Posts Tagged ‘birthday’

Now We Are Six

My mom gave my sister and I our own copies of A.A. Milne’s Now We Are Six, a collection of poems on growing up by the author of Winnie the Pooh, on our sixth birthdays. She has continued the tradition for each of her grandchildren.

When I was One, 
I had just begun.

Wesley’s sixth birthday started a little early. He had requested a bike with handle brakes to be like one of his neighbor friends, and because he’s nailed his riding since learning to bike without training wheels last summer. We’ve been on countless bike rides, and it’s probably my favorite thing about Wes Age 5.

I found a used Rideline Raid BMX bike in his favorite colors for a steal of a price and picked it up on Saturday. Steven and I were too excited to wait until Tuesday to give it to him. It was worth the early surprise to see his face.

“Oh, Mama. This is the best ever.”

The three of us hopped in the car to Bicycle Garage Indy to give it a tune up, new tire and brakes. We spent the rest of the day testing it out.

When I was Two,
I was nearly new.

We ate a quick lunch after church so that we could go on a family bike ride at Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park. Wes handled the new bike well on flat terrain, but he’s still got some practice ahead for steeper incline. He knows how much I dislike the words, “I can’t,” especially coupled with whiney tears. Our ride ended a little sooner than we expected because it was just easier to take a break and spend some time on the cool, accessible playground.

Lesson learned: You can do a lot of neat things as an almost-six-year-old, but you still have a lot to learn.

At home we made cupcakes in anticipation for the following day. Wes requested chocolate cupcakes with lemon frosting, so… that’s what we made. If you ask him about it, he’ll get embarrassed because he’s gotten so many questions about his flavor choice, but they actually tasted okay – if you like super sweet sugary things.

The frosting kinda resembled the color of sand, and we only had blue sprinkles in the house. We improvised and made “beach cupcakes,” complete with a Swedish fish on top.

When I was Three,
I was hardly Me.

Today was the big day. The morning seemed to drag for our almost birthday boy, but we finally made it to lunchtime with my parents, sister and his cousins. My nephew had extensive surgery in April, and he’s battled infections ever since. Unfortunately another flare up happened this week, so he was unable to swim with the rest of the kids. Sharing lunch together helped the boys enjoy each other’s company for a little while before the rest of the party showed up at the pool.

One of the best things about purchasing my parents’ house when they downsized has been close proximity to their condo – and its pool! We have enjoyed many hours together in the sun, which is how Wesley requested we celebrate his birthday this year. He verbally invited all of his classmates (in May) and every kid he’s befriended, but he whittled it down to a handful of his closest friends. And it was perfect.

Steven took the work afternoon off to join us. My sister and her kids were there. And my retired parents. It’s possible I enjoyed the party just as much as Wesley did.

Wes requested a cheeseburger and fries for his birthday dinner – Bru Burger on Mass Ave! Blushing, he told our waitress about his birthday, and she gave him free dessert of salted caramel pudding.

When I was Four,
I was not much more.

BIRTHDAY DAY! The special candle was lit at breakfast. Pancakes! Chocolate chip pancakes!

 

We met some friends at the movie theatre and Chick-fil-A for lunch. I’m pretty sure Wes was still worn out from 3+ hours of swimming the previous day because he requested to spend the afternoon at home. The day was hot. We FaceTimed with family and friends who wanted to greet the new six-year-old. He quietly played with some of his new presents, we installed accessories on his bike, and we watched Netflix.

Steven left for an overnight business trip, so we were invited to dinner at Mom and Dad’s. We brought extra cupcakes and sang to the birthday boy. I even let him sleep in my room. (It might have been his favorite thing of the day.) I gotta say, it was pretty sweet to see him roll over with a sleepy grin on his face. He loves well.

When I was Five,
I was just alive.

The next day we met a group of families from church at a splash pad, dug for gem crystals and hatched a baby T-Rex – birthday presents from cousins. We went school supply shopping and picked out a new, rad bike helmet.

His Pa and Nana sent him a very special gift, and we spent the better part of the afternoon testing out its moves and features.

As the week draws to a close, I’m reflecting on the last year and how much Wes has changed. He recently received the Humility Award at SpringHill Camp for his kind and empathetic heart. And yet, he increasingly struggles with competition and frustration. He has grown 2 inches (60th percentile). He’s more than 50 pounds (86th percentile). He can read 3- and some 4-letter words, and he always seems surprised at his ability to do so.

He expresses his fears more, including being afraid of the dark. He continues to test boundaries, use the loudest voice possible and asks a million questions every day. He wants to learn how everything works, and hopes to be a firefighter. He loves to be in my and Steven’s company. He makes friends wherever he goes, and has trouble finding his own fun without a playmate. He desires to be obedient, and his heart breaks when we reprimand him at home. He also has “very selective hearing.” Besides his weird skin reactions, the asthma is under control, and he’s in great shape for Kindergarten.

Oh, what a joy it is to be Wesley’s parents. We’re proud of this bright, sweet and silly child who makes every day entertaining and challenging.

But now I am Six, and I’m clever as clever
So I think I’ll be six now forever and ever

“The End.” A.A. Milne. Now We Are Six

Posted: July 22nd, 2017
Categories: Leah
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Grace Period

I’m in a good spot. Around my birthday it’s common for me to think back on the year and reflect, and this one? I’m (usually) happy, content. You know how many blog posts I’ve written about desiring this very thing? For a semi-regular blogger, lots.

And it feels pretty great. Here’s what I mean:

Mental and Emotional Health. I’m closer than ever to people around me. I’ve reconnected with old friends (including one I hadn’t seen or talked to for 15 years!), found new ones, and allowed myself to grow deeper in current relationships. Steven and I are celebrating 10 years of marriage this August – say WHAT?! – and Wesley still thinks we’re the coolest people on the planet.

With nicer weather, we’re outside more – evening walks with the dogs “force” us to meet people in the neighborhood. And you know what? It’s fantastic! There are plenty of playmates within a three block radius for Wesley, and it’s been pretty awesome to have so many kids over for popsicles, homemade ice cream and the bounce house. And it’s not even summer yet!

I’ve connected with several of the kids’ moms, who are becoming close friends. Seriously, it’s just the best. My desired community has fallen in my lap.

Gardening is a new hobby, though there’s still so much to learn. I’m haphazardly putting together garden plans, researching best plants for certain areas, soil types, sun exposure. Several plants arrived in the mail yesterday, and after they were in the ground, I felt amazing. It’s this weird feeling of accomplishment after many hours of internet searches. It might be slightly more productive than my other go-to mental break activities like painting!

Physical Health. It’s no secret that I don’t exercise or enjoy running. I used to practice Pilates in college (well, from a DVD), I’ve taken dance classes and nearly 6 weeks of Karate. But that’s about it.

Gardening has been a bit of a workout for me, so there’s that. But remember my neighbor friends? About a month ago, one of them asked me to take a trial class of CrossFit with her. I’m not really sure why, but I shrugged and said, why not?

Since then, my body has contorted in all sorts of ways I didn’t think possible. I climbed a rope to the top of the ceiling! I can sorta do a handstand! I can run a half mile without stopping! It’s baffling how much stronger this body is than given credit.

Do you want to hear about my dental hygiene again? I’ll spare you the details, but this year has been a BIG WIN for my gums. Hats to my Sonicare toothbrush and WaterPik for granting me a gold star at the last dentist appointment.

Spiritual Health. I’m a little embarrassed, but also proud, to announce that for the very first time in my life, I read the Bible cover-to-cover in 2016. Many times tried, I never could accomplish this task. It’s taken nearly 34 years to get here.

Besides reading books I hadn’t read in their entirety, the best part of this accomplishment is understanding context. I used a One Year Bible, which broke up daily readings with passages from Old and New Testaments, Psalms and Proverbs. It helped during the dull temple plans and censuses that historically killed my desire to plow through the rest of the Old Testament.

Honestly, there’s a bunch of things in the Bible that really bother me. I don’t like war. I don’t like violence. Unnatural things like giants and two- or four-faced angels creep me out, and it’s uncomfortable to think about visions, speaking in tongues and demons. I get bored with the prophets’ repetition about destruction and the end of the world.

But after reading its entirety, I realized a few things: sometimes bloodshed and fire are necessary for healing and growth; it’s good to get uncomfortable and rediscover God’s authority over the realness of dark power; repetition is best for understanding and action.

We’ve been attending a church that convicts and equips us to be salt and light in the world. It’s what we’ve been looking for and needed. Our family loves people from various backgrounds, and we’ve felt anger, fear and confusion just like everyone else during these last 100 days.

We choose to be authentic in our faith regardless of environment or context. This doesn’t mean I will shake my finger; it’s not my job to be judgmental in that way. Nor does it make much of an impact. Instead, I choose to live authentically like Jesus – who at times DID approach and command – but for the most part, influenced lives just by being him. And loving people, regardless of background. But, you know what? I’m still learning how to do this.

SO,

Here’s what I’m working on for this next year:
Get out and be active in the community. Serve. Be kind. Get to know someone unlike me and be educated. Build relationships and bridges. And don’t be afraid to speak up when the Holy Spirit gives an opportunity among a friend or neighbor to talk about faith or beliefs.

This good spot I’m in right now won’t last forever, but I believe it’s a grace period given so that I can prepare for any rough times ahead.

For now, I readily welcome the mid-thirties, and I feel great!

Posted: May 9th, 2017
Categories: Leah
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A Summer of Firsts, or It’s Good to be 5

Much has happened in the last 8+ weeks, including several first-time experiences for our growing kid. As my mom has said in response to Wesley’s reports, “it’s pretty good to be five.”

First (Minor) Celebrity Encounter
27797142723_96e0d03001_kWe participated in the summer reading program at our local library, and one of the prizes Wesley earned was a voucher for tickets to an Indianapolis Indians game. Library Night happened to be held on his actual birthday, and we scored some front-row free seats right behind the bullpen for the opposing team.

The pitcher sitting directly in front of Wes was Elvis Araujo (Lehigh Valley IronPigs / Phillies). He kept glancing back and winking at our fidgety son. It might have been the “I’m 5 Today” sticker badge that looked very worn from the day’s activities, or it might have just been because he’s a nice guy: Mr. Araujo turned around, smiled, and gave Wes the baseball he was practicing with. Wes lit up.

Wes ended up getting too unruly and fidgety for our cool seats, so we packed up our Monday Night Dollar Menu hotdogs, popcorn and cracker jack and headed to the lawn seats to stretch out.

Instead of watching the game, Wes ran around and threw his new baseball, and eventually Steven joined in. Their game of catch was so wild that they lost the baseball to the fenced in area around the scoreboard – which eventually featured Wes in lights for his birthday!

It took some coaxing via social media to get a staff member to help us retrieve the baseball and turn Wesley’s frown into an exhausted birthday smile.

First Chewing Gum
My sister started a tradition with my niece and nephews: once they turned five, they had access to big-kid perks – bubble gum and soda. Why not ride on the band wagon? We aren’t big soda/coke/pop drinkers in this house, and Wes wasn’t impressed with sparkling water. But THIS:


First Booster Seat
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His Diono car seat is built to last up to 100 lbs, and it’s solid. Supposedly you can remove the 5-point harness straps by following the manual diagram, but I ended up having to CUT it off because it was so sturdy. Whoops. Guess it’s a good thing we’re not backtracking!

It’s a small change, but he does feel big. I mean, look at the size of him!

First Time Off Training Wheels
He and Steven practiced off and on for a week. It started with, “I think I want to take off the training wheels,” and accelerated from there. We can now take our evening walks with the bike (although it does require a little more time because of the occasional fall).

We finally invested in knee and elbow pads to address some of those battle wounds.

First Bad Haircut
Two failed attempts to get an appointment at our typical kids’ haircut place resulted in a last-minute rush to a cheap salon near our house that doesn’t specialize in kids’ cuts. I figured they’d know what I meant by “all-around trim” when glancing at Wesley’s moppy hair. While he was hamming it up with the stylist (I was pretty entertained by overhearing his offbeat humor and engaging conversation), I waited in the designated area. Truthfully, when combed and wet, it looked fine. We paid and left for home.

At dinner, his hair started to dry and looked…moppy. Steven said, “Did ya get a haircut? Because it looks the same.” At first I thought he was joking that we should go back to fix it. Being the apologist, I tried to find an excuse for the stylist but was unsuccessful. Steven went outside to finish yard work, and Wes and I went back to the salon 30 minutes before it closed.

They were surprised to see us. I asked them to trim it shorter, and they did. A LOT shorter. Wes continued to be snarky with the stylist, but there was a slight panicky tone in his voice: “What are you doing?” “What does my hair look like?!”

In what seemed like ages, he hopped down from the chair. He had the 5-year-old decency to wait until we were in the parking lot to announce “that was the worst haircut ever.” I thought he was still on his joke-kick, but nope. He really hated it.

I started to chuckle about the last few hours. “It’s only hair; it will grow back, Bud.” I couldn’t stop giggling. Once home, Steven got in on the fun-tease, and while still slightly annoyed, Wes started to laugh back. He had so many hair snippings all over him that a shower before bedtime was necessary. Bubbles everywhere; family laughter; short, short hair.

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First Tennis Lesson
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When t-ball lessons ended, we asked Wes if he wanted to try a new sport this fall. “Maybe tennis!”

His answer thrilled Steven, so I found an opening with the area National Junior Tennis League. I mentioned the affordable cost to our Reynolds friends, and they signed up Beatrice! They had their first lesson last weekend, and it was pretty adorable.

Wes now wants to play tennis with Steven nearly every evening on the street in front of our house.

First Goodbye, Hello, New School
IMG_4342Because his Prep-K class at a different school doesn’t start until the end of August, we are in a weird limbo period. At his current preschool/daycare, the kids transitioned classrooms, so he had to say goodbye to his favorite teacher, Miss Kelly, and join a temporary class (Sunflowers!) for a couple weeks.

Earlier this year, Steven and I made the decision to wait for Kindergarten. He’s probably very ready for Kindergarten based on his daily experience in the classroom, but we felt like it was a unanimous hesitation, and why push it? He’s our only kid!

The same private school I attended as a kid offers a Prep-K class for those in his age bracket – in fact, the age cut off for Kindergarten is 5 by June 30 (his bday is in July). This means he won’t be the only 5-year-old in his class! We’re excited to experience a “real” school environment this year – complete with breaks, after school care and lunchboxes.

He attended a practice Round Up Day earlier this week to visit classrooms, the library and meet teachers. Another few orientations are down the pipe line (is it normal to receive emails nearly every other day from schools as a new family?!), and then class officially starts in 2 weeks. He can’t wait.

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With all these other “firsts,” I’m kinda glad I don’t have to adjust to Kindergarten Mom just yet.

Posted: August 10th, 2016
Categories: Leah
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O Canada

Things the three of us have commented on regarding the differences between the U.S. and Canada:

  • Washrooms vs Restrooms or Bathrooms
  • “It’s a long, long way from our house.”
  • British spellings of words (centre, colour, realise, etc.)
  • Metric system (although much American radio and TV is available in Ontario, so you still get Fahrenheit and miles)
  • Inexpensive food and goods at museums and attractions (whereas it’s hiked up tremendously in the states!)
  • Poutine craze vs best local burger or pizza
  • Absence of billboards! Instead, there are many inspirational lines of advice along the road.
  • Lots of honking drivers
  • Cleanliness, even in public bathrooms
  • Labels and signs in both English and French vs Spanish (I was surprised at how much I could translate with my unused, limited knowledge!)

We’re home now, but the road trip to Ontario was entirely fun. I think we all needed a break, and we were in good spirits throughout the week. Nevermind a mild case of extensor tendonitis, there were lots of smiles, giggles and teasing.

IMG_3525Day 1 (Saturday) – We started on the road around 10 a.m. after packing up our pantry into coolers for snacks along the way. Wes did pretty good; he had very little concept of “a long way,” but he got the hang of it after I compared the timeframe to over a dozen episodes of Octonauts. We were nearly in Detroit when Siri/Google Maps took us on a wide goose chase. A bridge had gone out on our route, and we were redirected into a no trespassing zone within a metal factory. Apparently there is a small ferry nearby, but we didn’t stay to check it out. It was so weird. One minute we were on a residential street with houses all lined up in a row, the next we were surrounded by railroad tracks and barbed wire fences.

Once we finagled our way through the detour, we crossed into Canada and drove through Windsor on 401. Our phones lost signal, so we had to rely on our 2008 TomTom GPS, which we haven’t used in ages. (Sidenote, our TomTom was once stolen, and nearly 2 years after the incident, a police officer recovered it and drove it to our house. I still find this amusing.) It was fun to drive through Canadian countryside, watching the many windmills stretch across the landscape. We stopped at an uber-clean visitor center/rest area and got a map to direct us to Niagara Falls, since TomTom was only mildly trustworthy.

We stayed just north (west?) of the Falls at a shady Hampton Inn next to a giant Buddhist temple, but it was comfortable enough. Dinner that night was at a local bar & grill, where we had our first taste of Canadian fish and chips – a favorite Shattuck travel food. Downtown Niagara Falls, ON, though quaint and lined with lighted arches and a clean playground, is not very “happening.” We felt like the only people around, but it looks like it could be more frequented in the summer months.

Day 2 (Mother’s Day) – Wesley was so disappointed that we didn’t get to swim the night before, so I promised him we would swim in the hotel after breakfast and before heading to Niagara Falls. It was such a sweet morning; we had the pool all to ourselves, and it couldn’t have been more enjoyable to start the day. Wes was terribly excited about the water – it was the first time he’s been in a pool since last August! We packed a picnic lunch (that we didn’t end up eating/having), along with my Mother’s Day cards/gifts, then headed to the car for the Falls.

We parked in a free, off-season spot, which was great, but it was also 3 km (2 miles) away from the main strip. We thought it would be fine to walk because we’d been in the car for so long yesterday, and it was – on the hike down river. Wes took some great photos of our trek, and it was fun to see some the sights easily missed: a stranded boat from the early 1900s, an abandoned power plant, blooming cherry blossoms.

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27027175475_bf1a034c7d_zOf course the first stop was the boat ride into the mist on the Hornblower Cruise (Canada’s version of Maid of the Mist). We’d been talking about this upcoming experience for days, maybe weeks, and Wes was almost as excited as Steven was to get on board. The giddy boys threw on their ponchos and grabbed a spot at the front of the boat. Wes got a little overwhelmed by it all, but he still says it was the best thing about Niagara Falls.

His feet were beginning to ache at this point, and we entered cranky-pants phase. Cranky Wes has trouble listening and following directions, so the rest of the morning was a mix of frustration and elation. The original plan to head back to the car for lunch seemed daunting, so we grabbed a quick bite at Tim Horton’s before completing the Journey Behind the Falls tour – where you get extremely up close (and under and behind!) to the falls and extremely wet.

We did have reservations for dinner at one of the falls-view restaurants, but we opted to head back to the hotel to rest after an exhausting day. But first we had to walk 2 miles back to the car. And then it started to rain. Hahahahahahaha. You can imagine how grateful we were to see our car.

26291575214_e8e21c455e_zSince we were didn’t make it to our planned picnic, I opened up my sweet presents from Wesley in the hotel room before we all took a nap. He beamed with pride at the handmade card and bracelet he worked so hard on for me. So perfect.

Dinner was at a local BBQ place we spotted while in downtown Niagara Falls the night before. I had amazing poutine (a Canadian staple dish of french fries, gravy and cheese curds. It sounds gross, but it’s really good. I first became a fan when we visited family in upstate New York several years ago.), which I gobbled up after our fun, long day. Wes got a second wind of energy, so I suggested we drive by the falls at night to get a different perspective. It really was a Mother’s Day for the books. I love these guys.

Day 3 – Toronto day! It’s only a couple hours’ drive from Niagara Falls, and because the route hugs Lake Ontario, it was really fun to site watch: American businesses intermixed with names we’d never heard of, fruit trees of all sorts, street signs in both English and French. I could hear Wes taking a bunch of photos from the back seat of the car.

We had rented an Airbnb in the heart of downtown Toronto, but the instructions for checking in were vague. We ended up waiting an hour at a metered parking space before meeting with the condo owner/host, who then hopped into our car to direct us into the maze of her parking garage beneath the building. The process was strange and so was she, but the place was perfect for us. Giant windows overlooking Lake Ontario and the Toronto Islands allowed us to watch every kind of transportation go by: airplanes landing at the small island airport, sailboats racing each other, streetcars on cables, trains transporting thousands of commuters. Wes was stoked and asked to take our photos in front of the city with his camera.

BACKLIT ON A CHEAP CAMERAAA

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Later, we walked to the ferry dock. Wes complained about pain on the top of his feet from yesterday’s walking, but we thought we’d have a shorter amount of walking to do today – ferry (sitting) and bicycle (rented from island). It was a longer walk to the dock than expected, and we took turns carrying our 40 lb guy…whew.

26856931571_261746b2b4_zLots of locals bring their bikes on the ferry to explore the islands. We enjoyed the short ride and the view of the city from the water. During the summer, a children’s amusement park and petting zoo is open on Centre Island. We headed there first, knowing it would be closed, but we were able to find some roaming peacocks on the property. The island is basically a giant state park. It’s very clean and welcoming, with signs everywhere requesting people to “Please Walk on the Grass.”

On our hunt to find a bicycle (I was starting to give up at this point; poor Wes and his feet!), we discovered a pirate ship, multiple playgrounds and a long pier. The wind made it a chilly 50-ish degrees, but the sun was out, and the views were incredible.

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Back at the condo, I helped a wobbling little kid rest on the couch while I rubbed his sore foot muscles and Googled for tendonitis remedies. He thought it all very entertaining. We watched hockey before retiring for the night.

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The boys went on to bed, but I enjoyed a few minutes watching the downtown lights and reflecting on the past year before celebrating my birthday the next day.

Day 4 (Leah’s birthday) – I woke up to all kinds of nice words and hugs. “Mama, I’m so, so glad that you’re my mom. It’s your birthday!” After a thorough inspection of the sore feet, we determined that they had healed enough to endure a walking tour around the world through Toronto’s various neighborhoods. We started off in Chinatown and worked our way through Kensington Market, where we had yummy local food (and picked up a discounted Mother’s Day cake for my birthday dessert later), and on toward Little Italy for Wesley’s first cannoli. I think he liked it.

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I rubbed his tired little feet back at the condo before we crashed hard for the rest of the afternoon. We had a big night ahead to prepare for.

26875610721_597a6e41d5_z (1)Thankfully our walk to the CN Tower was only a few blocks away, and because it was a Tuesday evening, it wasn’t crowded at all. We rode a glass elevator to the “top” (the viewing area is actually toward the middle of its height, but the view is still impressive) of the country’s tallest building and sat down for a 3-course dinner in the tower’s revolving restaurant.

We had a great time pointing out sites seen and recognized – especially along the lake. After our dinner, we walked down a few flights to watch the sunset and experience Wesley’s favorite thing ever: the glass floor.

We came back well past bedtime to eat cake, because why not add more fun to an already fun day? And it ended the best way: with extra hugs and kisses from my loving family. “Mama, I’m so happy it’s your birthday.”

Day 5 – The reason why we picked Ontario for our vacation destination and at this time of year is because Steven’s business sponsored a 1-day donor retention conference held in Toronto. While he attended the conference, Wes and I ventured to the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada.

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Yes, I know of his love of sea creatures and the Octonauts, but I’ve never seen him so mesmerized. He loved watching the fish and sea animals, and he equally loved playing in the indoor playspace built to knock out extra kid energy. We toured the museum twice and spend 3 solid hours there.

We found Nemo and Dory! We saw his favorites: several different types of jellyfish and sharks. Many of them.

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It’s another great venue for people watching. Toronto is the most ethnically diverse city I’ve ever visited, and it was most evident in the school groups on field trips that day. Kids of all different skin and hair colors, faiths and dress – playing together. I loved it.

Wes had expressed his interest in riding a streetcar for the last few days, so when Steven asked us to meet him later at the convention’s after party, we embarked on an adventure with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). First we walked to the streetcar station across the street from the condo, but there was no way to purchase a ticket or token there. Google told me that we had to purchase fares at Union Station, which was a 20-minute walk away, and Wes’ feet couldn’t possibly handle that. I finally found a convenience store within a large professional building that sold tokens. After trying to explain what we wanted to do to the clerk, who looked at us like total foreigners, we headed back the way we came. The tokens are smaller than dimes, and it ALMOST got lost within my wallet of change because Canadians like to give $1 and $2 CA coin change instead of dollars, but we managed to hop on.

The TTC stop by our condo is one of the first before heading north, and we quickly realized that our timing was terrible – it was the evening rush hour. People crammed into the car like sardines, and of course we got stuck in an area where someone had spewed their lunch of chicken noodle soup. After an unpleasant 15-minute ride, we made it to the restaurant. Wes still thinks the streetcar trip was worth it, even if it wasn’t quite the magical experience he dreamed about.

The three of us walked through University of Toronto campus and spotting a local pizza joint for a quick dinner.

Day 6 – The morning was a little crazy because, since we were living like locals with Airbnb, the condo management company didn’t exclude our car from mandatory evacuation for a garage floor powerwash. We had to move the car by 8 a.m. What luck, huh? It was even better when we got stuck in Toronto rush hour traffic for an hour. Lucky for us, there’s a Tim Horton’s donut and coffee shop in any direction you look, similar to Starbucks here, which does help to soften the blow a little.

We drove another few hours west and stopped in Sarnia and Port Edward, which is the southernmost point of Lake Huron on the I-69 Michigan/Ontario border. We stretched our legs and snapped some pics before cleverly using up the remaining Canadian cash on gas (to the exact cent!). We crossed back into the US and drove through rainy weather until home.

Screenshot 2016-05-15 at 10.49.48 PMThe guys did well this trip, but they both have bouts of homesickness, and they were so grateful to roll into our garage. Before bedtime, we played a round of Candy Land at the kitchen table while eating popcorn and listening to music.

“Mama, I really liked our vacation, but I love, love, love our house.”

Check out the full album of photos here, and Wesley’s unique camera shots here.

Posted: May 15th, 2016
Categories: Leah
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Birthday Eve

I know I should be heading to bed right now, but perhaps I’m still awake because I’m sitting in a quiet living room in downtown Toronto, listening to my littlest snore peacefully and my handsomest ruffle the bedcovers, while I have this view:

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Or maybe it’s just because it’s the eve of my birthday, and I tend to reflect about the past year and the one ahead during the last few pre-birthday hours. Probably both.

It’s Year 33, the same age that Jesus died after 3 years of ministry. I remember vividly thinking/worrying about this during my 30th birthday: How can I live well for others in his honor and glory? And now: Did I accomplish much in 3 years?

I know I can’t change the world, but I can give time, kindness and love to others. Last year was difficult, and I soaked up wonderful time with my immediate family. Steven and Wes give me encouragement and strength to conquer anything. Their support gave me the desire to “pay-it-forward.” In January, I made a commitment to be more present for the people in my life. I’ve enjoyed going to recitals and birthday parties and regularly meeting up with friends. I’ve made an effort to carve out time to address even the smallest needs at work and at home, and it’s made me feel needed and valued.

And while I still struggle with occasional feelings of insecurity and self-doubt, they have developed into more consistent feelings of assurance, trust and faith.

I feel confident in my profession and career.
I am comfortable in my skin and appearance.
I dearly love my husband and son, and we’re close.
I trust God for the direction of our lives.

Yes, I can always be a better wife, parent, family member, friend or coworker. I know I still have much growth and life ahead of me, but today – in Toronto with my loved ones – I feel like I can take on the next year.

(These sillies are the best things.)

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Posted: May 9th, 2016
Categories: Leah
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(500) Seconds* of Summer

*8.3333 minutes

I’d love to say that we spent a fantastic summer visiting the beach or picking up new hobbies. But truthfully, it’s been a hot mess. That’s not to say we haven’t enjoyed family time, birthdays, anniversaries or our home adjustment. I just feel like I blinked (or sweat) it all away.

Here’s the last 6 weeks in a nutshell.

Wesley’s birthday:
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T-Ball practices:
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Yardwork:
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Painting the Dining Room, Entry and Stairwell:
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See those frames in the dining room? To remember our first home, I pressed and framed a few clippings from our former garden.

Multiple trips to home improvement stores:

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Indiana State Fair:
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Visiting family:
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Lots of grandparents and cousins and Grandma’s new condo pool.

8th Wedding Anniversary (on the same day we sold/closed on the old house):
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Fondue takes forever to eat, especially after a long and draining day of house closing.

Family time:
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Wes made mac n’ cheese! He learned chess! (Look at that crazy wall in the background before it was painted!) Jake loves sitting at the dinner table, and that might be my favorite photo of the summer! Ice cream for ages!

Lounging, in between everything else:
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Summer Projects:
List old house on the market
Stage old house for showings

Old house upkeep and maintenance
Repair rear fence (TABLED: Maybe it’s a spring project…)
Remove wallpaper: Entry/Stairwell

Remove wallpaper: Family Room
Remove wallpaper: Dining Room – in progress
Remove wallpaper: 1/2 Bath (TABLED: Steven has hinted enough that he actually likes the wallpaper!)
Remove wallpaper: 3rd Bedroom – in progress
Weeding & landscaping – in progress
Paint grout in entry
Paint: Master + Bath, Entry/Stairwell, Dining Room, Family Room
Buy dehumidifier for basement
Additional runner for upstairs hallway
Sofa slipcover in Living Room (TABLED: I’ve had enough people tell me it’s endearing to see Grandma’s old sleeper sofa in all its 1995 patterned glory. It will stay for now.)
Replace entry light fixture
Replace toilet seat in Master Bath
Remove bee nests on front porch
Poison ivy removal
Recover kitchen banquettes

Here’s what I’ve learned this summer:
1) I wore my hair in a ponytail every day.
2) I am spoiled to think that a vacation=summer. Look what fun we did have!
3) I miss painting canvases. A few times I was able to tear myself away from “being productive” and have started a different sort of anniversary collage painting.
4) I underestimated our ability to pack up and move on so smoothly. No, not that it wasn’t hard to physically move and get settled, but we haven’t been sappy or remorseful over our decisions.

And now, look at this giant boy who started PreK-4! Trudging onward.
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Posted: August 28th, 2015
Categories: Leah
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Aging Beauty

I am not old. I don’t even look my actual age. However, my body is starting to show its wear and tear, but you know what? I love the changes.Screenshot

As a child I looked forward to turning two different ages: 25 (because supposedly you have access to everything and all your life in front of you) and 32 (because that was the year I had thought I would get married and start a family). Twenty-five was a good year: I was in my first job and second year of marriage – even though my 15-year-old self would likely scoff at the idea of being married at that point (I was supposed to be CAREER-DRIVEN!). We had bought a house the year before and were making it our own. We met new friends and neighbors and hung out, and life was great.

And now I’ve reached my other proclaimed milestone year, but I already have a ring on my finger AND a child. (Scoff!) What has 32 brought me instead?

  • My first age spot! I have one on my right cheek bone, and I’m pretty proud of it.
  • Poor acne problems. Please tell me I don’t need to take Accutane again.
  • Two new face moles. In fact, one of them was formerly a zit. Did you know that could happen?
  • A reason to trim nose hairs.
  • Finicky eyes. No more extended contact lens wearing. And I have to change them every month or it feels something terrible.
  • Spider veins. Oh joy!
  • Permanent forehead creases from years of making silly faces and being surprised.

Even though the list isn’t glamorous, I feel great. I spent my birthday a few weeks ago feeling wonderful. I’m proud of where I’ve been to make it to present day, even on those particular days where I feel tempted to splurge on wrinkle cream or night cream or some other cream that doesn’t hold up to its promises. I like my buggy eyes and my thin upper lip and my big teeth and nostrils. And yes, I can even sorta like my pale skin.

I like my aging face because it’s the one that gets my husband’s attention and my son’s touches/smudges. I love the way they look at me; the way they tell me and show me I’m beautiful. It makes it easy to believe them.

Posted: May 27th, 2015
Categories: Leah
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Hi, I’m the mother of a 2-year-old

553411_10101310920726358_640745322_nI have been a blogging slacker. I blame it all on the fact that Wes is now two. Not that he’s super busy or a maniac or keeps us up all night, but – I am enjoying him as a little person. Watching him learn new words and begin to understand his world is fascinating.

“Ready? Go!”

“Hi Mama, Daddy.”

“Lucy, potty!”

“ABCDEFG. H. Poo, ick, J.”

We had his two-year-old check up last week. At nearly 30 lbs and 60th percentile for height, he has/had just about 30 words and 60 unidentified phrases/indecipherable mumbling in his vocabulary. Actually, this current week he has been mimicking almost everything we say to him. I think he’s mastered 30-60 words overnight. His ridiculous hair is probably also 30-60″ long, on that note.

So, during my blogging absence, I was featured in the Indianapolis Star regarding my milestone celebration. It was also on usatoday.com, if you can believe it. (Click here for article.)

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Steven became VP of Marketing at Bloomerang, and has been a killer asset to the team there.

Mom and Dad’s new-to-them pontoon boat was finally launched into the water. After the dam broke during the Flood of 2008, their lake has been waterless every summer until now. We have enjoyed being on the water in the “but” (Wes’ word for boat).

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And July has been a month of celebrating. We hosted a birthday party for family and neighbor friends in the park (by the way, great idea. You don’t have to clean your own house!) and went swimming.

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A week later, we spent the morning at the Indianapolis Zoo. The Indianapolis Symphonic Orchestra played a concert in the park one evening. Wes loved listening to the live music and picked up on when each movement ended (he cheered and clapped loudly).

And on his actual birthday, we met his bestie Beatrice and mom Julia at Saxony Lake in Fishers. It was great fun.

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Birthday dinner was breakfast with lots of fruit and sausage, his favorites. Uncle Tyson joined us.

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I just love the above photos. He really seemed to understand that the day was to celebrate him, and he had this amazing look of sincere delight. Precious.

And the next night we ventured over to the Indianapolis Speedrome for the first time. Cars. Loud noises. Vrrrrroooom. It was pretty much a little boy’s heaven.

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He looks so serious in these photos. Soon after, he was cheering and waving his arms like the flag holders.

There’s actually way too many good photos to post from the last few months. Wes is always mumbling something funny or getting off balance or attempting something new. He’s like a walking photo opportunity.

I just love our little guy. He has provided so much happiness in our household, and it’s made me love Steven in a completely new way. He’s a fantastic dad. He makes a great trampoline and rough-and-tumble partner for little limbs. He’ll read a million books to Wes in one sitting and produce a thousand toddler giggles with his silly antics. I’m smitten with our family.

Forgive me while I enjoy a few more summer weeks of possible blogging hiatus with this crazy toddler kid.

Posted: July 28th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Day 365+

One year! Crazy.

The week was a true birthday marathon. We got to celebrate Wesley’s life with so many friends and family. It was perfect. And I came to the realization of several things:

Wes is not a fan of cake. It’s too sticky, slimy and weird.

Wes may love wrapping paper more than the present inside.

Opening presents on his actual birthday

Wes has a pretty amazing, loving & funny family. (And even has Indian “parents” who came to celebrate his birth!)

Leah’s family with the Lalls at Wes’ birthday dinner

Shattuck-Attack!

Goofy relatives

We have some “cool” friends.

Muhammad, what what

Jacobs finding some shade

Did you get it? haha

A city-wide water ban is no fun for kids.

Wes and his cousin Anna testing out the water table

Bebe approves!

And our friends are talented artists.

Party attendees predict Wes’ future in a fun board book

I’m sad that I didn’t bring out the camera until later, so I didn’t get photos of the fondue, decorations and cake. Or all the kids playing in the baby pools and water splashing everywhere. But you can certainly see how many people love this little guy. And all that DEAD GRASS.

It was a super fun week. My little boy, who is now in the 75th percentile for weight (he keeps dropping!) and 50th for height, isn’t so little anymore. And you know what? I like it. I’m okay with that. I’m excited to experience his growth into toddlerhood. Let there be many more birthday celebrations! (But maybe not quite this big.)

Click here to see his Month 12 photos.

Posted: July 22nd, 2012
Categories: Leah
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Birth-Mother’s Day

Usually I hate this time of year. While I’m sure my mother was ecstatic to birth me within 3 days of Mother’s Day, I’ve always been slightly more irritable right around my birthday because I knew that one day I would lose a holiday. Today is Mother’s Day, and I’ve been surprised at how many people have wished me a Happy One myself. And you know what? It’s been a wonderful day.

Waffle lunch with Mom & Dad led into a very productive day of yard work and house cleaning. While I was nesting, I felt the baby move and switch positions countless times. I wish I could accurately describe what he feels like to Steven. There’s just no words to describe the movements and flutterings that happen within me.

I think I’m finally getting over those irritations. Yes, I’m sure I will have a morphed celebratory birthday/Mother’s Day once Wes and (hopefully other) kids are older, but I’m getting over it. Tomorrow I’m extending Mother’s Day with my sister, mom, niece and nephew as we travel to visit my grandparents on my day off work. Following tomorrow is my actual birthday. Reflecting back, I love the fact that I can easily spend time with my relatives and family. There are many who are unable to get together as often as we do – or that don’t want to get together – and these back-to-back celebrations are ones that I cherish.

Next year will be quite different. I’m enjoying my last holidays without a baby on my hip, but I know I won’t trade it for the world once Wesley is in our lives. Only 10 weeks remain.

Posted: May 8th, 2011
Categories: Leah
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Comments: 1 Comment.


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