Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Surely, she's Shirley.

You guys, help!

 I'm smackdab in the midst of a widespread foam curler epidemic.

And it's all because of her. 

Well, to be exact, it's actually all because of HER:

Shirley Temple. The girl, not the drink.

You see, Fridays are family movie nights around here and this past Friday it was my choice. So I chose an oldie but goodie, Heidi starring Shirley Temple. 

Forget about BlueRay and HD, we got all retro up in here cuz the movie was black and white. 

Which annoyed the heck out of Bella. 

But mom, her face is gray! 
And look mom, the grass is dark gray.  Why is the grass gray mom? 
And the sky is kinda awkward, because it's like a lightish gray mommmm!!!

I was 'this close' to turning it off cuz I couldn't handle any more of her monochromatic sarcasm, when Shirley Temple entered the screen and all traces of dissapproval were vanished the moment she started singing.

Bella was enthralled. But Mia? Holy shit ya'll, Mia was obsessed. 

Like, freaky-bulgy "I wanna be you and I wanna dress like you and I wanna dance like you and I wanna have curly hair like you and I wanna sing like you" eyes.

I've seen this look before--like her Rapunzel phase or her Cinderella phase or her Pippi Longstocking phase or her most recent Cindy Lou Who phase.

And I knew what was to come. 

First it was the hair. She wanted curly hair. So, like any good mother would, we put some foam curlers in her hair (leftover from Bella's Little Orphan Annie phase) and sent her to bed. 

When we took the curlers out of her hair Saturday morning, Mia almost fell over with excitement. 

And would henceforth be known as Shirley. Shirley Temple.

So, of course, we proceeded to spend Saturday looking at YouTube videos of Shirley Temple, ya know, adding fuel to the fire.

 And then both Bella and Mia couldn't stop singing some of the songs. So, of course, I bought some songs from iTunes. 

Dude, it was like a bonfire now.

Someone please throw me a life raft because I have been stuck on this GOD FORSAKEN GOODSHIP LOLLIPOP FOR DAYS!

And Monday night sure enough "Shirley" asked if she could go to school as Shirley.

How could I refuse? 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Listening to Nothing

It's snowing. And it's cold. 

But as much as I complain--I do love being out in the snow, especially during a snow storm. It's the month old grayish brown snow that makes me want to pull my hair out. But a snowfall--that's something to winess. It's not the same looking out from a window. No, you gotta be in it to get it.  So much going on around you, it's like falling chaos. Yet, the silence is deafening. I'm telling ya, there's nothing like the silence of a snowfall.

I pointed this out to Bella as we stood by the side of the road when her bus pulled away. And of course, she requested the definition of chaos. And she understood.

And we stopped to listen to nothing.

And we ate some falling snow.

And made our way back into the warmth of our home.


Thank God It's Friday Family Movie Night!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

January 18, 2012

I untangled my headphones, stepped on the treadmill and began pressing every button trying to figure out how to make the damn thing start. After tinkering for awhile, it asked me to enter my age. I smiled. Which believe me, isn't my usual response when someone asks my age. But today was different, today was my birthday. And there's something about this particular birthday that has me smiling from ear-to-ear.

I'm happy, that's why.

I'm happy that I've lived 37 pretty awesome years. I'm happy that each one of those years has been filled with mistakes that I've learned from, experiences that I've gained and memories that I'll cherish. I've been doing that a lot lately, really looking back at the past. And while most of it can be described as one big Larry David-esque embarassment--I'm happy. Like, really happy.

For one, the love that Eugene and I have for eachother is the single most precious thing I own. I mean, yeah, my kids are great and all but dude, you should see our love. It's storybook. We dream together. We live for what's in store and have such a strong vision for our future together. And even though his work has him traveling all the time, there is no place that I'd rather be than with him. Still.

And my kids, oh man, my kids. I love being a mom and always knew I was destined to do this, but being their mom? That's what feels so darn great. They are such amazing kids and they make every day worth it. Even the shitty, whiny parts of the day are only minutes away from a laugh, or a tickle or a hug reminding us all that we're unconditionally loved. My children make me insanely happy.  Being their leader, their teacher, their mother--well, it's a perfect way to spend my days.

For my birthday Eugene and the girls gave me a day of complete and total escape.

Inside the sweetest card, was an excel spreadsheet of all the movies playing at our local movie theatre, the times that they were playing and the corresponding Rotten Tomatoes score for the movie. Get this, I saw four movies in a row! I literally spent the entire day at the movie theatre! From 12 in the afternoon to 12 at night, I forgot about the diapers, and the tantrums and let myself get lost in the movies. And the popcorn. And the refills.

Here was my line-up Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocal, The Descendents, We Bought a Zoo and Young Adult.

What a unique idea, huh? And while I'll always remember this birthday as the "all-day movie marathon," I can't forget the scavenger hunt that Bella made me endure to locate her homemade birthday card. Or the way Chance smiled as he tried to blow out the candles. Or when Mia woke up--her eyes barely open and with her familiar husky morning voice, serenaded me with the Happy Birthday song.

Because friends, happy it was!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Christmas in July

One of my New Year's resolutions was to write more. Or at the very least finish writing about some of the important events that have happened to us in 2011. 

How about I start with my son't 1st birthday, since ya know, that was kind of important and all. And it was 6 months ago. And I don't want to go down as the mom who had  her shit together for the first two kids but somehow couldn't manage to document ANYTHING about her third.

July 16, 2011. Little Chance's 1st Birthday. What an especially memorable day it was. To begin I should mention that Eugene and I started a tradition 5 years ago for all our kids' first birthdays. Rather than throw an elaborate party in which they'd have no recollection of, we instead, throw a party for a group of people in need. For Bella's 1st birthday we threw a Bingo Blowout and Ice Cream Social for a local nursing home, talk about fun! 

For Mia's first birthday we put together a Fun Fair for kids living in a Chicagoland homeless shelter. You can read all about it here, A Party with A Purpose. These events meant more than any birthday party could have ever felt. I'll never forget the feeling of pride I had watching my ENTIRE family working together to help those homeless kids have fun and laugh and smile. 

Eugene and I hope that when our kids look back on their first birthday they'll be reminded that their lives began helping others.

And now it was Chance's turn. When I was researching organizations for Chance's birthday a friend mentioned that I check out the SOS Children's Villages of Illinois. Once I read their mission statement, I knew this was the group we should work with. SOS Children's Villages of Illinois provides a viable alternative to traditional foster care. In our country's foster care system, three in four children are separated from their siblings. Children who come to live at SOS stay with their biological brothers and sisters in a private home. "A full-time, professionally trained foster parent lives with them, and the whole village gives them support, compassion and strength." Their mission to keep the family together is so inspiring. It always broke my heart when I heard about how often siblings were split up from each other--as if they should be punished more? Uggh. It hurts to even think about. 

In fact, these kids arrive at the steps of SOS with little to NOTHING at all. Extra clothes? Nope. A doll to hug at night? Nope. A pack of crayons? Not even. When I heard about this, I knew what we needed to do, a Christmas in July.

On July 16, 2011, Chance's actual birthday, my family and all Eugene's extended family from California arrived at our house and was greeted with Christmas music the moment they walked through the door. Nothing's stranger than singing Let it Snow when it's hot and sweaty and muggy! After a quick informational meeting about the SOS organization we began the festivities.

First, we caravaned over to our local Walmart, all 17 of us. After being saluted by the door greeter, we were split up into 4 teams and given a cash filled envelope. Based on a "wish" list provided by SOS, we were to buy as many gifts from the list as we could, while staying within our alotted budget. We also had additional challenges like the greeting card challenge, where each family member was to purchase an inspirational card to be written out by them and handed out to one the children of the SOS Villages. 

We had exactly 1 hour to buy everything. 

Team 1, consisting of my mom, Fran and Mia, decided to hit up the card challenge first.

My mom was having motherhood flashbacks as she quickly realized how difficult shopping with a 3 year old could sometimes be. They quickly put Mia to work by checking scribbling off the list.

Team 2, my dad, mother-in-law and Matt in a deep discussion between purchasing a football or a soccer ball---or both.

My father-in-law, accountant extraordinaire, was diligently keeping tabs on our running total. It was no fluke why I put him on my team :)

Taking a quick break from the shopping frenzy to remember just how much I love my kids

Surveying the inventory

The unstoppable Team 4, Gabrielle, Christine and Bella, the world's best bargain shoppers put us to shame with all that they were able to purchase. They were smart--they looked in the clearance isle first!

Family chicken fight!

Check out time!

Christine and Gabe's thought process was basically add it to the cart and we'll see if we can afford it when we're at the checkout. They stood nervously in the line and watched as the checker rang up item after item. Making some quick decisions, they decided they needed to remove some things since they were over budget. They explained to the cashier what we were all doing, and who we were doing it for. And what happened next reaffirms my faith in people. A random man with his son in the next aisle overheard them and without missing a beat, told the cashier that he would pay for every item that they set aside.

This random stranger paid over $30 from his own pocket.

And just like that the discarded 10-pack of white t-shirts, pink baby blankets, and thermal socks made its way back into the cart. His last words were "all kids deserve new t-shirts"

People are good.

We returned home from Walmart and with the Chrismas carols on full blast, we wrapped up the presents. 

The second part of our day was a celebration at one of the SOS Villages. Deep in the city. In what my "limited suburban ego" would consider the bad part of town.
I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I was apprehensive about going. Of course I was. I knew this wasn't the safest of areas. And despite even some hesitation from my family, we rose above it. Because helping from a distance isn't the same. I want my kids to know the truth about life, the good and the bad.

Only then can we really learn.

And when we arrived there and were welcomed with the most open of arms, I felt ashamed that I had so poorly misjudged people's compassion based on where they lived.

I needed to remind myself that here, we were the strangers.

We all stood in a circle and went around the room introducing each other. Three minutes of uncomfortable get-to-know you's and a few of my dad's goofy jokes and that's all it took. We were  friends.

The kids showed us around their home/facility and challenged us to a few air hockey games. It's still good to know that my bad-ass air hockey skills are still going strong!

When the pizza arrived we all sat together in their dining hall and before we ate one of the 9 year old boys said the blessing. Thanking God that our family had joined them today. Thanking God for the food that we brought. Thanking God for giving him the strength to go on despite the struggles he's endured.

I tell ya, I wanted to take that boy home with me.

I sat with my sweet birthday boy in my lap, grateful for making the choice to come here. Grateful to see my family step out of their comfort zone. Grateful that we have the ability to share with others. I noticed my five year old sitting next to one of the kids talking about Disney--no barrier between them. I watched as my brother-in-law performed magic tricks for everyone's enjoyment.

What a team we make.

After lunch, Bella and Mia passed out the presents.

For security reasons, I cannot show any of the kids faces.

And we all played.

Chance, may you always remember how good it feels to give. 

And how happy we all were on this day, July 16, 2011, your 1st Birthday.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Twas 3 Days Before Christmas

Still drinking your Peppermint Coffeemate creamer? Still sporting a sugar cookie bloat?  I begrudgingly chose all of the above.

We arrived home from our trip to California and I was pissed to find that Dobby the Elf didn't bother to take the decorations with him when he left. That cheeky bastard.

I even made him teeny, tiny sprinkled donuts, see?! 

We'll miss him though.

Our time with Dobby was so precious this year. Every single morning the kids woke with curiosity and excitement to see where he was. He definitely became a regular yuletide fixture. 

This Christmas will forever go down as the "Grinch" Christmas. We introduced the kids to the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Jim Carrey version) and to say they were hooked was an understatement. Both girls fell in love with Cindy Lou Who and would reenact her singing "Where Are You Christmas" every chance they could. No joke. They'd be in the middle of a conversation with someone and suddenly break into song while staring longingly out a fake window. They'd even go so far as to put their hand up to the fake window. Now that's commitment! 

And all Mia wanted for Christmas was a Cindy Lou Who doll, Cindy Lou Who pajamas and a Cindy Lou Who music box. 

Someone please explain to her that Cindy Lou Who was sooooo 2000?

But of course my mom and sister couldn't resist. My sister scored a CLW doll from Ebay and my mom (bless her heart) recreated the pajamas from the movie. Mia was in CLW heaven! See?

She's got my heart, that Mia.

Check it out, when you press a secret button on CLW's back her braids twirl around. THIS BLEW MIA'S LITTLE MIND. Literally, she almost passed out from excitement when my sister showed her. 

Mid twirl.
From our very first Christmas as parents, Eugene and I decided that we wouln't go crazy with gifts for our kids. For one, they really don't need all that much to have fun. In fact I've noticed, the more they have the less they play with. Secondly, we don't want our children to feel a sense of entitlement about Christmas, which so easily happens this time of year. Commericials, catalougues, playground conversations--it's almost unavoidable, almost. For us, Christmas is about SO much more than just gifts. And thirdly, they get a ton of cool stuff from family members anyway.

Like this surprisingly spacious ready to be colored cardboard playhouse. Thanks Nana and Papa!

It was and still is a huge hit!

The night before we left for California we celebrated my mom's birthday and came home to find that Santa left a note and three gifts under the tree for our kids.

It was such an unexpected excitement for them! 


Bella read us the note.

And one by one, we all watched on as they took turns opening their gifts. 

Now I should mention that all Bella has talked about for the past month has been an American Girl Doll named Kanani. Kanani this and Kanani that. The first night that our elf, Dobby, arrived at our house she IMMEDIATELY began writing him a letter informing him of what she wished for. She made it crystal clear:

"kanani frum water towr mall frum chikago cidy."

 See she didn't want the elves from the North Pole to make the doll, oh no, she wanted Santa to buy it. From that store. In that mall.  


So here I was in our living room sitting next to my daughter as she's about to open her present. And I have to admit I'm not quite sure who was more excited, me watching or her opening. 

You see, it's the first Christmas that I really "got it." Ya know, that super awesome mushy parent feeling you get when you know how happy your child is about to be opening their present.

Little did she know that's exactly how I felt right here.

But to my surprise Bella was very matter of fact about it all. Very cautious.

She began feeling the box and switched off between a huge smile and a hesitant grin---all the while turning the wrapped box over and over trying to examine it from the outside. 

I knew what she was thinking. I always do. Her hesitation was because a part of her was afraid that it wouldn't be what she really, really wanted. 

Which tugged a little at my heart strings.

But then her grin turned back to a smile because what if? What if it really was what she's been wishing for? And again with forced restraint she c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y began opening the side of the present.

And for a few milliseconds she tried to identify the box. 

And then it hit her.

And I swear my eyes filled up right then and there. This is the shit I live for as a mom. This! 
And suddenly Bella ripped apart that paper faster than I could even capture it.

She had her Kanani.

Life was great for this little girl.

Next up, my other little girl.

Mia, Mia. From the moment you saw The Grinch you wanted a music box just like Cindy's. One that was pink. One that had a twirling ballerina and one that played sweet little music.

But hidden secret drawers?

MAJOR bonus! 

This smile. This huge precious, dimpled smile only comes out around 1 out of 200 pictures. It melts me. 

This is what happiness looks like. 


And then both girls noticed that Chance was having a hard time opening his present. He's in that stage where you hand him a wrapped present and he smiles so big as if to say thank you, thank you for this large red and green striped thing. The girls, impatient as they are, took it as a cue to rip it open for him. And little man got a big truck that talks and chases him. Shabang!!!! 

As a child I loved Christmas. I mean, who doesn't, right? The gifts, the songs, the lights. But I never really knew how special Christmas would become as a parent. Watching age old traditions become our own. Feeling the genuine love that we all have for one another. This is what I want to remember. This is what I'll carry with me, season after season. 

That night, Bella slept hugging her doll and Mia found a perfect spot for her musicbox hidden safely under her bed.

What a merry, Merry Christmas.



Related Posts with Thumbnails