Saturday, September 30, 2006

Birthday Girl!

Kate had a terrific birthday. She actually said to me as I put her down to sleep tonight "Thank you for a lovewy birthday, Mommy!" I think it was a big success! We spread the present-giving out throughout the whole day - from gifts from us and relatives, to her actual party that we had tonight, she was showered all day long! And was darn sweet about it! The biggest hit of a gift was her vacuum cleaner. Some of you who read the blog regularly may recall that Kate asked for "a puppy and a vacuum cleaner" for her birthday. Well, she got the vacuum cleaner. She LITERALLY GASPED when she opened it and exclaimed "Ohhhh my woooord! It's all I EVER WANTED!!!!!!" You have to love the drama! Thanks, Uncle Pak, for the great gift! :)

So it was a lovely day. We had our friends the Dunns over - Tim, Erin and their three darling kiddos Maggie, Julia and Aidan. Kate had a great time with Miss Maggie, and Liam got a big kick out of watching the twins! Pak was there as well and we all had dinner, cake, and ice cream. It was just a great day!

Here are some pics from the festivities!

First present of the day! The movie "Annie". She loved it!

Here is Kate with her present from Auntie Madelyn - she loved her feather boa and pony crafts!

Uncle Pak helping Kate read a card at her party.

YES! A UNICORN "My Little Pony" Doll!

Kate The Clean. Vacuuming away!

Kate Turns Three Today!

I cannot believe that our little girl is Three! On one hand, three years is such a short period of time.....and it has certainly flown. But at the same time we cannot imagine or barely even recall our life without Kate. Thank You, God, for this incredible person! She is so full of spunk and sass and sweetness. She is bright and funny and loving and so very imaginative (case in point, she told me today that she would only answer to the name "Ariel" because today she was a mermaid). She gives the best hugs in the world (complete with her saying "Squeeeeeeeze" while she hugs you tight). Her laugh is better than the best music and her cry breaks my heart but makes me smile at the same time because it is so dramatic with her completely downturned mouth and enormous crocodile tears. Nick and I are so so so proud of our daughter. I keep finding myself, as she grows, thinking "THIS is my favorite age. No, wait, now THIS is my favorite age. No, wait, now THIS....." Each day brings more laughs, as well as more challenges! She is not a pliant little girl - but her stubborness and determination I hope will serve her well and we just hope to help channel it! :) Who knows what life will bring us with this little girl - but we know that no matter what we love her and today we celebrate that AWESOME day when she greeted the world. She was born fast and Nick got to hold her right away for about 30 minutes. He just held her and rocked her and I think they stared at each other the whole time. Next thing you know, I am going to be making an entry on this blog and she will be 14. 16. 21......

Happy Birthday, Kate!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Ah, the familiar scent of Paint Fumes!

Do any of you know that one of Nick's FAVORITE TV shows is old re-runs of "This Old House"? Good thing that this is actually a passion for him because here we go again! We took quite a bit of time off from any of our home repairs. If you have been following the transformation of our little Saint Paul Bungalow at all, you know that the process has been extensive in detail and duration! From windows to flooring, walls to ductwork, lighting and paint, not one room has been left untouched, really. Except for the main hallway to the back bedrooms - until now!

For anyone who has actually been here, they know that our hallway was disgusting. Holes in the wall, dingy paint, dents and chips, mismatched floor trim and horrid lighting. Well, Nick was at it again this weekend and what a transformation! He patched and smoothed walls, caulked, trimmed, replaced some of the electrical housings and switchplates and got started on paint! I LOVE IT! I love the color - I told my sister that I want to LIVE in the color - I want sweaters and bedding and more walls and just everything in that color. I am weird I know. He also installed new lighting and you can actually see back there, now! (The dim light before was a blessing because it hid so many of the imperfections, to put it mildly). But with great paint and some artwork ready to go on the walls, good lighting is now a good thing. Nick really worked his tush off - it is looking good. There is still a lot of work to do - there is a lot of trim detail, we are stripping some paint off parts of a great built in that is in the hall and trying to expose original hardware with decades of paint caked on it now, and some of the doors in the hall need some TLC. But it will happen. It is nice to be making some progress again. Though admittedly we thoroughly enjoyed our time off of the DIY stuff. We actually spent time together! :) While this goes on, I take the kids to stay at Mom's condo because of the probable lead dust from old sanded and stripped paint. Nick is safe and secure in his terrific 3M safety gear! :)

So - more pics will come soon. One of these days I have to follow through on the promise of putting up some "extreme makeover-style" before-and-after pics!

The thing is, though, the list never ends. We are now brainstorming ways to renovate the hideously ugly bathroom on the first floor. Subway tile? Wainscoting? New tub or reglazing the old one? So many possibilities - and also one of the more ambitious projects for us as far as DIY goes! We shall see what happens! In the meantime, I just love sitting in our home and knowing that with our shared vision and work we are really making it OURS. It is so comforting.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


From snuggles at bedtime story reading to Liam's cat naps on Nick's lap to Kate literally attacking a Super Special Breakfast Treat (that one, by the way, sends me into fits of laughter everytime I look at it!) - these captured moments are examples of the kinds of increments of joy that make up my day! :)

Oh, So Proper!

My Mom was visiting these past weeks and it was SO amazing to have her in town! The kids are absolutely crazy about her and love spending time with her. Kate got to bake cookies with her "Nia" and Liam just loved giggling and smiling for her.

One night, Mom took us all out to dinner at the club they belong to here, "The University Club". It is a lovely place with dark wood paneling, upholstered dining chairs, and sweeping views over the bluff overlooking downtown Saint Paul. Really 'old school' and elegant. Both Liam and Kate joined us and were perfectly behaved angels! And I say that without a drop of sarcasm. Truly!

At one point, as we all started conversing rather jovially, Kate widened her eyes, held up one hand and said to us "excuuuuuse me but you all need to use Ladies and Gentleman voices!!!!!" She sat up properly, used perfect manners and behaved like a little lady - and kept us all in check, too.

At the end of the meal, we decided to order dessert. My ears perked up when the server told us that they had Strawberry Shortcake! Kate misunderstood and thought they meant the doll, not the dessert, and she began professing her love for Strawberry Shortcake- "Oh, I WUV Sawbewwy Cortcake! She's my faaaavewit" Nick, a gleam in his eye, leaned into Kate and, in a "gentleman's voice", told her "Mommy is going to EAT Strawberry Shortcake for dessert". Thinking he spoke of her beloved doll, Kate's eyes welled with tears, her mouth turned down and, as giant crocodile tears dropped down her face, cried in an increasingly loud wail "nooooOOOOOOOO. Doooon't eeeaaat Sawbewwy Cortcake, Mmoooooommmyyy".

So much for the perfect dining record.

She was quickly calmed, though, and enjoyed her own dessert of a scoop of vanilla ice cream. She topped off the evening by literally winking at the Restaurant Manager (who was bowled over by her charm during the whole meal) and saying farewell to the other diners as we a "lady voice", of course!!!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Giant Backpacks and Attitude

Today was Kate's FIRST DAY OF PRESCHOOL!!!!! I cannot believe it. She was soooo excited to go. She is required to bring a backpack to school and 'character backpacks' being discouraged, we had to find a plain one. OF COURSE, Kate selected a pink one, but unfortunately it looks like a turtle shell on her because it is for a bigger kid. I could not find a preschooler sized pack anywhere that did not have some form of cartoon on it! Oh well. She loves it and feels super special for having it. She made a big production this morning over making sure her backpack was ready to go with her to school!

Dropping her off was fine. She had no problem whatsoever. I leaned down to kiss her goodbye and barely brushed her cheek before she was dashing off to play with the other kids in the classroom. While some children were in meltdown mode, Kate could care less that I was leaving - I have to say I would not have minded a hug goodbye :) She was so ready for school!!!

As I was leaving, I was a little sad, but had LIam in my arms to preoccupy me. Just then, Debbie Downer Mom - parent of another preschooler - approached me with her whiny voice: "Can you beliiieeeevvveee how many kids are in that cllaaaaaaaas? I think there are too many kiiiiids for just two teeeaaaccchhherrrrrs. It is is hooorrriiibbblllllllle. I think we should get a paaarent patrol going and have each paaaaaarent sign up to sit in on claaaaases to moooonitor those teaaaaaachers to make sure they are doing a good jooooooob. Aren't you woooooorriiiiieeeed? How can they waaaatch all of them? What if something haaaaappens to your kiiiiiiid?"

ARGH! Thanks, Little Mary Sunshine! Good heavens! If I was not worried before I certainly am IRRITATED now! I told her "You know, those teachers have been doing this for 25 years, I think they have it covered and have probably seen it all." Of course she disagreed. I just ignored her. I WANTED to tell her that, first of all, one of the best things we can do as parents of school age kids is support our educators. Secondly, if you feel your kid needs such special attention then either put him in a class where the teacher/student ratio is 1:3 (this is not daycare, it is SCHOOL - how many classes did you have where there were 5 teachers??!!!), OR stop whining about others and placing blame around and instead just home school your kid and answer to no one but yourself. I did not think that was a good way to start the year off with another parent, though. Everyone was pretty much rolling their eyes at her. I think my irritation with her, though, really helped me keep my mind off of missing Kate and the sentimental tone of the day, so I did not fall apart too bad. Once I drove away, though, I did choke up. She is such a big girl!

When I picked Kate up, she was excited to see me, which is always nice. She talked a lot about the playground, but when I asked her what else she did she kind of shrugged and asked what was for lunch. Is she 2 going on 16?! I need details, people!!!!! Here is what the car ride home was like:

Maggie: "Did you paint?"
Kate: "I don't know. Can I have applesauce at lunch?"
Maggie: "Did you sing songs?"
Kate: "Ummmmm. I don't know? Can I have fruit snacks?"
Maggie: "Did you have a snack at school?"
Kate: "My tummy is growling. Can I have a snack?"
Maggie: What else happened at school? Did you read stories?
Kate: "Actually (I love it when she says this) we read about Clifford the Big Dog. Can I have milk?"

So all I know is she went on the playground (I also know this because her teacher mentioned that when she told Kate is was time to go inside, Kate politely declined, saying "No, Thank You, teacher!" and that they read about Clifford. Sounds like a good day for a 2 year old!

Anyway, I am babbling BIG TIME. It is just a BIG DAY! Kate is fine with school. She must have played and learned hard because she CRASHED for her nap.

Here are some pics of her and her giant back pack.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Your Eyes are Cracking!

Tonight I was really enjoying the kids. Nick had some work to do, so I put both of them to bed this evening. First was Liam. He was as sweet as ever. Snuggling as we rocked in his chair just before bed. I stared down at him in his dinosaur jammies as his eyes grew heavier and heavier. His little fingers curled around one of my fingers and his other hand crept slowly to the side of his head where he twirled a strand of his hair as he fell asleep - a move absolutely identical to what Kate does when she is super sleepy. Well I was just a puddle of mush over how cute he was. He has not been sleeping well at all the past few weeks due to teething and a giant growth spurt and I have been running on little sleep - but gazing at his peaceful sleeping face erased all exhaustion from my body.

Apparently, though, that was just in spirit. The effects of how haggard I really am must be pretty darn visible. Let me explain. After Liam was tucked into his crib, it was on to Kate's bedtime routine. A story in her rocking chair, prayers at bedside and she crawled into bed. Unusually, she then asked if I would snuggle her in her bed. Well I was just so full of total adoration for the kids I said I would sing her one song while I snuggled her. She cuddled right up against me and put her little arm around my shoulder and patted my hair while we sang her bedtime song. Could life get ANY better than this?

Just then Kate said "Mommy, what's on your eyes?" Thinking maybe she was talking about my contact lenses I explained that. She said "No, Mom! Your eyes are all red!" I explained "Oh, that is probably because I am a little tired. It is bed time after all!" Kate then said "No, Mommy, your eyes are CRACKING! They are RED AND CRACKING! You better go to the doctor."

So - the cloud of motherhood happiness that I am floating on does not make me LOOK as great as it makes me FEEL! Nice, though, that bloodshot eyes, limp hair and bone tiredness can be totally forgotten with just one sweet hug or smile or drowsy hair twirl. If I could bottle it, I'd make a million.