Friday, March 28, 2014

365 Days of Lydia

 Well this has been the fastest year of my life to date. I have a one year old again.
My sweet ball of fluff has grown and become a delightful, destructive, and distinct little person with her own ideas and tastes.
 Peter has been counting down days until Lydia's birthday for weeks, and made sure we opened a few presents first thing in the morning. Lydia got quite the haul!
I made her a six layer coconut cake with a bunny on top. It wasn't much to look at, but boy was it delicious! We're still enjoying it.
Lydia has just started pushing back on taking her morning naps, and had about had it by the time we pulled out the cake. She would not touch it. So when I "guided" her little hand into the frosting, just to get a taste, she was not amused. Poor girl.
 Lydia has just started taking steps! She typically takes about three before hurling herself into my arms.
 She is starting to show a little more interest in books lately. One of her favorites is "Pat the Bunny," so we got her a stuffed "Pat" of her own.
 I also found this cute little rocker at Goodwill, and brought it home for her (and for Nora, who has been asking for a little chair for at least a year). Ankles crossed!
Lydia is a quiet, mischievous little girl. She has no problem playing by herself, but there is usually a big mess left in her wake. She also has a cute little sense of humor and the greatest giggles.
I'm not sure whether I'm excited for or dreading these toddler years ahead. I think she'll keep me busy, but her cuddly, affectionate little personality might just make up for any funny business. We're so lucky to call this sweet Lydia ours!

One year old physical growth stats: 7 teeth, 25 lbs. (97%), 29 1/2" (59%) and head 18 1/4" (85%).

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spring Break

Spring Break was pretty low key this year. We started with a trip to the dentist. Nora LOVES the dentist, and asks all the time when we can go back. She was so excited to show us her shiny teeth when they were done. Peter on the other hand, only agreed to cooperate if they stopped using their toothpaste, which they did. That kid can be such a character sometimes!
 Since it was St. Patrick's Day, we made sure we were all decked in green.
 The next day, another one of Nora's dreams came true- "Frozen" came in the mail! She could hardly contain her happiness, and was dancing all over the front yard belting out "Let it GO" (just that phrase) over and over as she flung her coat into the wind.
 On Wednesday, Benjamin got to participate in Nora and Peter's swimming and gymnastic classes. They had a great time!
 On Friday morning, we drove about 100 miles to Springfield, Illinois. We toured Lincoln's house, which the boys seemed to enjoy. It was fun to see how tall Abraham Lincoln was, which you got a sense for by the placement of his shaving mirror on the wall. I also learned that his sons were pretty rambunctious, and he gave them a lot of freedom to just be kids. Nora initially wouldn't come inside, and clung onto Paul the whole time, asking him if the Lincolns had died. :)
 Here's the home from the outside. It's pretty amazing when you consider what he started with, which was virtually nothing.
 The kids were really excited to earn their "Junior Ranger Badges." Compared to the Yellowstone one they tried for last year, this one was a breeze!
We made sure to stop at the Dana Thomas house, which was one of Frank Lloyd Wright's earliest (1902-1904) and largest designs. It was magnificent, and such a stark contrast to the Lincoln home, built only a few short decades prior to this one. I wished we could have taken some pictures of the interior. There were several entertaining areas with musician's lofts, a bowling alley, some of the earliest electric lighting and indoor plumbing, and the sweetest little children's library in the basement (for the neighborhood kids). The woman who commissioned the house was widowed twice, childless, and the daughter of a wealthy politician. 
 Hey look! An updated family picture! Our tour guide was the sweetest woman, and kept telling us how well behaved our children were. She took this for us.
I saw these ginkgo leaf earrings in the Frank Lloyd Wright gift shop, and had to bring them home. I love green, I love ginkgo leaves, and I love Japanese art. I really think I could have gotten along with Frank. :)
Even though it was a short distance from home, we made it an overnight trip so we could take advantage of the hotel pool. It was Lydia's first real encounter with a pool, and she was in heaven!
 The next morning, we made it over to the Lincoln Museum, which was really, really good. I think the kids came away with a real sense for how terrible slavery was, what the differing opinions at the time were, what Abraham Lincoln's challenge as president was, and what his legacy means to us. They especially loved the "ghost" show, where history came alive in the presidential library. 
 There was also a kids room with Lincoln logs...
 ...and dress ups. Clearly, Nora was having a great time at this point. :)
 Just thought I'd throw this one in to show how weird the Midwest is. We saw this along the road as we were driving.
As nice as it was to have a break, I'm glad to be back to a normal routine. The dynamics were interesting at times, usually with Peter as the desired playmate, and Benjamin and Nora fighting over him. It will be nice when Lydia is a little bigger. Nora isn't really interested in having her as a playmate yet.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Ugly Progress is Still Progress

We're finally tackling our bedroom after almost seven years of living here. Besides the laundry room (which is terrible, and probably always will be), our room has been the most neglected space in the house. The layout has always been a little tricky with five windows- and all in the corners. Storage is an issue too, since there is one small closet to share and no master bathroom. So even though it's never going to be ideal, I've decided it's time to do our best with what we've got.
Finding a good "before" of our bedroom was close to impossible. I finally found this one of Lydia as a newborn...
...and this one of Benjamin on his last birthday. My friend helped me strip the wallpaper border and paint it several years ago, and then we just lived with this color (which I take full responsibility for, and even liked at the time for it's Wendy's Frosty-like color). But it was all wrong for the space, and didn't inspire any further action on my part.
Paul and I also made the headboard a few years ago, before his Mom made us this beautiful king size quilt (she let me pick the fabrics and the design). The headboard and the quilt have always clashed, so I'm planning to recover the headboard with a soft blue linen tablecloth I found at Home Goods for $9. It's just draped over for effect here. We also painted our room, and it's much lighter and brighter and calmer. Don't mind the laundry basket sitting there; that's just our normal decor. ;)
And so is this pile of junk stashed on the other side of the bed. I removed the mismatched bookshelves that were flanking the sides of the bed, and replaced them with new matching nightstands and lamps. Hence the piles of displaced books. I kept those pieces small so we'd still have room for the other furniture that needs to stay, like the dresser...
...and the new bookshelves Paul helped me build to go under the windows on either side of the dresser. I found the plans on Ana White, and they'll fit perfectly along that wall that has always been unused dead space. They're nice and low too, so they won't block the windows at all.
The other side of the room recently got a newer, smaller desk to replace the (free to us) hulking file desk that used to live there (that file desk got demoted to the garage, where it serves as our new workbench!). I wish we didn't have to have the computer in our room, but there just isn't a better spot for it in this house. We still need a smaller chair for it though. The arms on this one prevent it from tucking neatly away under the desk, so it hangs out into the room.
I purposely haven't hung any art on the walls yet because I want to be more thoughtful about it this time around. I'd love one large piece to hang over the bed (I have ideas for what I'd like to make), and possibly a smaller set of pieces on the opposite wall. I also wish I knew what to do with the windows. As you can probably tell from the rest of our house, I love the casual look of floor length curtain panels. I'm just not sure how to achieve that look in here with the awkward corners and all the furniture in the way.
So there you have it. We're making progress, and this will soon be a much better space. I'm excited to have a more polished and grown up space to call our own. No more ugly family room in here!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sleep and Daylight Savings

It seems like Daylight Savings Time is a common bane to young moms. Lately, that's seems to be the small-talk topic of conversation I have with everyone. This time though, I feel like Daylight Savings should have come three weeks ago! Lydia wakes up with the sun anyways, and her 7-turned-6 am wake-up time was killing me, even if it was just all in my head. I just can't deal with any time beginning with the number 6. (Is this just post traumatic early morning seminary stress disorder?) ;)  And unfortunately, with our current house layout and nice echo-y flooring, no one sleeps in much past Lydia's wake up calls. Luckily, the kids have always been pretty good about keeping themselves busy until I get up and get breakfast going.
On Friday night, we had a big "progressive dinner" party that we were part of hosting. It was late enough that I just put the girls to bed before it started, but the boys went to the church to play with their friends. It was a really late night for them, and the boys didn't get to bed until 10:30- hours past their normal bedtime.
My moss wreath I made! I love it.
The next day was predictably emotional and moody for the boys, so I was reluctant to give in to Benjamin's plea to sleep in a fort we made in the basement that night. I just wanted them to have a good night to make up for the last. I let them do it the next night though (on a school night, no less!), and the next morning I had to WAKE BENJAMIN UP ten minutes before the bus came. That never happens. EVER...even if he has a late night to recover from. Then Peter strolled upstairs around 9, happy and completely rested! (I've always felt that Peter in particular gave up naps way too early, and has perpetually gotten woken up too early) Hallelujah!!!
Needless to say, I let them sleep in the fort the next night, and the same thing happened. I'm ready to just move them down there if it means we all get a little extra sleep! Seriously.
We might have to come up with a more permanent solution though...

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Hermit Crab

I am such a hermit. If I had my way, I'd probably stay home 90% of the time. Recently though, Benjamin's friend's parents reached out to us, and invited us to join their table for "Trivia Night." Apparently it's an annual fundraising thing the PTA organizes, and apparently it's HUGE in St. Louis. All the schools do them. I felt like it was probably a good opportunity to get to know some of the other parents better, so I said yes.
And then anxiety set in. The night before the event, I had the most stressful dream I can remember having in a long time. It involved a maze-like mansion, suffocating crowds of people, being single again (where was Paul?!), a pool party full of other singles- but I'd forgotten my swimsuit, me carrying around my tiny mixed-race baby (again, why wasn't Paul involved?!), then watching my baby die of heart failure at that awkward pool party. Dreams are weird.

I had to remind myself that this Trivia Night was not a big deal, and when all was said and done, it really wasn't. And bonus- I had my favorite date by my side the whole night (Paul, in case you were wondering). These Trivia Nights are funny, and not quite what we were expecting. The tables competed in some trivia, but that was certainly not the focus of the evening. There was lots of auctioning for hundreds and even thousands of dollars worth of things, lots of alcohol, and a lot of 80's attire.  We were lame, and didn't dress up, but we saw everything from Prom dresses to Letterman jackets, and from scrunchies and leggings to a really questionably dressed Tina Turner. I was glad I had thought to bring our favorite "fancy" drink so we didn't have to keep running to the drinking fountain!
I still question the fundraising efforts of schools here. After seeing how much money people drop for random stuff in support of a "good cause," I wonder if it wouldn't have been better spent for a sister school or something. In this girl's humble opinion, our school has way too much at their disposal.

I'm also reminded that people are good. It's so easy to generalize and stereotype people who you feel are different from you, but when you really try to get to know people one-on-one, you can't help but feel some love for them. The only problem with an event like this one is, you only come away knowing about 1% of "those people." And the rest were in no way redeemed in my mind. ;)