Friday, August 15, 2014

Look, I Blogged About Bookshelf Sorting

So here is a blog post about something that should have been boring but totally wasn't (to me), and therefore might not be to tell about? Let's try.

I cleaned off some shelves! I was even crafty in the process! It probably doesn't require that many exclamation points, but I'm not sorry.

I have these old bookshelves in my room that have become a crap magnet, and they got very crammed full of books and old church class notebooks and folders, and piles of schoolwork and art that was too precious to toss (I actually have a discerning eye for that, I promise), and montreat stuff, and sheet music, and a flute, and random memories and lost buttons and extra shoelaces, and things I have been intending to frame, and all our extra Christmas cards and birth announcements from the last decade, and folders full of every portrait session each kid has ever had in their whole lives (YES REALLY, and that includes the every-month-for-the-first-year ones), and cards upon cards upon cards upon cards (I might have a card-buying problem, not that I am admitting that here or anywhere) (I really like them! And again: not sorry). And piled all on top of that were things that needed to be returned or exchanged or didn't fit in the shelves, and anyway it was driving Mark nuts, and me too, so I promised him on my summer list would be tackling its reorganization.

And I did! And it was kind of awesome! Bins and boxes! Reorganizing is fun! (This is a truth I learned from the Berenstain Bears and you all know I'm right.) (More exclamation points.)

So. Before and after pics:

Much better now, yes?

Those bins mostly hold cards. From the top left shelf, in reading order: extra envelopes, sets of boxed cards, stamps/stickers/seals/etc, monogrammed stationery, mini cards, thank you cards, cards from people who love me (in the colorful box), then random occasion cards, birthday cards, holiday greeting cards, and the bottom bins are for kiddie school and art keepsakes -- one per kid, plus an extra for my own random memories. I KNOW it's too many cards, but I love writing and sending them, and I like to have many on hand, and even though it's a little Monica/Friends/everyday/guest/fancy/fancy guest with the towels, I WILL SAY AGAIN NOT SORRY.


Would you like to know some of the random things I found while I was doing this? (This is what great blogging is made of right here, folks.)

My very first drivers license:

Many love notes from Marky, including a crap ton marked "par avion" from when he wrote to me in Europe (weren't we quaint and adorable? say yes).

Two binders full of letters and cards I wrote to him from Germany, which he saved and put together in what turns out to be the best memories of that semester abroad, because he is delightful like that.

This xeroxed song Another Nathan stopped me from recycling after a choir event years and years ago, because it is one of his most favorites and he wanted me to keep it, which I did, and now it makes me teary because just... read that text. Okay then.

A page I apparently made Mark write and sign one day when he said he didn't want to make out, which I'm sure was unheard of because hello, he was 19, and I knew I would want future proof that it happened:

Many many travel books. This is the previously-culled-down stack I moved into this house, and I culled it even further, because they are old and of no use to anyone any more, but some of them are too full of my memories and scribbles to throw away. Mark and I have seen many things together, these books in our backpacks, and some of them are too dear to ever part with, useless or no.

And in other bookshelf-related news, I did a craft, because I wanted a place for my special pens that is mine all mine (those with the colored caps are my beloved Stabilo pens that I always bought in Germany because I didn't know you could get them in the states, until I found them a few weeks ago in a tiny writing shop in Northfield Minnesota, OF ALL PLACES, and anyway they are special), and look! it is pretty  now!

Spraypainting the rings of mason jars and putting your own pens in there to keep them separate from writing utensils to be used by tiny humans: RECOMMEND.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Charlotte's Birthday (I Made a Ginormous 3 Cake and Threw Sprinkles)

Okay so Charlotte turned 3 last Friday, of course, and my sister was here, of course, so we were surrounded by a many cousins, of course. And it was chaotic and joyful and somewhere in the middle of it all, Ashley and I managed to turn two big ol' bundt cakes into a giant number 3.

(I figured this was my year to do it, since bundt cakes are made for curvy numbers like 3, and I won't have a 3-year-old again. But then Ashley pointed out I could save the idea and use it someday for an 8, and then Mark pointed out that "someday" would be next year and NO, NO, NO SIR YOU HUSH YOUR MOUTH.)

Anyway. Charlotte turned 3. We made cake. She and Liam helped.

We baked two bundt cakes and then Ashley and I cut chunks off until we could kinda stick them together to make a big 3 (you can see this also involved... adding some wedges back in. I'm super professional over here). Then we frosted the whole thing and threw sprinkles on it.

No, literally. I threw the sprinkles. If someone has a better way to get sprinkles on the side of a cake besides just kinda... tossing them? and hoping they stick? PLEASE TO INFORM ME. (In related news, there are still a lot of sprinkles all over my deck table. Which is better than the kitchen floor. But... there are many.)

Meanwhile, Charlotte spent most of the day trying to learn to hold up three fingers to say she's three. (She just learned to do two, and now she has to change? Life is tough, yo.) Anneliese helped her a lot.

But she still isn't quiiiiiiite getting it.

Almost, okay yeah now put that one down... okay that one up... wait now maybe with less anxiety in the eyes... okay yeah you know what, good enough. Three!

At some point during the day, Marky went to the grocery store to get some balloons, and he took the birthday girl with him, and apparently one of them decided she needed A GIANT OLAF BIGGER THAN SHE IS. So, we own this now:

I have no words for that thing. Secretly it scares me a little. She adores it, of course. IT IS BIGGER THAN SHE IS. Okay just needed to say that again. I'm done now.
that is a *lot* of cousins for a birthday lunch!
Anyway so then we opened presents, including a new purple cape (soo-poo) which she put on and has barely taken off since that moment, and had costco pizza and cake (the Goettsch Birthday Special™) and after a scramble for candles where we came very close to putting one candle on her cake and letting her blow it out three times (how do we not have candles? it was just Nathan's birthday!), we scraped three together and sang to her and all was merry and bright.

And then we ate cake for days and days, because hello, two giant bundts. Good thing it was actually delicious this time.

Happy birthday, Booler!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Ashley Came to Visit!

Ashley came to visit last week! With her babies! In case you're curious, this is what my bonus room looks like with all my kids, plus Ali, plus Ashley's kids:

SOMETHING SOMETHING LOTS OF BABIES. (My favorite is Ali in the middle, like wuuuut is happening here.)

So, all those babies. We took them swimming in the pool, we played on the playset out back, we (tried to) let some of the big kids (Liam, Anneliese, Nathan) have a sleepover together, which failed spectacularly, but eventually everyone rested up and cheered up.

And let the record show, Sully allllllmost did his first real crawling at our house.

Let the record also show, I sometimes work on my lists while sitting by the pool DO NOT JUDGE.

Let the record ALSO show, Anneliese really really adores babies, especially her cousins.

Also, you should know that yes, Liam and Charlotte are still pretty much besties.

Always glad to see Ashley!!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Happy 3, Charlotte!

Our baby  is three today! Happy happy birthday, dear Charlotte.  You have made us smile so much over the last year (and always).

(Click here to watch on youtube, or click here to watch on your phone.)

And now you're three, and we've catapulted to a new non-baby era in our family, except this baby Booler will always be our baby. Always.

Happy three, sweet girl!

(Charlotte's second year here, and her first year here.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Yes Day

Way back fourteen years ago, when we were too young to have any business making such decisions (but we did anyway and it worked out okay so this is not a bad thing), Mark asked me to marry him and I said yes and now we are a family and all of those things make me really damn happy.

Sometimes I think I adore him so much it might make me burst. So glad to be home, and near him, and with him, TOGETHERNESS OH I LOVE HIM SO.

Also? Someday they won't all fit in that chair anymore and then I will be sad.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Meanwhile, Back At Home...

I am home! I am weary (hey, let's drive across the country and then have a super emotional good-bye and then fly home to land in the middle of the night and get up and hang out with four kids, that probably won't be exhausting!) (it was actually really fun and I would never complain because I'm not the one who did all that and has to start a new job/life this week), but weary is okay because I am home.

And meanwhile, on the home front:

Nathan has new cool sunglasses he is extremely pleased about (thanks Marmie!) --

Anneliese has taken* to wearing her hair with her bangs pushed to the side and it makes her look older (and highlights her fivehead) so I don't thiiiiink I am a huge fan but maybe someday I will be convinced? No bangs is certainly easier but I don't know if it is a good look for her yet. Jury is still out. (*This mostly just means I have taken to forgetting to trim them. You guessed that already, right?)

Charlotte got an early birthday present from Another Nathan  last week before we left and apparently she has barely put it down. A puppy! Wearing a tutu! I do love how easy it is to delight a two-year-old. Also, someone tell me my kids will never outgrow their love of stuffed animals. Sure, they take over the house or whatever. But they're cute and the kids love them and this is totally a thing I thought I would roll my eyes at as a parent, but I don't! I kind of love it actually! (Yes, even that giant sperm whale.)

And Ali is kind of, sort of, holding her own bottle which is a GAME CHANGER. I would not hate becoming a hands-free feeder for a while before she starts solids. Three cheers for a happy baby who is feeling better enough to learn new things!

And one small weak half-cheer for an excellent friendship photo stream and long-distance blue moons in new NC glasses. Old people, roll your eyes at smartphones all you want, but texting and video calling makes far people feel close, so I am just going to sit over here and feel happy for that on my first night back to choir without my bestest friend to have a beer and chicken dip with afterwards. Okay? Okay.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Charlotte at Almost Three

As this post goes up, I am somewhere in the great American midwest, en route to Minnesota, no idea exactly where yet, but on August 1st {Note 8/5: Lies. I didn't have pics so it didn't publish til I got home. Whatever.} it will be weird because 1- AUGUST (where did July go?) and 2- Charlotte's due date! And this is the second year I am far from her on her due date which is also weird, not because a due date needs family togetherness, but just because (as we have well established) I remain connected to due dates. Now and forevermore amen. You should all make peace with this fact. I have.

Anyway, let's talk about Charlotte. She's delightful.

Here are my favorite things, right now, here in this season of two but not yet three (I am bracing myself for three, because frankly it suuuuucked the first two times but this time I vow to not take it personally if it goes south again), my favorite things in this sweet and funny and curious year:

Booler - She is the only one of our kids with a nickname we actually use every day, and it is nothing we could have planned as a nickname, just a nonsense word Nathan used to use about everyone, that somehow only stuck to Charlotte. It doesn't mean anything, but it somehow seems very her. I guess that's the nature of a nickname?

Who wikes a moo? Charlotte's favorite game is maybe the one where all the kids sit around asking each other who likes and doesn't like random things, and then raising their hands accordingly. (It is a riveting game.) We get asked about different kinds of dinosaurs and people we know and songs and colors and Charlotte inevitably joins in with a singsongy voice saying who wiiiiikes... a moo? and a few weeks ago when she told us I don't wike a moo, I wike a wadybug, it made us sad. I guess she knows a moo is a cow now. (Another favorite is who wiiiiikes... a hockahonut? = chocolate donut. SO GREAT.)

I come too! Charlotte's motto in life. Never quite keeping up, always worried she will be left behind, never wanting to be left out. I struggle with this, actually, because Nathan and Anneliese are so close and there doesn't seem room yet for Charlotte in it. I totally thought that by now the girls would be closer -- they are closer in age, and with Nathan in school every day (and all day) they have more time together, and they're both girls. Am I assuming some kind of sister closeness, based on my own childhood experience, that doesn't always happen? I keep waiting for the shift from feeling like big kids + a baby, to Nathan + the girls, but it hasn't happened yet. Maybe it won't. And that would be okay I guess. But in the meantime it is adorable and also sometimes makes me ache to see how much Charlotte loves to come along, not just with Anneliese and Nathan, but anytime anyone goes anywhere. She's our baby who is determined to keep up.

Silly goose - Dang, two is such a good age for delighting in all things silly, isn't it? Charlotte loves to giggle at nonsense things, and is just learning to call other people out on not making sense. If I forget my keys or miss a PJ button or something, she loves to call me silly goose and it is just so old fashioned and funny and, well, delightful. Mommy you a silly goose!

Singing and dancing - Between her beloved Daniel Tiger (she knows the words to every episode's jingle) and her and Anneliese's collective fascination with Frozen, Charlotte sings constantly. She sings to her animals and in the car and in bed, and dances too. (She has always been kind of dancey so it is fun she gets to start in a dance class this fall. She is very very excited.) My favorite is when she sings the Daniel good-night song to her toys, in her sweet little gentle voice, and oh it just makes me melt.

Lefty - Our baby is for sure a lefty. She is very consistent. (For a while we thought Anneliese might be, but she goes back and forth between hands now, although almost always writes backwards when she uses her right hand, so who knows, maybe she is too -- but Charlotte is for sure.) I am already stumbling into little things that are harder for lefties, or they have to learn differently -- scissors and the way certain toys spin or open or whatever. Things I have never had to notice before, except growing up with  my lefty sister. Anyway it's a cute sweet thing about her.

She does look a lot older to me than a year ago, her face showing a year of life with her frankenbooler scar and her missing bottom tooth. She has a lot more hair too, but I can't bring myself to do her first haircut yet. It will happen maybe before school starts. Three is a good age, right? (I am totally doing that thing where I baby the last baby into not growing up too fast, and no I'm not sorry.)

So, my last baby is about to be three. We are on the cusp of a new era of child-rearing. WEIRD. We are almost done with diapers and I assume naps will go next. We are already done with strollers and high chairs and cribs. And suddenly we have a family full of kids. I both hate it and love it. Hi there, am a walking cliche.

Happy almost three, little baby Booler. You are our sunshine and you are just the best.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fare Thee Well

Here are some things I want to say about my very best friend, wonderful Another Nathan, who used to be just this guy who worked at my church, until he was more than that. Who asked me several months ago to not be sappy or say good-bye yet, who together with me has been fighting the urge for good-byes, prolonging normal life as long as we could.
our Angus Barn farewell dinner last Friday

But NOW, normal life is transitioning to the next thing. We've spent a week packing him up and waving bye to his moving truck and having a series of celebrations at church and with friends, and as this post goes up, we are driving his car north to the frozen tundra (Minnef@ckingsota) (no I do not want to hear one word about how it probably won't be frozen in August). I still have a precious few more days before a turrible good-bye (you can try to sell it to me as a "see you later" and yes yes of course, but it will still suck), but ANYWAY, in the meantime, I have things to tell about him. Things you might not know, from just seeing him in this corner of the internet and knowing he is a helpful friend who loves my family and kids. Which is great BUT OH THERE IS MORE.

For example, you might never know Another Nathan is a beautiful organist and conductor, and a creative and deep theological thinker. You would be smarter from having just one conversation with him. I know I am. He comes out of church needing to talk about energy and worship and theology and I have been honored to be the person those chats land on.

You might not know that he sings from the organ, like all the time, every hymn, every week, smiling the whole time. That for him to consider it a good day off, he can't leave his house before noon. That he both loves ironing and hates ironing more than anyone else I know. That he has an odd fear of scary animals in movies. That he is the slowest decision maker on the planet.  That he keeps every card and note anyone has ever given him. He's an emotional hoarder and he is not ashamed. That he says bye on the phone three times, always three. That he never lets anyone touch his hair, ever, not even Jesus on the road to Emmaus. That he loves his coffee on ice, not too sweet. Has a secret affinity for diet mountain dew. That he loves legos just as much now as he did when he was a kid, and that the first Christmas present my little Nathan ever gave him, a keychain with a green lego on it, has been attached to his car key almost the whole time he has lived here.

You might not know that he has fully encompassed the word y'all as if he wasn't born and raised in Iowa and educated solidly in the midwest. That he loves grits and biscuits and fried green tomatoes and y'all, he has very strong opinions about barbecue. He is always going to be a bit North Carolinian, is what I'm saying.

And there are some things I didn't know -- when Mark asked him to dinner with us and some friends to celebrate my last day of work, it took us a long time to start realizing about each other that we share an affinity for diet coke and churchy blogs and beautifully composed music right alongside cheesy pop songs. We didn't know that would turn into a stretch of friendship made up of Wednesday coffee dates and blue moon Tuesdays, and Fridays patiently wandering the Gap, humoring me in shoe stores, tackling all our gift shopping together, even the inevitable moment every year when we both get overwhelmed with our holiday lists and need to cry in the food court for a minute. You know when you can cry over Christmas shopping lists in a mall food court, that is a real friend.

We didn't know when we met that several years into a fun and easy friendship, it would get hard, and we would learn hard things about each other, and we would feel frustrated and scared and then on the other side of it, we would guard those things for each other more fiercely and safely than I could ever say in a blog post.

I wasn't ready for the 1am phone call that on Christmas Eve, with sad news. And he wasn't ready for that one evening where I was so far gone crazy that all he could do was wash a sink full of our dishes and try not to cry. Neither of us were ready for how we've had to push each other to do brave scary things, instead of letting the other escape like we wanted to, and then crying in parking lots after the pushing. Our friendship has involved a lot of crying in parking lots.

But a lot of laughing too! Do you know that this is a friend who can find joy in almost everything? Who has the best pop radio sing-along voice ever? Who insists that any fleeting thought he finds pleasant is his new life motto? (His life motto is actually "that's my life motto!") Who can't go to Target without buying razors and starch? Who mixes cereals together in the same bowl, a habit which has rubbed off onto my own children (eye roll)?
Oh yes we did take a selfie in a security camera before we left town.

You might not know that when Charlotte was a colicky newborn, any time Mark was on night shift, Another Nathan spent those screamy hours with me on my couch, taking turns holding her -- not because he could do anything to help her any better than I could, but because he didn't want me to be alone in it. You might not remember that just two short years before that, Anneliese was the newborn he was scared to hold. Whoa, how fast that mindset changed. You might not know that he ended up pulling me back into church when I was over it, found me a new church family in my sweet early service choir.

He has been my friend in what could have been such a lonely season for me, these early years of parenthood, but... hasn't been. Nathan has no connection to me as an employee of anything, or any kind of professional, or any kind of "smart" or "successful" beyond just me. He is my friend who gladly sits on my couch with a glass of wine and some chocolate covered pretzels because I'm home with the kids in the evening. Who gladly drinks diet coke with me by my pool while the babies nap. Who plays on the floor with said babies when *I* need to nap.

He is a person who opens his wallet and hands out money to people in the street, not because he is naive enough to think some of them might not "deserve" it, but because he believes that how much they deserve it (or don't) is irrelevant to his willingness to give it. And he does.

And that, actually, might be his life motto. And it goes the same for love and friendship and helpfulness and joy.* It is grace come to life.

And that's sort of the best thing I can say about him. And since I might be out of words (you: "finally?!") -- here, watch this video and re-live some memories with us. Because once you have a Goettsch birthday video (even if it is five years of "growing up" instead of one, and especially if it's not technically your birthday) you know you're one of us for life.

(If you can't see the embedded video, click here to watch on YouTube.)

We love you, friend. No matter where you live and no matter what people call you, you will always be our Another Nathan. Be brave. Be great. We have your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and all that. Godspeed, sweet friend.

(*Yes friend. I said joy.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Some July Miscellany, Mostly About the Girls

Here are some Little Things unrelated to anything else, mostly about the girls, that have been happening in the background of Montreat and goodbyes and birthdays and Big Things:

1.) Anneliese is still up to rainbows. And Hattie. (In Anneliese lingy-loo, being into something = being up to it, which means if you ask her what she's up to, she will say rainbows. You should try it sometime if you need a quick dose of cute.) 

2.) Anneliese is also up to pedicures. Which in her mind, means sitting on my bathroom floor with tp between her toes and some bottles of cheap polish, and then me blow drying her toes (and face and whatever) with the hair dryer, while she giggles. I mean, it's no professional salon job, but she delights in it and I delight in her, so rainbow toes on the floor it is!

3. I still have wavy hair. Some days it looks kinda pretty, I think? (Read: tell me it is pretty.) (#praisejunkie)

4.) My girls are basically made of nothing but legs. (Also, they don't snuggle together that often so when this happened I could not take a pic fast enough, and then I was all, waaaaaaaait they're so tall.)

5.) Ali is totally getting better with the fussies. Turns out some of her Moods (CAPITAL M MOODS, we all have them) were due to an allergy -- which is sad on one hand because boo! she has felt gross in her belly for some time now! -- but good news because it is relatively* easy to fix, and she is doing a ton better now. (*For me. Less easy for Barbara who has to changer diet a lot to keep pumping, but for me, it is easy. And it looks like the pre-frozen milk we already had on hand will go to Baby Hugo #gohugo so there's also that.)

6.) I ordered a set of Little Miss and Mister Men books, because I loved them when I was little. And for a minute I pretended that I was ordering them for my kids to enjoy now too (and they will!) but if I'm being honest, it's mostly just that *I* wanted them. They delighted me then, and it turns out they still do. Am very pleased with my purchazzie.

7.) On July 4th, Mark and I took the girls out for brunch to his favorite place, and they were funny and sweet and giggly and Charlotte ate a million eggs and Anneliese ate a million orange slices (a million = about four, in both of those cases) and it was generally just a fun outing. We were torn between wanting to have a nice day off and do something, yet not do anything too fun while Nathan was visiting my dad. Because we felt disloyal? Incomplete? I don't know y'all. Being a family is weird. But holiday brunch was great.

8.) Charlotte tucking her Sheepie in on the bonus room floor, singing her a song, and telling her "do good sleeping, love you night night" also delights me. These are the kinds of things that never get less adorable, even with the third kid. Take note, pregnant moms and moms of newborns! It keeps staying awesome!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Favorites (Movie) Party, and a Sperm Whale Cake

So, here's a fun thing to blog about in an emotional roller coaster of week/weekend: we had a super sweet birthday party with Nathan yesterday! He had asked several months ago to do a movie party, which sounded easy and fun enough -- and got even better when Another Nathan said we could reserve his neighborhood's clubhouse movie theater for our own private show. Fun, right?! (Also free free free YES PLEASE.)

He went round and round and round about what kind of party he wanted, and even when I assured him he didn't need a theme or anything ( theme could just be "hey it's your birthday come watch a movie and have cake"), he still kept debating on what kiiiind of party it would be, and at some point he started referring to it as a Favorite Party, which would have all of his favorite things:

- legos
- sperm whales
- dinosaurs
- space
- friend cars

I mean, if that right there isn't a cohesive party theme, I don't know what is. Someone hire me to plan their event. It will totally make sense. Swearsies.

So we did it. We had a party with all of those things. Dinosaur balloons and napkins, and friend car plates, and a planets tablecloth (which I just now remembered I forgot to even use, ha whoops), and we watched the lego movie, and I made a sperm whale cake. The blasted sperm whale cake that he asked me for many weeks ago, and I had no idea where to start with, and eventually I landed on a really complicated solution:
Step 1- Make a cake.
Step 2- Put a sperm whale on top of the cake.

So actually it ended up being an adorable (very random, but adorable) party. He had a few friends from church, one from school, and even one he met last week at Montreat, who told Nathan he thought he lived in Durham, and since Nathan thought he lived in Raleigh, it worked out for them to go to each other's parties (zomg adorbz). They all ate pizza and had popcorn from the theater's popcorn stand/kettle/thing, and played with glow sticks, and watched the movie, and then opened presents and ate cake. 

favor bags with Nathan's "favorites" --
pack of legos, toy whale, dino eraser, Cars candy, in a space bag

the sperm whale cake --
which I'm sure is how I will remember this birthday

After the party, the birthday boy spent the afternoon swimming in the backyard with Uncle Nick and Aunt Barbara, and then we had a family dinner at his restaurant of choice -- McDonald's. He also opened a stack of fun presents from us and from grandparents, the most notable of which seems to be this GINORMOUS sperm whale, which is just what every kid needs for bedtime snuggling?

(He adores it, obviously.) (Yes, that is a squid for it to hunt. Or, if you're Anneliese, a friend to help it find rainbows. So.)

May all birthdays be so random yet so successful. Cheers to SEVEN!