Monday, August 24, 2009

So Long, Summer!

I went to a meeting this afternoon, realizing that this was the last time--at least for a little while--that I'll be able to casually mention to Jay that I have somewhere to go and that I need him to be with the kids while I'm gone.

Tomorrow is the first day of school, and this is one of the best summers I can remember.

This is the first summer that we've felt comfortable taking the kids on trips more than a few hours away. Their nap schedules are less rigid, they're easier to entertain in the car, and they're able to appreciate the chance to go someplace new and fun.

Sure, Jay and I traveled a lot before kids, but some aspects of traveling are actually more fun with the kids in tow. Of course we don't get to have fancy dinners out, and we don't get to stay in romantic B&Bs, but we get to see the world through their eyes, and that's pretty great.

We started the summer with a mini vacay in Memphis--two, actually--and then headed to Germany for 10 days. After a few weeks of recovery we went to Wisconsin, and over Labor Day weekend we're going to Louisville to see my family and hopefully some of Jay's family whom I've not yet met.

I've loved the freedom to come and go as we pleased, to make last-minute plans without having to answer to work or school, and to think about where we might want to go next. In fact, I'm even thinking about what winter break might have in store for us.

So farewell to one of my favorite summers so far. We should do this again sometime!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Damage I'll Never Undo

The small people and I were wandering around Walgreens today waiting for Jay's prescription to be filled. We passed the Halloween costumes, which motivated me to ask Joshua what he might like to be for Halloween.

"A princess," he replied.

"What about a prince? Then Clare could be a princess."

Let me disclaim here. I have absolutely no issue with Joshua dressing up as a princess. None at all. But as my friend so articulately said when I asked what she would do if her son wanted to dress up as a princess, "I would have no problem if we were going to a party with people I knew. But if we were going out, I would be worried because, around here, there's no telling what sort of things people might say, even adults."

Joshua was sitting on Vati's lap this afternoon eating vegetable crackers while I was looking at Halloween costumes at the McCalls website. I offered multiple options: knight, prince, wizard...

"No, I want to be a princess."

"We can make Clare a princess and you can be a prince!"

Finally, an exasperated growl, "I give up! I'll be a prince!"

I almost wet my pants laughing so hard.

Now I feel bad. If a brother wants to be a princess then he should be a princess. I don't like walkin this line between letting him be who he wants to be and trying to protect him from ignoramuses who can't leave well enough alone.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Dear Clare

You almost didn't make it to your second birthday. I, in all my wisdom, decided that it would be a good idea for us to stop in Chicago on the way home from Oshkosh so that we could show you our favorite city instead of making you sit in the car for 8 hours on your birthday. And I decided that we should try staying in one hotel room for the first time--all four of us. You flopped around on your bed until 9:00 p.m. (waaaaaay past your bedtime), asking for water and moaning, "What shall I do?" because, of course, going to sleep wasn't high on your list of priorities.

But now you are sleeping and I am about to join you so that you don't fall out of bed and bust your noggin like you did the other night because I am, of course, Mother of the Year.

As much as you drive me absolutely bonkers sometimes (because we could not be more alike, except for the fact that you tan, a little detail I discovered this week), I spend most of your waking hours marveling over how absolutely charming and funny you are. Except, of course, when you're screeching with displeasure.

A few months ago I started to worry that you might not reach the "two by two" milestone, meaning that you should be able to put two words together by the time you are two. But now that you carry on conversations with your brother and frequently say things like, "Can you help me Mama?" and, "Happy Birthday to you, ceiling! Happy Birthday to you, curtains!" (which was cute for the first five minutes, but not so much after that), I guess I'll have to find something else to worry about.

Maybe it'll be your hair, which mostly looks like a little red Q-tip that's been sitting in the bottom of the bathroom drawer for two years. You don't particularly care for bows, so you spend most of your time running through the house with a mass of red curls flopping around. We can actually determine relative humidity fairly accurately based on the condition of your little Clare-fro.

Thank you for finally going to the church nursery without throwing a major tantrum, by the way, even though you still start every Sunday morning with the words, "church nursery. Mad!" We know it's just for show now, so you can stop the theatrics. Never mind. You specialize in theatics. Carry on. And keep using the word "mad" as a gerund, too, because that's really cute. Especially when, in the middle of a fit, you stop sniffling long enough to tell us that you'll "stop madding now." Thanks, kid. We also haven't had the heart to suggest that you start calling it your "bottom" instead of your "bommin," or "muffin" instead of "muffum." And don't let anyone ever suggest to you that your big brother is anything but the most fabulous little boy in the whole world. Even though you're the only person in the world from whom he'll grab things, never stop thinking that he is the one you should emulate.

Speaking of him, forgive us if we don't pick up on your gifts as quickly as we did his. He's a quick study. Give him a puzzle and a block and he's happy. We're still trying to figure you out, probably because Vati and I learn the way he learns. You still confound us. But don't think for a second that you're any less bright than he is. You've got everything in the world going for you. Most of all, you've got moxie. You'll never be a wallflower, and you'll never take crap from anyone--I still worry about Joshua getting his feelings hurt. You? Not so much. You'll be able to take care of yourself...

Q-tip head.

Happy second birthday, baby girl. You are the sunshine of my life.