Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring Breakdown!

Looking back, I never went anywhere fun, hip or remotely MTV-ish for my spring break. I wish I had. I did go to Florida my senior year of college---but stayed in my great grandmother's Boca Raton geriatric village for an entire week. I was surrounded by gray haired Oompa Loompas. They were exactly like the Jersey Shore cast except 60 years older and instead of GTL (gym, tan, laundry) it was BTD (bunko, tan, dinner). EVERY SINGLE DAY. Who'm I kidding,  I secretly want that when I'm 80.

But for now? Now, I have to somehow make spring break memorable for my kids. Since we'd be home all week I decided on some sort of daily surprise.

On Monday our surprise was to the local park. Sidenote--it is SO GREAT to play at the park again. ANYTHING but my living room. ANYTHING. The weather was nice for about 15 minutes before a cold front came in--rushing us back to our cars. But in that 15 minutes, little Chance had his first taste of a park swing, and he loved it. Like, really loved it.

On Tuesday afternoon after their nap, the girls were escorted into the living room/beauty spa, where they were primped and pampered as Auntie Gabey and I tirelessly executed mani/pedis. Complete with relaxing music, appetizers, massage oil and every color nail polish to chose from.

Hysterical doesn't even come close to describing it. The moment the girls noticed that we were in character, then they totally got into character and it was so much fun to watch. They had voices. Like special grown up lady voices! I would have given an hour long pedicure if it meant I could watch them interact a bit longer----but darn it I couldn't keep the water warm long enough. I mean check it out, Mia's got her finger raised when she took a sip of her water. Prin-cess!

Bella kept asking for Gabe to feed her some goldfish crackers. Since she was, ya know, in disposed and all.

They kept making these very adult-ish sound effects, ya know the one when you breathe in and let out a very dramatic exhale. It was so, so funny. My favorite part was when their toes were too small for the toe spacers. Check it, there's two-in-one! Wah-hah!!!!

 What took about 10 minutes to prepare ended up being so worth it.

On Wednesday, we packed our suitcases and headed to Bradley University where Eugene and I met and went to college. I was planning on coaching the speech team all day while Auntie Tanya and Miss Camille (the way cool college girl as Bella refers to her) baby sat. FOR HOURS. Seriously Camille, you're going to be a great mom one day. Just as long as you don't, ya know, shake em.' Ha ha. And thanks Aunt Tanya for all the snacks and TV time!

We scored some super cute Bradley gear from the bookstore and I briefly showed the girls around. It was so cold that taking them for a walk wasn't in the cards. But on the way home, I promised I would take the girls to the "spot." The spot, as Eugene and I call it, was where it all started between us. There's a place high up on a hill that looks out over Peoria. It was in this spot that we, so young, discussed the future, and traveling the world and wanting the most out of life and it's also where we kissed for the first time.

In an akward turn of events the girls demanded a kiss from me while up there, "like daddy did." I hesitated for a moment, cuz, um, eww. But then I agreed to a peck, but I gotta tell you--not the same. 

On Thursday, the girls were still riding their high from seeing an actual "college." C'mon, really? I'm telling ya, it's all in the way you present it. Because any sane person would shudder at the thought of spending the day in Peoria. But not these freaks. They loved it.

Our Thursday spring break surprise was busting out a blast from my past. Remember these?

We made them. It took a couple attempts because I couldn't find the right barrette. But alas, Target was victorious! They love them.....and secretly so do I. I bought some subtle earth tone colors so I could rock them too. Ironically, I looked less like I was from the 80's and more like a Steven Tyler wannabe. But, hey, it was fun.

On Friday we treated the girls to some Indian food. Well, okay, more like we treated ourselves--but again it's all in the way you present it, in this case, PINK chicken. The girls grubbed on their Tandoori pink chicken and even asked for another plate.

Thinking that the week would never end we woke up on Saturday morning, dropped Chance off at my parents and headed out to see Knuffle Bunny the Musical. Which is a musical adaptation of our favorite childrens book. We met up with Tiffany and her daughter and had a great time.

About 30 seconds into the show we realized that the correct pronunciation is "Kuh-nuffle" and not "Knuffle" with a silent K. Us three adults exchanged looks as if to say, "damn we're idiots."
The show was great and we even scored a picture with Trixie after the show.

TGIS! Thought I would never say that. Sunday, even when you're not working, still feels like, well, Sunday. That dreaded-end-of-weekend-don't-want-to-face-Monday-kind-of-day. Not this time. Sunday. The last day of spring break! The last day I have to be super nice and fun! Yay! I can finally go back to being the uppity, controlling and impatient mom that I always am. Pffew.

On Sunday, we watched a DVD that somehow made its way into our house. It's called Bella Dancerella. And it's a workout/dance routine that teaches you how to be a pop star. Those crazy Australians. Eugene and I just sat and laughed at how serious our daughters were taking it.

We also rocked out to last week's episode of Glee. About 11 times. 

I gotta admit, that Loser song is pretty catchy.

We concluded our glorious week with a "Sundae on Sunday" and Bella laughed hysterically everytime I said it. They got to fill up their little graham cracker bowls with as much junk food as we had on hand. Which btw, we have too much junk food on hand.

Awww, isn't that sweet. Buh-dum-cha. And while I may not have ended the week with a tan or a drunken hazy memory of the night before--I did have fun. Which is what spring break is all about, right?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Bilingual Stage Sister

Okay, I'll admit it, I'm a teeny tiny stage mom. But really, only for play. I haven't had head shots made of my kids nor have I spray tanned them. No way man, if you ask me, those moms are conductin' the crazy train. But if dressing up and putting on shows and dance recitals makes me one, then I'll proudly 
wear the badge. 

But my oldest daughter Bella? Total STAGE SISTER!  

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


A recent study shows that a child's brain is 90% developed by the time she enters kindergarten.

90%! That fact blows me away.

My daughter Bella recently celebrated her 5th birthday and for me this birthday was far different from any of the others. Let me explain.

About 4 days before her birthday I decided to take her out to dinner for one of our "special" dates. I haven't gone on a special date with her since our date the week before I gave birth to Chance. It was time. I really try to plan on what to talk about beforehand. These one-on-one moments are so precious that if I don't have a game plan we'll end up talking about cotton candy or Dora or the lifecyle of a frog. Truly gripping, really.

My strategy was simple, I wanted my little girl to know how much she's loved. Unconditionally loved. Forever. No matter what happens or what mistakes she'll make--she'll always be loved.  Easy, right? 

Parenting has never been easy.

We arrived at our favorite hang out, Noodles and Company. Their Chinese chop salad (only 200 calories) is to-die-for and a couple of stolen spoonfuls of my child's Wisconsin mac and cheese is always expected. Man, we love this place.

It felt so different walking in just the two of us. Usually, I'm yelling at two kids not to swing on the bar while barely hanging on to the baby carseat that carries Chance, or frantically looking over the shoulder of an employee to see where my kids ran off to while placing an order. Not this time. We casually made our way to the front, placed our familiar order and Bella, very independently, grabbed a booster seat from the stack and chose a perfect table for two. She even commented that we've never been able to sit at a small table before.
I smiled. 

She pulled the seat out and climbed atop her booster. She asked me to please push her in, I obliged. With the motor skills of an adult, she tapped the end of the straw twice on the table and slid off the plastic straw with an ease I haven't noticed before. 

I excused myself to go fill up my cup and left her confidently sitting at the table. As I stood at the drink station, I looked over to my right and saw her smiling at me. She then busted out with a huge thumbs up sign that made me laugh out loud. Our happy stare went on long enough for me to almost overflow my cup with Diet Coke. As I placed the plastic top on my cup I heard her say, very loudly, "Happy St. Patrick's Day Mommy." I laughed again. Then without missing a beat she said even louder, "Happy Birthday to.....ME!!!" The restaurant busted up and several surrounding patrons bestowed their birthday wishes on her. She was thrilled.

We spent about 10 minutes talking about my tossed salad until I knew I needed to make my move or I'd lose the moment forever. I took a sip of my drink and began to say, "Bella, you are one lucky girl, you know that? You get to go through life, and wake every day knowing that you are truly, honestly loved. Some people spend their whole lives searching for love, and you'll have it, forever."

She smiled. 

A lump began to form in my throat (much like it is right now) and I struggled to find the right words as I stared at her. Sitting across from my-almost-five-year old I realized something. Something that both saddens me and gives me an unbelievable amount of satisfaction. What I see in her today is what I know I'll see ten years from now, twenty years from now. She is already who she is destined to be. Already. 

At the age of 5.

Sure, there's more parenting to do. And more guidance to give. But a part of me feels like I've done what I needed to do, I've seized that window. My God,  90%! I've been there every step of the way--and loved every moment of it. And this, this is the part of me that's sad. The one that recognizes that her "age of innocence" phase is almost over. But it went so fast! And was so much fun! I wish I could press pause and make it last a little longer. But you know what? I've got a great kid on my hands. One that will most definitely make mistakes, but knows how to learn from them. One that lives to please. One that consistently thinks of others. THIS is my satisfaction. That the end result is a precocious, strong minded, adventurous, unselfish and intelligent little girl. 

At the age of 5.

Just look at her...

I can't look at this picture (taken from our date) and not well up. So grown up. So confident. I swear I fell more in love with her that night. It was a night and a birthday that I'll always hang on to. Notice the grapes in the baggie? She insisted on bringing an appetizer. Hah. And bless her heart because before she began eating she put half of her dinner in a "to-go" box for Mia.

Bella, how I love you so.

Two days later, I enjoyed a "special" lunch date with Mia at the same place. And for totally different reasons, it was just as memorable. My game plan with Mia? Nurture the "big girl" mentality. Cuz, she is. She's totally a big girl......

But not that big, yet.


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