Thursday, November 26, 2020

The Last Thanksgiving

For eight years, we have raised our babies within the walls of one home. We arrived here with adorable twin two-year-olds, a huge, slobbering Great Pyrenees and two young-ish cats. We built a life and a family with each meal, game of hide ‘n’ seek and backyard adventure. This is the only home our littlest has known. We’ve changed diapers, washed endless sinks of dishes, painted hundreds of pictures and dirtied/cleaned each room millions of times during these eight years. This home has provided the walls for our family to grow and bond. It has contained our chaos and protected us from the chaos of the outside world. 

It wasn’t just a house. It was home. 

For years now, nature has been calling to me. As I became more aware of my yearning to live among the trees and feel closer to nature, I put it on my to-do list for later in life. After watching my Dad die within months of finding out he had cancer, I realized to-do lists for later in life are just wishes and hopes, because nothing is guaranteed. I knew then that moving closer to nature needed to happen sooner than later. 

A couple of years passed. We found the house unexpectedly. I had no intentions of moving, but I liked seeing houses for research — to help me create a clearer picture of what I wanted. But once I saw it, I couldn’t let it go. I couldn’t chalk it up to research. Demand was high, so we had to make the decision very, very quickly. 

To decide whether to leave behind our beloved home, our beloved neighborhood and our most beloved neighbors — all in the span of 12 hours — was extremely stressful. I almost said no. The stress of that decision and everything else going on in life was just too much. I kept searching for the right answer, convinced there had to be one. 

And then I remembered the enlightenment I had after my Dad died. There are no promises for later in life. So, we made the leap. 

Due to unforeseen circumstances, our move has been delayed these past two months. Up until today, I was irritated at all of the obstacles that have prevented us from getting into the new house. But today, I understood. 

I needed one last Thanksgiving inside these walls. One more big memory for the mental scrapbook. A day to honor the home that has held so much love, so many moments of joy. Of anger. Of sadness. Of hope. Of relief. Of connection. Of family. 

Today, we gave thanks to our home.

A few moments from our Thanksgiving: 

Friday, June 12, 2020

A Blogging Resurgence

As you know, Claire found my blog a while back, and I’ll find her reading it every now and again, digging into her early childhood antics. Grace knew the blog existed, but was more indifferent to it. Until a month or so ago. We were arguing about previous Halloween costumes and used the blog to settle the dispute. We read a couple more entries and then she spent the next few hours soaking it all up. I opened the door to their room one night and she looked up from the computer, sighed a heavy sigh, smiled and said, “Mom, I LOVE your blog.” 

Not gonna lie — the tears sprung to my eyes and a little lump formed in my throat. When I first started writing, it was equal parts wanting to share our lives with friends/family and wanting a record of all the little memories I knew I would forget. And now, 10 years later, I am so grateful I wrote it all down. 

I want them to know how silly they were. I want them to see how close they were. I want them to read about moments they’ll never remember. But most of all, I want them to know just how loved they are and have always been. When I became a mother, I remember thinking about all the sacrifices my mom must have made for me. I came to understand how much she must have loved me in order to keep me alive all those sleepless years. Not only will my kids understand that sentiment if they decide to have kids, but they have 500+ blog posts that paint a pretty full picture of my love. 

And now I’m feeling a revived motivation to start writing again. One of my biggest regrets these past five years is the lack of posts. So many amazing stories that I never jotted down. So much has transpired in life that we’ll forget in the next decade. Of course, I also have compassion for myself. Life is hard. And busy. And sometimes you just want to escape into bad television instead of recapping how your four-year-old son ran around outside in his birthday suit. 

So, we’ll give it another go. With the girls’ rally cries for more blogs and watching how much joy it’s bringing to their older selves, I’m giving it another go. Their 20-year-old selves will be grateful. Probably.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Happy 5th Birthday, Little Buddy

Five years ago today, I was sitting on the back patio eating peanut butter and chocolate ice cream. I was 9 million months pregnant, had just visited the OB earlier in the day and was feeling quite uncomfortable. Except for that ice cream. It hit the spot.

Later that evening, Henry made his grand entrance into the world. 

At the time, it had been five years since I had an infant, but I wasn’t too worried because we had already climbed this mountain before, times two. And this time, I was going to have two eager five-year-old helpers. How hard could this really be? 

Ha. Ha. ... Ha. 

If you’ve been following the blog/our lives for a while, you know exactly how hard. 

Henry lives life at full-speed. He wakes up early and full of energy. He spends his days (and many of his nights) squeezing out every last drop. He loves hard and without restraint. He feels the full range of emotions at their extremes. When he’s joyful, you can feel it warming up your insides just from being near him. When he’s sad, your heart breaks alongside his tender feelings. When he’s in a comedic mood, you’ll find yourself laughing out loud, too. And when he’s angry, it’s best to clear the room until the storm passes. 

To put it mildly, I wasn’t quite expecting such a full-steam-ahead approach to life. My experience until that point was with the girls who were more go-with-the-flow. They had their fair share of tantrums and obstinance, but I could eventually bend them to my will. Henry’s less interested in bending. To anyone. Ever. 

That’s not completely true. At preschool, he was a delight. He listened, corrected his behavior when necessary and loved all his friends fiercely. So, basically, he is capable of being civilized. My neighbors may be surprised by that as he often gets the mail in just his underwear. And the newspaper in his underwear. And will stop to chat with them as they walk by … in his underwear. You win some, you lose some.  

The other day I was talking to my mom on the phone, and Henry was starting to push the limits of my patience. I sighed loudly and said, “This child is my greatest challenge.” She laughed because she had one of those, too. 

Oh, Henry. 

He still loves his sisters to the moon and back. He loves them so much, he wants to be just like them. He wants to play what they’re playing, eat what they’re eating, talk like they’re talking (I’ll apologize now to his kindergarten teacher for all the “buttheads.”) Some days, they get along famously. Some days, they fight like arch enemies. Most days, there’s some of both. I was always worried about having a boy so many years after twin girls. I was worried he’d get left out of their sister/twin relationship. But so far, they have managed this tricycle pretty nicely.

Henry and Scott still have a great bond. They both LOVE cars and will look through Henry’s collection again and again. He can identify almost all makes on the road and Scott’s working on teaching him the models. Scott puts him to bed each night, and they have a sweet routine that’s usually full of Henry giggles. 

And Bubs and I? We’re still like PB&J. Sweet and sticky and stuck together forever. He has started calling me “boo-boo,” which is just about the cutest thing ever. He still loves to snuggle in the mornings, although he doesn’t do it quite as often as he used to. We have our moments, of course. Moments where the words “boo-boo” aren’t uttered, and instead he’ll yell something like “You’re not my family anymore!!” Moments where his anger is so big, it comes spilling out of him. Moments where he hits and kicks. But like waves on the rocks, I just try to stay steady and consistent and smooth out his sharp edges. 

Some days the challenge of raising a strong-willed kid feels overwhelming and I doubt my ability to handle him saying “no” even one more time. But if you’re lucky enough to have a kid like Henry, you know that he not only challenges your sanity and your calm, he stretches you. He stretches your patience so it’s bigger and more consistent. He stretches your compassion and empathy. He stretches your creativity and problem-solving. He stretches your ideas of parenthood and what it means to be a good one. And most importantly, he stretches your capacity for love. Just when you thought you couldn’t possibly love anymore than you do, he grabs your hand and says, “Come on, boo-boo. Let’s go play together.” 

Happy 5th birthday, Henry-doodle. I hope it’s been as spectacular as you are. 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Best Memorial Day Ever

By Claire

On Memorial Day, we usually have a family reunion with some family members I don't know and some of my besties. But this time, we had fun going to my grandmothers' side of the family.

My favorite part was seeing the people grandma has told me so much about. She told me who made all these historic quilts and pillows I found. I got to put roses on almost all of our family members there.

My second favorite part was when we got out of the car at the cemetery, their dog Chloe jumped on me. My grandma also was happy when she saw me finding loose flowers and putting them on people's graves that didn't have any flowers.

The cool part was my great great aunt and uncles grave had flowers on it even though they died a long time ago and nobody in our family we think puts flowers on there graves. That means that random people put flowers on them.

Another fun part was we got to sweep all the dirt off of Aunt Molly's grave.


Life right now

By Grace

Ok, so life right now isn't the best, but we're making it through. I mean, we are one of those lucky families. I mean, we don't have coronavirus. I mean, we don't think.

We wear our masks ... well, most of the time. It's so hard.

Today, we went to our grandma's. She broke her bone under her knee, so we had to go get her stuff for it. And we stayed there for awhile and we had our masks on, but at they very end, we just couldn't  any longer. So, we took them off.

And we had to go to the store to go get her that stuff, with our masks on, of course. Everything was different there. There were things to telling you to be 6 feet apart. And all the workers were wearing masks. I felt bad for those people who have to where those things all day. I had to take it off for a second to breath. It was terrible! I would like to say something to all of those hardworking people right now. Thank you so much!

Bye for now!

Happy Memorial Day

By: Grace

Ok, I know it's 3 days after it, but I had to write about something.

So for memorial day I had to do a family tree my mom made me. I did it on both sides my dad's and my mom's, and at first I thought it would be hard, but then it was easy and fun!

On my dad's side, we went to my grandma's family graves. And then we went to go have lunch with them and Betsy. And we got to see 2 car parades, which was pretty cool. My dad, my brother and my grandpa loved it. We loved it too, but they LOVED it, if you know what I mean.

Then, to add on top of the great day, we got ice cream and it was delicious! And then we went home, but before I go, I would like to say a special thanks for helping me with my family tree:

Grandma Nancy
Grandma Sue
Grandpa Rod
Aunt Pam
Aunt Mary

Thank you guys so much for helping. I would not know what I would have done with out your guys' help. Thank you!

Bye for now!

my outdoor kid life

By: Claire
Henry and I love building castles in the sand. It's like our job. Sometimes we put water in the sand box and pretend its flooding. When it gets close to our castle, we build a dam or we make towers, castles, flooded areas, oceans, beaches -- all that kind of stuff.

One time, we were in our pajamas and we flooded the sandbox. Then we sat in it. Awesome, huh?

Sometimes, we go over to my friend's house and swing -- distantly from each other -- on her swings and we talk and talk about the corona virus life. Sometimes, we go over to my other friend's house and jump on the trampoline and sometimes we go over to the cul-de-sac and play.
Best neighborhood ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!😃

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Lucky #13: Love, Marriage and Finding Ourselves

When I was about 30 years old, I started to become aware of the bars of my cage. Up until that point, and much to my shock, I had lived inside that cage without really knowing it. 

Around that time, songs, books and movies with themes of rebellion or breaking societal norms started speaking to me on a deep level. I felt drawn to the characters who were unapologetically themselves. 

Those bars of my cage — societal expectations and pressure to fit in — became more clear each year that passed. If you listen for them, you’ll hear them whispering to you all day long. I call them the “shouldas.” I should be prettier. I should be smarter. I should be more successful. I should be thinner. I should be curvier. I should be funnier. I should be more adventurous. I should be a better housekeeper. I should be, I should be, I should be. All day long, these whispers of “you’re not enough” surround us and suffocate us, and we are often completely unaware. We just silently nod our head and shame ourselves for not being enough of any of those things. 

Although the bars of my cage were becoming apparent, I was pretty unaware of these nearly constant whispers. I just felt this general discomfort with the feeling that I had to be anything other than who I already was. 

Until 2018. I was coming up on my 36th birthday when my Dad got sick and so very sadly, died. I was sitting next to him as he took his final breath, and I watched him make the transition from living to dead. 

The months following were full of such deep grief. I felt like I was drowning in sorrow. And then something beautiful happened. One day, I was walking through the woods with tears streaming down my face and a bit of perspective landed in my head as if it was dropped from above. I was thinking about my Dad and how painful it must have been for him to know he would be leaving this world and how little he would care about all the “shouldas” if he was given the chance to live. If, by some miracle, he was brought back to life, he wouldn’t care about his graying hair or his farmer’s tan or the size of his belly. He’d just be grateful he was alive. 

None of the (excuse my language) bullshit that we think matters actually matters. It doesn’t matter what shape your body is. It doesn’t matter what kind of car you drive. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat. It doesn’t matter what your hair looks like or if you’re wearing a holey pair of yoga pants on a trip to Target. It doesn’t matter if you’re blue collar or white collar. It doesn’t matter if you’re tall or short or have an extra toe.  

This is not revolutionary thinking — just revolutionary to me. Here’s what I whittled out of the many hours spent thinking about all of this: the only thing that matters in life is kindness. Kindness to ourselves, to others, to animals and to our world. I’ve worked this theory over and over trying to disprove it. I still haven’t found something that truly matters that doesn’t fit into one of those buckets. 

When I first started thinking like this, I stumbled again and again. One day, I remember I was driving Grace to dance class across town, and we were running late. I was already shaky hungry, but didn’t have time to eat dinner at home. So, I grabbed a slice of pizza on the way out the door. At the stoplight, I went to take a huge bite and then froze. The whispers started, “Katie, don’t eat that in the car. You should be more graceful and ladylike. Ladies don’t chomp on pizza. They nibble like they’re not really hungry.” 

I was hungry. I wasn’t endangering anyone while I was stopped. But here I was, shaming myself for daring to break a societal norm (or at least a perceived one). I kept eating that pizza and told those whispers they were not needed today. 

To help guide myself on what things are actually important for me to care about, I started using two different strategies. They’re pretty interchangeable, but sometimes one is more effective depending on the circumstance. These strategies were — and continue to be — so helpful in staying true to myself and remembering what truly matters to me. 

1. When I’m laying on my deathbed, will I care about this? If the answer is yes, then I give it my full attention. If the answer is no (and most of the time it is), I push through the shame whispers and do the opposite of what they’re telling me. 

2. If I lived alone on a deserted island, would I care? I use this one a lot when I try to shame myself about how I look. It might be what I’m wearing or how I’ve done my hair (or more likely, not done it). The first few times I went to a social gathering without makeup, I’d use this strategy. I’d ask myself, Katie, if you were having dinner by yourself on an island, would you care that you weren’t wearing makeup? My answer was a big ol’ no. So, it stands to reason that the only reason I was considering the makeup was for other people. And I’m so, so tired of doing things just for other people. I just refuse to do that anymore. 

Every time I rebelled against my whispers (my shouldas) another bar of my cage would dissolve. Now, about two years later, I can say with a good degree of certainty that I’m no longer caged. I still have the whispers, and likely always will, but the rejection of the whispers is coming stronger and faster each time I do it. 

I would give almost anything to have my Dad back. I would trade all the enlightenment I have found for him to be happy and healthy and laughing his beautiful laugh. But since that’s not an option, I’m choosing to be grateful for the gifts his death gave me. 

He didn’t know it was happening, but I like to imagine how proud he would be that he helped set me free from my cage. 


You might wonder how the enlightenment I found during my grief at all relates to my anniversary. Well, you see, it turns out when you crack yourself wide open and examine what’s been happening inside you all those years and then determine how you want to put yourself back together going forward, it has an impact on who you are. 

We lovingly call her Katie2.0. 

During all of this, I realized I hadn’t been living a very authentic life. I was living each day in various states of shouldas, and once I discovered this, I decided I was never, ever going back to that life. It changed me as a daughter, a sister, a mother, a friend and a wife. 

I restarted therapy, which I had stopped while my Dad was sick and in addition to dealing with my grief, I unearthed some pretty big truths about myself. A lot of those truths had to do with my relationship with Scott. 

Scott started going to therapy, too, and discovering his own truths. We both worked (and are still working) toward becoming the best versions of ourselves. 

This process led us down a very winding path. Sometimes we felt hopeless, that we would never find our way to a better place. Other times, we found hope in a renewed connection with each other. It was a bit of a roller coaster for a while, honestly. 

It’s never been about the love for each other. We have a deep, unwavering love for one another. It is really about trying to figure out how we fit together now that Katie2.0 has arrived. We’re still working on how our puzzle fits, but we are both committed to finding our way to a new, beautiful and authentic place. 

Today, as we celebrate our lucky 13th anniversary, I can honestly say we have never (ever) been closer than we are right now. Unlike anytime before this, we are being intentional about the energy between us. We have started carving out time each day for just us and using that time for more than just watching TV together (our previous approach). We do something fun like a puzzle or playing a board game. And we take a nightly walk around the neighborhood after the kids are in bed. On those walks, we open up about everything going on inside us — not just a laundry list of what happened to us that day — and the other person is gentle and attentive to that vulnerability. 

I won’t even try to predict where the next 13 years will take us, but I know when we get there, it will be honest and beautiful and full of deep love. 

Happy anniversary, Scott. I’ll leave you with a quote from my vows. It feels very appropriate today.

“I know that we will face challenges that threaten to swallow us, but I have faith that our love will be our strength.”