January 14, 2016

The Biggest Cheerleader

A few weeks I took my daughter to a bounce house place. You know the kind- meant for birthday parties, with huge colorful inflatables, loud music blasting out of the speakers, and the smell of stale pizza in the air.  We were supposed to meet up with our friends for a play date, however, winter bugs have already made their way through preschools, (even though temperatures haven’t fallen), and they had to cancel last minute. Having just gotten over colds ourselves, I decided to go anyway, without our friends, so my daughter could bounce her heart out.

We had the whole place to ourselves! Not one other child came to play the whole time we were there. At first I thought- wow, this is great! She can run and play, jump, climb…no one will bump into her or knock her down, she can do whatever she wants. This will be so much fun.
Well, when we walked inside, she took one long look around and said, “Mommy, I don’t like this place.”

Hold the phone. What? What do you mean? How can you not like this place? It’s a kid’s paradise.
I had to take a step back and remember who my daughter was. Despite my husband and I trying our best to encourage her in every situation, she is fearful in nature. Always has been, even as a toddler. She used to hide behind me at group play dates or grab a toy and play at my feet. Slides used to make her nervous and once she got to the top, I had to climb up and get her as she cried, paralyzed. That is who she is. We’ve seen her grow and change as she has gotten older, especially once we sent her to preschool this fall. Yet she still has her moments. Moments where I have to be the one to encourage her, change the mood.

Just when I thought we’d have to pack it up and head home, after all it took to get us here (waiting for the youngest to wake up from his nap, fixing lunches, then a twenty minute drive), I coaxed her into going inside one of the bouncy houses with me. I exclaimed, “This is so much fun!” while jumping into the air and ignoring her brother who immediately started to cry. He wasn’t too fond of the place either. And he really didn’t like being left alone in his stroller. My daughter sighed, pouted, and sat her butt down on the floor. 

“I don’t want to do this anymore.”

Like I said, it was empty. Music was blaring. Bounce houses loomed above us, vacant and dark. It was eerie. Intimidating. Like an opening scene of a horror movie. Who’s hiding in the bounce house? I don’t want to know…

Then, I spotted an air hockey table. Surely she would like that! I wheeled brother over to the hockey table and unstrapped him. He was boogery mess, still getting over a cold. He wiped his tears all over my shoulder.  I held him on my hip, tapped the puck back and forth, trying to explain how to play the game. She wasn’t too impressed. The puck is too hard to hit, Mom. Sigh. What else, what else?
I spotted another inflatable that had a giant cushion type thing in the center. I didn’t know what it is, but it looked like fun. She could climb it, maybe slide down it. I used my best cheery voice and rushed over to it. Brother had to wait a minute. I hoped a toy would distract him in the stroller long enough for me to spend some time playing with her inside. With no one around, I didn’t mind making a fool of myself. We jumped together, made a game out of it- a game of tag, around the pillowy center. We ran, fast, she giggled as she looked back at me, a huge smile on her face. Ah. There we go. We were having fun!

I chased her and then she chased me, we fell, laughing, and got back up again. She climbed the pillow and slid down, as I counted at the top of my lungs. I clapped, I praised her, I told her that she was the best climber, the best at going down slides. She ate it up and went down again and again. Of course I had to grab her baby brother at this point as he was freaking out over being left alone for more than five minutes and I helped her climb up, one handed, brother back on my hip.

I collapsed in a heap on the bounce house floor with brother in my lap. We watched her twirl around us as she laughed and I chanted “Go girl go!” over and over again. I cheered her on, showed her that I was still having fun and playing even though I had to sit down with her baby brother.

The fact of the matter is, I’m her biggest cheerleader.  I will be, for the rest of her life. I will be the one to support her, to encourage her, to cheer her on. No one else will, not like me, (besides her father, of course). I will cheer when she learns how to ride a bike for the first time, when she wins an award at school, when she stars in her first play or dance. I will watch her walk across that stage, be there when she picks out her prom dress, when she marries the love of her life. Funny how all this occurred to me as I watched her prance around a bounce house, without a care in the world. This is only the beginning, after all. I know I will face even more challenges, bigger than encouraging her to play. And I will be there every step of the way. 

November 23, 2015

Monday Musings- Holiday Cards & Hubby's Birthday!

Okay, I need to step on my soapbox for a minute...

Everyone is buzzing about ordering their holiday cards. You know what- this is not something to stress over. Pick a card. A CHEAP card for goodness sake, there are so many other things to spend your money on during the holiday season. They look just as beautiful as those pricey cards..With that said, we are going with Snapfish, thanks to a deal on Groupon. We also took our own photo, while taking a walk on our neighborhood trail. No reason to hire a professional! My husband propped the camera up, set the self timer, and of course it took a few tries to get both kids to look at the camera, but we got one!

I'm pretty happy with it.

Moving on...

Yesterday was my hubby's birthday! He's thirty two. THIRTY TWO. When did we get to be in our thirties?? Ahem, I'm not there yet...but I will be next summer. Wah! I can't believe I've known this man since he was eighteen years old. In a way, we have grown up together. We graduated college together, moved, went to medical school in a brand new state, moved again for residency...popping out two kids along the way. It's so crazy when you think about it, all the changes we have gone through together.

He worked the night before so after sleeping all morning he woke up to pick up his birthday gift- Guitar Hero Live. We had lots of fun singing and dancing and pretending to know what we were doing with a guitar.. (mostly me). Miss A and I finished up his cake, complete with colorful sprinkles and neon candles. If you're looking for a great homemade cake recipe, this really is one of the best chocolate cakes I've ever had. And I say that as I sit here writing, sipping coffee, and stealing bites of what's left in front of me.

We headed to a very early dinner- parked outside our favorite sushi place right at five o'clock and scarfed down rolls and fried rice. I steamed up some butternut squash for J to snack on while we were there and he LOVED it. He sat in a high chair for the first time at a restaurant and did so well. Better than his sister ever did, that's for sure. Miss A tried her very first sushi rolls, devouring them, along with the shrimp that was nestled inside the fried rice. Girlfriend is going to be a foodie, I was so proud of her! When we got home, I rushed to put J to bed and then we sang "Happy Birthday" and ate some cake. Glorious cake. We finished off the night by watching a new Netflix series, Jessica Jones. If I didn't have to go to bed so early, we would've kept watching long into the night, it was really good! My husband said it was a great birthday- having kids really makes everything so much more fun and exciting. Until next year!

I hope you're having a great Monday! Holiday prep is in full swing here. I can't wait for Thanksgiving.  

November 19, 2015

A Rough Day

Today was a day I wanted to throw in the towel. We had three, THREE wasps in our home. The first one I found right after scooping J off the floor. It was sitting there, not moving, but very much alive. We had wasps last week...one, or two, appearing in the family room. I was at a loss; I have no idea how they are coming in. Trying to get a wasp with two kids in the house= no bueno. Our pest company came by to take a look, but there was no nest on our property, and there isn't much to do but spray around the house. Apparently this is common for this time of year...but we've never had this problem before! I'm over it. I had to lock up both kids in their rooms when the second wasp was buzzing around our kitchen. It would not STOP and I was getting so nervous with them downstairs with me. Then, a third one appeared, and I thought I might lose it. You might find me in a corner with bug spray, rocking back and forth...

I'm not a bug person, I really don't like them. But wasps...wasps...that's a different story. In my house. With two kids?! Just no. The cold weather needs to settle in and get rid of them all. Before the wasp fiasco, our day started off so well. Both kids slept till almost seven and breakfast went smoothly. J is in a weird phase with food right now. He doesn't want purees, but he doesn't always eat finger foods. Last night I gave him steamed peas and he enjoyed them for a while and then started to play, marveling at how he could scoop them off his tray and land them in his lap. This morning he took a few bites of yogurt and ate some banana, a success. I don't know if he's becoming a picky eater or if he's teething (still no signs of teeth here!) but it is frustrating sometimes trying to get him to eat. Days like today make it really hard to enjoy the kids. I'm trying really hard to be present, more in the moment, with them both. I know I pay more attention to J- he needs to be fed, changed, carried, and I forget that Miss A still needs me too. She's so independent, which is great and a huge help, yet I feel guilty when we're sitting at the table and I've barely spoken a word to her because all my attention is on J. She has started to say, "look at me" when she's talking to me or asking a question. That makes me feel like I don't pay enough attention to her...that I don't see her. I'm vowing to put down my phone, or make J wait, to leave behind the dishes and take a moment. To really look at her. She's growing so fast. Her beautiful big eyes are always watching me inquisitively. She asks so many questions, all the time. I love it, yet I know I need to actually answer her, teach her.

With Christmas coming up soon we had a talk about giving away some of her toys. I explained that there are many children who do not have many toys, or any toys at all. We went through her toys together and she set aside some to donate. When my husband heard about it, she was so excited to tell him, "I'm going to make other kids happy!" I want her to be giving. I want her to be appreciative of what she has. She is one blessed little girl with grandparents who love and adore her and spoil her. I know that's hard to teach at such a young age, but I'm a firm believer that you can start teaching anything, at any time. Children understand more than we think they do.

We were driving home today after seeing a friend, it was late, the sun was starting to set. Miss A looked out the window and said, "Look Mommy, there was an orange explosion!" The sky was a multitude of colors; red, orange, and purple. So beautiful. She was amazed. Moments like that remind me to take a breather even when it's been a stressful day. I don't want to forget how she sees the world right now, so innocent and pure.

November 13, 2015

Friday Five

One. I'm ready to for the holiday season. So ready. Christmas shopping, making the kids wishlists, searching for Christmas outfits...which I purchased last month, on Zulily. I still need their outfits for Christmas Eve, but I snatched a jumper for J as soon as I saw it and a red plaid dress for A for Christmas Day. I literally squealed when both came in, they actually match, which I didn't realize or plan when I bought them. So naturally, I'm really excited for Christmas photos by the tree now!

Two. I haven't forgotten about Thanksgiving, which I am also really excited for. Our first Thanksgiving with two kids and we will be spending it in our own home, with both sets of grandparents. I could not ask for anything more! I'm going to be make the entire feast (with some help from the store) and will base it off of last year's menu since it was all SO stinking good. Including the best chocolate pie I've ever had...

Three. We have some big news. BIG. This will be our last fall, our last winter, our last time celebrating Thanksgiving in our home because...we are moving. We Are Moving!! My husband officially accepted a job in Florida. We will be moving to Tampa! The end of residency is neigh! I seriously can't believe it. Unfortunately there are still many months to go, but just knowing we are almost there, makes me so happy. We move in the summer, back to our home state, back to warm weather and sunny blue skies. I'm so excited! I absolutely love living in North Carolina and I know as the date gets closer we will have many bittersweet emotions about leaving. Yet, we will be closer to family, we will have access to so many fun things for the kids, and holidays, birthdays will be so much easier. I'm so grateful. 
Four. Every now and then, as a stay-at-home mom, I miss contributing to our home, in other ways than cooking and cleaning. I'm looking for something to keep me occupied, something that would not take time away from the kids, but would help me fulfill that missing aspect of life and bring in a little income. I'm sure many of you understand what I'm talking about. I can't seem to find what I'm looking for, whether it be writing, or working on social media, tutoring..any ideas? 

Five. I can't get over how quickly my babies are growing. I know A isn't a baby anymore, but how and when do you stop calling your first a baby?? Even as a pet name, I still do. She is so tall suddenly, her pants are getting shorter (even though I just bought three new pairs a month ago!) and her hair is longer, her face is changing. I love and hate it at the same time. She is her own little person nowadays and her personality is shining through. I love that we can talk now, have a good conversation, laugh together, be happy in each other's company. She is the sweetest, most loving little girl. And J is just...gah, I'm smitten, crazy obsessed with him. I swear this morning it sounded like he said "Mama" and I almost died. Miss A said her first word at eight months too. With all his babbling lately I will eagerly be hopping he says it again!   

I mean, really, how did I get so lucky with this little boy?

Hiding out under her fort on a rainy day

On a warm day we went for a walk to look at the changing leaves

Turkey hat and turkey pjs. Holiday pjs are the best.

Happy Friday! This weekend is one for the books- a whole three days off together. Sweet, simple family time. I can't wait!

Linking up with Five on Friday and Oh Hey, Friday! 

November 2, 2015

Halloween 2015

Halloween was an absolute blast. Definitely my favorite one so far! Miss A is at that perfect age to understand what's going on and to be SO excited. Our Halloween festivities began early, with a pumpkin painting play date on Thursday with all our friends. Friday morning was her preschool parade and party, which I volunteered for and was able to attend. Cue big happy tears and smiles watching her wave by as she walked with her class. My dad was visiting and she shouted, "Hi Grandpa! Hi Mama!" Ah. Seriously the best.

After the parade, we went inside to set up for the class party. I made cheese broom sticks and sugar cookies. The other mom made Clementine pumpkins and apple mouths with marshmallows. I love festive food!

J received lots of attention from her classmates. Everyone crowded around him, squealing at the sight of a baby. I loved watching A in her classroom, with her teachers, with her friends. It made me so happy to see how much she loves school.

On Halloween morning we carved our pumpkin with Daddy. Better late than never! A asked for a kitty pumpkin and we happened to have the perfect creepy cat template. We duh our hands in, pulled out all the seeds, set them aside in a bowl to roast later. Last year A did not want anything to do with cleaning out the pumpkin. Funny how things change. In the afternoon we went to the park for a bit to kill some time, then headed back home to change into costumes, take pictures, and get a batch of chili going for after trick or treat.

A had an absolute blast going up and down our neighbor's doors. Not the least bit shy, she rang doorbells, reached for candy, and excitedly ran down to tell us what she got. Thankfully no creepy costumes scared her away this time. I had to leave half way through to put J down for the night, and they were able to hit at least ten more houses before coming back home to pass out candy. We went through all our bags- so happy I bought as much as I did, seeing as she was very generous with our treaters. :) The three of us sat on the porch steps, eating chili, handing out candy. It was perfect. It was what I've always dreamed Halloween would be like.

Our costumes were assigned to us a month ago- by Miss A, of course. We checked out a superhero book from the library one day and she LOVED it. I had already starting asking her what she wanted to be for Halloween around that time and she said she wanted to be Wonder Woman, I was going to be Catwoman, J Superman, and Daddy would be Batman! Well, we were all set to find her Wonder Woman costume when we saw this bright, shiny pink Supergirl one at Target. No surprise, she choose Supergirl over Wonder Woman, which we loved! My costume didn't turn out exactly how I planned- the mask was bigger than I hoped, so it may not have been clear that I was Catwoman. ;) Mom costume. No skintight leather suit for me!