Spring Break Day 5: Alice’s Closet

All three kids went to daycare today, so yes, that was the sound of angels singing you heard around 7am this morning as they all left and I continued to sleep.

Apparently writing about my Charlie Bird unleashed a massive flood of worries and anxieties and I slept terribly last night. I woke up around 3am crying. My body was very thankful for the extra hours of sleep and then lazing around I let it do this morning.

By 11am, however, being lazy was getting over-rated and I felt the need to be productive.

After a glance at my To Do List, I knew what needed to be tackled while all the kids were gone: Alice’s closet.

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We bought our house in December of 2004, and I moved in right away. Cortney did not join me until after we were married in June 2005, but his stuff started moving in right away.

This room was our office/spare room and this closet was the only finished closet space other than our own and the linen closet in the hallway, so it became our first storage spot. As the years wore on, things only got shoved into this closet, not removed. The boys both called this closet sort of theirs when this room became a nursery first to Eddie in 2009 and then to Charlie in 2012.

Now it is Alice’s closet. And it’s a total poop show.

Or it was.

I tackled that thing in a way I have not cleaned it in all the years we have lived here.  And I found things.

I found my very first journal That I started in January of 1997–my freshman year in college. In my very first entry, I mentioned needing to write things down because my thoughts jump around and I can’t talk out my thoughts and feelings because when I get to talking about them, I no longer feel them and can’t remember what I thought. I also mentioned that I was writing to calm down because I had some anxiety about going out that night.

Huh. I guess some things never change.

I also flipped through some of the other entries and was brought back to a lot of angst and “boy problems” and conflict with my parents in my late-teens/early-twenties. So I closed that and set it aside to join the rest of my journals.

I found a shoebox full of all the things I had kept on my desk in college including pez dispensers, post cards, hand drawn thank you carts, senior pictures, and silly newspaper cartoons.

I found the diaper bag Cortney bought me on Valentine’s Day before Eddie was born.

I found all the bottles (aside from the ones Alice is currently using).

I found my Dutch Dance Costume (don’t even ask).

I found five of the ten bridesmaid dresses I have worn (the other five, along with my old prom dresses, live at my mom’s. MOM, GET RID OF THEM!) and all the dyed shoes that went with them.

I found a copy of Ramona the Brave.

I found all the cards from our weddings and the bridal showers.

I found my wedding dress and the massive slip that went with it.

I found my old backpack (it sort of smelled like vomit. Ew.)

I found my graduation gown from my undergrad ceremony, my Master’s gown, and Cortney’s cap, gown, and tassel.

I found two black leather jackets.

I found even more than that, but I don’t have the time nor the space to list it all.

Most of it got donated, some of it got relocated to a better keepsake spot, a few things got thrown away.

I organized three tubs of girls clothes that were donated to Alice: 2T/24 months, 3T, and 4T+.  And I stored the few 18 month items I have in her dresser for when she has her next growth spurt.

It took me two and a half hours, the Pearl Jam station on Google music, two cups of coffee, a large glass of diet coke, and a granola bar, but I finished it.

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The only things in here now are Alice’s things, our wedding keepsakes, and a few other things that are not there on a permanent basis.

Alice has her own closet space now.

I have lots of fodder for writing.

And Thursday I plan to tackle the boys’ closet.

Send more coffee.

Spring Break Day 4 & Charlie’s Tummy

I was not wrong about them getting up early.  Lord help me, they were up by about 6:15am. The good thing is that Cortney was up and getting ready for work so I heard nothing until he left. Then all the things were VERY IMPORTANT and required my immediate intervention and attention.

I believe I was waving the white flag and crying by 9:30am.

Did I mention I am not good at the stay-at-home mom gig?

There was no pee anywhere but in toilets today and no vomit, so there is a bright side, I suppose.

The boys were…”brotherly” today. They would find something to do and do it nicely for about ten minutes. Then there would be shouting followed by things being thrown, maybe a punch or kick or something. Then the tattling. Then the separation and refereeing while trying to contain the situation.  Then the lull. Then they find each other and something to do and it all repeats. About 30 times in one hour.

Alice is usually my little bright spot, but she was a whiney, clingy mess today. Girlfriend sat outside the bathroom door and had an all out cry-fest while I peed today.

Parenting these kids can be challenging. I know I’ve said as much about Charlie in particular. And lately we have been a little concerned about our little Bird.

Today I took him to the doctor.

CharlieCollage

You see, our little guy has all but quit eating.

I know, I know. He’s four. Picky eating is a phase.

And that is what we said too…two months ago.

But our little guy has also been acting out even more–to the point where we are a little nervous he might hurt one of us in his fits by throwing something or hitting his brother. He’s even bitten Eddie pretty hard.

Cortney and I constantly talk about wanting to be aware of signs that something is wrong with our kids without jumping to the doctor over “normal” things and being helicopter parents. Doing the right thing constantly feels like a little dance on a very thin line.

So we gave it some time.

After all, Cortney had been a very rage-filled kid himself and went through a phase where all he would eat was hot dogs. He’s fine.

But after more than a month of Charlie’s eating going from only cheese sandwiches to practically nothing but chocolate milk, we felt we needed to reach out to the doctor. Our doc is our family doctor. We all go to him because we really like his no-nonsense attitude and that he doesn’t just push tests and meds at us in lieu of really listening. So when he said he would like to see Charlie ASAP and not wait the eight weeks until his well-child, we made the appointment.

Our suspicions were confirmed when he stepped on the scale. He weighs 37 pounds. Only a pound more than last year, but he’s grown an inch and a half. He is still within the standard deviation on his growth chart, but coupled with some of his behavioral things, our doc was glad we came in.

Also like his father, Charlie is not a big talker about his feelings. If something hurts, he is likely not to tell us unless it’s bleeding or dangling off his body. So there is a very real chance his tummy could be bothered and he won’t tell us.

As a baby, he had reflux (and never cried about it because he’s iron man, apparently), so the least invasive thing to try is some reflux meds. There is also the chance he would have an allergy or intolerance, but without any rashes or respiratory stuff, that is also hard to tell without him complaining. To find that out would be more invasive and uncomfortable.

There are also some chances that he has some emotional stuff that is causing him to not want to eat and to act out. If that is the case, he may need to do some therapy, but it was suggested that we find out as much about how Cortney acted and what his mom and dad did as we can.

And it’s possible it’s all just normal four-year-old with a strong personality middle child stuff.

That is the one I am hoping for.

Charlie was a brave, good little dude for the doctor, so we stopped for a cake pop on the way home and he insisted on getting one for his big brother too.

He was very cuddly and lovey with me for the rest of the day. I know he knows I am worried and he is doing his best to show me he loves me.

It’s hard to be four. It’s hard to be in the middle. It’s hard to have big feelings.

Today was a challenge.

Tomorrow will be better.

Tomorrow is new.

 

Spring Break Day 3

Remember how yesterday started with vomit? Today started with pee.

Last night Alice had a pretty hard time going to sleep. Then Eddie had a bad dream and Cortney went down to console him (aka lay by him) and Alice cried a few more times. We were tired. So when Eddie came into our room by 6:30am this morning with the news that his brother had peed on him and on his blanket “just because” Cortney was not having any of it.

Sure enough. Charlie had peed on the carpet, on Eddie, and on Eddie’s blanket because he “wanted to be mean.”

What in the world?

And thus started our Sunday.

Somehow we all managed to get out of the house by 9:45am without killing each other and made it to church mostly on time.

After church we came home and changed our clothes and started some laundry and then packed up to go to my parents’ house. They were in Mexico the whole week before Easter (which was also my birthday), so we didn’t get together to celebrate. My mom had my brothers and their families over too and made all my favorite foods. I opened a few presents and the kids acted mostly good. Eddie is at the lovely phase where he gets sassy when we ask him to change what he is doing. So he lost some screen time over that, but like I said, mostly good. I was happy.

When we got home everybody was crabby because we had missed nap.

So we took naps.  Well, Alice did. And because he tried to bite his brother, Charlie did too. I dozed off for about ten or fifteen minutes before Cortney informed me it was after 5:00pm and maybe the children shouldn’t keep sleeping.

Everyone was still stuffed from such a huge late lunch, so we had a very light, grazing dinner.

Kids were all in bed at regular time with reminders that we don’t have school tomorrow so PLEASE DO NOT GET UP BEFORE 7:00!

They are getting up early, aren’t they?

Sigh.

Spring Break Day 2

I woke up today to Eddie again. This time it was 9:30 and he was saying, “Mom! Dad says he needs you to get up because Charlie just barfed!”

Not really a good start to the day, although I did get to sleep in, so I suppose there is that.

Upon flying out of bed, we both realized Charlie’s throwing up was probably due to a lot of drainage, and not a tummy bug, so while cleaning up the madness was still gross, we at least were pretty sure we weren’t going to be dealing with barf all day.

Once I got Charlie changed into what he called “something warm and comfy”, I used the bathroom and made myself some coffee. Just as I was sitting down, Cortney goes, “Nice. It’s snowing.”

Lovely.

I made the comment that I was sure it wouldn’t stick.

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Then we got like six inches of snow. That stuck.

This is a joke, right?

The day wasn’t all snow and vomit, though.

Charlie painted some dinosaurs he got for his birthday. He was ridiculously excited and focused. That was a peaceful ten minutes.

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I spent a good two hours in the boys’ closet pulling out all the clothes that are too small for Charlie to be divided between two of my baby nephews. I had mixed feelings as I pulled out clothes that both of my little dudes wore. I smiled as I folded them and tucked them into bags for two little guys who won’t fit into these clothes for another year at least. I was a little sad to send more little man clothes out of my life. I’ve said it before: I do not want anymore babies coming out of my body, but man. I sure do miss tiny little dudes.

Allegedly I hugged some of the jammies and sniffed the Dreft smell on them before placing them in the bags.

When I was done, though, there were two tubs gone from their closet (which is still a wreck and on my To Do list for later in spring break, but I can’t get rid of toys with them home. ahem.)

We also packed up the jump-a-roo today to give to my baby nephew, Max. Closing some baby doors today, man.

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Cortney got groceries today while I fell asleep on the couch during the Little Kids’ nap time. Eddie watched something dumb on Netflix. After nap, Eddie invited Alice to play blocks with him.

I can’t even begin to describe how much I love watching her big brothers play with her. They play so differently with her than they do with each other. They are so protective and so intent on trying to make her laugh and smile. Yes, they get frustrated when she tries to play with their stuff uninvited, but if it’s her toys, they are all about her.

And she looks at them like they are miracle workers. Like they are the ones who hung the moon and placed the stars in the heavens.

Of course ten minutes after Charlie got up from nap (yes, he still naps for about two hours every day. He is four. My kids need sleep), it was loud up in here. It was the witching hour and by the time they went to bed an hour ago, Cortney and I thought our patience was going to pack its bags and get out.

Whew.

I know they say “the days are long, but the years are short.” Today was one of those long days.

I did finish reading my book last night, though. So I started Far From Home by Na’ima Roberts. It’s the last of six my students will choose from to read for book clubs after break. I’ll post about all six when I am done with this one!

Tomorrow is Sunday…and my birthday party at my parents’ house! Yay!

(and I still have to finish my birthday post with all the books that were donated!  We passed my goal of 38 and hit 42!)

Spring Break Day 1

In an attempt to survive spring break, I’m going to try to write my way through it.

Today was the first official day.

I should preface this with the fact that yesterday was my first time as a middle school teacher the day before spring break. I WAS NOT PREPARED FOR THE INSANITY. We managed to get through everything I planned for the hour, but the kids were excited about break and the student/staff basketball game at the end of the day and it was, let’s just say, a challenge.

I left school four minutes after the last bell rang.

Oh, I could have stayed and put the grades in for the assignments I collected, but I threw them in my bag and bolted. Eddie had after school program, so I went straight home to change my clothes and just sit for a moment. Cortney knew my day had been exhausting, so I was greeted to beautiful flowers on the table and a little tub of Ben & Jerry’s in the freezer.

My guy knows me very, very well.

I felt that I earned ten days off yesterday.

This morning Eddie let me sleep until just after 7:15am. I mean, yes, I suppose that it’s technically sleeping in when the alarm usually goes off at 5:30am, but it sure didn’t feel like it. I tried to get him to let me keep sleeping for a bit, but his idea of letting me sleep means coming in and whispering me updates about his cat game on Cortney’s tablet. And so I was up heating up frozen pancakes by 8:00am.

Charlie and Alice were at daycare, so at least I could drink my coffee while it was hot. I also had to watch Pokemon. Things had a way of evening themselves out like that all day.

Around 11:00am, the Internet decided to poop out on us which meant I couldn’t enter anymore grades and Eddie couldn’t watch anymore Netflix.

He decided to watch regular TV and do some art. I took a shower.

Then I surprised Eddie and took him to see Zootopia.

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It was such a good movie! We giggled all the way through. We also shared a huge popcorn and orange soda. I may have eaten the bulk of the popcorn, but homeboy downed that orange fanta. I was almost positive he would barf. But he didn’t.

And when we got home, the internet was back on! So I finished up some stuff on my To Do List while Eddie found Cailou on Netflix. I almost threw things at him, but shortly after he decided he should blow bubbles on the deck and do some interpretive dance until his brother came home, so I was saved from that whiny bald preschooler.

I also started the book The Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle today. I am almost positive I will finish it before bedtime. It’s so good…and it’s all poems that tell the story of the Cuban struggle for independence. It’s one of six my students will get to choose from for the book clubs they will be starting after spring break. j

And now I am capping off the day with a salted caramel porter that Cortney found for me on one of his beer store trips. Maybe it’s the beer’s fault that I think I will write every day of break. Meh, I’m still going to try.

Happy spring break, yo.

Accepted

Two years ago, I auditioned for Listen To Your Mother. My story was not chosen.

It was hard not to take it personally–not to feel as if they didn’t like me. Since that experience I have learned that Listen To Your Mother is less about the writer/reader and more about the story and how it fits with the show that is being assembled by the producers. Each show needs to be cohesive while simultaneously highlighting individual stories about motherhood. It wasn’t that my writing wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t that I read poorly. It was that my story did not fit that show at that time. I found peace with that.

Last year, I pulled out of my audition. I signed up, but the audition was a three-hour drive away a week before my C-section with Alice. I just couldn’t make a six-hour round trip drive at that point, and I couldn’t really guarantee that I would feel ready to stand up in front of a crowd a couple months later if I was accepted.

This year I was ready. I had a new story prepared; one that I felt better highlighted my experience with motherhood. I also found out that there was a LTYM show closer to me: Southwest Michigan! I stalked every update just waiting for auditions to open and when they did, I was the second person signed up for a slot on Day 1 of the auditions.  Before leaving for St. Joseph that sunny Saturday morning, Cortney asked me if I was nervous. I really wasn’t. I knew my writing was good. I knew I could read it well. If I didn’t get cast, it would be because this piece just didn’t fit with the show. I was at peace.

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My audition went well. It felt good to share my story with Kim and Beth.

Then I had to wait. Since I signed up for the first audition day, I had to wait two weeks before finding out…they were having one more audition day to look for a few more humor pieces.

I am the worst at being patient. I am really like a small child. I kept refreshing my email, “now? NOW? How about now?”

Kim’s email came through on a Saturday evening. I was just getting ready to go out with a friend for a nightcap and I checked my email one more time…and there it was.

My piece was accepted.

I am part of the 2016 Listen To Your Mother Southwest Michigan show.

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I am so excited about this, I don’t really even know how to tell you. This show is so important. It’s so powerful. It’s so…it’s just so! I am honored to be among those who will be sharing their stories this year in celebration of Mother’s Day. And I am privileged to become part of the alumni of those who have stood on that stage.

If you are local to Southwest Michigan, you can find ticket information here.

I hope to see you there.

Lego Crazy!

I knew it would come. I wish I could say that prepared me, but it didn’t. Knowing doesn’t always equate to preparedness.

The minute I found out I was pregnant, I knew the day would come when our house would be invaded by Legos.

First it was Duplo. Both of my boys enjoy getting the Duplo sets, but the real fun was seeing if you could use every single block in a tower or stack of some sort. I have had to get increasingly larger bins for the amount of these chunky blocks, and it seems already that Alice loves them too.

Netflix Lego Shows

Then came Eddie’s first “real” Lego set. He was only four and the set was too hard for him to put together himself, so I did it for him. At that age, the fun wasn’t yet in the building, it was in playing with the finished product. That is where Charlie is now. He got a Lego Junior set for his birthday last week–a road construction truck and road blocks. While he wanted to sit with me and watch and put the wheels on, he really just wanted me to hurry up and snap it all together so he could spend time blocking the “road” for his other toy cars so his new Legos could do construction.

Netflix Lego Shows

Eddie, at almost seven, is now into Lego for the joy of putting them together. He looks through the catalog that arrives each month and carefully circles each set he is interested in that he knows he has a chance of getting (he is savvy enough to know no one is spending $300 on a dang Lego set for him). He is at the awesome age where he loves to tear open a new set and carefully follow the directions to put it together, but he doesn’t just put it on a shelf when he is done. He actually plays with it.

It’s not surprising then that some of the first shows he discovered a few years ago were the Lego Shows on Netflix. He absolutely devoured them. In fact, what he knows about Star Wars is all based on what he’s seen on Lego shows (and Angry Birds). He about died of boredom when I tried to show him Episode 4. Apparently he is not ready for actual actors yet…just animation.

Netflix Lego Shows

But hey! That’s Ok because Netflix now has Bionicle: The Journey to One and Lego Friends: The Power of Friendship. He has watched all of the Bionicle episodes…twice. He even checked out the Lego Friends because gender stereotypes do not apply to him. He says it’s pretty good.

Oh, and not to be left out, Charlie has enjoyed the new season of Dinotrucks. That kid sure does like his dinosaur/truck hybrids.

So what are you watching and/or building?

Hooray For FOUR!

Dear Charlie,

You are FOUR! We have been talking about this birthday for about a month now. You have been SO excited to be FOUR! It means all sorts of new things for you: swimming lessons, preschool, and a big kid bike! Unlike Eddie who worried about all of those things, you are SO EXCITED!

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You are the quintessential middle child, my dear boy. It is extremely fitting that your nickname is “Bird” because as the middle child, you certainly do give the entire world “the bird” with your take-no-shit attitude toward life. While it drives us completely batty at times, this personality trait has potential to serve you very, very well as an adult.

As a four-year old it looks like huge rage fits, throwing things in frustration, and telling us constantly that you do not like us. However as soon as you start crying, you reach for your dad dad or your mom mom, needing the comforting arms of those who will love you unconditionally–no matter what you say or do out of anger. We are trying to guide you, sweet boy, to use your words and to choose safe, un-hurtful ways deal with your big feelings.

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Your new fish that you named Charlie Bird Fish.

The wonderful part of those big feelings is that you LOVE big too. You are quick to hug and kiss and cuddle up next to us. You love to hold hands or play with my hair. Touch soothes you, my little buddy, and I do my best to offer my lap, my arms, or the spot next to me on the couch whenever you want it.

the requested "train cake" for the birthday boy

the requested “train cake” for the birthday boy

People love you, Charlie. You are cute, charming and are such a helper. In fact you often refer to yourself as a “helper boy,” and you are not wrong. You want to help clean, cook, and pick up. We gave you a new big boy bike for your birthday and you do NOT want daddy to put it together without you.

A STAR WARS BIKE

A STAR WARS BIKE

So who else is Charlie at age four? You love to play alone. With just a few random toys, you will sit by yourself and make up little stories and scenarios forever. But you also like to play with Eddie. You two have huge imaginations and when you are getting along–which, let’s face is not all the time these days–you guys create forts and obstacle courses and booby traps and whole worlds. Eddie is bossy, but he’s creative and if what he has imagined sounds like fun? You are in!

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You are also quietly smart. At four, you know all your letters and most of their sounds. You can count to 20, and you’re getting pretty good at telling time. You like to build things with blocks, Legos, and Mega blocks. Trucks and tractors are your jam, and a couple of your prized possessions are your new pair of binoculars (which you call ‘noculars) and your net (which you tell us is for catching butterflies).  You love dirt and being outside. You also love animals.

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You want things to be perfect. You enjoy crafts and coloring and building–but if it doesn’t look just right then you get very VERY angry and throw one of your famous fits. You also do not enjoy being watched while you do something. You get agitated and you quit. Being the center of attention is not your thing. I do not relate, but I can understand. And don’t worry…daddy can relate. Some day you won’t cope with it be throwing a fit and finding a corner to cry in. You will grow out of that. I hope.

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Another fun fact about you: you are not a fan of clothing. You sleep without a shirt most nights and when you are super mad? Off come your pants.

If given the choice, the only food you would eat is cheese sandwiches and candy and chocolate milk. And since we can’t make you eat, you generally survive solely on dairy products. It’s not ideal, but at least you’re not starving.

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Last month you had your first experience with the stomach flu. You barfed on your {top} bunk twice. It was gross. So then I moved you to the couch and I slept (ok, I laid there) with you and every time you woke up, I was there to hold you and your bowl and rub your back.  You never cried or complained. You only told me you were so very thirsty…and that you wanted your firefighter hat.

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My dear little Bird…four is going to be a series of wonderful adventures for you! And while I know change is something that is hard to navigate feelings for, we will work together to make it great! I promise I will always be here for you–whether you need to snuggle up or just giggle about toots–I can make that happen.

You are such an important part of our family. I hope you always know that. No one can fill in the spot of Charlie Bird Thomas Sluiter…not even a fish with the same name.

I love you, Bird Bird. Always and forever.

Love,
Mom Mom

One Year Down, A Lifetime To Go

Dear Alice,

I started writing this the night before your first birthday, but I kept deleting everything. Nothing I seemed to type here seemed like the right thing–the right way that I wanted to tell you about this first year of yours.

It was perfect.

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Eddie’s first year was difficult, and looking back at what I wrote to him, I can see it between the lines. I didn’t come right out and say it, but that first year was hard and in lots of ways just sucked. It was the postpartum depression, not Eddie, of course, but man. That first First Year was tough.

Charlie’s first year was emotional. He taught me I could be a good mom, even with postpartum depression. He healed me in a lot of ways, which is what I told him in his first year letter. I remember being very sad when he turned one. The second First Year was better.

Your first year has been free of postpartum depression, and WOW, what a huge difference that makes. I not only enjoyed you, but I enjoyed being your mom.

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Alice, I was a whole mother for your first year. I was here. I was present.

I often wonder how long babies remember their baby-ness. Do you still remember being born? Do you remember being a part of me? Do you remember how our hospital stay was downright relaxing? While I missed your daddy being there in the evenings, there was something nice about us being alone after 7pm. We had our dinner and watched some TV together. We chatted–girl talk.

Each night around 9pm, the nurse would bring me my evening snack and some hot water so I could have some tea. I had you out of your little baby aquarium cart thing more than I ever did with the boys. I had you out and unwrapped on the bed, counting your little piggy toes and smootching your little hands.

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Once we came home, Daddy noticed immediately that I was different than I was with your brothers. I asked for help easier, but I was also eager to feed your and hold you and do “mom things”. In fact, I didn’t whine or complain about middle of the night feedings. I may even dare to admit that I liked them. You were a good little eater and sleeper–really you still are.

And what a cuddler! From Day One you were right at home in pretty much anyone’s arms! You have your favorites, of course. Daddy would say you are a Momma’s Girl through and through, but you perk right up when Daddy is around. You love Renae and Carolyn and of course your Church Oma, Nancy.

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Today was your one-year well child appointment. You remain our tiniest child being only in the 85th percentile (Charlie was always closer to 90th percentile and Eddie was almost always near the 100th) at twenty-two and a half pounds.

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Like Charlie, you are very content to play on your own. However unlike both of your brothers, you play with toys the way they are designed to be played with rather than just throw or pound them. Putting things in things is your current favorite, so the purses you got for your birthday were great gifts for you!

You’re not walking yet, but you are a cruising machine! You can zoom around the furniture and around me and Daddy–boy do you like to crawl all over us like we are playground equipment!

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Speaking of climbing on us, you love to touch us. You reach for us, you hug, you give kisses, and you clutch our shirts and pants in your little hands. Your brothers never did this. You sit on our laps in church and prefer to be touching us somehow at home.

You don’t have any “real” words yet, but you repeat “Da da da da” over and over when Daddy is around and “Ma ma ma ma” for me–again, the boys didn’t call me anything this early. You clearly know your “Da da” and “Ma ma”. When you see your brothers you repeat “Dee dee dee” which I think is because Eddie and Charlie both end in the “eee” sound.  Your laugh and squeals are breathy and adorable.

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Having a daughter is like nothing I ever thought it would be. If I am laying it all out here, I have to admit that I was hoping you would be another boy. I felt confident and comfortable with boy children. A daughter scared me. People told me I would love it. They said it was just “different”.

They were totally right; it’s different. And I have tried and tried to find the words to describe that difference, but I can’t. I will say it’s wonderful.

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Your giggle, your scrunchy nose, the way your suck on your tongue and lips when you see someone eating cake because you want some too…it’s all just so wonderful.

It’s hard to say how lovely having a little girl is without it sounding like it’s not equally awesome to have your brothers. As the cliche goes, it’s apples and oranges; they are both outstanding fruits. I was living with a bunch of apples. Wonderfully juicy, sweet glorious apples.

And then I was given my first orange, and I was hooked.

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Oh Alice, you have changed me. If Eddie made me a mom–and a fighter, and Charlie healed my broken parts, you changed me.

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You help me see that every single day has something happy about it. I smile every day because of you. I smile because of a million other reasons too, but you, baby girl. YOU. Your hugs and happiness it just…it’s YOU.

YOU, Alice.

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I admit I cried on your birthday. Not until after you were in bed. I really, really enjoyed your day. And more so, I enjoyed your first year. The tears were bittersweet. They were happiness mixed with just a touch of sadness that the baby days are over. But truly, they were mostly happy.

I am so happy you are ours.

I am so happy that you are on the verge of walking.

I am so happy to see you every morning and that you come home from daycare to me every day.

I am so happy that your brothers love you so.

I am so happy that you have eyes for your Daddy.

I am so happy you and I are “mother/daughter”.

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Alice, your first year has been one of the best years of my whole life. You have completed this family in more ways than just being the last baby. We are whole because of you.

Thank you, my dear daughter.

Thank you for being ours.

Thank you for being you.

I love you so, SO very much.

I can’t wait for the rest of your life.

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Love,
Ma Ma

Her First Party…and His Fourth

I’m still processing my feelings about Miss Alice turning one today, so I will show off her (and Charlie’s) wonderful birthday party instead.

Saturday was the big day! We have been planning it for quite some time. In fact, I knew before she was born that her first birthday party would be Alice in Wonderland-themed. Charlie’s was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-themed and Eddie’s was Rock Star-themed (although in retrospect, if I was sticking to their literary namesake, I should have done a Winnie the Pooh party, but rock stars are way cooler).

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We also knew that we wanted to combine Alice and Charlie’s parties since their birthdays are only a week a part. No one really loves to give up a few weekend hours for a child’s birthday party, let alone do it two weeks in a row for the same family. And if we are really honest here, I don’t love throwing parties. I love creating memories for my kids, and I like coming up with ideas, but the actual execution of it is exhausting. I get all stressed out that no one is having fun and that my decorations are dumb–I know, I know. Ridiculous. But there it is.

Alice in Wonderland Party

So back to Wonderland–I made a Pinterest board a full six months ago, but nothing about the party was Pinterest-worthy, so if you came here looking for some amazing stuff to pin, look elsewhere, friend.

This was simply a fun day for my kids–a celebration that we made it through our last First Year.

Alice in Wonderland Party

Which way to the party?

We had the party in the Fellowship hall of our church because there is no way we could fit a bunch of party people in our little house. It seemed sort of fitting to celebrate the youngest two in the place we came back to after Charlie was born. Not to get too mushy or to dwell on the subject in this post, but this church has brought us some of the best friends we could ever ask for.

Alice in Wonderland Party

I outfitted the tables with blue table clothes the color of Alice’s dress (tutu) and flowers I made myself. They even have googley eyes–just like the wildflowers in the story.

Alice in Wonderland Party

I also decorated with playing cards and some Alice in Wonderland confetti I found on etsy.

Alice in Wonderland Party

Alice in Wonderland Party

People made their own sandwiches. I got the little signs as a free printable from a website on my Pinterest Board. The cutie straws were another etsy find.

Alice in Wonderland Party

The cake came from The Holland Cakery. I showed them a picture I found on, you guessed it, Pinterest. And they made it happen!

Alice in Wonderland Party

It tasted as good as it looked! One layer of chocolate and one of vanilla. SO YUMMY! But more about the cake in a minute…

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I had some craft tables to keep all the kiddos busy. One table had stuff to make flowers on it, one had Alice in Wonderland coloring pages, and one was to make crowns (for the Queen of Hearts) or hats (from The Mad Hatter). Lots of kids were walking around in stylish crowns…and some parents were too!

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After a good lunch, it was time to open presents. I had BIG plans of going every-other between Charlie and Alice and keeping track of who gave which kid what.

HA HA HA HA HA!!!

Present-opening became a survival test. I was just thankful for my sister-in-law, Liz, who started grabbing wrapping paper and shoving it in the trash bags I thought to bring along. And to Cortney for taking a million pictures.

It started out nice…

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But soon the small people started to overtake our space…2016-03-05 12.14.06 2016-03-05 12.14.09

And the mess…oh my the mess!2016-03-05 12.18.17

And then Charlie caught me in a net.2016-03-05 12.37.52

It was so fun, though!

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After gifts it was time for cake. Cortney got video somewhere of all the singing. We didn’t get a good picture of the birthday kids with their cake, but we did get some action shots of them enjoying it!

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Interestingly Charlie got messier than the newly-minted one-year old.2016-03-05 12.55.26

It was a good party. I didn’t get to talk to everyone or hang out. I didn’t get to sit and relax. I really didn’t get to soak it all in. But I know it was a good party because this is what the craft tables all looked like…

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It was our last First Birthday party.

We survived one last Baby’s First Year. Whew. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about that, but I will let them be for now and say this: I am glad that party is over. I will not miss throwing first birthday parties. But I will miss that first year. It was a very, VERY good one.

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Doing the dishes is the universal sign for: The Party Is Over.

On to the second year (and Charlie’s fifth)! Learning to walk and talk and run! Charlie starting school and learning to read and cut in a straight line.

Big things in this next year. Big BIG things.

Thank you to all our friends and family who were there for us. I’m not talking about the party–although THANK YOU for coming and celebrating our kids–but through all of it all. It really does take a village. 

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