Tuesday, March 29, 2022

A Letter to August on his 6th Birthday

Dear August,

Happy birthday, sweetheart. I have such a soft spot for you, my baby boy. You’re my sensitive, empathetic, more reserved little emote and you feel all things BIG. You’re made to be a middle child, it’s true, but that doesn’t always mean it’s fair when your brother and sister demand all the things until you finally get some time yourself, which you lap up and cherish. Quality time is absolutely, 100%, your love language and there’s nothing I love more than when I get to spend some of it with you.

You started kindergarten this year, such a milestone. I was in no way ready and I held my breath that you would be after a few weird years hunkered down at home during the pandemic. You started the year off shy and reserved, slowly, carefully, peeling back your layers. We went 180 on that one, though, and now when I pick you up, I get updates on which voice you performed for the class all day or which character you played. You typically run out to hug me with a British/cowboy/robot accent, which I’ll take as a good sign (I think). You're every teacher's favorite now, and they always pull me aside to secretly tell me so. So far, you’re cruising right through academically, and even got put into an advanced reading group this period. I was so proud of you, but you were even prouder. Those moments of self-love don’t come super frequently for you because you’re always comparing, striving, and looking to your older brother, wanting to be at the same level as him on everything. The unfair burden of a younger sibling to bear.

I really wanted to find an activity just for YOU this year and enrolled you in an art class on Monday evenings. You’re already so creative and imaginative and love to doodle and draw, so I thought this might just be the perfect fit. I’ll never forget your face that first day, coming home with a Mario painted canvas, running around the house chanting, “I love art! I love art!”. You’ve had 5 months worth of classes now, bringing home your masterpieces week after week. Your confidence has soared being the best at something in our house—an area that Oskar doesn’t hold a candle to. I hope your love of painting continues forever.

I also set a goal for you to learn how to ride your bike before turning 6 and getting you to be brave enough to try was a battle we fought for months and months. We worked on this together for SO LONG, until one winter day you took off across the cul de sac on your own. I feel like this will be a core memory for both of us. Something we did, and overcame, together. I’ll never forget it.

You’re starting soccer again, something you’re happy enough to tag along to. I’m curious if this will become a passion of yours. For now, it’s so fun for Maren and me to cheer for you on the sidelines. She’s your biggest fan.

Speaking of Maren, the bond you two have made this year is just absolute magic and watching her take you by the hand to play is something I wasn’t sure would happen with a 4-year age gap. She is absolutely in love with “her August”, and wants you to play on the trampoline, to snuggle up with her on the couch, or to read with her in your bed. You’re the first person she asks for and sees when picked up from school. As much as you do play alongside of and try to appease a 2-year-old, most of your time is spent with your big brother, playing Nintendo, wrestling on forts you built downstairs, or playing outside. Big kid stuff. You spend plenty of time on your own, too, and are so imaginatively invested in your LEGOs and the worlds you make up. I can often find you with a chair scooted up to a buffet in the dining room, where you’ve sprawled out your favorite sets and make up dialogues between the good guys and bad guys.

You’re a lover and a pacifist and are rarely the one to get in trouble in this house. You slip away to your room any time you’re upset until you’re ready to reappear and have even starting journaling your feelings—a cue even adults could take from you. You lost both upper and lower teeth within weeks of each other, and now have the biggest, toothless smile that is just so perfect for a newly turned 6 year old.

You love so big and so hard, and those closest to you are the most important in the entire world. You make a few close friends and hang on tight and invest all of your energy into them. They love you so much in return, and I’m certain these friendships will be ones that last a lifetime.

You are SO excited to be turning 6 and have been counting down the days for weeks now. Your birthday might just be your very favorite day of the year, and I’m happy, but sad, to see you turning one year older. The eternal struggle that is motherhood. I can’t wait to surround you with all of the Mario, Luigi, and Star Wars a 6-year-old could dream. There’s no one that deserves it more.

I love you infinitely, my forever baby boy. I’ll never forget the day you were born and looking into that beautiful face of yours for the very first time. What a joy it has been to watch you grow for 6 whole years.




Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Mudroom Reveal

Hi! Here with our long-awaited (and 99% complete!) mudroom, which has been months in the planning/designing and even longer in the waiting-on-backlogged-materials-to-finally-ship phases. Thanks supply chain. What we started with was an extremely narrow and dark hallway that was full of coats, shoes, bookbags, and soccer bags. It was also the first impression of our home, with a wall in front of your face as soon as you entered, behind which was a laundry room that was absolutely not the most functional place to have to lug dirty clothes to every day. I've added some not-so-flattering before photos, and granted, I could've probably photographed the space a little bit better, but they're not so far off from real day-to-day life. Needless to say, the space just was not working for our family of 5. 

Looking down the front hallway, entry way door past the coat closet to your left, laundry room to your right. Some cardboard had already been thrown down by the contractors that day:

Laundry room:

So, I dreamt up a plan where the walls would come down, windows would be added for tons of natural light, and storage would be a-plenty, with everyone getting their own cubbies for ALL THE THINGS. That's what we now have, and I'm so in love.  It's hard to imagine it's the same space, but alas. The cabinets are in what was previously the laundry room, which got moved upstairs into another new space that I can't wait to share with you also.

The last remaining piece to finish out here is to add hooks and hardware into the cubbies and onto the board above the sitting bench, which should be coming in soon. Any questions on anything, just let me know! I've added a few sources to things, below. I hope you love this glow up as much as we do!

Plaster Clay Art and Plant Stand: TJ Maxx
Floors: The Tile Shop
Cabinets: Pro Source

Thursday, March 10, 2022

A Letter to Maren on her 2nd Birthday

 Dear Maren,

The last time I wrote you a birthday letter, we were still home, quarantining, and staying safe from COVID. We were starting to get ready to turn a page, and it finally, finally feels like we have. We’ve slowly and cautiously made our way back into the world, and it feels like such a weight lifted to be able to not worry so darn much anymore. To live an almost normal life with you as my little sidekick—never, ever far away from my leg or my hip, a mama’s girl, through and through.

Words can’t express how much happiness you bring us all. As sad as I am about you getting older, this is such an incredible age. Your speech is at an absolutely astounding level, with you rattling off paragraphs on end. Hearing you narrate your life through your words is just so fun, and we laugh 100 times a day about the things you say. Some of my favorites:

Waking up at 5am, whispering directly in my eardrum: “What do you want to do downstairs?”

“Dada is going to work to take care of sick people with bananas and crackers.”

“Mama, come here and snuggle buggle!”

“A quarter? What the heck is a quarter?”

Me: Are you a beautiful little girl? You: No! I’m Maren Josefine!

Pointing at the dead fish at the seafood counter, wide eyed: “It’s baby shark.”

My heart explodes when I see you giggle, or chatter, or take your brothers by the hand to boss them around in whatever game you’d like to play with them. They’re both so patient with you and love to make you happy even when you demand everything that’s theirs, from toys to food to mama’s attention. You’re the perfect endcap to our family. Everybody’s favorite.

Your sleep is still terrible, but it’s funny how perspective changes with the last baby, and the fleeting moment that this feels like in the grand scheme of things. You’re up through the night, crying to come into our bed, and somewhere along the way we cave in and grab you and tuck you in between us where you snuggle up and eventually fall asleep. You’re off to school on most mornings and always tell me you don’t want to go and that you “cry all day”, but your teachers assure me that you’re happy and play right along with all the other boys and girls. The dramatics.  At drop off you always remind me, and your teachers, that “Mama will ALWAYS come back”—such an emphasis on the ALWAYS, and that this most certainly is a temporary situation, just so everybody knows it. You know your ABCs, your colors, and can count to about 15, and then randomly jump around to 20. You’re so interested in homework and tests and pretend to do yours along side of your brothers after school.  When I pick you up you gallop to me (literally), and jump into my arms, ready to go home.

Our biggest challenge this year has been all of the daycare germs. The constant runny noses, ear infections, quarantines, and stomach flus. We’ve been through the ringer, and none of it was even COVID. Hoping that we get a little bit of a reprieve from the worst of it as we turn the corner to spring.

You traveled to Finland over Christmas which was, by far, your biggest adventure. Aside from the jet-lag that never relented, you did so well, even with bumps in the road (like a 4hr 15 min delay on the tarmac that nearly did me in). We’re getting ready to do it all over again + a stop in Norway in just a few short months this summer, so fingers crossed that you’ll repeat your overall A+ performance.

A whole new world of play has opened up to me after two boys. You love baby dolls and to rock them, push them in strollers, or pat them to sleep. You love coloring and painting and spend so much of your time laying on your belly on the floor with a big piece of paper and a handful of markers, doodling and drawing with the pencil grip of a kindergartner. It’s truly amazing. You love climbing into my lap to read books with your favorites on repeat. Going on a Bear Hunt, The Gruffalo, and any fairy tale get gold, silver, and bronze. Above all, you love to play downstairs with your brothers, running between the trampoline and some foam climbing blocks, yelling at them to do just what you want.

You nursed until 16 months, but stopped on your own, and became disinterested enough to never ask to nurse again. You’re still such a good eater and love nothing more than salmon and mashed potatoes. We’ve slowly taken you out to restaurants, and you’re so fun to go out to eat with because you like everything. Relishing these days until the picky toddler phase inevitably begins.

Your hair is so long now and gets comments from everybody. Still so blonde and a little bit wavy, up in a ponytail every day to keep it out of your big blue eyes. You ask for a “piggy tail” when it’s down, my favorite thing. Another surprise of having a girl is your absolute tyranny over what you wear, which absolutely must be pink and must be hand selected, if we can even manage to get you dressed at all. “Pajamies” are your favorite, and you call them “comfy cozy”, flat out refusing to put clothes on most days without some serious round-table talks. 

You’re most often found on my hip with your two fingers in your mouth, holding my necklace with your other hand. My necklace is your biggest security blanket, something you reach for all throughout the day and demand for me to put back on if I ever dare take it off. Sweet and endearing unless it’s at 2am.

You’re napping for 2 hours at school but put up a heck of a fight to do the same at home, with me having to lay with you in my bed to get you to fall asleep at all. I’m toast already. You’re in your crib to sleep at 8pm after a half an hour of reading and 25 rounds of "Wheels on the Bus" and protest for 10 minutes or so by yelling at me to open the door before laying down and falling asleep on your own.

I feel so incredibly lucky that we had this chance to have you, our last baby, our daughter. Life feels so full and so complete, and watching you grow is one of the greatest gifts of my life. You’re such a vibrant, happy, smart little girl, and your ponytails and chubby cheeks will be etched in my brain and heart forever. Happy 2nd birthday, sweetheart (even though I know you’ll tell me, “I’m not sweetheart! I’m Maren Josefine!”). We all just truly love to love you.      

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