Sunday, April 28, 2013

Model Trains and Nini Day

Model train set in the basement of the Quechee Antique Mall
Yeah, I'm still miniature-obsessed... So imagine, my surprise when we wandered down to the basement of the Quechee Antique Mall after a super-sweet and fun day exploring with my mother-in-law, Mark, and E, and finding this amazing (and huge) model train set complete with different seasons, farmland, and even little kayaks in the river.

My mother-in-law, Betsy, had gone to the Antique Mall's website before going to check the hours, and she noticed a review that only mentioned "a basement with a lot of junk in it." We had never been in the basement, though the rest of the place wasn't "junky."

This review also failed to mention the train set in the basement. Why?? I felt like I was in the Leave it to Beaver episode where Wally wants to go to the neighbor's house to visit the girl he has a crush on, and Beaver wants to go with him -- but only to see the model trains that the girl's father has.

In this scenario, I was the Beave. Nothing else mattered. I snapped pics (more on Instagram) while E studied the little villages.

The rest of the day was great, too, and E had so much fun with her nana, as she lovingly calls "Nini." Ninis always come bearing gifts, hugs, and kisses, and E spent the day graciously accepting all 3. She also counted to 3 for the first time today! When prompted, we've always gotten a "2" and "3" out of her, but today she actually said, "1, 2, 3." She understands the concept of "1" and knows when she has "2" of something. I'm still not sure she understands the concept of "3" other than that it's more than "2," but it doesn't matter -- we're on the road to advanced mathematics. I can't believe she picked this up so quickly just by listening to me counting as we did certain little activities.

At the end of the day, she left Nini's house with 2 bouncy balls and happily spent the car ride home balancing them on her head and giggling as they rolled down her shoulders and into her lap. Then she'd laugh and say, "Thank you, Nini!"

Yes, thank you, Nini!! You somehow manage to make me feel just as loved and happily spoiled. It was the perfect day!

Next weekend, Nini and Bee time! Can't wait! Time to start writing our books: "Nini and Bee," "Chicken and Bee," etc.! Xoxo

Thursday, April 25, 2013


I just wanted to write a quick update about yesterday -- lovely day with the lovely E! The weather was absolutely beautiful -- high 70s and sunny. We got out for an hour-long walk before dinner. No duck spotted in the pond, unfortunately, but I think we saw two turtles at the far edge of the water! We had our snack on the patio and blew bubbles, chased a ball.

For the first time in a long time I'm keeping up with housework, and I swear this is because we're spending the majority of our days outside! I also have myself on a pretty good housekeeping schedule that just involves taking 10-15 minutes each afternoon to pick up and clear my surfaces/put dishes in the dishwasher. It isn't perfect, but it won't be condemned any time soon, so that's a plus!

Due to my previous lazy housekeeping skills and my tendency to sneak out of the house after E was in bed (while Mark was gaming at home) for Mexican food with certain lovely lady friends, M and L, I also encouraged Mark to get out with his friends and family as soon as he could. But, oddly, as soon as I found out he was actually going to take me up on that offer, I was jealous. Haha! So, last night, his family made plans to go to a movie with him at 6pm, and I insisted that I should have dinner with them before. It worked out perfectly, and I got some of my own social time with them before they went to the movie. We went out to a local diner and had some good, old-fashioned family time.

I also love seeing how they interact with E. Even though I praise myself for never underestimating E's intelligence, I catch myself not always encouraging as much interactive play as I could, because I think she won't necessarily connect the dots and see the bigger picture.

My sister- and mother-in-law always put on a production for her. They create the most imaginative play time. Last night, a booster seat on the floor of the restaurant became a car. E's play keys completed the picture, and her Auntie Bee encouraged her to drive to the circus. To my surprise, she seemed to understand at the very least the driving part of this scenario and spent the evening climbing in and out of her play car, always making sure she had her keys to start the car and drive off to her imaginary destination. It was so simple and creative, and it kept her busy the entire time I finished my meal. When my mother-in-law picks up a teddy bear or doll, it takes on its own personality complete with British accent, family history, and a plan of action -- to create the perfect tea party, the most extravagant dinner-dance, or to carry on endless, detailed conversations with my one-year-old. I find myself watching these productions as captivated as E. Who needs TV? I'm so blessed.

Listening To
Me and Bobby McGee, Janis Joplin

Weather in VT (yesterday)
Sunny and high 70s!
Much chillier today, and I hear they're calling for snow tomorrow (eye roll). Next, please! We're ready for the beach!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Each night before bed, we say prayers, and E's favorite new word is "Amen!" She says it all the time -- after I order a pizza, when I tell her it's time for a snack, and when we brush our teeth.

She spreads that word around so happily, it makes me melt. And today, while repeating it, she carefully pulled apart a stack of heart-shaped post-its and filled the bathroom sink with them. It was like a screen capture from a cartoon, a literal representation of how I felt in the moment, so filled with love for this kid.

We had a normal afternoon, didn't get our usual long walk in, but were happy to have some drawing time and take advantage of the cheese pizza special at Jimmz tonight!

Before bed, I gave her a bath in the big tub for the first time. We always put her toddler tub into the big bathtub, but she's outgrowing it. She pretty much went insane with her bathing freedom. She slid around, splashed, jumped, and dunked her head under water. She stayed in for almost a half hour and cried when I told her to take one more splash, and that then we would have to get out.

She tried to make the entire bedtime routine longer. She does this by giving me lots of snuggles. She hugs me, kisses me on the forehead, nibbles on my cheek, and tucks her head against my neck. She's never been a super-cuddly baby, so I just soak up all the sweet baby cuddles and coo at her relentlessly. Mark rolls his eyes. "She knows exactly what she's doing," he insists. "I know," I smile giddily, nonchalantly, a goofy smile plastered on my face, not caring if bedtime is postponed indefinitely.

I finally put her to bed and wander out of her room humming Cinderella's "So This is Love..."

Listening To
Jump In The Line, Harry Belafonte

Weather in VT
Sunny but too cold! Come on, spring!

Monday, April 22, 2013


My sister-in-law suggested that I return to this format to motivate me to write more, and I think she's 100% right.

So, where do I begin? It's not just that I'm behind on blogging... it's that every moment with E seems like an entire blog entry. Not to go all Shakespearean-drama love on you guys, but I could write a hundred pages about her smile, a book about how her nose wrinkles when she laughs. I'm just so smitten with her and how she interacts with us and her world.

I wanted to write about the argument Mark and I had every morning for the last 3 months -- about how to better communicate to help get us all out the door on time and how, on the worst day, he apologized and surprised me with a homemade lunch at work.

I wanted to write about our huge ordeal cleaning out the closet in Ellie's room, but how we worked together to create a fun space for her. Then, after insisting that Mark get rid of all of his "useless receipts and papers," I found among them some of our love letters and a fortune from a fortune cookie he got when we were first dating. I remember he opened it, read it, looked up at me from across the table, and got a big, teary-eyed grin on his face. The fortune said: "Happy life is just in front of you."

But instead, I see every little minute as a missed writing opportunity. They aren't all sad, fleeting moments, they're just flying by too quickly. It's like driving to California but trying to stop and look at every rock and blade of grass on the way.

I can't capture them all, so I may as well just keep moving... even though I know in my heart that capturing just one would mean something.

Anyway, this is my attempt! Lingering way too long in this analogy, I've decided to stop to pee on my life journey. Haha!

Today we went to the circus. I get it -- juggle some balls, swing some hula hoops, bring out a horse, and charge you $30. I expected it, but I was still discouraged. The circuses I went to as a kid had elephants, tigers, and lions. And though E was mesmerized by the camels and juggling skills, she was absolutely heartbroken to see the other kids getting light-up wands and balloons from the toy cart. She didn't understand why she couldn't have them too. So we gave in (on the cheapest of the circus treats). They kept her busy when she got bored with the clown, and we saved money by packing our own dinner for the evening.

Mark: How did they just happen to have all the types of toys she loves -- light-up wands and huge balloons?
Me: They're criminal masterminds.

It's true. But $30 isn't too much to pay for our first family outing of the summer or the first time we experienced family-fun-day buyers' remorse. As Seinfeld says, "There's no such thing as fun for the whole family." And the non-fun times are our badges of survival, the stories we tell our grandkids -- the sad part of the story that leads us to our happy ending.

And some day I will tell E's kids about how we paid $30 to buy their mom a $7 wand and a $2 balloon... How we had to chase after her when she tried to storm the stage to steal the juggling rings from the performers, and how neither Mark nor I seemed alarmed that she was chewing on something that we later learned was styrofoam from the wand, because we just thought she was eating her own boogers. And how she happily babbled all the way home to "Mama" and "Dada" and made sure we were both still in the car, because she was so happy to have us all together for our first official 2013 spring/summer family outing!

Listening To
The Ronettes -- Be My Baby

Weather in VT
Sunny and chilly!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sending Love to Boston

E saw a small portion of the news tonight -- just some of the destruction -- before she went to bed. She said, "Oh no," and "Sad." How does she know from seeing so little? My sweet, smart baby.

My first reaction was to tell her, "Everything is okay." And I did. But it's not. And I felt compelled to validate her feelings. So, I told her, "You're right. You're very smart. People are sad. But you make me happy, and we're okay." I told her that we would pray about it and that we'll always protect each other.

I'm heartbroken. I feel that same feeling I felt when she hurt herself for the first time -- a cut on her finger from the kitchen cupboard, something beyond my control. Even then, I sensed her distrust with the world around her, a world she only ever knew as safe and secure.

I tell myself that these tragedies -- from a first cut to her first heartbreak will make her strong, will teach her compassion and empathy.

Well, today, I don't want her to be strong.

I want her to grow up in a world that lets her be vulnerable, a world that lets her be free without fear, a world that she can occasionally lash out at that won't hurt her back.

This is my prayer for her, along with those prayers for all our friends and family affected by this tragedy.

Monday, April 8, 2013

DIY Crap

Sure, we all have tons of empty vegetable packages laying around to get creative with, but what do you do with that empty Nesquick container?

Today, E gave me enough time to wrap it up with scrapbooking paper and put at least half her "pens" in it. Here's to my first, official, DIY post.

P.S. Drink more Nesquick! It's too sugary for E, but I've had enough in the last few weeks to make 2 more pen cases! Woohoo!!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Garbage Day!

My sweet little princess discovered the garbage truck today and, more than any beautiful pair of glass slippers or glamorous ball gown, she wanted to watch that garbage man collect loads of trash to take off to the dump.

As soon as she hears him (or any trucker) roll into our parking lot, she asks me to sit her up in the window to watch the daily loading and unloading.

So, today, we sat and watched the garbage man for a long time. It took so long for him to pack up the trash that I got bored and rested my head on the windowsill. E looked down at me, said, "Oh, Mama," and rested her head on mine, cheek to cheek.

I held onto that moment for as long as I could -- the calm before the toddler storm. And even after an incredibly hectic evening of temper tantrums and random screeching fits, I still found myself happily going through the motions of calming her down and putting her to bed.

Crazy little thing called love.