Wednesday, December 18, 2013


I've concluded most children prefer to be unclothed. It makes sense, since they so recently got to float around naked in a perfect little womb. Jackson, still wears shorts and T-shirts nearly every afternoon (I suppose the house is cold enough in the morning to induce more clothing), and generally is really happy if he can get away with just undies on.  Getting clothes on Allie is like wrestling a greased pig. She screams and wriggles with an enormous amount of fortitude every morning, diaper change, and night time. The poor babysitter was totally unprepared this past week.

Despite their tendencies toward clothing freedom, I'm always amazed at how much they love to accessorize.

I personally find accessories laborious, easy to lose, and expensive. I try to only use them when completely practical. So, I find it odd that my kids are constantly finding things to accessorize with. Hairbands and headbands are always on some strange part of their body. Keys, scarves, giant shoes, toys, all can be accessories. "Real" accessories are always exciting, like the ever sought after star glasses, 

And hats. 

 I don't think this is unique to my children. I distinctly recall my sister Lindsey donning all of my underwear as her dress up clothes (strewn along her 2 year old arms so graciously); I cannot even begin to describe the insane accessorized outfits my sister Kelsi came up with as a child.

So why is it so exciting to accessorize as a child? The immediate answer seems to be part of their ever present experimentation with adul-tness. But it probably has more to do with why adults accessorize... which I don't think I can pin down. Is it just fun? Is it to make statements of uniqueness? Maybe to just dress up an outfit? Do accessories make people feel special--including little people?
Whatever the reason, I'm sure I could research it and find a number of psychological theories. The good thing is, I finally know what to get Allie for Christmas.

Totally wrapping all the old accessories I don't know what to do with!

Friday, December 6, 2013


 Sometimes there are moments in December that feel like this:

All is right in the world of Christmastide and family life!

But I must admit that for much of December I feel like this:

Desperately needing the aid of these trusty rescue workers to come salvage what's left of the month and put up blockades so I don't try and burn all of our family time with who knows what.

Perhaps if I just got all my resources together, I could build some solid defenses,

 So we don't end up squeaking through December like our trusty snowman:

Thanks Annalee and family for an awesome start to the Holiday madness! We had a wonderful snow-filled Thanksgiving weekend up in Buffalo, full of food, films and much family fun. And though it didn't look promising, our limbo-ing snowman withstood gravity our entire trip. Bring on December! If frosty can, so can we.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fickle Eating

A friend recently posted on Facebook, "Instead of beating my head against the wall, I am going to take comfort in the assumption that a lot of you likely have tales of your children miraculously thriving on graham crackers and air. Please tell me I'm right." She had plenty of comments reassuring her of successful children living on air and graham crackers. I nodded my head, and couldn't forget the statement. Beating heads because of food woes is such a temptation!

I am thrilled to say that Jackson has moved on from his water and cheerio only phase, and it's like breathing fresh air. Independent play and less food-pickiness has just lightened my mother-load significantly this year. I disclose that he is still plenty picky, but some days he'll eat a solid 5 fruits/vegetables. We had baked potatoes last week, and he popped the peel in his mouth and exclaimed "Yum, yum, YUM!" I tried not to drop my jaw. 

Last week at our joy school/collaborative preschool, I taught the book "1 2 3 Peas." Our snack was just various versions of peas: green, snow, and dried Trader Joe's "Inner Peas." Every kid there ate an entire bowl of green peas. I again avoided the jaw drop as I dutifully gave them 3rd and 4th helpings.

I write and recall all this to remind myself that someday, Allie will be a more consistent, less picky eater even though it will likely get worse before it gets better. Most days I remember this, and I don't get flustered with her fickle eating patterns. But it is so tempting to beat my head against the wall when Queen A refuses foods that she loved last week, and doesn't seem to eat anything at all! I suppose it's especially frustrating because it has to be dairy free and toddler friendly food--fresh enough to digest well. BAAAH! [You can see her snarfing the peas in the above picture--she seems to either love eating them or love throwing them... so consistent].

As I think and moan about this, I am completely humbled by having this as a thorn in my life. I'm reading "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" right now, where the young girl, Francie, is always hungry, and will eat almost anything even if she doesn't like it. The book (written about the early 1900s) coupled with the devastation in the Philippians, reminds me to feel a huge sense of gratitude to have more than enough food for my children to eat--even if they choose not to eat it.

And on that note, I shall start looking up delicious recipes for Thankgiving!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Morphing Hats

A full life requires us all to wear a number of different hats. The repair[wo]man, the philosopher, the politician, the hand and mouth cleaner, the corner scrubber, the musician, the cook and of course the parent, spouse and friend are just a few that rotate through my life currently. Balancing these hats creates such variety and color in life.

My parents came to visit a couple of weekends ago, and it was interesting to reflect on the shifting of their hats. Their hats are still similar from my childhood, but age, energy, and a childless house have morphed, added to, and taken away some of the hats. The book club hat was certainly not around in my youth, and the kitchen counter therapist hat has morphed into the long distant therapist. Judging by the weekend, and past experiences, the Grandparent hat is one they adore and wish they could wear more often.

Who can hardly blame them, with this personality-filled girl walking around?

And this resident wearer of T-shirts and shorts amid 40 degree weather jumping up and down?

We all wore the tourist hat for the weekend, visiting museums and gorgeous fall gardens.

(Bonsai trees--not pictured--in the autumn at the Nat'l Arboretum! So cool.)

Amidst the touring and lounging, Grandpa let us all try on his skin-cancer avoiding hat,

Though we wore it in different ways,

I think we appreciated the classy fedora way of avoiding skin cancer.

I'm excited to see the continued morphing of hats in our lives--bring on fedoras!

And to watch a morphing timeline of dance hats, here are 2 videos of the same song, Allie (14 mo) and Jackson just a couple weeks ago, and an old Jackson classic (when he was 14 mo). 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hallow's Eve

Despite being one of the oddest holidays we celebrate, Halloween has turned into the second most celebrated and enjoyed holiday in our family. According to wiki, we really should be celebrating the dead Christians, but it's turned into quite the pumpkin and candy extravaganza that is a blast for my inner music teacher and my kids.

Despite not really having a larger purpose than fun, we have really loved the month of October this year.

Allie has dutifully worn her 3 halloween shirts at least three times each week:

 We revisited slide haven at Cox Farms' Fall festival, 

and have... no slide pictures. Jackson is now scared of large hill slides... (among other other things), so I was on all the slides with him.

We went to a gorgeous pumpkin patch way out in the boon docks, that had the coolest pumpkins for .50$ a lb.

It made me want to get all Martha Stewarty and create a gorgeous mantel place center piece. 

I suppose we celebrated some part of the Christian roots by attending our church's halloween party. I LOVE having a good excuse to dress up and be someone else. This year, the kids and I are sticking to a nursery rhyme theme (Miss Muffet and The Spider + Old Mother Hubbard), and Mark went... in a different direction:

Don't the kids look like they're having a blast!?

Jackson has continued to talk about trick or treating this entire year, and he can't wait until Thursday, when we go re-meet our neighbors who will give him candy. Hopefully all the other crazy costumes out on the streets don't add to the list things we're scared about right now (I'm guessing the candy will chase away most fears).

And perhaps next year we'll find a larger purpose for the holiday. Family History? I'm sure we have a lot of very interesting dead Christians we could dress up as.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Just a Phase

Phases are one of those parts of parenting you understand before kids, after kids, and especially during child rearing. Unfortunately it's so hard to remember anything is a phase if it happens for longer than 2 days. Minor issues become potential character flaws and major emergencies that must be fixed now (especially with the first kid)! I think this is because they can be oh so draining, and as a parent you dread the idea of dealing with it for the long term. 

But, in the long term they are pretty funny, so here are some to remember

Phases we are potentially over (we hope):

-Allie waking up in the middle of the night to eat (hallelujah, and knock on wood)
-Jackson collapsing to the ground moaning of leg pain any time he is asked to do something (it is always his leg, and immediately upon request)
-Jackson banging his head on the ground in frustration

Phases we are currently working through:

-3-7 poopy diapers a day (Allie)
-3-7 teeth coming in at once
-Extreme twists and screaming to accompany diaper changes
-Jackson's further explorations with diaper changing materials (maximum strength Desitin!)
-Allie's interest in rearranging every household item--baking soda to the toilet paper, she knows best where everything should go
-Jackson's shyness manifested with a slow turn of his head (looking away from whoever is speaking to him) and a stone face that says, I'm not listening to you right now
-Allie banging her head on the ground in frustration

Phases that will likely stay around:

-Allie's new obsession with electronic devices (I am NOT going to sacrifice my phone that's hanging on by a thread--even in moments of desperation)

-Jackson sprinting through the house throwing and kicking balls
-"Silent" book reading for both (woot woot!!!)
-Mark and I looking for new ways to channel our own frustration--banging heads could be a viable option

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Learning Quickly from the Best

It seriously took Jackson 2 years to get used to the idea that we were going to brush teeth every night. 

 Allie has been begging for a tooth brush for months! She finally got one, and cannot give it up.

The best part is, she actually brushes her teeth--instead of just chewing on the bristles.

This is one eager little sister, who loves learning from her bro.

Now if we can only keep her from learning his less desirable qualities...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Polarized Sameness

I've decided the human condition gravitates toward polarized sameness. Same, as we all share so many of the same goals. Polar, because there are so many different ways to get to that goal. We're all made up of the same chemical compounds, which are made up of the same basic atom. And yet, we all have those ever repellant electrons working hard to maintain so much of their own space within that atom.

I see it poignantly right now in politicians--really most politicians want the same thing, they just have different views on how to get there.

I see it clearly in marriage. I am so good at finding what could go wrong, or another view, or taking the other side in an argument--when really, half the time, I completely agree with Mark. 

I also see it in my kids. So much of the same, and so different. So many laugh-a-thons, and more and more fights.

Inevitably, this polarized sameness is how we are strengthened--if we can learn how to deal with our crazy repellant electrons and appreciate what they create as a whole.

So here are my two little atom-filled kids.

It is so much easier to take pictures in non-crisis moments,

which helps perpetuate a longing for happy times in the past.

  But when we can capture and remember the more repellant times,

we can attempt to recall and recreate how we worked through past tantrums,

to eventually create unique, repellant, but beautiful wholes.

Monday, September 23, 2013

"Take us on outings, give us treats"

Love me some Mary Poppins. As a child, I really had no idea what "outings" were, but since they were coupled with "treats" in the song, I figured they had to be good. [See bottom for full lyrics to "The Perfect Nanny"]

Lately we've been going on outings.

Some have included treats.

(End of summer bike ride destination on a 70 degree evening to the local BR)

(Apple picking with our co-op preschool friends, these apples were sweet enough to consider as treats)

and some have included "bleats."

(4H Goats at their best--Prince George's County Fair)
 Some have included friends,

(The Cabin John Train park with Miss L)

(Camping in Prince William Forest--first cool weekend of fall)

and some have included bends.

(Mark trying to bend into the kiddie roller coaster at the fair--his body weight had to be perfectly balanced so the thing would stay on the track. Good thing Jackson decided to get out just after Mark finally made it in. )

(amazing hike--right in our backyard, full of boulders and bends)

Looking forward to see what winter outings entail. I'm guessing most of them will actually be dubbed "innings," but they'll likely to include treats!

Lyrics to "The Perfect Nanny"

If you want this choice position
Have a cheery disposition
Rosy cheeks, no warts
Play games, all sort
You must be kind, you must be witty
Very sweet and fairly pretty
Take us on outings, give us treats
Sing songs, bring sweets
Never be cross or cruel
Never give us castor oil or gruel
Love us as a son and daughter
And never smell of barley water
If you won't scold and dominate us
We will never give you cause to hate us
We won't hide your spectacles so you can't see
Put toads in your bed or pepper in your tea
Hurry, Nanny
Many thanks sincerely
Jane and Michael Banks

Compliments of -- I wish I did know the song that well.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Moving From Baby-hood

The Allie picture overload.

Cue the new age emotional music. 

Goodness. Remember her hair? And her ears? Oh that was wonderful.

 We've had over a year with this cutie patutie. Those first 7 weeks of gassy dairy burps were sure painful, but it made the frequent smiles that came afterward so much more rewarding.

Smiles have certainly been flowing steadily ever since, wooing the world with the cheek scrunch and those insane eyelashes.

 The smiles get coupled with her flair of drama (you should hear her sad cry), stubborn will, and personal motivation I have little doubt she will let the world fly by without noticing.

 And the music abruptly stops, as you look at the next shot.

She suddenly she looks very old.

Because she is. Holy one year of Allie. Here she is moving right on from baby-hood.

(OK, so perhaps this is more like a moving walk-fall. She can definitely take balanced steps, but they get a little overwhelmed with an audience.)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Allie's First 1st

Allie will eat more cake tonight (a big one), but this is a quick little video demonstrating her love of sugar on her actual Birthday.

I can't wait to put her year long collage together. Stay tuned for her future career, and a timeline of pictures from her growing up.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Family Night Sing-a-long

We have ourselves an opinionated, loud, and happy one year old. Pictures to come of today's cup cake devouring--the first of many celebrations. While the photos and computer are in time-out for being scary and difficult, I thought I would post this amazing video previewing her future vocal career.

I especially love that Jackson breaking out his moves behind her.

She started this new habit during an intermediate hymn on Sunday (the kind that are meant to wake everyone up), and she took it to heart and sounded just like her encore during Family Night.  It's returned every night during lullaby time. I was shocked she didn't join in during both renditions of Happy Birthday that we sang today. Smart girl. Soak up all the attention you can get as child number 2!

Friday, August 16, 2013

"Quiet Time"

We transitioned from naptime to "quiet time" a while ago, but this week our times of solitude has been a bit... hairy.
We have the, post-accidental nap hairdo:

 (The impressive body in the hair, takes particular positioning during sleep. )

The clothing fights that create a bloody, exhausted vampire:

And the awesome baby powder hills for cars, created so stealthily I had no idea for at least 30 min (mistakenly assuming the silence was another nap):
And finally, the craziness entered into night time. 007 crept into our room, stole Allie's recently vacated crib (she had been moved to his room) and slept there without us knowing all night long:

 "Mom, I don't like going to bed."

You're making that very obvious. Let's stick to pleasant quiet time!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Jackson drew a lovely picture of our family. Mark was the only one who got a smile, but I guess he had to have a big head to make room for it.

It depicts the maturing nature of our family. Not only because Jackson is drawing it, but my crazy hair (which occurs most days b/c I lack motivation and time to do it), Mark's... crazy hair and shrinking body (seriously, the Dr. measured him shorter than ever), Jackson's lengthening body, and Allie's crawling-like position, all do represent our current family well.

Physical traits are simply the visual side of our family maturing. We have also matured in our perceptions and understandings--most especially Jackson who has entered the "why" phase of toddler-hood. This inevitable, dreaded phase, has allowed for deep introspection as to why it is raining, and why we stopped at red lights, and why we have to wear shorts when we go outside. There are many days when I succumb to the, "just because" answer, but both Mark and I have been surprised at how many things we "don't know why".

Allie is maturing through curiosity, and it is propelling her forward quickly. The above portrait will soon be out of date as I expect her to start walking within the month. She has willingly done many a belly flop while attempting to walk. She also happily let Jackson carry her around today--anything to get her places faster and with a different perspective.

My younger sister--who I swear just started high school--came to visit us last week and continued propelling us into the mature world. It's hard to believe that she's a mature, self-sufficient college student who will graduate in 2 years. What?!

 While she was here, we had a great time visiting lots of sites down town. Most days, we'd pack a lunch and head downtown after Allie's morning nap, and gain new perspectives on money--generally how it is made and spent. Bureau of Engraving gave us sneak preview of the new 100$ bill coming out (I'm sure we'll see lots of them.); a visit to the capital revealed how many black Suburbans the executive branch purchases from Chevy each year; and we appreciated the 7.5 mill dollar investment a private philanthropist donated to cover half the cost of repairs on Washington's monument. 100 here, few thousand there, and a million here or there. No wonder it's such an expensive place to live in!

Thankfully we had the maturity to enjoy the fruits of our meager tax dollars and look forward to Jackson and Allie's major contributions to the system down the road.

But goodness. All this maturing is making some of us exhausted. So glad to have a kid who can crash in the stroller. Yes Allie!!!