Friday, January 28, 2011

Introducing... Clara Barton.

Today is book report day! Michaela has a five-notecard presentation all set to deliver to her class today about the life of Clara Barton, Angel of the Battlefield. She was a really remarkable woman, waaaay ahead of her time, who was a teacher, founded a free public school, tended to Civil War soldiers, connected missing soldiers with their worried families, and went on the bring the Red Cross to America.
I, of course, was mostly giddy about making a costume, any kind of costume, and was planning on winging the whole thing. When I went to buy the black fabric and lace to replicate the outfit Ms. Barton is wearing on the cover of the book,
I had the idea to peruse through a pattern book to get some ideas about how to construct it. I found a perfect pattern and then happened to glance up and see the patterns were on sale for 99 cents each. 99 cents!!! It was divine intervention. Though you can't see it, I even made a petticoat for her to wear underneath it, and thank goodness for the Internet, who makes it possible that at 9pm on a Tuesday night you can google "how to make a petticoat" and three sets of easy to follow instructions pop up. I had so much fun working on it and I think Michaela looks awesome in the outfit.
And the best part? The same pattern makes PILGRIM COSTUMES.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

500th Post.

Can you believe it? This is, officially, my 500th little bit of love that I have written and sent out to the world. I have tried for several days to come up with something incredibly witty and funny and touching and moving to encompass this process I embarked upon several years ago, but alas, it IS January and the sky is VERY gray and the snow is VERY deep and I AM at home all day with a 16 month who doesn't talk much and I DID pick up five times yesterday the same recycled cereal box because the 16 month old kept opening the pantry door and taking said cereal box out of the recycling bucket and dropping it on the floor and thus I AM a bit at loose ends, so this instead is what I have to share.

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to write a few times a week and work through what is going on in my life.
I am incredibly blessed to have people who read and respond to what I write and say nice things about it.
I am incredibly happy that if something- anything- ever happened to me, my three children will have a large cache of writing that is in my voice, and they will have a written record of how much I love them, what I think about a variety of subjects, and how funny it is to shop at Walmart. I feel like they will always have a sense of who I was as a person.
I am incredibly thankful that I take a few minutes every week to write what my kids are up to, both because I have a horrible memory about those kinds of things and because it is a blast to look back and see who much they've grown and changed.

For today, I have these things to report:
Alec has started opening his mouth wide and sighing a big, breathy, "Ahhhhhh..." after he has drank from a glass, as if that particular liquid was the most refreshing he's ever tasted.
Jenna is currently having a love affair with Fruit Roll Ups. She would eat three or four a day if I let her, which I don't.
Michaela had her first orchestra concert last night, where she performed a few songs on her viola and sang in the 4th/5th grade choir. She was a nervous wreck but did a great job. We were so proud of her and really enjoyed the whole concert. Jenna has declared that she wants to play the flute.
Alec has skipped over all things Dora and Diego and has gone straight to SpongeBob. I have to admit that I'm relieved: I'm a bit Dora'd out.
Michaela is dressing up tomorrow in a Clara Barton costume I made for her and delivering a book report about Ms. Barton in front of her class. Pictures will be taken and promptly posted. I'm very excited.
Just like me, Alec is obsessed with M&Ms.
"Babysitting Mama" is THE MOST ANNOYING Wii game EVER. And I'm a big fan of Wii games.
Jenna is learning how to read and writes on anything she can get her hands on. The only downside to school, in her opinion, is the lack of vacation days scheduled for kindergartners.
I was watching Alec sleep the other day and he looked so much like Michaela it took my breath away.

Life is good here, and I am happy and blessed and grateful.
I'll keep writing if you keep reading.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I Want To Tell You by The Beatles.

This is the song.

This is the song you listened to when you first started getting into music... not just the stuff that everyone else was listening Italicto, not just the stuff that was playing on the radio, though you knew that you've loved music and how it made you feel since you were a little girl, sitting on the yellow counter in kitchen of the first house you ever lived in, watching Solid Gold on a 13 inch black and white tv. You could have crawled into that tv you loved that show so much, with its glitzy dancers and live performances. "Talking in Your Sleep" by The Romantics was the first song you ever knew all the words to, and you loved it.

This was the song that you listened to a few months after you first heard a Mamas and Pappas song, "California Dreaming", you think it was, on the overhead speakers when you were out to dinner with your family. You were completely mesmerized by its sound and dreaminess and when you asked your parents if they knew what it was, they said, "Sure... I think we have it on a record at home," and you rush through that dinner as quickly as you can so you can hear it again. And they do have that album, and tons of other albums by great artists of that time, some with the cellophane still on them, which cracks you up because it makes it seems like they were just recently bought, which is even more hilarious because your parents are old, with two kids and jobs and responsibilities, and this cellophane makes it seems like they just ran down to the record store last week to buy this.

This is the song that you listened to when you used to listen to music in your family room of the next house you lived in, on a fairly good sound system with a record player on top, and you wore huge, remarkably cushioned headphones with a long curled cord that plugged you into that sound, that beautiful sound, as you laid on the floor twirling and stretching that cord. The cord was black and smooth and vaguely powdery and many times you zone out listening to the music and when you came back to Earth you realize you were rubbing the cord against your face. This set up worked beautifully for you, because you were with your family but not, connected to them but in your own little world: you could see your grandmother sitting at the kitchen table, her face in profile; your mom standing at the kitchen sink, always working but also glancing at you every once in a while; your dad sitting in the recliner watching tv and unwinding; and your brother coming in and out of the room, playing and always in motion. You love them wildly but are starting to need your own space and time and place and this area of the room is yours, to listen to what you want, and somehow the idea that you hear things that they don't helps put a little distance between them and you.

This is the song that you listened to over and over and over again, mostly because you had a mad, mad crush on a boy in your high school who didn't really give you the time of day, which is kind of ironic, because one of the only times he ever spoke to you it was to literally ask you what time it was, and you panicked because you've never been a strong time-teller, and you always wished he had asked you a different question. This song summed it up perfectly: there was so much for you to tell him, so much time and emotion spent on him, invested in him, and if only he knew. If he only knew.

This is the song you hadn't thought about or heard for years, and then tonight after your nine year old daughter was searching iTunes for songs to purchase for her iPod, you got on the computer and started poking around and remembered that all the Beatles songs were now available. So you start looking at the list of Beatles songs, so many of them associated with powerful memories of growing up, and you stumble across this song and you of course buy it.

And you listen to it and you remember every word.
And it is rich and nostalgic and beautiful.

And you think of all that's happened between then and now, the people you have gained and lost, the experiences you've had, the changes in the world- records? headphones? cords? Seriously?- since then, and the multitude of other music you've fallen in love with between then and now: Sinead O'Connor. The Doors. CSNY. The Stone Roses. Simon and Garfunkel. Coldplay. The Killers. Nelly Furtado. Kanye. JT. David Gray. These songs are the soundtrack to your life.
And now here you are, old(er), with three kids and jobs and responsibilities, and when you make your daughter listen to this song, this song that has spoken to you for decades now, and you are so eager for her to hear it and love it like you do, she rolls her eyes and says, "I want to listen to my song now" and your realize that her music is hers and creating her space from you.

And that is rich and nostalgic and beautiful.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Alec Update

Poor third children. Always getting the shaft.
I realized that I haven't done a full update on my baby boy lately and this realization coincided with him starting to do a few cute things that deserve to be immortalized here.

Alec is 15 months now, and finally made the switch to walking 100% a few weeks ago. He started toddling a few steps here and there, and in a display of carefulness and sensibility that I hope grows with him, took a full 4 to 5 weeks to master walking and make the switch to that being his preferred mode of transport. He still looks like a drunk sailor some of time, especially if he's tired, but for the most part does a great job. He has tasted freedom from carrying and carts and strollers a few times in the grocery store and Walmart with fairly disastrous results: he takes off like a rocket, toddles wherever the heck he wants and flagrantly disregards my lame attempts of offering a hand for him to hold. Alec has also mastered the stairs and freely goes up and down, especially to follow his sisters.

We went for his 15 month checkup last week and he is in the 90th percentile for height, 75th for weight and has a huge head. He is losing some of his baby fat and getting longer and leaner and less dumpling like. He says few real words (his favorite being ba-ba for baby, bottle and SpongeBob) but babbles alot. As I expected, the pediatrician is recommending I get him screened for speech therapy and I am going to get that ball rolling this week. He doesn't seem to be that frustrated by his lack of words, which I guess is a good thing.

He has totally shunned using his booster seat at the dinner table, preferring to stand on a chair and eat like the big people do. This has of course resulted in him falling from the chairs onto the tile floor several times. If we force him to sit in the booster, he screams during the whole meal and then no one is happy, so we're in a bit of a bind here.

One of his favorite things to play with are the grilling spatulas we keep underneath the sink. He'll casually get them out a few times a day, dragging the metal spatula against the tile floor, sometimes just walking around and sometimes moving it back and forth, almost like he's vacuuming. He must love the sound. Of course he just drops them when he's done, so at any point in the day, I am stepping on or picking up metal grilling instruments. He also loves balls, trucks, cars, anything with music or noise, and rough housing.

He seems to really enjoy being in the kitchen with me, sitting on the counter or watching me move around as I cook or bake. The greatest thing he does, which started a few weeks ago, is when he hears the oven timer go off, he opens his mouth as wide as he can, scrunches his nose and covers his mouth while gasping. The kid knows that a beeping oven means hot, fresh cookies. He's no dummy.

The other day he really made me laugh: I was baking something in the oven, and when he heard the timer go off, he toddled over to the drawer where I keep the oven mitts and pulled them out and handed them to me. He's a good little sous chef.

He is in love with his sisters, cries when his dad leaves for work ("It's good to feel loved", says the dad of two daughters who never cared when he left the house), and when you ask him for a kiss, he shakes his head no and giggles. He is just starting to give open mouthed kisses when he's in the mood. He is beginning to find SpongeBob entertaining but has no go-to activity that is guaranteed to hold his interest. He is starting to enjoy being read to, and not just so he can slam the book shut on your fingers, which is how he's "read" for the last 6 months. He sleeps through the night and is the snuggliest of my three babies.

He is a good, good baby. And he is well on his way to not being a baby anymore.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year.

Do you know what made my New Year's Eve one of our best ever?

It wasn't that we went to a great restaurant for dinner... but we did.
It wasn't that the restaurant had a special raspberry martini and I ordered it and it was goo...oood... but I did.
It wasn't that we spent the evening with some of my favorite people in the whole world... but we did.
It wasn't that I left Alec with a babysitter for the first time and he did great... but he did.
It wasn't that while we were gone, the kids all put together a Live Nativity production and then performed it for us, giving us all hope that the weeks and months and years of Sunday School and church teaching are sinking in... but they did.
It wasn't that we hung out for hours together with a roaring fire and freshly made margaritas, waiting for midnight... but we did.
It wasn't the coincidence that six of the eight kids all had coordinating pajamas on, so they looked super cute together... but they did.
It wasn't that Alec fell asleep around 9:30pm and despite the noise of seven kids with noisemakers running around still stayed asleep and generally was positively easy and excellent... but he was.
It wasn't that Jenna kept calling the ball in Times Square "The Diamond"... but she did.
It wasn't that at 11:50pm, glasses of champagne in flutes were passed out for the adults to enjoy at midnight... but they were.
It wasn't that we all stayed awake to ring in a new year, thanking God for a blessed, happy, busy, healthy year full of friends and children and new houses and good times... but we did.
It wasn't that I got to kiss my honey at midnight and look forward to another year together and our 15th wedding anniversary this fall... but I did.

No, the best part of New Year's this year is that twice I have gotten pregnant in this day in the last ten yen years... but this year I DIDN'T.

Happy New Year.
Thanks for reading.