Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Trippy

My kids are in their least self-conscious, most wildly imaginative developmental stage of play. Preschoolers have crazy minds and aren't afraid to let it all hang out, so it's a like a bad acid trip around here every day.

At any moment in my house one might encounter cats, dogs, bears, dolphin whales, dragons, princesses, airplanes, dogs driving cars, cat families out for a picnic, butterflies sipping honey while leaping from flower to flower (i.e., couch to couch), fortresses, castles, caves, fairies making soup pie in a cave, fairies catching butterflies in pillowcase nets, frogs jumping in ponds (i.e., beds), cats singing Christmas carols in a cat choir for Valentine's Day, mean monsters, nice monsters, monsters roaring their terrible roars, monsters jumping through doors to do their scaring, monsters having a tea party with water and Ritz crackers, Smurfs, Nemo, Milo & Otis, Beauty, the Beast, princes, cowgirls, farmers, mermaids, teachers, teacher princes, dinosaur cowboys, alphabet farmers, butterfly mermaids, mommies, daddies, cat mommies, raccoon daddies, cat mommies who have kitten babies, kitten babies who have butterfly sisters, mermaid sisters who have seahorse pets, forests, trees, trees who have picnics, ants who have picnics, bees who go on vacation, dinosaurs who go on vacation in trains, trains who go on adventures, airplanes that fly to Oklahoma in the dining room, seagulls flying south for the winter, penguins building igloos, polar bears baking cookies, and possibly Eskimo Joe and his (her) dog Fluffy. Requirements include dress up clothes, cardboard boxes, and all of the cushions from the couch.

Most of the time you can find me hiding out in my closet with a flashlight and a sleeve of cookies. Shhh.

Meanwhile Back at Dance Baby Dragon Town...

Kate is a cat named Socks who plays the "feather guitar" and Maggie is a person named Maggie who plays the banjo. They are a band called The Cat and the Person. I tried to convince Maggie to switch to the fiddle, but she refused.

She can't figure out why I'm so weird.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Maggie's Birthday

Last Saturday was Maggie's birthday (and yes, I'm just now getting this post up. Sorry). She turned 5 years old, which is a stop-you-in-your-tracks age. I haven't felt so gobsmacked by her birthday since she turned 1. I think it's because 5 is seriously no longer a baby. She's a child now, and in a few short months she'll even be a schoolgirl. Yikes! I remember being a bit boggled like this when our niece, Ana, turned 5 and started kindergarten. Like, What? That little thing? She doesn't even have any molars yet, does she? Oh, she just lost her front tooth? OK, I'm going to need to go lie down for a bit.

We actually started her birthday celebration last Thursday with a trip to Chuck E. Cheese. Sadly, every year, Mags' birthday falls at the beginning of a school vacation week for the entire state. In an overpopulated area like ours, it means that even a simple trip to the local King Burger indoor playground is a suicide mission. Forget darkening the door of any business or public space that is in any way attractive to children because it will be packed - PACKED - with wild, sugared-up school age children and their defeated, glassy-eyed parents. And that's on the FIRST day of the week. By Friday, it's a surreal animated Disney remake of Lord of the Flies. So I hustled the girls out to our desolate local Charles E. Fromage on the last day before the madness commenced. The girls played games, ate pizza, and writhed around in the e. coli infested climbing structure. They had fun and I watched them have fun. And no one got elbowed in the face by a 12 year old whose mother is hiding out in the ladies' room on her cell phone.


Monsieur Fromage


Kate is sitting on Maggie's lap. They were being very sweet to each other the whole time we were there, so great was their cheese induced joy.


Not smiling. She was having a good time. Really.


Also not smiling, although she rode this carousel at least 9 times in a row.


They are sitting inside of a simulator ride watching themselves flying with jet packs. They both studied this video with great intensity and did not crack a smile the whole time. They were having tons of fun. Honestly.

On Saturday, her actual birthday, we hit up a party store for balloons and other birthday paraphernalia before Gram and Grandpa came over for dinner and cake and presents.


With her balloons and princess party hat. She's getting so pose-y in her old age!


This is a good representation of the present opening: a blur of pink and wrapping paper and curly hair and Legos.


Busy, busy. Kate, in particular, loves that little car and the bunny family that goes in it.

And speaking of Kate... I wrote about how challenging Kate's birthday was for Maggie back in January. Maggie's birthday was no easier for Kate. And yet, I know she had a great time. Gram brought her a little stuffed cat that she has since named Baby Kwazii. And here are some photos of her roller skating with Gram and Grandpa (those are her pink skates from Christmas, but we got Maggie the green ones for her birthday, so Kate needed to get hers out, too).


Roller derby, here she comes.


She doesn't actually move her feet yet. She expects you to drag her around by her hands. So fun!

Maggie chose a nearby Thai/Sushi/Pan-Asian restaurant for her birthday dinner (no, really), so we gorged ourselves on dumplings, edamame, spring rolls, sushi (Maggie ate almost a whole California roll by herself), fried rice, sesame chicken, and pad thai. Then we went home for cake.


As requested, strawberry ice cream cake (pink). Plus pink candles.


Plus pink princess cups, pink princess plates, pink princess napkins, and her pink princess party hat. Noticing a theme?


Sunday was all Legos, all day long. She got tons of Legos this year, and she loves them! (So does Mike!) She's actually quite good already at putting them together. It's no surprise that she's good at following directions and spatial/visual info.


Most of the sets were from the new Lego Friends line, which is girly and pink and purple. She really likes them, but she specifically asked for this dinosaur Lego set! I was very surprised as it does not fit in with her usual sparkletasticness.


But then I saw this... Maggie's killer T-Rex apparently loves pretty pink bows. Of course she does. Who is this child and how can I possibly be her mother?

And finally, on Monday, Mike had the day off for President's Day. So we went to Barnes and Noble to redeem our coupon for a free birthday cupcake (bad idea: it was ridiculously PACKED, of course) and let Mags pick out a new book (Meet Smurfette, seriously? Oh well, it cost about $3). Then we did some shopping at Wal-Mart (thrilling and not packed. Weird, eh? Dorothy, we're not in Oklahoma any more) and went out for Mexican food at 5 pm. The early bird gets the beef enchilada!

So we had a great time eating cake and putting together Legos and roller skating in the living room. And this week we've been rearranging the play room and sorting toys and stepping on Legos and admiring her first ever Barbie. The girls and I now have a bad cold, so we're using the week off to chill out at home and read books and eat snacks and watch movies and practice our agoraphobia while Mike frets about a bunch of big projects at work that all landed at the same time. I guess that means we're pretty much back to normal.

I hearby declare Festivus 2011-2012 to be over. See ya'll next year!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

DIY Princess

This is a picture of Maggie's "glass slippers." Creative, no?



I asked her if Handsome gave them to her. (That's her imaginary boyfriend. Yes, his name is Handsome. Guess what he does for a living. Bingo! He's a prince! It's a good gig if you can get it.) She said no, "but he was there when I made them for myself."

You go, girl!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Katie Sez...

... fermos = thermos
... backyardigan = backyard
... bee-member = remember
... be-tending = pretending
... ree-suh-cycling = recycling
... Miz Wiz = Ms. Liz (Maggie's teacher)

I secretly hope she never learns to pronounce these correctly because I'll miss them.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How To Be The Perfect Parent

Do natural childbirth
Be induced.
Birth at home.
Rush to the hospital.
Breastfeed.
Don't weird other people out with your boobs.
Co-sleep.
Sleep train.
Babies should sleep on their backs.
Babies really sleep on their tummies.
Cloth diaper.
Don't be difficult.
Put cereal in their bottle.
Don't start solids until they can talk.
All these foods will kill them.
Don't raise a picky eater.
Feed on demand.
Cry it out.
Don't let baby overheat.
That baby needs a hat.
Don't let your baby irritate strangers.
Don't hide out in your house.
Make sure they gets loads of social stimulation.
Make sure they get three naps a day.
Be firm.
Be loving.
Praise them.
Not too much.
Encourage their learning.
Don't be a tiger mom.
Do Kindermusik and Mommy and Me and swimming lessons.
Don't overschedule and overstimulate.
Wash their hands and rinse out their mouths if they eat peanut butter.
Don't be a neat freak germaphobe.
Bathe them every night so they sleep better.
Bathe them once a week so their skin isn't too dry.
Make sure you get plenty of "me time."
It's not all about you anymore.
Get them into the best schools immediately.
If you really loved them, you would homeschool.
Don't let them stay up past their bedtime.
Don't be a schedule nazi.
They're too old to be in that stroller.
Don't overtire them or you'll have to deal with the tantrum.
They're bored.
They're spoiled.
They're falling behind on their developmental milestones!
Don't worry so much.
Don't let them suffer a moment of sorrow or frustration.
Don't let your universe revolve around them.
Validate their feelings.
You can't reason with them.
You're crushing their spirit with discipline.
You're permissive and raising a pack of wild hooligans.
You're what's wrong with kids today.
Don't be that mom.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Yearly Check Up

Yesterday, we went to the girls' doctor for their yearly combo doctor appointment. They are old enough now to only need a once-a-year check up, and since their birthdays are so close together, we split the difference and go in late January or early February so that we only have to make one trip downtown. That's so much better than when Maggie was small and I was pregnant, and then Kate was an infant, and we were in that office building (my OB was in the same building, different floor) every time we turned around! Exhausting!

Both girls did beautifully. Maggie can officially see and hear (and follow directions!), and they both actually talked to the doctor this time instead of just staring at him like suspicious mutes. On the other hand, Mike and I didn't really have much to say to him: Do they eat well? Yep. Do they drink milk? Yep. Do they brush their teeth? Yep. Are they potty trained? Yep. Do they know their letters and colors? Yep. They don't get sick much, do they? Nope. Any concerns? Nope.

Their growth chart stats were kind of amusing. Maggie, as usual, is on the very bottom of the chart for her age. The arc of her growth over her whole life has the same angle as the average arcs, so she's growing fine and her doctor isn't worried about her. She's just always been small and still is. She's 33.5 lbs. and 41.25 inches. Kate, by comparison, is 32 lbs. and 38.5 inches (and 22 months younger)! She is closer to the top of her growth chart, although she seems to be heading slowly towards average instead of staying on her gigantic track. The doctor described them as mirror images, which I think is funny because strangers often ask me if they are twins. I sort of have two four year old twins instead of a three-year-old and a five-year-old!

After the fun part of the appointment came the sad part. Mike stayed with Maggie while she got four shots (she's thrilled she doesn't need any more vaccinations until she's eleven). And I had to go with Kate to the phlebotomy lab where they took her blood for lead and anemia tests. It was brutal for all four of us, but we survived. Mike headed to work and I took took the girls to Dunkins for heart-shaped, creme-filled donuts with pink strawberry frosting and heart-shaped sprinkles. Those donuts really took the edge off.

I looked for some photos of the the girls standing next to each other, but of course there aren't any good ones. Here are a few where they are at least both in the frame at the same time. Thing One and Thing Two!







Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tu(n)esday



New solo album, Blunderbuss, comes out at the end of April...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super (My Birthday) Sunday

My birthday was yesterday, as was Super Bowl XLVI. Despite my having to take a lesson in learning to share, it was a lovely birthday.

On Saturday night, we went out for dinner together at a BBQ place and then out for ice cream at our favorite local ice cream shop.

Maggie got the hugest cone she's ever seen, absolutely covered in chocolate sprinkles.





Kate had a more child-sized bowl of rainbow sherbet, no sprinkles thank you very much.







By the time we were done there, it was past the girls' bedtime and they were totally sugared up, so it quickly went from fun to crazy town. It was totally worth it.

On Sunday, Mike's parents came over and brought us homemade soup for lunch - so nice! Then Mike and the girls made me a cake while I went to the mall all by myself and did a little shopping.



Devil's food with buttercream frosting - and pink and purple sprinkles! My favorite.





I couldn't ask for a nicer way to celebrate getting old!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Mommy Fatigue

Confession time: after five years on the job, I am growing a bit weary of full time mommy patrol. In the past I have felt like I needed to do this and was happy doing it and fulfilled. I have been surprised by the fierceness of my desire to spend all my time with my kids. Elaborate art projects and sing-song voices have never been my cup of tea. I did not see this as part of my personality or part of my future at all prior to Maggie. And yet, I have wanted so much for my girls and have been willing to put myself on the front line to make it happen for them.

However, I think I drew satisfaction from the managing of their care, not their entertainment. I liked rocking them to sleep and being responsible for their eating habits and watching them grow. Serious persuits. I don't think the craftiness or the play time or The Wheels on the Bus ever really came naturally to me. And now that the girls are getting older, as their physical needs are lessening and their imaginary play is growing more elaborate, my sense of accomplishment and feelings of being a good fit for this job are sliding away.

I'm resistant to doing laps around the house holding on to the end of a jump rope because Maggie is pretending to be a dog and I've been ordered to take her for a walk. I really don't want to spend time trying to find something for snack that resembles fish food because Kate is a baby dolphin whale today. I would rather stick two sharpened pencils in my ears than have to go to Sing-a-long Hour at the library. I'm just not cut out for playing dress up. I mean, I didn't really have much of a child-like demeanor when I was a child, and now I'm going grey.

***

This morning, Maggie is at preschool, and even though Kate mentioned wanting to go to the bookstore (to buy a stuffed animal fish to go with the one she already has, not books...???), I am writing at the computer while she watches Octonauts all by herself. I am not proud of this. But lately my mind wanders. There is so much fascinating stuff going on elsewhere, at least I can read about it online! Poor Kate, second-born, gets the tail end of my enthusiasm for being a stay-at-home-mom. I know I tried a lot harder with Maggie. I worried a lot more about Maggie being alone and needing my attention. Creating fun activities for toddlers seemed like a novel challenge then. I was blazing a trail. And now Kate, who may be less fearless but more social than Maggie, who may need more time at home with Mommy, has a hard time getting my attention.

Being highly analytic, I have been puzzling about what exactly is going on with me. Have I just reached an age that I don't particularly love? It happens. Some people (even women) don't get along well with babies but are wildly successful with teenagers. Some people adore cuddly newborns, despite the sleep deprivation, and then flounder with I-wanna-do-it-myself-ers. Am I simply caught at a pretty pink princess crossroads without a map for this sort of adventure?

Or perhaps I'm just in a funk. I recently went through a temporary (year-long) loss of blogging mojo (as you may have noticed), and now I'm bouncing back. Maybe I'm just battling with writer's mother's block which will work itself out eventually.

Maybe I just need to just hike up my big girl panties and reinvent the wheel. Maybe I need a new way of doing things to freshen up the day-to-day a bit. Renew my dedication to doing my best. That's certainly a more proactive approach than waiting for a revelation.

***

In the end, I packed up my bad attitude and took Kate to the library. We bummed around the kids' section with her stuffed fish and picked out some books and DVDs. On the way home, she declared that she would have pizza and peanut butter and jelly for lunch, so we made peanut butter pizzas - English muffins, toasted and spread with peanut butter, topped with yogurt raisins. Maggie was invited to a friend's house for a playdate after school, so it was just me and Kate again, hanging out. We watched some Ni Hao Kai-lan and read some library books. We ate a snack (just nutrigrain bars, not fish food). She helped me fold some laundry. And I listened to some long, rambling stories about cats and babies and I don't know what, but Kate was really excited about it. We laughed and cuddled on the couch and enjoyed ourselves.

I just need to remind myself to meet her half-way. With a little compromise, we can find our way through the next couple of years as she gains her independence and follows her sister off to school. And maybe I can eke out and hour for myself here and there to write and read and think. Wild Kratts is a pretty good show, actually. It won't melt her brain to watch an episode here and there while Mommy dreams about the future.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

That Mother-Daughter Bond

Today I sang a few choruses of "Funky Town" for Kate - complete with falsetto - and her jaw dropped as she stared at me in wonder. Then she (correctly) used the word funky at least ten times in conversation over the course of the day. It's her new favorite word.

Later she insisted that we listen to the Black Keys in the car.

I feel like we have a connection.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Why I Still Feed My Kids Whole Milk

Want to see something crazy? Here's a photo of Maggie from a couple of weeks ago when she pulled an outfit out of the baby doll clothes drawer and put it on herself!



These clothes are actually the first outfit we ever bought after I found out I was pregnant with Maggie. I've saved a few of the girls' infant outfits for sentimental reasons and for them to use as doll clothes. It's a newborn sized onesie and pants, but somehow Mags was able to squeeze into them! She's the skinniest of Minnies.



She looks like she's dressed to ride the Tour de France for some kind of duck-related team.

The amazing thing is that when she was born, she only weighed 4 lbs. 12 ozs., so she wasn't even big enough to wear newborn sized clothes. The duck outfit didn't fit her! Here she is the day we brought her home from the hospital. Even her socks were too big.



This next picture shows her at about a week old in a newborn sized hat and a preemie outfit that is STILL too big...



And here's a photo of her at FOUR MONTHS, standing on a fat book in her exersaucer... finally wearing the duck onesie.



I guess once a peanut, always a peanut. Five years later she's still our Maggie Mouse.