Sunday, November 15, 2009

Just the two of us. Part 2.

At 8AM (which is sleeping-in with Mia away) Bella and I pressed our internal snooze button and snuggled for about three more minutes until Bella promptly started tapping my cheek. She was so excited for day #2. After breakfast we layered ourselves for a nature hike at the Litte Red Schoolhouse forest preserve. Apparently, I used to take field trips to the Little Red Schoolhouse when I was little but I have a vague recollection of it.

And here it is, the Little Red Schoolhouse.

It was built in 1886 to replace a one-room log cabin school--the first school building of the area. Now the LRS is used as a nature center and wildlife preserve.

Inside, there were aquariums filled with our local wildlife--like this frog that caught both of our attention.

Or the crow that scared the crapper out of Bella.

Or the stuffed raccoon that Bella turned around and found herself nose-to-nose with. I've never heard her scream so loud. It was so funny I had a hard time consoling her because I couldn't stop laughing. Mature Gina. Next, we headed off for a little nature hike. It was about 13 steps into the trail when my little peanut complained that her legs were tired. Hoisting her on my shoulders we took off and met some friends on the trail. After hide-and-seek, stone throwing and "raining leaves" we fondly left the Little Red Schoolhouse.

After eating a quick lunch I dropped Bella off at school and found myself alone for the first time in as long as I can remember. I came home and realized the importance of this two hour break. Giving me just enough time to clean the house, make dinner, do the laundy Facebook.

After school, Bella and I took a nap and woke in time to see Astro Boy at the local movie featah (as Bella calls it).

Drowning ourselves in popcorn and leftover Halloween candy that I smuggled in we found that Astro Boy didn't hold our attention as much as we'd liked. About 40 minutes in Bella and I decided to leave.

It was another perfect day. I really cherished this time that I spent with Bella. It reminded me of the two years I spent with her before Mia's arrival. I adore those memories, my first memories of mother and child, they will always hold a place in my heart. But when Eugene came home at 5AM and put a sleeping Mia into my arms, I felt complete again. Her smell--I missed it. It's crazy how your children come with their own specific smell. The four of us slept together in our bed for several cozy hours.

And then the beasts awoke.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Just the two of us. Part 1.

A couple weeks ago, in passing, I mentioned to Eugene that maybe on one of his quick trips to L.A. he should consider taking Mia with him, so that she could spend some quality time with his parents. Seconds after uttering those words he had his calendar out ready to plan it. So this morning, we bid farewell to Eugene and Mia as they took off on their 48 hour adventure cross country.

Last night before I tucked Bella into bed we talked about our plans for the next few days. Bless her heart, she was so excited she didn't have to share my attention with her sister. In fact, she asked if her and I could play with "the fruitty smelling clay." She asked this because she has not seen the stuff since Mia was born because all Mia wants to do is eat it, so how cute that she'd think to seize the moment with her sister being gone. Anyway, as I thought about the "fruitty smelling clay" I realized several things:

1. I am way too anal about Play-doh/clay. I start twitching every time two colors get joined together, which undoubtedly leaves the clay (in this case) smelling less like grapes and looking more like dog food.

2. This "fruitty smelling clay" that Bella speaks of was purchased over TWO years ago at an artsy store in California. TWO YEARS AGO! EEWWWWWWWWW. THINK OF THE GERMS!!!

3. It was time for new Play-Doh.

I watched as her eyes lit up when I told her that we could go to Toys-R-Us and pick out some brand new play dough. Based on her reaction you'd think she just won the lottery.

After Eugene and Mia walked out the door, Bella and I headed out for our Wednesday morning ritual: first the yoga class for me and then the library for her. My yoga class was going perfectly. I found myself in the moment, had great balance and had a surprising amount of focus. Until...the woman in front of me let out a tiny little toot, which sent me spiraling down into a deep dark vortex of laughter--of which I could not control.

What am I twelve?

After yoga we headed to the library and I was thrilled not to watch after a certain 17 month old as she usually pulls every book from the shelf or dumps every crayon on the floor or any # of things that I have to prevent Mia from doing. Nope, not today.

Walking through the aisles of Toys-R-Us I was reminded how easy it is with just one child. So, so so easy. A 3.5 year old makes the perfect sidekick. Since we were on no schedule we explored every nook and cranny of that store. Like the glittery hula hoops that were so big she could barely hold them in her hands.

Or the stationary bike that almost made her sweat.

Or the princess shoes that come six to a pack. SIX. What child needs six pairs of dress up shoes?????

Or the freaky baby dolls that kept crying in unison as their motion sensors were triggered every time we walked past them, leaving Bella and I in stitches.

Or the GODFORSAKEN BARBIE HOT PINK CADILLAC ESCALADE HYBRID EXT that kept her attention for almost twenty minutes.

Are those plastic sub-woofers in the back? Are you kidding me?

What ever happened to the Big Wheels of the good ol' days? Those were the best! We headed over to the Play-Doh aisle and she debated back and forth before settling on the Play-Doh Magic Swirl Ice Cream Shoppe. Wise choice, my dear.

I never knew you could do so many fun things with Play-Doh (remember I'm a dough Nazi). All I ever supplied my kids with was a few shape cutters and the dough--there's a whole world of Play-Doh contraptions out there. Who would have thought you could make soft serve ice cream, with strawberry toppings and sprinkles out of Play-Doh!

We played with the ice cream shoppe for hours! Day 1 was perfect!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Anybody got a baby I can breastfeed?

Because no matter what I do these days, I can't seem to lose any weight. I don't understand. Since joining a gym, in which I work out a minimum of 3 times a week, I haven't lost anything. Nope. In fact, it's creeping in the opposite direction. What gives?

No, I'm not pregnant.

No, I'm not eating any more than normal.

Actually, it occurred to me that this plateau began right around the time that I gave up breastfeeding. Crapper. My metabolism has completely shut down sinse that teary-eyed night two months ago. I knew that breastfeeding burned a ton of calories, but I guess I never really factored it in to my daily regime. I factored it as an "extra" bonus.

Anybody got any recommendations on how to kick start my metabolism again?

I purchased the Biggest Loser Wii game--which looked really awesome when I saw the previews on the show. If anyone can kick anything into gear it's Jillian Michaels.

Doesn't your heart go out for her thigh muscles? Poor things.

I haven's stepped onto the Wii fit board since my hilariously, tragic fall last January. Why is it that my falls are ALWAYS hilarious? And why is it that my falls are always seen by PEOPLE I KNOW?

That's it--I'm going to face my fear, stand on my wii fit and get yelled at for about 30 minutes from a digital avatar that looks like me. Wish me luck.

Monday, November 2, 2009

It's been a hard-knocked life ALL WEEK!

I've always loved Halloween. It goes back to my mom and her excitement and dedication to this particular holiday. She always made the coolest most creative costumes for us. Like the time I was a martian beauty pageant winner, Miss Mars, in which my mom Elmer-school-glued-green Cheerios all over my face and slapped a bald cap on my head. Total project runway. The point is, she put a lot of thought into it.

My mom's enthusiasm has rubbed off on me. I now realize why my mom was such a nutcase over the years--it's without a doubt the most exciting day of the year. Costume choice in our family is a topic of conversation that usually starts in August. Ridiculous, I know. In Bella's case, her mind was made up back in May when she took one look at the new locket necklace my sister purchased. Oops, I'm sorry-- it's not a necklace, it's a Juicy Couture necklace. Which is exactly what Bella says to anyone who dares to call it a necklace. Thanks, Gabe.

So yeah, she saw the "Annie-esque" locket necklace and decided right then and there that she wanted to be Annie for Halloween. Which was fine by me, since she loved the movie and the music anyway. My sister, god bless her, even put teeny, tiny pictures of our family inside the locket necklace--how awesome is that? You rock Gabey, thank you. You're going to be an awesome mom one day.

Of course, no Annie would be complete without a loyal dog!

Mia, on the other hand, had much less of a choice in the matter--seeing as she barely talks and all. Although, to my credit, I honorably chose something on her behalf--a cute little black cat. Dude, Mia goes BONKERS over cats. Every time she sees one she squeals, claps, and does a stomp yer' feet kinda dance. How could I not? Unlike my mom, I cannot sew at all, so I left it up to the geniuses over at Halloween Headquarters to help me find the purrfect feline attire.

I remember a time in college when I was so poor I handed out my canned goods to the kids who dared knock on our white trash door. Seriously, green beans? You betcha. I must have been drunk. I've come a long way since that Halloween. This year, Eugene thought he would be sensible and buy the candy from Costco. LIKE A 10 LB. BAG. The worst part about it, he bought the bag three weeks ago. Which means we had about 2lbs. left over to hand out. Damn Halloween. I keep justifying it because the portions are so small. C'mon Gina....line all those teeny tiny Snickers bites up and whatta ya get? A freakin' chocolate footlong!

As much as I love Halloween, I've found the week prior tends to be the busiest week of the year. We played dress-up 3 times before the actual day arrived. Between the library story time, Mia's sing-along class, my gym, Bella's pre-school and the local nursing home I was exhausted. Knowing that Mia would tire of her costume long before Halloween arrived, she donned a pirate dress and a penguin at the above mentioned events. Bella wouldn't budge though. She insisted on being Annie for each event. My sister, fashion genius and hair stylist extraordinaire, put Bella's hair in curlers THREE times this week. Believe me, I tried to get her to wear a red curly clown wig- but man, the girl's got some standards.

Looking back on the week I think we've had about 27 "hard knock life" dance parties. Here's #17:

I love how Mia HAD to have a couple curlers in her hair just like Bella.

I remember what it's like to sleep in sponge curlers and it's not easy. But she did it like a champ. I even peeked in on Bella while she was sleeping and found her face buried into her pillow, butt up in the air, sleeping on her hands. Hah. Beauty is pain.

So, yeah, this week? Super busy. Oh and how can I forget the 1AM trip to the emergency room with Mia. She had a nastly fall off of a chair onto our brick floor. Lovely. After carefully watching her, my mom and I both assessed that she was fine. About two hours after she fell asleep she woke up in a screaming fit. Which could have easily been a nightmare but also could have been a concussion. Not wanting to chance it, my sister and I took her in (Eugene was out of town for work, so you could imagine how he felt). We were seen fairly quickly and after a catscan and a check-up they concluded that she was fine. Pfew. Here she is in a teeny-tiny hospital gown that made me thankful this was the only time I was seeing it. I've always had a soft spot for kids in hospitals.

But no ounce of sleep deprivation could keep us from enjoying our Halloween. After a spooky brunch at our house, Eugene set up a make-shift studio and took some pics of Bella, Mia and my seriously handsome nephew Erik.

Mia did not like us adding whiskars and a black nose to her face at all, but I'll never forget her smile when she saw herself in the mirror. She was so excited. She kept looking at herself then looking at me almost as if to say, "woah, I'm a cat." Looking back, it was my favorite moment of the day. In fact, she kept the cat costume on all day long! I had to pry it off of her for naptime. While Mia recharged her batteries, Bella and I headed over to a birthday party at our neighbor's house.

Like my make shift Gryffindor Harry Potter costume? I really wanted Eugene and I to dress up as John and Kate (ya know, work the asian/caucasian combo) but Eugene was a party pooper and didn't dress up. Once Mia woke up, she was ready for more candy.

We headed out to Trick-or-Treat

The girls had so much fun. Mia didn't understand the meaning of just "one." She literally raided several neighbors' candy bowls. It was pretty cute. While we walked along I thought about all the Halloweens growing up here in Illinois. The leaves all over the ground, pumpkins everywhere, beautiful fall flowers, the smell of burning wood, this was Halloween. I've missed it and I'm glad that my girls got the chance to experience it.

After inhaling M&M's, tootsie rolls, licorice and hershey kisses (and that was just me) the girls found the energy for one more Halloween Hard Knock Life dance party.

Three minutes after this video was taken, we ALL passed out. Happy Halloween!


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