Monday, April 29, 2019

Louisa Jane, Age 8

Happy 8th birthday, Louisa! You have such a lovely heart. The confidence that was evident in you at an early age continues to carry you through life. This year, Dad and I have enjoyed watching you catch the reading bug. If you didn't have younger siblings that need more sleep than you, it would be hard to tell you to turn your light out at night. As someone who has a hard time getting sucked into a book, I really admire the way you can, and do. I think you get that admirable trait from your dad, who got it from his mom, your oma!

This year on your birthday, we signed up for a mini-photoshoot with a photographer in Madison who asked Briar Loft make flower crowns for mother/daughter mini-sessions. What a fun thing to do together (as the snow came down outside) the day before your birthday! Despite your love of all things silly, I was surprised to see that, in front of a stranger-photographer, you were a bit reserved. I'm afraid you get that from me!

You and Belle Mere make wonderful birthday twins. The sweet grey romper you're wearing in the photo below was part of your birthday gift from Belle and Papa. The other part was a white board, which you immediately used to draw a calendar. As I type, (a few month late, I'll admit) your white board says Notes to Self: 1) Write script 2) Practice piano. I adore how much you love calendars, lists and drawing/writing and I can't wait to see how these interests show up in your future career.

The gift with pink and gold paper near your cake is your first digital camera from Dad and me. Oh the joy it brought you! It's pretty clear that while you like toys, you really love grown up gifts. Speaking of grown up gifts, I don't know many 8-year olds that want a loom for their birthday. Oma has taught you all sorts of textile art skills and it's very cool to see you curled up in the brown chair in our living room either knitting or reading.

Oma's poppyseed angel food cake with lemon curd is still your favorite dessert. 

You're a gem, Lou Bear! I'm not totally sure how we got so lucky to have you as our firstborn. We're proud of you and we love you. Keep up your silliness and love of art, acting, music, reading, family, and friends.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

She's Six!

Cora. Cora Bean. Bean Bean. Happy birthday, dear girl! It's hard to believe you just turned six. Your imagination is incredible, and paired with your creativity, you could play in any art studio forever. This year for your birthday, we didn't buy you any toys and I was a little bit nervous that you'd feel disappointed. You weren't! Instead, you were excited about a handlebar bag for your green Trek, a new turquoise spring jacket, purple shoes and a winter hat. You confidently got your ears pierced without a flinch and, without your reminders, I would forget to clean your new piercings altogether. 

One of my favorite things about you this year is how affectionate yet not clingy you are when I come to help in your classroom on Tuesdays. At first it was hard for you to let me leave, but as we near the end of kindergarten, you sweetly hug me and send me on my way, before heading to the playground for recess. 

Given the choice between hot lunch once per week or chocolate milk to accompany the lunch Dad packs for you, you choose the milk. This morning you didn't want to go to school because your good friend Hollis is in Egypt for "a really long time" so you don't have anyone to sit next to. I gently reminded you that you have lots of other good friends in your class and helped you pick your clothes, and you were set.

This year, you chose Lucky Charms for your birthday cereal and chocolate cake with green frosting (for the animals to graze in) for your birthday dessert. Two days later, you got to blow out candles a second time, with Aunt Georgia, whose birthday is only two days after yours!

A sunny day for a hike in Cross Plains
Snuggles with Papa

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Spring Break 2019

The week before the kids' spring break this year, Nate was in San Diego running some test rides for a new e-bike that he was working on. The night before he was due to come home, we were both thinking of a mini-adventure with the kids once he returned. I love it when we're in sync like this!

Not that we doubted, but our kids are at the perfect age for Chicago's great museums. On Monday we explored the Shedd Aquarium, which was my personal favorite. It reminded me of my passion for dolphins when I was younger. I always thought I'd become a marine biologist, until sometime in my teens when I realized that I actually am afraid of fish. Irrational, I know, just like my fear of worms, but it is what it is.

On day two, we went to the the Field Museum in the morning, where the kids were able to indulge their fascination with mummies. So many questions, especially from Peter! We'll have to return someday when they all can read for themselves. A highlight from the Field Museum was meeting Sue the T. Rex. She is the largest t-rex skeleton found and also the most complete (90%). She was discovered by a woman named Sue Hendrickson in 1990 in South Dakota. Nate also learned about the origin of the name of one of his favorite beers.

In the afternoon, we explored the Planetarium, which was equally engaging for all three kids. It was pretty cool to learn that our Madison Children's Museum membership hooks us up with free admission to the Field Museum and the Planetarium. The temporary exhibits, movies and planetarium shows are extra, but it's still a pretty cool perk that I just recently learned about.

The craziest thing I learned during our museum visits is how quickly species are becoming extinct. Apparently the normal rate of extinction is one species every four years, but today, species are going extinct at a rate of 30,000 per year, which is 82 species every day. Learning this mostly overwhelms me and makes me sigh and think this problem is beyond me. My prayer is that I won't just avoid confronting this knowledge as an inconvenient truth, but instead try to educate myself and my kids about what we can do. Do you have ideas? I'm all ears!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Peter, You're Four!

As you may have noticed, I've been less inclined to blog lately. One main reason why is that my work has transitioned from a nine-to-five job to a couple of whenever-you-can jobs. I don't mind this transition, but it does leave me less interested in spending time at the computer in the evenings, when I would typically feel inspired to blog. But as someone once said, a blog is a great record of memories, especially for my kids to read someday. So that simple reminder is my new inspiration - to at least get a short post published for the big events that we don't want to forget.

With that, a back-post to say HAPPY 4TH BIRTHDAY Peter! I would have capitalized your name too, except you really don't like that. "Not my capital name!" you say. I love how attentive you are to small details like this. I love that you like to order things (pumpkins, cans of paint) just so. It's been a long time since you threw a fit about bedtime songs or how we sliced a banana. Perhaps it's because we have quite a routine at bedtime. First, ABCs, with you singing the P, E, T and R while I sing the rest. Next comes twinkle twinkle little star, and finally, a made up song - a request you come up with on the spot after I pray - usually about something that made you happy that day. Today it was about Musicville - the musical you performed with the other students at Eastside Lutheran tonight. We loved hearing you sing and do jazz hands to Getting Ready for the Festival Tonight.

We adore how much you like to listen to classical music and books about trucks, animals or composers that "died a long time ago." Your love for classical music is no doubt influenced by Mary Shin, a violin graduate student who has been living with us since August. She tells people that you are her best friend in Madison. Your love for Mary is beyond sweet.

Nice writing, bud!
As you near the end of your school year at Eastside Lutheran, we're glad that you've tired of fighting going to school. I'm thinking that's because you actually enjoy it, but taking after your parents, it can be hard to get up and going in the morning. I don't blame you for preferring to stay in your pajamas. If all goes as planned, you'll have one more year of this luxury, since you were placed in the afternoon 4K class at the girls' school.

You love Mary in part because she lets you go to Olbrich Gardens in your pajamas!
Thanks for being such a fun-loving guy. You may be stubborn at times, but we're confident that this will come in handy someday, helping you to stand up for things you believe in.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Kitchen Magic

Nate and I have a running joke (that I've probably mentioned before) that when we finally finish a house project, we stop appreciating the finished product pretty quickly, because it looks how it should have looked all along. Regardless, I'm THRILLED to have cabinet doors and drawer fronts in place. Seeing these pictures from January 19, I'm pretty proud of myself for not going bonkers living without doors for 2.5 years. They look so good, Nate. Way to pull off the vision we searched Pinterest for in 2015.

Here are the 'bonkers inducing' before photos, to help you appreciate the transition:

And now, drumroll please...the after photos that bring me lots of warm fuzzies and peace:

We ordered glass for the open cabinet doors, so that should be in soon, but otherwise, the kitchen is DONE. Now the only project left is the fireplace mantel and built-in bookshelves on either side of the fireplace. You're earning your keep around here, Nate Bosscher! SWAK.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Beautiful Blessings

Since my last post in September, we've settled into a routine that feels good. Peter and I are home together on Mondays and Wednesdays, while I keep the household running (somewhat) smoothly and work to coordinate communications for Geneva Campus Church. Peter loves his new school, Eastside Lutheran, where he goes Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. While hearing about St. Bernard's closure two weeks before school was starting was stressful, I'm thankful that we were forced to find a different childcare solution. Looking back to February, when I first felt like I needed a change from my job at UW Health, I can see so many ways that God answered prayer:

  • I felt called to take the communication coordinator job at Geneva, but knew that 20-25 hours per week would be too much for our family; God helped the church staff re-write the position to be 10 hours per week instead. 
  • I was worried about leaving the field of nutrition completely; God sent Marcy, a co-worker from 2010, to ask me if I wanted to take 8-20 hours/wk of her job at University Health Services. 
  • I was tempted to take on 18 hours in order to get health insurance for our family even though I knew that might be too much; God arranged a "Graduate-Program/temporary appointment" that makes me eligible for benefits at 10 hours per week...for the next two years!
  • I wondered if it was good to have Peter in preschool full-time at St. B's, but it was only $30 more per month to enroll him in full time care instead of the three days I'd be working; God led us to Eastside Lutheran and even answered my prayers about using our dependent care FSA that I had set aside for St. Bernard's tuition.
  • My faith was feeling stale and disconnected from the reason for it all, Jesus; God called me into prayer, even if it was for seemingly insignificant life logistics, gave me monthly time with a mentor, Mary Beth, who encouraged me to check out two books: Craving Grace and New Morning Mercies.
Reflecting on answered prayer has reminded me (yet again), how easy it is to ask God for help when I'm desperate - my job is unfulfilling, our daycare is closing, I have interesting new job opportunities but feel completely unsure about the "right" choice or combination. I've come to realize that while God would never intentionally mess things up in my life in order to remind me to seek him, he is always walking next to me, eagerly waiting for me to turn my face towards him and ask for help. 

My top two ongoing prayers now are 1) that I literally crave His grace and mercy, which daily calls me to read God's word and pray earnestly even when things seem to be going well, and 2) that Nate and I are able to understand and provide for Cora's needs, especially on school mornings, when she generally takes longer than Peter and Louisa to "hatch."

I was thinking that I didn't have any related pictures for this post, because I haven't been photographing these answers to prayer, but then I realized that throughout this time of change, beautiful things have been happening, proving to me that I don't have to even know what to ask for, but God will bless, in big and small ways.

This earns a "beautiful things" tag because Peter picked it out, without prompting, and after adding it to his kid cart, asked, "is that cereal called Fruit Loops?"
Cora is spending her kindergarten days perfecting her monkey sketches

Art class is a favorite of Louisa's too

Trying on glasses with Peter was surprisingly fun. He's wearing the winning pair in this photo

Peter ice boating at the Children's Museum. We sent this photo to Papa, to share our love.
Speaking of Papa...10 miles? No problem!

Exploring the hip, new Wharf in southeast D.C. after the Army 10-miler

Radishes from our CSA. I learned from Hello Fresh how to quick-pickle. Even the kids ate them!
The leaves felt especially vibrant and long-lasting this year. And yes, we let Cora wear her pajamas all day whenever she wants to - it helps with faster hatching.

Our troopers on the 3-mile hike to the 8-bunk

Fantastic memories made in the Porcupine Mountains
Ooo la la. Je t'aims our new built-in book shelf!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Hooray for School!

Well, there went the summer! School started yesterday and we're all relieved for the routine that school days bring. I left my job at UW Health back in June, and a couple of days later started working for our church as the Communications Coordinator - about 10 hours per week, from home. During the summer, there were many nice things about this new job. For one, we didn't need much childcare for the kids. I also enjoy the work since it's mostly about getting things organized (volunteers, directory, visitors). The one down side was that I forgot how challenging it is for me to have a "to-do" list and not be able to check things off ASAP. So that meant I was constantly trying to "be present" with my kids, but also feeling this strong pull to take care of my work tasks. If summer was eternal, I would have had to figure out a better solution. But thankfully by the time I was at my wits ends (or staying up until 11:30 pm working), I realized that things were about to change. Enter full-day kindergarten & 2nd grade, 3 days of preschool, and Mary! Hallelujah!

Mary had to be in our first day of school picture since she started her grad classes this week
Mary moved to Madison after graduating from Calvin College for grad school. She is going to be a music ministry intern at Geneva Campus Church and was looking for a low-cost place to live. Mary moved in with us three weeks ago and so far it's been WONDERFUL. She is a very easy house guest - quiet, tidy and eager to help with the kids, dishes and cleaning. She also makes our dinner conversations more interesting and fun, since she doesn't just tell bad knock-knock jokes. Welcome. Mary!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

That's Enough Singing

As a non-singer, meaning, as someone who doesn't sing in a choir or for an audience, I'm really beginning to feel the importance of the silly little kids songs I sing on a daily basis, or the times when a good song comes on in the car (Part of Your World or Eye of the Tiger, for example). Singing out loud just feels good. This afternoon, as Peter struggled to give in to the tiredness overtaking him, I sang three songs, while watching his eyelids intently, praying they would close. The first was Hush Little Baby, which he has always loved. Next, Three Little Birds. And finally, Night Mantra. I repeated this sweet, short song about five times, before Peter (with eyes still open), said, "That's enough singing. I didn't want you to sing that song over and over and over again." I replied, "Okay, will you close your eyes then?" He did. And as I type, they are still closed. Whew.

Rewind to yesterday. I'm trying to get Peter down for his nap before Allison came to babysit. I'm singing his three song requests and after, trying to leave. He wants me to stay. "I have to go get my haircut, Peter. If you go to sleep now, you'll have more time to play with Allison." He looks at my hair and touches my hairline. "Why do you need to take a haircut, Mama? Because it's doing this?" [as he feels my frizzy curls near my temple]. I tell him it's because it's been a while since I had a haircut. He says, "but I want it to keep doing this." Oh, my dear, sweet boy. I hope you always are so sweet to your mama.

Not that we need photos for this memory to live on, but...

I do hear some movement upstairs. I'm sure it's Cora, who is in that gray area of needing a nap. She is so much more level headed and pleasant if she naps 3-4 times per week. The upside to no naps? Falling asleep easily at night. As she prepares for full days of kindergarten this fall, part of me wants to cut the nap cord sooner rather than later. But at the very same time, as a working-from-home-mom, I really don't want to do that. For now we're in a every other day napping situation and it's getting us through.

Cora has been showing her preferred way of receiving love lately: through gifts. If only I was a less frugal mom, it would be so fun to buy her new things all the time! Her and Louisa rejected my idea of watching shows in exchange for chores because they decided it would be more fun to earn prizes. What kind of prizes, you ask? Not my favorite kind. Cheap toys from Target that take them too long to pick. For now, they are earning a stamp on a chart and each stamp will be redeemed for money. Perhaps only 25 cents each, although I'm afraid they may give up on the whole chore thing if they accumulate their allowance too slowly. Cora has her eye on a $15 finger monkey, which would require 60 days of chores. No chores on Sundays, so that's 10 weeks of chores. Probably a bit of a stretch for a 5 year old with less than stellar patience, huh?

She may not be patient or do chores out of duty, but she can be really sweet, offering to share things with Peter to avert a 3-year-old tantrum.

Then there is Louisa, who stopped napping sometime during her 4th year of life. Lou's cheery soul probably didn't need a nap recharge since around age two, but I needed it for another two years. Now she is regularly stretching and flexing her independence muscles - asking to go to the corner grocery store by herself and riding her bike 0.75 miles to her 3 hour play practices. She asked for a digital watch, carries her own library card (in her own purse) and is loving her ultimate frisbee class and tennis lessons.

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