Thursday, May 30, 2013

Aaron Turned 29

We love this man of ours. We being me, Grace, and Christian. Aaron and I are in the crazy phase of our lives that is busy, tiring, and we find ourselves apart more than we would like. We have a young family, Aaron is young in his career, and with church responsibilities, family being away and everything else that life throws at us we're doing the best that we can to balance it all. Sometimes we get the balancing act, and sometimes we fail miserably. But when we can all be together, we make the most of it.

One of mine and Grace's favorite days is Aaron's birthday. I love to spoil and celebrate Aaron, and Grace loves to have birthday parties. Seriously, if you want pure enthusiasm bottled up in a small package following you around telling you how "wonderful" this is, and how "beautiful" that is, and how "exciting" everything is; call Grace. She will ensure you repeatedly that this will be the party of the century and that she can't wait say Happy Birthday and eat cake.
Despite the fact that Aaron loves a low-key celebration, Grace's enthusiasm would lead you to believe this is the best party ever. This year we definitely kept it low-key (notice the "wrapping job" on his gifts...)
 But we got him just what he wanted (the tie is from my Mom)
 The perfect cake, Pumpkin cheesecake.
 And with dinner and all of the excitement, Aaron was tuckered out. Definitely a success.
We love this man.

And next year he turns 30. Holy Moly, when did we grow up?

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Funny Thing About Love

My kids left this afternoon. My Mom took them on a flight to Houston to visit my sister and her family. It's all part of this crazy summer that is taking place. I'm driving down in a few days to pick them up, and until then, Aaron and I are packing, re-organizing, moving, and cleaning our little hearts out. 

Aaron flew in this morning, bright and early, on a direct flight from Buenos Aires. His trip had come to an end. We decided to do breakfast together as our little family before the kiddos headed to Houston with my Mom. As we drove to breakfast (CFA- I know you're not shocked), Aaron turned to me, "Is everything okay? You're being very quiet." And then, without warning, I burst into tears. "My babies are leaving today." Up until that point I hadn't really thought too much about them going to Houston, but in that moment reality hit hard. I had never been away from Grace longer than a day (when Christian was born), and I had never been away from Christian for more than a few hours.
From that point on I couldn't think about them leaving or I would cry. I fought tears as I drove them to the airport. Saying goodbye to Grace I tried not to let my sadness break through as I sent her off. As I kissed Christian's cheek the tears just couldn't be contained.

I waved goodbye's and said I love you's and made a very weepy drive home. After I walked through the door I crawled into Aaron's arms and cried. Full on crocodile tears streaming down my face. I missed my babies. Aaron wiped the tears off of my face and brushed the hair behind my ears. "This is going to be a good thing babe. They are going to have a blast."
As we headed to dinner I called my Mom. I wanted to say goodnight to the kids before I sat down to eat not wanting to miss the chance to talk to them before their bedtime. My Mom handed the phone to Grace, "Hi Mommy. We went to the airport with the airplanes and it was fun." I think I managed to say, "Hi baby, I miss you." And then I couldn't say anything else. Hearing her little voice over the phone sent my already emotionally charged self over the edge and hot, but happy, tears fell this time. I loved her, I missed her, and her little voice was just perfect. I couldn't respond over the phone so Aaron did all the talking.

We got off the phone, and for the 100 millionth time I composed myself. I turned to Aaron, "You know the funny thing about love is, when you're separated from those you love its almost painful. You can feel a physical difference." Love is a beautiful, wonderful thing and its also kind of a painful thing. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable to all sorts of roller coaster emotions kind of sucks sometimes. But then the sweet moments where you're so happy that tears start to fall fill in the gaps and the holes and the heartache that comes.

It's no surprise that there is a holiday completely dedicated to this blissful yet complicated emotion of love. One day a year to give ourselves the opportunity to try, in some form or fashion (usually with flowers or chocolates--- chocolate being my main language of love) to explain to those we love just how we feel about them. Apparently I need to tell my kids, "You make me cry a lot." Which doesn't sound very good, so maybe I'll stick with giving them candy instead.
This past Valentine's my kids were loved, in every form and fashion, with outfits from Meah and Poppy (photographed above), and candy and toys from Grandee and Papa.

I know I'm a lucky girl, and I know that these next few days will fly by and we'll be busy and I'll forget about all the weepiness and focus on how efficient we can be with the kiddos in Houston. But today was a good reminder for me as to how much I really love these babies of mine. I love them with all of those crazy complicated emotions in tow.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Place We Live

We always knew we'd end up in Texas at some point. I'm not sure why, but that was always a given. We had a layover at DFW during one of our flights from San Francisco to D.C. I remember peering eagerly out the window to see the houses and the neighborhoods. I had never been to Texas before and I wanted to take it all in. As we passed by gates and food courts and endless Dallas Cowboy Fan shops, I turned to Aaron, "This just feels like home. I can't explain it, it just does." A year later we moved to Dallas.

My sister-in-law Liv and her family drove up from Houston to meet us at the airport. She somehow managed to meet me at my gate and kindly escorted me to their car. After I loved on my nieces and nephew I fixed my eyes on what laid behind the windows.
The land was flat, the trees were short, and the earth and the sky mirrored each others flat-ness. After being raised in Virginia, attending college in Utah, and living in California, I had become accustomed to beautiful scenery. Lush green trees, mountains, beaches, flowers, season changes, rolling hills, you name it, I had lived in it. The green, brown, and blue monotony of Texas was underwhelming. What had I gotten myself into?

The area we moved to came as a recommendation from a friend who had family that lived there. We settled in and life got moving. I clung to the notion that this was "home" and this was where we needed to be, but still didn't know why or for how long.
For a while I thought we'd be moving again in two years, we are nomads after all. Three states in six years, why settle now? But when Aaron decided to attend SMU for his MBA I knew we were going to be here longer.
The summers were brutal, especially when I was pregnant with Christian. I seriously wondered why anyone would ever want to live here or why anyone stayed. But then fall would come and October was flip flop weather instead of sweater weather, and I kind of, completely, loved that.
But it wasn't about the weather. Good weather can be found anywhere at some point in the year. I started to fall hard for this area I knew nothing about when I moved here. I didn't understand at the time why it came recommended but I was learning quickly.

A small city nestled in the midst of bigger cities. A tight knit community that has its own traditions, and systems and works together to make things happen. Volunteers from the community came together, and side-by-side they re-built the playground that Grace and Christian are playing on in these pictures. Churches, businesses, families all pitched in. Close by is the library, fire station, and city center.
I know these communities are everywhere, but it's as if I was seeing one for the first time. And I fell hard for it.
Aaron and I wanted to get into a house, and we debated on what would be best for our little family. It was more affordable to go west, or to go north. We could get a lot more house for our money.
After weeks of endless discussions, weighing pros and cons, we decided it was worth it for us to stay. I scoured the rental markets to the point where I'm pretty sure my brain turned to mush. Nothing was working out for us and I nervously waited for something to happen. Something had to become available, right? Something totally perfect and right up our alley?
I started to despair for awhile. You know, because I like to be dramatic sometimes. We thought perhaps getting into a larger apartment might be a more realistic option. After a long Sunday drive we came across a house that went all Goldilocks on us and was "just right." The pieces fell perfectly into place and before we knew it we were signing a lease.
And my love affair with this place started to grow. I went to get the water switched over to our name and they gave me a magnet, and talked about my kids going to school there, and how someone would stop by the house to deliver a Welcome to the Area packet. And I stood there doe eyed, and smiling. Because I felt like an adult, I felt like a member of the community, I felt like I wanted to stay forever and have my kids grow up here.
And suddenly, my feelings of "this is home" became more rational to me. This is home, I want this to be home. There are good people here, supportive friends, and strangers who are super nice to me and my kids when I'm fumbling around all "hot mess" like. And although those can be found in every corner of the Earth, I feel like for me, this is my place, I've found it. It was a gradual process, as in, it took me two years to fall in love, but it happened.
I don't honestly know how long we will be here, but I will enjoy every minute of it. It could change in the future but for right now this is my place.
And wouldn't you know, to appease the Virginian in me, there are some pretty big trees here.

Monday, May 13, 2013

That Grace

There has been a lot of talk about Christian, especially with the monthly posts. But what about that Grace?

Oh, that Grace. I love her. She is sweet and helpful and out of nowhere she can unleash her firecracker side which always keeps me on my toes (sometimes fortunately, sometimes very very unfortunately).
I had to take a picture of Aaron's pants so I could take them back to the dry cleaner (where we get our alternations done) to get them hemmed a little more. Grace had to be in on the action.
Speaking of our dry cleaner.... Grace loves that lady. Ever since we started going there (2 years ago) she had been giving Grace candy. Grace always walks in and before pleasantries are even exchanged she says, "Can I have some candy." Notice the lollipop in her mouth.
Grace loves Christian. Its been like that since Day 1. I keep waiting for that fact to change, but it hasn't. She loves him a lot. I never let Grace ride in the car-grocery-cart combo, mostly due to the fact that I know she would ask me every.single.time we go to the store if she could ride in it and I don't have the arm strength or the patience to push and navigate that thing every time. But on a rare trip to CVS I let her ride in the car. I had to plop Christian down in the seat with her since there was no baby seat. And despite this being the first time she got to drive the car, she was more than happy to have Christian sharing the moment with her.

She loves band-aids. Most kids do. But she is rarely seen without one. Unfortunately with her sensitive skin the bandaids give her a rash after a few days. I have tried to convince her to give up on the bandaids, but she is willing to power through that irritated skin just to wear them, especially if they are Barbie bandaids.
I was cutting up an apple to eat and a seed fell out. Grace, standing next to me, "Mom a seed! You plant that in the ground and a tree grows!" I would love to give myself a giant pat on the back for imparting wisdom on my three-year-old, but I didn't teach her the seed-to-tree concept, and I was floored. I'm assuming it must have been in a show she watched. She asked to have the seeds and we made our way downstairs so she could plant them in the ground. She checked on them everyday in the hopes of her apple tree growing.

I love the way she draws. The way that she draws people has progressed a lot since could first wielded a pencil. Her people now have bodies, and recently she has added fingers and toes. She made this little art piece for our neighbor who we both love.

I love this girl. I really really really do. She can give me a serious run for my money at times but she more than makes up for it with her sweet, caring, genuinely nice, and hysterical personality.

Grace, Gracie, The Gracers, That Grace, I love you babe. You are perfect for me and I am grateful for you every day.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

On Traveling, Moving, and Mother's Day

In the family of Barnard this month, and this summer, are going to be one for the record books. There is a lot going on. After mentioning our upcoming events and activities to my friends, I have heard multiple times, "You need to write this all down for me so I know what is going on and when you are going to be here."

We celebrated our 7th anniversary on Sunday, following Aaron's finals week. On Tuesday Aaron packed up at left for South America (Brazil and Argentina specifically) with his school's Global Leadership program.

Saying goodbye to him was really hard for me. We have been separated, but never in different countries. It was doubly hard seeing as he was going to be gone the two weeks leading up to the day we move (we're just moving down the street into a house). Knowing this was going to be the case I basically begged my Mom to fly down and help me. Something to the effect of, "Pleeeeeasssssseeee Mom, I neeeeeeeeeeeed you!" And since my parents are amazing, they rearranged their schedules so she could be here.

It just so happened that her stay overlapped with Mother's day. I haven't celebrated Mother's Day with her in years and I was so excited to actually be with her on this special day. Today, flowers were in order. Although there was little surprise in the matter since she had to open the door for me while I was bringing the groceries in, flowers in hand. But, I hope she still felt special.
 We dropped Christian of with a friend of mine and us three girls headed out to get our nails done
After naps for the kiddos (and for me apparently), we drove out to Costa Vida for our Mother's Day dinner.

We had a blast spoiling Mema, or Meah as Grace calls her, today. I am so grateful for this woman and all that she has done and provided for me. My kids are so lucky to have her as a grandmother.
I also want to acknowledge my mother-in-law as well. On Aaron's birthday I sent her a text thanking her for having Aaron. Everything that she did to teach, and love, and raise Aaron has made him the incredible husband and father he is today, and I am so so thankful for that. She too loves my kids fierce, and they are so lucky to have her as well.
If having a wonderful Mom and mother-in-law wasn't enough, I get to celebrate the two wee babes that made me a mother. Welcoming Grace and Christian changed me. They are both so different, and have altered the way I view the world and have enriched the things I know about love.
The moments I first saw their faces are engrained in my memory. I was made for these babies and they were made for me. The lessons they have taught me about love and life have made me a better person, have forced me to stretch to my limits, and then some. I love them with every fiber of my being and I am so grateful for them.
I am a lucky girl as I think about and celebrate this holiday.

Now, if I could just pack and move and have the process be stress free.....

Sunday, May 5, 2013

CCB at 10 Months

He has hit double digits in the month-to-month department. Why does this make me so sad?

He is growing up, this boy of mine. He babbles and mimics and feeds himself soft foods or puffs. He plays with Grace and pulls himself up to stand any and everywhere he can.
These are all wonderful things and milestones worth documenting, but they are further proof that he is no longer my little baby. He is turning into a little boy. Aaron always comments how much of a Mama's boy Christian is, I agree with him and make sure to comment back that being a Mama's boy is going to be temporary. One day, Aaron will reign supreme. Christian will want to be around him, learn from him, get the nitty gritty details on how to really be a man. And he'll ask me not to hug him in public or park a few blocks away so he can "cooly" walk into school. I know my heart will sink and my mind will race back to the early days, the ones where he lunged to me no matter who held him, the ones where he would cry and being held close to me was all he wanted. I'll bask in the sweetness of those memories to soothe my aching heart.
I feel those days coming, and that is why these milestones seem so bittersweet. I have tried hard to relish and soak in the sweet moments, but no matter how much I remind myself to pause and take in what I am experiencing, life always seems to get in the way and days and weeks pass all too quickly.

But for now, he is still my boy. He still loves to be snuggled and hugged. I know that he giggles the most when I tickle his neck or his legs. He groans the loudest right before he falls asleep. He eats us out of house and home and gets quite cranky when we don't keep the food coming. He sleeps on his side snuggled up to his blanket. He loves the water and splashes so hard he soaks everyone in sight. And when I feed him a bottle right before bed, his eyelids blink hard and his breathing slows down and no matter how hard he tries his body always gives in to sleep.
One day my heart will ache for these moments. But thankfully that day is not today. Although he doesn't seem little with reaching 10 months, he is still so very little and I get to enjoy these baby days some more.

"I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be."
--Robert Munsch