Monday, June 27, 2011

Rocket Ship Beginnings, Corona Endings

Why is it that the days we read all of the parenting books are the ones that end up a disaster? 

We start the day prepped and confident we're going to be a good Mommy and then it all comes crashing down the minute your toddler emerges from their bed.....or did it start at midnight when the smaller toddler woke up from four molars making their rude introduction along with a left ear infection?

Last week I started one morning by giving myself a refresher course on the first 100 pages I had read of Sal Severe's book, "How to Behave So Your Preschooler Will Too." 

I was psyched for the day feeling confident that I was equipped for any situation that was going to come my way. (Enter screeching halt here).

The day began promising when I loaded the kids up for our regular Monday beach date and we arrived five minutes early. (Point for Mommy! Anytime you arrive early you are bound to have a good day.) When our friends arrived we played on the playground and enjoyed a tire swing ride with our friend Alex.
We had not been at the beach twenty minutes when my normally sweet son hit an unassuming little girl who was innocently playing with the playground bells at the beach. 

I immediately asked the girl if she was OK and apologized to the nanny before I took action with my small Mike Tyson. Less than a minute later Hunter hits the girl again and, after ensuring she was OK, I turned to tell the nanny that I was very sorry and it was "something we're working on" to which she grabbed the girl and curtly says, "C'mone Emily, let's get out of here." (Enter deep pang in the pit of my stomach.) I had one of those Mommy moments where I felt defeated and embarrassed. 
(My friend Alissa with her sweet son Owen who is always perfectly behaved!)

(Yes, I'd be smiling too if my son was acting like hers did that day.)
(Owen was being a little camera shy.)
After a short bout of self talk, I picked Hunter up and explained to him that if we hit again we would have to leave the beach. I then tried to distract him towards another area of the beach to which he slapped me on the face. I tried to hold back tears and the voice inside me that was telling me to just overlook it because I really wanted to stay at the beach with our friends. I tucked my tail between my legs, packed us up and watched as people who walked by passed judgement on why I was letting my 14 month old scream her head off in the stroller. (Answer: She is used to this whole game of big brother getting disciplined at the expense of her abruptly being scooped up and interrupted from a fun activity combined with her Mommy has listened to this cry since midnight last night and it's just all starting to sound more like talking to her at this point.)

The rest of the day included a favorite toy thrown at Sissy before it broke into six pieces but sounded like sixteen, 
two diaper rashes, a potty that was tripped on as we were exiting it which led to pee all over the floor and our favorite lovey (I'll spare you visuals), multiple thrown sippy cups, hitting a child on a different playground, falling off a picnic bench, diarrhea, crawling out of the crib, Mommy being hit three more times, and poor Sissy who was pinched, hit, kicked and rolled on more times than one would care to count.* 
But, the day also ended with Hunter giving me a huge hug and saying he loved me, kids in bed on time, that cold Corona, brie-topped-with-fig crackers (thanks Barbara!), chocolate chip cookies, and lots of time to spare for reading. 

(I put a DVD on for the kids so I could get a few minutes of peace. They ate their dinner like little angels.)

That night I chose an Agatha Christie and pushed Sal to the side because I hoped that something other than a parenting book would get my tomorrow started on a better foot---and it did. Besides, there isn't anything Sal can tell me that will fully prepare me for what real life experiences are going to teach me.

Yes, that day and many days start as one of those days but they usually end as one of those days. I thank God and my wonderful husband every day for giving me the gift of being able to stay at home with my kids. Although it can be terribly challenging at times, I know I will one day see the fruits of my labor and that makes me smile.

*I'm pleased to report that since that day the rocket ship has been completely repaired, the diarrhea subsided and, although we are still dealing with toddler hitting, we continue to live--and live happy. 

"The fundamental job of a toddler is to rule the universe." - Lawrence Kutner 

Thank you Hunter for reminding me that my goal is to raise a curious, creative, strong human being. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Parks and Recreation

"Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you." - Paul Simon

In going back through old photos I am reminded that time flies by and if I don't record the memories they will quietly float away like the soft mist that dances on our lake just as the sun is rising. The photos will get deleted, the moments forgotten and, if I'm lucky, something will be said or a familiar tune will be played and I'll be able to grasp a small hold of seconds from that day. 

I don't want to let a single moment pass me by without fully appreciating it, but being a full-time mom to two little ones leaves little time to record these memories. As much as I'd like to think I'll get caught up and stay that way, I prefer to accept the reality--I'm often going to be playing catch up. So join me as I fill you in on memory making moments that have been happening in and around our home before they fade away. 

1)  In late spring, my friends and I took our kids to a "Dirt Day" at a local nature center. I made sure Emerson wore appropriate head gear of course. 

Our clan.

I learned just how multi-talented my fellow mommies are--they were able to push four kids up a very steep hill while simultaneously carrying on a conversation and feeding a bottle. 

The kids loved playing in the dirt and appreciated all of the tools the nature center put out just for the kids to explore.

(This is the headpiece that I made for Emerson's birthday party and I was so happy to have
another excuse to use it.)

Hunter and his pals learned how to make their first mud pies. One of my most fondest childhood memories is of making gooey mud pies in my mom's greenhouse in our old house in Lawrenceville. 

I am amazed at how much more grown up our kids look today and this was just a few weeks ago!

(Sissy's signature scrunch face.)

Beautiful mommy, beautiful baby.


You could tell by their faces that the kids were hard at work experimenting and exploring.

The nature center had so many unique things just for the kids--even a "living room" set up made from trees.

(Carly in her chair complete with ottoman.)

"All young things should be wild and free."

Our gang ate a picnic lunch under the warm sun and then decided to pack up to go home. Just in time too because the winds began to pick up.

The mixture of sun and breeze were so nice that I let the windows down for the ride home. Sissy giggled hysterically as the wind whipped through her hair. 

The after effects of a strong wind ride home: two tired kids and one frightening hair-do. 

2) Sissy continues to love anything her big brother does. While playing in the playroom one day she was elated to find a leftover juice box and straw while Hunter unknowingly napped upstairs. 

Crazy things can happen while big brother naps. This particular day we did our best Elton John impression.

And later that night after Daddy rescued me from another exhausting but amazing day, I had a few moments to catch the beautiful early evening before it escaped. 

And you know how I love those full moons.

3) We made our first trip to the dentist. Hunter loved all of it--the sunglasses, the pretty girls, the cartoons--until the dentist tried to count his teeth and he bit him three times. 

4) The best purchase I've made thus far this summer is a baby inflatable pool along with 200 multi-colored balls. Hours of fun.

Sometimes we need to be reminded to use gentle hands and feet when Sissy is in the pool as Hunter loves to run and jump into the pool and then kick the balls around often taking Emerson down in the process. 

(Look at that face! You know he's having the time of his life.)

5) I was "hired" to do my first party! We did the photo shoot for the invitation in our back yard and I captured these sweet moments when we were done. 

6) Our friends Andrea and Kevin had us over for a Saturday afternoon cookout. 

(Their gorgeous daughter Alexis. She had on lots of jewelry that sparkled--just my kinda' girl!)

When I mentioned to Hunter that we were going to Andrea and Alexis' house he immediately responded, "use gentle hands, share toys and we'll see the rabbit." Wow! Remember this?

(Yup. That funny bunny is my friend Andrea.)
Apparently the rabbit memory worked because Hunter used gentle hands and did a pretty good job of sharing toys. Or it could have been that two of his girlfriends, Peggy and Andrea, were at this particular cookout.
(Peggy and her beautiful daughter Ella.)

(Colin. Could you even resist this face? And the eyes---fuggetaboutit!!!)

Andrea's house takes the cool factor up a notch because they own (not rent, own) their own bouncy house. My kids go nuts in it!

Dave and I like these people a lot because we were willing to share our favorite Marlin dip. And they, in turn, gave my kids multiple juice boxes and vanilla ice cream = pure Menoni happiness. 

The afternoon was full of laughter, fun conversation, great music, high bouncing, swinging, sliding and good eats. 


Beautiful Mommy inside and out.

(Thanks Andrea for hosting such a fun filled day!)

(Little ladies who like to lunch.)

(In the outfit Peggy gave us that she said was Pretty Woman inspired. It even has a matching hat and purse!)

(Going to church.)

And my new favorite that pays tribute to the hippie inside all of us....

8) We have been encouraging Little Miss to use her walker. 

Unlike her brother who used to just fall down when he had tired of this toy, little E sits. down. gracefully. just. like. a. little. lady.
(Our friend Amy to the rescue.)

8) We did dinner at the beach with our friends Amy, Neil and Cooper. The weather called for rain but mother nature decided to be kind and sent us a beautiful night. We were enjoying ourselves so much that we closed the beach down being two of the last families remaining. 

We ran into Best Friend Larry. 
(Best Friend Larry was the first official friend we made when we moved to town six years ago and we're still friends.)

And showed our friend Coop the Big Whale. He loved it (and his Daddy did too!).

(See the diaper in Dave's back pocket? This is how he rolls--diaper in one pocket, sippy or bottled water in the other. I love this about my husband.)

(I love the look of anticipation on each of their faces as they wait for their Daddies to rock the big whale.)

(Doesn't Amy have THE most gorgeous eyes?)
 I snapped these photos of the sun setting on the marina just behind our car as we closed the chapter on another beautiful weekend.

9) Laughter + Crying + Hugs + Running + Spills + Hitting + Kisses + Poop = Monday afternoon play dates. 

(Sissy is now old enough that she has officially joined the big kid table.)

(The newest members of the group - Tim and Tucker.)

10) Beach Play dates which include fun flowered hats, adorable shades, goldfish, sunscreen and lots of sandy baby toes, faces and hands. 

(Our friend Millie brought lots of fun snacks.)

11) Sissy has been having a tough time with teething and isn't sleeping much. We have quiet time while Hunter takes his nap. Sissy loves to read books and play with all of Big Brother's toys while she has the house to herself.

(Sometimes we prefer to sit inside the book basket. It makes picking out books much easier.)

12) My good friend Ali and her family moved to Seattle this week. Before she left we had our last brunch together at our favorite spot that she introduced me to. Ali also introduced me to the fact that  good mommies not only take care of their families but they take care of themselves (i.e. splurge on brunch). 

She brought along her newest addition to her clan of boys, Hudson. 

(I seriously tried to eat him with my spoon. I mean, look at those cheeks!)

And I can't even introduce you to this little man without showing you a close up of his wrists....

....and legs. (LOVE!)

(Me and my boyfriend. I couldn't stop holding him.)

Ali, I'm going to miss you and our stuffed french toast dates. xoxo!

13) Emerson has become quite the little artist drawing beautiful mosaics with chalk and crayons.

(Earlier this week I let Emerson color while I did the dishes.)

(After doing the dishes, I turned around to see this beautiful piece of art. It is now proudly hanging in our playroom.)

14) And my cute boy just keeps getting cuter. And bigger. He just started camp last week and as I drove away I had that same tug in my stomach like I did the first day of preschool because camp also symbolizes a rite of passage for my growing boy.
(I was so concerned when Daddy chopped off his locks yet he already needs a trim again.)

As Paul Simon says, preserve the memories. These days and moments will be gone before we know it, gently floating away like the mist.

Good days are to be gathered like grapes, to be trodden and bottled into wine and kept for age to sip at ease beside the fire. If the traveler has vintaged well, he need trouble to wander no longer; the ruby moments glow in his glass at will.
-Freya Stark