Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Fever

What is it about this time of year? Clinging to the just above freezing temps with desperation and hope. The urge to purge, clean, renew, and reinvent.

The 60 degree day that we had last week set me off. I opened windows, organized garage and outdoor things, raked and weeded, scrubbed and scoured. There is still much to be done, but the fuse has been lit.

Apart from normal spring cleaning musts I am finding an urge to change and restart myself.

This winter was long. The longest of my life. It was cold and snowy and dark and claustrophobic and LONG.

But it was also wonderful. It was my first winter as a mother of two. The first winter with Ainsley as an emerging little lady. My first winter with my sweet Louise. The winter when I was challenged the most and learned a whole lot about myself, who I am, who I don't want to be, who I am turning into.

Looking back on my almost 4 years since college I have changed so much. Not just the marriage and the mom but me.

It's kind of bizarre. The transformation from kid to adult doesn't happen overnight like I thought. In many ways I was still part child through college, perhaps even when we first got married. I hope I've retained a bit of that child-ness even now and forever. But mostly now I am an adult. I worry about things like medical bills and insurance. I have nightmares about the roof caving in and Ainsley not getting into the perfect preschool program. I spend my free time making grocery lists from sale fliers, looking up new recipes, cleaning and organizing our home.

But I'm leaning that I can't let those adult tasks and worries overtake who I am. It is exhausting to be worried and anxious and overloaded all the time.

These past few weeks, being able to exercise regularly, and get some alone time for reflection has done wonders.

I think I was fighting with myself for so long trying to be too many people at once, instead of just who I am. I am a mom and I love that. I am a wife and I love that too. But I am also an artist and I need to create things to feel whole. I am a cook who needs to make things from scratch to feel accomplished in the kitchen. I am increasingly anal retentive about buying good quality food and natural products for our home and as long as that doesn't get out of control with our budget it's a good thing for me.

I used to have such negative reactions to these new moms who would proclaim "I am not going to lose who I am when I have children". I guffawed at their attempts to maintain their prior selves and be a superior parent. I didn't think it could be done.

I have learned. I have learned that in order to be a good parent I have to be more than a parent. I do have to keep my own interests and quirks alive so that I can be more than a milk truck, soother, disciplinarian, entertainment source.

Now fitting this much needed "me time" into a busy day is another story. I have found that sometimes it's enough just to sit down with Ainsley for 10 minutes and draw. We turn off the music, give Louise a few toys and just melt into the silence and the freedom of a blank page. Sometimes it's enough to occupy my girls in the backyard while I dig in the cold dirt with the sun on my back. Sometimes it's enough to forgo cleaning the house and doing laundry during nap time to write a bit or delve into a good book that's NOT about parenting or toddler crafts.

Sometimes it's enough.

And when it's not I am lucky to have a husband who understands, takes the girls, and lets me be me, all by myself for as long as I need.

Here's to some pretty serious spring cleaning ahead.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekend Update

The Trip is right around the corner. Bags have been packed and repacked at an anal retentive rate that I didn't know I had in me.

New pool toys and plane entertainments have been purchased (thanks to great grandparents Valentine's money!). Cousin presents are wrapped and stowed away (Happy almost 2nd Birthday Connor!). Abundant sunscreen is tightly packaged (both chemical free and regular in case the chemical free can't stand up to the 85 degree sun we'll be braving). Windbreakers and fleeces are packed (so that we of course won't need them).


I have been so lucky to be able to travel someplace warm during this time of year for most of my life. Generous grandparents and parents have made it possible. The glimpse of 60 degree weather that we had this week gave me a preview of how amazing a little natural vitamin D can be. We could all use a good long week dose.

After finally cracking the case of the wet pants I am head over heels in love with Ainsley once again. She is growing so fast. I'm noticing that suddenly her pants aren't falling down over her tiny little bum and her shirts are almost too short. She's starting to eat like a big girl. Almost clearing her plate at breakfast, lunch, and even dinner. She's hungry all the time and I'm finding I'm needing to up our healthy snack purchases to keep up with her demand.

She is my little pal and we just chat, sing, joke and play all day long. She articulates herself so well and we've been working hard on recognizing emotions which has helped a lot with tantrums and frustrations. I got her this puzzle for the plane ride, but also just for general use of course. Ainsley LOVES the dress up aspect and that she can change the bears faces from sleeping, to happy, to mad, to scared. I've found this has helped with her interactions with her little friends and without my intervention she is able to see that a friend is upset by something that she is doing and usual corrects her own behavior.

Miss Louise continues to be a complete joy. She eats 2-3 baby food meals a day now and guzzles milk like nobody's business. Ainsley is still definitely her favorite entertainment but she loves to reach and roll for toys and has started to scoot around in circles (no crawling yet thank goodness!) She makes the cutest sounds, even at 5am when she should be sleeping I don't mind them. I can't wait to see her experience sand and swimming for the first time!

We'll see if I get the urge to blog again before The Trip. If not you can bet I'll have some great stories, and pictures, upon our return!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Conniving Genius Toddler

The official countdown to our southwest Florida vacation spectacular is officially in motion. So of COURSE Louise is getting her first tooth and Ainsley has started wetting her pants daily after nearly 3 solid months of successful potty training.

I was concerned at first. Surely there was some physiological reason for her accidents. There must be something terribly wrong for our 27 month old toddler to suddenly regress so severely.
Then last night after the third incident for the day I sat down to have a chat with my dear sweet Ainsley. "Ainsley May, why are you wetting your pants? You know we only got potties in the toilet." "Ainley May changa clothes! Ainsley may get ALLL dirty."

I should have known.

Do you recall me mentioning how Ainsley loves to dress up and change clothes? How it has gotten completely out of hand at a ridiculous rate? Our clever little toddler has learned to shirk the system. If she wets her pants, she HAS to change. She gets new clothes, just what she wants.

Ha! Are you serious? I was prepared for this when she was 13, not 2? How did she learn this manipulation? Truthfully I'm a bit impressed but completely flabbergasted and out of my mind frustrated at the same time.

So I did what any self respecting mom would do. I bought her some m&ms and called my mom for advice.

The m&ms are to reinforce her going in the toilet (like we did when she was first training). My mom was to reinforce my own inclinations to hold strong and firm. I can't let her get the best of me!

I'm just so tired of fighting with her. Every little thing is a battle. Now this is a big battle. It's one of those parenting moments when your children get to see your true colors. Do you cave and let them get what they want or do you buckle down (which is SO much harder than it seems).

I'll let you know how it goes, but I'm determined and bought a big ole bottle of vinegar today. I'm armed and ready.

In other less dire news I've finally figured out Louise's "big baby" nap schedule so we get a full 3.5-4 hours of naps a day and 10-11 hours of sleep at night. I'm still trying to reconcile that only about an hour of those naps overlap Ainsley's.

Ainsley and I potted our sunflower seeds this morning. After two straight years of squirrels digging out my seeds and eating them I've learned and am sprouting them indoors this year. Ainsley loved gardening with her new shovel and watering can. She was so careful and methodical with the soil and seeds. This bodes well for our summer filled with weeding and watering in the backyard!

A few fun photos to end by:

::this is how Ainsley wanted to greet the day, and YaWeez::

::spring gardening!::

::new rake...only Ainsley May gardens in her red party shoes::

::who says vacuuming has to be a chore?::

::after running and surprising YaWeez::

::she looks so innocent, doesn't she?::

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Perfectly Beautiful Day

It was ridiculously gorgeous outside today.

I could feel it was going to be a good one, just felt it in my bones.

::Miss Ainsley Ainsley May, water-tabling it up::

We started the day off with typical debauchery. Freestyling to Katy Perry and making a mess of the house. Two cups of yogurt and a refill of coffee later we were on the road to music class, our favorite time of the week.

::Weez's first wagon ride::

The sun was shining, our jackets were unzipped as I trotted merrily (and because we were late) over the 290 bypass. Class was great and the moms met at a park afterwards to enjoy the sun some more.

::Noshing, always noshing::

I watched Ainsley tackle the tunnel slide with confidence, spin round and round on the whirly gig, prompting multiple parents to comment "she's only 2?" YES! At least I get affirmations daily that she's a pistol.

After sharing an impromptu picnic with generous mamas and toddler who shared their sandwiches and fruit with poor deprived Ainsley (hey, at least I had a cheese stick and a banana to contribute!)

::Taken 5 seconds before she konked, sprawled out like a cat basking in the sun::

Louise hadn't napped yet so we opted to head home around 1. I put my wiped out babes down and settled myself outside on a chair with my kindle and a large glass of sparkling water.

::I know I said I wouldn't post pictures of the bonnet yet, but I couldn't help myself::

I didn't even mind when they woke me a mere hour later.

We broke out the sand table (conveniently filled with freshly thawed snow) gardening gloves, rakes, lawn blanket and shovels. For a full 2.5 hours Ainsley splashed and mudded, Louise gummed and giggled, and I sweated and pulled and started to turn our winter mess into a spring garden.

::Seriously Collette, you are a genius::

After a loop or two around the block in the wagon we called it a day. Went inside for some homemade fish and chips with Ian (in early honor of St Patrick's day).

The day ended chaotically as most days do. Loud and boisterous, full and oh so good. My ladies are snoozing, Ian is celebrating a good friend's 26th downtown and I am enjoying silence and happy exhaustion after a perfectly beautiful day.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Perfectly Real

I had a dark day on Saturday.

This happens to me a couple of times a year. For no real reason things just seem off, harder than usual, insurmountable even, admittedly dramatic. I question choices I've made, motivations (or lack thereof), who I am and how I'm doing at life.

The day went fine. I got to run again, run errands without kids in tow, slept well. I was coming off of a great week after a few hard ones before. Ian had been amazing. Seeing that I needed some space and time and giving it to me while taming our tiresome twosome.

I really can't say what tipped me off. I just needed a good meltdown. I think we all do sometimes.

I cried, I wrote, I snuggled my head into the safe crook of Ian's neck and let him tell me that it wasn't all as bad as I thought, that things would look up in the morning.

You know what? They did.

Sunday we went to church. Ainsley survived the nursery with Louise as her wing-gal. Ian and I attended service ALONE for the first time since college and revelled in the silence and peace. Even the sub-par lunch buffet at our favorite Indian restaurant couldn't get us down. It was a good day.

But my crying jag left me thinking.

As mothers, and parents there are so many things that are unsaid. Some rightly so, like how hard childbirth is, how slow and arduous the recovery, how little sleep (and thanks) you survive on for so long. But I feel like there are some things that should be admitted, said out loud so that we don't feel alone. Like that it's normal to feel like a complete failure sometimes, to wonder if you've messed your children up for good. That life isn't perfect and that every day isn't rainbows and sunshine, and any parent who says so is lying.

Part of the good news bad news about blogging for me has been getting an inside look at other moms lives. I feel like so much is sugar coated and I sometimes feel like the lone wolf telling it like it is. (of course I'm not speaking of any of my mama friend bloggers, I love you all)

Ian stumbled across a hilarious mom "tweeter" (is that right?) this weekend and one of her "isms" that stood out was "any parent who does't have something bad to say about their child isn't spending enough time with them." I laughed out loud. But isn't it true?

Why can't we all just say it? We love our kids I know we all do. It doesn't make us bad parents to say that sometimes our two year olds annoy us, and deliberately so. That we wish our babies wouldn't just cry and cry for no reason. That sometimes we literally feel like we are going INSANE! Of course they are "perfect" and wonderful because they are ours but that doesn't make us blind to their faults, and ours as parents too.

I am here to say that I am not perfect. That there have been days when I have thought more than once "what were we thinking?" That my best friend has called me on numerous occasions and said "I was just feeling sad about not being married and having babies and wanted to talk to you to feel better about it" (I love you Lisa, and PLEASE laugh at this, I always do).

It doesn't make me a bad parent to admit these things. It doesn't make me love my children or my husband or my life any less. But it does unburden me some.

I am hesitant even to post this as I'm sure it will strike some as harsh or accusatory. It is not meant as any of those things.

I wish I could be one of those parents who exudes happiness and bliss every moment. But I am not. I feel things hard and keeping them in just makes me explode all the worse the next time.

So the next time you hear me rant about Ainsley's antics, gush about my amazing husband and adorable daughters, or lament about my complete loss of freedom, bear with me. It's all real and it's all I've got.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Toddler and Barbasol

I've learned my lesson. I'm not going to say it out loud. You can just guess today what my sentiment is.

::Give a toddler a can of Barbasol and this is what you get::

Today I gave up. But not in that bad defeated way. In that embrace what my life is right now way. And it worked.

::pure unadulterated joy::

Yesterday evening Ian came home from work at the usual time. I had dinner waiting on the stove (not so usual) and Louise's baby food waiting in her glass dish. I spoon fed my girl her yummy peas as Ian recounted his busy day. Then I grabbed my bag filled with face wash, razor and ipod shuffle and ran out the back door.

::and quite the effective table cleaner I might add::

Last night I worked out. I ran my pants off at the gym amongst other stay at home moms, couples, full day workers and medical students. I blasted my old running tunes and let my body remember it's groove.

Oh how it remembers.

::wata colure PEEZ mama!::

("Ainsley what did you paint?" "A farm, no animals. Da animals went home. Big eyes, an elephant. Pffffff!")

I lifted too many weights did crazy endorphin fueled stretches, took a steaming hot shower using someone elses shampoo and came home.

::Look mama! a kitty cat...meow!"

The girls were in bed. The house was vacuumed, the dishes were put away. I went upstairs to kiss Ainsley goodnight, poured myself a thick glass of wine and heated up my share of the chicken barley extravaganza and sat down.

I woke up today refreshed and happy. It was almost agonizing to know how much it helped to run 3 miles, get out of this house, see other human beings. Too bad I can't do that every day.

::celery, the unexpected teething favorite::

Around 10am Ian called. "You want to work out again tonight?" Me: "Are you serious?" "Yeah" "HECK YES!"
::new best lunch ever, ants on a log, minus the ants::

I could get used to this.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tantrum Much?

Inevitably when I write about how AMAZING a day is, the $h*# hits the fan. When will I learn.

This morning was horendous, ridiculous, awful awful terrible.

Ainsley threw a complete an utter fit. Screaming and heaving, scratching at her bare thighs, tears STREAMING down her face...all because of a pair of pants. A PAIR OF PANTS!

Ainsley's opinions about her own personal style have been growing by leaps and bounds. It's gotten moderatly annoying at times (like when I'd like her to wear matching tops and bottoms to bed, long sleeves in the winter, and no tutus when she sleeps). But truthfully it's been kind of fun too. Most of the time I love her little mismatched style, seeing what she chooses to go together and learning what her favorites are.

Then I have mornings like today. For her birthday I bought her a corduroy jumper and she pretty much refuses to wear it. I knew she'd put up a fight when I brough it down this morning, but it's so dang cute and she's going to grow out of it soon and gosh darnit I was just sick of her dictating every little ensemble.

I had barely pulled the jumper out of the pile for her to see when the trouble started. It would have been one thing if she would have calmly said "no like it mama, nother one please!" which she has been getting better and better about requesting. Instead she launched immiediatley into a tailspin. After two time outs, 5 minutes of me soildly ignoring her (and loudly praising Louise for being so calm hoping she would catch wind) I called Ian. Talking to him calmed her a bit and she was able to articulate to me through heaving cries that she "no like it mama, just wanna wear brown pants".

I know that this was a battle that wasn't worth fighting. I know I shouldn't have tried to put the darn tootin' jumper on her in the first place. But I did. Part of me had to. I was so tired of this sweet little 2 year old getting her way and throwing tantrums over mundane things. At one point Louise looked up into her sister's red screaming face and laughed at her. I had to turn my head as I chuckled to.

When will Ainsley learn that the little things don't matter? When will she understand that sometimes we do things for other people to make them happy. I am genuinely a little hurt that she refuses to wear the two hand knit sweaters that I made her for the winter, or the hood for those cold-ish days. I bought her that jumper because my Ainsley loves pockets and skirts and buttons and straps. I thought it would be her favorite thing. She hates it so much that she was willing to almost lose her breakfast (and musikgarten) over it.


I know I know. She's two. But today I don't care. Today I want to talk to her like an adult (or at least a seven year old) and understand what's going through that little angry head of hers. I want to know why every little disturbance or obstacle feels like THE END OF THE WORLD to her.

Thankfully we finally agreed on a pair of pants, wiped our faces, walked in the rain to musikgarten, had a blast and everyone is now napping away this dreary afternoon.

I may never look at a jumper the same way again.

A few good photos always help to brighten even the yuck-o days.

::impromptu knit hat and tank top photo shoot::
(and yes, those are baby jelly shoes Louise is holding)

::Ainsley's wardrobe staples, red party shoes and strewn tutus::

I sure am a lucky mom, even on the ickiest of days.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

No Schedule? No Problem!

It's been a good day.

2 weeks and change until we're in sunny Florida, a light at the end of this long snowy winter tunnel if you will, is really helping to liven my spirits and re-energize me. (Well that and the fact that Ian got up with Louise to feed her at 5am so I could sleep in...amazing what a few extra hours of sleep can do for morale).

The girls and I took a walk to the post office to send back the teddy bear look alike fleece that was too big (seriously, whenever Ainsley saw it she said "teddy baher!") and stopped at the conservatory on the way back. I let Ainsley splash in the puddles and run around like a mad woman. Louise giggled at the bird noises and grabbed at every leaf she could get her hands on.
When we got home we headed down to the basement to sort through toys and clothes (a never ending chore and we're only 26 months into this!).

It's nice to have a "normal" non chaotic day.

I appreciate being a stay at home mom for so many reasons, one of which is the freedom of our schedule. I, like so many new moms, struggled with finding a balance with my baby's and my needs at the beginning. When Ainsley was born it took me months to feel like we had a solid routine that worked for both of us, and then inevitably the routine would change. A growth spurt would hit, a tooth would break through, a vacation would happen and our perfect schedule would be lost.

It used to drive me so crazy. I craved, NEEDED my routine and when it was rocked I felt so lost. I never realized what a control freak I was, until I had children.

Up until you have children your life is your own. You can eat when you're hungry, sleep when you're tired, exercise when the spirit moves you, heck even have a BM when the urge arises. All of that changes when you have a child. Their needs are your needs, their schedule is your schedule. It's a really really hard adjustment.

But I adjusted. Once I gave up any hope of my schedule being my own life flowed again. I relished in the two naps a day (Ainsley's not mine), the need to get outside more, stay active and excited and interested.

I find that "the schedule" is a hot topic among parents. When the baby eats, sleeps, poos, cries, plays, and learns all seem to be part of a regimented routine in most households. Not ours. While Louise and Ainsley go to sleep at the same time every night that is just about the only thing that we can count on being the same every day.

Sure, we have a flow of events, a series of outings, chores and necessities that occur similarly most days. But no two days are identical. I believe that children do benefit from a routine, knowing what comes next, but I also enjoy our freedom to do the unexpected and want our girls to be flexible (unliketheirmother). Life isn't a routine. Some days you're tired, or have extra energy, have more things to do, or not a care in the world.

Rather than agonize over our lack of a schedule I've found myself relishing in the possibilities of each day, most days. The girls are always growing and changing, as am I as a person, Ian and I as a couple, and our family as a whole. Of course each day, each week, each month, can't be the same. Those long lazy days make the full ones extra special and fun and possible. Just like our big walk and double outings this morning makes this afternoon nap a must.

I am thankful to get to be at home with my girls and have great days like today, maybe I do wish this was routine?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Retail Therapy

Today is one of those days when I don't want to do ANYTHING.

Oh I did things for sure, just nothing that I should be doing.

I went shopping for one. Bought the girls some spring/summer/Florida/I never go shopping and have a giftcard so why not clothes. I then ventured over to the craft store to fulfill my recent urge to make an art center for Ainsley. I am SO happy with the result. (I have been dying to do so since receiving this book as a gift from a mom at the school I used to work at. If there was a bible for the way I want to parent this is it)

I then came home to rescue Ian for a change. Ainsley was in rare form and needed some new direction. We explored the bag of clothes (and subsequently tried them ALL on) and set up her table with new materials and paper. We colored, watercolored, dot markered, and oil pasteled until our hands were rainbows and ate a lunch of home made pigs in a blanket and oranges (I may never buy a roll of biscuits again, these are SO good).

Mile High Biscuits

3 cups flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
1 T. sugar
2 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1/2 cup milk

Mix dry ingredients, cut in butter until incorporated evenly, add egg and milk, stir, flip dough out onto floured surface and roll to 3/4" thick, cut into desired shape (we cut them into oblong triangles to wrap around the hot dogs) Place on cookie sheet and glaze with melted butter. Bake at 425 for 10-15 min.
Recipe from Look and Cook by Tina Davis
SO good.

It all didn't go as smoothly as that but it felt like it after she went down without any fuss and I emerged from upstairs to hear Louise squealing with laughter as Ian tickled her tummy.

It's been a good day so far, but weird. The sky is dark, it's started to snow rather heavily. I should be cleaning and grocery shopping but instead I took naptime to get a latte and check out a sun hat for Louise (I ended up buying her 2 things on sale instead...whoops!)

I kind of love days like today. I know that the laundry will get folded and that once I set my mind to it it won't take all too long to scrub and vacuum. It's rare that I get to go out and buy cute things for my girls with relative abandon (thank you left over Christmas/birthday money!) and alone at that.

Now to decide what to make for dinner, you know, since I didn't go grocery shopping an all. Whoops!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Picture Perfect

This week has rounded out nicely. I was dubious that it would.

Last week just felt so rough and long and draining. I felt ill equipped to deal with even a normal amount of chaos this week.

Thankfully the sun shone and the girls smiled and Ian was AMAZING and life was great.

:: all ready for a brisk walk::

I have found that since starting to blog more "seriously" a few months back I carry my camera with me everywhere. I had been hesitant to do so in the past, weary of documenting too much on film and not etching the images in my mind, remembering and savoring every second of a precious moment. I think in the end it's helped to do both. I have loved learning to capture cherished and ever fleeting images of my growing girls.

::typical post nap sit up, snack, and "sessa street!". Louise prefers to grin at me::

I am still learning the best ways to take photos. I don't like the flash 95% of the time but sometimes it seems to only way to capture an active moment. Then again, that blur of bursting engergy is how Ainsley looks in real life. Kind of a realistic depiction.

::notice the party shoes on Ainsley May? She napped in those::

::taken right before she shoved a bunch of flower petals down that register...
oh the amount of spring cleaning that needs to happen in this house::

I have loved especially photographing Ainsley. She poses such a unique challenge as all toddlers do. I have found our little photo "sessions" to be about so much more than taking a good picture. I am learning about my daughter. What makes her laugh. What makes her glance at me and smile. Her concentration and determination etched on her little oval face. Those eyes, those big beautiful brown eyes.

::ripping apart playdough to "cook ina kitchen mama"::

And then there are those moments that are just BEGGING to be captured. My two girls nestled in our big bed laughing, squealing, anticipating me runnning down the hallway goofy faced and childlike leaping onto the bed to surprise them everytime.

Of course Ainsley had to try her hand at the leaping...she almost got it.

Louise and I laughed anyways.

::The pride and joy of a toddler on the loose::

I've had my moments when I wanted to book a photo session with a professional, get the girls all gussied up and capture a grin or two to mount and hang. I'm not saying that we won't one day, but these photos have a story to them, memories attached to their novice quality and poor light.

I kind of love them. I hope you do too.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A New Step

Today feels fresh.

Perhaps it's all the walks we've gotten in, the sun shining for the past two days, or the FINALLY vacuumed rugs and dusted table tops.

Perhaps it was the good company last night at bookclub or the fresh veggie ratatouille for dinner that reminded me of spring, summer, the farmers market and a much missed brightness.

Perhaps it's that I FINALLY set a playdate with the mysterious muskigarten mom. Our 6 month old babies were too in love with each other today to deny them a meeting any longer.

Perhaps it's the potential babysitter coming over this evening to meet the girls and get to know us.

Perhaps it's the children running outside like crazy animals basking in the snowless yards, sunny skies and 34 degree temperatures.

Perhaps it's the return of the ease of life. Lazy effortless mornings, long meandering walks, delicious simple food that just seems to appear.

Perhaps it's the rearrangement of old toys, the discovery of new places in our small house, and a rekindled love of each others company after a week when I think we all just wanted to BE ALONE.

For whatever reason and at any rate, it has been an awesome day.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Blog Worthy?

I have struggled with this lately. I have had such a need lately to write, to bear my soul and be heard. These waning days of winter are rough I tell you. ROUGH.

I am thankful this week for plans. For above freezing temperatures, playdates, a touch of that spring cleaning bug and two adorable girls, Ian too.

This morning I had grand plans. Storytime at the library followed by a jaunt down the block to the best toy store EVER to let Ainsley pick out a toy with her Valentine's money and something for Louise too. A stop at the bread shop for a scone and hot cocoa would have rounded out the full morning.

We did none of this.

Instead we lingered. We spent a solid hour upstairs going through clothes, tidying and cleaning, all the while entertained by Louise giggling in her rocker and Ainsley dressing and undressing her baby over and over. Somehow the day took shape without my planning. It didn't seem conscious, just a flow of effortless events. Louise napped, Ainsley and I watched old home movies while we played in her kitchen. It was lovely.

My girls are so self sufficient in their own ways. Lately I end up checking on Louise after what I think has been too long for a nap and she's happily lolling about in her crib, smiling away. She is content for long periods of time in her activity center or on her belly and back playing with her new best friends, her feet.

Ainsley is getting so imaginiative and thoughtful with her play. I moved her kitchen upstairs today and she concocted in her kitchen for most of the morning, explaining each step. "Make a pancake, mix it mix it, put it inna oven turna timer on, VERY HOT!" Her babies go everywhere with her and once in a cleaning frenzy when I tossed one into the bin of toys haphazardly she lost it, consoling her baby "I a sorry baby, mama no hurt you" she can be so precious.

A meandering walk up to the park, a chance encounter with an old neighbor and a new friendship struck with a little girl who's name I can't pronounce rounded out the morning.

I'm putting off vacuuming for fear of awakening my sleeping babes, relishing in the quiet and the sun.

Tonight I look forward to bookclub, even if the book was only so so. I am excited to try out my new ratatouille recipe and get a good nights sleep. Tomorrow I look forward to musik garten, mom camaraderie and anxiously awaiting our "trial" with the new babysitter tomorrow afternoon.

Any tips for things I should ask? Funny how it feels like weeks ago that I was watching others children and now the tables have turned and I'm a bit terrified. Ainsley is very excited about the prospect "Go mama, Ainsley play with new friend." I hope it goes as well as she says!