Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Easter - long overdue

I finally have time tonight to catch up on Easter.  I didn't want to put Easter pics at the end of the birthday post, so here they are, a week late!

The Easter bunny was very generous to Miss Sylvia.  Stampers, bubbles, bunny ears, and a new book.  Hooray!

After church, we had brunch at Mom's house with the Eibens.  Sylvia and Charlie are finally old enough to love the idea of hunting for baskets and eggs!  They had a ball together.

Our attempt at a grand baby picture.  Someday this will work.

Getting rowdy on the back porch swing.

The Easter Bunny hid a basket here, too!

Chasing bubbles in the front yard.


How many did you get?

Open egg, eat jelly bean, repeat.

Next we took the kids down to the city Easter egg hunt and let me tell you something - that was not a good idea.  I knew it was risky because it started at 1:00, which is roughly nap time for the Nugget.  The mayor made all the kids wait...and wait...and wait...and THEN he let the older kids go first!  The poor toddlers had NO idea what was going on, all they knew is that other kids were lining up and they had to wait...and wait...and wait.  Meltdown city.  Total disaster.  EVENTUALLY the toddlers were allowed to dive into their section of the field (at least they had their own area), and I thought Sylvia would be a little hesitant or scared or....

No.  She took off.  Just like every other 2-4 year old.  Once they were let loose, they had a BALL!


Charlie comforts Sylvia after an overwhelming jaunt in the egg field.
And that was only the first half of our day!  We went home, Sylvia took a loooong nap, she ate a sandwich when she woke up, and we were off to my Grandma's house for dinner and egg hunt #3, of which I have no pictures because by that point in the day I was DONE.  I'm really glad I was able to squeeze in that sandwich, because other than that, she ate chocolate and jelly beans ALL day.  Oh well.  I'll update our eating adventures in another post, let's just say Easter Sunday spiraled into a sugar-induced meltdown...from ME.  I'll also just say that after a week of sticking to our guns, we now have a child who eats dinner.  But that's neither here nor there, the point is - Easter was FUN!

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Last Friday, I attempted to have a "small family gathering" to celebrate Sylvia's second birthday.  I didn't want anything too big, since we had a huge party for her first birthday, and almost all of our friends have their own one-year-old birthdays to orchestrate this spring.  However, I did make two rookie mistakes.

1.  I forgot that our family is gigantic and once I invited the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, we ended up with twenty people at our house.
2.  Her birthday was at the end of Spring Break, so I spent a week planning and prepping and cooking up all sorts of ridiculous ideas (i.e. let's blow up a hundred balloons and leave them all over the house!!  She'll LOVE it!). 

The party was not a failure by any means, I'm sure everyone had a good time, and I know Sylvia had a B.A.L.L. so it was actually a great success.  But I won't lie, it wore me out.  And I was glad when it was over.  Next year we're all going to Chuck E. Cheese, or some equally germ-filled snot fest, and I'll have a beer.

Anyway, here's the rundown of all the excitement: 

Two-year-olds do not understand the idea of WAITING to open everyone's present at the same time, so we let her open Gran and Grandpa's present shortly after they arrived.  Luckily, it was a Thomas the Tank Big Wheel (oh my WORD, the excitement!!!) and it took my Dad a good long time to put together, which kept Sylvia entertained until everyone else got there. 

Then, her best buddy Charlie showed up, and we no longer had to entertain/distract/wrangle her in any way.  They immediately started running and screaming and laughing.  Every time they're together, they shock me.  Within minutes of his arrival, they ran into her room, grabbed some books, ran back into the living room, climbed up in these chairs and started READING.  Thank goodness I was close and had my camera. 

Once everyone was there and had a plate of food in their laps, we let her have a free-for-all with the gifts.  Charlie helped.  I'm still finding wrapping paper and deflated balloons all over the house.  Sylvia got some wonderful presents that she has really enjoyed this week.  Lots of toys, THREE tea sets (that's how we roll, good and fancy!), quite a few outside toys (balls, kiddie pool, etc.), and a play kitchen with food and an apron!  What a lucky little girl.

 Uncle Jordan was there!  He gave her some new pink Nike sneakers and every time she sees them, she calls them "Unca Joe-din shoes!" 

After presents it was time for cake!  See that plate full of cookies to the left?  They are the reason I will curse Martha Stewart until the day I die.  That lady is NUTS!  My cookie plans failed miserably, and I was up until midnight the night before the party trying to salvage the remains of my pathetic project and turn them into regular old iced butterfly cookies, which turned out just fine, thank you very much.  Mom made the adorable bunny cake, I made the cupcakes (easy peasy, from a box, no complaints!) and yes, I put the 2 candle on backwards.  But I fixed it before we sang to her, so it won't bring her bad luck or anything.  I hope.

Matt and Claire, hanging out in the playroom.  Sylvia lights up when she sees her and shouts "Bay-bee Quare!!!"  She also thinks every baby is "Baby Quare" or "Baby _____" (our baby name, not approved for Internet posting, but approved enough for household use).

Four generations photo.  Sylvia, me, my Grandma Marge (Sylvia's "G.G."), and my Mom, Joyce (Sylvia's "Grammy").  Love those ladies!

Sylvia was pretty excited about the singing and the candles.  She certainly doesn't remember all this hoopla from last year, but she's been to a few birthday parties since then and she knows how this works.  It was fun to see her realize this was HER turn. 

Blowing out the candles!  Happy Birthday, sweet girl! 

Enjoying our birthday cookies.  Can we just talk about those pigtails for a second?  I'm pretty sure that when she walks across the graduation stage, or down a wedding aisle, I'm going to bawl my ever-loving eyes out thinking about her two-year-old pigtails.  No matter how big she gets, this is the face I will always see.  Always.

Sylvia and Cecilia were sitting at the table together, but when we pulled up a chair for Charlie, Sylvia decided she needed to be as close to him as possible.  Or maybe they were just fighting over the chair and realized they could both fit.  Either way, it was adorable.

After cake, we spent a few minutes playing outside with the new soccer ball, looking for airplanes, and watching the sun go down.  After everyone left, my brothers stayed behind to help Sylvain build a fire in the backyard, and I gladly joined them after I put my sweet girl to bed and cleaned up a little bit.  It was a day full of fun and blessings!  We are so lucky to be close to our family, and I'd gladly wear myself out time and time again if it means we all get to spend this much time together!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Special Birth Story

Since I've been collecting birth stories, I thought it would be neat to include a dad's perspective of birth.  I asked Sylvain to write down Sylvia's birth story, and he agreed on the condition that it would be written to her, not just for her.  I thought it was a great idea, as long as I could still post it on the blog.  So here's what he's been working on for a very, very long time!  The original copy is in French, of course, and that will be given to Sylvia when she's old enough to read it herself.  Since this is a translation, it might sound a little strange, but I think the sweetness translates quite well!  Enjoy.

That which follows is about the events that are related to your birth.  Certain thoughts run the risk of shocking you or making you cry, but I will try to relay them to you as truthfully as possible.  Honestly, the idea of hearing, or at least reading, a birth story seems rather strange to me, but I heard my own from your paternal grandmother more than once.  Why write it?  That, you'll have to ask your mother.

For almost nine months, I knew that one day you would be born, but it seemed theoretical to me, despite the fact that I had seen images of you, heard your heartbeat, and saw your mother grow.  I had been told that, generally speaking, for the fathers, the reality of having a child comes the day of the birth.  I am no exception, since I didn't feel your kicks or nausea or even a new perspective of my body like your mother did.  Alas, it was not a day, but a night.

For weeks, we followed classes to prepare us to welcome you in a natural way.  Despite all of our efforts, nothing went as planned.  We were expecting something predictable, but you completely took us by surprise. 

There we were, in the middle of watching The Colbert Report, with a stopwatch trying to determine when we should head to the hospital.  It was pitiful.  After a phone call to an expert, we decided to hit the road.  I knew where to go, but perhaps you know that driving at night (roughly 1 AM) in the middle of a storm where the street lights reduce visibility due to their reflection on the roads in the middle of a work zone where the lines are almost invisible...well, these things didn't make driving easy, considering your mother only wished to get there as soon as possible. 

Once at the hospital, the main entrance was closed, seeing as it was after hours.  Under the rain, we walked toward the E.R. entrance, stopping here and there since your mother had strong contractions.  Once inside, we quickly realized that you were going to be born from one moment to the next. 

The nurses and the midwife prepared everything: the birthing bed and gadgets that go "beep."  Bit by bit, you became more and more real.  The midwife announced that everything was going alright.  For what seemed to be an eternity to us, you were born relatively quickly. 

Towards the end of the labor, I knew that from one second to the next I was going to see you.  Between fatigue, lively emotions, and the anticipation, I saw the midwife raise you toward us.  How small and fragile you were!  From this point on, everything became hazy. 

Just before the official time of announcement from the midwife (3:19 AM), there was a rhythm: contractions, rest, contractions, etc.  On the other side, after your birth, so many things happened whether it be totally surprising or bloody, that it almost traumatized me.  I was numb.  I will spare you the details in case you one day want to have kids, but I have to tell you that when they asked me to cut your umbilical cord, I asked myself, "Why not?" because I was already so much out of my element.  While I'm at it, it's crazy that science has become so exact in relation to birth.  It could have been mistaken for a play in the middle of it's thousand and first rehearsal.  And that was relieving. 

Once the midwife determined that you were doing fine, the three of us ended up in a small room and it was in this room that I learned that I love you.  I was holding you in my arms.  You, wrapped up like a fragile package.  Me, reduced to a machine only capable of feeling just one emotion: that of love.  Some people might say that it's instinct.  Some people might say that it's universal.  Despite all of these possibilities, it was then that you became my daughter.

This sweet story was a big deal for Sylvain to put into words, as I'm sure it is for most dads.  I am honored to share it on Sylvia's second birthday!  I'm so glad he agreed to write it because he shared many details I never knew before.  I love the part about how the rhythm changed once she was born, and of course I love the part about our time in the recovery room with our little girl.  Now that we're getting closer to the birth of our next sweet girl, this story is a wonderful reminder of why I picked him, and why he picked me, and why we wanted to start a family together in the first place. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Twenty Four Months

Dear Sylvia,

I put you to bed a one-year-old tonight, but tomorrow you'll wake up a two-year-old!  I'm thinking about setting my alarm so I can sneak into your room at 3:19 am and give you a Happy Birthday kiss, but I'm afraid of waking you up AND I'm afraid that being awake at 3:19 in the morning will make me much too sentimental and weepy over the fact that you were born two whole years ago in the middle of the night.  We'll see. 

We have a big day tomorrow - it's Easter Sunday!  Your Grammy was born on Easter Sunday and her birthday has never been on that day since, so I'm interested to see if you ever have another Easter birthday.  You're just old enough to understand what birthdays are, so I'm sure you'll think the whole world is celebrating for you tomorrow with eggs and candy and the "Each-er Bunny!"  I put you in your new Easter dress tonight and I got choked up thinking about how much you've grown and how lovely you look in it.  You're pretty much the sweetest little thing since chicks started hatching!

You're a fun little two-year-old, Nugget.  You like to do everything yourself and you're growing more and more patient and persistent every day.  You'll spend a really long time trying to figure out how to do something before you ask for help.  You like to try to dress yourself and you love helping Mama bake in the kitchen.  You really do love feeling like a helper, so whenever it's time to clean up your playroom or clear the table after dinner, you become very proud of yourself for getting the job done.  You like to hand me things I need and say, "Here you go, Mommy!"  You're becoming incredibly responsible and we love watching this new development.

You're also developing a great sense of humor.  You spend most of your day being "silly," especially when Daddy's around.  You like to twirl and dance and sing silly songs and make funny noises.  You like to put stuff on your head that doesn't belong there, then run into the room and stop and stare at us, straight faced and serious, until we notice.  Then, once we say, "Hey!  What's that basket doing on your head?" you crack up laughing like it's the funniest joke in the world.  And we laugh because it really is the funniest joke in the world to us.

You're getting very good at your numbers and your letters and especially your French.  You're speaking both languages in short sentences and phrases, which makes me and Daddy very happy.  With all of this new knowledge and learning, you've developed an attitude of "I know what I'm talking about and you don't," which I'm sure will only grow stronger with time.  It's not a bad thing, and I'm happy to see that you have strong opinions about certain things, but I want you to always know that Daddy and I make all of our decisions based on what's best for you (and your little sister!), even if you don't agree with us at the time.  Someday you'll understand why you can't have chocolate for breakfast.  Someday.  I hope.

Your independence, your sense of humor, your speech, your intellect...all of these developments are nothing compared to the way you love us, sweet girl.  Putting you to bed each night brings me more joy than I've ever felt in my whole life.  Snuggling with you in your jammies, reading books, singing songs...sometimes during our routine, you'll turn your face toward me and plant a big old kiss right on my cheek, or you'll climb up my lap to wrap your arms around my neck, and the waves of love that pour through me are almost more than I can take.  Many, many nights I leave you with tears in my eyes, not because I'm sad, but because I'm so, so happy and I don't know what I ever did to deserve this kind of love from such a sweet child.

Happy Birthday, my sweet girl.  Mama loves you more than you'll ever know!  If you feel a tickle on your cheek in your dreams tonight, I probably came to kiss you at 3:19 am, and I'll probably be crying when I do it.  Thanks for being you.  You're the best you there could ever be!

Love Forever and Ever,

P.S. Daddy has been working on something special for you for your birthday, and we'll post it here tomorrow.  You won't be able to understand it until you're much, much older, but I am so very excited about it!  I can't wait!  Happy Birthday!!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Easter Eggs and Riot Police

How does one's day go from this:

To this?

I will tell you!  Spring Break Day One:

I took Sylvia to an easter egg hunt at Madonna Manor yesterday morning.

She loved collecting eggs from the residents...

...and they loved seeing all the kids in their Easter outfits!

In one of her eggs, Sylvia found a fluffy chick, which meant she WON this prize!  Tons of toys and candy - right before her birthday.  Just what this girl needs, right?

Yesterday afternoon, we left Sylvia at Mom's house and drove to Lexington to watch the BIG GAME with the Crawfords and the Wheelers.

We had plenty of food!  Laura's Blue Velvet cake was AMAAAZING!

They boys are ready for the game.

I made blue rice krispie treats.  There were Baby Cakes cupcakes, and Jen made cookies.  Yum!

Ellie was decked out in her UK tutu.

How cool is that CAKE??  Most of us couldn't eat it until after the game because we were too NERVOUS!  It was a great celebratory cake, though.  I'm sure blue velvet cake tastes terrible if you lose.

All week, Sylvain had been begging me to go with him to Euclid and Woodland if we won the game.  Police had shut down the streets earlier that day.  I did NOT want to go...

...oh, but I'm SO GLAD I did!  It was CARAZY!!

College kids are NUTS!

Screaming and shouting and "GO CATS!" everywhere you turned.

It was a family friendly event, at least early on in the evening.  Where else will you see a kid breakdancing in the street?!

There were lots of these guys around, but they weren't too scary.  Some seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Riot police on horses!

Then these guys started shooting bottle rockets.  I couldn't take the moustachioed man very seriously, but he was very serious about causing trouble.  I just wanted pictures.

These old guys asked me to take their picture.  Facial hair and beer bellies.  Go Big Blue!

This guy was riding around on a homemade...go cart?  wheel chair?  roadster vehicle?  I don't know, but his face was blue, his flag pole was long, and the cops made him leave. 

And that was the end of our Spring Break Day One!  We were on the road by 10:00 and asleep by midnight!  Apparently there were lots of couch burnings and car fires in other parts of Lexington, which I'm sure happened much later in the evening, but we managed to find a pretty exciting party in the streets.  Just enough people to have fun, but not so many people that I was scared.  I just had a whole lotta fun!  I'm glad the hubs talked me into it and I'm SO glad I thought to bring my camera.  Now we just have to make it through Monday night to see if we'll be CHAMPIONS!  I think we'll be watching that game from the comfort and safety of our own couch.  Which will NOT be set on fire after the game.