Tuesday, June 28, 2011


One hit me like a ton of bricks. A ton of very sneaky bricks. It snuck up somehow, sometime, sneaking in through the laughter and tears, the first smiles, and late nights rocking, the crawling, walking, climbing, waving, and all of the moments in between, somehow it found us.

I'm not the first to say it, nor will I be anywhere close to the last, but where does the time go. And it's the moments and days that you want to just crawl by, for time to slow down so that you can soak in and enjoy every single memory, those are the days that fly by just too fast. I vividly remember the first time I held his slippery little body in my arms, the sun that shined through the second story hospital window, in the very same room that I became a mother in almost two years prior. The quiet calm mixed with electric excitement that filled the room, and the doctor announcing "it's a boy" as I reached down and scooped my little boy into my arms, and nestled him against my chest, and welcomed him into my heart.

And it's an amazing ride and a magnificent wonder, how one little boy can bring so much joy to your life. Make you slow down just a little and run like crazy at the very same time. Watching him grow and change, develop from infant, to a baby, to (gulp) toddler (!) is like a roller coaster, with many highs and lows, some tears of frustration, but many more of joy.

There were moments when I was the cheerleader, wildly clapping and whooping as he first pulled his knees across the floor, and then just a couple months later, took his first steps. And there's been plenty of times where I've held him and cradled him as he cried, trying to dry his tears and wanting to cry with him, kissed scrapes and bruises, and made everything alright. And those late nights where he just wouldn't go back to sleep, where I've rocked and rocked, in the dark, still silence of his bedroom, just waiting for his breathing to fall into the slow and steady sleep pattern, only to take a breath and wake him up, and start back at one. Then finally trying to lay him down in stealth mode, leaving a hand on his back, then letting up the pressure just ever so slightly, and gradually pulling it away, but not before letting it hover just a second to make sure that it's really ok to pull it away before finally slipping off to bed. In those moments all I wanted was to go to bed, but still, I would look at that beautiful blond haired blue eyed boy sleeping in my arms, and just smile, soak in that feeling of pure joy, and hope that it would last forever.

And I know as he grows, he'll need me less and less. But age will never change the fact that I am his Mama, and a boy always needs his Mama.

We celebrated his day just the way it should be done - big! On his actual birthday we started the day off with our traditional Belgian waffle birthday breakfast, because who doesn't love a little sugar to start their
day. We played, we laughed, we opened presents and sang happy birthday, and I didn't shed a tear.

But come Sunday, party day, it hit me, grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me, I couldn't believe that this day had come and so fast. After a morning meltdown where I bawled my eyes out and sobbed to Justin that I wasn't ready for my baby to grow up, I pulled it together to put on a wonderfully fun cars and trucks themed party. The weekend had been beautiful and I had planned a big outdoor party including a bounce house and a bubble station, but just my luck, it was pouring down rain. So we changed plans, and complained just a little, and set up everything inside.

Despite there being a ton of people crammed in the house, it was awesome. The food, the company, the love shown for my little boy, the memories that I will keep forever, and reflect back on fondly, everything was perfect.

Happy First Birthday to my little Ben Riley!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Let The Games Begin

Memorial day has always been the welcome sign for summer. The long weekend that heralds in the steamy summer days, and closes the door on another long winter. With the thermometer climbing to the high 80's, and the boys peeling off layers of clothes and leaving a trail of them in their wake, I would definitely say that summer is here.

Our feet are blackened from many barefoot trips around the yard and down the driveway, chasing bugs and pushing cars. I have tan lines from my flip flops and a pale white line where I wear my wedding ring. Wyatt's legs are scratched and bruised, and dirt has become a staple in Ben's diet.

If there is one upside to the long dark, stale winters of Alaska, it's the contrast that it adds to the long, endless summer days. With their warm breezes and exploding bursts of colored blooms decorating flower boxes and roadsides, the summers here serve to recharge and refresh. To remind one, why they live in this last great state, and why even though every year in the dead of winter we beg to move, the following winter we are still here. There is really no place that I would rather spend my summers.

We are looking forward to some new adventures with the boys this summer as well. Next weekend Justin and I will be taking the boys on their first camping trip. (finally!) Wyatt has been begging, in his sweet syrupy voice, to go fishing. He's pretty sure that he's going to catch some big red gooey fish - we'll see about that.

Wyatt is so independent these days, and has an imagination that I'm envious of. He is always asking to go shopping while we play in the front yard (which consists of taking Ben's walker, his shopping cart, to the fire hydrant down the street), but he asks that I please wait behind. And as our quiet little street fills with kids seeking summer fun in the evening, I start to hear Wyatt ask "please Mommy, my friends come over and play?" And usually before I even say yes, we have three or four neighbor kids, kicking their shoes off on our driveway, playing with Wyatt like they are best friends, despite the 3-7 year age gap between all of them and Wyatt. Last night, it was breezy and warm and storm clouds loomed on the horizon. But the air was still hot and the sun bright, so we filled up the little pool and picked the perfect spot for the sprinkler and like that was invitation enough, our yard was full with kids. I love that our neighborhood kids accept and play with Wyatt and make him feel included without even a second thought.

My favorite part of the evening occurred after wild water fight, when his friend Riley, soaking wet, walked two houses down to retrieve her towel. She came back several minutes later, plastic neon pink heels clacking against the sidewalk as she approached, and a fluffy chenille bathrobe tied around her waist. Five, going on thirty, what a cute sight to see!

And Ben - his little legs just can't move fast enough. He is chasing after his brother, back and forth across the yard, stopping to bark at the people passing by on the sidewalk. At first it was a little embarrassing to have my 11 month old son grip the chain link with his chubby little fingers, and press his porcelain skin against the fence and let out a deep throaty bark, again and again. But, now, I love it. I love his little quirky ways, like how he sticks out his tongue when he is excited about anything. He will walk across the room in hot pursuit of a toy, his tongue out as far as it will go, drool dripping off the end in a slow steady way. His tongue can't hide his excitement, and neither can his smile, always from ear to ear. I wonder if this will stay true as he ages, will he always wear his heart on his sleeve. I love to think how their personalities at this age with carry through to the teenage years and beyond.

I also hope, that some of the friendships that my boys have now, will go the distance. That these wonderful friendships that they are so lucky to be in, will be the same friends who they go to parties and prom and football games with. I have several friends who I went the distance with. And those friendships are so fulfilling and wondrous, I can only hope that my boys can have the same.

So as Memorial ushers in Summer, and I wipe the sweat of my forehead, drink a sip of ice cold beer and survey my surroundings. I ask quietly, for this summer to drag by, and that I enjoy and soak in every second of it, because in Alaska, it's always gone too soon.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Forward Momentum

I've sat down several times over the past month, my fingers resting on the keyboard. I've even typed out a few lines, gotten distracted, moved on to something else, only to come back and not remember where I was going and hit delete.

I've wanted to write about our overnight trip to Chena Hot Springs, and our visit to the ice park, about how spring is finally starting to make an appearance here and the familiar trickle of snow melting off the roof has returned. But, we've been busy. Busy may not even begin to describe it.

We've switched from normal mode, to survival mode. Abandoning things like sitting down, and sleeping all night and eating breakfast. No instead I've been studying until my eyes are slamming shut, then dragging myself into bed. Getting up with the sun and slamming down a cup of coffee or two before I head out the door, two sleepy boys in tow for another busy day at school. I'm counting down the weeks until summer break ( 4 including finals week!) But I know that soon after that, summer sessions begin. So we are trying to find little things in between to enjoy, like our overnight trip to the hot springs. It was a relaxing weekend, away from cell service, where we just enjoyed each other's company.

Ben found it especially relaxing
! 639 661 We made a evening trip to the ice park before the warming sun melted away the ice sculptures, one drip at a time. 787-2

We've tried to get out and enjoy the warming weather

And try new things (spaghetti for Ben!)
030 (2) 013 (2)

And I'll sure be happy when I can switch from survival mode, back to normal, or maybe, if I'm lucky, switch it to slow, enjoying the moment mode, even if it's only for a couple
days. 4

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

One Lump or Two?


How cute is that!? To see some more of Ben's 9 month photos click here.

And yes, that's right, NINE months!! But that's the last time you'll hear me say that until the 23rd because he is still my little 8 month old boy for another week. Lately, in his want to catch up to his big brother ways, he's been pulling himself up on anything that he can. But after a few minutes, panic sets in and he realizes that he doesn't want to let go, but he can't move, and he looks at you with the most desperate pleading eyes saying "please!!?? stop smiling at me and pick me up!!"

In other news, it's finally starting to feel like spring around here.

Another hour of light does wonders for recharging my solar powered soul. Suddenly I feel like being out and about and having fun with my boys. And one of the wondrous things about two year old boys, is that they are immune to stereotypes, to gender roles, to being embarrassed, to the imaginary force that tells us who we have to be. No, they are just themselves. They can spend all day with uncombed hair, and greet guests at the door naked from the waist down, and not even give it a second thought. I love that about two year olds. And for the past couple of days my little two year old has been asking me to do something...something that I was certain I wouldn't hear asked until the day we have a little girl in this house, he asked for a tea party. I had just been smiling and nodding at this request for the past couple of days, until this morning, while standing on top of a dining room chair that he had dragged across the living room, cradling my Japanese teapot in his chubby little fingers, he asked to "have a tea party and wear pretty hats." I couldn't resist.

A tea party is somewhat of a waste without a plate full of cookies in the middle. You know those kind that come in the Pepperidge Farm "entertaining" pack, with the mix of shortbread, and chocolate dipped wafers, yep those would do the trick. And I'm not one to keep these on hand for my guests who happen to drop by with white gloved hands to sip tea with me on weekday afternoons, so an impromptu trip to the grocery store was in order.

By the time I had laid the blanket out on the living room floor, arranged a plate overflowing with Pepperidge Farm goodness, and set out miniature cups to be filled with "tea" , I realized that the only hats in this house were of the baseball kind. So we scrapped the hats in exchange for a few more cookies.

Wyatt helped me pour his tea (aka warm milk) into his cup, that he held so delicately with one pinky pointed outward, in a way that would make you think he had spent many an afternoon sipping tea with the ladies...er..men.

I asked him, "would you care for a cookie sir?" And in reply, in the most polite two year old voice, that has just the right amount of high pitched glee, he told me, "oh yes, thank you sir!"

He continued on like this, as we munched on shortbread cookies and in between sips of tea, exchanged chit chat. Wyatt made sure to call me "sir" every time he addressed me, and didn't even tattle on Ben when he tried to swipe cookies every time I looked away.

It was a delightfully magical way to spend a morning, sitting cross-legged on my living room floor. And it made me hope, that my boys would stay just a little bit sheltered from "the way things are supposed to be" and instead, enjoy with me, moments like this. And if they felt it was necessary, wear a pretty hat.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wild and Precious

I have to remind myself from time to time, as I trudge through my days, do the grocery shopping and ponder about whether the socks on the floor are clean enough to wear again, that this isn't a practice run.

That this is it, my one wild and precious life.

No do-overs, no maybe next times, only now. I've decided to spend a little more time doing, and a little less time dreaming, thinking, planning, sitting around, (doing homework).

I've put more miles on my snow pants this winter, crawling through the powdery soft snow, or up to the top of the mountain, then I have in the past 6 winters put together that I've owned these snow pants. I've had plenty of snow find its way between my neck and my collar to make its chilly descent down to the small of my back. And I've slipped a time or two on my really (I mean really) not made for Alaska winter boots.

I've read the same book at bedtime, with Wyatt sunk into the pit of my crossed legs, two, three, even four times. And no longer are they boring to read through time and time again, because now, since the words play like a movie in my head, and I no longer need to glance at the pages, I can instead watch the face of my sweet little boy. Watch as his eyes light up, and a little smile creeps onto his face and turns up one side of his lip ever so slightly as I read through his favorite parts. And I can kiss his head as it leans into my chest and not even skip a beat, because the rhythm I mastered two read throughs prior.

And I'm starting to see, in this little boy of mine, wheels turning in his sharp as a tac mind. He has always loved being read to, but now he's the one doing the "reading" and I love to watch him and I can just see his pride swell when he turns the last page in the book that he is reading and watches me whoop and holler and congratulate him.

And when he reads to Ben, that's true heart melting material!

And in the spirit of taking on this wild and precious life, I did a little class skipping. But when it came down to sitting behind a desk taking notes and tapping my toes, or taking my little fireball on a dog sled ride, well, the choice was easy to make. My Aunt Marti is here visiting from New York, and My Dad arranged for her a private dog sled ride, and invited Wyatt to tag along. He talked about it for the whole week prior, with random outbursts exclaiming "Wyatt go dog mushing!!??" - And I of course, forgot my camera, so these are pictures compliments of my iphone.

He got his own little private ride and was on top of the world. All I heard about for the rest of the night was how "Jelly pulled Wyatt!"

And that wonderful Aunt Marti of mine came bearing gifts for my littlest, a beautiful handmade sweater and hat. There is nothing quite as cute as a tiny little knit on a baby, especially one that has been knit just for him.

I love seeing my family and extended family love on my little boys, smother them with kisses and hugs and see the love and happiness reflected back in both Wyatt and Ben's eyes.

I soak it in, the family, the snow, the books, the cuddling, the crawling on the floor until my knees hurt, the swimming on Saturdays. Because after all, this is it. And as Mary Oliver said, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

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