Friday, April 29, 2011

Awkward Bathroom Conversations Take Two

Finn, up early and bothering us as we try to get ready for the day (sound familiar?): Mommy, I need to wear one of these.

Holds up my green lacy bra.

M.: Oh, really?

Finn: Yes, my shirt keeps falling off at school.

M. and I: Exchange quizzical looks/smiles.

Finn again: Is that what this is for? For keeping your shirt on?

Me: Um, not really.

Finn: Proceeds to loop bra strap over his head and around his neck anyway, patting a cup nicely once it covers his chest.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

TWO! And Easter. And Parents on the Brink.

It seems I've had an unplanned blogging break, with no passable excuses or explanations. Sorry about that, folks. I'm back to bring you a breakdown of the magic that was Easter 2011/Lucy's Family Birthday Celebration.

Yes, that's right, Lucy has a birthday. It's tomorrow, in fact, which is nice because it doesn't ACTUALLY coincide with the whole "son of God rising from the dead" and "furry Bunny hops around and delivers candy and whatnot" anniveraries so many marked today. My baby is now less than 24 hours away from being 2. I'd love to get all sentimental and teary, but alas, that would not be a true reflection of M family life these days. For sentimental and teary, I suggest that you instead read the post I put up last year. Much more touching than the below will be, I'm sure.

Especially since it's still fresh in my mind that our four-year-old told our almost-two-year-old to "shut it" several times today, that the two-year-old was certainly loud enough to deserve it, that each child received AT LEAST 3 times outs (it's possible I lost track) in the handful of hours we were actually home, that the two-year-old chucked both her plate and her water cup across the table tonight to great mayhem, that the four-year-old has already broken one of his sister's new birthday toys and has in general become a big, selfish pain-in-the-ass since it's not HIS BIRTHDAY OMG LIKE HE NEVER GETS ANYTHING EVER. Add in various forms of candy and cake and a trip to the zoo and it made me want to actually DONATE my kids to the zoo. Because I don't think I could sell them for much.

And sometimes they spit, so they'd fit right in with the camels and whatnot.

The trip to the zoo was actually quite fun - a friend from work volunteers there on occasion, and offered to take our family and another family on a tour of some of the zoo hotspots. It was fun and informative and really, one of the best trips we've had to the zoo. Which is saying quite a bit, as we like to go a few times a year and generally enjoy ourselves every time.

But the kids clearly used up their quotient of "cute and well behaved" while at the zoo, so that didn't leave much for the other parts of the day. Not that I mean to sound ungrateful about the idea that they chose to use up all of their best behavior reservior while we were surrounded by hundreds of people, because I am very, very grateful for that timing, such as it was. But still. A leetle extra niceness to aid in properly celebrating Lucy's birthday before the onslaught of the work week would have been nice.

The day went thusly:

6:20-ish: M. miraculously wakes before the little ones and gets out of bed, while I slumber on. Makes coffee.

7:00: Lucy wakes up, starting whole "Easter" thing - baskets and subsequent egg hunt where children are completely inept at finding eggs RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEIR FACES; Finn finds all of Lucy's eggs for her, but misses most of his own; Finn becomes convinced that the Easter Bunny likes Lucy better than him; M. and I make noncomittal but semi-comforting noises and drop MAJOR hints about remaining Finn eggs. All eggs eventually found.

7:30: Sugar coma achieved. Breakfast.

8:50: Leave for zoo, after solid 40 minutes of wrestling kids into clothes, packing snacks, and doing the minimum to ensure that we adults are semi-presentable.

9:30: Arrive at zoo, spend a couple hours learning and watching and walking and sweating. Eat lackluster but expensive lunch at zoo restaurant.

1:00: Head home. Kids are loud and annoying for entire car trip.

2:00: Arduously but successfully convince Lucy that it's naptime, though it is in fact an hour AFTER naptime. Furiously de-wire and extract presents from boxes, wrapping a few to give the child "something to rip" due to the vague understanding that kids like "to rip things." Wrap "gift" for Finn, at his insistence, that he picked out for himself while shopping for his sister. Watch him open "gift" a mere 20 seconds later, with a passable job of acting surprised.

3:30: Desperate to silence whiny 4-year-old with "nothing to do", wake up almost-two-year-old who is definitely NOT ready to be done napping with several renditions of "Happy Birthday to You". Feel flattered when she applauds my singing despite extreme sleepiness. Help almost-two-year-old open gifts. Run interence with four-year-old, who wants to play with said gifts.

3:45: Cupcakes, candle and singing. More sugar.

4:00-8:00: Break up fights. Console. Dole out time outs. Pick up carry-out food. Cajole kids into eating. When that doesn't work, threaten kids into eating. Give up ever getting two-year-old to actually eat. Give more time outs. Wonder, yet again, just what the appropriate response is to a child who has just asked for dessert despite not eating ANY dinner. Contemplate the whole zoo donation thing. Wrangle kids up into bath and, finally, bed.

Now: Quiet, and wine, and left over chocolate. And photos & videos for you.

Checking out the zebras, which we learned are definitely black with white stripes.

Taking a break outside the lion exhibit.

Checking out her new dollhouse from Grammy and Bumpa (and fun accessories from Mimi and Papa).

Finn models Lucy's new sun hat.

Lucy is clearly excited for all her presents, no?

Cupcake mess.

Demonstrating that as one gets older, one is a little better able to contain the cupcake mess. Just a little.

One of Lucy's favorite presents appears to be a little Elmo camera that M. picked out for her, since she keeps stealing ours and using it (and draining the battery).

It is obnoxiously loud, but she loves it already.

Finn tried his hand at lacrosse.

Here, a preview of the cake we are bringing in to Lucy's classroom at daycare tomorrow to celebrate her birthday. Inspired by her love of the show "Jake and the Never Land Pirates", we made a pirate treasure chest. The plan is to strew some bracelets and whatnot inside the chest and around the outside, to serve as party favors and make it look a bit more like an actual, full treasure chest. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get a picture of the dressed-up cake tomorrow, so I captured one for posterity's sake tonight. I am typically not one to make fancy/theme/decorated cakes, so this was a bit of a stretch for me. It may have caused some marital strife.

For your viewing pleasure, a segment of the kids' attempt at Easter egg hunting. You'll notice that Lucy mostly does other things, like playing with a balloon. Finn wanders around aimlessly, sort of looking, but mostly complaining about how few eggs he's found. If you are eagle-eyed, you will an egg in plain sight right above the kids' easy chairs in the bookshelves. And Lucy eats a peep.

Here is a video of Lucy demonstrating how to use one of her Easter basket treasures. And an uncomfortable A. who realizes that it has been more than 36 hours since she last showered and has NO business being on film.

This is a video of Lucy's reaction to the Giant Anteater, who was curled in a ball with his head hidden under his big fluffy tail. Every so often he twitched his tail to expose his face, completely shocking Lucy each time.

And finally, the "blowing out the candle" moment. Notice a certain 4-year-old's stealthy snatching of his preferred cupcake before the flame is even extinguished.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mixing It Up, Chocolate-Style

In an effort to further one of my New Year's goals, the one where M. and I try to do fun activities with our kids, and where "fun activity" does not equal "shopping," we took the kids to Hershey Park today. Closed for the winter season still, the park was open for a special military appreciation day that allowed not only military service members, but also all DOD employees (like me) to attend. We figured that it was a good opportunity to go see a place we've been meaning to go to, without all the lines and crowds. The fact that the water park section of Hershey Park is not open for the year yet was actually a plus, as I can't imagine doing both an amusement park and a water park all in one day with a 1-year-old and a 4-year-old.

M. and I were a bit nervous about going, as Lucy has been more than a handful lately. And Finn has been less than stellar with the whole "listening to what we say and doing what we tell him to do" stuff. But surprisingly, things went very well, and a good time was had by all. The hardest part of the day were the car rides, as the park is roughly two hours from where we live, and Lucy grew weary of being in the car after about 15 minutes. We utilized a slew of snacks and round after round of Raffi's Bananaphone song to get around that, though, and managed to survive each leg.

The park had a LOT of rides for the little kid crowd, which was great, and helped ease Finn's frustration about not being big enough to ride the big roller coasters. There was also a zoo, which was fun to see and a nice afternoon break from the rides. And before we left, we made sure to tour the Chocolate World "Factory" and bought a bucket of Hershey's candy that is sure to sabotage my Weight Watchers' efforts this week.

My only disappointment with the experience was that we never saw any of the Hershey Kiss lamp posts that I remember from the couple of visits my family made to Hershey Park during my childhood. I figured they'd be lining the street that leads to the park entrance, but I guess they are on a different street. A street we did not drive down. And now my kid thinks I'm crazy because I told him there would be chocolate shaped lamp posts and then there weren't any. Oh well, maybe next time. Which Finn insists shall be next weekend, but I suspect will be about a year from now, much to his disappointment.

And speaking of crazy, what's really crazy is that Lucy did not take a nap today AT ALL. She never even so much as took a long blink in the stroller (OK, fine, I didn't really expect her to), and then she didn't sleep AT ALL during the 2 hour car ride home. This, has never happened. Lucy has never NOT had a nap for an entire day. Whenever we've had mid-day activities that prevent her from napping in a bedroom somewhere, she has always made up for it by sleeping on the car ride home. Not this time. She was loud and goofy and demanding and whiny and SUPER tired. But she did not sleep.

She is sleeping now, that's for sure. One of our easiest bedtimes in recent history (which is not saying much, I guess, as bedtime with Lucy has actually become quite difficult lately).

Now for the photos:

This was our first ride of the day - we eased in with some fairly tame cars and trucks on a track. Some of the rides were for children only, which meant that it either had to be tame enough for Lucy to ride with just Finn, or she had to sit on the sidelines while Finn rode alone. This one allowed me to ride with her, though my knees wish that they had made the leg room on this fire truck just a smidge bigger!

Finn chose the race car, of course.

One of the tamer kids-only rides that Finn and Lucy rode alone. They were very happy to sit together, and didn't miss us parents at all. This was Lucy's favorite/most memorable ride of the day, from what we can tell. Finn's favorite was something called the Reese's Xtreme Cup Challenge - he and M. did it alone as it wasn't Lucy-appropriate - mostly because it involved "shooting guns."

Lucy LOVED the carousel. She rode on one of the horses that moved up and down by herself, though I stood right next to her and tried to surreptitiously keep a hand on her, which she vehemently did not want. Later on in the day we found a smaller carousel for little tykes, and she rode that one all by herself while I stood outside the gate and tried not to hyperventilate. She looked so big and grown up!

Waiting for the "Mini-Scrambler" to get started, hamming it up.

Mid-Scramble, and loving it!

Our pilot-in-training

The kids were allowed to pick one treat to eat, and both chose cotton candy. This picture shows you the "Before", where they were just getting started on their treats. As you can see, the cotton candy was practically bigger than they were. I give myself much credit for not freaking out about how sticky EVERYTHING got. Including the stroller and my hair.

Here is Finn's "After" photo, before we cleaned him up. He ate the whole thing.

This is Lucy when we finally wrestled the cone from her hand and threw it away. You can see that she, too, pretty much ate the whole thing. In this photo, she had already been cleaned twice with a wet wipe, so you don't get to see the whole "sticky pink face" look that she sported earlier in the day.

Here we are, about to exit the park - tired, happy and sticky. We not only survived, we had a great time!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Why Can't Every Day Be A Weekend Day?

Good weekend for the M household all around. Finn continued with his trend of doing very well during swim lessons, and apparently graduated from the Minnow level to "Turtle I." He can now jump into the pool, turn over, and start floating on his back all by himself. I am amazed and proud, and a little sad that since I am always in the pool with Lucy during his lesson, I never really get to see his accomplishments in the pool. Though once our neighborhood pool is open for the summer, perhaps that will change.

He is mostly excited because he now gets to wear a red swimming cap instead of a yellow swimming cap.

That was Saturday morning, and later that afternoon I drove down to Washington DC to visit a friend with a newborn that I hadn't seen in about 6 months (since before her baby was born, and longer - too long!). The GPS decided to take me right through downtown DC which, while it added several minutes to my trip, gave me the chance to see all the beautiful cherry blossoms in bloom around the monuments and museums. My friend and I ventured out alone for coffee (adult conversation! coffee in a cute urban, non-chain coffee shop!), and then headed back to her house so that I could monopolize her adorable infant for a good half hour. I held her for so long that she ended up falling asleep (I've still got it!), and my arm got that "sore-muscles-from-bending-to-cradle-a-baby" feeling by the end. It was great - I got my fill of newborn, and it quite satisfied me. I had been having some baby pangs lately due to a plethora of pregnant women at work, most of whom have recently given birth. But this little jaunt helped me realize that I can get just the right amount of baby by visiting a house with one every once in a while, and then head home happily to my "babies".

It was early to bed on Saturday, and early to rise Sunday morning so the whole family could head out to cheer me on for the "Wild Woman 8K" race that I ran this morning. I have to thank my friend Karen for telling me about the race, because it was just perfect. Beautiful, sunny weather (it was chilly, but I was dressed just right), and a course that somehow, magically, was mostly slightly downhill. My absolute favorite type of running terrain! (BTW, a steep downhill usually creates problems with my bladder that suffered through two pregnancies and births - hence my preference for a slight downhill!) I don't know how they managed it for nearly 5 miles, but I am so grateful! I went to the race anticipating that it would take me about 56 minutes to finish - and that I would be pleasantly surprised to finish somewhere in the 55 minute range. During my treadmill workouts, I've been running a good 11-minute-mile pace that I can keep up for a 5K distance, so I thought that something similar for an 8K (accounting for that "race adrenaline" and the longer distance) would be about right. Color me shocked when I finish in about 51 minutes, 20 seconds!!! I don't have my official race time yet, but that puts me at around a 10 minutes, 19 seconds per mile pace. That race, it was an ego booster, that's for sure!

The rest of the day today involved errands, yard work, and family play time. And a lovely 20-minute cuddle with Lucy when she woke up a bit too early/too cranky from her naptime. She fell back asleep on me when I carried her over to the chair in her room, and even though she's about 10 times larger than the 3-month-old that I held yesterday, my arms were happy.

Some recent pics:

Bubble Beard #1


Lucy and I snapped a pic of our feet one morning last weekend when we got up a bit earlier than the boys.

My mom got Lucy (and all her similarly-aged cousins) a book called "Everyone Poops" to inspire potty-training tendencies. While Lucy has not peed on the potty since we received the book, she absolutely loves it. One of these days I need to get a video of her impression of what a whale looks like while it poops for posterity's sake (spoiler, there is face squinching and grunting involved). It's the most adorable thing ever, seriously.

M. and I have been talking about buying an umbrella for our deck for a trillion years. Finally did it, and got a really good price at Kohls. Unfortunately, it's brown. Just like the outdoor rug, and the chairs. Looks like an awesome excuse to buy some bright, color-popping outdoor throw pillows if you ask me!

Before the squirrels ravaged our latest bird feeder, M. managed to get a photo of a blue jay snacking on our deck. Now we have no more bird food, but lots of squirrel poop on the rails of our deck. Stupid squirrels.

The start of my race this morning. I'm guessing there were about 400 people max that ran this race, a wonderful change from the tens of thousands that ran in the last one I did (Baltimore Running Festival). Yet M. and Finn still didn't see me when I ran past them at the start. Lucy did, though, and then sobbed heartily when I kept running past her. Good thing I didn't know that at the time! Not that I was going to stop - Momma was on a mission!

My friend Karen and I about 3 minutes after the race ended (well, for me - Karen finished about 4 minutes earlier than I did). We both had a great time - crazy that I am actually saying that about an athletic event where I busted my butt for nearly an hour! It was fun and rewarding, though - and I can't wait to do another one!