In which my kids get the best of me, as always

By the time I returned from Vegas, Gwen had begun pulling herself up. One month later and the standing is a regular thing, along with creeping alongside the couch (leaving a lovely trail of drool on the cushions behind–apparently she keeps her sense of balance in her tongue.) I can’t say I’m ready for this. She only started crawling for real 2-3 weeks ago, but apparently she’s taking AP courses in mobility. Also, she’s learned to feed herself finger foods, clap, give kisses, and wave hello, all in the span of the last week and a half. If she keeps up at this developmental pace, she’ll be starting college in about, oh, three years. Two if she really applies herself in toddler school… but those quadratic equations are a bitch when you don’t know how to properly hold a crayon. 😛

getaway driver

Gwen taking Driver’s Ed. Careful parellel parking, kiddo.

Now I not only have to keep Ellie from unintentionally giving her sister a concussion, I have to keep Gwen from giving herself a concussion. Double your pleasure, if by “pleasure” you mean “number of small heart attacks.”

Gwen is also teething, and I don’t remember teething being this… nerve-wracking. Maybe I’ve blocked it from my memory for a reason, but Ellie cut all her teeth in the span of about six months, so it was wham, bang, done. No muss, no fuss. In contrast, Gwen’s chompers are taking their pleasant time. Apparently she’s going to draw this out as long as painfully possible and suck down every last ounce of my patience in the process.

Speaking of patience or a lack thereof, let’s talk about Ellie.

A rare snuggly moment

A rare moment of peace

I have mixed feelings about three as an age in general. I realize my experience in this arena is limited, and those of you who are familiar with teenagers are looking at me with “Oh, honey, you have no idea” eyes. Ellie may have an attitude, but at least she doesn’t have car keys, a credit card, and a hulking boyfriend named Todd, right? I still have some illusion of control here.

Ellie, oh my sweet Ellie. I know a big part of my struggle comes down to a difference in personality. She is so fiery, and I am not. I don’t know how to handle all her passion and angst. That’s not to say I’m not angsty, but I’m not outwardly angsty. Keep that shit to yourself, please!

But Miss Three does not know how to keep her shit to herself. Miss Three wants us to know about everything–every single thought in her adorable blonde head. All. Of. It. All the drama, all the time, like a Lifetime movie marathon on constant repeat.

And the noise! “Mama? Mama?!? MAMA! Hey Mama! MAMA!!!!” By the time I go to bed, every last nerve is fried and overstimulated to the point where I can’t sleep. I’m physically buzzing in an effort to keep up with my kids. Like a junkie who gets high on silence and desperately needs a fix.

Mostly, I can’t believe they’re growing so fast. Every time I look at Ellie climb the rope ladder to get to the big kids’ slide, Mama!, and every time I look at Gwen’s chubby legs taking tentative steps alongside the furniture, I am reminded of how much has changed in the last three years. I’m frustrated because I can’t hold onto it. The kids are always slipping out of my grasp, literally and figuratively. They want to move, they want to go, and I won’t hold them back, but part of me wants my babies to stay innocent and sweet and chubby and attitude-free. So much change in such a short period of time is overwhelming. Such is parenthood, I suppose.

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ellie turns three; we rejoice (and break out the mop)

Yesterday, my darling girl turned three. Three. I need to let that sink in for a moment.

Theoretically we’ve survived the “terrible twos,” although I suspect three has its fair share of surprises in store. As the Iron Will of Ellie gets stronger, our political maneuverings get more intense. We’re still in negotiations over hair-brushing, “dinner” is a nightly trial (grapes and cheese qualify as a complete meal, didn’t you know?) and we’re considering changing her middle name to Bossypants.

Elspeth Bossypants Moore. She’s named after me.

Don’t get me wrong; there are upsides to three, too. Highlights include the ability to entertain herself for longer stretches, a few more inches’ slack on the proverbial parental leash and the pleasure of spending our time with one of the most funny, spirited, articulate kids I’ve ever met. Not that I’m biased or anything.

The big bonus: In recent days, Ellie has decided the potty is no longer for suckers.

Happy birthday to us!

The caveat: Potty-training does not happen overnight (at least, not in this house) and this is just the beginning of what I’m fairly certain will be a long, messy road. I’m getting pretty friendly with the mop and the washing machine. But hey, whatever it takes to have only one kid in diapers! It’s a big step in the right direction.

Happy birthday, Ellie. May your days be filled with laughter, love, joy… and the occasional puddle.

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halloween with dr. seuss

One of the biggest benefits to being on maternity leave right now: I actually had time to make Halloween costumes this year! And by “make” I mean “cobble together from random stuff.” This mama doesn’t sew, but give me a glue gun and a bunch of felt and I’ll figure it out. Ellie came up with the idea for her costume this year; guess who she’s currently obsessed with:

Dr. Seuss Halloween costumes

"You stuck WHAT on my head?!?"

Yes, I can practically recite The Cat in the Hat Comes Back from memory. Once we’d decided on Ellie’s costume, I couldn’t resist dressing Gwen in a compatible outfit–she’s Thing 2, of course, because Thing 1 was technically Ellie.

This was also Ellie’s first real year of trick-or-treating and when she realized that meant FREE CANDY, it took her no time to catch on. Although we need to work on her selection process–she turned down way too many fun-size chocolate bars in favor of the cheap stuff. Cardinal rule of trick-or-treating: ALWAYS GO FOR THE CHOCOLATE FIRST. Those orange-wrapped nut things barely count as candy.

Mama and Daddy also had a Halloween treat of sorts–we spent the afternoon buying a car! Actually a 2008 Honda Odyssey–a *gulp* minivan. I would have scoffed at the idea two years ago but after riding practically on top of our Sentra’s dashboard for a couple weeks, I was more than happy to climb into something a little roomier. Totally worth the loss of cool!

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labor day weekend

big grinsWhat a gorgeous weekend! Totally makes up for the fact that last week was so unbearably hot. I say it every year, but summer is fast out-staying its welcome. I’m ready for a cool breeze and an excuse to wear fleece, and this weekend delivered on that promise.

On Saturday we drove to Freeport to see one of my absolute favorite musicians in concert. Now, I’m not what you’d call an “audiophile.” I don’t have an extensive collection of music, and my taste has been called into question on more than one occasion by an embarrassing number of people, including my parents, my brother, several roommates, and even my husband. I don’t make a concentrated effort to seek out new music. There are very few songs that move me to tears. In short, music is nice, but it’s not one of my “things” like it is for some people.

That said, there are a select few musicians who I get ridiculously excited about, whose albums I will always buy without hesitation, and who I’d happily pay good money to see in concert multiple times. Joshua Radin is one of those people. I’ve had a total crush on his music since I first heard “Winter.” When I heard he was coming to Freeport as part of L.L. Bean’s Summer in the Park concert series, I literally squealed like a schoolgirl.

The concert itself was wonderful. The weather was perfect, we had excellent seats, and the atmosphere was friendly and low-key. We got to the park several hours in advance so we could reserve our spot, did a little shopping at Bean’s, then just hung out. We watched the band set up and play a couple songs for sound check (if I hadn’t forgotten my camera, I could have gotten a picture with Josh at that point–so bummed! But he did wave and smile at me, so that was neat.) Ellie was so well-behaved, charming everyone around us. She didn’t make a peep throughout the whole concert… just laid her head on my chest and snuggled up. I cannot think of a more perfect way to spend an evening than with my family, listening to my favorite music and cuddling with my kiddo.

Yesterday we were treated to this beautiful sight for a few moments, and I’m glad I had the presence of mind to grab my camera before it faded. I did very little to enhance the photo, just a slight contrast bump and white balance adjustment.

rainbow

In celebration of our extra day off, we decided to take a little road trip to a local orchard for u-pick apples. Ellie had fun toddling between the trees and helping us throw the fruit into our grocery bag. I got a short video of her first apple-picking experience (she was more interested in eating the apples than picking them), then it was back home to make the first crisp of the season; so delicious!

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in which i compare my daughter to a sheep on crack

I know I should write about our eventful week’s vacation, but it can be summed up in one sentence: see toddler run, chase toddler, catch toddler, repeat.

Oh, there were many good times. It was great listening to music around the campfire in New Brunswick and drinking Mike’s at the annual summer party. I was so happy to see my friends Sarah, Amanda and Rachel in Boston (everyone I love moves to Boston eventually. It’s like I’m cursed.) And I spent far too much money at Lush.

But it’s hard to relax and enjoy the moment for long when you have an active kid who is too young to understand that playing in traffic is a bad thing. I spent a lot of time feeling like a shepherd with a flock of one–one crazy sheep with unending energy and a death wish.

Not to mention, there’s nothing like a 1-year-old to remind you that a vacation, while fun, is a vast difference from the normal routine. Naps are fleeting, and saved solely for long car trips. Meals are grabbed on the go, and often rejected entirely in favor of graham crackers and milk. Lots of playtime. Lots of vehement “no’s,” the kind that can only be uttered by a small, overtired child who is utterly confused as to why we’re sleeping outdoors, in a tent.

A tent, mother? Are you serious? This can’t be legal. I’m calling DHS.

Someone does NOT care for camping (I can’t say I blame her.) She did, however, seem to enjoy our three-day trip to Boston, so maybe she has a future in the city (see? Cursed!)

As much fun as it was to see my family, to hang out with old friends who I’ve missed dearly, and to watch my daughter discover a larger world, I am more than happy to get back to a predictable schedule.

Routines–they aren’t just for babies anymore!

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