Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Mary Clare, five years

Happy fifth birthday to our beautiful Christmas baby.

Five. Wow. As far as milestone birthdays go, this was the one I was dreading the most. No more toddler, and certainly no more baby. It is all big kid stuff now. Five just seems so ... old. And you are old. So mature, so tall (oh, how tall!) and so wise. And getting wiser by the day.

This past year with you was just as remarkable as the last. Having you (having kids, really) is amazing. Just downright amazing. The inquisitiveness, the constant development, the sweetness and the boldness ... it's all just too wonderful for words.

While parts of 2013 felt like a blur in terms of selling, moving, buying, renovating, moving, I have to remember that it was also chockful of some seriously great moments. Sadly, not a lot of them were documented on this blog, but they are seared on my memory. And posted on Instagram.

You left the only school and teachers you had known since three months, and while you still ask about your Childgarden friends, you were so darned excited to start pre-Kindergarten at a big kid school. You have taken to your new school, teachers and classmates like a champ and I can't put into words how happy it makes me to see that you clearly so utterly love school.

You continue to take care of and humor Charlie. You are so patient and so tender with him, and heaven help the person who even looks like they might be thinking about doing your little brother harm. The other morning when you slept in and realized that your dad and Charlie had already left for school, your face dropped and you said, "I really wish I could have hugged Charlie good-bye."

You are equally loving to your cousins, living it up when you are together and wanting to call and send pictures when you are not. You are, I dare say, even loving to your parents. Even me, your arch nemesis. There are days where you test every bit of my patience, and then when I least expect it, you will crawl into my lap or grab me tight around the neck when I tuck you in at night, pulling me down so you can give me one of your famous fierce hugs. On occasion, you even take the opportunity to whisper in my ear that you love me or that I am the "best mommy ev-ah." At those times I am certain you are angling for something, only to look at our face and realize you are being genuine. You have, however, learned how to give "cute" looks, and while sometimes I think you are once again working me, there are other times that no,  you are just that gosh darned cute.

As far as interests, you still love to be outside, and our spring and summer in Highland surely was the stuff of your dreams. A huge yard, play set, swings, battery-powered riding toys, stomp rockets and treasure hunts were in heavy rotation. While you still love books, of late we are more likely to find you holed up somewhere with a pen and paper versus a stack of books. You love to art, especially with instruments of the non-washable variety. Your Aunt Sherri and Uncle Brian gave you a well-stocked craft kit for Christmas, and it is already in need of a restock. Your free handed drawing and coloring continue to improve, as does your handwriting. But man, oh man, I cannot wait until you learn how to spell because you insist on writing your loved ones' names on every single creation (D-A-D-D-Y, M-O-M-M-Y, C-H-A-R-L-I-E, B-U-D-D-Y, N-A-N-A, G-R-A-M-P-S, B-E-N ... I could go on.).

Development wise, your teacher says you are right on track, my little friend. You love to ask the meaning of words, and between that and the aforementioned spelling obsession, I would say you just might be mine after all. (Because, like me, you also tend to fall down a lot, zone out and are not the most coordinated, I am afraid a love for words and spelling are currently the only two good traits you received from me.) You still jumble some phrases and mispronounce some words, but those instances are few and far between — if not utterly treasured.

I could go on for days listing why you amaze us and how much we love you. (I could also go on about how you are stubborn and frequently ignore us, but this is a birthday post, ahem, so I'll keep it positive.) But good and bad, we love you little girl. As I tell you every time I tuck you into bed, "You make me happy every day."

Happy fifth birthday, Mary Clare!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

There's plenty to go around, ladies

This boy. I don't even know what to say. But oh, does he make us laugh.

His stubbornness is maddening and there is often just no reasoning with him. At all. He cries. He pouts. He throws real deal tantrums. But darn it if he can't turn it all around with one of his smiles. I mean, I think I've said it 100 times already, but those dimples. I mean, come on. You cannot get mad at someone with dimples like that. Especially when he shows you the sexy. Which is what is happening in this picture. (I know, I know. It's so, so wrong to say "show me the sexy" when a toddler throws up his shirt. But come on. It's also so, so good.)

Oh, and regrettable toddler tricks aside, there is totally no point to this post whatsoever. No funny anecdote, no heartwarming tale. Just Charlie Bird gleefully baring his belly for all the world to see. Stick in hand. Because every time you set foot outside, the first thing you have to do is find a stick. And hold onto it for dear life. And pray that it doesn't scratch your bare belly.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Thankful for these turkeys, and so much more. If there's one thing I learned this year, it's that I am a lucky duck.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Tight ship

Lately, whenever Chip or I make a statement to or a request of Charlie, we get a snappy "Yes, sir!" in response. I suspect accompanying salutes won't be far behind.

While I guess I should appreciate these military-style manners, I can't help but have a sneaking suspicion that our two-year-old son has somehow already mastered sarcasm.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Welcome to the second floor

In keeping with yesterday's theme of taking notice of the small things that make life so nice, I would be remiss if I didn't share that Buddy is now a regular visitor to the second floor. Visitor is probably incorrect, as he now comes and goes at his leisure and spends the night in our room. While the leather couch no doubt provides a superior sleeping experience to his dog bed, I think even he would agree that it's nice to be closer to the rest of us.

I know it's silly, but I just did not like the fact that he was separated from us for chunks of the day and every single night. And I especially missed him on the days I work from our home office. I was just starting to ease Chip into the idea of putting a runner on our stairs when Buddy finally turned a corner. Feeding the kids their peanut butter English muffins in the office is apparently what it took for Buddy to decide that mastering the stairs was worth his time.

Of course, the downside to this story is that I frequently have to shoo him off of Mary Clare's bed (her white bed, I might add), but he's worth the occasional lint roll.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A really nice day

Yesterday was a pretty normal day around here. School for the kids, work for Chip and I — nothing out of the ordinary. But it was such a nice day.

After walking Mary Clare to school, which are no lie, often the best two blocks of my day, I returned home to work, only to hear the doorbell ring and find that one of my dear friends had sent me flowers.

At 11 a.m., I headed back to Holy Redeemer to read to Mary Clare's class. I was a last-minute fill-in for another parent, and it was a complete surprise to Mary Clare. To say that she was thrilled was an understatement. I think she gave me three hugs right off the bat, one more fierce than the last. Reading to her class was hilarious, and it was fun to put faces with names. Then it was off to the office for a super productive afternoon topped off by kind compliments from a coworker about the cuteness of our kiddos. After work, it was back to Holy Redeemer to get Mary Clare, where even more sweetness ensued. (The kid, she is killing me.) As we walked up the walk to our house, we found a sweet welcome package from our church's women's group, complete with a dozen gourmet cookies, waiting for us on the front porch.

When Chip and Charlie rolled in the door, the kids busied themselves playing (nicely, for the most part) with the awesome "Cars" play sets that my mom recently scored on a garage sale. (Said play sets are so awesome that Charlie was actually shaking with excitement and stammering "uhhh uhhh uhhh" when he saw them for the first time.) Dinner was peaceful, the cookies were a nice treat for dessert, and bedtime, while exhausting where Charlie is concerned, went by without any significant threats.

Like I said, an average day, no doubt, but a really nice average day. It reminded me to enjoy the little things and not get so caught up in all that needs to be accomplished or all that went wrong with this or that. So thanks to everyone who made my day so nice. It did not go unnoticed.

Monday, November 11, 2013


So, seven years. Which is usually lucky seven, right?

Well, without a doubt, this year was perhaps one of our most trying. We sold our house, moved from neighbors and a church we loved (and where we were married and baptized both kiddos), moved in with my parents, commuted (with the kids) to/from St. Louis for five months, bought a new house, remodeled said house, moved again and are now getting a feel for the lay of the land in our new house, community and church.

There were moments that tested our patience, there were days and weeks where we tested each others patience, but in the end it all worked out. We may not have agreed on everything, but we agreed when it counted most. So yeah, I'll go ahead and decree that year seven was lucky for us.*

Another thing this year taught me is that no matter how great our relationship is, no matter how in sync we are or how hard we work, we can't go it alone. Thankfully, our parents are supportive and generous with their time (and homes) and our siblings and friends are equally excellent. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I think that same village can come in pretty handy when it comes to nurturing a marriage and family. That leading by example business is the real deal. It also means we need to up our good deeds game.

So, while this year felt like a blur, it was blurry in a good way. So here's to sitting back and enjoying year eight, one another and those three nuts that moved into this house with us. I love you. 

*Please note, I did knock on wood after typing that. This house business has made me uber superstitious.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

Halloween greetings from our butterfly catcher and his very own monarch butterfly.

I'd like to tell you Charlie was just getting into character, but no, he runs around swinging things at his sister's head all the time. He got a net and she got sparkles and a fluffy dress. Everyone wins.

Major thanks, as always, to my mom for cranking out killer costumes in no time. We are spoiled.

Monday, October 7, 2013


Who needs concrete lions when you have a Lab?

Sunday, October 6, 2013


After closing on July 26 and making enough "updates" that would rival a full-blown renovation, tonight will mark our very first evening sleeping here. Everyone. In their own beds. (Well, the couch for Buddy because he won't set foot on the second floor, but that is neither here nor there.)

There's so much to share, there are so many people to thank and there are so very many things that make me beyond happy. But for now, I'll just say we are all so very excited to be in our house together. There may be concrete lions guarding our steps (they're going, Chip), the trees and bushes may be ready to eat our house, and the basement may look like a bomb went off, but gosh darn it, we're in the house. And it's great.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


I received this today from my  loving sister.

Apparently environmental geo-tech geeks like the comics. And have the time to read them and mock others while packing up their soil samples. Or waiting for their Carhart's to finish drying. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to proofing this postcard that will motivate people to sell enough lawnmowers that they qualify for a trip to Costa Rica. Where they will no doubt save lives and solve the world's hunger problems. All in a day's work for this J-school grad. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

It's never too hot for tomato soup

Mary Clare loves herself some tomato soup. Specifically, she likes the recipe in this cookbook, which also happens to be the best slow cooker cookbook, like, ever. 

As we were driving to school yesterday, she looked at her thermos and said, "Hey, I still haven't used the hot food cup that matches this." She has, mind you, been in school for two whole weeks. And she goes three days per week. Seriously, what is the hold up?

So I said that I was sure we could come up with something to put in it when she takes lunch on Thursday. Thinking that she might not be game for soup on a hot September day, I suggested macaroni and cheese. No. Spaghetti and meatballs? Again, no. 

"How about tomato soup?" she asked. "I would like some of that tomato soup you make."

And then she nodded thoughtfully and added, "Yes. Tomato soup would be nice." 

Clearly, she is 80. And clearly, you can bet your britches that I will be making her tomato soup to take for lunch on Thursday. Nothing would make me happier.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Still at it

In case you're wondering, yes, we're still working on the house. No, we're not living in it. Don't be absurd! 

Since I can't in good conscience blog while Chip and my parents are working their tushes off, good old TB and I have had to take some time apart. However, since I do use this blog as a way to track our lives, I will be predating a few posts here and there so I don't get too far behind when it comes to the kids' comings and goings. I will hopefully be able to throw up* a first day of school post soon, as well as some August favorite photos. 

Be patient with me, two remaining readers. 

*After I typed this, I realized it was an interesting choice of words since Mary Clare did, in fact, throw up on her very first day of school. Poor baby. Potent stomach bug. Coincidentally, my sister and brother-in-law now refer to our son as Charlie Bird Flu. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


This morning, Chip took Charlie to school, so it was just Mary Clare and I for the drive over to St. Louis. There was a lot of singing on her part, and a lot of NPR listening on my part. It was quite peaceful. 

At one point, Mary Clare asked me to get her a book located in the pocket behind my seat. As I patted around for it, pulling out various books in search for the elusive numbers book, she said "No, no, no," until I finally heard a rather effusive, "There you go," she said. "You got it." As I handed her the book, she added "That's a good girl." 

I have to tell you, I didn't quite know how to respond. Still don't. But I do know that those were most definitely my words coming right back at me. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


That's right, friends. We found a house. Team Botanical is homeless no more. Hooray!

We closed on July 26, which is why there has been radio silence ever since. Baby needs a little work in the cosmetics department, so our spare time has been spent either working there or making calls and plans to get work done there.

We are so, so happy. A smidge overwhelmed at times, but very happy. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July favorites

While the July posting was light, at best, I did hit it hard with the old iPhone photos. My July faves follow.

[keeping company]

 [family on the fourth]

[parade pro]


[booze with Buddy]

[racing faces]

 [celebrating a 36th birthday with Charlie, Chip, Mary Clare & Chip's baby pic]

[cool when it's hot]

[no sense in letting all that mint go to waste]

[patient as ever]


 [there's zucchini in that there cake]

Looking back at a month's worth of photos is really quite nice. I forget how much these nuts make me laugh on a daily basis.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

He speaks

So, turns out if you spend some one-on-one time with Charlie, he will spit out words rapid fire. Words you had no idea he knew. No idea. None. 

Case in point, one day last week Charlie accompanied me outside to hang some laundry on the clothesline. As I hung the items, I suddenly realized that he was trying to get my attention.

"Grash," he said, pointing to the ground. "Grash."

"Oh my gosh, that's right, Charlie! That is grass. Good job, buddy!"

Encouraged, he ran over to my parents' garden shed and pointed at the siding. "House. House. House."

"Yes, Charlie! Yes, that is a house!"

And then, I swept him up and hugged him. I dare say, we had a moment. Me marveling at how awesome it is when kids are learning how to speak, and him soaking up the attention. (We'll forget the part where I questioned if Charlie had been saying these words for weeks, and I was just too distracted to notice.)

I resumed my laundry duties, and as Charlie alternated between the house and the grass, I threw in some other doozies like tree, sky, plant and towel. He didn't seem to keen on giving any of those a go, but that's fine.

Fast forward to yesterday. The kids both took long naps, so I was well into dinner preparation by the time they finally awoke. Charlie hung out in the kitchen with me while we waited for Mary Clare to emerge from her room. As I mixed up the cucumber salad, I felt Charlie tug at the side of my shorts.

"Poppet," he said, beaming up at me. "Poppet."

Again, I dropped what I was doing and lavished praise upon him.

"That's right. That's a pocket. Good job, buddy."

More hugging, grinning and marveling ensued.

Charlie obviously has more words in his arsenal besides grass, house, pocket and what I covered in his second birthday post, and his pronunciation (beep-ch for beach) and occasional French accent are delightful as ever. So, I don't know what it was in particular that struck me, but there was something about our two little encounters. Like I said, they amazed me and shamed me, all at the same time. But shamed me in a good way, if that makes any sense. Like, "Hey, lady, I am picking stuff up left and right over here, so pay attention. And whatever you do, don't drop the F-bomb, because I will definitely seize on that one and say it on repeat. In church."

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tomato, tomahto

Know how I know Mary Clare is my daughter? Girlfriend loves tomatoes. The other night she asked what we were having for dinner, and when I showed her the items above, she responded with a "YES!" complete with arm-pump action.

Chip thinks this is crazy.

I totally get it.

I love the damn things. Always have, always will. While my deep and abiding love no doubt stems from a childhood spent feasting on the top tomatoes from my parents' garden, I do not limit my consumption to three months out of the year. And Mary Clare is with me on this one. She will eat tomatoes in any shape, color or condition. Although I only serve sliced tomatoes as a side when they are fresh from the garden, we snarf grape tomatoes, yellow sunbursts and any decent-looking hydroponic wonders I find year-round.

The tomatoes in this picture are from the farmers' stand in Highland. They were good, but they were not Papa's garden good. Suffice it to say, Mary Clare and I are counting down the days until tomato time.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The muscle

Yesterday Chip took the kids to the playground while I did the grocery shopping. When I dropped them off, Mary Clare was elated to see that there were other kids ("friends," in preschool speak) already at the park.

Chip said she wasted no time making her presence known. She ran up to one little girl and announced, "I'm Mary Clare Thole Lindh, and this is my brother Charlie Lindh. You have to watch out for him. He's little. So be careful."

Luckily, she did not elaborate on what would happen to those who don't watch out for her brother. Some things are just best left unsaid.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

She apologizes like her mother

The other night, Mary Clare was not on her best behavior during bath time. Two solid days of pool time and lackluster napping meant that emotions were running high by 7 p.m. After admonishing her for screaming at her well napped, rather exuberant brother more times than I care to admit, I finally just extracted Charlie from the tub and left Mary Clare to work it out on her own.

Once Charlie was dried off and in his pajamas, I braced myself for dealing with Mary Clare, as drying off, putting on pajamas and combing her hair would likely mean 10 solid minutes of screaming and/or tears.

Instead, she was rather subdued. She was quiet while I dried her off and combed her hair. As I leaned down to help her put her arms in her pajamas, she threw her arms around my neck and pulled me to her.

"I love you, mommy," she said. "And I'm really sorry that sometimes ... sometimes ... sometimes I don't tell you that I love you enough."

Dammit. The girl is good.

"Well, Mary Clare, I love you, too. And I'm sorry that sometimes I don't tell you I love you enough, either. Sometimes mommy forgets."

"Well, you should, mommy. You should tell me you love me ALL the time. And I will tell you that I love you ALL the time."

And with that, I hugged her, kissed her forehead and told her I loved her. And the rest of the night all was well between mother and daughter.

We just both need cooling off periods sometimes. And a reminder that we're not mortal enemies. At least not yet.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Chip Lindh, 36

Happy birthday to the bestest husband and father ever. We love you as much as strawberry ice cream with strawberries. Maybe even more. You're just that great.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

We vacationed

We spent last week in beautiful Saugatuck, Michigan. We did nothing. It was awesome.

And when I say we did nothing, I mean it. We lazed around, watched sunsets, took leisurely strolls, ate food we normally don't eat at home, made s'mores, took naps, read books, watched movies and of course, logged countless hours on the beach.

I didn't care what I wore or the kids wore. I didn't put on make up and barely did my hair. I didn't take out my big camera once. Now I regret it a little bit, but at the time, it just seemed like it would be an ordeal and get in the way of the low key thing we had going.

The only time the kids complained was when we made them take a shower after beach time. Because having sand in every nook and cranny of your being is apparently preferable to five minutes of soap and shampoo. So, yes. The kids had to take seven whole showers while we were there. Maybe eight. Because we're cruel, I tell you. Cruel.

Anyway, what you see is what you get in the photo department. And the photos don't lie. It was just that leisurely and lovely. And just what we needed.

(And what my parents needed as well.)