Happy 4th birthday Fiona Retz. You have my whole heart. This birthday feels extra sweet after the year we’ve had. Eat as many cupcakes as you’d like today. You’ve earned it. 


Our new 4 yr old.


I’m going to assume most parents don’t want to hear these words spoken to them. We sure didn’t when they were uttered to us in a surgeon’s office the week before Christmas 2017.  We were gutted! I swear my heart skipped a beat (or three.) That day we walked back to the car with our littlest daughter in tow in a daze and from that moment on I’ve been marking time in before-we-knew-Fiona-needed-surgery and after-we-found-out-Fiona-needed-surgery.



The sassiest person you’ll ever meet

Since that day I’ve been obsessively googling: Duplex Kidneys, Hydronephrosis, Vesicoureteral Reflux, Da Vinci Robot, Robotic Pyeloplasty, UPJ Obstruction. I’ve studied the HELL out of this. In short, Fiona was born with a congenital abnormality that is oftentimes detected on ultrasounds while in utero except her’s wasn’t. She needs reconstructive surgery on her left kidney to preserve it. If you’d like to know more, I’d be happy to tell you all about it the next time I see you in person.

This is scary. I’ve been holding my breath since we found out about it. On the other hand, this has been a gift. I’ve been changing the way I’m moving through this whole experience. I don’t want to over-focus on the rough edges of it all.  Instead, I want to be thankful- actually, I AM thankful. I’m so thankful we have the best pediatrician (seriously- THE BEST ). He didn’t dismiss my mommy intuition when I felt like there was something really wrong with my kid. He ordered more tests instead of assuming it was “just a virus” again. I’m thankful that our journey led us to MPLS Children’s Hospitals and Clinics that ultimately led us to our surgeon. If your kid needs this surgery- this is the guy you want to do it. He has advanced Harvard training, in this specific type of surgery, using the robot that will assist him in Fiona’s surgery.  If that wasn’t divinely designed- I don’t know what is. I’ve felt like we’ve been cared for throughout this whole process so far, and I don’t see why that would end now and so…

Our girl has her big day on Monday morning. I’m excited for her to “get fixed” and for her to recover and get a body that doesn’t hurt so much. She’s most likely been living in pain her whole life, and because she doesn’t know any different, has assumed it’s normal. If you pray, meditate, light candles, hold crystals to your heart or summon your guardian angels- please do so for our girl on Monday. I’m sure she’d do the same for you.



She is 6!

IMG_0507.jpgSix years ago today I was eating a Popsicle waiting for my doctor to arrive to catch you when I pushed you into this world. I assumed from that day on that I’d be the one pushing you. Pushing you to be your best. Pushing you forward- closer to who you’re meant to be. What I’ve realized since is that you’ve actually been the one pushing. Pushing us to love harder. Pushing us to care deeply. Pushing us to rise to YOUR level. I’ve honestly never met a nicer person than you, Esther. You’re radically empathic. I hope you’re president one day. Happy 6th birthday little monkey! I need a stronger word than love to express my feelings for you.

Andrews Family Photos Linden Hills Park

Oh my sweetest Fiona. Today you are 3 and my heart feels so full. There’s a bitter-sweetness to watching your baby grow up. As your baby grows, a parent tries to savor all of the firsts and the lasts…the last first steps, the last bottle, the last time you bend over to place your baby in a crib….and all of the others. You’ve completed our family (I hope. I feel done. LIKE, SO SO DONE!) We couldn’t have asked for a better daughter. You, in a lot of ways, are everything I want to be. You stick up or yourself and YOU DO NOT BACK DOWN. NEVER, EVER. It doesn’t matter if your opponent is your sister or is someone you call dad and is much bigger and stronger than you. Does.not.matter. They meet your wrath just the same You will have your demands met. As a woman in this world, under the current set of circumstances that personality just might serve you well, my dear. But, then, there is this other side of you. It’s the side I can see in the photo I included in this letter. The side that is so disarming. The side that leans in with puckered lips for a full on wet kiss. The side that wraps tiny arms around your neck on a sad day. The side that gently pets your favorite animal- cats or the side that lovingly comforts your dog with a “oh hey buddy-you’re ok.” You’re tough as hell, but also as sweet as pie. That’s what I love best about you.

You’re the funniest person I know. You were born with a sense of humor. You’re seriously the only 2 (now 3, yay) year old that I’ve met that makes up their own jokes and sketch comedy. Brilliant! You’re also the only person to consistently burn me on an almost daily basis. It’s ok. I respect it 🙂

I didn’t know if I would be a good mom of two. I felt like the minute you were born, I was born all over again as a mother of two. It’s been different. I’ve had to learn how to not only parent two kids- but to also parent each kid differently. I’m a different kind of mother to you than I am to your sister. For example, when your sister gets hurt- she wants immediate attention and “saving”. She wants the hugs, kisses and the make-it-all-betters. When you get hurt, you first need space to work through the anger, pain and frustration or whatever else is going on in there. If I rush in- I’m oftentimes pushed away and told “leave me alone.” Then, after a pause, you can accept the hugs, kisses and the make-it-all-betters. A lot of this, I’m learning as we go along. We’re growing up together  in this way and learning as we go. I’m not sure that will ever go away.

You will always be my baby. Even when you’re 30 and I ask for “my baby” I’m going to mean you. We’re bonded in a special way because of that and in it lives a tenderness that I’m getting used to. I’m so so so happy you are here. You were meant to be. From the moment you were born you’ve made us all better. Thank you so very much.

You are my heartbeat little monkey. Happy 3rd birthday sweetie (after I typed that I just heard your little voice in my head say, “DON’T call me sweetie!)



Andrews Family Photos Linden Hills Park

Dear Esther,

Today you are 5 and I cannot believe it. We have known each other for 5 years (well, and before that really.) I often just stare at you when you’re playing with your sister, watching TV or just sitting peacefully with your thoughts. I study your face, your curls- the way your hands remind me of mine. It’s as if I’m trying to memorize each detail of your features so I can keep it for myself- forever. I love watching you grow up, but it’s  also bittersweet to say goodbye a little each day to the little baby I met that Friday morning five years ago.

On the morning we met I said a silent prayer. I prayed that you would always know love, that you’d always be protected and that I wouldn’t let you down. I was so afraid of not being the kind of mother I wanted to be to you. I looked at your perfect little face and promised that no matter what, I would “just keep swimming.” I also wondered why such a perfect angel would choose a broken mom like me to watch over her. Esther I suffer from depression. It’s something I have, it’s not who I am. To me it’s no different than having any other chronic illness. Sometimes I manage it really well and I barely know it’s there. And sometimes, it’s just under the surface and prevents me from being my true self and it pushes me into myself and farther away from the things and people I love. It’s like in “Finding Dori” when she first gets separated from her parents. She swam too close to the pipe, and it sucked her into the dark place- and spit her out in a totally different place away from her family and what she loved. Depression, for me, is like that deep dark pipe. If I’m not careful to take care of myself- I get too close to the deep dark pipe and it sucks me in- away from the people and things I love. Since, you’ve been in my life, I’ve had the strength to keep swimming and I’ve never been sucked all the way in. Sometimes I’m closer than I’d like to be. And during those times I’m not the kind of mom I want to be for you. I’m distracted and or distant. I retreat into myself and want to be alone with my thoughts. You give me the strength I need to do a re-set and to climb out of the deep dark place. I thank you for that. You really saved my life. Being a mother- being YOUR mother- gives me a reason to swim and swim and swim. You are not  responsible for my happiness, I am, but you are a huge part of it. You and your sister are my soulmates. I know that to be truth.

This year you will start Kindergarten! I’m so excited for you. You are going to make so many new friends and learn so much. This year you also decided that you wanted to be Buddhist. This began an adventure of learning for all of us. From what I know so far, this seamlessly fits into the core of who you are. I’ve never met a more loving and more kind person than you. You are an includer, a deep thinker and you’re very empathetic. These are qualities that I hope you keep. These are also the qualities that make me worry. I fear people may take advantage of your kindness. We are currently experiencing a period of uncertainty and unrest all over the world, but particularly in our country. Many people are very scared of what’s to come. The more I live in this fear and sadness- the more hopeful I become. It’s mainly from watching your small acts of kindness and those of the people around me. My mom always told me that if you want to see God, be still and notice the details- so that’s what I’ve tried to do. I notice when you share your most favorite thing with your sister, or when you tell me It’s ME that is your happy thought for the day or when you tell daddy you “love him so so much.” We are going to need more people like you more than EVER Esther. It’s people like you who will lead with love and kindness. I truly believe that will be our salvation. One of my dearest friends described the personalities of you and your sister so perfectly. It’s my most favorite way to describe the two of you to people who haven’t met you two yet. She said, “Fiona will lead us into battle when we need to go to war and Esther will keep the peace.” Remember that honey. What I like about that description is that each of your personalities are needed. We need strong people to stand up for what’s right, to fight against people who seek to do us harm BUT we also need the peacemakers- who strive to do what’s right for everyone. How lucky your dad and I are that we got one of each!

I write these letters to you hoping one day you’ll get to read them. Also, I want you to know these things- just in case I’m not there to see you become an adult. I pray I will be. I want to be there to support you and to watch you discover who you are. It’s been so damn fun watching these past years. I want you to know- that no matter what- I am here for you…always. Just like the grandma in “Moana” said- “There is no place you could go where I won’t be with you.” Let me add- there is nothing you could do that would make me not love you. It’s true. You could come to me and say, “Mom, I did a very bad thing- I blew up a building.” I would say, “Shit! Really? WHY!!?? Ok, how are we going to fix this?” Some people may read that and think I’m crazy- but I don’t know any other way to parent- than to offer  you radical love and acceptance. It’s what my mom offered me and it was her greatest gift to me- and so I try every day to pass it on to you. With THAT kind of love- a person feels confident and sure of him/herself in this world. When you have that kind of love backing you- it’s empowering and you feel limitless! And so my little monkey- YOU HAVE THIS KIND OF LOVE! So go be great and be whoever and whatever you are to be. Listen always to your heart, always follow your OWN dreams, do what is kind and always remember…there is no place you will go, where I won’t be you.

Your Momma with LOVE.


Dear Esther,


You turn the big 04 on the 27th! This birthday is hard for me. Why? Where do I start? Because my own permanent memories began at four years old and I’m assuming yours will too. I can vividly remember walking down the block I grew up on holding my mother’s hand. We walked to the bus stop every Saturday morning to ride it downtown Minneapolis – 912 Nicollet Mall. That was where the beauty salon she owned stood. I would spend all day at the shop listening to the ladies chat and watch my mom transform women from the inside out. A lot of my most favorite times happened at that beauty shop…as well as my education about life, love and hardships. Also, I remember my patent leather church shoes…my most prized possession. Grandpa Dewey would pretend to shine them every Sunday before church. I’d hop up on his bed and hang my legs down from the edge and let him make them look shiny and new again before rushing off to Sunday School. I could go on and on. My point is, is that I’m very worried. I feel like NOW you too will have LASTING memories of me and your father. Not that the previous years haven’t counted, but I feel like now I’ve really got to dig in and make it count. I want you to someday tell your children (if you decide to go that route) all about how your daddy used to wrestle with you and your sister on the living room floor. Or how mommy took you to dance class on Saturday mornings and then the two of you would sneak off to Target afterwards for treats. Don’t forget about how daddy falls asleep in your bed snuggling or mommy paints your nails just how you like them- black or dark red with sparkles on top.


As your mom I question if I’m doing it right on a daily basis. I’m guessing I’m not alone in this. I’m sure most mothers feel this way- if they’re being honest with themselves. I wonder whether I was a little too harsh with you, or if I wasn’t stern enough. Am I making sure I’m giving you the tools to go out into the world with confidence, self esteem and a little bit of kick ass- ness?. Did I make you sad today? Did I say the right thing or the wrong thing? Were those berries I just fed you covered in pesticides? Are you getting enough calcium….see the questions are endless. This year counts- just as the previous ones did too- but again- for some reason there has been a shift inside me. I want you to have good memories.


I’m old enough now to be a realist and my pessimist meter has always leaned a bit towards the half empty side. I wish it didn’t, but most days it does. I know that when it comes to parenting, I will fail…probably more than I’d like to. I will struggle, I will fall down. I expect to. It means I care and it means I AM TRYING with everything I’ve got. And truly- really…if I am honest with myself…isn’t that at the core of what really matters? If you remember nothing else…remember that I tried every.single.day to be the best mom to you, because that’s what you deserve. On days when I wanted to pull the covers over my head and ignore the day, the knowledge that you needed me got me outta my head and off my ass to get up and participate in life. You help me realize that my actions, matter. Not only that, you motivate and encourage me to continuously learn and grow because if I am to teach you “all of the things” then I better learn “all of the things.”


I’m not sure where to take this post from here. This was supposed to be about you- but a lot of it has been about me. I guess too, 4 is when I finally realized that my own mother was a person too. She wasn’t just my mom. She had a name and friends and likes and dislikes. She was perfect and imperfect and sometimes got impatient with me. I saw her fail and cry and sometimes she got scared. It’s a little startling for a child when you first start to notice these things. I image you have already noticed some of these things in me too. Even so, your love for me never waivers. Sometimes you tell me you don’t like me anymore when I make you go to bed, but I know it’s just the anger talking . I want you to  know/notice that I am not perfect and I hope that gives you permission to not be perfect either and to know that IT IS OK. Fall, fail, stumble, cry, yell, be scared. It means you’re living and not just existing. But, also- smile, scream with joy, leap, jump, be passionate, cheer, ask questions…all of the questions. Be limitless. It is your right.


Esther, you are perfect in my eyes . You could never do anything- seriously- anything that would change my adoration and love for you. It’s by design. Before bed a few weeks ago I asked you how you were going to change the world and you responded, “I’m going to give hugs when people are sad. I’m going to share happiness and love.” How can a response be any more perfect than that? Especially in the world in which we are existing in today.


Here’s to making lasting memories that will build upon a foundation that was stated 4 years ago when we first saw each other that Friday morning in that hospital room the day of your birth. You looked at me with those big brown eyes knowingly. I melted. We fell in love. That is one of my most favorite memories of all. The moment I became a mother- you did that. We’ve got so much more to do. I’m so excited.


Happy 4th birthday little monkey! You are my happy thought.


Oh my sweet Fiona. Here I am posting your Happy Birthday post almost 2 weeks later. Yes, I do have second child syndrome, but I don’t love you any less. I actually think you’re getting a better deal. You’re getting the lax mom. I don’t freak out (too much) when you spike a temp. When you sneak and eat Sparky’s food I don’t freak out and google, “can a baby die from eating kibble?” or “how many pounds does a child need to be to safely metabolize a hand full of dry dog food?” I don’t freak out when you bump your head and I totally didn’t rush you to the ER that one time you actually fell off of our bed. See totally relaxed.

Before you, your older sister was our world. We showered our everything onto her. I knew having you would be the best thing to happen to our family. You taught us we were capable of loving more than we thought we could and also, that your sister was capable of NOT being the center of our universe. Well, we’re still working on that second part, but she’s made significant strides in the right direction.

One of the most wonderful things about you joining us this past year was watching the bond between you and your sister grow. It warms my heart to know that you are each other’s person. My hope is that you’ll always be close. Long after daddy and I are gone, you’ll need someone who knows you, someone who loves you no matter what. Esther will hopefully be that person for you and my little munchkin, I hope you’ll return the favor.

Fiona, I must say that I love your little personality. I know it’s offensive, thanks to your father and another very dear friend of mine, to say that red heads are fire-y and quick to anger, but…….IT’S one of my favorite things about you- you don’t take no shit! When your sister tries to take a toy, you let her have it! When we are doing something you don’t like, you’ll squirm, scream and make your wishes be know! Good for you, girlfriend, good for you! I think you’re gonna be short like me, so you’re gonna need to be loud and scrappy. I love it. Never change. With that being said, you have a softer side that’s as sweet as raw honey. You can melt hearts with your smile, and your little arms embracing my neck can make a stressful day disappear.  You have a way.  You just do. I don’t have adequate words to describe it, so I won’t try. I’ll just confirm that I recognize it- and I’m blessed to know you. I think that’s what all of us parents hope for- to watch our children become who they’re meant to be. It’s fun to see glimpses as time passes and wonder what more I’ll learn next week, next month and next year.

You completed our family. It feels like you’ve always been there even though you haven’t. I knew I’d have a red haired child and you materialized 🙂 I dreamed you into reality. I say to your sister she’s my favorite first born child, because she is. Just like you’re my favorite second born child. I love you equally, and yet in different ways. You two are sisters and there are similarities, but so many differences and it’s wonderful. It adds such a flavor to our family and our every day experiences.

If I’m honest, I’ll say that this year has also stretched me in ways I did not expect. My doctor said going from one child to two, is not as hard as going from two to a family. She was right. With you we’d already been to the rodeo. We knew what to expect with a newborn and we more experienced parents by the time you joined us (not by much as E was barely 2). With that being true, two kids is still TWO KIDS! Especially with two kids 2 and under. Some days I had to smile to keep from crying and escaping through the first exit. Let me not forget to highlight that two kids also equals twice the amount of hugs, love, pride, joy, laughter, funny faces, confirmation that LIFE IS GOOD.

Oh my sweet bugga bugga. How in the hell did we get so lucky? Why did you choose us? Did you know we’d love you this much? Did you make the choice because you knew we needed you? You sister needed someone to be Wonder Woman while she played Bat Man? Did you know we could handle more? That your father and I were looking for something to stretch us- to grow us- to prove to ourselves that we can do it-if we work as a team.

Your sister is my heart- you are my heartbeat. One cannot exist without the other and are equally crucial. I cannot survive without the two of you. Thinking of you always reminds me of a clip from “Mrs. Doubtfire” when Daniel is begging the judge not to strip him of his rights to see his children because the thought of not seeing them everyday is like not having air (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtVLlylQIsI)


THAT is spot on. I need you guys, like I need air. Not having you in my life would be like not breathing- I could not exist. I don’t mean to be all dramatic and overly emotional, but you are my kids, my heart. I know I was meant to mother you. Even when I want to run away from you and have a break, even when you push me to my limits and I want to jump up and down and I think WTF…my worst days with you guys are better than my best days without you…and those were some REALLY fun/great days let me tell you!

Bugga, thank you so much for loving me back. Thank you for blessing our family with your presence. I cannot wait to see what you do this next year and beyond.



2015-01-18 21.42.47

Esther Andrews, almost 3



I am sitting here on the eve of your 3rd birthday and I am overwhelmed in the best way. This time 3 years ago I was on bed rest anxiously awaiting your arrival. After months of barely breathing, or sneezing or lifting anything heavier than a toothbrush….afraid that trying too hard at anything would jeopardize your health, I could finally relax. Now there we were, finally in a safe zone and I allowed myself to actually feel excitement without added fear. We were ready…I was ready to meet you. I imagined what your face would look like. Would you have my eyes? Your father’s nose? What about my long fingers? I’d hoped for the latter because I wanted you to play piano someday 😉

When I first met you something changed in me. Immediately I loved you. I can’t adequately descried this experience, because it’s just something you have to go through yourself to really “get”. If you decide to birth your own children into the world, you will understand. Nothing prepared me for that moment. It was everything, I felt everything in a nanosecond- joy, pain, fear, excitement, anxiety, euphoria….the most important…LOVE. I’d read about it, heard GOD be described as it and now I had the honor of finally knowing, feeling it…meeting it. You are love. You are amazing and no matter what happens in this life, please always remember and return to that. Things with shake you, rock and try to destroy you…don’t be moved. Stand in your power. You are love- the most powerful force in the universe.

At 3, you are a threenager for sure. You challenge almost everything and most days it demands that your daddy and I become our best selves so we don’t throw ourselves out of a window. It is normal for you to test your limits at this age…but REALLY…does it need to be so much!!?? Then I remember. You’re our dragon baby so this is par for the course. I remember saying something to your pediatrician when you were a baby about your drastic swings. One minute you’re an angel the next…well…”challenging”. He gave me good perspective by saying it was a good thing. It was a good thing that you can cry your lungs out, that you can wake us up at night demanding our attention because he sees babies who can’t. Babies who are too sick to cry, too weak to be “challenging”. I try to remember those words even now. In the midst of those many tantrums I try to find an ounce of thankfulness. Do I always, no…but I try. That’s one of the many lesson you have taught me. Be thankful, even for the challenges. Sometimes I think you are teaching me way more than I am you.


This year Fiona joined our family. You adore her and the feeling is mutual. You are the only person who can get the good belly giggles out of her. I was worried about how you would be with her. You were used to having us all to yourself, but you’ve done a great job sharing and I’m proud of you. This is what I was hoping for- daughters who could also be friends. My hope is that you two will always be close. Allies. To be fair, I also worried about how I would accept another child. I could not imagine loving anything or anyone as much as you. I had heard from other moms of multiple children that your heart expands and you find a way. It was true. When I saw Fiona’s face, I fell again. I loved this little girl so much! Even though that is true, Esther, there is still a little corner of my heart always reserved for you. Why? Because you MADE me a momma. You were the first to call me “momma”. You were there when I was stumbling through new motherhood. You survived it with me. The mistakes. The times I questioned if I was doing it right. If I was enough. If I could keep you safe. You were there when I questioned why on earth the universe would give me such a gift. You were also there when I rocked it and kicked its ass! You journeyed with me when I figured out how to speak your language. When I could look at you and tell when something was wrong and get resources to help. You watched me as I confidently stepped into my grace. You ARE with me. So for that, my firstborn, you will always be loved by me in a special way reserved only for you. That doesn’t mean you’re my favorite. Both you and Fiona are my favorite! 🙂

Esther, happy 3rd birthday my lovie. I hope this year will bring new discoveries and new experiences that will continue to nurture who you are in this world. Each year I learn something new about you and it’s been so cool. Sometimes I look at you and think, “This is amazing! How on earth did we make such a cool person?” Then I remember, we didn’t. You have always been and were just waiting to pick us because you knew we’d give you the space to be who you are. Thanks for choosing us, monkey. This wild ride has been amazing and we can’t wait to pack for the next leg of this adventure.


Love you a million bajillion. You are my happy thought.



Hi. It’s been awhile. I won’t waste time with inserting a bunch of excuses. Basically we had the baby. YAY! She is perfect and delicious…see 10497917_10152415248501195_8709602348851770029_o
Esther loves being a big sister…see
photo (3)

So life has been good to us. Life with 2 kids is like playing man to man defense (that’s a thing, right? I don’t know sports), but most days parents win! Hooray! I love saying, “my girls” and so here we are.

Esther is almost 3. People refer to the “terrible twos” and while I won’t say she’s been “terrible” she has been full of tantrums. It has been our goal as parents to make our home a haven. A place where our kids feel loved, safe and most of all have a place to decompress. With that being said, we all still have to maintain our sanity. Lately it’s been difficult for E to follow some basic requests like “ok, time for bed” “let’s brush your hair” “let’s not go outside in just our underwear” ya know…easy things like that. I want to nurture the “free spirit” in her, but I also want her to realize that we live in a greater society that has rules (sometimes they’re ok to break, and sometimes not).

We’ve found that E responds to lots of praise and positive reinforcement. So, if that works best, why not go with it. To me, that feels better than punishment or the threat of fear. So we’re going to try nifty little charts I found on the Handbook of Life also known as Pinterest.com. We’re going to start by placing magnets after doing each task. I’m hoping that this will make our bedtime and morning time routine go much smoother. I’ll let ya know how that works out for us.

Have you found anything cool that works for your little one(s)?

I already made Fiona’s a chart but I didn’t post that because it just says “Eat, Sleep, Smile at Mommy/Daddy/Sister, Play with my Hands. and Poop”.

I didn’t think you’d want to see an icon of poop, am I right?


I haven’t been as motivated to blog this time around. Not sure why. Maybe because it’s numero dos and I feel like, “I’ve done this before”.

Lots has happened since last time. I’m going to do a list a updates and will come back later to write more. Hope you all are well and happy out there. I’m really, really looking forward to spring weather.


– I’m on bed rest now. Have been so since 28 weeks

– I was gutted, but kinda expected it

– So grateful to be 33 weeks now!! Hooray

– I found a new doctor because my old one sucked it

– LOVE my new doc

– She’s been amazing so far

– I’m hoping I can make it to 38 weeks like I did with Esther

– I’ve gained TONS of weight this time around

– I’ll blame the baby

-I’m sure she’s gonna come out weighing 20lbs 😉

– OMG we’re gonna have 2 children!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

– I have no clue what we’re gonna do about daycare

– Do you want to watch her?

-OMG we’re having a baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!