Grace will be two at the end of this month. I can’t remember a faster two years.
Nor can this guy.
Grace had a few special requests for her family party this weekend and we were glad to oblige.
The guest list had to include Baby Nick, Clark and Uncle Zach.
We would listen to “Michael Jackson! Michael Jackson!” music.
There would be balloons.
We would eat a Gaston happy cake (they’re like regular cakes, only happier).
She may have a future in event planning.
Grace’s 2nd birthday party
I think I need to ask for a less freaky hand for my birthday.
The weather cooperated (sorry, mid-Atlantic states), but unfortunately cold season kept a few family members home. We missed them and made sure to save them some cake (but I might eat it…).
We kept the menu simple, mostly because nothing could top the Gaston cake. Gaston is one of Grace’s favorite books (it’s about a family of poodles and a family of Frenchies), and the folks at Sweet Tooth bakery in Southie did an incredible job recreating the cover.
Cheese and herb flatbread
Italian turkey meatballs (this was semi-traumatic for my vegetarian self, but I thought they’d be a crowd pleaser and I am trying to branch out a bit when cooking for everyone else… even if that means simply heating frozen ballz from Whole Foods in our crockpot… baby steps)
I photocopied a page from my sketchbook (all little drawings of Gaston characters) and used those images for food labels. Grace helped me make a few decorations over the past month or so, including a giant two and some not-so-giant party hats.
We had our loved ones there to celebrate with, balloons to play with, Michael Jackson to listen to, and plenty of cake to enjoy. So by Grace’s standards (and mine), this was the perfect 2nd birthday party.
(For the record: Now that we’re nearing a month of newborn-related sleep deprivation, everything I say and do is the funniest thing ever… to me, at least. It would seem my siblings feel differently. Either that or their phones are broken in such a way that they cannot reply to my hilarious bitmoji texts.)
January goals and a printable calendar
Materials used: Micron pen (black 01), Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pens, Winsor and Newton Professional Watercolors, random craft paint (acrylic), good old Microsoft Word (for the calendar table)
My questionable comedienne status aside, it is New Year’s Day and I’ve got January goals and a printable calendar to share with you. Rather than setting year-long resolutions, I’m sticking to monthly goals and intentions. Mostly because I can barely imagine what tomorrow will bring, let alone how many days I can deprive myself of Diet Coke come November.
The calendar is a part of a larger goal I have to both make and share more art. Please feel free to share, download and print as you like. Consider it a gift to offset the un-funny Adele joke above. And unless I completely space out, I’ll draw and paint a new calendar for you on the first of each month.
Join a new parish (this is sort of major, and in the works — we love our current parish, but will be moving to one in our own neighborhood this year)
Participate in at least one of my fitness group’s social activities (the group has monthly birthday parties for kids, a mom’s night out, recipe swaps, etc.) rather than ducking out right after the workout, as I’ve done in the past #awkwardfaceemoji
Share at least one friend’s blog post or project per week
Here’s to a productive, happy, healthy, sort-of-hilarious month.
I’ve always looked at spring and fall as transition times, not giving them the full respect of actual seasons. Spring gets us to summer (Thank you, Jesus). And fall gets us to winter (Happy Birthday, Jesus… and, in the case of winters such as the last one, Help us, Jesus). These are months for passing through, for preparing.
This has never felt more true than this year, as I look ahead to our son’s arrival and attempt to (sort of) have my act together before that moment. I’ve made lists (and added to them, like… an unhealthy amount). I’ve even accomplished several items on those lists. I’ve pinned all kinds of crap to Pinterest boards and tried to imagine what the holidays will be like with a newborn and a nearly-two-year-old (the words magical and wild come to mind… I like both). I thought about making and freezing food to tide us over on the most wild days… but I mostly just ate it.
I’ve Googled things like “How do you dress up yoga pants?” and “Okay, but what if I no longer own a Beadazzler?” and “Skinny black tuxedo pants are out of the question” and “Does dry shampoo really work miracles?” and “Right, but it’s possible that I haven’t showered in days.” and “Why are you being so mean, Google! In this imaginary scenario, I JUST had a baby!” And then I feel badly for wasting twenty minutes that could have been spent organizing baby clothes or making homemade jam for Christmas gifts. Or, you know… napping.
My mind was feeling particularly busy this morning. I must have been making more lists in my head on the way to Grace’s gymnastics class (which is basically the most amazing, most adorable hour ever), because I pulled into the parking lot without remembering most of the 30 minute drive.
I’m doing all this preparing and passing through, and completely missing the view. This is an actual season, despite my being prejudiced against orange and yellow and red and brown and turkeys. It’s one that provides the opportunity to (spoiler alert!) dress Grace like a strawberry and Clark like a banana, stick them in a very oversized yogurt cup (that I need to invent) and call them a smoothie. It’s one that makes me kind of itchy, but doesn’t make my hair frizzy… so I can forgive the allergies. It’s one that brings us apples (and therefore, apple crisp) and leggings and dark nail polish and hot tea.
Instead of just passing through, I’m trying to stay for a while.
If I see or hear one more back to school commercial… Lord, help me. Because of all that snow, the last day of school in Boston this year was June 29th, which was basically five minutes ago. So, please… let’s keep those school supplies out of sight for at least another month.
[Also, this is the first time since I was in kindergarten that my life doesn’t essentially revolve around an academic calendar. So that’s kind of weird. After graduating, my work was largely tied to school partnerships and while I never had a summer break, things always really ramped up in September. Now that I’m home, I think Grace, Clark and I will spend September at the beach. Or, like… doing laundry.]
This isn’t a post about graphing calculators (do kids still use those?), though… right? Right.
Like it’s 95 degrees and I am pregnant (because it is, and I am)
Excited about our upcoming vacation
Like life has changed so much in the past two months. “Clean out the pantry” has been on my to do list since June, I sometimes forget to shower, and I caught myself having a semi-serious (albeit one-sided) conversation with my dog yesterday. But I don’t think I could be happier being home with Grace.
As much fresh produce as I can get my hands on– tomatoes and berries, especially. I loved our trips to the farmers market (here and here) this month.
900 popsicles a day
“On the Way to School,” a beautiful documentary about several children and the challenges the overcome (in most cases, daily) to get to school. It’s surprisingly uplifting. And I want everyone to watch it. (It’s available on Netflix.)
File these next two under much less enlightened: Candidly Nicole on Hulu+ (fellow Simple Life fans, rejoice!) and Naked and Afraid XL on Discovery. Both make me laugh, like, a lot.
Some fun little sketches and paintings in my new sketchbook (details here). I got out of the habit of painting daily this month, but have started to get back on track this week.
Playlists galore. We’ve been in the car a lot (going from one fun thing to the next), and making good use of that Spotify subscription.
A plan for the second half of the summer and a list of everything I’d love to do, see, and enjoy
Lots of Chatbooks (they’re 20% through today with the code HOLDON) — I am officially obsessed after making a little book of photos from our 4th of July on the Cape.
Lots of great workouts. I absolutely love the outdoor bootcamp (yes, even in the blazing heat) I’ve been attending and have started working in prenatal yoga videos a couple times a week.
Swimming as much as possible. We’ve been in the water a lot this month, from swimming class with Grace to pool days at my parents’ house and dips in the ocean in Southie and on the Cape.
An unusual (but welcomed) desire to make plans. No one would mistake me for a social butterfly, but maaaaan, I love spending time with our friends and family.
Also On Tap for Today:
I love this Zen Habits article and I think you will, too: How to Breathe
We’ve kept the happiest news under wraps (and oversized teeshirts) for long enough…
I am thrilled to share that Grace will be a big sister this December. Nick and I are over the moon. Grace doesn’t really know what’s going on (but she appreciates the balloons). And Clark, welp… he’s taking a nap.
This wonderful life just keeps getting better.
Oh and yes… those blue balloons mean we’re having a boy! Yayayayayay.
Who needs a vacation alarm clock (set for 3 hours earlier than you desire to wake up), when you have a toddler at the foot of your bed?
I woke up like this. With Grace pinching my toes and yelling, “Hellooooo!”
In an effort to spare the rest of our family the 4:30 wake-up call over the 4th of July weekend, we snuck out for some early morning walks down to the beach. The Cape might be my favorite place on Earth. Except for the place where they make popcorn (I’ve never been to a popcorn factory, but I just know it’s magical).
Not a bad way to start the day.
We covered 3.5 miles on Friday on our own, and 2.5 miles on Saturday with my brother and sister-in-law and their own mini-human alarm clock, my niece.
6 AM pajama parties on the beach are the best.
And with the entire world still sleeping, we had the beach to ourselves and our pick of the prettiest shells.
Any day we are lucky enough to wake up at the Cape (even if it’s at 4 AM), we are lucky enough.
This time last year, I was wearing a very unattractive, very orthopedic boot thing, having tripped over Grace’s bouncy chair and subsequently broken a toe… just an hour and a half before my family showed up for Mother’s Day brunch at our condo. (Also: My parents were trapped at an airport somewhere, so the guest of honor wasn’t there to be showered with praise and gifts and affection… and to listen to me moan about my toe.)
Ready to party. Or something.
In addition to being temporarily physically crippled, I can’t say I was in the best shape mentally, or whatever, either. I had been back at work (after a not-so-work-free maternity leave) for a few weeks, was getting up to nurse Grace every couple of hours, couldn’t find anything that fit (nor that matched the boot), and sort of had no idea what I was doing at any given moment. Having people over to a mostly-clean home, serving mostly-edible food, and not having an entirely unexpected crying episode provoked by a diaper ad, or a cheesy song, or a faint, passing breeze felt like a major, major accomplishment.
This time last year, I was second-guessing every decision I made, and agonizing over the longterm effects those decisions would have on Grace. Was she eating too little? Was she eating too much? You’ll notice I wasn’t asking myself if she was sleeping too much, because… well… neither of us were sleeping.
I worried I was falling down (no pun intended… but sort of yes, pun intended because I really still can’t believe I tripped over that darn chair) as a wife. I had no idea how I would manage my work responsibilities and my family responsibilities. And how, on God’s green earth, was I ever going to get all the laundry done? Would my body always feel so foreign (and lumpy)? What would my first work trip away from Grace be like (Fortunately, I didn’t have the capacity at the time to imagine myself using a breast pump in a bathroom stall at the Detroit airport… but now I do. And you do, too. Sorry.)? Would I ever see my friends again (this would likely require staying up past 7 PM)? Would I ever have anything to talk about besides diaper pails? Would every single drop-off at daycare feel so heartbreaking?
It’s taken some time (and I don’t think my toe will ever be the same), but my goodness… What a difference a year makes. I’m not perfect (you should see what I’m wearing) and life’s not perfect, but so much has changed for the better. It’s amazing what a little time and confidence (and SLEEP!) can do.
Last weekend I had the chance to celebrate Mother’s Day with my parents and family on Saturday, and with Nick, Grace and Clark on Sunday. And I felt calm. And relaxed. And happy. And grateful. And I couldn’t help but notice that life is sort of following the seasons this time around. Not only is it actually (finally!) Spring, but I’m in the middle of my own transition of sorts. And it’s full of (I almost said “blooming with”… but I stopped myself) promise and excitement and optimism and a “who knows what might happen?” sort of thing.
At the end of this week (though it’s been in the works for months… aren’t I a good secret keeper? Tell me everything!), I’ll be stepping down from my role at an organization I’ve been with for eight years to be home with Grace.
I sort of always thought I would work (in the capacity I’ve been used to working, like, in an office). And I am realizing now, as I make this transition, how much of my ego and self-worth have been tangled up in being busy. And important. And in charge. I’ve also come to see, though, how much of my last eleven or so years have been spent moving from one mini-crisis to the next, closing out the day with just barely enough energy to be a semi-normal, non-awful person. The good has far outweighed the bad (truly), though, I have loved my work. I have loved the people I have worked with. I have loved the people I’ve had the privilege of serving. I have loved the challenges and the lessons and the surprises.
I know there will be pieces of all this that are not easy, but I also know how lucky I am to have options. It took a lot of confidence and courage to make this choice, but I wouldn’t be able to make the choice if I didn’t have options. I know this is not always the case. Meanwhile, that new boss of mine? She’s pretty cute.