Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day

I have a brief break in the weekend's festivities to share some thoughts. Family is here, which always brings so many emotions. I love having our house full, cooking lots and having helping hands and listening ears, hugs and back rubs when I'm feeling wiped and comfortable people in my midst.

It's been a good weekend so far. The breaks in the rain have allowed us walks and tiny excursions. The downpours and thunder have given us and excuse to to hunker down in our little digs and talk, sip on good coffee and play dusted off games.

It's been a hard weekend with Ainsley. She so desperately wants all the attention that is being given to the two sweet little babes in her midst. She's been acting out, swiping and biting like she has never done before. I am thankful for an amazing husband to pass her off to and in laws that know me and my girl and have helped us out. We have our good moments too. I hope the sun tomorrow brings lots more.

Fast Forward to Monday:

The sun did indeed shine on memorial day. Ainsley got back in her groove and so did I. With the sun came in-the-thick-of-summer-heat and the return of air conditioning. Seriously, could we at least get ONE solid day without either the heat or a/c on?

We enjoyed the first day at the local pool, spurring me on to find a little helper for the summer so that I can go with the girls during the week (there is NO way I could do it by myself). Both Ainsley and Louise were little water lillies. Ainsley didn't protest when we headed home an hour and a half later. She was zonked.

After one more good big family meal we wound down, started our goodbyes and finished them this morning.

We have three days to recoup before we head to Minnesota for a quick wedding weekend. I am so excited for all of the festivites ahead, making our quiet family time so precious. This morning I looked forward to it just being my girls and us, not because I don't love having family here, but because it's simpler and familiar and easy. I love how quickly we can get back into our groove of our family of 4. Errands in the morning, Louise's naptime spent digging in the dirt with Ainsley (today I left her alone for 7 seconds while I ran inside to get some shears and she managed to hose down her entire body...I could only laugh), simple lunches, and lingering restful afternoons. It was a great recoup and unwind kind of a day.

Here are some photos from the weekend.

::loving her new trike::

::double babies!::

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gearing Up

We're gearing up. For family visiting this weekend, a quick trek to MN the next and my first solo trip since becoming a mama the following. I'm pretty stoked for them all.

This morning we got doctors visits out of the way and I'm plugging away at laundry as we speak. Ainsley just went down way too early for a nap. She's been very sweet lately, but also incredibly whiny and it's starting to wear on me. She asks the same questions OVER and OVER and never stops talking. I have to chuckle when I think back to her as an 18 month old. I was all wigged out that she wasn't talking much and now I often find myself wishing she'd stop!

I've gotten into a routine of taking the girls for an afternoon double stroller jog when the weather allows. It's great but definitely not as relaxing as running on my own. Ainsley talks incessantly, narrating the scenery around us and asking over and over "mama, Ainsley May wanna go to a park. Oooh, there's a park. Mama GO TO A PARK!!!!" least I'm finding a way to get some good exercise in.

I'm happy to spend a quiet afternoon indoors in preparation for all the bustle ahead. I don't mind the 45 degree rainy cloudliness today for this very reason. I'm enjoying lots of playing on the rug time with my girls and snuggling on freshly made beds.

Happy Memorial Day!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

An Absolutely Delightful Day

What a delightful day we've had. The sun was unexpectedly shinging (take that weather channel!), the girls were in good moods (despite their 5:30am arousal...come ON sun, you rise too early these days). It was a good day.

::Louise's new "thing", sticking out her tongue::

::Ainsley insisted on watching her morning show with Louise in her lap, Louise was enjoying herself despite the odd expression I captured::
P.S. See, they aren't the same size!
We spent the morning on a long walk to the post office and back to mail Uncle Joey's birthday card. Ainsley napped the whole way and still managed a 2 hour afternoon nap. A definite perk of my spirited girl, she takes good naps.

Then we went to a new nursery and picked out the few last plants we need for our garden. It was fun to venture to a new part of town and find some beautiful flowers.

We then came home, all fighting through exhaustion. But the sunny lawn was just beckoning us for a picnic, so we obliged.

::Ainsley wearing 'Auntie Joojie ruffle shirt mama', Ainsley now tells you who gave her which article of clothing she's wearing, a little trick I've learned to get her to wear what I want::

The girls napped and I spent that time furiously sewing away, making my first upcycled outfit. I've been dying to try this method of reusing old clothing for new handmade garments, but was terrified. I don't really know how to sew. I've never read a pattern and know no techniques or stitch names. But Iwant to sew, so like most of my ventures I just dove in. I'm pretty excited that it's working out so far. (sorry that pictures are out of order, I am NOT good at this whole html/arranging photos in my blog of the dress are below).

Ainsley woke up and almost simultaneously I got a call from an old friend, a parent of a student that I taught my first year in oak park, reminding me that she was on her way over with her girls for a quick playdate and here-are-some-items-we-no-longer-need drop off. I scurried around the house to tidy up a bit and we had fun playing with two old friends (old for me, new for Ainsley and Louise of course).

This generous generous family gave us their old Burley. It's barely used. It's beautiful. It felt like Christmas in May. The added surprise was a Kelty trike for Ainsley. We assembled both and spent the waning afternoon hours playing with out new modes of transport. I am so excited to hook the burely up (and get Louise a teeny tiny helmet) and take those girls out!

::the amazing new toys::

::of course Ainsley wanted all of the new flowers in her wagon, hopefully we'll plant tomorrow::

After a 5 Guys run for dinner Ainsley tried on her new dress. The top could use some tweaking, but it stays on and fits her well with some room to grow. This used to be a cross top, empire waist blouse of mine and I like it a million times better as a sundress for my little Tootie.

:: she seemed to like it too. Afterall, blue and flowers are her favorites::

To add to the excitement of the day Auntie Sonya came after dinner to share our fries and smiles. Ainsley ran up to her and told her how much she missed her and we played the evening away.

::I finally had Ian come up to take some photos of Louise pre-bath...I know I'm partial because I gave birth to her, but she's not too hard on the eyes, is she?::

::oh that tush...and that smile::

Since Ainsley was all wound up we decided to take her out for one last spin on her new bike. As much as I love the scoot bike, I'm glad she has a trike too. I think this one is a bit more toddler friendly and she loves the place to put all of her "special things mama, like toys" in the back.

I am the one who suggested the zebra suit because it was getting chilly and she was reluctant to get out of her jammies AND it's her new favorite. We've found her numerous times in her room, in bed, with two sets of jammies on AND her zebra suit...what a funny gal.

The real photo would have been the neighbors grinning at the zebra running like a crazy lady down the street and me sprinting to catch her. That zebra can RUN.

So as you can see. Today was awesome. We loved today. Tomorrow will be good too. I can just feel it.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tea Party

Because it was Friday.

Because it was time to try out the adorable tea set Aunt Gail gave Ainsley before she was even born.

Because sometimes you just need to put on a party dress, fairy wings and rain boots.

Because ever since Grammy suggested it we've been waiting for the right afternoon to pitch the tent in the backyard, lay down some blankets, pour out some chocolate bunny crackers and have our first tea party.

This may become our new Friday thing.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Art Therapy

When I was in high school I thought that I wanted to be an art therapist. I was trying to combine my interest in art and psychology and stumbled across this seemingly perfect occupation.

Senior year of high school I shadowed a handful of art therapists and like most wide-eyed-I'm-going-to-change-the-world-18-year-olds I quickly became jaded. The job, the therapy, just wasn't what I thought. I imgained miraculous healing artwork and thoughtful caring therpy. Not to say that doesn't exist, I just didn't witness it.

My failed experiences plus the education required to obtain a degree that I was no longer sure I wanted led me off the art therapy path.

Today my inital excitement for it can rushing back.

Ainsley has been fixated on breaking her snowglobe and all the aftermath. I realize that it's been 6 days and that she's two and that it was a rather traumatic event. But this is nothing new for Ainsley.

She fixates.

I don't know if she's inherited my penchant for unfounded worry and neurosis, or she just needs to double check things, hear the story over and over, and be reassurred. But for whatever reason she does it.

After checking her car seat at the airport on the way home from Florida a few months back she couldn't let it go. "Where my car seat mama? Where Ainsley's car seat go? Oh no! Where Ainsley's car seat!" Even after picking it up at baggage claim she still needed reasurrance (and sometimes still wants to double check that it's safely in the car).

Explaining and answering over and over doesn't seem to be doing the trick, so with her new fixation on her stitches and her broken music box I thought I'd try another route.

We sat down and drew. Well, I drew, she dictated what to draw.

"My music box mama. It broken. Ainsley broke it. I miss the horsey. It played music. I miss it. It's in the garbage. The garbage truck took it away. Ainsley cry, Ainsley sad. Ainsley go to the hospital. Get stitches, it really hurt..."

She talked and talked and I just drew. I didn't interrupt her. I let her choose the colors and when I was done she just stopped talking grabbed the drawings and sat calmly looking at them. Then she talked again, this time with a smile on her face.

"Oh mama. It's Ainsley's music box. It's so pretty. I miss it. Ainsley went to the hospital. Ainsley feel better. Ainsley not sad mama. Ainsley happy."

She proceeded to draw a smiley face over the frown that I'd drawn.

She looked so proud. She looked so happy. I don't know how much our little drawing/talking session helped but I do know that my little girl felt better about her broken music box and her sad cut hand, if only for a little bit.

Children are so visual. I forget sometimes with Ainsley's growing vocabulary that she is still so young and really can't articulate what she's thinking or feeling all the time. I think it helped her to have those drawings, something visual to look at when she's feeling sad. To be reminded that it's ok to feel sad, to be hurt, but it's also ok to let things go and be happy.

She's pulled out those drawings numerous times so far today. she always looks at them with a sad face, then traces her little hands over the circumference of the musicbox and smiles. "Needs more sparkles mama". So she added some.

I'm not saying she won't keep telling me a million times a day that her musicbox is broken, that the garbage truck took it away, that's she's sad and her stitches really hurt. I'm just hoping that we've found a new way to cope, a new avenue to try. She sure loves those drawings.

I may have to give this art therapy thing a second look. In like 10 years.

Some other photos from today...

::Ainsley shot these ones of Louise "walking" towards her::

::My sweet Ainsley May in her new spring top she picked out herself, I seriously have never met a 2 year old more opinionated about her clothes::

::She's growing up way too fast::

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Plugging Along

I've been feeling a bit off lately with the blogging. I get in a good groove, feel like I havesomething to say, or at least some cute pictures to post, but lately inspiration has been lacking.

I think it's mostly because I feel like a broken record. Gushing about the good days, ranting about the bad. But I guess that's what this time of life is for I'll try to go with the flow.

I reached out and got some great suggestions for how to keep Ainsley occupied while staying relatively clean and "un-rowdy". For good or bad, her stitches seem to be bothering her so she favors her right hand even more than usual and needs little reminding to take it easy. I am so thankful for the tips and activities to try, especially on this rainy day.

We've been playing a lot of games which is a fun change. All of a sudden it hit me one day. Ainsley could totally play games! While I really wanted to rush out and buy hi ho Cheerio and Chutes and Ladders I restrained myself and took out the two memory games she got for Christmas and this gem that I scored on zulily. She loves them both and it's so fun to watch her concentrate, and work through things and really "get" it.

Ainsley is very into matching things lately, letters and word sounds, colors, shapes. I particulrarly love when this new fascination manifests itself in her wardrobe (butterflies on the shirts and pants, stripes all around, flowered dress and skirt and leggings and socks). It's rather adorable, if not incredibly loud.

I've also loved observing Ainsley's character and temperament continue to develop and unfold. Just today at musikgarten one of her little friends was very upset and crying and Ainsley was very distraught and only wanted to help her friend, rub her back and give her hugs. Whenever a child is crying or sad she's very concerned and wants to help and know "why they cryin mama?". Now I just wish she'd stop knocking Louise over. I still can't figure that one out.

Louise continues to turn the corner from complacent inactive baby to moving scooting toddler. She is only happy when standing or rolling and rocking on all fours. She gets very agitated when I sit her up and give her a toy to play with, unfairly expecting her to stay still. I'm a bit sad that my once snuggly girl only wants to move now, but i know it's par for the course.

She continues to give us great big belly laughs daily, and is such a happy girl.

Today has been a good day. I've enjoyed my girls and they've been good to me. Now to put some of those new activities to good use this afternoon! and come up with something for dinner...that dang chicken didn't defrost like I'd hoped!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tricky Times

It's been a bit of a tricky start to the week with the girls.

I use the word tricky with Ainsley often. Usually to describe something that's utterly frustrating and seemingly futile. Today feels particularly tricky.

After Ainsley's accident on Friday I've found it hard to return to "normal" parenting with her. I have been more lenient, more apt to overlook the little defiances and it's been backfiring big time.

Not to say that the day has been a total wash so far. We took a nice long walk with the Chicago wind blowing in our faces. We returned a load of library books and I scored some great items for new niece and nephews at the local consignment shop while Ainsley played intently with the oodles of toys. Then we walked to the grocery store for the sole purpose of getting some ham for Ainsley for lunch. This morning she seemed quite distressed when I told her that the Easter ham was all gone.

Today I am really working on seeing the big picture. I'm trying to get through the little defiances and annoyances, ride then out like waves and get to the other, hopefully sunnier, side. I'm trying to dig deep and find the motivation to keep her occupied with the very limited number of activities her injured hand will allow.

Wish us luck!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Catching Up

Sorry for the absence from the blog this past week. It's been a doozy. BEFORE the whole Ainsley slicing her hand open ER trip fiasco my mother and sister in law arrived for a full long weekend, keeping life extra full and fun with little extra time or energy.

In the days before their arrival we enjoyed a relatively normal beginning to our week. We played at parks despite the clouds and I blew up the new pool when the temperatures hit 80. I shopped solo WITH the girls* for some new summer duds and put them to good use all week.
*After I realized that Louises' circulation was being cut off to her legs in the front wrap I had to switch out Ainsley from the stroller and put her in the backpack position so Louise could stroll. This was all mid shopping, on the floor, and Ainsley put up quite the fight...but we survived and I cleaned out the sales racks so in the end it was worth it.

::Ainsley has yet to meet a park she doesn't LOVE::
too bad she's out of commission until the stitches come out :o(

::Louise's new favorite pose, aside from rocking on all fours of course::

::early morning outside porch coffee with my sweet Louise::

::it's my pool mama, Ainsley may JUMP inna pool!
wearing Louise's new swimsuit, it fit so why the heck not?!?::

::Louise didn't seem to mind in fact she fell over laughing whenever Ainsley splashed herself::

I love when family is here. I get an excuse to cook and bake more extravagantly, let chores fall by the wayside, enjoy an extra glass of wine in the evenings and lose my voice talking.

I can tell I'm officially comfortable and at ease with my in laws (I even hate calling them that because there's nothing lawful about them) because I barely prepared for their arrival. I knew they'd accept our baby clutter and puffs EVERYWHERE. Sure the bathrooms were clean and the rugs vaccuumed, but their arrival felt easy and exciting with no stress attached.

Then when Ainsley's accident occurred and I was running around like a spooked horse calling Ian and our pediatrician and packing a hospital bag I was SO thankful for a mother in law who knows me so well and cradled and calmed a startled and hurting Ainsley to let me get my jitters out.
::Ainsley baring her wounded hand and a chocolate stained mouth, she deserved that Regina's truffle this time::

::pulling herself up and loving every second::

After calming from the ER trip we settled back into the rainy cold weekend. We are all so excited that Auntie Sonya found such a beautiful apartment and will be living a mere 5 minutes drive from us. Ainsley has asked for her every morning since her arrival and I'm so happy not to have to burst her bubble and tell her that she's leaving soon, because she isn't!

::on all fours, crawling is imminent, but this time around I'm ready!::

::a little daddy daughter story time::

::Ainsley insited that Louise "be a pie mama, a berry pie! Just like Halloween!" so she was::

::Ainsley and her Nana::

Today I am so thankful for sunny skies despite the cold, a quiet napping house after a bustling 6 days and a couple of weeks of calm before the craziness and fun of more family visits and lots of trips in June. I am thankful for Louise's soft warm cheeks and Ainsley's long soft little girl hair, for quick grocery runs, and an amazing Auntie living in the basement for a few more days.

Have a great week!