7.28.2014

Weekly Chuckle...


And sweeping under your coaches is a downright terrifying event. Today's finds? They include but are not limited to: socks, bowls, earrings, blocks, doll clothes, cookies, money, underwear, puzzle pieces, post-it notes, pencils, books, game pieces. Oh and dirt. So much dirt. 

Happy Monday! 

7.24.2014

A Surprise 90th and a Not-So-Quiet Library Trip...

So if you were at the Olney Library this past Monday around 11:30am... I'm sorry. I was the one hightailing it out of there with a screaming, flailing, melting-down child. It was not awesome, needless to say. I am sorry... if only I could promise it wouldn't happen again. 

It all started when I attempted to have some mind enrichment for the girls instead of the daily pool/messing around drill... It was high time for Summer and Layla to get their own library cards. Our local library had been closed for renovations for several years, so anytime we went to a library I would truck over to one in a neighboring county. (At least if a meltdown occurred, it wasn't around people I would possibly see again). So our library finally opened this past spring but we hadn't had a chance to get over there. We went, dealt with the whole rigamarole of signing up for cards (I brought my Amex bill with our current address since I haven't changed my license since we moved. They are no joke at the library). This is when the guy told me about my 70 cent fine I have on my account. I really couldn't remember the last time I had step foot in a library in this county, so I asked incredulously... "When??? And for what???" It was for a book we had read in a book club (aka wine club) from 2008. Ahhh yes. Now I remember. I was pleasantly shocked that it was only 70 cents. 

Anyways, the girls did some puzzles and browsed the books. I'm pretty sure Olivia's voice was amplified by the ceiling height and I spent most of my time "Shhh"-ing her. Summer chose a quite questionable title... 



But they were thrilled with their new "credit cards." 


Here's hoping the next time around is a bit more peaceful... 

So please accept my deepest apologies for not posting at all last week. I failed one of my goals for 2014 but I choose sanity and a quality blog over posting just to post. I was up to my eyeballs with the planning of my grandmother's SURPRISE 90th birthday party. Before you think we are terrible people for trying to surprise a 90 year old, I will tell you I did clear it with her doctor who said, "There wouldn't be many 90 year olds that I would surprise, but she is definitely one who can handle it." We had it at our country club, which ended up making me the sort-of point person for all planning. Whenever I got overwhelmed or frustrated, I just kept saying to myself... "It's okay. Ooma is going to be thrilled." My sister, my mom, my Aunt Despi, cousin-in-laws Sammie, Tiffany and Elise helped with decor and first part of the party Big Band Era background music. We had requested a dance floor (extra $$), so my major concern the week leading up to the party was with the music. I am not a music person, but I threw myself in full-on to create a playlist for the ages... no literally, for every age out there. The decades of songs that her life spanned was overwhelming. And it was incredible to listen how much music has changed. I put a list of the songs in a separate post you can find here --> Epic Playlist

Our theme for the party was based on her love of traveling. As I previously talked about <--past link, my grandma has been to all SEVEN continents. As in, she waded to shore in thigh-high boots to reach Antarctica. As in, she had to use a communal shower on her African Safari... like two years ago. So my aunt came up with basing it on the Dr. Seuss book, "Oh The Places You'll Go" (ya know, the one that everyone gets for graduation). We adjusted it to... "Oh The Places She's Been." Fortunately my sister is a ridiculous artist and whipped up a little recreation of the book cover: 




We had a sign-in book, pictures of her on her travels all around, hot air balloon centerpieces. We also attempted to pinpoint all of the countries she has actually been to....


Insane, right?!!?!?!?


So I was officially anxiety-ridden until the very nano-second she arrived. 



I figured even if she knew about the party, she would be shocked at who was there and how big it was (the final count was 65-70 people!). Several of her children flew in, friends from travels and all walks of life... they came for her. And she deserves it! 

Since my grandmother travels the world, makes friends all over AND a bunch of my family is not located in the area, I thought it would be good idea would be to have people who couldn't make it (or the kids of those who could) send video messages saying "happy birthday" or whatever. I was hoping to get them compiled and then play them for her at the party. In order to email her friends, I had to find out their email addresses... so I proceeded to hack into her email account and gather a list of people she most contacted. The response was great. I got some people from trips she has gone on, one woman from Germany, family members in Kentucky, old friends. I was so excited. Here is my video of the girls... 


video

Layla's honesty is amazeballs. I mean, 90 IS old. Cousin-in-law Sammie brought in 1920's props and we had a whole photo booth station for fun pics. My mom spent umpteen hours compiling pictures from her lifetime and we had a slideshow running throughout the party (between this and the video messages, I can't explain how amazing it is to have your childhood next-door neighbor work in this field and have no problem doing HUGE favors). The following pictures makes me realize that my life is indeed a cakewalk. 


Three kids (one of them being a devious two year old by the name of CJ) and THEN twins. I die. 
We danced and ate and drank and talked... and just had an overall great time. Sidenote: I wore a jumpsuit. Yes, a jumpsuit. I'm obsessed with it and need a reason to wear it again. Unfortunately it is quite a statement piece, so it can't be a regular.




I saw several times throughout the night that my grandma had happy tears, which was exactly why we worked so hard to give her a special night. She felt blessed. And I can't wait to plan the bash for 100! 

In other news, I decided to go completely insane and let my girls play with shaving cream inside... 


It was actually kind of amazeballs. 

Happy Thursday!!! 


The Epic Playlist...

Here is the list of songs that comprised the playlist for my grandma's 90th birthday party. I used the free Music DJ app by Liavante, LLC to crossfade/limit the song lengths... No one wants to dance to Michael Jackson for seven minutes. I could have added a SCHMILLION more... I mean, the decades that her life spanned were incredible. I didn't want anything too raunchy or crazy. Sooooo here it is! 





-Hello Mary Lou-- Ricky Nelson (My grandma's name is Mary Lou)
-You Shook Me All Night Long-- AC/DC
-Runaround Sue-- Dion
-You Should Be Dancing-- Bee Gees
-Wake Me Up-- Avicii
-Roar-- Katy Perry
-The Twist-- Chubby Checker
-December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)-- The Four Seasons
-My Boyfriend's Back-- The Angels
-1999-- Prince
-Pour Some Sugar On Me-- Def Leppard
-Summer-- Calvin Harris
-Moves Like Jagger-- Maroon 5
-Respect-- Aretha Franklin
-Proud Mary-- Creedence Clearwater Revival
-Livin' On a Prayer-- Bon Jovi
-Safe and Sound-- Capital Cities
-Brown Eyed Girl-- Van Morrison
-Do You Love Me-- The Contours
-Mony Mony-- Tommy James & The Shondells
-Ain't Too Proud to Bed-- The Temptations
-The Way You Look Tonight-- Frank Sinatra
-Timber (feat. Kesha)-- Pitbull
-I Wanna Dance With Somebody-- Whitney Houston
-Stayin' Alive-- Bee Gees
-Louie Louie-- The Kingsmen
-I'm a Believer-- The Monkees
-Hound Dog-- Elvis Presley
-Yeah! (feat. Lil Jon & Ludacris)-- Usher
-Clarity (feat. Foxes)-- Zedd
-Hot Stuff-- Donna Summer
-I Will Survive-- Gloria Gaynor
-Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy-- The Andrews Sisters
-You Can't Hurry Love-- The Supremes
-Billie Jean-- Michael Jackson
-Can't Help Falling In Love-- Elvis Presley
-I Cry-- Flo Rida
-We Are Family-- Sister Sledge
-Car Wash-- Rose Royce
-At the Hop-- Danny & The Juniors
-Sweet Caroline-- Neil Diamond
-Fire Burning-- Sean Kingston
-One the Floor (feat. Pitbull)-- Jennifer Lopez
-Don't Stop Believin'-- Journey
-I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)-- The Four Tops
-SexyBack (feat. Timbaland)-- Justin Timberlake
-Can't Hold Us (feat. Ray Dalton)-- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
-Rock With You-- Michael Jackson
-Problem (feat. Iggy Azalea)-- Ariana Grande
-Don't Stop the Party (feat. TJR)-- Pitbull
-Ho Hey-- The Lumineers
-Dancing Queen-- ABBA
-Treasure-- Bruno Mars
-One More Time-- Daft Punk
-I Love It (feat. Charli XCX)-- Icona Pop
-Id Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)-- Meat Loaf
-Rude-- MAGIC!
-Dare (La La La)-- Shakira
-Somebody Loves You-- Betty Who



7.11.2014

The 4th, Layla's 4th, and a Swim Meet...

So I ran out of deodorant again. I swear I bought two the last time I ran out. I couldn't find the other one anywhere, so for several days I used Matt's and walked around smelling like Old Spice Pure Sport. It is such a pleasant boy smell, but not one that I really want to exude. 

So we had a super busy, seemingly endless holiday/birthday/crazy week. I really thought it would never end. Seriously. So I will begin... but just a warning, this is a doozy. 

After staying up too late Thursday night sipping prosecco with some neighbors, Friday, the the actual Fourth of July, arrived. So be totally honest (I always am), I have just never liked the festivities that usually surround the Fourth. I think fireworks are silly and totally overrated... if you have seen them once, you have seen them all. I get eaten alive by bugs, there is just so much traffic everywhere, the pools are always insanely crowded and you get kicked in the face during the dive for coins. I love America and all, but my ideal day would be at home, grilling out, and enjoying a few adult bevs. The problem with that? I have kids. And I would do anything for my kids. So we decided to go to our country club pool. I agreed to check it out... but if it was too crowded, we were turning right around. We arrived and **shockingly** it didn't look too bad! We actually got primo seating right in front of the steps of the shallow end, just steps away from the orange crush bar that was set up on the pool deck! I repeat, there was an orange crush bar just steps from my lounge chair. 


They had a pie-eating contest, hula hoop contest: 


A Money Dive: 


An AWESOME belly flop contest. This little one passed out for almost two solid hours, despite being just a few feet from the DJ: 


Now this is a 4th I can hang with. It never got insanely crowded, and the fresh squeezed orange crushes were divine. All-in-all, a fantabulous day. 

Saturday morning we had my nephew Tyler's birthday party. My sister took on the daunting task of having it at her house. Trying to entertain 13 kids between the ages of 2-6? Not my idea of fun. But she is ridiculous and everything was great. I mean, she made the freaking Octopod for his birthday cake (from the show The Octonauts. Look it up if you want to be impressed). That afternoon, I managed to make all the cupcakes for Layla's birthday party that was the following day (despite three trips to the store made by Matt). We then got ready for our country club's major Fourth of July/Fireworks/Amazeballs bash. 

I had cautiously high expectations, because everyone I had talked to about it said that last year it was, "The BEST TIME EVER." I didn't really know what we were in for, but I did know that it was a sold out event with 1406 people attending (the actual number). 

The set-up was phenomenal. They had an entire parking lot of kids activities... bouncy things, temporary tattoos, rock climbing. Yes, rock climbing. And my girls just HAD to do it. It was mostly older kids, and a lot of them were having a tough time. Summer got hooked in and looked like a monkey, scaling that wall without breaking a sweat. Layla begged to try, and I was shocked they even allowed her. It took five solid minutes to even make the harness as small as she needed it. Then... she was too small to reach basically anything. And then she started pouting: 


There was a live band, a s'more bar, more of those fresh-squeezed orange crushes everywhere, and a just plain awesome atmosphere. Our table was on an area of the golf course, so the girls just ran wild. 



Then the fireworks began. As previously stated, I had zero anticipation for them. But I should have... they were phenomenal. SO beyond the best I have ever seen. I actually oohed and aahed. No pictures could ever do them justice... 




Olivia was not impressed. I didn't realize how loud and close they would be, so I didn't bring our earphones that they always wear to Redskins games. #momfail. My punishment was I had to seal her ears shut for the entirety of the booming. 


Yet another amazeballs part of the night?!? ZERO traffic while leaving. I'm telling you, it was such a wonderfully orchestrated event. There were no significant lines for things, I never felt claustrophobic. Those two days may have changed my opinion on the Fourth of July forever. And that is a serious statement. 

So Sunday morning my only goal was to decorate the cupcakes and get everyone out the door for Layla's birthday party. I went the easy way out for her party and did it at one of those bouncy places. I made the frosting, and then did an epically horrible job icing them and putting them in a flower-shape situation. The icing started melting, then all of a sudden Layla wanted one of them to be red. I gave up. But the birthday girl had an absolutely amazing time at her party. Her cousins and friends from school came, and she had a smile on her face the entire time. 


They went in this wind tunnel machine and I really couldn't pick just one picture because the sequence is that phenomenal. 

 



















She ended up being happy with her cake and had a wonderful day. 


So Monday was dear Layla Mae's ACTUAL birthday... but after so many straight days of craziness, everyone (including myself) was exhausted. I was determined to somehow still make it a fun day, despite wanting to curl up in a ball and do nothing. 

We started out the day with chocolate chip pancakes on the special red plate. 



We made it to the pool for approximately 45 minutes (they were just done). 



I bought some Barbie Mermaid movie on demand for the afternoon while Livi slept. Then, the big surprise happened. Background... a few years ago, we took Summer to the American Girl doll store for her to pick out whatever doll she wanted. Summer came to me a few months ago with her wallet, and very seriously sat me down to have a discussion. She said to me, "Mom. I know what I want to get Layla for her birthday but I'm not sure I have enough money. I really want to get her an American Girl doll. Do you think you could help me out?" What am I going to say... no?!? So we made the plan and Summer actually kept a secret for the first time in her life (although she asked 123098543089 times throughout the day if we could tell her where we were going). We drove out to Tysons with minimal traffic. (Miracle) No puking occurred. (Another miracle) I watched Layla's face as we started walking towards the store and I could tell the moment she knew where we were going. She lit up. She was in glorious amazement. She decided on Bitty Baby twins and was in heaven. 





Tuesday evening we had a very exciting event-- Summer's very first swim meet. She had been on the Mini Monsters team but the coach wanted to pull her up to the big leagues. Her goal? Swim all the way across the pool. I knew she could do it. Her coaches knew she could do it. Summer? She was nervous. Very nervous. I was nervous for her. She put on a swim cap for the first time. She warmed up with the other 8 & unders (I was concerned she would expend all of her energy just during warm-ups). She got a little pep talk from daddy: 



The heat before her, one little girl broke down. The meet was delayed as coaches encouraged the sobbing swimmer. The clouds were darker and closer than ever. All I wanted in the world was for Summer to get her swim in. The nerves, build-up... we just needed to get this done. Finally they made the decision and the poor little girl didn't swim. That heat finished, and then Summer was up. She went up to the edge of the pool. They ordered, "Take your marks." The buzzer went off.


She dove (more like jumped in the forward motion) in! Without hesitation! And she swam her little heart out. 


I was so proud of her.Not only did she make it, she beat several people in her heat! She was so excited. Then... the monsoon began, and the herds of wet swimmers and parents were directed into the ballroom (which is sort of hilarious, considering they usually don't allow t-shirts in the clubhouse). 

***Sidenote... Bonuses I have already discovered from Country Club swimming versus County... no meets on the weekend, AND a full bar for the parents pleasure.*** 

We finally left the crowded ballroom, tried to order dinner online to pick up on the way home, found out they didn't have power, went home to no power, went back out to try to eat at a restaurant, didn't want to deal with a wait, left the restaurant, went back to the same restaurant to order carry-out, then walked around the grocery store while we waited for our food. This was a major bonus because I finally bought deodorant. Woohoo! The power came back on at 11pm... in no way compared to the NINE days we were out of power one time at my mom's... but kind of annoying considering our power lines are supposed to be underground.

Wednesday morning arrived and everyone was moving slowly. I got us out the door to swim practice, and Layla had a very exciting first. My little peanut, the brand new four year old, went off the diving board. This warms my heart/freaks me out because in all honestly, I don't want my kids to dive. I know what I went through. I know the injuries I accrued, the dangers I put myself through. Why would I want that for my babies?!?

I would never hold my kids back from anything of course... so off the board she went. 




No fear. No nothing. She just went. 

The next part of our Wednesday was phase 2 of my broken tooth saga at the dentist. Now this may sound ridiculous, but I get serious anxiety going to the dentist, at all times. The last time I went I was in such constant pain that I would have walked there. This time? I actually had to sit in the car for a minute to calm myself down. It isn't even the pain that bothers me... it is the noise, the scraping, the tastes, the smells. It all just kills me. I sat in my chair pretending my heart wasn't pounding out of my chest, gripped the armrests so hard my knuckles were white. I also have discovered another fun fact about myself. I apparently squeeze my left butt cheek when I am tense. Not the right, not both, just the left. So after, not only is my mouth throbbing in pain, but my left butt cheek is as well. I have one more phase to go with this awful broken tooth. I have 2 1/2 weeks to anxiously await the next appointment... and anxious I will be. Blame it on my awful childhood dentist who pulled not even loose teeth WITHOUT novocaine to "make room." That is the stuff nightmares are made of. 

So phew. The novel is done. As I have said before, a major reason I even do this blog is to record everything... remember the crazy. Because I really don't ever want to forget these moments. 

Happy Friday!! 

7.03.2014

Wishing Away the Now...

A few weeks ago I went over to my sister-in-law's house for the day to help with her then-10 day old twin boys. Bringing along my chaotic little crew would have pretty much defeated the purpose of coming to help (I know my limits), so I got a sitter for the day... And what a glorious day it was. As I sat there with the teeny coos and squeaks and barely audible newborn cries, I just thought, "Their needs are so simple." They eat, sleep and need their diaper changed. I know that is simplifying it to the extreme, but that is the gist of it.



**Quick sidenote... in no way am I saying that newborn twins are simple. The logistics alone of feeding two, different schedules, never sleeping is mind-numbing. Hats off to my sister-in-law and brother-in-law for handling all of this like champs.***

One thing that is especially frustrating about parenting is that whatever stage you are in at the moment, it is the most difficult stage yet. While you are knee-deep in diapers and onesies and no sleep and spitting-up... it is exhausting and impossible and overwhelming. While I was only there for the day, it was just such a quieter, calmer day than if I would have been at my own house. It just started to make me think... if only I had appreciated it more when I was in that newborn phase. No one thinks it is easy while you are in the trenches. Sometimes it very well feels like the most impossible task in the universe and you constantly feel like an epic failure and not fit to be a parent. 

I get plenty of comments from friends and strangers alike when they see my little brood. Just wait until they are teenagers. They are so sweet and fun now... they will turn into monsters, want nothing to do with you and treat you like dirt. I am now in the years ranging from toddler to elementary school, and I am dealing with tantrums, not sharing, pouting, potty-training, etc. I am overwhelmed with the difficulty of this season, but then I know I will look back when I have three teenage daughters with attitudes and hormones and think toddler years were a joke. I actually try to purposefully avoid thinking about when my girls are teenagers because there will be such an incredible amount of hormones and drama that the task just seems quite daunting. So in my opinion, the stage I am in right now is hard and exhausting. But I thought having two was hard and exhausting. There were times I thought just one was hard and exhausting. Now I look back and scoff at my stresses with just one child. A trip to the grocery store with one kid? Easy, peasy, lemon-squeezy. But at the time... it was difficult and something I tried to avoid at all costs. 

I look back on it and laugh about the simplicity... but hindsight is 20-20. It always seems easier once you are past it. You remember the sweetness and ease and the cuddling and the "I love you mommy." The endless needing mommy, cutting up food, wiping butts, buckling carseats, tantrums over being given the wrong plate... those things don't always come to the forefront, just like I barely remember the tears of exhaustion during middle of the night feedings, endless screaming, projectile spit-up, and being pooped on from the newborn phase.

I find myself looking around at the pool and awaiting the day that I can actually just sit and read a book while the kids are off (safely) swimming with their friends. But I don't want to wish away these moments when they are begging me to play with them in the water.

The hardest thing is just appreciating the stage you are in for what it is. And don't always look forward to the next stage because you think it might be easier. It will be easier in its own ways, and then it will be a schmillion times harder in its own ways. There are new challenges with every single day of parenting. There are new fears and worries at every stage of the game. Its funny to think about the stresses of even before you have a baby. When you don't want to get pregnant, you are scared that you will. When you want to get pregnant, you are scared that you won't be able to. When you do get pregnant, you are scared of a miscarriage, Down Syndrome, birth defects, a stillborn, the list goes on and on. When you actually have the baby, you worry about SIDS and check if they are breathing constantly. As they grow you worry about autism, developmental or physical delays, getting hurt, germs, etc. And this is just in the first few years of life. 

A couple months ago I read a blog post that dealt with the idea, "Am I wishing away what someone else wants?" The answer, quite often, is yes. Now that I'm aware of this thinking, I'd like to make an effort to change. Appreciate this time more. (Don't worry, I will still be full-on sarcastic and cynical and ranting on here... this is my outlet). 

I saw a post on Facebook recently that hit home majorly: 



There was never a more true statement. All the days that I truly don't think bedtime will EVER come and I want to tear my hair out and hide in a cave... they seem endless. But the fact that Summer will be going into 1st grade, Layla will be four years old next week, and Livi is (hopefully) broaching the end of diapers??? It just can't be so. 

I am going to be hanging a version of the quote above and the one below somewhere in my house where I will see them daily, because I want to remember this every day: 





The dishes can wait. My girls can't. 



Happy Thursday!