Big, Little and I were in line at the post office for a good long while yesterday. These are the thoughts going through their heads five days before Christmas. Not "what am I getting?". Not "what are we going to do?" Not even "Why do we have to wait in this line for so long?". Nope. No such luck. We got:
1. Where does boys' poop come out?
2. Where is a mermaid's vagina?
3. Why boys have a penis but girls have a vagina?
4. Do mermaids wipe underwater?
Then we get the two year old announcing: "Little Sister have penis?" No, you are a girl. You don't have a penis. "Little Sister want penis like Tiny Man."
Needless to say, I did not raise my eyes to see any response around us. Just answered the questions and got out of there as soon as I could.
Big Sister is obsessed with bandaids. Thinks she should have one for every little "boo boo" on her body. However, she knows the motto: No blood, no bandaid.
Big Sister does not like the motto.
So, she gets her sympathy elsewhere. Last week, she came out of her caseworker's office with a bandaid on a (nonexistent) cut. She was upset that our caseworker only had plain bandaids, not princess ones.
At a Christmas party the other day, she showed me the teeeeeeeniest cut. "I need a bandaid." "No blood, no bandaid, silly." Then she pressed her finger onto her white tights, creating the teeeeeeeniest red dot. "See? There's blood." "hm, not enough for a bandaid though."
The party went on and chaos ensued (in the form of vomit from one of the kids). After leaving the room to take care of that, I came out to find a Little Pet Shop bandaid on someone's finger. Hmmmm.
Apparently, not everyone has the same motto and Sister lucked out.
They came up the walk exactly one year ago. One vomiting, one scratching. One with chin length hair, one with hardly any hair at all. Neither sleeping through the night. Fast forward one year later, no one's vomiting or scratching. There's much more hair to comb. We get way more sleep than we used to.
And we're still having fun.
I love these sisters. Have loved watching them grow and learn and discover. I love seeing them have fun. I love getting hugs and kisses, hearing them shout Mommy from across the playground, and knowing that they know I am here. I love that this is our little family, GG and Tiny Guy included, for as much longer as they are here.
In a therapy conversation with one girl who doesn't talk much to the therapist. Therapist says something like: Is there anything you want to talk about? Kiddo says, very bashfully: "Uh-huh. Yesterday, I wore (other girl's) princess undies because Mommy put them in the wrong drawer. And I knew she didn't see me."
At dinner a couple of nights ago, I was laying out some changes regarding visitation schedules with bio parents. Pretty big changes. Changes that a few months ago would have rocked our world. "Do you have any questions?" I ask one girl. "Yeah. Why is the cream cheese on my bagel kind of messy, Mama?"
Me: Geez, Tiny, you are a poop machine!
GG: What's a poop machine?
Big Sister: It like a candy machine that give us candy. Only it give us poop instead.
And us don't have to put money in Tiny, right mama?
GG is four today and we are calling it quits on celebrating after three straight days of festivities. For a household virtually free of commercialized characters, I am not sure how she managed:
1. a Mermaid party, shared with a friend who will be six this week.
2. A Tinkerbell celebration for our family dinner.
3. A trip to Build A Bear that brought home Hello Kitty dressed as Tinkerbell.
4. And reports of a Dora birthday cake with family today.
It's been fun celebrating with you, sweet girl. Happy, Happy Birthday!!
It's gone to tea parties, backyard kickball games, and field trips.
To the capital, Sea World, and Kiddie Acres.
To Target, Walmart, and HEB (many, many times over)
To the CPS office and back again (a few times a week)
To bedtime stories, toothbrushing songs, and spontaneous move-the-coffee-table-outta-the-way dance parties
To coloring, crafting, and baking
To finding acorns, climbing trees, and "saving" snails
To kissing booboos, wiping noses, and changing diapers
To tucking in, singing lullabies, and rubbing backs
To twenty two kids and counting
It turns out two year olds can turn their birthDAY into a birthWEEK just as well as I can. Little Sister's celebrations started last Wednesday on her actual day and finally ended yesterday. Not that I am complaining. I love kid birthdays. Our highlights:
1. Our pancake breakfast out where, when we put a candle in her pancake and started singing Happy Birthday, two tables and five waiters joined in the chorus.
2. Ice cream sundaes that night. Because you can't NOT have a treat on your birthday, but we were having cake later in the week.
3. A trip to Kiddie Acres on Saturday, where the birthday girl refused to go on any rides. The other three had a blast though. Maybe Little Sister did too in her own non-participatory way.
4. Birthday dinner and Fishie Cake with our favorite friends.
5. Cupcakes at school. They were not very pretty because Little Sister threw a fit in the shopping cart while we were purchasing them so they got a bit mauled.
Happy, Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl! May your year be as wonderful as you are!
Today is Little Sister's birthday. The girls all wore tutu skirts to our celebratory breakfast out. They got LOTS of stares. And comments. And questions. And this:
"I like your skirts."
Big Sis: "Thank you. Us all got one cuz it's Little Sister's birthday. But not Tiny. Him not wear a skirt cause him a boy."
Regarding the toothfairy, whom apparently neither girl knew existed and whom neither girl is excited about seeing: "I don't want to grow up!" No? Why? "Because I'll lose all my teeth and grown HAIR on my body!"
Regarding the guy on the corner holding a "Will Work for Food" sign: "Us don't give him money cuz us not like to share our money, right, mama?"
Regarding the suggestion that we bring said gentleman some breakfast the next morning: "That's ok, mama. Us just like YOUNG LADIES."
Regarding plans for Little Sister's upcoming birthday: "Why don't we just make her a princess cake since that's what I would like?"
I'm going to have to retire my favorite pajama shirt. I was wearing it at breakfast this morning and the following conversation took place between two three-year-olds:
Kid #1: Why do you think that shirt says Dirty Dancing?
Kid #2: They not dirty. They just dancing.
Kid #1: Maybe cuz they're hugging and his arms are on her?
Me, in my mind: How can we change the topic?
Kid #2: Well, GG, there's no DIRT on Mommy's shirt!
#1: Maybe it's HOW they dance. Maybe they move dirty.
Me, again in my mind: Change. Topic. Now!!!!!
#2: You can't MOVE dirty. You GET dirty.
The other day I saw a grown man walking around Target in an Elmo shirt. His entire chest was the face of Elmo. I thought to myself: What would make a grown man wear Elmo on his shirt?
Tiny Man: holds his hand as though carrying a tray of food when I carry him. He has also learned to say No. Which I am not sure I love. But which I am sure gives him a step up in the "sticking up for yourself around three lovely ladies" department. He also blows the best kisses. Dozens at a time.
Little Sister: calls Tiny Man "Buddy" when she's helping him out or wanting him to do something. "Here, Buddy." So sweet. Has learned to buckle the top buckle on her car seat. And put her shoes on. And turn off the lights. And best of all, move wet clothes from the washer into the dryer. Best little helper in the house.
Big Sister: has created a "nest" on the couch where she likes to "just hang out." She has deep admiration for hula girls, based on a photo I showed her of a hula monkey clock that hangs in my office at work. If the name weren't already taken by a previous kiddo, we'd have to call her Princess since everything she does comes with the declaration: Because that's what princesses do.
Glamour Girl: Uses "It's a Mystery!" appropriately (by "appropriately" I mean, like I do). Somehow (my big mouth maybe) she found out about the Austin Cow Parade and is determined to see every cow in the parade. Thankfully, she doesn't know how many there are, so I think she may settle for the 15 we found last Sunday while trekking around in the double stroller. My favorite was painted like a football. Not my fave because of that. My fave because GG calls it "the meatball cow." Meatball, football, who cares?
Never say never.
Buy different character undies for each child...the sorting will be easier.
Don't try to sweep up rice right after dinner. It's much easier when it's dry.
Vague answers to strangers about who you are, who your kids are, and why things don't always match up are entirely appropriate and acceptable.
Three year olds like bibs too. And stroller rides. And to be held.
You can make your point known...whether it's an I love you or a get down from there this instant...regardless of what your child's primary language is.
It ain't over till the fat lady sings. Or the judge hits her gavel.
Find the source of what really angers you. It's likely not a backtalking three year old. It's more likely that that backtalking three year old will one day walk out the door. Or even more likely that that backtalking three year old wasn't treated right in a previous life.
Just when you thought you've heard it all, you realize you haven't.
There are great gifts to be had in caseworkers, fellow foster parents, visiting children, CASAs and therapists.
Many, many people out there are interested in fostering. Not enough do it.
It's easy to forget the good stuff, so write it down. Fortunately, sometimes it's possible to forget the bad stuff too, so don't bother documenting that.
We are all human. Even bio parents.
But not all humans should be raising kids.
At the end of the ride, my kids will not remember me unless their families remind them. They are too young. They will hopefully remember that they were loved by an additional momma during their time here. It's my choice to believe that part.
It's also my choice to believe that no matter how horrific the beginning, the ending will be a good one. It's called Faith.
Good endings can look like different things.
A day without vegetables kills no one. Nor does a trip to Chuck E. Cheese.
Keep extra toothbrushes on hand. And lice shampoo.
It really does take a village to raise a child.
A full night's sleep is sometimes overrated. A chance to pat someone to bed or to sing them one more song is not.
The word "hurry" carries no meaning to the under five crowd.
There's no need to point out a lie. The liar is aware.
Blood is easier to clean than vomit. Especially at 1 a.m.
If you say it enough times, they'll listen.
If you say it even more times, they'll repeat it.
Make it worth repeating.
There's a reason God inspired someone to invent paper plates.
School serves hot lunch. If you don't make a hot dinner every night, no one cares.
Masking tape, bubble wrap and shaving cream are all really cheap, really entertaining ways to keep kids busy.
Sometimes not being in control is a good, good thing.
Love them like they're staying forever. Treasure them like they're leaving tomorrow.
This comes from people who are really just acknowledging the four under four thing. They shouldn't have a clue by looking at us that we are a foster family. Most people, I would guess, assume the bigs are twins and the littles are far enough apart to have come from the same momma. It comes from people in parking lots, sprinkler parks, and waiting rooms. It still comes from people who have known us as long as we've been a family of five. It just seems to be coming so much lately.
How do I do it?
...not always gracefully
...with a blind eye to dust bunnies under the beds and weeds in the garden
...with a sense of humor
...and some patient children who are mostly really good listeners
...with camera in hand
...with as much sleep as four kids allow
...and as many M and M's as my hands can hold at times
...prayerfully but maybe not always sensibly?
...knowing that we won't always be us
...but wishing we would be
...with endless support
...and with much appreciation for the people who believed that we'd be fine.
There are two stoplights in our daily lives that I hate. First, because they each take about an entire song to get through. Second, because they are not in the best areas that we travel, so I end up answering lots of questions about what we see.
For instance, yesterday on the way to daycare, we sat at a light while a lady outside stood begging for money. Well, actually not begging, but yelling at us. "Yo! Yo! Yo!" "Why's her yelling at us?" asks the Glamorous one. "Because the light is green now." And off I drove.
Today, we sat waiting to turn near the CPS office. A woman was on the median talking to a police officer. I am not sure why...it wasn't obvious by looking around...but she was there, with no car and no other people. Just the officer and the lady. "Why that lady's talkin' to that cop?" asks Big. "Hm, I don't know, I can't really tell." "Maybe her was running too fast." "Why would a police talk to her about that?" I wonder. "Cuz her doesn't have a car so it can't be cuz her was DRIVING too fast!"
"MOOOOMMMMY! Look what I can do!" she screamed when I picked her up from school:
Why is this noteworthy?
Because for seven months now, it's looked like this:
Not sure who felt the inclination to fix this.
In other hand gesture news, two big girls have learned to sign "I love you." Big Sister reminded us all in the car tonight: Mom, remember last night I kept loving you? I was loving you so so so much with my hands like this? And I kept saying 'Mama, look. Look. LOOK!!!!"
"Yeah, I remember that."
"That was pretty funny, wasn't it?"
There was a little girl in the restroom at a restaurant we were visiting today. She didn't even have "big girl" teeth yet, so was what? 7? 8 tops? Looks at me and my kids and says: Wow! Isn't four kids a lot for one person?
It's pretty uncommon for someone to figure out what kind of family we are and not ask the #1 FAQ: Isn't it hard to let them go?. It's becoming increasingly common for people to just say: Isn't it hard? I'm not always sure what "it" is when asked this. Is "it" parenting 4 kids? Is "it" fostering? Is "it" dealing with a 3 year old throwing a tantrum in the middle of Target? Is "it" being a single parent? The true answer to all of those interpretations is "yes". It is hard. The truth is that there is an aspect of this life that is so unnatural, so completely unbearable, that I can only bury myself in the stuff that is fun. The truth is there is not a night that goes by that I don't wonder how 18 other kids are doing and if they are being treated right. Or a night that goes by that I don't stand over at least one kid's bed and wish that I knew they'd be here in a year. The truth is it's terrifying to know why kids were pulled and to know that is what they are going back to. The truth is that visits three times a week and DNA tests are things that no child should have on their to-do list. The truth is that it occurred to me today that the girls don't seem to realize this is a temporary gig and that one day the two who have become inseparable best friends won't see each other again.
But the truth is also that if I can get myself to participate in the moment rather than anticipate the ending, we are having a damn good time. The truth is 30 minutes playing with masking tape, dinner in cow costumes, crazy storybook routines that are exactly the same every night, and a 20 month old who sings the dragon's refrain from Pete's Dragon's I love you song is fun and rewarding and so worth it.
Usually our favorite aunties come in the form of our friends who eat with us at Chik Fil A. If not them, then it's the mom of our church family. With these guys though, our favorite auntie is their caseworker. All four kids have the same worker and we see her twice a week. You'd think as much as she is talked about that she is their best friend. We spend time wondering what our caseworker is doing, who she is playing with, what she is eating for breakfast. We have debates regarding how long her hair is, if she has one dog or two, if her cat wears a shirt, and why she doesn't work on Saturdays. We want to go to her house, have a sleepover with her, and invite her to our birthday parties. I have been asked what color Miss Caseworker's toothbrush is, what kind of jammies she is wearing, and what her middle name is. There have been multiple discussions over why Miss Caseworker's last name is that of a common, everyday object. I think the sheer fact that not a day goes by where she is not mentioned is a compliment. The highest compliment for her though comes from Big Sister today: Mom, if I can't live with you, I want to live with Miss Caseworker. Her's nice just like you. It ok I love her too?"
Two milk jugs on the counter. One's a half gallon, one's a whole. Big Sister says: Why does that one (1/2 gallon) look like a tall person standing up straight with a hat on? It's skinny like you." And then: "Why does that one (whole gallon) look short and fat like my teacher with a hat?"
Two three-year-olds have discovered the art of lying. They are not very good at it. My favorite this week was when a topless Glamour Girl climbed out of bed and said: Mom, my shirt was too big so it fell off in the middle of the night.
This is what happens when you google "first birthday cake".
What began as a "hm, I guess we should have a couple of people over to help sing "Happy Birthday" became a Very Hungry Caterpillar party for our favorite 12 month old. The girls were so excited to celebrate a birthday...how could I deny them? We had caterpillar foods. Glam Girl was very confused as to why the cake caterpillar really wasn't eating the food in bowls around him. We had caterpillars in cocoons (aka pigs in a blanket). We had a few people over, a few party hats, a few crumbs on the floor and so much fun. There were even shirts involved:
I don't suppose I ever thought I'd be celebrating a first birthday for anyone. So thankful that someone so little arrived and gave us good reason to be festive.
There's a quilting blog that I like to follow called crazymomquilts. This woman posts, at least weekly, some quilt she has finished. I love looking at these. But I have to admit I am mystified by this one from last week called What I Did This Week. I'm curious. I mean, I assume since her blog is called crazy MOM quilts, that she is, in fact, a mom. But are her kids in their 30s? Because who out there has time to finish an entire quilt (a lovely one, I might add) in a week? Here's what I did in 2 months, and that was with just 2 of the kids back when they were in bed by 7:29 p.m. at the latest every night.
Much as I'd love to, I haven't touched a quilt scrap since March 4. What I did this week looks entirely different than a fancy quilt that this woman will have forever. What I did this week involves some kids that will one day be memories and digital photos on the computer, but who right now are the center of my life.
What I did this week: Played in the sprinkler. Wiped some noses. And some bottoms. Discussed the difference between the words Pajama and Vagina. Dressed baby dolls. And babies. Colored a dora picture. Drew an owl. Went to the playground. Went to the wading pool. Got suckered into a Mommy Date with Glamour Girl at Magnolia. Saw Tiny Guy walk for the first time. And fall lots of times since. Painted toes. Worked. Read a page or two of the newspaper. And of a (grown-up) book. Blew bubbles. Cleaned up spilled milk. And cheerios. And applesauce. Laundry. More laundry. Picked tomatoes with three girls. Took four kids to Target.
Sadly, one of the kids in the house knows who Chucky is. I mean the red haired freaky baby in the movies. Another of us only knows Chuck E., the mouse on the building we drive by daily. This conversation took place at the stoplight the other day.
Kid 1: I see Chuck E. Cheese!
#2: That's not Chucky. Chucky has red hair.
Me: I think she means Chuck E. Cheese. You know, the mouse with the tail?
Kid 1: No, him not have a tail.
Me: Really? Don't all mice have tails?
Kid 1 (in the geez you are stupid tone): I don't know, Mom. We need to take a look at him bottom and find out.
It's taken a long time for the glamour girl to call me something. Anything. For several weeks, she'd walk across the room and tap me rather than call me anything. A few discussions, a summary of what every other kid in this house has called me, and a list of choices later, she came up with Monkey. So for two days, I was Monkey. Thankfully, this has finally switched to Mommy.
Just in time for Little Sister to start consistently calling me Daddy.
1. We're walking across the parking lot at the garden store today. I have Tiny Man strapped to my chest, Little Sister on a hip, and am holding one hand of each three year old in the same hand. A woman stops her car, rolls down her window and says: I can NEVER EVER say that I have my hands too full.
2. Thursday, a client asked me how many kiddos I have. "Four." Oh really, what are their ages? "Two three-year-olds, a 20 month old and an 11 month old." Wow! she says, I'd like to meet your husband!
Big Sister frequently wears dress up clothes around the house. Big Sister also frequently, in her three year old way, gets mad at me. Tonight, the two things met in the middle. I have no idea what she was upset about while I was making dinner, but she was. In stomps Ariel, mermaid tail skirting around her ankles, arms crossed, eyebrows scrunched. "The mermaid is NOT HAPPY, Mom!" and she stomped away.
Finishing up dinner, I sent Big Sister down the hall to wash her hands. "Mom! You gotta come see this bug!" "Just a minute." The fashion queen, wearing her usual bunny ears and plastic bangle bracelets, jumps down from the table to see it. "Hey! You GOTTA come now." So I went. Expecting to see a little tiny thing that caught their eyes. Nope, they were sharing the hallway with a roach that may have been able to tackle one of them if he had wanted. Smack! went the shoe. "Why?" went the three year olds. "To knock him out so he won't be scared riding in the dust pan." went the mommy. And out into the grass went the roach. "To find his mom." I explained. "And his dad and grampa?" asked one girl. um, sure...."
I have wondered for the past 6 weeks who would win as the Queen Bee of the house. The already established three-year-old or the new, but a couple months older, three-year-old. Who would turn out to rule the roost (aside from me, of course)? As it turns out, we don't have a Queen Bee. We have a King Bee. If the tiny guy of the house squeaks, he gets a response from four of us. If he wants a toy, it's his. Help getting dressed? Got it times four. His Royal Treatment really shows every morning. If I could post a photo of what he wakes up to each day, I would. Three girls tip toe in every morning if he is still asleep, each hanging onto the edges of his little bed and look down at him, sweetly (soooo surprisingly sweetly for as loud as they can each get) saying his name. He wakes up with a grin as big as his face. Oh that we could all be so loved at seven a.m.
I like to acknowledge half birthdays here. Maybe because I know that most kids don't have a half AND a whole birthday while living here; maybe because it's just fun. Yesterday was the newer three year old's half birthday. She's a little glamour girl who wears silly bands up to her elbows, as many mardi gras beads as she can find, and a pair of white bunny ears out in public on a regular basis. I don't suppose I expected her to choose something incredibly classy or decadent for her half celebration...no pedicures or visits to a spa, but I sure didn't expect to be going where she chose for such an event--Genie Car Wash. Follow that with a trip to Krispy Kreme for a chocolate donut with sprinkles and we are good to go. But the glamorous one is confused. All this talk about turning three-and-a-half but "I'm not bigger than I was yesterday." I think she was a bit disappointed.
Two 3 year olds are dying to grow up. They both want to be a mommy, now if at all possible. Here are some of the things mentioned this week that they are looking forward to:
When I am a mommy, I'm gonna: Change your diaper for you. Brush your hair. Stop at red lights and wait till it's green. Buckle my own car seat all by my own self. Drive a red car. Wash the clothes. Push the buttons on the washer. Have two cats. Wear your underwear. (no idea....) Hold my baby brother. Feed my brother. Wash dishes. Say I love you too.
I guess that sums up what they see me do, except for the changing my own diaper bit. Not sure where that came from.
Last night after bath went something like this: Me: Ladies! I am getting crabby. Please get your pj's on! 3 year old #1: You getting crabby, Mom? Why you getting crabby? 3 year old #2: Are you tired? Do you need a hug? #1: What you need I make you feel better? Me: For you to get your jammies on? #1: Nooooo, you need a hug. I give you one. (and she did) #2: Me too. And a kiss. (and I got both)
I thought the definition of "spectacle" was our little United Nations of last year. The current crew gives new definition to the word. One baby strapped to my body, another in my arms and two holding onto my leg/backpack/jacket/whatever. Spectacle.
So this week's number one question has been: What do you need?
What? Do I look like I need something when I have four children hanging on me? Really? Truly, I appreciate my community and the village near and far that supports me each day. I could never, and would never even think to do this by myself. Honestly, I think we're doing great so far, but since you asked:
Please don't compare me to the Octomom, Kate plus 8, or that family that has 20 some odd kids.
If I have a snail trail of snot across my chest, or spit up down my back, feel free to tell me.
Ditto for toilet paper, wet wipes, and tissues on my shoe.
Feel free to hold someone. They can never be held too much.
Come for dinner. But don't be shocked if it's frozen pizza or PB and J.
Judge me not by how long the grass is, how dirty the floor is, or how big the laundry pile is.
If some major world event occurs, give me a heads up. I haven't read a paper in a week.
Forgive us if we are late.
Grab a hand when we are all crossing the street.
Know that if I don't return a call or email promptly, I am still thinking of you and will get back to you soon.
Believe in them.
Believe in me.
Believe in us.
Know that these kids, individually and collectively, are bringing me much, much joy.
Meet Fred. Yes, you can see because of his bright red color that Fred is really dead. How to entertain children at a crawfish boil? Give them a dead one to play with. Fred now has a house made from sticks in the back of our friends' yard. He has taken a field trip to a "little tree house" and has been thrust in the face of many guests at the party. Fred has it better than his relatives because they had their guts sucked out and were then made into finger puppets to entertain the kids. I am glad Fred was such a willing participant in our evening's festivities. Not that he had much of a choice.
I have no idea what would make me say yes to this phone call in the middle of HEB. But here I am a week later, working under way less sleep than usual, enjoying every bit of what the past week has brought. Enter some more broken rules: we're now a family of FIVE and one of us is under a year old. It's been a good week though. Things have gone way more smoothly than I imagined they would. I am thankful as always for the oldies willingly accepting the newbies (though one "oldie" is a bit peeved that her time being held has been trimmed a bit). I love getting new kids in and figuring them out. And holey moley, I never thought I'd say it, but I LOVE this tiny baby to pieces already.
Four kids, three and under. Not something I ever, ever expected. But also not something I regret. Big Sister, Little Sister, yet to be named 3 year old sister, and the little tiny guy...looking forward to adventures with you. But can you get into your carseats a bit faster, please?
CPS inspection was last night. This is the one they do every three-ish years where they look in every nook and cranny of your house and interview you about every aspect of your parenting style, routine and fostering agency's policies.
CPS inspector: Do you have any guns? Me: No. Him: Any projectiles? Me: No. Him: Any weapons? Me: No. Him: Any missiles? (Missiles? Seriously, Mister, in my back pocket????) Me: No. Big Sister: I don't got missiles either. I got ELBOWS!
Big Sister's appreciation of all that is good is, well, GOOD. She is a glass-half-full kinda girl through and through. Recent comments have included:
"I glad the sun out today." "Oh, look! The sun AND the moon! Both of them saying Hi to us. I sooooo happy!" "Thank you buying me more medicine." "Thank you patting my back." "I happy you carry me."
Add to this her new always-getting-longer "I love you" rituals. These almost always take place while I am in one room and she is in another (typically the bathroom during potty time). : "Moooooooooom...." Yes? "I love you." I love you too. "I love you more!" I love you more too. "I love you back!"
We had a lovely spring break. It's always nice to condense my work schedule and play hooky from daycare for a couple of days. Highs of this year's spring break were:
1. Mayfield park with some friends. Little was very enamored with the peacocks while Big loved climbing on the rock walls. 2. Cameron Park Zoo in Waco. It was much chillier than we expected but that seemed to make the animals more active. We also visited Grampa in Temple on the way home. 3. Austin Nature Center with our friends on a cloudy day. Two grown ups and six kids spent at least an hour digging for fossils in the "Dino Pit." 4. Intro to Amy's Ice Cream 101 with some extra time spent climbing on the blue and purple cows. 5. St. Patty's Day dinner with friends. Corned beef and cabbage. Both girls loved the former but not the latter. No surprises there. 6. A very lazy Saturday wandering around the Natural Gardener. Big Sister was very excited at the idea of bagging her own compost. When we got there though, she just wanted to watch, so Little and I bagged some compost. AKA, manure. Yes, I let a 17 month old play in manure.
Little Sister has become quite the know-it-all with her technology. I've caught her loading the printer with paper, using the mouse, and dialing the phone. Once, while she was sitting on the couch listening to music, she held a cell phone up and swayed it back and forth with the beat. I am not exactly sure where she learned that. I am very sure, though, where she learned to pose her baby, step back, say "Cheese", and make a clicking noise while pretending to take a picture with her toy phone. Unlike Little Sister, the baby doll did not spy the phone/camera, yell NO!, and quickly turn away.
A friend recently posted all of her Facebook statuses regarding her child on her blog. It was so fun to read snippets of his life in that format that it made me go through my status updates to see what I wrote. Most of it is exits and entries. Here they are, with a few random non-exit posts that brought a smile to my face (FB posts started in October 2008):
...has just added a new kid to her home. (Oct. 10, 2008) ...has realized she hasn't had to say good-bye to a kid in over three months and is remembering how much this really sucks. (Nov. 6, 2008) ...doesn't know if she's coming or going, if her 4 year old is coming or going, or if her 8 year old is coming or going. (Nov. 20, 2008) ...is (or clearly should be) packing for her 8 year old's departure tomorrow. Four months of happy meal toys, party favors and gel pens. (Nov. 21, 2008) ...is watching Sass lying in the middle of the sidewalk waiting for her caseworker. Patience, Grasshopper. (Nov. 22, 2008) ...is now getting ready for her 4 year old's departure tomorrow evening. It's gonna be one quiet house. (Nov. 24, 2008) ...'s house is empty and very, very quiet. (Nov. 25, 2008) ...has packed away carseats, step stools and an assortment of toys, and awaits her next crew. In the meantime, she may stay out past 7 tonight. Living Wild! (Nov. 28, 2008) ...is eating the last piece of Halloween candy her girls left behind. (January, see that? JANUARY 16, 2009) ...is wondering when in the last two months since it's been slept in by humans, the cat threw up on the top bunk. (Jan. 22, 2009) ...is going out for her last kid-free/babysitter-free dinner. Incoming 4 year old tomorrow. (Jan. 29, 2009) ...is saying good-bye to her easy life with only one child. A 2 year old should be knocking on our door sometime tomorrow. (March 29, 2009) ...thought she had the hair thing under control. Then her newest critter arrived. (April 1, 2009) ...is wondering if the soon-to-arrive health inspector will disapprove of the cat sleeping in the middle of the table. Leave him? Move him? (August 3, 2009) ...with my 3 year old gone for the night, the house is incredibly quiet. It's become apparent who does the lion's share of the talking around here. (Nov. 6, 2009) ...Dinner was noisy again. Life is good. (Nov. 7, 2009) ...picked up boxes to start packing the littlest in the house. Tides are changing. (Nov. 11, 2009) ...Baby doll population will be down by 50% today. As will the wonderful kid population. Wishing my three year old a smooth ride from here on out with a life filled with all that she deserves. (Nov. 25, 2009) ...The continuum of foster care: 5 pm yesterday welcomed 2 new ones (5 and 3). 4 pm today told current 5 year old about her forever home. Yaay for forever! (Dec. 12, 2009) ...Favorite 5 year old off to her forever home today. A wonderful home with a LOT of kids, LOTS of energy and LOTS of love. (Dec. 17, 2009) ...has decided there's room for one more. (Jan. 14, 2010) ...Three is a magic number. (Jan. 22, 2010) ...Three's (good) company. (Feb. 3, 2010) ...Soon to be back down to two. It was fun while it lasted and yes, absolutely, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. (Feb. 17, 2010) ...A little bit of 2 year old fun joined us today. (May 15, 2010) ...Their departure came with about as much notice as their arrival in December. It was a fun 6 1/2 months though. (May 28, 2010) ...Time to bring out the baby dolls and dress up clothes again. (June 29, 2010) ...Packing up my Little Guy. (Nov. 1, 2010) ...Well shoot. Now I am packing up my other two cuties. Three exits in one week. (Nov. 4, 2010) ...YEEEE-HAW!! It's been way too quiet in this house. Silence is ending (thanks to a one and three year old) in a couple of hours. Time to rechildproof things! (Dec. 10, 2010)
Maybe it's a silly thing to get excited about having a car that allows for a trip with 2 carseats to daycare, Home Depot for mulch, AND groceries at the same time. It was lovely not to come home to drop something off in between stops. I am not the only one enjoying our new ride though. Little Sister has found a new love: Facing Forward.
When you stuff other people's babies into a clown car, you are overly protective and leave them rearfacing as long as you can. T-Bone a clown car and I believe that baby would not do so well. TBone an SUV though and hopefully all will be good.
Little Sister used to throw a fit when getting in the car. Now she throws it while getting out. She likes looking at trees, cars, and buses (all of which she can label now). I am pretty sure Little Sis wouldn't mind a road trip right about now. Hmmm, maybe time to start planning?
Big Sister... ...speaks in "motherese" like I do to Little. ...wore a plaid Christmas dress and bright yellow/pink rainboots to school today. ...when she saw our new bigger car today said: Are we getting another kid now? ...announces her love for Little Sis, CC, Stubby and me on a regular basis. When we drive by the house on the way from Little Sister's daycare to her daycare, she throws some love at the house as well.
Little Sister... ...ate 3 bowls of mashed potatoes and chicken tonight, smearing plenty on her face, bib and the table, but didn't drop a single crumb, seriously not one!, of chocolate Valentines cake. ...has adopted a stuffed Roo toy as her baby and carries him around while feeding him a bottle. ...has taken to wearing almost-all-the-way off Tshirts on her head as a hat, much like the last three did on a nightly basis. Makes me smile every time. ...blows kisses for "good bye" and for "good night."
Happy Valentine's Day to my little sweethearts du jour!
I made the mistake of telling Big Sister that the school by our house is called "St. Elmo."
"That Elmo's school?" she asks every time we drive by. "No, it's just the name of the school." "Elmo there? Cookie Monster too? Big Bird?" "No Baby, they live on Sesame Street. They don't go to school here."
It's been the same dialogue each day for a week. Though yesterday she figured it out.
"Elmo not there because him a baby. That a big kid school. Him go there next time."
That's all I've heard for a week. Mickey Mouse this and Mickey Mouse that. Mickey Mouse's house is my own personal hell. Why? Because his name is not Mickey Mouse. It's Chuck E Cheese.
I am not a fan of robotic rats, crappy pizza, and generic silly bandz that cost 100 tickets each.
But....a certain someone's birthday was made. Morning to night it was a good day. Birthday Girl shirt announcing the day, cookies with her new class at daycare, a trip to "Mickey Mouse's house", yummy cake with too much frosting, and a few presents to unwrap.
The last words out of my overtired now-three-year-old tonight? "Mama, I not two more, right? I three now. It my birthday. My Mickey Mouse pink birthday."
I don't always feel like I am there. But then there are days like today where I feel that I am in just the right spot. Crazy fish bowl life, adorable kids who will one day leave, court dates and parent visits, social network equaling caseworkers in their cubes. It's not always a bad thing living this different life. I am grateful for days where I feel fully present in today and not worried about good-byes ahead.
Admittedly, when Little Guy turned three, there was much guilt about his birthday cake. He had no strong opinions (that he could communicate in English) and I was dog tired with Night Owl still being very nocturnal. Dog. Tired. So, after much internal debate, I used the idea that he didn't care to sway myself to Central Market for cupcakes. As luck would not have it, Central Market was only making burnt orange and white cupcakes that day. They didn't even have sprinkles (we added those at home). Lame, lame, lame. Guilt, guilt, guilt.
Big Sister is turning three tomorrow. I'm pretty confident she doesn't really care about her cake either, but now I have the energy to do what I know how to do pretty well. Her only request? "Pink!"
I can't wait for the little easy-to-please birthday bunny to hop out of bed tomorrow to see it.
It started as a shriek of terror on her first night here. But now, the littlest member of the house is obsessed with the cats. Her bionic ears pick up the sound of their feet hitting the floor or of their collars shaking. She knows that the clink of plates followed by the squeak of the utensil drawer means that it's feeding time (and thankfully, she has outgrown her desire to eat their food all the time). She wants to know where they are every minute. She follows, pets, screeches, and calls them. Little one has maybe six or seven words but the most frequently used one is "kitty cat". Unfortunately for other animals she may run across, she has not yet figured out exactly what a cat is. So, sorry Shamu, dolphins, sharks, whales and sea lions at Sea World. Sorry llamas, tigers, pigs and lemurs at the zoo. For today, you too are a "kitty cat."