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Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Things

Dan and I both admitted to each other yesterday that we had each noticed a distinct… smell coming from Louie in the last 24 hours or so and that led to a realization that we hadn't bathed our children in an entire week.  I mean, come on.  That is pretty bad, even for us.  So now, our kids are the "smelly" kids and we are "those parents" and the situation was thankfully remedied last night, after a day when both of our stinky children were in a civilized school setting.  I wonder if there's an app for that, with some sort of reminder when it has been more than 48 hours since you last bathed your child? I would pay $0.99 for something like that.  

I can't believe I put stinky kids before "It's a Girl!" but I guess I did.  

But you guys!  It's a girl!  


So dang exciting.  The ultrasound experience itself, was a little strange, the tech was a young-ish guy, maybe somewhere between 28-35?  (I truly have an inability to guess peoples ages once they are out of their early 20's, so really, who knows.)  This guy seemed like he was single, or at least no kids, and he was nice, jovial, had a great smile, but not at all like the ultrasound techs we've had before.  No extra info or tidbits, no, "So you must be excited to see this little darling on the big screen!", no little comments like, "Oh there's your baby!  Better get a new pair of running shoes because this one is active!" 

We asked questions, joked around with him, but mostly he did his thing while we stared at the screen.  He kept mumbling and fumbling and admitted that the baby was very low and he was having a really hard time getting a look between baby's legs.  He tried for a while, then said he'd get some more measurements/photos that he needed and try again at the end.  So we had to wait until about 40 minutes through the ultrasound until she finally cooperated, and then finally it was very clear it was a girl.

Then I asked him jokingly if he's ever gotten it wrong.  He chuckled and said "Not that I know of! But I don't know if we would ever know" and I think that REALLY threw him because after that he seemed a little nervous.  And then he proceeded to double check and triple check and then insisted that he really was positive it was a girl, and that he wouldn't tell us if he wasn't positive.  Then of course he threw in that if he was wrong, he really did want us to come back and tell him.  And I promised we would, and that he would owe us a beer.  (Or two, or three.)  

I'm not concerned, we saw with our own eyes, it's a girl, no worries.

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We capped off the exciting day with chili and cupcakes for my dad's birthday.

I have already spent over $100 on Zulily.  I know.  BAD.  I am sticking to my claim that I had to get it out of my system. But man.  It sure is fun even just be able to browse the girl stuff and dream.  I haven't allowed myself to really ever believe we might have a daughter, sure I've got a list of names a mile long but that thing was started nearly six years ago.  ;)


 This was my view this morning on the side of 494 when I had to pull over because I had started vomiting into my water bottle.  Good times!  I can count on one hand the amount of times I've thrown up with this pregnancy, so this seemingly came out of nowhere, but I am pretty sure it was hazelnut coffee that did it.  I hadn't been feeling the best this morning, but that isn't really new.  And then I stopped for coffee after dropping the boys off at daycare and dared to dream that my beloved hazelnut would be okay again.  I had sworn off of it the entire first trimester after an incident early on very similar to this morning's.

Well, one sip of the stuff and I was deep breathing and sweating and starting to panic.  Taking swigs of my water I had the foresight to take the lid off and then I couldn't stop it, and had to pull over lest I get in an accident because vomiting while driving has proven to be just as dangerous as texting while driving.  Take it from me.

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I am still stalling on the bunk bed/shared room situation, but we don't have much going on this weekend, so I may just give Dan the green light.  (Seen above, Gus on the top bunk, wearing his "Jason Mraz" hat and striking his "Jason Mraz" pose.)  If I don't give him the green light soon, he will just go and do it randomly when I'm out and oblivious some night.  It's the yin and the yang of marriage at work, people.  Obsessive worrying wife vs. rip the band-aid husband.  If it weren't for him, we'd still be sleeping on our sectional/ottoman make-shift bed in the basement.  

Louie is absolutely loving "school" after a few weeks of trepidation.  Experiencing ECFE with him after having done it for three years with Gus is so fun, and so different.  He really is a preschool teacher's dream, I swear.  He sits at circle time fully engaged, already knows every song, every hand motion, and yells out an answer to every question the teacher asks.  A little teacher's pet I tell ya.  He talks about his "best friend Ruby" at school and discusses playing with with the animals there basically every day during the week leading up to his Monday morning class.  He has the routine down pat and seems to be just basically delighted to follow along as is expected of him.

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At Minnetonka Apple Orchard a few weeks ago


Man.  Now of course I love my first born so much, and he is really his own person and I wouldn't change who that is for a second, but I have no rose-colored glasses about his challenging behavior during ECFE.  He has come a loooong way since then, but during those years I really never knew what to expect of him, if he would cooperate, if he would sit during circle time.  If he would get too excited and too silly, and thus have trouble "keeping his body to himself" and using "kind hands" when we were asked to stand up and dance around to a particular song.  I always had to be on my game.  ALWAYS.

I don't have to be that mom with Louie and it sure is easier to have fun.  That is the truth.

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That's not to say Louie has been a perfect little angel lately.  Jeesh the kid is so almost three it is killing me.  He he such a sass-a-frass, and over the last week or so has thrown some of the biggest fits I have ever seen him throw.  And he has started to hit me!  And kick me!  And throw things at me!  He definitely reserves his worst behavior for his dear old mama.  He told me he hated me the other day and I can't recall why but I think it had something to do with not giving him any more chicken nuggets?  I can't remember but that sounds about right.  And Dan's whole family got to witness the biggest epic tantrum he's ever thrown when he came back for more birthday cake after I had given it to his grandpa (who didn't get any cake when they ran out) because he insisted he was done (after one bite).  Louie really isn't the biggest sweets guy, rarely does he eat more than one bite of cake, in fact usually it's just the one lick of frosting and then he's done.  So truly, I don't think he really wanted his cake, but he was SO ANGRY that I had gotten rid of it, no sense could be talked to him.  He screamed and sobbed and threw things and hit me and kicked me and tried to bite me and smacked the ice cream treats his poor grandma tried to offer him right out of her hands... Epic.  It was like he had turned into some sort of caged beast, which is appropriate because he was wearing a velour tiger costume at the time.  

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Still an angel when he's sleeping, at least.


What in the world has happened to my baby?

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Sorry buddy, you can't wear your astronaut gear into preschool.


As for Gus, he has definitely needed some time to acclimate to the new schedule this fall, but I think he's getting it, and preschool is going really well. He has made so many friends and actually really gets excited to go to school on school days.  Despite a few bad days here and there, I'm getting really good reports back from his teachers.  And they are just such wonderful, loving teachers, again I can't say enough how thankful I am for this program that sort of fell on our lap through our daycare provider.  They really work so hard to get to know each kid individually, so as to do everything they can to help each kid thrive and learn and have a successful year of preschool.  I still have anxiety about Kindergarten next year but I have decided to try to shift my mindset about it, think positively.  I know that not every teacher we come across will be as wonderful as his teachers have been so far, but I have to believe and have hope that people choose to be early-childhood teachers because at the core of it they really love kids.  They enjoy being responsible for helping a child learn and grow in confidence and maturity, and that is their ultimate goal. And if as parents we are engaged in the education process and proactive about concerns or issues, we will get through any hiccups the school years inevitably throw at us.

I have to at least go in with that mindset.  Not blind faith, by any means, that school will be all roses and sunshine, but optimism about the goodness of people and trust in my kid and our judgement as parents to get through what the next few years will throw at us.  

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(Back to my random asides, I feel like I got off track from my point with this post, which was supposed to be sort of pointless...)

This past Saturday was one of those mythical days in which the boys busied themselves playing together happily and cheerfully ALL DAY LONG.  There were no squabbles or screaming matches, no whining that they were bored, they just hung out, and laughed, and took out every toy we own (I DID NOT CARE), and made up silly games, like the one they were playing while I was making lunch which involved taking turns basically bowling with Rescue Bots and if one of them knocked over all of the robots he got to run to the table (that I was in the middle of putting lunch on) for a piece of some "special cantaloupe!"  Yes, the prize in this game was to eat melon.

We must have done something right over the years.

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Almost no parental involvement was required all day, from the second they woke up until after nap time when we dropped them off at my parents house for a sleepover (date night!).  Gus was in his pajamas until we left the house.  We had to get him dressed to go to a sleepover.  It was truly amazing, and I was very much able to be present in the moment and see it for what it was, A GIFT.  (Unless you factor into the equation the fact that it allowed me ample time to surf around online looking at baby girl clothes.  If you think of it that way, it was an expensive gift.)

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This is not a good picture (very dark) but I was sitting at the table doing who-knows-what (whatever I wanted!) and snapped a shot of them over on the couch, just lounging and giggling and being silly and being brothers.  Only picture I took all day but I'm glad I have something to commemorate a day of such awesomeness.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Haps

September is going well.

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I'm still feeling pretty good, though that mystical 2nd trimester burst of energy has not hit me yet.  I swear, I am more tired than I was a month ago, and I wonder if it just has to do with our weeks being so much busier and more "scheduled" with preschool and ECFE starting up again.  I am not usually a nap taker, but there were two days last week that I inadvertently fell asleep during Louie's nap.  Blech.  I don't like doing this because I like to get things done during that time, or at least enjoy some alone time.  I guess a nap can be considered alone time, but still.  Feels like a waste, and I wake up even more drowsy and crabby than I was before.

It nearly happened again yesterday.  We had a busy morning of preschool drop-off and pick-up and in-between got Louie a haircut and made a trip to the library.  Oh and my mom hung out with us all morning and she is good company but also talks a lot and sucks up a lot of my "social" energy.  So after getting home, getting the kids lunch, reading them a few library books and putting Louie down for a nap, I was ready to drop.  I did lay down for a minute, playing around on my phone, but the drowsiness almost took over, so I popped up and was at it again.  I spent a bunch of time organizing toys, trying to manage the sheer volume of toys is getting overwhelming again after Gus's birthday.  Right after his party a few weeks ago the boys and I went around the house and threw everything that they didn't really care about into a huge box for donation, I was surprised by how willingly they were able to give things up.  Louie repeatedly would announce that something was "junk" and toss it in the pile.  (Okay, that's kind of sad.) It was a much more positive experience than doing it myself secretly which has in the past on more than one occasion caused pure DEVASTATION when (usually months after they actually disappeared) a certain preschooler noticed things missing.  I figured this time it would be better to have their buy-in.

Here are a few pictures from Gus's 5th birthday party.  We had TWO parties in one day, and it was majorly exhausting, but so so so nice to get them both out of the way in one day.  Family all cam over in the morning, we cooked a feast - pulled pork tacos and all the fixings, chips and guac, spanish rice, fruits and veggies.  It was delicious and not THAT much work, other than all the chopping and dicing that was done the night before.  Oh and Dan had to set his alarm for 3:00 AM to get the pork started in the slow cooker.

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Just us the night of his actual birthday. 


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There are a surprising lack of photos from the 1st party, too busy hosting I guess.


Then in the evening we had a "kid party", for which we served pizza from Broadway Pizza and homemade mac & cheese.  Much simpler.  Gus invited his daycare friends and then of course a bunch of his other friends, which are basically the kids of MY friends.  ;)

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Super fun, the dual party situation also allowed us to feel it worth it to get a bounce house and go all out, it being his golden birthday and all.  We got the smallest & shortest bounce house we could find due to the size of our very urban backyard and the lovely power lines running right through it.  Despite some stress and worry about finding said "small" bounce house after promising one to the kids and printing it on the invites... it all worked out just fine. 

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And then after a weekend full of birthday excitement, school started.

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Breakfast before his 1st day. 


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Ugh.  The bizarre fake smile.  The hands in his pants.  It's just too much. 


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While Gus is at at school... we go shopping with grandma!  (Random stop at a construction site outside Home Goods.)

This month we also did make the much discussed bunk bed purchase and Gus is regularly sleeping up top so there's this big old bed underneath just waiting for his brother to take over.  But the tiredness.  I just can't muster the energy to do the room-sharing thing yet, much less transition Louie out of his crib.  Ugh.  I know it's inevitable, and I guess the sooner we get that crap over with, the better... but I am filled with the dread.  This procrastinating of difficult things is one of my worst and least productive tendencies, but I still continue to do it, despite fully acknowledging that it is a giant character flaw.

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Blurry pic of his first night sleeping in the bunk bed.  Now he's consistently been sleeping up top.


Of course these things I dread are almost always way worse in my head, so let's hope that's the case when we finally make the shared room plunge.  The biggest issue is that the boys have different bedtimes, Gus actually goes to bed quite a bit earlier since he doesn't nap.  Just not sure how we will make all that work, but of course we will.  Life will carry on.

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When Louie stays up later after Gus goes to sleep, he just never stops talking and drives his parents batty.  But he's so also just so hilarious and charming and I caught him "reading" this people magazine one night on the couch in a rare moment of him not talking.


The fall fun has already begun, I took the boys to Sever's last Saturday with Suzi and her kids, and we had a complete blast.  I had never been, and always anticipated this place to be a hellish zoo, but maybe picking the very first weekend to go was key.  It wasn't busy at all, and the kids had so much fun and surprisingly it didn't require an overwhelming amount of "parenting", if you know what I mean.  Just sort of a free-for-all of fun, which isn't always the case with these sort of things.  I think we have found ourselves in somewhat of a sweet spot with the ages and maturity levels of these two little guys.  Gus at 2.5 was no picnic, and while Louie certainly has his moments, he's just so dang verbal that a lot of the frustration of dealing with a 2 year old is mitigated by the ability to just communicate.  Yes, he's irrational, and yes, he can fall a part at the drop of a hat, but he's pretty easy to talk sense to, or at least distract.  

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"Mom, look!  I''m just like Mario, jumping from tire to tire!"

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Llama selfie.  Because I had to.


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Why are the goats always so crazy?

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My kids are both old enough that I never really had to go in there!  (Except for photos.)

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Lovely picture of the four of them, no?

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The tires - black smudgy EVERYTHING.  The corn - dusty EVERYTHING.  Bath night, for sure.

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Okay, yup that there wrestling match is my life with boys.

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The hay bale maze is fun both inside and on top!  The kids all ran themselves ragged in this thing until they were practically asking to head home.

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Not without a picture though.  With a giant crotch.

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More cooperation.  :)


Monday, September 08, 2014

So it's fall already

If you went by my archives, it would appear that most of spring and summer don't exist... Year after year I seem to sort of fall away from the internets a little bit during these precious warmer months, and I'm trying to let go of the guilt I have about that, because it does sort of suck to not have any of that documented for the future, but it's also okay to just live and not worry about finding the time to write about it.  Summer is like this strange blend of normal life with less rules, and an almost indulgent absence of time and deadlines.  Even at work, summertime in the office often feels like summer camp, along with my coworkers I find myself coming in later, leaving earlier, stretching the rules of business casual, showing up in sloppy sandals and maxi dresses most of the time.  I like it though.  Summer is awesome.

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Louie and Tim, fishing off the dock at the cabin

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ECFE end-of-year party... in MAY!

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Random spontaneous backyard summer awesomeness

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Go find your brother with those kid

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Big catches labor day weekend!

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Kite flying!

So we've been playing hooky from real life, even though day-to-day life isn't really that different on the outside, it somehow feels different.  It smells different.  And I liked the lack of busy, even though we do seem to keep quite busy.  Fun busy is different from "have-to" busy.  In the summertime I find we do much more with our evenings, all of us with more energy and enthusiasm for truly LIVING (well pregnancy steals a little bit of that unfortunately), those winter weeknight hours of sitting in our living room willing for bedtime to come feels like a distant memory, memories I am currently pretending won't become our reality again in a few months.  There have been more nightly baths and later bedtimes but it's all worth it, because there are also more smiles and more sunshine and more family togetherness that doesn't feel forced.

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Local fire station open-house

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Zoo with cousin Graham

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Twins game in early June.  I was pregnant, but didn't know it.

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6:30 PM bedtimes at the cabin

But nothing smacks you harder with reality than September.  A new school year.  A suddenly full weekly calendar.  Meticulous planning for pick-ups and drop-offs, and 30 minutes setting up iPhone reminders for little things like snack sign-up and preschool pajama day.  I like it but I don't.

As a student, I've always loved the start of the school year.  I spent weeks thinking about what I would wear on the first day, I would lay in bed for hours staring at the clock, willing myself to fall asleep but my adrenaline too high.  I loved it.

As a parent, of two kids not quite in real school yet, I have mixed emotions.  Excitement?  For sure.  Pride, anticipation, nervousness, worry, lots of jitters.  The worry usually rears its ugly head when I'm laying in bed at night, and the funny thing is I'm not even really stewing about school this year.  Gus is going to the same wonderful preschool, 3 days a week this year rather than 2.  And I'm only a little anxious but that's just because that's how I get with my tough-cookie-to-crack first-born who seems to have a harder time adapting to change.  Sleep is a big thing for him during the school year, when he gets off, he gets OFF and it greatly impacts how his days go at school and daycare.

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Turned 5 just a few days ago!

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So for those reasons and many more, the excitement of the start of a new school year is mixed with some melancholy.  Following the steps we know we have to follow in order for him to be successful also means life is a little less fun.  Less spontaneity.  Less "throwing caution to the wind".  A lot of checking and double-checking of calendars to make sure we're not missing something.

I also can't help but think ahead to the year of decisions we have to make, about Kindergarten for next year.  Public or private?  In-district transfer?  When is the lottery for the district STEM school again?  Open enrollment outside of the district?  Drop-off or bus?  And then we will need to figure out what latchkey issues each of our options present.  It all feels so huge and monumental and I think right now I know the best place for him (for our whole family really, that's the other thing about all of this, Louie and baby Nubs will go here too), I know where we're leaning.  But truly?  You don't really ever know.  It's the fear of unknown, I've always struggled with this, and I can't really picture what life will be like with kids full-time in school.. I have no way to determine how things will go, and I honestly just want the decision to be made so I can move on in my mind and start powering forward.  

Louie and I started a new ECFE class today, through another district because we couldn't find a way to fit any of the classes offered with our own district into this newly "busy" little life of ours.  So I was actually nervous, it's new for me too, and I felt sad to not be going to the same local school I've been going for ECFE since Gus was a tiny baby.  Well it went really great, though Louie was so nervous and kept asking me over and over if I was going to go drink coffee with the other moms and leave him there, and I said yes, but not until lots of fun playtime and circle time together.  He was quiet on the car ride there, and again asked me the same questions, one after another, and would look down at his hands and talk really quietly when I brought up things he might do at school.  Oh he seriously is the sweetest child, I feel so so grateful to be his mom and to be one of the people in this world he loves the most.  I do not take fact, nor the weight of it for granted.  Lucky lucky me.

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This year is going to be great.  My gut says so.  I am hopeful and tentatively excited.  Wish I wasn't such a headcase about things, change in particular, but I'm guessing I'm not the first mom out there mulling over this stuff in her brain over and over and over to the point of craziness?  I feel like as a parent of littles, especially when they were babies, I was able to roll with the punches and let my instincts take over... I guess I'm counting on and hoping those instincts will do me well in this next phase of life.  The school years.  Crossing my fingers.