Friday, February 24, 2017

Jackson is 4!

Dear Jackson,

It's hard for me to believe, but you are officially 4! You've been looking forward to turning 4 for months, and now you are a certified 4 year old. You are the shiniest star I know. You are sweet, silly, sensitive, and goofy. You have so many friends at school, who, as you lamented, "follow me around too much". You are just so funny that other people are attracted to your personality. You are a little lover through and through. You love your sister, mommy, and daddy. Right now, though, you really love the baby. You love to see my belly and talk to the baby and give him or her hugs and kisses. You whisper "love you baby" and "Hi! I am your big brother!" at least once a day. I know you will be the sweetest, most protective big brother that any sibling could ask for.

This year you have really come into your own. You are certainly not a baby anymore; you are a kid through and through. You love to play outside; right now you love to swing, play baseball, and play any kind of chase game. You aren't very interested in learning to write, but you enjoy going to school. Your favorite things are Batman (and other superheroes), Paw Patrol, Power Rangers, and Trolls. You've watched the Troll movie about 50 times since you first saw it a week ago and you always tell me that love is in our hearts. Batman has been your love for over a year now, and it doesn't seem to be letting up. You've really opened a new world to me, as I was not very familiar with much about Batman (or any other hero) beyond the very basic stories I knew from children's books and movies. You still say funny things like panpakes and yogrit. You love to eat buttered bread and even suggested it as a good birthday dinner idea. You are a little obsessed with your hair and can't stand when you have duck fluff sticking up.

While you seem to be growing up so quickly, I still see traces of your baby self when you climb in my lap and nuzzle your head in my shoulder or when you fall asleep on the sofa. I couldn't imagine a sweeter boy. You make my life so much funnier and happier. You have boundless love for your friends and family. I love each surprise your bring into our lives. I can't remember my life without you in it, nor would I want to.

Love you stinkeroodle mctoodle!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Summer/Early Fall Weddings

This year we were lucky enough to attend 4 beautiful weddings. Two of the weddings--my cousin Greg's and Tom's cousin Lauren's-- were trapped in the camera. I can finally show off some of our summer travels!

In July we traveled to California for my cousin Greg's wedding. We spent about 24 hours in San Francisco before going north to Guerneville. We stayed at a beautiful bed and breakfast on the Russian River. The pictures really do not do justice to the beauty of our surroundings.

In September, Tom's cousin Lauren got married at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Southern MD. Being the proud Loyola Alum that I am, I basically geeked out over the location. The area was gorgeous and we had an awesome time celebrating!

The kneelers were all embroidered! They were beautiful!


We have a camera cord, so now pictures will come fast and furious! This year for Halloween we continued our tradition of trick-or-treating with the Hohlfelds. It's a fun tradition and the kids have a great time together. A few of the best shots from the evening...

Saturday, November 5, 2016

17 Weeks Pregnant with Baby B #3

Well, I am almost officially halfway through this pregnancy, so I figured maybe I would blog about it. I haven't blogged lately because I like to include pictures, but I cannot find my camera cord anywhere. This is a problem. Once I find that cord I will update everything that's happened between August and now {this will likely culminate in an EPIC photo dump}.

To catch you up-- in early August I found out I was pregnant. Things were fine for the first 4 few weeks. Just short of week 5 the morning sickness started with much more vengeance than it did for either Lily or Jackson. I wasn't at all sick with Lily, just tired. With Jackson, I experienced some morning sickness between weeks 6-13, but then it subsided. This time I full one threw up once day. I was nauseous most of the time, and was completely exhausted. It probably didn't help much that all of this coincided with the opening of the school year. The result: the first trimester trudged along (and I mean trudged). I was sick from 5 weeks-15 weeks. I still feel sick when I wake up in the morning, and generally need to eat immediately. I cannot tolerate coffee with caffeine {sadness}, and some days cannot tolerate coffee at all. I have only gained about 2 pounds up to this point, I think because of the sickness and because it's hard to eat a lot at meals (I am not complaining about this...).

There are some perks of being almost mid-way through. I got to hear the heartbeat at 14 weeks. A beautiful 160 beats per minute. On November 16 we have our anatomy scan. We are not finding out the sex of the baby this time around, but I am just as excited to see the baby. We decline the genetic testing, so this will be our first peek.

If this baby follows in his or her siblings' footsteps, there will be some sort of surprise. Lily had choroid plexus cysts, which resulted in follow-up scans (the cysts did go away). Jackson had an echogenic bowel, which also resulted in follow-up scans. It, too, went away. The doctor attributed it my body being a good body to scan. Apparently, some women can have more detailed, brighter ultrasounds than others, which can result in the fetus appearing brighter in parts of the scan. This history of surprises does make me nervous. It helps that both potential problems were resolved in subsequent scans, but there is still some nervousness there.

I am also starting to feel some movement from the baby. It's not consistent yet, but it's definitely there. This is my absolute favorite thing about being pregnant. I am looking forward to stronger movements, so the kids can feel the baby on the outside. They have been so excited about having a sibling. Jackson likes to kiss my belly and say, "mommy, I love babies!" Today, Lily exclaimed, "God, thank-you for letting mommy have another baby!!" They are just so happy this little baby will be joining us in April (I will update this once they realize that newborns cry a lot).

We've started planning out what we need (very little), what we have (a lot), and what we can give away (also a lot). We will have some adjustments to make to the house-- need to convert Lily's room to Lily and Jack's room-- and we need to update the nursery. I got the cloth diapers out and sorted; they just need to be washed (later, closer to my due date). We also sorted through all of the baby clothes and tried to figure out some storage system, so we can be prepared when the baby is born.

Overall, I am very excited for everything to come. I am trying to savor every part of this pregnancy because I know it will be the last one. Three kids is the limit in our house, so I want to enjoy everything I can about being pregnant and, eventually, in April, having a newborn. I feel so lucky to have such a great support system of family and friends who are also excited to share this journey. Like Lily said, thank-you, God, for letting mommy have another baby! I am certainly very grateful.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Black Lives Matter

There have been a lot of loud voices lately saying, why do only black lives matter? All lives matter! Well, friends, I can tell you why, right now, there is an urgency regarding black lives...because they really haven't mattered. Yes, my white friends, the lives of our black friends haven't mattered. They didn't matter when we brought them over on boats and held them as slaves, they didn't matter when the Founding Fathers espoused freedom and equality and went home to plantations filled with slaves, and, this may be news to people, but, even as our nation elected its first black president, black lives still didn't matter.

We are kidding ourselves if we think we live in a society that values equality. When you look at a black man and wonder, before anything, if he is a thug or a criminal...When a black woman has strong opinions and suddenly she's an angry black woman...When parents choose not to send their child to "that school" because they have "heard things", but really the school is predominately black (and therefore bad). When these things happen we are reinforcing the deep rifts that our system was built upon.

I am setting aside anything involving police violence here because even without those murders, black lives haven't mattered nearly as much as those of their white counterparts. Unfortunately, white privilege allows us to not worry so much about it and, foolishly, say things like all lives matter (even when we don't mean it-- I've seen many people blow off (and say terrible things about) refugee lives, immigrant lives, etc...).

As an educator, my role is so important in helping my students navigate their role in this movement. I worry because it is, sort of, a leaderless movement. I look to the Civil Rights Movement as an example and see leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. The demonstrations, sit-ins, and protests were well orchestrated and organized. The leaders were calculated in their movements and messages. It's not that the current movement doesn't have a message--it does--but I worry that without a few strong leaders the movement won't be as strong or unified as it could, or should, be. Either way, I want my students to feel empowered. I want them to feel like their voices can be heard and that they are valued. I want to give them literature, essays, poems, and speeches from which they can draw strength and power. I want them to teach me. 

My eyes are wide open as we negotiate these turbulent times. I am an eager student of the time and, I hope, can be a sounding board for my students as they work to make sense of their role and their identity within this movement. #blacklivesmatter #mystudentsmatter

Sunday, June 19, 2016

On the Eve of 5...

Dear Lily,

Tomorrow morning you are going to be five. FIVE! A whole hand. On Father's Day, five years ago, I went into labor with you. I had to stop eating my dinner, my delicious dinner, because my labor got so strong that I knew, quite certainly, that we would be headed to the hospital. The next morning, at 6:09 am you were born, you made me a mama.

Lily Bean, this year has been an insane year of growth for you. You started writing so many new words, identifying how to spell things by sounding things out, and started to read. You are a whiz with numbers {you did not get that from your mama} and you can count things so quickly just by glancing at them. You loved Pre-K, and, while I know you are more than ready for Kindergarten, you are very anxious to start at a new school. You are so ready for school, though, and I think once you get started you will love it.

You are a little social butterfly. You love your friends and have so much fun playing with them. Your favorite things to do are play with dolls, build villages with Little People, and play outside with your neighborhood friends. You love Barbies, American Girl dolls, and baby dolls of any kind. You re-discovered a love of swimming this summer when you jumped into a pool at your friend's party. You are kind and sensitive and inquisitive. You are also impatient and quick to a temper {the good news is, that temper only comes out at home, and you are a sweetheart at school}.

My Lily girl, I hope you will always be confident, loving, and strong. Five feels like the big time. Kindergarten--real school--is about to happen and the world will start to feel more complicated. I want you to know that your intelligence, confidence, and strength will get you through anything. I love you so much and I cannot wait to see where five takes you!

Love, Mama

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Lily Graduates!

Almost a week ago Lily graduated from Pre-K. I am insanely proud of my girl and everything she has accomplished this year. She has grown leaps and bounds with her writing, spelling, and word recognition. She is a whiz at math and anything with numbers comes easily to her. Her teachers say she is very sweet and kind to her classmates, which makes my heart proud. She is truly ready for kindergarten!

The graduation itself was adorable. Each family had a table with a balloon, a class picture, a collage the teachers made for each child, a dog to get signatures from classmates, and a graduation picture. The kids processed in and stood on stage to sing graduation songs. Afterward, each child received a certificate. The school did a luncheon for all of the families, which was also fantastic.

We are sad to say goodbye to Lily's preschool. She loved it, and her teachers, so much! I am so pleased with how prepared she is for kindergarten, but saying farewell to her friends will be hard. She does have a summer session to attend, so she can hang on to preschool for a bit longer. I am sure as summer comes to a close she will be sad and worried as her days at her new school come closer, but we will cross that bridge when it comes.