fail something does not make you a failure. Not trying does.”

She cried for a few minutes on my lap. Then she picked that book back up, and she nailed that word perfectly on the second try.

I’m just making this shit up as I go. Some days I feel completely ill-equipped for this parenting gig. But I remember that there is a reason God chose me to be the momma of these three beautiful babes. 

And just like I’ve told H, so many, many times. “To fail does not make you a failure. Simply not trying does.”

And so every day I try my very hardest, but I give the perfectionist in me a lot of grace. Some days I am challenged, and that’s okay.  I am not the best at any of it, but I’ll keep doing it because I’m terribly passionate about these three tiny humans. And that’s all that matters