Monday, March 28, 2011

Eight Is Enough, Part IV: The Party

The birthday festivities extended into a two-day affair, thanks to Clare's party on Saturday afternoon. We held it at the Purple Hippo Art Studio. The project was a "My Favorite Things" collage, and they really were cute and individualized.

It was a gray, rainy afternoon, but that definitely did not dampen Clare's or the other eleven attendees' spirits! Suffice to say there was a lot of laughter and good-natured silliness, and the pictures of Clare show what a good time she had. (Note also that Tim got in on the artistic action.) I'm disappointed that I didn't think to take a picture of the whole group of girls, or even of the butterfly-shaped ice cream cake (crafted by Carvel, not me). Fortunately, I don't believe Clare had any disappointment on her part!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Eight is Enough, Part III: The Evening

At last it was time for the goods! Clare made out very well, and she was so gracious about each one. Donna and Larry gave her these beautiful youth atlases that I think we will all love perusing - Clare had a hard time putting them down, but Danny was eager for her to continue opening the Egyptian Playmobil sets. She was delighted to get a couple of sewing projects (an interest she does not get from me), clothes for her American Girl, clothes for herself, and some sticky mosaics that the cats thoughtfully gave her. In short, everything on her list - and we haven't even had her party yet!

As always, the cake was a big hit, too, though Clare had been so engrossed with her presents that she had forgotten about cake. If you know Clare and her sweet tooth, this is really saying something!

Clare proclaimed it "the best birthday ever" several times, so that pretty much sums it up.

Next up: a party with 12 8-year-olds.

Eight is Enough, Part II: The Afternoon

Thanks to the older infrastructure supporting Christ the King, Clare got an unexpected half day of school on her birthday due to a broken water pipe. Fortunately Danny was fine with her joining him on his lunch date with Grandma, so the three of them went off to McDonald's. This gave me a chance to decorate her cake in peace, too, so it was truly win-win.

When they returned, Donna whisked Clare off for the surprise treat of getting her nails done. Clare was beaming over this, and it sounds as though they had a lovely time. When the ladies at the salon learned that it was Clare's birthday, they treated her to flowers on her thumbs and big toes, too.

The last couple of hours before Tim came home with dinner and it was time for presents were surprisingly peaceful, with lots of reading and relaxing. Donna had kindly brought Danny some new books, which Clare had fun reading aloud to him. This gave Donna and I the opportunity to play 'pass the baby!' (She did eventually settle down, just in time for dinner and gifts.) It was also time to field a phone call from Aunt Karen, which you can see Danny took fairly seriously.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Eight is Enough, Part I: The Morning

Despite our repeated pleas for Clare to remain seven, she woke up bright and early and eight years old this morning. To mark the occasion, Tim spent a good amount of time last night crafting a card that really expresses some special time they've shared together the past couple of months: morning drive time.

From the first time Tim drove Clare in the morning, she was introduced to the wonders of NPR news. And loved it. When she would get home from school, she started sharing tidbits of current events with me. A little slow on the uptake, I finally understood that she was telling me what she heard on the radio while in Tim's car. It was typically very global in nature, especially since she began listening right when things started to heat up in Egypt. Her favorite tidbits were anything taking place in China or Japan.

Being a first-hand witness to her enthusiasm, Tim was inspired to create a card showing Clare as an NPR correspondent around the world. I think it is so sweet how much love he poured into this card, and she was very excited about receiving it this morning while enjoying her breakfast (Fasnacht kuechles, imported directly from Buffalo via Grandma's suitcase!).

Shortly thereafter, the two were off to school, ready to turn on the news. Normally Fridays are a movie day, but earlier in the week Clare had already decided that she would prefer to listen to NPR. She really is her daddy's girl, and I'm wild about them both!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

East Gate's Newest Generation

The people in our neighborhood love to observe that we are single-handedly repopulating the earth. Given that most of the families moved in as young married couples and now have multiple kids, it does seem that way. Especially for those of us producing our third children.

It's a terrific support system that has really cemented friendships. There's nothing like the trenches of parenthood to bond people together! Above is a picture of Laura with her first boyfriend, sweet baby James. They are almost exactly nine weeks apart, which seems like a big age difference right now but won't within a few months. His mom, Amy, was one of the first neighbors I met when I dared to attend the inaugural neighborhood book club meeting that she dared to host. Danny was eight weeks old at the time, and it was one of my first social events since his birth! I look forward to lots of bonding time over walks and playdates - and soon we'll have the newest member of the King family to join our posse!

Laura digs it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Dance Fever

Much to Clare's delight, her Irish dance teacher is on close terms with Fr. Frank, who requested dancers to perform at a St. Patrick's Day reception at the church. As with the feishes, she couldn't wait to get out there and strut her stuff. I suspect we'll be upgrading to a real co$tume at the rate her enthusiasm is growing.

Laura, meanwhile, provided a little sideshow with her holiday garb. In fact, a woman came up and more or less insisted that I take Laura's picture with the above glasses. I later learned that this woman's name is Patty, and her birthday is none other than St. Patrick's Day. I think the sight of Laura might have made her day, too. Not just hers, either, given that I witnessed at least two people taking Laura's picture. Can you blame them?

Wee Laura Wishes You a Happy St. Patrick's Day!

As do the other two!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tim's Birthday + Selection Sunday = Happiness

These days, the celebrations are pretty tame, although Tim and I did enjoy our first date night post-Laura on Friday night! His actual birthday was Sunday, and the NCAA was kind enough to plan Selection Sunday for the evening. Tim loves March Madness, and the fact that ND is not only in the tournament, but a #2 seed, was the icing on the cake (ha - almost literally).

The kids took a break from re-enacting the Jack & Annie epic "Ghost Town at Sundown" to shower Tim with cards, gifts and love. Well, Clare and Danny did, while Laura did what she often does. Which was fine by us!

Happy 37th to Tim - we love you! And as Danny pointed out, you're not old because your hair is still (mostly) black.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Clare's First Sonatina

Clare's piano lessons are progressing well. She has moved on to her first multi-movement, classical piece! (Two movements = two videos.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rub a Dub Dub

At 9 weeks, we're not at a complete bedtime routine yet. However, most evenings Laura gets a bath. This is not only to signal to her that it's time for bed (as opposed to that other sleeping she does throughout the day), but also to clean up our adorable but frequently 'spewed upon' little chunk. ('Spewage' has become our adopted phrase instead of 'spit-up.' Danny is particularly fond of this word.)

While she hasn't really smiled at me in the bath yet, she is definitely tolerant and seems to find it a calming experience. I guess sometimes even she gets tired of smelling bad?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

He's Complicated

Experiencing it for the second time now, I think four is a very interesting age. And Danny is nothing if not interesting these days. It would be easy to cast him simply as a Star Wars-obsessed little boy who runs around the house with his pool noodle light saber, a coveted item he received at Parker's Jedi training-themed birthday party. He really does do this a lot. And builds fighter ships with Legos and sets up battles with Playmobil knights.

With every passing day, though, Danny grows more nuanced. I can see him grappling with his budding maturity, particularly as it dovetails with learning to be a big brother. Since the beginning of the year he has had to start studying and taking spelling tests, has endured a screening for a new school and with it the looming prospect of kindergarten, and most importantly has been asked to be patient and sometimes take a back seat to his new sister.

For the most part, he has done this very well, and we are really proud of him. I have noticed over the past few days, though, as we inch closer to a bedtime routine with Laura that unfortunately often collides with his own (and often involves a lot of fussiness on her part), that Danny's patience is wearing a tad thin. And I get it. It's hard to hear multiple times a day, "Maybe later. After I nurse the baby." He used to be my baby, after all. I knew I would feel guilt in this regard, too. In fact I used to say several times, as a reason to not have a third child, that Danny would not be a good middle child.

But he is. Maybe because he's the only boy, but I think it has more to do with his just being a genuinely good kid. One who has received much praise lately from moms who have hosted him for playdates, and from his teachers who observe his developing academic skills as well as a healthy respect for others. He speaks sweetly to Laura, craves opportunities to hold her, and is quickly by her side when she begins to fuss.

Most importantly, he's learning to talk through his own fussy moments rather than simply melt down. Tonight while I was in the nursery, attempting to get Laura asleep, Danny quietly crept in and crawled up onto his new favorite spot on her window seat. From there we had a good conversation that involved a lot of questions centered around the theme of "why does everything have to change with a baby?" He calmly told me that he sometimes gets frustrated, and sometimes sad, that I can't put him to bed or am otherwise occupied with Laura. I told him that I sometimes get frustrated and sad, too. But, as he has reminded us on previous occasions, "that's just the way it is with babies." I sent him off to find Tim and the photo album featuring Danny as an infant, which he naturally found fascinating. It wasn't a panacea, and he was still a tad mournful at bedtime - even though I did put him to bed - but I can tell that on most levels, he understands. I can also tell that he's still my baby boy who still needs lots of snuggles, a simple act that goes a long way for both of us.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Wider Angle

Life with Laura is going so well that I decided I had some time to spare. Check out Tiny Heart Studios, my dear and talented friend Crystal James' photography site, for my ruminations on...well, just about anything. "The Wider Angle" debuted this week! I think we've settled on an every-other-week format, but you'll just have to check back regularly to be sure.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Two Months Old

Ah, the life of a two-month-old. Laura is spending more time awake and alert, though she still spends a significant amount of time sleeping and loves her cradle swing. So much so that she doesn't do that endearing thing where she effortlessly falls asleep on our chests anymore. Oh well. Tim has persevered with the bottle, an experience which improves each time he offers it. And although it's not quite the popular spot it was with Danny and Clare, the bouncy seat has come into play as a place for her to spend some time, in addition to the playmat and her crib for mobile viewing. I've started taking her for walks, too, which is essentially exercise for me and naptime for her.

She is also spending a lot more time in the car, which was inevitable for her as baby number three. So far she's not an enormous fan, but then again so many of these trips involve timing that inevitably awakens her from a deep sleep or conflicts with what she considers mealtime. So we hear her scream a fair amount. Other than that, though, she's a pretty happy baby who is gracing us with her smiles more and more often. These make it all the more appealing for Clare and Danny to hold her.