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.