Sunday, December 30, 2007

Worth a million dollars

He's the only one I'll ever have and he's all mine, so I'm allowed to think he's the greatest thing going.

I'm not quite sure which is cuter ...

Trace kicking it in his new flannel, bucking bronco pajamas Santa delivered


Trace pushing around his little bulldozer, also compliments of Santa.

Whichever way you vote, I'm thinking he's worth a million dollars.

They were rooting to the end

The Pittsburgh Steelers wrapped up their regular season today against the Ravens, and the Steeler crew in our house saw them through to the end.

Four of the five were sporting their new Steeler gear and the little Pixie, yes, she experiences the terrible twos from time to time, refused to be a part of the season wrap-up photo.

On the other hand, kudos to the Pixie for overcoming her fear of our inflatable touchdown Steeler man. At the start of the season she would walk in a four-foot circle to avoid him, and today she gave him hugs.

Our "great" Uncle Doug

Great Uncle Doug has a knack for picking out just what little kids like. There has been a little china tea set for Alivia's birthday that she loved, Halloween snow globes and those liquid filled "worms" that mom and dad remember from the 80s.

Christmas proved to be another success for Uncle Doug in the gift buying arena when he produced an electronic keyboard that brings our children running (and crawling) like little moths to a flame. Granted, our neighbors will most likely log a complaint call to the local police department for the noise disturbance the four manage to create with it, but they love it!

He did it, he did it

Finally, here's the Christmas report everyone (well, at least one person) has been waiting for ... Santa delivered on the fancy guitar and Taylor Swift dress requested by Alena, and she was more than pleased with his efforts.

Jason and I had taken bets as to whether she'd go straight for the tall box standing toward the back of her haul or not. The first gift she opened was a Candyland game. Definitely not a fancy guitar, and she made no bones about it. Dad encouraged her to open another gift and see what else Santa might have brought. Looking at her stack, she eyed the tall box in the box and said, "maybe that's it."

After we had dug it out, she opened it and immediately exclaimed, "He did it. He did it." I suppose she had had her doubts as to how close Santa would come to the coveted Taylor Swift guitar, and perhaps, more importantly, if she had been good enough to deserve her top wish. Several boxes later and she stumbled upon one which produced the black dress, a surprise black headband and gloves, also just like the ones Taylor Swift wears.

And maybe even funnier than her "he did it, he did it" response to the guitar was her reaction after opening a pair of black cowboy boots that she "didn't order." It took her a minute or two to grasp the concept that they were hers even though she hadn't included them in her list of what her dad has dubbed the Taylor Swift starter stalker kit.

She eventually made her way through all of her gifts, but the guitar and black dress are definitely her favorites. I suppose she knows a little too well what she wants.

Alivia approached her pile of loot in the complete opposite fashion than Alena's whirlwind tearing frenzy, you would have thought each was her last. Little Liv would open one, then proceed to play with or check it out, then survey what everyone around her had opened. She needed a bit of prodding to continue on with the unwrapping, or we might still be watching her.

In the Pixie's world, whatever she wants to play with is "hers" at that given point in time, so she spent the Christmas season as interested in what each of her siblings had received as she was in her own gifts.

Alysse wasn't quite sure what to make of the flying paper and ripping boxes. She moved throughout the mess just trying to figure it all out. If she managed to come upon something of interest that wasn't immediately taken out of her sight, she'd spend a little time checking it out.

Trace on the other hand was the Grinch when Christmas morning arrived. Having woken up too early and not feeling well, he wanted nothing to do with any of it. And after much crying by him and cuddling by mom, he conked out before half the gifts were opened.

All in all, everyone was pleased with Santa's visit. We've got toys, games and books galore to keep us busy for the next several months as we wait for warm weather and outdoor fun.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dear Santa:

So finally, after much deliberation, Mr. Claus, I've got my list together. While I realize you can't grant each and every wish on my list, if you could sweet talk the elves into helping deliver just a couple, I'll be a happy girl.

First, I'd like health for our little ones during the coming year. After all, isn't that at the top of each mom's list? Yeah, I'll deal with a puker here and there, or an ear infection from time to time, but if you could wrap up no major illnesses or incidents, I'd really appreciate it.

Next, four little smiles. They each have a beautiful one, if you could just find a gift bag to hold more smiles than frowns, the world will be a better place. One smiling solo lights up a room, get them all doing it simultaneously, and you'll be able to find our house without Rudolph's help.

I'd also like the strength, patience and endurance to teach my own little elves life's true priorities. That a dad that works hard to take care of them is worth his weight in gold. That family and friends who love, support and care for them is priceless. And that memories of reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas" before naptime trumps a trip to see the Disney princesses skate any day.

Laughter. Alena and Alivia have giggles that I wouldn't trade for a winning lottery ticket. Alysse laughs like a machine gun which in turn makes you laugh, and Trace has a belly laugh so hearty you'd swear it wouldn't fit in his tiny body. Please, just let me have a listen of each one every day and I'll owe you.

And finally, I'm asking for kisses, or rather the chance to plant them. Kisses to start and end each day. Kisses on banged knees, pinched fingers and stubbed toes. Kisses when they're sad or when they've done something wonderful. Kisses just because.

In return, just let me know if there's anything I can do for you. I'd be willing to sacrifice nearly anything for any one of these gifts granted. With any luck you'll make your rounds successfully this Christmas Eve and enjoy all that's to come from giving.


P.S. While Trace and Alysse have been sporting shirts that say all I want for Christmas is a silent night, I really wouldn't know what to do with one if you gave it to me, so please just stick with the list outlined above.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The view from down there

We took bets before the Christmas tree went up as to who would be the one to bring it down. All bets were all Alysse (sorry, Lysse).

Two babies crawling, who are curious about everything, I thought for sure the tree didn't stand a chance. While decorating, instructions were laid out that glass ornaments were to be hung up higher, leaving the less "dangerous" ones for the twin zone.

To their credit, Trace and Alysse didn't give the tree a second glance when it initially made its appearance. Even a couple weeks into its living room stance, it remained pretty much untouched by either baby. Honestly, I silently wondered what was wrong.

And then, in the past week, it's all changed. As if the tree had just magically appeared there one day, Trace took notice. At first he was content to sit at the tree's base and look up.

I have to wonder how the view is from down there. I can sit and look up alongside him and yes, it's a whole new tree from down there looking up. But even with the new perspective for me, the tree doesn't pose the drastic difference in proportion for me that he sees. The seven and a half foot tree must seem to him like a 12 story building does to me.

After his initial interest in looking only, he's moved on to taking a feel. Sitting close enough to bat at the ornaments was sufficient for his opening act, but now he's discovered he can stand close enough to the sofa and reach out to grab ornaments originally out of reach while sitting on the floor.

While he's managed to knock a couple free, I think his interest in the tree has remained because it creates a game with each encounter. He touches, and then hears a "no, no Trace." Back comes the hand and seconds later, he can't resist doing it again. "No, no Trace," and the hand is again quietly withdrawn. And so it goes a dozen times.

In his tree game, I've seen some orneriness emerging. Something I'll confess Alysse has had the monopoly on up until this point. He gets a sparkle in his eye and a mischievous grin takes its place on his little face. He knows he's being naughty, but enjoys it too much to stop.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Let the countdown begin

The countdown has begun around our house. Today finds us at 22 and counting. Counting down to Santa and the goods, that is.

Alena and Alivia are now old enough that they understand Santa, they understand he's going to bring presents and THEY CAN'T WAIT. Prior to the start of our advent countdown on Saturday, they would ask each day if Santa was coming that night. Once advent calendars came out and we started the practice of opening a number each day, they can now see how many days are left in our waiting game.

Saturday, the first day of December, found us in line for a visit with Santa. Anticipating differing levels of gladness in seeing Santa, everyone was prepared during our drive to the mall that no one had to sit on Santa's lap if they didn't want to and no one had to have their picture taken with Santa.

Alena was quick to make friends with the jolly old man, while Alivia choose not to sit on his lap, but a seat next to him was okay for a quick couple of pictures. Trace and Alysse weren't quite sure what to make of the whole ordeal, but tolerated a quick sit on his lap for a photo documenting their first official Santa visit.

Both Alena and Alivia told Santa what they were hoping for on Christmas morning. Alena stuck with her fancy Taylor Swift guitar request and Alivia put in a request for a horse (let's hope she's talking the stuffed variety here).

After their visit we hit the Starbucks kiosk adjacent to the Santa set up and the girls enjoyed a coffee (hot chocolate) with mom and dad. Dad introduced Alivia to hot chocolate last Thursday and let's just say she's a fan. His calling it coffee and her having her own little coffee-to-go cup adds to its appeal, I'm sure.

While Alivia finished her coffee, Alena opted to walk with mom as Trace and Alysse hinted they would rather ride in the stroller, taking in the sights, than sit at the small Starbucks table. With each lap we did around Santa's gazebo, Alena stopped to wave, check out what he was doing and most importantly, just make sure he was still there.

About three laps into our "walk," she was becoming a bit of a Santa stalker, having waved several times, given him "five" when he got up to throw away his Starbucks cup and completely sizing him up from head to toe. Truth be told, Santa was probably glad when Alena was waving good-bye for the final time that morning.

On the way home we had to field questions about Santa and his beard. According to Alena, Santa's beard looked different than it does in our "Santa's Rockin'" Wiggles DVD. I attempted to explain away the difference by saying that Santa has to trim his beard. My explanation, however, wasn't sufficient, as she continued to question the difference.

Jason went on to tell her the video is a few years old, so Santa looks a bit different on it than he does now. That seemed to work a bit better. Later that night, having some time to think about her beard concerns, I realized that the Wiggles' Santa wears a costume beard, whereas the Santa we visited had the real deal. Give the kid some kudos for her astute beard observations.

This Saturday the older girls are attending a breakfast with Santa at the YMCA where Alena goes to preschool, let's hope this weekend's Santa looks fairly close to the St. Nick we saw last weekend, otherwise we'll be forced to get really creative with our answers.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Our full house

We've had a good run, but it's over. Four darlings in two and a half years and we're officially done. "Out of that business," as Jason put it.

I wouldn't change it for the world. Yes, the rest of the world thinks we're crazy with four so young at once. And some days ... there are those days ... I'd have to agree. However, more times than not, I'm content in the craziness and unfazed by what surely looks to be chaos from the outside.

But, it was time. A decision not taken lightly and given careful consideration from many a perspective. How selfish am I to be satisfied with the children we have (blessed four times over) when there are two couples near and dear to my heart who would do anything on any given day to have a child, or in one pair's case, just one more?

To them it must seem unfair, really, that I'm taking our four and running. Getting up from the table, far more ahead than I came to it, and leaving the game. My winnings, so to speak, a fortune by any one's standards. It's not a gamble anymore, I've won and the prize, a gift not everyone can have.

I came to the conclusion, however, it would be far more unfair to be expecting another and to be less than thrilled about the proposition. Learning a baby was on the way was a joyous event each and every time for me, and deserving of nothing less. It would have broken my heart not to have been overjoyed upon seeing a "plus" sign. We had reached a point in our lives that a plus sign would have left me saying, "What?"

And in 33 years, I've learned a bit myself. I know in about four years, nostalgia will take hold and I'll long to hold a little bundle cradled tight in my arms. I'll have forgotten the constant pooping of a newborn, the endless bottles and the night after night after night of interrupted sleep. I'd begin to wonder, "What if?"

What if we had just one more? What if Trace could have a brother? What if there was a baby in the house again? What if we could put to good use all we've learned about pregnancy and caring for a newborn?

What ifs aren't a reason to have a baby, and neither is nostalgia.

Alena, Alivia, Trace and Alysse also deserved consideration. In four years Alena will be seven, Alivia will be six and Trace and Alysse will be knocking on the door to the kindergarten classroom. Who wants their mom dragging a baby around to kindergarten field trips and first sleepovers? Given the sacrifices they've made in a family growing so large in so short a time, as they grow older, they deserve a chance to do their big kid things without the distraction of a baby who needs constant attention.

Above all, however, in my heart of hearts, I know we're complete. And when that yearning sets in, I'll have wonderful memories of the babies we once had, and more importantly, a house full of terrific children who are potty trained, able to feed themselves and (with any luck) sleeping through the night.

Always willing to lend a hand(s)

The dishwashing helpers continue to become more adept at removing silverware and plates from the rack. They now come crawling out to the dishwasher after every meal in anticipation of the big black box being opened. Should you need any help unloading your good silver or china, we'd be happy to loan them out.

Monday, November 12, 2007

All she wants for Christmas

Alena's appreciation for country music took hold at an early age. I think it was at her first birthday party she danced to Faith Hill's "Mississippi Girl." Needless to say, as with most hobbies or interests, it has continued to grow with time.

Her list of favorites continues to grow ... Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean, Carrie Underwood and Kelly Pickler. Her repertoire includes dozens of songs and sometimes I hear her singing along to a song I myself don't remember even having heard. She's becoming a bit of a country music encyclopedia, as she could tell you who sings most any song that comes on a country music radio station and what the artist's last hit was to boot.

Granted, she is a country music listening fool. We typically have the radio on after the morning news and she sleeps with a radio tuned in on her dresser as well. Still, she sometimes amazes me with the music she knows and that there are songs she can identify upon hearing just a few notes.

With all this country music love, there also comes dislikes. Kenny Chesney's "Blink," for example, can't come on without her commenting how she doesn't like "this" song. And George Strait, sorry, she's not a big fan. We learned this after watching the CMAs this week as a special afternoon treat compliments of Tivo.

At first I wondered if her tastes in music just resembled what mom and dad like. I now know that's not so. I'd take Brad Paisley to her Carrie Underwood any day. And dad would opt for, well, just about anyone over her latest favorite ... Taylor Swift.

Taylor Swift is everything a little girl would appreciate. She's cute, has long blonde hair, wears cool cowgirl boots and has the girliest dresses going. And probably, most importantly, being a high school senior, she's not much older than most of her fans.

At 17 she's released two albums, the latest of which contains only songs she wrote or co-wrote. Granted, Taylor Swift doesn't write the world's most earth shattering or thought-provoking songs, however, I have to give credit to any 17 year-old who's got two albums under her boots and writes most all of her own material.

Needless to say, Alena is Taylor Swift obsessed. I can't even count the number of times she's put Taylor's latest single on her little CD player and paraded around the living room singing along. She has a costume dress she has dubbed her "Taylor Swift" dress and a Taylor Swift poster in her bedroom.

Dad claims he now knows the reason little girls are the way they are ... Taylor Swift. I, on the other hand, maintain Taylor Swift cannot be blamed for little girls' attraction to frilly dresses, sing songy melodies and all things pretty.

Taylor's most recent object of girl envy is a sparkling guitar. Covered with Swarovski crystals, it was first seen in her most recent video for "Our Song" and made an appearance at the recent Country Music Awards. You can't see it and not notice it. Needless to say, Alena noticed it, noticed it some more and is all about it.

Saturday while discussing a trip to see Santa and explaining how little girls and boys tell Santa what they want him to bring on Christmas morning, the question was posed to Alena.

"What will you tell Santa you want him to bring you for Christmas?"

"A Taylor Swift guitar," was her response, needing no time to consider her options.

Yes, Santa is working on it.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It's an infestation

They're everywhere. And it seems like there are two dozen of them instead of just two. Since Trace and Alysse have become mobile, and quite efficient at getting themselves from point A to point B, we've been overtaken.

They now crawl faster than the speed of light, pull themselves up and consider going hands free for a couple of seconds before plummeting to their bottoms. But most importantaly, THEY GET INTO EVERYTHING.

Yes, a baby who has learned to get around, gets into everything. But chasing behind him or her, you can steer them clear of things other than their own toys, for the most part. You can't steer two clear of anything. One goes one way, the other goes the other way, and you're left deciding which one is causing the biggest disturbance.

Here's a scenario.

Alysse takes off for the coffee table where the Puzzle Pixie is doing her thing. Just as she's going in for the kill, Trace takes off behind Alena and her doll stroller. Okay, in the second and a half you've turned your head in reponse to Alena's squawking, "No, Trace man, get off my stroller," Alysse has pulled herself up and managed to tear apart half of Alivia's jigsaw puzzle.

Obviously the jigsaw crisis takes precedence, as Alysse is now inserting one of the cardboard pieces into her incredibly wet, drool-filled mouth, so you head that direction. Just as you remove the puzzle piece from her hand, Alena's protests grow even louder as a result of Trace pulling himself up on the stroller and bringing her baby's walk to a halt.

As you're walking in Trace and Alena's direction, you ask Alivia to please move the puzzle away from the edge of the table and out of Alysse's reach. When, before you can finish the sentence, Alysse has managed to bring another, completely unrelated and un-put-away alphabet puzzle crashing to the floor. Now she's got 26 pieces all to herself that are wood and therefore great teething apparatuses.

Okay, back to operation stroller. Pick Trace up from his stroller stance allowing Alena's walk to resume, only to turn as a toy grocery cart full of 117 pieces of plastic toy food (yes, 117 pieces, it said so on the box) comes down on top of Alysse. To her credit, she does still have the letter G in her hand.

This has been about three and a half minutes of our day.

The dishwasher is another favorite. Between the two of them, they can unload dirty dishes and utensils quicker than I can load them. And by some still undetermined skill, Alysse manages to put her hand on every knife in the silverware bin each and every time she pitches in to help.

Jason's coining them an infestation is truly the best description of what two crawling nearly nine-month-olds is like. As harsh as it sounds, they are like little cockroaches, scurrying to get to their destinations as quickly and persistently as possible.

Into each other, over each other. Heads colliding and sitting upon each other. Their mobility has created an infinite number of new obstacles, new adventures and new challenges. It only leaves you wondering which way to turn.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Everybody's wiggling

Footage of Alena and Alivia getting their groove on with Murray, Jeff, Anthony and Sam during a Wiggles performance at Xavier University's Cintas Center on Monday night. They rated the Wiggles' "Racing to the Rainbow" above Disney Princesses on Ice ... that says something.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tiny tot pumpkin carving

Carving pumpkins wasn't the highlight of Halloween for the smallest in our house. Alena and Alivia refused to stick their hands in the orange cavern after a peek inside. Alivia called the inners "pumpkin poop." Trace and Alysse's curiosity on the other hand, wasn't hampered.

Halloween fun munchkin style

Here's a look at the characters we had running around our house for Halloween.

Alysse as Nemo. Her crawling in the costume with tail fin sticking straight into the air was half the fun.

Trace was a super cute Dumbo. Taking a rock in dad's recliner before trick or treating he looked a bit like a Dumbo who had had a few too many ... peanuts.

Alivia portrayed a perfect Tinkerbell. We're convinced the candy is her favorite part of Halloween.

Alena as Cinderella. Short of a Queen Elizabeth costume, I don't think there could have been a better fit.

Here's a handful for you

To give is better than to receive. It's a moral lesson all parents wish to instill in their children. You can preach it, you can attempt to teach it through example, and then you're left hoping that it's somehow sinking in.

As Halloween came and trick or treat hours were upon us, we headed out to knock on doors and ring doorbells in the neighborhood. One block and about eight houses later, we were asked, "Can we go home and give out candy?"

Sure, we headed back to the most familiar house on the street. Cinderella and Tinkerbell took their positions next to dad on the front porch to await visitors. Trace and Alysse hung out inside in the entryway, looking out the front door and taking in all the action.

Once trick or treaters began coming, Alena wanted more. The more that came, the more our little goblins wished would follow. Kids that trekked up our driveway and opened their bags got handfuls of candy from our hander-outers. The girls loved it.

As 8 o'clock came and went, they stayed outside, asking when more kids would come. They still hand candy to hand out. For them, giving was far more fun than receiving.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

So now you're two

Alivia turned two. She doubled her age and this little blog didn't so much as note it. Not that her milestone was forgotten or overlooked, just belated in making its way onto the internet.

Finally HER day came. Her day when the world was all about her ... and not about her older sister or younger siblings. All. About. Alivia. It was long overdue and came without the fanfare and hype some others in the house demand.

She's getting so big. So amazingly smart, so wonderfully beautiful, so not a baby any more. Each day brings more independence and less reliance. Yesterday she walked down the stairs "all by myself." She can get herself on the potty and put on her own shoes. She's still working on getting dressed by herself ... it seems two legs always end up in one pant leg, but we're getting there.

She remains the most big-hearted person I know, despite her pint-size stature. While these days find her easily frustrated and not always as tolerant of baby pests as we'd like her to be, when you get down to the nitty gritty, she's got a heart larger than any other person I know. She's full of love and compassion.

She so wants to do everything Alena does, and most times manages to copy her older sister's accomplishments. And while she can be a monkey in a china cabinet one minute, she has a timid side about her when she's presented with unfamiliar surroundings or people.

Last week at her two-year check up, the nurse at the pediatrician's office asked if she has a vocabulary of two dozen words. Check ... she can say guacamole. The nurse went on to ask if she can put two or three words together to form short sentences. Check ... I think "shake your booty" qualifies.

It doesn't seem that two years have passed since we welcomed her into this world. I guess every mom thinks that on each one of her children's passing birthdays. But, this one's packed a lot into two years. To compare her to other kids close in age, she seems so much smarter, so much more mature. Perhaps out of necessity, perhaps due to nature.

I will never forget sitting in the ob/gyn's office for my six-week postpartum visit with tears in my eyes as I confessed to the midwife I didn't "feel the connection" to baby number two that I did instantly with baby number one.

"What is wrong with me?," I can still hear myself asking with my heart breaking that I even had to ask.

"History," she said. You don't have history with Alivia like you do with Alena. Give it time, was her advice, and in six months, when you've developed some history with her, you'll laugh that you sat here and asked me that question, she said.

She was right. So very right, right, right.

As days turned to weeks and weeks into months, Alivia and I developed our own relationship that belongs only to us, and my love for her is unmatched. She's got her very own place in my heart, reserved just for my pixie and never to be held by anyone else. And right next to it is a spot where I secretly admire her unique spirit (of which I am envious on a daily basis) and wish that it's never broken.

And now you're two.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Super captain turbo power

Until Tuesday, the captain needed his super turbo captain power engaged before he could launch into crawling attempts. The super turbo captain power? Crying.

Get a good cry ramped up, add being a little pissed off that he wasn't getting an immediate response, and he was off. Slow, but steady, he'd put his head down and pull himself along in a direct line to whichever might be the closest set of arms able to hold him.

We'd joke that he could crawl when this turbo power was engaged. Without it, he'd sit, roll and drag himself along. No crawling.

But then today came, and without any fanfare, the little guy took off across the living room, no wailing, snorting or shrieking needed. He headed toward the front door, open due to the nice weather. Once there, he sat a while, checking out the door and looking out to the street. After proper inspection of the neighborhood had been made, he turned around and headed back to the living room where his cohort in crime was playing.

As he made his way around the house, it was if a whole new world existed for him. He can go where he wants, see what he wants and all without needing to engage the turbo.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Simply put, this child is a beauty.

From the inside out, she's beautiful.

From early on, I called her "my beauty," yet each day she gets more beautiful and tightens her grasp on my heart. Silly one minute, engrossed the next. Onery this time, just wanting to be one of the girls the next.

A joy every mother should experience, she's easy to please, almost always smiling and an armful of love each time you hold her.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sunday morning princess dreams

Disney on Ice's Princess Classics made its way through the Queen City over the weekend and our little Cinderella and Snow White had great seats for the skating extravaganza. Sunday morning at 11:30, we found ourselves sitting in row A of a lower section of U.S. Bank Arena. A spot perfect for two princess seekers.

Choosing to wear their best princess garb, Cinderella (Alena) and Snow White (Alivia) fit right in with a great many other little girls dressed in royal wear. Putting on the princess costumes was half the fun for them, I think. Alena proved fit for a ball, making the trek to and from the venue wearing her diamond-studded, slightly-heeled Cinderella slingbacks (yep, she's going to be trouble once she hits the teen years).

As soon as the lights went down, the girls sat mesmerized by the princess fantasies, costumed characters and stories (most of which) they are familiar with. There was a huge elephant featured in the "Aladdin" segment of the show that I thought would make Alivia's eyes pop out of her head.

Dwarfs danced, magic carpets flew and fairy godmothers waved magic wands. And Alena and Alivia sat taking in every minute. The princess costumes were a dream come true for any little girl. The character costumes made even a mom think the dwarfs and mice had come to life.

While Alena was bound and determined she would dance with Belle or Cinderella, even when the show came to a close and she hadn't gotten her dance, she left completely satisfied with having watched the pageantry. Alivia sat surprising still throughout the performance, which managed to hold her attention up until the last ten minutes or so when she conked out on my lap.

Our trip was full of Disney magic, fit for our special princesses. A dream is a wish your heart makes when you're fast asleep ... only this time we were wide awake.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Family fun at Barn-N-Bunk

Alena's preschool class took a field trip to Barn-N-Bunk Farm Market last Tuesday. Dubbed a "family fun day," families were invited to join in the adventure, allowing mom, dad and siblings to share the experience. Given the cool, but perfect weather, our entire family participated, and we truly had a day of family fun.

The outing was a great chance for Alivia to spend some time with kids close in age, and get to be a part of the "big kid" action. Alena was a great hostess for Alivia, letting her take part in all the fun with her school friends and offering to introduce her little sis to classmates.

The day started with a hayride around the farm. The girls were thrilled when jumping aboard. Two mazes later, one straw and one corn, the preschool class helped stuff a scarecrow that later appeared outside their classroom door for autumn decoration. The trip concluded with each child choosing their own pumpkin and an apple and cider snack.

Family fun was definitely in abundance. The girls had a fantastic time and it was nice for all of us to get out and do something together ... something that's not happened a great deal since Trace and Alysse joined the family. It was a chance for us all to experience a new place with the people we love the most.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The perfect puzzle pixie

The pixie has finally gotten her own time to be the boss of the house. With Alena at preschool two mornings each week, Alivia has gotten a taste of what it's like to rule the roost. Preschool starts at 9:15 a.m., Trace and Alysse typically go down for morning naps at 10 a.m. That leaves the little pixie at least one hour when the world's all about her.

Given this free reign, I ask each day what she'd like to do. Nine times out of ten, her response is "puzzles" as she's mid run to the spot where they are all kept. Then, for the next hour I watch (and sometimes provide some very limited coaching) as she completes puzzle after puzzle after puzzle.

As much fun as she has solving these "problems," I have more just watching her fit each piece together ... turning, thinking and maybe turning once more. In the puzzle arena she excels and really, she's quite amazing to watch. With each piece she picks up, you can just hear her thoughts considering where it might fit and which way it needs to be turned.

We started out about a year ago doing very simple put-piece-in-hole puzzles. Those became so rudimentary, that she graduated up to Alena's 12-piece simple jigsaw puzzles this spring. Now the little pixie can put together 28-piece jigsaws that I'd be willing to bet most four- and five-year-olds would think about while working.

What makes her so talented with puzzles, I can't quite put my finger on. While I'd never say it out loud, I think she could out puzzle Alena most any day. She just has some gift. Until I piece it together, I'll keep watching my puzzle pixie and savoring our time alone.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Preschooler tattoo time

This is what you do when you're too young to enter a real tattoo parlor. It's more convenient since your sister can give you the look you want. It's not as permanent, as you can stick and restick those babies as many times as you'd like. And the pain factor ... well, the loss of a little leg hair beats the real deal.

Monday, October 1, 2007

What a mess, times two

In no way am I complaining. Actually, most days I have to look in wonder at the mess two little people can make in a matter of 20 or 25 minutes. Baby, plus finger food equals big mess. Big mess times two equals, well, sometimes I'm not sure how to describe it. "Mess" just doesn't do it justice.

God bless them, we're down to each Trace and Alysse drinking one bottle during the day. It gets served about 6:00 p.m. as Alysse starts her "I've got to have it" grunt. Trace then gets his since once he spies a bottle he too thinks he must partake. Other than the formula served a la nipple in the evening, all other bottle drinking is reserved for nighttime hours. Yep, given our track record we've still got months of that ahead.

However, in place of all those bottles, we now serve pureed baby food, finger foods (Cheerios, puffs, biter biscuits, squished goldfish crackers) and table food broken into baby-sized morsels (they love black beans and any bread product). I'm ecstatic. During the height of our bottle drinking days we'd wash, dry, fill and serve between 16 and 18 bottles per day. Our inventory of 30 bottles kept us a day ahead, accounting for dirty; filled and waiting; and filled and being used bottles.

As we've advanced up the food chain, we now throw away eight empty baby food containers each day. And that's not taking into account the empty cereal bowls they practical lick clean each morning. They are lean (well, sort of), mean (not really), eating machines (yes, that part is definitely accurate).

The messes are impressive, and their patience always limited when it comes time to clean up. To date they've mastered losing Gerber biter biscuits by somehow getting them stuck to their shoulders, storing nearly half a dozen puffs under their chins and managing to pack an ear practically full of Gerber chicken noodle dinner. Delicious.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

And she's got one ...

The last first tooth we're likely to ever have in our house emerged Friday. Miss Alysse, the "baby" of the group, was the last toothless one in the house until September 28 when her bottom right tooth made its appearance.

A spotting of the second bottom one hasn't been made yet, so she might be a single-tooth snaggle puss for a bit, but cute nonetheless. She celebrated her first tooth with a biter biscuit and half of a canister of puffs.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Captain Two Tooth

And we have our first first tooth teeth. Trace's first tooth was spotted Thursday morning, September 20. While feeding him his breakfast cereal, something white caught my attention. Of course, I immediately went in for closer inspection, and sure enough, there it was. Just a little nub of a tooth, but by golly it was a tooth no matter what it's height.

The tooth spotting was actually a welcomed surprise that explained why he had been so crabby earlier in the week. On Tuesday, after a day that could not have had any more whining packed into it, I told him I would have to put him up for sale if he didn't wake up a bit more calm and patient Wednesday. Once I saw the tooth it all made sense. (And no, I would NEVER really put him up for sale!)

Dad found the second tooth just this afternoon while the two watched football in the recliner. Obviously the second wasn't quite as painful as the first, as he was in good spirits yesterday. Nonetheless, Captain Two Tooth is on his way to a full set of chompers. Now, if he could just spread a little teething love Alysse's way.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Birthday season is upon us

Like the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's, we have a stretch between the middle of September and Halloween that's our own little holiday season. Beginning with Alena's birthday continuing on with Alivia's birthday and ending with cute costumes, birthday season is upon us in the Scott household.

Alena enjoyed the first of three birthday parties Sunday at Butterbean and Papa's house. She shared the birthday spotlight with Claire, who actually turned three on Saturday. There were balloons, presents galore and two birthday cakes (one of which Alena couldn't keep her hands off). Alena was quick to blow out her set of three candles after everyone sang birthday wishes, and even quicker to dig into her cake and ice cream.

Grandma and grandpa got the presents off and rolling in style with a new set of wheels ... training wheels and helmet included. The shiny red bike is an eye catcher with chrome, basket for transporting the essentials and an "Alena" license plate. And with just a little coaching, Alena was quickly pedaling on her own around the driveway.

Her cute new mode of transportation was followed up by the prettiest, girliest, hot mama pajamas you've ever laid eyes on. Of course, as soon as they were pulled from the gift bag, she was stripping down to try them on. A scooter, roller skates and several very cute outfits were opened wearing the new hot mama threads.

Besides presents and cake, the afternoon also included a miniature pony; haircuts for anyone who needed one; a birthday kiss between Claire and Alena that brought them both to the ground; and a pinata filled with candy three-year-olds love.

We'll be slicing into at least two more birthday cakes this week as we celebrate on her actual birthday, Thursday, and then again Saturday when Jason's family joins in the fun. The candles will be burning, the wrapping paper will be flying ... yep, birthday season is upon us.