Monday, July 21, 2008


Lily didn't start obsessing over objects and characters until she was about 2 years old. Before that she had no attachments, no "favorites", nothing. Around the fall of 2006 she discovered Elmo. I was ok with this. A slightly annoying character but overall a positive thing to become addicted to.

Soon after came Dora. I love Dora. I wish she spoke french but I have overlooked this and have come to accept her Latina roots. Dora is a go-getter. Dora is a leader. Dora and Boots may be best friends but Dora is in charge. AND - she's a problem solver. Her teacher is late for school? No worries, Dora will get out Map (resist the urge to sing the ever so creative song - I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the MAP!), plot out three landmarks, and that teacher is in the classroom before the third bell. What a girl! Los hicimos! or something like that. I was a french major, not spanish.

Here's the problem with Dora - the girl yells when she talks. "BOOTS WE NEED TO GO THROUGH THE NUTTY FOREST!" "SWIPER NO SWIPING, SWIPER NO SWIPING, SWIPER NO SWIPING!!!" This has been a challenge that I am attempting to correct to this day: Lily yells when she talks. I am forever saying "Lily, try not to yell." "I'M NOT YELLING." "I know you don't think you are but strangers in Vermont just agreed to blow bubbles with you, so obviously that was a tad too loud."

There was also a minor incident in which Lily stopped pointing with her fingers. This was when she was about 2 1/2 and it reached a climax when my sister was visiting for Jamie's birth. Every time Lily talked (yelled) about something, she would motion with her whole hand. It was odd but I ignored it because I was 9 months pregnant and who cares if she stopped pointing? Then one day Kristen realized what Lily was doing. Dora does not use her fingers. Whenever she points to a path, Swiper, or a star, she motions with her entire hand (very similar to the models on the Price is Right, but not quiet so flamboyant). We couldn't believe it. Luckily, she overcame what could have been a very weird thing to do for her entire life.

And now to her current obsession. And I think "obsession" is an understatement since our world actually revolves around them now - the Disney Princesses.

Here she is in her princess nightgown that unfortunately also came with a matching headband. She will wear this periodically throughout the day. She knows it's for sleeping but it has the word "gown" in it. And if the word "gown" is in it then guess what it is? A gown. And the headband must always be worn at the same time. She has even woken up in the middle of the night crying because she can't find it amongst her pillows and 5 billion blankets. I have to strip the bed at 2:07am to find the thing and cram it back on her head.

My cousin Lynn has a daughter who has just outgrown these princess gowns so she gave them to Lily. We are grateful that we didn't have to pay for them since these babies are expensive!

We took these pictures one day during Jamison's nap. I had to think of an activity that wouldn't require her to talk (yell).

As you can see in the Belle picture below, she also is displaying her Belle sticker book. This was imperative for the photo shoot as she went scrambling to find it.

This is what she calls her princess look. I guess princesses are content, but also aloof. Possibly somewhat condescending?

I have no idea why she wanted me to take a picture of the back of the dress. And she specifically said that the weird pink heart-thing that she is holding must be visible.

So here's my deal with the princesses in random order:
1. They have no mothers. While Sleeping Beauty (a.k.a Aurora, a.k.a. Briar Rose) had parents, she was whisked off to a cottage with three fairies for 16 years.
2. They are only-children.
3. Majority of them only have woodland creatures or other animals as friends. Do they have social problems? Why can't they have human friends? (with the exception of Ariel - who could have at least had mermaid friends - we understand this. The mer-world is not to have contact with the human-world!)
4. They are not always obedient - Ariel disobeys her father, Jasmine disobeys her father, Snow White doesn't listen the to dwarfs warning about no one in the house, Belle is very argumentative with the Beast...)
5. Why in the world can they not problem solve on their own!?!? They need a prince, a fairy, a genie, dwarfs, a fairy-god mother, Ursula, etc.....I'm all for using help when you need it but if it weren't for these assistants, these princesses would all be dead or in a deep sleep forever. (This is where Dora would have come up with a different plan)
6. Why do all the princesses have long flowing hair? Why do they all appear to wear make-up? I've had loooooooooong discussions with Lily on how the princesses are not three and that's why they get to wear make-up. Most are 16 years old and she's lucky that I'll let her wear make-up long before those princesses were allowed to....but not when she's three! And about the hair. Usually Lily is good about her pigtails but if she wants to play dress up, the hair must be down. As Brian has mentioned numerous times - our house has more hair and wardrobe changes than a Broadway production.
She wanted a close up of the Ariel wedding gown so that we could see the Ariel crown and Ariel ring that has lip gloss in the middle. Thanks to my mother for making the purchase of all seven Disney princess rings with lip gloss in the middle. No outfit is complete with all the princess-related accessories. Now that the Ariel ring is broken, she will never wear the Ariel gown again.

Cinderella was a huge favorite for a long time. This picture was before (my mother, again) the purchase of the Cinderella accessories: handbag, wand (even though Cinderella never had a wand), necklace, bracelet, and gloves. Here, Cinderella is sitting on her thrown.

Cinderella is an expert in curtsey-ing. You can't really see her pinky's in this picture but they are properly pointing up.

Last, but oh-so-not-least, is Sleeping Beauty. This dress has a slight cleavage problem so I tried to get an angle that would not be so revealing.

There are two other dresses that didn't get in the pictures - Snow White and Jasmine. She bought her Snow White costume with her allowance (she gets coins if she stays in bed at night). I was so proud of her the day she bought it. The costume was $19.99 and with tax she ended up with 1 cent in change. That's my girl! Under budget yet she still got what she wanted. Obviously, the Snow White costume is not as well-made as the above costumes but she doesn't care.
She bought the Jasmine costume with her allowance too but my mother helped her...I am still not sure I agree with that. If she doesn't have enough allowance for the costume, then she should just look for something she can afford. All this taught her was what my sister learned a long time ago - just ask Grrrmam to cover the rest. (right in the back Kris - did you feel that one? love ya! :) )

Friday, July 18, 2008

Kristen's Visit Part 2 - The Trip

Well it's taken me long enough but here is Part 2:

It's early Friday morning and me and the kids pull up to my mother's house to load up the truck and the U-Haul. Brian and dad planned on flying over the next morning to meet us at the graduation party.

The loading actually was uneventful except that it took forever and it was abnormally warm for so early in the morning. We did change around the seating arrangement so that the twins were in the third row and my kids in the middle with Kristen. The twins are pretty good about just sitting in their seats and watching The Wiggles. Jamison can't keep a toy in his hands to save his life and Lily wanted to watch Peter Pan but needed someone to skip the scenes that involve pirates. Have you seen Peter Pan?! Basically the whole movie is pirates. So Lily watched the first scene, some random scenes in the middle, and the last scene. Kristen was in charge of skipping the scenes when Lily yelled (she had headphones on) PIRATES!
The headphones actually made us bust out laughing at one point. She is in love with The Little Mermaid. She wants to be Ariel very badly and talks about it constantly. Or at least 50% of the time. The other 50% is how she wants to be like Cinderella. At one point during the trip she decided to watch The Little Mermaid. Whenever she watches it, she sings along with the movie. Of course this time she had headphones on so unfortunately we only heard her and not Ariel. Let's just say that Lily has a lot of soul and plenty of passion for the music but not much else. She doesn't even get all the words right. I can't tell you how many times I've had to tell her that Ariel is saying the following: "What's a candle and why does it...what's the word? BURRRRRRRRRN?" Instead Lily sings: "What's a candle and why does it....what's the word? HURRRRRRRRRN?" So I ask her, "Lily, why does a candle hurn? Wouldn't it make more sense if the candle burned?" At that point I get a blank stare or she tells me that she needs to finish the song.

The first hour and a half was very peaceful. The twins watched the Wiggles, Lily watched a Pirate-free Peter Pan, and Jamison napped. Then they all stirred just east of Syracuse.

We decided pull into a rest area and have an early lunch and give the kids time to get rid of some energy. Unfortunately after lunch mom decided Lily needed some sugar. I thought this would offset the whole getting-rid-of-energy idea but what do I know? I'm just the driver of this crazed group.
After everyone was done eating we chose an idyllic spot outside. And that's only idyllic in the sense of a spot-of-greenery-next -to-tractor-trailers-driving-at-80mph.
It is incredibly difficult to get all four of these children to look at the camera at once. We have yet to get one picture in which they are all looking in the same direction. And believe me, I've tried. I've probably deleted up to 500 pictures of attempts to get that shot.

So picturesque with the tractors screeching by....

Ruthie found her match in Jamison. Ruthie is used to getting her way and pushing Maddie around. Jamison, though, is not so easily pushed around. It was quite amusing. We stopped short of putting money on which child would win.

This picture is funny to me because Lily is a mini-me and a Meeks through-and-through. But here she and Grrrman have identical looks. I believe they are both reacting to a "threat" that Auntie Kristen made. It probably involved the decapitation of princesses or the burning of all her "gowns" (Lily calls all dresses gowns).
More attempts of me getting all the girls to look in the same direction. The funny thing about these pictures is not the girls, but Jamison. As usual, Jamie has discovered something to get into. As the pictures progress you can see him taking off with the stroller (which probably had food in it, thus a motivator). What were my mother and Kristen doing at this point? I have no idea but they definitly weren't watching Jamie. Fortunately, as I was taking the pictures I saw him making a run for it, but I knew that he couldn't get far. Or at least in the way of the tractor trailers.

And the sugar from the gummy worms kicks in....Notice Jamie's head. Lily has just thrown herself over him in order to get her face into the picture. And he doesn't even care. That's what he deals with everyday. I'm waiting for the day when he is bigger than her and can bowl her over. Although he has such a sweet heart I don't know if he would even think of doing anything to upset her. Unless she had food. Then she should watch out.

Maddie is the drama queen of all drama queens. Lily is a shadow of drama queen-ness compared to this girl. Look at those eyes.
Luckily Grrrmam knows how to pacify her. Which is amazing since my mother equates handling babies to having a colonoscopy performed.

And now Grrmam doesn't know what to do. Maddie is obviously upset again but Jamison is eating a mystery substance. Should she investigate? No, just sit there and see if there is a fatal reaction.

We arrive in Rochester with no problems. Kristen and mom are in one room and the kids and I are in a room across the hall.
Obviously Lily is way too excited about her day as she starts to give me difficulties going to bed. She is normally very easy to put to bed. We put her to bed and she goes to sleep. Occasionally she gets up to tell us that the phone rang (thank you, I got it) or that she was going to wear a certain gown the next morning (we'll discuss it tomorrow, go back to bed).
But that night she is not going to sleep. I put on her lullaby music, I dim the lights, but she is everywhere on the bed and talking incessantly. She is up until 10:30 - that's almost 3 hours past her bedtime. This lack of sleep plus excitement over the trip plus a need for the attention that the twins and Jamison are getting doesn't equal an easy day for me the next day.
Here are most of us at Myria's graduation. The rest of the fmaily shows up at the party later that afternoon. For some reason I never got a good picture of us with Myria. The only shots I got of her are when she was crying and I don't think she'd appreciate me posting those.
Myria went to a small private Christian school and so it was a very informal graduation. We just sat at the end of the row and took turns lugging fussy babies to the foyer and back.
This was the largest graduation party I have ever been to. I have been to wedding receptions of this size. It was a pretty warm day and it had rained all morning. So not only was Lily hot but her gown was offended by the rain drops. As a result, she stripped down to her fancy-pants. Luckily no one cared.
She was allowed a frosted cookie at the party since she ate an acceptable lunch. For some reason beyond all understanding she decided to eat it without her hands. She never did get to the cookie part but just licked off all the frosting. At least it kept her somewhat mess-free.
I was determined to get a family picture of all the cousins. Denine though, did not want her picture taken but I could have cared less - we were going to get this picture taken. This is all of us yelling for Denine but apparently Kristen and I have inherited some weird gene in which we must bend over when we yell.

And the picture. I made us all stand in sibling order since I figured in 50 years I won't remember who's who. Back row: Greg, Kenny, Me, and Jessica. Front row: Denine, Lynn, Kristen, and Jill.
And now for the reason that we sent Lily home on the plane with dad and Brian:

This is my favorite because it shows the intensity of the event. Her desperate situation is evident by the outstretched hand and the grass that she has ripped from the earth and is throwing at me. And what did we say that caused this reaction? Did we break the news that the Little Mermaid is a Danish folk tale with no basis for fact? Did we disclose all the ingredients to those hot dogs she loves? No, all that we were asking her to do was take a picture with all the cousins. Unfortunately she was abruptly awoken from a nap and she does not to that. I can honestly say I've only seen her this out of control once before. I didn't have the camera on my for that one though.

And here is the final picture of all of the second cousins. Lily still hasn't recovered but Jamison is ready for the camera! Myria is posing beautifully for the picture while she restrains Lily from running back to the frosted cookie table.
I tried to get all the second cousins in order as well but Lily threw that idea out the window. Myria also kindly let me know that in 50 years I would remember who she no matter where she was since she was the only black one. Thank you for that reminder Myria.

Soon after that we shipped Lily home with Brian and dad. Our only concern was that if the plane went down we would feel really bad that we made her get on that plane. But then we considered having her strapped into her car seat for 4 hours in a very cramped car....and off into the plane she went.
Part 3 doesn't have nearly as many pictures and is a fairly short story consisting of only two issues. But they took up the entire 4 hour trip home. Hopefully, it will take me less than two weeks to post that one.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Is This A Boy Thing?

I have no idea how Jamison does it. He can climb anything and while I expected this from a toddler, he is barely a toddler - only 13 months old.

When he was only 10 months old he wiggled out of his high chair and sat on the seat back. I turned from the sink as he was squealing in excitement. I grabbed him and held onto him while he tried to get away from me and do it again. I was shaking uncontrollably.
While that wasn't the last time he has given me an adrenaline rush out of fear, I no longer fear his immanent death.
These two were taken on my mother's watch. But there is no blame on my mother - my sister sat there and watched him do it and then proceeded to photograph his progress. Don't worry about my child's safety - no, no, go ahead and grab your camera.
The fact that he thinks standing up on this piano is going to work makes me worry about how much we are going to have to pay for his education. It also makes me think about investing in padding on our walls and floors.
Now if someone can explain how he did the following feat, I will be forever grateful. The pressure gate is intact and blocking the stairs. He was downstairs with me and Lily when Brian had to run upstairs. I see Jamison shuffle down the hall after him but I don't worry about the stairs since the gate is up.

Next thing I know I hear Brian ask me where Jamison is. I run to the stairs and there he is at the top next to Brian. BUT THE GATE HAS NOT MOVED AND IS STILL BLOCKING THE STAIRS. Somehow he climbed over the gate and went up the stairs.

Now this is where I'm almost as bad as my sister except that Brian is there next to Jamie. The poor child is not dangling dangerously from a step.

And this is where I am as bad as my sister. Again, he was in the kitchen with me. I watch him toddle off and next thing I hear is the cat gate rattle. Since Jamie likes to play with the door I don't think anything of it until I hear that now familiar squeal of delight that only comes when he is doing something dangerous. I look over and there he is going down the stairs feet first (at least he's following our directions) but through the cat door and heading towards the cement floor of the basement!
What you didn't see is right before I took this shot the kid actually looked up at me and smiled. He knew exactly what he was doing and especially that I would not like it.

I already have acknowledged that there is nothing I can do to prevent him from doing things like this for the next 50+ years (how old is my father? and what crazy things does he still do but now has my husband as an accomplice?). I only wish that I could coat the world in cotton balls to protect him.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Kristen's Visit Part 1 - The Arrival

Kristen, Ruthie, and Maddie came up for a visit two weeks ago. It has taken me that long to recover. You might have read my post about my mother purchasing (or not purchasing) her ticket to fly down to Nashville. As I mentioned in that post, my sister "problem-solved" her way up to New York for our cousin Myriah's graduation. She was going to return to Nashville the next day (Sunday) by herself with the twins - no problem! she said.
no problem...

Mom and Kristen left Nashville on time and ready to go. I tracked their flight on Southwest like I normally do and everything was on time when they arrived in Baltimore for their layover. That's when I get the call from mom. "There is no way your sister can do this on the way home. Do you think you can fly back down to Nashville with her and return the next morning?" "Mom, if Kristen says she can do it, she can do it." Kristen, yelling in the phone from about 5 feet away: "I can do it mom, relax." Mom, yelling at Kristen in the phone to me: "No you can't, this is ridiculous. Katie, this is ridiculous. Her diaper bag weighs 50 lbs, she carries Maddie on her and Ruthie in the carrier, there is no way she can fly by herself." "Sure, I can probably fly back down if I need to. We can talk about it when you get here."

Their flight arrives late, but at least it arrives. If our flights arrive at all we're thankful. Delayed? We don't care as long as we're where we're supposed to be. Why do airlines even bother posting schedules? They should just post where the plane is going on a certain day and you get on. If arrival and departure times are disregarded by the airlines, why do we even bother? But I digress...

The Scene: The Albany International Airport (It goes to Canada. That's as international as we get)

The Cast: me, Lily, Jamison, mom, Kristen, Maddie, and Ruthie.
Supporting Cast: 1 double stroller with two carriers, 3 large suitcases, 1 baby bjorn, (1) 50lb diaper bag (actually less now that Kristen ran out of diapers in BWI. Many thanks to the kind stranger who donated diapers to the twins. If it weren't for you it would have been McDonald's napkins for those girls), and 2 carry-ons for Lila.

I arrive at the airport with my two kids except that one of mine refuses to be called by her name. I am to address her as Snow White. This is obvious not only because she has demanded it to be so but because she refused to take off her Snow White costume at the house. I debated struggling with her to drag her out of the costume and into her regular clothes but Jamison was near the edge of a breakdown and the plane was arriving. So I did what I told myself I would avoid at all costs - I went out in public with my child dressed up as a woodland princess. She was decked out head to tow. From red bow to sparkly princess slippers.

The people in the airport didn't help my case. "Hello Snow White, where are your dwarf's?" "Hello princess Snow White" and on and on. This only encourages her to say to me: "See Mama, everyone loves this gown." Me: "grrrrrrr."

Once we meet up with the other part of our crew, we go to wait for the luggage. We're talking about our trip the next day to Rochester - all the relatives we'll get to see, how to schedule the drive with the kids schedule, etc... By this time we have arrived at my truck in the parking lot. And this is when Kristen's GREAT-IDEA-TO-COME-TO-NEW-YORK hits it's first snag.
Apparently my EXTENDED ENVOY is not large enough for all of the Cast and Supporting Cast. We only discover this as we are packing up the truck. Kristen and I prioritize the packing of the truck. Kids in first. My two are in the third row. The twins in the middle row with Kristen in between them and mom in the passenger seat. She actually called dibs on "shotgun" while we were waiting for the luggage.

Next the luggage. Kristen's two bags in the back. Carry-ons surround my children in the third row. Jamison looks terrified. "Why am I in the back seat?" "Why are there so many bags around me?" "Can I get into these bags and eat something?" "Why are all these women talking so much?"
Mom climbs into the passenger seat. It's at this point that we realize we have no room for mom's bag and the huge double stroller. I contemplate calling Brian at work to see if he can meet us here and grab those items but Kristen is positive that WE CAN DO THIS!

We put mom's suitcase on her lap. She can't see over it but she's lived her for decades, what does she need to see? Kristen climbs over Maddie into the truck to squeeze in between the two carriers. We devise a plan to lay the double stroller over the tops of the carriers and over Kristen's lap. Her chin rests on the stroller as we start the car. I try to shift into reverse but mom's suitcase is blocking the gear shift. I have to shove it into her face to shift. Kristen tells her to get over it and we're off.
(notice moms red suitcase on her lap)

(Maddie is trying desperately to see around the stroller. Her missing shoe was put in the diaper bag.)

Here are mom holding Maddie and Kristen holding Ruthie at Myriah's graduation. The reason I love this shot is because of Kristen's lazy right eye that only happens in pictures.
Mom with all her grandchildren. Lily has a weird thing that she just started where she holds her face with her hands for pictures. It's very annoying.
As we drive to moms house for dinner we realize that there is no way we can drive to Rochester this way. Not only do we need all the items already packed in the car but we also need to add three pack-n-plays for the babies to sleep in at the hotel. That would be one miserable 4 + hour trip across the state.

We get home and I get online to see if we could rent a van. There are no vans for rent which isn't a surprise since it's graduation weekend for the whole state. Problem-Solver-Master-Manipulator Kristen suggests a U-Haul. No matter what that woman is going to get all of us to Rochester even if it means we have to rent a piece of moving equipment to get it done.

I have no desire to drive a U-Haul behind my already large truck for a number of reasons:
1. More gas
2. It would slow me down
3. I wouldn't be able to pass anyone easily on the thruway
4. REALLY?!?!? For a one night stay we have so much junk we need a U-Haul?!?!?

So here's the U-Haul. It held three pack n plays, three suitcases, and two strollers. It was more narrow than my car so I couldn't even see it behind the truck when I was driving. This picture was obviously taken at night outside of a McDonald's but that story is for Part 3 of this trip. By 9:30am the next morning we're off on I-90 heading west.

Stay Tuned for Part 2 - The TRIP. The very long trip.