Thursday, April 3, 2014

Back in the swing of things!  I really have been wanting to get back to blogging, even if its just for the sake of documenting what is going on with these ever-changing kiddies of ours.  So lets back up to January and February to recap the birthday parties.

 Here Lilly is on her actual birthday, getting ready to blow out her candle.
Lilly and Hartley shared a birthday party with friends and family.  Lilly, being the unselfish girl that she is, happily shared the day with her little sister.
 The spread.
 The table is almost set.
 Sweets for Sweeties.
 When Christopher heard of this party he said "So there are going to be a bunch of girls here dressed up like princesses?  Well, I guess you're going to need a prince!"  And  prince he was.  He put on the dress shirt and tie and served the little ladies all day.
 Finger sandwiches.
 Sophie stirs her tea.
 Prince Christopher started an impromptu dance party. Lucky guy was able to dance with all the girls since he was the only guy around!
 When Lilly blew out her candle, she turned to me, looked me right in the eye as she said "Thank you Mommy".  So sweet and genuine.  It brought a tear to my eye.  She really enjoyed this party.  Before the party she was laying under her tea party table and said "nobody has done anything this special for me before".  Oh I love her!
And I think it is safe to say that Hartley enjoyed her party as well.
 "How old is Hartley?  .....ONE!"
 Almost too pretty to eat.
 I love how Hartley is looking at her big brother here.  Adoration.

 All our little ladies who attended the tea party.

During the party we had a craft table set up.  The girls made their own headpieces made of feathers, flowers and jewels.  They also did a paper craft of a flower growing in a pot.  Anyone that wanted to be dolled up could have make up applied.  What a fun time.

MAGIC TIME!  Christopher turns 6!


For Christopher's birthday we had a magic show.  I really had fun with this theme.  Last summer I took Christopher to see a local magician, Mike Rose, at our library.  Christopher laughed so hard and was so entertained, I knew right then that I just had to have a magic birthday party for him.  Before the magician arrived, I had three stations of games set up out in the garage.  Then the kids came in for the show.  The magician is talented and has a great sense of humor, so this was a real highlight.
 Way too much sugar on display here.

 My magic card cake.  Christopher liked helping with decorating.

 Lulu's magic hat cake.
 Ryan and I decorated the night before for both parties.  Seeing the kids' reaction when they come into the room in the morning is the best.  It really makes the entire day feel festive.

 Christopher and Lilly each have a turn being Magician Mike's assistant.
 Hartley even enjoyed the show.
 Everyone is eager to help!
 Christopher blew out his candle then "magically" had it re-light with a wave of his wand.
 For Christopher, no party is complete without a piƱata.
 After the party, Granddad gives Christopher his first personalized big boy rod.

 After everyone has left, Ryan shows Christopher some magic tricks.  We were entertained for weeks after the party with tricks that Christopher had learned.

I really had way too much fun putting these parties together.  I love having ways to release some creative energy.  And who else better to benefit than my lovely kids?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Balance.

Today was a day like so many others.  We didn't go anywhere and, outside of a few neighborhood kids, no one came over.  It was an ordinary day and yet it was just... perfect.   Ordinary day.  That phrase has been playing through my mind quite a bit lately.  There is an excerpt floating around the Internet that is from a book titled "The Gift of an Ordinary Day".  Unlike so many blips written about the daunting, funny and rewarding task of parenthood, this one really gets my waterworks going. Actually, most of these other writings that complain about how hard parenting is get to be a little over the top and re.dun.dent.  I mean, yeah, we get; its hard, there are tears, there are tantrums and yes, there are poop-tastrophes.  Does this really come as a surprise to anyone? Many are the days that I'm out of balance: too much running, too many chores and tempting distractions.  But this "ordinary day" memoir is fresh, honest and so real.  But its scary too.  Scary because it reveals that it all goes by at lightning speed.  I'm getting dangerously close to cliche-ville but when people tell me "enjoy every minute, it goes so fast" I can honestly say that I do.  I soak it all in: Hartley's chubby hand curled around my finger as she nurses, the way Lilly speaks with her tongue landing between her teeth rendering a sweet lisp, or Christopher easily getting belly laughs out of Hartley.  Yes, I enjoy every minute.  I can say that even by some small miracle, I enjoy the rough patches.  Not in the heat of a tantrum moment do I say "gee I love this parenting gig".  But later after a rough day when I'm exhausted and Lilly asks at bed time, "Mama, snuggle me" I fight the urge scoot out of her room and instead indulge her.  I find myself laying beside her; her thick fragrant hair caressing my face and easing all tension from my body.  I start to feel light.  In hindsight all the days problems seem trivial.  And at that moment, even when the day seems to be stamped in red letters: "FAIL", I am enjoying every minute.  I am excited and grateful to start again tomorrow.  I am so grateful for the gift of the ordinary day.   
Which brings me to today.  For starters, the weather was breezy and cool for August and our windows begged to be opened.  We ate lunch on our front porch.  It was obvious that the kids were enjoying each others company by the  giggles and side long glances at each other.  The neighbor kids joined us afterward for a nature hike to our stream.  On our way back Lilly reached for my hand and stated "Mama, you're my hero" *melt*.  Hartley dosed off in the carrier, so I eased her into her crib.  Christopher and Lilly were then listening to music, making forts and, a bit later, putting on a magic show.  I seized the moment to put up Pop's fresh tomatoes and make BBQ.  I love to cook with the kids, but I love to cook without them even more!  I still can't believe it but I didn't hear from the kids for two hours!  I listened to an Alison Krauss and an SRV album uninterrupted!  The feeling was glorious; open windows, great music blaring and uninterrupted cooking therapy.  Afterwards, I took the kids bike riding and visited our elderly neighbors and their new puppy.  After dinner Ryan and I treated the kids to ice cream at our local creamery.  That's it.  Our ordinary day.  At some point in the afternoon I had a revelation:  I have achieved balance today.  I got some chores done, just enough to keep the house running, yet not so much that I felt mommy guilt.  I cooked. I played. I noticed.  Not every day will be quite so effortless.  On those difficult days I will try to slow down.  I will think how temporary this all is.  I will try to recalibrate the scale and get the day back on balance.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Having Fun In Pennsylvania

It has been exactly 2 months and 3 days since we moved from our house on Bush St. The first few weeks living in Pennsylvania were a tad rough. Lilly was overly clingy; Christopher tested the limits. But over time we settled in. Lilly woke one Thursday morning, happy and independent. Christopher started taking naps again. I was getting accustomed to cooking in Lulu's kitchen. I have had small moments of homesickness which have quickly abated. I realize now that home is not a place as much as it is a feeling. As long as I have my family with me, the magic follows. I am determined to enjoy living here in Pa. I want to thoroughly explore the area over the next year. Here is what we have been up to:
One perk of living with Ryan's parents is the opportunity to go on day trips with Lulu on her days off. Here we went to see the "Star Barn" then had a serendipitous picnic and playtime at a nearby playground.
Christopher shows us his pole sliding skills.
Within 20 minutes of our house is an extension of the NCR trail. I bought Lilly a bike seat we hit the trail!
Christopher insisted on bringing he backpack, in which he stashed a bottle of Gatorade. He would pedal a minute, get off, take off back pack, take a drink, put on back pack and finally mount bike. Repeat process every few minutes. Our bike trip took forever.
Christopher has grown immensely in the bike riding department. Its funny to think that he couldn't make one pedal revolution at the beginning of summer. Now he is going miles, pedaling uphill while standing.
Tuckered out from pedaling.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Our Summer... So Far!

Busy, busy, busy. That describes our days of late. If we haven't been at the beach or the pool or a party, we've been visiting doctors! June into July found us all taking turns with one illness or another. From strep throat to croup (and an ER visit), to ear infections and pulled necks, we had it all. But enough talking about the negative, on the flip side we have also been having so much fun. Nothing too extravagant, just everyday family fun stuff. I have been savoring most of the day to day things we do because in our near future we will not be living in this neck of the woods. Change makes me so sad and sentimental, especially since having kids. So I have been soaking it all up, and soaking up lots of sun too!

Lilly has been doing very well on the potty. She pees every time she sits and poops almost 5 out of 7 days. Here I caught her reading a High Five. I took the picture from around the corner, sneeky-like. When she heard the camera go off she looked like this:

Busted! She is so funny.

Gymboree had a "beat the heat" open play session for free. I met four other playgroup moms and their kids there. I worry about missing out on playgroups once we move. I love those moms and kiddos!

Audrey sneeks a kiss to Lilly at Gymboree.

Me and my boy.

Mid June Lisa and I took Christopher on an Urban Pirate tour around the Baltimore Harbor. It was great fun. He was a tad off but I chalked it up to the heat. Later that day I realized he a fever and subsequently strep throat. Poor pirate.

Lilly loves feeding the goats at our local petting farm. I'm really really going to miss this place when we move. Its one of our favorite spots and is only minutes from our house.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sprinkler Fun

Camping With Kids

Skyline Drive on return home.

A worn out CRW after he passed out during dinner.

Afternoon quiet time coloring.

The wagon providing a nice nap spot for Lilly.

Sophie snuggles up to Christopher after an afternoon at the pool.

The wagon ride back from the pool.
Christopher mid bounce on the bouncy pillow.

Christopher showing off his catch from the pond.

The highlight of the trip: the campfire. Christopher fell asleep in the chair on Saturday night while watching the fire.

Christopher being a big help with setting up camp.

We finally did it! We "roughed it" with kids. Well, sorta roughed it; we camped at a Yogi Bear Jellystone Campground in Luray Va. but I'm going to say it still counts. We went with a group of friends on Memorial Day Weekend. Ryan has never been wild about the idea of camping so close to other people. We are used to back woods camping where there isn't a soul for miles. So being on top of one another takes some getting use to. But after this weekend, we realize that this style of camping works for the phase of life we are in. That is: the busiest, craziest and messiest phase of life; one with young kids! The campground had a pool (absolutely necessary in 90 degree heat), a bouncy pillow, playgrounds and a pond. Every couple of hours there were organized activities like crafts, concerts, dance parties and fishing tournaments. Things went very well. Lilly fell asleep every night easily on the bed in the pop-up. We never used the pack-n-play, she stayed put until I joined her later in the night. Ryan and Christopher slept on the other bed. Christopher absolutely LOVED camping. He played hard and slept hard. He even fell asleep at the pic-a-nic table Sunday night during dinner. He just fell backwards with his eyes rolling back in his head! Luckily Ryan was there to catch him. We learned a few things on our maiden camping-with-kid trip:

1. don't feed babies a huge pancake breakfast then push them on swings, things tend to come back up!
2. Nap the kids later in afternoon when they are so exhausted their bodies don't have a choice but to pass out and the heat has backed down. This way they wake later and can stay up late for campfire. If they don't nap, be sure to pad the ground around them in case they pass out like CRW.
3. We need a screened room with ground turf on our pop-up. Lilly really needed a "safe zone"
4. Forget #3, we just need a bigger pop-up!
5. The wagon was worth its weight in gold. I think we put a few miles on it just walking the kids from point A to B. It also worked for nap-on-the-go with Lilly. Also, I bought a canopy for our wagon when we returned home, gotta watch that sun!
6. Book site early enough so you are close to your friends. This way we can enjoy evening festivities while the baby sleeps in camper close by. We procrastinated when we booked and were a 2 minute walk from our group.

In all it was a FUN trip. We took our time coming home via Skyline Drive. We stopped and had a picnic lunch and soaked in the scenery. It was a great weekend and I can't wait to camp again!