Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Run like a princess

Ok, so here's a deep, dark secret I will share with you now. You ready for it? You sure? Positive? Ok, here goes: When I was pregnant, I really wanted a girl.

It's not that I didn't like boys, or that I wouldn't have been completely and utterly happy to have had a little boy. But, down, in the depths of my heart, I longed for a little girl. A girl to dress in pretty dresses. A girl to wear hair bows. A girl to go shopping. A girl to play tea party. I wanted all that. And, lo and behold, I was blessed with two precious little girls.

Now, here comes the tricky part: raising two girls in today's world.

Geesh, I cannot turn on the news, flip on the radio or open a magazine without the perils of growing up girl screaming out at me. First, it was the bullying and subsequent suicide of a teenage girl, then the aforementioned Cinderella Ate My Daughter book, then the Tiger Mother book, and now the push-up bikini top for 7-year-olds. My god, sometimes it's enough to make me want to pack us all up and move to the South Pole. Well, except that it is really, really cold down there. And, I really, really hate cold. So that probably wouldn't work. I do think penguins are cute, though, so that's a plus. And, we definitely would have no need for that ridiculous bikini top.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The curse of teeth

Ahhh ... teething. What can I say to you? You are not welcome in this house. I wish you gone. You have managed to turn my sweet, smiley baby into a cranky, clingy, crying, non-sleeping one. Go away teething. Out. Now.

I would like to introduce everyone to the face of Charlotte that I have been seeing most recently.

Yes, I know. This is not a pretty picture. Charlotte is currently getting all four top teeth at once. She only had two bottom teeth at her first birthday, and I guess her mouth decided to play catch-up. So, one more came on the bottom, then her four top. This has been miserable. For both Charlotte and anyone around Charlotte.

To be fair to Charlotte, I know this is an awful experience. Well, I actually don't know, as I don't remember my own teething experience. But, just think about it: Sharp, hard, pointy things are moving down, at an excruciatingly slow pace, and jabbing their way through your swollen, tender gums. All at an age when you can't form words to tell anyone about it, and you don't understand enough words to comprehend the perfectly logical explanation of it. If it weren't a completely natural part of life, I'm pretty sure teething would be on the Geneva Convention's torture list, and we'd have Amnesty International knocking on our door, ready to investigate.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Deciphering preschool-ese

As a mother of two small children, I spend a vast amount of my day trying to figure out what said children are trying to, well, say. Baby-talk, toddler-speak, preschool-ese. Sometimes I feel as if my job title should be:

Mother: cleaner of spilled food/drink, finder of lost toys/blankies/loveys, maker of mass quantities of mac-n-cheese, and interpreter of highly difficult and ever-changing coded languages.

Being 1, Charlotte is clearly the more difficult to understand. The child is almost 14 months old, but says very few words. And, when she does say a word, she, almost as quickly, stops saying it. I've heard this is normal, but it is also quite annoying. It leaves me saying, "Do you want a Nana? Nana? Charlotte, do you want a Nana? Nana?" over and over again because at one point, she did say the word 'Nana' in regard to a banana. In return, Charlotte stares and me and squeals, "eh, eh." If anyone else is around, I try desperately to explain that "Charlotte really has said 'nana,' I swear it." Meanwhile, Charlotte, in what I'm sure is a perfectly timed effort to prove me wrong, throws herself on the floor, tears flowing, and points at the fruit basket because all she wants is to eat that damn banana.

Give.   Me.   Banana.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Kiss me, I'm ... Norwegian?

Look at me. Now, look at Cory. Now, look at me. Of the two of us, I'm fairly certain most people would agree that I am the one bringing the Irish genes to the table. I've got green eyes, fair skin, freckles and red hair. Cory has dark hair, and he actually tans. Only that assumption would be all wrong. A little known fact about Cory - his first name is actually Patrick. Patrick Lafferty. Patrick O'Lafferty if you trust the family lore about the origins of the last name. He's got Irish coming out of his pores. Me, on the other hand, I'm pretty much a melting pot of Northern Europe. According to the genealogy research done by my family, I've got English, Scottish, and even Norwegian roots. Heck, both my mom and I were born in Germany (on Army bases, but still ... ) However, not so much of the Irish.*

So, with me having red hair and Cory's Irish heritage, you'd think there would've been hope for some little redheaded babies. Nope. Apparently the whole of Cory's dark-haired side of the family way overpowered my little redhead genes. In family pictures, I look like the odd man out. Nobody ever says my girls look like me like they do about my cousin and her daughter. One time, some woman even asked me where Molly got her curls. Really?!?! That's the one thing I feel I can claim on the child!

Despite all this, I really enjoy St. Patrick's Day. Not so much the crazy wild drinking, but I enjoy the dressing up in green and celebrating all things Irish. It may have something to do with being a photo-op for the girls (they have really cute St. Patty's Day scrapbooking kits, afterall), or maybe that it signals the beginning of spring, but we all have to dress up and document it. I may not have redheaded girls, but I will force my little brownish-blondish-haired girls to dress in green and pose with me on St. Patrick's Day. And, if we keep Cory out of the picture, maybe I don't look like such an outsider.

So, here we go with the 2011 St. Patrick's Day photos:

I gotta credit my friend Megan with getting all of us looking and smiling. A true St. Patrick's Day miracle, if you ask me.

Charlotte: No one can find any resemblance to me in her.

Molly and her friend Avery. We got asked about 4 times that day if they were twins. So, apparently Molly looks more like her completely unrelated friend than she does like me.

I may not have gotten the little redheaded baby girls I once dreamed I would have, but I guess that means that they at least won't have to deal with the cruel teasing and nicknames given to all of us redheads. One less thing to worry about, I suppose. And, I can always hope for some redheaded grandchildren. Afterall, my Grandma Henry, a beautiful redhead, was 0-3 for kids with red hair, but was 4-7 with grandkids. There is hope!

Kiss me, I'm at least somewhat Irish!

*Correct me if I'm wrong with any of that genealogy stuff. (I'm looking at you, Mom.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

An ode* to Little Debbie

Oh, Little Debbie snack cakes, why do you hold such power over me? I know you are no good for me. In fact, I'm pretty sure you have no nutritional value whatsoever. But, that does not change your deliciousness.

You call out to me from the end cap at Target. "It's only six weeks away from Easter, you must buy the Easter Basket Snack Cakes immediately!" I try with all my might to resist. But, the effort is futile. My hand reaches for that box and places it in my basket as if it were being controlled by an alien life form. Not me. I wouldn't buy that! Isn't this supposed to be targeted toward kids? Surely it is not being geared to tempt a 30-year-old mother. Surely a 30-year-old mother would make better choices for her household.

It sits in my cupboard, taunting me. I, again, try to resist. I will make healthy choices. I will have a snack of veggies. Or yogurt. Or an apple. Anything. Please, anything else. "I'm hungry," Molly says. "Let's have carrots and raisins," I say. Yes! Score one for me. We eat a healthy snack. It's nice outside, let's go outside and play. I put distance between me and my temptation. But, we have to come back inside eventually.

It's nap time. I put the girls to bed. It's just me and the snack cakes, now. I can't hold on any longer. Their power is overwhelming. I can't stop thinking about their processed, sugary, creamy, cakey goodness. Unable to stop myself, I open the cupboard doors. There they sit in all their glory. As if lit from behind, the box shines down at me. I can hear the Hallelujah chorus singing. It is beautiful.

I open the box and take out a package. With anticipation, I open the crinkly plastic wrapping. To the couch we go. I sink down into the cushions. I take a bite. Ahhhhhhhhh. Just as delicious as I remembered. Heaven. I tell myself that I wait for nap time so Molly won't see me making a poor snack choice. But, in reality, it's probably more about me not having to share. I eat the whole snack cake. All by myself.

I will run tomorrow, but today, right now, I revel in the delectable, delightful, scrumptiousness of the Little Debbie snack cake. And, it is good.

* I know this isn't actually an 'ode,' but I don't do poetry. Just go with me for a more liberal meaning of the term.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

'Laff'ing all the way home

The writer of this blog actually had an evening out on the town with the hubby this weekend! We went to dinner and a comedy club to see the favorite comedian of one of our friends. I was excited to get out and put on make-up and jewelry. There were several of us going, so we could have lots of adult conversations. I was looking forward to enjoying a lot of 'laff's.

Well, something happened along the way.

I discovered that a lot of comedy is subject to taste. I've known this, really, all along, but it was quite apparent last night. And, apparently, my taste is not so much meshing with that of Jim Jefferies. He's an Australian comic whose jokes were, to me, fairly vulgar, profane and offensive. Curt (who convinced us all to go to the show) swears that he didn't know that Jefferies was quite as out there as he was. He'd never seen him in person before. (And, no, Curt, I'm not mad at you!) The one thing that was funny was how we all agreed that he'd have been even worse if not for the accent. It's amazing how almost anything can sound better with an accent. Almost anything. Even his accent didn't save his comedy for me.

Apparently, my tastes run more to the Ellen DeGeneres/Modern Family/The Middle style of comedy -- funny, clean, daily life observational. And, I'm not ashamed to admit it. Perhaps that's why I think the things in my own life are so funny. Usually they are about my kids or friends, neither of which are particularly vulgar or profane. (I guess this should be fairly obvious to me considering the title of my own blog.) So, to clean my mind from the comedy show, I decided to put together a list of the funny, clean, daily life observational things I found recently from my own life. I know I'm not a comedian, and you might not think my tidbits are funny at all, but that's ok, 'cause we all have our own tastes. Maybe you would enjoy Jefferies. Some people must; he's clearly doing well for himself.

So, here we go:

  • Molly telling the babysitter (my friend Katie and fellow blogger) that she had gotten married to Connor because he gave her flowers. Apparently, that's all it takes to win my 3-year-old's heart. Flowers. Although, to be fair, her mom also loves flowers (hint, hint, hubby ... ). Katie's fiance was amazed that was all it took. I guess he put in more effort wooing Katie. Silly Brandon, he should've known.
  • Charlotte has started copying all things Molly. The latest -- saying "YUM" while eating. Ok, this doesn't sound as funny on paper (screen?), but it's really funny in person.
  • Molly waking up from her nap the other day and proclaiming, "I am getting old, Mommy. My muscles are tired; I think I need to rest some more." I'm sure she never heard that from me while I was training for my marathon.
  • Our friends Tara and Pawan's son Kevi.  Kevi: I saw a reindeer last night. Pawan: Really? Do you like reindeer? Kevi: Naah! I only like clouddeer. That Kevi cracks me up.
  • Molly finding my bra, putting it on and prancing around the bedroom. I didn't take pictures because, well, I was laughing too hard, but trust me, it was hysterical. She also proclaimed she wanted a bra and swim panties to go to the pool. "A bikini?" I asked. "Yes!" she said. "Not happening," daddy said.
  • Molly watching this video of herself and laughing manically at her baby self.

  • Molly and Charlotte dancing head-banging in the car. Warning: the video was taken in a moving car, so the quality isn't great, but you can still get the general idea.

  • And, this last picture is just one of my favorite Molly pictures of all time because it makes me laugh every single time I see it. 
Not quite 2, and clearly exhausted from a baby marathon.  Maybe that's why her muscles were so tired.
So, there you have it. I know I'm no Ellen, but now that you have my list, what/who is it you find funny?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Introducing our new puppy ...

Last summer, the cutest dog wandered into our backyard. He was clearly a stray and hadn't been cleaned up or taken care of in quite a while. But, oh, he was sweet. We gave him some water and some food. He started following Molly all up and down the street. He never barked. I took it as a sign that we needed to keep this precious dog and have him join our family.

I dare you to try to tell me that dog is not adorable.

Well, Cory wasn't convinced, no matter how hard I tried. He doesn't want a dog. Period. We found a shelter and took him there that night. We checked to make sure it was a no-kill shelter, but, frankly, I was hoping it wouldn't be, because then that dog was coming back home with us. But, it was a no-kill shelter, so, away he went. And, I was left dog-less once again.

Fast-forward eight months: We have a new puppy!

Truth time -- now that I've gotten all you dog-lovers excited -- our new puppy is actually Charlotte. I say this with the utmost love for my darling daughter, but lately, I've been noticing how much like a dog she is. That sounds horrible, I know, but bear with me. So, here are the reasons Charlotte is taking the place of our family dog:

1. We have to clean up after her poop. That one is obvious, but at least we only have a year or two more of this. If she were actually a dog, we'd be doing this for the rest of her life.

2. She refuses to walk on two feet, instead, preferring to crawl around on all fours. She has taken about two steps, so I guess she's moving away from this designation. But, she's taking her sweet time to do it.

3. She eats from a bowl on the floor. Ok, this sounds bad,  I'm sure, but listen, the girl can eat. She eats more than Molly. And, if I put her in her high chair, she expects a full meal, no matter the time of day. So, when we just need a little snack time, I will occasionally put some goldfish or Cheerios in a bowl, along with her sippie cup of water, on the kitchen floor. That way, she can have some snacks, play a little, and crawl around after her big sister. And, if that's not enough, at meal time, she sometimes drops food off her tray with, what we're sure is, the intention to save it and eat it at a later time. Which never happens because I always sweep up immediately after every meal. Yup, always and immediately. Don't let anyone tell you any differently.

4. She begs for food. I will reiterate, this girl can eat. Most days, I make my breakfast after she's already eaten hers. I'm a girl of habit, so I almost always have cereal with a banana on top. When Charlotte hears me get my bowl out of the cabinet, she fast-crawls over to where I'm standing. She gets up on her knees, and when she sees me get the banana out, she immediately puts her hands up, opening and closing her fingers while saying, "eh, eh, eh." In Charlotte speak, that means "I want it! Give it to me!" She doesn't stop until I give her bananas from my bowl. See? Now, I'm feeding her scraps of my food.

So, these are the reasons that for right now, Charlotte is our puppy. I used to think that Cory would relent and get a dog once the girls were big enough to stick out their lower lips and beg. Now, I'm pretty sure even that won't change his mind. So, for now, Charlotte is our adorable new puppy. And, I'm here to tell you that her wet, slobbery kisses are the best!

Eating her goldfish on the floor, and as happy as can be about it.
* One note of irony: Charlotte's lovey is a pink kitty blanket, so our 'puppy' is cuddling up every night to sleep with a cat.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Model Behavior

Molly loves clothes. She especially loves dressing up. No joking, the girl goes through at least three to four outfits each day. I really don't mind it, except when they are all thrown in the clothes hamper. Then I end up doing the laundry of three preschoolers instead of one. That, I mind. Most of the time, when she dresses up, she's playing a princess. Sometimes she makes me the fairy godmother. Sometimes Charlotte is the godmother. Sometimes I'm the prince. But, Molly is pretty much always the princess. (Really, though, if you could dress up every day, wouldn't you choose to be the princess, too?) So much for that Cinderella Ate My Daughter book. We're already screwed on that front.

With all that said, I still never dreamed that my child would join the modeling world. Especially at the ripe old age of 3. But, well, stuff happens. Ok, before you all freak out about me turning into one of those stage moms from Toddlers & Tiaras, let me explain. Molly's grandma is the head of the Fashion Merchandising program at the local community college, and every spring the program puts on a fashion show as a way for the students to showcase their work. So, this is a true amateur show, and I'm not trying to get her an agent or book her jobs or anything crazy like that! But, when Joan (Cory's mom, Molly's grandma) knew of a place for a little girl in the show, she knew just the little girl who would be perfect. Our very own princess!

The dresses that needed to be modeled are actually part of a charity that the department signed up for. It is called Little Dresses for Africa, and through it, people sew simple dresses that are then sent to children in Africa. Kind of a perfect fit for the fashion program. Anyway, these were the dresses that needed models. Now, we were a little concerned about sending a 3-year-old out onto the runway by herself. So enters Emma.

Emma lives in Joan's neighborhood. She was turning 12, and for her 12th birthday party, she got to invite eight friends to go with her to the fashion show. (Man, that would've been the best party ever for my 12-year-old self!) Emma also got to surprise her friends and get up on stage to model. Luckily, she was an absolute sweetheart and was more than willing to take Molly under her wing. We showed up in the afternoon to practice, then came back for the 7 o'clock show.

We sat next to Emma and her friends so that she could take Molly by the hand when they needed to head backstage for their time. All of the girls were so sweet, and Molly even sat on Emma's lap the entire show. I don't know if Emma knew she was signing up for a 3-year-old groupie.

Molly with her new favorite person, Emma.
So, as you can imagine, the first time Molly went up on stage, she was a little nervous. I could tell by the finger in her mouth. She always does that when she's unsure about a situation. I guess I should just be glad it wasn't her nose.
Her dress was super cute with pictures of animals on it.

She started to wave by the time she got around to the other side of the stage.

So, after one time out on the stage, Molly apparently (I've been told - I wasn't actually backstage) started dancing and asking when she could go back out there. Luckily, she got a chance when she got to go back out for the finale. This is when all the models just walked in a line across the stage. I guess Molly had been watching all the other 'real' models with their strutting, prancing and sashaying. This must have made an impact on Molly, because on her second time around ...

Molly marched.

Now, to get the picture absolutely clear in your head, not only did she march (the exaggerated, stomping march of a 3-year-old), but she held up the entire line of models while doing so. That's right. My precious princess marched her way into modeling history. Or, at least, into Lafferty family lore. 

She did great. She can't stop talking about it. I won't be surprised if we now play princess fashion show around the house. The princess of our house got a chance to dress up and walk, wave and march in front of her very own huge, captive, applauding audience. And, I am one proud fairy godmother. 

Since the star of the show couldn't deign to take a picture with her parents, we took some with Charlotte instead.

Pictures of the actual show courtesy of Charlie Cloud. There is no way my camera could take pictures that good. I'm still working on convincing Cory we need a new camera. It's a long process.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A little household division

We live in a house divided. Anyone who is married will probably say, at one time or another, that their house has been divided, too. About finances, politics, child-rearing philosophies, different standards of cleanliness. Lots of issues can cause divisions in households. Ours, in particular, is our different alma maters. Nothing big or marriage-shaking in the grand scheme of things. (Though the fact that my team lost to his on Valentine's Day didn't really do anything to help our marriage.) We are very tolerant of each other's cheering. I will root for his team as long as they aren't playing mine, and vice versa. It helps that I don't much care for football. Basketball, however, is another subject entirely.

Cory went to Kansas State University, but you see, my alma mater is the University of Kansas. Home to the Jayhawks, and one of the most successful and prestigious basketball programs in the country. Ok, so I am a huge basketball fan. I am also a third-generation Jayhawk. My grandpa was in a class with Wilt Chamberlain, for God's sake!

So, when my dad got us tickets to go to the final home game of the season (senior night) in Allen Fieldhouse, I jumped at the chance. (Now, there is a whole other story about the fact that my dad is taking my little brother with him to Final Four this year ... ) It has been a long time since I went to a game in person at Allen. So long, in fact, that I honestly cannot remember when it was. I realized, as we drove to Lawrence, that I am coming up on nine years since graduation. And, now I feel extremely old. Yeesh.

While sitting up in the nosebleed section at mid-court between my dad and Cory (see, I told you we're good sports about each other's teams), I noticed some things about being old and going back to alma mater:

1. I really enjoy sitting. As students, we would stand for practically the entire game. And, I am all for jumping up and getting loud when necessary or when the excitement of a play warrants, but for the majority of the game, I enjoy having a place to sit my behind.

2. Speaking of behinds -- how is it possible that mine is smaller than my shoulders? Has anyone else noticed this? We are all squished together on bench seating, with absolutely no space to spare, but for some reason, I am forced to lean forward because my shoulders don't fit. My butt's fine; it fits in its tiny little spot (not saying my butt is tiny, just that the space they designate for a 'seat' is ridiculously small), but my shoulders do not. Maybe it has something to do with sitting between two guys, but whatever the reason, it's not entirely comfortable to sit leaning forward for almost three hours.

3. I can completely see the reason behind the dorky radios the old men wear while at the games. When I was younger, I just thought they were so ridiculous looking. But, I now see the genius behind them. I will admit, sometimes, I get a little distracted during games. (Watching the crowd, reading signs, laughing at Big Jay and Little Jay's antics, watching the Crimson Girls Rock Chalk Dancers)  Then, all of a sudden, the crowd starts making a ruckus, booing, cheering, and I don't have a clue what just happened. It would be so convenient to have that little radio voice telling me who got called for what foul. I still don't think that I can put aside my vanity to wear them, though.

Me and my sweet tea!
4. I was ridiculously excited that they served McAllister's Sweet Tea at Allen Fieldhouse. It was delicious, and I even got a handy dandy collector's cup. All for the low, low price of $5.

5. Why is it that of all the people who can possibly sit in front of you, you have to get the one guy who is literally (and I mean literally, not the Rachel Zoe form of the word) just as tall as you are while he's standing at least a foot lower on his row. It's gotta be some kind of version of Murphy's Law.

6. Games are SO much more fun in person. The memories had gotten a little hazy since it had been so long, but they came back full-force last night. So much excitement; such a good time.

So, thanks, Dad! I had a blast. And, I've almost completely forgiven you for choosing to take your youngest son (instead of the one child who attend KU) with you to the Final Four. :)
Pardon the poor quality, my phone battery was about to die. It's me and my dad.

And, as a bonus for everyone, here is Molly showing off her Rock Chalk chant skills. (I will admit, she can also do the KSU cheer, but it's my blog, so I only have to show off the videos I want.)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

2010 in 100 pages or less

According to Hallmark, Victoria's Secret, and various jewelry and candy stores, Valentine's Day equals flowers, chocolates, and romantic tokens of everlasting love. Let's be honest, that is not the Valentine's Day that we celebrate in my house. And, I'm betting if you've been married a while or have kids, your Valentine's Days probably more resemble mine than the media-sponsored romance-fest kind. I'll admit it, this year, I went to Walgreen's on February 13th to pick out favors to take to Molly's preschool. While there, I picked up a hat and Kit Kat for Cory. It sounds awful, I know, but to be fair, he loves Kit Kats, and the baseball hat actually fit his head really well, which is quite a feat for his small head. Anyway, my romantic, heartfelt gift from Cory was (drumroll, please)