Ballet Birthday Bash

Over the past few months I’ve learned a few things about almost four year olds. Things become a big deal when you are four (or almost). Between Christmas and her birthday, Lila has been beside herself excited since the end of November. Just too much holiday fun to bear. And since her sister’s birthday is at the end of December and since November we’ve attended about eighty-five (by rough count) birthday parties, Lila was ready for it to be her turn.

Now I am not a Pinterest mom. If you are, good on you. You pin those projects, follow through and have beautiful handmade party favors with themed food. That is not me. I’m a manager, an outsourcer, an idea woman. So while I wanted nothing more than for Lila’s party to be a success and everything she hoped for, I knew no amount of time spent on Pinterest figuring out how to make ballet themed snacks would prove worthwhile. (For the record, I did spend on afternoon on Pinterest. After following one link, it took me to a blog discussing the three year old ballet birthday party and CREDITING THEIR PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER AND PARTY PLANNER. I slowly backed away from the internet and realized this was not for me.)

No Pinterest, but using Google led me to the Evergreen City Ballet in Renton, WA, just south of Seattle. This ballet studio offered ballet birthday parties with crafts, dancing and two real live ballerinas. I knew it was about 25 minutes away from home, but hoped the party would be worth the travel. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Ballet Birthday Bash in Seattle

Birthday Party with the ballerinas

Ballet Birthday Bash in Seattle

Releve!

Ballet Birthday Bash in Seattle

Arabesque

Ballet Birthday Bash in Seattle

Warm Ups

Ballet Birthday Bash in Seattle

Ballet Princess Cake

The birthday party was a huge success and perfect for a ballet and birthday obsessed four year. My only complaint? It is sure going to be hard to top next year.

 

My Bear Cub

My Lila Bear turns 4 today and I truly can’t believe it, despite 4 being a prominent number in her birth. She was born at 4lbs 8oz, a tiny, skinny, alien looking thing, at 4:44pm, 4 weeks before her due date. Holding that little baby burrito in my arms, I couldn’t imagine the walking, talking, intelligent, funny little person who is in our lives today.

I don’t even know where to start when describing Lila. She calls herself a princess and she loves ballet. Nothing makes her happier than putting on some kind, any kind, of music and dancing around to it. At the same time, she is not currently a fan of ballet class. Her shyness makes being in class sometimes too much for her, as well as the fact that she’d like a little more “real ballet” and less dancing around to Mary Had a Little Lamb with pool noodles, thank you very much. We’ve been trying to explain that few, if any, professional ballet dancers are autodidacts, but Lila seems ready to prove the world wrong on that one. (I blame Belinda.)

Lila loves princesses, but I would definitely not call her princess crazed as some girls her age may be. Given the option to watch Frozen or Daniel Tiger, she’ll always choose Daniel Tiger. At Christmas she wanted superhero books and her recent wardrobe choices tend more towards tee shirts and jeans. She loves doing yoga with me before bed, and I love watching her do a downward dog or sit crossed legged and say “namaste.” (I love cuddling with her during the shavasana relaxation at the end the best.) Dinosaurs and space amaze her and the other day she expressed wanting to do nothing more than take a rocket into outer space.

So many times I look at Lila and see only her father. While Lucy looks more like me, Lila looks like her dad. She acts like her dad too – they share a silly streak, a love for cereal and hamburgers, and of watching sports on tv, especially Duke basketball. As much as it can pain me, Lila and I butt heads more than she does with her dad because I think we share an emotional, hot headedness. Neither one of us can let the other win. And when you’re four – or the mom of a four year old – this results in some disagreements, which can result in both of us crying. We feel all the feels, though that makes Lila amazingly empathetic. As I sobbed at the improbable Patriots Super Bowl win, Lila ran to me hugged my legs and said “I love you mommy.” She didn’t realize I was crying happy tears and just wanted to help things be better. You’re a good egg, Lila Bear.

Lila’s first Patriots’ Super Bowl was on the eve of her first birthday. A less spectacular outcome resulted and I cried myself to sleep that night because the Pats had lost and my baby was one. I felt no happiness at her growing bigger, no longer my baby. But now, as she turns four, I may still miss my first baby but I am amazed at what a wonder person she is. Lila tells stories, takes care of her little sister, loves her dog and cat, cannot read enough books, enjoys math, and wants to travel the world. Best of all, even though she’s tall and lanky and much bigger than that 4lb burrito placed in my arms four years ago, Lila still loves to cuddle with her momma.

My favorite Lila

My favorite Lila

Lila Bear, you are my special bear cub. You challenge me, inspire me and make me want to be the best momma I can for you. I know I fail but I love that you let me cuddle you and say I’m sorry and try again. I love you and your sister and I can’t wait to watch your dance parties for the rest of your lives. 

Happy birthday Lila Bear!

Practically Wordless Wednesday

 

I took this picture after bath time last night. If you know Lila and Lucy, you know that this picture captures their personalities perfectly. Just perfectly them.

So Photogenic

 

 

 

Lila and Lucy, can you give each other a hug?Image 1

Guys, look at the camera!Image 2

Can you just stand next to each other?

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Girls, look at momma and smile!

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Say “we love momma!”

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Whatever, just eat your bunny grahams.

 

 

My Favorite Things: Cosmic Kids Yoga

My Favorite Things: Cosmic Kids YogaA week or so ago Lila was having a meltdown about something. Who knows what, probably something about not having the right amount of toothpaste on her toothbrush or something. She’s three, you know how it goes. Anyway, meltdowns like this don’t lead to successful bedtimes, so I was doing my best to try to calm her down. I remembered a long ago article in some parenting magazine suggesting that children doing yoga before bed can help them to sleep better. So I suggested some yoga to Lila.

She was soon distracted from the toothpaste disaster and intrigued by the idea of yoga. I grabbed my iPad and did a quick youtube search for kids’ yoga. I found one with a friendly woman in a fair isle pink onesie offering to lead us in yoga about Frank the Frog. Cosmic Kids Yoga is lead by British lady Jamie and lets us know that it is our place for “yoga, stories and fun.”

Each episode is about 15 minutes long and tells the story of an animal friend. As Jamie leads you on an adventure with that friend, you do yoga throughout. It is nothing fancy or complicated – some stretching, deep breathing and a few poses. While some are the poses are definitely difficult for Lila to get into or hold – such as the tree – they offer alternatives and she seems to have a good enough time trying to get into the pose.

Lila’s started asking to do yoga each evening before bed. There are many stories to choose from and Lila enjoys both the variety of the stories and the repetition of how each episode progresses. It starts with the “secret yoga code word” – Namaste – and ends with a few minutes of quiet meditation in shavasana. For the record, there is not usually that much quiet meditation as a giggly Lila piling on top of me, but it’s fun. Lucy has joined us a couple of times and I’m not sure there is anything more adorable than watching the two of them attempt to do yoga together.

So if you have young kids, I strongly recommend Cosmic Kids Yoga as a quick, relaxing way to settle everyone down at the end of the evening or even get ready for nap time. As we enter rainy season here in Seattle, I think it will be useful as an afternoon activity when we need to star jump our wiggles out too.

While three year old melt downs are never something I’m hoping to occur, I can at least say that this evening’s particular meltdown led us to a great discovery that has allowed us to have fun for a few minutes each evening.

Asking the Hard Hitting Questions

The Why Phase: Three Years Old and Asking the Tough Questions

Carefree Lila

Lila is in the why phase. Which should really more accurately called the why, why, why, TELL ME ABOUT IT, why phase. Most of the time this results in questions like:

– why does the sun set?

– why does Lucy not know the alphabet?

– why is that dog walking there?

-why does Cal not wear pants?

We listen to NPR on our commute and the other day Lila asked what the man on the radio was talking about. It was a story about the Ebola outbreak in Africa. I tried to explain it to her in 3 year old terms – people were sick, doctors were trying to help them, Africa was far away from Seattle. It seemed like she was satisfied with this set of responses, until yesterday.

“Mommy, tell me about the people who are sick in the other place.” After realizing what she was asking about, I used the same approach as last time, but she was clearly concerned.

“They should wash their hands to get rid of the germs.” I agreed that this was a great tactic and that Africa had different living conditions than Seattle, which was contributing to the epidemic.

“What if people come on an airplane to Seattle?” I promised that wouldn’t happen and told her we did not have Ebola germs in Seattle.

“What germs do we have in Seattle?” We discussed cold and flu, sang the Daniel Tiger “rest is best” song.

As we pulled into the driveway, she seemed content with the topic and ready to end the discussion, when she thought of something else. “Mommy, I don’t want to leave you and Daddy and go live with God.” I agreed that she should stay with us for a while and that she wouldn’t “go live with God” for a long time.

I don’t know how she made the connection between the Ebola epidemic and death. It makes me sad for her to be so weighed down with such thoughts. I know she doesn’t really get the idea of death (or worldwide health crises) but that she’s contemplating any of this is not something I anticipated happening so soon. She’s a little kid, with big giant questions, many of which I just can’t answer. Here’s hoping she goes back to asking about Cal wearing pants again soon.

Throwback Thursday

As you may have heard, this past Super Bowl Sunday was a pretty big deal in Seattle. Not being a Seahawks fan, it hasn’t been all that exciting for us, but maybe we’re biased. After all, our favorite Seattle Super Bowl Sunday came a few years earlier when this little one entered our life in the third quarter.

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And now , with a little less fanfare than Seattle’s Super Bowl parade, our little girl is three. It is hard to believe that she is already three years old and at the same time, I can’t remember a time when she wasn’t in our lives.  Her personality has more than tripled in the past year and she has proved that she is my daughter in so many ways. Her personality is mine. She is quick to anger and emotional. She feels all the feels just like her mom.  Lest you think our personalities are all negative, she has the same loyalty and urge to help her friends all the time (and her sister) that I do. Perhaps because of our very similar personalities, she is daddy’s girl. She may react to things as I do, but she loves Duke basketball. She loves to be silly like her dad. She wants to watch basketball all the time, including in the middle of the Super Bowl.

L - bw-1This picture could be Lucy – they appear almost identical at one year old, with the same hair cowlick.

I don’t know if it is because of her almost three years in montessori day care or just that all children do well with that type of education, but when she loves something she wants to immerse herself in that topic. Currently that is ballet. She “dances ballet” to all music, she reads about ballet, she watches ballet videos, she memorizes the five positions and wears her hair in a bun because she “is a ballerina”. I love watching her learn and grow and be fascinated by new things.

L-15

Lila is a handful, a delight, an amazing mind, a force to be reckoned with and the adorable little girl who made me a momma. She is special and bright and everything I could want in a little girl while at the same time nothing like I expected.

Exnicios family visit Jan 2014 023

Lila Bear, I can’t express to you the love I feel for you or the joy you have brought into our lives. (or the exhaustion, but you take that with the joy.) You are an amazing little being and we are honored to be your parents.

Happy, happy 3rd birthday my sweet girl.

My Heart is Full

I never envisioned myself as a girl mom. I always saw myself with four boys, who played soccer and football and did boy things.  Maybe this is because I grew up with brothers, maybe it is because I don’t consider myself very girly. Maybe it is because the whole Disney princess thing makes me break out in hives. The point is, when I found out I was having a girl, I was shocked and unprepared. But there was one thing that I looked forward to with a girl – the Nutcracker. (I should say that having a girl is pretty fantastic and now I look at little boys and think they are an alien species and I still want four but I hope they are all girls.)

I went to the Nutcracker every year as a little girl  and I have loved it ever since. I’ve seen many versions (though not the Pacific Northwest Ballet version,which I hope will change in the next year.) I’ve been waiting to take Lila since she was born and this year I discovered an “abridged” version put on by a local ballet school. We bought tickets and put it on the calendar. Lila counted down the days, as did I.

When we arrived at the theater, Lila was excited. We found our seats, Lila hopped into her very own seat and then? Then she freaked the heck out. Be it the fact that we were in the balcony, or the large nutcracker projected on the screen on stage, or all the other people, Lila just wanted to go home. I convinced her to sit on my lap, where she curled up with her head in my chest and hands over her ears. And she stayed like that until the first ballerina appeared on stage. Then she decided to take a peek at what was on stage and soon was transfixed until intermission, when she insisted we hurry back to our seats so we didn’t miss any of the dance. She asked lots of questions and had a running commentary, but the important thing is she loved it. As we sat together watching the final pas de deux with the Sugar Plum Fairy, I held my little girl and cried happy tears, thankful to be a girl mom.

Horrifying Holidays

This holiday season is different than those in the past because Lila is really beginning to understand the holidays. We went to the Seattle Macy’s holiday parade, she likes the decorations in the neighborhood and she loves to play with her Fisher Price nativity set (baby Jesus is a pretty big deal in our house). We’ve hung our stockings by the chimney with care and Lila likes to admire them each evening. As part of her bedtime routine, we’ve begun to read Christmas books as well.

Tonight I read her Twas the Night Before Christmas, which I purchased before her first Christmas. It was the first time she showed interest in the book and I was excited to share the tale with her. I read the book and tried to explain some of the details of the book – we discussed Santa and stockings, pointed out the reindeer and the sleepy kitty under the tree. When Santa flew from the rooftop, Lila wanted to know where he was going. I explained that he was going to visit homes of other children and bring them presents. I asked if she wanted Santa to visit her house on Christmas and bring presents. No, she replied, I would be scared. I promised that Santa was nice and Mom and Dad would be here. This was not comforting. I suggested that Santa could leave the presents on the front porch, like the milk man, then Mom and Dad would bring them inside for her and Lucy. This was still not enough. I told her if she didn’t want Santa to come to her house, she could just say no thank you. To this she replied, “no thank you, Santa.”

And so, by beginning to share in the wonders of the holiday season with my eldest child, I have horrified her that a strange man will break into our home in the middle of the night. Ho ho ho.

Wordless Wednesday

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