A Letter to My Bear & Goose: Season Five

To my Bear and Goose,

Year 5. Can you believe it? Our fifth football season as a family. It will be hard to beat last year’s season, I think we can all admit that. That last second grab? It will live in my heart forever.

You know what else will live in my heart forever, Lila Bear? The way you ran to me and hugged me as I sobbed, realizing that the impossible had come true; the Super Bowl curse had ended. You didn’t understand happy tears (or why your father was outside beeping the car horn) but you wanted to be sure I was ok. You’re a good egg, Lila Bear and I love you more than even Pat the Patriot for it.

Lila, you’ve reached a funny age, where you are starting to make your own decisions and that is beginning to be reflected in your choice of teams. You girls are, after all, Seattle-ites. Which is why, even though painful to hear, it was not surprising when during the pre-season you, Lila Bear, declared “I love the Seahawks!” While I will always be there to remind you who the real 12th man is, I support you becoming your own person and not necessarily cheering for a team just because your mom does. (But c’mon Lila, it is a really great team, based on an American fight for freedom from tyranny. What has a hawk ever done to earn your freedom?)

Lucy, you in so many ways are your own person, but you’re still figuring it out football wise. You’ll let me dress in you in your Tom Brady jersey for at least one more year, though it is entirely possible you are swayed by your sister’s new found fandom. (Also, we’re sorry you got stuck with the 4th year of a 4 year jersey plan with that RGIII jersey. Think of it as a badge of honor or an ironic throwback.) You may be a momma’s girl Lucy Goose, but you are undeniably a little sister who wants to be just like her older sister. Not to mention all those Seahawks colored jimmy donuts you’ll see this season. You love your sister and jimmy donuts.

It’s our first football season in our new house. While house hunting we would walk in to each one and say, how can you hold a Super Bowl party here? Who knows if we’ll ever host a Super Bowl party, but we knew it was important to buy a house that allowed the possibility of doing so. And I think it does. I think we did a good job – there is room for you to play (inside and out) while we watch football, there is space for guests and snacks, soon there will be a tv mounted over the mantle, and yes, one day hopefully in the not so far future, there will even be a couch on which one can watch football. (We have a few months before the Super Bowl, thankfully.)

A new football season is a new start, and I am so excited to see it through your eyes again. Really I’m excited to see football and hope that this fifth year of football fandom is the year you both learn to entertain yourself through a full football game. Please. For all those times we’ve watched Frozen, let me have this.

All my love,
Momma

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!

Our Year.

And so here we are. Another year. Passed by way too quickly, with so many things left undone it seems. But it was a good year. Our kids are bigger, with bigger personalities and made the year super fun, as cliched or pedestrian as that sounds. I look back on the year wishing I had a better handle on some things, but we did ok, our kids are healthy, our house is heated, our pets are furry and we will welcome the new year in the comfort of our own beds. (Fast asleep, because let’s be honest, it is just silly to stay up that late when you have a 2 year old.)

A look back at our year that was:

January

We started the year celebrating Lucy’s first birthday with our first trip to Vancouver. We learned that Canadians are friendly, Vancouver is rainy, and the food there is fantastic. We made our annual trip back East to the Other Washington where Lila made her first snowball.

February

February saw the Seattle Seahawks win the Super Bowl, resulting in horrific traffic, the likes of which I would prefer to never see again. At the same time, our sweet Lila Bear turned three and we were all amazed at the wonderful little person she has become.

March

March caught us by surprise, as did Lucy’s progression from infant to toddler. We realized here that the year was only going to move faster and faster, not slowing down at bit. I thought about trying to add more exercise into my routine, something I’m still trying to figure out on the dawn of 2015.

April

Another Husky double national championship in the books – Lila is three and has been alive for 2 men’s basketball national titles and 2 women’s basketball national championships. (Lucy for one men’s and two women’s) I’ll call her a reluctant good luck charm. We celebrated Easter as these two seemed to realize a sister is a pretty cool thing to have.

May

We traveled to Vancouver again for Memorial Day weekend, this time to enjoy Raffi’s Beluga Grads concert (and yes, more Indian food. Vij’s is worth the wait at the border.) I also wondered when this Washington was going to begin to feel more like home than the Other Washington. I’m not sure when the pendulum will swing to the west, but I do think it is happening a little more each day.

June/July

So I didn’t blog in June and July, but we had a great time. We traveled to the Oregon Coast with friends, for a total of 4 kids ages 3 and under. We had a great time, even if the weather was less than summery and the kids didn’t sleep much.

In July, we headed back East for a week at the CT shore with all the grandparents. Lots of grandchildren being spoiled, lots of ice cream and unfortunately lots of rain. It was still a great trip as Summertime Lucy suggests here.

August

In August, we adjusted to being back home with no vacations left to look forward to, but determined to enjoy all that summer in Seattle had to offer.

I joined the crew over at Liberating Working Moms and have been having a great time writing for the site. (I was even featured on the NYTimes’ Motherlode!) August saw my first LWM post where I wrote about breastfeeding a toddler.

September

Warm temps and amazing weather continue in Seattle, allowing us to enjoy the summer just a little longer than normal. We are also spoiled with a Labor Day weekend of the Other Washington on the West Coast when the Washington Nationals play a three game series against the Seattle Mariners.

We went to the Pullayup Fair (as you do in September in this Washington), celebrated the return of football and continued to talk about the life of a working mom.

We also talked about reading – banned books, toddler books, picture books. Books are a big deal in our house and our own Lulu is always asking for “8 more books please!”

October

October brought the first of the 35th birthdays to our home.

The kids started doing yoga at home in the evening, proving that an almost two year old saying “namaste” is one of the cutest things ever.

We did the pumpkin patch thing and I determined that next year we’ll just hit up the pumpkins outside of Safeway.

November

This month saw the second 35th birthday at our house (though I’m not telling whose it was).

I felt overwhelmed and learned that apparently everyone else does too.

Despite sick toddlers, busy schedules, meals to plan and holidays to prepare for, I reflected on how lucky we really are.

December

Ah December. Filled with joy, ballet, presents, shopping, parties, must dos, stress, and no time to get the whole to do list complete. We had a great time enjoying the holidays in Seattle this year – Christmas boats, gingerbread houses, Nutcracker, and Seattle Children’s Theater.

It also marked the end of the year’s birthday celebrations, with our Christmas Goose turning two.

Thank you for sharing our year with us. May 2015 bring us all peace and happiness and the wisdom to recognize both. 

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.

Two over Two

Lucy. The Lucy Goose. Goose. Lulu. Lu. LuGu. Gu. You are a girl of many nicknames. You are, as another parent told me, a lot of personality in a little package. You are smart. You are funny. You are independent but you are such a momma’s girl. And today, you are two.

 

I remember waiting (and waiting) for your arrival. I remember the quiet time in the hospital room with just you and your dad. You are the second child and I knew that the quiet time of just the three of us would be limited, so I cherished that. It was so peaceful compared to your sister’s stressful NICU time and so wonderful. Bringing you home to a world of two under two was stressful and hard and challenging. But even though I remember all of that, I can’t remember what things were like without you.

People tell us all the time that you look just like your sister. I don’t see it, I think perhaps because I see all the ways the two of you are different. Such different personalities, such crazy little people. You so want to be like your big sister and do everything she gets to do – but you really want to be your own person too. It is a wonderful thing to watch the two of you interact. The two of you, now two over two.

I’ve dreaded writing this post, not just because I can’t believe you are two already, but because I know there is no way I can put your awesomeness into words. You and your sister are everything to me. I love cuddling you in the mornings, each crawling onto my lap with your own blankets and insisting on your own side of lap. I love listening to you babble to each other at night, even if that means that you don’t go to sleep until almost 9pm. You two have such crazy fun. And you Lulu, I love how you sing Jingle Bells while “reading” a book, how you memorize your favorite parts of the Ladybug Girl stories and how you and your sister do crazy ballet duets while singing Let It Go.

Lucy, you love to color. You love your friends and care for them in a way I don’t often see two year olds do. You are tiny, which is surprising since you were literally twice the size of your sister at birth. People never expect for you to use full sentences when you speak since you look more like an 18 month old than a 2 year old. But you use crazy sentences like “Thank you for making a nice dinner, Daddy,” or “Miss Danielle, fix my hair please.” You use your words to tell us what you want, and you do this often. You are girl who knows what she wants out of life (and often that is Rice Crispies, yogurt and/or strawberry milk.)

While I don’t want your birthday post to be all about your sister, she is so much a part of who you are. You long to be the Elsa, but you are clearly the Anna. While I hope your sister never chooses to build an ice castle on the side of a mountain, I know if she did you would follow her there and convince her to come back home. (I know if either of you would run off to live in a castle by yourself, it will be your sister) As strong willed and independent as you are, you are equally loving and care so much for others.

Lucy, these 700 words can’t begin to express what it means to have you in our lives. I look at pictures of you as a little baby and miss it so much – the snuggles, the nursing, the tininess of you. But this Lucy? The LuGu who tells jokes, gives hugs and plays on the bars at gymnastics? This Lucy is awesome. She is fierce and she is amazing. I will always remember how long we waited for you to arrive Lucy and I will always know that you were worth it, and we would have waited even longer to have your in our lives.

Two Over Two: My Lucy Goose is Two

So here’s to a child who is joyful and clever. Happy day, happy year, happy always and ever. 

(From one of your favorite books,  Happy Birthday, Little Pookie )

Adventures in Wine Country

On my actual birthday, things were rough. I was 35, work was busy and Lucy was sick. We spent the night in the emergency room with her, splitting a Starbucks fruit and cheese box for dinner between the four of us. I went to bed exhausted, hungry and unimpressed with 35. Lucky for me, A had ensured that there were cupcakes and had made alternative plans for my birthday celebration.

WA Birthdays in Woodinville

A & Lila hiking the trail

 

Saturday we woke up and got the kids out the door in a relatively speedy manner. We headed north and started our adventure with a walk along the Sammamish River. The rain held off for us and we had a pleasant walk along the river, even spotting a river otter swimming along side the trail.

WA Birthdays in Woodinville

Full of Brunch-y goodness

From there, we headed to the Barking Frog at the Willows Lodge. I’ve been longing to go to the Willows Lodge and eat at the Herbfarm since we moved to Seattle. While we still haven’t made it to the Herbfarm, Barking Frog was a fun substitute. It was an excellent brunch – beignets and all. I had a giant Bloody Mary that involved bacon, a beef stick, pepperoni and mozzarella. I recommend, but be aware it will fill you up before your brunch arrives. (Sidenote, children do not understand brunch. One will insist you are eating breakfast, the other will insist it is lunch, and when you try to tell them that you are both right, they will not be amused.)

From there we hiked (further than we were expecting) to Chateau Ste. Michelle for the winery tour and tasting. It was interesting to see the bottle rooms and the children at least learned that there were two different colors of grapes. Once we got to the tasting room, we were greeted by bright holiday decorations (and tasty wines). We walked to Columbia Winery next, and then traveled to Fidelitas Wines and Mark Ryan. All were really good and the tasting rooms were all fun and friendly. My favorite was definitely Mark Ryan and I’m currently trying to convince A to join the wine club. At least then we’d have an excuse to go to Woodinville four times a year.

WA Birthdays in Woodinville

Lila took this pic, Lucy was unamused

It was an excellent re-do for my birthday and a great way to kick off 35. Now that I’ve been bitten by the Woodinville wine bug, I’m ready to go back.

WA Birthdays in Woodinville

Andrew and Lila say thumbs up to Woodinville (Lucy took this pic)

Pumpkin Patches Are Overrated (There, I said it.)

In today’s social media age, you can watch the seasons progress in photos featured on Facebook and Instagram. Summer features adorable children on the beach, then back to school on the front steps with back ups and now, we’re in the pumpkin patch season of the year. (This will soon be followed by Halloween costume photos and crying children on Santa’s lap photo season.) As is our constitutional duty, we took our kids to the pumpkin patch last weekend.

Pumpkin Patches Just May Be Overrated

Pumpkin Patches Just May Be Overrated

It was an unseasonably warm day, about 70 degrees out. It was muddy. It was crowded. And honestly? It was way overrated. We drove about an hour, stuck in pumpkin patch traffic, to get there. There was advertised as being games, pumpkin patches, animals, food. There was a rabbit. Who looked horrified. And one large muddy field with some pumpkins, which Lucy was pretty horrified to walk through.

Lucy Says Pumpkin Patches are Overrated

Lucy Says Pumpkin Patches are Overrated

Lila enjoyed exploring, but I feel like we could have had the same type of experience by letting them run around the dog park, going to a playground and then picking up pumpkins at the grocery. Pumpkins are cool, pumpkin patches? Not so much.

Pumpkins are Cooler than Pumpkin Patches

Pumpkins are Cool

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?

Image 5

Girls, look at momma and smile!

Image 9

Say “we love momma!”

Image 8

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.