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Archive for the ‘“Girl”’ Category

A long time ago I made a wish…

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r93 r92 r91 d3 d2 d1

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I wished for you, and you came true.

Happy Ninth Birthday to our girl. We love you with all of our hearts, Rowan J.

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Listen. I know, Flashing Cursor. I realize I’ve been MIA from this blog for months. I am aware I used to take great pleasure in writing about all the ways my children outsmart me on a daily basis. All the ways they made me feel so loved and then so completely useless and then wait, nope, there’s the love again~ often in one breath. After briefly considering canceling my hosting when it came up for renewal a month ago, I decided I would give it another year and see what I had left in me for this space. I really don’t know. But for now, I am here and I promise not to make any promises about how often I’ll check in, because that seems to just guarantee I’ll never write again.

So this is what I can tell you now… In less than 2 hours, my two giant children will join the household for the summer. This is maybe a little scary and maybe a little awesome. I like having all my chicks with me for the most part. I love lazy days, jammies til noon, lunch when…ever, beach and park trips, art supplies strewn about the table and intricate figurine set-ups taking over my gardens. It makes me smile, it makes me sigh. It makes me miss being a kid.

Like all parents, I don’t enjoy the whining, tattling or the incessant arguing but unfortunately, it comes with the territory of multiple kids. We’ll get through, I know, but I definitely don’t have to be excited about it. Mostly I am nervous about Rowan’s insane dance schedule over the next two weeks. She has summer dance and nationals practice that leaves her at the studio from 10:45- 5:30 or later most nights. Then I have to kiss my little guy’s sweet cheeks enough to last me 9 whole days without him while we’re in Florida. {Clearly I did NOT think this through. I’m already panicking and searching for plane tickets for him, shhhhh don’t tell Bill. He’ll think it’s funny when Ez shows up in my carry-on, right?} The longest I’ve been away from Ezra is overnight. I’m legit freaking out right now.

But! If we can make it through June, and the first 4 days of July, we’ll be in the clear to laze around and enjoy Summer at our new house. It seems amazing to me that I didn’t write about such a huge life change when I have multiple {really, like DOZENS} of posts devoted to poop on this blog. I wish I could detail the simultaneously dawn-out saga/whirlwind this whole process has been, but the most important thing to know is that we are all so very, extremely happy to be in a beautiful new home that is just the perfect fit for us. Hopefully more on that to come {if I can get my shit together, so again, no promises}.

For now, I will leave you with these two…

Who completely OWNED 2nd grade and Kindergarten.. with nary a yellow or red light between the two for an ENTIRE year, like WHOA.

Who completely OWNED 2nd grade and Kindergarten, with nary a yellow or red light between the two for an ENTIRE year, like WHOA. So proud of them!

And these two, who melt my heart, pretty much on a daily basis…

I think lucky is the word I'm looking for. Yep.

I think lucky is the word I’m looking for. Yep.

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I guess it’s pretty clear that Ezra has been the star of the show here for the last 16 months. This is for two reasons, one of them being that it’s really sort of tricky to navigate what you should share about your kids once they get older and the second is TIME, as in, I don’t have any to write more than one substantial post a month. To remedy this, I’m going to try to do a quick family update each month when I post my photo sets so I can write down some of the cool/annoying/awesome stuff the rest of us are up to and at least give the illusion that our world doesn’t revolve around a despot toddler king {which it 100% does}. Ezra will still have his own post for the time being because he is my babaaaay and I’m not ready to let that go just yet.

So Let’s start with me. As it turns out I’ve become a bit obsessive and have absolutely loved documenting our every day family life over on Instagram for the My 365 Project. It has been a HUGE push to better my photography skills which are now somewhere between Does Not Suck and Can Sometimes be Okay When I’m Not Screwing It All Up. I take out my big camera pretty much every day and I love reading articles and watching video tutorials when I can squeeze them in. Recently I watched one about Newborn Photography which blew my mind… too bad there were so damn many precious, tiny babies in those videos, distracting me from actually retaining any of the information.

Here are my favorite shots from February 14, {the whole set is here}:

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Other than being a chauffeur, homework overlord and packer of backpacks for the older two, I’m enjoying the calm before the {dance} storm. Competition fees have been turned in and we’re hoping one of the costumes will be handed out for decorating this week sometime. UPDATE!!: I now have a fringey pile of orange and pink and approximately 800 stones to affix to it! {Also: Sweet baby Jesus in heaven, please bless our room mom for not including those teeny/tiny/miniscule devil sequins, I am forever in her debt, AMEN.}   So: YAY! Let’s get this done! And: Oh God. I’m going to die from E-6000.

Here Lies Christy, who at 2am after 14 straight hours of gluing varying sizes of irritatingly small, iridescent stones, mistook her wine for the E-6000, gluing her throat shut. It was a good death. RIP.

Moving on to Bill… You remember him right? That guy I married? I wouldn’t really know since he’s done nothing but workworkwork for the last few months. Thankfully, he’s able to do part of this in the evenings on our couch but still, it’s been a really busy time for him both with work, personal projects and the side stuff. We divide and conquer from the hours of 4:30-8pm and then it’s back to his laptop until 11ish. Since he likes to watch stuff while he works, we pick a series to binge-watch so at least we have the pretense of together time. Against my better judgement, I let Bill choose the show this go-round and he picked Breaking Bad. We tried this show once a couple of years ago and after the third episode I told Bill if he wanted to keep watching it that was fine but I just couldn’t spend my relaxing time watching something so painful that I wanted to throw myself off a bridge after each episode. And yeah, I know, Best TV Show Of All Time, Is One of The Greats, yada-yada-accolade-cakes. I get that, I really do. My opinion though {which was right on the money after those first 3 episodes {re:THE PAINFULNESS} and unchanged when we watched it all the way through}, is that the first 2 seasons were pretty meh, save a couple of episodes, then in the third season they turned the characters into 100% unlikable, reprehensible shells of humans. There was no fading into gray for me, really. They went from conflicted, desperate and confused to The Most Terrible People and by the last third of the 4th season things blew up.

I’m not going to turn this family update into a BB recap but since it has dominated my time with my husband for the last 2 months I will say this. The writing and acting in the last 2 seasons was truly smart and really just downright phenomenal. But. And this is a big, huge, hairy but. I can’t handle watching shows where everyone is awful. There is no one to root for on this show, save maybe one, and even this guy has done so many despicable things and suffered such terrible losses, there’s no way he’ll ever come out functional. This makes each episode something you have to suffer through. Maybe other people could root for Walter White {but you’re probably a closet sociopath, FYI}. Not me though, not even at the end and I think it’s sort of troublesome if you actively want your protagonist to bite it. I get the whole idea of the “anti-hero” but man, I just found the whole thing to be so reprehensible, and even though I appreciate the art of it, {TL;DR!} you could not pay me to watch that shit again.

Okay, stay tuned for next month’s Bill update when I talk about True Detective, Scandal or House of Cards, because that is what our marriage has turned into at this point.

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Rowan: My first born has been a busy little bee with school and dance. She officially turned 8 and a half which is still just so weird to say. My kid is like, old and stuff. School has been going really well. So well, I feel like anything I write here will just sound like obnoxious bragging. I can take pretty much zero credit for this anyway, it just turns out I am raising the non-magical Hermione Granger, complete with tears when school is cancelled for the 6th snow day of 2014. She’s tested out of the curriculum reading assessments through third grade. She gets herself up early so she can read for fun and while math isn’t her favorite and she has to work hard, she gets great marks. She has an excellent memory so history tests are super fun for her and she aces them. Most weeks I forget to go over her spelling words with her {super mom, I know} and she has brought home a 15/15 every week, save one, the entire year. Do you see what I mean about the bragging? I sound like a total asshole right now but I don’t care. She works hard. She’s so independent. And I’m so proud of her.

Here is Hermione/Rowan reading a math book. For fun. Listen, guys. I know I was there and all when she was born and I'm fairly certain they placed her directly into my arms but there is just no possible way she can be my kid.

Here is Hermione/Rowan reading a math book before bed. For FUN. Listen, guys. I know I was there and all when she was born and I’m fairly certain they placed her directly into my arms but there is just no possible way she can be my kid. Like ZERO percent chance. Back me up, everyone who knows me…

Conversely, dance has been rough for her this year. I touched on this a few months ago, about the challenges of the flexibility amidst the other choreography and how it’s been tough for her. Rowan isn’t a Career Dancer. She doesn’t have the natural flexibility. She doesn’t have a family member that was or still is a dancer that can help her at home {for free} with the intricacies. She doesn’t have room in her house that she can practice without hitting the couch or a coffee table or another human. She also doesn’t have parents who have a huge disposable income for $50 worth of private lessons a week. Though this has always been the case for her, it was made really apparent this year as so many of the girls at the studio are doing this extra stuff. Rowan has always been very happy to just be a part of the group and work her hardest but based on all the extras the other kids are doing she’s starting to fall behind and feel what she’s contributing isn’t good enough for her team.

In most cases it’s not a matter of dance mom one-up-man-ship, but that all these kids really love dance, want to do their very best and they have very supportive parents that are making that happen for them. And while I personally feel some of it is getting a little out of hand, if it works for the individual family then that’s thier choice to make . Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for us which will be a tricky road to navigate if Rowan wants to keep dancing competitively. In the meantime we’ve done what we can to help her through. We share private lessons with others so they’re not so spendy. We go to open gym so she can work on flexibility instead of paying $30 an hour to work one-on-one with a gymnastics coach. She shows up every day ready to work her butt off and she really does. We practice at home, couches, coffee tables and other humans be damned. I feel guilty, like I’m not doing enough to support her sometimes, but the reality is, dance isn’t our family’s only reality and I just have to make peace with that and hope Rowan understands when the other girls are progressing in a way that she isn’t.

I will say that the coolest thing to witness was a few weeks ago when parents were invited in to watch and the instructor was working on turns with them, which need some work all around. Some of the girls have been doing these turns for well over a year or two in various solos and small groups but a little over half have just started them in earnest since January and Rowan was having trouble finding the rhythm of them. She struggled the Tuesday before big time and when her teacher asked her to do it in front of everyone I held my breath, fighting the urge to throw my hands over my eyes but… she did okay, and compared to where she was the week before, okay was AWESOME. And when she was done her teacher gave her an approving smile and the other girls clapped for her and it was so, so sweet. She really is in with a great group of very kind kids, which is important to us because she spends so much time there.

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After a completely activity-free fall, Keaton has been enjoying swimming lessons, a basketball clinic and joining the boys/partners dance at the studio. Swimming has been going well for him I think, but it’s stressful because Bill has to handle the two boys while I take Rowan to ballet. Ezra goes to baby swim from 6-6:30pm and Keaton does level 3 from 6:30-7pm. I haven’t seen Ezra at all and have only been able to watch Keaton 1.5 times which makes me feel shitty but just the way things worked out this time around.

Basketball was… sort of hilarious. Keaton definitely has an aptitude for sports; he has a good eye and great coordination. Since he’s never had trouble picking these sorts of things up, I thought this would transfer to basketball but it totally did not. The six sessions he had, he made a total of 8 baskets. He is not tall, on the contrary, he is a peanut compared to the other boys and while his fancy footwork was awesome while playing defense, you could totally tell they were the feet of a dancer, not a ball player. Still, the whole point was to get him out of the house for a couple of hours on Saturdays and to have fun, and both of these things were accomplished so I’ll call it a win while recognizing that we are NOT raising a hoops star.

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In January we were asked if Keaton was interested in doing the big boys’ number at the studio. At first he didn’t want to do it and I practically had to drag him there but after a few practices he fell back in love with the booty-shaking and I’ll admit, it’s been pretty fun to watch him again. It was most definitely the right decision for him and our family sanity to pull him from the line numbers but I’m glad he’s still able to dance in some capacity~ plus it will give him something to do one of the days we’re in Florida for Nationals this June.

School has been going really well for him. He loves his teacher, his classmates and has gotten a green light every day so far. His reading skills have really taken off in the last month. He can now read Frog and Toad style books all by himself and while getting him to stop jumping around the living room like a maniac can be hard after a long day at school, once he gets settled in he really gets into the story. I’m so proud of how great he’s doing although I will say, he has been having some attitude and listening problems at home that are driving both his father and I nuts. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that he is the child that requires the least amount of our time and energy. He’s so laid back and easy-going so we tend to just let him do his own thing which sometimes results in him feeling left out, and then he acts out, not terribly, but just enough to push our buttons. I hate that it’s come to this so we’re trying to make an extra effort to spend one-on-one time with him in hopes that the attitude and listening issues will work themselves out.

Okay! Wow! I’m… gonna stop now. That was really, really long. I had a lot to catch up on but the good news is, that shouldn’t be an issue if I keep this up month to month. Of course this is me we’re talking about so no guarantees. Hope everyone made it though February alive and here’s looking to somewhat of a thaw by the end of March.

 

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It was conferences this week! You wanna know how much fun it is to bring a mobile, nap-skipping baby into classrooms with thousands of things to destroy and/or choke on? SUPER FUN. The only major snafu was when Ezra’s milk cup exploded all over Bill, the baby and the classroom floor in a spectacular geyser of coconut milk. I’m pretty sure we won’t be invited back to 2nd grade unless we have proof of a babysitter first. It is now time for you to sit back {or, uh, slowly back away by means of the handy x button} and enjoy reading about my two oldest precious little snowflakes…

First up we have Keaton, Sir:

This little guy’s report surprised me the most. I know it’s not fair to pigeon-hole your kids but if I WERE to do that, Rowan would definitely be my academic child and Keaton would be our… wiggly… uh… funny…. uh… sports-ball child. I think that about sums it up nicely. He always got great reports in preschool and was always put in the more accelerated learning groups but I guess I sort of thought that he was placed there because his teachers had Rowan as well and maybe just assumed Keaton was similar.

I know. I’m a terrible mother. But in my defense Keaton has never had the patience to sit still and work for long periods. Getting this kid to sit for a story was impossible until he was four and even now he jumps around and plays invisible swords when I read him chapters of Harry Potter. He loses interest and gets bored easily and always defaults to some physical activity involving swordplay or barrel rolls.

So imagine my surprise when his reading assessment revealed he was already working on the end of the year goal list. I have been trying to make an effort for him to read to me but man.. reading with a beginning five year old is just plain exhausting. He gets so tired halfway through that he just turns off by the end of it, making guesses instead of reading tougher words and sounding out words like “is” and “the” when he has had them memorized for months.

I really need to find some shorter books for him because I think he would get more confident if he could read in shorter bursts. I’ve tried the whole, I’ll read a page, you read a page thing, or only reading a few pages a night but the payoff just isn’t there for him then and he ends up crabby about the whole thing. I need something like the Biscuit books but more challenging and maybe with a little more stimulating subject matter. He loves Gerald and Piggy {and really, who doesn’t} but he’s read them all so many times that he doesn’t even need to open the dang book to recite the story. Of course he always wants Star Wars books but those suckers have super tricky words so I end up reading half of it for him. Right now the best ones for him are the more simple Dr. Suess ones. He can read The Foot Book, One Fish Two Fish and The Cat in the Hat and green Eggs and Ham with very minimal help from me. I’m really proud of his hard work and was so happy and surprised at how well he is progressing in reading.

Other than that? Kindergarten and Keaton are getting along swimmingly. He was sososo ready to go and really hasn’t skipped a beat since September once he adjusted to the much longer days. He loves his teacher, and absolutely adores being around people all day. I honestly don’t know how I produced SUCH a people person but wow is he ever. This is the kid I have to bribe to just gooooo beeee byyyy youseeeeelf for fiiiiiiiiive minuuuuutes, pleeeeeease. He would never ever be/play/sleep/eat do anything alone if he could help it, so school is a blessing because there are 29 other kids plus a handful of teachers he gets to spread all that love around to.

He has a half-day once a week which has been our time. I’ve tried to make it as special as I can so I pack a lunch and take him to various parks, make trips to the library or come home and play board games. Unfortunately once Ezra switches to an afternoon nap we’re going to have to switch Keaton to full-day 5 days a week which will be good for him but I’m really going to miss my time with my big guy.

Now that winter is at our doorstep, I know I have to get him involved in an outside activity. Unfortunately it just wasn’t feasible time or money-wise to keep him in dance this year. It’s been sad because he really loved it but with the dramatic increase in hours he spent at school it was the best choice for him at this point. We’re hoping to get him back enrolled in either the all boys dance group or karate and he’ll start a little basketball clinic and swimming lessons in January so that should keep him active over the coldest winter months. All-in-all it’s been a bang-up start to his formative school years.

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Now for Little Miss Rowan:

As I mentioned, academics are never an issue for this kid so we don’t really worry. She is very close to being a Step 12 reader which is where the reading assessment ends {typically for end of the year third graders}. THIS IS WHERE THE BRAGGING COMES IN, if that wasn’t clear. Because I’m solely responsible for this, right? Me, the 7 year old who still couldn’t read simple sentences. Whose first grade teacher took pity on me and kept me in for recess to give extra help. I got it eventually and when I did I soared, I loved reading… but I was no Rowan. Her comprehension is phenomenal. She’ll read and {this is important} understand pretty much anything you lay in front of her.

We asked her teacher for a few reading suggestions because she absolutely devours books so quickly that I have a hard time keeping her challenged, but by the fourth or fifth one she suggested to our responses of “yep, she like that one” “read it” and “Yeah, she’s finished the whole series”, Bill was like, see! this is exactly our problem. She was stumped for a minute or two but after a good laugh she thought of a few titles Rowan has yet to read so the girl should be set for a while.

We moved on to math, where Rowan has bounced back and then some from last year. In first grade she was put in the most fast-paced math group and she struggled big time with the timed homework. They had 5 minutes to finish 100ish problems and it was really overwhelming for her. She spent the whole year getting more and more nervous about it until the end when she just quit trying all together. This kid had ended the first semester report with a strong “meets expectations” and by the end of the year she got the lowest score possible. When I talked with her teacher, who had left on maternity leave a few weeks before the end of the year, she was sure Rowan would bounce back fine, and thought the low assessment scores were due to the disruption of her leaving {Rowan was very close to this teacher and was not happy to be getting a sub}.

When we saw she was placed in the middle instead of the top math group at the start of this year we were relieved. The pressure and the pace was just too much for her very careful, perfectionist personality. She definitely has her confidence back. We did have one issue, however. The 64 question timed homework is the same sheet of  problems in the same order which they get about four times a week. They have 5 minutes to finish the sheet and seemingly overnight Rowan went from finishing in 4 and a half minutes to finishing in two and a half. “WOW, Rowan! That was quick!” “I know, Mom! Aren’t you proud!” “Yes! I can’t believe how much faster you’re doing these!” “Oh! It’s easy! See, the answers are always the same! So I know to just write 6,4 18, 7, 3, 15, 2…” “Uh… aren’t you reading the problem? “Why would I read the problem when I can just memorize the order of the answers?” “Oh, Rowan. I don’t think that’s how you’re supposed to do it.” “Why WOULDN’T you do it that way, it’s way easier!” *so much head-shaking* Sure enough, the next time she did the sheet I watched her carefully and she blew through the first three lines, having memorized the answers. Needless to say, I notified the teacher of this, um, tactic, for homework completion, and she said, “Huh. that’s the only sheet they offer because they want the kids to see the equation and immediately associate the answer. I always wondered if kids figured out that they were always the same.” Yep. Leave it to our kid. Lovely.

Last year was a tougher year friend-wise for Rowan because of the dynamic of her particular class. Unfortunately Rowan got drawn into this mid-year a bit because she really liked a few of the girls so she tried to play “the game” of who is allowed to play with who and on what day but after way too many mean-girl tactics {in FIRST grade. Seriously.} she had to give up on the group which was a tough call she made herself and she moved on to a smaller group of drama-free girls which she has very happily stuck with ever since. Thankfully this year has been awesome and her teacher said that even though she definitely has a few close friends she spends most of her free time with, she is a good friend to all her classmates and well-liked.

She has even become somewhat of a mentor to the kids who struggle. She has noticed since starting at this school that her teachers often sit her next to the kids who need a little extra help. Once and a while she’ll get frustrated by this if her seat partner is a little too rambunctious but she understands it’s because she can stay on task and be a helper even if there is a little chaos around her {this is a complete 180 from how she was when she first started school at five, she couldn’t handle ANY disruption}. One boy in particular has been having a hard time but since her teacher sat him next to Rowan, she has taken him under her wing and he’s been really benefiting from her friendship, and she really likes him as well.

This is one more reason I love this school so much. They are so big into positive attitude, reinforcement and character building as well as academics. And listen, kids are still kids. Mine make dumb mistakes all the time. They can be jerks to Bill and I and jerks to each other… we all have our days. But they are learning some valuable things about not just being a good student but about being a good person and that I’m really thankful for.

Other than that, it’s dancedancedance for this lady. She’s struggled a little bit to keep up with the flexibility and acro moves which caused a rough start this year. She kept thinking she there was just no way she would ever get them, but then, she just…did it, and no one was more surprised than her. The look on her face when came back upright after her first walk-over was “oh shit! did that just happen?!” It was pretty priceless to witness after months of failed-attempts. She has a great group of girls in her line who she really likes and has become close to one in particular so that was a big help getting through the toughest parts, but I think she’s now officially turned the corner from the “no I can’ts” to the “welp, it’s gonna be a lot of work but I know I cans”.

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There you have it! These two have done such a great job. After we got the report cards, we told them we’d take them out to a fancy family dinner. “Because we’re so smart?” Keaton asked, and I had to say, NOPE. I loved all the 3s and 4s on their report cards, but it was what we saw in the teacher’s comments that got them a crab and lobster dinner. Compassionate, good friend, role model, helper. Proud doesn’t begin to cover it.

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I’m sure all around the country moms with social media access are putting their kids’ versions of this out there but MY girl child is obviously the most clever and funny {and really sort of disturbing} so I’m going to just leave this here and pray for the turkey population {and youth} of America…

How to Cook a Turkey

“First, you go to Target to get the big turkey. Next, turn on the oven. Then wash the turkey. After that, season the turkey. Last, cook for four hours finally dig in!”

Wow. I really love that she is shopping for turkeys at Target. She knows her mama well… if someone sent me out to get a turkey I’d probably wander to Target and get lost in the lotion aisle where I would frantically text Bill “I don’t see any turkeys but Burt’s Bees is on sale!”. {Also, I was going to make fun of the whole “wash the turkey” thing but then I panicked… maybe you DO wash turkeys, I really wouldn’t know. You certainly dress them so I guess it makes sense. I’m just gonna shut up now.}

How to Make a Pumpkin Pie

“First, you go to Cub to get your canned pumpkin, whip cream and crust. {She really hit all the major parts of the pie, no?} Next we stir the ingredients in a bowl. Now, we pour the mixture in the crust pan. Last put your unbaked pie in the oven for one hour. In the end, feast and injoy!”

I’m gonna injoy the shit out of that pie.

How to Help A Turkey Escape From Thanksgiving Dinner

“First, you must find a turkey and ask him if you can help. If you can, ask him what you will need to help. Next, you will need a pumpkin pie and a net that can hang in a tree. Then, you will need to make a plan. Last, wait until the person reaches for the pie and then run away and eat the turkey yourself.”

Um… wha… what? Did my child just bait with a pie, then trap in a net the person who was supposed to kill the turkey, making the bird believe he was saved and then EAT THE TURKEY HERSELF? Oh god. I think I’m raising a sociopath. One who knows you have to make a plan. That’s comforting.

And lastly,

How to Make a Turkey Your Pet

“First, you have to find an alive turkey. {So not the one she was supposed to help escape then, because she ate him.} Then you must find tape and clamp the turkey’s beak shut and wrap his claws in cloth. {WHAT?!} Next, you must tame him so you must teach him how to sit, talk and dance like a popstar. {…} Last, you must dress him in popstar clothes. In the end, he will be up on the stage dancing.”

Wow. Well, I’m pretty sure she just described the origin of Miley Cyrus so we can all rest easy knowing she is not in fact, a culture-appropriating provocateur but instead someone’s pet turkey. What a relief! Thanks for clearing this up, Rowan.

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{*Rowan at 8 photo credit Christine Welsh Photography*}

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11.12.2

11.12.1

You watch their chicken-scratches turn into letters, into words, into sentences, into stories. You listen as they repeat words you read from books, memorize them, then clumsily sound them out themselves- going from a pained emphasis on each letter until the realization of what they are speaking takes on meaning and ta-he-e becomes “the” and ba-aaa-laa-laa becomes ball. You see the clothes that once piled up at their ankles and folded down over their fingertips travel up their legs, their arms until they are too snug and tight to force down their growing limbs. I am a witness to it all, but still, every year the results of picture day sort of shock me when I see all that mysterious, sneaky growth that took place right there in front of me.

*All photos taken by Lifetouch Photography except for the two lighter backdrops of Keaton which were taken by Elizabeth Westerhaus Photography.

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I want to take a minute to note the kids’ big art show and music concert we attended last night which was just as crazy as usual {massively over-crowded and chaotic} but at least now we know what to expect and can accept it for what it is, however horrifying it may be for a claustrophobic person.

The kids have been talking about this a ton and were super excited to show us their art work and all the songs they’ve been hard at work practicing. Rowan has a strict “surprise” policy, which means she won’t sing us or even tell us the names of any of the songs her class will be performing ahead of time so we can, I don’t know, go in with a musically cleansed pallet? Whatever, she’s really strict about it, so much so that whenever Keaton would so much as hum “Little Miss Muffet” or “Jack and Jill” Rowan would FREAK, like GOD, Keaton don’t you even know about My Policy {TM}, how could you?

And that was just for his Kindergarten class songs, ones that she had absolutely no involvement in. You don’t even want to KNOW the tone her voice took with him when he started singing the big group number for me, oh lord, the curl of drama in her voice went to a whole ‘nother level as she spit “You are ruining this for EVERYONE”. Which is to say, he was ruining it for no one, not even her, despite her very righteous indignation. Regardless, we’ve learned to just not ask too much about what we will hear on concert night because of this quirk.

I did have a little parenting conundrum beforehand though. Their music teacher instructed Keaton’s class to “wear their best” so Keaton came home from school, very excited, and said, “Mom! Mrs. H said we should wear our best clothes! I’m going to wear my tuxedo from boys’ dance because that is the fanciest thing I own!” Now, if you remember the pictures I probably posted last spring of my second-born dressed to the nines in a tux, you will have noted that this was not a sharp, sophisticated 2013 tuxedo, but rather something more closely associated with a bad 1980s prom photo. Line-texured shirt, hunter green bow tie and cumberbund, lots of sharp, unnecessary waist angles and ridiculously pointy tails. Now don’t get me wrong, it was/is completely adorable up on a dance stage, but for a school concert? Yeah, not so much.

At first I said sure, without really thinking about it. Keaton does not get embarrassed or ruffled easily. This is a kid who will still regularly come downstairs with a ninja mask, bow-staff and one of his sister’s leotards on and he has exactly NO SHAME. He’s asked to wear one of Rowan’s jumpers to school {because they look comfy, mom!} and he still will sport nail polish in the summer with absolutely no inhibitions. I 100% do NOT want to change this aspect of him. It’s one of my very favorite things and it’s truly what makes my Keaton so damn Keaton.

But. I didn’t want him to get hurt feelings if one of the kids {or let’s face it, adults, who I’ve learned can be worse when it comes to stuff like this} laughed at him or made fun of his very fancy outfit. The last thing I wanted to have happen would be for him to become self-conscious and lose the ability to just not give a shit about what other people think. Rowan was never as care-free as Keaton, but she got much more self-conscious somewhere between 6 and 7 and look, if/when it happens, it happens and that’s fine… I just didn’t want some jerky kid to kick-start it over a John Hughs tux.

I tried to explain to him that he would be a little over-dressed and that we could have a fancy family night that he could wear it to instead but he had his mind made up. I ended up polling a parent group I belong to and all agreed that I should let him sport the tux but should bring a back-up outfit just in case he felt it would be better to change. Brilliant! I explained the deal to Keaton which he accepted but he never wavered in his desire to wear the tux.

When we got to school, I dropped Keaton off in a room full of plaid shirts, sweater vests and khakis. I approached his teacher and said “Yeah, about the tux…” and she said, “Oh, we know all about the tux. Keaton talked about wearing it allll week”. Ha! Turns out it would have been weird for him not to wear it, as his whole class had been briefed on the sheer awesomeness of it. And therein I learned a very valuable lesson about trusting this kid, who knows himself through and through. And when they marched in, he stood up front and center, so proud as he sang his little heart out. It was a really great moment to be his mama.

Rowan did super great as well, and we were all surprised {!!!}! by the songs she sang {well, except for the last one, thanks for ruining LIFE, Keaton}. She was also very proud of her artwork and beamed as she pointed out her pieces hanging on the wall. It was all around a very busy, but fun evening celebrating just how awesome these little people are.

"Jazz"

“Jazz”

So much style in one little body.

So much style in one little body.

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The 2013 costuming season can be summed us thusly: So. Much. Sewing.

Seriously. As I was sewing on what I’m pretty sure was the 67th snap, I found myself wistfully remembering that first year when all I had to do was lovingly affix 7,986,231 sequins to two costumes. This year, between the 2 kids, I was responsible for six costumes, all of which needed a moderate to severe amount of sewing. And yes, severe sewing is totally a thing. At least when it’s done by me. I severely sewed the SHIT out of these costumes.

Let’s jump in, shall we?

Rowan’s jazz dance was to Monster Mash. This costume was originally slated to be a lacy white and black, Bride of Frankenstein-esque number but it wasn’t quite Monster-y enough, which meant that the sewers had to start over, modeling it after a small-group costume created the previous season. I was a little put off by all the orange at first but it looked great up on stage and even won the costume award at our first competition.

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The skirt was probably the most labor intensive. The tulle of the skirt was dotted which made the placement of the sequins a no-brainer {and it was soft tulle which makes a HUGE difference in getting the sequins to stick} but there were A LOT of them. The black stripes on the front were glittered, which was messy but pretty easy. The waistband was added later by our room mom so we could add an assortment of orange, clear and irredescent crystal stones.

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The orange muppet feathers were originally on a rope-like spool; 2 four inch and one six inch pieces were cut for each skirt and we sewed them on to create the desired feathered-bootie effect. We also added the flower and tacked the skirt down in several places so it would stay in place during the dance.

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I’m sorry there was really just no good way to photograph this fluff of a top. When we got it is was just a rectangular piece of lycra. From there we sewed on two long ropes of orange fluff, tacking each down in 6 or so places. Then we added extra pieces of fluff to the back once we account for stretch, so it would completely cover the lycra. Three black straps were added to connect it around the back and two to the neck. The material is a sparkly black which is great for shimmering up on stage but not so great for the dancers as it is suuuupppeeerrr itchy. I ended up sewing a soft felt-like material on the inside where the straps were bothering Rowan which helped some.

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The neck straps were stoned with an assortment of crystals and I sewed on a swimsuit clasp and snaps for closures. There are 6 of these flowers on this costume, which were originally fake flowers with a stem and all, purchased from a craft store. They were de-stemmed, taken apart, hot glued and sewn back together, then a clear gem was sharpied {I promise this is a thing in the dance world} orange and glued in the center. We also glittered all the black stripes by placing many small dots of gem-tac glue and then sprinkling spoonfuls of glitter over them. Obviously this wasn’t enough DUH so we added random stones for shine.

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For the arm bands we sewed more orange fluff in a circle to splay out the feathers and WHY YES, that is more glitter on the black stripes, which was thankfully done in the studio and not spread all over my house… although I did mysteriously find some under Ezra’s chin a few days later for which the only explanation I can think of is some made it down my shirt and was transferred via nursing session, whatever… sparkle boob, sparkle baby. We also sewed clear hair elastics to the points of the band to loop around their finger so they would stay in place.

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The leg mufflers were made of a very messy fur that sheds everywhere so we had to handle these puppies with care. We sequined the black tulle and sewed on the decorated flowers. To keep these things from slipping down while the girls danced we were given very tight, long, lycra socks. We sewed snaps to both the muffs and the socks to secure them. There was still a little slippage but it worked pretty well.

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Last were the hair bows. I helped glitter and decorate the flowers but one of our talented room moms created and assembled the bows. They are super cute and will be great for re-wearing at Halloween.

And here is the finished product…

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Rowan’s tap costume was MUCH less labor intensive and I really really love it. Still though, with the sewing…

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The skirt was made out of a shimmery plaid which required no extra stones or sequins. I’m not quite sure how we made it through without having to sequin the tulle sticking out but thankbabyjesus for big/small favors. We stoned the belt loops and the buckle and tacked down the belt and the skirt to the tulle so it wouldn’t flip up. Voila! Done!

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For the blazer we stoned and sewed on the decorative buttons and then sewed snaps on the inside for the closure. We sequined and stoned to create the LD patch. The pockets and collar were tacked down in several places so nothing gets floppy on stage.

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For the finishing touches, the plaid was cut and glued onto the taps. We sewed on two rows of ruffle to the white knee-highs. The bra top required no extra work, as it was really barely visible on most girls.

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And here it is! I helped put the little stones on the hair bows but they were again mostly done by one of our room moms. I was disappointed when Charlie Brown was chosen as Rowan’s tap song- it’s just never been one of my favorites, but the costume ended up so adorable and the dance turned out to be one of my very favorites- the best one of Rowan’s yet. I love the whole thing.

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The studio also does a number that spans all the competition lines, 1st grade through graduating seniors {6 lines total plus the Dancing Dads- all of them except for the baby line, which is why this is Rowan’s first year in it} called Jive Bunny. It’s always a mix of songs with a common theme. Last year it was a Footloose theme, the year before is was Lady Gaga {those costumes were pretty rad}. This year Jive Bunny had a Rock of Ages theme. Rowan’s group dances out to I Wanna Rock during which they wield Paper Jams guitars. It’s reeeeeeally cute. A group of awesome moms took the helm piecing together this costume. I didn’t do anything but pay for it and add a few tacks to hold things in place.

Now for Keaton. Last fall I offered to help out backstage for the boys. I didn’t think it would be a big deal since there were just three boys on his line, they only do two competitions and two recitals and I was nervous how Keaton would handle all this so I thought it would be better to be back there with him. Then one of the boys ended up dropping out so it was just the two of them and I failed to remember that all the comp boys from the studio do a boys only number that is performed at all 5 recital shows. And little did I know, although I should have suspected, that I would somehow become responsible for the boys’ costumes which were eventually pieced together and modified by myself with a generous amount of help from the room mom from his line and a couple other older boys’ moms who have been through The Crazy and gave me help/tips. I was completely unprepared for this responsibility and hated pretty much every second of it from conception to execution to completion but there really wasn’t anyone else who could do it so that was that. If Keaton stays in dance I praypraypray a boy with a competent mother gets recruited so I can pass the costume conception torch to her, for I absolutely SUCK at it. Give me detailed instructions and material and I will gladly do whatever I can to help out but I’m just NOT cut out to put this stuff together; I do NOT have a brain that thinks in sequins and shimmer, just look at my closet where you’ll be assaulted with only varying shades of grey.

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I don’t have detailed or great pictures of Keaton’s costumes. I’m always so busy doing things backstage, a rushed cell phone picture is all I’ve managed so far, Hopefully I’ll get some good ones during the recital weekend. This is his jazz costume. It looks easy and unassuming enough and it really is, except that none of the items he’s wearing here came in the right color. The green t-shirt is the only thing that was purchased outright and the only modification was cutting a hole in it to string the light panel battery pack connector through. The sweatshirt had to match the girls’ vests so I bought white hoodies, cut a hole for the light panel in the lower chest, cut the sleeves off and had them hemmed, then a room mom helped dye them to match. Another room mom found the light-up panels {the girls’ tutus light up so they wanted something cool for the boys} which I glued and tacked onto the sweatshirt in 8 spots. I also tacked down the hood so it wouldn’t flop around and tacked the sweatshirt to the greet shirt.

The shorts were pretty time consuming because all the pink and orange you see on them was lovingly colored in with fabric markers and they needed to be gone over several times to be bright enough. They also only had the converse high-tops in bold colors; no neon or baby blue unless you want to pay big bucks for custom designs so those were dyed along with the sweatshirts, which took a couple of tries because they weren’t coming out dark enough. Then I ditched the white laces for the bright blue. The socks needed to be colored with fabric pens as well. There were tons of neon colors out there this spring but unfortunately they were all for girls and all super feminine styles. The process of running to store after store, getting excited about finally landing on something only to have it not work out and then heading back to return it was really daunting with the baby.

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Keaton’s tap dance was to Hound Dog. Please don’t ask me about the zebra print because I… don’t get it either. The pants and fake-leather jacket was purchased at H&M. I searched stores and the Internet high and low for a boys zebra print shirt with close to zero luck. The only one I found was spendy and non-returnable which really wasn’t a chance I wanted to take because I never knew what would make it through approvals or not. In the end I modified the straps on a zebra camisole I found at Justice. The boys HATE it but since you only see the bottom and a little bit at the top it’s not too big of a deal. My least favorite part of this costume was the dog collar {which you can’t really see in this picture}. It’s a men’s gothic spike necklace I got at Hot Topic. I had to cut it down and add elastic and a snap and ugh, it’s weird and yuck and I DO NOT LIKE. Admittedly it looks just fine on stage but I asked the girls’ room mom to sneak it off of him for his individual shot on picture day because just, yeah, no thank you.

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For the boys dance Keaton wore an adorable tuxedo. Since he was born with absolutely no butt to speak of, I had to take in the waist by about half. I also had the legs hemmed and each age group of boys got their own color cumberbund and tie. Besides adding velcro on the tie closure {they all pull them off at the end of the dance} and reinforcing the buttons, this one was pretty easy and he was just oh so handsome.

And there you have it! Time is always the big issue~ it seems no matter how hard everyone tries to get the ball rolling early, we always end up having to complete 9,000 tasks in about 3-4 weeks and it is really pretty stressful; especially when you’re caring for a small human that doesn’t understand when I say “hold on, Baby, I just need to sew on 8 more snaps”. I have learned to let go and just try to roll with the punches for the most part which was fine for Rowan’s stuff, especially after I learned to glue down the snap before sewing. There may have been some tears shed when those little bastards wouldn’t stop sliding around as I was trying to sew them down and it was 11 pm and I knew the baby would be up soon and I just wanted to sleeeeeep and STOP MOVING, SNAP I HATE YOU, SNAP WHY WERE YOU EVEN BORN, SNAP. Letting things go turned out to be a little trickier for Keaton since I was in charge of it but with lots of help I made it through with most of my dignity in tact. Being stuck in a dressing room with a dozen boys ages 4-12 is a WHOLE other story, one I’m really hoping I live through.

As in previous years, we are not sure if we’ll continue down this road. There are so many benefits of competitive dance but the main drawbacks, time and money, are getting harder to justify the deeper into this we get. We will reassess after the recital at the beginning of June and see where things stand. In the meantime, I’m so proud of all the hard work Rowan and Keaton put in this year. The progress they’ve both made is really remarkable and watching how much fun they are having up on stage has truly been one of my best moments as their mom, even if I do wince every time I see a hard-won stone or sequin pop off in the process ;).

 

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So, yeah. Things look a little different around here. Yesterday I got a bee in my bonnet, deciding I needed to change the header to include Ezra. The thing is, because there is always a thing, Bill designed and built my blog back in 2010 having very little knowledge about blog coding and while he did a fabulous job, it was time-consuming and a giant pain in the ass. At the time it was worth it because I was blogging very regularly and had hopes in the future of putting work into promoting it and making it a bigger, maybe even income-generating thing.

After a little time and soul-searching, I decided that what I really wanted for the foreseeable future was a home to keep our family’s memories, nothing more. Not that you can tell from the posts I put up here but I’m actually somewhat of a perfectionist when it comes to my writing so when I thought about being read on a wider scale I knew I would drive myself crazy during the editing process, because time? We just don’t have it at this point in our lives. Life morphs, evolves, in the nearly seven and a half years of being a parent, the shape of our family along with its dynamic has changed so many times. One day I might get to a place where I want to do more with this space but for now I scramble to document the big events and much of the minutiae of every day life is lost to these pages now.

At the point we’re at now, I just wanted to strip down what I had by choosing a basic wordpress theme, throw up a picture of the kids as the header and call it a day. Only neither of us could figure out how to add a picture to the header which seems like it should be the easiest thing in the world and it probably is but when you have two sleep-deprived parents of three small children, well, basically we’re idiots. So after playing around with themes and trying to get the fuuuuuureaking header image up, we broke the Internet and my blog {temporarily, obvs.} then gave up and went to bed because our brain cells were starting to jump ship out our earholes. Being a lazy asshole, I’m just leaving it bare-bones for now, but if we can’t figure out how to fix it, I’ll probably end up putting the old site back up until we figure it out, so bear with me as my super kaduper life is going to be a bit bi-polar for a while. UPDATED: Bill figured out the header! Yay Bill! {I’d say I’m sorry for publicly shaming you, but you know, shame gets shit DONE.}

Now! To distract you from these boring surroundings, I will share with you my very favorite Christmas gift. Rowan was very secretive about the gift she had made in school but she was super excited, downright giddy, to give it to us. The little stinker even sneaked out in the wee hours of Christmas morning and put it under the tree for us, right next to her own presents which I’m sure she thoroughly {illegally!} inspected. Truth is I sort of cheated because the evening after the last day of school I was going through her bag and in it was a rough draft of her present. I didn’t realize what it was at first, it was just a little stapled book, but I’m so glad I was able to read it first out of her presence because tears were just streaming down my face I was laughing so hard which probably would have insulted her had she witnessed it. Thankfully, I was much more composed on Christmas morning.

Here is her book. The harrowing story of her mother. A mother who, against all odds, takes naps, goes shopping and drinks…

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I can’t decide if my favorite part is when I ditch everyone to take a nap or when I take my small child out on a shopping trip where I start drinking. A few people who read it tried to make me feel better by saying maybe I was just being mean and not letting her get a drink, that it didn’t necessarily mean it was alcoholic. So I asked Rowan why I wouldn’t let her have a drink in her story and she replied, “I can’t have those kinds of drinks mommy. They have booze in them.” You guys, I don’t even know what her teacher must think but for now I don’t care because despite the storyline, this was by far the best present I have ever received.

Also, just so we’re all up to speed, on the flip side was Bill’s story, in which he gave hugs, cooked her dinner and went to work like a responsible parent.

Now, Internet, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go make a martini, do some shopping and take a nap.

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