Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Laura is THREE today.  Three years old!  The big 0-3!  I can hardly believe it.  I look at the pictures from her past birthdays, and each one seems like it was just yesterday.  Just yesterday that I saw her serious furrowed brow for the first time.  Just yesterday that she flounced in her first tutu.  Just yesterday that she blew out two candles all by herself.3year_collage

Laura's birthday party was a lot of fun, but not at all what we had planned.  Alas, when the birthday girl throws up the morning of her party, there's not much you can do.  She was only sick the one time, and seemed to be ok.  We called our guests to let them know, and half bailed.  Laura wound up hosting four friends for a ballerina princess balloon dance party.  Laura and her friends had a great time, and that's all that mattered.3yeara

At three, Laura didn't have much concept of how I had envisioned her birthday party.  So she didn't really care that only four friends were able to come.  Alas, our poor birthday girl had no interest in eating her cupcake.  I felt so sad for her!  She blew out the candles, chose her cupcake, and then just stared at it till her friends were done eating.

Our house wasn't nearly as tidy or organized as I had hoped it would be.  But since I was relying on tiny elves to clean it in the night for me, I suppose I shouldn't have expected much!

As I had planned, my coworker did the balloons for the party.  They were so adorable!  Tiaras for the girls, crowns the boys.  A sweet little Belle to watch over the cupcakes, and a taller-than-Laura ballerina to welcome our guests!

party2 party1
Laura loved the balloons, and is still playing with them days later!  We have had to rescue a few balloons from Gavin and his teething!  Gavin, by the way, devoured his first cupcake and loved every bite.  The cupcakes were Betty Crocker's finest: rainbow chip cake with Supreme White frosting (dyed pink by me!).  I know my limits, people!  I decorated the cupcakes with some cupcakes toppers by Meri Meri.  My mom found them at Home Goods, and they could not have been a simpler way to decorate the cupcakes!

For food, I made PB&J and Fluffernutters for the kids.  Not that any of the not-hungry three year olds ate them!  I had black bean, butternut squash and swiss chard chili for the grown-ups.  It was delicious and devoured!

So we wound up with a very small party, rather than the large one I was planning.  I didn't put any tulle on anything.  We didn't need the Angelina Ballerina board game I bought in a panic.  No one noticed that I wasn't able to make all the food pink.  And the party was lovely regardless.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,
Yesterday morning, Nate paid $3.99 to rent Disney Pixar's latest, Brave. I'm so glad he did. Can you believe it? A Disney movie where both parents live!  More to the point, with so many Disney movies focused on the relationship between father and a mother, finally one that centers around the mother.  I didn't know this, as I drew Laura onto my lap during the first scene (where I thought for sure the dad was a goner).  I just snuggled Laura in close, and prepared to mitigate the scary parts as they happened.

And yes, I did have to talk through a few scary bear scenes.  But what I found myself discussing the most was the rather tense relationship between Merida, the daughter, and Queen Elinor, the mother.  Sound familiar?  It did to me.  If only the mother would listen to the daughter, I thought as I narrated to Laura the reverse, "You see Laura, the little girl needs to listen to her mommy!"

What mother and daughter haven't had their miscommunications?  Have you ever heard of a mother and daughter who didn't fight about what clothes to wear, what boys to see, or what life paths to follow?  Back in 1997, I was not allowed to go to the Freedom Festival.  I cried in my room for hours over the injustice.  I had NO IDEA (truly) that the festival was a rally for the legalization of marijuana - all I knew is that my friends were going and I was not.  With the hindsight only years and maturity can offer, of course my parents were right to keep me home.  I had no business being at that rally.  But to a teenager who was finally feeling included and welcomed by a group of kids at school, my parents' decision was heartbreaking.

I could totally relate to Merida while we watched Brave yesterday.

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But you want to hear the scary part? No, not the eipc bear fight at the end. The scary part was that I could totally relate to Queen Elinor, too.  Yes, Queen Elinor who asked ad nauseum to please keep weapons off the table, and please do wear this (hideous) outfit I lovingly chose for you.  For heavens sake, Merida - can't you see your poor mother only wants what is best for you? 

Laura and I bicker.  Already.  She'll be three years old tomorrow, and I am already drowning in mother-daughter drama.  She's not even three, and we already argue over clothes she can and cannot wear.  I can't help but think this arguing is somehow my fault.  I must be doing something wrong as a mother that we already yell and cry so often over such little things.  Just this morning, I forced Laura to wear an undershirt with her short sleeved tutu dress.  It was 30* out with freezing rain - I didn't think my request warrented so many tears.  Nor did I think I was being ridiculous or mean when I asked Laura to pee on the potty when she woke up.  Honestly, I thought everyone needed to pee - badly! - when they woke up in the morning.
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So to my own mother, I'm sorry.  For all the times I pouted in my playhouse for far too long.  For the times I fought the food you served for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  For the mornings you had to forcibly dress me for school.  For all the times I changed outfits after I got to school.  For those times I told you I had musical rehearsal, but really went to Lindsay's house after school.  For not taking Art History sooner.  For not confiding in you that I had met the most wonderful man... 

For as hard as it can be to be a daughter, it's even harder to be a mom.  I love you, Mom.  You have always been there for me, even when it hurt the most.  Thank you for being the best mom.

Your loving daughter,

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ballerina Princess Balloon Bash: The Planning

Laura is going to be THREE YEARS OLD in a nanosecond.  And while we have celebrated her birthday with family, we still need to celebrate with her friends.  Three-year-olds care about their birthdays, for real.  So obviously I need to plan some enormous party.


I promised (myself) I wouldn't go crazy for her first birthday.  (I sorta did)

I promised (myself) I wouldn't go crazy for her second birthday.  (I really did)

So this year, I was determined not to go crazy for her third birthday.  But... I'm well on my way to planning the craziest party yet.  I'm not sure how this keeps happening to me.  Except, perhaps in my determination to have Mom Friends, I am a little too inclusive when planning birthday parties?

All ten children I invited to Laura's party are planning to attend.  Which includes some 12-15 grown-ups.  As well as Laura, Gavin, Nate and me.  It all adds up to 30-something people at my house.  At 11:00 am.  On Saturday.  Oops.

But it's going to be a fabulous Ballerina Princess Balloon Birthday Bash!  Here are some of my inspiration pins from Pinterest!

Balloons.  Because kids love them... and my friend does some really fabulous balloon sculpture work!

Source: birthdaymagz.com via Lisa @ Charlie The Cavalier on Pinterest

She's making something along these lines to decorate our front porch!

Source: balloonaticscolorado.com via Teri on Pinterest

Crowns and sceptors, because all Princess Ballerinas (and their little boy friends) need dress-up clothes made of balloons!


These are the invitations I sent out to her friends.


I would absolutely love to make something like this for her cupcakes... but... I'm facing some time restrictions.


Remember how I was sick all weekend?  That stupid flu kept me in bed and unable to shop.  My wallet (and husband) are thankful, but I have yet to buy stupid things like plates and napkins.  So I doubt I'll have time to find a cupcake stand to decorate with tulle by Saturday!  I plan to start baking cupcakes tonight, which I can always serve on a large platter.

So far I'm three for three for planning "small - I promise!" parties that turn into huge affairs.  Three for three for scrambling at the last minute to get everything done.  And hopefully I'm three for three in throwing fabulously fun parties for my sweet, three-year-old ballerina princess!

Friday, January 18, 2013


Despite all my efforts to believe otherwise, and despite having no fever whatsoever, I do indeed have the flu.

My wonderful mother-in-law is taking Gavin to the doctor at 4:00, since I think he has it too. The saddest part is that I just want to snuggle my poor sick little guy, and I can't even be in the same room. I really hope Laura and Nate don't catch it.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Make New Friends

I was really lucky when Laura was born: our three best couple friends all had babies within a few months.  Three instant friends for Laura, and a group of new moms with whom I could share horror stories and seek guidance.  Lightening struck twice, when all four us of had our second children the same year.  We are able to lament potty training, sibling rivalry and everything else.

I hear all the time from other friends, my sister-in-law, and other bloggers how hard it is to maintain friendships with non-mom friends.  I hear you.  None of my best friends from college or even high school have children.  I do everything I can to maintain our friendship... but it's hard!  I can only go out for drinks on Thursday nights - and when I do, I have almost nothing beyond baby stories to share.  I'm sure my friends adore my children almost as much as I do (they are pretty fabulous), but it must be exhausting to hear about poop over drinks every time we go out.

And for that I am sorry.  Friends without (human) children (kittens and puppies are totally children) - I am sorry that I am not more fun on the rare Thursday night I go out for drinks.  I still love you.  You are important to me.  I hope you feel the same!

To my friends who have recently become moms themselves?  I'm sure you are feeling lonely and cut-off from your non-mom friends!  It's hard!  But here's the thing: you have to get out there and make NEW friends.  I promise.  It's life-altering.

I remember being so scared the first time I reached out to another mom at daycare.  I left a note in her daughter's cubby: "Hi! I'm Caitlin, Laura's mom. Laura talks about A all the time. I hope it's mutual. Here's my email, I'd love to have a playdate."

I shook with fear as I placed that note in the cubby.  I shook with nervous apprehension every time I checked my email.  Did this chick think I was nuts?  Am I nuts?  But lo!  She emailed, we set up a playdate, and it was FUN.  This same mom and I have made friends with a few other moms at school.  We have a monthly wine and craft night where we can have a few drinks, bitch about the woes of daycare, laugh about poop, and share recipes.  It's fabulous.

capesWe made superhero capes back in June!

Looking back, I can't imagine why I was so afraid to put that note in that cubby.  It's the best thing I've done as a new mom.  And if there's any advice I can offer to other new moms it's to do the same.  Put yourself out there.  Go to a mommy and me class, a meet-up, a story time at the library.  Take a deep breath, shake out the nerves, put your kid in a front-pack and get yourself out there.  New friends are wonderful.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sick Days

This little guy is getting teeth.  The two bottoms, to be exact.  I expect they'll be cute and photographable any minute.  For right now, they are sharp little things that are easier to feel than to see.


The down side to these little teeth is that he's had some low-grade fevers (and he'll be able to bite his sister soon).  Fevers means no school.  No school means somebody has to stay home from work.  That somebody is me.

Gavin and I were home yesterday.  It was fine because I was able to throw some last minute projects in my purse the night before, so I had about 4 hours of work to do at home.  And Gavin wasn't actually sick in the least, so I didn't have to worry about a sad little baby sleeping and drooling on my chest all day.  Nope, he was quite playful and into everything as usual.  Which was exhausting.  Trying to type reports while keeping the imp out of the dogs water bowl?  Nearly impossible.

The hardest part of yesterday was that around Noon I noticed a tight, hacking cough in my own chest.  The sort of cough that hurts, is completely unproductive and sounds like I have the plague.  The sort of cough that no one at work ever wants to hear from the next cubicle over.  And yet... I'm at work today.  Because as a mom, I have to save those precious sick days for my kids.  Even when they aren't really sick after all.

Here's hoping that I only have a cold, or maybe bronchitis, and NOT the flu.  Knocking on all the wood (particle, veneer or otherwise), chugging hot tea with honey, and trying to keep my germs to myself.
Linking up, because I think I deserve a gold star!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Party like a rockstar

My parents live really far from Maryland.  I don't get to see them nearly as often as I would like.  So their visit, in itself, is a party.

And if I'm going to have a party (and therefore a clean house), I'd like to make the most of it!  They were coming to town for Gavin's baptism, scheduled as it was in the one-week window that my sister, the Godmother, was home from her semester in Paris before leaving to head back to upstate New York for the spring semester.  (Life as a college kid is hard, yo).  And since it was only three weeks before Laura's third birthday?

Two parties.

We had Nate's family join mine Saturday night for chili, pulled pork, beer, football and birthday cake.  Laura got some fabulous birthday presents, and loved the attention.  Also?  She picked a really, really tasty birthday cake from the case at Giant.  Nice!

[caption id="attachment_2009" align="aligncenter" width="300"]baptism3 The almost-three-year-old[/caption]

Everyone came back on Sunday for Gavin's baptism.  It was a really sweet ceremony in our church's chapel.  There was only one other baby baptized yesterday, so everything was still very intimate.  Gavin didn't fit in the antique christening gown that my whole family (and Laura too!) had been baptized in, so we had to buy an outfit on the fly: tiny little khakis and a white oxford shirt - he looked so preppy and adorable!

baptism1 baptism2

We had all our guests back to the house after for a luncheon, catered by Wegman's.  We ordered two sandwich platters, were accidentally sent home with three, and needed every sandwich we had!  God works in mysterious ways, right?  Thanks to the Big Man Upstairs for keeping our family fed yesterday! 

In all, it was a crazy weekend.  But I'm still glad we did two separate parties in one weekend.  Laura had a chance to kick off her Month of Three with the grandparents she loves best (all of them), and Gavin had his own special celebration too.  Happy birthday Laura, and God bless baby Gavin!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My Beef with Dora

I have something I need to say.  This really bothers me, and I'm just not sure there's a solution.  It's been weighing on me for a while, and I need to get it off my chest. 

Dora and Swiper really bother me.

Wait, that's not earth shattering news?  Dora's ear-splitting voice is pretty obnoxious for a lot of people out there.  If you're like me, you'll do pretty much anything to get out of watching Dora - including tuning in to Strawberry Shortcake instead. *Shudder*

Dora's voice and the stupidity of the plot are annoying, it's true.  But is an aspect of the show that is almost sinister: the lack of true role models.

[caption id="attachment_2005" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Source: www.popmatters.com Source: www.popmatters.com[/caption]

Let's start with Swiper.  Why is it that we have to tell Swiper not to swipe three times before he'll listen?  And when he doesn't listen, why aren't there any repercussions for his actions?  I struggle with this, as Laura is a typical little kid - who often doesn't listen to what she's told.  I don't need a beloved sneaky fox (who is often in the car with us, which is just peachy) telling my impressionable child that it's ok to ignore the first two warnings.  I really don't need the beloved sneaky fox telling Laura that there aren't any consequences for poor behavior!  Swiper swipes the bouncy ball and hurls in into the tree - consequence: Dora forces her subservient monkey to climb a tree to retrieve it.  Swiper darts gleefully out of the scene, nary a care in the world.  Hardly the sort of role model to teach children about responsibility and listening.

But even more bothersome is Dora's attitude towards Swiper.  Clearly, Swiper is trying to get Dora's attention.  He's probably crushing on those sweet orange shorts, and doesn't know how to get her to notice him.  It's really sad when you think about it.  Swiper is putting himself out there, and Dora doesn't even begin to try to include him in any of her activities.  I try to teach Laura the power of inclusion.  I've been that kid left out, and I would hate to know that my daughter was on the other side, purposely excluding potential friends.  Perhaps Swiper would play nicely if Dora would only invite him into her inner circle from time to time.  Dora teaches exclusivity and is not a nice friend.  And her voice is like nails on a chalkboard.

I have tried talking to Laura about the evils of Swiper and Dora to no avail.  Laura is insistent that Dora the Explorer is the coolest.  Just this morning, Swiper swiped my mittens while getting into the minivan, and my hands were really cold driving to daycare.  I made Laura make Swiper apologize (and he did) - but I know he'll be back to his swiping ways again tomorrow.  I just hope Dora doesn't start telling me I can't sit with the cool kids at lunch.

Incidentally, I went searching on Google for an image of Swiper and found the above through this article.  It's a fascinating look at the Swiper phenomenon, and worth the read!

Monday, January 7, 2013

All her tutu'ed glory

I took my words last week to heart, and took tons of photos of both kids (which I then kid-picture-vomited all over my personal Facebook profile).  I'm not clever enough to have kid-picture vomited all over the Mrs. MidAtlantic Facebook page, so either you're welcome or I'm sorry.

At any rate, I have been pretty lazy about taking pictures of the kids lately, and that's sad.  They have such big personalities, and I want to remember every bit.  So here is my favorite series from one photo shoot of one dress-up session (there were many this weekend).

dressup 002 dressup 003 dressup 004 dressup 005 dressup 007

And one of the poor little brother, who will one day be able to say "NO!"

dressup 001

Friday, January 4, 2013

The 2nd Child

I keep saying (to myself in my head) that I'm going to post all these things about our life and how awesome it has been.  But I never do.  For a while there, I complained that it was because WP had such a crappy media uploader... but the latest update seems to be working really well, even on my ancient work computer with internet I can't update. 

I realized, too, recently that I have been really bad at taking pictures lately.  Ah, the fate of the second child!  I mean, I'm not taking any of Laura these days either in all her tutu'ed glory... but at least I have documentation of her first year milestones! 

Have I told you that this (not so) little boy is crawling like a champ, pulling to a stand, CRUISING on everything, trying to let go, trying to take steps...

All this, at 7 1/2 months.  All this, with no teeth.  All this, while still bald.


iphone 026

iphone 027

The life of the second child... he's behind on his well-visits to the doctor (and thus on his vaccinations).  I have no idea how tall he is, how much he weighs, or how big around his head is.  But I do know he is incredibly tall, extremely broad across, surprisingly thin (for all that) and his head is entirely made up of those rosy cheeks.
iphone 037

And without photographs, videos or doctor visits, I know that my precocious little second is minutes away from first steps and first words.  His babbling sounds entirely conversational - I swear he huffed and said "OK!" before attacking a toy the other day.  Nate swears he mumbled "ILOVEYOUDAD" in one breath before diving into a bottle (kid loves food).  He's rough and tumble and the sweetest most snuggly baby I have ever met.

He probably deserves a few more photos.  Laura probably does to.