Birthday girl!

26099_511639978477_125600644_30425405_427400_n Remember when I said I was going to introduce you to each of my sisters on their birthday? Well today it's Gretel's turn...

(Yes! Gretel! As in, "The suuuuun has goooooone to bed, and so must Iiiii..." I know. Two sisters with The Sound of Music names. It's fun.)

Anyway, Gretel lives in a little town in Nebraska with her husband Matt, who's a pastor, and their three children: Lilah, Silas, and Jonas. Gretel and Matt make beautifully fat, roly-poly babies. They're squishy and sweet.

Gretel is my oldest sister. We are nine years apart, and I was still little when she was in high school. She was so mysterious back then, with her own room all to herself, and her friends and boyfriends. When she left for college, a seven hour drive away, my sisters and I had that homesick, lonely-type of pit in our stomachs for weeks, we missed her so much. The breaks and weekends when she came home were the best-- full of loud music and long drives and trips to Dairy Queen. Gretel is the fun sister, the ring-leader, the one who convinces the rest of us to do crazy things. She's the reason I know so many rap songs with cuss words in them.

I love to watch her in social settings. I tend to get nervous and say forehead-smackingly silly things when I'm in a crowd, but Gretel handles everything with charm and grace and ease. On roadtrips, while everyone else is wearing sweats and flip flops, Gretel clips around in high heels. She's fancy.

Gretel has always had the best hair out of all of us. It's soft and glossy and swingy. She loves to cook, but hates to bake. She likes choral music, politics, and Christmas time. She's one of those ladies who wakes up early, stands in line, and snags deals on Black Friday. She has a beautiful faith in God, and when I lost my baby two Octobers ago, she sent me Bible passages every day for a long time. I wrote them all down in the back of my Bible and still use them when I'm sad.

She ended up marrying a guy who, in a lot of ways, is so much like Ryan it's weird sometimes. I love it. And I love her. Happy birthday to you, Gretel!

Now, I do have a picture of Gretel that involves braces, ice cream cake, and a 90210 shirt, but I will spare her the embarrassment and instead use this crazy one of us looking at a hamburger cake at the 2009 Wisconsin State Fair.
(Sidenote: We really need to start taking more photos together, sisters.)

Love you, Gretel. Xoxo.


photos from the weekend.

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This weekend was darn good, guys. There were sunflowers, tulips, baby laughs, lots of peekaboo, a giant post-church feast of a breakfast, some sunshine, some housework and organizing and checks on to-do lists. Nothing fancy, just a lot of happy moments.

And I'm not going to lie, maybe the best part of it all was when I found an old mixed CD from high school that had a lot of Snoop Dogg on it. I was a big fan of S-N-double O-P  D-O-dubba G back in the day. Ryan was like, "This CD is weird." and I was like, "I got a livin room full of fine dime brizzles." (What does that mean?)

Anyway, hope your weekend was happy too. Peace out.


Ralph at six months

Oh Ralphie.At 5:36 this morning, my baby boy turned six months old. He's no longer a newborn, not really an infant . . . just a nice, chubby, bubbly baby. I like it.

Since we've reached this little milestone today, I thought it'd be a good moment to write down on the blog a few of the things about my Ralph that make him so Ralph-ish. 

  • Those soft black baby hairs from his newborn days are just about history. There are a few hanging on at the nape of his neck, and even fewer wispy ones on top. They've been replaced by short brown sprouts, and we're waiting to see if they'll stay brown like his momma's, or turn blond like his dad's.
  • His first word is most definitely "ging." No, I know, ging isn't a word. But it's the only thing that actually sounds like a word that he'll consistently say, especially when he's sad or excited. "Ging, ging, ging!" It's his own variation of da, da, da or ba, ba, ba.
  • His very favorite game is when Ryan covers him with a blanket, and then quickly whips it off. Oh, the fun of it all is just too much. At night when I put him down in his crib and cover him up, he'll kick and laugh and think we're playing.
  • As far as experimenting with food goes, bananas get a thumbs up. Rice cereal and green beans, TWO THUMBS DOWN.
  • Thankfully, he's still a big fan of milk and enjoys a meal every two hours during the day. But don't even think about making noise while he's eating, or he will stare you down until you hush up. Lately his curiosity is getting the best of him when he eats, and he'll break away, arch his back and look behind him as faaaar as he can. Getting him to focus and finish up is like wrestling and pinning down a squirmy piglet.
  • Naps are rough, unless he's in the car or stroller. But getting him down for the night is so easy it feels like cheating. 
  • Speaking of sleeping at night, he's still waking a couple times each night to eat. He starts out in his crib, then moves to his bassinet next to me, then always ends up in our bed for the last two hours of the night. It's crazy, but it works.
  • He's smiley and drooly. He squeals and sings. He likes being tickled under his chin and grabbing fistfuls of my hair to shove into his mouth. His favorite toys are his bear, Sophie the giraffe, and an orange sippy cup with a straw that pokes out. He thinks he's a very big boy when he holds that orange sippy cup.
  • Yesterday in church we sang I Am Jesus' Little Lamb, and he looked at me and Ryan like, "HEY GUYS I KNOW THIS ONE!" He wiggled and smiled and sucked on his hands so excitedly, and my heart just about burst.
  • Also, church with this baby? Exhausting.
  • Lately I've been saying "Kiss you!" and then giving him a big smooch on his lips. Since then he's been reaching up and grabbing my face with both hands, and putting his wet, open mouth to my lips. And OH MAN is it the best thing in the world. Every time it happens I practically die, and then I'm like, Holy smokes I taught him something!
  • Just as I expected, mom is good for a cuddle, dad is good for tricks and wrestling and big time laughs.
I could go on. I could go on, and on, and onnnn. I won't because we've got things to do today (a six month checkup and shots on this day of celebration, what was this momma thinking when she scheduled that?) But boy, do I love this little baby of mine. Oh Ralph, I'm so glad you're mine!


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Sometimes being a stay-at-home-mom means you have the option of keeping the TV turned on all day long, if you feel like it.

This rarely happens in my house, since daytime TV is always crap. But not today. Today, from the minute I came downstairs from my bedroom and learned about the awful things that happened in Boston overnight, to just minutes ago, when the news came that everything was over, I was positively glued to my television.

And after watching everything happen today, I just feel so thankful. I'm thankful the suspects have been found and captured. I'm thankful for my country, and for the brave military and policemen that worked so hard. I'm thankful the wives and mothers and children of those men have the relief knowing most of them are out of harm's way, and can come home. I'm thankful for my family, and my husband, and my Ralphie. Most of all, I'm thankful for my faith. I'm thankful for God's forgiveness-- forgiveness offered to everyone, even those two men who did such horrible things.

I'm thankful for days like today-- the ones that help me realize that things like endless dishes in the sink and babies that won't nap-- those things aren't so bad. They're actually pretty great.

And gosh, I'm thankful for the weekend! I hope it's a happy one for all of us.


photos from the weekend

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{1} Fresh flowers, a new vase, and the first rays of sunshine in days.
{2} A family date at Culvers on Friday night, along with Milwaukee's elderly and lots of kids in basketball uniforms.
{3,4} Snappin' pictures after a morning diaper change. | He figured out my phone and gets all grabby when I pull it out now, which is a good excuse to try and keep it tucked away while we're playing.
{5} My family came over on Saturday and filled up our little house with lots of laughing and talking and noise. Ralph tired himself out just by watching everybody, and fell asleep in my mom's arms. It's fun to see my mom hold my baby. I can just feel how much she loves him, and it's wonderful.
{6}We celebrated my nephew's 4th birthday and held the party at our house since my sister's house is full of projects. Little Ollie was so shy when we sang to him, and actually ran and hid when it was time to blow out the candles. Liz made a camping themed cake for him and he got a brand new bike with the words "Major Damage" on the side. All of this is hilarious to me.
{7} Ralph's cousin Henry arranged all of his toys just ever so, and then proudly snapped this picture himself.
{8, 9} Ryan watched the Masters all day Sunday. He gets really into it. Eventually he found his putter and was tapping golf balls all over the living room rug. Forcing him into this photo shoot was my way of saying, "HEY REMEMBER ME?"
{10} Looking through an old cookbook of my Grandma's and planning out meals for the week. If I don't plan, suppers go something like this: pizza, pizza, omelets, chicken breasts, pizza, and leftovers.
{11, 12} Ralph loves to suck on his toes lately. An old college friend of mine saw this photo and he said in yoga this pose is called "Happy Baby." And I think that's just sweet as pie.


Solids, man.

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While my quest for getting Ralph to nap may have been a bust, guess what was a hit?

Rice cereal!

Kind of. He was really excited by the process (right down to his toes-- check those piggies out,) but I don't think he loved actually eating the stuff. It was happy, messy fun at least. We're trying again tonight, and if all goes well, some sweet potatoes just might be on the menu for this weekend.

We took a video, if you want to see the whole thing go down:

And now, for a very long post script: 
Thank you to all you mommas that commented and sent advice about my last post. It seems the consensus is that "crying it out" works for some babies, and doesn't work for others. Isn't that how it always goes? ;) Both of my oldest sisters, as well as some good friends used this method, and it worked for them. So it's not torture for some babies! The best advice I got was to listen to your baby and your gut. So that's what we'll be doing in the future. I'll be sure to let you all know how it goes! X.O.


We tried "crying it out" for naps today, and this is how it went:

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The number of:
  • times I let him cry it out: 3
  • times this method failed us today: 3
  • minutes I listened to him cry: 20 the first time, 40 the second time, mayyybe 2 the third time.
  • times I cried: 3
  • times Ralph's diaper leaked: 3 (whether it is due to today's bad luck, or needing to go a size up, is yet to be determined.)
  • times Ralph threw up on me: 1 (not spit up. Real, human pukes. It got allll up in mah hair.) 
  • minutes Ralph sat in a very still daze after throwing up: 6-7. (It's possible he has inherited my vomit phobia?)
  • outfit changes: between the both of us, 5
  • baths: between the both of us, 4
  • minutes Ralph actually napped today: 25, tops.
  • times we sang Mairzy Doats to try and cheer up: approximately 20
  • times I thought, "I AM BUYING ICE CREAM BEFORE THE DAY IS DONE.": 40. Maybe more.
  • times I kissed Ralph on his lips: countless (I think he's starting to understand!)
  • times I went to Target with baby barfs in my hair: just once, thankfully.
  • cartons of Ben and Jerry's purchased: 2
  • episodes of Mad Men about to be watched in 3,2,1: one
  • times we will try "crying it out" again in the near future: zero, zip, zilch


sick day

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My baby is sick, and it's the saddest thing in the world, ever, ever, ever.

He showed signs of a cold yesterday, with a little runny nose that he rubbed over and over until I was sure he'd rub it clean off. I put him to bed with an extra long nursing session and a dose of tylenol, and when he woke up to eat at 3am, he was snuffly and stuffed and had to break away from time to time to take gaspy breaths. I found myself taking deep, slow breaths while I watched him, just like I did when he was only a few weeks old--  he'd eat so fast he wouldn't stop for air, and would choke and cough and sputter. Oh how I wish I could breathe for him sometimes.

When he woke up this morning he was happy and smiley, just like he always is. I could tell he felt lousy, but he tried so hard to have fun anyway. I went with it, hoping he was starting to feel better. We went about our day-- we played and cleaned up and made cookies and walked outside. He napped on my lap until he got rosy and sweaty. I tried putting him down twice, but he woke both times, letting me know he just wanted to be held.

And then, tonight, as we were getting him ready for bed, he started to cry. It was a hoarse, sad, whimpering cry that broke my heart into a million pieces. He was so tired and sick.

Every night, as I nurse my Ralph to sleep, I think about the day. I think about the good parts, and the bad parts, and the times where I was checking instagram or trying to squeeze just one more chore in, instead of giving him my full attention. I think about the times when I'm doing the dishes and glance over at him sitting in his bouncy seat, and he smiles and kicks so excitedly-- just because I looked at him! I always wish I could do those parts over again. I always wish I could wake him up to give him one more smile and kiss before he's asleep for the night. Tonight I thought about all of that, and felt all that guilt, only I felt it a million times more.

I'm still figuring out how to be a mother, and I know that I'm allowed to cut myself some slack because of that. But, man, I'd like to at least figure out how to put my baby to bed at night knowing I gave him all the love I ever could that day. Because oh gosh, do I love that little boy.
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flower portraits on You Are My Fave

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Guys! I'm super excited to tell you about a happy little thing that's happenin' in my life right now-- once a month I'll be coming up with a creative project and posting it over at Melanie Blodgett's awesome blog You Are My Fave. My first post is up today, so head on over if you want to check out what I did with this spring-y flower arrangement.

I gotta tell you, it's been super fun to work on this the past few weeks! Creating little projects for myself is always a good time, but actually having a legitimate excuse for going to my favorite craft stores? Well, it's basically a dream come true for a gal like me. 

And don't even get me started on Melanie Blodgett. She tweets almost exclusively about Liz Lemon and junk food AND I LOVE HER.

Now, go ahead and make my day by clicking HERE to check it out.