It’s October and you know what that means, half of our offspring celebrate a birthday this month! During one of Joci’s many, many nursing sessions, I found a bunch of great birthday ideas on Pinterest – apple parties with cider and trips to the orchard. Dinosaur cakes and treats for our dino-lover. But that’s all the further it got. And that’s life right now, a Pinterest dream. We do have plans to go apple picking with MOPS soon. And we also fit a trip to Reptiland in when we were in Pennsylvania a few weeks ago. And when you combine that with Marmie’s birthday cake magic, well I guess we didn’t do too bad this year after all.
|Three-quarters of my sweeties at Reptiland last month!|
|And the dinosaur exhibit was NOT her favorite.|
|We wanted to give our kids a taste of Pennsylvania creeks, mountains, trees, and autumns.|
|You can take the girl out of the suburbs ...|
And to top it all off, we had a good excuse to visit our favorite state during our favorite season.
|They gave us a special hayride, even though it wasn't the weekend!|
|As Jack is always apt to point out "This is Joci's FIRST hayride!"|
|Pumpkins make me happy.|
|He was so pumpkin proud!|
|I knew before we even got off the wagon that he would go for the biggest, too-heavy-to-carry one he could find!|
|I got a Cinderella pumpkin... only because the white ones were all picked!|
We’ve been back to Pennsylvania quite a few times in the past 6 months. I’m so grateful for this time in our lives when we’re able to easily travel “home” to visit our families… and receive assistance in these days of heavy-duty childrearing. But we’re also entering another season this month – PCS season. That’s military speak for “permanent change of station.” We won’t know for quite a few months where we’ll be headed next summer, but we’re praying (very hard) that we end up moving … nowhere. It would be lovely to stay in this house, our house, for just a little bit longer.
|It's been five years since we locked eyes for the first time ... and five years of rich mamahood.|
I vowed I’d never let myself get too attached, but you just can’t help making memories when you’re raising kids. And after only two years, this house is chock full of special moments. If these walls could talk … well, I don’t think they’d be able to say much without laughing. Sometimes I think I almost see the shoulders of this home shaking as it tries to stifle a giggle. I mean, we are raising a 5 year old now, and he comes up with some of the craziest things.
|He's been looking forward to this day for months!|
Speaking of our little social bug, he talks to everyone. I mean EVERYONE. I think we're going to have to have the "stranger danger" discussion soon. But for now he just monopolizes all of our conversations. Like when we met with our friend Jolene and her kids, I had to send Jack off to the playground just so I could get a minute to speak with Jolene myself. And then there's our poor neighbor, Mr. Tom (who absolutely adores Jack by the way). Anytime the kids get a glimpse of him outside his house, they rush out the door to say hi. Except Jack doesn't just stop with that. He tells Mr. Tom ALL our business. So now our neighbor knows all about Jack's bowel movements, altercations with classmates, and Daddy's decision that there will be "No more babies!"
Meanwhile, I stay in the house, peeking from behind the blinds, because I'm just a tad embarrassed by my child's shameless nature. We're very opposite in this area. Jack can't understand why I'm not chatting and hugging every person that walks by us in Target. And I'm staring blankly at him sharing preschool news during lunch, nodding my head and saying mm-hm, for a full 10 minutes before I realize he's neither taken a breath nor a bite of food. We'll figure each other out someday, but for now he gets his fuel from preschool and church and I get my breaks whenever we run out of coffee and I have to make a quick evening trip to the grocery store.
|She loved her birthday mail!|
|Her birthday crown.|
Moving on to the Little Miss. She talks to strangers too. Actually, at soccer practice last week she was rooting around in some lady's purse, and then carried it all over the field. The fellow soccer mom didn't mind and thought it was cute, but REALLY? Do I even have one shy kid in my bunch?? I mean, I guess there some things to be grateful about, like how easy it is to drop her off at Sunday School now. We went through several months of separation anxiety, difficulty leaving mommy (with people she didn't know). But something finally clicked, and do you know what I think it is? Men. This girl is a man's girl. And whenever there's a husband/wife team working the nursery, she'll practically jump out of my arms to get to the guy. Double bonus: the childcare worker in her MOPS class this year is also a male. This may mean trouble in the future, but for now we'll accept it for the advantage it is.
|Our little mermaid.|
|We got out the tiny tea set...|
|... and then I spent all tea time reminding the boys to be "gentle."|
So yes, hello wonderful world of having a two-year old. The kind that screams and throws herself on the floor when she doesn't get her own way. The kind that throws her plateful of food at dinner. And refuses to eat the food in front of her when you don't give her a plate. Or refuses to swallow the food that you put in her mouth doing that silly airplane game. Or spits the food out that was in her mouth the very first moment you turn your back. Food fights are the worst. My boys are at the point where they can be easily bribed. I make no apologies, I give my kids a treat every night if they clean their plates. Bonus points if they do it without whining or insulting the cook. And you know what, they eat fairly well and all those weird kinds of food that I never even heard of until after I was married. But try negotiating with a two-year old and you'll always get the same response - NO.
|Another Marmie masterpiece!|
Remember her sweet little nursery with the fabric-covered styrofoam circles hanging above the crib? Remember when Jude used to sleep there and he figured out how to remove the blind slats and use them to knock down the lower circles? Remember when Julia started standing in her crib and I totally predicted she'd so the same thing? Remember when I never guessed that she'd eventually acquire the skills to knock down ALL the circles? Remember when I had no clue she'd dismantle my handiwork and make herself a bed of crumbled styrofoam and staples? Remember when I would have never imagined she'd pull out half her blind, and use the slats to reach three feet away from her bead to DIG in the flower pot in her room. Nope, never saw that one coming.
|She loves her new pet "gog" Periwinkle!|
It's probably time to move her out of her crib. She actually sleeps well in the toddler bed. We even had her sleeping in the boys' room for a few nights way back when Joci was first born. But our thirdborn is also the first up every morning, and she doesn't do it quietly. So when you have to choose between your two-year old being free to climb out of bed at whatever hours she chooses to rise that day, and then start screaming for you, meanwhile waking up her two big brothers ... or a two-year old that is trapped in a crib in her own room... well, yeah, I just don't know either.
|Totally in to dress-up!|
The funny thing is, the Lia that I see on a daily basis isn't the same little girl that shows up in pictures. As soon as she sees the camera come out she either says "CHEESE" with a smile and eyes looking off to the side, or she gets that incredibly serious look on her face that makes you wonder if she's just woken up in a roomful of Stormtroopers.
Now don't get me wrong. I love two-year olds. They were my favorite age when I taught Sunday School. But I think I appreciate them much more when they're not my own. We love you Lia. We love your sweetness, even if it means suffocating your baby sister while laying on her to give her a hug. We love your perseverance, even if it means kicking the wall repeatedly for the entire duration of your nap. We love your sense of justice, although it often translates to one of us being rammed by your head after a running start. We love your peacemaking skills, although our idea of peace usually doesn't involved high-pitched screaming. And we love your creativity, that whole yogurt hair conditioner idea is really quite fabulous. We love you just the way you are ... and we look forward to you growing up a little bit more every day.