Sunday, June 24, 2012

Girls' Weekend In

As Shawn and the boys prepared for their annual Father-Son Camping trip with our church, I couldn't help but think it was slightly unfair that there was no comparable girls' trip. The boys look forward to their next camping trip all year long and, as it gets closer and the preparation ramps up, excitement (and noise and lots and lots of gear) fills our house. Shawn has the Official Packing List attached to a clipboard and, as space in the mudroom and garage shrinks, the Official List is populated with black cross-outs. This is purely a boy affair. They handle all the planning, shopping, packing, and loading of the van. (Which means the three girls in their three car seats are squeezed into the tiny backseat of Shawn's little car.) The only thing the girls are responsible for is staying out of the boys' way. (And fielding the occasional "Is there any more bug spray?"-type questions.)

The night before departure, Shawn asked me what we were going to do all weekend. I hadn't thought of it. I had been so caught up in simultaneously A) trying to be helpful in any way I could in the preparation process and B) staying out of the way of the preparation process that I had not looked beyond when the three boys finally drove away and took all the chaos and noise with them.

I wondered what would we do? I had no activities planned for our 48 hours of "girls-only" time. The only thing we had scheduled was Eliza's one-year check-up (complete with shots and blood work, which was the one low moment of our weekend for all four girls involved!). Then a fellow friend who was also going to be "boy-less" for the weekend due to the camping trip asked if we wanted to get together one night for playtime and dinner. Sounded great! So we now had two things on the itinerary. But while the boys would be hiking, roasting s'mores, river tubing, watching outdoor movies, biking, and doing all kinds of fun things, I started to worry that the girls would feel slighted and left out being at home with mom with nothing planned.

Turns out there was nothing to worry about.

Clare had only finished school on Thursday. So come Friday, once the boys departed and Violet and Eliza went down for their naps, Clare was so happy to simply be at home. She played quietly with some toys, we did iSpy together on the computer, read stories, and created painted rocks (Clare turned hers into "Hot Lava Bird"). Then once naps were over, the girls all played in the pools. This was all they really wanted to do. Have the two kiddie pools ALL TO THEMSELVES. There was nobody squirting them in the face with Super Soakers, nobody running and jumping in causing tidal waves that empty the pool, nobody hogging all the space with boogie boards that are really too big for a kiddie pool. Clare and Violet played "rest time" in the pool and simply relaxed. (To be fair, the girls loaded the pool up with the boogie boards, too, but in a relaxing way. Or that's what they told me.)

Once Saturday dawned, the girls were eager to accompany me to the grocery store. We took our time and spent two hours going up and down the aisles. Back at home, we painted our toenails and fingernails ("Cinderella blue" and "Sleeping Beauty pink," I was informed), put on a puppet show, played princesses, played tea party, sang songs, and read more stories before naps and our evening with friends (which involved a lot of dress-up, lip gloss, and putting on a recital). I didn't need to have a million things on the schedule. The girls (and I) enjoyed our quiet weekend at home.

Now it is minutes before those rowdy boys will pull into the driveway. Although I loved our girl time, and it was definitely not as frenetic when it came to the energy levels and noise volume, I did miss them. It is a completely different dynamic in the house with the boys missing. It was lovely to have a break from the testosterone for a couple days but it will be even lovelier to have our family back together again.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Happy First Birthday, Eliza Marie!

Dear Eliza,

Happy 1st Birthday, baby girl!

Babies are a blessing, but you especially have been an enormous blessing in our house. From the moment you were born, you captivated the other six members of this family. In the hospital, your siblings fought over who would hold you first. Once we got home, we had to set rules about how often you could be kissed. There is literally no limit on the amount of love you bring into our lives!

You are my sweet, snuggly girl. I am sad that your first year has already gone by, but it is fun to watch you begin to explore your surroundings now that you have figured out how to scoot around.

We love you so much, Eliza Marie. We cannot imagine life without our girl.

Mommy and Daddy

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Having Character

It is Spirit Week at Clare's school. Each day has a theme, and the children are encouraged to dress according to the theme. So far we've done Spirit Day (dress in school colors), Twins Day (pick a friend or sibling and dress alike), and today was Character Day.

Being the ultra-organizer that I like to think I am, I usually lay out the kids' clothing the night before so getting everyone ready in the morning is easier. Yesterday, however, went from a quiet catch-up-on-chores day at home (kids napping, laundry, baking and cooking) to chaos when I had to unexpectedly pick up Jamie from school in the middle of the day due to a migraine. This entailed waking small girls up from much-needed naps to which they refused to return when we came back home. Jamie's migraines often lead to bouts of vomiting (which this one did) and then there were the overtired 3- and almost 1-year olds, so the house was not the serene place I envisioned when I thought out my day in the morning.

As Clare was taking her evening bath, I remembered about Character Day. I went in to ask Clare which character she wanted to dress as, and fully expecting the answer to be Cinderella (over the past four years, Clare has dressed as Cinderella for the last gazillion events that require some sort of dressing up - Halloween, All Saints Day, Character Day last year, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, Make-A-Wish events, you name it, she is Cinderella), my follow-up question was which Cinderella dress did she want to wear (of course, we have three). So she stopped me in my tracks when she answered, "Eric Carle." Eric Carle? The author? As in The Very Hungry Caterpillar guy?

Clare currently has a fascination with Eric Carle so I should not have been that surprised. She "calls" him on her play phone. She talks about him. She pores over his books. And now she wanted to be him. I knew she would become quite upset if I told her that Eric Carle was not technically a character (who knows? Maybe he is.... I've never met him), so Shawn immediately pulled up a photograph of Eric Carle so we had a visual to work with. He is typically photographed wearing dark clothes, has glasses, and a beard. Since it was past 7pm and we had one kid in the bathtub, one kid sleeping off a migraine, and three others freshly-bathed and pajama-ed waiting to go to bed, we had to work with what we had.

So voila.... introducing our Eric Carle.
No gray stick leftover from our theater days so we had to forego the beard. Clare was THRILLED to be Eric Carle today!

Clare has matured so much over the past year. (The glasses also make her look more mature. They are not really her glasses, but an old pair of mine that we popped the lenses out of.) The fact that she was ready to leave Cinderella behind (even if only for today) and put some thought into her choice stunned me. The knowledge she soaks in at school is amazing. I was speaking with her speech therapist just yesterday about Clare's growth and potential. You never know what lies in store for your children, and you do what you can to mold them in a positive way. When you have a child with Williams syndrome, there is even more uncertainty of over what the future holds. Many of those typical rites of passage you can foresee for your other children most likely will not ever happen - driving a car, going to college, having a career, getting married, having children. With all the unknown, all you can do is trust in God's plan.

It is fascinating to watch your children develop into the people they are meant to be. Becoming Eric Carle was the next natural step in Clare's metamorphosis.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Don't Eat Me Please!

I was enjoying a relaxing shower when I spied the BIGGEST spider known to man in the shower.

Saturday morning is the one morning of the week when I can take a leisurely shower. Saturdays are lazier for us, and this morning, Shawn had left to take the older girls to ballet, the boys were playing the iPad, and the baby was down for an early nap. It was a luxury to be taking a shower with no one else in the bathroom (as all moms with young children can attest, this is a rare gift). I was about one-third through my shower with a head full of shampoo when I spotted the beast in the corner.

So I exaggerate slightly on the spider's size, but it truly was one of the biggest spiders I have seen in our house - almost the size of a daddy long-legs. It was just hanging in the corner between the shower head and the shelves. I eyed it for thirty seconds to be sure it was not moving, then continued rinsing my hair. Checked the spider to be sure it was still not moving, washed my face, checked the spider, applied conditioner, checked the spider, IT DROPPED. I admit, I screamed! I jumped out of the shower (thankfully we have a walk-in shower or else I probably would have plummeted over the side of the tub in my haste to distance myself).

I am not afraid of spiders (or bugs) but sharing my Saturday shower with one was not going to happen. I always tell my children they are not allowed to kill bugs outside because that's where the bugs live. But when the bugs invade where we live, we are allowed to dispose of them. So that's what I did. Grabbed a tissue, squashed the spider, and flushed it away.

I finished my shower in solitude, but it was not the same. Because I knew in the far corner of the ceiling, I could see another fuzzy brown shape just waiting to get me.