Monday, December 26, 2011

Stuff Lyds Says

(Warning: Every one of these little gems contains information about body parts. Yes, we use the "real" words with Lydia, and yes, she talks about it. If this makes you uncomfortable or offended, stop now. Thanks!)

To me, during breakfast on Christmas morning:

Lyds: "Sometimes girls have penises."
Me: "Do you know a girl with a penis?"
Lyds: "Yes. Daddy."

To me, while I was pushing her in her stroller to the park:

Lyds: Mommy, we're going to go to a costume party.
Me: Tell me about our costumes.
Lyds: Grandma Marie is going to be a flower. I am going to be a bunny. Daddy is going to be a puppy. You are going to be a vagina.
Me: I don't think I want to be a vagina at the costume party.
Lyds: But I looooove vaginas!!!

To me, while I was showing Robin a picture of the dress I want to wear on my birthday:

Lyds: Mommy, that's not a dress! That's a shirt!

To Robin, at the dinner table:

Lyds: You have a little penis.
Robin: Lydia, that is not a kind thing to say to someone.
Lyds: (Visibly thinking hard) You have a BIG penis.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lydia Learns About Chagall

Who knew Robin has a secret inner art teacher?

-- Post From My iPhone

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

On Loneliness

This summer, when I met one of my new coworkers, she told me that she too had lived far away and moved back to Minnesota after her children were born. Her children are now adolescents, and I was glad to have the perspective of someone who had undertaken the same challenge we were beginning. She said that things would get hard come November or December, and as the snow started to fall today, I realized that things indeed have gotten difficult.

Since we left Minnesota seven and a half years ago, many of the people here whom we love have gotten married, settled into grown friendships, expanded their families, and established their lives as adults. We did all of the same things, but we did them in Austin. We know that all of these people are excited to have us back, but their lives moved on without us and now, we have found it difficult to figure out where we fit in.

In a lot of ways, Robin and I are really lonely, and Lydia misses her friends, too. It has been difficult to determine where the line is--do we continue trying to initiate things with old friends who have busy lives? Do we do what we would do if we had never lived here before and try to establish a new community? How do we do that? In Austin, things happened pretty organically over time. We are so excited to have the opportunity to see people more frequently and on more normal terms, and we know that our friends here feel the same, but the execution of that is dicey, and I often find myself feeling like a pathetic, annoying hound, and that feeling slowly morphs into loneliness.

I worry that I will offend those who have reached out to us--friends with lives as busy as ours. This is a scary post to write, because there have been so many occasions during which we have felt loved--help with childcare, moving, showing up in my barely furnished apartment to give me a much needed emotional boost when Robin and Lydia were out of town, playdate invitations--the list goes on, but if this blog is an honest account of our story as a family rather than a rosy, glossed-over portrayal, this side of the story has to be part of it. The loneliness, the ache for an established social routine has set in, and it's a lot more challenging than I expected.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Family Portraits

Despite the fact that I endure endless teasing for the copious amounts of photos of Lydia that reside in our computer and on the laptop, I have struggled with the lack of family photos we have that include all three of us, as well as a distinct lack of pictures of Lydia and me together. Since we purchased our DSLR, I have been the one that has become far more comfortable with our camera, so I tend to be behind the lens instead of in front of it. As a result, Robin and I decided that this year for Christmas, we would get each other a family portrait session. A fellow graduate of Forest Lake Senior High School, Abbey Steffi, runs a business called Sunlit Photography, and I've been admiring her work for awhile, so we decided to go ahead and book an appointment. Today we met Abbey in downtown Stillwater to take some pictures. The following images were posted on Facebook before we even got home! We're so, so pleased and excited!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Number Three

This weekend, Robin and I began our third move in four months. I have been somewhat vague about our living situation, largely because it has been such a tremendous source of stress and anxiety, I couldn't handle the thought of 1.) articulating it and 2.) dealing with all of the questions and comments that come when one shares a stressful situation.

Now that we're almost done, here's the story:

Robin and I signed a lease for an apartment in south Minneapolis last summer. We signed the lease sight-unseen, largely because the rental market is crazy right now and between looking in a limited neighborhood, needing a property that would take pets, and my need to have something locked down, we just needed an apartment.

Fast forward months later. I was sitting having pie therapy with my cousin Maurya, and I get a strange voicemail from our apartment property. It seemed they didn't have our move-in date on their record, despite the fact that we had signed a lease and paid our deposit. I didn't think much of it and planned on calling in the morning.

Robin beat me to it and, long story short, we learned that due to a clerical misstep, our apartment had been given away. Cue major panic. Unfortunately, the problem couldn't be immediately fixed. Fortunately, the property managers recognized the urgency of the situation and did everything they could to accommodate us as best as possible.

Those accommodations involved the three of us plus Stanley living in a one-bedroom apartment for the past six weeks in a different building and neighborhood than where we had signed a lease. Anxious to get into Minneapolis-proper and live together as a family, we took them up on their offer. Neighborhood-wise, we fell in love and we will most likely look to the area where we spent the past six weeks when it comes time to buy a house. Living-wise, I'm not sure one could take a larger step down than we did. Compare pictures of our house in Austin to the one-bedroom apartment (no, there are no pictures), and you would instantly see what I mean.

Anyway, this weekend, Robin and I cleared out the temporary apartment and moved everything into our more long-term place. Our backs are aching, and there is still a storage unit to be cleared and a piano to be moved.

Through the whole experience, Lydia has been a trooper and so inspiring. All the girl needs to be happy is her bed, her family, and some toys. She was THRILLED to see her kitchen set up in her new room. Once again, she has helped us keep perspective, and I am so thankful.

Hopefully now we will be able to host a little--there were exactly six adult friends who were permitted into our one-bedroom apartment, and four were there to help us move in. It will feel good to be at least a little more settled.

Knitting Club

My sophomore year of college, I became close friends with two girls down the hallway, Anna and Elise. We became roommates for the next two years and to this day--three weddings, two babies, and several cross-country and -continent moves later--I still refer to them as my roommates. I love these girls dearly, and I was so excited that when I moved back to Minneapolis, I would be in the same city with one of them. Elise, her husband, Clark, and their adorable little girl live in south Minneapolis, so I knew I'd start seeing her on a much more regular basis and on much more normal circumstances. I was super excited. Then, in mid-August, I received a phone call from Anna. She said she had "news," and I was elated to learn that she and her husband Steve were ALSO moving back to the Twin Cities, and by "elated," I mean that my screams elicited a visit from a neighbor to check to see if everyone was alright. For the first time since I moved to Austin in 2004, the three of us are in the Metro.

Eager to get some girl time, we set up a date at a local restaurant. Without much thought, I brought along my iPad to show them a knitting project I was thinking of taking on. We knit together for one winter in college, and I haven't knit anything since; when I picked out a scarf I liked on Pinterest (my latest obsession) and learned that it cost $95.00, I decided I would try making it instead. They both liked the picture, and we started talking about picking up our needles together. Soon after I showed them the picture, Knitting Club was born. Tonight was our third meeting and we have three lovely scarves going.

How lucky am I to have two awesome girlfriends who know me in all of my faulted glory--living together lets people in on a whole different level--that I get to see every two weeks? I love Knitting Club.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


With my new school schedule, the tables have turned when it comes to daycare pick-up and drop-off. Since I leave for work around 6:40, Robin takes Lydia to daycare and I pick her up. Most of the time, I am super thankful for this shift. With an early school start comes early school release, and leaving school at 3ish has lots of perks. Morning time isn't as enjoyable as afternoon, and I really love having a good chunk of time with Lydia before bedtime--usually.

Today was the exception to the rule. Lydia and I had a simple task. We had to stop at the grocery store near her daycare to pick up ingredients for our dinner. (Side note: tonight we are enjoying "Pumpking Stuffed with Everything Good"--a pumpkin full of bread, cheese, bacon, garlic, onion, and cream. Does food get better? This dish is a large reason why I consider myself a "flexitarian" rather than "vegetarian".)

Anyway, Lydia and I went to the grocery store. At this particular grocery store, they have carts for "Customers in Training," and per Robin's suggestion, I let Lydia choose a small cart to push. An hour later when we exited the grocery store with two bags of groceries and at least twice as many frazzled nerves, I was cursing myself for not turning around and getting a cart to strap Lydia into and push myself and cursing Robin for the suggestion that Lydia push a cart.

In the car on the way home, Lydia decided that screaming would be a good idea, and I found myself parked in a parking lot giving her a time out. By the time I arrived at our apartment, my head was throbbing, and rather than walk Lydia half a block to the pet store to buy Stanley's food (our other errand we were supposed to run before heading home), I called Robin and asked him to come get her. The thought of trying to navigate the sidewalk and make it through another store with my curious, vocal, grabby toddler who has taken to going limp whenever I really need her to move was just. too. much.

How appropriate was it, then, that when she told me that she had an owie, I turned around in the grocery to see this?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

On My Morning Drive...

Sunday in the MSP

We have had some perfect fall Sundays during the past month. One of the best parts about moving back to Minneapolis has been rediscovering the city as adults; the last time we lived here was as college students. This past Sunday proved to be no exception. We scored great veggies at the Kingfield Farmers' Market, discovered a great food truck, stumbled upon a bluegrass band, and I made the first of what I'm sure will be many hot drink runs while Lydia and Robin played outside. The past few months have been difficult in terms of transition, but we love, love, love Minneapolis and have yet to second-guess our choice to move here.

I Love This

“Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the make upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness.
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He also loves the bow that is stable.”
― Khalil Gibran

Monday, October 24, 2011

Be Afraid...

Be very afraid.

-- Post From My iPhone

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Circus, Circus

My Uncle David is a member of the Shriners, so when Judy (my aunt, his wife) called to ask if we wanted tickets to the Shriners' Circus, I said yes. I figured Lydia is starting to be old enough to have fun at that sort of thing, and with free tickets, why not find out?

Last night, along with Judy, we headed to the Target Center for the circus. When asked what her favorite things at the circus, Lydia says, "Riding the ponies, eating my snow-cone, and getting my tickets."

She really loved the circus. We have heard all morning about elephants, especially the "little elephant who broke and turned into a puppy." (A clown had a whole sketch about a toy elephant that was revealed to be a puppy in a costume.)

Thanks, Judy and David, for the night at the circus! We loved it!


Way back in 2005 on the day before Mike and Brittany's wedding, a group of girls headed to Ski-Hi apple orchard. We took this picture, one of my very favorites from that weekend.

Last weekend, our dear friends Gabe and Elizabeth were married in Sauk Prairie, Robin's home town--the last of Robin's group of high school guy friends to marry. The wedding was so. much. fun, but before the festivities began, Lydia, Brittany, and I had some fun of our own. We managed to do some record-setting errand running (four stops in one morning), and then we headed out to Ski-Hi for cider, candy apples, and girl time.

A Nasty Equation

I think it's safe to say that the intense amount of transition during the past month has gotten us down. Cross-country move, a second move in the works (long story), new job, etc., etc. Don't get me wrong--we are loving Minneapolis and feel that our move was 100% the right decision, BUT... it's a lot. A lot. After doing some thinking and considering throwing in the towel on the blog altogether, I'm renewing my dedication. I have a goal for the number of weekly posts I'd like to do, but I'm keeping the goal private and will attempt to do some catch-up posts and start fresh moving forward. See you soon on the internets!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My How Times Have Changed...

Last summer when we were visiting Minnesota, we took Lydia to the Minnesota Children's Museum. Last Saturday, the two of us spent a morning in St. Paul, and Lydia had a blast at the museum. Sometimes it blows me away how quickly she changes.

Badgers and Birthdays

I have a hard time cheering for Wisconsin. I know that standard Big Ten protocol asks that one cheer for other conference teams unless they are playing your own team, but I struggle with this concept. Take this as a testament to my love for Mike Chrisler, dear friend and Godfather to my daughter. While I didn't don Badger red--I just couldn't do it--we spent a beautiful Saturday cheering on the Badgers and eating and drinking to Mike's 30th birthday. Festivities carried on into the night, but the photos from my camera only document the point up until Papa Culver started keeping my wine glass topped off.

Aidan and Lydia Do Wisconsin

I'm going to try to back-log a bit. These posts will be picture heavy, but I know most of you don't read the words on my posts, so I'm guessing the plethora of pictures and lack of words shouldn't be too much of a problem.

Labor Day weekend, Lydia and I drove to Sauk Prairie to meet Robin along with the Luthers, who were in Wisconsin for the 20th Anniversary of Pearl Jam. While Aaron and Jessica jammed at the concert in Alpine Valley, Robin and I spent some awesome time with Aidan and Lydia, who picked up right where they left off.

The picked apples from the tree in the backyard,

sipped morning coffee,
danced in the kitchen,looked adorable,
played on the swing,

snacked at the Farmer's Market,

experienced sensory overload at Ella's Deli
and rode on the carousel,
and again, were adorable.