Category Archives: Family

Something New and Good: The Surprising Freedom of Mama Bear

If I had one fear going into motherhood, it was that their hungry little mouths, and needy little souls would be the death knell of my freedom. In fact, when Moira was born, I went through a period of mourning for my afternoons of deep contemplation, for the concept of “browsing,” and the ability to lose track of time.

The beginning of a baby’s life is hard for the mom.

I felt like I had about 45 minutes between breastfeeding sessions in which to cram in all of my personal maintenance, and graciously thank all the well-wishers and meal-bringers. Life had never felt more scheduled, crammed full of nuts and bolts.

But looking back, I realized that something miraculous began in the midst of that.

I became freer.

This is what freedom looks like at our house: naked cascarone parties, with chic headbands.

This is what freedom looks like at our house: naked cascarone parties, with chic headbands.

First, before this starts sounding like tales from the joyful martyr, let me say this: I’m writing this in a coffee shop, processing my thoughts, and sipping tea. My first baby’s season of hourly scheduled needs is over. A second baby’s is about to begin, but I don’t think I’ll need to mourn so much, because I realize how quickly it’s over. Continue reading

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Plush nativities and communion…

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. But Christmas always brings out the blogger in me. Most likely because of a long and conflicted history with the holiday and my need to externally process.

This year, with a toddler, we have entered the vortex of American Christmas. “Do you guys ‘do Santa’?” (which is a creepy question). Grandparents are wanting to buy her presents, which leads to conversations about the kinds of toys we want to have in the house, and how much regulation is appropriate for us to exercise in that realm. She also has her own interests, which makes me more inclined to impulse buy all the Daniel Tiger merchandise, bison toys, and musical instruments I see around town. (Yes, bison. That’s her favorite animal.)

Continue reading

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Something New and Good: An Intense Mom’s Gospel

The last 16.5 months of my life have been amazing. As Moira grows, I grow as her mother.

Some of that growth is fun. She learns new words. My heart melts when she says, “books!” first thing in the morning. She loves to swim. I love to swim with her.

Some of that growth is not fun. She gets new teeth. I learn that going to dinner with her at 8:30pm is a terrible idea, even on vacation. She learns to wait. I learn not to fear meltdowns in public (because, like many other animal instincts, fearing only makes them more aggressive, while not fearing seems to pacify them).

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Somehow, Lewis and I thought that things with a baby would either be happy-sunshine-fun (him) or miserable-scary-impossible (me). For the past 16.5 months so many of our date nights have ended in the same conversation.

“I don’t understand this…intensity that I feel,” I say.

“I just wish you could relax and not let things bother you,” he says.

Then I freak out that I’m freaking out. Obsess on not obsessing. Get intense about not wanting to be an intense mom. Continue reading

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#ILiketoTravelBut

A friend of mine coined a hashtag that makes me laugh. #ILiketoTravelBut.

I like to travel but…I hate sitting in coach.

I like to travel but…I don’t like losing money to the exchange.

That kind of stuff. But lately, I’ve been thinking more and more about travel’s place in the soul, or at least my soul. About why they call it wanderlust.

I like to travel but…I hate pulling out of the driveway.

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Leaving home always strikes me with the deepest sense of regret. Even if I know I’m coming back. I know I’ll have an amazing adventure as soon as I get over it, but it always catches in my chest, just for a moment.

I like to travel but…it could kill me. Continue reading

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Friday Night Rant: Social Media is not killing us

Sometimes there are socially vogue rants that make me want to move to Siberia. Hating on social media is one of them.

I’m just as annoyed as the next guy by the constant dinging of my phone (so I turned off my push notifications), the 19 Facebook notifications that have nothing to do with me, and the rivers of unfiltered troll vomit on Nextdoor.

HOWEVER, I find it more tiresome when people whine about social media, and talk about how stupid it is. How over it they are. Everytime I hear that I think, “it’s okay, old man, we know you’re overwhelmed by what the kids are up to these days.” Or “yes, I know, little girl, you’re cooler than God.”

Use it, don’t use it. I don’t really care. But if you use it, own it.

Part of owning social media is understanding how it works. So lets break it down: Continue reading

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A book about living with Architects

I really like to be the resident expert. On pretty much any topic. Lewis maintains that my confidence in my expertise belies the depth of my actual expertise sometimes. This is 100% true. But it’s just so much more fun to be certain, facts or no facts.

So, in addition to being an expert new mom (ha), I am also an expert architect’s wife.

And I think there needs to be a manual written on how to live with architects. In my experience, it is the path of unending, highly specific bliss. I can, however, see how it might be frustrating for a novice. Which I never was, of course. So, to that end, I’m going to write another book. It’s either a how-to manual for living with an architect, or just a biography of the one I live with.

The architect I live with.

The architect I live with.

(The title and each chapter title comes from a statement spoken by my architect.)

Title: Everything I Want is Not on the Menu- the tortured life of the modern architect

Chapter One: Specific measurements are how I roll

We’re talking down to the centimeter people. There are no stray bolts or washers left at the end of projects, nothing creaks or rattles. And should a stiff breeze blow through, we will stop and recalibrate, lest we compromise the quality of the experience.

Chapter Two: People mess everything up Continue reading

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Florence’s So-Called Life, Season 2, Ep. 4

In which Florence gains weight.

(In a wistful voice)

Okay. I’ll be honest, I didn’t mind the Little Hairless Pup when she was actually little, and actually hairless. And actually not walking all over the place and pulling my fur and poking my eyes. Now, she kind of gets on my nerves sometimes. Like, sometimes, we’ll be just, like, playing, and it’s like, fine. But then out of nowhere she jams her finger in my eyeball.

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The one thing that makes it worth it….is the food. Continue reading

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Golden Birthday Challenge: Days 26-30

Day 26: A new wine

Lewis was out of town. Moira went to bed at 7:15. Why not? I’m trying to become literate in wine. Okay, white wine, because I get red wine headaches. Okay, South American white wine, because a woman only has so much brain room for literacy.

This was a Sauvignon Gris. Not sure what my wine-expert friends would think of that, but there you go.

It was lovely when paired with a bath and a good book.

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Day 27: Preparing and eating rutabaga.

Confession: I got the idea for this one from Moira’s favorite baby food. Ella’s Kitchen Apple, Spinach, Rutabaga is our best bet for getting nutrients into her when whatever solid food we’ve tried that mealtime is flat out fail.

As odd as it sounds, this was not a spur of the moment “oh-gosh-I-need-a-new-thing.” I’d been trying to get to this for weeks. Rutabaga is harder to come by than you would think.

Rutabaga as a vegetable, I found after trying a few different approaches, is, like most vegetables, best when covered in melted cheese.

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Day 28: Something.

I’m not going to tell the new thing I did this day. But it involved the courage to speak my mind in an intimidating situation in which I’ve been pretty passive. Well, not any more.

Day 29: Letting Moira have “quiet time” instead of nap time

She simply wasn’t sleepy enough to fall asleep on her own. Instead of growing desperate to the point of nursing her to sleep, I left Moira in her crib for an hour. She sat quietly and played with her doll (and the curtains…and the poorly placed iPod that she could reach…) for an hour. Aside from going in to rescue the iPod, I let her do it.

When I came in at the end of the hour, she was leaning back against her womb-sounds bear, holding her doll, one knee up, elbow resting on that knee, pacifier in mouth, looking at me like, “I’ve got your nap right here.”

The rest of the day…just fine. God is teaching me that he, not my daughter’s sleep schedule is my help and my strength.

Day 30: Posting an honest response to a blog entry that moved me. 

I’m not a big commenter on blogs. And by that I mean I just don’t do it. Maybe it’s because I feel like a groupie. Maybe it’s because I see the sort of things that people usually comment and think, “Dear Lord, don’t ever let that be me.”

But Sarah Bessey’s latest post about love at 2:07am hit home, and I just had to let her know.

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Golden Birthday Challenge: Days 5-9

It’s been a week, and we are on a roll with new things!

Day Five: Taking Moira to play at the Pearl Amphitheater 

We tacked this on to the end of a walk with a friend, and it was a great success. The rock seats are the perfect height for cruising, which is our favorite activity these days. And the dead grass was a perfect for eating. I was fishing leaves and debris out of her mouth all night.

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Day Six: Not picking apart my body in our family photos

In early December, we had the special treat of a family photo session with Rachel Chaney. Rachel has photographed me seven times now in the last seven years. Sometimes they were photography jam sessions, where she was learning and experimenting. Other times they were life milestones, like my wedding. All of her work is fantastic and I love it. She’s technically on hiatus, but she graciously agreed to photograph our family in a lifestyle shoot.

We got the proof gallery on Tuesday, day six. The photos are everything I’d hoped they would be, largely thanks to my obliging and adorable daughter, and particularly photogenic husband.

If you read this blog at all, you know that the baby weight adventure has been a thing for me. I am ALWAYS hard on myself in photographs (no matter how good Rachel manages to make me look) and now there is simply more of me to be critical of.

But I tried something new. I decided to give thanks for my body, that carried and birthed a heathy baby and will one day be fitter and firmer, because I am running, cutting down on wheat and sugar, etc. But no matter how well I do, I know I’ll still pick myself apart. So on Day Six, I did not. I gave thanks instead for each beautiful image of our happy, smiling family who loves each other so much.

And you know what…the pictures got even more beautiful, and I enjoyed them more than any before.

Day Seven: Monitoring our energy usage and solar array production

We installed our solar panels just in time for a massive cold front and cloudy skies. So we’re not seeing the really cool potential of these things like we will in the sunny times, and when the heat doesn’t run all night.

But just watching how the wattage in your house spikes when the heater comes on is enough to make you layer up and cut the heater down to 65. Maybe that’s the true secret to how solar energy is going to cut carbon emissions.

I feel like I’m gaining points when I see the green part of the graph (meaning the sun peaked through the clouds and the heater wasn’t on).  Actually though, we’re gaining MONEY. How great is that. It’s a computer game where the earth wins.

This screen shot is from our monitoring of what happens when Lewis turns on the Vitamix. The big spikes, though, are the heater. The panels had been operational since 1pm that afternoon.

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Day Eight: Eating at a Fruteria/Botanero

I’ve never eaten at Johnny Hernandez’s fruit infused snack bar. I liked it a lot. Fruit infusion lends itself to some killer cocktails. Also, guacamole with grapes. Who knew?

It’s a great spot for a date night too. Lewis, who has been several times, tells me it’s more whimsical by day. But by night, it’s pretty atmospheric.

Day Nine: Art-to-go at Landa Library (or, seeing if Moira is ready for crayons)

Our favorite branch of the San Antonio Library was not as crowded as usual, due to the freezing temperatures. So, Moira and I had all the attention, and allowed ourselves to be talked into an art project. Landa Library will sometimes set up a huge craft table with a simple, fun craft for kids to do at their leisure.

Moira is far too young for the painter’s tape/negative space project they had, but I was curious about having her color.

She is not ready for crayons. She just chewed on them while I made this:

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Golden Birthday Challenge: Day 1

This year is my golden birthday. I’ll be 31 on January 31. My friend Cacc challenged me to make something of it by doing something new (to me) every day of January. So I will have done 31 new things by the time I turn 31 on the 31st.

Being that I have a 9 month old and every day is totally unpredictable, I’m staying away from weighty things, and I may have to blog a few at a time. If I make it to the 31st blogging every day then I’m buying myself a pony. I swear. That’s how certain I am that it’s not going to happen. But I’ll try, because who doesn’t want a pony on their 31st birthday.

So, here goes.

New thing for Jan 1: Watch a swearing in ceremony for a local judge…who happens to be related to me.

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I am very proud of Tommy Stolhandske. He’s the most fair person I know, which is a pretty great quality in a judge. He’s had a huge year, adding a daughter, who herself is a force of determination, and winning his seat on the bench shortly thereafter.

Voting for a Republican is a big deal in our house…but we could do so with no reservations, knowing that he brings a commitment to the law and its practical, wise dispensation.

The swearing-in was a family affair, with the generations of Stolhandske politicians, attorneys, and campaigners all playing a role. It’s always an adventure to go to the courthouse, and this time, there was cake and gifted gavels.

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