Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Birthday, Anneliese!

Anneliese is five today! FIVE! Five seems like such a big number. A new era.m Part of me can't believe it's been five! whole! years! But mostly I'm just excited to see what another year will bring to our joyful kind sweet baby girl, who is turning into a delightful cool little person, right before our eyes.

Some memories from the last year (also known as the year Anneliese wore that rainbow 4 shirt many times every week):



(If you can't see the embedded video, click here to watch it on YouTube.)
(To watch in a mobile browser, click here.)

And if you want to see Anneliese from the beginning:

Her first year
Her second year
Her third year
Her fourth year

Happy birthday, little lady! We love you!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Diaper De-Stashing

So here's a weird thing that caused more Feelings that I should admit: I sold our whole stash of cloth diapers.

Charlotte is potty trained, and Ali has her own, and... it was time.

I know this is a thing that parents should rejoice about, being out of the diaper phase. But mostly, I feel sad, a little bit because of the babies-all-growing-up thing, but mostly because I have loved these dang diapers.

Maybe more than I should have. I'm not sure that capital-F Feelings about diapers should be a capital-T Thing, but for me it is. I mean, LOOK AT THEM THEY ARE SO PRETTY.


I admit it. They made my days cuter, and made the unpleasant task of baby changing more fun. I'm not ashamed of my love.

I saved one cover to be sewn into Anneliese's baby clothes blanket, and saved one tiny/worn diaper for each kid, for doll and stuffed animal dressups. And I sent the beautiful Furman purple one to a very sweet Furman baby down in Texas.

But other than that, they're all sold (on various online diaper-selling forums and online swap groups) (yes, such a thing exists, in a very big way), and paypal collected, and shipped off to new owners. WEIRD, RIGHT?

Know what's also weird? Seeing the tiny baby, for whom most of these were purchased in the first place, suddenly a big kid helping you package them up to ship off.

Oh, man. It makes my diaper-loving heart go pit pat.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Anneliese at Almost Five

It's October 7th again, and I don't need any stinking timehop notifications to remind me it's Anneliese's due date. Baby Beanie! Who was due on this day, five years ago. FIVE.

I can't believe she's almost five.

I know from experience that five is an awesome age, and while the passing of time is always a little sad, and I will miss her babyhood, mostly I am excited to see what five brings for her. She has grown up so much in the last year. She's gone from a kid just pulling out of toddlerhood, into a... little lady. It is so cool to see. She's a bright spot in any day - happy, joyful, friendly. Delightful, basically.



Amongst our three, she seems like an extrovert, but out in the wild compared to the general population, decidedly less so. She's not shy, but she's not the most outgoing in a crowd either. She's friendly and chatty and easy to talk to.

She loves to swing, and play dress-up, and have books read to her, and dance. She hates being cold. She loves bright colors, as many as possible at the same time. She's never seen a rainbow anything that didn't thrill her.

She attaches to people and craves their love and wants to be with them. She and Nathan remain almost inseparable when they're home, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. There was a hurtful exchange of words last week that shook them both up (me too!) but even that, they've come right back from. I can't believe that five years ago right now, Nathan didn't even know her yet. His life, like all of ours, is so much better because she is in it.

I think, actually, that Nathan and Charlotte and Ali might each name Anneliese as their favorite -- she's a real middle child in that way. She adores them all and is happy to be the in-demand playmate, bouncing between trains and princesses and snuggles and dinosaurs and coloring.

When she does want to be alone (unusual, but it happens) she wants to sit on the deck and look at the sky and the pool. Or swing as high as she can, while singing a song at the top of her lungs. Or lie on our shoulders and close her eyes and suck her thumb. Or paint a picture in neon colors, covering the whole page til there's not any white.

She remains ever loyal to Hattie, who is more flat and less green every year, yet as loved as ever. I made Anneliese a friendship bracelet in June and she requested a matching one for Hattie, and now they both have rainbow bracelets they wear all the time. Yes, still. My four-year-old has been wearing one single bracelet for almost five months. And hasn't lost it. Which, considering the rate she loses everything else under the sun (on my gravestone: ANNELIESE WHERE ARE YOUR SHOES), is pretty unbelievable.

She is incredibly helpful at home (especially with Ali, much more than she ever was with Charlotte... maybe just an age thing?) - fetching things and soothing tears and zipping jackets and putting socks on toddlers. She loves helping. Her teachers at preschool tell me she's the same way there.

You'd think this would mean she's great at cleaning up, but no. NO. NOPE. She leaves a trail of mess behind her wherever she goes, somehow shedding stickers and glitter and feathers and toys that she must pull out of thin air, just to drop on the ground. Some days she literally leaves rainbows in her wake.

She'd rather roll around in a mess giggling than clean up, when it comes time. Well, until the giggles turn to sobs. Cleaning up usually ends in sobs. The effort she will put into not cleaning up seems so much harder than just... cleaning up. I don't get it.

Like every other almost-five-year-old in America, she loves Frozen. She also likes to watch Daniel Tiger and My Little Pony, and she loves the Olivia books. She likes nature magazines and she pores over the American Girl Doll catalog any time it comes in the mail (how can this be starting already?? curses, CURSES to whoever got us on that list).

Her love affair with cottage cheese seems to be over, which makes me sad, even though it's gross and I can't fault her for finally realizing that. But it was her first favorite food! These days she loves hot dogs and bananas and yogurt and mac and cheese, and -- her very favorite food in the world -- Daddy's spaghetti.

She sometimes says really profound things without knowing it: I was sad when that didn't happen, but it's okay because it felt good to hope for it.

Whoa.

She feels her feelings, big, all of them. Sometimes that means she hurts, and it's hard to watch, but mostly I'm really glad she's like that. I'm wired the same way. I get it. It's a curse but mostly a blessing.

She asks every Friday to have a sleepover with Nathan, and we always say yes. She asks every night to be tucked in one extra time. She asks every night for us to leave the hall light on til we go to bed. She tells us every night, still, for years now -- love you night night, like it's all one phrase, like a good-night is always connected to love you. We all say it that way now. She's a good influence on us.

Happy due date, Anneliese. You delight us every day with your kindness and your sweet heart and the joyful way you love people. You are a ray of sunshine to those of us who get to be around you. It's tempting to believe I love you so much that I couldn't possibly love you more, but I know I will again tomorrow. You keep chasing those rainbows, little lady.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Some Other September Things

Here are some other things we did in September (alternate title: let's take a journey through my phone's camera roll) --

One Friday night when Marky was working, the kids and I made popcorn and turned the lights off and snuggled on the couch and watched a movie together. We had never seen Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. It was delightful.

I snuggled with Ali a lot. Because she is also delightful. She's turned into a super happy baby recently. I'll take it.

We took a lot of pictures at the bus stop. Some days, even in non-yellow shorts.
(Anneliese now has a carpool ride two days a week --
they pick her up from N's bus stop!)

Anneliese learned to brush her own hair and suddenly she's a teenager.

Charlotte did her first round of swim lessons. She can't swim on her own yet but she also didn't poop in her swimsuit at all, so that's a hearty win.

Nathan got a bad case of swimmer's ear (seven years! three kids! our first ear infection!) and we barely slept for several nights and he was generally miserable and in pain but it's over now.

I did some more preschool homework FTLOG.

Another Nathan came for a weekend to visit, he and Mark shucked some corn fresh from Minnesota and grilled dinner and we played with the kids and ran errands and it was all right and normal and good, and then we waved bye til next time.


Anneliese and I painted our toes yellow.

We set up Mark's old phone with Nathan's email so he has a way to text/call us (through google hangouts) and we can leave him home alone for an hour or so when we need to. One night he was home doing his homework and practicing, while I hopped over to church for a few minutes for preschool orientation, and Mark had the girls at dance. This is what texting with a seven-year-old looks like:

Anneliese's cutie friend Beatrice has been with us for a few afternoons, and as always, we love having her around. (Especially when she can pull some cheerfulness out of Anneliese these days.) We decided these two are competing for the best-dressed award at the weekday school.

Charlotte got in the habit of wearing a cape to go poop. Like you do.

Nathan graduated out of his first cello (from this eighth-size to a quarter-size, coming soon). He's very excited but I am mostly sad. His first cello! Aw. I will miss this tiny sweet thing.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

September in the Pool

Hey know what's great about North Carolina? We get to wait til late September (the proper time) for fall to really start, and even then it's interspersed with enough warm days that we still get to swim, too.  So we have been spending a lot of time this month out in the pool.

And Mark got a new work phone, and a new LifeProof case for said work phone, so you can bet yer ass I jumped in the pool with that thing and took some pictures, straight away.

I never thought I'd see the day when Nathan, Mr. "I Don't Like the Spray" himself, willingly, happily, swimming underwater.






Also the underwater hand-holding just slays me. My sweet babies. I love my family.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Fridays With Anneliese

After weeks of little Anneliese being weepy, and trying to make time for just our sweet middlest by herself, we have kind of worked ourselves into a nice Friday routine with her. (It's the only morning of the week when Charlotte and Nathan are both at school, but she isn't.)

We bring Nathan to his track club before school, and then drop Charlotte off at church, and then we go to Starbucks for a coffee and a cookie. We talk about whatever she wants to, and she tells me about her friends and her favorite colors and asks questions I could never fully explain to a four-year-old ("what is money? why can't we see it? is it like God, like it's there but we can't see it? why can I hear my heart beating when I am trying to sleep? maybe some day can we find a new swing for the swingset but like one that has rainbows on it?") but it's a good time to be with her and listen, and we both love it.

If Mark is off work, we leave Ali home napping and go do something with just us. One week we got no-good-reason pedicures together, which was awesome and sweet.

Or, when Ali is with us, Anneliese is glad to have time with me at home. She colors or paints, glues things she finds around the house to paper, and calls it an art project. (Please no one tell me we are trashy if my children think that beer bottle caps are "treasures.")

She still wants to color pictures for people, and write letters too, even though all her letters say the same thing, exactly, the only thing she knows how to write: Hi I love you Love Anneliese.

(It's also what I write on a note in her lunch box every day, because it's the only thing I'm sure she can read. Hi Anneliese, I love you! Love Mommy. And she keeps them all in a little sandwich baggie in her room, even though they're all basically the same, because she is just the best.)

Most Friday mornings she also FaceTimes with Another Nathan in Minnesota, not that she has a whole lot to say, but she likes to see him and giggle and tell him about nothing,

Some weeks she will go on outings with Mark, whatever errands he has that he's glad for her "help" with, or to get things at Costco and eat pizza there together. She loves some special time with him too.

She, like all of us. sometimes needs one on one love, that is only about her. And especially in what seems to be a hard season for her, we want to give extra of that, and more extra, and more.

Also she's just really fun and sweet to hang out with.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Lemurs and a Lunch Date

I am weeks behind and was just pulling pictures off my phone and look what I found! We had a whole day of lemurs (which has turned into a lemur-chattery month) and I never blogged about it!

On labor day, Mark was working but Nick and Barbara were off (and therefore home with Ali), so it was a good day to do some big-kids things with just my three. We had an imax gift card from Nick and Barbara, so we decided to go see the 3-d movie about lemurs in Madagascar.

Not the animated one, this documentary one. And it was so good. If you have kids who like animals. watch it. It's under an hour. Recommend.

It was the perfect level of cute and informational for young kids, without being terribly dumbed down. Nathan loved it. (That kind of thing is totally his jam.) Anneliese hung onto it really well too, and Charlotte was also amused, although it took us all day to convince her they were lemurs and not "silly jumping monkeys." When she finally decided they were lemurs, she pronounced it wee-muh, which is, well, hella cute, and also only one of the reasons lemurs are my new favorite animals.

Want to know all the reasons? Sure you do.
1- they're freaking cute
2- they're prehistoric primates, they survived what killed the dinos!
3- the females are in charge
4- they communicate by singing! like whales!
5- wee-muh, in Charlotte's sweet voice

I'm not even that into science or nature, I mean, it's fine, whatever, I'm not usually particularly fascinated by it or anything. But I am so taken with these lemurs. There's a lemur center up the road at Duke, and we will totally be going there soon. I've got my eye on you, Groupon.


So anyway after the lemur movie we went to the science museum for lunch (it sounds random, but a delicious family of restaurants here in Raleigh has one of their locations at the science museum, and they have the best iced coffee in town, and it's a very cool place we like).

We ate, and then we gave three cheers for Charlotte going potty in a public bathroom (her first time not at home! wooo hoooo!) so we didn't feel in a rush to get home. We wandered through the museum for a while, saw some whales and water and weather exhibits.

When the girls and I got scienced out, we hauled Nathan away from his fun! facts! and picked out some wax paper dinosaur silhouettes to make stained glass decorations for the bonus room windows.

(I remember when I used to think I would never have such tackiness in my house. Hahahahaaaaa, 2007 Erin, you're cute.)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Birthday Pie, a Pinata, and a Tire Swing

We went to Mt. Holly a couple weeks ago for the day, to see my sister and her family and celebrate little Liam's birthday. I can't even believe he and Charlotte, the Bumgarner "babies," are now three. Wasn't it just a minute ago Ashley and I were pregnant with them, bumping bellies and laughing about them being kissing cousins? Stop growing up, babies!

But, three he is, so we went to a big family birthday gathering to celebrate.

My kids both loved and were terrified by the Grices' tire swing. Uncle John swing them really high; the shrieks and laughs were something in between fun and fear. He and Liam seem to have a daredevil gene that my children do not.

Yes, Charlotte is bottomless. I was trying to prevent a poop/underwear situation. Three is fun, y'all.

They also strung up a pinata for Liam and all the assorted cousins, and everyone got to take turns trying to smash it, but not blindfolded because again, three. Charlotte hit that thing exactly as delicately as you'd guess she would've.

It was so very Charlotte. It made us laugh.

And the cutest thing all day -- Liam doesn't love cake, he loves pie. So Ashley made him a birthday pie. So awesome.

He sang to himself. Also awesome.

It was a fun playful day with family and grandparents and uncles, and we had a late drive back but it was worth it. Happy birthday, sweet Liam!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Odd Melancholies

Behind on blogging excuse #617: I have odd melancholies right now. Like, I need to complain, but I'm not sure what about, exactly. And I'm tired oh so tired, which I know is a tired song (see what I did there) but I keep singing it because it keeps being crappy. Tired of being tired and all that.

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Some housewife honesty: some (many) days it feels like almost everything I do is for someone else. And instead of feeling happy or fulfilled by what I want to think of as a service role, it mostly makes me feel ugly feelings about the people I'm caring for.

If I could just get aloooooone that would be SUPER.

I need to work on some boundary setting or something. I'm feeling a little over being treated like a public commodity. I love taking care of my people, and I know it's also my job to do it.... and, also, right next to those feelings, is some exhaustion at the constant demands, and the assumptions (intentional or not) that I must exist solely to take care of them. Yknow? Yeah.

I want something -- well, more somethings, more often -- to be for me. And I want to not have to fight so hard for it to happpen. I'm not sure what to do about that, but there it is.

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A bunch of my friends from my old job were in Amsterdam a few weeks ago for a work thing that looked like a lot less work than play, and I didn't want to feel jealous, but... I totally felt jealous. I know that if I were there, I would have been so sad missing my kids' first days of school and such. I know I can't have it both ways. I know. But.

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Some days I can't believe how busy I can be and how bored at the same time. Other days I am high on life and filled with love that I get to do what I do, because it feels like the best thing ever. Hmm I guess I don't have to feel the same way about all the things, all the time. I need to remind myself of that.

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Anneliese has been very weepy for the past few weeks. Kind of, just, well, always on the verge of tears. She has spells of cheery playfulness and then she seems pulled back down. She is needing lots of time alone with mommy or daddy, and lots of hugs and time and space to cry. It's more than just moodiness, or playing us for attention, we know her and we know that's not what's happening here. Mark and I have both talked to her a lot, and to her teacher, and we think we understand what's causing some of it, at least, but it is still hard to see her feeling sad.


In the last week she has seemed closer to her normal sunny self, which we are glad for, but if that thing about how "parents are only ever about as happy as their least happy child" is true? Then aching for sweet Anneliese might explain my own sense of melancholy too. Will y'all say a prayer about this funk she's in, please?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

First of Fall

It's fall! Happy beautiful fall! To those of you who have refrained from drinking your pumpkin-spiced things until today, I thank you. You, my people, are part of the solution, instead of part of the problem. Here, have some bonus Erin-loves-you points.

It actually got legit chilly (well, NC version of chilly) this morning for the first time, and sometimes I like it when the the weather aligns perfectly with the calendar. It will get warm again, surely, and the leaves aren't changing yet, of course, but I did put a leaf sticker on my to-do list, so there's that.

(Yes, really.)

The kids put on warm(er) clothes which always makes me want to hug them extra. Charlotte (whose giant bruise is courtesy of falling out of her bed yesterday morning, oh my accident prone delicate flower) has been counting the days til she can wear this new owl sweatshirt, and when she put it on she kept saying "Bow owl has pockets!"

Yes, sweetie, the owl has a bow just like you always wear, and there are pockets, and I am delighted by your delight in those things. (The hood also has ears, which she says are her favorite part.)

Also mostly these days she just cries at everything and nothing (THREENAGER), so hey if this sweatshirt is what quells it, I will take it.

Nathan also eagerly pulled out his new favorite sweatshirt, from Montreat, and if this cooler weather means he stops asking to wear the yellow shorts every day, I will take that too.

Anneliese has been sad of late, and she did not want a picture (unusual for her, in any kind of mood), but rest assured she looked falldorable today too.

Welcome back, hoodie season!