Friday, April 27, 2012

King of Wishful Thinking

Anderson turned four last week (April 15th).  We celebrated the entire weekend, which may have partially caused my demise last Sunday, on his actual birthday.  Why are birthdays, holidays in general, filled with such extreme highs and lows?  Rarely are they 100% smooth and stress or drama free.  Oh right, it’s because of my expectations.  I gotta work on letting go of those.

Fortunately, as is most cases, the highs far outnumbered the lows.  But we take them all in.  Because that’s life.

We jump started things Friday putting our season pass to the Bounce House to work.  Always a hit.

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The Mooze was feeling more chill than thrill that morning and opted to camp out in the massage chair.

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Anderson generously delivered up two Melt Me Moments that weekend.  You know the kind.  The ones that take your breath away in the moment, imprint on your heart soon after, then take their place among your fondest Mommy Memories forever and ever.  You never see them coming.  They spring straight from his heart and couldn’t be more perfectly scripted.

Melt Me Moment #1:  "Mom, I picked these for you because I love you. You can keep them forever."

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Saturday we went to Bunnyland at Butler’s Orchard.  It proved to be a sun-shining, fun-packing, game-playing, animal-petting, tractor-riding, egg-hunting, slide-thrilling, photo-opting morning.

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Max was uber into the chicks.  He got as close to them as he could.  Then he got his stare on.DSC_0099

Without hesitation, Anderson conquered the biggest slide.  My boy is so big and brave I can hardly believe it.

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I was thisclose to throwing Anderson a full-blown friend birthday party, but in the end decided to continue our tradition of doing a special family activity instead.  The friend parties will come.  For now our little family adventures are simple and mean the world to Anderson.  He can tell you, starting with his 2nd birthday, what special thing we have done every year for his big day.

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This year, Bunnyland was perfect for him.  And for us.

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Bonus to the special family day:  our best buddy Des and his family met us at Bunnyland.  Family with a side of friend. Best of both worlds.DSC_0146DSC_0071

Saturday night I set to work on birthday magic.   I used another great Pinterest idea (Anyone else feel like they never have to come up with anything on their own anymore?  It’s great!) and decorated his room while he slept.  I slipped love notes into eight balloons, four from me and four from Harley, citing reasons we love him, are proud of him and things he’s accomplished this year.  This was easy and I enjoyed it.  I plan to make it a tradition.

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I’m slightly obsessed with sleeping children, especially mine.  I sneak in on them every night just to peak at their rising and falling chests, peaceful bodies, still faces and sometimes funny positions. 

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Last night as a 3 year old.

DSC_0006-001Anderson was excited to find his room decorated, but honestly, he didn’t appreciate the love notes like I envisioned he would.  He was more concerned with whether or not we were popping the balloons and what role Max played in it all than he was with reading and understand the love behind the messages.

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It’s okay. I know he’ll appreciate it in time.

DSC_0002DSC_0024-001After church and a quick tuna fish and Sprite lunch we opened presents.  Anderson’s big gift is a new bike, which we have yet to give him.  I bought him a classic Radio Flyer bike I loved.  Harley spent three hours trying to put it together Saturday night before we determined it was a lemon.  I felt bad we didn’t have his big gift for his big day, especially since his other gifts from us were clothes and shoes.  Money from grandparents is going towards new book shelves in his room.  Probably not what he would have picked.

DSC_0042-001DSC_0040-001 DSC_0044-001We gave him his helmet and tried to explain.  He took it just fine.  Again, my expectations are high; his are low.  He was completely satisfied with Max’s $5 gift to him: Candy Land.

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This is about where things started to downward spiral for me.  I really wanted a nap that day.  Harley announced he was leaving to help some stranger move.  This annoyed me on it’s own, but more so when he abandoned the dishes and bailed on half of gift opening to take a nap himself.  He woke up late and rushed to the move.  Further annoyed.  After six rounds of Candy Land, just me and Anderson, Max woke up and I knew my nap was not happening.  Max tried to play the game, but of course he doesn’t know the rules, so this sparked sibling conflict. 

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Thoughtful phone calls from family started flowing in which I hoped would be a distraction for Anderson.  Nope.  Confession:  my brilliant, engaging, positively delightful child is terrible on the phone.  He’s not interested, he clams shut and it frustrates me.  He’ll have lengthy, riveting conversations with everyone and their uncle on his fake phone daily but pause to say “thank you” for a gift over a real phone on his birthday?  No way.  More annoyed.  Silly, I know, but add in my exhaustion, and hormones, and the build up of everything I orchestrated to make his weekend special, not to mention Easter the week prior and Harley’s birthday hitting the next day, and… well… the annoyance reached a breaking point.

I suggested we open Anderson’s cards.  Harley’s mom, who always sends the best cards, went above and beyond and included a sleeve of Cars stickers.  The only person more excited by this than Anderson was Max.  They fought.  Loudly.  Grabbing.  Tears.  I told Anderson to let Max hold the stickers for a minute, insisting there was no way Max knew how to peel off a sticker. 

Anderson complied.  Max immediately peeled off a sticker.

That’s when Anderson lost it.  He’d acted mature sharing his new gift only to get hosed, and now he believed I’d lied to him.  His big emotions overtook his small body and it happened:

“I hate you, Mom!”

He’s four.  I knew this day would come eventually, but he’s four.  I’d bent over backwards to give him a special weekend with special traditions and special love notes and a special cake and a special outing and special gifts, and Harley’s MIA, and the kitchen’s a mess, and both kids are upset and now… he hates me??!!!

I cried.

Immediately Anderson apologized.  It didn’t take my tears to prompt it.  The panic that took over his face the second the words left his lips told me he regretted it instantly.  But it all happened so fast, my emotions were already flowing.  He knows “hate” is a bad word and a horrible thing to tell someone you love.  He ran to me, shaking his head, tears streaming down his face, apologizing over and over again.  “I didn’t mean it Mom.  I’m sorry, I’m sorry.  I never should have said that naughty word.  I love you.  I’m so sorry Mom.  That was a bad choice and I would never mean that to you.”

I knew he didn’t mean it.  Just like I didn’t mean it when I lost my cool the week before and yelled at him.  He ran to his room, afraid of me.  I went to him later, apologized, and we had a good talk about feelings and losing your temper and saying things you shouldn’t.  So there we were, having that talk again, but this time the roles were reversed.  He’d lost his cool, he knew it, and he felt bad.  Really bad.  I quickly forgave him, just as he had so quickly forgiven me last week.  We talked and hugged and discussed the special weekend he’d had and the work and love people put into it.  On some level, I know he understood and appreciated. 

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On so many levels, I need to stop orchestrating the holidays and just let them happen.  Let go and enjoy them for what they are without worrying about the details or his reactions.  If I don’t expect much, I don’t get let down.  He expects next to nothing.  He truly looked confused when we kept explaining why there was no bike.  He’s happy with a party hat, a number cake and a sleeve of stickers (that he doesn’t have to share).  Again and again we heard that weekend, “This is my best birthday of my whole life ever!”

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After we kissed and made up, I cleaned the kitchen while the boys found a way to play Candy Land peacefully.  Harley returned home earlier than planned and we had Anderson’s dinner of choice:  hamburgers, strawberries, orange chips (Doritos) and “4 cake” outside. 

DSC_0072-001DSC_0106-001 I opted for open face over bread when I realized our buns were moldy.

It was a wonderful weekend. We had great family moments. The bike will come as will his appreciation for all we and others do for him and the varied ways we express it. When the low of the weekend hit, it could have been worse. Anderson didn’t storm off to his room, meaning the hurtful words he’d said. He knew they were poison in our home and immediately felt remorse and made it right. He’s only four. And he’s so happy. All is well.

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Then this happened.

And all was better than well.  Melt Me Moment #2.  I cried again.  The good kind of cry.  The kind that knows the weekend tallied more highs than few silly lows.  The highs are the ones we’ll remember and cherish forever.  Because, guess what, Anderson?  We ARE a family forever!  Birthday wish come true!

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And every member of this forever family loves you, Anderson, very,

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very

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much.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Birthday Q&A: Anderson, 4 Years Old

Anderson had an awesome 4th birthday.  Details in a coming post.DSC_0088-001 
I (read: Pinterest) had this genius idea to interview my birthday boy.  The idea is to start when your child turns 3, ask the same questions every year, record them and marvel at how he changes.  We’re starting at 4 since the idea just struck me (read: my board).
 
1. What is your favorite color?  Red. Bright red.
 
2. What is your favorite toy?  Puzzles.
photo 200 pieces.  “For ages 8+.”  It took him a few days and round 1 had some help from me (Newsflash:  I am not good at puzzles) but today he completed it all by himself.  He’s serious about this puzzle stuff.
 
3. What is your favorite fruit?  Grapefruit.
 
4. What is your favorite TV show?  “Horton Hears a Who.”
 
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?  Corn Dogs.
 
6. What is your favorite outfit?  Batman shirt and my warm pants.
 
7. What is your favorite game?  Candyland.
 
8. What is your favorite snack?  Marshmallows.
 
9. What is your favorite animal?  Co-Coke and a giraffe.  (Co-Coke is the squirrel who hangs out at our house every day.  Anderson has adores him, seeks him out, defends him when Harley accuses him of getting into our trash, named him and has deemed him the 5th a member of our family.  For the record the moon is the 6th member.  “Because he’s always there with us.  Every night.”)
 
10. What is your favorite song?  Nephi’s Courage.
 
11. What is your favorite book?  Creature ABC and PJ Funnybunny.
 
12. Who is your best friend?  Ethan.  And Des and Madeleine.
 
13. What is your favorite cereal?  Crunchy ones that don’t get yucky. (Honey O’s)
 
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside?  Sidewalk chalk and play balls.

15. What is your favorite drink?  Sprite.  And juice.
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Anderson got to drink an entire can of Sprite on his special day.  It was a big, ceremonious deal.
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16. What is your favorite holiday?  Easter.

17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night?  My airplane.

18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?  Tuna Fish.  (We never have it for breakfast but he and Harley have it every Sunday after church.  See above photo for evidence.)

19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday?  Hamburgers.  And eat them outside when it’s dark.
DSC_0102-001Turns out our buns had mold.  Whoops.  We subbed with bread.

20.  What do you want to be when you grow up?  Five.

21.  What are you are really good at?  Playing with Max.

22.  What do you need to work on?  Putting on my shirt.

23.  What do you like best about being a big brother?  Running with Max and chasing him with my airplane.

24.  What is your favorite restaurant?  Cafe Rio.

25.  What is your birthday wish?  I wish that we can be for families forever. (This wish moment actually happened.  Spontaneously.  Video coming.)

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Stats:  42 lb, 42 in.

We sure love you Birthday Bug!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Eggcellent.

We had a lovely Easter Weekend.DSC_0117

Disclaimer: lovely does not equate perfect. Our weekend had its issues. Max is having crazy, messy bowel problems. I have allergies and am feeling not so much prego glow as prego pudge.  Harley has a cold.  I ran out of spray paint half way through a project, and it set me back three days. Anderson threw a fit with a touch of spoiled at the breakfast table Sunday. And one of us ended up with a really bad haircut. But we’re going to focus on the lovely. I live for the lovely.

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Friday kicked off with a rare treat:  a double date. We dined here and finally saw this, which did not disappoint. Remember how Woody Harrelson is not at all how I pictured Haymitch but he is piercing blue-eyed perfection?

Saturday was full of productive errands including stops at two of my favorites: Home Goods & Cafe Rio. Can we talk about my obsession with Home Goods? I’m decorating my entire living and dining rooms on a budget thanks to that store. The best finds! Incredible prices! Wandering, aisle by aisle, finding the perfect piece to complete my end table or that eye-catching spoon rest I’ve been wanting, um… my entire marriage, or the ideal birthday gift for our friend’s party next week completes me. I didn’t find my statement chair (it exists and I will meet it one day!) but I did score a Ralph Lauren tablecloth.  It has brought new life to my slowly dying kitchen table. Note: the kitchen table will be my next, next, next big project. Yes, that is three nexts.

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A little errand fro yo break for the mini shoppers.

Saturday afternoon Harley and the boys worked in the yard, then he took them to the park and to our neighbor’s house where they loved on her dog. 

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Meantime our landlord re-caulked our shower (yes!), and I did some online birthday shopping (two birthdays in this house next week) and prepared to sub as music leader in primary. I’d never done that job.  Harley spied on me and observed I was caught between traditional leading and making up my own actions for the songs. Pretty sure the combo left the kids confused and me feeling like this.

The weekend went from lovely to ugly when I accidentally shaved Harley’s head Saturday night. Should have read the directions to our new clippers. Should have listened to my gut when it told me the clippers sure looked like a bare blade with no guard (because, in fact, they were). Should not have tried to give haircuts while supervising egg dyeing.  Oh Sheryl, you’re so right.  The first cut is the deepest.  Baby, I know.

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Thank goodness hair grows back. Thank goodness I did Harley first. Anderson was nervous to let me near him after witnessing what I did to his dad. He told me, “Mom, you made him look like Gru. And it’s not a good Gru.” Thank goodness Harley’s actually always wanted this cut and is thrilled.  The worst part is, I’ve done this before.

Back to the lovely.  Back to the pre-cut.

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I LOVE this holiday.  The colors, the treats, the renewal, the weather, the clothes (but I’m proud to say I resisted and bought ZERO items of new clothing for anyone this Easter), and most importantly, the focus on Christ

I enjoyed bunny-ing it up Saturday night. 

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I upcycled old baskets with polka-dot ribbon.  I filled plastic eggs with candy.  I placed quality-only gifts in the baskets.  This no-junk, long-mileage thing has become a personal holiday challenge for me.  It’s a game and I like it.  The challenge steps up when I add “affordable” to the requirements.  What do they need anyway?  New toothbrushes and sippy cups.  What have I been wanting to buy them forever but have not justified?  These books.  What do I already have around the house?  Bubbles and a giant Cars beach ball.  What’s on super sale at Costco?  A new DVD.  I worked my magic while listening to big band and swing music.  There was no stress or mounds of work.  Pure enjoyment.  I cannot say this about every holiday, but somehow, this Easter, we hit the balance just right.  I went to bed Saturday night with a clean house, an accomplished feeling of a productive day, a solid but flexible plan for Sunday, a sense of peace that I hadn’t overdone it and the anticipation of meeting little excited faces in the morning. 

Oh yeah, I also went to bed with a bald man.

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Sunday morning paced just right.  I love 11am church!  The boys found their baskets, hiding in our shower, after a simple scavenger hunt (thank you Pinterest).  I had Anderson color the clues a week ago, then we “mailed” them to the Easter Bunny who hid them in the cleverest of places. 

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Speaking of color… shoot dawg, my hair could use some.

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I love love love this book.  I read it to them with an exaggerated Italian accent.  It just feels right.  And it makes them laugh.

Anderson’s favorite Easter basket gift: a new puzzle. It has 100 pieces. Most impressive to us, in less than one hour he completed the entire thing, all by himself. When I asked him how he did it he said, “Mom, I had the patience.”  Most impressive to him, “Look Mom, it’s taller than meeee!”

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We enjoyed church, naps and two great friends for an Easter dinner feast.  I lucked out big time in the husband who cooks department.  It’s awesome.

DSC_0197Mint crusted shoulder of lamb, country-style mashed potatoes, string beans, berry & walnut salad and made-from-scratch rolls.  Ladies and gentlemen, my husband did this.

DSC_0199Yes folks, that is Brian Christensen pictured above.  He lives in DC now and he finally hung out with us.  The other guy is Bob, Harley’s soul… I mean lab mate.

Egg hunting commenced.  Max preferred to find and throw.  Anderson preferred to find and eat.  He downed five eggs in ten minutes.  Last week it was 12 grapefruits in 36 hours (Max helped).  The boy’s a growin’.DSC_0214DSC_0224 DSC_0203DSC_0188-001IMG_1461

Evidence of a good time had by all.

Bob surprised the boys with an Easter gift:  a 5 foot long rocket ship.  You construct it, color it, then, of course, build a fort inside it.   The boys have been in imagination heaven all day.

IMG_1459DSC_0254Anderson told me this morning “Mom, this is the best day of my life.” Yeah, I figured.

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Today most of us never got dressed.  Two of us never left the fort.  And one of us is still bald. 

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Like an egg, baby.