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Archive for September, 2010

We’re sort of over the stages of “firsts” here in our house. Our kids have both taken their first steps, eaten their first ice cream cones, gone to their first movies in the big theater. They are almost 3 and 5 which in their eyes makes them experts at pretty much everything, making the magic we try to create in new activities a challenge. So. I was especially excited when the kids got to share in a first this weekend by attending their first wedding. For Bill and I weddings have traditionally, hmm…how should I put this nicely…been a place for us to get drunk and celebrate other suckers like ourselves. Over the years most of the weddings we’ve been invited to have been fairly formal and not super kid-friendly affairs and again…there is most likely free booze there, so we’ve always arranged a sitter; a good excuse for a date night.

Luckily for the kids we were invited to two weddings this September, the first of which was one of Bill’s co-workers where we knew we’d get our date-night out of our system and so we decided that for the second wedding, which was for Bill’s cousin and fiance, we would take the kids. I didn’t go to many weddings as a kid but the thought of eating a nice meal, getting a wedding cupcake and dancing sounded like a great way for us to spend time together as a foursome and with extended family and friends.

Rowan has always been drawn to the wedding photo of Bill and I in our corner cabinet, amazed that mommy was once capable of looking like a princess, even more so when she realized the dress wasn’t even made out of sweatpants material. Before we left she said, “Mommy you look very beautiful but you’re not in your wedding dress yet!” I explained that you only get to be a bride for 1 day and you don’t get to wear your dress for other people’s weddings which she thought was kind of a jip and I guess I see her point as my $1000 wedding dress is collecting dust in the back of one of my mom’s closets. Then there was a discussion of why Rowan wasn’t invited to mommy and daddy’s wedding, and I know how these sorts of conversations end up so I distracted her with something shiny.

Still, Rowan was so excited to see her first, real life bride and the beautiful Sarah did not disappoint.

She even put Rowan in charge of her bouquet while she was busy with the receiving line.

Which was just about the coolest thing to happen to Rowan in her five years of life.

And for Keaton? There were bubbles!

And a yard swing to kick back in.

They had 7-Up and popcorn while we waited for dinner and though the wait for the dance was a little longer than the 5 and under set would have liked, we brought coloring books and cars to distract them. They had an awesome time, especially Rowan who thought the couple’s first dance was pretty amazing- especially when they did this:

"Fancy moves!" Rowan declared with total glee.

It did get a little chilly later in the evening but that's why god gave daddys suit coats.

And don't worry...

All that dancing warmed her up.

Congratulations Marty and Sarah! Your day totally made my kids’ day.

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Once upon a time there was a young, lovestruck {with Brad Pitt} 15 year old girl who one fateful day, watched Legends of the Fall. Her life was changed completely after just one viewing of this movie but to be sure she watched it 347 more times. In a two week period. It was then decided, that her first born son would be named Tristan and being completely in charge of the impossible, the girl also announced that she would have three sons {the second to be named Julian, the third Aidan} and none of those pesky, bratty, rotten girl-children. It was decreed, and would be so, and that was THAT.

The girl grew up and unfortunately for me uh her, she did not marry Brad Pitt. But she found a suitable substitute and soon they were expecting their first boy. Only it wasn’t a boy. When the ultrasound technician reveled the sex, she- OK  FINE- *I* turned my head immediately to Bill with wide unbelieving eyes that silently screamed at him “YOU DID IT WRONG”. Then I turned back to the technician, “Are you sure?” And the technician laughed, clearly missing the gravity of the situation and said to me “I’m not legally allowed to say I’m 100 percent sure, but if this baby comes out with a penis I will personally reimburse you for all the girl clothes you buy.” Then I looked at Bill and mouthed “You better start running now”.

Now I know as a mother I am only supposed to care about how healthy the baby is but we had had an ultrasound a month or so before that deemed our baby wonderfully, perfectly healthy, this one was granted specifically to find out the sex. Plus, I was so young and so naive and my husbands sperm DISOBEYED ORDERS. Naturally, I was upset. I called my mom to let her know the news with this charming sentence: “The baby has 10 fingers and 10 toes and 1 fucking vagina.” Bill, who had remained mostly quiet thus far, drove us to a restaurant and I couldn’t help but notice his smile. What was he so happy about? He had wanted a boy too but was ridiculously happy with the news that we would have a daughter. He couldn’t really explain it, other than it inexplicably made him smile. You know, after he was done fearing for his life because again: HE DID IT WRONG. I had to carry this thing that had me bed-ridden or heaving over a toilet bowl for months on end. I had to grow a human from scratch. All he had to do was give it a penis.

Thankfully my shock and anger were short-lived. After lunch we went to Target and that was it. With each shelf, each row of pink I encountered, the rage dissipated to indignance, then to annoyance then was gone altogether. This was either hormones or divine intervention because LORD JESUS I have always hated pink. But. There I was, filled with a growing gooey warmth, walking through the aisles of soft pink sleepers and tiny purple booties. I was beyond at peace. I was happy. I was excited for a daughter. I picked out a tiny little newborn outfit {in pink, for I could not help myself} and knew that this was my Rowan, a name I had picked out for a HEAVEN FORBID girl or a boy a few weeks earlier {since BILL SOMEBODY had a severe allergic reaction to the name Tristan}. I never looked back after that afternoon. Sure I might make a joke here or there about Bill’s inability to follow instructions but from that day on I couldn’t wait to meet my daughter, and that only partly had to do with wanting to get the little ninja-kicker a safer distance away from my bladder.

I may have mentioned here a few thousand times that Rowan was a very content, easy baby. By the time she hit two months, I was ready for 10 more kids, however my husband and our bank account were not, so I waited until they were ready and then mother nature made us wait a little bit longer. After Rowan, I couldn’t imagine myself with anything BUT a girl. We had picked out our second daughter’s name more than a year before I got pregnant and though we ran the whole “We don’t care what it is as long as it’s healthy” line, we both not-so-secretly wanted another girl. And it wasn’t so much that we wanted a girl, more that we just felt it was meant to be, that we would be parents of girls, sisters.

Because of how sick I was, I had regular ultrasounds to check the baby’s growth. At a 12 week US, the doctor said it was too soon to tell but if he had to guess he’d say boy. Bill and I smiled but foolishly didn’t even take the comment into consideration. Way too early to tell, we told ourselves. Then at my 20 week Ultrasound he told us right away he could see the sex of the baby but would wait until the end to tell us so we paid attention to the other parts. This was a stupid thing to say because for the rest of the time I just daydreamed about punching the doctor for being a condescending asshole. Then when he said BOY, I gave a weak smile and looked at Bill, who did the same.

Afterward, we didn’t really know what to say to each other. “A boy, huh?” I said. “Yep”, he replied. “Heh.” I didn’t really know how I felt. Not upset. I just didn’t know what the hell to do with a boy. And all those baby clothes we had ready for Rowan 2.0 in uncountable shades of pinks and purples, useless. I had spent almost 2 years learning how to parent a girl child, I felt like I had to start all over again because this version of a baby comes with extra parts. That they can aim. I wouldn’t let myself admit that I had already invested myself in the idea of a second daughter so much that a part of me was a little disappointed. For the most part, Bill felt the same way. He loved being a daddy to a daughter and didn’t know how different it would be to have a son.

Then came the epic battle over Keaton’s name which made things worse. Bill and I have always seen eye to eye on girls’ names but boys’ names were SO. VERY. HARD. We fought. I cried. And after weeks of arguing I’m pretty sure he looked into having me committed to a psyche-ward when I insisted on the name Weston and I may have considered homicide as a completely reasonable option when he kept coming back with Jonas and Desmond. In the end we abandoned a name we both loved because our families hated it and finally, FINALLY settled on Keaton one week before he made his entrance at 38 weeks.

I now believe that this boy was put on this earth to prove every assumption I had made about babies in the previous 27 months of being a parent wrong. He was the complete opposite of Rowan and if we are being honest he came out like most newborns, looking like a old grandpa baby. And he peed on me, SWEET JESUS did he pee on me. But. His differences as a baby had nothing to do with sex or gender and everything to do with him being an entirely, unapologetically different person from his sister. Get this! Babies are individuals too! Stop the freaking presses, an idiot mother has just had a completely mundane revelation!

I have never looked back. Never questioned or wondered what life would be like had he been a girl. {And OK maybe it doesn’t hurt that Keaton likes dress up and shoes so much…} Rowan surprised me with how perfectly, how snugly she fit into my heart. Keaton stretched it out to make a completely unique place for himself there, constantly tugging it with his wide smile and the way his moppy head of hair tucks under my chin when we snuggle on the couch. And down the road, when the time comes for number three, I can honestly say I DO NOT CARE- partly because we’ve already agreed on names either way, but mostly because no matter what the sex, they will find a way to surprise you.

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When life gets especially hectic around here and I’ve lost my ability to see the humor in things, I get a subtle reminder from my husband that sometimes with life? You just need to laugh at it. These are the mornings I wake up to find things like this as my laptop’s wallpaper:

I'm not sure what's worse, this or Bald Bill. You be the judge, Internet.

This week:

I’ve finally fallen victim to the first cold of the fall. I was really sort of surprised last week when I hadn’t gotten one yet as I’ve been in many places containing toddlers that have the hygiene skills of a sty full of pigs. And though it took longer than expected those toddlers did not disappoint as my head is now so congested I feel like my brain is only half working as the other half is too squished to turn on.

Rowan received a glowing report from her teacher on Wednesday, which was a really busy day for the Kindergarteners and this is a really big deal for us. I am so proud of her!

Keaton’s preschool teacher informed me that he taught the whole class how to sing Yellow Submarine. I have the best son ever.

We got a letter in the mail from our insurance company, letting us know that Rowan is approved for OT one session a week for the next year. I held onto that letter so tight, re-reading it and damn near kissing the thing because I had myself poised for a battle I wasn’t sure if I had the wherewithal to fight. And now I don’t have to and that is beyond awesome.

Also this week, Rowan was asked to join the competition dance line at her studio which is a mixed bag for us. On the down side it is MUCHO DOLLORES and a pretty big time commitment for a 5 year old that has already been through some big changes this year. Also, the kid? She ain’t flexible. Her tap teacher is the one who wanted her to do it, where flexibility isn’t as important, so I don’t think she realized that Rowan can barely cross her legs she’s so stiff. During the jazz/ballet portion of class the teacher made me come in so I could see just how stiff she was. I was not surprised and thought for sure that would be that but the teacher, who is the essence of NO BS said that Rowan picked up the dance very fast and that flexibility would come if she stretched every day. I don’t know though… I’m sort of skeptical. On the up side Rowan LOVED it and was not put off at all by the drill sargeant-esque way the teacher ran the class so we’re gonna give it a try for a month and see if she can handle it. If it works out I will make a solemn promise to never be that stage mom. Yeah, you know the one.

I’m almost finished with The Help. After The Hunger Games series I was scared I wouldn’t like any other books for awhile as I’d be comparing everything to it but I’ve really loved reading The Help and am actively looking for my next book. My goal for myself is to always be reading a novel and not just parenting books that essentially all carry the message: PARENTING: UR DOIN IT RONG, DUMMY.

It took Bill and I 5 years- FIVE YEARS- to paint our downstairs bathroom. This has been on our to-do list since May of 2005 and was just completed last weekend. Aren’t you jealous of our awesome procrastination skills? You should be, for they are epic. We mostly waited because we are terrible- no seriously- TERRIBLE at decorating. I have an excuse, as I’m no artist and the only colors I ever incorporate into anything are gray, white and blue. If you think I’m joking come look in my closet at my wardrobe, IT DOES NOT LIE. Bill ,however, is a freakin designer, an artist by trade, but he claims that doesn’t always translate to decorating and I claim he is a liar. Either way this fight can now be put on the back burner as it will probably be another 5 years before we get to the entryway or the kitchen.

And WOW- are you still here? I’m sorry, this was an incredibly boring post. Next time I promise to at least get hopped up on cold meds to make things a little more entertaining. Or disturbing. Whatever’s your fancy.

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So I’m not doing anything more than posting a video of Keaton, Sir.

I believe this video demonstrates what they call The Triple Threat; the definition of which is a strong natural talent in the areas of singing, dancing and hamminess.

OK, maybe he’s a single threat, heavy on the HAM but he’s mine and I’ll take him with all the extra cheese I can get.

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Alright, Internet, things have been a little disjointed around here so hows about a little update on everyone to get us up to speed.

Rowan: You might remember that Bill and I put a lot {UNDERSTATEMENT} astronomical {STILL AN UNDERSTATEMENT} amount of time and energy into finding a Kindergarten that would best suit her. We thought we considered nearly everything, but HAHA, there are variables, People! Who knew?! {I mean, besides everyone but me.} Variables that are not under your control, mainly the other kids your child will be spending her day with. This particular group of kids are all kind of having a hard time adjusting to the rule filled days of Kindergarten, present company’s child included.

Gone are the days of the nurturing distraction and re-direction of preschool. If you talk while the teacher is talking or don’t stay in line in the halls there are warnings and then there are consequences. My child is a Rule Follower type like her mama, she gets embarrassed when reprimanded by an authority figure. But she also is a kid with the mentality of “well if they are doing it, why can’t I do it?” Which has landed her in “Table Time” or “Think Time” a little more often than she or we would like.

BUT.

She seems to be doing better. Some mornings are hard. She grabs hold tight of my arm and whispers, “Does Mommy always have to go?” and after my heart cracks a little I say. “Yes, but I will always come back to pick you up. Keaton and I love to hear about your day.” Sometimes this works and sometimes I have to pry her fingers off of me after 4 hugs and tell her “I’m sorry, I have to go” as firmly as I can muster. Pick up time has been great, she comes flying at me with a giant smile, and on the drive home she sings me the songs she learned in music class, tells me about what they did in Phy. Ed and is always sure to let me know that she chooses chocolate milk every day at lunch. We have a routine of going for a short walk or bike ride around the block right when we get home which serves as a good buffer between school and home life. She’s much quicker to tears than she’s ever been in her life, bursting into them at loud noises or unwanted attention from her brother. For now I’m chalking this up to the long day and hope that it will get better in the next couple of weeks.

Keaton: Proved me so wrong with his preschool class {which is really more of a nursery school}. He’s been a clingy little bugger since day one and I thought there would be tears and battles at drop off. I was so prepared for this attempt at socialization outside of mommy to fail that I scheduled 47 other activities during his week so we’d have things to do when I had to pull him out. Instead he asks, “Is mommy gonna leave?” and I say “Yes, after a hug and a kiss.” “Where you going? Home?”  “Yep.” “OK, bye!”. And off he runs to the toy cars, where I have to chase him to get my hug and kiss. His teacher says he gets pretty tired around 10:45 so I have been picking him up a little early but other than that her only other comments have been “He’s such a good boy!” And I have to agree. I’m so proud of him.

He also proved me wrong in dance class which he was ridiculously excited about and we were sure he would love. Um, no. The first day he went in super excited, jumped right in and tried out some tap moves, with cute and hilarious results. Unfortunately our dance studio is going through somewhat of a re-haul and the first week is always hectic with kids unsure of where they are supposed to be, so people kept walking in and out of his room and when 2 or 3 little boys came in and started crying, that was it. He didn’t want to be there and I can’t say I blame him. It was noisy and disruptive and not at all what he had in mind. We tried again the following week but he was really nervous from the last time so it took him a long time to warm up, compiling less than 10 out of 45 minutes out of Bill’s lap. Since we paid the month and it doesn’t seem to be traumatizing him we’re going to go ahead with the next two weeks but the whole reason we signed him up was because he really wanted to do it and if he’s not enjoying it there’s just no point. He’s so little anyway, we’ll try again next year if he wants to.

Bill: Still bald. Well, I guess he’s lost most of the shine and is getting some Chia-like growth but comparatively and for all intends and purposes: Still bald.

Me: This school year is the beginning of a new way of life for me. I no longer spend the majority of each day figuring out how to juggle the wants and needs of two very different little beings and how to get chores done. Sure, I spend a lot of morning time trying to get everyone out the door alive, but I think we have a really solid routine in place so that even if one of the buggers acts out, which they tend to do, I’ve accounted enough time for it. Now I have so much one and one time with Keaton that when Rowan gets home I have no qualms about spending that time with her and Keaton’s ready for a break from me anyway.

Wednesday and Friday mornings I’m still not use to and don’t know if I ever will. After I drop Keaton off at preschool and come home I somehow feel like a criminal, sneaking into an empty house. There is no one yelling at me to get this or that. No one vying for my attention. I’ve spent the last two and a half years with the distinct feeling of being split in half. The hardest thing for me as a parent has been the division of my time between my kids. I know it probably all roughly equals out in the end but I always feel like if I’m focusing on one I’m shortchanging the other, let alone focusing on myself for 3 minutes because OH THE CRUSHING GUILT when I go to check my e-mail and that’s the moment Keaton decides that jumping from the 7th stair up is probably the most genius idea he’s ever had only CRASH/SHIT/OW maybe not.

It’s wonderful and maybe a little scary because when you’re in the trenches of raising small children, you tend to let that define you, let it become your identity. And when you have 5 hours a week of time that is ALL YOURS you’re maybe not sure what to do with yourself. Or who you even are in all that silence. Should I be running around in my underwear playing air guitar? Perhaps that will come with time. For now I’m content to get inspired by reading more, and in turn, writing more. I think this will be really really good for me.

Luna: Air Conditioning season has deserted us and open window season is upon us. Being such, you know that goose that just honked three counties over? No? Well Luna did and this is what she had to say about that and several other similarly far off/completely inaudible/done made-up noises: BARK. BARK. BARK BARK. BARKBARKBARKBARKBARK. Let’s all pray that Luna makes it safely to furnace season.

Fawkes: Still fat. Still smelly. Still hairy.

Monkey: Still indignant about absolutely everything but especially fat, smelly, hairy things. If it wasn’t for her lack of opposable thumbs and such a hindrance to her busy napping and nether-part licking schedule, she’d be an absolute expert in the art of strongly worded letters, I just know it.

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But after waking up to this...

On our own private terrace overlooking Superior...

And spending the evening doing this...

With nothing but this,

this,

and this in between?

I'm having a little trouble coming back down from the clouds and the cliffs and the blue of that water.

Bill surprised me with a trip up north for my 29th plus one birthday. We stayed at a beautiful cabin in the woods for one night and a ridiculously amazing mansion/B&B for two nights and ate at 5 very fine eateries. I thought I could escape turning thirty there, but apparently that’s not how it works. Your facebook friends and family will find you regardless because you are stupid and keep your phone by you, which lovingly dinged e-mail messages and texts at me all day, reminding me that: Bitch? YOU ARE OLD NOW. So thanks for that, guys. {And I’m of course just joking because your messages made my day. And now that I’m thirty who knows how many of those I have left!)

Oh, well...

I guess if I have to turn thirty...

This is the way to do it.

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With all the mania surrounding Rowan this last month, I don’t want the Internet to think I’ve neglected my boy child. How could I possibly forget about him?! Except for that one time I left him in the closet with nothing but a dog chew toy and a harmonica for three days. WHAT?! He can play the harmonica really really well now! Can YOUR two and a half year old do that?

I didn’t think so.

Other amazing things my two and a half year old did this month…

* Defeated the evilness of the EVIL ICK that plagued him for half of July and into the beginning of August, and returned to his charming, hilarious self.

* Nap trained. In a sort of-pretty much-kind of way. When we break down the week he hits maybe 30% no accidents, 20% I done peed myself and my bed and 50% somewhere in between. Still though, it’s way easier than trying to put a diaper on him. He’s already gunning to go diaper free at night but we need some better percentages if that’s going to happen. Maybe I’ll make him a pie chart so he understands this better.

* This was the month of The Helmet. He’s wanted his own helmet since way back around this time. Unfortunately he really wanted a Lightening McQueen one, which we could only ever find in a 3 years plus. Now that he’s so close we found one that fit him well enough and these two?

They're inseparable.

I’ve made a rule that it has to stay outside {because seriously? he would sleep in the thing if he could} but when we are outside it is firmly clipped under his chin no matter if he’s riding his bike, playing at the playground or making chalk scribbles on the driveway, which I’ve heard is the #467th cause of head injuries in children under 3 so WHEW! We’re covered.

* Is BIG into helping out. He loves to have daddy pull out the step stool at dinner time so he can sprinkle ingredients in and stir up dinner. He’s already more culinary skilled than his inept mother! He also loves to help me make our bed in the morning and stares in wonder as I clean the toilet, saying, “When I get big I can use the toywet bwush.” And I assure him that yes, he can have that job once he hits three or so, which I think is a totally appropriate age for him to learn this very important life skill.

* The one sticking point this month has definitely been bedtime. All of August we ran Keaton ragged with outings at the beach, waterpark, zoo, and museum. We thoroughly expected him to sack out hard at the end of the night like his sister, who was asleep two minutes after her head hit the pillow. NUH-UH. Immediately after we’d sit down to True Blood or Mad Men episodes we’d hear the little pitter patter of feet on the floor above. Soon to follow was his voice which belted out Beatles songs. We’d go in to remind him it’s bedtime, that Rowan is sleeping and try to calm him down so he could fall asleep. Two minutes later he’s at it again, and keeps it up for as long as his little body has the energy for it, which is sometimes more than an hour, regardless of the increasing threats Bill and I try to lay on him. We’ve recently developed a pretty good good cop/bad cop strategy so hopefully we can break him soon or we’ll have to call in the feds.

Or the Grizzly. I bet he can do a mean bad cop.

Honestly Bud? You were a pretty easy going guy this month. As long as you got some time with your helmet and your Big Wheel every day you were a happy camper {On a side note, I’m seriously terrified for winter if it means you being separated from that bike. I’m going to look into tire snow chains for Big Wheels.} I don’t know if it was luck or if the universe was taking pity on me but it so helped that you were so happy-go-lucky during a month of utter turmoil for your sister. I can’t tell you how much I needed that balance to keep me sane. This next month is going to be a huge change for you. This week you had to start a totally different schedule due to Rowan’s Kindergarten day and you’ve handled the adjusted wake-up and nap times like a complete champ. With Rowan gone for most of our days we’re going to be spending a lot more one on one time together and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ll try not to smother you but will make no promises. Sometimes you are just too much cute not to smother.

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