Sunday, February 21, 2010

The 2010 CharLympics

Charlie turned one on Saturday! Since we've been glued to the Vancouver Winter Olympics every night, we celebrated our little guy with some Olympics of our own. It was so special to have Rob's family with us from Geneva, IL; our dear friends, Jeff, Paige and Jackson came over too. We sang Happy Birthday to Charlie at 5:40pm, marking the moment he came into our world last February 20th. One minute he wasn't here and the next he was. What a difference a minute can make! After chicken chili and hot dogs, we lit Charlie's candle (Madeline helped blow it out) and set him loose on his mini cake. He attacked it with gusto, not so much eating it as squeezing it between his fingers and mashing it into his hair.

Afterward, the 2010 CharLympics officially began. Each person at the party represented a different country; Charlie was the good 'ol USA. The kids curled, sliding frisbees across the kitchen floor, and luged, careening around the first floor in laundry baskets. We loved watching Charlie put all his discarded wrapping paper in a big cardboard box, then pull it out, then put it back in, the pull it back out....(you get the picture). Naturally, there was a medal ceremony before everyone scattered for bedtime.
Happy birthday, Charlie! We love you!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, Charlie!

Happy birthday, sweet Charlie. Today you turned one. We celebrated and had lots of fun -- I'll tell you more about that another time. Right now you're sleeping peacefully in your footed tractor pajamas -- you've been busy! And not just today, but every day leading up to this one. At first, you worked so hard just to hold up your head. Now you crawl at lightening speed and you've taken your first steps. You have seven teeth and and you eat right off our plates. You wrap your arms around your daddy's neck and hug him every night when he gets home from work. You adore your big sister, and she adores you.

Je t'aime, Charles. We're head over heels. Sweet dreams little boy.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Reader Discretion Advised

Parenting is not for the faint-hearted. Neither is this blog post, so if you have a weak stomach (or if you aren't a parent yet but think you want to be), skip over this one and come back next week. Read on if you're tough, but not while you're eating lunch...

Recently, I was covered in poop and throw up before the clock even struck 6am. Some days are just like that. No big deal; you just toss in a load of hot laundry and start making the peanut butter toast. Any mom knows this. Charlie has been a puker since the day he was born. The first time we tried the pacifier, he retched and vomited. Now if he's ticked off that he's ready to get up but we don't fully appreciate his 5am alarm, he makes sure we pay attention. Oh yeah, mom? Here it comes! Two weeks ago, Charlie had a nasty case of diarrhea (that might be the first time I've ever written that word. I literally had to Google it since "diahria" didn't look right). It was so bad that even though we double diapered him, it managed to slip out of a leg hole and shoot down his pants with a "plop" sound on the hard wood. I realized at that moment that the side of my body I'd been carrying him on was slimed. I changed my clothes, but will admit that the day before, I didn't. Just got a wet wash cloth and went on my way.

Now we're on constant turd-alert. Madeline has mastered using the toilet, but doesn't always remember to flush. And she loves to sneak upstairs and use the guest bathroom; sometimes days go by before we discover her little surprises. Before she was toilet trained, I was changing Madeline's Number Two diaper after just laying Charlie down to sleep for his morning nap. I started dry heaving uncontrollably as I worked over her. Sidenote: This is a problem I have, which most often presents itself in public restrooms. I wonder if Charlie got his killer gag reflex from me? Regardless, I was scaring the heck out of Madeline as tears streamed down my cheeks. I couldn't stop midway through the task at hand, but couldn't even speak I was retching so hard. Meanwhile, I could hear Charlie growing hysterical in his crib upstairs, so I finished cleaning Madeline's bottom, did a fly-by barf in the kitchen sink, then ran upstairs to grab the little guy. As soon as I picked him up, he puked all down the front of me. I ripped off his clothes and mine, then realized he'd been so upset because his diaper was full too.

All that in a span of about three minutes.

And let's face it, when you aren't covered in bodily fluid (cringe), you're probably covered in peas or squash or liquefied crackers. This job is messy; sometimes even nasty. It's easy to glorify my corporate marketing days when I sipped coffee in three inch heels, wore pearls, led meetings and earned bonuses. But then I remember the pressure and deadlines and long hours in the office -- no job is perfect. And even the messy stuff has a flip side. It's hands-on, active love. Something as simple as changing my babies' diapers -- literally cleaning their soft skin and making them comfortable again -- is providing basic care to a helpless creature.

Well, on that note, Charlie just woke up with a load in his pants. Duty calls...

Friday, February 12, 2010

They Really Like Each Other!

Lately Madeline and Charlie have become great pals! For the first six months of Charlie's young life, their relationship could be boiled down to a general awareness. Madeline would join him for tummy time, and often asked to hold him, but she'd get bored after about 13 seconds and toss him aside (I was always there to catch him as he toppled over). Then, once Charlie started crawling, Madeline had to adjust to him snatching her toys. She would hop up on furniture and say, "Mommy, get Charlie!" as he came closer and closer...

But lately, they genuinely enjoy each other. Madeline begs me to let Charlie sleep in her room with her. She loves jumping into his toddler bathtub with him, and lovingly roughs him up with her enthusiastic hugs and kisses. That said, three year olds are clever and manipulative -- she has learned to tell me she was "just giving Charlie a hug" when she happens to take his toy or accidentally (hmmm...) knock him down. But these lapses are few and far between. Most of the time, she's rubbing his back, sharing her juice boxes, climbing into his crib with him or helping feed him dinner (messy but adorable). In fact, the other day, Charlie started crying while Madeline was upstairs. She bolted down and bellowed with heartbreaking concern, "Does Charlie want me?" I melted when a neighbor asked Madeline who her best friend was and she answered matter-of-factly that it was her Charlie.

My sisters are my best friends. Maybe it's for this reason that I feel one of my most important jobs as a mother is to foster respect and lifelong friendship between my children. I remember reading an article in Time magazine several years back saying that siblings are the unexplained force that shapes our personalities:
From the time they are born, our brothers and sisters are our collaborators and co-conspirators, our role models and cautionary tales. They are our scolds, protectors, goads, tormentors, playmates, counselors, sources of envy, objects of pride. They teach us how to resolve conflicts and how not to; how to conduct friendships and when to walk away from them. Sisters teach brothers about the mysteries of girls; brothers teach sisters about the puzzle of boys. Our spouses arrive comparatively late in our lives; our parents eventually leave us. Our siblings may be the only people we'll ever know who truly qualify as partners for life. "Siblings," says family sociologist Katherine Conger of the University of California, Davis, "are with us for the whole journey."
It's a privilege to be Madeline and Charlie's mom. Individually, they bring more joy and laughter to our lives than we could hope for. But to watch them together? Now this is the good stuff.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bridal Extravaganza

I had an amazing four days in Denver celebrating Mollie, the beautiful bride, as she plans for her September wedding. It was nothing short of an extravaganza. Ning flew Andi and me in from Nashville and D.C (she herself flew in from Minneapolis), then surprised Mollie on Saturday morning with a white stretch limo and two dozen tulips. And it only got better and better (the champagne was flowin')! Mollie looked exquisite in every gown she put on. But our little secret was that she already has a gorgeous BCBG gown hanging in her closet (and we found our bridesmaid dresses the night before)! Andrea and I hosted a special bridal shower for her at a trendy New Orleans style restaurant called bang! -- we gave her a Tiffany necklace with her new married monogram and after a wonderful lunch, we ate decadent cupcakes that collectively spelled Lovely Mollie. Then we were treated to pedicures by two of Mollie's Denver bridesmaids and came home to watch girlie bridal-themed movies and eat sushi delivery. The next morning, a friend of Nancy's hosted an elegant bridal brunch for Mollie and Kenny. We are so excited for the wedding to come!

Rob and I divided-and-conquered: I took Charles to Denver and he took a few days off work to hang out with Madeline at home. Charlie was a dream on the plane both ways, and charming entertainment for a house full of girls. Back in Nashville, Rob and Madeline had an absolute blast! They went to the Adventure Science Center, Chick-fil-A, out for ice cream, the toy store and Starbucks. Rob got her a basketball hoop and they had had so much fun being silly, noisy and bonding in a very special way. The first day Rob went back to work, Madeline kept asking me sweetly, "Where's my daddy? I want my daddy!" Nothing could make me happier than to see the blooming life-long relationship between father and daughter. Could anything possibly be more important?