Friday, May 28, 2010

Class of 2023


My heart skips a beat just typing out the title to this post...

So Anna had her big end of the year class performance last night - culminating in her "Moving On" ceremony as she graduates and ends her pre-school experience, taking one more step towards kindergarten and 'big kid' school.

It was a lovely performance - her pre-school class put on a wonderful rendition of "The Three Little Pigs." Anna was cast as "Mama Pig" and looked so freaking adorable in her mommy-pig hat, apron, and dress.

I was so proud of her as she correctly and succinctly and loudly recited her lines.

I can't believe this little person is so grown up.

Following the play, the director of the Children's Center and one of the head board members got up to speak to us parents and family members. They spoke of the past five years, and how some of these kids have been at the Center since they were babies. How they've accomplished so much in those five years - from crawling, to walking, to talking, to learning to share, to learning their letters and numbers, to reading - basically evolving in to the persons they are today. And how their experience at the Center has prepared them to take the next step in their education and personal growth.

And I cried.

Sometimes I feel like the worst mother on the planet - when I'm tired and frustrated and the kids are whining or bickering or complaining - and I can't wait for them to go to bed so I can have some peace.

And then I look at them now - at Anna as she "moves on" towards elementary school - and I feel like I'm missing so much.

And I'm reminded again of that old adage - the days are long - but the years are short.


I was asked by the lead teacher in Anna's room to plan and coordinate the reception following the play/graduation ceremony, which I happily agreed to - hey, any chance to throw a party, right?

It was a lovely reception - my only regret is that I didn't have the camera to take pictures of how it all turned out before the kids came in and attacked the yummy treats (all with a green and orange colored theme) and the cake.

And the cake.

Vicki with Vintage Bakery prepared a lovely two layer cake - with "Congratulations K4A" piped on it along with several art and school related things (artist palette and brush, ruler, scissors, crayons.)

When I went to the bakery to pick it up yesterday afternoon, an older couple were there picking up a really pretty two tiered cake with lots of pink roses. It also had what looked like a white chocolate ladder going up the side of the cake, connecting the two tiers. Being the non-shy person I am, I commented to the woman that it was a beautiful cake, and asked what the ladder was for.

She replied (with a tear in her eye) that her daughter was graduating from medical school. She said that every time her daughter called her as a frustrated or scared or worried student, she would remind her that every step was one more rung in the ladder towards her goal of being a doctor.

It was a beautiful and personal touch for such a special occasion.

The woman was clearly beaming with pride.

At that moment I had a 'fast-forward' to my life in 20 or so years. That could be me - picking up a cake for Anna's future graduation.

The woman looked over at my cake and said 'oh, that's a pretty cake too.' I said 'yes, it's my daughter's graduation as well today - her pre-school graduation.'

The woman smiled at me, the tear running down her cheek, and said 'it goes too quickly. Savor each moment you have.'

And that is the mantra I'm trying to adopt - before 2023 is here - and my little pre-schooler exists only in photographs.


So back to the story of last night - after all of the reception festivities and subsequent cleaning up - we took the kids to the Chic-fil-a near our house. Kids eat free on Thursday nights (woo hoo) and they have face painting and arts and crafts.

We ran into the Comer girls and their mama - which was lovely - our kids got to play some more and I got to have some mama-chat.

And when it was all said and done, we finally returned home to give Anna her graduation cerce - a copy of this book:

and a spiffy new coloring book - that is geared more for artistic drawing than simple coloring.

As I tucked Anna into bed, she looked up, smiled at me, put her arms around my neck, and said 'you're the best mommy in the whole world.'

And I cried.

Monday, May 24, 2010


The surgery went very well - as expected, James did not do well in recovery - the screaming wasn't as completely terrible as when he was an infant - but he still had a tough time coming out of anesthesia.

And, we had to stop on the way home from the hospital to clean him up - he did so well drinking juice in recovery - but then lost it - all of it - on our return trip.

He's been groggy since we returned home and cleaned him up - but doing okay overall. A few complaints as the day has gone on as the ear and nose pain creeps up - but our codine laced tylenol is doing the trick.

I must run now - I'm being paged to turn on yet another Disney flick... thankfully we're well stocked to keep him entertained.

It's so hard to see my energetic and exuberant child laying limp and pale on the couch - but I know it's only a matter of time before he's back to his crazy self.

Thanks so much for the well wishes and prayers - I've felt them today.

James' Big Day

It is quiet in our house - all three of my children and spouse are lost in sweet slumber. I'm up - anxious - and nervous - and getting ready for James' big day.

He and I leave in about 20 minutes for the hospital. Today is his adenoid removal/ear tube replacement surgery.

I'm sure it will all be fine. It's 'routine' and I've been through this so many times you'd think I'd be an old pro at it.

But I'm not. I still don't like the idea of my baby boy being intubated and under general anesthesia.

That, and I'm a self professed nervous ninny.

If you are at all inclined, please pray for him - to not be scared as they take him from me to start the surgery (he was a baby the last time he had this procedure done), that his recovery is swift and painless, and for skilled steady hands for his surgeon.

And if you could throw one in there for me as well, I'd love it. With the early check in time of 6:45 in Camden, Deonne won't be able to accompany me (he'll be getting Jack and Anna fed, dressed, and to preschool.) And I'm really looking forward to that post-anesthesia incoherant screaming that James is sooooooooooo good at.

I'll post an update when we're home, safe and sound.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Happy Birthday To Me!

So today's the day I turn 36. 36! I've officially started the descent towards 40 and I'm not at all sure how I feel about that. The whole aging thing...

I am reminded of that song "Strawberry Wine" that was popular about the time I graduated from college - particularly the line "I still remember...when 30 was old..." And I do. Remember when 30 seemed so far away. That was a lifetime ago - and I barely recognize the girl I was then.....

My birthday today has been very nice so far. I was awakened to a sweet little boy snuggled up against me - who had apparently crawled in the bed between Deonne and I in the night. I opened my eyes to see his sweet peaceful face - and reached over to pull him closer and just feel his warm even breathing.

Of course, as soon as he opened his eyes he was wide-open and raring to go - and spilled the beans that Daddy had bought bagels for breakfast.

I took some "personal time" this morning after Deonne left with the kids for school and work - and treated myself to an hour hot-rock massage and an hour facial at my favorite neighborhood spa, Urban Nirvana. It was lovely. I always find it hard to relax for the first 15 minutes or so of a massage - something about a strangers hands rubbing all over my body tends to be counter-productive and make me tense up - but as the massage progressed, and those hot rocks penetrated my muscles - I was deeply soothed and relaxed.

I'd never had a full facial before - and I have to say I really liked it. And it made me really happy that my youthful esthetician told me I hardly have any signs of aging - just some dry skin beneath my eyes that her super groovy eye serum would help.

I finally made it into the office around lunchtime - and was greeted with some beautiful flowers (thanks Deonne) that brighten my desk.

I'm off in a few minutes to meet Deonne and the kids for dinner at Harpers. The nicest (yet family friendly) place we dare take our three kiddies to. They can be especially rambunctious after a long day at school - so we'll see how they - and all of their love - do tonight.

I would be remiss to omit from this post just how much I miss my mom and dad today. My mom used to call me every single morning on my birthday (even when I lived in Scotland) to tell me the story of the day I was born. (This following the years I awoke as a child and teen to her sitting on my bed, starting my day with "I remember the day you were born....")

And my dad - well he used to send me flowers - pink roses to be exact - the number of flowers equaling the number of years I was. Well, until I turned 18 - then he switched it to pink carnations - I guess the pink roses were getting expensive.... But I used to look forward to that pink bouquet - which was delivered to me at my classrooms at school, or my dorm room, or my office - where ever I ended up being.

I miss you Mommy. I miss you Daddy.

But tonight - tonight I look forward to my very special Party of Five - to the three little ones who fill my life with an energy I can't quite describe, a love I can never fully articulate, and a joy that fills my heart. And my spouse - my love - who makes this crazy life all worthwhile.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Strawberries Strawberries Strawberries

I'm finally getting caught up on blogging - and finishing up some posts that I'd started ages ago. A few weeks ago we took the kids on our annual trek through the strawberry patch. I'm not sure why this year is such a good year for strawberries around here - but we happily filled our buckets with piles of sweet, sun-warmed, ripe gems... and truth be told... our tummies as well!

It was a perfect day - not too hot, not to muggy (despite the impending thunderstorm) - and the berries were plentiful. At first, both James and Anna shied away from picking berries (and opted to instruct Deonne and I as to which berry to pick.) However, as we progressed down our row, the kids got 'into it,' and before we knew it, were stuffing berries in their mouths right and left.

Happy Jack was just happy to be outside for his first trip to the strawberry patch and in the warm sun - thankfully we remembered his sun hat to protect his little blond head (he does have hair - I swear it - it's just coming in so light that you can't see much of it.)

At one point (before Anna really started picking) she said 'Mommy - this is just like "Blueberries for Sal" - except we're picking strawberries and not blueberries.' I must admit, it made my heart really happy to hear her not only remember one of my favorite childhood books, but to make the comparison of our Sunday afternoon activity (following mommy along and listening to berries to kerplink in the bucket) and the book itself. My smart little cookie.

I can't accurately describe just how yummy these berries were - something about fresh picked - sun-warmed berries really brought out their 'strawberry-ness.' (yes, I know that isn't a real word...)

And thankfully I've discovered the magic of oxy-clean - sure to get out any strawberry stain my two little berry pickers could manage to get into their clothes.

What a fun afternoon for the Party of Five!

Jack's Piano

Now that I've finally figured out how to post videos to the blog - I'm able to show you some of the kids -in all their glory.

Above you'll see Jack - with his birthday gift from Nonna and Papa - our little piano player.

Mom - he LOVES his piano - and we find him (rather, hear him) banging away on his little keyboard, grinning all the while.


For Mom

Anna's ballet recital is tonight. I recorded this video last night during the dress rehearsal. I know - I'm fully an amature filmer - it's very wobbly and grainy, and very 'blair-witch-project-meets-ballet-recital-ish' but at least you'll get the idea of her performance. It's as close as I can come to having you sit next to me in the Koger Center - holding my hand as the stage lights come up.

I so wish you were here today mom. I wish you were here every day - but especially on days like this. Ballet was 'our thing.' I remember every performance you took me too. I remember every performance you slicked back my hair for, fully dousing you and I and anything else in close proximity with Aqua Net. I remember every performance you pain-stakingly applied my make up for.

I remember the smell of the flowers you gave me - and the feeling I carried for days after - that I really was a ballerina.

There are so many memories and thoughts tied up in today. It's Anna's turn to shine. It's her turn to have crusty slicked back hair and shimmery pink lipstick. It's her turn to receive flowers from her mommy and daddy. It's her turn to be the ballerina.

But I remember our special momemts mom - yours and mine - and I'll never forget. And I'll be thinking of you tonight as I sit in the theatre, watching my own little girl. And I know I'll be reaching for your hand.

Note: Anna is 4th from the left at the start of the video clip .....

Updated with pictures from the actual performance night - these were taken following the show when we presented her with flowers.... she did not want to cooperate and smile, nor did any of our children want to take a group family photo - but oh well - here we are - and here is life with three small kids....

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Sock Monkey Birthday Party

At long last, photos from Jack's Sock Monkey Birthday party! I wish I'd taken more pictures of all of the details - with all of the running around and rearranging due to inclement weather, I didn't take one single picture.

The photos you see below are compliments of one of Jack's godmother's - who thankfully took all of these with her awesome camera. So the planned backdrop of a beautiful outdoor party didn't come to fruition - the hanging pots filled with red geraniums, petunias, and gerbera daisies - the outdoor tents decorated with tissue paper pom poms, chinese lanterns, and birthday banners - the tables set with vases of red gerbera daisies... but that's okay.

We still had a great time, and what's most important, Jack had a wonderful day - surrounded by those who love him most.

A side note - all of the Sock Monkey decorations you see in this party I created myself - using clip art and templates I purchased from Parties By Hardy. I knew I wanted a sock monkey party for Jack - given that is his nursery theme - and quickly realized I'd be making most everything by hand as there's just not a lot of sock monkey stuff out there. Thankfully, Parties By Hardy came to the rescue - and I think I was able to bring together a really fun themed party.

So without further ado.....

The "One Year Birthday Banner" -originally planned to be hung across the dinner buffet tent so guests could admire Jack's growth over the last year while filling their plates - repositioned to the living room wall. This actually turned out so cute and so sweet and the colors exactly match Jack's sock monkey nursery - that I think I'm going to hang it there - so I don't have to tuck it away just yet.

The "Sweet Shoppe" - note the lollipop tree. LOVE that.

Another view of the "Sweet Shoppe." This was originally planned to be positioned under a tree next to the creek in our yard - repositioned to the living room.

Tissue paper pom poms - originally planned to hang from the tent over the drink buffet - repositioned to the dining room chandelier.

The Cake Table. The hats I made from the template I purchased off of etsy are stacked in the basket.

Jack's First Birthday Cake. Vicki from Vintage Bakery outdid herself yet again. I sent her a hand sketch of the cake I wanted - and she created this masterpiece. (That was YUMMY as well as adorable.)

Jack's First Birthday Hat. (I didn't make this - rather ordered from Children's Cottage. I couldn't have been happier with the quality.)

The full cake. Note the beautiful cake stand - Mom and Dennis gifted me with this years ago - it has become a treasured piece to pull out for each birthday we celebrate.

Jack's itty bitty smash cake.

Sock monkey sugar cookies - lovingly baked and decorated the day before the party. The brown color of the base icing didn't turn out quite as I'd hoped - but all in all - I think they resemble sock monkeys.

One of the birthday banners I made with the template from etsy - and chinese lanterns (you can see them both inside and outside our bay kitchen window. The banner and one set of lanterns was originally planned to hang from the arbor leading to the back of the yard - while the other was planned to hang from the deck.

The drink buffet - silver punch bowl filled with juice boxes and capri suns, pitchers of sweet tea and lemonade, our very own Sock Monkey Sangria -and.....

... birthday boy bottled water.

One of the activities we planned for the kids was a craft corner where they could make a sock monkey puppet. Once we cleared out the screened porch - we were able to set up the craft table out of the rain....

The results of little fingers creating crafts. The craft paper covering the table also worked out great as a canvas for coloring.

Me and my little love. I wish I'd taken a picture of him in his birthday outfit - also from Childrens Cottage. You can't see it in any of the photos (because it was always covered by his bib - poor baby was/is teething) but it's a brown gingham jon jon - with his name embroidered in red capital letters - complete with little sock monkeys hanging off them!

The BIG activity of the afternoon - was the bounce house. All kids loved it - from big to little - and I'll definately plan for one of these again! I'm so thankful that the weather finally cleared up enough for the kids to enjoy it!

Me, the birthday boy, and a smattering of a few of the kiddies at the party.

James didn't love the bounce house at all.....

Little Jack-man with Ms. Rebecca - his primary care giver at school - and more importantly, one of his adopted grandmas (she calls all of our kids her personal 'grands.') Isn't that sweet!

And bubbles! We had those little battery-powered bubble wands for each of the kids to play with - then take home as a favor. Jack had the most fun with the bubbles, I think!

A Happy Birthday Boy!

The dinner buffet - originally planned to be under our big party tent - repositioned to the side of the dining room. I'm so thankful our dining room is big enough to handle all of this!

We catered in Hudson's BBQ, complete with pulled pork bbq, baked beans, potato salad, cole slaw, chicken tenders, rolls, and three different kinds of bbq sauce. I added in chips and a pile of strawberries - fresh from Cottle Strawberry Farm.

Getting ready for the big moment......

This picture is just so Jack. Happy. Smiley. Grinning. Full of a joyful spirit.

Getting ready for birthday cake - this is the one picture we managed to get of Jack in his birthday hat. He clearly wanted no part of it.

Singing Happy Birthday to the sweetest One-Year-Old we know.... notice Deonne pinning his hands down? Yeah - we learned that lesson the hard way at James' first birthday - where he grabbed the candle, flame and all....

Blowing out the candle!

Jack didn't know what to do with his cake. We tried to get him to taste it - he was hesitant to even touch it. James, however, couldn't resist keeping his little fingers off - that would be his hand reaching up to swipe some of that yummy red frosting.....

....and the aftermath.....

A fun Sock Monkey Birthday Party for one and all!
Thanks Juli for taking these beautiful pictures - you really captured the fun of the day - and we'll cherish these forever.
Thanks to all who helped us celebrate - your presence made our day complete.