Friday, February 19, 2016

Sugar and Spice

My boys have started to fake burp during meals.

I'm roared at multiple times a day.

And they wrestle. Which I knew would happen, but I didn't think it would happen so soon.

Henry set a place at dinner for one of his Nerf guns.

William insists on carrying around a little truck that's the replica of Daddy's truck.

Friday night consists of everyone piled on the couch playing some robot video game.

Saturday morning consists of everyone piled on the couch watching fishing shows.

But, that's all okay because I got to wear a pink shirt to a maternity session this week. 

I can't wait to add you to our family, baby girl. I can't wait to dress you in ruffles, paint your nails, braid your hair and go shopping with you. We'll throw pink glitter at the boys for good measure.


Tiny Bubbles Photography

Tiny Bubbles Photography

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Dear Boilermaker

Last night you dove into the hotel bed and relished the feeling of your silky smooth legs on those sheets.

Maybe you're on a bus ride to the pool, or eating breakfast with the team. Maybe you're about to jump in for a warm-up or a wake-up swim. Or maybe you are stepping up to the blocks for the race that you equal parts fear and enjoy. Thanks to taper, every cell in your body feels like it's buzzing.

This is your moment.

I know. I was there. But now, I'm eight years removed from my last training trip, last practice, last breakfast with the team, last warm-up, last relay, last race. And do you know what I'm doing today? I'm making breakfast for a two little boys, waddling around like I did too many squats yesterday-- but that's just me being pregnant. We'll maybe hit the library after I check in on all of your races. The only water I'll encounter today will be that of a load of laundry and some dishwashing-- I'll be lucky if a shower happens. The only one doing flip-turns is this baby.

What I'm saying is, you will have your whole life for a career, a family, and sleeping past 5 AM. 

I'm just a ghost of Boilermaker past, my swimming identity long gone, but never forgotten. A girl just like you who put in tens of thousands of hours of energy, sweat and tears swimming in circles in the same pool you did. I ran those bleachers, lifted those weights, gossiped in that locker room, lived in that house (400 club for life.)  

But today, TODAY, you have the opportunity to create some magical moments-- ones you and your teammates will forever cherish. And it's not luck you'll need, you've spent all season creating your own freaking fantastic luck.

Today is going to be the same as it has always been: 

Just you and the pool. 

Just you with your head in the water. 

So here is my advice:

Leave everything you have in that pool, because your heart will remain there forever, anyways.

Boiler Up + P2S. You are Pure Gold.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Thirty + Project Me

I may well be the only person on the planet who is excited to turn 30. Why? Because every year older I become, the better I know myself. Only in the last few years have I even decided that its important to figure out who I really am and what I need to be happy, which was a challenge in itself. Figuring out who you are is hard enough when it's only you-- but throw a husband and some babies into the mix and there are days you are lucky to get out of the house with pants on, let alone some "me-time."

this is thirty, folks!
But I'm doing it. I've been more myself in the past couple of years, than I think I was in all of the years before that combined. In your late teens and twenties I think most of us are very go with the flow-- whatever our peers are doing, that's what we do, too, without much conscious thought.

Thirty will be my most challenging year for sure. Baby girl will be here in the Spring so we'll be managing three littles for a summer before Henry starts Kindergarten (!) in the Fall. And I'm sure my husband will tell you-- I am a carefree, delight in the months following birth, with no added emotion or anxieties from pregnancy hormones. Just kidding. I'm a crazy person post-partum, but I wouldn't try and tell me that.

But a challenging year full of life, will ultimately teach me a lot more about myself, and I am grateful for that.

And while I hope to be on this Earth for a very long time-- with infinitely more wisdom to pass along as I age, no future is guaranteed, and so I'd like to share a little something with you now. I call it Project Me-- things I've developed for myself in the past year or so on my personal fulfillment and happiness quest. I seriously thank Yoga for these ideas-- I picked up practicing last Spring and the idea for Project Me came to me while I was on my yoga mat. Its really helped me be more mindful and present.
1. Start your bible. There's a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote that goes "Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet." I write down all of my favorite passages, and every quote that speaks to me-- whether it be from a book, a Pinterest post or song lyrics. Once I fill my first journal, I plan to organize them by category so I can easily reference all of the things that speak personally to me. From time to time I re-read everything I've written so far.

2. Create a mantra. Build a brief mantra-- maybe two or three sentences-- that you can repeat to yourself first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and anywhere you need it in between. Re-evaluate your mantra every few months and build it to be what you need it to be. Currently I'm repeating: "Be present, be grateful. You are this moment."

3. Create a checklist of happy. Write out a list of at least ten things that make you happy. The caveat: these must only involve you. Make a point of checking off each thing on the list at least once a week, or more depending on the activity. Some of the things that appear on my list: a cup of tea in our sun room, reading, blogging, yoga, gardening, going for a walk. It's so easy to NOT find time for the things you love-- so sometimes you have to make time!

4. 3 things. I keep a journal near my bed and every night write three things I could have done better or that I wish would have gone better today. This is a way for me to let things go. And then I write down three things I am going to do tomorrow, but I write them as if it's already happened. It's surprising how if I write something down, mentally commit to it, and picture that its already happened... how much I manage to accomplish the next day. Example, if today is Monday evening I would write: On Tuesday I got out of bed as soon as my alarm went off. I was a conscious parent throughout the day and managed to find 20 minutes of me-time in the afternoon with a book and a cup of tea. 

You see? I never did any of these things in the past, but somehow in the past year I put this together and realized what it takes to be the best ME. Can you imagine with a little more work how awesome I am going to be at 40?!

What methods do you use to maintain your happiness or achieve personal fulfillment? Maybe you'll help me to expand Project Me. I've thrown the idea around of building a private Facebook group around it (not selling anything-- just a place for women to bounce ideas off of one another in an organized matter.) If that's something you'd be interested in, shoot me a message!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Laurealism Library: Volume 5

It's been awhile since I've clued you in on what I've been reading... Here are my favorites since I updated you last.

For reference, my personal scale:
1- Couldn't get past the first chapter
2- Finished it, but not for me
3- A solid, entertaining book, but didn't resonate with me
4-Worth reading in a liftime
5-All time favorite books

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A NovelGabrielle Zevin
Pick this up if: One of your favorite genres is "books about books."

About via Amazon: A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. He lives alone, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over--and see everything anew.

Notes: I just loved this story. I highlighted so many passages, and just fell in love with the characters.

My rating: 5/5
Goodreads rating: 3.96/5

Quotes: "They had only ever discussed books. But what, in this life, is more personal than books?"

"My life is in these books, he wants to tell her. Read these and know my heart."

"There ain't nobody in the world like book people. It's a business of gentlemen and gentlewomen."

You might also like: Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

Tuck EverlastingNatalie Babbitt
Pick this up if: You're looking for a young adult book, or something to read with your kids.

About via Amazon: Doomed to―or blessed with―eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less a blessing that it might seem.

Notes: You could probably read this in a day, it's simple but intriguing and begs the question, "what would you do in that situation?" Which would make it a good discussion book with youngsters.

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 3.84/5

Quotes: "They peered at her anxiously over their shoulders as they tiptoed out of her bedroom, as if they sensed that she was different now from what she had been before. As if some part of her had slipped away."

You might also like: A Monster Calls, 13 Clocks

Pick this up if: You want a rather long book to curl up and fall in love with.

About via Amazon: A GOD IN RUINS tells the dramatic story of the 20th Century through Ursula's beloved younger brother Teddy--would-be poet, heroic pilot, husband, father, and grandfather-as he navigates the perils and progress of a rapidly changing world. After all that Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge is living in a future he never expected to have. 

Notes: I just love Kate Atkinson's writing and how she tells a story. Her characters are so realistic and developed, I want to meet more and more of them.

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 3.92/5

Quotes: "The earrings had begun their life in a goldsmith's atelier in 1899 and, in the manner of objects, lived on long after the people who had worn them."

"People came as they were, she said, all packeted up complete, waiting to be unwrapped."

You might also like: Life After Life, All the Light We Cannot See, The Goldfinch

Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders: A NovelJulianna Baggott
Pick this up if: Again-- you love books about books, and a book presented from different perspectives.

About via Amazon: The reclusive Harriet Wolf, revered author and family matriarch, has a final confession-a love story. Years after her death, as her family comes together one last time, the mystery of Harriet's life hangs in the balance. Does the truth lie in the rumored final book of the series that made Harriet a world-famous writer, or will her final confession be lost forever?

Notes: This was an interesting read. Interesting people, interesting lives... just interesting. And you really get the feel of the different perspectives through the writing (a challenging feat!)

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 3.76/5

Quotes: "No one can know someone else. We can't even know ourselves."

"One day, Ruthie says, but she says it like a wish, not a promise."

"I have a life within myself, an inward life that can't be expressed."

You might also like: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, Life of Pi

Pick this up if: Twin brothers, mental illness, a lot of family history. There is a lot that goes on this book, and it's so worth the read.

About via Amazon: On the afternoon of October 12, 1990, my twin brother, Thomas, entered the Three Rivers, Connecticut, public library, retreated to one of the rear study carrels, and prayed to God the sacrifice he was about to commit would be deemed acceptable. . . .

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 4.15/5

Quotes: "Things get clearer when you're older. Of course by then it's too late."

You might also like: Middlesex, A Trip to the Stars

Station ElevenEmily St John Mandel
Pick this up if: You like post-apocalyptic novels. Also if you're looking for a quick and entertaining read.

About via Amazon: Kirsten Raymonde will never forget the night Arthur Leander, the famous Hollywood actor, had a heart attack on stage during a production of King Lear. That was the night when a devastating flu pandemic arrived in the city, and within weeks, civilization as we know it came to an end. Twenty years later, Kirsten moves between the settlements of the altered world with a small troupe of actors and musicians. They call themselves The Traveling Symphony, and they have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive.

Notes: I finished this book and wished it had been three times as long. I love post-apocalyptic and this was a great one!

My rating: 5/5
Goodreads rating: 4.01/5

Quotes: "After she got up he always liked to see how much of the bed he could sleep on at once."

"He felt extravagantly, guiltily alive."

"There are certain qualities of light that blur the years. Sometimes she would glance at him as the sun rose and for a fleeting instant she could see what he'd looked like as a boy."

You might also like: The Stand, The Road

The Bone ClocksDavid Mitchell
Pick this up if: You're cool with using your imagination.

About via Amazon: Following a terrible fight with her mother over her boyfriend, fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her family and her old life. But Holly is no typical teenage runaway: A sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as “the radio people,” Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. Now, as she wanders deeper into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life.

Notes: This book is about a world very different from our own, and you have to just sort of accept everything that is going on. This was a book club read for me and it was funny because half of the group loved it and half of the group did not at all. Those are always the greatest to discuss!

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 3.8/5

Quotes: Lost book alert! I can't find my copy to go through my highlights.

You might also like: The Magician
Pick this up if: You're looking for a change of pace. This book is definitely on the magical side, and likely aimed at young adults, but we can use a little imagination in our lives, right?

About via Amazon: As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar.

Notes: The author used old images (which appear in the book) to create this story- a unique idea.

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 3.82/5

Quotes: "I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen. The first of these came as a terrible shock and, like anything that changes you forever, split my life into halves: Before and After.

You might also like: The Thirteenth Tale, The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Runners Up

The following I rated 3/5-- which is a solid rating for me meaning I enjoyed the book and it was entertaining, but these weren't books that will stay with me. But you may still want to check them out, because sometimes a light-hearted or simple book is a good break. I've included their Goodreads rating below-- because as you'll see my 3/5 differs greatly from the average opinion in some cases!

Sharp Objects  3.9/5
The Girl on the Train 3.14/5
Big Little Lies 4.16/5
The Invention of Wings 4.22/5
The Dovekeepers 4.01/5
Love Medicine 3.97/5
Let the Right One In 4.06/5
We Were Liars 3.86/5
Dark Places 3.91/5

Which books did you love in 2015?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Does he only make boys?

Before we even had kids, Mark saw some manly man on some show say "I only make boys." He thought it was pretty hilarious and has been saying it ever since.

After Henry was a boy, I told him he got lucky-- it was a 50/50 shot. After William was a boy though... I started to believe him.

#brotherstetrick waiting for the stork
I went into baby #3 wanting a BABY-- a healthy baby. A girl would be a fun change of pace, but we have everything for a boy, and a band of brothers would be pretty adorable, too. But really, I just need a baby to cuddle, because Henry and William are so over that at most moments.

Henry went into the ultrasound saying "I just know it's a girl." William on the other hand thought it was a "kitty cat."

I was fully prepared to be a boy-mom. Which is why I asked the ultrasound tech "Are you SURE?" when she told us...


It's a girl folks. 

I think I'm in shock. I'm so used to boy everything around here... for the first hour I was mostly like, I can't believe its a girl! But slowly things are dawning on me...

What the heck are we going to name her? (Girl names are so much harder to narrow down!)

Mark gets to have a daughter!

I get to do a girl nursery!


We're very excited for this new adventure. Now quick! Send me all of your favorite girly product recommendations!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Family Portrait

@Tiny Bubbles Photography
We had family pictures taken a couple of months ago, and while we didn't know it at the time, it turns out that this is a portrait of our whole family. Which is to say, all FIVE of us... Mark, Lauren, Henry, William and BABY! 

We can't wait to welcome baby number three this May!

After William was born, we were on the fence about going for three. Life with two is crazy enough. As he gained more independence, my heart was longing for that baby stage one more time, while my mind was saying, Are you crazy? You finally have everything under control!

And then I heard this quote at yoga:

There will be a few times in your life when all of your instincts will tell you to do something,
something that defies logic, upsets your plans, and may seem crazy to others.
When that happens, you do it. Listen to your instincts and ignore everything else.
Ignore logic, ignore the odds, ignore the complications, and just go for it. -Judith McNaught

It was as if the universe was sending me a very clear message. It may be crazy, but do it again.

And so here we are! Ready to add another little person, to our amazing adventure...

Friday, October 23, 2015

I give you my life to keep...

It's been five years. 
And to be honest, I just really believe that we are totally rocking this marriage thing. We laugh often and enjoy each other. What we have, works. And the people we are complement each other. My current favorite part of our marriage is that we look at each other first when our children do or say something funny, amazing, or ridiculous. Its truly is amazing to have someone to connect with in this way.
And, sure we bicker about silly things like Mark's ridiculous morning alarm process, who has more covers, or when I don't screw the orange juice cap on all the way-- but these are all solved by a laugh and a smooch.

Of course I had no idea what our life would look like five years later. But I think our current reality is better than what I had imagined.

It's nice to re-read out vows every once in awhile, to remember the moment and remind myself of what our love is. I wanted our vows to be unique, but also to reflect traditional vows, and I'm still happy with how they turned out.

It will also be nice to inform Mark later that it's literally written into our vows to "sleep in your arms," which means he has to cuddle me even if he is hot.

I, Lauren, choose you, Mark, to be my husband:

To live with you and laugh with you
To stand by your side and sleep in your arms
To be joy to your heart and food for your soul
To bring out the best in you always
To be the most that I can, for you

Mark, with this ring, I promise to love you.

To offer you my fullest devotion and tenderest care in sickness and in health,
To provide you my deepest love and support in times of joy and times of sorrow,
To give you my faithfulness and commitment for as long as we both shall live,
Mark, as I have given you my hand to hold, I give you my life to keep.

My love for you grows every day, Marky. I'm so glad to share this crazy, beautiful life with you.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

William is Two.

(c) Tiny Bubbles Photography
William. Will. Wilbur. Baby-o. Trouble Tetrick. Nugget. Whatever I call him, the fact remains: my baby boy is two today. 

This child is wild and independent, but still wants "uppy" whenever he gets the chance. He's perfected his "cheese" face. He loves what he refers to as "nakey baby" time. He does everything he sees his big brother "Henny" do, and echoes the last word of Henry's sentences. He ensures both dogs get kisses and half of his lunch everyday. He shouts, "Hey! Hey Dad! Hey!" when he's looking for someone. It's easy to make him laugh. He talks constantly, screams when being chased, and saves a naughty little grin for you when you've had a rough day. William walks through life with no fear weather walking on the edge of a couch, or attempting to ride Sparty. There are never enough books before bedtime, and never enough animals in the zoo that is his crib.

I remember the moment William was born and the doctor placed him on my chest. In all my preparation to have baby number two, I had only imagined what birth was like with Henry. So in those first few moments of his life, it was overwhelming for me to realize that here in my arms is a whole new person in the world that wasn't here before.
At two years old, the world is still infinite and limitless for William with endless possibilities. How amazing is that to imagine? William-- I wish you a full, healthy and happy life full of adventure. Happy birthday, baby-o. I love you.
(c) Tiny Bubbles Photography

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Picture Perfect

I'm not sure how it is that we have a four year old now, but here's one of my favorite things that we've done since Henry was born. I can't wait to keep it up!
Henry's 4 Year Old Picture Picture. By the truly lovely Leslie of Tiny Bubbles.
Rewind to Henry's 2 Year Old Picture Picture. By the fabulous Kayla of Full Bloom Photo. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Parental Dichotomy

noun | di-chot-o-my
1. a difference between two opposite things: a division into two opposite group.

Perhaps I'm telling you something you already know, but it's worth saying: parenting is dichotomous.

Choose a word to describe what it's like to be a parent, and the opposite is equally true.

Example: Delightful.
Antonym: Terrifying.

Yes, both of those things. Let's try again. 

Example: Exhausting.
Antonym: Invigorating.

Yep, and those. 

Example: Full.
Antonym: Empty.

As in, your heart is full, but your energy level? Empty.

You see, it'll start when you're pregnant. You do and don't want them to come out. You'll say to your belly: please come out now. I can't even roll over. And I'm over this waddle. But then you'll realize, ohmigosh, he has to come out somehow. That should be fun. Maybe give me one more day to mentally prepare.

Children manage to keep you young, while simultaneously taking years off of your life.

You will and you won't want them to grow up.

You can't wait for bedtime, and then as soon as there is a moment of peace, you're able to reflect on the absolute awesomeness of your children and suddenly: you can't wait for them to wake up again.

You don't want to wish away the time that they are little, in fact you want it to last forever... but you definitely do want to wish away the diapers and the tantrums, and the times where you can't manage to find anyone's shoes and you have to be somewhere five minutes ago (or is that just me?)

You will and you won't know where the time has gone. You blinked and you're here. But there were also those incredibly long days, and impossibly long nights along the way.

It's messy, but there's an order to the chaos: breakfast, lunch and dinner, nap time and bedtime, bath time and book time.

There will be moments where you just can't stand another touch, or another whine, or another "up." Kids are so needy! And then, so independent. Five minutes later you'd give anything to be wrapped up in those little arms. Or for him to look back when you drop him off at camp. Just a quick glance and a wave.

Oh and don't forget your children, themselves! One happy, one sad. One asleep, one awake. One crazy, one well-behaved. It will change from moment to moment, and child to child, but the dichotomies and options are endless. Especially if there are more than two.

My theory? Life's greatest concepts are dichotomous. Enjoy the roller coaster, folks!

P.S. I don't say it enough but, you're doing a good job, Mama. (Dads-- you, too.) Let's pass that message on as often as possible. You're doing a good job.