Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Just Add it to the Birthday Wish List

Sometime between 2 and 3, my kid has figured out preferences for toys. Since the week after Christmas she has been adding gifts to her birthday wish list. I have to give her credit, she is pretty consistent, remembering day to day what she wants and continuing to add to the list after seeing commericals (damn Sprout!) or after visiting Target. Besides anything related to music or Toy Story, she has developed a fascination with a few toys. Her friend G had her 3rd birthday party the end of February and since then she has been repeatedly requesting:
a yo-yo
a slinky.

Yes, it appears my kid is a child of the '50's! Maybe I should get her a poodle skirt & some saddle shoes. What's even more funny is that as I type this I remember her asking for a hula hoop at the drugstore last week.
Lucky for me, I was able to find the yo-yo, a paint your own version, at AC Moore a few weeks ago on sale no less. Now the slinky, that's one I haven't found ...yet! I am saving the hula hoop for the Easter bunny.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Little Victories

Before babies, I was a Kindergarten & first grade teacher. One of the things I took pride in besides my organized and creative classroom, was my level of patience. I spent a number of years teaching students with varying special needs, and often parents and other teacher alike would commend me on the level of patience I had with their children. Events would be trying, a child would be frustrated and on the verge of losing it, and most times, I could keep my cool.
Then I had my own kids. Patience is fleeting when two needy little girls are climbing and crying and whining and whimpering while trying to get bags, coats, and shoes on before leaving the house.
I have dug my heels in though for a few things. Regardless of how late we may be running, or how frustrated I may feel, Mo MUST try to put her socks on by herself and she always is in charge of putting on her coat. The coat she has mastered a la "Flip, Flop. Over the Top!". Meanwhile, the socks, well that's another story. Most days she can do one, and after trying two or three times usually throws the sock onto the floor or lets out a scream or loud sigh. Normally, as this happens I am usually fumbling around with Maeve and her shoes and coat.
The banter between Mo and I during socks & shoes now is quite routine, and predictable.
I can just remind her "what do I say every morning, Mo?"
Mo: "Just try!"
Me: "You can do it! I know you can!"
Mo as she misses her foot again: "Uh, I just can't do it! I need help mommy."
Some days it's a real struggle while other days she surprises herself and somehow the sock manages to make it onto her foot in some manner.
This past Saturday, we were headed to her friend's birthday party which meant she wanted to wear her party shoes- shiny black patent leather. Because I knew that the party was going to be on the active front, I suggested her sneakers. We compromised- yes I already have to compromise on wardrobe- on her black shoes. With little fanfare, Mo independently put on her socks and her shoes!
The smile was so big and it was so obvious how proud she was of herself. I had to snap a picture of my little girl.
In that moment, I realized all the tears and screaming and times we were running late was worth it, as Mo finally got that she can do it herself!

Way to go Mo!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Just a little bit obsessed

I am in full throttle party planning mode for Mo's third birthday.
I may have a small obsession with this party. Honestly though, I can't be blamed. I... I mean, Mo may have chosen the single best party theme ever:
Yes, my friends!
The Wizard of Freaking Oz is the inspiration for this third birthday fiesta. The ideas, the inspiration, the colors, the characters - OH MY, it's a party planners dream! I've hit up AC Moore, Michaels, IKEA, Target, and I think I foresee a trip to Joann's fabric in the very near future.
I feel for my friends, family members, kids, and Bry who have endlessly heard about various party planning blogs, and ideas for food and now are searching for costumes for this little fete.
I just can't get enough!
Last year, we had a fabulous second birthday party for Mo. We hired her music teacher for a group class and then had cupcakes from our favorite cupcakery. In the end, the party was a success, but hit our pocketbooks a little too much. We agreed that we would do a bigger birthday party every other year.
I guess I understood that agreement to mean "bigger" equals "more expensive". This year we have more children invited, however Bry told me to keep it cheap, and thus I am attempting to pull the creative, teacher Jackie out of retirement to make one kick ass, DIY Wizard of Oz party.
T-Minus 12 days until Oz day and I still have quite a bit to do, however I'll share a few teasers of what Mo and I have accomplished so far.

Ladies & Gentlemen Dorothy & her Ruby Slippers

Moira's Birthday Banner

Scraps turned into a Birthday Chain

My to do list is huge and I know I am making more work for myself then I have to, but I really am enjoying this and hope to make one fabulous party for my little girl.
Until then, wish me luck!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's day from our wee little Irish Lassies

Mo is all decked out for the day. Her Pot O'Gold Crown, Lucky Necktie, & Sham-Rocker t-shirt

Our little Irish Maeve (as my mother-in-law loves to call her!) I prefer the caption "When Irish Eyes aren't Smiling!

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you
In the palm of his hand.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bright Girls?

Recently I read an article entitled The Trouble with Bright Girls by Heidi Grant Halvorsen, PhD. For the most part, Halvorsen explains that while the male counterparts have the confidence to push on when frustrated, often females become withdrawn in the school setting. This in turn affects the development of our self-concept. She writes, "We(Women) continue to carry these beliefs, often unconsciously, around with us throughout our lives. And because Bright Girls are particularly likely to see their abilities as innate and unchangeable, they grow up to be women who are far too hard on themselves -- women who will prematurely conclude that they don't have what it takes to succeed in a particular arena, and give up way too soon."

As I read this piece, I couldn't help but think of my sister and myself, and then of course, I thought of Mo & Maeve. My sister is a pediatrician and one of the most studious people I have ever met. She is the type who will begin studying for an exam weeks before test day. She graduated second in her high school class and second in her class in college (she will curse the tin flute grade she got while studying abroad in Ireland over that). With all that accomplished, she still will tell you that she isn't that smart. She was offered two different placements to two different medical schools after a post-baccalaureate year and after finishing her residency earned a fellowship, which she ultimately turned down. She is smart, but like Halvorsen wrote, she is far too hard on herself. She looks at herself in terms of what she is not, instead of what she has accomplished. She is a successful professional and yet she still has that skewed view of herself.
I saw myself in this piece too. I have written before of my struggle with choosing to end my career as a teacher to stay at home full time and my hopes and fears of raising strong girls. I worry that my girls will succumb to this notion and in essence, become they're own worst enemies. I want them to be everything they want to be and have the confidence in themselves to do it.
I love my husband for many reasons, but in relation to this article I think of his confidence. He knows he is smart, period.
He may not be the most athletic and Lord knows he is not handy in the least, however he is smart. One cannot debate that with him. He tells me all the time, that I am too, and while I nod my head in agreement, most of the time I wonder if I'm nearly as intelligent as he believes. Is this what Halvorsen means? Is it because Bry's a guy that he is able to own his intelligence, while I debate it?
I have said on here in the past that I love school- both as a teacher and a student. I have talked about the possibility of returning to graduate school but for some reason I drag my feet over this. Reading this piece made me truly wonder if a part of me thinks I won't be able to handle it, and so instead of the chance of failure, I remain passive. I do nothing on the school front.
Is that what I would want for Mo or Maeve to do? Hell, is that what I would want for anyone I love to do, To be fearful of failing?
Heavy stuff for a Friday afternoon, right?
Reading pieces like this make me want to be that role model for Mo & Maeve. The one that is confident and smart and positive, because their eyes and ears are always open, even when I may not realize it.

On a lighter note, How about some pictures?
Mo & her birdhouse

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Down for the count

A stomach bug has been floating around and I thought we were safe.
Apparently not, as all four of us succumbed within four hours of each other. It was bad, really bad. I will spare the gruesome details in terms of illness, but will share the casualities.

One Master Bedroom Pillow Sham, One full size quilt, two pairs of twin sheets, one crib bunting, one crib sheet, two stuffed animals, three pairs of pajamas, two baths at strange times, two and half hours of Nick Jr. from 1-3:30 in the morning on the couch with Mo next to the bucket, and five loads of laundry later, we survived.
I honestly do not wish this on anyone, as it was horrible!
There was an upside to this. I had made chicken noodle soup from scratch on Friday and luckily that was in the fridge. I swear there is something healing in homemade soup as it was the first thing both Bry and I could keep down yesterday.
Here's hoping we stay healthy from this day on!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Rainy Sunday Afternoon

What to do on a rainy Sunday?

Our joint New Year's resolution has been to start attending Mass at the local Catholic church. So far, it's the ninth Sunday of the year and we have made it four times. Not great, but far better then the amount of times we attended Mass in the past few years!
This Sunday we did not make it to mass, as we were out late shopping at IKEA. With our tax refund check, (Yeah, for having a kid in 2010!) we are finally putting the finishing touches on our third floor playroom. Currently it has a desk where the laptop is suppose to sit, chair for said desk, filing cabinet, book shelf, and tons of toys! Yesterday we purchased this sofa in green:

Since we live in an older home, the stairways are quite steep and in turn, make it difficult to bring large pieces of furniture up. It was taxing bringing up our bedroom furniture to the second floor, so one can imagine the dilemma wf having another steep staircase to tackle with a couch. IKEA was our best option, as it's build to suit.
We paid the extra money to have them deliver it on Monday. Imagine my surprise this morning when there was a knock at the door at around 10:40. There I am in my pajamas, holding Maeve to find movers. Apparently IKEA delivers on Sundays.
Who knew?
As I rushed to find Bry, he spoke to the movers while I ushered the girls up the stairs and into our bedroom to stay out of the way. In less the ten minutes, two large boxes and a small box filled with green slipcovers were safely residing in our guest bedroom hopefully to be assembled sometime this week.
The rest of the day has been relaxing.
I will confess, as I type this I am still in my pajamas as is Maeve. Mo unfortunately had a run-in with her cereal bowl this morning, so instead of pajamas she's currently wearing a Phillies t-shirt with pink leopard print leggings as she watches an unhealthy amount of television.

After enjoying a late breakfast of eggs, bagels, & bacon & scrapple which we picked up from one of the Amish vendors yesterday at the Reading Terminal Market.
We have been grazing on cheeses, French ham, & baguette. YUM!

As I type, Bry is upstairs fighting the battle of the Allen wrench as he attempts to assemble a large unit for the playroom. If all goes well, I foresee a lovely child-friendly retreat in our new future just a staircase away!
Until then, our living room remains kiddie central!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Blue Glass & Ivory Soap

Blue Glass & Ivory Soap
These are the two things that come to mind when I think of my grandmother. From the time I was very little, I remember fondly going to visit Mommom & Poppop and looking at her collection of little blue glass bottles which she displayed on the window sill. There was something stunning about the way light comes through the bright blue glass on a window ledge. For years and years, Mommom collected various sizes and shapes of glass in blue. She has candy dishes, and vases, small little containers and larger ones from places like the thrift store she volunteers to vacations in Vegas. Most of these pieces sat in her large china cabinet in her dining room.
Not too long after my grandfather passed away, Mommom sold her row house in my hometown and moved into a brand new apartment complex for those over 55. While her new place was smaller, it had plenty of room for her most prized possessions, including her collection of blue glass and her large cabinet. I remember unwrapping the various pieces as we set them up in her new place. While the smaller bottles moved from the front window ledge to a shelf in her kitchen, seeing those pieces made it feel like Mommom's home to me.
She had been living for a few years in this new place, when just recently the rent went up...a lot. So much so, that Mommom debated whether she could afford to remain. Luckily, a vacant one bedroom became available and Mommom jumped on it! Again, this meant she would have to pack up her belongings and move. This time however, she was losing quite a bit of space. Instead of two bedrooms, she would now how one. Instead of two bathrooms, she would have one. She lost a storage area, closet, and a few feet in her living room.
She called me as she was packing up yet again, and asked if we would want some pieces of furniture- a dresser/small buffet and a table. A few days before we went,s she sent out an email saying that she was getting rid of her blue glass. I honestly cannot fathom Mommom's home without it.
Of course, I said yes to the furniture and yes to the blue glass, and a few weeks ago Mo, Maeve, & I ventured to Mommom's place to pick up these pieces. She had already gotten the keys to her new apartment, which Mo referred to as the attic since it was on the top floor, and so we were able to look at what would become her new home. It was brighter then the other apartment, but definitely smaller. When we went back to her former apartment, she showed me the green suit she had worn when she eloped with my grandfather all those years ago. She chuckled as she told me how she couldn't believe she had held onto it over all those year, and more so, how embarrassed she was that she had kept it in a plastic bag instead of taking it to the cleaners. She showed me the small buffet which now sits in our dining room waiting for a piece a marble/granite, and then the table which she said had always been her favorite, but now she had no room for it.
Finally, she showed me the large Rubbermaid container of blue glass and encouraged me to look through it. Honestly, at that moment I couldn't.
I left that day with the buffet and the table in the car, and the understanding that my grandmother would hold off giving me the blue glass until she had picked pieces herself for her new place.
Last week my dad dropped off the rubbermaid container. I do not know if Mommom kept any pieces, as we haven't made it to her new place yet. I opened up the container and found a shoebox filled with my favorite thing: the little blue bottles. There are 24 and by sheer coincidence 24 panes in the windows of our dining room. Talk about perfect fit, right?

I have yet to go through the rest of the box, mainly because I'm not quite sure where I can put any more pieces. I do know, however, that I will find a space for some of them.
Oh yeah, I titled this post- Blue Glass & Ivory Soap and realize I never mentioned this soap. Do you remember how smells trigger memories? Well whenever I smell ivory soap, immediately, wherever I am, a picture of my Mommom pops into my head! Lucky me, my Mommom doesn't smell like moth balls or old lady perfume, she smells clean and fresh and exactly like Ivory Soap!