Friday, May 29, 2009

Top ten list (zoo style)

Introducing the top ten things you are likely to miss at the Cincinnati Zoo unless you're visiting with us ...

1. Discussions of elephant poop, its size and its presence or absence from the elephant exhibit.

2. The sheer amount of food and snacks the four can consume after walking around the zoo for two and a half hours. Our stocked cooler came home empty and the snack bag had four measly pretzel stick/dipping cheese combos remaining.

3. The delight a 616 pound sea loin can elicit while swimming past only a thick pane of window away from 40 small fingertips.

4. A very interesting discussion of male versus female genitalia compliments of the zebras on display. Given our recent introduction of the words "penis" and "vagina" into our vocabulary, the conversation got lively.

5. A bump in the zoo train's path as it rolls over Trace's Blues Clues hat that has been tossed with reckless abandon. I had instant visions of the train wrecking at the hand of Trace and his impulsiveness.

6. Four eager, interested kids get zoo employees to pull out animals for private showings. This poor turtle didn't even see this group coming.

7. Complete fascination at a red-crowned crane who is protectively hovering over a brilliant ivory egg at her feet.

8. The hideous bruise/scrape Trace managed to acquire on his cheek upon it meeting a wooden bench. Apparently, the appropriate t-shirt choice had been made.

9. Children who kiss the carousel animal on which they rode. This immobile hummingbird got a big one from Alivia after her ride.

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10. Trace's laugh while "chasing" this small feline in the cat house. This had been going on several minutes before actual footage was captured.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

These real best days

Several years ago, in a previous life (I've had several), when Alena had been walking for only a short time and Alivia was still relatively fresh in the world, an older lady at the mall stopped to admire the girls and said to me, "Honey, these are the best days. Remember them."

At the time, I was trying to corral Alena who was proudly wandering in a deserted corridor of the mall, while trying to remember where the closest restroom was in order to change Alivia's diaper. The girls were happy. I was tired.

"Yeah, right," I thought to myself as I "no, no"-ed Alena from going any closer to a trash can. She was at that stage where she understood what I was saying, but the freedom she had found far outweighed any attention she paid to my voice. She moved quicker.

But, as I went on to change Alivia's poop-filled diaper in the public restroom (and I will always get the creeps at the thought of changing babies in public restrooms, it's a hang-up I have), I took her words to heart and committed the day to memory.

Three years and two babies later, though, I've learned that while that nice little old lady caused me to forever etch that day in my mind, those weren't the best days. These are.

And while there are now four kids who ignore my "no-no"s, at least they are all old enough to hear, process and decide against my warnings rather than being controlled by the freedom of first steps. Plus, there aren't anymore poopy diapers.

To help commemorate these new, true best days ... a rundown of the past week.

living :: outside, in the sunshine, soaking it up. Ahh, liberation from being confined indoors.

baking :: imaginary apple pies with water and pizzas with bright blue Crayola sand. Yum.

journaling :: in Alena's new "High School Musical" spiral notebook. She's meticulous in writing letter by letter, word by word, line by line and page by page. Today she declared she wants to write songs in it. Magnificent.

splashing :: in sprinklers, bird baths or anything that holds water. Squealing as the cool water hits warm skin.

roasting :: marshmallows in the backyard chiminea (as a bonus, I don't need to include "puking ::" to the list, even though nearly the entire bag of marshmallows was consumed).

chilling :: in bathing suits with sandy hands and grassy feet.

pouring :: water from cup to cup, cup to bowl, bowl to lid as water table play resumes outside.

eating :: at Frisch's Big Boy. The kids believe this to be fine dining (along with Skyline) ... we're fancy like that. And, only three of the four of them managed to get their elbows stuck in the slats of the chair backs during our recent lunch.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Four takes

Four children, four sparklers, four reactions. All equally funny to watch!

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Graduation day and such

There's a physical disconnect that occurs around the time a child turns four. They no longer need the rocking a newborn requires, the toting a non-walking infant demands, the coddling a toddler desires or even the reassuring babying a three-year-old craves. Four brings a bit of independence that's more sincere than the "I do it" desires a two-year-old projects.

Self reliance seems to become more real at four. The "I can stir it by myself" quip becomes a demonstrated skill while baking. And when she leaves the house with her little pink sequined purse, it returns home all in her own doing.

It's the age of "Mom, how do you spell (fill in the blank here)." She keeps a journal, after all. The age of selecting her own clothes for the day, and asking if dad has the "ability" and "availability" to doctor the blister on her heel.

And while hugs are highlights here and there, and sleepy eyes may predict tears and the need for a few sways in the rocking chair on my lap to overcome a bump in her day, the time she requires my holding her is merely a fraction of what it once was.

There's so much to do and see and play and learn. There are her own "babies" to take care of, the lessons she must teach the younger kids while pretending to be Miss Mandy and the small chores around the house that she undertakes at no one's request. All this leaves less time for holding.

In place of this lost physical contact, however, has grown the very best friend a mom could wish for. Someone who asks "Mom, are you okay?" if I grow quiet. Someone who sees the disappointment in my face when she's done something wrong. Someone who runs to hug me when she's done something great, and revels in her own power when she's done something so incredibly wonderful that it brings tears to my eyes.

As I've realized time and time again in this raising children gig, she's growing up. But at this juncture, it's not just up that she's growing. It's out and in and down too. Her self-esteem is now glaringly visible, her intelligence is overwhelmingly present and her creativity is relentless in its need for nurturing. She's a person all on her own. Separate.

So on this graduation-from-four-year-old preschool day, while she becomes less and less a part of me physically, she grows closer and closer to my heart as her own person. Alena, you make me happy, you make me proud ... I love you.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

It's not such a zoo out there

Me: "Well, we're back from the zoo."

Jason: "So how was it?"

Me: "Actually, pretty enjoyable."

Jason: "Who did you go with?" (Implying in his question that it couldn't possibly have been with the kids if I was being remotely upbeat.)

This was the start of the conversation Jason and I had yesterday afternoon after the kids and I arrived home after five hours at the Cincinnati Zoo. Alone. Together. By myself with the animals (I'm talking about the elephants and giraffes here).

For anyone now shaking their heads and pitying our children for our sarcasm, please be reminded that the divorce rate among parents of multiples is at least double that of the general populace (without factoring in the stress of two older children to boot). The fact that we're going to the zoo, talking about the zoo, joking about the zoo should garner points for our disparaging ways. Like it or not, it works.

Ridiculing aside, our zoo adventure was a tangible lesson in the total shift we've undergone in the last year. The move from surviving to thriving. From just making it to actually enjoying it.

A year ago, a trip to the zoo with all four kids required another adult's help, patience not possessed by most people I know and much sleep and/or alcohol after returning home. It. Was. Exhausting. Grueling beyond the point of being anywhere near enjoyable.

Fast forward twelve months and the word "enjoyable" was the first that came to mind in describing my solo zoo mission with the quartet. Given the obvious facts that I'm a year older, pounds heavier and steps slower, the "enjoyable" outcome of our trip must be that my fellow zoo goers are becoming more manageable.

We strolled along, walking together. Everyone was able to see the things they wanted to see, and do the things they wanted to do. There existed a spirit of cooperation among them that doesn't usually surface within the confines of our house. They enjoyed each other's company and got along.

They were thrilled with the day out and learned elephant poop is big; goats are fun to feed; and "cockatoo" is fun to say. I was thrilled with the day out and learned Trace loves the zoo; I sometimes forget how fun our kids are; and a renewal of our zoo membership is a must.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Kissing cousins

Introducing the first photo of Alivia, Trace, Alena AND Alysse with their newest, smallest cousin, Kolten. This little guy is the coolest kid on the block as far as his cousins are concerned.

Alena is contemplating a move two hours north when she turns six to help take care of him (she had previously told me she'd go to kindergarten, but was then going to get a job), and Trace whispers "I love you" as he holds him.

Happy looking

Ahhh, sunshine and spring temperatures make for happy kids. Happy kids who can be outside flying kites, riding big wheels and kicking back. All of it producing smiles, squeals and fun.

Alena enjoying some rays.

The guys sticking together.

Alysse breaking in her new Ariel big wheel.
The thing even blows bubbles.

Alivia manning her Minnie and Mickey Mouse kite.
She was quite taken with the whole kite flying concept.


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Footage from the Scott Family Speedway.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Doing

The last week has been spent ...

enjoying :: that each one of the kids would rather play outside than in when the sun is shining.

wondering :: how such a slob came from my loins (yes, mother, I realize you too must have wondered this).

savoring :: Alysse's need to be one of the girls, but a marcher to the beat of her own drum at the same time.

teaching :: no, that Cheerio found underneath your seat in the car is not an acceptable snack.

admiring :: how Alivia sees the world ... each gold finch at a time.

pondering :: how it is that I immediately know the thrower of the orange peel that flew into my lap during lunch(from the opposite end of the table, nonetheless).

cooking :: new recipe after new recipe from www.thepioneerwoman.com (if I turn up missing, I've run off to Oklahoma to meet this woman).

refereeing :: fights, disagreements and wars. Why is it that a long-forgotten toy always becomes the most popular when it's found in someone else's hands?

planting :: the window boxes are back, people.

vacuuming :: the endless supply of sequins and paper bits that are the byproduct of preschool artwork.

watching :: Trace with his new John Deere tractor and wagon. Tears are shed each time he must part with it ... the boy L-O-V-E-S this thing.

reading :: our newest favorite, "Martha Doesn't Say Sorry!" (not sure if it's a good sign or a bad sign that this resonates so well).

loving :: that I've already heard the "secret" song Alena and her classmates will sing to their moms during Friday's upcoming "Muffins with Mom" event.