Friday, August 26, 2011

The End of August?!

It is true...the end of summer is closer than I'd like to believe.  The signs are everywhere:  the raspberry bushes are sadly now barren, the petunias have grown crunchy from neglect, the sunscreen bottles are almost empty, and it seems the kids are finally able to fall asleep again at a reasonable time now that the sun sets well before 9:00 pm. 

While I'd like to claim my absence from the blogosphere during these last few weeks of summer has been due to some grandiose cross-country excursion, it is quite the opposite.  In fact, it is more due to summer laziness than anything else.  You see, my camera's memory card was full and I couldn't figure out how to download the hundreds of pictures onto our main hardrive, so instead of figuring it out myself, I decided to wait until Ben had a chance to work out the kinks.  He finished downloading the pictures and reformatting the memory card last night...so now, I figure I have no excuse not to update. 

So what does my camera memory card have to do with my lack of blogging anyway?  Well, I kind of feel like if you have to read through all my random thoughts, you might as well be rewarded by a cute picture of a kid...or two...or three.  Unfortunately, this particular post will be void of any pictures due to the fact that I have completely neglected to visually document any and all of our family's last three week's of existence.  Which, honestly, is probably for the best because we have spent quite a few of those days passing around a doozy of a summer cold.  I think we may finally be in the clear just in time for school to start in a little over a week.

This whole back-to-school time has me busy trying to get our calendar in order in addition to figuring out a system for organizing school papers...and church hand outs...and preschool papers...and dance schedules...and everything else that seems to clutter up the kitchen with the advent of a new school year.  The kids' school supplies have been purchased and labeled, new shoes have been picked out, fresh hair cuts have been obtained, the winter wardrobe has been assessed, and necessary items of clothing purchased to replace the too-small ones...all while I'm still trying to get my head around the fact that we're entering a whole new realm of parenting with the dawn of the school-age years. 

I feel like I should feel sad about this...like, I should be writing a lengthy post lamenting my first-born's babyhood gone by.  And while part of me is still in complete and utter shock that the little brown-eyed baby I cradled in my arms a mere 5 years ago, who was solely dependant upon me to provide for her every single need, will be walking into a school building in a little over a week without me, I just don't feel all that sad about it.

She is ready...and although a tad bit nervous, she is so excited.  Whether I'm ready or not...it seems quite irrelevant.  If being a mom has taught me anything, it has taught me how little control I have... how to hold loosely...how to let go.  Sure, it is only kindergarten now and maybe I'll feel differently as she is packing up her bags for college, but I'm thankful I get these little milestones along the way to practice what it means to tangibly let go.  Plus, if you could see her face light up with sheer joy at the mention of beginning school, I'm pretty sure you'd have a difficult time feeling sad as well.

Zach will be starting preschool the week after Allie begins kindergarten.  So far he doesn't seem that excited about it, but I have to keep in mind that he would love nothing more than to stay at home all day, every day, in his pajamas and never go anywhere.  I know there will be a period of adjustment for him...as he gets used to not having Allie around every morning and also being gone two mornings a week himself, but I am confident it will be for the best.  I think this is one of those instances in parenting when I need to push him a little bit out of his comfort zone...because goodness knows the last thing we want to raise is a thirty year old who wants nothing more than to stay at home, all day, every day in his pajamas while his momma waits on him hand on foot.  A stretch, I know, but a very legitmate fear indeed.

And..........
Allie just smashed Zach's fingers in the outside screen door.  Lovely. 

There is screaming and pandemonium...excuse me while I assess the situation.

Alright...ice applied...hugs given...mandated quiet time now in effect...

So.....I'd definitely be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to the two mornings a week where both Allie and Zach will be away at school.  Just keepin' it real, folks....keepin' it real.   

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Happy 9 Months, Olivia!

That's right, bug-a-boo, go ahead and clap your hands because you are officially 9 months old!
I'm late with your 9-month update because you came down with a nasty cold that gave you the highest fever you have ever had (103.4).  Unfortunately, you had to miss out on the zoo trip with your brother, sister, Grandma, and Aunt Stephanie, but I don't think you minded.  You spent most of your time sleeping...and sleeping...and sleeping.  Apparently, when you get really sick, you need LOTS of cuddling and LOTS of sleep.  Thankfully, you are now back to your happy little self with those bright eyes wide awake and ready for each day at or before 6:00 am.  As a side note, the word 'little' should be taken worth a grain of salt because we discovered at the doctor this week that you weigh 21 pounds, 14 ounces!
You are one busy little gal, Miss Bug.  You love to be right where all the action is and if any of us leaves the room, you definitely notice.  Your favorite toy is anything that Allie and Zach play with or anything that Daddy or I have.  You are obsessed with my computer mouse and do everything you can to get your little hands on it.  You also love the phone and my laptop. 

Although you are not officially mobile via crawling yet, you can pretty much get to anywhere you want by rolling.  You have been known to roll all the way down the hallway from the living room to get to the bedrooms and can roll over to where your toys are in any given room.  You are also not pulling up to anything yet, but just this past month you began to LOVE to practice standing with either Daddy or I nearby to make sure those chubby little legs don't give out on you unexpectedly. 

If at all possible, those two little teeth you have been sportin' have made you cuter than ever before!  You love to practice using them and can just about bite through any cracker or piece of food we give you with those two little teeth.  You still eat mostly baby food, but I've been slowly introducing you to finger foods because you LOVE to feed yourself.  Your favorite finger foods include bananas, avocados, diced peaches, diced apples, shredded cheese, Cheerios, diced sweet potatoes, pinto beans, and basically anything else that I take from our plates and give to you.  I think that you are catching on to the fact that our food tastes good and you almost always want exactly what is on our plates!

You are starting to learn lots of tricks, like "so-big," and almost always clap for yourself after your performance.  We've been working on waving, but you kind of just look at us like we are nuts when we wave at you.  You talk all the time, but we still aren't sure what you are saying.  While I'd like to think that you're saying "mama," I'm still not positive that your "ma-ma-ma-ma-ma's" are quite that intentional yet. 

You definitely don't mind being on-the-go and this month you even took your first trip to the Children's Museum.  You typically enjoy running errands with me and you are definitely the most well behaved at the grocery store and Target.  In fact, you are so well behaved that I hardly even know that you are there.  I think it is because there is so much to see and observe...in addition to the fact that EVERYONE always stops us to comment on how adorable you are.   Plus, it doesn't hurt that you got to experience your very first cookie from the grocery store bakery this month! 
When you are not sick, you remain a pretty good sleeper...from about 7:45 pm - 5:30/6:00ish in the morning.  Your morning nap is from about 8:45-10:00 and your afternoon nap is typically from about 1:15 - 3:00.  You love to be rocked before being put down in your crib and you are becoming quite attached to your pink elephant that you sleep with. 

You love to laugh and will always join in with your brother and sister when they are having a giggle fit.  It is all the more fun for you if the giggle fit was induced by something cute that you did.  You bring so much joy into our family and you always bring out the best in all of us.  Whenever you are around, it is almost impossible to be in a bad mood or crabby because your smiles and giggles are contagious!
We love you, Olivia!  Happy 9 months, baby girl!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ballerina Allie's Performance Debut

Last night we witnessed the culmination of six weeks of summer dance lessons.
There were two intense tap numbers...
...and one free-flowing ballet number.
My favorite part, though? 
Seeing Allie's intense focus and concentration with every single step.
She was so proud of her performance...and we were proud of her too!
All of us, that is, except for Zach who informed Allie that he did not like all the dancin' stuff, although he thought her dress was nice.  Ha--that's a brother for ya!
Unfortunately for Zach, it looks like dance is going to be a part of our family at least for the next year.  Allie starts classes again in September and she couldn't be more thrilled! 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dumbo?

I'm sure that when Zach is old enough and discovers that I shared these pictures, he will want to kill me.  But, when your ear swells up three times its original size, so much so that you look like a demented troll, what kind of parents would we be if we didn't document the phenomenon?
Ok, so the picture really doesn't do his ginormous ear justice.  Believe me, the kid's ear was huge!  Our best guess is that he had an allergic reaction to a bug bite.  He complained of it being itchy, but with a little anti-itch cream, he was able to sleep fine and woke up the next morning back to normal. 

While I had the camera out, he insisted on a goofy photo shoot, to which I obliged. 


Oh, Zacker-boy, you never cease to crack me up....big ear and all!

Not According to Plan

Our past week around here has definitely not gone according to plan.  Thankfully, there have been no life altering events or disasters to report, but instead just little things that have sort of changed  the way I originally anticipated the week playing out. 

Isn't that the way life is with kids, though?  For me, I feel like motherhood has been one big lesson in how to cope and patiently navigate through things not necessarily going as planned, how to have more realistic expectations while letting go of that desire for the appearance of perfection, and learning to make the best of less than ideal situations.    

Would I have learned those lessons minus the kiddoes?  Sure, probably...because there is little in life that can be controlled.  But, I do think my kids have put me on a crash course learning route that provides daily material for me to continually work with.  Let's just use today so far as an example....

  • Olivia wakes up at 4:30 a.m.  So not cool.  But, she is undeniably cute in her new pj's with monkeys on the feet.
  • Zach wakes up and decides to dress himself in solid orange clothing from head to toe.  Apparently we need to work on coordinating colors.
  • Zach hauls off and smacks Allie for bossing him around.  Zach screams that he does not want a time out.  Zach gets a time out. 
  • Allie complains that Zach is hogging Olivia...apparently he always hogs Olivia.  Allie grumps off to pout in her room.
  • Olivia refuses to take a morning nap.  I do my workout video in the living room while she jabbers away in her crib. 
  • Allie spills an entire can of baking soda while we are making blueberry muffins. 
  • The blueberry muffins, while they smell divine, taste like crud.
And that only takes us up to about 1:00 in the afternoon.  Thankfully, though, when I choose to notice them, there are just as many unexpected, unplanned moments of joy throughout my day:  A hug around my knees while I get breakfast together, toys being picked up without complaint (ok...that doesn't happen often, but when it does, it is worth celebrating!), Zach offering to pray for lunch, Allie helping Zach build a car out of legos, Olivia clapping, all of us laughing, raving positive reviews while eating possibly the worst blueberry muffins I have ever made. 

So, this past weekend, the day before the kids and I were supposed to leave with my mom to go and visit my sister in Wisconsin and take a trip to the Milwaukee County Zoo, I had definitely not planned for Olivia to come down with a 103-degree fever that would most definitely not go away in time for me to feel ok about packing her up for a six-hour road trip.  I was bummed. 

Monday, Zach and Allie left with my mom while Olivia and I stayed at home...not according to my original plan at all.  After a visit to the doctor to find out it was just something viral (surprise, surprise), we came home where Olivia proceeded to take the longest nap EVER.  I was definitely not planning on that either, but do you know how much you can get done during a 4.5 hour nap?!  It is truly amazing.  I exercised, reorganized my entire kitchen, made Goodwill piles, made trash piles, and even began on organizing the basement.

On Tuesday, Olivia was still not doing all that great, and proceeded to take two more extremely long naps which enabled me to continue my Goodwill and trash piles, organize the basement, organize the kids' rooms, you name it, I organized it.  I've been so busy with the kids and life that I didn't even realize how much we needed a major overhaul of our stuff.

By Wednesday, Olivia was so much improved that I was even able to run errands before the kids returned home.  Running errands with one kid is sooo much easier and quicker than with three!

I love my kiddoes, but I think God knew I needed a little break to get our house (and possibly my mind) back in order.  The peace and quiet not only did wonders for Olivia getting the rest she needed to feel better (seriously, she has never, EVER napped that long in her entire life), but helped me to feel a little more rejuvinated myself.  And, now that the kids are home, I realize that maybe, just maybe, things not going according to plan was possibly the best thing for my sanity.