Sunday, February 24, 2013

Brothers.

Whenever I pictured myself as a mother, I envisioned daughters. Of course I thought about dressing them up in pink, ruffly, girly clothes. But, most importantly, I dreamed my daughters would have built-in best friends. Sisters. I have two sisters who I love and treasure more than anything, and that is what I have always wanted for my daughters.

Except....I got boys.

The thing I've been realizing lately is that brothers are just as neat as sisters. They are also built-in best friends. I've enjoyed watching my sons' relationship bud and grow into something they will most definitely love and treasure, just the same as I do with my sisters.

Spencer and Ashton are like any typical siblings. They fight over silly things. They demand equal, if not more, attention. They hug and kiss. They play together. They love and admire each other. And Big Brother protects Little Brother. This last one slays my mommy heart.

This past week I've taken stock of a lot of things in my life due to some very personal reasons, and I couldn't help but find solace in my children's companionship. Sisters or brothers, they're all the same. They're family. Built-in best friends.

Here are some moments from my boys' week:






I recycled an old wipes container and lids for Ashton to play with.

Projects: painting and coloring.


We spent our Saturday night at a chaotic mall play area, where we witnessed Spencer protecting his little brother from all the rowdy kids. At one point Spencer lost track of Ashton, and he turned and spun in all directions in a panic trying to find him. Now that's taking his role as Big Brother very seriously. We never even told him to watch Ashton. We simply said to go play and have fun.
Poor Nina.

The neighborhood kids played outside Friday after a big snowfall. Dave was in charge of taking pictures. This is what I got. He's a man of a few pictures, obviously. I'll have to paint the picture for you. A big snow mountain, lots of kids, sleds, snowball fights, snow mobiles, etc. I watched from my window with a huge grin plastered on my face. It reminded me of my own childhood.

I'll leave you with a conversation we had in our van the other day:

Spenc: I wanna be a girl. 
Me: Well, go ask God. 
Spenc: No, don't say that. 
Me: God is the one who gave you a penis. 
Spenc: No, he didn't put it on. 
Me: Who did then?
Spenc: Nobody. It's just there. 
Dave: Want to go buy a dress?
Spenc: No, I'm a boy! I joked you!

All of this because I said I like Pink, the singer, and Spenc said he liked pink, too, meaning the "girl" color.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Friends are forever.

Lets rewind time about a decade. Now meet Angie, a younger, more carefree version of myself. Still in college, single, no kids, working part time at a grocery store deli. Now meet Ann, a fellow employee at the grocery store. Angie and Ann like to spend a significant amount of time frequenting college bars, like most young, carefree 20-somethings do. Now meet Tara, girlfriend to the cousin of my coworker. She also likes to patronize college bars.
Check out the date on this photo: 2003. Apparently, Ann and I rang in 2003 in style.


Now fast forward almost a decade, but not quite. We are in the distant past when the young, carefree girls are settling down and spending their time somewhere other than bars; thus, spending less time socializing with each other.  This older but still relatively carefree Angie starts a new job at a phone company where Tara happens to work. They start socializing again.
At the "lake house" last summer. (Tara was super pregnant, as one of us usually is.)


Angie, Ann and Tara become pregnant around the same time, leading them down the same life path at the same time. Emails soliciting support regarding sleepless nights, breast feeding, colic, you name it, instigate this new friendship, bonding these once carefree girls together.

Now we are back to the present day, a few more babies between them, and these girls are more than friends. They're family.


****

That was the condensed version of how three friends morphed into surrogate sisters. We email each other daily about such mundane things most ordinary people would yawn and tune out, but if I go a few days without finding out what Tara ate for supper or what time Ann went to bed, I start going through friend withdrawal. We might not be able to see each other on a weekly basis, yet we know almost every little detail of each others lives. I value their friendship so much that I wanted to do something special for them.
Celebrating Tara's 32nd birthday with some jello shots.

Back in November when I was trying to think of what to get Ann for her birthday I discovered the most perfect thing, but it was scheduled in February. Since Tara's birthday is in January, I decided I should celebrate both of their days simultaneously and take the opportunity to turn it into a big mysterious surprise. I had to approve the date with them so they could block that date on their calendars, and I have been teasing them with the secret ever since. Isn't the suspense just killing you?

Saturday we ate dinner at a Cajun restaurant, where I gave them each a basket full of goodies. One item was wrapped in paper with a handwritten instruction to open last. This gift would reveal the big surprise. Both girls squealed when they opened it and discovered what they each had suspected: Beauty and the Beast tickets. After eating our meal (and a quick pit stop at my van for a pumping session, since one of us is always either pregnant or nursing) we took our seats for the play. 
Goodies include card with a sappy, heartfelt notes, wine, chocolate, candy, handmade scarves and tickets to Beauty and the Beast.

A few hours later we were back home in our houses with our sleeping families, and I couldn't help but to feel grateful for such great people in my life. Living so far away from my family, it has been a necessity for me to carve out a close-knit group of friends that act as my family away from home. Thank you, Ann and Tara. I love you!
At Beauty and the Beast.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Hearts

I do not typically get into Valentine's Day. I find it a bit silly. But I'm all for any excuse to make an ordinary day extraordinary for my kids. And who doesn't love a pink explosion and candy and cookies and an extra reminder to love and appreciate. And hugs and kisses. You can't forget the hugs and kisses part of Valentine's Day. That's my favorite part.
This year Spencer actually has friends aside from the ones we've introduced him to from our own circle of friends. He has his preschool friends. The names I hear the most are Trenton and Claire. Although he didn't quite understand the concept of Valentines Day, he did get excited at the idea of giving his new friends candy and cards (and, of course, receiving some, too). We started working on our homemade Valentines last week because I had a feeling it'd become a drawn-out process. In all honesty, I ended up doing 85 percent of the work. I'll have to rethink what kind of Valentines we make in the future. 

Since Spencer's favorite movie right now is Cars 2, and he loves Finn and (especially his crush) Holly, who are spies, I decided to somehow include that into his Valentines. We first colored with white crayons on white paper, so the picture was virtually invisible. Spencer did not enjoy this and kept asking for some different colored crayons. He was having trouble seeing the big picture, even though I explained several times that we were making secret spy pictures for his friends. 

After I cut out and glued a bazillion hearts, I punched holes along the border of the hearts. Then Spencer threaded yarn through the holes. Well, he made it halfway through one heart and decided he'd rather ride his bike, so I ended up doing the rest of the bazillion. I attached a note that said, "Paint to reveal secret picture." The white crayon will show up once painted over. Since we also handed these cards out to friends outside of preschool, I added Ashton's name to a bunch, too.

Valentine's morning Spencer burst into his little brother's room and yelled, "Happy Valentine's Day!" over and over. He was very excited to begin the day of love. At preschool he exchanged cards and then impatiently asked me over and over at home if he could open them all. Being the mean mom that I am, I made him wait so he didn't fill his little belly full of candy and miss out on our very special lunch--pink heart-shaped chocolate chip pancakes.
Spencer on a sugar high (and juice mustache) after his party at preschool.


Finally opening his gifts from friends. He made us the gift on the right.
I had a whole day planned with fun Valentine's activities, but the boys napped too long. We were able to make cookies and sort of play a game while I made supper. The rest will have to wait for another day, I guess.

The goal is to roll balls onto a paper full of hearts.

This week the boys also made their daddy a Valentine's Day card. I was proud of the fact that I came up with the idea all on my own, no help from Pinterest! 
I drew a heart with a road going through it. The boys painted using cars as paintbrushes. The card says, "The Road to My Heart."

Once Dave was home from work, we opened our gifts from each other. The boys got some candy and books. Dave got me the cute little puppy in the below picture. Spencer picked out a card for me that said I was a great dad and would not be persuaded to get one specifically for moms instead.

Aside from all the holiday festivities, we also had Ashton's chiropractor appointment this week. We drive 45 minutes out of our way just because we love Dr. Amy, a chiropractor I discovered when I did a google search back in Spencer's colicky days. Sure, we could have settled on someone local and probably received adequate care. But as a new mom a little reluctant to introduce her itty bitty baby to an intimidating new experience, I wanted the very best: someone who specialized in infant and child chiropractic care, and a fellow mother. Dr. Amy lived up to my expectations, and we've been using her since. (And Spenc gets a huge kick out of the fact that she has the same name as his grandma.)
After a long day at the chiropractor and running errands, the boys enjoyed a snack before we headed home.

Ashton's appointment went well. He's very much out of alignment and has inflamed lymph nodes in his neck that I need to massage out. Dr. Amy wants to work on boosting his immune system, so it can actually fight off all these illnesses that keep bringing him down. She suggested we give him natural supplements:  fish oil, probiotics, and garlic drops for his ears. This was a spendy concoction of supplements, so hopefully they work their voodoo magic and help my baby from getting sick so often. We will visit Dr. Amy again in a few weeks for another adjustment.



Here are some random moments from our week:


Hallway makeover. I wrapped a wooden M in yarn and hung a clearance mirror from Target. The other two feet pictures were already there.


We were able to enjoy some time outside since the weather was a bit warmer.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The sickies that almost cancelled everything, and the snow that drove us away.

Weeks ago we planned a visit with my sister-in-law and her family. And, as luck would have it, issues arose that threatened our trip and ultimately sent us packing early. But let's back up to the beginning of the week......

Monday started like any typical day. We had friends over for a play date. The house looked like a tornado zoomed through and upchucked every toy. Then we sang, cajoled and urged the kids to help us restore order to the house.


Monday night is when it all started. Ashton wasn't acting like his normally boisterous self at Evening Song, and he felt abnormally warm. So began yet another round of the sickies, a regular occurrence in this poor boy's life as of late.

Tuesday and Wednesday we holed up inside, consoling a very crabby and clingy baby. I performed most tasks one-handed while holding a 20 pound kid in the other. You can just about imagine the state of my house then, I'm sure. By Thursday the stubborn fever and consistent case of the crabbies won. We made yet another trip to Urgent Care. Another ear infection. Only one ear this time. Another round of meds. Here we go again. I'm thinking a change in doctors is in order since we have to wait weeks, even months, to get an appointment. Thus the frequent trips to Urgent Care instead. I'd prefer a consistent relationship with one doctor examining my perpetually sick child. Upon the suggestion of a friend, I even scheduled an appointment with a chiropractor. We're not virgins in chiropractic care for children. In fact, we already have a specialist we love and adore. But it'll be the first time we attempt alleviating sickness with anyone other than a medical doctor. (Our other chiropractic visits were in desperation to cure colic in baby #1 and then to prevent it in baby #2.)
By Saturday the meds had worked their magic and returned my happy baby. We hip-hip-hoorayed that the sickies didn't interfere with our family visit after all. Cousin Samantha, who was also quite sick during the week, recovered just in time as well. So we packed up the truck and set off to Aunt Katie's house, as planned. We spent the day savoring our time with family that lives much too far away. By night time we were definitely ready for the peacefulness of bedtime...buuuuut...we had to wait a bit longer for the quiet to set in since the three-year-old cousins just couldn't quite handle the excitement of a sleepover in the same room. After many attempts at putting the boys back to bed (Hunter in his bed and Spencer on the floor on an air mattress), we finally had to separate them. Going to sleep is hard work when you have a roommate to play with! Once all the children were finally asleep, we adults enjoyed an adult meal with adult conversation (and, yes, adult beverages that may or may not have been poured out of a box).
Kids' meal.

Cousin love:  showing off their big muscles and hugging.

Our naive attempts at bunking the boys together, only later to move Spenc to Samantha's room.


Then came Sunday...and the snow that sent us packing. Literally. We had grand, naive, romantic plans of a lazy morning with cinnamon rolls for breakfast and then we'd shuffle off to Sunday School and church. We got as far as the cinnamon rolls before the reality of the weather forecast scooted us out the door sooner than intended. After traveling less than an hour, we realized we needed to hunker down somewhere until the storm passed. (We just happened to discover this near an outlet mall where the Coach store was having a big ol' sale, so of course it was only natural to take advantage since some higher power lead us right there anyway. Right? After all, Dave still owed me a birthday present from last August. It was overdue. Thank you, bad weather!) So one super duper discounted Coach purse (and wristlet) later, we ended up at our good friends' house, who so generously opened their home to us for the better part of their day.
Feeding Lil Brother at a food pit stop on our long journey home.

Once the storm let up, we hopped back into the truck and endured the longest trip ever. Thank God for portable DVD players (except when the battery dies....a half an hour away from home, and you have to hear over and over and over how your son wants to watch Bob the Builder).

Sickies and bad weather aside, it was a good trip. Not only did we get to spend time with family, we had an unplanned visit with friends (and we can't forget the fateful trip to the Couch outlet).


**I just need to quickly plug my sister-in-law's new blog. She's a crochet-aholic, and takes custom orders. Check it out here.**



This week's randomness:
Spencer has grown quite fond of his independent lessons. He's especially good at making his way around the perimeter of the pool by hanging onto the ledge and making very loud monkey noises. We're very proud he's perfected the monkey crawl, sound effects and all ;)

Chocolate pudding is the best medicine, right?
A rare happy moment in his week of crabbies.

Spencer takes great pleasure in watching any sort of truck outside our house. Garbage, recycling, mail, snow plow, etc.
Picnic kind of day.
A little puzzle time before preschool.

Konked out after a trip to Urgent Care.
Wait, maybe mommies are the best medicine.

Feeling better and lovin' Mommy's donut.



News on Baby and You Handmade:
My etsy shop has been open for a little over a week, and I find myself wading in a bunch of custom orders. This excites (and overwhelms) me! I'm a little surprised (and very flattered and humbled) that it has taken off so quickly. I just hope I can keep up and still manage to branch out. 

This week I focused on creating a new item for the shop:  baby booties!! My first attempt--however flawed--left me giddy with pride and excitement. I carried the tiny shoe around the house with me to admire and oooh and ahhh at it. Then I set to work ironing out the issues and figuring out how to make a larger size for older babies. These are not yet available for sale on my shop, yet I already have a few custom orders for them! Yay! Here is a sneak peak.

My beautiful god daughter, Evelyn, is the recipient of my boggled first attempt.
I must admit I felt quite proud at the post office shipping my first two real etsy orders this week!

If you're interested in more updates on my shop, follow me on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/BabyAndYouHandmade. And shop @ Baby and You Handmade. Thanks!