Sunday, October 5, 2014

How to Have a Perfect Family Saturday

Husband works a lot of weekends, so I often load up the kids and the dog and head to the lake with my family. But this weekend, he promised we had him ALL DAY SATURDAY, so I jumped at the opportunity to plan an activity.

It went so flawlessly, I thought I should share my plan (in case any of you may want to tackle the perfect day).

1. Plan to go to an apple orchard to pick apples. Tell your three year old the plan so she will talk about it incessantly all week, thus rendering Husband unable to even think about canceling.

"A" is for apple. We're going to an orchard. We're going to pick apples, Daddy. Are you excited?!

2. Plan the entire family's wardrobe in a matchy-but-not-too-matchy fall color scheme.

3. Charge the camera.

4. Pack only the essentials for the day (complete change of clothes for both kids, lightweight jackets and heavier coats just in case October in Alabama decides to get too crazy, blankets, toys, books, and a cooler packed with five juice boxes, apple sauce, squeeze fruit, yogurt, cheese, Uncrustables pb&j sandwiches, and, of course, goldfish).

5. Plan to leave at 9:00 and get breakfast at Waffle House first.

6. Plan to leave at 10:00 and drive thru somewhere for breakfast.

7. Actually leave at 10:40 and google "Does Jack's serve breakfast all day?" on your phone while Husband drives. 

They do not.

8. Use Urban Spoon to find something off I-65. Choose Mama Goldberg's. Call in your order.

9. Exit for lunch. Send Husband in while you fetch the 23 items your children have dropped on the floor in the 7 minutes you've been on the road.

10. Eat lunch in the car on the way to the orchard. 

11. Google the orchard to check the exit. 219. We got this.

12. Sit in standstill traffic for no apparent reason.

13. Four miles from the exit, look up the orchard website for actual directions. See this.

14. Look at Husband and hope he doesn't freak out. Watch him smile and say, "well, that seems about right."

15. You are now in Jemison, AL.

16. Drive a few more miles to Clanton and go to Peach Park instead.

17. Try to explain where you are to the three year old while she asks, "are we here? Is this the orchard?"

18. Successfully distract her with a playground. Watch her light up as she plays with Daddy. Watch your husband swing on a swing set. Watch your baby giggle in a swing.

19. Buy ice cream. Buy some produce from the stand (including APPLES) and head home.

20. Realize the day was pretty perfect anyway.

Monday, September 15, 2014


C has no concept of time. If something has happened in the past, be it five minutes or five months ago, it happened esterday. I'll file that under words that will sadden me when finally pronounced correctly along with o'mana (banana) and siwwy (silly). 

She often says things like, "esterday, when I was a baby, I used to eat puffs just like Wilson. Right, Mom?" And I think to myself, she has no idea how right she is. Because, I'm pretty sure it was only yesterday that I was feeding Catherine puffs, breaking them into quarters, watching intently as she rolled them around in her mouth, trying to figure out this new thing, this new sensation, this new skill. 

It was only yesterday that I was on all fours on my living room floor, showing her how to crawl; and somehow, though only a day has passed, she is three and a half and is helping me teach her baby brother this same skill. 

It was only yesterday, that I marveled at her ability to hold a toy in her hand, that I taught her how to wave, how to clap. It was only yesterday that I watched her reject the brown tinted pureed peas the same way her brother does. 

It was only yesterday that she learned to walk, learned to talk. She toddled through the living room, chubby legs, chubby cheeks, that sweet toddler belly, a mess of curls, giggling with her every move.

Today, she is tall and lean. Her baby belly is gone, her cheeks have lost their chubbiness. She says things like, "Mom, we live in Birmingham, Alabama" and, "Mom, did you know that a ball is a sphere?" She is potty trained and brushes her own teeth and dresses herself. 

She is strong-willed and independent, smart and funny. She plays soccer and dances and goes to school. She introduces herself to adults and children alike, makes friends in an instant. She is a miniature version of Husband in so many ways. I'm watching her grow into a person and it's dazzling. I can't think of a better word - I am dazzled by her.

Yesterday, we learned we would be a family of four. It was only yesterday that a baby boy entered this world of pink and glitter and princesses. It was only yesterday that he established his place in our family. 

I'm fairly certain that it was only yesterday that he fit snugly in his infant carrier, that he slept soundly on every car ride, that he snuggled calmly in my arms. It was only yesterday that he rolled over and learned to sit on his own.

Somehow, eight months have passed by overnight. Somehow, life refused to slow down and our newborn grew up a little too fast for my liking. At eight months old, Wilson is mobile enough to steal toys from his sister and strong and fast enough to tear a paper towel into 347 pieces while I'm not looking. He is cutting teeth and sitting up and playing with toys. He is busy all the time and talking all the time. He is this tiny person, this little man, weighing almost as much as his sister three years his senior. 

He is sweet and happy and easy going. He seamlessly transitions from the beach to the car to a football game to a soccer field and everywhere in between. He is my little buddy, my mini me. 

I'm trying to wrap my head around it all, but I just can't. Yesterday, my babies were babies and I find myself in a place where I simultaneously wish for them to grow up and stay the same. I beg for them to go to sleep while hoping they still need me in the morning. I live under a mountain of bottles and dishes and laundry and crayons, but secretly dread the day that I no longer trip over toys on my way to bed. 

But I think that's one of the many joys of raising children - the tomorrows are equally as great as all the esterdays.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Under the Sea

My heart may explode. I am so so very proud. 

Sometimes, in the quiet of the night in between the kids' bed time and mine, I just sit and soak it all in. It is the only time in my day with silence. It is the only time I am without a child in my arms or hanging on my leg or climbing into my lap; yet, I use this time to go through photos and write blog posts about them all while checking the video monitor repeatedly. 

They are my world. 

Last night, part of my world went onto a big stage in front of hundreds of people in a concert hall and performed a dance perfectly. I can barely contain myself. 

My silly, smart, mischievous, inquisitive, funny three year old rocked her first ever dance recital. And I couldn't be prouder.

Her class performed a tap dance to "Under the Sea" from The Little Mermaid. They were dressed as crabs. It was ridiculously cute.

She even sneezed mid-dance and then picked right back up.

When I went backstage to pick her up after her performance, she was sitting with all of her friends, eating Smarties. I told her what a great job she did and that we were so proud of her and I handed her a bouquet of pink roses. She looked up at me and said, "Mommy, where did you get those? You're such a good friend." Then she said, proudly, "I danced on a stage! I sneezed a little, but it was okay."

Be still, my heart.

We sat down with our friends and family to watch the rest of the show. She loved every minute of it. And, honestly, so did her little brother. They made it through the whole show and dinner out after. We celebrated with pizza. Catherine celebrated by falling asleep in her daddy's arms.

This morning, when she woke up, she brought me a single rose in bed and said, "I danced on a big stage. This flower is for you."

I'm not sure I could love her any more. Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Two Hour Potty Break

The post office does not have a public restroom.

I know this because this afternoon, after my three year old claimed she had to go potty "now," I pulled into the post office parking lot, unloaded both kids and hauled them inside, only to realize that there is, in fact, no potty.

Daniel Tiger (on PBS) dedicated an entire episode to going potty in other places, so Catherine was genuinely concerned. 

The post office doesn't have a potty?

   No, apparently, they do not.

Where is the potty?

   I don't know, sweetie. Can you hold it?


So, we load back into the car, I change her into a Pull-Up just in case, and we turn into Chick-fil-A. The plan was to potty. That's all.

We unload (again), maneuver our way through the restaurant to the bathroom, disinfect the seat, sit her down, and...

I don't have to go.

   Oh, you're going.

   (Five minutes later) Okay, get up.

By now, my window between bottles has expired and Wilson is crying, so I ask C what she wants for a snack while I feed him. She wants a kids meal. 

We sit down to eat. C picks a seat by the window to the play area. I tell her she can play while I finish feeding Wilson, but then we have to go.

I am wrong.

An hour and a half later, she emerges is dragged out sweaty and tired. But, before we can go home...

she has to potty.

Proud of herself this time, she requests a "treat." I tell her she can trade in her toy for ice cream. She does, then immediately starts crying because they took her toy. This is only the 324th time we've been here, so I can see where she would be confused.

The nice lady at the counter gives her back the toy anyway. We haul the twenty pound baby (plus carrier), the ice cream, the toy, and the three year old to the car and finally head home.

U.S. Post Office, seriously, you need a public potty.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Catch Up: The First Month

My little man turns three months old tomorrow, so I thought it was probably time for his one and two month updates. I actually wrote the one month post on time, but as I was editing, I thought it sounded too perfect. It was very we-had-another-baby-and-nothing-was-hard-and-life-is-perfect sounding, which we all know is far from the truth. 

The truth is, the first month was really tough. It was wonderful and beautiful and everything else that a newborn baby is, but it was also exhausting and kind of scary. With Husband's work schedule being as crazy as usual, I was sort of thrown into this at home by yourself with two kids thing pretty quickly with very little relief. It was an adjustment. 

Most nights, I knew the day was over when everyone, including me, was crying. My patience with C was unusually short and her tantrums were unusually frequent. I served a lot of frozen waffles, cereal with bananas, and Chick-fil-A.  C was late to school once a week, forcing me to walk her in, with baby brother in tow, often while wearing yesterday's stains on my yoga pants. 

I started playing games like see how high you can jump on my bed just so I could pee all by myself.

Then, two weeks in, there was a really fun snow storm which no one predicted, making my usual ten minute trip down the highway to pick up C from school a three hour journey with a two week old baby in the back seat. We were snowed out of our neighborhood and I was suddenly really thankful for all wheel drive, my neurotic extra clothes packing in the diaper bag, and my laziness in unloading heavy things from my car which resulted in my having a whole case of formula on hand as we spent the night in the only hotel room we could find within safe driving distance.

It certainly made for an entertaining few days for our newborn (and his big sister).

Hanging out in Daddy's office (where we thought we might have to spend the night) with M&Ms and Peg + Cat

Not too sure about this snow

Snuggled up in the hotel room

C and Daddy getting some work done in the hotel room
After we were able to get to our house, we were then snowed IN, which is remarkably better than being snowed OUT, but still pretty inconvenient. Winter is not my favorite season.

So, Wilson spent his first month bundled in layers, inside, napping peacefully in between bottles. 

If we learned anything about him in his first month, it was that he wants to be warm; he wants to be full; and he wants to sleep ON you (a preference I do not mind in the least). He is just so snuggly and sweet.

At one month, he loves bottles, his hands, and his elephant lovie
In the first month, I learned how to cook while entertaining two children; I learned how to juggle baths and bottles and books and bedtime; I learned how to snuggle two kids at once; and I learned that my heart can expand and my love can grow every single day. It was scary, but it was so wonderful. We survived!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Conversations with Catherine: Anatomy Lesson

At her three year old check up, C's doctor mentioned that she should be drawing circles and lines well by now. As I assured him that she was, it occurred to me that I really didn't know. We do a lot of coloring and drawing, but I've never studied her skill level.

So, I used bath time as an opportunity to test her skills with bath crayons. We were drawing stick figures and drew our family. I drew a little boy and said, "look it's Wilson!"

Catherine looked at the drawing, cocked her head to the side, scrunched her nose, and said, "no, he needs a body."

"Catherine, he has a body. What do you mean?" I asked as I handed her the crayon.

With one quick motion, she added the missing component - his "body."

She doesn't miss a thing.

Conversations with Catherine: About "That Baby"

I see so much of Husband in C. She spends 98% of her time with me, yet acts just like him. Aren't genetics crazy? She is a thinker. Sometimes, I can look at her face and actually see her little mind working. One of my favorite stories about Husband as a boy (one that I have heard over and over again, yet never tire of hearing) is about him as a four year old. He was standing and staring at a pile of bricks when he was asked what he was doing. He replied, "just thinking about what I can do with those bricks."

Catherine is always trying to figure out what she can do with those bricks.

Sometimes, this gets her into trouble. She is a daredevil. She likes to experiment. She likes to test her (and my) limits. As I adjust to parenting two children instead of just one, C often gets the stern, disciplinarian version of me and less of the fun, carefree me. I often lack the patience I once had. I am overtired and can't always see the magic through the mess. It's just the nature of things at this stage in our lives. So, as she also adjusts to our new roles with our little man, I can't help but chuckle at some of the things she comes up with and I just don't want to forget them.

One of the first nights I was home alone with both kids, after the entourage of help had gone back to their lives and Husband had returned to his long hours at work, I was settling both kids into C's bed to read books. I admit I was feeling a bit cocky, having successfully fed and bathed and clothed two children all by myself. It was at that moment, the one in which I was giving myself a huge pat on the back and writing my "Mother of the Year" speech in my head, that Wilson started to cry. 

Catherine looked at me in all her three year old honesty and said, "that baby needs his mommy." 

I replied, "I'm his mommy." Without missing a beat, she said, "no, you're my mommy."