Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bittersweet...endings and beginnings

This summer my baby, Katie, has undergone a subtle metamorphosis. She went from being a toddler to a kid. She started the summer still wearing diapers and never wanting to be too far from her Mumma. And now she's riding a bike and using the toilet all on her own and using words like "apparently". We took down the crib, not that she ever really slept in it, and she sleeps in a bedroom with her sister Teresa. Well, that's the idea, most nights she still ends up downstairs with us (but shhhhhh! I'm not really too upset about that). All of these changes, while celebrated and cheered, are still so bittersweet. I watch her strut around telling me she's a big girl and want to hold on tight to the baby she once was. I know that in a couple short years she'll be off in the big wide world and I'll have to look back at photos to see what her baby face looked like.

I signed her up for swimming lessons over the summer at a local pond. She was very excited about the idea of swimming lessons. I wondered how she would do. Well, when they called her class she grabbed my hand and hid behind me. She stayed behind me throughout introductions and beyond. When the rest of the group headed to the water Katie still kept her death grip on my hand. I walked her to the water and then pried her fingers from mine and put her hand in the teacher's. This simple action was so incredibly heartwrenching. She cried at first but soon plugged her mouth with her free thumb and clung to her teacher's hand the entire lesson. She did not look in my direction once nor did she speak to or acknowledge her teachers and their attempts to get her involved. You may think the lesson was a total failure but at least she stayed with them. It took most of the summer before she went to them of her own free will and actually participated but she did it. She did it. And while my heart was full to bursting in pride, it was also breaking a little bit, knowing this was just the first step to independence. It's such a complicated feeling, pride and excitement mingled with sadness. A bit scizophrenic, but there it is.

So last night I signed her up for dance class. She's just turning three but eager to take dance like her big sister. I know she has only a vague idea that dance class entails leaving her Mumma's side and mixing with a group of strangers led by adults who are strangers as well. And I am only too well aware that after the first class Mommies and Daddies are welcome to wait in the waiting room but are not allowed in the studio itself. Another big step towards independence for both of us. She's looking forward to wearing her leotard and tutu and ballet slippers and I am excited for her to begin and seeing her tiny little self outfitted like a miniture ballerina. And if she sees a tear in my eye I hope she buys that it's because I'm so proud, because it won't be a total lie, really.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

powerful in pink

Yesterday we had a combined birthday party for Teresa and Katie. Teresa's birthday was a week ago and Kate's is in another few weeks. So, in order to make things easier for everyone, but mostly us, we just combine their big party. One of Katie's gifts was a pink power ranger costume. Now she's aware of the power ranger's existance, because her cousin R is a huge fan, but has never really watched it herself. This costume, however, was the first thing she wanted to put on this morning. And you know what, she knew exactly what to do. I had barely finished velcroing the back when she started karate chopping and hiya-ing all over the place. She even put the mask on for a bit but prefered dueling imaginary badguys sans headdress. Here she is in action

She put it back on a few minutes ago and was busting some more killer moves before coming to me in tears. Apparently the buckle came off but this was how she phrased things, "Mumma, this fell off my titty belt" Tee! Hee! Hee! Hee! Hee! I feel like such a teenage boy giggling over it but can't help myself. And not to worry, I was able to repair her utility belt and she has returned to her superhero heroics.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Oh dear God she's found a loophole

My children do not get to eat much candy. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't like candy. I LLLOOOOOOOVVVVVEEEE it oh so much myself. And so do they. But I'd rather they snack on fruit and vegies and cheese and crackers and other more healthy yummies. If there is no candy to be found than they do. So I rarely buy it. And the only time we ever have it hanging around is after birthday parties in the form of the goody bags. I don't throw them away. I'm not that extreme. I am not oppossed to them eating candy. Just their eating it all the time. After dinner the kids are allowed to choose one piece of candy from their goody bags for a dessert. The older two know the drill and have never snuck an extra piece or begged for just one more. I'm not sure why. It must be my stellar parenting. And oddly enough, the goody bags empty very quickly, considering they eat only one piece a day. I have NO idea how THAT happens. So imagine my surprise when I strolled into the kitchen this evening to continue preparing dinner and found Katie sitting on the floor with her goody bag in her lap, and candy wrappers and bits and pieces of candy strewn all around her. In response to my shocked "What are you doing????" Katie looked up and without missing a beat replied, "I'm trying to decide what candy to have for my tezzert."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

Celebrating Teresa

Every birthday should start with waffles, whipped cream and rainbow jimmies.

Happy Birthday Sweet girl of mine! May all your wishes come true!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sing a song

My family, me, Joe and the kids, we love to make up songs. We sing the kids awake, sing to entice them to clean up, sing when we're on walks, on the swings and sometimes just for the hell of it. Sometimes we sing actual songs, with the correct words and everything. but usually we just belt out words to suit the occasion to a familiar tune or no tune at all, whatever works. Considering our singing ability it's more often than not, no tune at all. I even sing to the four legged animals in the house. I once made up a song for my cat Melrose. The words were

Melrose, you are my little cat.
Melrose, you're getting very fat.
Melrose, you drive me crazy
but you're my baby, my Melrose, my cat.

If I sang this or whistled the tune the cat came running. It was a fun little party trick. My friends and family constantly pestered me to show off this amazing little routine. Or maybe, they pestered me to stop. Anywho, I also made up a song for another of my cats, Peanut Butter. I had taken a picture of her sitting in a teapot and so made up a song to the tune of "I'm a little teapot"

I am Peanut Butter, small and fast
I hide so well, you walk right past.
When I hear the treats shake,
then I stop.
Jump on out and up I pop!

I sent this in to a Friskies contest and won the freaking grand prize, $10,000!!!! So, that means I'm a bona fida songwriter. I am an authority. Someone paid ME...for a song...I MADE UP! Heady stuff, I'm telling ya!

Joe makes up songs for the kids as he pushes them on the swings or on walks around the bog. One favorite which they always ask for is the name song. He makes up a rhyming name story song with their own and all their cousins' names that makes absolutely no sense and is never exactly the same but may sound like this:

Sam had a sandwich with ham
but not Teresa
she wanted pizza,
and Lisa wanted hers with linguica
and Katie is shady, but I know she's a lady
I know Jim is slim, hey! whys Ben in the den?
Owen is going because Patty wants Daddy.
John mowed the lawn while Rose picked her nose.
Zach sat on a tack...
...and you get the idea.

The kids have picked up this weird habit of ours. When I call them in for dinner, they'll sing "I'm coming!" in a loud falsetto opero voice. When they play with their toys, I hear them singing little love songs to them. Sometimes they even sing insults to each other. Sam sang to Teresa as we stood in line at WalMart "you are the dullest sister, EEEEVEEEERRRRR!" Again in that opera voice. Living in this house is like living in an episode of the wonder pets. The other night at my sisters, Teresa had Sam, Kate and two of her cousins sitting in chairs, waiting to see whom she would choose, as she sang, in a chuch cantor kind of way, "and the next person who will pour the tea will beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee...........SEAMUS!"

The other day I caught Teresa in another song when we were cleaning up. She was picking up tissues in the bedroom (allergy season is back and most of us are now singing with tissues in hand). I heard her sing "and a friggin tissue here, and a friggin tissue there, here a tissue, there a tissue, everywhere a friggin tissue..."

I am so proud. Music to my friggin ears.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Making a list and checking it twice...

Because the big party is looming large ahead of us, there is lots and lots to do. I have made my lists and am forging ahead into all that lies before me. I have already confessed to being addicted to my lists. I love my lists for so many reasons but most of all because they keep me on track and help me not to forget one single detail. Not to mention how thoroughly satisfying it is to cross something off. At the moment I have several lists going. I have my ordinary everyday regular lists; to do, to call, to clean, to buy. I also have 50th party lists; to buy, to finish, to call, to set up. We are having a brunch to send off out of town guests and family on Sunday as, at my house. Yet another set of lists. Oh and guess what? The girl's combined birthday bash is exactly one week from the 50th party. So I have a few lists for that shindig too. It may seem a little extreme but like I said the lists give me a place to jot down my scattered thoughts and help keep me focused and moving forward. And oh, nothing compares to the excitement and satisfaction I get when it's time to cross items off my lists.

I have a small spiral notebook for my everyday lists. Sometimes I lovingly look back at outdated lists and puff up with pride at all I've accomplished. The "special" lists for the parties and brunch are in little books of stapled together scrap paper. I keep them out on my kitchen counter so they are in sight and handy for when I need to cross something off. Which really and truly is soul satisfying. So anyways, my many lists dominate the kitchen counter. The other day I came back down to the kitchen during naptime and found a new list on the counter beside my own. This list is not mine, however, it's Sam's. I shouldn't be surprised. He is like me in so many ways; his OCD tendencies are just one of the endearing traits he inherited from me.

This is the front and says "The things I am going (he couldn't fit-to do) this day"
The back is the actual list. It reads:
1 Justice League
2 Read
3 take care of Sophie
4 swing
5 computer
6 tv

I'm almost embarassed to mention that I had to physically restrain myself from crossing off the items he had completed.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A walk down memory lane or to be more accurate...small children with a deathwish

With my parent's 50th anniversary party fast approaching we are taking care of last minute details and eagerly anticipating everyone's arrival. My sister and her family are driving out this weekend and my brother and his family will be here in a week. We have created a scrapbook(well, I should say scrapbooks since there are FIVE books in total) for our parents which chronicles their lives from childhood to the present. What a trip it has been to work on these books. As my sisters and I scrapped we did lots of talking and reminiscing. While scrapping some pictures of ourselves as small children the topic of crazy things we used to do came up. The list is longer than I thought. Here are just a few...
  • zipped each other into a suitcase (remember the old fashioned kind with a cloth top that zipped open) and then pushed the suitcase down a flight of stairs...this was a special favorite of mine
  • climbed up the hayloft chute in the barn all the way to the cupola at the top- it had to be climbed by bracing our arms and legs against the sides and scooching up, bad news if you slipped
  • climbed up into the second floor of the barn by scruching in and up through the little hay feeders for the horses, because the stairs would have been just too easy
  • jumped from the roof of our neighbors garage to the roof of the bus garage and playing on top of the bus night
  • a favorite game was sandwich...we'd sandwich someone between the mattress and box spring and then jump on the bed
  • another bedtime favorite, climbing up on the headboard and falling, Lipton tea style, back onto the bed
  • climbing out my sister's window onto the flat roof of the wrap around porch and both running around up there or later on sunning ourselves
  • mixing up concoctions of bbq sauce, mustard, milk, jelly, ketchup, koolaid and whatever was on hand in the fridge and feeding it to one another
  • speaking of eating things, we loved to sneak into the bathroom cabinet and eat my Mom's appetite suppressant caramel squares
  • and speaking of bathroom cabinets Terry and I used to go into the upstairs bathroom linen closet and climb to the highest shelf for no purpose other than to perch there
  • crawling both under the barn and under the front porch were always good for a laugh...under the barn was really cool b/c if you crawled all the way to the back there was a hole and if you reached through the hole someone in the pig sty could grab your hand
  • jumping out of the big door on the second floor of the carriage house was both thrilling and scary
  • downstairs in our basement there was a hole in the rock wall foundation with a big sandy cave, perfect for playing orphanage
  • licking our pointer finger and then poking it into the uncovered light switch plate at the bottom of the stairs to get a jolt

I guess all things considered we are pretty lucky to have made it to adulthood physically intact. I say physically because after remembering all these childhood pastimes I realize we are completely and utterly insane.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

It makes me happy...

to find heart shaped rocks at the beach.

Friday, August 1, 2008

My big backyard

When Joe and I began house hunting one item on our wish list was a big backyard. I grew up with a huge yard where all the neighborhood kids came to play and Joe grew up with no yard at all. We wanted room to play and entertain and sit together. We wanted to see children we had yet to even have, twirling and shouting and laughing together. We wanted space to call our own after living in the crowded city, where outdoor space was virtually nil. I distinctly remember the moment we walked out onto the deck of this house, that I thought was a wee bit too small, and looked out at the backyard. Joe just glanced over at me and with that look we knew we had found it. This was the yard for us. We'd make the house work. I initially thought I'd do all kinds of gardening and landscaping but quickly realized I really just don't enjoy it. I planted sunflowers one year, all along the fence and was so diligent about going out to water my little sprouts. Until the tragic morning I came out to find every last seedling nibbled down to the ground. And then I thought I'd do a wildflower garden. Unfortunately Joe didn't get the concept and mowed the whole patch down before any of the flowers had a chance to bloom. So my landscaping is now relegated to pots on my deck; far away from nibbling wildlife and Joe's heavy hand with the lawnmower. But even without all the fancy flowers and well planned landscapes our yard is a joy. I love sitting out on my deck, tea in hand, before any of the kids are awake. I have spied hawks, herons (which I stupidly thought was a peacock the first time I saw one flying overhead), swans, deer, foxes, turkeys, rabbits and of course we can't forget the coyotes. I remember waking our first Christmas Eve here to find the yard blanketed in snow and it was enchanting. Like a scene from the Nutcracker. Goofing around in the snow with Cosmo it felt like we were all alone in the world. Playsets, bicycles, playhouses and slides now decorate our yard and the delight we get just from watching our little ones playing is more than I ever dreamed it would be. Family and friends are frequent visitors and I love that we need so much seating. The screenhouse is the perfect spot both on a hot summer afternoon and a cool fall evening to sit with Joe and feel like we've gone on vacation. The expanse and woods on all sides gives the illusion that we're out in the middle of the wilderness.

Sometimes when I'm trying to rearrange our belongings to make them fit in our cozy little home I wish we went for a big grand house with closets and bedrooms and storage galore. And then I gaze out over my big backyard and realize I've got all the space we need.