Monday, October 26, 2009

Tell Her This

My favorite memory of Hadley's first birthday happened to have nothing to do with anything that I planned for that day. For some reason or another, Hadley wasn't keen on taking naps that day, and I was pretty flustered about that (as many might know, I don't do well AT ALL when the routine falls apart). After about what felt like 40 years of hearing her scream in her crib, I decided I'd take her and get out of the house for a bit. So we went to the Washingtonian Center.

I got a coffee at Barnes and Noble, and strolled Hadley around the store for a bit. It was a nice day, so I walked her around the little lake (pond? I don't know what it is.), and after a bit realized she was sound asleep. I found a bench, sat down, and grabbed a book out of the diaper bag. A restaurant nearby had its music coming out from speakers outside and the song "Tell Her This" by Del Amitri was playing. It's a sweet song, and listening to it brought me back to the days when I had it on just about every cassette tape I'd ever dubbed then titled "My Driving Mix." (Yes, I did just write "cassette tape" and "dubbed.") The lyrics can't completely be turned into a mother's song for her child, but there are a lot of words in the song that are applicable for how I feel about Hadley. It was a nice moment to sit there, listen to the song, and watch Hadley sleep.

I kept thinking about that moment this weekend because a lot of what I had planned for Hadley's third birthday didn't work out. Both of the girls were sick, so we cancelled the birthday party. It rained all day on Saturday, so we couldn't go to the parks we had planned to go to. But there were a lot of sweet things that did happen, and I'm not sure I would've recognized them if I hadn't recalled Hadley's first birthday two years ago.

Hadley woke up coughing terribly early Friday morning. I went into her room to get her and she was a little upset and confused. She sat on my lap in the living room for a bit, and said, "Mommy, I can't go back to sleep because I'm coughing." I told her that was OK. I said, "I'm glad you're up because today is your birthday!" Hadley, who has been working and working to hold up three fingers for some time now, showed me her hand of three and said, "I turned three?"

"Yea! You are three years old today!" I confirmed.

"Uno, dos, tres?" she asked.

"Yes!" I exclaimed. "Do you want your first present?"

Hadley and I went to the kitchen and I gave her a bowl of Apple Jacks cereal and a juice box. I must say, I will miss the days when juice boxes and fun cereal are considered presents. Anyway, she and I sat on the kitchen floor in front of the dishwasher and lined up the alphabet magnets in order while she ate her breakfast.

Later that morning, the girls and I went to the park and then out to lunch. And Jesse came home early Friday so we could have a birthday party. I made macaroni and cheese (and I ate it, too!), broccoli, and blueberries. All of Hadley's favorites. And for dessert I made a chocolate cake with pink frosting at the request of Hadley. (Baking the cake was a story in and of itself, but there isn't time to write about it here. I'll just say that I made frosting for cookies instead of frosting for cakes, and wouldn't you know it, it doesn't frost the same.)

And of course there were presents.

Hadley doesn't quite understand that it's OK to rip the paper off of the present. Opening presents with her is like trying to perform open heart surgery. Everything has to be done a certain way.

A piggy bank from Grandma and Grandpa Lewis:
Hadley loves Mickey Mouse, or Goofy, to be more accurate. Have I written about Hadley's love for Goofy yet? I can't remember if I have. Her reaction to seeing or talking about Goofy is something I have never seen with Elmo, or Diego. At first I was a little disappointed in her choice of men because, Goofy? Seriously? I understand losing interest in Elmo but what about Grover? And at least Diego saves animals. But then I started thinking about the cartoons I watched and I think I had a little crush on Ichabod Crane. He's sort of like Goofy. Just a little darker.

Later that weekend, Geoff and Kellee came to celebrate, and we were able to hit a couple of parks which is Hadley's favorite thing to do.

On Sunday morning, I told Hadley that I happened to be at the "little park" (the park in our complex) and found a letter to her from Goofy. We read it together and she learned that he was on his way to wish her a Happy 3rd Birthday, but got distracted at the park (it's just so Goofy, isn't it?). As he was sliding down the slide, all the presents he brought for her fell out of his pockets. He asked Hadley if she would go and find them at the park. So that's what we did.

Hurray Goofy.

We were able to make it to Hadley's favorite park, Adventure Park. This park is really cool, but I can't take both the girls there because someone needs to climb all the things Hadley climbs, and I can't do that while leaving Harper in the stroller. So it's a real treat to be able to go with other adults. Let me rephrase that. It's a real treat to go with adults who are willing to climb after my daughter while I sit on a bench.

On the swings with Uncle Geoff.

Going down the slide with Geoff and Kellee. Look at that smile. Pure bliss, I tell you.
"Driving" with Geoff.
I LOVE this picture:
Typing this up, and looking at the pictures I can tell Hadley had a good time over the weekend. But I felt bad that the plans I made didn't work out, plus I was totally sleep deprived on Sunday because we had been up with Harper for a couple of hours. It is easy for me to focus on my precious plans and not having enough sleep, but if I do that too much I miss out on enjoying the good things like eating breakfast on the floor with your 3 year old daughter while playing with alphabet magnets. Or watching her face as she opens presents. Or hearing her say, "I LOVE that cake, Mama! Thank you!" Or this:

I can't really explain why it was a special moment that Harper's seat was turned around, but for me it was a big deal, so I needed to take a picture of it. Once again proving that no matter what I think might happen with the day, there are things my girls do that bring joy and excitement to my days that I could never plan for.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

First Field Trip

Hadley went on her first field trip yesterday, and I was able to tag along with her and take a LOT of pictures. We went to Butler's Orchard, which is near where we live, and it was a lot of fun. Hadley even got to ride a school bus!
The school bus was a little late in arriving, so the teachers were keeping the kids busy in the classroom while we waited. They were reading books with the kids and there was lots of singing. When the teacher asked what song everybody wanted to sing, Hadley immediately shouted, "THE ABC's!"

The girls on Hadley's left and right are her two best friends in the class. Hadley talks about these girls all the time, and her teacher confirmed to me in our conference last week that these three are buds. The little girl on the right had Hadley's heart when she sang the ABC's with her one day. The Alphabet Song is Hadley's favorite song. It's not just a song, it's a mantra. And Hadley likes the girl on the left so much that she wants me to dress up like her for Halloween.

Once the bus driver got to the school, the excitement really picked up. I think this was probably more the case for the parents then it was for the kids. This was the first time anyone's kid was going to be on a bus. I don't know if we parents were more nervous or excited, but we could've competed for a paparazzi job in this moment. Cameras were flashing from the way down the hall, outside the school, down the sidewalk, walking up to the bus, and (for some) going INSIDE the bus. When I saw one mother walk out of the bus with her camera, I said, "Oh man, I totally should've done that!" I did get a short video of Hadley walking into the bus:

Once the kids were in the bus, the parents were sort of just smiling and standing around, me included. It just seemed like one of those moments when you need to reflect on what just happened. I don't know why getting on a bus for the first time is as big a deal as learning to walk, or riding a bike, or even graduating from college but it is. So the parents stood there for a moment until someone shouted, "We need to follow it!" And then we scrambled like crazy people, keeping an eye on the bus but also saying things like, "I'm not even sure how to get there!" "Are the kids safe in there? Do they have seatbelts on?"
I was so wound up I had to turn my radio to the classical station so I could concentrate on what I was doing. The bus was out of my sight before I could get out of the parking lot, but I was in the enormous caravan that was trailing behind.

I have always been somewhat reverent of school buses. It's probably the teacher in me, but I always thought it was a special thing to see a school bus full of kids driving around town. And I have always thought it takes a very special person to be a bus driver. I couldn't do it because I have the patience of a hungry lion. And I can't stand screaming kids. Or smelly bologna sandwiches. However, at the moment I was taking this picture, I was thinking how thankful I am that someone took the time to make a rule up about stopping traffic when a bus is stopped with its lights flashing and stop sign out. Or that the tops of the buses are painted white with their numbers on it in black letters.
But on to the field trip.

First order of business, a hayride.
I took these pictures for the Feyen side of the family so they could see that we were on John Deere tractors. I don't know anything about farming, but I know from living in Michigan for a bit that John Deere tractors are a big deal. Kind of like Jimmy Choo shoes.

They had Halloween scenes every few feet that I thought were so cute.
Hadley wasn't so sure about the hayride as documented here:

I think she was just taking it all in, but the fact that she was holding my hand says a lot.
The hayride took us to a pumpkin patch where we got to pick out two pumpkins to take home.

Hadley was much more excited about pushing the cart that held the pumpkins.

After the pumpkin patch we had a chance to explore the rest of Butler's Orchard, so we played in the hay for awhile.

We looked at little pigs, roosters, bunny rabbits, goats, and sheep.

Right after these pictures were taken one of Hadley's classmates got stung by a bee. It wasn't the greatest way to end an otherwise fun field trip, but like most 2 and 3 year olds, this girl bounced back when she found out she got to go on the bus again. So all in all, it was a great first field trip.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Party Before the Party

On Saturday we celebrated our friend Chloe's first birthday together with her parents. I think I mentioned this before, but Chloe's mom, Erika, was my RA my Freshman year at Calvin. They moved to this area about a year ago and it has been a lot of fun hanging out with them ever since.

I was a little nervous about how Hadley would behave at Chloe's party because we've been talking so much about Hadley's upcoming birthday (for those of you who don't have my daughter's birthday written down on your calendars, Hadley's turning THREE this Friday). When I told Hadley we were going to a birthday party for Chloe, Hadley right away asked two things: 1)How old is Chloe, and 2) can we get her a present. She also wanted to know if there would be balloons there, and I said we'd have to wait and see (and made a mental note to make sure there are balloons at Hadley's party).

Here are the three girls playing with - A BALLOON! Looking at the picture, I'm a little concerned my girls are a little too excited about the balloon and forgot that the birthday girl is sitting right next to them. Chloe's probably thinking, "I don't think I'll be having these crazies over again anytime soon."

Chloe is trying to talk to Harper about what it feels like to be 1. Harper still has a few weeks before she hits single digits, so she needs to listen to Chloe and understand what her responsibilities are as a 1 year old.

Here's the birthday girl waiting for a cupcake from Cake Love.

She doesn't quite understand what how delicious these cupcakes are. Erika put a puff on it to try and get Chloe to taste it, but Chloe wasn't too interested. I remember that's how Hadley reacted on her first birthday as well.

It was a fun night, regardless of who had a cupcake, and we were glad to be a part of it.

On Sunday the four of us went to Target in the afternoon to get some odds and ends for Halloween costumes, and birthday party goodies. I won't tell you what each of us is going to be for Halloween, but I will say that out of the four of us, Jesse is the most excited to have a chance to dress up. And I will also say that his costume borders on being more insane then the Magnum P.I. incident of '03.

We were putting shoes on Harper, when Hadley spotted a pair of glittery red ballet flats. It was just about the time when we were ready to move on to other parts of the store, so Jesse said, "OK, let's get going." And Hadley said, "Let me just try these shoes on, and you can tell me how I look, Daddy."

As a mother, you hope for these kinds of moments. You take your daughter shopping, you try and express the excitement of picking out a great pair of shoes, or a great fitting pair of jeans. You know, you model this behavior. But you just never really know if it's going to sink in. Yesterday I realized that I'm doing an OK job.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

First Parent Teacher Conference

This is a picture of Hadley in front of one the bulletin boards that you first see when you enter her school. I wanted to take a picture of it because this is the "birthday" bulletin board. Her name is on the pumpkin to the right of her.

We had our first Parent/Teacher Conference this week, and it was very strange for me to be on "the other side" of this experience. I like Hadley's teacher a lot, so it was pretty easy for me to not act like a 5 year old.

The school gives the kids two assessments that I think are pretty thorough. One is several pages long and looks at all aspects of Hadley's intelligence. The other one they showed me had about twenty concepts on it that Hadley had mastered "age appropriately." After each concept, the teacher wrote one example of how she knew Hadley had mastered the concept. I appreciated the teacher taking the time to do this because it was fun hearing about the things Hadley's doing in school.

Hadley had a perfect score on all of her reports except for one thing. The teacher put Hadley in front of a mirror and asked her where Hadley was. Hadley pointed to herself. I thought this was a riot. I can see Hadley looking at her teacher and thinking, "What do you mean, 'Where's Hadley?' I'm right here." Jesse said the teacher should've asked, "Where's Hadley's image?"

At the end of the conference, the teacher gave me a list of things I could work on with Hadley if I wanted to. The items range from "sequencing" to "zipping up coat." So this seems like a good time to show off another little project that I've been working on for awhile. I started a new blog called "Sit a While" and you can find it at: I can't figure out how to write a link on this post, so for now you can either click on my profile, and get to the blog from there, or you can cut and paste into whatever that thing is called at the top of your computer where you write new addresses.

My idea for this new blog is to document the conversations the girls and I are having with the books we read together. Clearly, Harper doesn't have much to say yet, but it won't be long, and reading to Hadley is one of my favorite things to do. There are only about 5 posts so far, but hopefully I'll be able to add more soon. Also, I allowed ads on this new blog for professional purposes. I thought it would be fun to pretend to be a freelance writer.

So there you have it. Next week is "The Big Three." It is hard to believe that three years ago today I was sitting around twiddling my thumbs wondering WHEN THIS KID WOULD GET HERE. I haven't sat around and twiddled my thumbs since.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bible Study or Brownies?

I think I've given up on going to my Wednesday Bible Study for now. It has just become a lot of work, and by the time I get home I'm so stressed out from the endeavor that I don't know if it's worth it. It starts at the time Harper would go down for her morning nap, so she is exhausted and ornery (probably adding to the "oh no you are NOT leaving me in the nursery" attitude). Plus, we have to brave the morning traffic which is not fun for many reasons, but the biggest one is that starting and stopping in our car are the perfect conditions for Hadley to throw up in. It's funny now that I type this that I would even consider going, but you know that it is time to talk with other adults when you start wondering things like, "Is Elmo a boy or a girl?" "Why does Diego have a lower voice on Dora the Explorer but on Go Diego Go his voice is more high pitched?"

So Wednesday we stayed home and did things around the house. Hadley is starting to write all kinds of letters and numbers as well as add more parts to her "guys" as she calls them. For several months, her guys consisted of a circle for a face, two dots for eyes, and one straight line for a mouth. Now she draws this:

This guy looks a little evil, but you might be able to see that he has hair, ears, legs, and feet. Impressive, right?

Hadley also helped me bake brownies on Wednesday. Normally, I would not bake brownies because I'm not a fan of chocolate, however, the recipe said it resembled the Girl Scout "samoas" cookies. If I had known about samoas when the girl scouts were recruiting in my days at Longfellow Elementary, I would've said, "Sign me up! Who cares if I have to camp, or learn how to sew, or whatever it is you gals do. Give me those cookies!"
Anyway, Hadley eagerly helped me measure, pour, and mix the ingredients. She told me she really wanted to help me "squeeze" the eggs, but I told her perhaps another day.

Unwrapping the butter:

Getting ready to push the buttons on the microwave:
Mixing in the flour:
As we were baking, I told Hadley about my friend down the street whose mom always seemed to have brownies and lemonade in the kitchen when we came home from school. We would sit at a little table by the window in the kitchen, eat brownies, drink lemonade, and read Archie comic books.

Isn't this turning out to be a nice anecdote?

The thing is, I love to bake. The problem is, I'm not good at math in a dangerous sort of way. It's not just the long division that I can't execute (and really, if I get the wrong answer to 23,4987 /34, how does that inconvenience anyone?). I'm not good at the you-need-to-understand-this-concept-or-you-could-hurt-yourself-or-ruin-the-brownies sort of way.

For example: the recipe said that I needed an 8 inch square pan. I didn't have that, and I didn't see why it would be a problem to pour the batter into a 13 by 9 inch rectangle pan. Also, the recipe mentioned to line the pan with parchment paper after greasing it. Well, I didn't want to do that, so I skipped that part.

Oh, I'm not done. I was supposed to melt 20 caramel candies for the topping, but I couldn't find those, so I bought an 8 oz. chocolate bar with caramel in it. I didn't see what the difference was. And I was supposed to toast coconut flakes, which I did, but I did it in the toaster oven because I was preheating our oven to bake the brownies. This last part might not seem like a big deal, except that I'm not good at math - all math - including the concept, "when an item is in a small space it doesn't take as much time to toast."

The result? The world's flattest brownies that you need some sort of gardening tool to get out of the pan, with frosting that resembles an afro because apparently chocolate doesn't melt too well in the microwave (especially when the time is set for a MUCH larger quantity), topped with coconut that you can't see because it's as dark (read: burned) as the chocolate.

I guess I should've gone to Bible Study after all.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Excuse the Absence

I haven't written any entries for October yet (except the one with Harper's new "So Big" trick) because last week my parents were visiting, aka, keeping me sane, while Jesse was here:

Well, he wasn't exactly at this place, but he was in South Beach, Miami for a "I Heart Hurricanes" Conference. This is a picture of where he and I spent our first vacation as a married couple 10 years and about 5 months ago. The Penguin Hotel is right on Ocean Drive and their "Front Porch Cafe" is one of the tastiest restaurants ever. Every morning they served fresh baked (still hot) muffins, and outstanding coffee. It was quite fun to sit at one of the tables and people watch as we had a meal. So it was fun to see a picture of the place we stayed and remember the fun week we spent there.

And now, 10 years later we have these two little pumpkins to keep us company:

There have been a few observations I've made that I'd like to share. I'll start with Harper.

You might notice in the above picture as well as the one before that, that Harper is not wearing shoes and socks (or just has one on). Harper hates wearing shoes and socks. The minute I put them on, she will take them off. And if she can't get them off, she gets very, very mad. My mom noted that she is like her Daddy, who can't stand having socks on when his feet are hot, but I would argue that she is like her Great Grandma Ayanoglou who in the dead of winter wore capris and no socks (Grandma wore capris before they "came back.")

The other change in Harper is that she is a crawling queen. I used to be able to put her in our little playroom and she'd hang out there for quite awhile. This is not the case anymore. She takes off and roams around our condo, making it a bit of a challenge for me to focus....on anything. However, I know when she is crawling because she makes the exact same noise her sister did when she learned how fast she could go. It's sort of a huffing and puffing mixed with pure glee that she is moving as fast as she can. So at least I know she's on the loose when I hear her "let's get this party started" chant.

The last thing I have learned about Harper is that she knows what "No" means. This is a huge difference from Hadley. When Hadley was Harper's age, I would listen to moms talk about how their children understand "no" and will stop doing whatever it is they were doing. I would nod and agree, or say, "Oh yea, Hadley does the same thing. She totally understands 'No.'" But the truth is that Hadley could've cared less when we would tell her "no." It's not that she didn't understand the word, it's just that she didn't care we were saying it. Harper, on the other hand, will stop what she's doing, look at one of us, and start crying as if the world ended. It's awful. It's gotten to the point where I second guess myself before I say the darn word.

Like any toddler, Hadley does several things every day that make me want to laugh, but I have to be careful not to embarrass her. For example, she has become interested in doing everything by herself these days. One of these tasks is pulling up her pants after she's finished using the bathroom. We try and encourage her to do this, but she forgets to pull up her underpants first. As you can imagine, this makes it difficult to walk.
Another thing Hadley has started is making up words. She only seems to do this when we are arguing over something. Take today, for instance. We were walking into the condo, and Hadley picked up a stick. When I opened the door, I said, "Hadley, you need to keep the stick outside." She told me, "But this is my trampoline joko stick, Mama. It's not a stick." I told her the trampoline joko stick needed to stay outside.

So there are a few tidbits for the readers of NFN.