Month: April 2011 (page 1 of 2)

Why I Keep Writing (And refrain from reading recent posts more than once)

When I write a post,
it’s crap. But time passes and
the post gets better.

Photograph! (Sung like Joe Elliott. Or Chris Daughtry. Did you know he remade* that song? With Santana! Carlos. Not the girl from Glee.)

Lucy recently had the opportunity to model for Hot Shotz Photography some new spring items from Sweet Treats Boutique.

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Julia has never been so jealous. She just couldn’t understand. Why Lucy?

“Do they know you have other daughters? Did you tell them about me? I don’t think you should let her do it. It doesn’t seem fair that only Lucy gets to do it. Lucy doesn’t even care about being a model!”

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But the truth was, Lucy cared. A lot. She tried so hard. And I think she did well.

This one is my favorite:

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You can’t tell, but she has marker on her hands.

I don’t often do professional pictures of my girls. Pictures are expensive and there’s just so much pressure getting them done. You have to figure out what they’ll wear and how to do their hair. Then you have to actually make them wear it without messing it up, all the while keeping their spirits high – you want them to smile, after all. And will they smile? No. At least not at the same the time. Or while looking at the camera. And you sweat pit stains with all the jumping and dancing and begging and “Weee! Look at Mommmeeeee!” you do to try and get them to, “Look over here! Smile! Hurry! The next session just walked in the door!!! Who wants ice cream!?!?! Smile! Smile!!! Uhhh, hey girls! BUTT! Ha! ha! Mommy just said ‘butt!’ Isn’t that funny? Yeah, that’s right! BUTT!!!” All for fake, forced grins in bought-it-just-for-the-picture outfits, because let’s face it, everything else they own is stained.

I already hand over way too much cash for the school and extracurricular photos that are taken of the kids, unfortunately, by the same old photographer in front of the same old backdrop doing the same old pose. In different outfits, however! I know I don’t have to buy them. Not legally. Still, I feel obligated. How can I not buy pictures of my kids? Even when the experience is, “What package did they buy?”

“Just a 5 x 7.”

“Oh.” Click. “Next.”

I prefer to take – for free – my own pictures at my own pace where we live and play in clothes we actually wear with smiles that grew organically from the joy of life, not because I sold out and said “butt.” (Not that saying “butt” isn’t a joyful part of our daily life. It’s just better when it happens spontaneously. Or in conjunction with “chicken” in response to the query “Guess what?”) Still, I know my pictures aren’t the same as professional pictures as I am not a professional. My plan has been to have a photo shoot with a professional at our house as a gift to myself when I reach my goal weight and then yearly thereafter. But yesterday I made a peanut butter marble cake with peanut buttercream frosting and I ate most of it, so it seems unlikely that will happen soon. It’s a good thing I had photos taken of all the girls before Lucy’s modeling session.

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3-1

11-1

I absolutely love them.

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Lacey – the photographer at Hot Shotz – is magic. I don’t know how or when she grabbed these images. I was there, but I don’t ever remember my girls looking like this. I don’t recall them ever looking like anything but uncaged chimps on LSD.

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Lacey also happens to be one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. I’ve never heard her say anything but kind things to or about other people.

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My kids love her.

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I do, too.

Her pictures were so worth it.

You can see the entire set of photos from our session here.

And you should listen to Def Leppard’s Photograph by Chris Daughtry and Santana.

If I ever write a horror story, the most suspenseful scene will take place at the car wash.

automatic wash
the doors close, the water sprays
Lucy fah-reaks out

Put on your Interior Designer hats. I need some advice.

“Remember how you used to lay my work clothes out for me every night?”

“Uh huh.”

“And you used to pack my bag and my lunch and everything?”

“Yep.”

“What happened?”

“You kept knocking me up. Now I have real kids to take care of.”

“Oooh! Burn!”

I licked my thumb, touched it to my bum and made a sizzle sound.

Dave raised his eyebrows and tried to look sexy. He doesn’t know he looks sexiest when he isn’t trying.

I think I’m going to surprise him by laying out some clothes for him tonight. I actually like doing it, because I like making Dave happy. And I like it when he looks more like a man and less like Mr. Goodbar. It’s really the little things that Dave thrives on, anyway. Like when I put love notes in the lunch I packed him instead of telling him, “There’s food out there. If you want to eat, you better grab something.” Or when I wake him up with kisses in the dark, then slowly bring up the lights rather than flipping them on, tossing laundry on the bed and screaming, “The kids are out of control!!!! GET UP!” Or when I greet him at the door when he comes home from work, preferably braless, with a cold drink in one hand and the remote control in the other.

It’d be easy to shrug all that off and act like Dave has some insane 1950’s expectations for a wife, but that really only works if he was asking me to do those things and I was opposed to them. I used to do them all! The truth is, I’ve been a slacker. And not just in the Wifely Duties (nonsexual) category. The stuff I don’t do that I used to do is piling up, literally. My house is a Disaster! Disorganized! Embarrassing! Overwhelming!

I have decided the solution for all my problems lies in reorganizing the playroom to make it more functional for the kids AND I NEED YOUR HELP!

Along one wall of the room is a window seat with an open closet on either side.

Lucy in the window seat

Playroom closet 1

Playroom closet 2

Lucy and her army of Elmo's

I love the window seat. I’d like to keep it as it is – well, minus the crayon scribbles on the wall.

But I know I can make better use of the closet space. I’d really like to be using it for toys, games, and craft supplies instead of, well, nothing. I had tried using some of these hanging storage thingies from Ikea, but they didn’t work out so well. They don’t really hold all that much and the kids kept ripping them down, anyway. So I ask, what would you do there?

I’m thinking of adding shelves. I figure I can pick up some shelf brackets and wood and have at it this weekend. What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions, keeping in mind that I am doing it myself with limited funds and skill. I know you’re just bubbling with ideas. Head to the comments and go! Go! GO!

Hey! Flashback Photo! Julia. Window Seat. 2006. Back when I used to “watermark” my photos for fear of thievery.

Window

Oh, silly me.

“I want some colored eggs!”

Did you play that game when you were a kid? Colored Eggs? It goes like this: A bunch of kids sit on the front porch steps. They are colored eggs. Each kid decides which color they are and when they do, they tell the “mother.” Once the colors have been determined, the “wolf” comes to visit. He tells the mother, “I want some colored eggs!” The mother asks what color the wolf wants. If the wolf says a kid’s color, they run as fast as they can around the house. If they make it back to the steps, they remain a colored (albeit changed) egg. If they are caught, they become the wolf. I was always caught because I was (and am) very slow. And then the game was pretty much over because I could never catch anyone else. Unless the kid we called Jeremiah Bullfrog played. He was two years younger than the rest of us and the only kid on the block who was slower than me. I frequently volunteered to be the mother. Otherwise, I was a virtually unguessable chartreuse egg.

Yesterday, after Julia’s cheer and tumbling classes and one false start, we colored eggs.

Going to color eggs

Julia was too excited to even change her clothes.

We had six color tablets, so I gave Julia and Lucy each three cups and three tablets.

Stirring the colors

Julia stirred each of her cups simultaneously.

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Lucy preferred the one-at-a-time method.

Bee-nut

Phoebe looked on and offered an occasional, “Da da DA! PPTHHPTHPFFTHPPPT!!!”

Lucy colors eggs

Yellow is Lucy’s favorite color.

Hands work best

Her egg coloring technique was decidedly hands on.

Lucy's egg coloring technique

I like to imagine Lucy as an abstract artist, painting like Jackson Pollock or the Ben Stiller character in If Lucy Fell.

Lucy's egg

Lucy herself is like an action painting.

Julia coloring eggs

Julia was a little more careful. She used utensils. She didn’t get so much as a spot on her tumbling outfit.

Beautiful Julia

Gosh, look at that kid. Julia is beautiful. And she has no idea. I mean, she believes that she’s beautiful in the “everyone is beautiful in their own way” sense. She doesn’t realize she’s extraordinarily beautiful. I guess that’s not a bad thing, though. Right?

Bitty Bee

Bee says, “Right!” and remains the happiest child on the planet.

Most of our eggs turned out looking like they’d been painted and started to peel.

Blue egg

Perhaps due to a reaction with our water softening chemicals? I don’t know. They look cool, though.

We tried to change things up to create new and different looks.

Rubber band technique

We wrapped some eggs with rubber bands.

Rubber band results

That was kinda cool.

Here’s my attempt at a Van Halen egg.

My try at a Van Halen egg

I call it “Running with the Deviled Egg.”

Bee!

When I feed Bee applesauce, I sing, “Applesauce” to the tune of Panama.

“Apple-sauce! Apple-sa-auce! Apple-sauce! Apple-sa-a-a-a-a-auce!”

She digs it.

We made a total of 30 eggs.

Our colored eggs

You know how Cool Hand Luke said no one can eat 50 eggs?

Colored eggs

Well, maybe no one can eat 50 eggs, but Julia can eat damn near 30.

Okay, I’m exaggerating. She ate 5. That’s still a buttload of eggs.

We’re Like Postal Workers. Neither rain nor snow nor gloom of night will stop us from delivering the fun!

Question: What could inspire a deprived late-sleeper to set her alarm on a rare day off to get up and haul three kids more than an hour away for an Easter Treasure Hunt at the zoo? An outdoor zoo? On a rainy, 40 degree day?

A) Free Doughnuts
B) Ewan McGregor
C) The chance to spend time with some very good friends.

The answer is C. Although I’d go pretty far for free doughnuts. And Ewan McGregor. And if both of them had been at the zoo along with my friends, it probably would have been the best day of my entire life. Especially if Ewan had fed me the doughnuts. But instead it was just a really good, but cold and rainy day with my friends.

Easter bunny

And the Easter Bunny.

Reptile

Also some reptiles.

Snake

Very friendly reptiles.

For the record, I don’t need my reptiles to be friendly. In fact, I prefer them to be a little snobby and stand-offish.

The Easter Treasure Hunt worked liked this: Each child got six tickets and a basket. Throughout the zoo were stations where they could cash in their tickets for treats which they stored in their baskets.

The first station was near the otters.

Jump in the water!

See them there above the water?

Swimming otters

Look! They jumped in.

Look at the otters

And they showed off a little.

My mom and the little girls

There’s my mom. Thank God for her. If she didn’t come along with me to stuff like this, I probably would have lost a kid by now.

Next we saw the kangaroos.

Kangaroos?

And wallabies.

Kangaroo

They looked so sweet and cuddly. Like you could just hug and nuzzle them. You can’t do that, though. The zoo people get really upset if you try.

After that, we were freaking cold. But we pressed on, because we’re hardcore.

Playgroup friends

Okay, the grown-ups were cold. The kids were having so much fun, they didn’t even notice it was cold. Or wet.

Lucy at the zoo

Well, Lucy noticed a little bit.

Lucy and the heron

But she still had fun. We all did.

I remember how excited I was to be Mother Rabbit in the second grade performance of Peter Rabbit and I don’t think I even had any lines.

“Mom, I’m Miss Laura!”

“Huh?”

“We’re doing a play at school and I’m Miss Laura!”

“Great!”

“The best part is, I get to sing! ALL. BY. MYSELF.

“Like a solo?”

“Exactly!”

For the past few weeks, she’s been plucking out the tune on the piano and singing “Stone Soup.” And today, we got to see the performance.

Julia in Stone Soup


Check out her forty seconds in the spotlight.



That girl makes me so proud.

Rick and Steve and Personal Space: Should you really put your fish face THERE?

My fish have been exhibiting some strange behavior. I’m pretty sure I’m thinking about it way more than I should. But that’s a normal reaction to something you don’t understand, right? I’m not the weirdo. It’s the fish. The fish are weird.

These are the guys I’m talking about.

Rick and Steve

The black and white on the left – let’s call him Rick – and the white one with the heart tattoo on the right is Steve. Yes, Steve has a tattoo. Apparently they can do that for fish. I’m not sure how it was determined that Steve was desirous of ink or in which configuration he wished for it to be applied. That’s the job of a fish whisperer, which clearly I am not. We only came to know Steve after he did some living. Obviously. My guess is that he’s had his heart broken. He could be bitter. I don’t know. I give him his space. Rick, on the other hand, does not. Rick likes Steve. Very much. Rick likes to chase Steve.

Rick chases Steve

See? Look! There they go.

Rick. Rick Rick.

Rick? Whatcha doin’ there, buddy?

Rick also likes to stuff his face all up in Steve’s hind quarters. Like this.

Back off, Rick.

Oh, Rick.

And this.

What are you doing, Rick?

What are you DOING, Rick?

Also this.

Um...Rick?

For real, Rick? Come on!

Rick does this ALL. DAY. LONG. He’s doing it RIGHT NOW. I’m not sure if Steve feels pestered or pleasured. Fish aren’t all that expressive. It’s hard to read them. Either way, it seems like something I should put a stop to, don’t you think?

Everybody Crazy Shake!

I love birthday parties. LOVE THEM. They just make you feel so special.

(An aside: Sometimes I fantasize that my family throws me a giant party and we set up a stage in our side yard and REO Speedwagon comes to perform just for me. Part way through, I get up on stage and perform a song with them and everyone is like, “Whoa. Leslie is sort of awesome. Did you know she could rock like that?” Because I’m suddenly able to sing and play the guitar, which I do amazingly. Then Kevin Cronin and I become such good friends that I can refer to him as “Kev” and though we don’t get to see each other a lot after that, he reads and comments on my blog and we chat on Twitter and Facebook and people are like, “You’re friends with Kevin Cronin? Of REO Speedwagon?” and I’m all nonchalant and like, “Uh huh.” Also, Dave surprises me by singing “Every Woman In The World” by Air Supply to me at the party. He’s not the incredible performer I am, of course, but that adds to the charm of it all.)

Yesterday, I threw Lucy a party for her third birthday in the hope that it would make her feel special. Because Lucy really needs to feel special.

Lucy the birthday girl

Back when I was a mom of just one child and people with more children would say they didn’t love any one of them more than another, they just loved them differently, I secretly thought they were just a little bit full of shit. Then I had more kids. And you know what? They were actually telling the truth. I love all my girls, not one more than another, but oh, so differently. Julia is my pride. Phoebe is my joy. And Lucy? She is my heart. She’s full of life, led by feeling and desire, not rules or expectations. She has an astounding capacity for love, courage, tenderness and compassion, but also for jealously, anger and hurt. Oh, and mischief. I worry about Lucy. I am fiercely protective of Lucy. People like her – the ones who don’t easily shut up, sit still, stay in their place and do what they’re told – are often labeled as “trouble” and dismissed or cast aside. And she really is trouble sometimes. I KNOW. I AM HER MOM. But, SHE’S WORTH THE TROUBLE. I don’t want her to ever believe otherwise. So, I was excited for the opportunity to celebrate Lucy. I wanted to make her feel special. To combat all the, “No. No! NO!” and “Bad. Bad! BAD!” she hears with a healthy dose of PAR-TAY.

The theme for the event was Team Umizoomi – her favorite show. I reserved the dance studio down the street (where I teach Kindermusik!) and whipped up four batches and seven layers of poundcake and covered it with five pounds of buttercream frosting and six pounds of fondant which I fashioned into three tiers resembling the characters just for the occasion.

Team Umizoomi cake

It was supposed to look like this. It doesn’t. But Lucy thought it was incredible and that was enough for me.

There isn’t a whole lot out there to buy for a Team Umizoomi party, so I used a bunch of printable stuff from the Nick Jr. website, which is pretty incredible. I set up activity stations for each character.

Milli measure station

The kids measured and marked their height with Milli.

Geo's shape station

They built things with shapes on a felt board I made (for about $5, yo!) with Geo.

Puppet stage rig up for Bot's belly screen

And they could stand behind our puppet stage that I rigged up with a Bot poster…

Lucy on Bot's belly screen

…to be on his belly screen.

Snack patterns

I set up each table with a choice of triangle crackers, round pepperoni and squares of cheese so they could make snack patterns, just like they did on the show.

I also had balloons. I probably could have just had balloons. Because kids? They LOVE balloons. Also screaming. It is my theory that the fun-nes of a kid party can be judged according the amount of noise it makes, which means Lucy’s party was THE BEST PARTY EVER! But I gave out noisemakers just to make sure of it. Oh, and I played a soundtrack I created of Lucy’s favorite music at the moment in the background.

We ate a lot of food. Then after a scavenger hunt, we sang “Happy Birthday” to my girl and hacked into the heads of Milli, Geo and Bot and ate them, too. Lucy opened her gifts, which I am still sort of overwhelmed by. I mean, wow! People are generous. And just like that, it was over. My only regret is that I didn’t take more pictures.

From Lucy’s Lips

Today, my Lucy Bear is three. There is so much I could tell you about Lucy, but I think the best way to celebrate her is with her own words. Here are some of my favorite Lucy quotes that I shared via Twitter or Facebook this past year.

If you ask Lucy, “How are you?” she’ll tell you, “I’m Lucy!”

Lucy calls peanut butter “weenut butter.” I don’t think there’s ever been anything cuter.

Me: “Lucy, it’d really help if you’d cooperate with me.” Lucy: “I not operate with you, Mama. NO WAY.”

Lucy just put on a necklace and said, “Look at me, Mommy! I’m so princessable!”

Lucy took my stapler. She’s named him “Bite” and is feeding him grapes.

Lucy just informed me that Phoebe’s booties aren’t “booties.” They’re bear shoes. “She not have butts on her feet, mom!”

Julia’s learned the “I see London, I see France” rhyme. Lucy’s condensed version: “I don’t know. Underpants! They sure stink!”

Me: “Lucy, come and get your pants on.” Lucy: (sits reading) Me: Lucy, come get your pants on NOW.” Lucy: “Patience, mom.”

Lucy just called the toilet seat the “potty sitter.”

Me: (to Lucy who is doing something she obviously shouldn’t do) “What are you doing?” Lucy: “Driving you crazy.”

Lucy (picking up the A&D ointment tube): “Here’s the ornament for my bum.”

While folding laundry with Lucy, she hands me a bra and says, “Here you go, Mom. One of your boob things.”

Me: “Lucy, what do you want to be when you grow up?” Lucy, after much thoughtful consideration: “A butterfly.”

Lucy, on her way out the door this morning: “Bye Grandpa! Don’t forget me!” Grandpa: “I won’t.” Lucy: “I won’t forget you, either!”

This morning, Lucy climbed in my bed and snuggled close, then recoiled and said, “Oooh, Mommy. Your leg whiskers got me.”

Lucy, to her eggs at breakfast this morning, “Are you calling me a liar?!?!”

Lucy says she has a pony named Dorito. She keeps pointing under her bed & shouting, “Look! See his nose poke out? No? Aw, you missed it.”

Lucy: “Don’t worry, Julia. We take you to the doctor and he fix you right up. It be okay. I’m behind you, Julia.”

Our fish tank is cloudy. Lucy said, “The monster fish farted in there. A LOT.”

Me: “What kind of cake do you want for your birthday?” Lucy: “Yellow cake!” Me: “What do you want on top?” Lucy: “A picture of YOU, Mommy!”

Julia: “Mommy, will you pleaaaase get us Lucky Charms for breakfast?” Lucy: “Yeah! I won’t just eat da charms. I eat da lucky part, too.”

Lucy: “There’s Robin with the Red Boob!” Me: “Robin Red Breast?” Lucy: “Yeah, that’s what I said, Mom.”

I am so glad that kid was born.

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