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.