It’s summer! ☀️

Yesterday was the official start to summer even though it’s been incredible hot already. I don’t like summer because it’s usually unbearably hot, and we’re living without air conditioning this year. So it’s not been welcomed. 

However – warm weather does mean lots of this happening:

We haven’t taken them to the water playground yet, and I’m not sure how Mattie’s gonna like it because she’s terrified of the shower. So we’ll see how that goes when it happens. 

I may not be a fan of the summer heat, but I do love the exciting things that happen in the summer. We have a ton of birthdays in July (including a big 5th birthday 😱), the 4th, summer ballet classes, and, this year, lots of school prep. I have a feeling it’s going to fly by. 

The last two weekends of spring have been quite busy. Our weeks always slow down because, well, there’s only so much you can do it in the 2 hours we get at home before bedtime for the girls. But weekends are jam-packed. 

We had the Biggs-Rolfes Family reunion on 6/11. It was the 60th annual and also the last. It’s been a summer staple growing up and we’ve continued to go almost every year since I moved out. I like going and seeing all my mom’s cousins and my grandma’s siblings all coming together. I never remember who any of them are (there’s 9 kids in my grandmas generation and the number grows like crazy from there the further down you go). So my mom tries to point out all of them. The girls played with water with Opa and we took them to the playground briefly. 


Unfortunately, Miss Matilda had a full on meltdown in the middle of everything which continued for 15 mins in the car once we scooped her up and bolted out of there which only ended when she finally passed out. Kids, man. They are a piece of work. 

We also had this happen. 😭


My baby is growing up! She loves her big girl bed though. She loves to just go in her room and sit in it. 

On the 13th, Ellabelle had her kindergarten assessment for school. They just talked to her to figure out where to place her knowledgewise in class. Oma took her and then stole her away to go to “the woods” with her and Opa. She’s been talking about going back to the woods since they took her last year. She was so excited once she figured out where they were. Opa told her they were going to the mall. She’s still mad he tricked her 😂


For us, it was a nice break from having two kids especially when the little one does exactly what the big one does. It was an extremely easy and quiet evening. Oh and getting just one kid ready to go in the morning is cake compared to two. Mattie missed her sister though. When she got up that morning, she pointed at Ellabelle’s bed and kept asking “Where Ellabelle?!” 

So, we got Ellabelle back on Thursday after work and the next night we dropped the girls off so they could both go spend the night at their cousin Alex’s house. They both adore Alex so they were so excited. We were excited for another free night with NO KIDS! 

We took the opportunity to go see Wonder Woman. It was amazing. I loved every bit of it. I’m totally a Wonder Woman fangirl now. 

Saturday, we got up and did some deep house cleaning that we aren’t able to do with the girls home – like steam vacing their bedroom. We also napped which was glorious. While we were in our way to pick up the girls, I got a call from Alex saying Ellabelle threw up all over herself in the car. Of course, she did. 🤦🏻‍♀️ Poor thing seems to get so carsick but only at random times. Not sure what the connection is that causes it. We got her cleaned up at the church parking lot they stopped in and, thankfully, most of it was on her and not the car.

I was glad to have my crazy girls home. As much as I enjoyed the break, I miss them like crazy when they’re gone. 

Father’s Day was this past weekend. I got up early with Matilda and made Josh biscuits and gravy for breakfast. The girls gave him his gifts to open and then we went to his dads for a late lunch. My dad had tickets to a reds game so we’re doing Father’s Day with him next weekend. So we had a pretty laid back and low key Father’s Day which is exactly what Josh prefers. “It’s just like any other day,” he always says. 


Poor Mattie was exhausted after the day though. After her nap, we couldn’t seem to get her to stay awake. 😂

For his gifts, We replaced the “you can’t scare me. I have two daughters shirt” that he dried and shrunk last year. He also got a lego mini figure shadow box. The cats and Maisy got him new cats for his cat collection. 


Maisy got him a Stimpy pop vinyl because she thinks he’s as stupid as Stimpy. Bellerz got him a vintage Cringer figure because Bellerz is his real life scaredy cat. Bean got him a Beerus lego mini-figure because Bean expects us to treat him like he’s a cat god. I think he was pleased with all of them. 

At school on Wednesday, it was Hawaiian day so I pulled out the old dance costumes and Ellabelle wore an old hula skirt. 


Mattie, never one to be left out, insisted on wearing the Belle dress. She refused to take it off at the babysitter’s and argued when it was time for bed. She’s so silly. 

So now we prepare to head into another weekend. We’re doing half days to take the girls to the West Chester touch a truck and hopefully it doesn’t rain the whole time like it’s forecasted it will. Sunday is Opa’s Father’s Day and then we start the work week up again. It’s not a superpacked weekend which I’m totally ok with. July is gonna be crazy busy so I’ll take a day or two of rest while I can. 

Resting and learning to rest

So, 2016 went out with a bang (or a surgery, same diff) and my 2017 started nice and slow. I literally slept for most of the first week. Pain pills and walking around the house like an old person kept me going. I hardly ate because I didn’t feel like it. When I was awake, I was depressed – depressed because I couldn’t hug my babies (like Matilda had to literally be kept away from me), I couldn’t spend time with my husband (cause I was so tired), I felt like I was failing as a mom and that I had failed myself somehow because my organ needed removed. None of this was true and Josh tried so hard to remind me of this. He did such an awesome job being a full time dad and taking care of a whiney sick wife. It was very hard on me because I hate just sitting around. It was also hard to do anything. So my body forced me to rest. I think it’s what I needed especially after Christmas. With being so busy almost everyday, maybe my body was just ready to take it easy. Funny how your body always seems to know.


We were both so relieved when I finally started feeling better on Friday, and on Saturday Oma watched the girls so Josh and I could go out for his birthday. We went down to Newport to eat at Joes Crab Shack because Josh loves seafood. The first thing that greeted us upon arrival was a firetruck. Josh pointed out this isn’t exactly the best sign at a restaurant you’re planning on eating at.


It was freezing, and the restaurant had a pipe burst. There was water flooding out of the bathrooms that a guy was trying to mop up. Thankfully, the kitchen was not affected. We had a nice quiet lunch, and Josh got him some mussels so he was a happy birthday boy.


When we got back my parents house to get the girls, Ellabelle had helped Oma bake a birthday cake for Josh. Ellabelle insisted it have strawberries on it. She then proceeded to pick off and eat every strawberry off the cake.


On Sunday, we went BW3s with my parents and Angie and Mike to celebrate Josh’s bday. The girls were awful as usual while out at a restaurant. However, they were both very happy to have a captive audience. Ellabelle ran back and forth around the table, and Mattie was unhappy because she wanted to run around too but was strapped into a high chair. Ellabelle threw a massive fit when we left because she was given a balloon by a table next to ours and she let it go almost as soon as she had it. She wanted another one and we were not about to ask the nice strangers for another so that mean the world was ending.
If you’re signed up for the Red Robin card, you get a free burger and so we went and got burgers for Josh’s birthday. We like to extend the birthdays around here. I’ve managed to stretch mine for a whole month before. Now, mind you, this was Monday. The first day back to work for me following my surgery as well as the first day of my “healthy lifestyle change.” I did not enjoy my salad for lunch and needed something fattening. Thankfully, I’ve been doing a lot better with the eating better and eating the right things when I do eat. That first day was rough though.


So, I came back to work and, while I was gone, I had received an invitation to my promotion ceremony. So I got to dress all nice and go to the Chief of Police’s staff meeting and he read a little thing about me and we took pictures and I got a certificate. It was all very exciting. Josh is jealous. He’s never been promoted so he’s never gotten to do this. He still makes more money than me so I’d rather have the cash then the certificate, but I get his point.


So I made it through my first week back fairly easily. I had a rough time with my incisions hurting, and I had to switch to yoga pants instead of work pants to help, but I pushed through. Martin Luther King Day was that next Monday. So, I took Ellabelle to see Moana in theaters. We went to one of those super fancy new theaters with the huge reclining leather chairs. She loved it and the icee and the movie.


She did super well during it. I thought she’d be a pain because this was my first movie with her and others who have taken her said she likes to talk and move around a lot, but she did great. Moana was absolutely adorable, and she loved it so much she’s getting the bluray for Valentine’s Day.
The next week ended in a down note – Donald Trump was inaugurated into the office of President. Hearing him referred to as president still makes my skin crawl every time. I’m still in denial about it, I guess. In an effort to help myself feel better about the world I’m raising two young girls in and to actually get out there and do something, I made Josh go to the local Women’s March.


He was reluctant at first, and not because he doesn’t support women’s rights. We got down there and the crowd was huge. It was amazing. Being surround by people who think like us and feel passionate about the same causes was something we needed. We live in a very conservative area and it’s so easy to feel lost and alone. Josh told me he was really glad I made him go. And we took the girls too. I wanted them to be a part of it even if they likely won’t remember it. Unfortunately, it looks it’s a fight they’ll be fighting along side me someday, but we have to start somewhere.


Ellabelle loved it because she thought she was in a parade.


After the march, I took Josh to his friends house, and he went off and had a guys night. So it was a girls night at the Hawkins House. We napped and hung out and made brownies and watched Lego Movie while we ate brownies.


We had a quiet morning the following day and then we went over to Oma and Opa’s house. Maisy had a puppy play date with her cousin Beanie. Maisy scared Beanie and chased her around the house at first, but eventually they both settled down. I don’t think they’ll be best buddies anytime soon, but at least they’ll be able to hang together in the future if necessary.

Josh and I both took our birthday holidays from work on the 27th. We literally slept all day since we were both so exhausted. We ran up to the Disney store though because I wanted to get Ellabelle’s Valentine’s Day gift because she wasn’t with us.
We all watched Big Hero 6 on the 28th. I’m not good at relaxing and sitting – especially for a movie. But I love my whole family being snuggled up on a couch. January’s was slow paced compared to December and even November. So I’m working hard on just being at home and being relaxed on weekend.


Ellabelle got her first library card. She was so excited. She picked out books for herself to check out, and she wants to go back to visit already. I’ve been trying to instill in my girls the love of reading, and so far so good.


Our month ended on a not so great note -Miss Ellabelle was sick. She had a bad cough and kept wanting to sleep on the couch which is way out of character. So Josh had to stay home with her. She’s doing better, but this crazy Ohio weather (mid-50s one day, snowing and 20s the next) is so hard on the girl’s sinuses anyways that it makes colds even worse.


My February is looking crazy on the calendar because there’s nothing planned. Sure, Valentine’s Day is in there, but my weekends are blank. I think I may be kinda happy about it. Like I said, I’m not good at doing nothing. So it’s a constant process to grow and slow down and just be. But I’m working on it. I want to be better. I want to learn to be more present. We spent most of the weekends in January at home. I was still healing, but it was nice to kinda hibernate. I love spending time with crazy girls. They keep things fun in the house even if they also keep it very loud and messy.

July 

I say it every time I get around to posting something, and, I honestly mean it, I am going to get better at posting things when they happen. Today and in the foreseeable future is not the time though. I hope someday I’ll look back on this time in our lives, and think, “Look at us. We survived that. How far we have come!” Someday. For now, most days I feel like our lives are crumbling and falling apart. We have gone further down than rock bottom. It seems like more and more keeps piling on as we keep falling deeper and deeper. On top of our current issues, our air conditioner stopped working. Our car is in desperate need of brakes. My student loans are ready to start being paid. There always seems to be more and more, and, if you’ve ever watched a really one sided boxing match you know, there’s only so many hits a person can take to the face before they hit the mat for good. Life is Muhammad Ali right now. We are bruised and bloody and doing that swaying thing you do before you fall. And, frankly, it sucks.

We work very hard to make sure the girls have no idea that anything is going on and try not to take the stress of “grown-up” things out on them. The important thing is they are fed and have a home and spoiled beyond belief in the toy and clothes department. They lack for nothing and that’s all that matters at the end of the day. Still, we want better for them and we want more for them then what we have right now. Living paycheck to paycheck is exhausting and frustrating and tear inducing. It’s especially hard when I stop and look at how much money we’re actually making. There is no reason we should be struggling. Josh and I have made some mistakes, and we’re working really hard to fix them. It’s certainly not easy, and it’s the biggest pain in the butt, but we’re going to get over this speed bump. Most days though it feels like I’m standing at the base of a mountain. 5 years from now, in the rear view mirror, it will look like a speed bump. Today and for the next few weeks, it is definitely Everest before me, and not a yellow pile of cement. 

And after that metaphor filled rant on our current situation, back to our regularly scheduled update.

So, we last left off with Fathers Day. Since then we’ve been super busy. July was filled with birthdays:

Auntie Ang’s

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Hudson’s img_4033 img_4031

Ellabelle’simg_4263

We also celebrated Alex’s and Opa’s birthdays.

There’s also the 4th

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I got my eyes lasered off (aka LASIK). I’ve got better vision than Josh now (20/15) and it makes him mad.img_3522 img_3524

Ellabelle went to Hueston Woods overnight with Oma and Opaimg_4959

Mattie tried Skyline for the first time.img_3515

We hunted Pokemon togetherimg_4105 img_4107 img_3733

But mostly, we just spent a lot of time hanging out img_5257 img_3549 img_4006 img_3734 img_4054 img_3770 img_3584 img_3715 img_3660 img_3832 img_3587 img_3551 img_4079

We are well into August now, and, like I said, we’re suffering a little. But there are some good things floating around. Ellabelle has soccer practice twice a week. As much as it stresses us out trying to get from downtown to two babysitters and off to the field, she loves it. Plus she’s adorable when she plays. Mattie’s standing up randomly and taking 2 steps at a time. She’ll be walking so very very soon. Now that Ellabelle’s birthday has past, I’m itching for fall. I want cool air and pumpkins and hayrides and trick or treating. My birthday is coming up, and I planned something amazing so I’m hoping to avoid the usual birthday blues I get.

Also, I just want to say how thankful I am for this guy.

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He is the greatest, and he certainly doesn’t give himself enough credit. He keeps me grounded yet still pushes me to fly. He puts up with my crazy moods, my crippling anxiety, and my controlling OCD. He’s done everything he can to try and help me while I’ve been dealing health issues. He is the sun to my moon, and I’m so glad he’s the one holding my hand as we take on the shitstorm that is life.

And to close, here’s an adorable picture of my children. This is why we keep taking the punches. This is why we don’t fall down. This is why we fight back. img_5277

Better late than never – October and November

I love holidays. I blame my mother. She decorates for every single holiday. There is hardly a day in a calendar year where her house is not decorated (Those rare days being the switch between two holidays). It wasn’t until high school that I realized that this holiday obsession makes her weird. And when I say weird, I mean it in the best way possible. Josh thinks it’s crazy. He doesn’t understand the point of it all. It’s safe to say that his dad wasn’t hanging heart covered garland for Valentine’s day or covering the house in bunnies for Easter so it’s no surprise. To me, decorating for holidays is just part of the change of the seasons. And changing season themselves are reasons to celebrate.

I’ve been itching for fall this year. Summer was weird this year, wet and cool, and it was spent down and out for the most part. Between the healing cesarian incision and having a newborn, I wasn’t in the holiday mood (Sleep deprivation will do that to you). Don’t get me wrong, I obviously was into the specific holidays as they rolled around, but the decorations and the celebration of the season wasn’t there. It was as tired as Josh and I was. So, fall. I’ve been waiting for it – tights and moccasins and hats and football and changing leaves and crisp air and pumpkins and turkeys and costumes and hot cider and the list could go on and on.

Oh, and just for the record, my house was decorated in falling leaves and light up spider webs complete with glowing spiders and creepy gauze and tombstones and garlands with skulls and pumpkins and spiders for all of October.

To start the month, on October 1, I had a structured oral exam with the police department of Blue Ash. I didn’t think I did very well. They only hired for one position so I didn’t have my hopes up, but I did get invited back for an interview. I never heard anything back to I didn’t get selected. 😦 Oh well, that’s life.

Then we started our busy weekends of October with the return of one the best parts of fall – football.

10/3 – Alex’s band performance

Alex is Josh’s sister’s daughter, and she plays the flute in the band. We were going to try and go to one of her games in September, but it poured down rain and we didn’t want to take Mattie out in it. So we rescheduled and it was still wet and rainy. We arrived before the beginning of the game, and we were bundled up. It was cold! Luckily, Mattie was dress in long sleeves and pants, her jacket, a hat, inside of her mei tai carrier against my chest with my jacket around her exposed legs and a hood on the carrier and blanket. She was the only one of us that was warm. Ellabelle was excited though and the rain couldn’t dampen her spirits. She had been saying all week, “Go see Alex play music!” We only stayed to see her perform til the start of the game because it was so cold. We said our hellos and then went to Josh’s mom’s house for hot chocolate. IMG_0587

10/4 – Bengals game

Auntie Ang and Mike watched the girls so that Josh and I could go see the Bengals face off against the Kansas City Chiefs. I was a little worried for them because both girls together can be a bit of a handful. They did wonderful though, even letting us go out to dinner before we picked them up, but I could tell they were happy to have them leave. IMG_0601IMG_1071

Where Ellabelle watched the game
Where Ellabelle watched the game

As for the game, the streak has been broken, they WON! I have never seen a professional team win while at the game – the Reds, the Blue Jackets and both Bengals games I had been to. Well, third times a charm because they beat the Chiefs! It was an amazing and exciting game to get to see live. IMG_0614 IMG_0626IMG_0618IMG_0608

Lately Ellabelle has been wanting the match Mattie when I get them both dressed. So, besides the adorableness of tights and knee socks, theres also sister matching going on. 

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10/10 – Barn n Bunk Pumpkin Patch and Lisa’s 50th Birthday Party

I’ve been waiting and waiting (not so patiently) to take both of my girls to a pumpkin patch. We went to the same one we went to last year. We went through the corn maze, IMG_0876 IMG_0870

Ellabelle rode the train, IMG_0882

rode the tractor ride around the pumpkin field, IMG_0890

and checked out the pumpkins for sale. IMG_0923IMG_0931

We let Ellabelle pick out a pumpkin for her and one for Mattie. IMG_1290

A pumpkin patch is everything that is fall – all the smells (straw and cinnamon), all the sights (dying corn, which is kinda depressing if you think about it so don’t think too hard about it, and pumpkins), and the feels (both physically – baby wearing and rest your chin on her knit hat and carrying pumpkins by the stem – and emotionally – my heart swelling as Ellabelle jumps up and down when she finds the right pumpkin). IMG_0859 IMG_1044

After the pumpkin patch, we took Ellabelle and Mattie to spend the night at Mamaw and Papaw’s so we could go to Lisa’s birthday party. Ellabelle was over the moon about it. 

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We went to Django’s in Northside for dinner with everyone. The shrimp tacos are amazing. IMG_0936 IMG_1084

We went back to the neighborhood bar, The C&D, for about 2 hours. Josh and I sat and watched the first Iron Man at the bar. Everyone kept saying we were being anti-social, but it was crowded and watching a movie without someone screaming or throwing toys across the room was exactly what we love to do without our munchkins. We did get into the group before the party bus showed up and then once on the bus. It was a great time on the bus. What’s better than cruising and belting out some of your favorite songs with like 20 really awesome people? IMG_0945 IMG_0951

Josh dancing
Josh dancing

10/11 – Soccer

Ellabelle had a lot of fun at soccer. There were only 4 kids that showed up (out of 15?), and she loved the games they played. IMG_1085IMG_0971

10/12 – Job interview

I had a job interview bright and early on Monday morning. Poor daddy had to take the girls to work til I was done. The good news is I got the job! It’s part time and in the evenings making pretty decent money. I had to go take the drug test so it was almost noon before I saved daddy from the trouble twins. IMG_1086IMG_1087

10/17 – Trent spends the night and Alex’s band competition

We watched Trent Saturday into Sunday. Ellabelle was ecstatic to wake up and have “Cook” here (Her “Tr”s come out like “C”s). We went to watch Alex play with her high school band in a competition. We had no idea what to expect, but it was actually pretty cool to watch. Afterwards, we went to Marion’s and had pizza. Ellabelle was glued to Trent’s side the whole evening, and I know she was sad when he had to go home the next day. IMG_1134 IMG_1133 IMG_1135IMG_1155

10/18 – Last soccer practice of the year

Only 6 kids showed up, but it was a fun closure to Ellabelle’s first attempt at soccer. IMG_1218 IMG_1207 IMG_1215 IMG_1263

10/22 – Library craft day

Our library does craft days every month for kids ages 3-5. Ellabelle was ecstatic when we got there and there was a huge group of kids. The theme was trees, and they made two crafts, listened to a book about trees, and learned a fun song. 

We also carved pumpkins. Ellabelle painted her little one. IMG_1277 IMG_1279 IMG_1291

We carved the bigger pumpkins. Ellabelle hated the guts but loved the seeds. IMG_1578 IMG_1569 IMG_1575

She was terrified of them once we put them outside though IMG_1589

This is seriously as close as she'd get even in the daylight
This is seriously as close as she’d get even in the daylight

10/24 – Halloween Trick or Treat at the Library and Britnee’s wedding reception

The library had a not scary halloween event on Saturday morning. Ariel and Sleeping Beauty looked adorable. Ellabelle loved all the games, won a few prizes, and got some candy. We also checked out a few books about Halloween. IMG_1367

Mattie had fun too!
Mattie had fun too!

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Saturday night was 2nd cousin Britnee’s wedding reception. The wedding had been a week before in Florida, and they had a regular reception up here. Ellabelle had a blast! She loved dancing and being with her Auntie Ang and Mike. I, personally, love weddings. So, it was a great night. Josh was exhausted because he had worked 10 hour days at work before hand so him and Mattie weren’t as into it all as much as Bee and I were, but it was still a lot of fun. IMG_1513 IMG_1523

10/31 – Trick or Treating with Ellabelle’s “boys” and Lisa’s Halloween Party

We went trick or treating around our friend’s neighborhood because 1) no one gives out candy in our neighborhood and 2) Ellabelle loves seeing her boys. We rode in a golf cart which ended up being a great idea because of the little legs and the crowds. Ellabelle and Hudson trick or treated for the full two hours and scored a ton of candy. IMG_1722 IMG_1732 IMG_1723

We went to Lisa’s halloween party afterwards. Ellabelle played on Lisa’s iPad. Mattie was unhappy with Oma’s clown make up. Josh fell asleep (which happens every year somehow). IMG_1726

A few random pics:

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Aaannndddd . . . now November.

November has been crazy for us. I’ve been working every evening, and Josh has been working 10 hour days for overtime. Life has been beyond stressful financially which has taken a toll on us emotionally Our furnace had to be fixed. Our car is still in the process of being fixed. I’m honestly happy to see it go. I’m so excited about what December holds for us. But for now, November (mostly in pictures):

11/3 – We voted 12191195_10101061637981280_1725614924284367627_o

11/6 – Josh and I had our 9 year anniversary. We didn’t do anything, but its still worth noting. lol

11/7 – Thanksgiving Craft Day at the library

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11/8 – Out for Oma’s birthday

We ended up at Logan’s and it was yummy. 12208394_10101065048496580_3865265573986997796_n

11/15 – With my schedule at work, we had to put the Christmas decorations up early. We started by raking up the leaves to begin with. EB was daddy’s big helper.

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Ellabelle loved helping with the lights too. 12241462_10101069646272600_9203201950836428002_n 12243050_10101069676816390_2446718015103309887_n 12219388_10101069676911200_8521092962374019006_n 12208358_10101069109208880_602206747596361411_n12241404_10101069646292560_4791130334071619673_n

11/21 – We mailed the girls letters to Santa

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11/23 – Mattie’s 6 month check up

All 16lbs of my chunk is healthy and happy 12278964_10101074417810400_8566353417462208522_n

11/26 – Thanksgiving

We all matched!
We all matched!
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Great Grandma with her namesake and EB
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with Auntie Ang
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4 generations

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11/27 – Helped decorate Oma and Opa’s tree & Christopher Pop-in-kins came back

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The day of love <3

Here’s the thing. I love love. I think the world needs a lot more of it. I think it conquers all. I truly believe that Beatles were right when they sang, “All you need is love.”

And February 14th is a day created to celebrate all the love in our lives. Sure, it’s morphed into a horrible, money obsessed, Hallmark holiday, but the core of the day is still there.

As a kid, I liked Valentine’s Day. You made cards for the whole class and everyone got a valentine. Then in the 4th grade, they quit making us give the entire class cards, and I began hating the holiday. It was just another popularity contest in my opinion. It made me sad cause I hardly got any cards from anyone. Then in high school it became about what your boyfriend sent you at school and date dances which made me feel like a complete loser because I never had a boyfriend or a date to dances. In college, I had a boyfriend and we did the gifts and stuff and it was great. It was nice to know I had a valentine for the day. For Valentine’s 2010, Josh even went as far as to buy me a puppy for Valentine’s Day. Maisy will remain the greatest valentine gift I’ve ever received.

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But still, I don’t know, it’s never been a holiday that I get all giddy about. Until, Valentine’s Day 2013. Yes, it’s just another thing that’s changed since I’ve become a mom. I love Valentine’s Day now that I have a little valentine. I get to dress her up each year and make Valentine’s with her each year and share sweets with her.

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The thing about this holiday now that I’m a mom is I realize it isn’t about getting the flowers or diamond from a boy. It’s about love. My world has been grounded back into the true meaning of the holiday. This is a whole day dedicated to feeling and sharing the greatest gift anyone can ever have – to love and be loved. There is nothing more important than that. It’s hard having a toddler who destroys the living room you just cleaned on a daily basis and who doesn’t understand inside voices yet. It’s hard having a spouse who’s gone for 10 hours a day. It’s hard to remember to stop and pet the dog or cat between baths and books and bedtime. Its hard not to just give your husband a quick peck on cheek and go to sleep at night.

And so, on the calendar, there is a day – a day I mark with a heart every year and then I go through and add birthdays. It’s a whole day dedicated to remembering why you do the things you do day in and day out. To remember that you love that loud singing toddler who’s kicking toys at the sleeping cat more than anything else on this planet. A day to stop and snuggle the puppy and to let the cat lounge by your head in bed. A day to spend dinner with your husband talking to each other about whatever you want because there’s no toddler in a high chair to have to try and keep happy at the table. It’s a day to stop and be thankful for the ones you love and be even more thankful for the ones who love you. Granted, it’s something you should stop and do that every day, but life, unfortunately, gets in the way of that more often than not. So I love that little reminder on the calendar each February.

I hope everyone out there had a wonderful Valentine’s Day! I know I did. I’m gonna focus on trying to bring the hearts and love into my life more often. Cause “love is all you need.”

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Vas You Ever in Zinzinnati?

We love fall around here. Josh loves it for Halloween, scary movies, and pumpkin spice at Starbuck. I love fall for pumpkin patches and crunchy leaves and hayrides. And around here, Oktoberfest is the first sign that the cool air is coming.

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We spent Friday night at Germania Park enjoying the food, the friends, and the polka music. Ellabelle was surprisingly well behaved. She sat in her stroller and had no complaints (for awhile). Then we passed her around from person to person. Then our friend, Lisa, showed up and let her run around and she was happy to come back and sit after that.  10547536_10100653280717510_418456393389468877_n 10641162_10100653280862220_6059510678638649431_n 10385309_10100653280433080_8850532460587057952_n 10444733_10100653280308330_6930670633035250394_n 10557202_10100653280273400_7456817192540893337_n

We didn’t drink any beer (because I’m a bad German and Josh was driving), but the food…oh the food. If there’s one thing German’s are good at, it’s cooking amazing food. We had sauerkraut balls (breaded balls of sauerkraut that are deep fried), potato pancakes with applesauce to dip them in, brats, sweet corn on the cob, german potato salad, and I got my first world famous Oktoberfest chicken. They are cooked over an open pit and are ah-mazing! 10347790_10100653280118710_7575284534115935183_n

Dessert is always the best part though. We got a cinnamon crisp because we wanted to try something new. However, nothing can compare to the creme puffs. We actually ended up buying and eating two of them, and there were no thoughts to snap a pic first. (Hey, Germans aren’t known for being skinny). 10577064_10100653280902140_2152357229100406394_n

It was nice to have a night out. We so rarely go out and do things like this. I had plans to go to so many different festivals this year, but we bought a car and it seems like money is always holding us back lately. So, one night not worrying about anything but twinkle lights and the chicken dance was perfect.

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EB’s third Oktoberfest was definitely a success, and I love being able to share part of her heritage with her. Now that our tummies are full of German goodness, we can start looking forward to the rest of the heat of summer and the (hopefully) gentle movement into crisp fall air. 

year 1 & year 2
year 1 & year 2
Year 3 (and in her new I love Oma & Opa shirt)
Year 3 (and in her new I love Oma & Opa shirt)

The sender, the receiver, and the message

I remember in one of my psychology classes in college (I was a psych minor so I took a ton and can not remember for the life of me which one we talked about this in but anyway) we spent an entire chapter talking about communication. And communicating is really simple–it’s amazingly simple when you consider how much we do it.

Person A has an idea or thought that they want to share. That thought is then coded within Person A’s brain, and Person A sends out a message. Person B takes that thought in and decodes it. Then Person B understands what Person A said.

Sender -> Message -> Receiver
Yeah, Simple!

Our styles of interpretation and how we have learned to communicate as well our life circumstances are what murk up a perfectly simple process. And to avoid getting too scholarly (mostly because the old psychology notes that are permanently stored in the back of my brain are gathering cob webs and dust), communication is so simple and yet so, so very hard. It is a constant battle in the our house.

Josh and I have been together almost 8 years, married for over 3. We have grown and changed as people. We have been together through good times and bad, deaths and births, we’ve laid the foundation of a life down together, and we still communicate about as well as we did back in 2006. And it is the biggest problem in our relationship. In fact, it’s probably, really, the only problem in our relationship. If we could communicate with one another better, the other problems might cease to exist. But I’m stubborn. And he’s stubborn. I like to always be right. He does things he knows will make me angry. I’m very emotional. He has issues with identifying and processing his emotions. I let go of things and can move on. He lingers over things and draws them out for days. All these obstacles make it so that we can not communicate with each other effectively.

Yet, somehow, we’ve made it this far. And we are constantly trying to be better. We are. Our fights are always over stupid things – things that don’t matter and most of them come from that decoding. When Person B takes in the message from Person A, that’s when things get rough for us. That whole life circumstances and original learning of communication takes our supposedly straight line of communication (Sender->Message->Receiver) and turns into a great big ball of wibbly wobbly communication stuff. (If you get that reference, you’re fantastic.)

It goes from this:

Person A

to this:

Person b

which becomes this:

Person b2

and then this:

Person a2

It’s an awful cycle. And the ball of wibbly wobbly communication stuff just becomes more and more tangled and knotted like an unruly ball of yarn until there is yelling and tears. We’ve been trying different ways to keep that ^ from happening. But it does. And it will continue. 8 years is a lot knotting in the giant ball, and untangling it isn’t easy. Some people decide to just cut the string and start fresh with a new ball of yarn, but we aren’t throw in the towel kind of people. Remember, we’re stubborn. And good communication is like any other skill – it takes lot of practice to get better at it. Somehow we made it this far without realizing that we needed to make it more simple and clear. It’s also trial and error. We both get so worked up that it makes everything escalate into something it doesn’t need to be.

The last time we were having an argument we tried just writing things down in a notebook and passing it back and forth until we worked it out. Sometimes body language and voice tone can be your biggest enemy. Removing the element of having to actually talk to each other left the decoding of the message simply to seeing what the other person was simply thinking and putting on paper. It’s hard to argue back and forth like that. And it worked for that particular argument. I’m not saying it’ll always work, but, in this particular case, it did. And it’s progress.

And the real reason why communication has been something on mind lately is because of my beast mode toddler and her serious lack of communication skills. Which turns into momma’s serious lack of patience. Having is 2 year old is hard for a lot of reasons (the tantrums, the food throwing, the stripping of clothes in public, the refusal to eat foods she loved last week, the constant punching of the cat, to just name a few), but the hardest part of it, to me, seems to be the fact that she can’t just tell us what’s wrong. It’s a constant guessing game most of the time.

She knows a few words, but most of the time it’s just screaming or tears or both. And she’s recently learned to throw herself on the floor. That’s fun (not).

I know she’ll get to a point where she’ll be able to tell us what’s going on and what it is that she wants, but it’s hard. And frustrating. Yes, the definition of frustration in the dictionary has a picture of a screaming toddler underneath it.

Scene:

Whining in the backseat.

“Do you want your baby?”

Through tears, “Yeah.”

::hands baby doll::

::throws baby doll on floor::

“Do you want a book?”

Through louder tears, “Yeah.”

::hands book:

::throws book, hitting mommy’s hand in the process::

“What do you want?! Tell me what you want. Use your words”

More screaming with occasional babbling mixed in which continues until she finds her foot and removes her shoe and stops crying.

Fin.

Again, having a toddler is frustrating. And it’s not just the tantrums out of her inability to communicate. It’s also from her inability to fully understand what it is we’re talking to her about. Like, at a roller derby game, and I ask her if she pooped and she responds with a very clear “Yes” and I drag her and a changing pad and diaper and pack of wipes down the oversize steps and through the crowd to the circa 1950s bathroom where I stripped her of her outfit (including a tulle tutu) on a slightly broken, angled changing table only to discover that she did not, in fact, poop.

Or when she’s crying in the morning and I know she’s hungry so I ask if she wants a banana. “No.” Do you want a waffle? “No.” Do you want milk? “No.” Do you want a pony? “No.” (I’ll remember that kid.) So, I ignore her and pack my lunch. Next thing I know, she’s patting the front of the fridge. Of course, I already asked her if she wanted milk. Of course, this is how she tells me she wants milk.

Communication. It’s clearly gotta work both ways.

Whether its a husband or a child or whoever else, communication is vital. There’s so much miscommunication in the world as it is, I know I, personally, have to start getting better at it. There’s so much power in the way we communicate. And I realize that verbal communication isn’t the only form. Nonverbal is just as important if not the most important part of how we interact with one another. As it is, it’s all just something I will need to keep working on. If Ellabelle has shown me anything, it’s not just being able to say words, it’s how you use them.