Monday, February 28, 2011

Hope is in the Air

The sun is out, the ice is melting, groceries have been bought, laundry has been folded, meltdowns have been curbed and dealt with. I am so thankful today for this typical Monday.

I apologize for my dramatic post yesterday. Yet again I needed an outlet and the blog seemed as good as any.

I've been trying to work out why this past week has been so difficult. Have Ainsley's antics REALLY been that bad or is it me, the weather? Really a combination of them all I'm sure. No matter how or why, it has been hard regardless and rather than dwell on it I'm trying to make today as good as I can.

I find I am mostly sad. I am sad that Ainsley is acting out, throwing tantrums about anything and everything. Whining and screaming and lashing out. Truthfully I am almost worried. She seems so unlike herself lately. Moments, periods even of sweetness and solace occur and then some minute setback sends her into a tailspin. I can only hope that this is the worst case of cabin fever EVER and this too shall pass.

We have utilized a play dough ball to bang and rip at in moments of frustration talked LOTS with Daniel and Henrietta (the Mr Rogers puppets) made sure to get as much vitamin D as possible and I guess that's all I can do. I know she is learning, learning to deal with frustrations and disappointments. At the same time I am learning how to stand firmly but gently and keep our lives as even keeled as I can.

Louise has been such a godsend in all of this (don't worry, I don't tell Ainsley that :o). She is at this perfect baby age. 6 months old, sitting up (with the occasional topple over teeter), cooing, babbling and laughing away. She distracts us all and brings us back down to earth, reminds me of what's important and the joys of parenting.

Part of our recent hardships is that Ainsley is getting so big. Not just tall and lanky (but that too) but she is such a little girl now. She has gotten so good as asking for "help please" and "Ainsley help. Ainsley do it" She wants to do EVERYTHING herself and gets very flustered when she can't. She has an opinion about style, not just hers but mine and Louise's too (somehow Ian escaped this...he must dress immaculately in her mind). She wants to change clothes (and underpants) 5 times a day and wears the same skirt ALL the time. She is learning that life isn't always easy and fair and I kind of hate that. I wish it was, at least for her and Louise.

I am excited and hopeful right now. I installed the lapbar on the Bob this weekend so we are ready for walks with snack and drinks. It is cold, but the snow has melted making trips to the park possible again.

The other night I took a meandering walk with Ainsley before bed to get those last stragglers of energy out and we had a blast. I let her lead, we held hands, looked both ways at the intersections, found errant Christmas decorations and lights, wandering cats and benches, puddles and ice patches galore. At the end she got tired and I carried my dumpling on my hip, her falling off rainboots in my hand. We nuzzled and talked, loved and laughed. I don't ever mean my rants and frustrations to overshadow the fact that I love Ainsley more than words can express. I just wish that every moment could be more like this.

In the air of hopefulness we have a potential babysitter coming over Wednesday afternoon. I am excited and terrified all at once. How bizarre to get to go out with Ian WITHOUT the girls. For all my complaining I miss them already. Odd how that works isn't it?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Life is the Best Birth Control

I am sitting here listening to Louise NOT nap (even though she's been up since 5 with her sister) trying to curb a meltdown.

Typically I clean and do laundry on Fridays, get the house, bills, mail, etc. ALL ready to go so that I can just enjoy the weekend with my family, lounge in jammies extra long, cook and eat good food and RELAX.

Not this week.

After the week we've had I was lucky to get dinner on the table let alone clean the house and organize this Friday. (If you count Ian ordering pizza as me getting dinner on the table) Despite the piles of laundry, dirty diapers, and general slovenly state of our home I got some much needed time off yesterday. I took Louise to run a few errands (got new shampoo, and a new FREE cell phone - Ainsley broke mine just as my contract was up...good girl) and when Ian got back from a morning out with Ainsley I went out to do a little birthday money shopping all on my own.

It was wonderful to get to try on lots of things, remind myself that I am a person, a woman, and not just a mom. AMAZING to fit into all my old sizes and not mind what I saw staring back at me in the mirror.

Coming back to reality at 4pm was a bit harsh, Ainsley still in an off mood, Louise desperately needing milk and a trash pit of a home. Ian and I ignored it one more night, hoping to wake up to motivation and energy this morning.

No such luck.

After Ainsley woke herself after wetting the bed at 5:18 all bets were off. It was just close enough to actual morning that she refused to go back to bed. In an effort to tame the beast and have a happy morning I chose to get up with her and snuggle while watching our morning episdoe of Mr Rogers. Then Louise woke up, then Ainsley whined, SCREAMED to snuggle mama snuggle. Then she wanted yogurt, then she spilled the yogurt, then she spit water in the yogurrt, then she had a time out, then she screamed more, then she asked to go to bed, then she screamed to come downstairs, then she woke up Ian, then Ian watched her as I tried to fold the piles and piles of laundry. Then Ainsley wrecked the piles trying on pants after pants and socks after socks.

This morning was a nightmare. just as I kept thinking it couldn't get any worse it did. Poor Louise is teething like a mad woman, relatively happy while doing so, just very restless and clearly in moderate pain. I have been tired before but I truly have never felt this exhausted. No amount of caffeine can help.

So now I sit here with one fussy baby NOT napping, eyes drooping down to my chin and an endless pile of STUFF to get done. I so desperately want this next week to be better, but I fear with a weekend like this we're only set up for failure.

This would be a good post to read in 6th grade Sex Ed on the birth control day. Don't you think?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Mom Guilt

My blog writing seems to be out of control lately (in frequency mostly). I attribute it to the long naps the girls are taking on these seemingly endless dreary indoor days, and the complete lack of contact with the outside world, namely other adults for me. This blog has really become my outlet. A way to connect with others, feel heard and get a little feedback when needed. Thanks for tolerating me and my long windedness this's to spring! For so many reasons.

As I was feeding Louise her breastmilk laced sweet potatoes at lunch today I was stricken by a wave of uncontrollable guilt. (As an aside I have discovered that the only way Louise will eat baby food is if I express a little milk in it for her...makes all the difference in the world and she can't get enough) Ainsley was happily "playin' in da sink splashes, don't you worry mama" while my back was turned. I suddenly felt a stream of warmish soapy water drench my head and neck. "Ainsley May!" "I a sorry mama, I a sorry!" I scooped her up hard and plunked her in the time out chair, set the timer for two minutes, and laughed out loud.

Oh Ainsley May. It's been a trying week, as we all know from my last post. But it really has been great. I feel like Ainsley and I keep reaching these new levels of our relationship. She wants me to put her to bed every night because we have our "thing". She snuggles down while I read her my choice book and we finish with her reading of "Dear Zoo". She'll run to me without request and lay a big kiss on my cheek "I love you mama". We tease and giggle with each other. Talk about "when you were a baby Ainsley May". Discuss our plans for the spring. How we are both SO antsy to get outdoors for more than 15 minutes. How we can't WAIT for Florida, the sun, the beach, the water, all that fun. We love each other, and it's not just that one way parent new baby love, it's mutual and it's amazing.

Louise too is emerging, slowly but surely from that new baby stage. She is SO docile and mellow, but lets her voice be heard (in adorable squeals, coos, ba's and da's and belly laughs, lots and lots of belly laughs). She grabs at our faces, clings to our arms, smiles proudly when she sits before teetering over with her toes in her mouth. Reaches and stretches for objects just out of reach rolling over and then back when the effort is too great. I am so thankful for my easy going gal (and hope that tooth breaks through soon so she can return to me at night :o).

Now for the guilt.

To make a long story short (and you probably already know this if you followed my blog for a while) we started Ainsley on organic formula at 6 months old. It was a devastatingly hard decision but it had to be done. For one, she had teeth and BIT me all the time. Pumping really didn't work for me (as she nursed ALL the time) so I never had a break and I desperately needed someone else to feed her, to be able to go out for more than an hour at a time, to not feel chained to my baby's mouth. It was all very dramatic and dire and I'll admit that after all was said and done, I regret it.

I pride myself on giving my children the best that I can, on putting my needs last on the list, like most parents. Breastfeeding was really hard with Ainsley for some reason, relatively traumatic at times. I hurt, I felt trapped, for a relatively immodest person I was surprised by how invasive it felt, especially in public. We traveled a lot with Ainsley as a baby and I'd hide away in rooms for discretion, missing out on so much, or so I felt.

Ainsley is proof that she is no worse for the wear. She LOVED the bottle and by 8 months was done with me completely. She is healthy and vibrant, rarely gets sick, and despite her slightness is a ball of energy and surprising strength. So why the guilt?

Personality maybe? I carry things with me for far too long. I still break down weekly about Louise's ordeal from birth. Like there is something I could have done differently to prevent my sweet baby from being poked and prodded for the first 4 days of her life. It is absolutely traumatizing for me on a very regular basis.

And now here I am with a very healthy 6 month old, unsure of our next step. To be "fair" to be "even" we should start her on formula. But I don't feel the need. Sure it may be more of a pain with our upcoming trip. Sure it would be nice to have a few feedings a day "off". But I don't NEED it like I did with Ainsley.

I feel a little stuck. I want to give our girls the best, but also the same. I am worried for some crazy reason that Ainsley will know, that I gave Louise "more" than I gave her. But did I really?

What Ainsley needed was independence from the get go. I was re-reading her baby book today and at 3 months I wrote (in not so many words) that she HATED being held, that she only wanted to be on her own, on her tummy, playing by herself, figuring it all out. Ainsley loved the bottle because she could control it, she could put it to her lips, guzzle and throw it when she was done. She would get so agitated nursing sometimes, biting and pulling to get it to come out faster.

Louise LOVES to be held and snuggled. She still just nurses for comfort sometimes. She takes her time, savoring our quiet nursing moments together. Even when she has a bottle she drinks slowly, methodically, pausing to make eye contact and grin. Nursing is so easy with Louise. Should I feel bad about that?

At any rate I don't think we'll be starting Louise on formula anytime soon. Perhaps we'll make it all the way to a year, like I had planned and hoped for with Ainsley. While I want them to have the same I understand that they are different girls, with different needs, and I'm different too. I was a different mom with Ainsley than I am with Louise now. I think Ainsley's forgiven me. My little pal knows I've always done my best.

A little bit of sister love caught on camera...

A little bit of Ainsley's crazy week caught on camera too...

::Louise mid roll, stopping for a pose::

::and a glance at that big sister of hers::

::pretty much sums up our week::

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Long, Dreary Week

Well as the title implies, it's been a LONG, DREARY week. Seriously, could the weather be any more gross outside? It's been hovering around freezing since the weekend, alternating between full out downpours, flurries and sleet. Getting outside has been next to impossible and with this being the last week of the month, thus our budget is just about spent, going out just to "browse" is kind of not an option (I have very little self control in most stores, plus browsing aimlessly with a toddler is a NIGHTMARE!)

Whether as a result of the weather or not Ainsley has been extra difficult this week. It all started on my birthday and has continued through yesterday. Everything is a battle, she won't listen to a word I say, whines constantly, throws little mini tantrums for no apparent reason. It's been out of control.

Ian has been wonderful, coming home and taking over with her right away, getting up with her every morning. I feel so awful but really I'm just done with her right now. I've needed to conserve my energy while Ian's home with her so that I can function and not completely melt down with her during the day. It's been SO hard. Argh.

To be fair today has been great, she's been so sweet and playful. I'll say "you know what?" and she'll say "I LOVE YOU!" with a big smile and a kiss. We spent an extra long time at Whole Foods this morning, she sat happily in the cart singing and chatting with me, letting me peruse the beauty isle much longer than I should have. We shared a zucchini muffin on the way home "more mama, BIG one please momma!" and she helped me make some apple baby food for Louise (she cuts the apples up with her pumpkin knife, measures the water and turns on the machine). When she got antsy I brought up her "tampabean" and she jumped happily away. She ate a good lunch (a half of a cream cheese and jam sandwich on fresh wheat bread and half a banana) and is now happily snoozing upstairs.

I keep reminding myself that the bad days make days like today extra amazing, but man, why does it have to be 4 bad days in a ROW!

I sure hope the sun decides to come out tomorrow!
(I guess my girls are a little bit of sunshine all by themselves)

Things Loved in February

A little early this month, but I had my 5 ready to go.

1. Three Sisters

And no, I'm talking about mine...(Although I love you all too). This "earth friendly" (=minimal packaging and processing) line of breakfast food is AMAZING. We got hooked on the cereal when it was on mega sale at whole foods and now it's a staple in our pantry. I eat it before bed most nights (as I've started having to eat more to keep up with Louise's ridiculous demand for milk...i'm starting to remember why we started supplementing Ainsley with formula at 6 months). We have also tried the instant oatmeal and it great too. I love the little packages and the fill line for water because I'm definitely one of those people who just adds whatever amount I'm feeling at the time and hopes it turns out. I highly recommend this stuff!

2. Earth Science

I know Ian in particular will be disappointed that I am not referring to an academic discipline but a new face care line I stumbled across at Whole Foods. I was actually on the look out for a vegan, GOOD, not crazy expensive face regimine after going to an Arbonne party at a friend's house and being impressed with the products but depressed at how much it cost. I'm sure it's not quite as good but I've used it for a week now and LOVE it. Plus my whole regimine costs $50 (very comparable to products at Target), not $200!!!

I feel like I've reached a point where I need to do more with my skin than wash it every other day in the shower. I'd purchased my first night cream about a month ago (Aveeno) and really haven't been impressed (and it cost the same as this new stuff!). The earth science line is all natural and vegan (except Beeswax in a few products which I'm not concerned about). It smells great and feels oh so nice.
For specifics: I purchased the A-D-E creamy cleanser, Almond-Aloe moisturizer, Abricot intensive night cream and Azulene Eye Treatment (for those lovely dark circles my adorable daughters have given me). I will most likely go back and get a toner as I learned at the Arbonne party that it's important to use but I'm happy with the results as is!

3. Patagonia Fleece(s)

I have been taking advantage of the end of winter sales and scored fleeces for both Louise and myself at less than 1/2 the cost. My foray into the Patagonia obsession started with a thin black fleece I found at our local consingment shop when we first moved here. I LOVED it, still so soft end comfy even after who knows how many people had worn it (and for how long!). When the zipper broke I was devestated. No way could I afford a new one. Same deal with Louise's fleece. I'd found a 6 month size at my favorite kids thrift store and both girls have been kept toasty warm it in, but we were approaching spring without a 12 month size for Louise and I was bumming that she'd grown out of it. Thankfully REI had AMAZING sales that I jumped all over. I got Louise's new fleece for $17 (originally $35) and mine for $65 (originally $139). I used birthday money for mine and Louise's came easily out of our household monthly budget. I know Louise will most likely grow out of hers before fall, but we have at least one more girl cousin on the way and I know mine will last me for years and years. I LOVE Patagonia fleeces!

P.S. We have also bought Colombia fleeces for the girls and they are equally amazing, just no hood which I like for those colder spring/fall days.

4. Rachel Ray Casseroles

Not the recipes, but the dishes...AMAZING! I got a full sized casserole dish a few years back from my sister for Christmas and that same amazing sister got me a set of 4 individual casserole dishes for my birthday this year. My mom evened out the set with two 20 oz casseroles. I LOVE these new sizes, especially for our little family of 2.5 eaters. It lets me make 1/2 recipes easily and what's more fun than eating out of your own casserole dish? Plus they're portion friendly at 10 oz each. Ian can eat the other half of Ainsley's and I can have my one, and we're all happy...until I scarf cereal later (see number 1).

5. The Kindle
I'd thought about writing a whole separate post for this, but I think a bullet in my "things loved" will suffice.
I got the kindle, rather unexpectedly, for Christmas. I have to say I was a bit reticent at first. I LOVE books. Their smell, the feel of them, worn pages after a good read...the whole shebang.

But now, I LOVE the kindle. Not only is it much more "green" then buying paperback after paperback (that will most likely spend the rest of its life on the shelf) but the print is much easier on my eyes than I thought it would be, and the kindle versions are typically much less expensive than a paperback. I can try a sample of a book before I buy it which is probably my favorite feature. I tried a sample for our next book club book and decided it was definitely not something I want to spend money on, so I'm on the waiting list at the library instead. On the flip side I started a sample of a book I LOVED and am now going to buy a hard copy rather than the kindle version so I can have it forever. AND since Ian has a kindle we can share ebooks, in theory...while our marriage is wonderful it is definitely not based on our similar interests in reading material :o) PLUS I am really excited to bring it to Florida with me in the place of the 2-3 hardbacks I usually bring with, SUCH a space saver!

In short, I'm a total Kindle convert.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It's Done!

Less than 24 hours after seeing an adorable, but WAY too expensive, skirt online for Ainsley and saying to myself "I could totally do that" it's finished!

It was a cotton reversible skirt with side pockets retailing for $52, even on sale at $17.99 (plus the $5.99 shipping) it was just too much. $25-ish dollars for a 1/4 yard of fabric and some elastic? "I could totally make that!"

::the ridiculously expensive and equally adorable culprit::

Plus, I already had some super cute fabric fresh from the store from when my mom was visiting and I was determined to teach myself to applique on tshirts (until I realized that my "vintage" machine doesn't do a zig zag stitch and I had to revamp my plan).

Ainsley helped me pick out which prints she wanted, I measured her waist for the elastic, called my mom for moral support (and to double check a few finer points) and went for it. After a surprisingly few number of seams ripped out and "aw man, I can't believe I did that!"s the basic skirt was done. After trying it on her this morning for the hem length and adding the pockets during naptime it was complete! If I do say so myself, it turned our pretty well.

::100% reversible skirt::

And now to almost completely digress:

It's moments like last night when I know I'm a true "crafter" at heart.

Crafting is in my blood. I feel closer to my mom, my aunt, my grandma and my great grandma (who I never met but have heard so much about) every time I paint, knit, sew, or really do anything with my hands.

I recently started a book How to Sew a Button: and other nifty things your grandmother knew. I LOVE this book. The writing is hilarious and I must say I love how the recipes and instructions are written. You can almost hear your grandma speaking as you read the pages.

I'm lucky to have grown up with DIY parents: a dad who taught us how to change a tire, solder minor electronics, build a shortwave radio, and basic carpentry skills and a mom who taught me to knit at 8 years old, sew my own clothes for my american girl dolls, cook a mean casserole, make perfect hospital corners, and be oh so thrifty.

This book makes me realize that perhaps I have taken for granted what I have been taught and that there are many people who don't share this same "basic" knowledge.

What prompted the writer to author this book is that she mistook swiss chard for rhubard and ruined a homemade pie. She was embarrassed by her lack of "basic" homemaking knowledge and wanted to explore more.

While I love the book (and have decided to purchase a hard copy rather than get the ebook on my kindle so I can underline and earmark) I kind of disagree with her assessment of our generation. I don't believe that we are a bunch of helpless corporate yuppies who know nothing about good hard work and household skills.

I am surrounded by women (and men too) who are the ultimate homemakers. Not just making meals and ends meet, but cooking from scratch, decorating with creativity, and creating with vigor and innovation for their loved ones.

I am sure that there are a vast number of young adults who don't know how to do their own laundry or roast a chicken, but I don't know many of them.

I am proud to be a part of this resurgence of do-it-yourselfers. There is something so amazing about having a vision and having it realized through your own hard work. I am excited to keep learning new things, new ways to create. Feel free to lay any ideas on me! I'm always looking for somethings new to try.

P.S. Ian is currently determined to find a Fred Rogers sweater pattern out there for me to make him. If you run into one please send it my way :o).

Some portraits to end by:
::Ainsley, the ever dresser upper:

::my sweet sweet Louise, overalls and all::

Monday, February 21, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

How does a weekend that started like this:

::sweet snuggle sister time::
end with this:

Needless to say it was an interesting, trying, and ultimately fabulous birthday weekend.

The weekend started well, amazing actually. A relaxing Saturday thanks to a well prepared Friday night followed by a great night spent with good friends, food, DESSERT, and sidecars (a great new cocktail we tried).

It reminded me of college. I so miss being social, effortless conversation with old friends. The girl went to bed without adieu affording us ample time to enjoy our company.

It is such a rare occasion for us to get together with friends. The girls' pre-8pm bedtimes make nights out tough for us, and not having a babysitter yet makes it impossible. Saturday night confirmed for me that it's time. I love my daughters but after two years with a mere handful of evenings "off" it's time. I'm ready to find someone we trust to watch our little dumplings while Ian and I remind ourselves of who we used to be before children.

For some silly reason I used to pride myself on not "needing" that special alone time with Ian, and with old friends. I thought it was part of the lot of the parent, giving up everything for your children. For some reason this weekend it really hit me how much we need more nights like that.

Perhaps it was the much needed respite on Saturday night that abled us to deal with Sunday and all that it brought.

::the perfect representation of the chaos of the day::

The day started on 4 hours of sleep when Ainsley errupted at 4:30am convinced that it was time to "go downstairs, watcha mistow wogas". While she quieted briefly after much convincing she never went back to sleep and Ian got up with her at 6. Then Louise started to fuss (she almost NEVER fusses). After I fed her Ian took her downstairs too (bless his heart, he let the birthday girl sleep in)

When I emerged from upstairs to "Happy Dirthday to YOU Momma!" from Ainsley, I thought that all was remedied.


Ainsley was in one of the most cantankerous moods I've ever seen her in. She whined, cried, screamed and fought ALL DAY LONG.

Even Louise was "under the weather", fussing, screaming even, more than she ever has. I kept kissing her forehead to make sure she wasn't feverish, rubbing my thumb over her gums to check for a tooth breaking through. Nothing.

::if you look closely you'll see the tears collecting down the side of her face, thankfully I was able to distract her enough to get a smile out of her::

Even so the day wasn't a complete wash. We had many wonderful moments.

Like this one:

And this one too:

Somehow Ian managed to make a cake and homemade palak paneer. We had a successful breakfast out and Ainsley delighted in helping me rip open presents.

Now if only she were this interested in her sweet potatoes and peas.

The day had everything that a wonderful birthday should have. It was good, just long and tiring. While I ended the day exhausted on the couch watching an odd film with Ian I was struck by how insanely fortunate I am. He didn't complain once about the terror that was the day. He was calm and determined to make it great.

And you know what? It was.

It's been an amazing 27 years.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Things I've Learned

I've been a mom for over 2 years now, almost 3 if you count those 9 months before Ainsley was born. I thought I'd reflect on some things I've learned, and maybe some things I hope to learn SOON!

1. Patience truly is a virtue, and one that I unfortunately REALLY have to work on.
If I counted the number of times that I've had to count to 10 to keep myself from blowing up at Ainsley it'd be, well WAY more than 10. But the more I practice it, the easier it gets. I just keep reminding myself that she's only 2, she can't reason with me, she's stubborn, and again, SHE'S TWO! And the best part? I am usually rewarded by my patience because it seems to rub off on her. If I can set the example of keeping my cool, she gets the idea, most of the time.

2. Spend more money now, less later.

We bought the GOOD cloth diapers, quality stroller(s), crib, fleeces for spring and fall, glass bottles, and shoes, really really good shoes. It's been TOTALLY worth it. So far we've had to by very little for Louise. Of course we have bought some things, clothes in sizes we didn't have from Ainsley, and some new onesies as Ainsley decimated all her hers with barf. Other than that though we're set! I'm SO thankful not to have to buy another set of cloth diapers (I love Bum Genius!) or any of the more costly baby staples. I've found that in general it's worth it to spend a little more right now on the things that you know you'll use again, or use HARD, and have them last, rather than spend less initially and then end up replacing the item down the road.

P.S. I LOVE consignment stores for clothes and shoes. I've found a lot of new things, name brand things, and things that have been well used and held up (not to mention adorably unique things). Not a bad budget solution all around.

3. Pick your battles, seriously, you HAVE to pick.

Sadly, you can't and WON'T win every battle (both Ian and I have learned this the hard way). Decide what's important to you and stick to your guns. Example: Ainsley has NEVER sat for dinner. She is not a big eater to start with and by the end of her day just has had enough. I grew up in a family where you sat at the table until everyone was finished and always had to asked to be excused, Ian's was the same way. We have learned that we can't force Ainsley to sit, short of strapping her into her "baby" high chair which she HATES!. Our new rule is she has to eat 2 bites of each kind of food on her plate (because she's two) and then if she's full she may ask to get down. I never thought I'd allow my child to roam and play while we're still eating but it's either that or listen to her scream. We choose enjoying our meal.
On the flip side: A new battle I've chosen is making Ainsley TRY to go the the bathroom whenever we're leaving the house or before bedtimes. She does not like being forced, but it's either that or risk an accident while out (nothing strikes more fear in my hear than hearing "Mama, Ainsley go potties!" while in the cart at Trader Joe's with no public restroom in sight). I calmly tell her she may go herself or I will help her. She always chooses to go herself, and so far standing firm has worked.

4. Be creative, but be prepared and be in the right mood.

I go WAY overboard with activities sometimes. I'll try to paint while making lunch and folding a load of laundry. I've learned that if I want to do something involved I need to be focused (and hopefully have Louise either occupied or asleep). It's really important for me to have quality one on one time with both of my girls and I've learned that I don't need to go over the top to have fun with them. Ainsley's and my new favorite thing is to turn on some calm music, open up the craft cabinet and have at it. Sometimes we make collages with feathers, ripped magazines, crayons and glitter pens, others we print out coloring pages on the computer and try to stay in the lines. Making play dough is always a hit, as it building an obstacle course in our living room. We've had so much fun doing simple things. As for Louise, our favorite is just having a smiling contest. She always wins.

5. It's ok to have completely lame lazy days.

I tend to beat myself up when I don't feel "active" enough, but then I had the thought, "If I'm worn out from the past few days, I'm sure the girls are too". It's true, toddlers have WAY more energy than adults (even caffeinated adults) but they get worn out too. I've learned to read Ainsley better and when she's unusually whiny or short tempered I know now, she's tired, and not necessarily I-need-an-extra-long-nap-tired, but an I-need-a-lazy-pajama-and-baked-goods-filled-morning-tired. About once a week we just lounge in the morning. Groceries and errands can wait, so can real clothes for that matter. This is when we usually pull out the crayon bucket, or the bag of blocks, turn on our wedding cocktail music playlist and quietly play. Sometimes we go upstairs and look through forgotten about books, rearranging them by color and size. Sometimes I put both girls in Louise crib and let them squeal and snuggle. It's kind of great not to have an agenda for a morning, plus Ainsley LOVES being able to suggest an activity and have me say "sure! we've got nothing else to do!"

6. there is almost NOTHING that a bit of fresh air can't cure

You know the days. It's the days that start with the great lazy morning and end with the post-nap-I'm-going-to-pull-my-hair-out-if-I-have-to-spend-one-more-minute-couped-up-in-here-meltdown. It's those days I've learned to push past the barrier, no matter how cold or wet or gloomy and GET OUTSIDE! We've taken so many jaunts up and down our little block I can't even tell you. Ainsley will pick up a stick or notice a leaf still clinging to the tree. Louise will gasp as the breeze takes her breath away and then sigh happily at the peek of sun through the clouds. I've never regretted getting out, even when it takes every ounce of patience and mom-ness I have to do it. So worth it.

So there we are. I still have lots to learn, hopefully something new every day. It's good to remind myself that I'm learning and kind of getting the hang of this whole mom thing.

Sunshine Day

It's been a great day, a great week actually. Most weeks there are highs and lows. I guess yesterday could have been the low, if I was keeping track. I did make Ainsley cry (because I snapped at her when she SCREAMED about "Ainsley go potties!" RIGHT after I'd just come downstairs after putting her down for a nap and had asked her about 12 times if she had to go before nap). She in fact had to poop, nothing like watching a sobbing toddler try to poo on her potty :o( not my proudest mom moment. But save that one incident, it's been great.

To start Louise is sitting up all on her own! Truth be told I was a bit surprised when Ian propped her up yesterday evening, took his hand away, and she just stayed there, upright, happily looking around from her new vantage point.

We've kind of pinned Louise as the "calm" one, the "easy going child who will by NO means walk before she is one". We may have pegged her incorrectly. She is calm for sure, and easy going, but she screeches and squeals like I've never heard a baby squeal, LOVES to be startled and chased and in turn loves "chasing" Ainsley around. I have to get this on camera someday. Me holding Louise up in a standing position chasing Ainsley around so that both Louise and Ainsley think that Louise is chasing her around? AMAZING!

We have been enjoying the unseasonable warm weather with the best of them. Yesterday despite the gloomy skies Ainsley slipped on her two sizes too big rainboots (I didn't want to spend $20 on rainboots that she would outgrow right away!) and we sloshed up and down the block. It was her first foray into true puddle splashing and let me tell you she may be a pro. Even her topple into the muddy slush didn't phase her. We just stomped on home, got her all cleaned up and replayed the incident (rather dramatically if I do say so myself) for the rest of the day.

Today was much better, weather wise. We woke up to beautiful sun filled skies, confused birds chirping and almost NO snow on the ground. After breakfast we got out for a great walk and an impromptu trip to the park. Ainsley was in heaven. When she said "Mama, Ainsley cold, go home please." I knew two things. 1. I clearly didn't dress her for the elements (she insisted on wearing her raincoat, at least I got the lined one!) and 2. My girl has grown up so much since even last fall. I don't think I've EVER heard her ask to go home from the park. She articulates herself so well now (well, for a 25 month old).

We ended the morning with a quick grocery run where we ran into an old mom friend of mine from my teaching days and a toddler friend of Ainsley's from musikgarten. Both Ainsley and Louise LOVE grocery shopping, Ainsley for the amazing free samples at whole foods and Louise for all the attention she gets in the front pack. A sweet little old polish lady just stared at her smiling and grabbed her hands. I could tell Louise was smiling from the size of her cheeks in profile. There is something about the elderly and infants I tell you, it's magical.

After an episode of Blue's Clues over a yummy lunch both girls were primed to crash.

Here I sit thankful for the sunbeams on the rug, the way-too-strong-cup-of-coffee-in-lieu-of-a-nap in my hand, and my sweet sleeping girls upstairs.

What a way to kick off a weekend celebrating my 27 years of life. Gosh I'm getting old!