Get Lost

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If you know us at all, you know Mr. Ballard and I like to gallivant to far off places.  It’s been more than three years since our trip to Rome and our Rt 89 National Parks road trip, and we’re both feeling a little wistful about being landlocked.  As a young family, we are trying to focus on finding not so far off places to visit that are within a few hours from here that still make us feel like we got away from it all but aren’t much more of a drive than a good toddler nap.  We would love suggestions of places to go!

This Spring, we have two quick trips.  In February, we will do a weekend in Indy.  We will meet our friends Matt and Alyssa and company for a Saturday morning adventure and then spend the weekend with Tim’s parents and his sister’s family.  It’s easy to write it off because it’s so close to home, but there is so much to do in Indy, or at least I keep hearing about it!  Again, suggestions for things to do (with a toddler and tween) would be super if you have any.  I’m voting for Goose the Market, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, maybe a little Mass Ave exploring, and some laid back hotel and swim time–and that’s all just for me.  Haha!  We’ll see where we end up.

In March it’s Tim’s spring break.  Yay!  Sadly, it does not coincide with his grad school spring break.  We are doing a trip with Matt and Alyssa and their kiddos to the dunes.  We will be staying in a cabin with stables and are going to spend a few days with great conversation, outlet shopping, horse back riding, sand dune hiking (if it isn’t snowing a la the farmers almanac prediction), and spending time on the shores of Lake Michigan for some fresh air.  We’re excited!  They’re always cathartic company for us.

April will be relaxing the first week while Tim is still on break, and then we’ll be in hardcore nesting mode.  Hopefully we will also have some decent weather and spend a lot of time walking and going to the park before we embark on our adventurous summer with a newborn and a one year old.

In May we’re having a baby (or maybe the beginning of June, if I get my way).  Tim goes to DC to be in his Belize buddy’s wedding mid-June.  Good ol’ John!  We’re so happy for him.  Vacation with the whole Garner gang is the last week of July at the lake and there has been some chatter about doing a long weekend at the dunes with Tim’s family, which we’d love to do.  We need to get that on the books!

Next summer we’ll be adventurous enough to fly with two bambini–we’re planning on heading out to the Pacific Northwest to hit up a few of our favorite far away friends.  It will be our first long trip with kids, which is a little daunting.  For this summer, we’re content to explore the state in which we live and we’re betting we will be pleasantly surprised at the beauty we find close to home.  Dish about your favorite Midwestern getaways!  Go.

February: Challenge Yourself

We are wrapping up the last week in January with a bang.  Silas had a little belly bug at the end of last week, and this kid is no stranger to food allergies or bellyaches, so I didn’t think much of it.  Fast forward to Saturday night with Sara, Derek and Dylan here to visit and Mama has the flu.  Fast forward to Sunday night, Tim and Sara have the flu.   We’re just sharing the love…  So this week we will be recovering our bodies (and our messy house) and getting geared up to start a new month.

February is going to be really exciting!  You know why?  Not because of Valentine’s Day (although I LOVE sending Oliver a valentine every year and I LOVE having a reason to be extra gushy and lovey about Silas) but because I am doing two challenges for the whole month.  Ready?

Challenge #1:

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I am doing prenatal yoga a few times a week, but my muscles are feeling a bit soft these days along with the rest of my body.  Enter the 30 Day Squat Challenge, midwife approved.  Yes, you will find me groaning my way through thirty days of lower body work.  I can’t wait!  It’s the part of me that needs the most fitness attention and coincidentally one of the areas that I can work on during pregnancy.  Win win!  Note that there aren’t 30 days in February, so my cohort/Mom and I are starting on January 30th.  Want to join?

 

Challenge #2:

This challenge was initiated by Sara, my sister in law, and boy am I excited about it!  Perhaps a little too excited…  Here are the details from a blog I’ve never seen and will never again miss.  Thanks, Feedly!  (If you follow more than one blog or would like to, try Feedly for organizing them all in one place and putting them in a pretty format for browsing.  Love it!  And no, I don’t get paid for saying that.)  Here are the deets:

“A new month is approaching. Let’s play a little game together.

Find a friend or family member. Someone who’s willing to get rid of some of their excess stuff. This month, each of you must get rid of one thing on the first day of the month. On the second, two things. Three items on the third. So forth, and so on. Anything can go! Clothes, furniture, electronics, tools, decorations, etc. Donate, sell, or trash. Whatever you do, each material possession must be out of your house—and out of your life—by midnight each day.

It’s an easy game at first. However, it starts getting challenging by week two, when you’re both jettisoning more than a dozen items each day. Whoever can keep it going the longest wins. You both win if you can make it all month. Bonus points if you play with more than two people.

Win or lose, we’d love to hear about your game on Twitter or Facebook. #MinsGame

Ready? Go!”

Ok, I can’t even wait.  I have spent the last week making lists in my head (type A, anybody?) about all the things I can’t wait to get rid of.  I consider myself somewhat of a get rid of professional…  We fill the back of a station wagon about once a quarter and donate it to one place or another.  So the fact that I can think of so many things to purge really does indicate that we have way, way, way too much stuff in this house despite my best efforts.  Game on!  And really, doesn’t everyone win?  Methinks yes.

Instead of counting each day, I totaled the weeks so that I can just do a week at a time with one big number in mind.  I think this will help me since it won’t be something I have to think about every day.  The month starts on a Saturday, so the goal for the first week is a measly one item.  But hold your horses, it gets intense.

Week One: 1   Week Two: 35   Week Three: 84   Week Four: 133  Week Five:  153  Total Items: 406 

I’m going to minimize my butt AND my belongings in the same month.  How ’bout that?

“Wordy”

This is just to say that I am having the most writerly, creative spell I’ve had in years and I am stoked about it.  I think it’s a combination of reclaiming my authenticity on the blog, staying home and functioning in that in-the-moment, chaos-steeped, contemplative world of raising a tiny human, and coming out of a rough spell that transcended all areas of our lives this winter.  Or maybe I finally got over Mrs. Clark writing “wordy” (and underlining it) in red on the top my fourth grade essay.

Whatever it is, I can’t stop writing things.  Like I have four posts sitting in my drafts that I’m just waiting to publish and wondering how many people are annoyed at how often I am posting these days.  Be forewarned that for however long it lasts, I will be posting a few times a week.  And I won’t be offended if you unsubscribe because your inbox is crying for mercy.

22 Weeks

We’re wrapping up our 22nd week of pregnancy.  Time is flying!  I had Si at 38 weeks, so it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas the homestretch.  I never understood why pregnancy is measured in trimesters (ok, I know it’s development-based).  I think it’s easier to mentally digest with the passing of 10 week quarters.  I digress.

I went to see my midwife this morning.  I love her.  I’m back up to my pre pregnancy weight as of today. Bambina looks great!  The 20 week ultrasound passed muster with flying colors and I am still feeling wonderful.  By late afternoon I begin to feel pregnant with tired belly muscles from chasing a new walker, but all day long I don’t even feel prego.  I have had a lot of braxton hicks contractions this pregnancy, and they have gotten a lot worse in the evenings as my belly gets bigger and I get busier.

This pregnancy I am craving dairy.  It’s really my only craving.  If you know me at all, you know we eat good cheese, but avoid most all other dairy except on special occasions.  I have always been lactose sensitive, and with Si I had the heartburn of a burly man every time I ate it.  This carried through nursing as well since his reaction to dairy was severe reflux issues that translated to not sleeping.  So not worth it.

Needless to say it creeps me out, but I can’t get enough greek yogurt and string cheese and even organic chocolate milk.  When I mentioned this to my midwife and then proceeded to talk about how I have hives all over my face this pregnancy, she said “Hives from dairy, perhaps?  Lactose sensitivity your whole life…”  Duh.  So we’ll be working on cutting that back a little and see if my itchy face goes away.

Silas is getting ready for the baby, too.  As in he loves the dolly but tries to get in the swing with her.  Haha.  Tim and I have been really intentional about turning everything off and playing on the floor together with him lately.  Maybe this is an effort to preserve just a little snippet of his babyhood, which of course is futile.  But he is so darn sweet and so increasingly hilarious and autonomous.  I want to remember having just one not-so-babyish baby and we are doing our best to make those memories now.

We are also in the middle of weaning, which makes him feel even bigger.  I wanted to nurse him to 14 months, and I was happy that when we actually got to 14 months it still felt right to start weaning.  He was such an early eater of real foods and nearly weaned himself by ten months anyway, but this last round of holiday teething bumped us back into night waking mode.  I’m sure someday I’ll remember the quiet, dark rocking chair time with a baby who wanted nothing more than his mama.  It’s one of the sweetest things I remember over the last year despite lost sleep, crying, a mouth’s worth of teething, and all the other things that come with growing.  I just love him.

Tim and I are feeling pretty good with the start of the new year.  It will be a year of adjustment (again–apparently we like those?).  Life with two kids, learning to like Lafayette, finishing grad school and actually having free time again…  These are all good things.  We are starting the initial round up of baby goods and we even assembled the cradle in the office.  I want to be totally prepared by the time April gets here so that I can relax and enjoy the breaking weather with an already nested nest.

We also picked nursery art and are toying with some nursery projects to make it more sibling friendly space.  Si loves to play up there, but most of the time it’s strewn with clothes or totes or some other in-progress thing.  We will do an updated nursery reveal once we get the new cribs, art hung, and few other projects completed.  It won’t change a whole lot–I’m not painting that thing again!

We’ll just be over here coasting through the rest of second trimester, trying to settle on a name for this kid.  We’re down to a short list, and maybe that’s what it will be until she gets here.  I can’t wait to meet her.

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Our Weekend in Pictures

Our weekend was really productive and relaxing.  Saturday we went out for coffee at six a.m. since Si woke at 5:30.  We spent the day cleaning the whole house, watching the snow fall, playing with Si, and starting to round up a few baby things.  (Yes, the office is still that ugly.  It’s on the list.)

Sunday, Mary Kay and Roger came for an overnight since they had a long weekend.  MK and I perused the baby girl clothes at Target and impulse bought a coat–way fun.  Party foul:  no pictures of MK and Rog.  Football, Target and Thai food.  Great Sunday in our book.  Tim and I escaped for a breakfast date and found an awesome diner!  We really needed that.  We love diner breakfast.

Today I left the boys home and met our Bloomington friend Lyss (and little Layna!) in Indy to visit, drink a beautiful coffee, and borrow some baby things.  I miss her.  Goose the Market in downtown Indy is so amazing!  It feels like Europe–gelato, superb coffee, gourmet cheeses and meats cured in-house, and a huge wine cellar with giant farm tables in the basement.  I was in love!  I can’t wait to take Tim there.

Si’s in this tornado mode where he wants the contents of every cabinet, drawer and basket on the floor.  It’s not the best choice for a kid learning how to walk and it’s a little hard on the parents who reset the house at every nap time.  And so we spent a large part of the early weekend cleaning the house from top to bottom and childproofing the kitchen.  It feels so much better in here!  The house actually stayed pretty clean for an entire weekend.  We’re onto something…

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14 months

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Silas P,

Well, I’m getting a D- for writing you letters every month, but I am keeping up your baby journal. Apparently the goal should be quarterly letters. Nonetheless…

Fourteen months old! In the last month you started walking, got two teeth on the bottom which totals 14 chompers, celebrated three Christmases, and found out you were going to have a little sister. It’s been a big month!

At long last, you like the books that make animal noises when you push the button. You’ve even decided the previously dreaded elephant noise is funny as long as a grown up is nearby. Of course you insist on pushing it and panicking repeatedly when we’re not nearby. You love playing with balls and your stacking/nesting boxes. I love that you started bringing me books and asking to sit in my lap (“more more!”) to read them together! Until now, you have been quite independent about books and would read them on your own but forsake them at the first sign of company. It’s so fun to read them over and over again and watch your face as you know what’s coming next.

We have four more months until your sister arrives. We brought back a baby doll from Honey’s house to practice being gentle. You like to kiss her head, but you really like to honk her nose and bite her fingers. Daddy’s a little worried about the honking, but I know you’ll be so excited to see your little sibling and we will all learn together. You started saying a few two syllable words, including baby. Exciting! You love babies so much–I am anxious to see you as a big (but still very little) brother.

Speaking of words, you have so many! And you understand so many more. You are saying cheese, whoa, more, all done, ball, bonk, baby, thank you, up, down, keekaboo, mama, dada, ding ding ding, choo choo, kitty, drink, cup, again, bath, eat, cracker, and more that I can’t think of. Lots of (largely dutchy) talking! And lots of walking! After four months of standing, you decided New Years Day was a good time to take off for good. You’re very stable! Already getting speedy and trying to play chase on foot. So sweet.  When your sea legs kick in, we know it’s nap time.

You are still fascinated with machine and truck noises, especially firetrucks and the vacuum. I love your playful little spirit–you love to engage a grown up and play hide and seek, chase, or mimic whatever we are doing. You get more fun with each passing month! I love to watch your brain absorb the world, exploring and eating things you should and shouldn’t. You’ve begun bringing me things you know you shouldn’t have (cords, pens, glasses) with an arm outstretched, saying “thank you!” and giving it to mama. You also get your head so far down into the play barn that I’m sure you’ll fall in, all the while saying “THANK you!” while meaning “please help me get these godforsaken creatures out of the bottom of the barn”. It’s very, very cute. And one day soon you WILL fall in, I know it. And it will be cute, too.

Happy fourteen months, little babaloo!  We love you oh so much.

 

Mama and Daddy

Piggy Bank

We are fast approaching the day we have a 14 month old.  We are preparing ourselves for our ever curious tot by reading some positive discipline parenting books and remembering to be grateful that there are two of us to tag team the supervision of the cat food/cords/outlets/pyrex.  Up until now, we did very little planning or reading, but we did make one important decision.  Tim and I decided when Silas was born that we would ask for contributions for his 529 fund for holidays since we got Oliver’s clothes, toys, books, shoes, coats, and everything else a little boy could need (and then some).

But there was another hope involved with the request.  We want our kids to enter adulthood knowing they go with the support of not only us, but our two huge, strong families as well.  We will be able to say “the world is your oyster, kid, and know that we have all been saving our pennies for you and dreaming dreams for you for the last eighteen years in anticipation of all the amazing things you will do”.  What a remarkable gift, right?

We are very grateful and continually surprised by those of you contributing.  In less than fourteen months, this fellow has about $1000 in the college fund.  Amazing!  We will thank you for him since he has no idea what an enormous gift this is.  Truly, thank you.

January: Get it Together

There are two weeks left in January and we are going to make them count.  We’re getting back in a positive groove after the holidays and snow storm.  So far, so good.  Speaking of positive, we had some really meaningful reactions to the last blog post.  Thanks for following and being there when we need you.  The good vibes gave us renewed energy to figure out how to feel more connected here.

And guess what I did.  (I am really proud of myself.)  I actively went outside my comfort zone this week to build community in ways I never have before.  This includes accepting invitations to gatherings I normally would avoid (play dates with several people I don’t know, game nights, and stroller walks in 45 degree weather).  I am also starting my own “2 under 2” mama group at our house on Tuesdays.  Yes, I am actually going to host a social event.  Are you shocked?  Me, too.  (Imagine me with a puffed out chest and a brave look on my face.)  And I can’t even stoop to liquid courage to get me through it.  I also took my friend, Freda, up on her offer to hook us up with the only granola family she knows.  It makes my palms sweat to think about it, but I know it’s something that we need to do and an opportunity that we desperately need at this point.  These are my efforts to find some cool families here until the weather breaks.

Staying home (which some people see as relaxing/lazy/unproductive/not busy) is actually quite hectic with a one year old sidekick (or any others for that matter).  Add this to a personality type that struggles to resist putting emotional and spiritual needs on the back burner for the sake of the to do list and VOILA!  Here I am.

I decided I really need to work on that, so I ordered a new book and joined a virtual book club for Hands Free Mama:  A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters!  which is a book by Rachel Macy Stafford, a Huffington Post parenting blogger.

Hands Free Mama

I am super excited to read it and to engage in some good conversation with virtual strangers.  Get it?  Virtual?  Double entendre.  Boom.  If you’d like to join the book club, check it out: http://creativewithkids.com/not-your-should-mamas-book-group/

I also made a weekly routine to help me structure my days better around the things I really need for any sort of balanced, happy living.  This is what it looks like:

Monday

Prenatal Yoga

Blog/Write

(Tim gone)


Tuesday

@9 Mama group

Wednesday

Prenatal Yoga

@1030 Story Time?

Errands

Thursday

(Tim gone)

Friday

Prenatal Yoga

Date night!

I didn’t include the weekend boxes, but we heard about a few new locavore restuarants this week (Jane’s Gourmet Deli and Serendipity) and are anxious to try them!  We will also be exploring the downtown galleries and shops for leisurely Saturday morning outings in an effort to get to know this city better until the farmers market is open again in May.  All steps in the right direction!  We know nothing about West Lafayette, so we will venture that way as well once we master downtown, which is less than a mile from our house.

Cheers to a fresh start, amazing support systems that are far away, and owning your own happiness.

Snow Day

A little fun with Oliver in the post holiday snow.  Silas liked it, which isn’t apparent at all in the pictures.  Mister chill–by the end he was practically lounging in the baby sled.  Crack me up. 

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Resolve

Part two of this mornings post, delayed courtesy of a waking bambino.

Now that second nap is underway after a brisk outing to the park, it’s a good time to talk about resolutions.  I don’t even know if we made any last year.  This year, we spent New Years Eve as a lot of young parents probably do–on the couch.  We had some good conversation about the year we just wrapped up and the year to come, and for fun we decided to come up with some words to describe how we want the next year to look.  Tim wants to feel settled, connected in the community, and connected to nature.  I want our year to be outdoorsy, active, and intentionally enjoyable.

This pretty much sums up our resolutions this year and the subsequent intention board I made to remind us of these priorities.  We didn’t make an intention board last year and I’m sure it’s not the only reason since we were new parents, but I think it contributed to our year that passed in a constant frazzled, unfocused blur.  I’m hoping that this year we can stay a little more focused and a little more aware of our choices and how they correlate to our happiness and enjoyment.

I was recently told that bloggers’ lives seem perfect, and while it can look that way, try to remember that it’s no different than Facebook or any other medium.  People don’t want to talk about their mistakes or struggles (except those few friends who ONLY want to talk about those things) and that applies to blogging as well.  I also temper what I post because of past reactions from people who follow but don’t know me well.  But another facet of that comes with choosing to focus on the good and positive about life and not focus on the rest of the mess that comes with the learning curve.  So if this blog ever feels “perfect” or “fake”, please, for all our sakes, refer back to this picture.

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This is everyday life for us at the moment, and really this entire winter so far.  There have been tears and lost sleep and days on end spent in a funk.  This is not what we are focusing our energy on perpetuating, so we don’t talk about it on the blog but instead keep the conversations more private.  It doesn’t mean our lives are perfect or that we’re having fun all the time.  Know that we are all on our paths and that every single one of us considers life to be stressful, regardless of our experiences.

Let’s get on to some clear cut resolutions for the year, shall we?

1.  Be an active, outdoorsy family.

This goal is important for us on several levels.  We miss living in the woods and having daily connection to natural beauty.  We miss hiking around and taking walks in wooded places.  Tim and I both feel better when we get regular outdoor exercise, and by better I mean we weigh a little less and feel mentally a hell of a lot better and happier.  This goal was chosen because it will help us lose our baby weight (I’m including Tim’s burrito baby here) while getting us outside and into settings where we will meet other granola families.  The contingency is that we have to wait until the weather breaks for it to be a regular thing, but I did get out today in the 45 degree weather and walk a few miles around the park with Si bundled up.

2.  Explore Lafayette and find places that feel like us.

We still don’t have regular places we hang out or any friends here and we are finding the winter months pretty discouraging on that front.  There isn’t a place or neighborhood where the hippie families hang out here, or at least not that we have found.  We have talked about doing story time as a family on Saturday mornings, but it’s at ten thirty.  We would like to build more community at church, but it’s at ten thirty.  I’d like to go to the La Leche League meetings, but they are at ten fifteen (or from seven to nine at night on Mondays when I am husbandless).  You know what time Silas naps?  Ten to twelve in the morning, give or take a half hour.  When we moved here, we had really made a plan for meeting people and socializing (even though I hate it) and it has still been a constant struggle for us.  It’s been a lonely five months,but life will really open up once Si drops to one nap a day.  Our new game plan is to wait for the weather to break and then force ourselves to be overtly social at the farmers market or on hikes when we see other young families who look like our kind of folk.  If we still feel like this by next Spring, we will reevaluate how and where we want to raise our kids.

3.  Choose to have fun.

This one is important to me.  Here’s what we are finding:  Every day is a struggle to enjoy what little time we have for ourselves. Why is it?  This year, I am choosing to put things on the back burner to set aside time for doing something that makes me happy or brings us enjoyment as a family.  Tim has grad school on top of working away from home and depression on top of that–it’s very hard to get any participation out of him in these windows.  His grad school is done in May (the same week I am due, in fact) and until then, he is going to work on compartmentalizing the long to do lists and unknowns.  We will both choose to enjoy the small windows of time when he is home, Silas is awake and happy, and we have the opportunity to do something enjoyable together.  This will also be a zen exercise while we learn the art of balancing two babies under 18 months while keeping not just our sanity, but our sense of humor in tact.

4.  Enjoy being married.

Marriage is not for sissies. I’ve said it before, and I really mean it now that we have 1.5 children.  The last half of the year has made it hard for us to have conversations and spend happy time together, and this was a combination of nights spent doing grad school homework, adjusting to Tim’s job, me having first trimester nausea and general narcolepsy, Tim falling into the Fall and Winter funk he often has, and trying to get yet another house marginally remodeled before Si’s first birthday.  Grown up conversations have been scarce.  We are reading A Year of Living Consciously together and that’s spurning some good conversation.  I haven’t done it in several years, so it feels new for me, too, which is nice.  We will shoot for reading a book together for a large part of this year.  We have a list but are open to suggestions.  I would like to start doing dates on Sunday afternoons if we can convince Kenzi to come.  Evenings are still hit or miss with Silas sometimes, so I’m much more relaxed going out midday when I know he’s still in good spirits.

5. Write more meaningful things.

I’m not in the business of offending people intentionally, and in the past I have had some mixed reactions about things from people who don’t know me well.  Because of that, I have tempered the content of the blog and it has come to feel more like a boring chronicle of our lives for relatives’ sakes instead of a creative and meaningful outlet and commemoration of our life as we attempt to master the ever intensifying balancing act of everyday life and long term happiness.  This year I will strive for more authenticity in my writing voice, even if it isn’t what people want to hear.  It’s a hard decision for me, but in the end I am keeping the blog so that we can remember our time and I don’t want to remember the version that feels more appropriate at the expense of being less authentic.

So that’s it for our thoughts on 2014.