Saturday, January 30, 2010

Memories.

For some reason, this memory stuck in my head all week.

When I was in third grade, my class went on a field trip to see historic architecture of the area. I don't even remember where we went, but we were walking around Downtown Coeymans (WHOO HOO!!) as a class and saw some old houses from the outside. What I do remember was that as we were walking around, a young-ish guy-maybe in his 30s or 40s- came to his front door and asked where we were from, what were we doing, all in a very nice, polite manner. My teacher explained that we were a class from the local elementary school looking at old houses and the guy says, "Oh... well, my house is really old... would you like to come in and see it?" or something to that effect. And we all walked in, looked around, and it was all very neat and clean and historic and interesting.
Now, looking back at it, any number of scenarios make sense. Maybe this guy really did want 25 8 year olds traipsing through his house for the educational experience. Maybe he was just home for that day, saw us outside and wondered what our story was. It's also very possible that my 3rd grade teacher, who was a gay man, knew this guy and had set it up beforehand. Maybe it was his Special Friend. Or maybe not. Who knows.
All I know is that at the time, I thought it was thoroughly impossible that it was not a set up. His house was too perfect, not lived-in looking at all... no potato chips crumbs on the coffee table, no breakfast dishes in the sink, no bad television on. What was he doing before he saw us? What is the likelihood that he looked out the window at just the right time? But most of all, I knew- JUST KNEW- that there was nothing random about him seeing us because I knew all the straightening, the cleaning, the "don't-touch-that-I-just-cleaned-it" my mom did before people came over to see our house, and it would be A COLD DAY IN HELL before she had 26 people over on the spur of the moment.

Especially 25 kids with wet boots on.

(Love you, Mom.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Shhhhh...


... It's 8:12am.

Spongebob Squarepants is on.

Notice how my children are intently focused on getting dressed, eating a nutritious breakfast lovingly prepared by their mom, brushing their hair, brushing their teeth, and generally getting ready to face yet another school day with a thirst for learning and a joyous attitude.

(Alec gets a bit of a pass since he can't yet brush his teeth nor his hair as he has neither.)

Hahaha.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Why We Love Our Boy.




This shirt says "I'm Wooly Cute" on it, which I simultaneously think is the cutest and lamest joke I've ever heard.
The best part of the second video (besides the talking and smiling, of course) is the look on Alec's face - just for a moment- every time Jenna gets right in his face: a little concerned and a little blinky before being overjoyed that someone is paying attention to him. You can hear me giggling through the whole thing because Jenna has so demanded personal space since birth from other people, and here she is, getting all up in Alec's business. All the time.


video

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Brown House Adventure





Yesterday afternoon, Michaela and I went with her Brownie troop to the Brown House Inn, a Victorian-era immersion program where you learn all about the social customs of Victorian times. It was really interesting, and the lady in charge was really funny and knowledgeable and played the part of a Victorian lady perfectly: she was part teacher, part actress, part nanny.
(I was excited for it to finally be the day we finally went to the Brown House Inn. Have you ever had something planned for so long that your kids are excited about and talk about incessantly and when the event finally comes, you're excited that the anticipation is over more than going to the actual event? Brown House, Brown House, Brown House... Michaela's been talking about it for weeks.)

We learned so much about the structure of social status, how to properly "call" on someone, good manners, and the expectations of a Victorian lady. We even got dressed up in Victorian dresses, made our own calling cards with real quills and ink, and enjoyed a proper tea, complete with a lady hostess, two guests, and a maid attending us (we each played a part in this tea). We drank real tea (ask for "one lump or two, not one lump or TEN," we were instructed) with finger sandwiches and scones with real whipped cream or jam on them. They were delicious. And the whole trip was worthwhile when I saw the look on one Brownie's face when she thought the finger sandwiches were going to be made with real FINGERS.

My other favorite part of the day when we were instructed how to sit and stand like a lady: chin up, shoulders back, sitting on the front 6 inches of the chair (otherwise your hoops go flying up), knees bent to the side (only hussies cross their legs or ankles), and hands clasped together, elbows out with your clasped hands in front of your bosoms. "Do you know what BOSOMS are, Mom? They're your BOOBS!", Michaela told me, and demonstrates BOOBS by cupping her hands in front of her, sixth-grade-boy-style. And she giggles.

'Cause BOOBS are funny, no matter what century.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Updates and whatnot.

So here's the latest rundown:

1. Michaela... just got registered to play soccer this spring per her request... is still having trouble understanding that she needs to get dressed, eat breakfast, brush her hair and brush her teeth before 8:50am when her bus comes... lost her tv and Wii privileges for today because she "forgot" that she had to brush her teeth... is getting a tooth pulled next Thursday... did great on her math test this week- 94%... is in a group that is going to dance and sing to "New York, New York" at the school's Lip Synch Concert on February 10th... made a sign that says "Ameracan Idol! Rocks!" to hold up while the theme song to American Idol comes on... can't stop buying stuff at her school store (erasers shaped like dice, erasers shaped like cell phones, water bottles, pencils, fancy pens, etc....)... recently drew a picture of her Dream House and it has specific rooms for a hot tub, basketball court, yoga, Wii, music, ice cream and features a huge swimming pool... is looking forward to going ice skating with some friends soon.

2. Jenna... some days, never stops talking (and we were so worried when she didn't start talking until she was 18 months old)... loves shrimp... apparently also loves raw chicken because she stole a bite-sized piece off my cutting board and ate it, much to our horror (she was fine)... was the weather person at school on Wednesday... talked us into getting some of her packed away baby dolls out of the attic last week... got her kindergarten registration in the mail... loves anything to do with Alvin and the Chipmunks... has totally stopped wearing diapers, even at night... has some really funny dreams and loves to talk about them... loves her little brother "Alet"... is probably going to have some short term speech therapy in the spring to fix the c,k, and g issue before kindergarten (we're just starting to look into it).

3. Alec... has inexplicably stopped sleeping for longer than 90 minutes at a time at night, which is killing me... is almost 4 months old already... has discovered the joy of planting his little fingers in my hair and pulling... is almost totally over his cough... may be teething, maybe not, but there sure is a lot of drool goin' on... is losing the newborn hair on the back of his head and has a fine layer of very blond hair all over his head... is growing and growing and laughing and smiling and cooing and is deeeee-licious, which is good because I could kill him after getting up for the fourth time at night.

4. Dan... is very busy at work... just found out that the cause of $2000 worth of damage to his car (two new rims, two new tires and a new tailpipe) was caused by a lawn mower blade he hit on the road and was discovered wedged up underneath the car... has very competently negotiated with several contractors to get the best price possible for the new roof, new windows and new front door we're getting next month... has been falling asleep on the couch when we both are watching DVR'd shows and he has the remote, rendering me trapped to watch the commercials (the horror!!).

5. Cheryl... is trying to keep up with it all... is tired. But happy.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Resolutions, Schmesolutions.

I love January and it's promise of a fresh start and a new beginning. If Christmas is wonderful because you feel full and lush with love and friends and family and decorations and gifts and surprises, January has it's own charm of being quiet and peaceful and relaxing and contemplative. The older I get, the more I look forward to the January lull.

Of course, January is also a great time to imagine the year ahead and set some goals of what you want to accomplish this year. I have been thinking about this alot lately, mostly because doing laundry, feeding a baby a bottle and emptying the dishwasher don't take a whole lot of strategy space in the ol' brain, leaving lots of room to think about things. So here, in no particular order, are some of the things I'd like to accomplish in the coming year:

1. Lose weight: of course. So does 90% of America. I'd ideally like to get back to where I was after Michaela and before I got preggers with Jenna, which was the same weight I was when I got married. I know exactly what to do, what to eat and how to move to accomplish this, it's just a matter of doing it.
2. Clean out our attic. It's filled with baby clothes, baby gear and equipment, the girls' clothes, papers from grad school, old gift bags, old boxes and other stuff.
2A. Have a garage sale to sell any items worth selling from item #2.
2B. Organize a mom-to-mom sale at my church. My sister in law Beth did this at her church and it was a huge success. Basically moms serve as their own vendors for a huge sale in a hall-type space. The moms can sell anything kid or baby related and they price it and keep the money.
3. Work on prettying up my feet. They are a holy mess and need lots of TLC after carrying around my pregnant body three times for nine months.
4. Buy a new camera. I'm saving up my pennies for this and hopefully will be ready to purchase in the late spring. I'm looking at getting a new digital SLR and couldn't be more excited about that.
5. Make up a spectacular photo book of Alec's baptism. It was such a wonderful day... I want to remember it forever.
6. Start Christmas albums for each of the kids. Each gets their own, with our Christmas letter and picture from each year. Of course I never wrote a letter this year, so I'll have to fudge that a little. If I get really creative, I'll include a few pictures from each year as well.
7. Start school albums for Michaela and Jenna. Again, really basic: just their school picture, class picture and a few candids, if I have any.
8. Organize and purge, room by room. The house needs it. I'd ideally like to spend a week in each room and go through everything.
9. Be the best mom to my three precious babies.
10. Soak up every minute of Alec's first year... which is almost a third over.

Here are some things I'm super looking forward to in 2010: seeing Michaela's teeth grow in and be straight (should be done by December); Alec's first birthday party; Jenna starting kindergarten; my niece Megan being baptized and being her godmother (yay!); my parents' pool opening up in May; hopefully finding our dream house and buying it... or at least having fun looking for it; getting a new roof and windows put into our current house and the incredible sense of satisfaction that will bring.
And of course, accomplishing everything on my resolutions list...a girl can dream, right?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Two peas in a pod.

No question: these are Dan's kids.
Look at those matching chins!
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New Beginnings.

Michaela wrote us this card for New Year's:
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
It's 2010! Ain't that funny?

I found it quite funny, of course, because I'm her mom and think everything she does is cute and clever and precious, but I also thought it was kind of deep, too, in a way I couldn't quite put my finger on.
Maybe it's because I am still getting up every night with three month old, but I think I found it deep because that's the way I've felt like my life has gone the last few months: Time is knocking on the door, looking for my attention, and because my brain is trying desperately to manage illness and schedules and routines and holidays, if I don't stop for a moment, catch my breath, center myself and turn my attention to the passing Time and smile at it, welcome it into my house, and sit down for a leisurely glass of wine with Time, Time will sneak past me and wreak Holy Havoc on my life... and the next thing I know, it'll be June.

Speaking of time getting away from me, I realized I haven't done a proper Alec update in awhile. Besides this RSV that's he's working, he's really doing quite beautifully. He is solid and strong and loves showing off how well he can hold up his head. He clearly loves women, and flirts and smiles and "aw, shucks... " at all the ladies at church. His eyes have cemented their color, which is a beautiful (again, I'm his mom) deep denim blue, slightly lighter on the inside than around the rim of his iris. He is wearing 6 month sized clothing and is very long in the torso. At his doctor's appointment the other day, he was 14 pounds, 11 ounces. He is adaptable to routine, adaptable to change, adaptable to being held, and adaptable to being put down. He's just flexible that way. He takes long naps in the morning and afternoon, when we can get some things done, and when he's up he loves to coo and sigh and make all those yummy baby noises. He has a great smile that looks just like Dan's and is generally adorable. Alec's latest totally endearing trick is to hold onto my fingers when he's drinking his bottle: he'll reach up to hold my hand that is holding the bottle. He seems to be quite snuggly and affectionate, more like Jenna and a little less like Michaela, who has enjoyed enforcing rock-solid personal space boundaries since birth.

Jenna started a new round of swimming lessons today at the YMCA and is thrilled because her new teacher is a girl. She still resists putting her head in the water but kicks like a madwoman. We got her Kindergarten registration packet in the mail the other day; it is unbelievable to me that she will be five in a couple of months and will be a big girl going to all day school in the fall. (There's that Time thing again!) She is writing her name and recognizing all kinds of letters and numbers and planning out which American Girl doll she's angling for next.

Michaela has opted to play soccer again in the spring and we have to sign her up this week. (Jenna has opted not to play, which is no big surprise.) Michaela loves her Wii Fit and plays with it every day. She was very proud to be in the "Healthy" range when she weighed into the program and asked Dan, "Dad, what's obess (obese) mean?" when he set up his character. She is tolerating her orthodontist stuff really well and gets her much- maligned molar extracted next week. She is on track to be done with the ortho by December of this year. We can already see a huge difference in the shape and space in her mouth, and her gap between her front teeth is now HUGE and waiting patiently to be pulled back together with braces sometime in the late spring. She is selling Girl Scout cookies again this year and I put her in charge of really managing the whole process this year (instead of me doing it for her), and she is so first-born she loves every minute of it. She asked us for the first time (of, I'm sure, a MILLION) if we can get her a cell phone, and was slick enough to immediately go for the "I can use it in case there's an emergency!!" angle. The girl is smart. And cell phone-less.

And finally, we are thrilled about our latest new beginning: my brother and his wife had their second baby on Saturday, a little girl named Megan Lynne. She is beautiful and so lucky to be born into a great family. We are travelling out to Chicago to see her get baptized in March. Alec is only three months old and already has three younger cousins. Talk about a baby boom!

So happy 2010. And if Time knocks on your door, be sure to invite it in.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Diagnosis: Yucky.

Jenna, Alec and I have had the same illness for a few days now. Jenna's peaked last week, with a horrible cough and the snots; mine wasn't really too bad, just a stuffy nose and general crankiness and malaise (don't you just love that word?); and Alec's peaked yesterday and last night, with a terrible cough, wheeziness and decreased appetite, which for him is highly unusual. That boy eats like a MAN.

I brought Jenna to the doctor's last week and it was declared a virus. I brought Alec today and he said we probably all had RSV, a common respiratory virus in the winter months, especially prevalent in the 2-6 month age range. No meds, just some chest PT (which I learned how to do today) and lots of rest and fluids. Just gotta wait it out. Please pray for us that it leaves the house quickly... the doctor said it could be up to two weeks of symptoms. Yuck.

In related news, Alec gagged on his gunk and puked all over me this morning. All three kids have now puked in the last two weeks.

TRIFECTA!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Holiday Wrap Up, Part IV

Later on Christmas Day, Jenna surveyed all of her gifts and declared, "Hmmm... Santa must have a Walmart at the North Pole."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Holiday Wrap Up, Part III.

Subtitle: "All the Other Stuff that Happened and Cost Us Money"

So Michaela got a stomach bug two days or so before Christmas and puked on the hardwood floor as the words My stomach kind of hurts and I think I may thr... came out of her mouth. She slept alot, laid low and was fine by Christmas. We did the whole Christmas thing, which was fun, and then the vacation began.

On the Monday of vacation, Michaela got her palate expander cemented in at the orthodontist. She (and I, to be truthful) were a little anxious about the whole thing, and we stocked up beforehand on Motrin, Tylenol, ice cream, yogurt and pudding. She did great: she was a real trooper, tolerated the whole "installation" well, and I was really proud of her.

The only problem was that when the tech was cementing in the bottom expander, the molar that is used to anchor the expander fell apart. It is a deeply ridged molar that she's had three fillings in, and the dentist warned us at the last visit that we were sort of living on borrowed time with this tooth. We chose to deal with the whole orthodontist thing first and then take care of the tooth, which may need a crown to fix, when the time came. And that time was Monday.
We made a semi-urgent appointment at the pediatric dentist that our family dentist recommended for Thursday morning. Fun!!

Little did I know that at almost the same time, Dan was driving in to work and hit an unidentified object in the road which promptly blew out his tire. He changed the tire himself and then brought it to the dealer to get a new tire. On the way home from picking up the car, he felt the car shimmying and shaking and had to bring it back the next day to get an alignment and a double check of the rim. Turns out the rim was damaged and has to be replaced. Yikes.
We had to call in a claim for the tire/alignment/ rim replacement since the estimate for it all was about $950. SUPER Fun!!

On Wednesday morning we went to a showroom to look at the cost of getting new windows and siding and front door for our house. The windows and door are original aluminum- sexy!-from when the house was built in 1967, back in the Dark Ages. The siding is newer, but fading and tired and blue. The windows are about what we thought but we were stunned at the estimate for the siding: $15,000.00. FIFTEEN GRAND!! I said the guy, "What the heck is the siding made of? GOLD??" And suddenly our siding looks much less tired and faded.

Then Thursday came and we saw the pediatric dentist. (At 8:30am. Do you know how early one has to get up to get herself and three kids ready, fed and dressed to leave the house at 8am? Pretty darn early. That is why I am so grateful to be a stay at home mom.) The dentist was lovely, explained our options- either crowning the tooth, which she was hesitant to do since so little of the tooth remained or just extracting it- and told us she would talk to the orthodontist to coordinate treatment. As we left , they gave us a "worst-case scenario" of what the crown would cost. I am not lying when I say I almost wept with relief when I saw the estimate for getting the crown was only about $150.

Nothing fell apart over the weekend, but Jenna got sick yesterday with a cold and a wicked cough that actually made her puke. Twice. On the kitchen floor. This morning she woke up with a fever of 101 so off to the pediatrician we went. Thankfully, it is just a virus, so no extra medicine was needed, just Tylenol and Motrin (which we have plenty of from Michaela- serendipity!) and lots of rest, fluids and love.

So Happy New Year. I am eager for life to slow down a tad and get boring again. And a wee bit less expensive. Because after paying the hospital for Alec, the doctors for Alec and me and Jenna, the orthodontist, the Christmas bills, the mechanic, and the dentist, I'm just about tapped out.

Epilogue: The pediatric dentist just called and had good news: the tooth can be extracted instead of crowned. Hooray for small miracles. I sense a shift in the tide...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Holiday Wrap up, Part II.














Monday, January 4, 2010

Holiday Wrap Up, Part I

It's hard for me to believe that Christmas Eve was not four months ago. So much fun and mayhem and merriment and madness and work goes into the holidays that time seems to both stand still and move super fast.
Jenna was a shepard in her Preschool Christmas program and did a great job singing "Joy to the World" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas". Jenna, of course, actually wishes you a Merry Tristmas.
Then it was the Sunday School Pageant. Michaela was an angel and Jenna was a sheep. Not only are the kids out of their minds about Santa and presents and treats and SANTA and excitement and vacations and TOYS and TOYS and SANTA, they also are in all of these programs and have to go up in front of large crowds and sing all these SONGS. But they were troopers and did great. Michaela told me the morning of the Sunday School program that the red turtleneck I had picked out for her to wear so she and Jenna would match wasn't going to cut it: "MOM. I am an angel. My costume is white and has short sleeves. The red will show and I will look RIDICULOUS." So we opted for a white turtleneck and all was right with the world.
Christmas Eve-Eve was Michaela's baptismal birthday and kicked off the present parade: since my parents were flying out on Christmas Day to Chicago to be with my brother and his family, we did presents that night with Gammie and PopPop. The highlight was without a doubt my big gift from my parents: a 380-page book of my blog, starting from the first entry in January 2007 and going all the way through this past November. I was stunned and speechless and thrilled. It was overwhelming, really. I couldn't stop looking at it, and honestly, few things in my life have filled me with more pride than looking at this book, this book that contains all the big and little moments with my family, my children, my husband and the life we have created together. Wow. "This is our entire life in this book," I told Dan.
Christmas Eve meant a 5pm Christmas Eve service in which the girls had to sing yet MORE Christmas songs followed by the annual party at my parents' house. We literally started getting ready at 2pm. Honestly. Because between the fancy dresses and tights and argyle sweaters and corduroy pants and dress shoes and showers and baths and hair- the hair!!!- both straightened and curled by different appliances- and the makeup and lip gloss and "rosy cheeks" and pictures and poses, it takes quite a bit to get the five of us that dolled up. But we made it to church by about 4:30pm so we could get a good seat and have the girls to their practice. The service is very kid-friendly and we were done by 6pm. We had an awesome evening at my parents' house with various family members and friends and left at about 9:30pm, mostly because I had eaten my weight in chocolate fudge (my mom and I made 15 pounds of fudge. 15 POUNDS.)and it was time to roll me home.
Then we got the kids into their coordinated Christmas jammies, courtesy of Aunt Beth and Uncle Brian because they know what a freak I am about that sort of thing, and all tumbled into bed.
We had a great Christmas: Santa came, enjoyed our cookies and chocolate milk (we thought the Big Guy would enjoy a little variety) and brought, among other things, Josephina the American Girl Doll for Jenna, Wii Fit Plus for Michaela (to which she declared "NO WAY!! THANK YOU LORD SANTA!!") and clothes and toys for Alec. I got four beautiful charms for my Pandora bracelet and Dan got lots of clothes from Ralph Lauren and some books.
We drove down to Dan's dad's house for the day, which was a blast, and filled with food and presents and infants and fun. And, of course, matching Christmas t-shirts for the girls. We did our annual robust singing of the Twelve Days of Christmas, with Uncle Jimmy as the fabulous partridge in a pear tree, which he sings with great gusto and makes us all laugh. It was a great day.
Then the pace slowed and we hit that wonderful part of the holidays when you can't seem to keep track of what day it is. We went to the movies, we went to the mall, we hit some after Christmas sales, we picked up around the house and processed stuff, processed stuff and processed stuff some more.
New Year's Eve we spent with friends at a Japanese restaurant. We sat at a hibachi table and had a great meal together. Afterwards we went to a friend's house, ate dessert and played Rock Band. And we were an awesome Rock Band. We left at about 11:30pm and told Michaela and Jenna they could stay up to watch the ball drop. Jenna opted for bed but Michaela made it til midnight and I think was a bit underwhelmed by the ball. "That's the ball? That's it?" says she.
New Year's Day we headed over to my Aunt Kathy's house for our last Christmas party. She is an amazing- and I mean AMAZING- cook and always puts on a top-notch spread. We hung out, opened gifts, and had a super relaxing afternoon and evening with cousins and aunts and uncles filled with lots of laughs.
The rest of the weekend was uneventful- just cold and snowy and blustery- and by Sunday evening, I was eagerly anticipating sending everyone off to school and preschool and work in the morning.
Sometimes the greatest gift you get from the holidays is to realize how pleasant the structure and routine of real life is.
It was a great Christmas.