It’s Beach Party Time!

Today we celebrated Nell’s 5th birthday at her annual party on the beach. This year’s theme was a luau, which the kids celebrated with grass skirts, leis, coconut cups, and all the usual beach party toys we provide each year — buckets, shovels, nets, bubbles, beach balls, etc.  Nell also wanted to bring her paddleboard so she could show her friends how she can paddle and let them try.  The kids were thrilled to try her board, and Nell was proud to show them how she could stand up and paddle.

It was a long day at the beach — Nell was there from about 8am-3pm, though Guy took KK home much earlier for his nap and some snuggles. But we lucked out with beautiful weather — probably the hottest, least windy birthday party she has had since we moved to the beach — and she declared the day a success.

Gorgeous morning on the beach as we were setting up

20160731_070801

Luau ready!20160731_084458 20160731_084530 20160731_084600 Nell wanted coconut cups and grass skirts. Check and check.20160731_092523 IMG_8067 (Large) IMG_8068 (Large) IMG_8075 (Large) IMG_8082 (Large) IMG_8085 (Large) IMG_8088 (Large) IMG_8090 (Large) IMG_8096 (Large) IMG_8099 (Large) IMG_8101 (Large) IMG_8102 (Large) IMG_8111 (Large) IMG_8112 (Large) IMG_8114 (Large)

Nell wanted to show all of her friends who she could stand up and paddle. I was not allowed to touch her board!IMG_8124 (Large) IMG_8125 (Large) IMG_8134 (Large) IMG_8143 (Large)

Hula girl cake and presents!IMG_8148 (Large) IMG_8153 (Large) IMG_8162 (Large) IMG_8173 (Large)

And just in case you still don’t quite feel like you were there:

* * 1 0 0 ! * *

100yearsago-758x847

On June 22, 2016, Nell — Mom’s mom, grandmother to K and me, and great grandmother to Nell and Guy — turned 100.  She received cards and letters from friends, family, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

She was also featured on The Today Show (link will take you to the clip, screen shot below).  Since being on the show, numerous people have told her that they saw her on television, which she has been quite thrilled with!

Gma today show 100

The weekend of her birthday, the family headed up to New Jersey to celebrate with her.  Mom and Uncle M planned a fabulous little luncheon at an Italian restaurant near her home, and K brought with her a gorgeous cake that both Nells thoroughly enjoyed.

download_20160625_164127 download_20160625_164329~220160625_145608

(Guy is in this picture in spirit. He is actually asleep on the floor on a pile of car blankets just by Nell’s feet.  But I know better than to wake a sleeping toddler for a photo op.)

Edited to add this late edition photo sent in from family!  Proof that Guy parties hard.

IMG_0210

It was a really lovely party, and Grandma Nell had a wonderful time.  Most of us in the room had not seen one another since her 90th party, so it was a terrific opportunity to catch up with cousins — which we will do again for her 105th!

February

February doesn’t get a lot of love (ironically) from people, as the shininess of the holiday season is long forgotten and the drudgery of winter is starting to seem interminable. But the truth is, I’ve always had a soft spot for February (though March, don’t get me started on March!).

For all the snowstorms and short days that February throws at us in Maryland, the month has brought me a lot of happiness, and I celebrate a number of wonderful moments and milestones in February that make the month special. G and I celebrated 11 years together this month.  We celebrated six years as a three dog family (or six years of Sally harassing the other dogs).  I celebrated four years at my current organization — a place where I enjoy working as much today as I did four years ago.

And this month, I turned 34.

In college and shortly thereafter, 34 seemed old.  28, perhaps, I could handle, but 34 was too far away to contemplate.  And people with kids?  A generation away from me.  It’s hard to envision then, when you’re young and everything about being young seems wonderful, how happy you will be to turn 34.  And I was right that getting older isn’t all sunshine and puppies (though we got a lot of puppies along the way) — but what I didn’t know then, that I wish I could tell my younger self, is that the hardest years aren’t necessarily the oldest years, and with time comes a set of changes that I hadn’t foreseen.

When I think of my life since college — 12 years or thereabouts — the hardest time wasn’t those first days out of school trying to make my mark, nor is it the current stage I am in.  It was the time in the middle — the 27s, the 28s, the time when I was becoming a wife and then a mom, and transitioning from young staff to middle staff at work.  It was a time full of question marks, frustrations, and second guesses. My ambitions for a great career and fame eased away slowly like the tide, as new priorities washed up each year — G, the dogs, the kids.  And each time something changed, I found myself wondering about me.  It was so hard for me to pinpoint who I was in my 20s, because it seemed that with each new year, new change rolled in, and the version of me I knew was changing along with it.

People are often quoted as saying that each decade gets better and they wouldn’t wish their 20s on anyone — something that I really didn’t understand for a long time.  But it’s true, and it’s also true that with time comes perspective.  When I think back to my late 20s and then think ahead to now, I realize how much I’ve learned.

I’ve learned that
I can be content with my career and proud of my work even if I am not reaching for the stars or striving to be CEO of the world.

I’ve learned that
I need to take time to do things that matter to me and be everyday grateful to have a husband who understands that need and helps me make time.

I’ve learned that
I can get my ass kicked in paddleboard races by 20 year olds and 50 year olds alike, because it isn’t age that makes a difference, but time and effort toward making yourself better.

And in watching those 50 year olds paddle past me, I’ve learned that
While it (truly) seems like I will always be tired and never have enough time for life, things will change again and one day future me will have more time for things like writing and cooking and being with G, and there will be a day when we wake up without a 2 year old alarm clock shouting WAKE UP MOMMY.

Most importantly, I have learned that
I am not defined by being a wife or a mom or a writer or a paddleboarder (or anything else), but I am defined by being a wife, a mom, a writer, and a paddleboarder (and more). I am sure I will add another piece to that equation one day, and it will take time for me to make that adjustment too — to figure out what that me looks like.  But for now, I am whole.

And I am so happy to be 34.

 

After the party…

…are all the other parties!

Christmas is just the start of a whole lot of celebrating that we do around here.  The next day is G’s birthday (for one sweet month, he is an extra year older than I am!), and this year, K was nice enough to watch the kids for us so I could surprise G with a night in Annapolis. Dinner, drinks, some football, and a night at the Annapolis Waterfront Hotel.  We had a great time, and it was so nice to be away — this was actually our first time leaving Guy since he was born.  (And if we are being honest, the kids were probably more okay with it all than I was!)

Our friends joined us for the night, and we all took some quick pictures in Snowflake Alley before finding the best ice cream shop in town.

annapolis greg and erinannapolis dan and caseyOnce we got back, we celebrated at Mom and Dad’s house with dinner and chocolate cake!

IMG_1330  IMG_1320

We took advantage of the kids going to school last week to clean up Christmas while they weren’t home, which gave them plenty of room to pull out their new Christmas toys and make all new kinds of messes.

Bye bye, Christmas…

20151230_094601

Hello new toys!  Like Nell’s fairy garden!20160101_105735 20160101_153531 20160101_153538

And Mickey Mouse Play-Doh!20160103_144429

And Perler beads!20160103_150934

And plasmacar races around the house!

20151227_112734 20151227_112736 20151227_112817

(Don’t be fooled by her innocence — she is smiling because she is winning!)

We are definitely not ready for Monday and the return of 4:30 am wake-up calls.  Yegh.  Is it bedtime yet?

 

A Guest Post From Guy

Hi friends, it’s Guy.  I am pretty sure Nell got to guest-post WAY before she turned 2, but I wear pink diapers to school, so I think we all know where the second child stands in this scenario. 

20151026_163618~2

I turned 2, and for that I got two shots.  While I was screaming in pain from the doctor, Mom was screaming with joy that her daycare costs just went way down.  Her priorities are clearly in the wrong place.  I don’t think she shed a single tear about the fact that I am no longer a baby — in fact, I recently saw her diaper bag (in which I may or may not have smooshed old fruit snacks) IN THE TRASH.

Not that I am potty trained — let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Toilets are good for three things: stuffing my toys in, and… okay, toilets are good for one thing.  Just one.  But that light-up shark sword isn’t going to swirly itself.

20151028_060220_resized 20151028_060222_resized

Back to the horrifying doctor’s office appointment.  The post-it note Mom took home instead of a sticker reports I am 25.2lb and 33″ tall.  Nell’s two-year stats were 22lb and 32″ tall, which means I am going to need to start hanging from monkey bars because sister is short and I thought I was further ahead at this point.

And speech — everyone is always asking me to talk.  “Baby Guy, say MOON.  Baby Guy, say PUMPKIN.”  Goodness gracious, people.  I know so many words at this point that my therapist doesn’t even think I will qualify for speech services again when I get retested in February.  Six months ago no one thought I could even hear and now I am practically testing out of this system!  That is some kind of crazy progress, but it would be nice to get a break and some recognition.  Something like, “Baby Guy, you don’t need to say a thing. You know so much already.  Just sit and silently watch Mickey Mouse.”  That’d be nice, right?

20151029_181209~2

Although, admittedly, while I may have a lot of words, I also insert those words into my own magical language that only Mom, Nell, and my teacher understand.  Sometimes Dad, too, but I think Nell translates most of that for him.

Here’s some Guy talk just in case you happen to be watching me one of these days and I need you to know what to get me.

“Aw joo bot.”  I want a juice box.

“Aw bee bee on mih mouse!” I want the TV on.  And make it Mickey.

“Uh Neh?” Where is Nell?  (Though my favorite is to ask mom where dad is when we’re in a crowded space and then when she tells me he is at work or some other ridiculous place, I like to start shouting DADDY! as loud as I can with an increasing note of urgency in my voice as though this person holding me isn’t actually even my mommy. Ha!)

“Stop it. Not nice.”  Oh, well, I guess this one is right.  Sometimes I know how to say the things that are really important to me.  Like stop taking my toys, Neh.

Speaking of toys, a whole bunch of pink stuff was recently relocated from Nell’s room to my room, and Mom swears she is going to paint it to match, but right now things are looking an awful lot like the inside of my diaper drawer.

20151029_193758 20151029_193755 20151029_193738

Also weird, I go to bed at night in Mommy and Daddy’s bed, and when I wake up in the middle of the night for water and a snuggle, I am in a Hello Kitty bed, which definitely is not something I picked out.  Honestly, I hope they’re saving for my therapy because this second child is going to need it.

As for Nell, the child who literally thinks everything we own belongs to her, including my minion toys, I overheard the following exchange between her and my mommy the other night:

Where’s Baby Guy?
He is sleeping in the little bed.
What little bed?
The little Hello Kitty bed.
But that’s MY HELLO KITTY BED!
Well yes, but you said you wouldn’t sleep in it. So I just figured I would give it to Guy and you wouldn’t care.
Oh.

He can have it. 

I must learn from her manipulative ways. Not only does she get what she wants, but I have been kicked out of my own warm King-sized bed!

Before I go, here are a few more things you should know about me:

Likes: books (especially books with animals), painting, music and dancing, bubbles, Mickey Mouse, minions, being outside, making parents chase me, bananas, toys that double as weapons, the color yellow, running away before I have pants on, throwing/hitting/kicking balls, jumping in puddles/water fountains/pools, my sister’s iPad, pretend ice cream.

Dislikes: stuff I am told I can’t have.

20151029_193527

And finally, it’s almost Halloween, and I just want anyone who lives near us who may be reading this to know that I like lollipops and kit kats.  And also, I didn’t pick out my costume.  It goes with Nell’s costume, which she did get to pick out. #secondchildproblems, am I right?

And with that, a big wave and bye byes.