Sunday, October 16, 2016


Five years ago, Brian and I got married. I never anticipated our wedding to be one of my favorite days of all time, but that day absolutely contains many of my most cherished memories.


On that day in 2011, I was a law student, he was an academic advisor. We lived in a townhouse that felt huge to us. We had two cats and one car, a lot of student loan debt, and each other.

Four years ago, we had recently relocated to Grand Rapids. I was waiting on my bar results, truly one of the most emotionally tumultuous times of my life, and Brian had a new job. I spent my days searching for employment and trying not to panic. Brian broke his arm playing softball in early October. This year, we went to Grand Haven for breakfast on our anniversary and to Costa Rica several weeks later.

Lake Michigan shore 2012
Three years ago, we went to dinner at a fancy restaurant that served us free champagne. I would soon find out I was pregnant with Claire.


Two years ago, we had a three month old. We asked our babysitter to take a picture of us before we ate Indian food at a beloved local hole in the wall and then went grocery shopping to use up the rest of our babysitting time. Because sometimes you just need to wander the aisles of Meijer together to feel human again.

Looking exhausted in 2014

One year ago, we ate tapas and drank sangria. We had just bought a new house and felt like we had maybe finally broken through the haze of new parenthood.
The best we could do in 2015

Today we feel fortunate. Last night we went out to dinner and fell asleep at 9:30 while Claire slept at Brian's parents' house (Thanks, Grammy and Papa!).

It is easy to look at the Instagram pictures of somebody's life and assume they have it all together. We are #blessed, as they say, and it is still hard. A healthy, beautiful child, good jobs with flexible schedules, supportive families, a house in a neighborhood we love. All of these things make it easy(er) to have the relationship we want, to envision the future we are building together. But life is fuller--harder and more joyful--than we could have ever anticipated when we exchanged vows five years ago. The weeks march along, one season folds into the next, I buy more pants for our growing kid. We hold on tight through the hard parts and celebrate when things go well. It is a good life, but if there's one thing I've learned it's that it doesn't get any easier, you just get better at rolling with the punches.

Looking moderately refreshed in 2016
I could not have asked for a better partner in marriage or parenthood. Here's to us. Here's to seventy more.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Eighteen Months!

Resurrecting ye olde blog to share a little bit about what Claire's up to these days. We're in full-on toddler territory now, which is, shall we say, challenging, but also really fun. She mostly saves her meltdowns for home, so we can bring her almost anywhere. I realize this may be short-lived, so we'll take it for as long as it lasts. Meltdowns aside, she is a happy, spunky, curious girl who makes us laugh at least five times a day. 

Face paint courtesy of daycare (known as "baby school" at our house)
Claire is now an excellent walker and talker. I don't know if I mentioned it here, but we had her evaluated by Early Intervention back in June because she wasn't babbling at 10 months old. While I knew that every baby develops in their own time, I was still a little stressed about this. Needless to say, the EI therapists thought she was completely fine, and they said all of her development was otherwise right on track. Apparently the REAL milestone is ten words by eighteen months. I thought that sounded outrageous--she was hardly speaking at ten months, how could she POSSIBLY have ten words in such a short amount of time?

Well, she could and she does. The changes happen quickly these days! We have a running list of her words stuck to our fridge, and it's now up to 40+.. She's getting better at telling us what she wants, and is starting to even identify letters. It is truly so cool. She knows many animal sounds (moo, meow, woof, grr) and points to her body parts (head, eyes, nose, teeth, ears, cheeks, hands, knees, toes, tummy) when asked, although the only one she'll reliably say is "eyes," possibly because it sounds like "hi" and "bye-bye," her two favorite words.

Claire and her BFF Ralph ("Fa")

Eating is a bit of a struggle right now. Well, to be clear, she loves to eat, but she does NOT love to sit in her high chair. We have to coax her many times, and she'll often arch her back and scream while we're trying to buckle her in. Pretty normal behavior, I'd say, but it's tough when we want her to sit still for JUST ONE MINUTE and eat something. She's also newly fond of cow's milk after months of more or less refusing to drink it. Other faves include bananas ("nana" was her first word!), peanut butter waffles, cheese quesadillas, sweet potatoes, pasta, broccoli, and peas. Also, of course, Cheerios and graham crackers. She has definitely grown a couple of inches in the past few weeks (at least it feels that way, given how suddenly midriff-revealing her shirts are), so I'm not terribly concerned that we have some days where she seems to survive on air alone.

Otherwise, she loves her books and will spend multiple minutes looking at them by herself. "Boo" is one of her most-frequently used words, and she always, ALWAYS wants one while we're changing her diaper. Don't try to skip that step! Her preferred activities also include playing ring around the rosie (now she loves to say "down!" when we all fall at the end), dancing/twirling, building with blocks, and putting things into other things (eg carrying small toys around in her lunchbox).

Yes, we can definitely read "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" for the four millionth time...

We've had a few early mornings recently (it is hard to parent at 5:15...), but she's mostly been sleeping well. She continues to cough in the night, even weeks after the conclusion of the Perpetual Sickness of Fall 2015, but it doesn't seem to bother her too much. This will undoubtedly jinx it, but her naps seem to be improving, too, and she's taken a few 2+ hour naps in the afternoons recently.

In the most exciting news of all, Claire was a flower girl in Brian's brother's wedding in Lake Placid a few weeks ago. It was a lot of fun, and, thankfully, the wedding was not contingent upon her successful completion of her duties. She thought the most fun part was picking UP the flowers from the aisle, but she did eventually make her way to the altar, running into Daddy's arms.

We will probably never look this fancy again.

In sum, we're in a good place. A year ago, when she turned six months old, I remember feeling like life with a new baby had (finally) gotten a little easier. The ever-changing nature of parenthood constantly keeps you on your toes. Now that she's a true toddler, we are learning to parent a little person who need more than just food, snuggles, and comfort---she needs us to help her learn about the world, figure out her boundaries, and keep her safe (among many, many other things).

Upon our arrival at daycare (ahem, baby school) drop off one morning, she had taken off her shoes and neatly placed him in the cupholders. Thanks, Claire!

Happy half-birthday, sweet girl. Life is so wonderful with you by our sides.