five.

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Dear Ava,

Today, you are 5. Your are 1,825 days old.  Each of those days has taught me a new lesson in life.  This morning, you woke up, brought 8 stuffed dogs downstairs from your bed, watched Beethoven (for the millionth time), had pancakes with 5 candles, went to Target to pick out your millionth My Little Pony, and later, we are going to get your ears pierced (!!) and to Build-A-Bear, so you can, of course, build a My Little Pony.

When I was walking at the park this morning, I was listening to Pandora.  And how fitting, “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz came on about a mile in.  Hippie boy, free spirit Jason Mraz never failed to calm you down when you were a baby.  One day we were on our way back from somewhere and you were screaming (you still love to scream) this song came on the radio, and you were quiet for a brief 3 minutes, listening.  Of course, I went and bought the CD.  It never failed, this song worked every time.  I don’t know why.  I never really thought a lot about the lyrics, I was just so glad to find something that would calm the car ride screaming.

I won’t put the lyrics up here, because by the time you are old enough to read this, you’ll be old enough to Google it.  Or whatever it is that you kids will be doing in 2023.  But when I listened to the song today, Ava, this is what I heard:

 I’ll be giving it my bestest
And nothing’s gonna stop me but divine intervention.
I reckon, it’s again my turn
To win some or learn some.

No book, no person, no experience has taught me nearly as much as you have.  You are you, and that is it.  There is no manual for you.  You, Ava, are genuinely one-of-a-kind. There is no one like you, and no one I’ve met even comes close.  I give it my best every day, and every day I win some and I learn some about you, about me.

No one can be as excited as you.  When you are happy, its contagious.  Watching you grow has been exhausting and exhilarating.  When you can’t master something, you are frustrated.  When you can’t get your way or make your point, you are persistent.  When you are hangry, you are impossible.  When you speak, people listen.  You are hilarious without even knowing it.  You are so smart it scares me.  Daily.  You think you are grown.  You are empathetic.  You worry about the world.  You love peanut butter and honey.  You love your daddy.

I worry constantly about kindergarten.  About adolescence.  About college.  I guess that’s just what Moms do.  I want you to always remember, my baby, that you are strong and kind.   Make good friends, and keep them.  Love animals, but don’t let one live in your house.  They WILL ruin your carpet.  Don’t worry too much about what other people think, and work hard to be gentle with the feelings of others. And please, never become a teacher. Or do.  You’d be the best.  We can talk more about this later.  Do what you are called to do, and do it passionately.  Be thankful for all of the wonderful people in your life, because good Lord you have so many.

It is so hard to believe that in less than a month, we will send you to kindergarten.  You will ride the bus after school.  You will carry your monogrammed mermaid backpack and matching lunchbox into a classroom where you don’t know anyone. You’ll wave goodbye to me, grinning ear to ear, and when I get back into my car, I will sob.  Because this is just the beginning. I don’t worry that you won’t make friends, I worry that you are going to think you are the teacher.  You’re going to be exhausted after school.  You’re just not ready for a no nap day.  I hope your teacher is bossy, just like you, and lays the smack down really quickly.

Ava, you have everything you need.  You are smart, kind, generous, loveable, excitable, and beautiful.  Your daddy and I are so beyond blessed to have you.  Sometimes it seems like we brought you home from the hospital yesterday, and other times I feel like we’ve known you a lifetime.  We love you more than you’ll ever know (until you have a baby.  And I hope that baby is just like you.)

And one day, when you’re old enough, probably when you have a daughter of your own, I will read you Tina Fey’s prayer for her daughter.

We love you.

Aside

I often times wonder what Garry thinks about life with 3 women.  When I pictured my life with kids, I pictured 3 boys.  How weird is that.  I always imagined my life as a crazy blur of toy cars, tractors, and baseball practice.

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I don’t need tractors. I play with sticks and dead leaves.

Garry has to endure the moods.  The drama.  The gymnastics classes, dance recitals, and the meltdowns because the clothes don’t fit right.  The dresses, the shoes.  The princess bedtime stories, the lip gloss, the plethora of barbie clothes.

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I’m cute and my daddy knows it.

Garry doesn’t mind.  He helps Ava dig in the dirt, shoot her Nerf gun, catch a snake; then come inside and put on her Belle dress and watch Beauty and the Beast for the hundredth time.  He makes sure the girls have their lifetime hunting and fishing license, eat hot dogs, watch Nascar, and know the difference between a football, baseball, and hockey puck.  He plays in the creek.  He teaches Ava how to plant a garden and look at the engine of his suburban.

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Garry, Garry, quite contrary. How does your garden grow?

When we had our anatomy scan with Ava, I thought she was going to be a boy.  When I was pregnant with Lu, I thought she was a boy too.  I’m always wrong :)  If I’m being honest, I cried when we found out Lu was a girl.  Not because I wanted a boy (what do you do with one of those?!?!), but because I thought Garry wanted a boy.  Garry didn’t care.  Cheapo was glad we already had the girl clothes. Garry has girls.  Garry loves his girls.  Gender doesn’t matter.

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My finger may be small, but I have my daddy wrapped all around it.

He doesn’t treat them like girls.  He treats them like kids.  He lets Ava be who she is, with no limits.

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I like the stage.


daddy’s girls

Hangin’ with my shorties

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Lu, Queen of the Catnap:

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Please sleep longer than 5 minutes. I’ll give you candy.

Lu is sleeping much better at night.  She has rehabbed her all night eating buffet ways, and has come back from the dark side of late night snacking.  In return for this better night’s sleep, she has graciously decided that 5 minute power naps are now her vice.  She’s still holding strong to the paci, white noise, and swaddle; and WHATEVER (in my best Cher Horowitz Clueless voice) is all I have to say about that.  Best practice in this house is as follows:  GET SLEEP.  The American Academy of Pediatrics ain’t got nothin’ on me.  Step off Harvey Karp and Dr. Ferber, this is how we roll:  Pacifiers until you’re 4, get in my bed if you can’t sleep, swaddle until it’s busting at the seams.  Sue me.

Boone (the dog, not the town) is just…such a love/hate relationship for me.  We have a cat (probably feral) that lives under Garry’s shop.  He comes out just as the sun is about to go down, and sits at our back door and taunts Boone. I think he’s smart enough to know that Boone only goes out on a leash now (after his trampoline eating fiesta), and he just looks in the door.  Boone goes nuts.  He also goes nuts for deer in the yard, squirrels, the wind moving trees, ghosts (when he barks at the wall), and the reflection of the TV in the window.  He has a sixth sense.

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Please don’t sendz me back to the pound. I likez youz people.

Lu has decided that she loves her big sister lately.  I think she has become accustomed to the rough love that Ava gives, and has accepted her very firm  kisses and her own bent fingers as a sign of camaraderie.  Lu will try her best (with her limited head/neck control) to see whatever Ava is doing.  She smiles when she hears her voice.  She wants to watch everything that she does.  So presh. 

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Weird hair, she don’t care.

Having 2 has not been the monumental difficult struggle I imagined in my head yet.  It’s still really hard on the nights Garry is gone.  But we have figured out how to manage bedtime routines so that everyone gets what they need.  Nights are long, but everyone seems happy.

The next few weeks are going to be really busy, though.  I go back to work.  My mom is watching the girls 2 days next week while Garry works, then it’s DADDY DAYCARE! (until mom gets out for the summer)  That means no cleaning!  No rules!  Nacho Doritos and cake for lunch everyday! (It makes me think of the Bill Cosby standup where his kids are saying, “Dad is Great! Chocolate Cake!”)  I know I’ll be exhausted next week. 

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Get over it, ma. You can do the dishes and vacuum when you get home!

FMLA allowed me to take 12 weeks off from work.  I had planned to taking the rest of the year off, but sommmmmmmmmeeebody (me) didn’t go on GDub’s insurance during open enrollment, and this mama doesn’t like to roll the dice on healthcare.  As soon as I didn’t have health insurance I’d get a double ear infection, strep, and mono, and then fall out of a tree or something.

It’s so nice being home.  I also know I am not cut out to be a stay at home mom.  In an ideal world, I’d work 2 days a week.  But we gots to pay our bills!  And I like leather bags and $5.99/lb honeycrisp apples. Those things don’t just buy themselves. #whitewhine, #firstworldproblems.  Totally aware that I am beyond blessed here in this house, with freaking adorable children, people who love us, and a job that I enjoy.  No complaining here, today!

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You can complain if you want. I’ll listen.

 

BFF

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Every time I want to take a picture of Ava and Lulu together, Ava gets right in her face as close as she can and says, “BFF!!!!!!!”

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save me.

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as soon as i learn how to use this fist…

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step away from the baby.

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your breath smells like peanut butter.

 

While I certainly hope they are always BFF, I’m not sure that Lu quite feels her excitement for being best friends forever.  My mom (lovingly) said that if she ever wrote a children’s book, she would title it “Ava the Bulldozer”.  Aptly put, Kath.

No one loves as hard as Ava, that’s for sure.

Lu seems to be a generally calm, not excitable, and totally against rough touches kinda baby.  Its hard to say if all babies are like this, because I only intimately know one pair of siblings, and FOR SURE there is only one Ava. Ava wasn’t happy as a baby unless you were bouncing her dangerously close to flying out of her bouncy seat.  Lu doesn’t even like being bounced.

Ava loves Lu more than you’ve ever loved anything.  She is so excited every time Lu looks at her, smiles in her general direction, or makes a noise.  But I’ll tell ya what she hates:  any type of liquid that comes from Lu’s body.  I’ll leave that up to your imagination, but Ava is so afraid that Lu is going to get some of her baby liquids on her things that she won’t let her touch her precious blankets, stuffed animals, or books.

I feel so grateful that Ava loves Lu so much.  I know that she will be so protective of her baby sister.  Having another baby has been such a good thing for A, well ok, for all of us : )

On another note, I only have 2 weeks of maternity leave left.  Bless FMLA (in all its un-paid, pain in my a** paperwork that no one could get right glory).  I can’t complain too much though, I have to go back to school for 3 weeks, then its summertime.  Timed that baby just right. 

This week in photos…

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Catching fish with daddy

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Mulch day.

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Who poses like this on a pile of dirt?

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King of the dirt pile. Its prestigious.

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Stop! Bubble time.

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Guard dog

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QT with Mae Mae.

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Trampoline with Mae Mae

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Baby ‘neer! (Thanks for the perfect outfit, Derek and Tara!)

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Finally some juicy thigh rolls!

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“Tell me what you want, its yours.” -MaeMae

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: )

 

a picture is worth a million words…

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…and if you’re Ava, everything is worth a million words.  Flowing from her pie hole from sun up to sun down.

First up, SISTER GIRLS DATE!

I had my 6 week checkup, so Ava got to have sister girls date with Allie.  Apparently, sister girls date entails:  lunch, movie, lots of shopping for cool things (nail polish, flip flops, lip gloss, candy) and sweet frog frozen yogurt.  Oh, and LOTS of bronzer. Look:

ImageAva is so lucky to have a sister girl like Allie.  For realsies.

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Sister girls movie time!

Allie said Ava laughed embarrassingly loud.  Raise your hand if you are surprised.

So Lu is, in comparison to the only other one I have birthed, a very calm baby. We’ve hit what the books like to call “the 6 week growth spurt” or whatever.  This means constant feeding, little sleeping, cranky.  Although Ava was a super demanding baby, she was a super great sleeper.  Ava slept through the night from 6 weeks on, and has ever since.  Lu, not so much.  She’s all easy during the day, then she’s ready to poot the night away and whine about it.  C’mon, Lu.  Get that gas under control.

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oh NOW you want to sleep.

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Ooh! Trendy!

We went shopping for Easter dress shoes.  This is what Ava wanted to wear with her pastel pink Easter dress. (MOM!!!! PINK MATCHES PINK!!!!!)  I would have let her wear these with her floor length linen Peaches and Cream dress that Mae Mae graciously paid and arm and a leg for, but I didn’t want Mae Mae to stroke out, so we bought these and a pair of white shoes too.  Don’t worry, Mae Mae.  Garry, if you’re reading, it’s SO CRAZY, but they were giving all these shoes away FREE at the mall.

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OMGah I know they are mine, but they are so cute.

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And finally, sweet blessed nap time.

Finally, a little nap today.  Just enough time for me to read a book, check my email, watch a movie, and paint my nails. SIKE.  I got to use the bathroom.  That was it.

Boone, books, beer, and other things that start with B.

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Boone:  In one word:  infuriating.  I don’t know that I was meant to be a pet owner, and I keep waiting for this moment of love that you dog lovers feel, and I haven’t felt it yet.  I consider myself a deeply compassionate, caring, and huggable person, but I can’t go there with Boone.  Boone stands outside the door, barking to be let in.  I go open the door, and what does this braniac do?? He runs off.  EVERY TIME.  Do you have any idea how enraging it is to get up (from nursing, watching marathons of Flip This House, fixing peanut butter sandwiches, etc.) to let the dog in and then watch him run off.  I feel like he’s laughing at me when he runs off.  And I just yell things at him like, “FINE! STAY OUT HERE AND EAT STICKS AND EARTHWORMS FOR DINNER YOU SON OF A *****!!!!” (JK, I don’t say bad words ever.) And then the neighbors probably want to call animal control.  And I wish they would.  He chews stuffed animals.  Yous Guys, he is 2!!!  He is not a puppy.  He eats food off the counter (YES, we feed him enough.)  He knows how to get the lid off the trash can.  He barks at the reflection of the TV in the window at night. I really really want to love  him.  I’ve loved pets before.  But the only time I like Boone is when he’s asleep in his crate.  Judge away.  I know you’re thinking, “Oh  come on, he can’t be that bad April is so mean!!”  But ask my mom, or anyone else who has had the pleasure (I use that term loosely) to meet him.

Books:  We have too many, and I always think its a good idea to get more.  Ava really has no interest in reading actual words in books.  Sure, she can read environmental words (Ollies!  Subway!  TARGET!!!!) but when it comes to “real” words she has no interest.  So I think that I’ll entice her to read if I buy level one readers about things that she likes (Dogs!  Disney!  Little Critter!).  Also, of COURSE Lu needs books too!  High contrast books to stimulate her!  Rhyming and rhythmic patterns!  Sure, Ava has books that I could use, but LU NEED HER OWN! Code red nerd alerts.

Beer:  Its true, the Washingtons like beer.  Good beer is a nice treat.  Garry brews beer, and he is getting really good at it.  Now that I’m not knocked up anymore, I can enjoy a good beer here and there.  Our favorite beers lately have been pretty hoppy.  Top 3:

Hop Stoopid

Hoppyum IPA

Southern Tier 2X IPA

 

This is the stuff that at the Harris Teeter here in the Dirty D.

College April thought that Blue Moon and Bud Light were the BEST. Quantity over quality was the motto 2002-2006. But there is so much wonderful beer out there to be sampled that doesn’t come in a case of cans.

Beautiful:

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Doing her best Zoolander. BLUE STEEL!

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Loves the kisses

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Little Mama

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