Friday, March 27, 2009

The First Block Party!

Last night our neighbors got together for our first outdoor cul-de-sac party! We've been saying since before the moving truck pulled out that we hit the jackpot living on this street with such friendly helpful, fun and social people. Our Louisiana-born neighbor, Stader, grilled enough meet for 30, and the rest of us brought a side dish. As the warm sun set, we lit up our firepit and watched as the kids excitedly roasted marshmallows (I found Madeline hunched over the bag stuffing one after another into her little mouth). The event was such a hit that we're planning several more and are starting a social blog for our street!

Rain Rain Go Away

Some days are easier than others. It's raining here so we've been cooped up indoors. Little Charlie's stomach hurts, so he's been crying (and he's already in his third outfit of the day); Madeline's a little stir crazy (like her mom), so she's been testing limits as only a clever two-year old can. She's also been keeping herself busy, which is wonderful! Except that today that meant filling a Tupperware with water from Maple's bowl and accidentally pouring the whole thing out on the leather couch while I helplessly nurse Charlie just out of reach... Our house looks like the Unibomber's training ground (evidence in the picture above). I haven't taken a shower yet today or finished my first cup of coffee (it's 12:59pm and I've reheated it six times....)

Here's the upside -- the sun came out for a few minutes and we sprinted out the door. It was brilliant after the lightening and thunder (which Madeline called a truck). It was fun watching Madeline jump and roll (yep) in the puddles (outfit number two for her) in her rain boots. Now both of my sweet children are peacefully sleeping. And I just finished my coffee.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thank You...

I had one of those wonderful moments that remind me how much I love my job, and that I'm exactly where I should be. Every night, we say bedtime prayers with Madeline -- a two-year-old version that goes something like, "Dear God, Thank you for the rain today that makes the flowers grow. Thank you for our family and our friends. And thank you for Mr. Potato Head." Last night, for the first time, I asked Madeline if she had anything she wanted to say thank you for. She took out her pacifier, looked at me and said, "Thank you for Mommy."


Monday, March 23, 2009

New Adventures

Charlie's already a month old! His little cheeks have filled out and he has busted out of his newborn diapers. I love watching him open his eyes and quietly look around. He is a sweet little boy who is waking up to the world around him -- we hear his voice a bit more now that we did in the first weeks.

You know that feeling of pure exhilaration when you're downhill skiing and you're going a little too fast, but you're still in control? Or the charge you felt when "the" guy called and asked you out?! (Maybe, just maybe, he was the tall Sigma Chi president named Rob with a low voice?). That's how I felt Monday. I....get ready for shopped for the first time with two kids. To say I was proud of myself when we were all loaded up in the car heading back home is like saying a shark is cute. I DID IT! was running through my mind on repeat. Now granted.... Charlie's giant infant carseat took up the entire grocery basket, so all the food (which I was buying in bulk to save trips) was underneath the cart and sliding onto the floor -- gallons of milk, bagged cheese, apples and bananas. Poor Madeline was buried underneath yogurt and cereal boxes. Not to mention that when I loaded Charlie back into the car, I found a bunch of unpurchased produce under his carseat that had to be sent back with the high school kid loading my groceries. No mushrooms this week. Oh well. I did it!

Though most everything feels easier this second time around with Charlie, I still experience all sorts of new "firsts" having two children instead of one. They require my finest multi-tasking skills (and sometimes a facade of calm when it feels like I need a clone). Thank you, corporate America. My six years out there prepared me well for this!

Happy 2nd Birthday, Madeline May!

Little Miss Madeline is two years old! Or, as she would say, "I six!" Leading up to her birthday, when I would explain that she was actually two, she would compromise and say, "Okay. I five." She finally acquiesced and now declares that she's two when asked. Last Thursday, Rob came home from work with flowers, an Elmo balloon and a cookie with M&Ms ("em-ee-ems!") for his little girl! He sure knows the way to her heart. Mads and I sang Happy Birthday all day along ("Again! Again! Again!") so that I was horse by the evening.

On Saturday, to celebrate with some of her friends, we had a tea party in honor of Princess Mimi (Ning's nickname for her since she was born). We put on our party dresses, as did most of our guests! We had hats, white gloves, mini purses and lots of costume jewelry at the door when people arrived. It was a beautiful day, and we nibbled on sugar cookies, cupcakes, sweet tea and mimosas (just the grown ups, of course!). I watched as Madeline's little fingers streched up to the cupcake platter over and over again as she licked the frosting and went back for more. And you know what? Why not! It was her birthday!

I was struck by how much Madeline enjoyed being the center of attention. She danced her funny erratic dance to the music, ran laps around the house, ripped open her presents with glee and joyfully shared her toys (yes, a two-year-old sharing!) with her friends. It occurred to me that I was witnessing her innate personality -- outgoing, exuberant, sweet -- and that she was truly enjoying herself! What a joy!

Two years have flown by. Cradling Charlie in my arms reminds me of holding Madeline when she was only a month old -- a little helpless, sweet newborn bundle. Happy Birthday, little girl! We love you!

A Special Visit from Aunt Andi

My sister Andrea came to town last weekend, and boy did we have fun! Madeline just loves her Aunt Andi (and so do I!). It was so wonderful to have another pair of hands, and Andi's energy and enthusiasm was a perfect match for Madeline's exuberance. It was so fun to watch them together. Andi, who will graduate with a nursing degree in two months, was also wonderful with Charlie, peacefully holding him for hours and giving me lots of breaks. In fact, I even went to a salon for a haircut! But by far, the most fun was the birthday party we had a few days early so we could all celebrate together. Madeline immediately draped herself head to toe in the dress ups that Ning sent (from the clip-on earrings right down to the feathered "high heels"), and just loved all the art crafts that Andi gave her, including an apron that they decorated together with fabric markers! We can't wait for Andi's next visit in April when she's in Nashville for a nursing convention. Here are some more fun pictures from our weekend...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mollie Meets Charlie!

We had a wonderful time during Mollie's visit this past week! She and Madeline were best buds -- totally inseparable. And since my sisters, Mollie, Andrea and I, are best buds too, I told Rob that having Mols here would be like him bringing his best friend to work. I just loved Mollie's company and appreciated her help so much. We divided and conquered! She and Madeline played and played -- I loved listening in on their 17-course tea parties and overhearing Madeline "help" Mollie put on her make-up as they both got ready for each day. We took the kids on long walks in the beautiful 79 degree weather, ran around at the playground, took Madeline to school, and had lots of fun lunches out and dinners at home. Mols was wonderful with Charlie too! He would fall asleep on her chest for hours at a time; he looked like a little jellybean snuggled up into her neck. The coup d'etat was Mollie treated Rob and me to Thai take-out and then sent us on a date! We went to Ben and Jerry's in downtown Franklin and split an ice-cream sundae -- we sat outside talking like it was a warm July evening in March. Stepping away from the phone, laundry and all responsibilities -- even if it's just for an hour -- is the most thoughtful gift new parents could receive. One night, Rob brought home flowers to celebrate Aunt Mollie Night. Thank you Mollie! We're so excited about our next visitor -- Aunt Andi arrives today and we can't wait!

On another note, Madeline sure does keep Rob and I laughing! A few days ago when she woke up, I asked her if she would like cereal or an egg for breakfast. She thought about it as I changed her diaper, and thoughtfully answered (in all seriousness)..."jamalaya." Then tonight during dinner, as she devoured our edamame appetizer, she looked at me and proudly said "Ed-a-ma-mee," which is not the easiest word for a two-year old to say. Then, she looked at Rob and said proudly, "Ed-a-DAD-EE!"

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pants Off Dance Off

We have a little nightly ritual. If you walk by the Vlach house around 6:30pm, you'll likely hear the bass pumping and shrieks of uncontrollable laughter behind the drawn blinds. Every night after dinner, we have a dance party. Madeline asks for "moosic peeze" and begs for more songs when it's finally time to head upstairs for her bath. The only way she'll relent is with the promise of another dance party tomorrow night. So with Outkast, Madonna, Brittany or Kanye playing loudly, we swing Madeline around and watch her original dance moves, which look like some sort of erratic tribal dance with lots of hopping. And for some reason, 45 seconds into the first song, she almost always throws herself to the ground, stripping out of her pants and socks.

If you're a guest in our house, don't think you're off the hook. Everyone dances (but we'll let you leave your pants on...)

Life with Two

I can't believe we have two kids! Doesn't that seem grown up? But even more so, I can't believe I have a son! That Charlie will grow to be a man, that he'll ask girls to prom, that he'll have sideburns, stubble and smelly shoes, and he'll play sports I don't fully understand. That he may tower over me by the time he's 16. My heart broke the other day when I realized that he'll ask girls out and some of them might say thanks, but no thanks. But that he'll keep asking until one day he finds the love of his life and I'll have a daughter-in-law! Rob says let's get through T-ball first before we start planning weddings. The little fingers on his over-sized infant hands remind me of a lab puppy; his little athletic boy legs are so different from Madeline's feminine ones. Having only sisters and aunts, I still can't believe I carried a son for nine months and just found out two weeks ago!

Life with two is even more terrific than we imagined! Remembering back to when we brought Madeline home from the hospital as brand new (terrified but excited) parents, Rob and I both prepared for these early weeks like we were hunkering down for a category four hurricane. Instead, we feel relaxed and blissfully happy. It's more work, but manageable. We toss Charles into his carseat and go!

The day shift when Rob's at work and it's two-on-one requires a little more planning, juggling and sprinting up and down the stairs (thank goodness for security gates), but we're having fun. Every night, before we eat dinner together, we say grace and remember all that we're grateful for -- our little family, our health, Rob's job in this tough economy and the things that make life good!