Saturday, December 3, 2016

the not-christmas card

[I intended to write a family update for our Christmas card at 5:45 the morning after my grandfather passed away. Instead I added tears to the quiet morning, converted this to a blog post, and am slowly realizing that life has changed and the task list will have to wait.]

It’s been a tough year, but a good year. In March, my grandma passed away and W was born. He’s been a blessing to our family, very content, and the girls dote on him.

About a month later, my great aunt passed away, and nine days after that, W had a little health scare. God was faithful in keeping us in His peace during that time (and multiple times after) and it’s all over now (we pray).

We filled our summer with visits to and from our family and friends, and other milestone events: C’s first movie, her first haircut, and our home’s first deck.

Life took another hit in October as we returned from a trip to NYC celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary, when we heard my husband’s grandpa and my grandpa were hospitalized. We prayed and asked others to join us on their behalf, and God answered. My husband’s grandpa improved and is no longer in a medical facility, while my grandpa made the decision to stop treatment, and passed away last night.

As I began to pray for these men, God was faithful to give me the impression that sometimes people don’t want to be healed, which is hard for those of us left behind, but a blessing to him who lived 93 years and was too tired to fight for more.

Soon we will gather for a funeral, the first our little family has been able to attend, and in a few weeks, we’ll gather again to celebrate Jesus’ birth.

Life and death and road trips. That’s been our 2016.

Friday, February 26, 2016

reflecting amidst reflections

I could have paced in that sun-filled pool for an hour. Gliding my hands through the water, back and forth, meditating on the last 24 hours while the sun sparkled off the ripples. Solar heat warmed my skin and transported my mood to a quiet tropical respite, much unlike the gym pool in the midst of a Minnesota winter where reality found me.

I visited my grandma yesterday. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? In all actuality, it meant asking my husband to work from home so he could try to juggle meetings, a three year old, and a 20 month old … did I mention the three year old was recovering from an ear infection and possibly strep? It meant missing out on restorative time with friends, hearing a great teacher, and having to defer promises made. It meant eight hours of driving round trip, to speak with someone who was unresponsive to me. It meant a lot.

My grandma has been failing with dementia since before my amazing husband came into the picture. She sometimes forgot who I was by the time my darling daughter was born. I was merely a stranger with a cute baby when she met my second daughter. Now, 36 weeks pregnant and not encouraged to travel, I was just another presence in her room.

My prayer is that my words of love and affection hit somewhere in her soul, where her addled mind can’t reach, and that she was able to feel some of what I feel for her. I wept for her. I praised God for her faith and the perfection that awaits her in heaven. I wept for all the years that dementia stole. I wept for all the years that, while mourning the loss of who she had been, I missed out on who she was at that time. Sure, she wasn’t the same Grandma I had spent so much time with, but as I looked through family photos, I saw the familiar smile that is so foreign now, at the end. Perhaps she didn’t know exactly with whom she was sharing that smile, but she was happy.

She’ll be happy again. I don’t claim to understand the workings of heaven, but I believe Grandpa went there nearly twelve years ago, and maybe they will meet again and recognize each other. Maybe their bond will still be intact, albeit in a different way. But she will be happy.

Meanwhile, I’ll be miles upon miles away, waiting for the birth of a baby boy, wondering if God will time things so I can attend her funeral, or if my brief visit is the good-bye I’ve been granted. Either way, He’s given me peace. And His grace, His peace, that can cover us so completely, is worth everything.

Friday, June 12, 2015

ice cream cake for *gasp* one year old

How can she be one year old already?

I had to smile reading back on her birth tale, because we've come so far since then. She's the happiest baby, and C continues to love her. She might not always be gentle with her, but she loves her. And O adores C. We've settled into a nice routine. So nice, in fact, that I'm tempted to mess it all up again with another one. Because what is more fun than all those hormonal changes combined with sleep loss and worry? This is. These days when you realize you survived the first year, and your infant is now turning into a toddler and soon she'll be speaking her first words and running around and it makes you want to do it all over again. For some odd reason, bonding through those difficult times makes the good times sweeter. [though, truly, O was hardly difficult. she was just an infant.] I love my girls so much; it is such a blessing to be their mother.

Having a summer birthday surely requires an ice cream cake, no? And since we're kind of into layer cakes around here, it couldn't be your typical cake. It had to be a quatro-chocolate-threat cake. I just made up that name, but let's run with it.

Quatro Chocolate Threat Ice Cream Cake

1 brownie mix
1 pint cookies and cream ice cream

1/2 batch cookie dough (source)
- 4 T. melted butter
- 1/2 c. + 1 T. flour
- 3 T. sugar
- 3 T. brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla
- 1 T. milk
- 1/2 c. chocolate chips

- 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
- 4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 T. butter

1. Lightly grease an 8-inch springform pan.
2. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions, pour roughly one third to one half of the batter into the springform pan (so it's about 1/2 inch deep), and divide the rest into muffin tins [brownie cupcakes! it's a win-win!] Bake for less time than package directs, since you split the batter. Mine baked for 30 minutes vs. the 40 minutes called for on the box.
3. Allow brownie layer to cool completely.
4. Let ice cream sit out for about 15 minutes, then spread onto the brownie layer, and place cake in freezer.
5. Prepare cookie dough by mixing all the ingredients together, except the chocolate chips. Add more milk if needed to get the dough to your desired consistency, then add chips.
6. Spread cookie dough on top of ice cream and freeze cake again.
7. Prepare ganache by warming the cream in the microwave and then stirring the chocolate chunks in. If they don't totally melt, heat for 10 more seconds in the microwave. Stir in butter until smooth.
8. Remove cake from freezer and take off the springform pan wall. Place on serving plate, then pour ganache over the top, allowing it to drip down the sides.
9. Place inside a freezer-safe container, and put back in the freezer until it's time to serve.
10. Enjoy!

Monday, November 24, 2014

new in shop: baby or toddler headbands

Remember those fabric scraps I used to create name art in C's room? Well, there were a lot left over. Since they're all designer fabrics and super cute, they had to be put to use! And, since my babies tend to be bald for a long time, headbands are one of my favorite baby accessories. 

If you know me IRL and have a baby girl, expect a few headbands from me as gifts. They are way too fun to make, and I can't get enough of the great color combinations in my fabric pile and elastic collection.

If you have someone in your life with a darling baby that needs a stylish flair, head over to my Etsy shop and pick out a set for the lucky lady. 

-- because outtakes are a nice dose of honesty, here's what photo shoots really look like in our house! Toddler climbing, toddler falling, baby thinking "it's so fluffy!", toys everywhere, you know, the usual. --

aaand back to the cropped version. :-)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

a birth tale, take two

 Remember how I predicted that delivery would be different the second time around? I was totally right.

As zen as C's birth experience was, O's was zany.

It was a Saturday like any other, going out for donuts, wandering around town, home for lunch and naptime. Later we went to the mall to let C burn energy running around, and I began having contractions. Really small ones, 30 seconds long, a minute apart.  They were so minor, I thought maybe they were just Braxton-Hicks. Eventually it became apparent that I might actually be in labor, so what did we do, go home? No. We went to the grocery store because I had no food for C to eat while we were gone. Then when we got home, did we immediately prepare for the hospital? No. I thought we should take our dog for a walk before we left and called the midwife . The contractions still weren't a big deal, so I remained casual. So casual, in fact, we even tried to fit dinner in before we left!

The switch from casual contractions to serious contractions happened really quickly, and it became evident that we needed to leave *now*. C was placed in the loving care of her grandparents and we were off. We checked in at 6:17 and O was born at 7:15. I pushed for 11 minutes. Instead of a long, relaxed labor, it was a short, intense labor. The contractions were so strong I could practically feel her moving downward with each one. The urge to push was so strong and prolonged, I actually cried. There was no time for a water birth, there was no time for anything!

As different as the labors + deliveries were, the common denominator was the excellent care of my husband, midwife, and nurses. The adrenaline rush of delivery lasted for days, and I felt incredible. O slept for the first two weeks of her life, and I felt like a rockstar, totally capable of mothering two small children.

Then she hit that six-week mark. And I realized C + I were still living a toddler schedule, not fully respecting O's need for more + better naps. And remember how I said #2 would get more snuggles? She really does, because that's how she prefers to doze off. C's been a champ adjusting to this new routine and has amused me more than once with her mommy imitations.

There are days that I miss the simplicity of one child and question the wisdom of having two so close together. I keep hearing it pays off in the long run, so I'll hang in there until then! While in this moment I don't know when/how/if ever I'll get O to fall asleep on her own, or when/how/if ever I'll get C potty trained, what I do know is that I totally love both of my crazy girls. Though occasionally I want to run away, when we share smiles or laughs, all is right with the world. God certainly gives good gifts.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

now available: minneapolis neighborhood map

Just to remove any doubts that my husband and I are nerdy: after one of our date nights, we wandered around the neighborhood looking at the cool architecture. When we couldn't figure out what the place once was, we went into the adjacent [and coordinated] library to discover its origin. Tucked into the back was MN history, including this map. In order to research further, I snapped these photos and then realized - what great inspiration for my own map! I was already using a Bodoni-esque font, so this map served to give me some further typographic ideas.

Since then, I've gone from one child to two, and somehow that has made me slightly more productive creatively. Not entirely sure how that works, but I'm really excited to share our map with others!

One of my favorite things about hanging a map in your home is the way it invites you to leave your mark. I can see other people placing a heart where they fell in love or made their first home, or having friends sign their names in their respective neighborhoods. We use ours to record our weekly date nights, and it's fun to reminisce the different evenings we've shared around our varied city.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

fabric scrap name art

In preparation for our new baby girl's arrival, we moved C into her own "big girl" room. Once again, I got to decorate a room prior to having a baby, but this time it wasn't a nursery! 

Knowing we were going to have two girls, we decided C's room should definitely be girly. Someday they'll share that space and fill it with giggles, so it had to be lively and fun. I decided to paint the walls yellow, a bright, neutral color, so we could play up bright colors throughout the room without being overwhelming.

Initially I wanted the color scheme to be pink and orange, but after my husband shot down every bedding choice I suggested, I had to give it up. Turns out he doesn't like bright orange...only burnt orange...which is neither bright nor girly. We eventually found a bedspread that we liked, went with the color scheme of pink and teal, and decorating continued.

In the future, our girls will be in bunk beds, but until then C gets to own this space. And if she owns it, the room should bear her name, right? [When the girls are sharing, I'll make another one for O and their names can hang above their respective beds.] I wanted to bring in more of the fun fabric scraps that I used on the opposite side of the room, so I grabbed some tagboard, spray painted a Goodwill frame, and created her name wall art. 

Step 1: Print out your child's name, position it on tagboard sized to fit your frame, tape in place, and cut out the letters.

Step 2: Choose your scraps and tape them behind the individual letters.

Step 3: Turn the whole thing over and check your work.

Step 4: Turn it over again and use a hot glue gun to secure the fabric, outlining each letter with glue. Work in small areas at a time; the glue dries fast! Trim the fabric once you're done.

Step 5: Retrieve any missing counters for your letters and hot glue them in place.

That's it! What other things have you done with fabric scraps?