Friday, June 20, 2014

First Birthdays

I feel like I should document Cohen's first birthday party.  I know I've gotten away from writing about my kids birthday parties, even some milestones.  I'm more trying to capture the everyday of their childhoods.  However, I've written about a lot of birthday parties...I don't want Cohen to be left out.

So if you'll remember back 7 and 4 years...I'm cursed in the first birthday department.  Seven years ago, my refrigerator broke just days before the big birthday bash.  I couldn't prep any food and what I had bought already, needed to be chilled with coolers and dry ice.  Plus it was my first attempt at an awesome first birthday cake...if I do say so myself.

Then four years ago, we were living with my in-laws for Freddie's big day.  I can't remember exactly what happened, but some pipe broke or detached or something and the water had to be shut off and an emergency plumber called.  I was making mulit-colored monster cupcakes and what I do remember is a sink overflowing with blue, orange, and purple icing and everything that goes with cake decorating just moments before guests arrived.

For this, our final first birthday, I decided to make it a bit easier.  I pulled way back on food.  We rented a pavilion at a park.  I didn't decorate.  And though the cake looked complicated, it really wasn't.  I didn't have to color a bunch of icing and it was really just a slight modification to the ladybug cake.

Voila...the puppy cake...

Pretty cute, I think.

On Friday afternoon, it seemed the curse had been broken.  All my kids were away at school or daycare.  The house was clean - even the sink was empty.  The cakes were baked and all the food was prepped and cold in a working refrigerator.  When my mom and sister and everyone arrived home from the sights in Washington, DC, I was chopping the final vegetables and ready to drink a beer.

Carolyn walked in first...

"What's wrong with your eye," I asked.
"I got something in it."

Ainsley came in next, followed by my mom.
"She's been itching her head all day," my mom said.

I checked  her head for the millionth time that week, knowing we had gotten yet another lice notice from the school.

That night, my sister's husband also had a red eye and I said "Are you sure you guys don't have pink eye?"

The walk-in clinic confirmed the pink eye Saturday morning.

I found lice on Ainsley Monday night.

I had to add this picture, because this could have been the site of the lice transfer to me.  Our experts that came and cleaned our heads for us say that you need head to head contact in order for the lice to transfer.  So here I am with my lice-ridden daughter the day before I found them...head to head.

The party went off without a hitch, except I forgot all condiments, but that's a small obstacle in the face of conjunctivitis and nits.

So I'm not sure if the curse is broken or not.  But the party was fun, as they always are, and we deal with the issues (and in this case, the laundry) after.  And now my baby is walking and babbling and laughing and loving all the foods he gets to eat.  Not so much a baby, but still so very cute and so very sweet and cuddly.  So I'd say curse or no curse, it was all a success.  Just probably a good idea that we don't have any more first birthday parties, less someone looses a limb or something.

Friday, June 13, 2014

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu

Today the song from The Sound of Music is running through my head.  Today I say goodbye to a very old friend.  Well, kind of a friend.  Maybe more like a frenemy.  I'm a little, teensy, weensy bit  Actually, no, I'm not.  I'm not sad.  I can't wait to have this gal out of my life.  She's a royal pain and constantly by my side.

Today is the last day I pump at!!  I'm giddy.  Dude...pumping SUCKS so hard!  And I've been doing it off and on for 7 years.  I really don't know any breastfeeding mothers that enjoy pumping.  It's just a necessary evil to breastfeeding and working.

Now, I do have to give credit where credit is due...without my dear Medela, I would not have been able to grow 3 tiny babies into plump toddlers only using breast milk.  So thank you Medela.  Thank you for saving me enormous amounts of money on formula, and thank you for allowing me to breastfeed each of my kids well past the first year mark.  Though I hate to use you, I would have been lost without you.

This does not mean I'm going to stop breastfeeding Cohen.  I plan to continue until he's ready to stop.  It does mean that Cohen is down to one 3 ounce bottle a day, I'll drop it to 2 ounces next week and then eliminate it completely.

When the breastfeeding stops?  Then I will be sad.  Very, very sad.  But today is about the happy dance and no more lugging this girl back and forth to work.  No more cleaning bottles every night.  No more stuffing toothpicks and q-tips into little tiny compartments that milk sometimes splashes into.  Yay...I get like 15 extra minutes every night to myself.  This is one "last time" that I am going to be very happy to see go.

And have done your job excellently, without fail.  You go retire and do whatever it is that retired breastpumps do...but I may need you on an occasional weekend so don't go too far.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

For Better or Worse

Today is Clif and my 8 year anniversary.  Eight years ago today we stood in front of our family and friends and promised for better or for worse to love and cherish one another.

Even when marriage is easy it's hard.  I would say that Clif and I have an easy relationship.  We don't argue a whole lot.  We're both fairly easy going.  And when it's just me and Clif, our marriage is a piece of cake.

Seven years ago, we went out to dinner and I was super pregnant with Ainsley.  My due date just one month away.  Even though I was swollen and cranky and tired and huge...that was so very easy.  And all those dinners and nights out and conversations and parties and concerts and trips were so easy before kids came into the picture.

Last year, we spent our anniversary in the hospital with our 1 day old.  We watched movies, held Cohen, and napped most of the day.  That also was pretty easy.

But I would say that most days are not so easy.  I love my husband and he loves me, but day to day life is hard.  Conversations are practically non-existent.  Date nights are few and far between.  We don't have the time or money for them.  We have not taken a trip, just the two of us, since our honeymoon.  Again, that pesky time/money/babysitter issue.

I am not saying that this is the "worse" in for better or worse, but I also wouldn't call it the better.  We always put off date night for kids events and activities.  Spend our date money on new shoes or school pictures or soccer registration when it's needed.

And I'm not complaining.  We love our kids.  Life is hectic and crazy, but we love it.  The problem is that it's not easy to remember to love and cherish when you're busy bathing and soothing and cooking and cleaning and commuting and working.  I can see where it would be very easy to forget those vows and instead, resort to nagging and resenting.  We know that we're supposed to make time for one another and keep the foundation of our family - our marriage - strong, but time is something we don't have a lot of.  Maybe we'll be able to go out to dinner at some point to celebrate our anniversary, but maybe not.  And if we do, it may not be until mid July or August.

This morning, I woke up after a very difficult night.  Clif was getting ready for work.  Cohen was sleeping in the bed between us.  The two older kids were still in their beds.  I was home because, well, I'm out of work once again today.  I woke up pissed off, in fact, I'm still pissed off.  See this year for our anniversary, we spent the night before cleaning and scrubbing and de-licing our kids.  Then I "slept" with visions of little bugs crawling all over me for about 3 hours.

Oh yeah, you read that right.  DE-LICING until well past midnight.

Neither of us even remembered our anniversary.  It wasn't until Clif mentioned something about Cohen's birthday yesterday that it dawned on me...June 10th...that seems significant...

I said, "Oh's our anniversary."
Clif paused, looked at me, and said "Oh wow.  It sure is."

And that was it really.  Both of us too exhausted and annoyed to even say anything else.  Not necessarily annoyed with each other, but it is always easiest to take our frustrations out on our spouse, right?

So today?  Maybe today is the worse.  Because right now as I sit here and comb through hair finding tiny little bugs, as I scratch my head over and over again, as I scrub sheets and pillows and stuffed animals, I don't feel very romantic or in love.  I feel like I want to run to an island far, far, away and only have myself to worry about.  But marriage isn't always about love or romance.

There's no surprise ending to this story.  Clif didn't pick me up in a limo and wine and dine me all day.  He didn't send me to a spa.  He didn't send flowers.  And I didn't take him out for a nice dinner or buy him a new watch.  Hell, I didn't even buy a card.  Today will end and we will have been married 8 years.  And this year, it's gift enough that we're both planning on being here in another 8, 16, or maybe 50 years.  But then?  Well then I'm finding my freaking island.

Clif, I love you and if I have to pick bugs out of my kids hair at midnight on a Monday, well then I'm glad you're the one sitting next to me researching the process - even if I do burst into tears randomly and argue with everything you suggest.

Happy Anniversary!

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Baby

Dear Cohen,

This has, quite possibly, been the fastest year of my life.  I can't believe that a year ago I was staring up at operating room lights waiting to hear you cry.  I can't believe it's been a year since the doctor held you over the drape and I saw your sweet face.  I can't believe a year has passed since I held all 9 pounds of you in my arms for the first time. 

I can't believe that twelve months have come and gone and you've been in our lives.  What did we ever do without you?

You are so much more of a baby at this age than Ainsley or Freddie were.  I'm not sure what it is but I'm amazed when you do things because you're a baby. 

At 1, Ainsley and Freddie were running.  They were toddlers.  You have started walking, and you've come a long way in 3 weeks.  But you are still unsteady and still prefer to crawl half the time.  At 1, Ainsley and Freddie were both working on their first words.  You babble and point and yell and grunt, but I don't really hear any real words in there.  You say "bopba" for almost everything.  Could be bye-bye, could be baby, could be puppy.  Not sure.

You are clingy.  You love to be held.  You love snuggles and hugs and kisses.  But at the same time, you are my most independent child.  You can sit and play with toys for an hour on your own.  You follow your siblings around and play with the same toys they do.

You love attention.  You clap for yourself and look around waiting for everyone else to join in.

You love to eat. love to feed yourself.  I can barely get you to spoon feed any more.  You want the bowl/plate/utensil yourself.  No more mashed sweet potatoes or applesauce, you want little bits of food that you can pick up and chew yourself.

You know what you want...always.  And when you don't get it, you get mad.  You have a temper and that little head just shakes so vigorously when you are presented with something you don't want.

Since day one, you've been a momma's boy.  I really am your favorite.  But lately, you want all of daddy's attention too.  You get upset when either of us leave the room.  The minute daddy gets home you do your little body shimmy where you tighten up in excitement and then you throw your arms in the air for him to pick you up.

You LOVE Ainsley and Freddie.  Freddie cracks you up with everything he does.  Doesn't matter what it is, it's funny to you.  You have started giving Ainsley big hugs when she picks you up.

You love games and you love to be surprised.  Sometimes you pull the hand town off the stove handle and crawl around with it on your head, only to sit up, pull it down and say "Ahhhhhh!" to whomever is watching.  Then you smile and do it again.

You have such a personality and you want to be in the middle of everything.  You don't really like sitting in your highchair for meals.  You want to be at the table.  If Ainsley and Freddie are talking in the backseat, you try and talk too.  When the older kids go to the basement to play, you rush towards the door...only to be stopped by mommy or daddy.  You don't want to miss out, you want to be involved.  I believe, you think you're as big as them.

After I had Ainsley and Freddie, so many people assumed we were done having kids.  People are like that, we had one boy and one girl...perfect, no reason to add another.  Ainsley and Freddie are my cake and ice cream, but you Cohen, are my cherry on top.  That little extra sweetness that makes the dessert complete. You are everything that reminds me how blessed I am.  It's amazing how such a little guy can be the last piece that completes our family so well.

I love you CoCo, no matter how big you get, you'll always be my baby.

Happy Birthday.


Monday, June 2, 2014

52 Week Challenge

Last year, right around this time, I was preparing to have my third baby.  Though we were excited and overjoyed...we were a bit worried.  About, what else, money.  I put together budget after budget and no matter what, we were not going to be able to afford that additional daycare.

There was talk of me not going back to work.  Maybe finding something part time or watching kids or something.  No matter what though, we were going to struggle.

It's one reason I kept all three kids home with me last summer, that and I wanted to experience full on what it was like to be a stay at home mom.  But the money thing was definitely the reason we didn't do camps or send Freddie once a week.  I figured if I could save all that money, at least that would give us a cushion to pay daycare with or live on if I quit my job.

Luckily, the universe was watching out for us.  I was offered a promotion while on maternity leave and it came with a nice raise...exactly enough to cover Cohen's daycare.

But, last year on June 3rd, I was starting my last week of work and I came across something on the Internet about a 52 week challenge.  A painless way to save a little money.  Not a ton of money, but at the end of it, you'd have over $1300 to deposit into your savings account.  So I figured I'd try it.

Basically it works like this, on week 1, you save $1 in a jar.  Week 2, it's $2.  Week 30, $30.  Anyway, you get the picture.  Every week, you set aside money.

Well, last week was week 52...

BOOM!  I now have $1378 to deposit into our savings account.  And believe me, my savings account needs it.  It's been on a diet lately.

However, this money is earmarked for our Disney trip that we are hoping to take in November.  So today, I start again, with $1 in a jar.  I was going to do 2, but think maybe I'll start one at Christmas time as well, and next year...we'll have our Santa money.

Saving money is hard.  I'm not going to lie...I definitely borrowed from the jar on occasion.  But I ALWAYS paid it back.  And there were weeks that I didn't have an extra $30 or $40 in the budget.  So sometimes I was playing catch up...but it all worked out in the end and now we have half the money we need for Disney.

So go, find your jar and grab you dollar and start.  You will feel so awesome on June 1, 2015!

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