Monday, January 30, 2012

When life gives you perfect friends, eat cupcakes.

Here's the scene:

You're attending a picture-perfect baby shower for a most deserving friend. She's been there for each of your milestones and you are glad you're able to show support for one of hers. You tell her that she looks amazing and know from the moment the compliment leaves your mouth, that you're 100% sincere. She is so lovely and the look of her baby belly is the most darling accessory this 'Queen of all trends fabulous and fierce', has ever possessed.

Your friends continue to arrive and they too are thriving. It's as you remove your jacket that your inward suspicions are confirmed. Courtesy of your "cookie pouch," you look more pregnant than the 35+ week Mother-to-be. Awesome! With Lake Powell just around the corner (June), now might be the time to take physical fitness seriously for the first time IN YOUR LIFE.

Did I mention that the cupcakes were delicious?

Now before you continue you on with your private judgement, please consider that I'm fairly confident that the calories acquired from the amazing plate(s) of food were burned off by the ample amount of laughter shared as we visited.

Mama Brittany and darling Sheena

Angela, Sheena, Ali and the strategically placed pillow

Whitney and the other star of the morning, sweet baby Madison!

 Oh Laura... 
I have your commentary on "repeat" in my brain. I'm still laughing.
And Linds, you are hotter than ever.

Thanks for hosting Mindy and for still accepting me as a friend;
despite the, well you know... 8th grade History class incident (Shhhh!!!!).

monkey business

Who needs Disneyland when you have a perfectly awesome Plan B in place?

That's what was going through my head after watching my children enthusiastically bound through the doors of Jungle Jim's play land last Friday. With their cousins there to greet us and a kind Nana Marie sponsoring the outing, all was right with the world.


Having recently delivered the

"Wo is Lottie!!
Poor baby has to wait on the sidelines
whilst her older siblings 
experience the good life..." SCHPEEL,
 
...you won't be surprised to learn that I made sure that Lottie was all set with a wrist band of her own!

Like her brother and sister, she had access to the always charming, carousel of dreams! Oooh. Ahhhh.


Her cousins were lining up to take her on the whirly twirly, Ali needs to hurly, spin boats...


We even had a bump-free bumper car ride in the works!

 

But our little Miss would have none of it.  

 

She (loudly) opposed each suggestion; opting instead for a seat on the sidelines. Content as can be, she happily wandered around, picking up other people's trash in search of the perfect, "This will make my Mom scream in protest" treat!


Thank you Nana Marie for the fun outing! We had a great time!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sew Funny

Eliza was delighted when she learned that Nana Marie would be spending the afternoon with us. Not only was she going to accompany us to our swimming lessons, but she also agreed to bring up her sewing machine for a little demonstration.
The plan was to sew blankets and pillows for Eliza's doll friends. You see folks, my Mom is the Queen of 'arts and crafts.' If she knew what was good for her, she'd be dominating the Etsy and Pinterest scene. Truly, she is gifted.

This trait, gift, skill - whatever you want to call it - didn't just skip me, it full on LEAPED. No wait, it FLEW at a fast rate way over this (read: my) generation and landed SMACK!! onto my first born. So did her blue eyes. Anyway, Eliza and Henry both enjoyed the activity. Thank you, Mom!

I soaked the quaint scene in from the sidelines... the place were non-artistic persons are banished. It was lovely. Adding to the moment, Eliza sweetly asked,

"Nana, what's your most favorite thing to do in the world?" In an equally sweet tone, she replied:

"Spending time with my family." Before I could sponsor the Hallmark moment, my Mom returned the question.

"What's your favorite thing to do in the world, Eliza?" Having anticipated the question, she easily responded,

"Snuggling with my Mom and... doing art! Those are my favorite things to do in the world." Despite maintaining a neutral facial expression, my heart was singing. What a darling girl I have! Before I can relish the sentiment a second longer, Eliza halts my internal chorus with the additional remark. Laughing heartily she says,

"...And tooting in my Dad's face! That's another favorite thing to do." I am displeased with her candor. My Mom, a true lady, generously offers a smirk despite being slightly offended. Expecting my reprimand, Eliza hurries to continue,

"Dad started it with his trick." I know exactly where she is going with this. I make a feeble attempt to change the topic.

"Remember Mom? When Dad said that he had a treat for me in his back pocket? But he really didn't and he let out a giant... " She is laughing again.

And with that, our charming afternoon of sewing has taken a dramatic turn. The hallmark mood has been shattered and in its place a shocking display of my reality. My crusade to instill manners is continually fraught with my husband's belief that flatulence is funny and socially appropriate. 

However, when informing him of this evening's post he insisted that I add that the war of toots began with this boy.

Poor Eliza... she'd simply been caught in the crossfire.

The Spectator

Dear Lottie,

When you're older, and your brother and sister give you grief over the benefits and perks of being the baby of the family, I encourage you to offer them the following reminder. For the last 15 months, you have been in the business of accommodating their social wants and academic needs.

One of the 'perks' of being the baby of the family includes playing the part of tag-along to all things "Eliza and Henry!!" Whether it's shuttling the kids to and from school,



 being chased up and down the bleachers while we wait out a swimming lesson,

 
or watching in awe from the doorway as your sister begins her dance lesson, 
 

 it's clear that you've graduated from that phase of blissful ignorance to...

 

 "Hey! When will it be my turn?!"

Henry knows from first hand experience, that this phase will pass. Before you know it, your Mom will be coughing up another painful registration fee on your behalf as she begs her brain to make room for another extra-curricular.

In the meantime, I want to offer reassurance that you are already in the thick of things. You are an intrinsic part of our family and I thank my lucky stars that after dropping Henry off at preschool, that you're still there, waiting to be plucked out of your car seat as we carry on with our day. The time we spend alone, while the older two are off and away, is time I cherish.

Yesterday morning, Eliza requested that I drop her off at the top of the sidewalk instead of parking the car, per our usual routine. Until now, I've assisted her each morning to class. Knowing she was perfectly safe, and finding myself fresh out of excuses, I commended her for her big kid decision. After kissing and hugging "goodbye" in the car, she bravely made the little journey to her Kindergarten door unaided. Watching her dodge the fast-paced older kids as she navigated her way down the sidewalk (*pause, wipe a tear) was hard. I tried my best to suck it up.

The independence I forfeited when I became a Mother is not something I want back anymore. The more dependent they become, the less they need me and oh, that hurts. So yes, dear Lottie, you are not a tag-along . You are my special buddy, just as the other two were at this age, and I want to thank you for being so accommodating as you adapt to schedule changes and behave as well as you do on our outings. In the future, time spent as an empty nester, will be time spent in a therapist's office.

Life isn't always sunshine and roses, I'll freely admit, as your demands and insatiable want to have Mom, "RIGHT THIS SECOND" will conflict with the need to get Eliza ready for school, my want for a free moment to think or the need to safely complete dinner. There are times when I find myself running to put you in your crib for a nap because your exhaustion has replaced your charm with severe grumpiness. However, at bedtime, when I pass by your door, my heart will begin to panic. In my head, I imagine that when you wake up, a six year old version of you will be waiting for me instead of my baby.

Don't tell Eliza and Henry, but Daddy's eyes first find you when he walks through the door. In his defense, he does spend special time with Eliza (sometime Henry, if he's awake) each morning before going to work. He loves you all so much, but it's easy to see that the spell you've cast has settled deep upon him.

Selfishly, I need you.
Smitten, Daddy can't get enough of you.
And with full acceptance, Eliza and Henry can't imagine a world without you.


 

Love,

Your Mama.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

fleglet funnies

You know it is time to wean your baby when: 
Feeling her eyes on my face, I look down to meet her steady gaze. She is through nursing. Before making any adjustments to our situation, Lottie sweetly says,

"Thank you, Mom." I am surprised at the unexpected appearance of a three word sentence. Pushing past the surprise, Eliza and I are both overcome with affection for this sweet baby.  As the day progresses, the humor of what happened is finally appreciated. 

"At this rate," I say to Andrew, "next week she'll be asking me to, 'Please pass the other breast.'" 


 The gift of tongues:
 While waiting for Andrew to check out at the grocery store, I usher the older children away from the candy and over to the arcade where Henry successfully fools himself into believing that he is driving the race car. It's great; coins aren't required for him to achieve the satisfaction that comes when the computer crosses the finish line. 

Nearby a Hispanic couple are engaged in an animated conversation. They are speaking fluent Spanish. Eliza is transfixed by them. Wanting to be apart of their magical exchange, Eliza steps in between the pair of them. Looking up at the woman, she begins to enthusiastically wave her hand. 

"Ni hao!" She says over and over. 
 
Without taking the time to gauge their reaction, I grab her friendly hand and whisk the children away from the scene. I am torn between embarrassment and pleasure over Eliza's bold attempt to demonstrate her mad foreign language skills. Making our way to the car, the mistake dawns on her. Hitting her hand to her forehead she exclaims, 

"Ah! Wrong language, that wasn't Spanish!" 

Neighborhood Snuggle Cuddle
Wanting to bring to pass our dream of going to Disneyland, Eliza has transformed into a little entrepreneur. From bake sales, to lemonade stands to straight up writing letters to our neighbors and asking for a donation, her effort and energy is full of devotion. 

Most recently, I found the following ad on our door. 

 {"Be Quite
Come to the Snuggle Cuddle
Come here
5 cents")

 That's right, ladies and gentlemen, for five cents you can come over and we will ALL cuddle. Ha ha ha! Peace, love and Snuggle Cuddles! I assure you, we're not raising a harlot.

Oh, bless her heart.
 
\

Henry's contribution:
 Between Henry's recent dream in which he was able to shop at a store that was exclusively full of large marshmallows and his pronouncement that he loves girl babies named Lottie (Hey! WE have a baby girl named Lottie, Mom!  What a lucky coincidence!), the boy continues to be our family's go to man when you're in need of a laugh.
 
Faces of an awkward nature are his specialty! 

The party goes on

It appears that the joyous chaos that accompanied the holiday season has followed us into the New Year. Last week, we surprised my Mom with a little birthday celebration. My sister graciously hosted which was a definite win in my book. :)

I wonder when the 15 minute drive to her house will feel normal. For us, "hanging out" once meant visiting on the phone. We'd discuss our weekend plans, which sadly never involved each others families, and talk about the kids we only saw in person once (twice if we were lucky) a year. These days, our phone calls are in reference to babysitting swaps, carpooling or the menu for our Mom's birthday dinner. It's pretty sweet.

It was nice to be able to surprise my Mom, to visit and get those crazy cousins together to play.

The party continued Friday with a trip to the ice skating rink to celebrate cousin Kate's birthday. With Aunt Ami looking after Lottie and Henry, I was able to enjoy some one on one time with Eliza.


 
Most of the girls had never ice skated before. While a few of the young ladies were clearly "naturals," I was likewise impressed by those who found it a bit more challenging as they proved incredibly determined to improve and showed great resilience fall after fall. If I owned up to how great being there was, it would uncover that my true motive to go was entirely selfish and that "being an adult there to supervise and help" was a definite ruse. I had a blast spending time with Eliza and my nieces, who are a special cast of characters (I love them all). 

I

 

Twice that week, we found Eliza tucked in with her party balloons. It was pretty cute. And because I'm wired to worry, I removed the strings away from her fingers to prevent them from cutting off her circulation. We'd hate for her precious appendages to turn purple and subsequently fall off. Thoughts of that nature go through your head too, right?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Swarmed

Coming home to a lovely dinner of Bisquick pancakes, the young gentleman is denied the opportunity to take off his jacket. Seconds after depositing his car keys (among other daily work essentials), he is lovingly apprehended by his personal welcoming committee.  The baby in pigtails leads the frenzy!

 
Despite being outnumbered, he manages to navigate his way to the plate of pancakes. 

Eager to tell him all about their first day of swimming lessons (hence the fancy dinner selection), the older children demand his full attention; while the baby demands pancakes. 

And who said men couldn't multi-task?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

winter games

"Winter came!" 

These were the words Eliza exclaimed as she bounded into our bedroom Saturday morning. After experiencing weeks of mild, sunshine filled, weather; the excitement she expressed at seeing the snow covered yard was well understood.

Having years of practice on his side, Andrew was better able to conceal the thrill he felt at the wintry sight. However, knowing him as I do, I wasn't surprised in the least to see him outside with the plow soon after getting out of bed.
A good portion of my family's day was spent outside building snowmen. As for me, I had an appointment to keep with a new special friend.

{Thank you, Santa!}

Earlier in the week, a friend offered to pick up my two oldest kids from school so I could attend the funeral of a dear family friend. Wanting to thank them, we asked them to come for dinner. Lucky for us, they said yes!

I felt guilty refusing Andrew's invitation to join the family outside. It appears that  he is reluctant to accept that having guests over to dinner means more than doubling a planned recipe. The preparation, which began in the morning, included: a trip to the store, straightening the family room/kitchen, cleaning the bathroom, preparing the food, conjuring additional chairs out of thin air (will we EVER learn?!?)  and making sure the kids were presentable (read: dressed). That was my list. Add that to the regular tasks off feeding children, keeping up a healthy supply of hot chocolate, washing dishes and changing diapers.

Andrew's list looks like this:
  • Have a blast outside with the big kids while Lottie is napping.
  • Keep Ali's arms and legs free of Lottie while she is working in the kitchen. 
Which is exactly why, in his mind, we only need an hour to get things ready. Bah! Let it be known that we are doing our best to bond with new friends and neighbors; you know, those of the flesh and bone variety.


As for our snow friends, the credit is all Andrew's for bringing them to life. Our lovely snow couple can be seen from our family room/kitchen windows. Lottie continues to be astonished by them. And truth be told, the fellow on the left is super tall. With the Christmas decorations long gone, their presence adds a sprinkling of fun to the ordinary.

This past Sunday, Andrew was also called upon to defend their very lives as they were attacked by neighborhood ruffians. Living near devious, albeit playful, teenage boys has led to a winter war! It's true. While we express our happiness in making new friends, it also has to be said that we have made a few "frenemies" too. ;)

Andrew vs. The Ruffians

The "trouble" began with daily snowball hits to my van while Andrew was in Florida. Coming home, he was able to pay them back with a twenty minute snowball fight after Church. Returning to this weekend, he spots them walking ahead of us shortly after Church ended. An idea of a most mischievous nature flies into his head. Acting on the idea, he stops at the corner of our street. Darting out of the car, he prepares four snowballs and sets them on our console. Creeping along our street, with the window rolled down, he approaches the "gang."  It seemed like a great idea until I realize that they are likewise armed with snowballs. Lottie, who gets to sit on my lap for the 40 second drive home from Church, could easily be hit. Doing my best to shield Lottie, I scream,

"ROLL UP THE WINDOWS!"  Snowballs are fired from both sides. We were spared, but the threat of my children being hit had this Mama Bear fully flustered. Not phased, per usual, Andrew replies,

"I was confident in your ability to protect your kids." My yay-big body is... well, big. But with three kids, I can't cover them all. Before I know it, we've made it inside. Not a minute has passed before I see the ruffians hiding behind our snow couple.

Eliza is a ball of distress as she watches them taint her pure snow lady with red food coloring. Oh the drama. Andrew is out the door in a flash. Calming Eliza down, I assure her that we can patch up our snow lady. A few minutes pass and Andrew returns with a sly smile.

"White washed." He states.

"Ding dong." There, at our front door, stands our foes. Smugly they tap the fast offering collection packet at our window. Waving an imaginary white flag of truce, we allow them in. I was tempted to offer one of them a towel to dry his hair. We part with the words,

"To be continued..." To be continued, indeed.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

non-toxic

When future Lottie is asked, "Did you eat paint chips as a child?" She'll happily reply,



"Nope! Just paint!"

What first drew my attention to the scene was the cry of disgust she made after licking the blue paint brush like you would a lollipop. It remains to be seen if she would try to take a taste again if given the opportunity, but let's hope that we don't give her a chance for redemption.


In other news, after picking Lottie up from her Nanna Teresa's today, I was DELIGHTED to find that she had put Lottie's hair in pigtails. This girl is SO SO SO SO SO cute.



(Lottie's first pigtails, post naptime)

I wish I could say the same thing about the giant bruise left on her forehead after she decided that she was ready to get into the bathtub. BONK! Poor baby girl. 

Eliza's reaction to seeing her sister in pigtails was likewise big. She ooo-ed and ahhhh-ed over how darling she looked and soon came to the conclusion that she looked like, Eleanore the Chipette (of 'Alvin and Chipmunk' fame.)
Just now, I heard Henry call to his younger sister, "Come here little Eleanore, come here!"

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

stud muffin


 
With his smurf bag in hand, Henry bravely made that giant leap from nursery child to sunbeam! 

 Having been prepped about the upcoming change, he gladly followed me into the "big kid" primary room. The big, intimidating, cold metal chairs waited for him.
Knowing that I have a primary class of my own to sit with, he opted for my lap instead. Henry sang the songs, laughed at the silly comments his friends made and easily went with his new teachers to class.
However, after the opening song, he scrunched up his face in dismay. Looking around the big room he exclaimed,

"Hey! This is not my class. I want to go to MY class." Other than that statement of reluctance, he did well. Per usual, the change was likely harder for me. Let's be honest; nursery is such a happy place! Sunbeam class will be great and he's ready to learn, but this just confirms my motherly suspicion that he is also growing up too fast.

I do better when the childhood changes occur with subtlety. The "in your face" milestones like leaving nursery or beginning a new year at school are more acute. With the exception of potty training success and sleeping through the night, slow and steady works best for me!
 
I sure love you, Henry!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mulch Man

Knowing that Andrew would be off work the week following Christmas, I had grand ideas of how our time together would be spent. However, due to over crowding at a bounce house, ridiculous wait times at a restaurant, the disappointing absence of snow, my first ever migraine and other unplanned inconveniences, the majority of said plans were spoiled.

Luckily, Andrew had his own list of to-do's that proved to occupy our time well. First up, he introduced us to MULCH MOUNTAIN!
 The fierce wind storm that pummeled its way through our area a few weeks ago uprooted hundreds of trees. As a result, an announcement was made on the evening news that piles of free mulch were available to anybody willing to come and get it.

They had Andrew at the word, "free."

But first, he had to construct (temporary) wood siding on his trailer. And while he will label all of these projects as being, "hard work"... I'm pretty sure he enjoyed just about every minute of it. 
Time spent in his garage is always a good thing. 


 A few trips to the hardware store later, he was in business. And yes, "I think his tractor's sexy." Something about that man in red flannel, engaging in outdoor labor that involves a shovel and steering a riding lawn mower makes my heart race. 

I'm sure he feels the same way when he watches me sort and mate the socks. Or the dishes. I'm pretty sure that's when I look the best... scrubbing nasty food residue from pots and pans in my sweats accompanied by a disheveled pony tail. Oh man. He's one lucky dude.

And then there's the whole "I'm a cute Dad that includes my kids in all that I do" component...




Coming home from, ahem... a shopping trip to Tai Pan with my Mom and sister Ami, I was delighted to see Lottie tagging along in her stroller. She spent her fair share of time bonding with Dad in the garage this past week. He was pleased that the weather accommodated his at home work effort , but if it had been cold, he would have implemented 'Plan B.'
 That right there is a gas patio heater. Are you impressed or what? That bad boy is Andrew's Christmas bonus. Early in December, we attended a fancy schmancy work party. We were told of the amazing prices that would be up for grabs and of the lottery system that would assign random employees to various items. There were golf clubs, several big screen t.v's, HD video cameras, vacations, Wii sets, etc (you get the idea.) Winning wasn't a certainty, so when his name appeared on screen, we were excited. 

I don't need to ask you to guess what he won. Our reaction was mixed, but has since evolved into a gratitude born of acceptance. Because really, we don't need a cruise to the Bahamas. Flat screen televisions are likewise overrated. Ha ha ha. 

The gas patio heater has since provided more than a laugh. New Year's Eve, as we piled outside for our neighbors GRAND firework show (not an exaggeration, it was amazing), Andrew brought it outside. Just about everyone expressed their admiration and appreciation for the fabulous heater.

 

It is quality. For anyone in the market, I'd be happy to give you a recommendation. After all, debating brands can be tricky business and we all know how IN DEMAND gas patio heaters are. ;)

 On a more "traditional" note, the kids did enjoy seeing the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie with Nanna Teresa, spending New Years Day eating Hoppin John with extended family,

(Eliza having fun with 2nd cousin Sophie.
These cute girls are a week or so apart)
 
playing with their new toys and enjoying the neighborhood kids at a most memorable New Year's Eve party hosted by our next door neighbors. Eliza was desperate to stay awake until midnight. She wanted to see the firework show. At 10:00 p.m. she approached me at the game table. Normally in bed by seven, her misery born of exhaustion was etched across her face.

 "My throat is starting to hurt" And with that statement, I crushed her dreams as I escorted her straight to bed. However, I did make good on my promise to wake her up at midnight for fireworks. The fireworks were enormous. They were loud and big enough to intimidate her to stay inside to watch. However, rather than watch through the window, she hid underneath a big blanket on the living room floor. When I walked her back to bed, she said she enjoyed them and asked me to "please wake me up at midnight."

"Eliza, it's past midnight! That's why I woke you up for fireworks." She gasped.

"You mean it's now January!?" Pure amazement. Happy New year big girl. 

 As for my Christmas break, I remembered what it felt like to be in college.


Except for the conversations we had about fighting our kids on trying new foods, potty training and the joys of breastfeeding... besides that, it felt like we were right back in apartment # 311. 

I also indulged in a shopping outing and lunch date with two of my favorite people. 


We did enough on our "stay-cation" to wear us all out. 



Three days in, I can say that the year is off to a great start. I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around all that changed for our family in 2011. And perhaps, I ought to dedicate all that reflection for another post. After all, Eliza's "break from homework" is now over which means that mine is too.