Saturday, November 4, 2017

Scrambled Thoughts

1) I'm all for his favorite color being pink, but his favorite helmet being rainbow sparkle unicorn?

Apparently there is a limit to my tolerance. As we scrolled through helmet options on the computer he jumped and pointed and begged for the chance to look at Ms. Unicorn a little more closely. And as he was ogling over it I whispered from the side of my mouth to McKenzie (who was doing her homework right next to me), 'Kenz... Kenz... help.'

She looked over to see what the problem was and tried valiantly to stifle her laughter as she gently helped me steer him in another direction. The Dory direction. And he's happy as a fish about it.

Now, had he pushed hard and felt even more passionate about it, I probably would have swallowed my pride and bought Ms. Unicorn for him. But admittedly and totally politically incorrectly, I know I would not have been fully on board with it.

2) No matter how bad a day you think you're having, someone always has it worse.

Like this guy, for example. After dropping Timothy off at preschool in that building, I was strapping Eliza back into her carseat when I heard a couple of men start speaking in rather elevated, excited tones. I wasn't processing what they were saying until they were a little nearer to me and I heard the words, "Fire! ... Fire! ... Dude! ... Fire!" I looked up at the guys and followed their gaze across the street and saw that there was, indeed, a fire. And that no one seemed to know or be doing anything about it (except for pointing and exclaiming the word 'Fire' over and over again).

"Oh! Geez!" I said and reached for my phone to dial 911. Ironically I happened to be parked in the police station parking lot, and had taken my scouts on a tour of the station last summer, and had been in the room where the 911 calls come in, and had met the two ladies who answer them. So that was cool.

But not thinking that they wouldn't know I was sitting in their parking lot I said, "There is a car on fire, right across the street!" and then, realizing my mistake added, "in the rec center parking lot."

While we waited for the fire trucks to come, we heard the air bags explode and watched as people gathered. One man came running out of the credit union nearby with a fire extinguisher and when he saw the car he stopped and mumbled to himself, "Oh... this isn't going to be enough," so he stood there and joined in the watching. The fire trucks came quickly and had the whole thing under control in no time.

But the prognosis on that car? Doesn't look good.

3) Speaking of cars, the sliding door to my minivan stopped working. 

So I took it up to the local car repair shop and since it's only a mile away from my house, I brought the stroller and walked back home after dropping it off.  I thought Eliza looked so sweet strapped in there like that with those tiny little feet and tired eyes. We walked home while the car shop found that the van needed $1500 worth of repairs. 


So hard to know...

4) Being wimpy and cold on the swim team is always better with friends.

Swim team has been even more fun recently since the Bacons joined. I laugh at them when they shiver and whine about the cold, but secretly I hurt for them and want to wrap them up in heated towels and sing lullabies about warm places. I hate being wet and cold.

5) Give him a sash and call him a leader and he will become one.

The elementary schools here do such a good job of empowering their students to become leaders.  They give them opportunities and then make it a big deal when a child accepts. Miles was in charge of directing all of the parents into the multi purpose room for the awards ceremony and he took his job very seriously and with a smile.

More than a smile, actually. When he saw Timothy, Eliza and I come around the corner to be seated, he started jumping up and down and flapping his arms so hard I thought there was a good chance that he was actually going to hover off the ground. He rushed over to us and kissed Eliza and proudly directed us to our seats where we watched his teacher issue him an award for being a really great kid.

So much love.

6) In other Miles news:

He's officially a cub scout now. If you know me well you know that I don't have many warm and fuzzy feelings towards the scouting program (and I really have tried to look at the bright side and change my attitude). But I do love that smile on his face up there and I can honestly say that I love that he loves it. Here we go for round two of cub scouts.

7) Huddling under the heat lamps.

Summer must be over.

A Really Great Dad

He comes home and goes immediately to little Eliza. He smiles and plays and snuggles and tickles, he laughs and coos and showers her with love. She loves him - I can see it in her excited kicks and giggles when she looks at him. And he loves her, too.

Before work he makes breakfast for the family every morning, and after work he helps with homework and dinner prep and discipline. He offers an ear to McKenzie to help her digest teenage drama, offers his advice and council where appropriate, and cheers for her successes. She loves him - I can see it in the way she returns to him over and over and playfully rolls her eyes at his jokes.

I guess 40% of children are born to single mothers these days. I think of that sometimes when I watch Brian and my girls (the boys too, of course, but I feel most tender about it with my girls - maybe because I am a girl with a great father and know what it feels like). I truly believe that the power of a good father is unique and unable to be filled by any other earthly source. Brian has a special power to be able to nurture confidence in our girls, and he uses that power with every tiny expression of love towards them.

We are so lucky to have him.

Sitting, Eating and Scooting

After the big kids all go to bed, we get to have some good one-on-one time with this little ray of sunshine.  She rolls around on the floor finding treasures in nooks and crannies and she smiles and laughs at every eye contact. It's one of my favorite times of the day.

She's been working hard at the all the skills that don't seem much like skills once you're older than two.

Sitting was the first of them. She teeters and faceplants and tips to the side, but she's doing it! And she has a whole house full of cheerleaders who clap and cheer for her each time she tries. Which usually gives her burst of uncontrollable energy and topples her to the floor.

She's also been working on eating from a spoon.

It took her a terrifically long time, in my opinion, to figure out how to move her tongue the right way. Each little bite ended up in and out of her mouth three or more times before it finally made the appropriate journey. For two weeks we patiently (and sometimes less than patiently) worked at it.

Food and this girl got off to a rocky start in her life. She gave us a bit of a scare for the first four months as she wasn't gaining weight like she should, dropping steadily from the 25% at her two week appointment down to the low point of 3% by the time she was three months. During that time I fought valiantly to feed her like she needed - pumping and nursing around the clock, taking supplements like crazy, and giving her extra bottles whenever she seemed to want one. But still she dropped, and dropped, and dropped and I wrestled my emotions over the failure of it all. At her three month appointment when her weight came back in the 3rd percentile, the doctor said pointedly that I needed to stop nursing and start giving her straight formula, thickened with rice cereal, and to record every single ounce and teaspoon she ate.

Slowly she's been gaining her weight back - but it's been an emotional and stressful ride. Anyway - so it would have been nice if she had been able to take to the solid food easily, but she had her own little agenda and wanted to create a bit more drama. And so we worked at getting it right and now she's eating like a champ.

One day she figured out that she could scoot around a bit to get what she wanted. Her focus and concentration was impressive as she dug her tiny fingers into the carpet and pulled herself along towards her goal.

The kids (and I) all thought it was pretty funny to put things just out of her reach and make her work for them.

She never really gets frustrated, but she certainly gets confused and it's beautiful to see her think through the problems.

But regardless of whether or not she actually attains her prize, she is always, always beautiful to watch.

By the time she's two, all these new little skills will seem silly. But today they're so exciting.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Dates with Boys and Bears

One of my favorite things to do is to go on dates. Dates with Brian, dates with my girlfriends, dates with my kids. Sometimes I get a bit overwhelmed in crowds of friends and family because it takes a bit of mental effort for me to keep my chatting small and light, and I forget that crowds are not the time and place to have deep, personal conversations. 

But dates are different. 

On dates you can talk real or light. And that feels much more comfortable to me. 

It's a love language thing, really... I feel love easiest in the language of quality time - and dates are one of the best grounds to grow some quality time.  

Anyhoo, so when Timothy asked me with those gorgeous eyes if we could take Buddy the Bear on a date, how could I refuse? And what better date than to the candy store.

Timothy is going to a preschool this year named Tiny Tots, which I really do think is one of the cutest names for a preschool (especially when said through the small voice of the preschooler himself). They read stories and color and play on the playground and do all sorts of other preschoolish things, and one of the best of those things is Buddy the Bear (or Honey the Bear if you happen to want the girl version). Buddy comes home with one child for the weekend and the kids the parents take him all over town for three whole days, snapping pictures and recording all of Buddy's adventures.

We took Buddy to a swim meet where he sat quietly and well-behaved behind the bleachers for the entire thing (I tried to point out his remarkable example to my own children but they didn't fall for it) and then he joined us afterwards at Sonic to watch everyone else eat and get in some good cuddles before heading home.

We had lunch dates, too, and each time I made lunch for Timothy I made sure to put half of it on a plate put a special plate down just for Buddy.

I was concerned that Timothy would be a bit heartbroken when it was time to send Buddy back to school, but he was surprisingly neutral about it. So turns out my concern was for nothing (which seems to be the case more often than not).

More date ideas fell into the works when I stumbled upon the Smith Center website (Vegas's performing arts center) and found that Go, Dog, Go was going to be gracing the stage. My nostalgic heart strings pulled as I remembered little toddler Miles asking for that book again and again and again. He had the whole thing memorized! And so staring at that ad naturally made me feel that I just had to take him. And I figured Timothy might as well join us because, really, his age falls much more in line with the target audience anyway.

So i bought the tickets and we spent the next few weeks reading the book over and over again so the play would make sense (because, you know, the plot line is so intense with those Dr. Seuss books). When the day arrived, the three of us got dressed up (read: out of our lunch stained shirts) and showed up to find our box seats (fancy fancy).

I thought the show might be a little too young for Miles, maybe, but he giggled and enjoyed the whole thing. And Timothy was equally delighted.  The two of them sometimes have a hard time getting along these days, so I was pleased to be able to forcibly cram some fun brother time in to (hopefully) remind them that they have a lot in common and that, really, it would be okay for them to get along. You know, if they wanted to.

After the show, Timothy was conflicted about meeting the famous dog characters when they all came into the lobby to mingle. Miles was not conflicted and stood far away with his hand in his pocket looking and acting entirely too old.

In the end, Timothy decided he did want to meet one. Just one. 'The blue one' (who had been his favorite), so we pushed our way through the crowds of other kids to take our turn and snap our picture. And you can see in his face that he hadn't completely made up his mind to be comfortable about it.

But then he wanted to meet the green one, too, so I guess there was a little element of excitement in there somewhere.

I'm lucky girl to get to be the first date of so many handsome boys.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Balance of Motherhood

Eliza is sick today.

She's gooping and dripping and snorting and whimpering. She's tossing and turning and frustrated with her beautiful little body because she doesn't know about all of the incredible things it's doing to help her be well again. All she knows is that she feels uncomfortable and weary.

I know that feeling.

Timothy is grumpy today.

The Kindle reached its hour limit before he felt done playing, I scooped the strawberry yogurt into the bowl he wanted to fill, Eliza needed a diaper change at the very moment he wanted me to read The Ugly Pumpkin, and the blue Gatorade was packed into the car for his camping trip instead of being readily available to enjoy. He is frustrated because things aren't going his way today.

I know that feeling, too.

But just a few days ago the three of us sat in the living room having such a delightful time together that I grabbed my camera to try to capture the beauty of it.

Eliza was joyful and skillfully showing off her ability to push herself up with all those strong muscles. I honestly can't remember the last time I was so happy about doing push-ups. Probably when I was about her age.

We clapped and cheered for her and she charmed us by doing it again and again.

One of my very favorite things about babies and kids is the look of pride in their eyes when they learn something new. See it in her face above? Beautiful.

Eliza's face is one of the sweetest I've seen - and the little personality behind it matches it perfectly. Back when we had just decided to have another baby I was anxious about it but knew the time would come where I couldn't imagine my life without our newest little one... I just didn't realize that day would come so very fast.

Timothy makes Eliza laugh every day.

Even on days he's feeling grumpy. 

And through this ride of motherhood where days are good and days are bad and sometimes the happiness levels fluctuate minute to minute, I try to remember that for every goopy nose I wipe there's a beautiful smile to fill me. And for every grumpy tantrum there is a moment of the deepest sweetness.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Mini Photo Shoot

While all of the family went to church, little Eliza and I held a mini-photo shoot because she is just. so. precious.  One tiny little week old.

I rummaged around through my closets in search of some textures and colors and fell in love with this baby pink scarf. Isn't it perfect?

The irony of how I, myself, looked, and of how my home looked as I was taking pictures of this beautiful little scene was humorous to me, and part of me wished I had turned the camera around to snap a picture of the disheveled mess of real life.

But instead, I found sweetness in creating a little piece of beauty right in the middle of all the chaos. I moved the cereal bowls and boxes from the kitchen table to the kitchen counter, and I moved the milk there, too. Because sometimes putting the milk in the fridge seems like going the extra mile. I wiped the dried eggs and syrup off of the table with a warm washcloth and kicked all the shoes and crusty bread pieces out of my camera's sight.

And then I put a sweet, white basket in the center of the space I had cleared. And I filled it with soft fabrics, and pulled my favorite arrangement of flowers to stand beside it.

I didn't pretend that the chaos wasn't there, just there, all around me. I didn't pretend that my teeth were brushed or that my hair was silky and clean. I just focused on the beauty that was right in front of my eyes. The little smile, the tiny fingers, the perfect nose, and the sweetest, milky skin.

And I felt blessed.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Easter Time, Easter Time

Dying Easter eggs is probably my very least favorite tradition of all the traditions.  

It's messy and complicated and requires much more skill than you'd think, or at least much more than the average child carries around. At first, the child is much too young to even realize what is going on and is much more interested in eating the crayons, or drinking the dye, or hearing the satisfying splat when a hard boiled egg hits the floor. Then they grow a bit and want to participate, but their little, fat hands certainly can't balance an egg on the end of a small, flimsy, wiry, egg holder, and they don't have the patience to slowly submerge their egg in the dye, so instead they plop it into the dye sending splashes of color across the table.

Soon, they begin to want multi-toned eggs, but their motor skills are not refined enough to hold an egg completely still to create the even lines they crave, so tears are shed and you are left to convince them that the overlap is actually better than a perfect line because, just look at that beautiful new color in the middle!

And then, finally, finally, they are able to largely navigate themselves - feeling proud and artistic and only lashing out occasionally to a sibling who has taken too much time in the color of choice.

There never seem to be quite enough eggs to keep everyone satisfied. Boiling a dozen eggs only gives each child three (if the adults take none) which, I suppose means we could just boil more, but I cringe a little at the thought of boiling more eggs than we can eat.

But we still come back to it year after year because, somehow, in the minds of the children all of that frustration and fighting and crying morphs into a memory of fun. 

Easter morning, however, is much better and watching my kids hunt for Easter eggs sits much more solidly in the 'Traditions I Like' category.

Here are my 5 coming down the stairs that Easter morning. Little Eliza is tucked up in Kenzie's arms and I didn't think it would be safe for Kenzie to hold her up and closer to the banister because... what if. So you can't see her precious little face very well. But she's there!

And here they are halfway down the stairs looking elated that I wanted another picture of them all together before they dashed off in search of candy.

The Easter bunny was clever this year and hid many of the eggs outside. Which was delightful because being outside on a beautiful spring morning is one of my favorite things. These roses are also some of my favorite things because I pruned these suckers like crazy in early February, so they feel a little like a present to me.

The hunt was successful and each kid came away with a basket full of eggs.

It took McKenzie most of the morning and a large chunk of Dad's help to find all of her eggs. The Easter Bunny hid them so well I bet he wouldn't have even remembered where he put them if he were asked.

Daddy was a great counter and helped Teek make sure he had found all of his colors.

Then it was time to get ready for church. The whole family got dressed and ready (except for me because, baby) and looked so beautiful that the camera came out again to try to capture them in all their sweetness.

Happy Easter, everyone!