Month: April 2012 (page 1 of 2)

Which photos should I post? Hmmm, ALL OF THEM.

Our weekend was packed full of the sort of memories you’re supposed to keep – you know, the kind of events where you get dressed up and take your camera. But when a friend asked, “What do you want to remember about your day?” I thought about it and decided it really isn’t any of that. Instead, it’s Lucy on a swing.

Lucy swinging

And Phoebe in her jeep.

Phoebe in her jeep

Also her accidental Jack Nicholson impression.

Heeeere's Phoebe!

“Heeeeere’s Phoebe!”

Shoes off

It’s jumping around in the freshly mowed side yard.

Rise up

Jumping Julia

Jumping Julia X

Jumping Lucy Free

Jumping Lucy Wild

Jumping Lucy

Jumping Phoebe

Running.

Running

Running Julia

Playing.

Reach for the sky

On one hand

Holding hands

Important discussion

Beautiful Phoebe

Beautiful Lucy

It’s the cluster of freckles beneath the bridge of her nose – the ones that inspired our Night Fairy stories.

I see you

Smile

Beautiful Julia

It’s lying face to face in the grass, close enough to feel her breath on my cheek.

Me and the man I love

It’s what’s important.

The Caddyshack Moment

It was about hour four of of our second day of swimming at the water park when Phoebe said, “Mother, I would like to go home now. Please.”

(For those of you who don’t speak “Phoebe,” I shall translate:

Yanking my bathing suit off my chest = “Mother,”

“Aaaaiiiiyeeeeeeooooooo!” = “I would like to go home now.”

Headbutting my face = “Please.”)

“Well of course, my darling,” I replied. (Not really.) And I began to assemble my clan. “Are we ready to go?”

“NO!!!” Julia and Lucy screamed in unison.

“I think it might be time,” my mom suggested as she watched Phoebe scale my torso and wrap herself around my head. I agreed.

We huddled together, cloaked in towels, to discuss our exit strategy when Dave noticed two lifeguards call a third over to the kiddie pool. They whispered and pointed here, then there. They got down on their knees at the edge of the water and stared hard into its depth.

“Okay,” I said, tucking Phoebe like a football under my arm and teetering toward the leg Lucy had wrapped herself around in protest. “Let’s get out of here.”

“Wait,” Dave shushed. “Something’s going on over there.”

“The kids are pooped-”

“I think someone else did, too.”

“Huh?” I turned with the rest of the family to follow his gaze.

The bravest of the life guards was stretching a latex glove over a trembling hand and sucking in a deep breath. The world seemed to slow down as it entered the water and emerged with a dark object between the thumb and index finger.

Lucy rose to her feet and whispered, “What is it?”

The life guard squinted and grimaced. “CLOSE THE POOL!”

“POOP!” Julia shouted gleefully. (Because you know Julia has been waiting her whole life for a legitimate reason to shout POOP in public.)

“That’s why you should never drink the pool water.”

“Alright, are we ready to leave now?”

This time, the vote was unanimous.

Reminder: Do this often. And get a new camera.

Last year, we went to Great Wolf Lodge and had an incredible time. And so, over the weekend, we returned…

Wolf Den

…to the Wolf Den…

Top bunk

Great Wolf Lodge Sandusky

..and the water park where it became painfully obvious that I need a new camera.

Grainy Grimmetts!

Grainy Grimmetts!

Blurry Julia and Grandma

Out of focus fun!

Bee and Grandma play in the water

That’s a little better.

Lucy at Great Wolf Lodge

Finally, a photo that’s crisp and in focus. And you cannot see her face!

My girls at Great Wolf Lodge

Nevertheless, fun was had by all.

A is for Abstinence

Check this out.

Desert Diorama

You just stepped into the desert.

Julia's Desert

Julia’s desert diorama!

Oh, arts and crafts. What a wonderful way to unlock your child’s creativity! They’re a gateway to discussion and a vehicle for exploration. These kind of projects require thought, vision, and problem solving skills to navigate the step by step process of transforming materials into a desired result. They provide an incredible learning opportunity for your child! And they teach parents like me about relinquishing control.

Sure, I provided some guidance during construction.

“Julia, why is there a horse in here?”

“I’m pretending it’s a camel.”

“Well, the whole thing is pretending to be the desert. The horse pretending to be a camel on top of that is a bit of a stretch, don’t you think?”

I told her she could keep it if she told her teacher the horse had no name, la la laa laaaaaa la la la la, la la la laaaaa la! She looked at me like I was old.

So, she lost the “camel.” Otherwise, I mostly gave advice that she ignored.

Me: “You could use construction paper to…”

Her: “No, I’m going to use paint.”

Me: “I have this craft wire that we could use to…”

Her: “That’s okay, I’m doing it like this.”

As she should. It’s HER assignment. I’m not even sure why it’s so hard to let her do it her way. But I did let her. I think that means I passed. So, it’s kinda like I got an A. Yes. Let’s just say that. I got an A!

You can’t hurry Lucy. No, you just have to wait.

Lucy will be starting preschool in the Fall. Can you believe it? It wasn’t so long ago that I was worrying about sending Julia off to preschool. And if what I did then was worry, there needs to be a stronger word for what I’ve been doing this time around.

Lucy + Preschool = My brain is full of worms!

The worms are kept happy and fed, however, with the knowledge that Lucy would be going to the same Montessori preschool Julia attended. We’d pretty much known that from the moment we enrolled Julia there. And while I’d had thousands of conversations about it with Dave, my mom, myself, anyone that would listen and even some who would not, I neglected to inform the school director in an official capacity, and so, for a time, we were on the wait list.

(Lucy + Preschool) / The Wait List = My head just exploded and all the worms died.

Thankfully, last week, we got the “YOU’RE IN!” call and my head was reassembled.

We made an appointment for Lucy to visit her new school on her birthday and we were both very, very excited. Until it was time to go in. Something about the words, “We’re here” sparked a revolt.

“No.”

“Huh? Sweetie, we’re here. Let’s go in!”

“No. No. I don’t want to.”

“But, we’re-but, we’ve…but…what?”

“I’m not going in.”

I hopped out of the van and ran around to open her door. She quickly turned her face away and steeled herself into her seat.

“Lucy. What’s wrong? You were so excited a few minutes ago!”

She furrowed her brow and jerked at me with gunshot grunts, a maneuver that kills my kindness and makes me bleed anger. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I imagined a giant wave of water gushing through a channel, overwhelming the banks and devouring bridges, and my daughter caught up in it, fighting against it, but rendered helpless by it’s force. Because that’s how Lucy experiences strong emotions. They tear through her brain, washing out all the pathways to communication and reason. When I picture her swept away and drowning in them, it helps me keep from getting carried along with her. It reminds me that pushing only puts her under, and I need to be sure-footed so I may offer her a steady hand strong enough that she can latch onto it and pull herself out.

“Okay, let’s think about this…” I launched into a pep talk that, I thought, was pretty inspiring. And since she’d actually started to look at me, I thought we were good to go. So, I unbuckled her seat belt and lifted her out of the car. But she wouldn’t let me put her feet on the ground. We struggled for a moment and then I sat us down on the curb, putting her my lap. She fought free and darted to the van and hid her face against the door.

“Lucy? Lucy!” I looked around to see who might be watching. “They’re expecting us.” I was getting tense. “You’re telling me you don’t want to go in?”

She shook her head.

“Okay. Okay.” I didn’t want to start things off on the wrong foot. “It’s okay. Let’s just walk around. Come on,” I said picking her up. “Let’s just walk around.”

I carried her toward the school. I pointed out some flowers, a bird, the play yard. I put her feet on the ground and took her hand. We looked around a bit. “Hey, there’s the door. Should we go in?”

She ran. I shouted. She stopped. She grunted. Oh, the grunting.

“So, Lucy, what?” I was losing it. I was slipping. “You don’t want to go to school?” I stomped.

She started to wail.

I threw my hands up. “Alright,” I screamed. I scooped her up and walked her kicking and yelling back to the van and plopped her in her car seat. I slammed the door shut and stood a moment. Another deep breath. I walked around and got into the car. I put my hands on the steering wheel.

I sat there in the same place I find myself so often with Lucy, asking, What do I do? WhatdoIdowhatdoIdowhatdoIdo?

And the answer was the same: Wait.

Soon, the car grew quiet and she sniffed, “Mom?”

“Uh huh.”

“I’m just-I’m just scared.”

Twenty minutes later, she was standing in the center of the classroom, inviting the kids to come see the amazing tower she’d built.

She blew her teacher kisses as we left and declared, “I love this place!”

The visit was a success for Lucy and yet another reminder for me to give that kid what she needs: time. If I don’t feel like I have it, I need to find it. Imagine what she could do with it.

From Three to Four

Lucy spent the final day of her third year at the zoo with our family and friends. Here she is at the penguin photo op stop.

Lucy on the last day she is three.

“Lucy, look at Mommy!”

Almost four-year old.

The kid will not look at the camera. (She gets that from my dad.)

Here’s my Bear with some bears.

My bear...

“Smile for me, Luc!”

...with bears.

See what I mean?

We had such a fantastic day! I worried a little that the next day, her actual birthday, might seem sort of ho-hum in comparison. We had done the big invite-all-your-friends-one-hundred-balloon-three-tiered-fondant-cake birthday blowout for her Three! party. And while it makes sense to me and my budget that the kids rotate who gets the big party each year, I wasn’t sure if it was making sense to Lucy. I reminded her many times that this was her laid-back birthday year and she seemed cool with that. Then I remembered my birthday and how each year, from age eleven to sixteen, my mom warned me that it wasn’t going to be this crazy, over-the-top coming of age gala event like Natalie’s dad threw for her in Girls Just Want to Have Fun and I convinced myself she was only saying that to cover up the GIANT SURPRISE PARTY she was planning. (There was never a surprise party.) But my worries melted along with my heart as Lucy and I walked hand-in-hand through the store and to the bike department to choose her birthday gift and she said, “When it’s just me and you, that’s like a birthday present.”

Sometimes life is so much simpler than my brain tries to make it.

She rode her bike until dark.

Lucy with her fourth birthday present.

Again with the not looking at me!

Eye contact!

Aha! “Stick your tongue out at me” works.

Lucy is four!

Then we ate cake that I ordered and bought and did not make. (And that’s okay!) She chose Lightning McQueen because, “I go fast, too!”

Lucy riding her new bike.

Oh, my heart, yes, you do.

Yesterday was plain awful.

I don’t want to talk about yesterday. But, I will give you five reasons why today is better than yesterday.

1. I did not get angry and throw anyone’s breakfast on the floor.

2. Lucy didn’t ruin anyone’s birthday.

3. Lucy didn’t ruin anyone’s music class.

4. I haven’t been injured, especially in the face.

5. I now know how to fist pump properly.

(You, too.)

How YOU doin?

Oh, hi. I bet you didn’t notice me here seeing as I weigh 22 pounds less than I did since I showed you my underwear.

Don’t worry. I’m not getting cocky or anything. I’ve got a loooong way to go. And Julia exercised with me last night and that sucked up any shred of swagger I may have had. We went for two miles, walking and running at 1/4 mile intervals. She beat me every time we ran, even when she gave me a head start. Then, she’d wait patiently for me to catch up and catch my breath.

Julia: “You’re doing great, Mom.”

Me: *gasp*

Julia: “You know, I don’t know why they make miles so long. If they were shorter, you’d run them a lot faster.”

And that’s true.

Hey, here’s a riddle: I’ve lost 34 pounds since January 1st, but only weigh 22 pounds less than I did on January 1st. How?

Answer: I gained 12 pounds in February and then lost it. Again. So, you know, I’ve been busy. I bet, in my lifetime, I’ve lost more weight than I weigh right now. So much for fat people being lazy! I’m actually very good at being active enough to lose weight. I’m just even better at eating and gaining.

You may be wondering how I gained 12 pounds and then lost 12 pounds and then lost some more in the space of one month. The only way I have ever successfully lost weight is through diet and exercise, but I think one thing has made a big difference recently. I stopped drinking Diet Coke which is HUGE. I’ve been drinking only water or herbal tea (save for the occasional cappuccino latte). I’m not sure how cutting something with no calories out of my diet has helped me lose weight. Science, I guess. But I can tell you my appetite is much more manageable and the weight is coming off a little easier and hey, I’m just gonna go with it.

I’m also trying to run again because, well, zombies, and nothing seems to get me fitter, physically and emotionally, than doing the thing that seems too hard to do. So I’m doing it. If you’re thinking about doing it, too, let me recommend Podrunner: Intervals. It’s free and awesome and a great place to start.

Back to life…back to reality.

Oh, the Monday after Spring break. I needed a cappuccino just to face it. But McDonald’s has stopped making cappuccino for me and instead, for twenty additional calories, gave me a less tasty and only moderately satisfying latte. But you get what you get and you don’t get upset when you limit your hot caffeinated beverage options to that which can be supplied via a drive-through within ten miles of home. So, a lackluster latte. Spring Break was spectacular, however, and I will give you some reasons why.

1. No alarm clock. We only slept about half an hour later than our normal wake up time, but wow, what a difference that half hour made. Also, the not having to immediately rush to be on time felt pretty good, too. Leisure! I’m in love with it. My countdown to summer officially begins now.

2. Lunch and an afternoon of play at Lake Park. We used to go to Lake Park all the time when Julia was in preschool. It was where Dave and I ran our first 5K. We love Lake Park! I had forgotten just how much.

Lake Park

3. A play date with new friends who are warm and friendly and fun and inspiring. Sidenote: It seems all it takes to make me cry is a two month old baby in my house. Because my girls were two month old babies once. And I may never have a two month old baby again. But I do have some chocolate cheese in my refrigerator.

4. An Easter egg hunt with old friends – the most gorgeous women I’ve ever seen close up and their children. I have no idea how they look so good all the time. I am definitely the “one of these things” in that Not Like The Others song with that group. But I enjoy being with them too much to let it keep me away.

5. Becoming the Just Dance house champion. I totally mean to brag when I tell you no one NO ONE under my roof can beat me.

6. A day at the Akron Zoo.

Me and my girls at the Akron Zoo

Julia and the llama

Bee rides on daddy's shoulders

Lucy rides a penguin

Phoebe on the flamingo

Julia on the red panda

Grandma and the girls

My favorite people at the Akron Zoo.

(Even more zoo pictures!)

7. Getting to watch some random movie that just happened to be on, from start to finish, simply because I had the time and no will to move from the couch. It was called I’m With Lucy starring Elliott from E.T. and Monica Potter, who I am pretty sure is actually Julia Roberts either cloned or perhaps time traveling from the future.

8. Making dandelion crowns and jewelry.

9. Letting Julia stay up past her bedtime to eat ice cream sandwiches and watch Toddlers and Tiaras with me.

10. Coloring Easter eggs.

Ahhhh

See?

Our dye kit was supposed to be mess free.

Ta-da!

I cannot explain why, but this is my favorite picture of Dave, ever.

Hehe.  Dave.

Flashdancer

Flashdancer

I can’t keep that kid’s arm in her shirt. This is the way she likes to wear it. And Phoebe? Well, she does what she likes. Go ahead and try to make her stop. YOU CANNOT. She’s stubborn tenacious and persistent.

Running

She doesn’t know she’s little.

The world is mine!

I feel lucky that all three of my daughters are pretty self-assured. I hope they stay that way. But Phoebe seems to be pulling it from an almost supernatural source, like she’s on a mission from God to climb to the top of the playset, ride toys beyond her developmental stage and refuse to wear a diaper, and she will not be dissuaded. Where my older daughters would feign rigor mortis or go boneless when they didn’t want to get in their car seat, Phoebe will climb over the seat, hop in the back and buckle herself in to a regular seat with a seatbelt. Buckle herself in with a seatbelt. Sometimes I struggle to buckle myself in with a seatbelt.

We’ve been battling a lot lately. About getting cleaned up, getting dry, getting dressed, wearing shoes, wearing clothes, combing her hair, sitting in her highchair, coming inside after a day of play, not climbing up on the top bunk, not using mommy’s grown-up toothpaste or cold cream or make up or hair spray or body spray or deodorant or, well, you get the idea. But it’s easy to forgive her for her disobedience.

Running for Mommy

She’s just so damn cute.

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