Sunday, August 2, 2020

A Quarantine SIX

Annie May.


There is a light that burns within you that seems almost other-worldly. Wrapped in impish delight, your magical goodness feels like this rare gift we stumbled upon and somehow have managed to keep for ourselves. In all the logistical thinking that goes with with a weary and crowded mind (read: NONE), I would worry that my time with you might be limited somehow. Like any day, we were going to discover this horrific finding or medical condition that was going to take you away from us. This fear would catch my breath as you snuggled in closer or smiled your twinkly eyes my direction. It was irrationally crazy, untrue and yet- terrifying. You see, I just couldn't fathom how a brightness like that could stay here for always. 

And yet, here we are.

 Your steady glow in this family grows stronger still for six beautiful years and I am slowly leaning in to the truth that you were meant to be ours. How did we get so lucky?

You continue to be so quirky and uniquely you. Shoes lost, clothing optional, covered in someone else's confiscated hair chalk or makeup at all times. Just when we think that you float above reality-- you will hack into our technology, order animal fart apps on our Alexa with secret, memorized codes and change Dad's watch face on a dime without him even noticing. You are selectively attentive to details but only on Annie May time. It is simultaneously fascinating and infuriating. One day, we are going to harness that feral reserve you delicately balance and channel it to save the planet or something. There is some real ingenuity there, buddy.

You continue to be the most incredible, independent player, lover of ALL the cats, fierce beanie boo collector and crazed, makeup enthusiast I have ever met. At bedtime one evening in April, you casually whispered in my ear that you were a "cat in a human body" and I absolutely believe that to be a possibility. Good thing I'm not allergic to cats.

Tonight at dinner we were discussing what you wanted us to order out for your birthday dinner. You immediately informed us all that what you really wanted was for us to get everyone's favorite individual meal and eat it all together. It is your day and you just want to take care of everyone else. You told us that would be your "perfect meal." To quote Molly, "We don't deserve you, Annie". 

You know what, she is absolutely correct. 

Thanks for putting up with all our jaded, brooding and cynical ways and adding to the mix your whimsical light and goodness. YOU MAKE US ALL BETTER PEOPLE. 

Here's to your next year, sweet kitty. 


May it shine as brightly as you do in our lives each and every day. 

Love, 
Mommy

Birthday Video below--- I really think this song was written specifically for you. 

Saturday, April 4, 2020

A Pandemic Nine.


Birthday Babe.



Of allll my Mays, leave it to the BIGGEST extrovert of the bunch to land her birthday smack dab in the middle of shelter in place orders during a global pandemic. It will be a year to remember for sure! Don't worry--- your Mom has some tricks up her sleeve to help you feel surrounded by your people and I can't wait for you to be surprised.

This year marked the the beginning climb to big girl status and a step further away from all things our tiny and mighty Lu. There's excitement in this growth -for sure- but it is met with a tiny pang of bittersweet. One day, you'll understand it. There was something pretty magical about the greatness of eight. You are an explorer, innovative, curious, independent with a good dose of magic still weaving throughout your every day life. It is like the best of all worlds and selfishly, I want you to get this sweet spot for so much longer than the world will allow you to have it. I guess we'll just have to enjoy it while we can!

This year, I worried I wasn't present enough for you. That random guilt plagued me at times when I would see you needing more of my attention in spaces where I felt pulled in another direction or toting the line of capacity. I wondered how I could make myself more available, seek you out, fill your bucket with some individualized time. I'll be honest, I didn't do so great at it most of the time. The happy and easy middle kid is so often the one left to drift while my attention gets pulled away. I know you would be the quickest to forgive me for it though. Instantly wrapped in a Lucy sized hug, you would tell me all the ways you love me and land a giant smooch awkwardly and aggressively on my face. The quickest to love always and even faster to forgive.

For such a wild spirit, you have this precious gift for loving people. I see it in the friendships you keep, the animals you seek and the little sister that resides in your shadow. There is a gentleness to your intensity and it paints the most beautiful picture of you. Fierce and loyal. Cunning and mischievous. Athletic and magical. You have struggled at times to see where you fit this year. There were talks about friends vs. friendly and how it is okay to not fit perfectly in to just one box. Some colors are just too bright to be seen only one way. In time, I hope you come to see that as a gift too.

You live the rainbow, sister and paint our world all sorts of colorful.

Love you to the moon and back, sweet girl.
Mom

*Turn Up Music*

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Birthday Boy

Hey, hey birthday babe.



I have to say... twelve looks mighty handsome on you.


I won't pretend this year has been all things stellar. We are far too honest with each other to not acknowledge the squishy parts. Lots of big feelings and chalked full of change--- it was one for the books. The comforts of little-kid land in your rear-view found you confidentially chasing your American Idol. You had waited two whole years to share a school with her again and finally, the time had come. What you found in the new spaces, however, were crowded hallways filled with a lot of hormonally-charged, bigger bodies with all the opinions and far less kind words. The reality checks of middle school came at you like a wave and unfortunately, the salt left a sting. It has been challenging to see my self-assured, quirky kid come to doubt all the unique ways that he is beautiful. 

Some years are just like that. In the wise words of Dolly Parton, "Storms make trees take deeper roots." Uncomfortable and awkward in your body at times, but necessary to grow.

Every day I see glimpses of your confidence rebuilding. When you feel comfortable at home, it is like all the hard of the day melts away. The funny videos, late night jam sessions, sketches and hilarious quips never cease to make me laugh. You are beloved by friends and teachers alike, and my hope is that you feel it too. 

This year brought you some wonderful new loves too. Suddenly, your world is all things Topo Chico, hooded sweatshirts, skateboards, Anime and Notre Dame football. You have learned to play the guitar completely on your own. Often times, your strumming has become the peacefulness I look forward to as the day winds down. Dad has adored your growing love of all things football and having a buddy to toss the football with as the sun comes down. Thank goodness for that light up football. Man, it gets a lot of use.

I look back at the pictures that started this year and I hardly recognize that little kid. As Molly would say, you are on the brink of one lovely "glow up". Pretty soon we won't be reminding you to stand tall in your head... you will just stand taller... with your legs. You are the real dill to my pickle, Mr. May. I will forever be cheering on my big-hearted and curious kid. Here's to a year of so much more.

Happy birthday, Gabe. I sure do love you.
Mom

**music up!!**


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A Balancing Act

Standing at the stove, stirring our soon-to-be dinner and the distant voices of my daughter and husband exploding some kittens a room over floats around my kitchen. Lost in thought, I feel as though but a minute has passed and yet a quick glance at the computer screen confirms what I know in my heart to be true. Same smile--a bit more worn… same eyes--aged slightly with weary… same passion--softened by experience. Ah, reflections. They just don’t lie. Dang it. 

Carving out spaces to process quieted thoughts arrives with inconsistent dosing throughout the early years of motherhood. Creative outlets fall empty to the chaos of locating lost socks; refilling sippy cups; the goldfish army waging war on the floor of my van. The mundane of daily survival takes priority. It is babies vs. parents and I’m not so sure we’re winning.  

This whole Mom gig. We know it well. How many days was I determined to create predictability, a schedule, some tiny resemblance of a routine only to have it repeatedly kicked out of orbit by this adorably-faced, loudly-opinionated, dictator requiring ALL THE SNACKS and NONE OF THE NAPS? 

Motherhood, y’all

My hardest, best work without any gold stars and alllll the bathroom company. There’s a sweetness to it for sure, but it lives under many, many layers of sleepy. It is a sweetness that saturates with time. Thank goodness for that. 

Back to now. The laughter floating over our almost-dinner comes from my 3rd grade daughter. The same squishy-faced babe a blog post or two back is now sporting pom-pom dangle earrings and cartwheeling her way through life. 

Gone are my days of diaper bags, little gym hangs and googling the maximum daily dosing for baby Tylenol. In all fairness, Tylenol did go and change the dosing on all their meds post major recall- right there in the heart of my sleepless season- so some confusion was definitely warranted. Still, it is a season now gone away.  That sweetness of baby time? I may have overlooked it then but on some of the truly, mind-numbing days with middle-schoolers do I go reaching for it now! But that’s life, right? We don’t know until we know and then we delve deeper into some other sorts of unknown. Ever. Evolving. It’s just the best. 

My secret to surviving the Mom hustle? 

Seek out some balance. Actively choose the parts to clutch closely and the memories to let fade. It is about the company that meets you in the crazy vs the “friends” that fall to the shadows. Those peeps late night texting about bloody nose remedies, high school IB programs, and affirming that it isn't your fault that your kids can’t speak nicely to each other? Those people are your TRIBE and feed the balance that enables you to recognize capacity, to draw firmer boundaries and creatively channel some renewal. This life with bigger kids comes with the space that the newborn mamas dream of. Don’t you worry, though. Not everything is foreign. Older kid models continue to arrive with no manual, consistency or naps … and as a fun little bonus they throw in the added gift of hormones. All those smells and really big feelings. 

It's okay, Moms. We can do hard things. We already have. 



Bigger kid world doles out long days marked by heaps and heaps of grace. You’ve learned to forgive yourself more, hide a personal stash of chocolate in the pantry and have friends that porch drop wine. Your babysitters now live in your house and the permission for self-care lives here too. It is about balancing. The space to choose creativity again, to carve out a space for ME. Re-entering blog world once more. 

It is so lovely to be back.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Officially a Teen

...
Oh, Sister. YOU HAVE ARRIVED. Officially a teenager.



Wait...



There we go.


Sweet girl, you have been speeding towards teen status for the past 364 days and finally your day has come. It's not always the easiest being the baby of your grade is it? Add a little insult to injury but your middle-child and baby-of-their-families parents were September birthdays and the oldest of the school friends. We totally just DON'T GET IT. Just remember, when all those buddies are 40-years-old with all saggy, tired skinned-- you will still be dwelling in an incredibly youthful decade of good skin. Get on with yo bad self.

It would seem that this was the year of the selfie. Don't get me wrong, there were other years of selfies but this was definitely the biggest year of the selfie. Happy selfies, backwards peace sign selfies, the kissy selfies, the frowny selfies and much to your Dad's tummy rumblings--- the mildly sexy selfies. Oye.

We continue to be clueless in all things life but at least you will keep us aware with softer and kinder words. The hormonal surges are there but there is a little glow at the end of the tunnel. We are going to make it... just in time for your brother to derail us straight through the boy version of puberty. Oh parenting. It is a shitshow the best.

All kidding aside, you sure are incredible. Your witty sense of humor, endless creativity and not to mention the fiercest love for her siblings there ever was. Anyone mess with your people and they will be due a visit by the meanest, scrawniest avenger they ever did see. They will rue the day, that's certain. Small and spicy, our diva since day one.

This year, you pushed your boundaries of comfortability. You bravely initiated some space in your life to love on children that have come from such harder environments. You heart was such a gift for those children. You came how raw and vulnerable and forever changed. My wish for you is a lifetime of that feeling. This world needs so much love and you have the most beautiful lot to give.

This is our last little bit in the awkwardness of middle school. Ha. High school is on the horizon and it just about makes my heart stop. This ride just seems to keep gaining speed. Thanks for granting me grace while I struggle to keep up with the newness of TikTok and catching the Woah...with the memes, the vines, the very sad and very quiet musings of Billie Eilish. You trust me enough to share you crazy world with me and I hope it is that way for always.

Here's to you birthday babe. 13 years as Mom and I wouldn't trade a day.

Love you so!
Mom



Molly's 13th Video from Julie May on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

High Five, Annie May.


Birthday Babe,


With all the words to ever before cross my mind, I find myself completely inept in capturing down the essence of you. See, you are like this magical, little, burst of light that somehow discovered me and holds closely to my heart. To share you with the world is to lose a little bit of light for me. Most days, I know that is the right thing to do but sometimes, selfishly, I just want to snuggle in a bit longer and barricade the world from you. My creative muse, my silly companion and my last buddy home.

Until now, sweet love.

This year marks the start of an incredible journey for us both. For the first time in always, we will come to navigate the majority of our waking hours apart. Each day, I'm confident will be more wondrous and exciting for you... but oh, how I will miss you!

This year has marked the passing into bigger kid world. Gone are the baby toys, the everyday nap schedule, the sippy cups and a need to be picked up and held all day. Our adventures now greet us on the trails, in parks and trying to chase after those ever-enticing big siblings. More days than not, I want to shout out to the world to slow down... to give me some time to soak it up so I don't forget it all. You see, we have had so much fun this year. There have been ballet days, disney movie marathons, playdates with buddies, carpools, PreK, becoming an amazon alexa expert, alllll the costumes, the bravery (ziplines & waterslides!!), the sassiness... THE OPINIONS. I have loved it all. Well... most of it. Minus that whole trip to the ER business. Oh, sis,  your ability to stay calm in crisis, to breathe away the pain and inability to see, was the most beautiful display of bravery I ever did see. To quote the firefighter, "Who is this unicorn?" My love, that is you. A bright and shiny unicorn that the world just knew we needed to meet.

Five whole years of you in our lives and not a day goes by that I don't thank the heavens and earth for you.

Happy Birthday, Annabel Jane. Excited for this next twirl around the sun.

Love,
Mommy

**Volume up for birthday video!!**

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Lulu's gr8.

...
Lucy girl,



My goodness, you are the easiest kid to love! There isn't a day that goes by that I don't stop what I am doing and giggle a little inside about something silly you said or incredible thing you did without even taking note at the awesomeness of it all. My love, you are the QUEEN of badassery. I am quite confident that there is very little that you cannot do and every day I become more and more grateful at how unaware you still are of that. I mean, how does one parent the teenage version of the Queen of badassary? I am a little frightened to find out.

Looking though birthday video pictures of the last year, I narrowed it down to 97 pictures of you. NINETY SEVEN, you little ham. Honestly, I think you had an animal or a baby in your hand in about 76 of them. The rest you were doing something insane and bendy with your body, singing full volume or dressed up in some ridiculous getup. That file of pictures couldn't ring truer of your personality... you live big and love even bigger. Animals and people alike are never a stranger-- only your future friend.

I wish I could tell you that I had all the secrets to navigate those big feelings and the perfect trick to help you keep your volume control in check, but alas, I have never known another you and I am completely learning on the fly. Siblings get snarky with you and you love them even harder. Animals run away from you and so you tame them into submission. Some say go big or go home... you say go big AND go home. You go to our LUCY LOUD home. How empty we would be without you!

You live the entire rainbow, Lulu and the magic just transcends off you to anyone fortunate enough to stand in your glow. It is the most beautiful sight I ever did see. I will forever be chasing your light.

Little and wise. Flexible yet stubborn. Laughter through tears. You hug both ends of the spectrum and just smoosh it all together in a way that only Lucy May can do. You are the muse to our world.

And so to the greatness of eight. Let's go!
Mom

*Turn up music!!



Lucy's GR8. from Julie May on Vimeo.