Sunday, July 27, 2014

Favorites (Movie) Party

So, here's a fun thing to blog about in an emotional roller coaster of week/weekend: we had a super sweet birthday party with Nathan yesterday! He had asked several months ago to do a movie party, which sounded easy and fun enough -- and got even better when Another Nathan said we could reserve his neighborhood's clubhouse movie theater for our own private show. Fun, right?! (Also free free free YES PLEASE.)

He went round and round and round about what kind of party he wanted, and even when I assured him he didn't need a theme or anything ( theme could just be "hey it's your birthday come watch a movie and have cake"), he still kept debating on what kiiiind of party it would be, and at some point he started referring to it as a Favorite Party, which would have all of his favorite things:

- legos
- sperm whales
- dinosaurs
- space
- friend cars

I mean, if that right there isn't a cohesive party theme, I don't know what is. Someone hire me to plan their event. It will totally make sense. Swearsies.

So we did it. We had a party with all of those things. Dinosaur balloons and napkins, and friend car plates, and a planets tablecloth (which I just now remembered I forgot to even use, ha whoops), and we watched the lego movie, and I made a sperm whale cake. The blasted sperm whale cake that he asked me for many weeks ago, and I had no idea where to start with, and eventually I landed on a really complicated solution:
Step 1- Make a cake.
Step 2- Put a sperm whale on top of the cake.

So actually it ended up being an adorable (very random, but adorable) party. He had a few friends from church, one from school, and even one he met last week at Montreat, who told Nathan he thought he lived in Durham, and since Nathan thought he lived in Raleigh, it worked out for them to go to each other's parties (zomg adorbz). They all ate pizza and had popcorn from the theater's popcorn stand/kettle/thing, and played with glow sticks, and watched the movie, and then opened presents and ate cake. 

favor bags with Nathan's "favorites" --
pack of legos, toy whale, dino eraser, Cars candy, in a space bag

the sperm whale cake --
which I'm sure is how I will remember this birthday

After the party, the birthday boy spent the afternoon swimming in the backyard with Uncle Nick and Aunt Barbara, and then we had a family dinner at his restaurant of choice -- McDonald's. 

May all birthdays be so random yet so successful. Cheers to SEVEN!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Nathan is 7! Happy Birthday!

Nathan is seven years old today! Happy birthday, little one. Your age sounds dangerously close to big-kid territory, but you will always be my sweet baby boy in my eyes. We love you more than you can even wrap your adorable fact-loving brain around. So, so much.

(If you can't see the embedded video, click here to watch on YouTube.)

Memory lane video links:
Sixth year
Fifth year
Fourth year
Third year
Second year
First year

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

News: Moving Still Just Isn't That Fun

My week has been a mixture of this friendly smile, back in town for one more week --
our last Wednesday coffee date... **sob**

-- and the sight/smell of cardboard boxes (the most useful thing to come from the craigslist free giveaway listings in a long time), which are everywhere:

In case you were curious, moving isn't any less sucky even if you're not the one who has to do it.  Okay that's not true.  This is infinitely less sucky than if I had to move myself. But it still one of the least fun things about being a grown up, and hey! friend! if you decide to just stay in Raleigh, you never have to pack any more boxes! that's worth it, right?

(Kidding.) (Not kidding.)

Hey remember that time Another Nathan helped us renovate a house and pack and move and painted for weeeeeks on end? Yeah, that. So I will just be over here making lists and packing things and trying to be half as helpful to him as he has been to us. Next box, please.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Due Date Update - Nathan at Almost Seven

Yes, yes, you read that blog title correctly. It has been seven years, and I still remember/love/hate/notice due dates as much as I did when my babies were still quietly kicking away inside me. And it remains a good time for updates, so here's what's up with Nathan these days:

He is very bright. His love and obsession surrounding dinosaurs has branched out to other kinds of science and animal kingdom factoids, with a special fondness for whales and other animals that are as old as his favorite dinos. (We are very very into sperm whales in particular, these days. Did you know that sperm whales live in every ocean of the world? Did you know that they are the most fascinating kind of whale? Because they have about ten fascinating things about them and other whales have only about four or five.) (That is basically a direct quote.)

He is also newly re-interested in the friend cars, especially the second movie, which is totally not as good but does have cars from around the world and he likes to ask questions about different countries and their flags and languages and such. I remember sometime when I was a kid, going through a phase where I wanted to look up flags of the world in the encyclopedia (adorable right? you know that flag page was the best! it was!) and it seems so unreal to me that my own tiny baby is old enough to show his own interest in that kind of thing. It seems like such... big kid territory. I don't know.

Relatedly, he has learned that he can type almost anything into the YouTube search box and watch a video on it. Which could be dangerous for some kids but little adorkable Nathan is just high on documentaries about dinosaurs and whales and how trains are made, and African animals, and really boring (he denies it, but it is true) people who collect and show Disney and Pixar toys, which basically numbs my brain but he would watch forever if we'd let him. These are also the kinds of things he wants to read about. I have to really talk him into reading stories. He would much rather read fun! fact! type things, which... I mean, okay? Not what I would read (Ramona! Buddy! Get on board! That is good stuff!) but he is his own little creature and I like that he likes what he likes, yknow?

He is still a little on the small side, just below average on the growth charts for his age, but tiny next to his peers, considering he is one of the youngest for his year, and there are many (many) kids who red-shirted kindergarten and are more than a year older than he is. All of which is fine, he doesn't seem to mind, and Mark was always the tiny one in his class growing up, so they can bond over it. And maybe next year his feet will actually touch the floor when he plays his cello! One can hope!

He still loves playing with legos and trains and he loves doing choir and orchestra, and he is a braver and braver swimmer. He is a fast runner and loves to be outside. He seems to be somewhat outgrowing his need to "look cute" (or his definition of that has changed) and most of the time he wanders around in gym shorts and no shirt and no shoes. We keep it rull classy around here.

He remains a pretty sensitive kid, easily offended and hurt (and then crabby about it), but also quick with a kind word or note for people he loves. He is so. much. moodier. than he was a year ago, and I hear that seven will bring even more 'tude, so I am trying to brace myself, and also feel ready to just roll with it. He loves his sisters fiercely, and stays very glued to Anneliese's hip. They have sleepovers in each other's rooms every Friday night (I guess Charlotte will join them when she is potty trained?) and although there are times it pains me to see Charlotte struggle to keep up with them and be included (which is a post for another day, maybe), I would never ever begrudge those two their closeness and attachment to each other. I think Anneliese has maybe been the most important person in Nathan's life since the day she came home from the hospital, and still is.  I could do with less bickering most days, but he is just such a good big brother that is hard for me to remember a day when his life didn't include that role. Weird.

As I am writing this, he is reading over my shoulder and wants me to also say that his YouTube videos are definitely not boring.

So there's that.

Happy due date, sweet Nathan! Almost seven!

Monday, July 21, 2014

More Montreat

So, Montreat. It was once again a spirit-fueling week volunteering at youth conference and hanging out with dear friends and baby Nathan (and no one tell me he is almost seven because no, he's a baby). It's kind of amazing how far from real life it feels up there (and, on the flip side, how obtrusive real life feels when it comes crashing back in).

This year was so much the same as last year and also so much was different. The youth in my small group this year were so easy, so chatty, so smart -- they connected way faster than I thought they would, to me and to each other, and leading through those sessions made the week fly by. The conference leadership was different, of course, which made keynote talks and worship and music all take a new feel, which was fine -- even better in some cases, and some felt lacking, all of it completely normal as the experience of one year morphs into the next.

I roomed with my awesome friend Liz from last year, and little Nathan stayed in an adjoining room with Another Nathan, and our little family suite (with another friend Nick, right next door) ended up being really fun and sweet. It took a few nights for the Nathans to adjust to sharing a room, but it ended up just fine, aside from a few spells of kicking and a few spells of sleep-moaning.

We kept a cooler full of snacks and drinks in our rooms, and we spent our nights, once everything had died down for the day, laughing and crying and feeling our feelings all together. Dorm life at its best! It was lovely to have a handful of people I love so much all in such close proximity for a few days. Especially knowing that Another Nathan is moving in just over a week, we were glad to all hold each other close for a bit, in a faithy place, a beautiful place.

It could have been a really sad and emotional week, and it totally wasn't. I mean, well, yes, emotional -- the good-bye tears stay really close these days. But being in the busy and the joy of a huge conference was distracting and friendship-affirming at the same time.

Nick (who was formerly an intern at our church and now lives a few hours away) was hired leadership for the conference, like Another Nathan last year, and seeing him up there leading energizers and being a warm face and smile to a thousand youth every morning was a super way to start our days. Hanging out with him all week was a really fun reunion.

Also, can I just say, sometimes things/people in life are not as awesome as nostalgia wants to convince you they are, but after a week of fast friendship last summer, and a year of emails/texting/calling, I have to say for the record: LIZ IS. She is as awesome and kind and funny and sassy as I remembered, and maybe gets me even more now than a year ago, and being friends with her is just... really good. Really really good. Great actually.
How does Montreat make her hair so very good, and mine so very very bad?
And sweet little Nathan loved Montreat this year as much as last. He insists that his favorite place there is the dining room (um, wuuut?) but actually didn't eat much this week -- all while being insistent that we eat every meal there, and crabby at the times we went into town for real food. (I don't even know.) But he loved the big auditorium, he loved getting ice cream at the Huck, and he loved creek hopping again (with Mark! who came to visit for an afternoon! after him traveling last week, and not crossing his path on our own way out of town, we missed him terribly).

Nathan loved his club/camp (he was a Peanut Butter this year! super cute), which met in the infamous Montreat barn. And he made new friends -- one of whom invited him to dinner during the week at his grandparents' Montreat house, one of whom will be coming to his birthday party here in Raleigh next weekend, and one of whom is the son of one of my childhood church friends, because sometimes this presby world is small and awesome.

He picked out a new Montreat hoodie at the gift shop that I could hardly keep him out of all week. He had fun playing with my mom (who came to visit one morning, and see how Montreat has changed since her own childhood). And he proclaimed the view of the inn (from the paddle-boats on the lake) to be "the most beautiful building in the whole world." So, yeah.

(Side note: because Nathan's feet didn't reach the paddles, and because Nick didn't want to steal little Nathan's front-seat ride, Another Nathan basically paddled all three of them around the lake for the better part of an hour. He was hot and tired from a workout when they came back to shore, while Nick and Nathan were all smiles and relaxation, and yeah -- I was amused.)

More pics:
Marky! At Montreat with us!
A thousand people playing with beach balls, nbd.

Someone leaves their phone on a pew, you steal it and take selfies. It's the law.
(That's Ann back there behind Nick. She is also delightful.)

This pic was really awkward like they were shaking hands with a giant check.
So I cropped it. But apparently am describing the pre-crop anyway?

My *awesome* small group #51!

Oh yes I did buy a Montreat TERVIS. I am not sorry.

Another Nathan was on the conference planning team and wore this
headset to call production on the keynote talk each morning.
He wore it well, but there was much hair-messing angst.

My sweet boy before worship one night.

My most bestest friend, who makes Montreat even better.

So yeah, it was a week of reconnecting with old friends, making new ones, thinking and praying well, singing loudly, and hiding from the emotional weeks of real life that are now staring us down. And it was wonderful.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Reunited And it Feels So... Tired?

My whole family is together! Under one roof! For the first time this month!

And we are all tired.

This is what happens when Charlotte tries to skip a nap:

Nathan is still recovering from post-Montreat exhaustion:

And Anneliese cannot get enough sleepy snuggles with me, or my new blanket.

(I do not hate any of this.)


Friday, July 18, 2014

Daily Anneliese: FaceTime Version

Nathan and I have been having a lovely week at Montreat.  The girls have been with my dad for most of it, but they are home now with Mark and we got to video call them this afternoon. Nathan and Anneliese were SO sweet and chatty that I had to take a screen grab of my phone to post.

They haven't seen each other in weeks and weeks and their smiles and giggles totally fueled some happy energy into my afternoon.

Love these two so much. Can't wait to see them reunited in a few days.

Friday, July 11, 2014

This Week: The Non-Tooth Parts

Well, it has been a hell of a week around here, not just with Charlotte's tooth stuff, but my general sense of overwhelm in trying to balance a super-sad baby on top of my own three kids, while flying solo without Mark. Plus the aforementioned broken a/c. Plus the pool turned green. Plus I have been trying to get ready to go out of town myself for a week, to Montreat for another year of youth conference, which involves the usual laundry and packing, of course, but also in this case packing for Nathan's clubs/camp too, and also prepping a whole week's worth of small group sessions I will be leading twice a day. It's... a lot. My brain is spinning.

So anyway in part of my tearful overwhelmed breakdown on Monday, I passed Ali to a nanny friend for a day, and spent some solid time with just my own three kids before Charlotte's oral surgery appointment, and it was (un)surprisingly lovely.

We went to the library and all stocked up on books. We are big fans of library day around here.

We went to Starbucks and drank coffees.

We went to Zaxby's and ate lunch. In the same booth, I think, as that one fateful snowy day in February.

We took a lunch break together the next day too, and went and got groceries.

And then we spent some time another day having a good old fashioned cleaning party, where my children happily cleaned baseboards and bathrooms and y'all, I don't even know.

(I sure know how to some "time off" don't I?? HA HA NO.)

Soon, my super friend Liz (from Montreat last year!) is flying in from Utah and we are heading to our conference again for a week. We will miss Mark by a few hours (he is coming home tomorrow) but I think he might come visit us there on Monday, when he takes the girls to meet my dad for their summer visit.

There are a lot of logistics and even more lists, and I am already tired, but that will hopefully give way to re-energized soon.

Am glad to get away for a bit.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Tooth, and A Turtle

So, this is the story of how Charlotte had her first visit from the tooth fairy when she was STILL TWO YEARS OLD.

Okay so we took her for her first regular dental cleaning last week. Milestone on its own, right? Well in the process of that visit, we learned two things:
1- she gets the award for being the most chill at the dentist (or maybe in almost any circumstance, actually).
2- she has a wonky tooth.

To be fair, we knew about the wonky tooth. Kind of. I mean, we noticed it when she was a baby; one of her bottom teeth got this dark spot we couldn't brush off, and then after some time the dark spot seemed to go away and it hollowed itself out into a little... hole? Or something? Which made the top of her tooth a little jagged but it didn't bother her and it didn't bother us, so we went on our merry way.


It turns out that little hole goes straight down to the tooth's nerve, which means all her everyday mouth bacteria gets in there, and since the nerve goes straight down to the root, well... you know where this is going.

Dissolved root, sitting in a big ol' abscess, and the only way to clean it out is to take the tooth. Fast forward six days later and she had a wee bit of dental surgery and it's now gone. So long, wonky tooth, we hardly knew ye.

Truthfully it was not that big of a deal (except that this has been a hellllll of a week with the air conditioner breaking //HASHTAG: ALWAYS SOMETHING// and the baby being rilllll fussy and Mark is out of town again, so I'm flying solo, and I basically had a breakdown on Monday. There was lots of crying. (Not just Ali.) Lots of cussing. (That wasn't Ali at all.)

Anyway. Anyway! *brisk clap* Charlotte's procedure was fine. She handled it great, no crying until the very end when Nathan and Anneliese came back to see her with hugs and kisses and she cried and smiled all at once. (Feelings are weird, kid. Welcome to your future.) She hated the numbness in her mouth and she spent most of the evening just nodding and shaking her head at our questions, since she wouldn't talk.

But she was mostly a champ, and she will be fine, even though her smile is different now and it makes me feel funny. (The same thing happened with Anneliese's injury. Somehow a baby-smile era ended, really fast, too fast.)

And last night, in a midnight panic for tooth fairy planning, a mini magnadoodle took the place of that little tiny orange treasure chest (containing a tooth, ewww) on her windowsill.

Oh! OH! And here is thing you wouldn't think is relevant to this story BUT IT IS: we found a turtle in the pool! We asked Charlotte if she felt up to swimming after dinner (*nod nod nod*) so the kids were out there playing and splashing, for a good while, and then suddenly Anneliese looked up and there was a TURTLE swimming happily right by her shoulder.

Y'all. Anneliese has never moved faster in her life than getting out of that pool and away from that turtle. She was terrified. Like, completely lost her sh!t. Abject weeping.

I got the turtle out of the pool with the skimmer basket (no, not with my hands. I am not scared of turtles, but I don't want to hold them with my hands, because they pee out of fear, and their pee smells really bad and is impossible to wash off, and don't ask me how I know this, it is just a thing I know) and set him free to roam on the other side of the fence, away from our pool and dog and kids. And let's just say if I were doing shots for every time one of the kids said "turtle" in the hour following that and bedtime, bedtime wouldn't have happened because omg "hey mom, turtle, turtle, turtle, mom, turtle, hey mommy, turtle turtle turtle TURTLE" was basically all I heard.

ANYWAY. All that to say, when I *ahem* the tooth fairy got into Charlotte's room last night to swap the magnadoodle for the tooth in the treasure box (y'all, do you ever just say sentences, and then stop and think to yourself wuuuuuut? parenting is everything and nothing I thought it would be), and she was half asleep in her chair, and promptly burst into tears telling me there was a turtle in her bed.

Okay, I won't lie. I checked. I did.

I whipped those blankets back, Fraulein Maria style, just to make sure. (It was late! I was a little creeped out, okay?) But there was no turtle, and it was just a bad dream, and it took some tricky maneuvering but the tooth fairy got the swap done under cover of darkness while soothing a turtle nightmare, which I'm pretty sure deserves some gold stars. Someone send me gold stars. Gold stars, please!

But then she woke up twice more, with the same turtle-in-the-bed panic, and neither of us slept worth crap all night. I was expecting a hard night because of mouth pain. I was not expecting a hard night because of a TURTLE PANIC. These are the things one just cannot plan for.

But she was still thrilled in the morning to find the mini magnadoodle. She has barely put it down all day, she calls it her treasure.

She has also told me numerous times that Another Nathan brought it to her. *head desk*

And that's the story of how Charlotte survived her first dental surgery, the tooth fairy, and developed a fear of turtles, ALL IN ONE DAY.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Awkward Sibling Pic, v. 11

Well, my kids have (mostly) figured out that the gabbles go on your eyes, not above them. And have (mostly) figured out that no one calls them gabbles but our family.

This is a framer, yes?