Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cinderella

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I know it’s been awhile—blah, blah, blah.  I promised my mother I’d blog this little story tonight because I found it so adorable that it just needed to be shared. 

Tonight after dinner, Anna said, “Mommy, I’m Cinderella now.”  That is usually the beginning of one of her role-play activities, in which the entire family must always be involved—it’s the reason I signed her up for a mini-acting/storytelling class in the winter.  Anyway. 

“Mommy, I’m Cinderella now,” she says. 

“Oh, really?  And who does that make me?” I ask. 

“Prince Charming.”

“Oh, good.  So does that mean we are going to a ball tonight to dance all evening and fall in love?”

“No, that’s tomorrow night,” she says.

I look at her.  “Uh, then what are we doing tonight?”

“Tomorrow night we will dance, and then we will get married.”

“Okay,” I say, now very curious.  “But what are we doing tonight?”

And, with a roll of the eyes, she says, “Well, tonight we are getting to know each other first.”

One man’s indoctrination is another man’s… wise teaching.  And when she is a young woman, dating to find an eternal partner, I will be proud if she calls me one night and says, “Mom, he tried to kiss me on our second date!  We haven’t even gotten to know each other yet!”

Oh, and here’s the little wicked witch.  Wicked is often the right word, such as this afternoon, for example, when I went to change her very messy diaper and discovered that she had pulled out, one-by-one, every diaper wipe in the container and placed it in the Bumbo seat, where she could, obviously, get to them more easily to change her doll-baby’s diapers.  Duh, Mom. 

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Summertime… and The Living Is Easy

I know it’s been awhile since I posted, but anyone who bothers to read this loves me anyway.  Right? …  Right?

It’s been an eventful few weeks.  Or I guess I should say, it’s been a typical few weeks with a few little adventurous moments thrown in for spice.  At the beginning of May, I went on a little personal retreat to visit my family in Utah, and it was wonderful.  I got sick while I was there, and my only adventures outside the house were going to Star Trek and going to church, and you know what?  It was awesome.  I did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for five days.  That may not sound good to some people, but I was delighted.  It was a little hard to come home where people, like, expected me to do stuff. 

We finally found summertime up here, and on the second gorgeous day of this surprisingly warm Northwest summer, we went on a family outing to the beach.  The girls loved the water, and Anna got to build her first sand castle.  The water was much too cold for swimming, but we all got our feet (or bums, in Mariah’s case) wet, and we enjoyed every second of that sunshine.  I even got a sunburn.  It was some quality family time, just the four of us. 

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Then a few weeks ago, Uncle Nate came to visit.  He was only here for a couple of days, and I’m sure he was bored out of his mind (since our little lives offer small entertainment), but the girls loved having him here.  They had a playmate around all day, and he was great with them.  He played forty hands of Uno, and he ran through the cotton blowing at the park with them, and he chased them through the house as they screamed in delight.  He even went up and down the stairs to rescue the bouncy balls Anna kept throwing.  It’s a true sign of adoration that Mariah not only played with him, but she even used his name: Nee-nee. 

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The rest of the pictures are from various playtime moments over the last little while.  In this one, Anna and Mariah were dressing up their hair with various different headbands and decorations.  Don’t they look stunning and modern?

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Anna has developed some interesting playtime methods recently.  Her favorite "quiet time” occupation is going through the house and collecting different odds and ends and making different contraptions and clothes for her dolls.  The particular outfit in the picture is made of yarn, rubber bands, and the gel cling decorations from the patio window.  It’s so fun to watch her creating.  I’ve always worried a little because she doesn’t really enjoy drawing or painting, but maybe she’s just into a different kind of creation. 

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Mariah has recently developed a propensity for hitting, which, you can imagine, we find a little frustrating.  You can only give your 20-month-old so many timeouts per day before you start thinking that you need to consider other discipline options.  But despite her violent tendencies, she also proves herself more intelligent and aware every day.  She understands a shocking amount of what people say to her, and she picks up very quickly on what’s going around her.  She’ll barely be two at Christmastime, and I already know I won’t be able to put toys in the cart while I’m shopping and have her not wonder why they’re there.  Maybe it means she’ll grow up to be an excellent ruthless, amoral criminal mastermind.  *sigh*

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Anna’s big news of the month is that she finally learned to put her own seatbelt on in the car.  We put her in a booster seat just after she turned three, and now, we can say, “Okay, Anna, go get in the car,” and she does it all herself.  You know, I like babies okay, but I love to watch these kids figure things out, and I love seeing their independence grow every day.  And I love not having to do it all myself.  :) 

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Our last pictures are of two of the girls’ favorite new activities.  The first one is called The Stage, and as you can tell, it’s the mattress from Mariah’s crib.  We pull it out when I change her sheets, and they get to dress up and dance around on it to put on show for us.  I’m constantly amazed at the fun they can make from almost nothing. 

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Our other favorite activity, along similar lines, is to pull all the couch cushions off the couches and make The Island.  They climb and jump around on it, and they have a wonderful time.  Plus, it helps me have reason to vacuum under the cushions more often.  We just always have to put them away before Daddy comes home because he doesn’t appreciate the activity as much as they do.  It just shows what different directions our minds are working in right now.  He’s thinking, “I don’t want to buy new couches anytime soon,” and I’m thinking, “I’ll do anything to entertain these girls for an hour at a time, whether the cushions get saggy or not.”   Luckily for me, I’m home alone with them all day and HE IS NOT.  Mwahahahaha. 

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On one final note, we are very happy this week because we are eating our very own salad greens for at least two meals each week and we have at least thirty tomatoes growing on Adam’s beloved tomato plants.  I’ll take a picture soon of their… ahem… gorgeous containers, but when I bite into a fresh, homegrown tomato in a few weeks, I’m sure I’ll be grateful.  We also have peas, beans, blueberries, cucumbers, pumpkins, and a few other fun things growing, and yesterday Adam set up a whole drip-watering system that should make his life a little easier.  All in all, I’d say it’s official that Adam has discovered that he has a Very Green Thumb.  I am practically bursting with pride.  :) 

Hope you’re all doing great! 

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Funny, Adorable, and Ever-Annoying

I know you’re all shocked that there is actually a new post from me, but here’s to surprises, huh?  It’s been over a month, and a lot has happened, but I’ll try to just pick out a few interesting tidbits. 

Big Event Number One was when my parents came to visit the week after Conference.  Grandma always comes bearing gifts, and my girls loved their new Spring dresses. 

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It was a wonderful week for my parents because they got to play with my girls, it was a wonderful week for my girls because they got to play with their grandparents, and it was a wonderful week for Adam and I because the girls and grandparents pretty much took care of themselves and left us to do whatever the heck we wanted.  I suppose that’s not entirely true—Mariah is still a little attached to “ma-MA”—but I did find myself with a lot of very welcome free time.  We did some fun things like go to the zoo on the first warm and sunny day of the year (which meant that all of Seattle was also at the zoo), go to Jump Planet…

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and make our annual visit to the Company Store.  It was a quiet week, but that worked out pretty well, and it took me days to readjust to spending most of each day caring for the girls by myself.  *sigh*

Big Event Number Two, which happened on the last day of my parents’ trip, was Easter.  We actually received our Easter Bunny visit on Saturday morning, and on Sunday we had a special dinner and talked a lot about Jesus and the Resurrection.  The favorite Bunny surprises this year were Mariah’s Fritos…

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and Anna’s tutu.

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Otherwise, things have been pretty normal.  We’ve had fun playing with friends.  We attended our first House Party, coming away full of Juicy Juice and stocked with a supply of other free Juicy Juice brand stuff.  We’ve been to several parks since the sun has popped out a few times in the last couple of weeks.  The girls have especially loved the sun since the Easter Bunny brought some sidewalk chalk, and they’ve discovered that the cement bench in our front yard is a perfect chalk-art location. 

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Since it’s getting warmer, we’ve started moving some of our seedlings and plants in containers outside. One of Adam’s special projects last weekend was a homemade greenhouse, which we’re all very proud of.  We’re not sure it’ll be enough to get our tomatoes to survive the exceptionally mild Northwest summer, but we’re sure gonna try. 

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Anna’s quote of the month is actually from this morning because I thought it embodies a lot of how the last few weeks have gone.  During Sacrament Meeting today, Mariah was as wild as March Hare, and she took some of her containment frustrations out on Anna by stealing her stuff.  At one point, Anna whispered to me, with a very serious look on her face, “I can’t wait until Mariah learns to be nice.”  It was particularly funny since the moment before, she had been yanking a book away and commanding Mariah loudly to “yeeve” her “ayone.”  (Anna’s “L’s” are still “Y’s.”)  Anna has been downright unpleasant lately, and last week, she had the her first official tantrum.  I think my daughter has finally turned three.

And for those of you who are shaking your heads in disgust saying, “Her first tantrum?  They don’t know how lucky they are!” I just don’t want to hear it.  I know we are lucky, and I’m grateful every day that Anna is still so mild-mannered.  Just remember the first time one of your children had a full-on, ear-splitting-screaming kind of tantrum, and try to have some sympathy.  Please. 

Mariah’s quote of the month is “No.”  I haven’t yet been able to capture on video the real kind of “no” I would like to convey to you.  She gets a very serious look on her face, complete with furrowed brows, she purses her lips very tightly, she opens them just slightly as if to say, “Oh,” and then she says “Nooooo,” dragging it out for almost a whole second and shaking her head.  It’s absolutely adorable, even when she’s being a poop.  She says it about almost everything, which is the annoying part, but it’s pretty age typical.  We just have to laugh because when Anna was Mariah’s age, her word was a shyly whispered “Yeah” for everything, even if she meant no.

Now, combine Anna’s bossy, sassy, know-it-all attitude with Mariah’s love for the word “no,” and what do you have?  That’s right—our first arguments.  Anna asks Mariah to do something, and Mariah stands up, walks up right to her face, and says, “No!”  Then Anna giggles, puts her face very close to Mariah’s and says, “Yes.”  And they go back and forth, giggling and chasing each other around while they yell, “Yes!” and “No!”  That is actually a pretty good representation of the last month or so of our children’s part in our lives: funny, adorable, and ever-annoying.

Here are my last pictures, and they, too, are very representative of that last line.  FYI, this is our hallway, those are Styrofoam packing peanuts, and they took me exactly 45 minutes to clean up.  ‘Nuf said.   

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Ciao.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Prayers

I don't have any pictures for this week. I promise I'll get some for next time. And really, it's been very quiet around here. I'll just share two quick stories for the week.

Last Sunday, we got a note telling us that Anna had been assigned the opening prayer for primary opening exercises today. She knows how to say prayers, but she still asks for help sometimes, so we've been practicing all week, making sure she said at least two prayers every day. We've also been working on her prayer voice. See, when she prays, she automatically takes her voice into her very upper register, and she sounds sort of like a mouse. I suggested to her on Thursday that we can just use our regular voices for prayers, and we make sure to say them loudly enough for everyone to hear them. Her next few prayers were yelled at full volume, but by this morning she had toned it down. This morning near the end of Sacrament Meeting, attempting to stave off her boredom for a few more minutes, I asked her what things she was going to say she was thankful for in her prayer. She quickly said, "I am thankful for my family and my toys and my friends... and my sister... and my daddy..." and I realized that although we'd practiced the actual act all week, she didn't have any concept that a prayer for primary is different from a prayer at home. We talked about how prayers in public should be for things related to everyone in the room, and we came up with a few things she could be thankful for and ask for that were true for everyone. In the end, a teacher helped her a little preemptively, and she prayed for at least ten things we had never talked about, but despite some slurred words, that prayer was good and loud, and I was stinkin' proud. As she likes to remind me, she's getting bigger every day.

This week, I've also been noticing how skillful Mariah is at non-verbal communication. Over the last few days, she has managed to tell me what she wanted to wear, what she wanted for breakfast and lunch, which pajamas she wanted to sleep in, and which songs she wanted to sing, all without using any actual words. She is, of course, a very talented pointer, and she has an extremely expressive face, which helps a lot, but it's more than that. Kids have an amazing ability to use what they do know to express what they can't say. For example, I asked her the other morning what she wanted for breakfast, and I pointed at her choices. She ignored all the options I'd given and pointed up to the box of Cheerios. I got it down. Then she pointed at the cupboard with the bowls, and while I got a bowl, she got her own spoon out of the drawer. Then she pointed at the fridge and did the sign for milk, so I pulled out the milk, and finally, she pointed at the bananas and mimed cutting them with a knife. I poured her cheerios, cut some banana chunks on, and poured the milk as she sat watching me intently, and after all that was done, she crossed her arms, bowed her head, and mumbled for a second. Then her eyes popped open and she shoveled in her first bite with a big grin. My friend at church today told me that 18 months was her favorite age with all of her kids, and although I hadn't really thought about it, I realized that it is kind of nice: they can communicate and enjoy, they are interested in the world around them, and no one is sweeter than a toddler who, on a whim, would really like a hug and a kiss. Sometimes it's just easy not to notice because they are also completely exhausting.

Happy Spring!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Recovery and Ring Pops

I hate to sound over-confident, but we are finally all feeling better. Mostly. Adam is still having some weird come-and-go symptoms of a cold, but otherwise, we live in a healthy house. And all the sickness does certainly make me grateful for times when we’re not sick: no chasing sore and runny noses through the house with a tissue, no 1:00 AM coughing fits, no cancelled playdates, and no Sunday mornings at home. It’s even nice to go grocery shopping with the kids, knowing that I’m not the one spreading germs to anyone else who touches the grocery cart.

Because of the quiet recovery time, there isn’t much to talk about from the last few weeks. We’ve had a few playtimes with Kayleigh, and although this picture is from a few weeks ago, it still seems relevant. This is from the night we babysat Kayleigh and walked to McDonald’s for ice cream. Anna and Kayleigh had a blast in the trailer together.

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Mariah is now only a month away from being officially in nursery, and it’s interesting to compare her behavior with what we remember from Anna’s first weeks of nursery. Mariah is clearly very young, and she still talks so little, but as we thought back we realized that Anna was the same way. Anna was talking more at home by then than Mariah is. These kids develop so much during those 2 years of nursery, and it’s easy to forget how much Anna changed during that time. It’s crazy that in a year and 9 months, Mariah will be where Anna is right now. Here’s a movie of Mariah a couple of weeks ago. Thanks again, Grandma Sherri, for the Ring Pop. Oi.

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My favorite Mariah moment of this past week was one morning after a trip to the grocery store. I was bring the groceries up the stairs, and I had turned on Anna’s Clifford movie (which I had so RUDELY interrupted for us to go shopping) for her to watch. Mariah was playing in the living room, but she followed me and the groceries into the kitchen. She wanted a snack, so I said, “Okay, just let me get unpacked,” and stopped watching her. Next thing I knew, she had carried a couple of empty bowls in from the other room (from a previous activity), pulled the pretzel and raisin bags off the shelf in the pantry, filled both bowls with pretzels and raisins, and carried the bowls out to the living room. When I realized what she was doing, I followed her. She carried the bowls straight to Anna and handed her one. Anna accepted the bowl and immediately started snacking, while Mariah sat down in an empty chair, leaned back in satisfaction, ate her snack, and watched Clifford. I wish I could point out all the amazing points of that story, including the fact that Anna accepted a bowl containing raisins without complaint, but instead I’ll just say that an independent spirit can be a wonderful blessing.

Now here’s the disadvantage of an independent spirit. The next day, Mariah wanted to make her own snack again, only this time, she was clearly getting sick. I stopped her from opening the bag, took it away VERY GENTLY, and told her that Mommy would help her get a snack today. She immediately slid off the bench, ran across the kitchen, and flopped herself down on the carpet in the toy room, crying violently and beating her fists on the ground. Once she knows she can do something, she wants NO HELP WHATSOEVER. Again, I’m just grateful she’s moved past her early toddler-hood, when she would flop herself down wherever she was for her little screaming fit. She’s hit enough cabinetry, countertop, and laminate flooring to know that the best place to throw a tantrum is the carpet. :)

And now one small Anna story. For weeks she’s been wanting to go to the park, and every day that has been nice has been taken up by something else. Either we had to go somewhere, or someone was sick, or it started to rain before we could get there, and she was downright discouraged about it. Well, Friday was finally a nice day. It got up to almost 55 degrees, and the sun was shining all day, so early Friday evening we made it to the park. We even had Daddy meet us there after work. And she had the time of her life. We even got to play “zoo” while she was there, and we saw some elephants, flamingos, and gorillas. It was at least as much fun as she’d hoped for. So Saturday morning, we woke up to gloomy skies, wet ground, and cool temperatures. I mentioned something about the weather to Adam at breakfast, and Anna perked up immediately. She said, “Is today a nice day? Can we go to the park?” I sighed and said, sympathetically, “No, sweetie, not today.” And she smiled gently, patted my hand, and said, “That’s okay, Mommy. Don’t be sad. We can go another day.” So cute.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

We’re Sick

Anna is pretty sick this weekend (she’s coughing on and off even now) with some kind of cold/respiratory something.  She’s pretty miserable, which in turn makes us pretty miserable.  Mariah has, on the other hand, been cheerful all weekend until today when her nose started running, she started coughing, and she got grumpy.  So it may be a few days before I can pull myself together and post.  Sorry you loyal fans (all two of you :)).  Here are a couple of pictures to tell you that we are still here and hoping to be so cheerful again soon.

Here is Anna in her “sailor hat.”  Gorgeous girl! 

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And here is Mariah trying to swallow an entire box of nerds (because she just can’t wait for Mommy to open it). 

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Love ya!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Playdates Are, Like, the Bomb!

We’ve had lots of friends to play with in the last few weeks, so first things first, I’ll post a movie of Anna and Sahara playing together. To prepare you, the thing they’re standing in is a pop-up tent on its side.

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Happily, that little activity only lasted for five minutes or so. *sigh*

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We’ve played with Kayleigh a few times, too (including a little Valentine’s Day party this morning), and we had Lily and her family over for dinner, so we’ve been very busy. We went to Jump Planet again, this time with Sahara and her family, and had a blast. Her mom took lots of pictures, but they didn’t turn out, so once again, I promise that SOME DAY I will post some pictures of my delighted, grinning, wide-eyed girls flying down the 20-ft. slide. They both love it, and it ain’t too bad for me either.

We also had lots of fun delivering and receiving Valentines last weekend. Anna was insistent that every one of her church friends receive one from her, so we did lots of delivering. She’s a little young for the knock-and-run concept (luckily – I always hated doing that), so we just walked up and handed them over. Lots of people weren’t home, but she got lots of thanks at church yesterday. And each time, she came away just glowing. Hopefully she learned her first lesson about how good it feels to be kind to someone else. Hopefully.

Adam and I had a little Valentine’s gift exchange on Saturday night. We don’t usually exchange gifts for Valentine’s, but Adam announced early last week that he’d thought of a good gift for me, so he was going to get it, but that he wouldn’t tell me how much he was spending. That, of course, opened the door wide for me, but I was still concerned about spending too much, so I spent about $30 on various little things that I thought he would enjoy (garden gloves, juice, a magazine subscription, and a block of some most beloved cheese). So Saturday night he gives me his gift: an airplane ticket. One airplane ticket. Just for me… all to myself… no kids on board. If there’s anyone in the history of the world who’s gotten a better V-Day present, I’d be surprised. I get to spend an entire weekend visiting my family by myself. I already know they’re disappointed because I’m not even interesting to them anymore—it’s all about my kids. But tough rocks! I need a kid-vacation, and when I get back, I think I’ll be a better, more loving, and more patient mother. It would be better if Adam and I could go somewhere together, but that just isn’t working out logistically, so for now, I’ll be grateful to have the best, most thoughtful husband possible.

That left me feeling a little sad about the lame little block of cheese I’d given him (I really had tried to think of something better, but it was all too expensive), but apparently it was a good gift. Sunday in Elders Quorum, he announced to the group that the highlight of his week was that his wife gave him cheese as a Valentine’s Day present, and they thought it was the coolest thing they’d ever heard. Apparently most wives don’t give Valentine’s Day gifts at all. Why didn’t you girls tell me that years ago? I wouldn’t want to set the bar too high in our marriage! :)

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Anna is having much success with her potty training. It’s been at least a week with no accidents, and she’s now sleeping in panties every night, so things seem to be going along swimmingly (knock on wood). Now I just get to look forward to the day when she’s not announcing to everyone she meets (e.g. the hometeacher, the neighbor, the primary teacher, the clerk at the grocery store) that she’s “a big girl now and can pee and poop in the potty really well.” Although it is almost worth the mild embarrassment to see the people’s faces. Some think she’s adorable. And some… ahem… don’t. :)

Speaking of adorable, here are some matching pictures of Anna and Mariah. I think it’s obvious who is who, but maybe it won’t be as clear to everyone else. Yes, those are both yogurt, and yes, those are both the same shirt. Why change a pattern that works for you?

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As for Mariah, she’s passed another important and dreaded milestone: she’s learned to climb onto chairs. She first did it on the bench at our kitchen table, but now she can get on almost any chair. When Anna learned that, I was just happy because it meant she could get up herself. But Mariah is a climber, and now nothing is safe. The kitchen counter is no longer off limits, and nor are the table, the upper shelves, the sink, or the toaster. I love her determination and vigor, but I hate having to watch her all the time, and I ESPECIALLY hate saying no so much. I feel like I never say anything else to her. I’m consciously watching that, but it’s hard when she’s so determined and able. Ah, the curse of a precocious child.

By the way, here’s a fun picture my cousin found of me, my mom and my little brother in 1986. I was around Anna’s age then, and it’s interesting that even from this distance, that little girl with the bat could be Anna. My favorite part of the picture, though, is my little brother. Although today he is a tall, slim, well-built and good-lookin’ young man, he was a very bow-legged baby. Sorry to point it out, Nate, but it really is SO CUTE.

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Next week, I’ll try to post a picture of our first little seedlings sending up shoots. One of our projects right now is getting our garden planned, so Adam started some seeds on Saturday and some are already sprouting. It’s so exciting for us—we’ve talked about gardening for years, but this is the first chance we’ll really have to do it. For now, I’ll just post a picture of the blanket I made for Mariah a few weeks ago. I needed something highly washable and really warm, and it turned out very cute. Now if only Mariah would stay under it.

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Ciao.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Friday with Daddy, and Other Stories

We’ve done a few interesting things this week, and my camera didn’t have batteries for any of them, so here are a few shots from Anna’s camera (sorry so fuzzy). 

We had a fun playdate this week with Sahara and Gavin and their mommy.  Anna and Sahara are friends from nursery, and they enjoy playing together.  It’s fun – and frustrating – to see these little ones learning about making friends and what a friend is.  I think we none of us learn everything about being friends, but it’s interesting to look back at the beginning steps and think, “Well, at least I don’t hit.  Usually.”

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Also this week was Mariah’s 15-month check-up, and our girl is tall and skinny for her age, so yipee.  She’s also smart and active, just like she should be.  Anna was still so shy at this age, but Mariah mooed, baaed, whinnied, and pointed to her ears for the doctor, so she was in fine form.  She also got one shot, and the silly thing barely even noticed.  By the time she realized what was going on, it was over and there was a pretty bandage on her arm.  Afterward Anna was explaining to her that she was going to get a sucker now, but I told her that only big girls get suckers.  She looked sympathetically at Mariah and said, “Can I have it then?” 

In other news, Anna has worn big girl underwear for six days now.  Last Sunday afternoon I decided I was done waiting for her to tell me she was ready.  She’s been waking up dry for weeks, and she knows HOW to do it, so I decided it was time.  I’ve been so afraid to push her at all that I just haven’t worried about it.  Monday morning she argued with me for about three minutes about the panties, and since then there’s been barely any resistance.  Apparently I could have just done it weeks ago.  But hey, I’m actually glad I waited.  We’ve gone 6 days with hardly any accidents (most of which have been my fault—this involves some parental training, too), and I’m sure a lot of that is because she’s so old.  I’m definitely never going to push a kid into this.  IMG_0011

The most fun we had this week was our “Friday with Daddy.”  Adam’s team has been working so hard that they all got to take a day off last week, so on Friday we spent the day having fun.  We went to Costco and Molbaks (fun for Mommy and Daddy), but we also went to Jump Planet.  It’s one of those inflatable ride places, which we already knew Anna liked, but after she figured out what was going on, Mariah LOVED it.  She loved the big slides and the crawling through big tubes and the jumping around and getting knocked over.  We all had a great time, and for $6 (can you believe it was so cheap?!?!), it can’t be beat. 

The stress of the week was waiting to find out about layoffs, and although we’ve had some friends affected, most people we know still have a job.  I slept much better on the evening after they were announced than on the evening before, but I do believe that even if Adam had lost his job, we’d have been okay.  A friend this week said, in reference to a son she was comforting about her husband possibly losing his job, “I told him not to worry: we pay our tithing; we try to live the commandments; and your dad works hard.  We must have faith that the Lord will take care of us, whatever that means, and STOP WORRYING.”  It’s a bit of wisdom that’s good to remember. 

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Playtime

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These are what Anna called our “Africa dresses” this week.  The Barney movie she got for Christmas has a girl in an African outfit coming to tell a story, so she wanted to put on some African dresses, too.  Sorry I didn’t take a picture of my own gorgeous dress—you’ll just have to imagine it—because it was a brightly colored fleece blanket topped by a too-small cowboy hat.  It was classic. 

Below you can see another of this week’s favorite activities: the sled.  I explained to Anna that Santa’s sled is pulled by reindeer, and when I was watching Anne of Green Gables, she saw a sled pulled by horses.  Then I explained that sleds can be pulled by other animals, too, even dogs.  She got so excited that we helped her construct her own sled using the baby rocking chair and some strings.  The photo you see is an early version.  The later adaptation involved a 10-foot medley of ropes, strings, and ribbons tied to each other around various other objects (a used CD, a spinning top, a small broom, etc.).  That one irritated me for a whole 3 days before I told her it was time to put it away.  It took me almost 30 minutes to untie all the knots.  *sigh*

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In other exciting news, last Monday night, Adam and I finished the first puzzle we’ve done for almost three years.  We used to love puzzles, but after Anna got big enough to be curious, we couldn’t leave them out for long enough to get them finished.  A few months ago we finally bought a Stow-and-Go mat so we can put it away before we go to bed, and Adam finally didn’t have to work every evening, so we pulled one out, listened to Inkheart (by Cornelia Funke – kinda fun) on CD, and had a grand old time.  Here’s the result, and we’re very proud. 

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A fun tidbit: this week, Mariah started saying “thank you.”  It comes out more like “Yeah-goo,” but it’s clear in its intent.  Who’d have thought the little fireball would be so polite?  Also, last Sunday was the first day she went to nursery.  She’s only 15-months old, but when the older kids moved on to Sunbeams (which Anna mostly likes), there were few enough kids that I can now take her with me.  Adam likes Sundays a lot better now.  :)

And now my favorite story of the week.  For Christmas, the girls got a little set of Veggie Tales board books.  Anna loves them because they have songs (for which Adam and up make up the tunes – they’re different every time), so we’ve read them several times.  There’s one called, “Where’s God When I’m Scared?” about Junior Asparagus learning how to not be afraid of the dark because God is bigger than all the monsters and things that go bump in the night.  So now, on Thursday afternoon I was making tomato soup and cheese sandwiches for lunch.  Mariah was playing with the magnet letters on the fridge and Anna was climbing up and down the small stepladder she uses to help me make the sandwiches.  The ladder was placed to keep her hands at least a foot away from the hot stove because she always makes me nervous.  I started the soup heating, then began sweeping under the table (to make room on the floor for the lunch crumbs).  I got busy cleaning up and setting things out, and a couple of minutes later I suddenly heard a horrible sizzling sound.  I jumped into immediate panic mode, imagining tiny blistered hands and an ambulance, and I cried out and turned around in a flash.  I ran to the stove only to realize that Anna was still several feet away from the stove and the tomato soup had boiled over, making the sizzling sound.  I pulled it off the burner, turned on the vent, and turned off the element, then checked to make sure Anna hadn’t been splashed.  She was sitting very still on the top step of the ladder and looking concerned.  I smiled at her and said, “Oh, dear.  When I heard that noise, I thought you had been burned.”  Suddenly her face cleared, she smiled back beatifically, and said, “It’s okay, Mommy.  God watched over me.”

I realized a few minutes later that, although she’s an intelligent girl, that hadn’t come directly from her—it was a quote from the Veggie Tales book.  The last line of the song is “God is watching over me.”  And I am ever grateful that my little girl believes God can protect her from something as simple as splashing soup.  I think I need to spend more energy recognizing the times when he protects me from all of life’s hot soup. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Here’s to the Winter Solstice

Although there will be many more pictures posted in this entry, I chose to give this one first place.  Anna took this with her new camera, and it was supposed to be a family picture.  I think it depicts rather well my general impression of our Christmas vacation: a little crazy, slightly out of focus, and somehow we’re still mostly having a good time.  IMG_0018

A few nights before we left for Utah, it snowed in Seattle.  For anyone who knows anything about Seattle, you’ll know what that sentence means (hum the theme music from Psycho, if it helps).  Needless to say, the entire town shut down for two days, right when Adam most needed to be at work and finish up his project.  It was worrisome for us in terms of traveling.  However, to cheer things up a bit, the night before we left we took some time to play outside in the snow with the girls.  They loved it! 

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To answer your questions, yes, the diaper box (above) was our homemade sled (what use would we have ever had for a sled in Seattle?), and no, that’s not a hill at the park (below).  That’s our driveway.  

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We left on our 850-mile drive around 9:00 AM Friday morning, and we made it to Boise that evening without too much trauma.  There was some serious blowing snow in the Blue Mountains, and the road was pretty slick in some places, but from what we’ve heard from others who made the same drive, we got pretty lucky.  We visited Adam’s grandpa in Boise that evening, stayed at a hotel, which Anna LOVED, and got to Lindon the next afternoon.  The most eventful part of the trip, oddly enough, was getting stuck about 1 mile north of an accident scene just south of Brigham City, Utah.  We waited for about 45 minutes, watching the NINE ambulances flash past, and as they finally let us through, a highway patrolman helped us pick our way through the wreckage of nearly 20 separate minor accidents, all probably resulting from one driver not understanding icy roads.  There were 11 other wrecks on the northbound side, probably from an original rubbernecker.  It was incredible.  Luckily there were only a few minor injuries, we learned later.  Anyway, it made us grateful that we hadn’t been five minutes faster. 

A lot happened in Utah: some crazy-big family gatherings…IMG_3110

some time outside in the snow…IMG_3091

IMG_3120 a visit from Santa… and his helpers…

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and some time with the people we love best.  We also spent a fun evening in Salt Lake (the Gateway and Temple Square) with Audrey and Emily (and their parents :)), and between the Trax ride, the McDonald’s toy, and the pretty lights, we had a darn good time. 

I would, however, like to lodge a complaint with the office of He Who Decided Christmas Should Replace the Solstice Festival.  Those decision-makers long ago should have left the Solstice Festival alone – everybody come together and share your food (since it’s running out) and your company and get drunk (to keep yourselves warm)—and celebrated Christmas in the spring.  Or the summer.  Then I wouldn’t have to dread Christmas as the time when I just KNOW my kids are gonna get sick.  Sure enough, they were sick through almost the entire vacation, which made them much less cute than their normally sweet, adorable selves.  It’s always at the least appropriate times that my kids end up with snotty noses, fevers, and coughs.  It made for bad sleeping, and it turned darling, precocious little Mariah into an over-attached, grumpy, night-banshee.  And here we are now, home for three days, and sure enough last night she slept through the night and went to bed without even a cry.  And not only did everyone probably think she was a nightmare, but carrying her around EVERYWHERE I WENT for 2 1/2 weeks made me a bit of a banshee, too.  But to prove that I still love her despite all, here’s a picture of us on Christmas afternoon. 

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See?  I do like her. 

So now we’re home, after a less-harrowing-but-longer-and-more-miserable one-day drive, and it’s good to be back.  I was worried that it had been such a stressful vacation that I wouldn’t even feel like I’d had a break, but apparently just doing something that’s not my everyday routine, combined with seeing so many people we like, has rejuvenated me.  I’ve spent two-and-a-half days alone with my girls again, and I haven’t even yelled once.  :)   Hopefully the new cheerful energy lasts for a while.  It’s easy to get beaten down by this motherhood grind, and sometimes all it takes is a break to pull myself together again.  Plus, a break as crazy as this one was does make me grateful that our lives, while monotonous, are quiet, peaceful, and predictable. 

Yesterday we were painting the girls’ room (did I mention that we put them in the same room when we got home? I’ll report on that success/failure after a few more days of trial) with pretend paint when Anna suddenly declared she was the mommy, Mariah was her “Life’s First Baby” and I was her “Life’s Second Littlest Baby” (don’t ask me about that phraseology) and it was time for me to take a nap.  So she led me to my bed as I crawled through the house, showed me how to climb into my crib (my bed, luckily), and told me to go to sleep.  And as I lay there, snoring like a chainsaw, I looked through my eyelashes at my girls.  They were standing side-by-side at the side of the bed and both gazing up at me with huge grins, giggling at my ridiculous snoring, and I was overwhelmed by the innocent pleasure of making those beautiful girls happy.  I felt warm all over knowing that I had put those smiles there.  It was so easy, in that moment, to do it, but I also realized why sometimes it feels so hard: just like the pleasure is so easy to bring, it’s so easy to lose.  They were thrilled by my pretend snore, but in the next moment they were hungry and in the depths of despair before we could even walk to the kitchen.  It’s exhausting to keep trying so hard for the smile that doesn’t last, to be instantly confronted with abject misery or blatant disobedience.  That’s why sometimes it’s so hard to just sit down and play, because although you love the purity and joy of the reward, you also know it’s fleeting.  So, sometimes play is a chore, which is easy to procrastinate.  I suppose that’s where the love comes in—we play anyway, because we love them.  It’s also where the wisdom comes in—we play anyway, because we know from our own memories that the things they’ll remember are those few moments of warmth and not the tantrums.  So I’ll keep playing, even when it’s boring or frustrating, and 200 times a day, I’ll get a smile worth facing the tantrums for.  :) 

Happy New Year.