Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How I Spent My October.

 Michaela's friend party: October 22nd.

 Michaela's family party: October 2nd.

 Michaela's cupcakes for her class: October 6th.

 Michaela celebrates at my parents' house: October 5th.

Michaela requests an ice cream pie for her actual birthday: October 8th.

She can't say we don't love her and celebrate her.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Jenna Story to Make Your Day.

So my parents recently returned from visiting my brother and his family in Chicago.  A few years ago, my mom started bringing back gifts for the girls when they went away... a toy or book or Polly Pockets or a video game. 

As Dan and I were recently cleaning out our basement play area and put aside four buckets of toys that are no longer played with, we decided that at ages 6 and 10, the girls can tolerate a separation from their grandparents without a gift coming along with the reunion.

We explained to the girls that while we are of course thrilled when Gammie and PopPop return, they will  no longer be bringing gifts with them: we'll simply be happy that they got back to us safely.

Jenna's response: "Well, that SUCKS."

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Oooooohh, Alec.

One of the joys of being a parent for a medium amount of time (I'm not a rookie, but certainly have a long ways to go before being a veteran parent) is that you do begin to see patterns and truisms appear in the process of raising children. One truism that I figured out about three years in was this: all kids are tough at one time or another. If your kid seems like an "easy" kid, don't worry- your trying time will come.

Now, remember back when Alec was born, and then we sailed through his first year, and I kept saying how wonderful tempered, how easy and happy, how all-around-dreamy he was? And handsome to boot?

Yes. My trying time has officially come.

There are several factors at work here that are causing this change: he just turned two and is flexing his completely age-appropriate independent wings; he still doesn't talk much, which causes him great frustration and angst; and he has cut at least four teeth in the last three months.

These factors have affected his sleeping patterns, his eating patterns, his pooping patterns, his napping patterns, his bedtime routine, his daytime routine, his bathtime, his desire to wear (or not wear) certain clothing, his absolute refusal to get his diaper changed, his tolerance (and intolerance) for me doing things without him. They have also made his world substantially smaller as we can no longer take him out to dinner or to church any longer.

Several times per day, when he becomes displeased with the choices his parents are making and forcing upon him (WHAT? Changing my diaper AND putting pajamas on??? Are you CRAZY?) Alec completely melts down and screams and cries. He is unredirectable during these jags and we have learned to just ignore him the best we can. Sometimes, like when we HAVE to be somewhere, we have to impose our will upon him and boy, is that not fun. He will cry and scream and kick and wriggle and try as hard as he can to get away from us (thankfully we have escaped biting and hitting thus far) and generally be as unpleasant as a kid can be. After a while, he will settle down and then acts as if nothing has happened and he is sweet, happy Alec once again.

Today he flipped out because I threw out his soaking wet diaper and wouldn't let him play with it. I know- how unreasonable can a mommy be??

Bathtime is a total nightmare. It has switched over the past 21 months with no rhyme or reason from something he hates so much he flips out when you put him in to something he loves so much that he flips out when you take him out and now BACK to hating it so much that he flips out and tries to climb out of the tub the whole time. Dan and I have to tag team him, Dan in the tub, standing up behind Alec and keeping him in the bathwater (Alec will throw his legs over the edge, arch his back and do anything to get out) with me kneeling outside the tub trying to get him bathed as quickly as possible. We all get soaked. Alec screams and cries the whole time, and the funniest part is that when it is over (pretty quickly- I'm a quick bather), we immediately take him out of the tub ... and then he tries to climb back in. He leans over the edge with his arms outstretched, just as mad that we took him out.

Another charming part to this whole matrix of behavior issues is that Alec is a puker. He has multiple times cried so hard that he has puked all over himself and us. We tried the Ferber Method on him a few nights ago to make him sleep through the night, something we did with Jenna with great success, and he cried for two hours and the whole time I was praying, Please don't puke, please don't puke, please don't puke. He didn't puke but at 3:40 am I caved in and botched the whole thing. I just couldn't take it anymore.

But... we are relearning the new rules Alec is presenting us with and forging ahead. We are getting smarter about some things and setting better boundaries where they need to be set. We are adapting. We have some very, very good days where he is meltdown-free and his usual lovely, grinning self. And the days that are not so good are another day closer to him growing out of this ridiculousness. He is being evaluated by the county on Tuesday for speech therapy and we are pretty certain he will qualify for services. He continues to be a loving little boy who gives the most delicious lip-smacking kisses when he's in the mood. He has all kinds of crazy quirks which make us laugh, like how he licks the DVD before he puts it in the DVD player because he has seen us clean his grubby fingerprints off of them before we play them. He loves to play and be with his sisters, loves his train and his Cars puzzle, loves to throw the football into the different rooms upstairs and then says, "Go?" with his palms upturned, asking where did the ball go. He would be very, very happy if I could lay with him on the couch until around 10am, watching SpongeBob, and then have him and I just sort of play all morning in his room and the basement, and maybe eat an apple or some pasta when he feels like it. And heck, I'd love to do that to, but I have a few other obligations I need to attend to, like showering myself (when Alec is not on board with that plan, he stands outside the shower the whole time I'm in there and cries and insists that one of the shower doors be open), and all the tasks involved in running our household.

So our boy is two and trying the best he can to grow and makes his needs known, usually through screaming.

As my mother and grandmother always said, "It's a good thing you're good looking, or you'd be dead by Tuesday."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Columbus Day Outing.

On Columbus Day, Dan had taken the day off and it was a perfect opportunity to do a fun, fall-type activity with our family. The weather was beautiful and we gave a few options to the girls, and the clear winner was going apple picking. So off we went.

The girls were great pickers and filled up our bag with apples, after we found the trees that hadn't been picked clean. (At one point, we were wandering around the orchard in the KENDALL APPLES section, looking at empty tree after empty tree as I pushed my strapping 30+ pound son in a stroller over uneven ground covered in fallen, rotting apples. And did I mention it was about 85 degrees outside? It gave me flashbacks to when Dan and I went to a pick your own pumpkin patch, which we thought was so cute and harvest-y and romantic, and what we actually found was a picked-over field of marginal pumpkins surrounded by thick dying vines and rotting gourds. Not quite as picture-perfect as it sounded.) But we did find trees laden with fruit in another section and everyone enjoyed helping. Well, Alec enjoyed eating and watching.

Dan and I also wanted to go to a state park near us that has a fantastic beautiful overlook.

I love this picture, especially Michaela's face as Jenna looks through the binoculars. Those binoculars have been there for at least 30 years, and if you go to the overlook, it's always required that you pop in a few quarters and have a look at the landscape below you.

I got some great pictures of the girls. Alec was less than willing to be photographed.

It was a lovely day and I got some great shots of the kids. But I have to admit that when we got home, I collapsed onto my bed face down, slept for an hour, and when I woke up I was aching from sleeping so hard.

Family fun sure can tire you out sometimes.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Michaela Hits Double Digits.

Dear Michaela,
It is beyond my comprehension that an entire decade has gone by since you arrived in this world.
You are a joy to behold: so pretty and athletic and energetic, full of life and laughter, bouncing your way through every encounter and activity.
This year we have witnessed the start of your real transformation into Being Grown Up, as you eschew t-shirts that are too cutesy, are much more interested in pop culture and technology and what your friends are into, and get more and more wrapped up in Standard Pre-Teenage Girl Drama. You broke my heart a few weeks ago by announcing that you will not, in any uncertain terms, match dresses with your sister this Christmas. I guess I knew that day was coming but I'm sad just the same.
You have enjoyed watching mom-approved Saturday Night Live skits with me, did your first loads of laundry, played softball for the first time, made lots of new friends, got in trouble in school for the first time, developed your first crush, started playing your first instrument, and finished your first stage of orthodontics this year. Your 10th year on earth was a biggie.
And through it all, you are always Trying To Follow The Rules, being the good first-born girl that you are, and at the same time trying to convince the world that Your Way is Always The Right Way. You are always full of suggestions, how about this?-es, and we really should...s.
And while you sometimes drive us crazy, the four people you live with, you are a delight to the public world. You have been in some stressful situations this year, grown up situations that demanded you know how to act, how to be mature, how to be other-directed, and how to be polite, and you more than lived up to the challenge: you made us unabashedly proud.
You are a great kid.

And for all this grown up stuff, you are still that wide-cheeked two year old with the curly hair and tiny gapped front teeth that I see in pictures, though I mourn that I can't see that little girl in person anymore. That little girl is growing each day into a young lady whom I love more than I ever imagined, a good girl, a super fun girl, a happy girl, a chatty girl, a girl with lots of friends, a girl who still likes her mom to lay down with her at night.

Happy Birthday, my Mimio, and best wishes for a year of love and laughter and joy and growth.