A Grateful Labor Day

We spent our Labor Day weekend at my parents’ lake cabin in Council Grove, Kansas, soaking in the sun and enjoying some much-needed downtime with my family. Year after year I post about spending time at the lake and year after year I spew out all the cliches about watching my kids grow up in a place I loved as a child, but I can’t seem to help myself. They keep getting bigger and the lake pretty much stays the same. They stare out at the stars as the moon rises over the water and I remember nights on the deck watching the constellations overhead. They cry about the seaweed touching their feet and I remember when I would sit on the dock refusing to get in because of the creepy feeling that wet grass gave me. There are goggles lost to the depths of the water, which probably sit next to countless toys, rings and other trinkets I misplaced 20 years ago, never to be seen again.

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Watching my kids (and my niece and nephews) in this place is like watching an old video tape of my own youth, except, of course, they are more beautiful and lovely than I remember being at their ages. Instead of rocking a discman, my niece lays on the boat deck with her ear buds and iPhone. My sister takes photos with her iPhone and texts them to me. The kids ask to make silly videos of themselves “chicken fighting” in the water. It all feels very new, but also very worn, which is probably why I love it so much. It’s like all of my favorite things are colliding and I get to watch and laugh along.

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I can feel the season changing and as the weather changes, so does everything. I guess that is the one continuous thing in my life thus far…change is constant. My little people are growing and changing every day. Lately, Lucy has refused to let me take her photo. When I try, she makes an angry face or sticks out her tongue. Sometimes she tries (very successfully) to look extremely insane. “Moooommmmm, stop!” she yells when I pull out my phone or my camera. So I have to rely on others, like my sister, for whom Lulu will smile genuinely, to capture her as she really is. Lucy Peters, age 8, full of life and laughter, unless her mom has a camera out, in which case she will quickly turn in to a surly teenager. Sigh. Thank goodness for Tater, who at age 3 still thinks I am all things amazing and wonderful, and will beg me to take his picture so he can look at it later. “Mama, take my picture!” he squeals, calming my mama temper tantrum over his sister’s refusal. She was like that once too, and I know one day he will cringe at my camera. I suppose all I can do is enjoy it while it lasts, or come up with good knock knock jokes to catch them off guard when they are refusing to smile.

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I am so grateful for this full, fun life I’m leading today. I know that happiness comes from within, but the people in my life these days have made the joy more robust than I ever could have imagined. The last year has been really, really hard for me personally, but I really do believe, as cliched as it sounds, that I was meant to go through those difficult times. Today I am so thankful for the simple joys of my life, and I know that the person I was before wouldn’t have appreciated all these gifts the way I do now. I would have expected them and been upset if they weren’t as perfect as I wanted. I feel like a little kid again, reborn and seeing the world with brand new eyes. I feel…full of wonder. It feels trite and silly to say I’m grateful for the hardship my family has gone through, but I know without it, there wouldn’t be the serenity there is today.

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So, at least for today, I am extremely grateful…

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Friday Kitchen Dance Par-tay!!!

Because it’s Friday and what’s a blog for if not for dancing around like a doofus for the whole wide Internet to see?

The world has seemed like a scary place, lately. I know that dancing around my kitchen won’t change the world, but I feel like finding the fun when you’re afraid could maybe help, even just a little bit. Dancing when you’re scared, laughing when you’re angry, helping others when you are hurting…I really do believe this can change our world for the better. So find the fun today, friends! Dance and laugh and love. It really is the easier, softer way.

A Snow Day, in Photos

“The very fact of snow is such an amazement.” – Roger Ebert

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“There is just something beautiful about walking on snow that nobody else has walked on. It makes you believe you are special.”
- Carol Rifka Brunt

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“Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.” – Vista M. Kelly

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Tater and Tedders : Best Buddies and Greatest Nemises

Having a very #theoandbeau kind of afternoon... #365grateful #teddygram #instateddy #rottie #puppy #bestfriends #nap #sleep #cuddle

Some days they are best buddies. They are honestly pretty similar. There is something about a three-year-old boy and a puppy that would make anyone’s heart jump a little bit, but these two are as good of friends as they are each other’s greatest enemy. They are each equally curious, ornery, smart and quick, which makes for some hectic days around our house. Every morning, when Tate comes shuffling down the hall after waking, the first thing he looks for is Teddy. “Aw, hiiii puppy!” he says in his gravely, sleepy voice. That’s when it starts. Teddy, who is always super pumped to see people, runs up to Tate at full, out of control, puppy speed and knocks him right over. Tate screams at the top of his lungs, which gets Teddy even more excited. At this point, after two months with Teddy in our home, almost all of Tate’s shirts have little holes in the back, where Teddy has grabbed him with his little puppy teeth. Tate is definitely not innocent in this…every time Teddy lays down or settles in with a toy or bone, there is Tate, jumping on top of him or taking his toy and running away, giggling maniacally.

Movie night at our house, watching Chiddy Chiddy Bang bang :) #instateddy #teddygram #puppy #rottie #365grateful

“Mama, I just giving Teddy love,” he’ll explain when I catch him. There is no amount of convincing that will make Tate realize that most puppies don’t like to be “strangled” with love. And there is no amount of dog commands that will convince Teddy that Tate’s screams are not one’s of happiness. He just thinks the little human wants to play! So most mornings and evenings are full of “No, Teddy, no biting!” and “Tate, leave that dog alone!” It’s a loud, hectic life we’re leading.

Lucky kids, lucky dog. #365grateful #instateddy #teddygram #puppy #rottie

But every once in a while, I find them snuggled together on the couch watching cartoons, or sleeping together during nap time, twin snores emitting from Tate’s bed. There is so much love here. It might be tainted with screams and little puppy bite marks, but I can still see it. Right now they are about equal in size, but very soon, Teddy will outgrow our little boy, so we are working hard training both of them to treat each other with respect. And even though they bicker, I can already tell they are going to be the best of friends. We are so lucky to have found Teddy. Just proves to me, once again, the good things in life are worth waiting for.

Icy Friday morning with the boy and his dog... #puppy #rottie

Three Years Old

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Dear Tate,

Last week you turned three years old. Holy. Wow. You’re not a baby anymore. You’re not a toddler either. You are a real life, little boy! This blows my mind. You are my youngest, so I’m sure to some extent you will always be “my baby,” but looking at you now, I know those baby days are over for our family. It’s a little sad, but mostly wonderful. I am excited for the next year! Heck, I’m excited for the next several years. Little boys are pretty fun, and having you around to keep us on our toes will be a blast.

You are what people call a “strong willed child.” You are very, VERY stubborn. You know what you want, and it doesn’t matter if it makes no sense or if you can’t exactly express it, if people around you don’t comply, they’d better look out. Your tantrums are epic, so much so, I find myself working my day around avoiding them. On the converse, your happiness can be felt for miles. When you are being silly or joyful, it is just as epic as those tantrums. It’s the best (best?) of both worlds.

You are smart, Tate. Very, very, VERY smart. You are smarter than me already, and the worst part is, you know it! Most of the trouble you get into is because you are attempting to outsmart your father or myself, and a small part of your plan goes awry. You are sneaky and mischievous, a little grin on your cherubic face as you break rules and push boundaries. Oh, that face! You still have those lengthy eyelashes and big blue eyes, which you open wide when you know you’ve been caught. Your voice is so sweet these days, and a little “I’m sowwyy, mama” gets you right back in the game. Moms, we are so gullible.

You are my little buddy. In addition to all your silly and trouble-making antics, you are also one of the sweetest children I’ve ever known. At night you ask me to sit with you in your bed, singing “Moon River” and stroking my face. When I am hurting or sad, you are the first one that notices. You bring me your blanky and snuggle close, even if it’s just for a second. You love to dance and sing, and we’ve spent countless hours making up songs about your trucks and trains or about your family. You adore your big sister, even though you have perfected the role of annoying little brother. You want to “give her love” and then you smash the Lego set she’s spent hours building, with a little gleam in your eye. When she has friends over, you cry at her bedroom door because you want to play too. You two love each other, even when it’s not always easy, and for that I’m so grateful.

This year will surely be a full one, Tate. There will be train sets to build and pictures to draw, soccer balls to kick and scooters to ride, snowmen to build and snowmen to smash into a million pieces. I know it will all be a blast, as long as it’s with you. I love you, my sweet boy. You are my gift.

Love,
Mama

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