30 May 2013

summer nights

Summer is here in Arizona and along with it come the long lit evenings that we so love.

The screen door open and the grill going.
The water table and sand box.
Dusty feet, hands, face and knees.
Dirt and rocks, everywhere.

Long walks after dinner 'cause the sun is still out and it's warm.

Evening play on the floor with pillows while the dirty dishes rest on the kitchen table, waiting to wash themselves.

    'cause they can wait. I mean, where else would I rather be?

    I can't think of a more comfortable place to be at that moment.

   Diving off the couch onto the pool of a floor.
   Small, short and staggered baby steps towards her big brother.
   Life happening and trying not to ruin the moment by grabbing my camera.

   All in their comfy's (or just undies) and the cares of the day just seem to melt before our very eyes.

They'll be there tomorrow, anyways.

25 May 2013

san francisco

Our first flight without kids since New York 2009. Then, I was about 4 months pregnant with Jack and we went to the Big Apple for John to receive an award and took good advantage of our time there. It was lovely.

And so was this trip. Quite reminiscent of our last duo trip and a breath of fresh air.

I may or may not have talked about our kids for the first 24 hours and felt really heart sick for them. Yikes. I kept telling myself to enjoy those three days because before I knew it I would be back home and thrust back into the whirlwind of motherhood, but alas. My heart still reminded me of the little critters that normally inhabit my business. Haha.

John may or may not have caught me looking at pictures of our cuties while I was on the airplane. He'd tease me graciously and I'd pick up a magazine or my book and enjoy some peaceful, uninterrupted moments.

So, this is the part where there's lot of selfies of the two of us because, well, this is my only place to document all of this and remember the fun we had. So there ya go.

We drove into the city with this kind of weather. Which we love. We live in Arizona, we dream of cloudy days. However, having been up since 4am and now on our way into a huge city I prayed the sun would come out and the fog would lift.

I had done loads and loads of research for the best restaurants in San Fran and I had a whole document full of 'em. Addresses included.

However, I realized I am not too keen on waiting in line to eat breakfast. For sure I'm fine when it's waiting in a line up to a window or something, but waiting in line for a table? Yeah, I'm okay. It can't be that good. And if it is, my loss.

So when we finally found a delightful brunch spot I was famished (and a little annoyed) and needed some filling food.

It was so filling I forgot to take a before picture. But let me tell you, it was incredible.

We then took a leisurely, steep walk and took pictures like this.

and this.

Because we could, ya know. Because all we really thought about was where to walk to next and where to eat next. And we talked and stopped in every little cute shop we could and starred at the ocean for long periods of time. 'cause we could and because it was just us.

I realized a few things while away with this guy. 1. We are (or have become?) a lot alike. I think we've adapted parts of each other's personalities and have learned along this 6 year road of marriage to give and take in ways that first-year-john-and-mel might not be too willing to do.
and 2. We are both the youngest (though for me I was only the youngest for 7 years, but still, I carry those traits possessively.) and neither of us really LOVE makin' a plan. We enjoy someone mapping out the plan and we will do our best to follow it. (this is not normal for John, but his vacation-mode.) But particularly on vacation we would spend a lot of time asking each other "well, what do you think?" and trying to come up with a plan. Vacation John and Mel like to take a break from planning anything (meals and activities included!) Doesn't leave much so we did our best to gather some activities to do, though most were planned beforehand.

I love learning these new things about our relationship. It's like another episode of a really great show. Kind of like this one. So very well character driven and plot driven. Man. 

Though, p.s. our life is nothing like that show. At all. That would be crazy. hahaha.

Anyway, back to San Fran.

also, sorry for the poor quality of pics. I don't love instagram-ing our adventures as I have totally been guilty of vacation-envy when someone posts a play-by-play of their amazing trip while I'm home, workin' away and feeling kind of out of breath. I just don't want to do that to anyone. So I didn't get a chance to filter all these pictures. Here there are though, raw and serious.

This place was delightful. Everyone said Fisherman's Wharf is too touristy, but we loved it! I love touristy things and am not ashamed of it. I am not as into finding the "coolest" thing in a city that size and with only three days to explore I'd rather hit a goldmind that diamonds in the rough that have potential. If I were a local, absolutely, but having a limited amount of time I was not afraid to be a tourist. Though I did not wear a fanny pack. I draw the line there.

I found this awesome fountain that I thought friends would love of this MERMAID nursing her MERMAID BABY! It really made my day. and made me a wee bit homesick for the babe I have just weaned?

...yeah, a little.

And then the sun came out and the breeze was blissful and we were in our happy place.

Note: a girl was screaming as we ran out of Gheradelli Square and of course I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. We saw some coast guards patrolling the water, but no drama. Unfortunately. For us, hopefully not for her.

The fog lifted just enough for us to see ships and Alcatraz and it was really perfect.

I loved the difference between southern California and Northern. Like different states all together. Both have their perks, but I think I prefer the weather of the north.

We took these for Jack (this was the end of the second day. I was really missing them by then. )

But I got over it, don't you worry.

We went to this six story movie theater and watched the new Star Trek (we don't get out much here.)

And it was so good. I kept leaning over to John to say, "I'm so glad we did this. I'm so glad we did this." and I really was.

I also eventually got used to the drug dealers and pimps out our hotel room and the constant flow of homeless people in the area. Once we got a handle on the location of things, it really became more enjoyable. And we hardly saw what there is to see there.

I LOVE that it's cold enough to wear things like that, but sunny enough for sunglasses. That is so my idea of perfect weather (sorry Arizona, no hard feelings.)

Again with the selfies. I was literally almost falling asleep with the swaying of the boat and the very informative facts about San Francisco.

Out of the giant list of restaurants there were quite a few gems that didn't require a two hour table wait.
This was one of them and my man, he loves his bacon. And this bacon was divine.

The trip was so recharging yet exhausting. It really recharged our marriage, our friendship, our communication and comfortable companionship that allows for long silences to just be. It was exhausting as I did more walking than my body is used to, but I am surprised (and a little proud) to announce that I did not get shin splints. 

That is a first for this girl.

Sunset ocean watching.

Our last night we finally found the hipster part of town (we felt so old) and some of the best restaurants and the cutest (overpriced) shops I have ever seen.

We found this packed but mouth watering restaurant around 4:30pm. We were starving. We got seated and had the best fish tacos my mouth has ever tasted. Everyone was dressed as hip as could be and I felt a little bit lame, but not too lame to ask them to return my drink because I'd rather have the fruity one that John did.

We were without kids and we don't hold back, ya'll.

The only food picture I took, cause food pictures are a little over rated (and make my stomach growl) but I had to remember these. They were that good.

Oh yes! We also saw seals! Since I was a kid I've had a deep love for sea lions (and most sea animals) but particularly sea lions and orca whales. My personal favs. We just stood and gawked like all the other tourists at these amazing creatures as they lounged like fat cats in lazy boys. They were hilarious.

Though lovely, San Francisco was not our all time favorite city we've visited. As we awoke extra early to catch a 9am flight on Sunday we had to drive about 30 minutes out of the way to make room for a big race that was taking place that day. I loved getting to see all the runners dressed up, but I think for others of us it might have cemented the overall kind of dislike for the city itself.

Farewell, San Francisco. We may never be back (and hopefully not when there is another horrific earthquake) but we sure did enjoy our time there. 

happy 6 years, babe. we've made it. here's to many more.

23 May 2013

mama-day (a couple of weeks late)

3 years ago, this little man made me a Mama.

Those moments were so vulnerable, so heart warming and so beyond my post-birth comprehension, I really wasn't sure what was going on. I had no idea how to be a mom to a tiny, completely needy baby and was scared to death. I was in love and so, so full of joy, but I was scared. Even the look on my face is like "Wow, look at this cool thing. Did it really come out of me? What do I do now? Where does he go? How do I DO this?!" haha.

I wish I could say those first few months were easy. That he slept and ate and that was about all. That he never cried and slept through the night by 6 weeks.

But ya know, I can't. Because the mom's who say that, might not be completely honest and also because that's just not how it went down.

And I'm okay with it. 

In those 12am, and 3am, and 5am feedings I felt like I was thrown in the deep end and like someone's mom needed to come get their baby, haha. But it bonded us, it thrust me into motherhood, every single ounce of me. I had no choice.

I fought for that bond with my first born, I knew it was there and fought through the mugginess of hormones and exhaustion and adjustment in our marriage. I fought for that beautiful moment that mom's talk about when they place the baby in your arms. I knew it existed, but honestly, I wasn't feelin' it. I loved him, but that kind of love; the depth of that kind of love was beyond my understanding.

Mostly though, I fought through my intense selfish nature because man, I had no idea how selfish I was until I had a baby. I thought I was a fairly giving person, but I had no idea what giving looked like. Until him. 

He entered my world and has not stopped rockin' it. I love it, I do. And I wouldn't trade one single thing. Not even the middle of the night feedings (up until he weaned) or the spirited nature he carries with him. As he's grown, I've grown and it's like Jesus has given me this mini-person to remind that "yeah, mel. you do that too. only in a more age appropriate way. (sometimes)" because I totally have my own kind of meltdowns. I do.

Jesus used Jack to gently heal our hurting hearts and calm those fears of wonder if we'd ever be able to have a baby. He used his birth to remind me that I don't need to be in control and as adventurous and noble as a natural birth is, there's no need for me to do that when modern medicine is so amazing. He used his nature to remind me (again and again) to show grace. To love and cuddle an extra minute so that when those moments are gone (because they go, so fast.) I can look back and know that I hugged him as long as he would let me and comforted him rather than letting him cry alone. I try to remind myself (and John does too) that we're all works in progress. That this job as a Mama is hard, really hard and many times a day I feel like I've totally failed and officially ruined my kid. But there's always that reminder in the back of my head "we're all a work in progress, our kids and ourselves. Give us grace to start a day new."

One thing is certain. My boy is a great first born. He is strong, independent, fierce, brave, spirited, hilarious, fun-loving, friendly, fast, passionate and gracious. He was so worth waiting for, so worth bonding with and I am so thankful to be his mama.


Our sweet Zoey is another story, but she also made me a mama in a completely different life altering way. 

I really love friendship. I love what it means to sit down for a cup of coffee (or tea as a little girl.) I love sharing life, stories, hurts and triumphs. That being said, when I found out I was having a girl a deep fear rose within me. I was pretty certain I was/is gonna mess her up. I'm gonna want to be her friend and she won't want that and than she's going to resent me and we'll be dysfunctional and on and on. I was afraid in effort to try to be her friend I would hurt her, or she would hurt me and I'm a sensitive soul deep down. Ok, not too deep down, who am I kidding? I pretty much wear my heart on my sleeve. 

But after some incredible counseling and guidance on how to live in freedom and a life of healthy boundaries, I began to really embrace this beautiful miracle of a baby girl. I still sometimes wonder how we'll do when she's a teenager or when she she gets her first heartbreak and mostly I wonder how I'll one day let her go, but today I know that God's grace covers that and He knows how it will go. Today I just love on her little self because I can already tell that she is sensitive and is meant to be protected and cherished.

All that to say, girls do still scare me. Seeing 6 year old girls scares me. 6 year old boys, not so much. Not because girls are better or more desired than boys or anything, oh no. It just takes motherhood to this next level. Boys are a lot of hands on work and there's still such a huge responsibility, but girls. Man, somehow I carried on my own shoulders this responsibility that my girl would have a good handle on her self confidence, be comfortable in her own skin, show grace to others, love the out-siders that need a friend and yet somehow keep her heart from silly boys (preferably bad boys who act mysterious, but really they're just messing with you, you know the ones) and keep her from mean girls that put her down to make themselves feel better.

But, we all know no one can do all that. And yet somehow when I found out I was having a daughter I instantly wanted to protect her from that pain; the reality of being a woman in America, in the world. I can't keep her from any sort of pain, but this responsibility to raise her to love Jesus and herself just the way she is...heavy.

Thankfully, since that moment, I've realized how every day I need to give her over to Jesus because it's not my job to keep her from life, but prepare her the best I can to face it head on and be all like, "Bring it on, world!" Because only He can carry it and handle it for her. The best example I could ever give her. (Maybe I should try to learn that first?) 

Also, I realized it will take a village to raise a girl. A tribe of other mama's who have a heart for their daughters to find their identity in Christ and not in people and things and approval. It will take lots and lots of prayer and listening and grace and healthy boundaries that are okay when they just want to be left alone.

Oh man, I am getting ahead of myself. Surprise, surprise.

All that to say, having Jack catapulted me into motherhood and having Zoey made me realize I could not raise a daughter alone. 'Cause a girl's heart is sacred and precious and needs to be protected. I couldn't do it without support, not without intentional change that my own heart needed in order to love her and in effort not to wound her. And not without the grace to let go of my crazy ideals, 'cause those always seem to get me into trouble.

I'm truly not surprised how much I love being Zoey's mom. I never questioned how much I would love it, I just wondered how on earth I could keep my heart from exploding. Each birth has made motherhood more rich, more challenging and more of an adventure. It truly is an honor and one I try not to take for granted. Each little life had been prayed for and cried over and rejoiced over. Each pregnancy had been full of highs and lows and pain and fear. Each little life has taught me more and more of God's perfect plan and that His will, not mine is much better (even though its so hard to say in it.) I am so thankful for their little lives and that I get to be their mama.

good read

I read THIS today and man, it hit me. Pretty hard. The importance of praying for self control because, man, I have a temper.

By God's grace, I've come a long way, but I am not there yet.

Yesterday was a rough day. It's been a long week and jumping back into life post-kid-free-vacation is a doozy (no one tells you that, FYI) and the little munchkins I love who are my most valuable possession and who I almost cried I missed them so much on our three day vacation were driving me ca-razy.

After losing my temper because my adorable, lively and healthy three year old kept playing too rough with his little sister I collapsed next to him as we cleaned up our toys for the night. I told him I was sorry and I told him that I'm sorry I yelled. I told him Jesus is working on me and without Him, I'm not a nice guy at all. He gives me all the nice guy that it's me and I need him. We need Him to help us be nice to each other. I said, "He's still working on me and helping me to be nicer, but it takes time." to which Jack asks, "Is he almost done?"

And I laughed at the legit question. "Nope, not yet. He's never gonna be done. He's always gonna be working on us, but that's okay, cause we need Him to."

I don't like yelling and so often I find myself angry about something that has nothing to do with them. I am thankful each day is new and fresh, but that doesn't stop wounds from forming and fear of getting yelled at to build. I need grace and I need fresh perspective, every day. Really thankful for good reads like this one.

10 May 2013

eebee baby

I kind of understand why I  er, Zoey loves this little show so much.

Well, both her and Jack actually.

It's given me some seriously great ideas on how to best help with their development and ways to let them make messes, but without goin' all crazy on me. It's also actively playing out the way I feel is so important to interact with children, but is sometimes hard for some parent's. Some parents are super hands on and for others, I think, it's kind of tricky to be hands on with kids because there isn't a whole lot of productivity and yet the day is full of routines which doesn't leave room for accomplishing a whole lot during the day.

But these videos really help to show how you can be productive with your kiddos and help grow their minds.

Obviously not watching the show, but doing those activities with them. haha.

It is oh-so-cute and Zoey gets so excited every time she hears the theme song. I try not to let them watch TV too much, but if it means I get a minute to clean up the kitchen or get dressed then, well, so be it. And, for the record, I am just not one of those anti-tv mom's. Truth is, TV helped formed many of my imaginative adventures as a youngster and it really gave me deep appreciation and love for a good acted out story (I guess books can do that as well, but differently.)

There are a few on netflix instant, by the way, and each one focus on a different motor development. Really cute.

That's all.

09 May 2013

while daddy's gone

Mornings start early in our house. 

Zoey typically woke up early when she nursed, but after a little snack would sleep in another hour or so. Jack often wakes with the sun which is great, except when that sun pours into his bedroom window at 6am. Since John has returned Jack comes in as soon as his eyelids flicker open. I think he's half expecting his daddy to be gone or something.

if Zoey sees her dolly she has to join her for breakfast. Too cute.

I do love a sweet Jack-cuddle, but he is getting bigger and doesn't quite know his own strength. There's a lot of waking up to kicks or bonking heads or an arm suddenly across your face. 

I'm not a very kind morning person.

Unless I've had a bit of time. Ten, fifteen minutes is all I need to grab a cup of coffee, sit in silence and be ready to face the day, make the oatmeal and start in on sippy cups, bananas, and special vitamin juice to help move our three year old along.

But, like most kids, our's hit the ground runnin'. I will say, although I am not much of a morning person there's a certain someone who I love and married and he's even less of a morning person. We're talkin' it takes about 30 minutes for him to fully wake up. It used to really bother me, but now it just makes me laugh. Every morning. And I've learned the importance and beauty of giving him some space. And often handing the kid's over once breakfast is ready to escape into my room for a bit and read and listen to something inspiring. and try not to feel guilty for leaving a half-awake man with two little kids. John assures me he can handle it.


While daddy was gone we played. The new favorite past time is removing each and every cushion and creating forts. It's really cute and Zoey gets into it too.

There isn't many places that this girl goes without her blanket. Unless I sneak them back to her room, she will find them and she will grab them for a quick cuddle. Oh, man. It's the cutest thing ever. She's not really partial to any blanket and in fact in the nursery on Sunday she was clinging to someone else's blanket most of the morning.

I love the light in our house right around 4pm. It's just perfect. I love capturing these little moments so that one day, when my hair has greyed and Zoey's has turned long and wavy that I can look back at these and smile. Those were some precious days.

While daddy was gone we did a lot of pretending. Jack has recently taken to "car play" and wants to have little car conversations all day long. This is something that's hard to balance for me, but something I always wanted to be for real intentional about. It's like you have this little person whose depth of imagination hasn't quite ignited yet and you get this amazing opportunity to foster it and encourage it along. So, we pretend, and I encourage him to pick names for his cars. The other day he looked long and hard at his airplane and finally said. "His name is...airplane." And so it goes. I tell him he can name it anything he wants, but he prefers their given names. Which is totally fine with me.

Today we were rescue airplanes and squelched forest fires. We got caught in the smoke and a friendly car came and saved us. His eyes were beaming the entire time.

Here he is towing this huge car with his little one.

Jack and Zoey also did a bit of playing. She really loves him and yet sometimes he doesn't know quite how big he is and how little she is. I try not to "rescue" her too much and let her set her limits, but it is necessary to referee. I think.

Here's Jack trying to show Zoey how to nurse her baby. I was doing the dishes and looked over to see him lift up his shirt and nurse her baby doll. It was so cute. I missed his moment, but was able to capture him trying to show Zoey how to. She was wearing a onesie so yeah, that didn't work.

oh, these two.

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