Sunday, May 30, 2010

It's love.

I bought a new camera on Friday.
I have been saving up for it for over a year now.
I am in love.






Thursday, May 27, 2010

Kick Off to Summer.






We are in the throws of a mid-July-type heat wave here, where everyone is inside the house with the shades drawn to keep the blinding sun out and has the air conditioning cranking.
The girls have discovered that their favorite new activity is running through the sprinkler, which both delights me because they look so cute and Americana-ish, and horrifies me, because it seems to waste alot of water and I'm kind of a freak about water conservation. Actually I'm a Big Freak about it.
So the girls were running around in the yard, dripping and squealing, and Alec and I lounged on the grass. I grabbed my camera and got some good pictures of them all.
Happy Start of Summer!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Never Ending Birthday.

Picking out Sandy the Bear and wearing her sticker designating her as the Birthday Girl
(I got a sticker that said "Mama Bear" and Dan got a "Poppa Bear" sticker. I called him Poppa Bear all day.)


At the Friend Party at Build A Bear Workshop

Celebrating at school with her pink Birthday Crown
(her hair is in little pigtails because Michaela has a new girl in her class who wears her hair like this and everyone at school is quite taken with her, apparently... so Michaela wore her hair like this and so of course Jenna had to, also)


On her actual birthday

Jenna's favorite gifts: two new American Girl dolls


Jenna and her sister and brother

Opening presents at home


Blowing out the candles on the last cake


Jenna had so many birthday parties- one at school, one at home on her actual birthday, one with her friends, and one with our family- that her friend Erin thought Jenna turned 5 AND 6 this month.

They were all lots of fun and Jenna loved every minute.

On the day of her actual birthday, Jenna got to choose where we went to eat. We had asked her earlier in the week and she confidently answered, "Gold Coin" which is the Chinese restaurant we go to a couple times a year. So Dan comes home from work that day, and we're all jazzed about going out to eat, and we confirm again that Gold Coin is her choice. We pile in the car, drive to the restaurant, and when we pull up, Jenna goes, "Why are we here?"
"This is where you wanted to eat, Jen... this is Gold Coin."
"No it isn't! This is the CHINESE PLACE!"
"Jenna, this is Gold Coin where we get the Chinese food. This is what you picked."
"I don't want to go here! Acchhh... let's just go to Friendly's."
So we did.
At her family party on Sunday, I witnessed the best illustration of the difference between my daughters. We had set up the bouncy-bounce in our backyard and a bunch of kids were piled inside, jumping and laughing and screaming and getting a little bit out of control. It was decided by a few of the kids that everyone should calm down, take a breath and refocus. So Michaela starts to take control:"Okay everyone! There should only be three people in the bouncy-bounce! I will choose the three kids! I will close my eyes and point to three kids, who I can't see, so it's fair! Then we will rotate new kids in!" and rule after rule after rule comes out of her mouth.
Meanwhile, Jenna climbs out of the bouncy-bounce, calmly and wordlessly walks over to where the bouncy-bounce is plugged in and tries to unplug it. No fuss, no muss.
I saw the whole thing and my mouth dropped to the ground.
Go to Michaela if you want order, rules and direction. She can talk your ear off; she can talk you into or out of anything. Go to Jenna if you just want something done.
Amazing.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Because it's Hard Not To Laugh When Your Mom is SO Hilarious.

video

He does this if you show him the littlest bit of attention. Poor third child.

We're going to start calling him the Boy with the Golden Hair.

Lest you think we have strapped him into some type of bizarre harness, he's in his backback, which he loves, and is propped up on the kitchen table instead of contentedly riding on my back. My back is just about to cry Uncle! from carrying a 20-ish pound baby around.

And yes, that's my new Shark steam cleaner in the background. I love it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Apologies.

I am sorry for my loooong break in between posts, but my days have been filled to the brim with birthdays and parties and Build A Bear and emails and new house stuff and doctor appointments and crying newly minted 5 year olds who don't want shots and cupcake baking and speech evals and almost 8 month olds who don't nap for very long AT ALL and laundry and school work supervision and soccer practice and feeding my growing family members. And my backups, my parents, have been gone for a week, leaving me on my own.

I was thinking the other day about the afterschool period between dismissal at 2:19pm and 3pm. You know, the "staying after" part of school, where you could get extra help, serve detention, socialize, use the library, or get a head start on your homework. I stayed after almost every day, mostly to get things done and finish up loose ends of the day. And I really loved that part: the school was more relaxed, almost hushed, and you had a taste of independence and self-direction away from the structure of the day. (Who would love the part of school when you had to stay longer than you needed to? Why, the 1992 BCHS Student of the Year, that's who. Yes, it's with a mixed bag of great dork pride and embarrassment that I was chosen as the 1992 BCHS Student of the Year. I find myself clinging to this title a little more as I get older, as a sign that I really did do something well and got recognized for it. Because no one's handing out Best Mom of Three Awards where I hang out now...nor do I think I would get it anyway.)

And I realized that's exactly what I need right now: a staying after period to wrap up the loose ends of the day. Because for the last few weeks, I have put the kids to bed and just collapsed, spent and exhausted and barely even able to stay awake to watch the three or four shows I attempt to stay current with. It's quite pathetic, actually. But if I had an afterschool time: ahhh. I could get a few things done uninterrupted, wrap up some loose ends, make phone calls that I don't have to explain the noise or voices in the background saying "Mom! MOM!!".

So if anyone can figure out a way to make this work, let me know.
I'd give you a Best Friend to Moms Everywhere Award.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Birthday Girl.

Michaela and the Birthday Girl Jenna this morning
Dear Jenna,

It hardly seems possible that you are five years old today... that a whole five years has passed since you decided to be quite punctual and begin arriving on your due date. Of course, many other babies decided to arrive the same day, and by the time we got the pitocin going to get labor underway- my water had already broken but nothing happened- it was the early hours of the next morning which somehow made the whole experience more hushed and magical.

You were my easiest pregnancy, my smallest baby, and my least painful delivery. I will never forget how you stared at me for hours when you were a newborn in the hospital, and everything about caring for you was like second nature and easy. I birthed you without any painkillers and I swear that I had endorphins from the birth for about two months afterwards.

And I needed them, because you were my toughest baby. By far.

But all that love and holding and nursing- Oh, the nursing! The never-ending nursing!- and soothing you needed as a baby and toddler has made you into the person you are today: strong. Strong of purpose. Strong of spirit. Strong willed, but incredibly gentle and calm and loving and sweet. I would be loathe to mess with you as an adult because I'm pretty sure you will be able to facedown anyone, anywhere. You are always watching us now, seeing how we handle things and internalizing it all. "Jenna always wants to know what's behind the curtain," your PopPop said to me once, and that is absolutely true. Every holiday you ask perfectly reasonable questions, like How can Santa really get everywhere- even to Hawaii- in one night? And How did they get Jesus down off the cross after He died? And sometimes I'm not sure how to answer you. Like your sister, your brain is always moving, always thinking.

You are a perfect example of still waters running deep. You are not the showman that Michaela is, but you are good at making friends and deeply love the kids you choose to play with. You are loyal like your Daddy and just as kind. You have shown us your sophisticated, wicked sense of humor many, many times this year, and you are really lots of fun to just hang out and laugh with. You are like a grown up in a little kid's body, an old soul who just gets it.

It is incredible to me that you are going to Kindergarten in the fall, and I can't believe the day will come when you will march down our driveway and hop onto a bus and pull away from me.

But you are so excited, so ready- you told me a few months ago that being with me in the afternoons was "kinda boring"- that I am thrilled for you to take this next step.
I feel like you will always be my right hand girl, eager to get love and hugs and snuggle with me. "I need LOVE!" you tell me a few times a week, as you lie on the couch watching SpongeBob, and I try to stop what I am doing and love you up. You told me the other day that you would still nurse if I let you, but you are okay with boundaries being set. This year you are giving up the sippy cups that are part of your morning routine and graduating to glasses for your chocolate milk and I couldn't be happier.

The first few years were tough with you, my little lady, but all worth it. Because we have a bond like no other. You brought me to the brink of craziness and we survived each other together. You are my Nenna, and I love you with every fiber of my being.

Happy Birthday!

Friday, May 7, 2010

These Things Made Me Smile Today.

1. A midday trip for soft serve ice cream. Yummm... chocolate with chocolate sprinkles.
2. Finding and buying some items for Michaela's room at the new house. So pretty. Can't wait to surprise her.
3. Having Michaela tell me yesterday that she need four apples sliced up to bring to school for a "good behavior as a class" reward party. This was a vast improvement over the last time, when she announced at 5pm, "You were supposed to bring in grapes for our party today but forgot." Uh... What? What party? I think it was actually YOU who forgot, Michaela.
4. Walking into my parents house and finding my formerly corporate executive father, two months into his retirement, watching The Young and the Restless as he makes spaghetti sauce. "What the hell has happened to you?" I asked. Hmmmm... maybe that's where Jenna gets it from (see previous post.)
5. Alec chomping down on his oatmeal and applesauce. How good he smells. How he grinned at all the salesladies in Macys today who tickled his feet. How cute he looked in his golf shirt.
6. Alec in general.
7. My Mother's Day present, revealed today: Not one, but TWO NIGHTS of Dan being on Alec duty. I am giddy about this. I felt like getting into my pj's at about 3pm. P.S.: I'm also getting new bedding for our bedroom, and a new house.
8. My mom told me this story today: She watched the kids for me last night while Dan played softball and I went to the Kindergarten Orientation for Jenna. My mom asked Jenna to pick up a few things so the house looked neat when I got home. "Mommy doesn't care if the house is neat," Jenna answered earnestly. "Only Daddy does."

It was a good day.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Oh, Jenna.

Jenna to my mom today as she's waiting in the car for my dad to return a few items:
"What the hell is taking PopPop so long?"

I laughed about that all day today.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

True (and False) Declarations.

Ritz Bits with cheese are a hot commodity in our house these days. Jenna got some out for a snack, and I also ate the last few that were left in the box. When Jenna wanted more, I said, "Oh, I'm sorry, Jen... there weren't many left and I ate them."
"MOM! You're the MEANEST MOM IN THE WORLD!" she replied with some scorn and vehemence.

"Really?" I replied, and then tossing aside any kind of age and developmentally appropriate response, I continued. (You can start cringing here.) "There are mommies who HIT their kids and aren't even sorry! THAT'S being the meanest mommy in the world. All I did was eat some crackers."

"Oh... sorry," was Jenna's mumbled response.

***

I have been taking a Financial Peace University class at my church and absolutely love it. It is written and presented by Dave Ramsey and gives you a blueprint for writing budgets, getting rid of your credit cards, and taking control of your money and savings and investments. It's part education and part behavior modification. His main idea is to get rid of any debt you have as quickly as possible, with the intensity of a gazelle running away from a lion who's looking to eat it. He uses this phrase "gazelle intensity" pretty often and in our house, we have shortened it so that anything we do that saves us some money is declared "gazelle", like in "Ohhh... that's gazelle!"

Well, we never really explained this idea to Michaela, and the other day, when she was setting the table, she cries out, "Ohhhh! This is SO NOT gazelle! We're out of NAPKINS!"
"What? Why is that not gazelle?" I asked her.
"Because it's something bad, and gazelle is something good."
"No, honey," I explained, "when we say 'gazelle' it means it's saving us money. Which IS good, but a little different."
"Oooooohhhh..."

And it made a great story at my class last night. :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cheryl In Wonderland.

The girls got the movie Alice in Wonderland for Easter this year and I've got to tell you- it is one freaky movie. There are more weird references in that movie than I can shake a stick at, but for all of it's fantasy and quirkiness, the girls love it.

It's kind of a good analogy for how I'm feeling these days- a little disjointed, suspended in time, straddling between now and the future, one house and another, hopelessly overwhelmed and but always looking a for a new project.

Today was a rush around kind of day, hurry hurry hurry to get the girls ready for school, run to the bank, go to the pediatrician for Alec's second flu shots, lose my keys, find my keys, which were in the diaper bag all along, visit with my friend Dana to show her pictures of the new house, drive to pick up Jenna from school, run to my friend Angel's house to look at how she got it ready to sell, drive home, choke down a little lunch, realize our power is at about 1/2 level- like a brownout, get everyone in the car again, pick up Michaela at school, drive to the dentist, be relieved that no one has cavaties, come home, get snacks for everyone, change Alec's diaper, try to straighten up, play with the baby for a while, put on a movie for Jenna, remind Michaela to do her homework because she has Brownies tonight, get on the computer, check email, check Facebook, and now here I am.

I'm late, I'm late... for a very important date.

I wonder how Alice stays so nonplussed with all that smoke and mirrors and surrealness around her.