Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or Treat in True Cinderella Style

It was so flipping COLD for Halloween this year.  I've been a total humbug all week because I was bracing myself for meltdowns and sugar highs and two girls staying up way past their bedtime.  But it turned out to be a really great night!  We had a real dinner with real vegetables and Sylvia ate a TON, so I knew we were off to a good start.  Then she changed into her WARM clothes (two layers of underthings, warm fluffy coat, princess dress).  Margot woke up from her evening cat nap just in time to squeeze into her mouse outfit before Sylvia and Sylvain hit the pavement.  Which means I got a picture of them both!  At this point I felt like a total success.  The rest of the evening was smooth sailing.  Here it is in photos!

Margot and I handed out candy while The Nugget collected from the neighbors.

House Number One - check.  The girl's smiling despite the cold and the RAIN!

Pony up, ladies!

Sprinting to the next house.

"Aaaand, I'm done.  Daddy, carry me."

Home by 6:30, stash sorted by 6:35.

Daddy catches some baby snuggles to warm himself up.
Both girls were bathed and in bed by 8:00.  I'm telling you, this nasty weather was the best thing that could have happened.  Sylvia helped hand out candy for a little while, which she really enjoyed.  She was careful not to mix up her own stash with our give-away stash; and while I watched her I realized what a ridiculous tradition this whole thing is: send your kid out to bring candy home while you give candy away to the other kids.  Why can't I just buy my family a bag of candy and lock the door?  Oh, right, the costumes and the pictures and the "Trick Or Treeeeaaattt!!!"  The little ones are cute, but the older kids are not.  Although, there was one ten-year-old boy who watched Sylvia drop a candy bar in his bag, then as he walked away he said, "Look!  I'm literally taking candy from a baby!"  That made us laugh. 

It was a good night and I'm glad it's over.  Tomorrow is pajama day at school, so....I won't be doing a whole lotta work!  Now I just hope Margot sleeps well tonight and Sylvia doesn't wake up with a cold.  Happy Halloween!!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Last Weekend First

I meant to get these pics up last weekend, but life happened.  And we had such a wonderful weekend this weekend, but I don't want to write about it until I catch up on LAST weekend!  So here it is in a nutshell:

We went to Neltner's Farm on Saturday morning.  To be perfectly honest, the whole Fasciotto family was in a bit of an "off" mood.  I felt like we rushed to get there, The Girls were cranky, The Parents were tired, and my mom kept hassling all of us to stand still so she could get a good picture.  I just wanted to buy a pumpkin and leave - check it off the list and move on!  But then I got home and saw our pictures!  It LOOKS like we had a really good time!  I guess it's true what they say - you can't take a bad picture on such a beautiful day.

Sylvia climbed up behind the drivers seat long before they started the wagon rides.  Finally, one of the guys saw her standing there and said, "Are you ready to go get your pumpkin?"  We were the first, and only, people out there.

Even though Margot napped in the moby the whole time, she still looked pretty darn cute!

Before we left, I told Sylvia to "find a warm hat."  She grabbed her princess baseball hat.  I wasn't about to fight that battle.

Mom's pretty proud of this picture!

Staring at the creek.

Feeding the goats.

Playing in the haunted house
On Sunday morning, Margot and I met Laura, Pete, Ellie, Audrey and Andrew at the Books by the Banks Festival to see our favorite DIY bloggers: The Petersiks, from Young House Love!!!  I wasn't sure what to expect, but the event was more than exciting!  We waited in line for about 45 minutes until we got to the table, and everyone in line was pleasant and happy and abuzz with YHL fever.  When we finally got there, Laura and I did our best NOT to look like or sound like a bunch of weirdos.  I think they liked us!

Sherry discusses the wonders of Greater's chocolate chunks.

This one is priceless.  Sherry is making such a fuss over MY BABY!  Can you blame her?

OMG, we look like best friends, don't we?  Like, "These are our friends, The Petersiks, in from out of town for the holidays.  Won't you join us for tea and party games?"  Not to mention - Margot wants to yank those big ol' blue earrings right out of Sherry's ear!
As if meeting them in person wasn't enough of a thrill, John and Sherry (our new BFF's) put pictures of us on the YHL BLOG this week!  They get like, 5 jillion page views a month, so there's a lot of people I don't know looking at my picture right now.  Eeek!  So fun.  They even linked to Laura's blog, which had 29 page views the day before, and OVER SIX HUNDRED page views on the day they posted!  Is that crazy or what??!  We're totally famous.  Somebody find Margot an agent.  OH!  Aaaand if you troll their comments pages, I believe you'll find a comment from Joyce on page six, to which Sherry responded.  Because she's my best friend, so naturally, she'd love my mom, right?

Maybe tomorrow night I'll get up the nerve to post about the amazing weekend we just finished.  Preview: Girls Only, Pumpkins, Princesses.  And a crocodile.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Four Months

Dear Margot,

How are you, sweet girl?  It's been a quick month at our house, now that Mama's back to work, but you seem to be handling things swimmingly.  It took you a couple of days to figure out how to take a bottle, but you did it!  And now you toss 'em back like it's the last meal you'll ever get!  You are very well behaved at school and you really seem to enjoy Miss Jen, who takes very good care of you.  Sylvia loves having you around, too.  You're pretty tired in the evenings, and you've been waking up a lot at night, but you're always in such a good mood, it's hard to resist our 2 am snuggles.  I secretly love them.  Until I have to wake up and go to work.

Also, now that you're four whole months old, it's high time we put a bow on your giant head!  This pink polka-dot number was your first one.  Everyone loves this picture and says you look like Grandpa (my Dad).  I have to agree.  You're definitely a Humbert.  I'll apologize now for the eyebrow situation you'll probably have in middle school.  I'll also promise to help you through it.  These things are easy to take care of, trust me.

This month you've really discovered your voice (so please read this letter I wrote to Sylvia - it's important and I don't want to write the same thing twice)!  You're a SQUEALER!  All day long you shriek and squeal and laugh at absolutely nothing.  Or I guess at everything.  A toy.  A light.  A face. Your own hand.  Every day you look at your fist like it's the most amazing thing in the world (it is, of course).  You stare at it for a while, then you start squealing and laughing as if to say, "Oh my gosh, a FIST!  I LOVE THESE!  What a great DAY!"  You're so pleasant.

You also started sitting up in your Bumbo seat for longer than ten seconds.  This is a HUGE deal.  I've been dying to get you in this thing so you can actually feel like a real person.  You're also trying to roll over, but you'll never be able to do that if Sylvia doesn't stop helping you.  Once you arch your back and stretch to your side, she comes along and sticks her hands under your body, then gently (not really) FLIPS you right onto your stomach.  So far you don't seem to mind.  Maybe all of her training will pay off soon and you'll do it yourself.  We'll see.

Another major accomplishment this month is getting yourself to sleep!  Yippee!!!  Some nights you cry for a while before you nod off, but you never cry for more than about 15 minutes.  Tonight, I laid you down completely awake, after a good nursing and plenty of snuggles, and you didn't make a PEEP after I walked out.  Success!!!  You're the best.  Really.  I can't tell you how proud I am of you for figuring this out.  This is harder than college.  You're already a genius.

Here you are at school.  You don't seem to miss me too much.
Thanks for being such a great baby and a wonderful little sister, Margot.  Your chubby little cheeks brighten my day and I can't imagine how I'd ever survive in this world without you.  As Sylvia would say, "You're my sweet girrrrl!  Yes you are!"

Love you!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

I'm Going To Tackle This Princess Issue

Oh boy, what a post. It's been rattling around in my brain now for almost a year and I think I might have things figured out. Regardless, I can say that I've come to my own "happy place" and things are much better now that I've sorted out a few problems. So, here's how I feel about

It all started with a dress. A dress from my mother. A garage sale treasure that couldn't be passed up. I had a very hard time watching Sylvia climb into a Snow White costume for hours on end because I have learned, in my adult life, that princesses (especially Snow White) are degrading to women. They undermine all that today's liberal, hard working, MegaWomen stand for. But guess what?  There is no Hilary Clinton costume, at least none that can be found at a Northern Kentucky garage sale.  So, strike one for the good guys. I mean, girls. Whatever.

After two dresses (Rapunzel somehow joined Snow White), things shifted from an intellectual/body image/political issue to a marketing/consumption issue. I don't want princess crap in my house. I don't want The Walt Disney Company controlling my tiny toddler's mind. I don't want to spend money on "the machine." Besides, what will my liberal feminist hippie friends think? I decided that these princesses had to go. I proclaimed to my family that there was an official princess embargo on the Fasciotto house.  No princess items were to cross the threshold! This embargo still stands, by the way, regardless of the numerous loopholes that have surfaced since its inception.*

Then I went and had that darn baby. While I was in the hospital, the border control totally fell asleep on the job and my mom bought Sylvia a princess magazine with a princess poster which she hung on the wall over Sylvia's play kitchen. Gah!! I hate that poster so much. I hate the images of the girls. I hate the "come hither" eyes and the tiny waists. You might as well have slapped a playboy magazine foldout on the wall. But Sylvia loves it, and not because they have pretty eyes and tiny waists. She loves it because they are dancing. To music (apparently). And she would spend a good thirty minutes a day wearing her dress and listening to music and dancing in front of the poster, reciting their names " dress! Aurora daaaaancing!" 

During that new baby haze, I decided to let the poster stay.  After all, it kept Sylvia occupied and we could at least practice her colors and count the princesses, so it wasn't completely useless.  Things had shifted from a marketing/consumption problem to a let's-just-survive-the-summer-without-Mama-losing-her-mind problem.  In a last-ditch effort to keep Sylvia occupied and happy for as long as possible each day, especially on those ungodly HOT days, I decided to let her watch movies.  Which brings me to the surprising conclusion of my saga...

We found my old VHS tapes.

We dug out boxes of old tapes from our basement, we found an old VHS player, and the rest is history.  We popped in Beauty and the Beast and suddenly, it all came rushing back to me.  I became very nostalgic and I even choked up when Belle started singing, "I want adventure in the great, wide somewhere...."  Oh my heavens.  How many times did I watch that movie as a kid?  Thousands.  Easily.  I suddenly remembered - I used to love princesses.  It hit me like a freight train.  I used to sit in front of the TV, especially at my Dad's house, and watch those movies over, and over, and over, and over...  I wanted to share them all with her.  I wanted to talk about them with her.  I wanted her to love them as much as I did. 

I went on the hunt for my other favorite movie - Cinderella.  It wasn't in my box.  I couldn't rent it on Netflix and you can't buy it because it's in "The Vault."  I mentioned this to my step mom and she pointed to the drawer under her TV.  "Rach, it's right down there.  With the rest of your old movies."  Ack!  More movies!!  We dug through that drawer like it was a treasure chest.  And we found many treasures, including Cinderella. 

I admit, Sylvia watched WAYYY too many movies this summer.  I used that TV as the world's greatest babysitter, but at least I sang along to all the songs while she was watching.  That's another thing - the music!  Holy cow, those movies have some snappy tunes!  I remember dancing around my room, singing every song to whichever movie was my current favorite.  And hearing Sylvia sing "I know you....I walked with you once upon a dreeeeeam!" really did make my heart melt.  Now I have a whole play list of Princess Songs on my computer.  We sing and dance a LOT around here.

After a couple of months, we seriously cut back on the movie watching and started going outside again.  Now that I'm back to work and things are back to normal around here, we're down to one good movie night on the weekend, if that.  And I have to say, these new princesses are something else!  That Rapunzel is just adorable and her song is fantastic.  So is Tiana, from The Princess and the Frog, which is also an awesome story with fabulous music.  I have to give Disney credit, they know how to play a good story.  I can't wait to see the new one, Brave, but we'll wait until we can watch it at home.

I still have issues with some princesses.  I won't go into a diatribe on Ariel, let's just say she's my least favorite (she gave up her VOICE for a MAN!  Seriously?  Not cool.)  I was also surprised to find that I really don't like Jasmine.  She and Aladdin are a little too "cozy" for kids to watch, I think.  Other than those, I'm really okay with the message and the content of the other movies.  And Sylvia's seen more than just the traditional princesses.  She loves Mulan and Pocahontas.  Her current favorite is Tarzan, which thrills me because Jane isn't a princess, she's a SCIENTIST!  Yay!!  Also, if you liked that when it came out, I DARE you to watch it after you have kids.  You.  Will.  CRY.  A lot. 

So now we've moved beyond the image issues, the political issues, the marketing issues, the developmentally inappropriate issues and we stand here: these are just fairy tales.  Fairy tales can be endearing for kids and are absolutely fine when enjoyed in the context of lots of other stories.  Sylvia has checked out the Tarzan book from the library four times in a row (I better just buy it for her), and she has about three different versions of the Snow White story on her bookshelf.  She's starting to make CONNECTIONS between the stories and real life.  She knows the stories inside and out, which is exactly what I want her to do with books.  As a teacher, I couldn't be more delighted to hear her compare the water tower at the mall to Rapunzel's tower: "Dat tower have waaaater.  No go up dere."  And to see her build castles and towers with her Lego's: "Dis where Cinderella live!!  And Prince Chaarrrming!"  At the end of the day, they're nothing but stories.  Stories that I used to love and stories that I'm glad she's learning.  Princesses aren't so bad.

 But those FIVE other dresses that Mom bought at a garage sale will absolutely STAY at her house!  A Mama's gotta draw the line at some point.  The embargo still STANDS,  gosh darn it! 
*Border control approved a pair of light-up princess shoes because Sylvia's old shoes were too small and these were just as good as any of the other options.  Sylvia also has a stuffed Baby Snow White which became her own, real baby when I brought Margot home from the hospital.  She pretends to nurse her Baby Snow White, so I can't really take that away, now, can I? Oh, and she acquired a princess beach towel, but to be fair, that was the item that initiated the embargo in the first place.  Overall, I think we've done well, considering the amount of princess crap available in the world.  Seriously.  Walk down the princess aisle at Target and try not to puke.  I dare you.

Up next: I might tackle my issue with ballerinas and how they give my daughter an inflated sense of coordination and grace which, I guarantee you, she does NOT HAVE.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Thirty Months

Dear Sylvia,

Two and a half years old.  You're not quite as big as you'd like to be, but you're certainly not a baby anymore.  You remind me every day that you're a big girl, and indeed, you get bigger every day.  But sometimes, especially when you're tired or sick, you say, "Mommy, hold me like a baby," and I happily oblige.  I put you on my lap and you curl your back against my chest.  You lay your head on my shoulder and I wrap my arms around your back, which feels so big compared to two and a half years ago, but still seems so small and fragile, too.  I breathe in the smell of your post-bath hair and exhale as slowly as I can, because I know that as soon as that breath is over, you're another minute older.  In that one long breath, I remind myself that you still fit in my lap and in my arms.  I'm still your safety and your home and your world.  And you are all those things to me, too.  No matter how our day turned out, in that one long breath, everything is right.

Watching you grow is such an adventure.  You can do things that I never imagined a two and a half year old could do.  Your favorite game is dominoes.  You ask to play it every day.  You also made up a game with Daddy called "Slinky Slinky" which goes like this: you sit at the top of the steps, Daddy stands at the bottom, he throws a slinky up at you, sometimes it hits you, sometimes it hits the wall, sometimes it goes sailing past you and you throw it back to him, laughing hysterically no matter how it goes.  It usually just thumps its way down, but sometimes it catches and does the real "slinky" deal and you yell "SLLAANKY SLAAANKY!!!" and everyone laughs.  You're a total nut.

You present us with quite a challenge sometimes, too.  Most Internet mom-advisers and toddler behavior books tell me that you are "testing limits."  I'm having a hard time seeing this as anything but good for you.  You like to wander away, you ask to eat ice cream for breakfast, you'll climb higher and run farther than I would ever dream of doing myself.  You roll around in the dirtiest of places, you never listen to "no" the first time (but usually do on the second or third try), and you are not afraid of anyone or anything (except a dark room).  I prefer to say that you are a "risk taker."  And I have no problem with that.  Does it make me worry about you?  Of course, but I'd worry about you no matter what.  I think your risk taking is what will make you a good big sister, and what will make you an amazing adult, as long as you're always taking the kind of risks that make the world a better place.  We can talk more about that when you're a teenager, but for now, just know that I'm not trying to be world's meanest Mommy when I say "No, you cannot climb over the edge of the deck."

I love to hear you talk and hear you sing.  I love to see your little pigtails bouncing around the house.  I love to eavesdrop on the stories you tell to your stuffed animals every morning.  I love when you wrap your little finger around mine and I love when you say, "Mommy, I hold you!" when you want me to carry you down the steps.  Your expressions and your voice are changing every day and your French is really starting to take off, too.  I love how you take care of Margot and they way you make her smile.  You are such a special part of our family and we love you beyond words. 

Now enough with the growing up, young lady!  Slow it down a little and let me hold you like a baby for a little bit longer. 

Love you,

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

September Photo Update

I just found all of these cute pics on the little camera - the one that's easy to cart around and the one I should just use all the time because it takes lovely pictures.  Turns out September was pretty darn fun, especially for my pig-tailed toddler!
A couple of weeks ago, I took Sylvia to Findley Market - just the two of us!  It was a beautiful day and she had SO much fun.  Every time we turned around, there was something fun to look at, or touch, or EAT, or watch.  Lots of dogs to pet, too.  She might want to move there someday.

"Look Mommy!  Firetruck!  Like Unca Jerry!"

She ran ahead of me and out of my sight for a split second (panic)! I found her on top of a pumpkin.

Supporting our local artists.  This kid was good!

Among a case full of treats, she chose the M&M cookie.  Girl knows what she wants.

We went to visit the Cincinnati Zoo with the Reynolds'.  This was my first attempt at the zoo with both girls.  Sylvia had no regard for the fact that I had a stroller with a baby in it.  She ran ahead of me in EVERY exhibit, and I was usually able to shout, "Sylvia?!!" and hear her shout back, "Whaaat??!!"  But once, in the birdhouse, she didn't call back to me and I almost had a heart attack.  Then, a nice couple noticed that I was a frazzled Mama trying to maneuver a stroller through a stupid exhibit as quickly as possible and they said, "Are you looking for a little blonde girl in a tutu?"  I said, "YES!"  They said, "We see her right there (around a corner)!  She's fine!" 

Oh my heavens.  It was a long day.
Counting the ducks on the pond.

If you ask Sylvia what her favorite animal was, she would say, "The Bulldozer!"

It's a good thing there's an alligator statue right outside the reptile house, because otherwise, Sylvia would try to wrangle a real alligator.  And after she won, we'd probably get kicked out.

This past Saturday, we joined the Reynolds' at an Oktoberfest Celebration.  Beautiful day, family friendly event, and Ann brought enough snacks and juice boxes for an army, so....we were all happy.

Sylvia: Let's be cute!  Cici: Your Mom made you do this.

Ayla, Sylvia and Cecilia coloring pumpkin masks.

What have I learned from this activity?  When it comes to taking Sylvia out for a fun time, I take my little camera and I ONLY take pictures of the toddler running around like a maniac.  During the zoo and Oktoberfest, Margot was there, chilling out and acting like a perfectly perfect baby.  Alas, she lost out to the pig tails.  Can you blame me?