Sunday, August 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Caroline!

Caroline turned one on Saturday! On Friday, she was pretty fussy most of the day and felt very warm, but I did not take her temperature because I wanted to remain in denial if possible -- I just did not want to think about Caroline being sick on her birthday. Incidentally, what is it with late August and germs in the blue house? Last year Elizabeth got the croup the day after we brought Caroline home from the hospital. Fast forward a year, and Jacob, Elizabeth and I are all at various stages of cold fighting/suffering, and Caroline had her little sicky day as well. Note to self: do not plan lavish European getaway for late August next year.

Anyway, Caroline woke up on her birthday with no fever, but was still not quite herself. She was acting tired and somewhat clingy, but the clingy part was okay because I was feeling kinda clingy myself. So we all kind of hung out in the morning playing universal crowd pleasers such as "I'm gonna get ya!" and "Where's [insert name of hiding person]?" I sent David, Jacob and David's dad out to do party errands. My initial list contained the basics: pick up cake, pick up balloons, pick up pink flowers -- but I ended up calling David four or five times while he was out as I thought of other things: "Hey, while you are at Piggly Wiggly, you might as well pick up a jar of salsa." "Hi, it's me again. Have you been to Smith's yet? Can you get primary color paper napkins while you are there. Any primary color. No, the dessert table will be pastels." "Hello. I just remembered that I got Caroline a birthday card from us, but not one from the kids. Can you stop somewhere and have Jacob pick one out?" David loves it when I do this. In any event, the boys were excellent hunter-gatherers, and returned home with the party!

The party room:

Zooming in:
Caroline's little dome cake:

The balloons were a big hit:

We had to take Caroline out back and hose her down after lunch (yes, that's a baked bean in her hair):

Swept up in the Olympic spirit, Elizabeth & Nolen try synchronized Capri Sun drinking:

Caroline loves the purple rocking elephant that Aunt Diane & Uncle Sal sent for her! She rocks really fast -- I am afraid that I am seeing early daredevilish tendencies. Here she is as Grandma holds on:

. . . and clapping her hands because she's happy and she knows it:

Caroline takes her happy clapping very seriously. No time to pause just because someone else is telling her to "say cheese":

Caroline and her proud daddy:

Caroline had a ball opening presents. She loved it all -- the presents, the paper, the ribbon, the cardboard. It is hard for a toddler to know what to chew first! Jacob was a committed assistant who zealously discharged his self-assigned duties of helping Caroline open her presents:

I was so worried on Friday and early on Saturday that Caroline would not feel well enough to enjoy her birthday, but she was such a little trooper! I think she started really feeling better around midday on her birthday, and she managed to have a wonderful day. She clearly knew the party was for her and took the opportunity to ham it up. We just wanted her to enjoy her special day, and she really did, so it was perfect.

Caroline came into the world screaming and didn't stop for three and a half months. I felt like I had a 12 month pregnancy with her, because I spent the first three months of her life wearing her in a Baby Bjorn carrier while I bounced on an exercise ball in front of the oven vent fan -- the only thing that would calm her down. After the colic ended, she had about one happy-go-lucky month until her chronic ear infections began, and she suffered with them for a couple of months until we finally got her tubes. So when I think about the miserable start my baby had, and then I see her now -- belly laughing when her brother makes a goofy face at her, clenching her little fists and twisting side to side to dance whenever she hears music, burrowing into my shoulder and giving a little shy smile to anyone who comes over to talk to her, and clapping her hands with joy . . . well, quite simply, it just makes me weep with love and joy and pride. Happy Birthday, Sweet Caroline.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Who took my baby and left this giant?

This has happened to me with all three of my kids. Days, weeks and months go by, and because I am with them every day, I still see them as teeny tiny -- and then one day, I will go up to check on them while they are sleeping, and bam! They look enormous.

Caroline is suddenly taking up the whole crib! When did THAT happen? My little baby is looking MIGHTY toddler-ish all of a sudden. She will be one on Saturday! Better bring some hankies for her mommy!

Because I look good in it, that's why

Several of my friends have asked about my profile picture, and why I chose a picture in which I am only holding one of my children. Answer: because it is the only picture that I could find of myself that is even remotely flattering, and I had to go all the way back to 2006 to find it. Finding any pictures of myself, flattering or not, was a challenge; in fact, there is very little photographic evidence that I even existed after 2002. If someone takes one, I will happily update my profile picture with a complete family shot as long as I look good in it, even if everyone else looks bad. Given the kind of snapshots we get around here, it may be a while before that happens.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I scream . . . you scream . . . we all scream for ice cream!!!

A few weeks ago, around 5:00 p.m., I was upstairs giving Caroline her bath. Jacob and Elizabeth were downstairs in the den. Suddenly, I heard blood-curdling screams from downstairs. My heart skipped several beats. My stomach lurched. I picked up a soapy Caroline from the tub, wrapped her in her hooded towel, and raced downstairs. Would I see blood? Broken bones?

The screaming continued as I ran down the stairs, but amidst the screams, I could have sworn that I thought I heard "The Entertainer." Suddenly, it all clicked. My children were screaming their fool heads off because they thought they were going to miss the Ice Cream Lady. But there was no time for reflection -- she was OUTSIDE OUR DOOR AT THAT MOMENT. I yelled for Jacob to run outside and tell her that we are coming. I scrambled to find my wallet in my huge purse. I told Elizabeth (who was really in a bad state at this point) to pull herself together, and we all hurried outside to join him-- hyperventilating, puffy-eyed three year old, soapy wet baby, and crazy mom.

We chose our treats, said goodbye to the ice cream lady, and turned around to walk back inside when I was suddenly overwhelmed by a "what just happened?" moment. Surely I did not just reward my children for screaming like banshees over something as trivial as the ice cream truck by actually BUYING THEM ICE CREAM???? Why, yes I did. But you can always count on me to get swept up in a wave of hysteria. If everyone is yelling "the sky is falling!!!!" my first reaction will never be "Come on. Let's think about this for a moment. Surely the sky is not falling." It will be: "Oh #$%#!@#!!!! The sky is falling!!!" Or, take for example certain bosses that I have had/have in my life, who will run into my office with a crazed look, pacing back and forth and talking to themselves, and say something like: "We're meeting with the client tomorrow. We need to know this pronto!!!! We need to know this yesterday!!!" Well, the more frenzied the delivery, the more you can count on me to enter panic/frenzy mode right along with the boss, even though I should know by now that whatever it is often isn't THAT urgent. So given these tendencies, I am not surprised that I bought the ice cream. We DID do a little role playing game when we got back inside, in which we pretended that I was upstairs giving Caroline a bath when the ice cream lady came by, and we all practiced what we would do next time besides screaming at the top of our lungs. I will let you know how it goes.

If loving Shout Color Catchers is wrong, I don't want to be right

We do approximately 10-14 loads of laundry per week. Laundry, therefore, is just part of the daily routine at the Blue House. But I don't hate laundry as much as you might think I do. And part of the reason for that is that I use Shout Color Catchers.

I am not a spokesperson for Shout Color Catchers. But I would be in a heartbeat. They could just pay me in Shout Color Catchers. I have been using these for close to two years now. I first discovered them when they were a relatively new product. What is it, something like 80% of new products introduced to the market fail? Once I realized how wonderful they are, I became panicked that they wouldn't catch on and would get pulled from the shelves. I started hording Shout Color Catchers like survivalists horde bottled water. I spread the word of their greatness to my friends. In fact, my good friend Wendy mentioned around this time that she didn't think that we'd had a conversation in almost a month in which I did not bring up Shout Color Catchers. I realized that this was probably true, and that I needed to get a hobby, but my enthusiasm for Shout Color Catchers just could not be contained.

What are Shout Color Catchers, you ask? Well, let me tell you about them. They are these little white sheets that resemble dryer sheets:

Throw one into your wash along along with your darks and whites. Yes, I said your darks and your whites. Feeling really brave? Throw in some reds and whites. Shout Color Catchers can handle it. Okay, now go ahead and set that baby on a warm cycle. That's right, warm. Now go do whatever it is you do while your laundry is running. Come back later, and you will find:

Red shirt still red!!
White shirt still white!!

Shout Color Catcher now red!!***

Amazing, right?? Shout Color Catchers catch the dye from the dark clothes and trap it, like a sponge, so that it doesn't settle on the light clothes. No need to sort your laundry anymore! Just throw it all in there together and let Shout Color Catchers do the work.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, "what is the big deal about sorting laundry? It is just not that hard to separate darks and whites." Well, that's true, but laundry, much like life, is not always black and white. For example, should Elizabeth's medium pink shirt go with the whites or the darks? If it's a new shirt and I put it with whites, I risk ending up with pink-ish white shirts. But if I put it in with darks, David's navy blue golf shirt might give the pink shirt a blue-ish tint. I used to spend valuable time worrying about such things, but not anymore! Now I just throw in a Shout Color Catcher and go worry about other things.

***Redness of Shout Color Catcher has been artificially enhanced for dramatic affect.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I love you, but you can't make me like you.

I have no doubt that Jacob and Elizabeth love each other deeply. Jacob worries about Elizabeth whenever she has to get shots at a checkup. Elizabeth thinks that whatever Jacob does is the epitome of cool and tries to imitate it. But on a day-to-day basis, these two have a tumultuous relationship, to put it mildly. The sound of Jacob and Elizabeth bickering is just part of the background noise around here.

This morning, David was outside mowing the grass, Caroline was upstairs napping, Jacob and Elizabeth were in the den, and I was zipping around upstairs trying to put some laundry away before Jacob and Elizabeth realized I was gone and came looking for me, which would mean the end of Caroline's nap. Suddenly, I heard Jacob yell: "Get away from that, you stupid little girl!!!" I put the laundry basket down and started downstairs to scold Jacob and remind him that we don't call people "stupid," when I heard Elizabeth yell back: "I am NOT a stupid little girl!!! I am a BIG girl!!!"

Seeing as Elizabeth defended herself against the portion of the insult that was most offensive to her, I decided that no intervention was needed on my part, and continued with the laundry.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It's all fun and games until someone takes a bottle of soy sauce on the toe

Caroline has a new favorite place to play -- our pantry.
At first I was pleased by this development, because I could easily keep my eye on her while I get dinner ready, and it seemed like she couldn't get into too much trouble there, as we mainly keep things like paper products, baskets, and such on the floor of the pantry. Well, then she decided to go vertical, and that's when the jars started flying off the shelves (note the pimientos by her right foot). Another good idea in theory that failed in practice. The pantry doors are now closed.

I am not a short-order cook

At Jacob's one year old checkup, our beloved pediatrician gave us this talk: "Jacob is one now. You are not a short-order cook. At meals, he should sit at the table with the two of you and eat whatever you eat. This will lay the foundation for a lifetime of good eating habits." And then at Elizabeth's one year old checkup, the same beloved pediatrician gave us this talk: "Elizabeth is one now. You are not a short-order cook. At meals, she should sit at the table with the rest of the family and eat whatever the rest of the family eats. This will lay the foundation for a lifetime of good eating habits." Caroline's one year old checkup is coming up, and I might ask if I can do the honors of delivering the mealtime talk myself. (Incidentally, he also tells us at one year old checkups that it is time to say goodbye to the pacifier, and you can see how well that went for us.)

He has never asked us how the objective reality of our lives was matching up with the utopian vision of mealtimes that he presented at these checkups. Because my objective reality is that I am a short-order cook. I did not intend to become one. But I am one. It is not unusual for us to have dinner in which I prepare all of the following: chicken nuggets, grilled chicken, grilled cheese sandwiches, peanut butter waffles (Nutri Grain, though -- gold star!), cream cheese waffles, hot dogs, eggs, grits, diced banana, sliced strawberries, peas, rice, and some kind of grown up meal that has two or three components to it. I feel like a fool as I do it. But there I am, dashing between the toaster, the refrigerator, the microwave, the pantry, the stove and the table, wielding my trusty kitchen shears,

dicing, spreading, and ketchuping, all in an effort to get my picky children (whom I have no doubt made all the pickier by indulging their pickiness in this way) to eat something suitable for dinner. Here is Caroline (cheese toast, pasta with butter, broccoli, milk, babyfood applesauce) at dinner tonight:

Jacob (chicken nuggets, peanut butter waffle, grapes, milk, rice):

Elizabeth (same as Jacob, but delete peanut butter waffle, add Scooby cheese (which is like regular cheese but it comes in a Scooby Doo wrapper):

Cathy and David (grilled vegetable pitas with goat cheese and pesto mayo):

I know that it is time to stop the insanity. This is my early new years' resolution. I need to remember Stuart Smalley of SNL fame (am I dating myself here?) and his daily affirmations. I will tell myself: "I am good enough. I am smart enough. And doggone it, I am not a short-order cook." Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Why I outsource the picturetaking of my children

Ever since Jacob was a baby, I have taken my kids to real photographers on a pretty regular basis. During the first year I like to get them around 3, 6, 9 and 12 months (and I will always deeply regret not getting true newborn pictures done of any of my kids when they were a week or two old). After that I like to take them about twice a year -- spring and fall. As a result of our regular visits to incredibly talented photographers, we have an abundance of awesome pictures of our kids around the house, and I love them all. Now, David will tell you that we are dangerously close to having too many pictures of the kids and crossing that unspoken picture freak line. And you know what? He is probably right. But these baby/preschooler/young elementary days are so fleeting, and it is important to me that we capture these sweet moments on film while our children are little. And while we DO try to take snapshots as we go, a photographer I am not. This one is very typical of the kind of picture I get of all three kids:
That is actually one of my better works, because it is not blurry and there is no red eye. I tried again today and got a pretty good one, but Caroline's leg was caught in the back slat of the rocking chair, so I had to abandon the session and rescue her:
And that, in a nutshell, is why we just can't be relied on to get the kind of pictures that I want to get of the kids. We are too busy untangling limbs from furniture, removing legos from mouths, breaking up scuffles, kissing boo boos, making meals, cleaning up meals, cleaning up kids and generally trying to keep the little people from taking over. And then there is that whole lack of photographic talent thing. So we'll keep trying with the snapshots, but in the meantime, I will continue to get everyone scrubbed up and drag them out to the Botanical Gardens a couple of times a year so that we will be sure to have some really great pictures of them -- in focus no less!!

First day of school!

Jacob started first grade yesterday! We met his new teacher on Friday -- she seems really great! She has a warm and energetic personality, and her classroom looked so bright, cheery and fun -- it should be a great place to learn. Jacob became excited about starting school pretty much from the moment we met her (after spending weeks telling us that he didn't want summer to end). Here is Jacob on his first day . . .

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I am just an unfrozen caveman lawyer. Your strange new blogging world frightens and confuses me.

I found myself between projects at work today, so I decided to set up a blog! How fun is this? And there is lots of new and exciting news in the blue house!! First and foremost, Jacob lost his first tooth yesterday! Here he is, sans tooth:

Isn't he cute? According to Jacob, it has been loose since September 20, 2007, so we sure are glad that it has finally fallen out. After some frantic searching last night, David and Jacob found the cool pirate tooth fairy pillow that the Easter Bunny brought him: and deposited the tooth into the pillow. When he woke up this morning, we were all excited to see that the tooth fairy had come and left Jacob $1.00. Apparently it's a dollar per tooth from the TF whether you lose your teeth in 1978 or 2008. The tooth fairy does not try to keep up with the inflation rate.

In more fairy/teeth news, Caroline is working on about four new upper teeth, which is wreaking havoc on her sleep. Wait, no, that's not the teething, it is the fact that she is one of our children, and is therefore genetically predisposed to sleep poorly. Anyway, here is the best picture I could get of Caroline's new chompers: And incidentally, we had another fairy visit us on Friday night, the Two Fairy (a "two" is a pacifier, as named by Jacob when he was one.) Since I have no doubt that I have long been out of contention for the Mommy of the Year award anyway, so I will just go ahead and admit that Elizabeth, our 3.5 year old, still used a pacifier to go to sleep at night up until this past Friday. I know, I know, it was only a couple of YEARS past time to get rid of it, but time goes by quickly, and our kids don't sleep very well, so it was kind of easy to be lazy about this sort of thing. But the Two Fairy finally came on Friday while Elizabeth was sleeping, took the twos to give to some babies who really need them, and left her some My Little Pony/Littlest Pet Shop-type toys with tiny parts that must be kept away from Caroline. In any event, Elizabeth has done GREAT without her two, other than the fact that she is now taking approximately two hours to fall asleep at night. Here Elizabeth at her class luau last week: