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Tiaras and Trucks

Friday, December 31, 2010

The Dollhouse AKA Santa Listens

2010 - The Year of the Dollhouse

To say she wanted a dollhouse this year would be an understatement.  From the first time I asked what she wanted from Santa, she decisively stated "a dollhouse" and never wavered in her certainty.  I asked her what else she wanted, and she said just a dollhouse (except for the time she added a puppy, but everyone knows there's no way Santa can risk bringing a puppy on a sleigh ride through the sky!)

I knew exactly what she was picturing, because her eyes drank in pictures of oversized, multi-room houses, ready for Barbie-type dolls, too large for our already packed house.  So we wavered, first purchasing a small substitute, trying to be practical. 

But the thing about Santa is that the magic of Christmas isn't always practical, and when I opened the the little toy dollhouse to put it together, Ryan and I realized it was even smaller than we expected, and suddenly practicality went out the window.  And Mommy went out the door, two days before Christmas, one of those crazy people piling into Toys R Us in the dark.

Don't tell me Santa doesn't exist, because one of his elves found the dollhouse we needed, still in the brown packaging box, looking carefully for it even after she told me she thought they were out of stock.

Don't tell me Santa doesn't exist, because Ryan and I were up until two in the morning (again) carefully assembling the four thousand pieces packed into that little box.  He didn't even get (too) annoyed when I tried to start it myself and put a level on backwards, which meant we had to take it apart and start over.

Don't tell me Santa doesn't exist, because when Abbey walked into the room, her words weren't even words, but sounds of pure excitement and joy.

Don't tell me Santa doesn't exist, because even though she might not fully grasp the concept of appreciation, she gets excited each time we come home and she walks into the dining room and says, "My dollhouse is still here!"

Christmas isn't about presents, and I have non-gift memories from this year that I will roll out another day.  Yet the magic of this Christmas might not have been any more obvious than it was in the split second she realized Santa had read her letter and listened to her request.

I had grand plans of a farewell to 2010 post, but time marched on, so I'm left with Christmas posts and a sincere wish to you that 2011 brings you some wonderful and amazing things.

Happy New Year!

that's Belle, from Beauty and the Beast
I'm not ready for Barbies quite yet

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Little Footprints in the Snow

One time, somewhere, I heard that people are partial to the weather of their birthday month.  Now, first  of all, I think this shows what a swiss-cheese type of memory I have, since I don't remember anything specific about that fact theory urban legend.  Also, it has to be basically a crock.  February, for example, is rather different climate-wise in Michigan and Hawaii.

Yet, my born-in-August self loathes the cold and the winter and the snow, and my darling-born-in-February snow angel is never cold and gets all giddy when she can make "little footprints in the snow!!" 

Bundled into a warm coat - hat, scarf, and gloves keeping her warm - she insists on Crocs, and I give in, knowing the car is feet from our back door.  I hurry Dylan to his waiting car seat, hurry to pull off the puffy coat, to buckle him in, to start the car, hurry to press the button to heat my seat.  Calling for her, I shake my fingers and wonder how I can manage to drag around a diaper bag the size of a small Brinks truck yet don't have gloves when I need them.

She's prancing around, fascinated by her own footprints, and my immediate response is to scoop her into the car and settle into the almost warm air blasting from the vents.  Thankfully, I stop myself, in spite of my chapped fingers and her barely covered feet. 

Because she is laughing and smiling and leaving her mark on the snow that will likely melt by the end of the day.  The cold bites for another moment, reminding me that the days and weeks and months can melt away in the same way, hurried into cars and houses and schedules and errands.  So I fight the urge to worry about where we're supposed to be five minutes ago and let her amazement circle me warmly, like her breath on my cheek a few minutes later when she leans in for a quick kiss.

I need a warmer coat.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Loves

Christmas Eve
my mom's house

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve!  From the time of my earliest memories, we've celebrated Christmas Eve with my dad's family, and it has grown to be my favorite day of the year.  Family gathering together as twilight falls, eating shrimp cocktail and my mom's lasagna, marathon photo-taking sessions led by my Aunt Karen, all of it ending with the delicious anticipation of Christmas morning.  Family members have been unfortunately lost over the years, but the blessing of new additions brings peace and joy to the season, along with the feeling of thanks for those we love so dearly.

As my precious little family grows, we're finding our own traditions as well.  Christmas jammies opened and worn on Christmas Eve, an egg and crescent roll casserole baking in the oven Christmas morning, and I hope one day to add the reverence of midnight mass to our Christmas celebrations.

As you celebrate this season, I hope that Santa fills your stockings with those things we all hold dear - love, contentment, and the promise of a new year.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Missing the Bundle Me

Winter has arrived, with snow and ice and salt and bitter cold, and that means bundling up the babies every time we go outside.  This is Abbey's second winter as a walker in convertible car seat, so she's used to the drill.  Also, she's kind of an accessories girl, so she doesn't have a problem donning scarves, mittens, hats, and coats. 

Dylan, on the other hand, attempts to pull his hat off anytime he can move his arms.  I have to mention that, because when he's wearing his coat, he kind of resembles that little boy in The Christmas Story who falls down and can't get up again when he's all snow-suited up to walk to school.  Combine that with his non-walking status makes him an awkward little guy to tote around.

Winter has only just started sticking out its ugly tongue around here; we have months of this mess ahead of us.  Pretty as the snow may be when it's blanketing the trees outside of our windows, it really does make it more difficult to get around town.  I almost miss the days of the baby carriers and the Bundle Me, but I don't think I could carry either of them around on my arm anymore!

Luckily, they're pretty darn cute in their hats!
see, he takes it off when he has the opportunity
I'm pretty sure he thinks it's a game now 
my friend Andrea made his hat
she donates part of the cost to a local food bank

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Choices and Stress

Once upon a time, I imagine that starting your child in preschool involved picking out a cute dress, buying a little tote bag, and hoping that the tears held off until you got back to the car.  Now, preschool is a serious business. 

I'd like to think I'm a (fairly) rational person, but dangle that preschool carrot in front of my face, and I suddenly lose all sense of reality and feel like one of the more clueless cast members of the Jersey Shore.

There are co-ops and public schools and secular private schools and religious private schools and Montessori schools and language immersion schools.  There are two-day programs and three-day programs and choose-your-amount-of-day programs.  Half days and full days and probably some crazy boarding school somewhere on the East coast that will guarantee a Rhodes scholar for the small price of a healthy kidney and part of my liver.  Of course they range from the affordable to the expensive to the "oh geez, can Bill Gates sponser my child's education?" 

I'm sure this decision isn't made any easier by all of the thinking I did in grad school about "what is education?" and the philosophy classes that encouraged us to debate the merits of John Dewey and Maria Montessori.  My student teaching and teaching jobs have exposed me to such a wide variety of schools, and all of it is making this more stressful than I ever expected.

During my moments of clarity, I realize that with all of those great options, we'll find a good fit, and that there's not one right or wrong choice.  I'm not going to lie, though, I didn't really expect to be the type of person stressing out about where my child would spend her mornings (or afternoons) learning to cut and paste and sing songs, and I know I need to get a grip before any other decisions come along. 

Like what she'll wear the first day of school.
pre-preschool at home
we encourage literacy at every opportunity
focus on the book
ignore the Resevoir Dogs DVD in the background 
for a while, Dylan didn't care too much about books one way or the other
well, except he liked to chew on them 
lately, though, he loves reading
Sandra Boynton books are a particular favorite
also Clifford
sometimes he even reads them himself
not always upside down, either!

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Foiled Again

There's this idea that comes with the second child that their arrival isn't awaited in quite the same manner as the first.  If your children are (relatively) close in age, there may not be the need (nor the time) to research car seat options and evaluate every minute detail of double strollers.  In our case, we bought a double stroller but didn't worry too much about other baby gear.  Except the furniture.
Abbey's (very girly) furniture was purchased specifically with the intention of growing with her throughout her childhood, basically until she falls out of our little nest into a dorm room (should that be her chosen life path.)  So we needed new furniture for our new baby, and we didn't know he was a he. 
After trekking through numerous furniture stores (where Abbey may or may not have jumped up and down on various expensive bedding sets mattresses), Ryan and I finally agreed on a lovely, well-made, general neutral bedroom set, complete with a lovely, well-made, general neutral crib.
We should have just bought a slipcover and left Ryan's beloved office furniture in the extra bedroom.
New Year's Resolution #142 (really? no idea how many resolutions I'll have, but this is one of them) - Figure out a way to get Dylan to nap and sleep through the night in his lovely, well-made, gender-neutral but perfect for a little boy, crib.
where he should be napping
but never naps
although he sleep here at night
most of the time
where he sometimes falls asleep
where he most frequently naps
and sometimes sleeps at night, unfortunately
the reason it's so hard to consider letting him cry in his crib
sleeping babies melt my heart into a pile of mush
but something's got to give

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

What is Value?

Sometimes I need to be reminded that my job doesn’t come with a paycheck. My impulse spending creeps up a little at a time, and suddenly we’re off budget. I try to make smart decisions about what I purchase, but that leads to the question, “what is a good deal?”

Wait, wasn’t I a math teacher? (strictly middle school, but still, I taught math!) I could convert into unit prices with the best of them (see, math nerd talk), but it can still be tough to figure out where to spend my limited spare pennies.

I’m bringing this up, because I’m confronted with a “bad deal” purchase every morning when I perform my miraculous transformation from tired mommy to super-hot-well-rested-mommy. Ok, so that transformation never actually occurs, but I do try to slap on some make-up and blow dry my hair daily, and that very make-up is causing me to regret one of my spending cuts.

For the most part, I’ve been using MAC cosmetics since college, when my friend Kathie introduced me to two little beauties (Vex eyeshadow & a tube of Viva Glam if you care about these things). When trying to cut corners a little this fall, I decided that MAC was an extravagance I wouldn’t miss too terribly.

Slap on the “shallow” badge now, because I was wrong.

I purchased some relatively inexpensive eye shadows, liner, and lip gloss in trendy colors and looked forward to a little change in my daily look. (I won’t mention the brand, because maybe I just don’t know what I’m doing, but it can be purchased at Target and not “department stores everywhere”.)

There’s no change in my daily look, in part because the make-up doesn’t stay on my eyes for very long, no matter what I do to prep my face. Also, despite my attempts to play around with the different colors available on my little palettes, everything looks exactly the same on my eyes. And I’m not talking subtle color differences – the green and purple eye shadows look exactly the same within minutes of application.

And that, in my oh-so-amateur financial opinion, is not a good deal.

Since I know many of my few readers (if that makes sense) come here for the eye candy (and not of the eye shadow type), here are some pictures of my best yearly deal - our zoo membership!  I could pay double and still consider it a value (but I'm glad I don't have to, because of that whole budgeting thing.)

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Are We There Yet?

And by "there", I mean on the other side of this nasty little town called Norovirus.  (Well, we weren't officially diagnosed, but since it's my blog, and I'm not claiming MD status, I think I can safely call it that without being sued by the Norovirus for defamation of character.)

It all started with an e-mail from a friend on Tuesday, stating that her boys had thrown up.  Our monthly MOMS Club meeting was Monday, so we had been in the same place as the poor little guys.  Around dinnertime, Abbey started talking about her stomach hurting.  Soon, she and Dylan were having their first experience with vomiting.  I followed shortly thereafter (well, obviously not my first experience, but you get the picture.)

It was awful.  Ryan stepped up in the best possible way, while I continued to make the trek back and forth to the bathroom.  We changed Abbey's sheets (and blankets) several times, and Dylan got to sleep with Daddy in our bed.

Things were a little better Wednesday, when both of my parents came over at different times to help me with the kids while I napped.  Honestly, it's those little things that make all the difference; I don't know how I would have made it through the day without any help!

Today we were all on the mend, except for a slight setback from Abbey, first thing in the morning.  We even made a quick trip to Target (using our stroller so the kids didn't contaminate anything!) to get a few things, like a new toothbrush and some fresh air.

Then Ryan texted.  And came home early.  And is curled up in bed right now while I'm on the couch recuperating with some Mrs. Grass's soup.  Now that we've all had it, I'm hoping we can say goodbye to this virus, at least for this year!

Here are some pictures of the kids from a couple of weeks ago, when they were being cute and silly and not pukey, my sweet babies.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010


Just a little update...

We have been sick here (well, Abbey, Dylan, and I), and are just now getting back to regularly scheduled programming.  Actually, not quite back to normal, but I think we'll risk a Target run sometime today.  For fresh air and a new shower curtain liner - you know, the important things.

A special thanks to Ryan, my mom, and my dad for stepping up and helping a ton; it's no good when mommy gets sick, too.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Finding Balance

Thanks to some holiday baking and Thanksgiving dinner obligations, coupled with massive amounts of laundry and the arrival of chillier weather, our formally on-the-go little team has been relatively homebound.  The last couple of weeks we've been spending a lot more time at home, leaving mostly for errands (hello, Target!) and grandma's house.

Maybe it's the cooler weather, but we've settled into homebody status without much protest.  Abbey is growing into a little crafter, loving glue and sequins and colorful balls of puff that she piles into "caterpillar houses" before leaving them on the floor to be found by her scavenger of a little brother.  Speaking of Dylan, he is generally content to play peek-a-boo or patty-cake or to slam the doors of Abbey's little kitchen or my slightly larger one.

Yet there's the part of me that craves the hustle and bustle of our summer and fall schedule, rushing around, sliding another activity into my tattered planner.  With so many truly wonderful resources in our area, I love finding another gem, another adventure.  I've seen Abbey slowly become more comfortable venturing into new situations, and I imagine it has something to do with the variety of people and places she's been exposed to over the past year.

The scales rock slowly back and forth, homebodies to social butterflies.  I haven't even been home with them a full year, and I'm still working to find a way to balance that scale.  Both sides of the coin have their advantages, and it's my job to help Abbey and Dylan experience the beauty of both.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Future Son-and Daughter-In-Law?

Brought to you by Baby Jogger - arranging marriages and providing a smooth ride at the same time
(Another zoo trip with our buddies - Colleen, Brendan, and Lainey)
Dylan and Lainey hanging out in the reptile house

Abbey and Brendan hitching a ride outside

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksgiving Family Pictures

We spent Thanksgiving with family - Aunt Karen's for dinner and then visiting at Great Grandma Pat's.  Ryan and I did a little pre-dinner workout in the form of the Turkey Trot downtown.  It's the first year either of us have run in it, and it ended up being a great first race.  We were worried about the weather, but the rain stopped by race time, and it wasn't even cold once I started running.  Good times!
Dylan taking his turn on the most popular toy at Aunt Karen's 
Abbey's turn! 
Aunt Jessica is an expert Lego builder
I have a lot to learn 
talking to Great Grandma Rose
Grandma Sue and Grandpa Ray
notice the prolific amount of kitties (and one bear) that Abbey wanted Grandpa Ray to hold

And really, is it December already?  Where is 2010 going?

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