Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Happy Birthday, Anneliese!

It's Anneliese's birthday! She's six! SIX! It sounds so old, doesn't it?

Another year has flown by:

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

(Other birthday videos: first year, second year, third year, fourth year, fifth year.)

It always makes me a bit sad and nostalgic watching my babies grow up, and watching all the past years of birthday videos makes me full of sappy tears and memories. There an ache to it, of course. But mostly, today, it's a warm ache, tempered by the lovely feelings of watching her grow into a person I really like and respect. She is a wonderful child, the world is better with her in it, and it is an honor to be her mom. My heart is full to bursting.

Happy happy birthday, dear Anneliese.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Anneliese, Almost Six

Last week in Anneliese's kindergarten class, she was the "owl of the week" (because just being student of the week is so last millenium?) and she got to ("got to") make a collage and bring a stuffed toy home and write in a journal about it, and also answer a questionnaire about herself.

One of the prompts was to name a dream she has for herself one day. Her answer? "See a rainbow." When I pointed out that she has indeed seen a rainbow before already, she said "Yes! And it was a dream come true!"

So, that's basically all you need to know about Anneliese and her delightful little heart these days.

But here is some more anyway:

She is reading, more and more. She is writing, more and more. Suddenly the world seems hers for the taking. (Hashtag: literacy, amiright?) She sings and dances and makes funny facial expressions and talks with her hands.

She plays with her American Girl doll and her baby doll and chats about Shopkins and Pokemon. She can build lego sets now, with only a little help from big brother. She can fix her own food and find her own tv show and she has her own email address, which she uses to send very important emails covering important topics such as I LOVE YOU and also I LOVE PARSNIPS and also HI BYE LOVE ANNELIESE, but with far fewer correctly spelled words than that there.

She remains obsessed with rainbows. And wearing as many colors as possible. In another of her school projects, she did a collage (why so many collages, teachers of America? whyyyy) or list type thing of her favorites -- naming her favorite color as a rainbow and her favorite animal as a unicorn.

She will not fit into someone else's fill in the blank, NO SHE WILL NOT. (In the most delightful way possible.)

And she is trying very hard to seem grown up, and to grow up, and to be taken seriously, while also clinging tight to a few vestiges of babyhood: her thumb, and Hattie, and dress-ups.

Anneliese seems to approach the world with the assumption that the world is out to delight her. And, therefore, it usually does. I think this is a good way to live. I think I would like to be more like her when I grow up.

I can't believe six years ago tonight she was still inside me, and now here she is, a bright-eyed funny smiling little kindergarten human, making the world better because she is in it. She is everything.

Happy due date, Beanie. We love you always.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Responsibility. How Do I Teach This? No Really.

Okay so, question:

How do you teach a kid to care about something they... don't care about? That's to say, how do you make a kid be responsible?

Because here's the thing: if we make them be responsible for a thing, then, by definition, they are not responsible for the thing. Because we made them. Which is the opposite of them being responsible for it.

Y'all, we are in a Season with Nathan. He is so bright, and so compliant, and also his head is in the clouds right now. He's just careless, on almost all fronts. His teachers have made a big deal about them taking personal responsibility for homework, no hand holding, no reminders, and are working on teaching them how to use a study agenda. All of these thing make my little planny heart just sing. Yesssss teach them to do it. Yes! YES!


He isn't doing it. He forgets his homework packets, then forgets his agenda, then forgets to turn in his homework packets, then forgets to get new ones, which days to take carpool home instead of the bus, then forgets his glasses, then rushes through a math test and fails it, then loses his homework folder (and agenda).

And when we ask about it and follow up and say (ad nauseum) YOU are responsible for getting it done, it is no one's job to give it to you or ask to make sure you got it, it is YOUR job to find out what you need AND to get it. YOUR JOB he is just... full of excuses. He asked but no one answered. He asked but someone said look at the board, but the info wasn't on the board.


I am going to pull my hair out. The words we are saying (not our job! your job!) are not sinking in, or if they are, they aren't enough to make him care.

How do I raise a kid to know that there is not going to be a personal invitation for him to do what he is supposed to be doing?

So in the early weeks of this, when we told him he needed to do all his homework for the week (do it and turn it in and get his new packet) in order to earn screen time for the weekend, he sneaked behind our backs when we had a sitter and played a computer game anyway.

And then lied about it.

Oh my god, there were tears.

And yes, we have worked through various consequences and rewards and such, trying to balance the notion that he has to earn privileges, with also avoiding him digging himself into such a behavior/reward deficit he can never climb out, and so just gives up.

He just... doesn't care. I am tired of caring more than he does. He is perfectly responsible and totally on it when it comes to stuff he cares about, but apparently right now homework isn't one of those things. He only cares when he feels in trouble. (Or, if he's reminded, he's perfectly happy to do it.) But I don't know how to move from that "on fire" moment of him wanting to smooth our displeasure, to him caring about it when no one is managing it for him, besides just... letting him crash and burn.

Which we did. He still does not care. (Failed a math test. Barely noticed.)

I feel super powerless about it, which I am. And I should be. It's his thing. But it's so important to me to convince him, somehow, of why he should care and feel responsible for things that are assigned to him. It's hugely important in life. And isn't this our job as his parents? And so, I feel like I am failing him right now.

My dad's advice on these things is always: just wait it out. Almost everything is a phase. Almost everything passes.

So I am trying to tell myself he is barely out of the first month of school, it's an adjustment, he will figure it out and begin to shoulder this stuff on his own, if I keep backing away and let him. Even if it means watching him stumble a few more times before he gets it.

How do I balance assuring him that I will always be here when he falls, with also being clear I'm not going to swoop in and prevent the fall from happening?

I am going to read this book everyone recommends, (which sure sounds like it espouses everything I think I believe about the kind of parenting I want to do), and cry some frustrated tear at both Nathan and myself.

Parenting: I'm always a little bit in over my head, yknow? *sigh*

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Churchy Firsts

Charlotte sang in choir for preschool chapel for the first time last week. After years of watching Nathan and Anneliese do it, it was finally her turn.

You would think by the third child, I would be hardened to the sweetness, and just smile and go along my way, because it's normal and we have done it a million times. But you would be wrong. I cried. I cry every time. It's just that sweet to me.

(She barely even sang, though, honestly. Classic.)

The weekend before that, she came and sat in the chancel with me on Sunday morning for the first time. On weeks when Mark works, it's sort of a delicate juggle of how I can sit in the choir and sing, and also make sure all the kids are okay in the service. We are trying a few things to figure out what will work best, but last week this is just a thing we tried.

She was super sweet and excited about it, and although I'm not sure will do it very often just yet, I was so glad to have her with me. Like an odd little milestone for our kids. It squeezed my heart a bit, I will admit it.

See? Sappy.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Clemson, Brene, Sunshine Charlotte

When I was in Illinois, Mark took Nathan to Clemson for a football game, and he met up with his college roommate Jeff, and his kids, and they all watched the game together. I can't remember the last time I have gotten happier sweeter texts from Mark while I was gone. It turns out that thing we all did in college, where we dreamed of the day we would be back in the fun college places we loved, with our college friends, and our college friends' future hypothetical children? Yeah, men do that too. And it's just as sweet and happy.

I love seeing Marky share his special joys with our kids. (The girls will get their turn next.)

I went on another road trip, too, just a quick jaunt yesterday to Charlotte to meet up with my sister and see Brene Brown give a talk downtown. We knew she would be good, but we weren't expecting her to be so funny. She was great. She is brilliant and sassy and somehow makes both her brilliance and her sassiness super... accessible? Yes, accessible is the word I think I want. Everyone should go and read all of her books, immediately, stat, post haste, yes right now.

A bonus of our night (besides our super ability to find the most flattering light for selfies, OBVS) was that we stumbled into the most random of random Mexican places for a snack before the event (like, random as in, they looked a little surprised to have customers at all, much less white lady mom types) and anyway it ended up being freaking delicious, but on top of that, a group of older men (post-work types? grandpa types? we don't even know) bought us drinks, and tried to buy us more, and just... whaaaa?

That is the first time a stranger has ever bought me a drink in public. It was not what I was expecting. They also did not speak any English. SO. Random adventures for the win.

This has nothing to do with anything, but look: here is Charlotte and baby Claire at the bus stop. She got lots of waves that day.

Also, it's a good thing she is basically a ray of sunshine (at least here) (ha), because this picture was taken the last time the actual sun was out. It's been over a week of rain. COME BACK, SUN.

I don't even remember anymore what this post was intended to being about when I started writing it but! This... (?) is apparently what it's about now! Hi!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Narcolepsy and Asthma

It's been a big medical week around here!

First, Mark finally had a follow-up with his doctor with the results of his sleep study from this summer, and it turns out he has.... narcolepsy. (I was going to add a drumroll, but I put that in the title, so you already knew, didn't you? You did.) Yes, legit effing narcolepsy. WHAT EVEN, Y'ALL.

We were expecting a diagnosis of sleep apnea (he has many of the symptoms, not the least of which is snoring that might break our marriage, or at least our marriage bed) but... narcolepsy? Although, once we got some info about what it really is (not what Hollywood thinks it is), it totally makes sense. Like, we both were like OH AHA WELL DUH. Things we had just sort of gotten used to as quirks or "whatever" patterns in our life and house, that we hadn't realized were as bizarre as they really are -- suddenly make sense. Honestly we both felt dumb for not wondering about narcolepsy sooner.

ANYWAY so it's super treatable and he can take a daily med and even just one week in, it's amazing and I love it and I know for him it will be an adjustment of course, but for me, this sh!t is awesome and I am so glad to suddenly have a chatty energetic husband in the evenings after work, and we don't have to store our catching up until his days off, and I don't have to keep him awake through the evening so he doesn't ruin his night of sleep, and and and and and. Our lives are about to get better, I think.

(Snoring is unrelated. His doctor has ideas on that too. But not solved yet. I invested in fancy earplugs.) (By fancy I mean normal earplugs that are neon green.)

(And no, the irony of Mark's narcolepsy being married to my horrible sleep-broken failure insomnia is not lost on us.)


Second, we finally took Charlotte into the pediatric pulmonologist for whom we've had a referral for many many many months, but because of schedule logistics (side eye to Mark's job) haven't been able to make happen. And she has asthma.

This is not a surprise. An urgent care doctor mentioned it when she was a toddler, after she had had several pneumonias and every cold that hit our family seemed to be thrice as bad for her as for anyone else, and go straight to her chest. She's had many courses of breathing treatments and albuterol over the years, and it's one of those things that we worried about, but not acutely, because it was only bad when she was sick.

But then in the last year when she started gasping when she cried hard (more than other babies gasp when they cry) and wheezing was one of the first signs of her getting a cold, we decided to finally take her to a specialist per the earlier suggestions.

Anyway, we took her, they measured her breathing, she has a very average normal asthma. It's all okay. I mean, I don't love that she has to deal with it, but she (probably*) won't need daily preventive treatments (*we are tracking inhaler usage on an as-needed basis, and if after three months, certain patterns emerge, she may after all -- but for now they think likely not) and they said she can be as active as she wants to be. The albuterol is effective for her and she is a champ at the mask and inhaler, so it's all okay.

Maybe cold season will be easier for her this year, armed with these additional tools.


She also wrote her name for the first time this week. I should say, "write" is a very loose interpretation of what she did -- which was really mostly just drawing. She copied the letters from the name tag on her table in her preschool class. She knows none of those letters except C. So maybe I should just consider this really good art, not actual writing.

But either way I am keeping it forever, because obviously.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Not the Outer Banks

Well, our long-planned trip to the outer banks this weekend for ferry riding and camping and lighthouse climbing and shipwreck museums IS OFF. Sad face. It's pouring rain everywhere -- like, everywhere, across the whole state -- all weekend.

It's a rare weekend when Mark is off work though, so we didn't want it to be for naught. We tried to find some fun things we could do with the kids, and still maybe balance it with some lazy at-home time, and the best idea we landed on was pitching the tent (yes ha ha ha) in the bonus room and letting them "camp" in there.

So we did. Who knows how this will go.

We also made s'mores on the stovetop. Believe it or not, this method actually works better on an electric stove than a gas burner, but we made it work!

It's fine. It's sweet. It's not the family time we have been dreaming of, but it's fine.

(I am bummed.) (Wine me.)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Gap-Toothed Grin

Nathan has been missing his two front teeth since the first weekend in September. He hasn't lost any teeth since one in May of 2014, and one in December 2013, so he was way overdue and very excited. (He is eight. I swear that child has never hit any milestone early in his life.)

So he lost the first one when we were at Brad's house a month ago, in an ice cream cone. (That gives you an idea of how crazy loose it had gotten but was still hanging on by a thread: it fell out when he licked a freaking ice cream cone.) That night, the tooth fairy brought him a stack of quarters in a red solo cup (stay classy, Bumgarners) but despite some hinting about doubling the prize if you lose two in one day, he wouldn't let us touch the other one.

A few days after we got home, after much coaxing, I full-on bribed him with a new lego set to let me pull the other one out. It was just dangling. He couldn't eat well, he was scared to bite anything or even say much of anything, it was barely hanging on by one bloody little veiny thread, and, well... y'all, loose teeth are gross. I couldn't take it anymore.

It was a bribe well spent. I came at him with a kleenex and that tooth basically lept at me! with joy! like John the Baptist in the womb. Easiest tooth pull ever. So now he has spendy legos and a new grin.

And I shall commence taking allllll the pictures.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Hey remember when I said I was all traveled out? I lied.

I decided a few weeks ago (at the last minute, because I am tacky, apparently), even though the rsvp date had long passed, to go to a ladies weekend slumber party at Amy's house in Illinois. I am super glad I went.
Picture from Sarah, whose superpower
is getting tons of people in one selfie.

It was a weekend of drinking champagne in plastic cups, fun food, shopping, listening to heart stories from sweet friends, gabbing into the wee hours, watching Matt Bellasai videos on a projector screen, talking about Adult Things, and proving to myself that I can still sleep later than anyone else in the house, even on a shared air mattress, even when said house is full of more than twenty women and two babies. I... really enjoy sleeping late.

I also taught some more people to look at the dot. My evangelism continues.

And I managed to sleep all night without disturbing the Tums that Sarah thought should rest on the air mattress between us, because I don't even know.

I convinced a few ladies that I don't care anything about vampire television so if they could just show me the steamy parts that'd be great kthx. (They did.)

And I washed my feet in a bathtub with my friend Emily who I have known for years but only met in real life that very day, and who is delightful, and who apparently was only using our bathtub date to win some game of hoopla bingo that she didn't even fully understand the rules for.

Grown up lady slumber party: RECOMMEND.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Booler Back to Preschool

Oh hey so Charlotte is back in school now too. After crying for many days in a row when the big kids got on the bus and she had to stay home with boring old loser me (SORRY I AM SUCH TERRIBLE COMPANY FOR ONE ON ONE TIME, CHILD), she finally got to put on the outfit she has been planning for weeks, and stand on the front steps at church, and smile for a picture for her last first day of preschool, and then request her traditional first day chocolate milk from Starbucks.

And yes, I did just say last first day of preschool.

So many lasts and firsts and growing and seriously y'all, every season about bowls me over these days, with the feelings and nostalgia, and I can't keep up anymore. Have I always been this sappy??

(A college professor once told me I was fooooolishly sentimental. He said it just like that too.) (I have decided to embrace it about myself, foolish or no.)

So anyway, what should I do with myself now?*

Happy back to school! Happy quiet house! Happy uninterrupted poops** and showers! My house will be totally clean now!*** And also, in related news: I miss my babies. Am sort of watching the clock. When do they come home? The new rhythm has not set in. I wish it were still summer, there I said it.

* -whispers- I have a little job. More on that later.
** My dad, right now: Erin Lee, you don't have to tell everything.
*** Haha no it won't.