Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Garden of their Own

The truth is, I'm a novice gardener. I absolutely love it, but every season I'm still learning. As I continue to educate myself on the subject, I thought it would be beneficial if I introduced gardening to the girls, so that we can share in this adventure together. You see, my master plan is to create a sibling workforce 5 years from now who can do all the dirty work for me. Like the watering, and the weeding, and the mulching. I envision myself sipping lemonade, perched on a rocking chair while my little army cultivates the earth around me. But since throwing mulch at her sister seems to be the only thing Mia knows how to do these days, I knew I had to start the training now. So for their first lesson in gardening I purchased 2 plastic flower containers that would become their very own personal gardens.

I also bought some colorful paint pens to decorate their containers. And after a couple of pretty potent whiffs I managed to draw out their names.

Subtlety has never been my strong suit.



Now for the flowers. Since our house is surrounded by a lot of trees, we only have a few spots that actually get full sun. I explained to the girls that most flowers fall into two categories, those that need sun and those that need shade. When asked what type of garden they wanted it was no surprise to me that Bella chose full sun and Mia (showing off independence) opted for shade.

We took a trip to the nursery and had a ton of fun as the girls picked out their flowers. Bella's was very pink and purple heavy while Mia showed off a little more contrast. Here's the final products:





They turned out pretty cute, huh?


Happy Summer!!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Broadway 101

On a random friday night back in February 1978, Tom and Kathy (my P's) hired a baby sitter and went out for dinner and a movie. Looking back, they're not too sure what they had to eat that night, but they'll never forget what movie they saw. I mean who could ever forget a young John Travolta, decked out in leather, dancing and singing yet still the coolest kid in school? My mom was smitten after the first ensemble number, Summer Nights. So smitten, in fact, that Kathy insisted Tom stop by their local record store before going home that night. Tom agreed but probably only because their was some sort of antique store right next to the record shop in which he could browse around for crap he didn't need but couldn't pass up. Clearly, it was a win-win all around--even for me, a 3 year old girl who was desperate to see her parents walk through the door that night, but even more excited at the colorful record that my mom brought home for me.


To say that I loved this movie growing up is a whopping understatement. Beginning at the age of 3 I knew every word to every song and had choreographed dance routines to prove it.

Although, looking back now, I think it was less about the music and more about my mom's excitement to share it with me. As a kid, anything your mom thinks is cool--you think is cool. Now that I'm a mom, I totally get it. For example, I've got 2 little girls who will sing their hearts out to Neil Diamond's Cherry Cherry, not because they think that Neil is a strangely handsome yet humble rock legend who transformed music while simultaneously projecting the "yearning for home and the allure of greater freedom."

No. They love him, cuz I love him. Nuff said. Let them realize what an idiot their mother is ten years from now. But, for the moment, I totally rule.

About two years ago I introduced some of my favorite musicals to Bella. It started with Mary Poppins, which clearly was a hit. When Halloween rolled around it was certain to Bella what she wanted to be.




And for her 3rd birthday we took her to see the original Broadway cast of Mary Poppins, all dressed-up of course!



And even met Mary and Burt!



Our next Broadway lesson was The Sound of Music. Which, again huge hit. We sang the songs every where we went. We even visited the gazebo in Salzburg!



Next, I thought it was time she moved up the Broadway ladder-- so I introduced Annie. Nothing could have prepared me for her reaction. She was in LOVE with little Annie. She wanted tap shoes and red hair and a locket, which of course led to yet another Halloween costume.




And many, many Hard Knock Life dance routines followed. I even catch Mia singing the song "Maybe" alone in her crib, which puts a smile on my face every time. And when Bella's at school, Mia loves to wear the Annie dress all over the house.




But through these years I've always kept Grease in my back pocket. Partly because I don't think it's necessarily good subject matter for a 4 year old (although frankly it wasn't until high school that I actually put 2 and 2 together with some of those lyrics) but because where else can you go after Grease? No where. It's the ultimate in cinematic musicals.

So, now what?

Any suggestions for my next lesson? Am I missing one of the biggies?



Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Own Mission Organization

Let me start by saying I am not the world's most organized person. Although I crave organization--I have a difficult time getting started. I am always on the hunt for new systems and I scour the internet for advice on home organization. In fact, my latest quest was to find some sort of entryway organization.

I dreamt of systems like these....


I loved the idea of basket storage but wasn't too thrilled with the idea of still "seeing" the coats etc. I like things to be hidden as much as possible. Reduce the visual clutter. Also, this storage system would be right behind our kitchen table so I really didn't want to look at coats, scarves and shoes three times a day while we ate.

So I dreamt of a system like this....where everything is hidden. Where everything has a place. And then I choked when I saw the price tag. Ridiculously expensive!


And then after plenty of research I found this system at Ikea.


With a 50% off pricetag to boot. MAJOR SCORE. Although, I gotta admit I wasn't too thrilled with the way that it looked. I knew it needed sprucing up. So I bought a bunch of Ikea baskets that fit into it and a row of Ikea puck lights for some illumination up at the top.


Yet it still had a cold and modern feel to it.....not at all the look I was going for. So, I gathered up some cardboard, decorative papers and some sticker letters and set out to create unique looking labels for the baskets.

And voila!



Suddenly I had a place for our mail, magazines and my misc. clutter! Yes, that's correct, a basket devoted to clutter. How great is that? My clutter is organized!



And a place for scarves, umbrellas, shoes, diapers, and backpacks!! Even my dog Rizzo has a basket. Now that's what I call foolproof organization! I can't mess it up! Everything has a home.



I decided to put our cookbooks in the middle unused section with some hidden hooks for all of our keys. And then spent way too much time pondering what I wanted to display on the top shelf. I was confident that it needed some kind of colored backdrop in there because the light was getting lost. So, I went to Home Depot, bought an insanely cheap piece of shelf backing that I had cut to size and painted it a deep pumpkin color that I had left over. I knew I wanted to display family pictures but there wasn't a whole lot of room in each square to work with. So, I decided to make a photo collage out of four wooden letters bought at Hobby Lobby to spell the word LOVE.

Technically, does this count as my first attempt at "scrapbooking" even though there's no book?



Here's a closer look...













I'm terrible at shelf decorating. I know what I like when I see it in a magazine but I get paralyzed when it's my turn. I threw these flowers, bunnies and lantern up there for the time being. What do you think? What could I add to the top to make it feel more complete? How do you decorate a shelf? A plant maybe?



Oh and yes, I know the "O" seems a little off. I am currently on the hunt for a better way to stand it up. Overall, I'm thrilled that we finally have organization when we walk through the door. Our own little mudroom---without the room and mud of course!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Mommy in the Making

Gift certificates are the greatest gifts you can give a toddler. I think it's the personal freedom they get from chosing WHATEVER it is they want. I'm not sure how other moms are, but if my child has a gift certificate and chooses to purchase Armor All --well then, so be it.

Mia recently took a ride on the Target gift certificate train (thanks Uncle Fran). Like most kids, her first stop was the toy section. Dammit, I should have taken her to the maternity section. Maybe she could have hooked me up with a cute little Liz Lange number. But no, the toy aisle was the closest to the door. Go figure. I got you pegged Target.

Get their attention as quickly as possible!

We cruised up and down the toy aisles until she made it perfectly clear (with her maddening yelp) that she wanted some quality time browsing the plethora of dolls that were on display. She looked at every one. I mean, every single one. A doll that caught her eye was one that came with a bottle.

You know the one.

The one where the milk magically disappears when the baby drinks it? Bingo! She found her purchase. In fact, she wouldn't let it go. The cashier had to step around to scan it.



After arriving home, Mia immediately began feeding and nurturing her new purchase. We sat on the couch and discussed how she was going to be the baby's mommy and the very thought alone made her radiate. She kept saying "me, mommy" with the proudest smile. I was touched by the endearment she had for this doll. How carefully she held it, how warm she kept it, how softly she kissed it.

video

I gotta admit I get choked up when I think about what kind of moms these girls will grow up to be. I wonder if some of the random and crazy things that we do somehow will get filed in their subconscious and resurface when it's their turn to show their kids the world. Will they hug and smooch their kids as much as we do? Will they sing and dance and explore with their kids as much as we do? Will they lose their patience with their kids like we sometimes do?

I pray that I'll be around to witness it all. I imagine it must be a wonderful feeling for a mom to watch her daughter become a mother. Yet, I also imagine that, in some cases, it may not always be as wonderful as we'd imagined, maybe filled with disappointment or heartbreak.

All I can hope is that I'm setting a good example. Time will tell. Until then--dude, Mia, you're freakin' "real life" baby doll will NOT STOP CRYING. Feed her dammit or I'm taking those batteries out!!!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Well hello there indigestion, restless nights and carpal tunnel, come on in, I've been expecting you!

Hi! Busy making your summer plans? Yeah, me too. In fact, not sure what you'll be doing, but on July 16th I'll have a third child to cuddle.

Oh my holy, holy, holy cow.

That's in 33 days. THIRTY THREE DAYS PEOPLE!

I cannot believe how fast this pregnancy has gone by. Which is great, really great. I've felt awesome and have been more than happy with my progress so far. That is, up until about a week ago. That familiar stage when standing actually feels better than sitting yet your body desperately wants to sit. Or when you rush to the bathroom because you're afraid of piddling all over the floor, yet you only let about three drops fall. Or when your so hungry but only have room for a couple bites. Yeah, I'm at that stage.

To be exact, today I turn 34 weeks pregnant. My baby weighs about 4.75 pounds. Kinda like the cantaloupe you cut up this morning.



I'm secretly hoping that the other 21 pounds that I've gained is all amniotic fluid. Fingers crossed.

During our last ultrasound, we were told that we were having a boy. I have not had another ultrasound since and frankly, I feel its a tad premature to trust one lab technician. Everyone else around me has no problem claiming that we are having a boy, including my husband. But, for whatever reason I think I need more proof---which I'll get in THIRTY THREE DAYS. OMG. OMG. OMG.

For all intents and purposes we'll go with our lab technician's claim and assume that it's a boy that keeps on kicking the shit out of me daily.

It would be so great to have a son. The idea seems so foreign to me. How in the hell do you parent a boy? I honestly feel this way. But I also know that the moment he's put in my arms, it'll all come natural. A son. If you could only see my smile right now--it's huge. I am SO excited to meet him. Just in case you were curious as to what's goin' down in the ol' uterus of mine, apparently his central nervous system is maturing and his lungs are continuing to mature as well.

How all babies don't come out claustrophobics, I'll never know.



Also, I'm more than happy to report that babies born between 34 and 37 weeks who have no other health problems generally do fine. Pfew.

According to my weekly pregnancy update:

"Your tiredness is perfectly understandable. But now's the time to slow down and save up your energy."

Are you kidding me, slow down? Then who the heck is going to finish painting the inside of a shelving unit, or hang the new drapes, or find a better accent flower for my walkway? Ya know, important baby centered tasks.

It went on to inform me that if I've been sitting or lying down for a long time, I shouldn't jump up too quickly because blood can pool in my feet and legs, causing a temporary drop in my blood pressure.

Ahhh, the joys of pregnancy.

Today Eugene, Bella and I took a tour of the maternity ward at our hospital. It made it oh so real to us. The good news? I'll have a private room, which is great. It wasn't like that in California! Also, Bella gets to take a "big sister" class next weekend where she has to bring in a doll and a baby picture of herself. The nurses are going to teach her to change the diapers and care for a baby.....how adorable is that?!

Bella is going to be great, this I know. It's Mia that I'm worried about. But somehow, someway we're gonna make it work.

Table of five, here we come!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

RIBBIT!!!!!!!

So the other day I was putting together a container garden when Mia walks up next to me and says,

"Roggy! Roggy!"

It took me about a good 45 seconds before I understood exactly what she was saying. I thought maybe there was a frog printed on one of the plastic flower containers, so I just shrugged it off. And then she got louder. She tends to do that when people don't understand her, she yells it, thinking we just can't hear her. It works great in church.

"Mommyyyyyy---roggyyyyyy" and pointed to the window sill. Holy crappers. Sure enough, sitting there staring at us in shock was this teeny little frog. I'm telling you, Mia's got a way with the reptiles. Both girls started jumping up and down and immediately busted into a frog welcome dance which, to my dismay, frightfully resembled a stripper routine.

Without even thinking of the ramifications, I walked twenty feet into the garage and grabbed the terrarium Bella got last year for her birthday. Oh, the terrarium. The home we planned to move her godforsaken tadpole Daria into, once she became a frog. But as you recall, she never became a frog. And if you recall just a little bit more with me, you'd know that she died.

You'd think I would have learned my lesson.

But, nooooo, gotta please my kids. I mean they performed a welcome dance, how could I not? I'm sooooo weak! So weak! Too excited at the thought of a frog actually inhabiting this home, I picked him up and shoved him in.



When I asked Mia what she wanted to name him, she said "Ribitt." Genius. When I asked Bella what she wanted to name him she said "Granola." Not so genius since she was, in fact, holding a granola bar when this all went down :)

Suddenly we had another pet in the family. One that needed to be fed. Dammit, where's Mr. Miagi when you need him? The girls put the habitat on the outdoor table and proceeded to play tug of war with it. This was only going to end badly, I knew it.

Somehow the habitat made its way into our dining room. Blech. It spent the night there and I knew what needed to be done. I would wait until morning.

Luckily, it was raining outside and so I made that my excuse as to why he wanted to go home. Mia was less than happy. What I don't have captured was her pounding on the glass screaming "Ribbit, Ribbit" much like Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate. But I did get this....

video

So long, Ribbit, it's been fun!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Lead the Way

It seems like yesterday I was melodramatically wiping away my sniffles as I sent
Bella to her 1st day of preschool.



She's had a wonderful year of learning and socializing. I love her school and am excited for her pre-k class next year. This time she'll go 3 days a week which she will proudly boast to anyone who'll listen.

Her end of the year celebration was in the works for months, but she was so tight-lipped about it that I literally walked in blind. Which ended up being that much more special to me. Her preschool is on a farm and teaches a nature-based curriculum so it came as no surprise when I walked through the door and was told to follow the bear prints



oohh.....building the excitement, I like it. Okay I'll follow....but where will it take me?

Oh no...be careful....cautiously entering the Bear Cave.....



After finding my seat I noticed the cute little stage at the front of the room that looks like a forest on one side and a pond on the other.
The class filed in and walked attentively up to the stage.

Rather than bombard you with 35 video clips (which I TOTALLY have) I'll give a brief run-down with about 35 pictures, cool?!

Their start-up was delayed a minute because they waited for Mia to stop yelling "HI BELLA" at the top of her lungs! I gotta admit, it made me smile. Once Bella waved back, Mia was content and the show began with the Pledge of Allegiance.

Which btw, try having 18 kids say indivisible at the same time--HILARITY, I say.

After the pledge, they launched into the ABC song but instead did the
sign language version. Show-offs!

Here's the letter L



Next, they went straight into a introductory joke, ya know, an ice breaker of sorts....

Q: How do you wake up a bear?
A: BEARY carefully!

(Insert about 60 forced parental laughs)

then followed it with some poetry and a couple dance numbers.





Ooh Bella, you really are a menacing bear (way to commit, girl)



Want to know what's more annoying than a dad with a huge camera running all over the place, SNAPPING OVER 200 PICTURES FROM EVERY POSSIBLE ANGLE? A dad who stops to take a picture of a mom who's obsessively recording every detail on a mobile phone, for crying out loud. Yeah I know, roll your eyes, we're those parents.



Next, the teachers began the individual "character" awards where they hand out specific awards to each kid. It was Bella's turn....I was so anxious to hear what they were going to say. Bella nervously stood up when she heard her name. I absolutely love that she shrugs her shoulders when she's nervous. It's her thing.



And what happened next has already been filed in my "DO NOT EVER FORGET THIS MOMENT" folder. Here's the clip:


video

Eugene and I exchanged a glance at eachother from across the room and we both knew in our smiles just how proud we were of her.

Our little leader.

I see such beauty on a daily basis with these girls, but it's not often that Eugene and I get to experience moments like this, together. I'll never forget it. Holy lord....how are we going to make it through a college graduation without totally losing it? Speaking of losing it, and graduation, after Bella's class performed the older kids (pre-K) came walking in with caps and gowns



and walked proudly to the graduation song and I swear I started tearing up
right then and there. I'm doomed!!!

After the ceremony, we gorged ourselves with baked goods and fruit punch.
It was great.






And as her first school year comes to a close, I'm confident that this educational journey I'll walk with her will be a fruitful and adventurous one. But first, let's get through the summer, okay?

"In teaching others, we teach ourselves."
--Proverb

Friday, June 4, 2010

Our New Family Portrait



I gotta give Bella credit, it looks exactly like us :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Grandparents to the rescue!

Gotta love the power of grandparents, huh? We recently had my in-laws stay with us for several weeks and we had such a great time. The girls loved having them here. Every morning they'd wake up their Lolo and Lola and greet them. On this particular morning, they were greeted with a Beyonce/Chipmunk dance party. At 8AM!!!!!!!!!!!!!

video

Here's more highlights.....

Enjoying a Chicago staple, Gino's East Deep Dish Pizza



Hitting up the coolest museums





Lolo and the girls decided to get creative





We even took a little road trip to Galena. Here we are dining at Vinni Vanucci's



Every time we uttered the word "Vinny Vanucci" Bella would bust up in laughter. So we kept on saying it....



The joke lasted about 14 hours until lunchtime the next day when we dined at Durty Gurt's. Which, to Bella was by far a better name.











We had so much fun in Galena!



After Galena we took a trip to see The House on the Rock. I think we were the only ones in the entire place!



Room after room, there were these elaborate displays of instruments that were programmed to play by themselves--like a full orchestra! Creepy?

Yeah, a bit.





Although seeing the world's largest carousel was pretty cool. This carousel has 20,000 lights and not even a single horse on it!



But the highlight of their stay with us, for me at least, was watching them visit Bella's pre-school. Not only did they get a nice tour, but the even got a chance to read a book to her class. The kids loved it and Bella was so proud of her grandparents. Miss Brenda even showed the class where the Philippines are on the globe. Lolo and Lola were like celebrities to them!



It was such a special memory for Bella--and I too will cherish it forever. Thank you Lolo and Lola for spending time with us. We'll always have these priceless memories!

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