Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tea for Two...or More!

I realize the blog has been silent for a while. Typically, this means I'm working at night to make-up for multiple short days at the office. But last week? It meant I was busy doing really important stuff playing bridge with my parents. It's not often there are four adults who know the game in the house AND, perhaps more importantly, the housework all got done DURING THE DAY WHILE I WAS AT THE OFFICE! Seriously, I would totally hire my parents to care for my kids during the day. My dad runs the finest taxi service in Arlington and my mother never sits down. And I appreciate every bit of it because it meant that Ed and I could both get to work on the early side every day and get home on the early side and really enjoy the evenings.

Helen tried to coax my mom into sitting down for just a minute to enjoy a cup of tea with the teaset my parents gave her for her birthday. And oh, the tea parties we have been having around here. On Friday, Helen and I had the mother of all tea parties and I'm only sorry that there was no one here to photograph it because it was legendary. The fish crackers were divine and the water? According to Helen it was both "delicious an' refreshing".

Helen has had so much practice with her teapot, that she can almost realiably pour without overflowing the cup or spilling all over the table. The box the set came in looks wood, but is actually cardboard, so we've commissioned Connor and Ed to make a new one.

I'll let you know how that turns out.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Where did my baby go?

For three consecutive nights, Helen has opted to sleep in her 'big bed', rather than her crib. She insisted on moving the whole gang - mouse, baby, baby's sack, baby's bottle, sheep, five puppies, two tissues, book, and pillow to her new digs. Each night, she pulls her little skull cap on and goes to sleep. She wakes up earlier in the morning (7:15 or so), but truth be told, it's a better schedule for our house than needing to wake her at 7:45 each day so I can get to work.

I miss that baby already.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Happy 49 Months!

Dear Connor,

You're first month as a four year old was quite exciting. For starters, you visited the ocean. And has been documented often, you love the ocean. This time, friends came with us and that made it even better as you played on the beach. Esther and you dug quite a hole for Ruthie and Helen to play in one day. Possibly you loved going to the beach with Esther and Ruthie so much because they brought their mom, Ellen, and she brought every beach toy imaginable (and no one who knows Ellen is surprised to find this out). This trip, Daddy took you out in the big waves one day and that was fabulous, as far as I can tell from the reports. Me and Helen? We were eating Cheetos with Kellee.

While splashing around in the water, you made great use of the net Grandma gave you in Cape May. You got quite a haul from the ocean, and lucky for me, you came home with only a small stash. Life can be all about compromise, sometimes.

You are still the master of rules, Connor. You have approximately one million of them for everything you do. Sometimes, your dad and I pretty much have to tell you to just SHUT UP AND ENJOY LIFE. Seriously, Connor, sometimes a situation can be analyzed just a little bit too much.

You have shown a remarkable ability to go with the flow some days, though please do not think you are not a total pain in the ass at times. But occasionally, when someone cuts your waffle instead of serving it to you whole, you do not freak out. You did, however, freak out when your dad and I told you all of the boards in our backyard were being removed and you were all "but I LIKE the boardwalk" and we were all - it's harboring pests including mosquitoes and it's in the way. Sorry dude, you'll win a few of the landscaping battles, but every piece of wood in that yard will be gone before Spring.

You love your projects and just today you told me you thought Daddy might be a little bit better at making stuff than me. Fair enough, little dude. The two of you have been enjoying taking a crowbar to the trellis, dragging grapevines and weeds out to the front of the house to be hauled away, and making random projects with your "project kit".

I should have documented this last month, Connor, but I forgot, so I'm posting it here. This is a photo of you opening your birthday present from Mrs. Moss. She sent it home with me the last day of school and asked that I give it to you on your birthday. It was the first present I gave you on your birthday and you really did light up to know that your teacher had thought of you. Even though you've moved onto the 5-day Kindergarten class, you still see Mrs. Moss on the playground each morning since your class and the 3-day Kindergarten class all begin the day outside together.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Happy 23 Months, Helen!

Dear Helen,

It's official. We are counting the days to your birthday party. Lucky for you, that number is 7 because Grandma and Grandpa are coming so you get an early party. It's only right, since you never admit to being one these days anyway. If someone asks your age, you either tell them 2 or 4. Connor always corrects you, and you always get defensive about it.

You love people, Helen, and you make friends easily. I went to playgroup with you this month and you introduced me to every child in the room. When we swim at night, you LOVE it when the big girls play with you. Isabel loves catching you when you jump in from the side, though luckily I have you both convinced that it's best for me to "help" with the job. Matt would like to catch you, but you deem him unsafe and will NOT allow it.

Your bedtime buddies now include: 1 hat that you like to stuff your head into, 5 small stuffed puppies, your tiny baby, a bottle for you baby that is as big as your baby, your tiny baby's little knit sack - which is sometimes her carseat and sometimes her bed, two "tissues" - which are actually two little washcloths that Therese made for you when you were born, a sheep, and a book...sometimes two. When I leave you in bed, you typically hold the book and the baby - but perform a careful accounting to make sure everything else is present. When I greet you in the morning, you typically clutch your book in one hand and search for baby before you will leave your crib. You only get by with all these shenanigans because you tend to sleep about 12 hours from the time I drop you off until the time I wake you up in the morning (yes, I wake you up almost daily so I can feed you before heading into the office). On the weekends when I come to fetch you from your crib, you ALWAYS remark about my lack of pants, and insist that I go put "pants on" instead of just my t-shirt. The only morning this was not true was a day you and Connor both decided to coordinate sleeping in until about 8:00. I actually woke up and got dressed before either you called or your brother bounded into my room. What a novel thing - sleeping until I was ready to wake-up, rather than until someone woke me up. You two should plan this more often.

We finally found a book character with whom you can relate. A line in Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are" proclaims "And Max said 'No'" and as soon as we get to that part of the book, you start shouting in a very firm voice "And Max said 'No'" until the book either ends or your dad or I convince you to move on while the other continues reading. You often shout it while placing your hands firmly on your hips or pointing your little pointer finger at me for emphasis.

The climbing, the climbing. I can't get over the climbing. You can scale adult-sized chairs with a little determination and wiggle. You maneuver around playground equipment easily, but the stairs? You almost always insist I carry you up them at night.

You love your purses. You carry them everywhere. They often hinder your movements but you refuse to set them down. Regularly, you carry your baby in her bed and the bag she came in and another bag with a bottle for her. Today, you found two nice purses at the park and proceeded to walk around with them, and I am only grateful that it was a friend's purse you stole because it had actual items of value in it, unlike every other purse you have ever held, and it would have been rather embarrassing to have to visit you in jail for stealing at such a young age. It was obvious that you had added Nancy to the list of people who would make a good mom. And by that I mean someone who wears make-up, carries a purse, paints her nails, uses lotion and perfume, and puts clips in her hair. I meet none of these criteria. Your au pair meets all of these criteria, and many others meet at least a couple of these criteria (and yes, I'm thinking of you as well, Ellen).

And speaking of your baby, she is the fussiest baby in the world. You constantly tell me "baby cryin'" and then you give her a bottle which almost always pacifies her. If you don't have her bottle, you will occasionally nurse her, but usually you ask me to do this for you. And then you stick her head in your mouth, which I would think would upset her, but she doesn't seem to mind.

We went to the beach and though you never quite got to sharing Connor's love for everything about the beach, you did find something you loved. Kellee and her Cheetos. And Kellee and her cookies. And oh boy, when you see Kellee coming, you are delighted to sit right by her at the beach because it is obvious that she has this beach-going figured out.

I see you and Connor playing often and I love it. I hear you and Connor fighting too. I'm not so in love with that.

You're back to calling me Mommy sometimes and Elaine sometimes, but recently, you added "Miss Mommy", I guess for those very formal times we share.


Friday, September 11, 2009

The first installment of Helenspeak

My home office is next to the stairs leading to Connor and Helen's bedrooms. Typically, there is a gate that blocks these stairs that Connor can open and close, but presents a small barrier to Helen. Imagine her excitement when she realized the gate had been left open.

Connor, Connor, come quick! Gate open! Go upstairs with Helly.

Yay, Helen. I'm going to win!

No Connor win. Helly goin' to win. Helly goin' stairs. Fast, fast.

(after Connor was at the top of the stairs and Helen was probably up about two of the stairs, Helen switched courses)

Kathy, get Helly a bottle! Bottle time. Helly push da button on de micwave.

Lunch Conversation

At our house, there are two basic rules that surround meals: Helen eats everything; Connor eats nothing. Which is why it was particularly surprising to overhear this from Connor while he ate his lunch.

Helen, just try the potatoes. They're really not that bad. Really, they aren't.

Which I take as high praise for the lunch Ed put together for the little people last night.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thank you, Captain Barry

In 1995, I set off to DC to realize a dream of living in a big city. I had an internship at a government agency that was unremarkable, and a jerk of a boss. That jerk of a boss, however, had a vacation home in Chincoteague, Virginia. And for reasons unknown to me, he allowed the intern I worked with and me to use that beach house for the weekend. Like the college students we were, we crammed way too many people in the house, partied all weekend, and had a great time. A small subset of that original group has been going for the past 14 years. I think I missed a year during grad school, the year I was about to give birth to Helen, and last year when I couldn't fathom sticking two unreliable car riders into a backseat for at least 3.5 hours.

Early on, we happened upon Captain Barry's Backbay Cruises and that has become a quintessential element to our annual outing. Captain Barry might not know it, but he is definitely Connor's BFF. Not only did he allow Connor to carry a trap with some little sea creatures in it

he let Connor be the big man showing off the fish to Helen.

Later in the cruise, he tapped into Connor's very favorite pastime ever - collecting stuff. It wasn't long before Connor was requesting a second baggie and I am oh so thankful that the request was lost amidst other excitement.

Helen even got into this portion of the trip, though she was less excited in general about leaving land.

Captain Barry also took us to go clamming for those big chowder clams and Connor may just have found more than anyone. In order to get them, you walk around in the muddy shallow water until you feel something hard with your feet. Then you reach into the murky water, and hopefully pull up a clam. Ed turned our booty into a most fabulous chowder the following night.

This cruise played some part in Connor's request to live at the beach.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Brewers in Training

With our almost annual Oktoberfest celebration fast approaching, Ed decided to let the next generation of would-be Grateful Ed brewers in on his secrets.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Love at First Sight

We spent Labor Day in Chincoteague, VA. On our last night in town, we headed out to Mr. Whippy's Ice Cream Parlour.

Helen was pleased.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009