The First Cut

I’m never ready for that first big boy haircut.

Kieran’s hair was perfectly shaggy last fall. It fit him. It matched his smily personality, his rugged explorer’s soul. Corey and I loved watching him run around the football field where his big brother played.

He was laughing, always laughing, his hair bouncing with the joy waves coming straight from his heart.

But time, as we all know, doesn’t stand still. Fall changed to winter (or something resembling winter) and Kieran’s hair grew. Soon, it was in his eyes, always brushing his lashes. I developed a hobby out of brushing it back for him, swooping it to the side.

“There’s my handsome boy,” I would smile, and he would smile back and give me a big hug. (Or as he says it, a “BEE huh.”) 

Eventually, I could ignore it no longer. With the sigh of a woman who admits defeat, I scheduled an appointment with our stylist. “But a TRIM! Only a trim!” I said, adamantly. “I don’t want a big boy cut yet.”

Of course, Kieran being Kieran, he didn’t particularly enjoy the pampering. It took us several tries over several days to even clip the edges off and give him a clear viewpoint.

And even that didn’t last long. The shaggy layers that made him look so rugged in the fall grew out. The hair was in his eyes again. Only this time, it was more of a bowl cut, like he was auditioning for a boy band in the ‘90s.

I’ll be honest. It wasn’t his best look. It gave me the strength to do what I knew had to be done.

Last Saturday, we went on a mother-and-son outing to our favorite Aveda clinic. Coffee was required (for me). And donuts (for both of us).

He’s a big boy now.

I can’t stop staring.

Consolation prize: With the locks gone, the chubby cheeks are more pronounced.

My baby's still in there.

Spring Decor that isn't Pink

I have a problem with spring.

It doesn't fit my home's decor.

Spring colors are usually pastel and primarily pink. My home's palette is bright reds, deep blues and earthy greens. Pink doesn't work.

But a few splashes of season in my house make me happy. So a few years ago, I devised a solution. I went through my spring decorating bin and got rid of all the pastels (which was almost everything) and started over with a mix of creamy whites and fresh greens. (Bonus: There are years in Minnesota when spring is slow to arrive. Whites and greens aren't as disconcerting against 10 inches of fresh snow as are pinks and yellows.)

 It's taken me a while to build up my white-and-green collection, but this year, I finally feel like I have enough items to play with. And the timing is perfect, because this is the first spring in our new house in which I have the energy to decorate.
I loved my Valentine's fireplace, but it's been up since mid-January. It was past time for a change.

Megan's post on spring mantles inspired me, especially since she has a lot of red in her home too. Here's what I came up with.
This fireplace is in our kitchen sitting area, which is next to a playroom, so I like it to be whimsical and cheery, not too sophisticated. That said, my own style and this house scream out for texture and touches of nature. All of my mantles include something of the outdoors - birch bark pillars, rocks from Lake Superior, bumpy twig balls.
I found the fuzzy felt bunny at a local grocery store this week and fell in love. It's the perfect blend of spring and make-me-smile. Plus, it's green-and-white.

The only other place I decorate seasonally is the front entry table. Here's what I've got right now.
I need something else on the right-hand side. Because this is next to the living room, which is decidedly more adult in feel, I'm comfortable making this more sophisticated than the fireplace. (Read: I tried to put a felt chick in here, and it didn't work.) Any ideas? Maybe a stone bunny?
By the way, that is a real bird's nest. My precious. I love that thing. A robin built it on one of our deck beams when we lived in the country. She laid four blue eggs in it, and because it was perfectly situated between cracks, we were able to lay on the deck every day and put our faces on the wood and peak into her world. (Which drove her crazy, naturally, but I promise we were very respectful.)
(I just found that picture! It makes me so happy that I took a picture of it.) 

Connor, Natalie and I watched the eggs hatch, we watched the scrawny baby birds change into feathered nestlings. We watched them learn to fly and then we watched them leave. When fall came, and no other birds seemed to care about the nest, I asked Corey to take it down so I could keep it.

And now it sits in our entry, filled with a trio of fake blue robin's eggs, a reminder of the sweetness and miracle of spring.

And it's not pink. Which is just about perfect.


It finally happened.

Last week, driving home from a playdate, with Kieran and Teyla in tow, lunchtime imminent, I couldn't find a single drive-thru restaurant that sounded good to me.

Culver's. McDonald's. Pizza Hut. Even Chick-fil-A.

(Oh wait. We don't have CFA. We eat heathen chicken. Never mind.)

They all sounded like junk. None of them tempted my palate. Not even the thought of a crispy, hot, salted French fry. Not even the siren call of a chocolate peanut butter malt. Not even my formerly beloved McChicken, which has sustained me through many a first trimester.

It no longer tempted me. I drove home and ate strawberries and yogurt for lunch.

It's a turning point, this. I have been been on a real food kick for a couple of years now. Slowly but steadily, I've cut junk food out of my diet. I replaced refined carbs with whole grain options. I stopped buying preprocessed stuff (except for Trader Joe's, because they do an amazing job of keeping even their preprocessed options fairly healthy). I buy free-range eggs and organic milk and grass-fed beef. I allow myself only one small treat a day, and even that is usually a square of dark chocolate or a slice of fruit pie.

My taste buds have finally caught up to my brain. I just don't enjoy the old stuff anymore. It isn't even hard to resist.

I've changed. Not only my habits, but my desires.

That, friends, it's true transformation.

It's something I've been thinking about lately, thanks to a post on failed New Year's resolutions from my friend Laura Parker. We are at that point in the year when so many of our bright and shiny intentions are battered and bruised. We aren't going to bed earlier. We aren't exercising much, unless you count that one week we made it to the gym and that time we chased the toddler in the Target parking lot. The only weight we've lost is from that bought with the flu. It's discouraging, especially for a optimist like me.

What I'm learning is this: True, lasting, deep change is hard. As I commented on Laura's post, it's like herding cats or swimming through Jell-O. Or both. At the same time. I think this is especially true the older we get. Our brains are wired now. It takes tremendous energy to get our synapses to move in a new direction. Habits are grooved into our gray matter, quite literally. Teaching ourselves new ways of coping, new methods of living takes time and slow-and-steady reinforcement. For most of us, change isn't overnight. We don't wake up one morning and - bam - we're different. 

But. Driving by McDonald's the other day, without even the slightest urge to turn in, I realized: Change is possible.

It's possible.

Don't give up.

Now, let's talk about my resolution to start working out again.


Maybe it's because I can't shake the lingering Plague. Maybe it's the ages of my kids. Maybe it's my age. Maybe it's Kieran.

But the other day, as I cleaned crumbs off the kitchen floor (again) and put away the milk (again) and asked Connor to pick up his Legos (again), I thought to myself: Man, life is schooling me lately. I can barely keep up.

And it's true. Life just keeps coming. It's wave after relentless wave. Dinner. Bedtime. Laundry. Grocery shopping. Menu planning. Detangling Teyla's hair. School drop-off. School pick-up. Lunch. Dishes.

I'm not drowning. The past few years, I've simplified in big and small ways. No one is involved in a ton of outside activities. I only have two church commitments a month. We aren't navigating a crisis. I can stay afloat on these waves.

I just can't make much headway.

And that leaves me feeling a little silly, to be honest. There are days I glance at my mostly empty calendar and think, "Girl! You do NOTHING outside of the home. Why are you so tired?" And I have no solid answer, nothing that seems to hold water. I mean, I know woman who work full-time jobs in addition to raising children. I know women who have double the number of kids that I do. I know woman who blog daily (actually, I know dozens of you) who also manage to write books and attend conferences and do good and generally dazzle me.

If that's you, let me be clear: You amaze me.

Because I am exhausted just keeping the plates spinning here, in my little world. To be clear: I am happy and at peace. You might even say, I'm fulfilled. I'm not hurried or running crazy or fried crispy. I feel like God has taught me how to have margin, and it's a wonderful thing to have space to enjoy my life, instead of endure it.

But even with margin, my pages are full. Every drop of energy I have is used up by 9:00 PM. (And those are the days Corey is home. When he's traveling, I'm done by 5:00.)

Maybe I'll have more freedom as the kids get older. Maybe I'll have more energy as the warm weather returns. Maybe I'll have more dreams as God gives them.

For now, I'm just here, kicking and laughing and spitting out seawater from the occasional wave that slaps me in the face. Keeping it together, trying to stay afloat.

Anyone with me?