Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Minnie disappointment

Charlotte has always loved Minnie Mouse. Well, at least as "always" as a 3-year-old can. She snuggles with her stuffed Minnies. She plays elaborate scenes with her plastic dress-up Minnies. She dresses up as Minnie. And, she watches a lot of "Minnie's Bow-tique." If you don't know what that is, well, you probably don't have a child in the pre-preschool set.

Proof that Charlotte loves Minnie (because you know that's something I would totally make up):

Seriously? How little was she?!? Big sister helped make 3-week-old Charlotte into Minnie Mouse.

10-month-old Minnie Charlotte.

Posing ...

And more ...

And even more posing.
The girl even asks for Minnie Mouse pancakes.
She plays a Minnie Mouse guitar.

And, we'll one up that. Here's Charlotte dressed as Minnie playing a Minnie Mouse guitar.
She sleeps with Minnies.

And poses as a Princess Minnie.

And, makes silly faces when she's supposed to be sleeping with Minnies.

So, enough proof? Yeah, I know, Charlotte overload. But, the girl loves Minnie Mouse.

All of this is to show why, when I heard that the Disney Store at the mall was going to be doing a re-grand opening (not entirely sure what that is, but whatever), and Minnie Mouse would be there, I thought immediately of Charlotte.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

My little songbird

Even though I was in church choir in middle school and high school, I'm not really a singer. I mean, I can belt out a mean Journey song when I'm tooling around town in my car by myself, but, actually sing? Yeah, not so much.

My sister can really sing, and I did enroll each of my girls in Kindermusik classes for years when they were young. I want them to have some musical aptitude, even if it doesn't really come from me. If you remember last year, we had a little incident in which I had to cram a learning session of  "Jesus Loves Me" for Molly so she could sing in a church video. She did great singing that song, but when I approached her with the idea to join the children's choir this year, it was an absolute, definite "no."

Melanie, the director of the children's choir, and I slowly started working on sneaking the idea into her little brain. Parent manipulation at its best, right? We even brought my sister and good friend Leigh into the plan. Every once in a while, we would bring up the idea of singing in the choir around her. And, slowly (very slowly) she started to maybe, sorta, kinda come around to the idea.

I have no idea why she was so terrified. But, oh, was she. Molly is not a timid girl. She ran right into Kindergarten with nary a tear, the same for first grade and every dance class, art camp or gymnastics class I signed her up for. I could not for the life of me figure out her hesitance for this.

Finally, we found the right incentive. Jake! (Leigh's son, thus her involvement) We asked Molly if she wanted to join choir so she could sing with Jake. Now, we love Jake, but he and Molly don't go to the same school and everyone's schedules are crazy, so we honestly don't see a ton of each other. I really think that Molly was excited to be able to see Jake more.

She finally agreed. We went for the first time a little over a month ago. We waited for Jake outside, and they went in together. After that, it was all good.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Run like the wind!

Wow. I made it through. I made it through Chicago.

If you've been following along with this blog, you might know that I was talked into running the Chicago marathon by my friends Anne and Kelli. They had decided to run it, and somehow I didn't want to be left out of the fun, so I said I would do it, too. We worked like mad to get through the crazy computer system on the day entry opened, and finally got the notifications that we were in. (The number of people trying to sign up at the exact same time crashed the computer system this year and created whole debacle. I think the whole thing is going to be a lottery next year.)

Then, it was time to wait. Well, wait and train.  It seems like this all happened so long ago, yet, the time also crept up on me.

The girls and I spent all summer slogging out long runs in the heat and humidity and torrential downpours. We followed the training plan from "Train like a Mother," and I got in all my miles. I'd experimented with different fuels and tried different clothes. I knew what worked. I was ready.

But, I was nervous. Very nervous. Like, stomach tied up in knots, dream-interrupting nervous. You'd think, with this being my third full marathon, that I'd be done with nerves. Or, at least, they wouldn't be that bad. I actually think, though, it was because of my previous marathons that I was so nervous.

My first, in 2006, was in Dallas in April. It got up to 92 degrees that day. I think it was about 87 degrees with 80 percent humidity when I finished. Um, yeah, miserable. I immediately said I would never do another marathon.

My second was in Tulsa, OK, in 2010. It was also warm that day, even though it was November, with temps reaching 79 degrees. And, high humidity. I hit the wall around mile 22 and hated the last 4 miles with every ounce of my being. I said I'd never run another marathon.

While I was glad I had run both of these, neither of them were exactly "fun." Nor was I ever eager to do it again. I was so afraid of that happening to me again. So, this trip, I was nervous. So nervous. And, I definitely seemed to be the only one of us nervous for the entire trip. What in the world had I talked myself into?

But, let's step back a day or two to the beginning of the trip ...

Kelli, Anne, Marsha and I took off from KC on a plane bound for Chicago early on Friday morning. We wanted to get to Chicago early enough to enjoy time while we were there and not have to feel rushed.

At the KC airport. Apparently our barista thought we looked like an Emi and Kian instead of Amy and Anne.

Anne and Marsha on the L to get to our hotel.

And, Kelli and me.

We dropped our bags off at the hotel, grabbed some lunch then took off down Michigan Avenue.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Dancing her way through preschool

If anyone has ever tried to talk to Charlotte, well, you'll know why we've been concerned about her starting preschool. She doesn't talk to strangers. She doesn't talk to people she knows if it's a new situation. Sometimes she doesn't even talk to people she knows in familiar situations. This is Charlotte.

When I first started going to a mom's group two years ago, I had to drop her off in the childcare room. She cried the ENTIRE time I was gone. Entire time, people. She was still crying when I got back almost two hours later. At church on Sundays, she would refuse to go into the nursery. That meant sitting with us in the pews for the whole hour-long service.

I signed her up for gymnastics with her little friend Ella last November. She loved it when she was out there, jumping, turning, flipping. But, she refused to go out for her class until Ella was there. Every. Single. Time. Ella was usually late, so I would sit there with a clingy 2-year-old in my lap watching class until Ella showed up.

Ella quit gymnastics after one session, but Charlotte really loved it, so I knew we had to stick it out. It took a lot of time, but eventually she started going out without crying and fussing. Seriously, it took months, but it eventually it happened.

So, needless to say, I was worried about preschool starting. I had signed her up for the 3-year-old class at the same preschool Molly used to attend. As the time started approaching, I started getting more and more nervous. The week before preschool started, the school had a meet-the-teacher time. We had a 9 o'clock appointment to meet Miss Patty in the Panda Room.

Cory and I were both going to go with Charlotte, but I forgot the paperwork for the school, so I turned around halfway and let Cory take Charlotte. I was a couple minutes late and walked into the class to see Charlotte clinging to Cory and burying her head into his shoulder. She absolutely would not look at Miss Patty. She absolutely would not talk to Miss Patty. She absolutely would not take a picture for Miss Patty.

Do you think I'm exaggerating to make a good story? Yeah, no, I'm not.

This is the picture Miss Patty took to put on the wall. Lovely, no?

Alright, so after that disaster of a meeting, I got even more nervous about preschool. Being my baby, I've become rather attached to Charlotte. Meaning, not only was I nervous about how she was going to do, I was also nervous about how I was going to do without her.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Marathon Woman

In case you missed it, I'm currently in the throes of training for the 2013 Chicago Marathon. This will not be my first marathon. It will be my third. But, if you'd asked me after either of my others, I would've told you that I would not do another one.

As I stared at my blackened toenails and hobbled gingerly down all flights of stairs after my first one in Dallas, I swore up and down that I was a one-and-done marathoner.

Feeling victorious ...

but, completely dead after the Big D in 2006.

Then, I had a couple kids, and felt the need to prove to myself that I could still do it. So, I signed up for another one. This time, I swore 'round about mile 24 of the Route 66 marathon in Tulsa, OK, that I would never do this to myself again.

With Sarah, who I peer pressured into running. That was it for me. I was done in 2010.

Well, it's three years later, and somehow I got peer pressured into signing up for another one. This time in Chicago. I was excited about going on a trip with my girlfriends, but the daunting training miles and 26.2 race miles were not all that exciting for me. Don't get me wrong, I would do it, but I wouldn't be super happy about it.

So, with all these training miles and running constantly on my mind, I happened across a blog that mentioned the autobiography of Kathrine Switzer. Switzer is the first woman to run with a number in the Boston Marathon in 1967. She's also the woman made famous by this series of pictures:

Switzer being chased by race director Jock Semple who was yelling, "Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!"
Although she'd officially registered, she'd done so using her initials, K.V., so they didn't know she was a woman. Race officials, clearly, were not happy when they found out, as women weren't supposed to run. I'd heard of this story before and knew of Switzer, but didn't know a ton about her. So, of course I was intrigued by the thought of a book by her. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wait?!? What?!? I have a 1st grader?!?

I know everyone says the same thing when school starts each year, "I can't believe my kid has gotten so big." "I can't believe school is back in session." "They are growing up way too fast."

Yes, those are all cliches, but oh, man, they are so true. I thought every single one of those this morning as I walked Molly to her first day of first grade. Seriously, 1st grade?!?! I still remember them handing her to me in the hospital and not even thinking that school was anywhere close to my future. I distinctly remember hearing other moms talk about their kids going to school and I couldn't even comprehend anything about it because it was so far from my realm.

Man, it did not take long for me to be smack dab in the middle of that realm. I don't remember okaying that.

Molly, however, has been super excited for school to start. She loves school. She's never been nervous about it at all. For her first day of preschool, she jumped out of the car, waved her hand and said, "Bye, Mom!" without even a hug or kiss. I've never had to worry about her being sad or nervous for school. Me, on the other hand?

I know I should be used to this. I did it last year. I had the whole sobbing in front of the school librarian after dropping her off at Kindergarten fiasco. But, I'm still sad. She's my baby. I've been hugging her a little bit longer and squeezing her a little bit tighter these last couple days, just trying to steel myself up for today.

And, today came:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The second half of beach week

The second half of our beach vacation roundup. Amanda arrives!

Almost every morning we spent at the beach, I would get up early, lace up my shoes, and head out to pound the pavement ... er ... sand. It was a little ridiculous how much I was looking forward to my morning runs, even before we got there. The first morning, I tried out a paved path not on the beach, but every day after that, I ran on the beach. It was awesome. Such beautiful views. And, I could take as long as I wanted because the kids were not going to be home alone. When  I got back to the house, I would sit on the porch, watch the ocean waves and wait until I semi-dried off.

Some mornings, I would read while I waited for the sweat to dry. Yup, that is the life. 

Wednesday was a very exciting day, as it was the day my best childhood friend and her daughter were coming to join us. Amanda lives outside of Charlotte, NC, now, so when my mom said we had space open in the house, I asked Amanda if she could come spend some time at the beach with us. Growing up, when we would go on vacation to the beach, we were sometimes allowed to bring one friend along. My mom thought it was easier (and way more fun!) for the kids to each have someone to play with. I always brought Amanda. So, needless to say, I was beyond excited when I found out that she could come. Her daughter, Mallory, is only a year older than Molly, so it was going to be great fun all around!

On Wednesday morning, before Amanda and Mallory arrived, we discovered some boogie boards in the laundry room of the beach house. We had been wanting boogie boards all week, so this was a very exciting discovery.

Cory helping Molly float on a boogie board. Floating is pretty much all she did on it. She didn't really understand the whole "ride the wave in" business.

Jake named the dragon on his boogie board Ocean. It was a little confusing to hear "Ocean knocked me down. Ocean hit my leg," until I was told about the naming of the boogie board.

Some moms and their kids. Amanda and Mallory arrived.

I wanted a super beachy picture. Instead, I think I look like I came out of the 40s. Oh well.

Mallory and Molly hanging out on the boards. 
Mallory figured out how to ride the waves, though.

Gathering water to work on some sand project.

Molly and Cory heading back out into the water.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A week at the beach (part one)

I'm splitting this into two parts because it was just that awesome. Oh, and there are about a million pictures. 

I grew up in North Carolina. And, many of my childhood vacations were trips to the beaches of North Carolina. My mom would rent a beach house, then us kids would spend a week splashing in the ocean and digging in the sand. I have lots of memories of spending time at the beach, including my one-and-only trip to the ER for stitches. (Darn you sharp-tailed sea creature, I still have a scar!) But, despite the emergency room visit, I still loved going to the beach.

Obviously, living in Kansas hasn't afforded us nearly as many opportunities to beach it up. Especially having kids. But, my mom had a big birthday this year and wanted to celebrate with a big family trip to the North Carolina shoreline.

So, July 14th, we packed everyone up and headed to the beach. My mom rented a house again, and 16 people were going to be staying in it. Many of those 16 people chose to drive to the house in Emerald Isle, NC, but we decided to take the easy way with two children and fly.

My dad also flew with us because he had decided to have neck surgery two days before we left, and didn't think it would be wise to drive. I'm not so sure flying was that smart, either, but he made it there and back and is still alive, so I guess it turned out ok. But, that explains the neck brace in all of these pictures. I promise, my dad's fashion sense is iffy at best, but not that completely crazy. :)

Molly, Charlotte and my dad after getting off our tiny plane in New Bern, NC.
We rented a car and drove from New Bern to Emerald Isle. The girls were dying to see the ocean. It was both of their first times to see or be at the beach. So, after unpacking, we immediately went down to check out the water.
Such a great view from the deck of our beach house.

Sea shells!

Our beach house is the one on the right. We were majorly intrigued by the monolith on the left. We finally did some cyber-stalking on it and discovered that it rented for a mere $11,000 a week. 

Some girls and their dad.

Whee! My feet in the ocean.

Having fun.

The girls then decided they needed to be in swimsuits.

Molly loved being in the water.

Charlotte decided the sand was more her speed.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Great Lafferty Family Sleepover Adventure

The 4th of July wasn't just one day of celebrating for us. It was a whole weekend of activities. On the 5th, we all packed up our bags and trekked over to Lenexa for the Great Lafferty Family Sleepover Adventure. What's that, you ask? Well, all of us, including me and Cory, slept over with Cory's parents at Cory's parents' house with his sister Amber and her boyfriend Tom. It was one full house.

Pat and Joan (Cory's parents) had the whole evening planned out with myriad events and activities. Balloon toss, tie-dyeing, slip-and-slide, bubbles ... you name it was probably on the list. We were not to be bored during this adventure.

First up was tie-dyeing. Molly had actually learned how to tie-dye at Daisy Girl Scout camp this summer, so she was very excited to do it again. We all got pillowcases, and then I read the instructions that came with the kit. I don't know if it will shock you or not, but I am always the only one who reads instructions in this family for games, crafts or putting together furniture. Why everyone doesn't do this, I could not tell you. C'mon people. They have instructions for a reason!

Tom and Amber working on their pillowcases.

Molly and Charlotte. Charlotte was very concerned with the gloves she had to wear.

Showing them how it's done when you read the instructions!

Next on the agenda was the water balloon toss. We don't have that many pictures of that because, well, we were all throwing water balloons everywhere.

Charlotte and Molly staking out the water balloons.

Trying to get everyone lined up for the game.

Then: the bean bag toss.
Charlotte's skills.

Somehow Amber and Tom got on a team together. You'd think that would make them front-runners. You'd be wrong.

Molly was very serious.

Eh, I was not.
As we were finishing the bean bag toss, Molly kept questioning who was winning. Like constantly. I mean, I have no idea where she could possibly get that competitive streak from. Er, oh, yeah, perhaps it was my awesome display of parental modeling from the day before at the 4th of July race. Whoops.