Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Proof positive

If there was any remaining doubt (can't really say much was left) that boys and girls are like night and day, it has vanished.

Scene one: Helping the girls in the bathroom this morning Trace saunters in and proceeds to use the step stool in front of the toilet to climb up onto the toilet and stand on its lid.

While we've become accustomed to his putting things into the toilet (a Dr. Seuss board book is his latest casualty), he's now added this bigger, better trick. And as I'm saying, "no, no, no," he stood there grinning at me, thrilled with his latest idea.

Scene two: A trip to the backyard removes him from any toilet incidents. Yet, turning my back on him for about three seconds provided just enough time for him to climb into the sand portion of the sand and water play table and get to his feet. Even Alena and Alivia weren't quite sure they were believing what they were seeing. You'd need to stand in it, why?

Scene three: After lunch while everyone else was reading books or doing puzzles, Trace completely emptied the bottom shelf of the bookcase and climbed into it. "Why is he doing that mom?," Alivia asked.

"I don't know," was all I knew to say. Because I too was asking myself "why would you do that Trace?"

"He does boy things," I followed up. This seemed to satisfy her need to understand. Although mine was still a bit unsatisfied.

The task of removing all books, blocks and puzzles from the shelf certainly wasn't worth the space he then had to climb into. Not to mention the two dozen times to banged his head into the shelf above. A seat on the couch would have been more easily gained and comfortable.

Oh, but that's right. The couch is for running, climbing and other various stunts.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A better than fair day

What's not for kids to love at a fair? Junk food, rides and animals. All things that make them smile, bounce around and ask for more. Our visit to the Butler County Fair's opening day proved not to disappoint them.

Alysse loved the chocolate covered cheesecake. And holding it herself made it even better.

This little police car was an attraction for Alivia. The lights on top even worked!

Okay, maybe not as fun as his ride on the REAL pony, but he enjoyed it nonetheless.

She simply had to ride by herself. Who needs dad to hold them anyway? She's getting as big as she looks.

A 4-Her was kind enough to offer Alena and Alivia a chance to pet her duck. Of course, the girls took her up on the offer.

Friday, July 18, 2008

From one oldest to another

My Alena Grace:

There are benefits of being the oldest, the first born. No hand-me-downs, everything you get is new. You're always the first to do something new or reach a milestone ... first to walk, first to have a first birthday, first to start preschool. By default, a bigger deal is made of all your "firsts."

You were the first baby I'd ever held that was my own. The first baby to be brought into our home to stay. The first to teach me a mother's love. The first. It has its privileges.

It also has its disadvantages. Also by default, I expect more from you. You should know better than to jump on the couch. You should know better than to hit. You should know to share. You are the oldest, after all.

By this birthright, right or wrong, you are responsible beyond your years. Greater expectations and discipline are sought from you. You become the target of my frustration, brokenness and exhaustion when you have no ability to understand any of the three. And for all of it I'm sorry.

I see in you the worry-wort, hot-head and caretaker that I believe are genetically yours. Passed down from myself, your grandmother and your great-grandmother. All first born, by the way. I sometimes see these traits in you, and wish I could somehow undo them all. I also wonder how much I've taught you, versus how much you were destined to acquire despite my example.

Chances are you will always expect more from yourself than others do. Chances are you will worry constantly, and when there's nothing left to fret about, worry about that too. Chances are you will feel responsible for things you have no control over or ability to change. Chances are ...

In life, though, you take the good with the bad. What you get in high expectations, you don't get in hand-me-downs. You'll have to accept my desire to instill discipline in you, in exchange for a part of me only you will ever get to hold.

However, despite the unfairness, our conflicts because we both know best and all the other "bad," I promise you unconditional love you'll never know from another and the promise you'll begin to understand it all when you hold that very first baby of your own.

Until then, please try to understand I only want the very best for you, even if it brings out my worst.

Love, Mom

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ten things

Ten things I'm loving right now ...

10. The window boxes we've added to the bottom floor windows across the back of our house. A little birthday project for myself, and a wonderful addition to our backyard. The beautiful blooms and fragrance they add ... euphoric.

9. Sugarland's new song "All I Want to Do." Simply put it's catchy. All four of the kids dance as soon as they hear it and Alysse sings along with the chorus.

8. Flip flops and painted toenails. I think Alena has worn flip flops since she started walking. She's a bit flip-flop obsessed. This summer we've got two little girls flipping and flopping. Plus, they both simply HAVE to have their toenails painted (theirs always look better than my own do).

7. Grilling. I've always preferred a hamburger off the grill, but we've gotten braver with our grilling this summer. Besides delicious food, an added benefit is Alena and Alivia love it too. They'll eat an entire New York strip steak between them when dad's grilled it.

6. Alivia's bird bath/squirrel feeder/bird feeder area. First came the brightly colored bird bath from Jungle Jim's, then a hummingbird feeder, then a regular seed feeder. Add two corn feeders for the squirrels, and Alivia's little nature preserve in the backyard has provided us all with entertainment. Spotted so far: a deer, four mallard ducks at one time, a chipmunk, an entire pack of squirrels and more birds than you can imagine. Jason's waiting to see a rhino. Fun and educational.

5. Our Little Tikes sand and sea play table. I've loved this thing since the first day it made its backyard appearance. Surviving its second summer and going strong, this diversion manages to occupy all four of the kids at once. Not a small feat!

4. Alysse's cute baby tan. I swear the little one gets greased from head to toe with 50 SPF every time we're going to be outside for a period longer than 20 minutes or so. Still, she has managed to acquire the cutest baby tan ever. Slap the stripped swimsuit on her and she looks like she could appear on Baby Baywatch.

3. New utensil users. Trace and Alysse have begun perfecting the use of forks and spoons. They are actually quite efficient at stabbing food and getting to their mouths when they aren't using them as weapons or drumsticks.

2. Water play. The kids love running through the sprinkler, a spray from the hose or rolling around on the sprinkler beach ball that made its way home from Target this summer. The squeals and gasps as the cold water hits them is summer at its best.

1. Alena and Alivia's imaginative play in their play set. The upper part of our play set is a bit "treehousey" and the girls have taken to playing in it like a playhouse. The step from one level to the other makes a perfect seat as one drives the other to Target or the grocery store. Sometime one goes to the doctor or they play house. I love the imaginative play and never dreamt they'd have such fun pretending.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Cute times two

Don't let the cuteness fool you. This pair is rotten, ornery and a bit more rotten. The smiles mean they're plotting!

P.S. Today I'm thankful for:

  • Trace falling out of his dump truck ONLY once today. His newest trick is standing in the back of his Tonka dump truck. TaDa!
  • Alysse falling off the couch ONLY twice today. Her newest trick is getting on the thing and then running from one end to the other. Giggles.
  • Alivia wanting to be cuddled after her nap.
  • the knowledge that whatever I may be struggling with, I'm blessed to have four wonderful children and a loving husband.
  • the chance to eavesdrop on phone calls received on toy telephones.

Taylor live (and with the sparkly guitar)

Seeing Taylor Swift in the flesh makes little fans jump, flail about and cause quite a scene. It's true, we've got the video to prove it.

The girls attended an afternoon of their first Country Concert in Ft. Loramie, Ohio on Sunday with Taylor taking the stage at 4 p.m. I'm told Alena and Alivia stole any attention Taylor was getting from the crowd immediately surrounding them.

They had a ball and are ready for next year's Country Concert. Taylor, you'll be back, right?

Make sure you don't miss the boot kick at the very end of this. She means business!

Let's not even imagine the new heights Alena will be able to take sass to when she's another ten years old or so. She does get points for grace, though, as she manages to maintain her performance without disturbing the pile of beer cans next to her.

I've titled this video "Pixie Pogo." Watch as Alivia sizes up the men in the back of the video and then starts jumping to see if they'll follow. Yep, it worked. Next she'll check back to make sure they're still going.

Alivia on the cooler stage dad's friends put together for the two.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Our crazy little world

Some days are crazier than others.

You know, those especially crazy days when there's a praying mantis loose in the kitchen, when foam blocks create a maddening war of "this block is mine" or when the Pixie is hell bent on wearing the damn sock monkey pajamas eventhough the next day's forecast is 90 degrees and the pajamas are long-sleeved and flannel.

One of those days when the crazy factor is ramped up, even for us.

At the end of the day, you have to pat yourself on the back for surviving the day, figure you'll give a few unsuspecting visitors a chuckle with a glimpse of the crazy you've lived and wonder if the crazy can possibly get even crazier.

(For the record: Trace is always provided ample clean, cool drinks. Apparently siphoning a drink from the garden hose is easier than picking up the sippy cup at your knee.)

P.S. Today I'm thankful for:

  • the end of the day when the bizzare things the kids have done are a bit more amusing than when we're actually living them.
  • how incredibly cute Alivia looks in pigtails.
  • a few minutes that Trace wanted to be held and loved. I know too soon he'll be too busy for such things.
  • Alena's intensity (even though it's sometimes frustrating when we're at odds).
  • Alysse's understanding of so many of the things we say to her. She now "gets" nearly everything said to her.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A recent study shows

three out of four children prefer $3.99 laundry baskets to the $1.45 million they have in actual toys (the fourth had her nose stuck in a book).

Maybe they do, I just don't see it

We can't leave the confines of our home without someone commenting about how much the four kids look alike. But, I don't see it.

At some point in time I thought Alysse resembled Alena. Therefore, months ago I would have agreed that "yeah, there are a couple of them that look alike." However, now there's no resemblance at all among them ... at least in my eyes.

Apparently they must look alike to some degree or we wouldn't hear the statement made so frequently. So why is it that strangers see the common look and their own mother doesn't?

It's a little thing called personality.

I know them. Not from the outside in, but from the inside out. I know their temperaments; their likes and dislikes; how each reacts differently presented with the same situation; and what causes heartaches, fits and laughter in each one. I know them as individuals.

The most beautiful thing about the foursome is that each is his or her own person. That four little beings came from the same parents, are cared for in the same manner and share similar life experiences, yet are so very different is something to admire.

There's the clown, the diva, the scrapper and the terror (I'll not place labels and names together ... a mother shouldn't do such things). All so incredibly not the same, they couldn't possibly even look similar to me, I suppose.

I've given up trying to disagree that I don't see the likeness. I now nod in agreement as strangers marvel at all the seemingly "look-a-like" little faces, and comment how cute they are. In my heart, though, I know better. They may all be cute, but there's not one anywhere close to being like another.

P.S. Today I'm thankful for:

  • what a great big sister Alena can be to her siblings.
  • the joy that seeing two swimming turtles brought Alivia.
  • Trace getting closer to a full set of teeth (new tooth arrivals means more teething behind us (Trace teething = excessive whining)).
  • Alysse being my baby. A mother deserves her last to be as special as she is.
  • our new patio. Albeit, totally materialistic, but I'm thrilled with the addition and the added outdoor space to enjoy.