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Showing posts with label holiday. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holiday. Show all posts

Monday, March 25, 2013

if we are dying eggs it must be spring, right?

A few days shy of the spring equinox Maya threw a tantrum about not being permitted to wear her flip flops outside.  She just couldn't wrap her head around what March in Maine means and why the interminable winter has not yet given up its grasp over this northern corner of the world. 

I said, "It is just too cold, honey.  We still have to have a fire in the stove everyday, mittens on our hands and winter coats."  She came back with a wailing. "But WHEN will winter be over?  It has been SO LONG and it should be spring!"

How can you argue with that?

All I know is that at 4:45 am on the "first day of spring" I was digging our cars out from 10 inches of snow so that Sandi could get to the hospital.  I don't usually begrudge thing that are so clearly out of my control and have cultivated a more accepting, get-on-board-with-what-is mentality, but that morning I was shaking my fist at the sky. 

Our patio had just become bare for Pete's sake.  I was planning a party in my head.

But spring doesn't really come to Maine until at least April, and if we are unlucky even May.  However, Easter with all its sleeveless dresses and open-toed shoes, often comes in March.   Poor planning there.  Again with the conversation and ensuing tantrums over footwear when you have daughters. 

It may not be spring yet, but it was time for the annual dying of Easter eggs with the Smith's.  (The whole time I was thinking about the older kids, please still like this next year...please don't let this be our last year.)

Beckett (who someone just performed a magic trick and turned two) is in the stage of the scrunched up nose. I love it.
Let's just say a smock is a very good thing for Maya.

Between dying and decorating, the girls ended up in leotards.  You just never know at our house. 


Beckett wanted to know what would happen when he put his finger in the spinning fan.  Hopefully he doesn't try to replicate this experiment at home.

As usual, an impromptu kid parade rounded out the afternoon (although this time it was absent of the random German music CD the kids usually find to play) and the adults enjoyed hanging out and eating supper.  This was the first time Beckett went in the living room and played with the older kids instead of velcroing himself to Matt or Ange.  It was almost like the four of us were out on our own having normal conversation.  Well except for the 100 decibel screeches of delight coming from the crowd in the living room.

Okay, I know it is only March but I am pining to ride my bike and I just want to sit outside and read a book.  I want to sleep with my window open and smell lilacs on the night air.  Honestly, if it could just stop snowing I would be good with that right now.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Girl's birthday party 2012 (a.k.a. doing it right)

Often in life if you don't get a lesson it repeats itself. 
I am not proud to say that there are many lessons I have had loop back around a ridiculous number of times. 
Shortcuts often make things longer in the end.  Don't hire too-good-to-be-true people to work on your house because they usually are, in fact, too good to be true.  If you get an inkling to put air in your tires,  heed this warning or you will end up with a flat.  Eating too much at a party doesn't make you feel festive and light, it makes you feel swollen and fat. 
The list goes on and on.
Our girls' birthdays are only 3 weeks apart.  In the past we have done joint parties for them, but last year, in the interest of allowing them to be separate people, we threw them each the party of their choice.  Maya's was at the gymnastics place ($150 plus favors) and Ella's was at the roller rink ($175 plus favors) which was so congested with people that I needed to be medicated and Ella didn't even really enjoy it. 
We left saying, never again.
So this year, we decided to throw one joint family party at our house for the girls in between their birthdays and let them do something special on their actual birthday.  As it turns out, our family is growing (both in number and our kids are getting physically bigger) and our house is not.  We simply can't fit the same number of eight-year-olds as we could three-year-olds.  Also, with Sandi in school for another year, we simply aren't in the position to spend that kind of money on birthday parties. 
We've come to learn that for our kids, less if definitely more. If they are surrounded by all their friends and family at once, it is too overwhelming for them and they don't have a good time.
Saturday, we celebrated the girls' birthdays with Skyler and Reed by going rollerskating (free) and coming back to our house to make ice cream sundaes and play (nearly free).  It was perfect two on two time for the kids.   I didn't really get a great picture but you get the idea. 

For the girls' party, we kept things very simple. Snacks, drinks, cake. No favors. Sandi set the bounce house up in our bedroom (the small 6 kid bounce house Patti and Dwight got for the kids a few years ago) with their choice of music. It was a very relaxed feel downstairs with the adults able to visit and the kids running in and out.
Ella's dreams had come when her grandparents bought her McKenna the American Girl doll for her birthday.  Kristi bought her the matching outfit and it is a match made in heaven. 
(McKenna herself is becoming somewhat of a problem for me, though.  She is interfering with everything from getting out of the house on time to finding a place to sit during family things.  She is very picky about how her hair is fixed and each day she must be changed from her pjs into an outfit and back to pjs at night.  It is as though she doesn't realize that we actually need Ella to participate in the rest of life despite McKenna's arrival into our family.  And the other night she INSISTED I put her hair in a waterfall braid so we could go out.  The nerve....)
Ella was thrilled to get a bunch of accessories for McKenna.

Noah's gifts came addressed to them in braille.  Maya was quite proud of that.

Hello Kitty Uno.  Need I say more?

This year for the girls' cake, I went with the fairy theme in a different way. I conjured this idea up in my head one day and somehow made it happen.  I'm still not entirely sure how.  The only bummer is it was supposed to have 3 more fairies but they got lost in Amazon transit and will probably show up tomorrow.
 The tower is actually a jug of protein shake powder wrapped in foil and then frosted.  And I will go on record saying that I am very proud of the construction of the toothpick fairy bridge. It was a rare example of something coming out as I had planned it in my head.

I am definitely proud of how far my cake making has grown in a year, but there are still so many little imperfections I keep wanting to master.  But the girls literally squealed in delight when they saw it and that makes it all worth it.

Trish and Brock snuggling with Hello Kitty.

 Sandi hauled at the tripod and the remote control photo taker (I'm sure it has a more glamorous name than that) and finally we got a picture of the girls together.

And then some of the four of us.
 This is a fair representation of our family right here:

Love my girls.  All three. Lucky us.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Last week my sister, Kathryn, her partner Brian and I took our kids to one of my favorite places: Storyland.  (And yes, we felt awful that Sandi was stuck in the basement of the hospital while we went out and had fun.)

Storyland is an adorable mini-Disneyland for the ten and under set, nestled pristinely in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  Our girls have been lucky enough to go nearly every year.  Normally when we take the kids Sandi and I rent a condo and stay for a few nights (it is about 3 1/2 hours drive time from our house) to visit Storyland and nearby Santa's Village (also an amusement park) on a different day.

Both parks are very family oriented. Admission is only $28 per person and they have special deal that allows you to enter after 2 pm and then come back the the entire next day (or any other day in the season) all for that same admission price.  You can bring your own lunch and they have tables set out for the picnicers.  They also have free kennels for pets (lots of their guests are traveling and just stopping on their way through) and free strollers.  Food is reasonably priced and even the trinkets in the stores aren't bad.  All of this allows us a lot of hours of fun at these little pockets of the world where childhood is protected like a secret.  If childhood had a backdrop, it would look just like one from Storyland.

This year, because of Sandi's schedule, the girls and I went down and stayed at Kathryn and Brian's house overnight with a plan to make it a day trip.  Since they are an hour closer, we just got up early, stayed all day and then drove back late.  All seven of us packed into our van (it wrecks my image but it's mighty handy) with snacks, music, toys and LOTS of coffee.

Brian did some route comparison on mapquest and wrote out these tidy directions for me.  I don't know the reason he didn't print them, but I'm glad he didn't because I just love the effort put in with the lines dividing turns and the symbols.

Each year we get a picture of Humpty Dumpty.  It is heartbreaking to see their growth.

Michaela, age 9.5, struggled a little to get into the groove of Storyland for understandable reasons.  We tried to make it really fun despite the young age the park is geared to and it worked in the end.  But it was hard for her, Kathryn and I had to acknowledge that she was outgrowing this magical place.

Case in point, she didn't want to be photographed with Clifford:

We totally did Storyland on a budget.  We shared the cost of gas, paid for admission, packed lunch and got Subway for dinner on the way home.  The only extraneous things I bought were these licenses for the kids ($20-  I wanted them to have the comparison from last year to this year) and ice cream ($6).  The girls each had $10 spending money from their grandparents and didn't ask for a thing.

But those licenses can only mean one thing....yep, look whose driving:

Braeden was content to ride in the back and contemplate his future and whether or not the car really was on rails and just how much he was at Maya's mercy.

Brian and Kathryn:

Milking this cow the highlight of Storyland for many kids and these two were no exception.  What they really loved was squirting each other with the water.

Lot's of stuff is child-sized at Storyland which is, as you would imagine, a riot for children.

Often it is the parents that are the biggest kids among the crowd. It would be hard to describe the enthusiasm my sister and I have for Storyland and our innate planner's minds know how to make the most of the day. 

If you passed by our group, you would think we were in a football game huddle.  "How about if we hit the Polar Coaster and the Dutch Shoes and then swing by the Whirling Whales on our way to the tractor ride?"  Pause for consideration.  "Well, we could do it that way OR because the lines for the Flying Fish get really long after lunch, we could do those first and make our way through the same loop in reverse."

I'm not even kidding. 

I will say that adult enthusiasm and joy for a child amusement park isn't without risk.  I was getting in line for the ballon ferris wheel with Maya, Ella and Braeden.  The cheerful music that comes from colorfully painted mushrooms nestled in the gardens was playing and there was no line.  The sun was shining, the mountain air clean and invigorating. I had a flash of joy and excitement and I ran a few steps ahead to kick my heels up.

And I cleaned poor Maya out at the knees.  She feel down hard on her bottom without warning (luckily on wood).  She cried with the shocked betrayal.  I guess the moral of the story is that even joy, unchecked, can me hazardous to your children's welfare?

It was obvious to see there were same changes in our bigger girls this year.  As I said, Michaela was having a hard time finding her fun groove.  Ella had some preconceived ideas about rides she thought were too scary for her.  (None really are and Maya went on all of them this year.)  When Ella was 2 we came to Storyland with a very pregnant Sandi and Kathryn and Michaela.  The four of us rode the log flume over and over again while Sandi took pictures of our screaming faces on the drop.  Ella had a stuffed toy puppy that she clutched for dear life and she screamed her little heart out and asked each time it was over to go again. 

Then for the past 4 trips to Storyland, she has refused to go on it, saying it is too scary.  I didn't push her but this year I did tell her that she was so much bigger now and that what might have seemed scary at 3 or 4 wouldn't be at 7.  After just one ride down the chute with me, she and Michaela were on their own.  Tall enough to ride without a parent, off they went in those floating logs.  This is Ella: from petrified to brave in a five minute span.  I went from encouraging her to take a risk to riding alone with the little kids, wondering how my girl got so big as to not need me on the "scary" ride anymore. 

Ah, such is parenting.

Michaela, Braeden, Maya and me: 
(I screamed each and every time we went down and, because there were no lines, I think it was like 18 times.)

At the end of the day we packed the tired kiddos into the van and tried to keep them happy for the ride home. As usual when exhaustion hits, my kids take to opposite ends of the spectrum.  Maya gets crazy and increases her volume ten fold and Ella cries.  Braeden was asleep and Micheala content and I had one carrying on like a screech owl and the other wailing to beat the band.  We played music and car games to stem the tide of dissolving children, and even had a family round of kareokee,  making up verse after hilarious verse to the tune of "On top of Spagetti" and that finally got some laughs. 

At one point in the chaos Kathryn turned to me and said, "Wow. Now I totally get why you say you need to get your kids to bed on time."

Okay, girls, I love, love, love you like this.  You are so fun and we can do so much now.  You have stamina and you are well behaved and you get along as friends (finally!) so pretty please, slow it up a little now?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Happy Easter!

In lieu of Easter pictures, I am posting this video Sandi made of the kids' Easter morning/egg hunt/visit with their cousins. Ella asked Sandi to make a video as a thank you to the Easter Bunny. Ella wrote him a note telling him we would leave the computer up and asking him to watch it.

Sandi tried some artsy effects on the video and worked on it in the car on the way to my sister's house. She doesn't have much time right now considering that this week and next week are finals for her in Portland, but she tries to do the things the kids ask of her, thus the Easter video I thought I would share with all of you.


Monday, January 2, 2012

blog catch up: gingerbread making

I have been taking a big 'ol blogger break so here comes Christmas in review. I try only to blog because it is fun and fulfilling to me and with all the craziness of the holidays it would have felt like one more thing on my list.

So here it comes....

The Thursday before Christmas was Ella's last day of school before break. It was also her holiday party at school which Maya, Sandi and I volunteered at. Sandi, god love her, dressed up in her elf costume from the Elf Yourself Party, complete with flashing light bulb earrings. I wore reindeer antlers, a jingle bell and the same light up earrings, leading one child to ask me, "Sooooo are you dressed up as a reindeer?" and glancing over at the elf, clearly disappointed in my effort.

We had such fun at Ella's party, and Maya was like an obedient little soldier, obeying the teacher's every request of her students. She sat criss cross applesauce (cross-legged) on the rug, she placed her hands in her lap  while the kids waited for everyone to be served and she marched her plate to the trash as instructed when she was done.  I said, "Maya the trash can is over here" and she replied, icily, "I KNOW where the trash can is."

One curious little girl asked Sandi who she was.  "I'm Ella's mom," Sandi replied.  "No, THAT'S Ella's mom," she said, pointed at me. Sandi said, "Ella has two moms."

Flummoxed, the girl asked, "How does THAT happen?"

Then we came home for our annual gingerbread house decorating with the Smiths.  It was Anna's fourth birthday so we combined events.  Or, to put it more simply: sugar, sugar and more sugar.

If the chocolate milk people could see me now.

Poor Ange had made the gingerbread, erected it into houses, allowed them to harden and hidden the blank slates for candy mayhem in a box in the back of her van since the whole thing was a surprise for Anna.  This was apparently also a secret from Matt who unwittingly placed a six pack of beer on the secret box moments before they got to our house.

The kids made gingerbread tee pees instead, except for the birthday girl who got the only spared house.
When the pulled up to our house and said SURPISE! to Anna, she seemed slightly let down and said, "Oh, I thought the surprise was going to be a big tower of presents."

Leave it to a four-year-old.

In an act of great Christmas generosity, we let the kids use our piping bags to frost and decorate.

For Anna, though, it was all about the sprinkles.

Sandi and I look so tired in this picture.  When I look at it 2 weeks later I want to shout, "Turn back now!  The crazy is going to hit and you are going to be walking zombies on your feet!"   
As for this picture I just like to call it:  Future Engagement Announcement.