Friday, April 23, 2010

The Best 2nd Birthday Ever

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You see this kid? He turned two last week. I think we succeeded in giving him the.best.day.of.his.life. Harley and I thoroughly enjoyed his birthday too. That’s the great thing about being parents. Everything is exciting again because you view it through your child’s eyes. I recently read something that basically said being a toddler means having an epiphany every minute. So true. To Anderson everything is SO exciting and must be exclaimed! All day it’s “look mama, a BIRD!!” or “orange shirt… orange cup… matches!!” or “chicken nuggets… YAY!!!” I love Anderson’s little world of magical discovery and innocent bliss.

To celebrate Anderson we planned a special day at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. The day was practically perfect. Probably one of my favorite days our little family has shared together. I’m feeling strangely aware of how numbered the days of “just the three of us” are. I tried to soak in all the sweetness and the fun of the day and of Anderson. Anderson was 100% loveable that day. And Harley and I were 100% impressed with the aquarium. I mean, just look at this jellyfish!

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We hit all three of the aquarium’s buildings, (with a small break for lunch at Chipotle) took in the 4D “immersion” movie, and saw every kind of fish, turtle, and octopus you can imagine. Anderson could see everything! We decided the aquarium is better than the zoo because every animal is colorful and swimming right by your face. (How many times have you gone to the zoo only to be disappointed as the lazy lion sleeps way off in the corner, blending into the rocks, where your kid can’t see him?) Plus, the aquarium has A/C and no smell. Bonus! Each tank had a step just Anderson’s height. We spent most of the day like this. Anderson liked to kiss the fish.

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The highlight of the day was the dolphin show. Three weeks ago Anderson didn’t know what a dolphin was. One trip to the library, 4 books and 3 videos later he is dolphin obsessed. (Did you know that dolphins are just gay sharks? Oh, welcome back Glee!) It was all in preparation for this day and boy did it pay off. He loved seeing the dolphins flip and jump in person. We expected him to wriggle with joy and exclaim his little thoughts through the entire show. Instead he sat very still, staring. Apparently he was fascinated because the second it ended he flashed us a huge smile and said, “More?”

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My favorite moment of the day came as we were getting ready to leave the final exhibit. We were watching an owl camouflage himself into a tree (amazing!) when Anderson, who was on my hip, threw one arm around my neck. He reached for Harley’s neck with his other arm. He pulled our three heads together, in one big squeeze. He held us there for a few seconds. Cheek to cheek to cheek. Then he giggled, thinking this was so funny. My heart melted, thinking this was his 2-year-old way of saying “Great day! Gee, thanks mom and dad.”

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Our new favorite pose, which we call “CHEEEEEEEEEEEEKS!”

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Sign of a successful day, right?

That afternoon we opened presents. I made Anderson’s favorite dinner: chicken broccoli casserole. We had our traditional funfetti with rainbow chip frosting number cake. I love this tradition more and more all the time.

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I felt a little sad that night, wishing we had family with us to celebrate. I loved being “just us” at the aquarium, but it felt a bit lonely opening presents and eating cake without aunts, uncles and grandparents. I considered doing a friend party but decided it was a lot of time, work, and money that he was too young to appreciate. I also felt bad I didn’t decorate. I meant to. I meant to make a “2” birthday hat too. I ran out of time and it just didn’t happen. Of course Anderson didn’t know anything was missing, but I did.

Little did I know the next day both “party” and “decor” voids would be filled. A new woman in our ward invited us over for a play date. We were shocked to arrive and hear a bunch of little voices singing “Happy Birthday.” It was a surprise party for Anderson! Who throws a surprise party for a 2 year old? We were definitely very surprised and very touched by her thoughtfulness. The party was complete with lots of little friends, cupcakes, presents and decorations. In the end, Anderson got it all. And much of it had nothing to do with me. Wow!

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What a birthday! All week I had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. These last two years have been some of the best of my life. Anderson is healthy, happy and thriving. I am thrilled to CELEBRATE ANDERSON and the joy he brings to our lives!

Shout out to Harley who turned 31 the day after Anderson’s birthday. Poor Harley. We seem to be developing a family tradition called “Harley Gets Da Hose” every year. We had a nice stir fry dinner on Harley’s birthday. One of those presents pictured above was for him. We went on a date Saturday night. But how does any of that compare to dolphins?

I sure love my birthday boys.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cast Away

We’re having our 2nd baby. It’s the same gender as our first baby. We don’t expect any of the fanfare or presents we received with #1. So I was quite surprised when an early gift made its way into our home a few weeks ago. I was more shocked to learn who gave it to us and what it was. I present you with the oddest gift I have ever received.

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A belly cast kit. It’s from our landlord. Our landlord whom we’ve never met. Her realtor, who does all business dealings with us, delivered it. He was here fixing our bathroom sink. He told me he had a baby gift for us. He ran out to his car and came back with this box. I want you to have a mental picture of this guy. Think Mr. Clean. Big, tall, balder than bald. Add a red goatee. This was our exchange:

Me: “Oh, thank you! What is it…?”

Mr. Clean: “Oh you know, it’s one of those kits, so you can build a mold of your body when you’re pregnant. She (landlord) *thought you could use it.”

Me (sarcastically, pointing to my belly): “Oh, right, so I can remember this fabulous shape forever?”

Mr. Clean (oblivious to sarcasm and with complete seriousness): “Right!”

*I learned in the card this gift was originally intended for my landlord’s friend who unexpectedly delivered weeks early, before her shower. So she didn’t pick this out with me specifically in mind. Still…

After you cast yourself, you decorate, of course. Here are some ideas. Not creative enough? Check out these masterpieces. You can paint, add your baby’s name and birth date, apply sequins, tiny mirrors, tile, beads, fur… you get the idea.

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Did I mention you could get it bronzed?

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Now I ask you, dear readers, the following questions:

1. WHOOOOO in the world would ever do this? WHO!?! I want names. The picture on the box shows multiple hands getting dirty to cast the mold. Note the casts go from under your neck to just above your crotch.

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So group effort touching, molding, casting your bare chest down to below your belly. Seriously?!!!

2. If I were to cast my fat self, WHERE in the world would I put the finished product? Remember how I don’t have room for an Easter basket? I for sure don’t have room for a 3 foot mold of my preggers-ness.

3. Let’s say I live in a mansion, with plenty of space, where would does one DISPLAY something like this? The nursery? Weird. The master closet? I’d rather have more room for shoes. The living room? I can only imagine the conversations this “piece of art” would spark. Here’s an idea… a belly bowl! I cut it in half and use it in place of a bassinette.

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Some women love being pregnant. I am not one of them. While I appreciate and am grateful for the miracle growing inside of me, this isn’t exactly a happy time for me physically. I’ll spare you the list of my symptoms, ailments, discomforts and sleeping issues. What’s more, I do NOT like the way I look pregnant. Why… WHY would I ever want to memorialize my current figure? If anything I would cast my pre-prego shape as inspiration to lose weight post baby.

I appreciate my landlord for thinking of us. She’s been great from day one. She has, on multiple occasions, given us generous gifts. But, come on, is this present not just so odd? Harley and I have been laughing about it for two weeks. We considered keeping it around as a white elephant gift, but Christmas is a long way out, and again, we have no space to store it. Instead I’ll be returning it to Babies R Us for credit we can put towards something we’ll use. Like a double stroller. Or diapers. Unless one of you tells me you want to make a cast of your belly. Speak up. This could be you.

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Images found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here & here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

No Funk. Just Fun.

Remember that one time I told you we had BIG fun coming up. Here’s a look.

Thursday Night: Washington Nationals game with the Funks. Great game, fun friends, overpriced food. Love it.

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Friday morning: A festive post-holiday Easter Egg Hunt with ward peeps. More eggs, more candy, same sorry excuse for an Easter basket. Nice.

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Saturday morning: Cherry Blossom Parade with the McQueens. Fantastic grandstand seats, fabulous friends, chilly weather, and, thanks to Harley’s heckling, a private serenade from Justin Guarini. Awesome.

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DSC_0011-4See the White House behind them? Great seats, no?

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Saturday Afternoon: Birthday party for our cute little friend Madeline. Darling theme, delicious cupcakes and present handed over without a fit. Success.

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Saturday night: Dinner in Arlington with Mary Tyler Moore! Okay, so she’s not the real Mary Tyler Moore, but we’ve been calling her that for so long I can’t bring myself to call her anything else. Anna’s lovely mother, brother and SIL came to town and took us to dinner. Anna’s entire family is pure fabulous and I heart them. Sitting next to MTM felt just like sitting next to my friend Anna (who, by the way, is one of my favorite people on the planet). Yummy Mexican food, GREAT company and a toddler who was relatively well behaved during three hours of eating and chatting. Amazing.

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See? Told you we were having fun! Today Harley took his students on a field trip to the Natural History Museum. The best part? He took Anderson, who loved it, and I got an entire morning to myself. Believe it or not, I spent the time cooking and baking. Then Asialene Diva came down from Philly to meet me for lunch and an afternoon of shopping. Tomorrow the birthday madness x2 (Anderson, then Harley) begins. Then another week babysitting Lincoln. (I am determined to keep us all healthy this time.) Three days later the month o’ traveling (and visitors) kicks off. Then I plan to stop and have a baby. Yay for a busy, FUN spring!