Saturday, April 25, 2015

Party in the Big Girl Bed: April 25, 2015

Let's take a moment to celebrate these big, big girls!  They're going to turn the big FOUR in August and are excited to start preschool in the fall.  I've been cherishing the one-on-two time that I get with them three days a week. 
Just last Thursday we were enjoying the sunshine at Longwood Gardens.  Mommy was getting her first sunburn of the season, and the girls were enjoying climbing the trees and running around the grass.
We were investigating the strange, spiky plants in the conservatory and the spring bulbs of all kinds that were coming up outside.  We climbed up and down all three treehouses and hiked the outdoor boardwalk.
We meandered around the paths until it was almost time to get Devon from preschool.  As we capped off the hot day with a cool treat and put an extra one in the cupholder to refresh Devon in pickup line, we sighed in contentment.  I enjoy these lazy days.  I had no idea how big and busy the next week was going to be for us. 

On Saturday I headed out on a whim to look for bedroom furniture for the girls.  We weren't in any hurry, but definitely starting to feel like it was time.  The girls slept in their cribs set up as toddler beds since the Maryland move.  Lately we were noticing that they spent a lot of time in our bed.  We wondered if their frequent waking was a sign that their beds were becoming uncomfortable.  It was also frustrating for me not to be able to sit on their beds and pray with them at night, sit on the bed and read them a story, or even just climb in bed next to them to cuddle after a nightmare.  It seemed like time to get them some big girl beds and bedroom furniture.  Craig and I spent a lot of time talking about our various options: bunk beds, double-twin captain's beds, jack-and-jill twin beds, or one big bed.  Falling out of bed was a serious concern.  So was jumping on the bed.  We eventually decided that one big bed was safer than them jumping from bed to bed in any double setup. 
I had a plan to pop into three stores, take some pictures, and come home and show Craig some options.  I ended up calling him an hour later, asking him to measure the room to be sure, and then writing a check. The first store was a warehouse that happened to be closing the following week, and they were clearing their floor stock that weekend.  I could get their entire bedroom set for the price of a good mattress.  The cherry wood set was perfect for two little girls.  There was no reason to wait.  I took a deep breath and scheduled delivery for Thursday.
On Monday, the girls' cribs came down.  This is the entirely non-nostalgic last picture I took of their old room. 
Monday night this was the room waiting for them at bedtime.  I called it the "Stuck in Folsom Prison" look.  Bare mattress on the floor.  Naked blind looking like bars on the windows.  Water stain from last winter's roof failure still on the ceiling.  Definitely time for a completely new look.
We took color inspiration from the weeping cherry tree that can be seen outside their window.  It only looks this way two weeks out of the year, but it's so worth waiting for.  The girls noticed it right away when it suddenly bloomed last week.

Carrie: Mommy, there's a NEW TREE outside!
Melina: Mommy the tree is PAINTED!
Carrie: Mommy, did you paint the tree outside?  Did you paint it for us?
Mommy: No.  The new tree is a gift from God!  He paints the trees like this for us every spring.  He covers them with flowers so we can be happy and enjoy them!  Isn't that nice?
Girls: YAYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!
Tuesday's regular shopping day with our friends Karolina and little Victoria included stops to buy paint and supplies for a room transformation.  We also spent some time celebrating the girls and this milestone.  Carrie was a little insecure because her crib had come down and there seemed to be major changes on the horizon.  The distraction was welcome and helped her stay upbeat.
Wednesday was painting day.  I took one last picture to mark the departure of my old friend.  I've spent many nights this past year lying on the floor with my head on the beanbag chair and a sleeping girlie on my chest.  I'd look up at the water stain, trying to decide what exactly it looked like.  Dumbledore the Wizard walking away?  A vacuum cleaner?  A chess pawn? 
Hours went by and progress was much slower than I expected.  The ceiling white was not covering well, and needed another coat to make it even.  The water stain, especially, needed layer after layer of paint.  I kept stopping to feed people, give baths, read stories, and finally put the girls to bed on their crib mattresses on the floor in Mommy and Daddy's room.  It became apparent that I was not going to finish that night.  Delivery was scheduled for the following afternoon.  Oh well.
Fast forward to 2 am, an hour I'm not fond of but seem to see frequently with three toddlers that have occasional sleep issues. 

Carrie: Mommy, I'm getting my new bed today!
Mommy: Carrie, it's night.  Go back to sleep.
Carrie: New bed! New bed! New bed! Yaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy!

Mommy was half successful getting Carrie subdued by letting her cuddle in bed beside her and trying to go back to sleep.  Carrie was too excited to settle down again.  Her little legs ran circles against my side.  Her hands walked up and down my arm.  Two hours later I gave up, and got out the painting things to start on the girls' room.  It was a Carrie-approved move.  She held the tape as we protected the baseboards.  She handed me the screwdriver to remove their outlet covers.  She seemed none the worse for wear to be up in the very middle of the night.  Painting her room was great fun. 
Five a.m. saw me rolling cheery lavender paint up and down the walls.  We stopped for a breather shortly after six when Devon joined us, and I resumed at eight when he and Daddy left for preschool and work.
10 a.m. and the paint was drying and I took advantage of the empty room to steam the carpet.  In retrospect, I cut it waaaaaaayyyyy too close. 
At 1 p.m. the girls watched as the furniture truck rolled into the driveway. 
Delivery was very exciting.  I think we definitely won Most Appreciative Customers.  The girls' delight in the new items was obvious as they squealed and screeched as every new piece was brought in and set up on the barely dried carpets.  Then they decided that they liked the delivery men so much they didn't want them to leave.

Melina: Mommy, we want to go to Chick-fil-A!
Mommy: But the working men are here.  We can't leave them.
Carrie: We want them to take us to Chick-fil-A! 
Melina: They can take us in their big, big truck!
The day was going to be big enough without any other outings.  Their new sheets went on the bed, their pictures went back on the walls, and their belongings were arranged on their new dresser.  Eight in the evening saw us tucking them into bed in their brand new room.
No worries about them sharing a bed again.  After all, they've done it many times before...
Their furniture is nice enough to work for at least one of the girls through college, and maybe even go with one of them into adult life.  I'm not sure how long they'll want to share a bed, but it's working for now. 
Their new room looks amazing!  I can't believe the difference a week makes. 
The girls have been conspicuously absent from my side of the bed these past two nights.  Could it be that they woke up and padded down the hall to crawl in beside me because they wanted each other's company?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Dance of Spring: April 14, 2015

My wake up calls come at the red, red dawn these days.  Both girls have been up at 6 and eager for breakfast, attention, and interaction.  Whew!  I take my giant handful of vitamins, take a deep breath, make a cup of coffee, and try to cherish these early times with just two of my children. 
 Devon, on the other hand, has been sleep cycling later.  He gets up between 7:30 and 8 am, sometimes even making preschool arrival a little tight.  He stays energetic all day and shows no signs of slowing down by 8 pm.  He's been active in his room way after bedtime....9pm.....10pm.....even 11 one crazy night.
 Special Daddy Time saves the day!  Mommy's spatial and reasoning skills go out the window at about the twelfth hour of an active day.  She makes a cup of tea and sits in a chair, watching as Daddy and Devon assemble his birthday Lego Car.  Daddy teaches Devon about following printed directions. 
So it's been a long couple of weeks.  Everyone's been waaaay over napping for a while now.  We try for Leap Pad rest time, where the kids are isolated in separate rooms and can play learning games or listen to music for a bit in the early afternoon. We try individual play in rooms.  We try looking at books in the ball chair.  We try to keep things quiet and give everyone a rest.
We try a long drive to a faraway errand in the late afternoon if we know we need to stay up fairly late and want to keep the moods fresh.  Melina, especially, has been feeling that her day reaches it's sell-by date around 6:00 every evening if she hasn't had rest time.  "Mommy, I'm sleepy!  I want to go to bed!" she insists, crawling right under her blankets and closing her eyes, sometimes as early as 5:30. 
When all else fails, we try subterfuge. "Well, kids, you guys look beat.  I think we'll try a nap this afternoon," I trill.  The kids pale, run up the stairs, disappear into the playroom, and play quietly as mice.  Ahhhhh.  Let's make no pretenses about the afternoon rest time.  I'm the one that needs it.  A fifteen hour day supervising children is LONG.  My body needs to sit down, my mind needs to concentrate on something, and my spirit needs a few minutes of quiet. 
Sometimes I get a few moments of hobby time.  This was Sunday's project, an attempt to fill the time in which I was tired enough to nap but had to be awake in case someone needed something wiped or a toy sharing intervention.  The girls' "pretties" have a nice place to be behind the bathroom door.
We're still trying to keep up with three days a week at the ymca, although it's going to be harder with the weather so nice.  Swim lessons are over and it's a lot of work to get everyone there with packed snacks.  My life affords me so much exercise these days that I may not even need the 45 minute run on the elliptical trainer.
We're getting our yard in shape for the summer.  In the middle of winter we had our back perimeter cleared of grapevines, weeds, and debris.  We missed the deer resting in the snow in the shelter of the undergrowth, but the area was a tick hazard and needed to be dealt with.  The last few branches need to be towed to the burn pile.  Our permit needs to be renewed.
There are lots of ways to spend an evening with children, but you wouldn't think that one of the most enjoyable ways would be running around your back acre picking up sticks and dragging them into a big pile.  But it's great fun.  Trust me.
All that physical activity wears me out, but the kids are ready to get even more wiggles out before bedtime.  Daddy steps in and plays I'm Gonna Get You with the crazy pack of screeching littles fresh out of their bath. 
After the girls are in bed, Devon needs something to do.  He calls Grammy and Grandpa on Facetime.  We've gotten it down that Facetime means to let someone see your face while you are talking to them.  We have decided to table the concept that this usually means sitting still and holding the phone upright at arm's length in front of your face.
Yes, spring is in this little boy's blood.  He just can not sit still.  Four hours of bike riding up and down the driveway isn't enough to quiet his body enough to sit and listen to a story.  Goodness knows how preschool is going.  He's getting good behavior reports.  
 I suppose Spring has also motivated Mommy too!  The warm weather makes so many little projects possible that I've been aching to do.
Yesterday I turned the ugliest room in our house into one of the prettiest.  That's saying something.  We've been working with Devon on keeping his room clean, promising him that we would paint his walls when he showed responsibility in this area.  Yesterday was the day!
 I'm so pleased with how it turned out.  Devon picked the color.  All three kids sat on the bed and watched intently, singing songs and commenting on the action as I rolled up and down the walls. 
We were done by noon and enjoying lunch in the sunshine.  Hmm... by "lunch" I mean pumpkin bread, yogurt, leftover cooked chicken, fresh fruit, and a small chocolate Easter bunny apiece.  Some days are just too full for cooking....

Monday, April 6, 2015

Happy Easter!!: April 5, 2015

This week was an intense week of preparation for a smooth and activity-filled Easter celebration.  I'll admit I struggle with giving proper thought to Passion Week since having children.  It always seems like shoppingfordinneringredientsandbasketstuffersanddevotionalsearchingandfillingeggs week.  Saturday night found me sitting down to watch the final four and complete the final "Easter preparation task": filling dozens of plastic eggs with a single jellybean each.  The kids' baskets were pleasantly filled.
So were Mommy's and Daddy's, although with more adult treats.  The Rommegrot, a traditional Norwegian rice porridge we always have for holiday breakfasts, was warming in the crockpot overnight.  The ingredients for Moroccan Lamb Stew were laid out in the fridge and the lamb bone broth was finishing its boil on the stove.  The Easter Lily was blooming on the kitchen island.  The Easter activity books and Sunday devotional were ready to go.  The kids' Easter church clothes and afternoon egg hunting clothes were located and laid out.  I don't always overachieve, but when I do.......
The girls woke at seven and got their step stools to help Mommy make the eggs and cook the sausages.  Then we enjoyed our festive Easter breakfast. 
Mommy and Daddy were already dressed for church, but we let the kids enjoy the meal in their pj's.  No sense in letting donut custard spoil their Easter clothes. 
I couldn't stop taking pictures, and I couldn't decide which ones to post.  It's SO nice to have the kids smiling, posing for nice pictures, and cheerfully shouting "He is Risen!!!"
This picture pretty much sums up the Easter basket hunt.  Devon was not happy because the girls got toys in their Easter baskets and he wanted all the toys for himself.  It was a hard adjustment for him to not be the center of attention after his birthday.

"Yep," said Mommy.  "That's why Jesus had to come to save you, buddy!"

Easter was a bit of a hard day for Mommy.  The breakfast was eaten, the festive clothes were worn, the baskets were distributed, church was attended, naps were resisted, the Moroccan Lamb Stew and biscuits were enjoyed, the chocolate bunnies disappeared, the eggs were hunted not once but twice.  All that effort made the day go smoothly, and yet there was a lot of complaining and not a lot of compliments.  It kind of hurt.

Yep, Mommy, your pride is wounded.  You'd like someone to say that your family looks nice in their Easter clothes and breakfast was delicious and the baskets were very thoughtful and the stew was perfection and it must have taken an hour to find and fill all those eggs.  You love your family so much that you've exhausted yourself to make this day special and you'd like someone to notice and say thanks.  And that's why Jesus had to come to save you, too.

Church was a highlight.  It was our first Easter at Cornerstone.  Last year we hadn't yet found our church.  This year the girls actually took the stage to sing "I am Jesus's Little Lamb" with the other kids.  I'm kind of amazed, as they're usually pretty shy about up front activities.  Of course, I had to go up on stage with them and lip sync to the song I didn't know.  Having the girls wear leggings under their Easter dresses saved the show.  When Carrie gets nervous, she sucks her right thumb and sticks her left pointer finger in her belly button.  This calms her down.  This maneuver would also have displayed her My Little Pony Panties for everyone to see, had she not had some bloomers on underneath.  Whew!!!
The Easter egg hunts did go well, though.  It was a lovely, warm evening and we reveled in the short sleeve weather. 
Devon wore his pajamas.  Yes, he still changes when given the chance. 
That's my favorite action shot of this year's hunt.  Afterwards, the kids sat down to enjoy opening and eating the candy.  It was a perfect finish to a lovely day.