Monday, August 18, 2014

I cried at my parents' wedding

I was 8 months old when my parents got married. As the story goes, I screamed and cried in the back the entire time. I know it's at least partially true because I've seen their wedding video (years ago), and you can definitely hearing a crying baby in the background.

This coming weekend, my brother is getting married. Since my parents divorced about 10 years ago, I have their wedding album, and my brother and his fiance need a picture from the wedding for something they're doing at their own.

Here are my two favorites of my mom and me.

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A cute, posed picture of the two of us.


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This one I love because it's such a true mom moment. Even in a wedding gown, when you're a mom with a baby, you sit down on the ground and hold your baby close, but out to look at the world. My mom looks like a picture-perfect bride, and I look just like a baby girl should: drowning in ruffles, dress hiked up too far showing itchy white tights, and wide-eyed gaze at all the fun.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

August 2014

Hi girls,

It's been a busy, busy summer for our family, and your dad has been working so much more than any of us would like. It's been rough on us all in different ways, but what I want you to take away from this time is how hard he works for you, for us. And that our family is one unit. We do things for each other, and for the good of the whole, even when it's difficult and even when it makes us uncomfortable sometimes. Being a family takes work and love and patience and determination and loyalty and and and. And we will always do what it takes.

Gracie, I don't know what to say about you this month. There's so much I could say, but won't because it feels too personal. And so much that doesn't need to be said because it's so not personal. In that I mean, you are becoming such a little girl now, instead of a baby, and you're doing all the fun things little kids do. The things we all remember from our childhood, the things we love to look back on and the things we really don't. Your early, early memories are happening now, and it's so special to watch.

Of course, you are still so GRACIE in every one of those things. So, the way you live your life is different than I could have ever imagined. You may be doing the same things, making the same mistakes, learning the same lessons as we all have before, but you are most certainly doing them with your own insanely lovable twists.

Lyla, you are my little bundle of extremes. I have never met a more caring toddler before. You share and give so generously and so instinctually. But if you feel slighted, holy Lord, child, you scream. bloody. murder. Gracie was never a screamer; so it honestly still shocks me almost every time. And I'm talking at least a dozen times a day. It grates on me like you wouldn't believe, and I truly have no idea how to stop it in the moment. But once it's over, you're back to being the most considerate person in the house.

You pull our chairs over during meals and say, "Sit clos-ah." You ask to hold Poppy every morning and give her hugs and kisses all the time now. "She happy!" you say with the biggest smile. "She lookin' at me!"

You finally know all your colors now, have started asking about specific words in books, "What this one say, Mommy?" and you count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 2 every time. You speak more clearly than any just-turned-2-year-old I've ever met.

You sing all the time and make up your own songs almost daily. The one you made up earlier this week made me smile the saddest smile. "I'm so sorry" you quietly sang over and over again. It was the same melody as your other faves, "A while ago," "In a while," and "Fire truck," but you just have to say it so often during the day that you turned it into a song, and I felt so bad.

Poppy, you turned 6 months a couple weeks ago and seem to be becoming an "older" baby all at once. Now that you're sitting, everyone's been asking, "Are you going to crawl soon, Poppy? When are you going to crawl? Can you come get this?" and I just want to scream. She's only 6 months old! Let her be! It's not that I don't want you to grow up, or I'm trying to keep you a baby longer than I should because you're my youngest. It's just that I don't want everyone to rush you through your infancy because they know now how fun toddlers can be. I still love babies; so you grow and learn exactly how fast or how slow you want, Little Miss.

Your nighttime sleep has taken a significant downturn since your 4-month appointment, and your naps drive me crazier than anything else in my life. I just can't wait until you're down to two set naps a day, and I can move past all the crazy thinking about how long it's been since you slept and for how long and if you'll go down with me feeding you or in the car or on a walk or whatever. Random napping infancy is my kryptonite.

Without question, my favorite thing about you is when you lay your head on my shoulder and smile when someone looks you in the eye. It is the most adorable, shy, flirty, wonderful thing anyone has ever done.

I love you, little ones,
Mommy

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Weekly Wednesday Photo - August 13, 2014

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If I told you how much of the day the big girls spend wearing their life jackets around the house and yard, you'd never believe me.




















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"I wear scarf just like Granny!"






















 photo D95B1CFF-AF49-48BE-A86C-79BAA44DD2BD_zpso7htiewu.jpg6 months, 1 week

Starting early.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Fair(s)

We have two big fairs that happen in our town every summer.

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Here we are at the first one. I brought the girls down just before dinner, and we met McMister after work to eat.

When we went this year, I knew Gracie would love the rides and Lyla would be terrified. There was one canoe ride last year that Gracie went on that was very slow and very steady. Lyla could do that, I thought. She could handle that. Maybe. If Gracie was with her. I pumped it up to her like nobody's business and when we got there, it wasn't there.

Gracie went on a ride with McMister where a red schoolbus-looking-thing went up in the air and back down a bunch of times. Lyla would freak the eff out if she was on that thing, but she did not want to leave McMister's side; so we waited in the line with both of them. When we got to the front, she was confused about and I was thrilled about the fact that she wasn't even tall enough for it anyway. McMister and Gracie climbed in, and Lyla burst into tears. Sobs. Hysterics.

McMister's dad, who is usually one of her favorite people on Earth picked her up, and she wailed, wrapped her arms around my neck from his arms while I wore Poppy in the front pack, and screamed, "DADDY!" the entire length of the ride.

Gracie, from the glimpses I saw, seconds at a time as she went 'round and 'round, was loving it.

McMister got off and went to straight to Lyla, walked around the kiddie area trying to find something for her to ride, but she (thankfully) was too small for everything. Despite her romp through the sand this weekend, I know my daughter, and she would not have enjoyed those rides one bit.

McMister pulled Gracie aside and promised he'd bring her back alone by the end of the weekend so she could ride the rides. We played a couple games with the two of them and left for home.


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I had no idea how funny this picture was when I was taking it.

Exactly two weeks after that first fair each year, our county fair is held about 3 minutes from our house. This smaller fair has rides and food and small-time musicians, but they have animals. Like a lot of animals. And pony rides. This fair is for the kids. 

McMister never made good on his promise to Gracie to bring her back to the fair that first weekend for rides; so he took her on one of the early days of the county fair. He sent me the following pictures, and I died of happiness for her. Before they even left the house, she was grinning from ear to ear and talking to herself and anyone who would listen about her date with Daddy.

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With this one, he said, "We found some Irish dancers. She's been like this the whole time. Says she doesn't even want to do any more rides." So maybe we'll have a little straight-armed, high-kicking dancer on our hands someday. When I asked her later if she saw any dancers, she lit up, "Yeah! Karate dancers."

We went as a family that weekend and let the girls pet the animals, ride the ponies, and eat lunch.

To say Gracie loved riding the ponies the previous two years would be a huge understatement. This year didn't disappoint.

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And, as expected, Lyla was a bit... hesitant.

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She did perk up after a few loops though.

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Poppy was... confused, maybe.

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I thought that was it. This was going to be the end of my fair posting for the summer. But there was a tiny spot of rides in a nearby beach town this weekend where my hatred for rides grew even more.

McMister saw the merry-go-round from across the street and told Gracie we could go over there. Before he even finished the sentence, he spotted the bumper cars. 

"I'm gonna go see if she's big enough to ride the bumper cars with me!" he said, thrilled as can be, without even a hint of hesitation. 

"SHE'S BIG ENOUGH!" he shouted to his whole family and me. 

I did not want her to go on them at all. I've never thought of bumper cars as unsafe; I even liked them as a kid. But in that moment, all I could think about was purposely putting my 3-year-old's perfect little brain, head, and neck in a car accident over and over and over and over again.

She watched the group that was already going and decided she didn't want to do it. Thank God.

So we moved over to the carousel, and McMister strapped her in by herself with him on an adjacent animal. Lyla went on one behind her with McMister's mom holding on to her. She didn't exactly smile wide while on it, but she wasn't terrified either. She looked a little better than the first horse picture I posted above. So, good.

Gracie looked at McMister like this the entire time.

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Just past the carousel was a sweet little ladybug ride that I thought Lyla could handle, and just past that was the Tilt-a-Whirl. 

"Gracie wants to ride the Tilt-a-Whirl," McMister's sister said. "I'll take her!"

The ride wasn't moving at the time, but my heart rate increased the second I laid eyes on it. A layer of rust covered the faded colors, and the aging machine looked like it had been touched by plenty of riders' hands and not nearly enough maintenance hands. It looked fast and spinny and scary and puke-inducing.

My eyes frantically darted from here to there, looking for a sign that said she was too small to ride. "Riders 3 to 5 must be accompanied by an adult," it read, and I felt a lump in my throat. 

I wanted to say something. I desperately wanted to speak up. 

But surrounded by McMister's family, all laughing and eager and awash with a ride-lovers' glow of impeding fear, I didn't say a word. I know they knew. I know they could tell I didn't want it to happen, but it was my fault for not saying it loud. 

I didn't want to be the spoil-sport I so often am. I didn't want to disappoint them, yet again, with my overprotective naysaying. So, she went.

The first 80 percent of the time, she cast a wild smile, full of excitement and fear. It was a fun fear, I could see, but it was so dangerously close to the line of not fun fear that I held my breath. 

Then, it happened. The lap came when I saw her face, and the smile was gone. She looked sick and terrified and alone. Sure, she was with her aunt, but her aunt is visiting from across the country and she only sees her once or twice a year. It was not someone she would have chosen to feel like that with. 

"She's not having fun anymore," I told McMister, trying desperately not to cry myself.

"I know," he said with panic in his voice. "This f*cking ride lasts way too long."

He looked up at the early-20s operator of the ride who looked like he had come straight from some seriously bad sh*t with some seriously bad friends and willed him to stop it. The kid didn't see him and wouldn't have cared if he did. We're the ones who put our 3-year-old on a ride that was way too advanced. We're the ones who were going to have to deal with it.

He went over to the exit when she got off and picked her up right away. I couldn't see if she was smiling yet. She was too far away, but it was the tears in my eyes that really kept me from seeing. I saw her stumble around with dizziness and ask McMister to hold her again. Lyla asked if she could go on it (hahahahahahahaha), and I walked toward McMister's mom to say (hell) no. 

"The tickets are all gone," she said to her, lying. She was just as regretful as me.

I felt so many things in those few minutes. Anger at them for being so willing and embarrassment in myself for not. Scared of upsetting them by saying no and scared of what I had done to my daughter by not. Sorry and guilty and awful that I chose keeping them happy over keeping her safe. 

I learned a lot that afternoon, and I never want to learn that lesson again.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Same scene, same cast, different roles

We went to the ocean again this past weekend, but many things were different this time. One remarkable difference that could make up its own post (but won't) is Lyla's reaction to it all, and my guilt to her reaction of it all.

Since the closest ocean beach (about an hour away) is overrun with... well, a lot of trashy stuff, we usually go somewhere a bit further. Not always the same place, but always further than we really need. A lot of the time, the extra time in the car is just not worth it in my opinion, but this weekend, it was.
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About half way through the drive, we stopped because Lyla had to use the bathroom, (OK we all did, she was just the most vocal), and directly across the street was "Gracie's Gallery." We had stopped alongside a pier, and McMister took the girls out on onto it while I fed Poppy in the car. The benches around the edges were all etched with a name, and McMister's first name was one of them. Also, across the water from us was a big, visible landslide (one of the things McMister works with the most as a geotechnical engineer where we live); so he gave the girls a quick lesson about it. Basically, we were destined to stop there.

We stayed at my uncle's beach house, and although there are three bedrooms, McMister's parents and his sister and her soon-to-be-fiance (which we know through a botched secret and resulted in a huge batch of grumpiness) all stayed there, too. So we took the master bedroom which has a big bed and futon in it. Poppy slept in the playpen next to the bed, and that means, for the first time ever, the big girls shared a bed. 

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McMister trying to do the bedtime routine.

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Both girls on their hands and knees peering over the head of the bed. Who knows what they were looking for. Or plotting.

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They ended up (after countless rounds of going back and in and telling them to be quiet and lay down) going to sleep about an hour and a half later than normal. And no, if you're not a parent and don't know the truth, THAT DOES NOT MEAN THEY SLEPT IN.

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Trying to get a family picture. Gracie walked around behind me, and I thought she was going to just run to the water. Instead, she was trying to go between my legs. Poppy also spent so much time in the Ergo over the three days we were there that she started to hate it. Once, when I went to strap her in, she literally pushed me away and screamed. Since she normally is happy doing ANYTHING, I took it off immediately and just held her.

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So that's how this awkward beauty ended up on facebook.

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Gracie is obsessed with sharks right now. Obsessed may not be a strong enough word. I have a long story about fairs coming up in another post, but part of it is that I got quite upset after Gracie going on a ride in a nearby beach town and took Poppy back to the car to feed her and go to the bathroom and get away from everyone. When I started the what-I-thought-was-going-to-be-aimless trek back to find them, I got about 20 feet before hearing my name and turning around to see this little lady in a new shirt, BEAMING.

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After playing at the beach Friday afternoon and Saturday morning and getting 90 minutes less sleep than normal the night before, Gracie opted not to go to the beach again Saturday afternoon. She said it was because of her new shark puzzle, but really, it was the exhaustion. That meant, Lyla got her own special Mommy and Daddy time (with Poppy in the Ergo). We assumed it would be fun and calm like this first pic I took. 

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Turns out, Lyla took this opportunity to go beach wild! I don't know if it's because Gracie wasn't there; so she felt like she finally had a chance, or if it's because it wasn't really "dirty" being sand, instead of mud and rocks, or if she really just changed her mind about the whole thing, but whatever it was, Lyla got down and dirty and had the time of her life.

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I am so happy that I got this part on video. When she says, "It's coming to me!" Without her sister there, she was able to concentrate and appreciate everything around her and feel like it was all for her. The world was in her hands, for once, and it made me a little sad to think that she has to grow up in the shadow of a big sister. But it also made me appreciative that we got a clear signal that when we make the effort, she gets glimpses of her own magic as well.

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This poor girl got her schedule all mixed up and turned upside and backwards and was overtired a lot of the time. She survived though, and we'll spend the next few weeks trying to get her back on track before Gracie's school starts and sets us into a much more predictable routine.

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Bedtime was still pretty wild that second night, but they were tired enough from not going to bed the first night that it only took about 45 minutes longer than normal this time.

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The wind on Sunday morning was totally, completely, insane and ridiculous and hilarious. Poppy would only be happy outside in the Ergo if I was half-running. And singing "run run run run run." And facing only one direction. So after a while, we just sat in the car and had fun.

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The three-hour drive down wasn't actually that bad. The last hour was a bit brutal, but at least we were close. On the way home, Lyla fell asleep (we left at naptime) about half an hour in, and about four minutes after that, Gracie asked, "Are we home? How much minutes do we have left?" Uh, like a thousand, Sweetie. 

She did fine for a while, then started to get really agitated, and since she had a sleeping sister on either side of her, and me whisper-yelling to her to be quiet wasn't working, McMister grabbed what I hoped we'd avoid for a few more years on car trips: the iPad.

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She took it well.

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A little more than halfway home, Lyla woke up, and both big girls lost their shit. O.V.E.R. I.T.

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Then, we got home.

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Poppy's Baptism - Holy Moly

Almost a year ago, I was at the after-party for our great friend's son's baptism. The abbot was there (the head of an abbey). A guest mentioned to him that some elderly women were complaining about the loud children in attendance. His response?

"As long as the church keeps advocating against birth control, there will be loud children at church."

I've never been one to think rambunctious children were a nuisance at church. And now that I have those rambunctious children, I feel it even more.

Saturday evening, Poppy was baptized, and Gracie and Lyla went buck wild.

Like I mentioned a couple weeks back, it has been a hot, hot summer here, and no one is used to it. Not even churches, I guess, because just like the rest of us, they don't have air conditioning either. After the service, McMister's dad said he felt like he was in a John Grisham novel about some southern courtroom filled with rickety old fans blowing from side to side, everyone in their seats fanning themselves with whatever literature they could find.

We had the strict priest, a longer than normal Mass, oppressive heat, and two wild girls who stole the show from their little sister and the other tiny boy getting baptized. I can't even begin to form everything that happened into a story; so I'll do what I did with Gracie's and just give you some bulleted highlights.

  • I completely forgot the camera (sorry, third baby) and left her headband in the car.
  • The big girls got seated with my family before we walked in with the procession. Once we got about ten pews back, Lyla spotted me and started shouting at the top of her lungs, "POPPY GET IN WATAH! POPPY GET IN WATAH, MOMMY!"
  • Gracie clapped vigorously after every hymn.
  • Lyla danced vigorously during every hymn.
  • Lyla pointed and yelled, "What's that?" to every single thing there. Pointing at the priest and yelling, "What's that?" equals first-timer.
  • Poppy's godparents are the parents of the boy whose baptism I referenced in the beginning. He is one. loud. dude. He happily yelled incoherent blabberings next to us in the front row the entire time. 
  • When his dad lit the candle for Poppy, he kept trying his darnedest to blow it out. Someone just had a birthday.
  • Gracie rolled around on the floor in the front row almost the entire Mass. 
  • The godmother snuck in some snacks to keep her little boy quiet. She shared them with our girls, and while Gracie smashed cheese into the pew, Lyla shouted, "ME GET COOKIE, MOMMY!"
  • When we all walked to the back of the church for the baptismal ceremony, I thought I was sly about frantically grabbing Lyla and moving her away from the giant "bath" she was heading toward until the priest looked right at me and said, "Nice preventative move there, Mom."
  • The priest couldn't get to Poppy to anoint her because Gracie was rolling around on the floor with her legs in the air about 2 inches from his feet.
  • The "bath" is about four stairs up from the rest of the church. While we were occupied with Poppy in the ceremony, Gracie ran to the top of the stairs and jumped all the way down. Twice.
  • When we got back to our seats after the actual baptism, Lyla was with McMister's mom, and her head was all wet. Didn't even ask.
  • Later that night, after the girls were in bed, McMister's sister told me that the priest tried to grab Gracie's hand and walk with her back to the front of the church since she was walking out in front of the entire church after the baptism part. Apparently, she looked right at him, scoffed, and ran away.
Everyone told me how great of a mom I was afterward. "You're so busy!" they all said. "I can't believe you do this all the time!" I heard again and again. But really, it was that I just wasn't stressed about them being kids. Sure, they were naughtier than I would've liked. But it wasn't out of disrespect, and everyone around us was smiling from ear to ear. The times I did try to rein them in only made it worse. So, I let it be. If anything, the regular Saturday evening Mass crowd got a little more bang for their buck that night. 

Thankfully, McMister's sister did bring her camera. So here are a few of my favorites from the hot, sweaty, joy-filled day.

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I absolutely love that we're all right there in this picture. I had no idea where the rest of them were at this point.

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The priest lifted Poppy up in the air to show the whole church its newest member once that part of it was over. We got Gracie and Lyla baptized at a different church (still Catholic, just in another town) and they didn't do this. It was kind of frightening and awkward.

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And Poppy looked like this the entire time he did it. He laughed out loud into his microphone.

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Annnnnnd, this is what we look like 94% of the time.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Weekly Wednesday Photo - August 6, 2014

 photo DSC06473_zpsae229372.jpg3 1/2 years

Most of the time, I take pictures of the girls when they're doing something funny or out of the ordinary. This, though, is Gracie several times a day, every day.

She lays just like this in this big, brown chair in our family room and "reads" books.

It's where she rests, on her own accord, and no matter what else is going on at that moment, seeing her here makes me smile.


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2 years, 2 months

#artist






















 photo 7685BA9D-08FA-4F53-9C24-5F09DE3F5B18_zps1qymyjrf.jpg6 months, 0 weeks