Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Firsts

Haley's new teacher sent home a poem about how first graders are different from kindergartners in that they are no longer in between the baby years and school years; they are officially Big Kids. Haley was 4 months old when we moved here, and last week she started FIRST GRADE! She was a little bit nervous because the move to our new house last spring meant she had to change schools, but she has adjusted very quickly, has a great teacher, and has made a lot of new friends already. Haley has accomplished so many things in the past few months that fully qualify her for Big Kid status:

The kids both got new bikes at the beginning of the summer, and although we kept meaning to take the training wheels off of Haley's, we just never got around to it. A few weeks ago she decided she was ready to give it a try so Rob took them off while I was on a walk with Jake and Alex. On my way home through the park I saw them riding toward me and I didn't realize at first that her training wheels were off. She was riding like a pro from the first and hasn't looked back since. I was so amazed! This video was taken the night we took her training wheels off:
video

The morning after her training wheels came off, Haley said, "Hey Mom, watch me tie my shoes!" And she proceeded to tie perfect bows on her tennis shoes. Once again I was amazed. I much prefer velcro to laces when we're not in snow boot or flip-flop season and we hadn't pushed that skill on her very much. But Rob had reminded her how to do it and she picked it up right away this time. I'm sure many school teachers are happy when kids conquer this milestone!

Haley has always liked baby dolls and princess dolls and Polly Pockets, but she has recently become obsessed with the American Girl Doll collection. I gave her my Samantha doll from when I was little and she's had fun shopping for her when we go to Chicago or Minneapolis. But until recently I'd always recycled the catalogs that came from them without her notice. Not any longer...she pages through them over and over, reading the descriptions of each item, and making and re-making lists of her favorite items. Chrissa's birthday picnic table or Chrissa's craft table? Rebecca's bed or Kit's? Molly's Christmas dress or Felicity's Tea Lesson gown? The possibilities are endless and agonizing and wonderful, especially to a 6-year-old.

Anyone who has glanced through an American Girl Doll catalog lately knows it's not an inexpensive collection. As much as we'd love to provide our darling daughter with everything she desires, it's just not feasible nor do we think it would be good for her. So we decided she could start earning an allowance by helping out with more chores, and she could save up for those pricey doll items. So far so good...

Lastly, I'm remembering when Haley was tiny and so reluctant to try anything new or exciting (she was terrified of most of the rides at Disneyland at 2 1/2). So I'm still sort of incredulous at what a bold little monkey she's become. This girl will climb ANYTHING. We've had a long-standing rule that she's only allowed to climb as high as she's comfortable getting down from herself, and I don't remember the last time she got stuck somewhere. She scales walls, fences, ropes, swing sets, lamp posts, basketball hoops...often before I notice and run over to scold her for climbing without a spotter. We recently went over to the local climbing wall and I have a feeling we'll be spending a lot of time there this winter. The video below is of one of her favorite climbing feats. video

We love you, our Big Kid Haley, and hope you will always continue to astonish us, work hard, and keep climbing for the stars.

Above: Haley on the porch on the first day of school; taking a flying leap at the park. Below: Haley at gymnastics this summer.



Sunday, August 16, 2009

Trip on a Whim - Seattle '09

"It's a funny thing about coming home. Looks the same, smells the same, feels the same. You realize what's changed is you."

-From The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

A few weeks ago I was on the phone with my mom when she mentioned that my sister and her family would be visiting Seattle that weekend, which meant that everyone would be together - except for us. After hanging up, I turned to Rob and said, "If we left on Wednesday, we could be there by Friday...wouldn't that be a fun surprise?" I'm not sure that "fun" is the word that immediately came to his mind, but after pondering it for a day - and after trading in our Subaru for a minivan - we decided to go.

It was a mad scramble to get everything ready and we couldn't decide if we were fun and adventurous or just plain crazy (Alex was only 2 weeks old, after all). But thanks to the DVD player in the van and a leisurely schedule, we all enjoyed the drive. We also really enjoyed surprising everyone when they found out we were coming. It was wonderful to catch up with everyone, watch the cousins play together, and introduce Alex to the family. We avoided all of the crowded SeaFair activities and enjoyed lots of good food and conversation instead. Of course we wanted to stay longer, but were grateful for the time we did get to spend with everyone. (Remember, you're all welcome to come out HERE anytime!!!)

I had a favorite book when I was a little girl called The City Mouse and the Country Mouse, of which I'm reminded whenever we visit a big city. I could wax poetic about the beauty of Seattle for pages and pages - the velvety green hills, sparkling lakes, stunning glimpses of The Mountain - but I will spare you. On this trip, although I was still head-over-hills in love with my beloved Emerald City, I found myself noticing some of the drawbacks as well. I kept asking myself (and Rob), "Were there always this many people here before? Where are they all going? And in such a big hurry? Can there really be a large enough population to support this many stores?" After a few days of such ponderings I realized I sounded exactly like the "country mouse" from my childhood book. It was humbling, and I came home feeling so grateful for the life we have built here in our small town on the prairie. Sure it's cold, and we wish we could have our family close by. I do a lot of my shopping online and we have to be creative about finding things to do. But the kids can still ride their bikes around town, the commute is a dream, and we know half the crowd when we go to the Saturday Farmer's Market.

I was full of dread when we moved here six years ago this month. I was leaving everything familiar behind and Rob knew what a big sacrifice and leap of faith it was for me. We turned north from Fargo at around 9:00 pm after three days of driving, and were stunned by the beauty of the surrounding fields at sunset. Everything was soft and glowing and peaceful. We will both always remember the moment when I turned to him and said, "It's so beautiful." Rob very rarely cries, but his eyes filled with tears to know that maybe we could be happy here after all. I may always be a city girl at heart, but I have changed, and maybe being a bit of a country mouse isn't so bad after all.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

One (wonderful, busy, fun, sleep-deprived) Month

I've been meaning to get around to this post for a week now...I just can't ever seem to make myself put Alex down in order to do it. I could stare at him for hours - and sometimes do, to the detriment of my housework and blog.

Now one month old, Alex is finally outgrowing his preemie-sized clothes and is noticeably filling out. He still likes to be swaddled and snuggled and eats ALL the time. He does not like baths or loud noises or being cold. He's awake for longer periods of time now and I'm trying like crazy to get him to smile at me. Although he's had some fussy periods (no more chocolate or Diet Pepsi for mom), he's hanging on to his Mr. Mellow title. Watch for millions of "Alex-is-smiling" pictures coming (hopefully) soon!



I love these wraps that the hospitals use now.

Peanut with his dad.

This is how the kids stayed entertained in the hospital room - watching movies on Rob's laptop.

Coming home from the hospital - his "going home" outfit I'd gotten him was so big on him.

A tradition in our home - the first jam session with Daddy.

Such a snuggle bug!

Not warm enough to swim, but always warm enough for popsicles.

Like all siblings everywhere, Jake has to try out the bouncy seat.
He also decided one day he wanted to wear one of Alex's outfits, and I thought for a minute and then said, "why not?" This is what a 0-3 month outfit looks like on a 3-year-old... "Loohk aht my muh-scles!"Conked out after his bath - those really wear him out.


Shortly after Alex and I got home from the hospital, Rob's parents flew up to spend a week with us. Haley and Jake loved the extra playmates, and Rob and I thoroughly appreciated the help with dishes, laundry, cooking, and holding baby. Haley even planned a "tea party birthday" for Grandma - right down to the decorations and Sweet Zucchini Cupcakes. It was a fun week and we're so glad they were able to come!