Friday, August 22, 2014

A Letter to My Daughter's Kindergarten Teacher

Dear Teacher,

First off, THANK YOU! You choose to teach and encourage little kindergartners, all day, every day. That is no small task and I am grateful for you. The Kleenex and play-dough we will be sending is a pitiful excuse for a thank-you gift for all you're about to do for us.

My daughter, Lana Jean, will be joining you this year. She's the tall girl, with the white-blonde hair and glasses. She's the one so excited she can hardly keep her skin on. She's the one with dirt on her cheek (already? c'mon kid!) and bruises on her shins. She's the one bouncing on her toes and likely singing a made-up song. Lana has grand dreams and aspirations for you and her class. Despite not knowing you, she thinks you are the nicest and smartest person ever. She's certain that with your patient instruction she'll learn everything from reading chapter books to building rocket ships and candy factories. She just knows you'll teach the whole class the best songs (complete with hand motions, oh how Lana loves her some hand motions) and new and exciting games. You've been everything this little girl has been looking forward to for the past year.

I tell you all this not just as a warning (although it kind of is. I imagine a room full of 25 kids this excited and strung out on high expectations might be cause for alarm), but also as part of a request. See, Lana's Daddy and I really, really like her. We enjoy all that sparkle and spunk. We get the biggest laughs out of her innovative schemes and ideas. We do our best self-reflection after a good talk with our girl, and even though we're now sharing her with you, we don't want to lose any of that. Please, Teacher, please, try to get Lana. Please get that she genuinely thinks everything is the BEST! Everyday is the best day and every friend is her best friend! Every new task needs greeted with outlandish excitement, because, it too, is THE BEST! Please understand all that curiosity and enthusiasm isn't poor behavior or acting out- it's simply her big personality and zest for everything.

This isn't to say Lana deserves special treatment or should be exempt from the rules. Not at all. There are no Special Snowflakes here. (And we, as her parents, aren't exempt either. We WILL be initialing reading forms, reviewing math facts, and signing up to bring treats to the class party.) Just please be gentle with our girl. She wants so very much to please you and be all you want her to be. She is a little girl who feels deeply, loves fiercely, wounds easily, but forgives fully. Your words and actions will become the ones she trusts and strives to emulate. It's your encouragement she'll thrive on. You have so much power; you have our Lana Jean. Please understand how huge this is. (And please also understand that I know that you probably already know all of this and deal with weepy and sentimental parents like me all the time. Thank you for not telling me to suck it up!)

Again, thank you. And get ready, Lana is over-the-moon excited to meet you!

Shelle Lenssen
(One of about 50 moms you'll meet this year who probably penned a remarkably similar letter.)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Blessed Sunday (Father's Day, Nora's Dedication, and Lana's Birthday. Whew!)

Sunday, June 15th was a busy one for us. We had out-of-town family visiting and decided to cram as much awesomeness into one day as possible.

First up, Father's Day. Technically, our little family celebrated Father's Day a week early. Lana colored Dan a picture and I made some of his favorite foods and he got a little bit spoiled. Dan really is a great Daddy to his two girls and loves them both dearly.

That morning was also Nora's baby dedication at church. Pastor Terry officiated at our wedding nearly seven years ago, so it was neat to have him dedicate our baby and pray for her.
(Yes, that is Lana waving to the audience from the stage. Pastor Terry rightly stated, "Some of you may not know Dan and Shelle, but probably all of you know Lana. She is a little girl with a BIG personality." She was quite cute, but let's hope Lana doesn't always try to outshine her little sister.)

Lana loved sitting by Grandma Carol and Cousin Cody.

After church, it was time for Lana's birthday party. The rain decided to hold off, but it was a bit chilly, so sweatshirts were the costume of choice.
Lana had a great time with all her cousins and some friends joined us as well. I can't hardly believe my little girl is 5 now. She's growing and learning more everyday and is so excited for kindergarten.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Palouse River Duathlon

Last year I competed in the Palouse River Duathlon 11 weeks pregnant with sweet Nora. She was my running partner and biking buddy and I was so proud of myself for getting through the race. This year, however, it was quite freeing to run "alone" and let someone else take care of the baby for a few hours. (Plus, I think Nora is quite a bit cuter outside the womb, don't you?)

I was also thrilled to be participating with my awesome sisters-in-law, Angela and Lyndsey. Angela has done this race before and is an old pro, but this was Lyndsey's first time. She agreed that the hills are crazy-tough! (We live on the Palouse, we don't joke about the hills.) Having these two for extra encouragement was sure awesome.

For a Saturday morning in June, it was COLD! (Don't we all look frozen? Why I didn't grab a long-sleeved shirt, I don't know.) I think it was a whopping 42 degrees at the beginning of the race and it rained off and on the entire time. After the first running leg, I didn't feel shivering-cold anymore, but was never very comfortable.

I spent more time this year working on biking up steep gravel hills than I did working on running, so imagine my surprise when I discovered my running time was considerably faster than last year's, and my biking time was about the same. Overall, I was 5 minutes faster than last year. Let's see if I can improve another 5 minutes next year. 
Sometime during the biking leg of the race I got splashed with grease or oil or something and had a very attractive black streak on the right side of my neck and jawline. It makes me look tough, doesn't it? I'm sure all the other competitors were sooooo intimidated : )

Lana was my enthusiastic cheerleader and met me with hugs at the end of the race. Nora was hungry and met me with cries for food. Both were appreciated.

12 on the 12th (Whew! I made it!)

Campfire Coziness * Dinner from the Pasture and Garden * Farmer Love in Town * Saying Goodbye to a Great Friend * Lana Lost her First Tooth * Hiking with My Man and My Baby * Canning is Cool * 4 Generations of Lovely Ladies * Silly New BFFs * Playing at the Beach in McCall, Idaho * Lana's Black-eyed Susans * Nora has lots of Toys but Prefers the tag to Big Sister's Chair *

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Memorial Weekend Tradition: Henry's Lake

We always look forward to spending Memorial Weekend at Grandpa Cy's Cabin on Henry's Lake, Idaho. And this year, despite auto accidents, illnesses, work stuff, and the concerns associated with traveling with a baby, we were able to continue the tradition. 

This is what we love about Henry's Lake:
It's really quite lovely and picturesque, isn't it? 
We love the quiet and calm, the fishing and family, the mountain and lake.

This is what we don't love:
Yep, a little over halfway to our destination, a tire blows and we're derailed for a few hours. (Let's just add this to our year of auto-related NOT-funness. I think we can be done now.)

But we eventually made our way to the cabin, where it was as lovely and peaceful as we hoped it would be. Lana and Nora were instantly loved on and spoiled.

Lana took advantage of "Camp Grandma" and painted rocks with Grandma Janet and went out on hikes and rides on the Maverick.

We also did a little sight-seeing in Yellowstone National Park. The bison were plentiful and the babies are so cute. We also saw a mountain goat, elk, deer, and a bear.

Dan and I decided that Lana should go fishing on this trip. Other years she had been too little or the weather was bad, but this year turned out to be just perfect. She was so excited and I really wanted her to love it. I wanted her to feel the rush of reeling in a fish and the fun of fighting to get it to the boat. I wanted her to feel confident and able to do challenging things. I wanted this to be a positive memory she could recall when she's a sullen teenager and mad at me. (Okay, so maybe I was putting a but too much pressure on a measly fish, but I really, REALLY wanted her to love this.)

And love it, she did.
That smile says it all. Lana fished the first day on "Daddy's Team" and helped Dan reel in fish and held them and poked them, but on the second day she caught this one all by herself. (Cousin Cody held the rod to keep the tip up and Dan did the netting, but for a then-4-year old, that's pretty close to "all by myself.") We all cheered and she was thrilled. Rock stars don't get as much paparazzi attention as Lana did after she caught that fish.

If Baby Nora hadn't been napping, we might have grabbed her for this picture and you would have received it as our Christmas card later this year.

Oh, and please don't think Nora was neglected. She certainly got her share of the attention. It just came in the form of tickles and snuggles. Nora won't remember it, but her first trip to the cabin was great for her too.

Thank you again Grandpa Cy, Grandma Janet, Cabin, Henry's Lake, and Stunning Mountain Views!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Thoughts on Being a Horrible Blogger

Yes, I know. I'm a horrible, awful blogger.

I've been posting once a month, and not even on the day I committed to. And all those posts have been a smattering of pictures with brief and incomplete captions. Bad blogger, bad blogger.

I'm supposed to be filling this space with stories of our lives, nostalgia of days gone by, the now-stalgia of today, the occasional recipe, funny story, and parenting fail. Obviously, I have done none of that.

Despite my lackadaisical approach (read: LAZY) I haven't heard one complaint. That tells me one of two things. Either A) My dear readers internally sympathize with my feeling-frazzled-all-the-time-and-when-oh-when-will-I-get-all-my-ducks-in-a-row current status, or B) No one but me reads this little old thing anyway, thus no one has had anything to not read to complain about. Regardless of the answer, I need to write here for me. Yup, Me, Myself, and I need this outlet.

Writing has been a very good thing for me. It forces me to focus my thoughts enough to put out, and helps me filter the noise from the music. My mind has to go quiet and I have to sit down for a few minutes to get out what I'm thinking. It's a great way for me to relax, and not something I should shelve any longer. Writing on this blog has the added benefit of serving as a family history repository. I know that the trivial and trite right now will one day be the good stuff I miss, and I don't want to forget it.

So I've outlined out a plan. For the next couple of weeks I'll get caught up on our life events, then move on to Winco stories and hilarious conversations with my 5-year old, and hopefully keep the momentum going and write more regularly. (Seriously, in the few minutes I've been typing this post, I think I've actually been more relaxed than I have been in a long time. Writing truly is good for me.)

Monday, July 14, 2014

12 on the 12th(ish)

I'm only 2 days late, and really, this blog would be completely neglected if I had to be on time.
1. Whooping cough sucks. 2. Sparklers are fun! 3. I have about 100 of these blondie selfies on my phone right now. 4. Sprinklers are the best thing for a hot day. 5. The Crimson Spoon cookbook is quickly becoming my favorite. 6. Photoshoot with Auntie Angela. 7.Cougar Kids Camp is where it's at! 8. My adorable running coaches. 9. Of course Nora's favorite lovey is Sissy's dolly. 10. Princess Lana waiting for the 4th of July parade to start. 11. Let the Canning Begin! 12. Yes, my house really does look like that some days.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

12 on the......Whatever, we're 10 Days Late

Nora's Dedication Day * Toe painting instead of finger painting * Birthday awesome-ness * Garden-fresh radishes * Matching shirts and sister loves * Jumping Nora * Fishing * Duathlon * Sweet potatoes and confusion * Chubby baby makes me smile * Tire and truck issues do not make me smile * Some days you just need an umbrella.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

12 on the 12th (I know, it's really the 13th, but I'm trying.)

Bacon cinnamon rolls * Mother's Day flowers * Nora gets bundled up in the mornings * Lana's bright flower car for Cubbies drive-in night * Girls Night while Dan was working the Snoop Dog concert * Lana the Springtime Princess in her flower tiara * Nora, our blue-eyed beauty * Raising carnivores since 2009 * Me and my babies on Mother's Day * Lana was all smiles and a big thumbs up for getting an award on the last day of AWANA.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

To Nora on her 4-Month Birthday

Dear Nora,

Oh my goodness Sweet Girl, today you are 4 whole months old! It is trite and cliche to say, but I will say it anyway - the time simply flies by. It really does seem like only yesterday we were bringing you home as a wee newborn, and now, here you are, babbling, laughing, making your desires known, and growing growing GROWING.

Let's talk about your growing for a minute, shall we? At your 4-month check-up with the Good Doctor, you weighed in at 15 lbs, 7 oz. and 25.5 inches long, putting you in the 95th percentile for both weight and length. Wow, just wow is all I can say. When I think back to your first three weeks and the frustration and tears spent trying to get you to eat correctly and gain weight, all I can be is grateful for this complete turnaround. Your delicious cheeks, perfectly round tummy, thigh rolls, and wrist dimples are all proof that we're doing something right. It's probably no coincidence that as your eating and weight increased, so did your hours of sleep, making a tired Mommy and Daddy very, very happy.

As you've grown in size, your funny little personality has started to develop too. When you greet me in the morning with a smile, my heart simply fills to bursting. And when you look at me with a wide, open mouth, you make it perfectly clear that you'd like to eat now, thank-you-very-much. You've done that for several weeks now and it cracks me up. You just know that the Mommy will feed you as much as you want, and all you have to do is open your mouth in my general direction. Smart girl!

Don't get me started on your smiles and laughter. Really, two of my very favorite things at the moment. Pretty much if someone is engaging you (Mommy, Daddy, but especially big sister) you are smiling. I think you're going to be a little social butterfly like your big sis, as you love talking and babbling to others, and also seem to really enjoy when they answer back. You've recently started laughing and squealing. Usually this happens when you know milk is coming your way but hasn't quite hit your lips yet, making me laugh as well. You also laugh and squeal when you're full and feeling good and someone is tickling you, eating your delicious cheeks, or making silly faces at you. Your sweet baby laughs are the happiest music I've ever heard. Indeed baby laughs cover a multitude of sins.

It's so fun to see how much you've changed in these past 4 months. I know the next 4 will bring even more growth and change and I'm excited to see more bits and pieces of who you are. Know this always, dear Nora Johanna, you are loved and cherished more that you can imagine. Your Daddy and I longed for you before we knew you were on your way, and we were so, so excited this time last year when we learned I was pregnant. A year ago you were a little bundle of rapidly growing cells, but you were already known and already loved. Daddy and I are so glad we get to be your parents and so grateful you are our daughter.

Love you always,