Monday, June 5, 2023

Oskar Turns Nine

Dear Oskar,

Today you are 9. Another year older, another year of those long legs of yours getting even longer, another year of turning everything you touch to gold. It feels good to write these letters at the end of the school year, a look back into where you started and where you are now—always an unimaginable leap ahead in growth and learning. It truly feels like anything you set your mind to you excel at beyond our wildest expectations and we couldn’t be prouder of the human you're becoming.

You wake up at 6am like you always have with the routine of a CEO. We always have to laugh at your militant making of your bed, checking the weather, reading your book, and working on PowerPoint presentations, a true professional in the making before any of the rest of us make it out of bed at all. And then, true to form, you're militantly right back in bed by 8:30 every night, and not a minute later, with you starting to check the time around 7:30 to make sure the schedule stays right on track.

You love school and love to learn, so curious about life and about anything you can’t make sense of, needing to know how it works and why. We always say we need to get you a t-shirt that says, “WAIT, WHAT?”, because if you overhear a conversation or anything that doesn’t make sense to you, you pause everything around you to make sure you fully understand before the world keeps turning.

You’ve made such an amazing group of friends and you care about them all so much, always giving a hug or a high five to anyone you pass in or out of school. Many of them came to your birthday party a few days ago at a big wooden playground that you were so insistent upon. I warned that an outside birthday was always a weather risk, which you then took to Alexa and researched the weather on June 3rd for the last 25 years.  The odds were in your favor, so we rolled with it. Watching you so happy, wild, and free with 30 boys who were there to celebrate you made my heart so happy. You found your friends to love who all love you right back, and one could argue that there’s nothing more important than that.

You turned into a soccer star this year, playing on a travel team that went undefeated. You were a leading scorer and developed such an amazing strategic understanding of the game—positioning and passing and setting up plays with your other teammates. Your talent didn’t go unnoticed, because when taken to cup tryouts, you were selected after the first night—a true testament to your talent. Above all else, I’m just so glad you found your “thing”, something to continue to work and excel at with some of your best friends and teammates along for the ride.

You also started drum lessons not too long ago. Your math-mindedness has made you a natural, and even your teacher marvels at your patience and determination to get it just right. "I've never met an eight-year-old who has this level of focus", he told me one day. Us either.

In November you had a horrible break to your upper arm at school during recess, requiring a rushed trip to Children’s Hospital, a late night 3-hour surgery, and pins to set the bone in place. Watching you in so much pain was one of the single hardest things I’ve ever had to endure. The recovery was long and slow, and even after your cast came off you still required 7 weeks of physical therapy to regain your strength and mobility. You gave up a lot of what you loved for a long time, and I’m so thankful that the whole ordeal is now finally behind us. It made for a memory we’ll never forget.

Your favorite things are pizza, Green Day, and playing outside with your forever best friend and next-door neighbor Frederick. You started putting gel in your hair every morning before school, a tangible sign of getting older. You’re working your way through the Harry Potter series with your dad and the Mysterious Benedict Society with me.  Your birthday gifts are an assortment of various things we’ve picked up along the way that reminded us of you—a big comfy pillow, a concert t-shirt, a watch (since you always need to know the time), a music stand, some of your favorite books, a Pitt banner, and a Ratatouille pin to add to your Disney pin collection—your favorite ride from your favorite trip we took this year. We’re heading out again to Finland, the Åland Islands, and Scotland in a few short weeks, adding countries 6 and 7 to your passport. Traveling the world feels like my dream coming true every time we set off on another adventure together.

You’re a role model to August, a helper with Maren, and the kind of son that everybody dreams of having. You’re a leader, naturally gifted at everything you try, but also the kindest and most empathetic person who tells me all the time how lucky he is. We are pretty unbelievably lucky, too.

Happy birthday Oskar. We love you, we love you, we love you.



Wednesday, March 29, 2023

A Letter to August on his 7th Birthday

Dear August,

You're 7 years old today. Your birthdays are always so fun to celebrate because your excitement is so palpable. It builds up and bubbles over when the day finally arrives, one of your favorite days of the entire year. The morning started off with a bowl of ice cream and with the opening of a present, all before 7am--the most August beginning to the biggest day.

You’ve grown taller, taller, taller this year and your pediatrician said that you’re on track to be 6’3” as an adult if you continue your crazy growth curve that was explosively big from the very beginning. Your hair is still so blonde and your eyes the most beautiful blue-green. You’re growing in a front tooth which is so incredibly cute—the toothiest smile just right for a seven year old boy.

You tried a rolodex of activities this year, from soccer to art to wrestling to guitar to tennis. A man of many hats, trying to see which one you fall in love with. So far, soccer seems to have taken the lead and is one of your favorite things to play outside in the front yard. You’re always in costume (“uniform”) in accordance with whatever it is you’re playing, always needing to look the part. You play football with Oskar and your dad strictly in head-to-toe Pitt or Steelers gear with a helmet, even if it’s a game of catch in the front yard.

You’ve done so well in school and true to your August self you chose a few friends and love them so hard. You’re becoming such a good reader and are working your way through your first chapter book. Your imagination still knows no bounds and you live and play in far away worlds. Catching glimpses of it is my favorite thing, me trying to watch you play without bringing you back to reality if we were to accidentally lock eyes.

You love figurines of any kind—recently army soldiers and knights—which are some of the last remaining “toys” in our home. Suddenly, we’re here, with boys that are so grown up. It makes my heart physically ache sometimes, how I can flash back to you as a 6-month-old in my mind and then look at how grown up you are now.

Your personality is so goofy and scatter-brained and we love to love you for it. You ask the most obvious or oblivious questions and then laugh at yourself when you realize it. Nothing has to be perfect in your world, leading you to be brave enough to draw or create without any of the self-critique. Everyone should be as fearless as you in this way. You love to sleep in and you’re my favorite because of it. My goodness did our house need a Type B personality, and you just make everything so fun. Don't ever let the world change you, because you know better than anyone I know that life should never be so serious. 

You’re still the middle child, through and through, never the one to cause conflict and always the first to forgive. You play so nicely with Maren, though I know these days of imagining together are slowly coming to an end as you get older. Oskar is your best friend, but also the yin to your yang, two completely opposing personalities coming together to play but then also clashing, the infinite cycle that knows no end. You’re growing up even faster because of a big brother and watch the same shows, play the same sports, and have many of the same friends, such a bonus of being just 1 grade apart in school.

You love nothing more than anything squishy, 1:1 time with mama or dada, a bowl of ice cream before bed, and relaxing at home, a home body forever and ever. Your birthday gifts are a hodge podge of sports uniforms and walkie talkies for your outside adventures, running around the neighborhood on your made-up missions.

To my empath, my boy with a heart of gold, my forever baby boy. Your silliness and your lighthearted approach to life is something the entire world could learn from you and has shifted my own perspective more than I can even count.

Your sports themed party will have all of your favorite people there to love you and to celebrate you, and I know you will soak up every single minute. I can’t wait to see your face and to hear your wish—guaranteed to make me laugh, I’m sure of it.

Happy birthday August James, my beautiful baby boy. Thank you for bringing so much laugher and happiness to our lives for seven whole years.




Saturday, March 11, 2023

A Letter to Maren on her 3rd Birthday

 Dear Maren,

You’re three years old today. With each milestone we reach, all of the collective moments from the time you were born feel like they flash in front of me. What words could possibly be enough to describe you just as you are, right now? The most magical age. So full of personality and full of life. The kind of little girl that, when I was pregnant with you, I would have said, “I hope I have a daughter just like her one day”.

Your hair is long and blonde and something you’re fiercely attached to now with your new discovery and love of Disney princesses. Flashes of mischievousness or twinkles of happiness radiate from your blue eyes, and I can’t help but laugh along with you when you giggle at something you find funny. Your favorite things are playing tea-party, restaurant, building magna-tiles, reading books, and painting. You say you want to be a soccer player when you grow up, and the suggestion of a ballet class led you to calmly explain that it would make you “way too dizzy”. Your vocabulary blows anyone away, but it always has. Years ahead of your time, you’re asking me how things are spelled, point out the color "indigo", and demand to do your own homework alongside of your brothers at the end of each school day. You can count to 30, have known your alphabet for about 2 years solid, know all of your shapes and colors, and point out letters and numbers. Potty training was the easiest one day exercise of putting all the diapers away when we came home from a trip to Finland and you never had an accident and you never looked back. When you introduce yourself to anyone you spell your name out for them: “it’s  M-A-R-E-N” you say, which is impossibly adorable. You asked about the “earthquake in Ukraine”, mixing up your news stories, and jam along to Oskar’s favorite song “Renegade” by drumming out the base line. You’re braver than your brothers were and fearlessly talk to strangers, rattling off stories about school or toys or TV shows as soon as you meet them.

Your days start with the sun in a new big girl bed of which you’re incredibly proud. Still a 6am riser, but with your growing independence and your biggest brother’s exact same sleep schedule, the two of you have become two peas in a pod. Oskar and you creep your way downstairs in the mornings to wait for us to drag ourselves out of bed.  Most days you’re in school and complain about having to go but then always report that you had a good day. You play house and babies with your friends and somehow always make everyone else be the dad or the dog, demanding to be the mom in charge. You’re a strong personality with your peers, always wanting to be the boss and not always loving to share. You tell me “I’m a big strong girl”—something I hope you always feel, though it wouldn’t kill you to fork over the toys to your friends every now and then. We’re the luckiest to be in a neighborhood full of kids and being able to grow up with the little girls around you will make for the best childhood memories--running from yard to yard and playing imaginative games--the way every childhood should be. You’re still a good eater for a 3 year old and love oatmeal, mashed potatoes, salmon, carrots, and any kind of soup. You’re always willing to try something new and love to share whatever we’re eating. You love Peppa Pig and frequently tell me you’re “going on holiday” or that your pretend restaurant meals cost “6 pounds” or that you need to wear your “swimming costume” for the pool. You’re also able to rattle off Minecraft characters and know about every show your brothers watch, not to be left behind for even a second. August is on the precipice of outgrowing the things that unite you, but for now, your combined imagination and make-believe games are what I’ll look back on and remember most of all at this age. The both of you in costume or playing with your kitchen, emersed in a world far, far away, I’ll hold in my heart forever.

The last remaining trace of your baby years is the way you soothe yourself, by twirling and intertwining your fingers into my necklace while I hold you. Your two fingers on your left hand get popped into your mouth simultaneously and you’re instantly calmed—the magic my chain holds over you. You’ve demanded for your stuffed animal elephant to wear a gold necklace to bed too, an instant middle-of-the-night way to get yourself back to sleep.

This birthday is a traditionally tough one for me. Three whole years, a baby no more. It’s especially hard with our last and final; our miracle girl who completed our family. As sad as it is to have this time slip so quickly through my fingers, what an absolute joy it is to have the most brilliant and beautiful child. A healthy and vibrant girl who learns and plays and grows and is becoming a little person who continues to bring the most joy to our family. I always ask you before bed, “Do you know how much I love you?” and you tell me, “So much!”. To the moon and stars, kiddo. Happy 3rd birthday.



Friday, February 3, 2023

The Laura Blog's Favorite Things from 2022

My yearly favorite things list for 2022, hot off the press in February 😏. This is the stuff that REALLY sticks out thinking back on what I bought and loved last year and what I still reach for almost every day. If you're in a shopping mood, you can't go wrong with anything here. 

1. Leggings and Top: This matching set is an exact dupe for Lululemon. I'm convinced they're made by the same manufacturer and tagged differently. Buttery soft, flattering, and absolutely perfect to work out or lounge in. This is my number one for a reason.

2. Blazer: I love this blazer over a bodysuit with high waisted denim. Found a picture of my mom wearing closely the same thing in the early 90s, so how the turn tables.

3. Hair Mask: This transformed my hair over the last few months and came recommended by my fairy godfather of a hairdresser.

4. Vitamin C Capsules: I have freckles and sun spots and have noticed a serious difference with the use of this vitamin C. After lots of time researching and listening to cosmetic scientists, this product is the best you can get for a really reasonable price tag.

5. Perfume: The most addicting scent. I typically don't wear perfume, but I just can't get enough of this one.

6. Earrings: My every day go-tos, giving the illusion of a double pieced ear.

7. Lip Gloss: The best low-budget gloss that you can afford to have in all purses and middle consoles. A great nude that isn't sticky or goo-ey, but gives just the right amount of color to feel a little more put together.

8. Atomic Habits: A ground breaking book to get yourself motivated to do that thing you've been putting off for too long.

9. Clogs: So comfortable, so cute. Classics never die.

10. Hair Growth Serum: I had so much breakage of my hair around the crown of my face, and with this growth serum, I've noticed a crazy difference in just 9 weeks. The best part is that the serum doesn't make your hair oily or greasy, so I can still wash only a few times a week.

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