Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sissy's Pink and White Polka Dot/Teddy Bear Birthday Party

Her number two birthday shirt and tutu...a funny moment during the party - our friend Paul, when talking about the kids learning to talk, etc., asked, "How old is (Sissy) now?" hee, hee

That's my teddy bear Stuffy I've had since I was little.
Saylor pretended she understood everything Sissy was jabbering, as they ate their teddy bear shaped sandwiches.

Lori let me borrow their polka dot bib for the party because I didn't want to use one of our ratty, mismatched ones. She apparently liked it so much she did not want to take it off.

Mr. Teddy Bear even came to the party...too bad Daddy stepped out and missed all the excitement.
Dash and Mr. Teddy Bear...Where is the birthday girl?

...she's at a safe distance away from the bear.

Bear hug!
After the party, Tornado and Sissy, with their nighttime snacks, tried out Sissy's new table set. They are drawing pictures like the ones from her new Ook the Book. We want to say a special thank you to Papaw for staining the table and benches for us this week! Thank you!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

First Day of School Field Trip

We began a new adventure this week with Sissy and Dash starting preschool. Dash went to a different preschool last year, but he brought home so many germs we decided to keep him home this year. I felt like we were sick all the time last year. I think it paid off because somehow, up until a few weeks ago, we managed to escape any big illnesses around here. We thought it would be a good time for them to start going, though, to give me some more time to spend with Tornado, one on one. I think they had a fun day. Dash's teacher did report one "occurrence," and I guess we should feel fortunate there was only one. Sissy's teacher said she did great all day and played really well with the other kids. They have really small classes, and I think it is going to be a good thing for them.

After we picked up the little ones from school, we decided to take a trip to the fairly new Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center, which is located downtown. I first need to say - I parallel parked. Yes, I did. I never parallel park. I don't even bother trying because I can never do it and end up embarrassing myself in front of other drivers who are waiting on me to get out of the way. I just fork out the cash for paid parking. Not this time, nope. Big changes might be coming to our lives. After the exciting adventure of my parking job, in which my children congratulated me since I was making such a fuss over myself and my amazing skills, we enjoyed perusing the Clinton Museum Shop. Then we made our way down the path to the nature center.

You know, the kids just love going to museums in general. It probably wouldn't matter how boring or exciting it REALLY ended up being; they just love running (well, as polite of an indoor run as I can muster out of them) from one exhibit to the next - "Look!" "What's this?" etc. They loved watching the Arkansas River native fish in the long aquarium. Sissy tried leaning over the aquarium wall, hiking up one leg, and looking at me expectantly, like "Can I get in there?" We also loved the amazing number of birds outside one window. They had so many bird feeders set up in the bird viewing area that had attracted quite a crowd of feathered friends. Other than that, for me personally, the visit was full of cringe-inducing moments. The facilities are new and nice, and I'm SO all in favor of any progress toward developing the downtown area. They've done a great job; the place just isn't for me. It's like taking a trip to Bass Pro Shop - ugh. All the stuffed animals, the wall of fishing lures, the "trapping" room full of animal skins, and the 13 minute video highlighting dead animals (okay, it was about the history of wildlife conservation in the state - spinning it in a way that shows how positive the commission has been in protecting animals because you can now only KILL and show off your dead animal if you have a license.) I'm clearly biased, and I REALLY DO understand and appreciate the many positive things that wildlife conservationists work hard for in our state (I had even thought about doing that for a career at some points), but "hunting and fishing" is just not my thing.
We went for a long walk outside and along the River for quite a ways. That's the Clinton Presidential Library in the background. The boys ran and ran, stopping and marveling at everything from bugs to trash that seemed like treasure to them. How I love life through their eyes. Sissy ran as fast as her little legs would carry her. It was such a beautiful day outside.

The rivermarket area really is a great place for the kids to stretch their legs and play. They've really done a lot of work in the past year(s). Tornado loved looking at all the tiles in the mural under the overpass. Something funny I remember Tornado saying while we were out and about...I said to them at one point, "I love having three kids!" Tornado said, "And I can say, "Coming up next on...what would I say - Mom...or Jenny and Ryan Plus 3!" (referring to how the kids on that show say, "Coming up next on John and Kate Plus 8." haha.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

our table Tornado and I decorated; all of our wonderful Valentine's Day cards on display

This has been a very long week. I felt close to breaking down at times. Yesterday, a wailing sort of sound actually escaped from my mouth at one point. I felt like I could just fall into a heap on the floor and cry and wail. I didn't. Just sayin' I could have. Ryan has had to work late every night for two weeks, at least. Dash became sick around Tuesday, and he's just getting over it. I slept with him, in his twin bed, three nights in a row. I think I woke up every hour. He threw up for a couple of days, and I was certain that stomach bug was going to infect us all. However, I took him to the doctor on Thursday, and he was diagnosed with a throat viral infection. Add in a few other appointments and errands I had to take care of this week...this morning, there were not many clean dishes left in the house. There was barely an inch of counter space left uncovered. If you've seen my house, you know there's a LOT of counter space. (Ryan and I worked together on the house this morning and made a pretty good dent.) I'm not really sure what happened this week (and, oh yeah, for three days, I have had a terrible crick in my neck and back; I've been walking all hunched over and doing the whole body turn)...I say all of that to say: IT WAS TIME TO PARTY.
heart-shaped veggie pizzas
That's Sissy telling me that it was hot. She was LOVIN' the raspberry lemon-aid.
chocolate fondue for dessert
Grandma saved the day. I hadn't even had time to think about any special activities for the day. She had mailed us all of the red heart containers that are sitting on the table above. Inside each container was a joke written on a tiny strip of paper. The answer was written on another tiny piece of paper inside. We opened them up and read them throughout our meal. The kids loved it! Thanks, Grandma!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sissy!

Two years ago today, at 8:11 a.m., my beautiful baby girl made her appearance into the world. She had a head full of dark hair and blue eyes, which she continues to hang onto today. There was quite a commotion in the operating room that day, as the doctor wasn't having the easiest time pulling her out. She was really big, and they were tugging and pulling. AAAAHHHH. It pains me, to this day, to think about it. I can't even believe the child above came out of me, especially looking at how small my c-section scar is. As I willed myself not to hyperventilate, I could hear all the comments about what a big baby she was. In fact, when they wheeled me into the recovery room, several people followed to see if she was indeed 10 pounds, like they guessed. She was close...9 lb. 7 oz. At least I had one explanation to how enormous I was.
I was happy beyond belief to have a little girl to add to my testosterone-filled home. They told me at my 20 week ultrasound to expect a girl, but I truly didn't allow myself to believe it until she came out. I had heard too many stories of delivery surprises. One of the things I hate about having c-sections, you don't get to see the baby right away. I remember asking Ryan, "Is it a girl?" Apparently, my ultrasound lady had "never been wrong." The morning of my surgery, the nurse asked what we were having, and I said, "It's supposed to be a girl. We'll see. They say she's never been wrong." The nurse asked who had performed the ultrasound, and she confirmed, "Yeah, you're having a girl then. She's never been wrong." I think I had just made myself believe I wouldn't be able to have a girl so there would be no disappointment. And since my husband is one of three boys, I just assumed he wouldn't be able to produce a girl, ha. :) To be clear, there would have been NOTHING wrong with having another little Tornado or Dash. I'd have a house full of boys if I could. I just really wanted a girl, too.This is my beautiful, wonderful Dr. Simmons, holding Sissy at my 6 week check-up.
It was definitely as hard as I thought it would be, having three kids. Dash was only 23 months old when Sissy was born. He was still in the mode of needing to be held when he woke up, etc. It was a little overwhelming. Tornado was a great help, and I loved, loved seeing them dote over their new sister.
This is the same face she uses frequently today. We are preparing for TIMES ahead. She pokes out that lip when she doesn't get her way. She knows how to put it on. If she's the last baby, I'm sure that being the only girl AND the baby will be used to her advantage.

How fun to add a little more pink into my life.
four or five months old, at Buffalo River
Ryan, who had thought he would have been just fine having all boys, recently said to Sissy, "You know, your Mom was right. We really needed a little girl in the family.
First Birthday spring 2008

19 months old , above

At age two, Sis continues to be happiest when she's being held and made over. She's starting to branch out a little more with new people, which is nice. She continues to love pretty dresses and shoes. Today her Grandma sent her, among other things, a pair of new shoes, which she promptly put on and did not take off until I made her, at the end of the day. She even took her nap wearing them. She makes us laugh every single day, whether she's dancing or attempting new words to say. She, mimicking me, likes to use her fist as a microphone and pretend she's singing. I just asked Ryan what he wanted to say about her, and he said, "She's her mother." Whatever. :) She's also so quick to apologize and want to "make up." She loves to eat fresh and frozen fruit and berries. She loves to eat chocolate chips, raisins, avocadoes, refried beans and baby carrots. I'm so grateful for our little surprise and further satisfied that, as always, God knows what's best and plans accordingly. We are going against everything I believe in (her birthday is TODAY; I hate not celebrating today) and having her party next week. She received so many cards and gifts in the mail today, though. She LOVED it. She ripped into those envelopes and pulled them to her chest happily! She loved her clothes from Grandma and Grandpa Lay and her toys and books from Aunt Patsy and Uncle Chuck. THANK YOU, everyone!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Weekend in Review

What we like to call...Fondue Friday. This is one of our favorite meals. I make one of the fondue recipes from my The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook by Jo Stepaniak. The "cheese" fondue is made of many ingredients including tahini, flour, and nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is probably not something that sounds yummy nor is it necessarily yummy if eaten plain, but we love using it to make different kinds of cheese. We dipped steamed Brussels sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, garlic toast pieces, and Tofurky kielbasas (and not pictured, cherry tomatoes). Okay, spellcheck just taught me something. Who knew it was "Brussels sprouts"? All this time, I have thought it was "brussel sprouts." Weird. That's impossible to pronounce.
We set it all out on a sheet in the living room. Fondue, for us, is best eaten while sitting on the floor. It would be nice if we had a coffee table. I'm still lobbying Ryan for one. He likes the floor space open, and I'd really like to have something to put my feet on when I'm sitting on the couch.
Earlier Friday we had journeyed over to our local jump/play place. This was actually our second visit of the week. We had never been before, and I used it as a bribe. Yes, I sometimes bribe my children. I'm sorry. I do.
It would be really helpful if I could start working out during the day, instead of at night which takes away from family time. Plus, for some reason, I've been hitting a wall about 7:00, and I can't make myself head to the gym as spryly at night as I've been used to. Anyway, it is necessary, therefore, to leave my kids in the fitness center daycare. Tornado is just fine with this. I actually used to work at this particular place when he was 3 years old, and he went to work with me everyday, which he remembers. That was a great situation. It was about a mile from our house, too, and I would push him (quickly, as we were usually running late) in the stroller to work every morning at 8:00. We didn't have a second car at the time, which is why I took the job in the first place. After a couple of months we were able to put a downpayment on a car. you enjoy how distracted I get when I write...what was I talking about...yes, so I knew it would be a challenge to leave Sissy and Dash in the daycare. Sissy, I assumed, would just cry, and Dash...I couldn't even imagine as all attempts have failed in the past. I looked around for the extra childproof door knob to take with us, but I haven't found it yet. He has tried to run out of the room before. My beautiful, precious 3 year old son can be infuriating sometimes. Every single time we leave him in the church nursery (for which the other childproof door knob was bought), he throws a FIT. Even though he knows to expect this every week, no matter how much truth and love we speak to him beforehand, no matter what disciplinary action is taken afterward...and he loves his Carrie and Bo, who watch over him. But he continues to do it.
So...I promised the kids that if they did a good job at the daycare we would go to the JumpZone. And it worked. I was a little nervous at first because Dash wouldn't go in. I let him sit with me while I talked to the trainer for a few minutes, but then he went on in the room on his own. Sometimes he just needs a few minutes.
They loved the JumpZone, and I had a lot of fun myself. The slides were really fast. We had the place pretty much to ourselves most of the time, and we could just run amok. Two little boys came later, and those two followed my kids around everywhere. One of the little boys was Sissy's age, and he kept pushing her. She was not having it, and I was proud of her. She would give him these angry "Don't mess with me" faces and push him back. I explained to her that sometimes that's just how guys are, and I was counting on her, in life, to continue not putting up with it.
A team of housekeepers came to our home on Wednesday to help me get caught up on chores. That was part of the reason we took another trip away from home. Just more time that the house stays clean. We were gone almost all day on Thursday, too. The boys needed haircuts, and my friend had pointed out a new place, Pigtails & Crewcuts. Haircuts have been such a point of stress in our lives. I used to cut Tornado's hair all the time, and I think I always did a decent job. However, that was one or two children ago. I could sit him in front of a video and take my time. It doesn't work out that way now. Now that he is 8, he has done much better at willingly sitting at the beauty shop, but it is never without a little trepidation on my part. Dash is not predictable either, and it makes me all tight inside wondering how he is going to react each time. However, this new place, totally catered to kids, seems to be the answer to our problems. They both sat very still in their automobile seats, watching "Peter Pan." I even got my hair cut while they happily played. That was extremely nice as I needed a little trim in the front. What was NOT extremely nice is watching about three inches from the back of my hair fall to the floor. I almost cried. I almost cried all day long. I told her I just wanted the ends cut. I still haven't fully recovered from my loss.
After we got our hair cuts, we ate lunch at Panera Bread, then went on to the library and Whole Foods. I was proud of Tornado at the library. He had an idea for a certain type of book he wanted (Martha Speaks), and he looked it up on the computer and found it on the shelf. Because we homeschool, I have to remind myself sometimes to push him to be a little more independent.

On Friday at the JumpZone, we even ran into one of Tornado's favorite friends. It really wasn't so much of a coincidence. He was there for the home school field trip...that I had forgotten about. Had forgotten about even with the email his mother sent that week, asking me if I was going...really, where has my short term memory gone...I forget things ALL the time. At least Tornado and his friend got to run around and enjoy playing together. It was a little silly I had to pay full price. I asked if there was a discounted field trip admission, and she said that was over at 11:30. It was 11:32. Good grief.
Saturday we took a 3 hour road trip to visit my brother and his family, plus my Grandpa and Winnie. There were a few other reasons for the trip, but those are not to be disclosed at this time. My kids don't get to see Grandpa and Winnie often, and it takes a bit of time each visit for the two little ones to warm up to them. Sissy finally left my leg after a little while. He gave her a silver dollar for her upcoming birthday, which is what broke the ice. That is what he gives all the grandkids on their birthdays, which is a fun idea. She was very happy to carry around that silver dollar. She was showing Grandpa her tiny pig light. He showed her his big flashlight.
This isn't a good quality photo, but I like it because Sissy was being ornery and teasing Grandpa, which Grandpa enjoyed. She'd pretend to give him the silver dollar, then take off running away from him, giggling. I love to see my kids interacting with my Grandpa...because he's 88...and I want to cherish every second.
Here is Sissy showing Winnie her silver dollar.
Dash was actually asleep for the entire visit. He woke up just long enough to screech crankily and refuse to say goodbye. That kid does not perform well when he is tired. We had a nice day, and I was proud of my husband for his spontaneity in taking a day trip. I was proud that he let me sleep on the way home, too. I just kind of fell over on my pillow halfway home, and the next thing I knew we were pulling into our neighborhood. My favorite way to fall the car. I wish I was little and someone would carry me in, straight to bed.