thank YOU thursday: our Ninna

Thursday, February 20, 2014



Dear Nin, 
By all accounts we really should be classified as a successful modern-day platonic arranged marriage.  
I don't know if we would have met and became friends on our own otherwise (which would have been an awful shame), but considering our age difference, interests, and locale - the stars did not seem aligned.  Even when you were going to college in my hometown, it was during the brief time that I didn't live here.  How would we have found each other?

But instead, one day in May of 2008, B and I met up with our visibly nervous best friend because he wanted to introduce us to his girlfriend.  After hanging out at his parents' house for a little while, we headed out while B and I shared confused glances in the car ride over; this chick must be pretty important for our normally stoic friend to be fumbling around with sweaty palms.

And then we met you.

And it was clear why our best friend was so nervous; you were the one.  And since our husbands are so confusingly the same person half the time; it was also obvious that it would need to be the start of our arranged marriage together:  the wives.  Their friendship is the lifetime sort, so ours would inevitably be too.  It was sort of a big deal that we hit it off.

The reason I think you and I have done so well together is because we never tried to be anything that we aren't naturally.  We grew to learn more about each other, and then respect each other, and above all be there for each other.

I hand my kids off to you without instructions and know unequivocally that they're in good hands.  You know where I keep all my dishes and hide the good snacks at our house.  We've planned parties together; endured hunting & fishing seasons; found fun things to do during golf outings; shared favorite books, appetizers, and drinks; and spent every news year together since we've met.  There's no friend jealousy or hard feelings about unanswered texts - we just get each other.  We're more than friends; more like chosen family.

And after five years of growing friendship, love, and respect (seriously we're married) - we took it to the next level.  Business partners; where the same well-oiled machine type interaction continues. I do the writing and you take care of the numbers.  If I forget something, you don't.  We work well together in business because we trust and respect each other.

It may not have started as a friendship that grew out of wild nights making foggy memories together (although we do share those, hah!) but our relationship is one of my most valued.

Just in case you don't know (but I'm pretty sure you do), Nin, you're like my right hand woman.  I'm so grateful to have you in this life of camo and husband reindeer games and navigation of a publishing company.

thank you for all of it, Nin.
seriously I love you like a sister wife,
tab



our girl.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Our Gemmi will be two this week.
two.
two years of her on this Earth and in our life.
how does it feel impossible it's been that long?
how does it feel impossible that it's not actually been forever?


Our Gemmi is two going on five.
if you ask her how old she will be she answers, "Five."
Our Gemmi is, as they say, 'something else'.



Lots of people use the Shakespeare quote to describe their daughter, you know the wonderful one that says, "And though she be but little, she is fierce."
We can't even use that to describe her, because this girl is more than fierce, the quote is an understatement.

Gemmi explodes into rooms.
She was born bald, naturally grew a mohawk, and then had her head shaved by her big brother.
And rocked every single hair style.
She wears tutus with rainboots, has been walking since 10 months, has been chewing gum since 22 months, and eats salad with dressing and spicy food without batting an eyelash.
The girl is ridiculous.



Her little belly atop those strong, thick thighs and that head of concrete.
She is a little wrecking ball that barrels around the house with bruises on her face and stolen candy in her hand.


The real problem is that everyone is wrapped around her finger.  When a grown up reprimands her, Greyson marches in between the adult and Gem and publicly scolds them, "You don't speak to my baby sister like that!"  This happens even when we are reprimanding her for teasing or fighting with HIM!



Her big blue eyes and somehow already mature way of tilting her head while giving a sneaky smile.
She is a little wrecking ball that slams into everyone's heart, too.
I send frequent prayers into the future for the people who will have a crush on her someday.  Oh, those poor, poor souls.



Our Gemmi will be two this week.
Two years old and a force to be reckoned with.
A force so great, that most times all Brandon or I can mutter is, "I mean..." as we share glances filled with both pride and worry.


Our Gemmi.
a perpetually big fish in a small pond.
our beautiful, spirited, fearless, charming girl.
Happy birthday, baby.
We love you forever and ever, even when you get so big.




the Coach's Wife

Monday, February 10, 2014


We have made it to the last game of our daddy's very first season as varsity boy's basketball coach at Valley.  It has been a learning experience and adjustment period for our whole family over the course of these last few months.  When B took the job this past summer, we were so excited.  Lots of people congratulated us, more told us we were crazy, and a few gave us a sarcastic 'good luck!' We knew to expect long winter days while Dad put in a full day at work and then the rest of his evening at practice or a game.  But there were lots of unexpected surprises that came with the season too.


This was the first year in five years of marriage that we had to set up a fake Christmas tree because we just could not squeeze in the time to go get a real one between work, practice, and games.  We daily adjusted dinner time, and bedtime so that we could eat together as a family.  Over the months of basketball season, I spent two to three evenings a week, wrestling my preschooler and toddler head to toe in winter gear and getting all of us in the truck to drive to home and away games, at least 20 minutes away.


Our kids learned lots of new things.  Like how to stand silently and respectfully for the National Anthem - which is now sung before nearly every time we play basketball at home.  We learned how to wait patiently until the game is over before we get to talk to Daddy and how to find ways to entertain ourselves during 32+ minutes of game time.  Greyson learned new words and phrases like; foul shot, box out, hustle, and 'Drain It!'  Gemmi happily shouts out 'Go Blue Jays!' and copies the cheerleaders' hand motions.


There were moments that will be held in my memory as 'Daddy's first Coaching season.'  Like, after the first win, when the kids and I picked up Chinese take-out and surprised Daddy with a late night celebration when he got home.  Like the several actual fights with Grey about letting me wash his 'basketball clothes' after he wore them for four days in a row (not even wanting to take them off for bed).  At the Portage away game when the kids put on a legit dance presentation at half time.  It was being the very last people to leave the gym at home games; walking the length of the parking lot to brush off our car and praying the kids would fall asleep on the ride home.  It was the feeling of relief at the sight of family and friends in the stands when arriving to the games with my two gremlins.  (thank you so much Gigi, Pappy, Mimi, Abba, Chum, Uch, Rebecca Hagerich, Jordan Heider, Stacy, Corey & Lila Stahl, Uncle Juice, Jonny, Ninna, Kuma, Morgan, Ricky & Wendy Stahl, Barb & Jess Verno, Beth Furman, and Paula & Maddie McCleester for spending time with my kids during basketball season).



Although, the biggest lesson we learned this first basketball season is that this is not just something that Daddy does.  Caring about the Blue Jays is serious family business.  We eat, talk, and sleep basketball.


Most of the conversations I have with my husband are about his team, upcoming games, strategies, and issues.  I hear him laugh about the funny, immature jokes his players tell at practice and see the to-the-bone-marrow pride when he speaks about the team.  I know the players' names, knicknames, and tendencies; who has surprised him, who has inspired him to work harder and see things from a new angle, who has changed over the course of the season.  There is a light in him that comes from being with his team and assistant coach that wasn't there before, and for that, I am deeply grateful to the Blue Jays.

photo credit:  Christa Statler
It's a funny thing to be on this side of athletics.  Brandon and I have been athletes all the way from childhood to college.  We know what it is like to be a player; to stand again after a brutal loss, to be filled up with hot pride at a victory hard won.  We are both quick to point to sports as being a main contributor to the way we do things as adults.  How we bounce back from disappointments, how we recognize an opportunity to learn, how we cheer on colleagues and friends - as we know a win for them, is in turn a win for us as well.  This is the stuff of character building.  So it is no surprise (least of all to me), that my husband takes this very seriously.

photo credit:  Christa Statler
The only information that I can offer about my husband's daily coaching choices is this:  my husband is invested in each of his players. That's it; he is invested.  He cares about the W, but more than that, he cares about  the men his players will be in five years; in ten years.  He's coaching them to get back up from a 60 point loss (the first game of the season) and try again.  He wants them to later in life be able to push all the way to the end even if you're down and fans start leaving the gym early, because you know what - you can win in overtime (Meyersdale game).  He wants for them to make the connection that the way they interact and speak to their teammates, the refs, the other coaches, the fans, and their teachers is a reflection of not only of themselves but everyone associated with them; their family, their teammates, their coach, their community.  It is more than basketball.  It has always been more than basketball to him.

Before taking the job, someone trying to dissuade him said, 'Remember, you have two little ones of your own at home to guide too.'  What that person may not have realized is that my kids get the privilege of seeing first hand what it means to follow a dream.  That there may almost never be a 'good time' in life to take on a challenge, but if you care enough about it - you can find a way to make it work.

photo credit: Christa Statler
And even more; something I see so clearly now, my two kids spend their days talking about and trying to emulate an entire team worth of teenagers that they may not have known otherwise.  If these boys, The Blue Jays, are the role models that my children try to copy - then I am considering myself a very lucky mother.




Good luck tonight, fellas.  You will always be considered part of our Blue Jay family.

photo credit:  Christa Statler
love,
the coach's wife.

Mumma

Saturday, February 8, 2014

mumma.
it is who i am.
most days it feels like it is only and all of who i am.
all other parts, fragments, glimmers of any other who i might have been
obliterated by the mumma.
mumma, mumma, mumma.
it's the sippy cup that needs refilled.
it's the booboo that needs kissed.
the face that needs wiped.
the butt that needs wiped.
the counter that needs wiped.
so much wiping.
it's the meals that need made.
the meals that require begging, bribing, negotiating, please just eat what i made this one time.
it's the timeout, the separating of siblings, the dearLordpleasehelpmefindpatience whispered through clenched teeth
it's the hold you, hold you, hold you.
it's the worry, the running to do list, the flash of panic of why is it so quiet
it's finding my daughter with aquaphor on every inch of her body
it's finding my son stuck on the top shelf of the pantry
it's constantly asking to no one in particular, how?  why?
it's guilt for choosing a shower over alone time with the big one
it's guilt for letting the little one cry herself to nap
it's the up, down, up, down, up, down at the dinner table 
it's do you have to go potty asked for the 12th time today and it's only 10am
it's the early morning rise just to have a small window of silence
it's the worry running through my head at night, are they covered up and warm? what are we doing for lunch tomorrow? remember to call the doctor to schedule the well check-up
it's looking around the house and wondering aloud if it will ever be clean:  the ever fingerprinted mirrors, the crumbs in couch cushions, the single socks with no matches
where do all the socks go?

mumma.
it is who i am.
and sometimes it feels like it is all i've ever wanted to be.
all other parts, fragments, glimmers of any other who i ever was
magnified and glistening by the mumma.
mumma, mumma, mumma.
the kisses, the snugs, the full child body weight around my neck.
the glimpses that belong only to me to test the waters on an unfamiliar choice.
the i love you.
i love you, mumma.  i love you.
it's finding the moon in the night sky and telling it goodnight
it's puzzles of farm scenes completed followed by high fives and ripping it up joyfully
it's smiling in recognition as my child feebly tries to sing the song from Wallykazam in the car
it's hearing the words otherwise, actually, and solution being used correctly out of the mouth of a preschooler 
it's the hold you, hold you, hold you.
it's feeling pride and tearful joy at the sight of a legible letter in shaky 3year old print on a piece of construction paper
it's the burst of laughter that bubbles up from a place of slapstick comedy you almost forgot existed when your 2year old discovers that she should swallow a mouth full of water before trying to talk
it's finding your children huddled up under a blanket together reading books peacefully
the thanks mum! you're the best ever! for offering the smallest of gifts: a new snack, a once misplaced toy, a chance to lick the cookie spoon.
it's the blissful peace that comes with watching a child fall asleep in your arms.
the fulfilling sense of triumph when both kids ask for seconds at dinnertime
it's looking around the house and realizing that there would be no mistaking it for one that children did not occupy; the crafts on the fridge, the legos under the couch, the snacks in the cupboard.
our home screams:  children live here!  This is a home lived in.
very very deeply lived in.

mumma.
it's a thick layer of frosting covering the entire cake; the part that children scrape off and devour hungrily only to leave the crumbling naked cake dejected on the plate.
it slips down into hairline fractures
it is in every dark corner, out every window
i find it in hidden in unexpected places
it is the scale on which all of life is weighed and balanced
it is not the fork in the road, rather the shoes that i wear
shoes that i trust and have worn in - so much so that i forget they aren't actually just part of my feet
mumma.

how we spend our days

Sunday, February 2, 2014

I have mentioned before that one of my favorite blogs to read is by Lindsay Mead over at A Design so Vast.  Her style of writing and her topics almost always inspire me and leave me sitting breathless and chilled to the bone.  She recently wrote The prism through which all of life is seen and I have not been able to stop thinking about it since reading it a few days ago.  This weekend, she posted about a writing group she was involved in over at Catching Days in the monthly series entitled How we spend our days.  Lindsay's involvement in the series was my first introduction to not only the monthly posts, but also to the quote by Annie Dillard that inspired the series in the first place.
"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."  - Annie Dillard in The Writing Life
It has been a rough past week; I'm attempting to recover from a sinus cold that has lasted more than five days while my children have been healthy and full of pent-up winter energy during days that dipped down into the negatives.  And then reading those words yesterday, was a small chip in the windshield in front of my face.  The spider cracks spread across the entire length and it feels as though the dingy windshield has shattered and I can see clearly for the moment.  Because if I'm being honest with myself, how I spend my days; and thus my life, is so beautifully blessed it is almost painful to look at straight on.

I spend a great deal of the day caring for my home and family.  Cleaning, picking up, washing, drying, loading, folding, wiping down, finding things that are lost, answering the question 'why?,' re-organizing, cooking meals, cutting up into bite-size pieces, texting Brandon, finding patience to wait for a toddler to put on her own jacket as she shouts, 'I do!,' rubbing backs, kissing booboos, filling dog dishes, sweeping, logging the grocery list, laughing at toddler jokes that have no punchlines, scraping unrecognizable pieces of gunk off of unfathomable places thinking, "What is this and how long has it been here?"

A portion much longer than I wish, is spent looking at a screen; paying bills, reading articles, watching videos, checking social media, working on The Hunting Daddies, writing on the blog or working on my novel, helping kids trace letters or feed food to monsters, locating an episode of Team Umizoomi, reading a recipe, and then subsequently googling 'substitute for sour cream.'

Reflecting on the Dillard quote has surged up a desire in me to actually spend more time in my days doing the things I want my life to be spent doing.  Things like writing - although I spend a very big part of my day thinking about writing - exercising, mediating, reading actual grown up books (instead of online articles and children's picture books), and catching up with loved ones in ways that are more varied than a short phone call punctuated by my kids yelling in the background.

The quote has also shed a light in my heart to appreciate and realize that there is no part of my day; and thus life, that I spend worrying about my physical safety or the safety of those that I love.  In no part of my day do I have to struggle to find food or warmth for myself or my family.  Very rarely do I spend time administering medication or waiting for a doctor's visit for questions answered.  At no time do I have to wonder if any given place will be able to accommodate my family's needs; my entire family is blessed as we all can physically, mentally, and socially adjust to any given place and it's restrictions.  These are things that mothers worldwide spend portions of their day doing, as I carry on not even considering it.

But the spider crack that actually caused the whole window to shatter was the realization that the very greatest portion of my day, the thing I do while I also do all of the things listed above - is holding my children.  Children in my laps while I eat, lounge, rock to sleep.  Children in my arms while I balance two sippy cups and a bowl of snacks.  Picking children up and putting them down in various locations; the countertop, the time-out chair, the bath, their car seat.  Answering with extended arms, the small-voiced requests of 'hold you.' All day long, my babies are either in my arms or on my lap.

At the end of time, I hope the way I have spent my life will be measured by the weight of my children in my arms.