Thursday, May 30, 2013

More Ammo for My Future "Back In MY Day" Rants

I switched radio stations while driving yesterday, and came across the song "Two Princes" by the Spin Doctors. Rather than continuing my search for better music, I listened, flooded with fuzzy memories of high school and my old bedroom, the pink cave where I listened to song after song after song.  And I was struck by an odd thought. Here's the excrutiating, rambling train that led to it:

I've always been a "lyrics matter" person, so to speak - I like to KNOW what the singers are singing, and the lyrics can make or break a song, no matter how catchy it is.  Back in high school, we were limited to learning lyrics from the inserts that accompanied the CDs we bought. In fact, I clearly remember poring over the C&C Music Factory booklet with my friend Natalie, determined to learn every last word to "Things that make you go Hmm."

I think I'm making my taste in music sound pretty lame here. 

Telling you that I was (and honestly, still am) a hardcore Tori Amos and Ani DiFranco fan probably doesn't help, does it?

Anyway, back to the lyrics, and the Spin Doctors. I sang along in my car yesterday, and realized I was singing the same lyrics I sang twenty years ago, the ones I had to make up because I couldn't understand the singers, and because I never bought the CD so I didn't have access to the REAL lyrics (see, don't you feel better now? I didn't LOVE the Spin Doctors, I just liked the one song. To buy a CD, waaaaaaaaaaaay back then, you had to be all in. None of this "I'll just buy the one song" that iTunes has afforded us now).

Did you know that "But all I want a prince a never heart to be" is NOT part of the song's chorus? Nope. But "But I know what a prince and lover ought to be" is. Google told me this, when I checked today. Twenty years later, and the mystery is solved.

Back when the song was new and popular (and ancient civilizations now gone flourished), we didn't have Google. The internet was JUST getting started. Some of us did have creaky, stupidly slow Prodigy accounts (one account for the whole family!). I don't even remember what we did with them. There were only a couple hundred of websites, compared to the couple hundred MILLION there are now. It was nothing like the "instaneous search for EVERYTHING" that it is available now. There really was no internet. So incorrect song lyrics? Yeah, that happened, a lot.

So here's my odd/random thought - our kids will never have to wonder about and puzzle out song lyrics. They will never have to just... live with the mystery. They will always be able to look it up. Right that second.

I hope this access to immediate information doesn't take away the joy of finding out you or someone you're with has been singing a song wrong. To never laugh with a friend because he sang about swimming "in a deep sea of bacon" instead of a "deep sea of blankets" (sorry for the John Mayer reference) would be sad, sad thing.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Wrap-Up Catch-Up: Lucy's 4th Birthday

Before I run through some overdue photos of Lucy's birthday, I need to mark a momentous occasion. Not momentous in the good way, mind you. Momentous in the "Oh, crap!" way.

I will first say that it has been a good run. M. and I have successfully enjoyed hassle-free, TV-loaded, adults-only time for roughly 98% of the last 6 and a half years (with the exception of the odd newborn-intensive early months for each kid and the occasional sick night). That kid-free peace is probably the only thing that has kept us sane through the hustle and bustle of a life with two kids and two full-time, working-out-of-the-house-with-lengthy-commutes, jobs. For all those many years, we put the kids to bed, turned out their lights, and they stayed there.

Sure, sometimes (OK, lots of times) they called for us, to come fix a blanket, or schlep them more water, or change their pajamas because they're too hot. Two or three times one of them has actually come down the stairs from the bedrooms to the kitchen, where M. and I are usually finishing up the dinner dishes and packing lunches for the next day. Annoying, but no big deal, because mostly Finn and Lucy STAYED UPSTAIRS.

Tonight, M. and I finished up with kitchen duty on the early side, and we headed down to the basement to fold a bajillion loads of laundry with large vats of wine and some TV to distract ourselves from the task. We could hear Lucy over the monitor singing to herself, but since she wasn't calling for us, we left her alone.

Five minutes into an episode of Modern Family, Lucy appeared DOWN IN THE BASEMENT. Quiet and ghostlike. Scared the shit out of us. Thank god we were actually doing laundry and not something more, ahem, adult-like. But how the frack did our daughter, who refuses to walk down to the basement in broad daylight, find the guts to come downstairs all by herself, without a peep? She claimed to want one of us to put her "big red blankie" on her, but hadn't wanted to call for us (probably because we keep telling her not to). So she came ALL the way downstairs instead.  M. paused the TV, and agreed to walk her upstairs to help with the blankie sitch.

And that's when she noticed the TV was on.

And then settled herself in my lap and refused to leave the basement so she could "watch for a little bit."

We managed to get her up to bed, and she hasn't come back down - I think she's asleep. BUT NOW SHE KNOWS. And she'll probably tell her brother. It's all over - THEY KNOW WE WATCH TV AT NIGHT. We're fucked - they'll never leave us alone now!

6 years, 6 months, and 26 days - it was a good, good run.

Alright, on to Lucy's birthday, numero quatro. I'd be remiss if I didn't link back to the post I wrote on her birth, since I love it and go back to read it at LEAST once a year. I love remembering that day, and I love celebrating my little girl.

Lucy's birthday was on a Thursday (April 25th). I made some cupcakes for us to have that morning as a family - none for her daycare class, because I invited them all to her birthday party and thought that a school celebration too would be overkill. More cupcakes for us! I have no pictures of her actual birthday, because I'm lame. But mostly, we ate a lot of cupcakes.

But I have LOTS of pictures from her party, which was the following day. We had 11 kids and their parents at the house - I was more than a little worried that it would feel super cramped. But thankfully the weather was awesome, so our bounce house was out, and we were able to spread people throughout the living room, dining room, playroom, family room, and the backyard. Lucy had a great time, and aside from the fact that M. and I were preparing furiously right up until the first guest arrived, it wasn't too stressful.

First, a few photos of the setting. We did a pseudo "tea party/pink and green" theme. I didn't take the tea party thing all the way, though - I found some paper party cups with tea pots and tea kettles on them, make some iced tea, and offered "tea time" type foods. No hot tea or real tea cups were harmed in the making of this party, though I did try - I hit the local Goodwill to see if I could find some cheap but cute tea cups I could let the kids use, but no dice. Here is the table with LOTS of balloons, including a huge mylar, hear-shaped one for Lucy with pink feathered trim. It was ridiculously gaudy, and is still floating somewhere above our living room.

Flowers, and the hit of the party - candy melt-coated marshmallow lollipops.

The kids went ape-shit over these things.

I'm going to do a separate little post on how to make these - it was SUPER easy.

The birthday girl, drinking from her "tea" cup.

The food spread - finger sandwiches (tuna salad, egg salad, ham and cheese, and PB&J), scones, cookies, and berries.

Found this cute little tea pot at Marshalls for next to nothing - I love it!

I worked so ridiculously hard on Lucy's banner last year, you know it had to make an appearance again this year :-).

Bounce house in action!

We did a piñata for the first time ever - M. bought it that morning at one of the local party stores.

After many, many hits from the kids, and dropping it off of the deck above, to no avail, it was determined that this must have been one of those "new" piñatas that you pull open from the bottom.  Why don't these things come with instructions, exactly??

After the candy grab, we had CAKE!

FOUR. Goodness.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Catch Up, Part 2: A Family Wedding in Maine

Thank you all for the kind words of sympathy - they've meant a lot to me over the last few days. It has been a bittersweet experience. We've all been throwing out wonderful, happy memories of Papa to each other that make me smile - they've brought back some memories I had almost forgotten! But it's still tough to accept that I'll never see him again. My grandmother held a service down in Florida today to let his friends there say goodbye, and this July we'll gather as a family to hold another memorial service and intern his ashes in Massachusetts. Maybe by then it will feel more real.

And in the meantime, things keep moving. Gardens get planted, zoos get visited, teeth are lost (Finn lost his second one today!), book fairs are attended, teachers get appreciated... it's been a busy few days, and that's OK - good, really.

And I carry on with my "catching up" here in this space. We left off with a whirlwind trip to Wisconsin that brought us back home VERY late on Easter Sunday. It was quickly followed by a birthday, where yours truly tipped the scale toward "late thirties" by becoming 36. We celebrated with cake and a Frederick Keys game - where I wisely chose not to bring my camera, since Lucy hung all over me for the entire 7 innings that we lasted. Girlfriend was a HANDFUL, let me tell you. But Finn had a blast, so I have a feeling we'll be heading back again this summer.

No photos from that part of the month, but it's for the best, because now I'm going to overwhelm you with them. OK, wait, scratch that - M. e-mailed me some photos from his iPod from the Keys game, so here you go!:
Finn posing with "Keyote," the team mascot.

This souvenir hat used to be full of popcorn. Then it was on Finn's head. Now I have to find a place to store it FOREVER because Finn and M. and Lucy are sentimental schmucks that won't let me throw out anything. It's currently stacked with my mixing bowls along with two other souvenir baseball helmet/ice cream bowls. Blarg.

But he does look cute in it.

She was so ANNOYING.

But also cute
Less than two weeks after my birthday, we flew up to Maine to watch my cousin Katy get married. Since the wedding was in Portland, we were able to stay at my parents' house on Sebago Lake. It was still too cold for any kind of water activity, but just being able to look at it was so peaceful and relaxing. I'll narrate a few of the photos here, but most of them speak for themselves:

Mom and Dad bought a "Pirate Castle" playground for all the grandkids, and it was a HUGE hit!

The grown ups were declared "The Enemies." Here, Ned plots his next move.

Josephine surveys her kingdom.

But also lets her mom in, grown ups be damned, because she can't bear to be without her.

A view of the whole castle from the house.

M. indulged in Maine flannel and a mid-afternoon beer - how decadent!

That's me on the right, Stacey in the middle, and Kristin on the left.

Looks fab, no?

We had a small birthday celebration for Lucy that Friday night, since we were only 6 days away from her actual birthday - this is how happy it made her. Look at that smile!

She received a jewelry box replete with jewelry, including clip on earrings. She was in total heaven.
Here are the girls primping in front of a mirror the next morning, while the house was bustling with frantic grooming and showering.

Followed by several attempts for photos before we left for the wedding. Some were less successful than others.

The best shot I had of all the cousins (from left, Cameron, Josephine, Penny, Ned, Finn, and Lucy)

God, they kill me.

I have LOTS of photos from the wedding ceremony, but they all suck. I had my ISO up pretty high because the lighting was dim, and it just didn't work out well. Alas. Perhaps this is the kick in the butt I need to learn how to take flash photos properly?

Here is Lucy after the ceremony, bellied up to the bar and enjoying some goldfish crackers we brought with us.

My brother Andrew and my dad

This was Finn's very first Shirley Temple. They have a special place in my heart, because my grandfather would always make them for us kids during cocktail hour so we'd have something special to drink, too.

Goofing around during the dinner and dancing portion of the night.

I made them pose for this, but it's still cute. God those eyes are blue!

My sister Stacey with her husband Jeremy and their daughter Cameron

This is the group shot of the bride's paternal side of the family - 4 siblings (my mom, her sister, and her brothers) and their spouses, 11 of the 13 children they spawned, several husbands and boyfriends/girlfriends, and 7 little "next generationers." We were only missing a few people - two of my cousins who couldn't make it, and my grandparents (Mimi was back in Florida with a sick Papa). All these people came from the little tree branch started by my Mimi and Papa - crazy!

Busting a move on the dance floor
Dancing, Gangnam-style
Lucy was absolutely OBSESSED with Katy (who was a beautiful bride, and I wish I had some proper pictures to do her justice!), and would NOT dance with anyone else. Nor could she be convinced to leave the dance floor. Here she is with her cousin Cameron, monopolizing the bride's time. Katy was so sweet and gracious about it, though, and it made Lucy's night:

We all became pumpkins at around 8:30 (wedding started in the early afternoon), and headed back to Sebago for bedtime (for the kiddos) and a cocktail out by the outdoor fireplace (for the grown ups). It was COLD, though, so bedtime was relatively early - which was good, because ALL the kids were up by around 6:15 a.m.!
Enjoying a sunny Sunday morning before heading back to Maryland. Much coffee was had.
I have one more "catch up" post to do until we're even - a rundown of Lucy's birthday party. Coming soon to a blog post near you!