Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Natural

My cousin Abby handed down her beloved karaoke machine to our sweet Sylvia.  I couldn't imagine anyone would want to give away such an amazing toy, so I made sure to ask her if she really wanted to give it to us.  Her response?  "Oh yeah, I have, like, a WAY better one now.  That one doesn't even have radio."  SOLD!  THANKS, ABBY!!

Unless you're familiar with Sylvia's two favorite songs, you probably won't understand what she's singing.  I wish I knew how to put subtitles on videos, but I don't, so you'll have to trust me - she nails it!

This one is "So This is Love" from Cinderella...

And this one is "Once Upon a Dream" from Sleeping Beauty...

I'm not gonna lie, I get a thrill from watching my girl sing.  If I had less self control, I'd have her signed up for every Toddlers and Tiaras competition within a 200 mile radius, but alas, I try not to imprint my own hopes and dreams onto my child.  It's hard, though!  Obviously, she'd win every single time.

Monday, April 8, 2013

36 Months

Dear Sylvia,

I hope you enjoyed your birthday extravaganza weekend!  I certainly enjoyed watching you.  There's something about you now that screams "Big Girl" and it's not your big girl screams, although they are fantastic.  There's something about the way you look and the way you act that make you seem like such a grown up, even though you're still so tiny.  In fact, just tonight you asked me, "Mommy, am I a big girl?"  I said yes.  You said, "But I'm not all the way big."  I said, no, not yet.  You said, "I'm just a little bit big."  Yes, honey, you're getting bigger every day.  "But I'm still tiny."


How is it that you can seem so big and so tiny all at once?  You are not a baby anymore and having Margot around just reminds me of that fact.  You talk like a big girl and walk like a big girl, but sometimes you seem so, so small.  I think you're starting to understand what it means to be small.  Not just physically, either.  You starting to think that small means scared.  And small means sick.  And small means I can't I can't I can't!  That's why I introduced you to a wonderful new word recently.  A word that fits you well, especially while you're still small...


You're learning that you need to be brave.  You're learning that all kids do brave things.  Like go to school.  Or ride your bike.  Or try that new vegetable.  It finally dawned on me that you say, "My belly hurts!" when you're nervous or scared.  I know what that feels like in my belly and it's weird and uncomfortable.  But I also know what it feels like to be brave.  To walk away from my Mommy and hop on a school bus.  To paddle that canoe by myself for the first time.  To ask that little girl if she wants to play with me and my friends.  When I do those important things, the feeling in my belly changes.  It starts to feel better and I start to feel happy.  That's what I want you to do.  Do brave things.

Sylvia, you asked me what brave means and I told you: it means that you do important things, even when you're scared.  You said, "I'm not brave, Mommy, I'm scared."  I tried to rephrase it in a way you'd understand, so I said, "That's okay!  You can be brave AND scared, in fact, every brave person is usually scared, too.  That's what makes them brave!  They do things they're scared of!"  It started to sink in.  You asked if your favorite princesses were brave and I had to be honest.  Rapunzel was brave when she left her tower.  Cinderella was brave when she asked her stepmother if she could go to the ball.  Tianna was brave when she kissed that frog and Belle was brave when she agreed to live in the Beast's castle.  Ariel's not brave, she's an idiot.  Snow White...I'm on the fence about her.  And there's a new princess in a new movie called....wait for it...BRAVE!  Can you believe that?  I have no idea if she's brave or not because we haven't seen it, but I'm willing to bet she is.

The point is, I wanted brave to be more than a story for you.  So, I told you how brave Grammy is when she invites everyone over for dinner.  And how brave Grandpa is when he goes camping in the woods.  And how brave Uncle Evan is because he lives far, far away.  And how brave all of your friends are because they leave their mommies and daddies every day to go to school.

But what I wanted to tell you are the real stories of bravery in your family.  These are stories you can't understand yet because you don't know what it's like to be afraid of dying.  I wanted to tell you that Uncle Evan is fighting in a war, just like my Grandpa did.  I wanted to tell you that G.G. raised six kids by herself after her husband died.  I wanted to tell you that Mamie and Papi moved to the United States and Daddy had to go to an American school even though he couldn't speak English!  Someday we'll tell you these stories, but for now, I just want you to know can be brave, too.  You ARE brave.  It's in your blood.

We asked you where you wanted to go for your birthday today and you said, "The MOO ZEE UM!" So we took you to the Children's Museum and the Natural History Museum and you had a wonderful day.  As we were walking through the cave, with its narrow pathways and dripping water and dimly lit rock walls, you asked if you could go in front.  Daddy and I looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders.  We knew there were lots of steps and uneven floors, but we knew you'd be fine.  We approached a corner in the cave that was very dark and we could hear the running water on the other side.  I was holding Margot, so you asked Daddy to pick you up and he did.  We stood there together as a family for a minute when I said to you, "Sylvia, are you scared?" You nuzzled into Daddy's shoulder and said, "Yeah...I'm scared."  I said, "Do you want to walk around that corner by yourself?"  You straightened up, smiled at me, and narrowed your eyes as if to say, "Oh YEAH!  I know what you're getting at, lady - and I LIKE IT!"  You didn't even say yes, you just lunged out of Daddy's arms and started to tiptoe toward the corner, giggling like a maniac.  You jumped into the next cave room, a beautiful waterfall with stalactites and stalagmites everywhere.  You shouted, "Oh, dis is COOL!!!" and you maneuvered your way through more tunnels and staircases.  When we were out of the cave, I said, "Wow, Sylvia, you were a good leader in there, even though you were scared."  I was hoping you would get the point, and you did.  You shouted, "Yes, I WAS a good leader!  And I'm BRAVE!"  Yes, you are, my dear.  You are totally brave.

So, as you drift of to sleep (actually, you're jumping up and down in your bed right now at 9:09pm which is quite brave of you because you know Daddy's going to come up there and he will NOT be happy!) please know that I'm sitting here soaking in the beauty of this third birthday.  I'm trying to imagine my life before you, when I repelled off of cliffs and flew off to foreign countries by myself.  But NOTHING has made me as brave, or as grateful, humble and proud, as being your Mama.  You truly are my greatest adventure.  Thank you for being you.  I love you beyond words.

Always and Forever,

P.S.  I'm all for you being a princess when you grow up, but you better be the kind of princess that serves the poor and takes in a ton of orphans.  And you better buy me a BOAT!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Birthday, Round 2: Puke Free!

Okay!  I'm totally digging this idea for separate parties!  Now that Sylvia's fast asleep and I didn't poison anyone with my meal (I don't cook much - okay...EVER - and I had to do it all by MYSELF tonight because Sylvain was working, so....I was worried), I can safely say that Birthday Weekend was a success!  In the middle of all that cooking and talking I didn't take many pictures, but here are the ones I do have from tonight's festivities.

Tearing open the first gifts from us - some new dress up clothes that are NOT princesses.  Not that there's anything wrong with princesses, but she has a jillion dresses and I thought her dress up bin could use a little balancing.  Luckily, she loved them!

She wanted to be a firefighter as soon as she opened the outfit.  Uncle Jerry would be proud!

I thought it was funny watching a Fire Chief blow out birthday candles!  How cute is that princess cake from Grammy?

She checked everyone's temperature and gave us all shots.  She was one busy doctor!
And that's it!  It was wonderful to see the grandparents and she got some adorable presents from everyone.  A doll house, a *new* soccer ball, some French fairy tales, and a princess folding chair!  I'll be back tomorrow as I try to put into words what it's like to see my sweet girl turn three.  It's bizarre and beautiful and bewildering all at the same time!  Happy Birthday, Sylvia!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Birthday, Round 1

Sylvia turns three on Monday - THREE, people, THREE!  So, since this is only the third time I've planned a kid's birthday party, I think it's safe to say I still have no clue what I'm doing.  However, I am learning and I'm pretty happy with the way things are turning out, not counting the car puke.  I'll get to that in a minute. 

We decided to do two things differently this year. 
1.  Have her party at the beginning of my spring break instead of the end, so I wouldn't spend a week trying to get all Martha up in here and thoroughly disappointing myself.
2.  Have a separate and SMALL friend party so I don't have a house full of people to look after.  We decided to stick to the "invite as many friends as your age rule."  Just another attempt to keep the total number of bodies in this house to a minimum!  We might have to rethink this rule when she turns 16. 

So far, I'm very glad we did both of these things.  I was still up until midnight last night doing all the things I thought wouldn't take very long, but oh well.  All of my plans were EASY and I actually had time to sit down for a few minutes before guests showed up.  The party was a hit, everyone had fun, and both girls took a nice, long afternoon nap, (so I did, too)!  Here are the pics:

Sylvia waited patiently for her friends.

Baby Claire (who's not a baby anymore!) had no problem keeping up with the big kids.

Okay, so maybe I made some Martha pom poms, but they were super easy.

AJ was digging his heart shaped ring pop!

Margot's all dolled up for big sister's party!

Minnie Mouse dress from Brooklyn.

Hugs for Charlie - thanks for the Rapunzel doll!  (She's sleeping with it at this very moment!)

The Princess Bike.  I could write a whole post on it.  Let's just say it's her dream come true and leave it at that.  She is one happy kid!

Steering practice.

We took a break from biking to hunt for treasures in the backyard.  When you're three, every rock is a treasure.

Lighting the candles on her princess cupcakes.
"Happy Birthday to Sylviaaaaa!"

It took them forever to blow them all out!

Stuffing our faces.  Those cupcakes were g.o.o.d!

He loves my ladies.

This is the best we could do with the grandkids.  They aren't all looking at the camera, but they aren't crying either.  Good enough!
Now, the party was great and everyone had fun and everyone took naps and all was right with the world.  Sylvia woke up from her nap complaining of a belly ache, but what else is new?  She complains that her belly hurts every. single. DAY!  All day long.  "My beeeeeelllllly hurts."  Okay.  Usually, to counteract the whining and complaining, we need to get out of the house, so we decided to take some books back to the library.  On the way home, Sylvia was reading her new library book in the back seat and WHAM!  Out of nowhere she starts projectile vomiting all over the inside of the car, the back of Sylvain's neck and the pages of her book.  Awesome.  It was then that I realized she had eaten nothing but potato chips and cupcakes for the last six hours.  Epic. Parent. Fail!  I felt terrible for the poor girl!  I started yelling at Sylvain to pull over, even though we were two minutes away from our house.  All I wanted to do was hold her and pet her hair and tell her it was going to be okay!  She cried because...well, because she was covered in puke, and we changed her clothes on the side of the road.  I knew she felt better immediately, but I was very concerned about the lack of any food at all in her belly!  I made her some toast when we got home, we snuggled on the couch for a few minutes, and she ate all of her dinner without any problems, so I think it's safe to say she's better.
Tomorrow we have the Family Party.  Just grandparents, cake and ice cream!  Here's to hoping she doesn't wake up with a fever, or an ear infection, or a disease caused by eating too many cupcakes! 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spring Time!!

Last weekend finally felt like spring!  We began our weekend with dinner at Gran's house where Grandpa hid plenty of eggs in the backyard.  Sylvia was a master egg hunter.


I think she yelled out, "Look at meeee, Grandpaaaa!" at least three times.  And, "DERE'S ONE!" at least ten.
The boots are back, by the way.  She totally owns it!

We continued our weekend festivities on Saturday with Scarlett's birthday party in Lexington, and Scarlett's marks the first of a SLEW of spring birthday celebrations.  It's always a delight to see our old friends and watch our kids grow right before our very eyes!  Here are some fun pics.

Ben and Emily with the Birthday Girl!

Not sure who the three folks on the left are, but there's Ellie enjoying a cupcake next to Laura.

Sylvia, Clover, and Scarlett.  Just like last year, these three girls found a moment to be together long enough for me to get goosebumps.  It's been ten years since their Mamas lived together on Aylesford.  And John and Ben were there, too.  Crazy town. 

Margot bounced on Daddy's knee for a large portion of the afternoon.

Li'l Alasdair.  Except he's not little at all.  Margot was smitten.

My favorite pic of Scarlett.  Look at that sweet, happy face!

Blixa enjoyed the fresh air and wrapping paper.

John and Clover.

Sylvia pulled Scarlett to the back of the yard, then shouted, "Okay, Scarlett!  It's your turn to pull ME!"

Scarlett was all, "Nah, girl.  I can't pull a wagon!  But my Daddy can.  Hop on in!"

Margot was having a blast on the couch!

On Sunday, we celebrated Easter with all the bells and whistles.  We managed to get ourselves to church for the first time in a loooong time and I was SO WORRIED that the girls would have meltdowns.  Margot slept the WHOLE time and Sylvia played with her new stickers and books from the Easter bunny.  She did a FABULOUS job staying quiet and singing and praying.  I think we'll try to hit that 8:30 mass more often instead of our usual 11:00.  After mass we headed to Grammy's for some Easter fun with Charlie.  Then it was home for naps and on to Grandma Neltner's for dinner!  Phew!  It was a wonderful day. 

The Easter Bunny hid Sylvia's basket behind the couch.  Tell me that's not the cutest outfit you've ever seen in your entire life!

Margot says, "Hey Sylvia!  Open my present for me while I play with these other toys."  Look at the cheeks on that girl!

I said, "Charlie's going to be at Grammy's house!"  Sylvia laughed hysterically and said, "Charlie?!  He's my FRIEND!!!"

Waiting for the indoor egg hunt to begin.

The Easter bunny put pennies in the eggs and the kids had to buy their treats from the Bunny Hop Shop!  Pretty sure Joyce was a primary teacher in a previous life.  That or she's in the wroooong profession!

Fun with Aunt Jenny!

The only child without a sugar rush.

Sylvia: "What do you mean there's no more candy!"  Margot: "Your kidding me, right?"

Racing to find the eggs at Grandma Neltner's house!  The fun never stops.
Phew!  I know that's a lot of pics, but I just couldn't narrow it down and I wanted to get all caught up!  Sylvia's birthday celebrations are this weekend, so get ready for more CUTENESS overload!