Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Sunshine In You!


(Photo by Paprika, age 5)

Every photo I take of Violet, she is smiling. And it's not just photos. She is always smiling. She is happy inside her soul.

It reminds me of a few quotes I have heard lately:

Now and then, it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy. -Guillaume Apollinaire


and also:

The secret to having it all is believing you already do. -Unknown


One thing I really try to reinforce with my kids (and with myself, too!) is that our external circumstances do not make us happy. It's not about what we have, or how the events of our day unfold.

The number one way to be happy is to just be happy.

It doesn't matter how much money you have, or if the garbageman forgets to pick up your garbage, or if the plumbing bursts and your entire sewerline backs up into your shower while you are bathing (this happened to me last week).

In the big scheme of things, these are little things. Have you ever noticed how some people are perpetually unhappy? This or that little thing goes wrong, and they are mad at the world? And then some people have so little and yet...and yet, they are always smiling a real genuine smile?

Why is that?

I am not talking about when horrible and tragic things happen to people and they go through a period of mourning and grieving. I understand that there are TIMES when it is so justified and right to just be sad.

No, what I am talking about is the genuine equilibrium of a person. And how some people are able to harness that sweet sunshine in their souls and just be happy for what is.

Be happy for the sunlight. And when there is no sunlight, happy for the rain. And the moon. And the stars. And when there are no stars, then happy for breath and the chance to wake up again tomorrow.


A big part of happiness is being present. Is there anyone more present than a baby? Before the world has taught us to want, before the world coerces with we will only be happy when or if...

A baby knows that our happiness is now. There is no reason to want when everything we could ever need is right in front of us. We don't need a reason to smile because everything is a reason to be happy.

My sweet Violet, you are only 8 months old and yet you teach me things every single day. I love the sunshine in you!


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Monday, July 30, 2012

It's Olympic Time!


Did you watch The Olympics this weekend? We did. Even though we don't have a television, we figured out a way.

On Friday, I was feeling a little depressed - I wanted so badly to watch but I couldn't figure out how to do it because NBC online requires you to verify your cable subscription and we don't have a subscription. I felt like everyone else got invited to a party and I couldn't go. I remember every Olympics since I was about 13 years old, even the one I watched on my tiny black and white TV in my bedroom as a teenager. I couldn't miss it.

We have been a TV-free family for about 5 years now (maybe more?) - I don't miss it at all. The girls do watch programs on the computer, and most of my favorite shows are available online (Hulu, Netflix, etc.) But every once in awhile there is this pang when something big happens and the only way to see it is on TV.


Well, necessity is the mother of invention, right? Mr. M found an antenna in the closet that we've had for two years (he won it in a raffle)- and he figured out how to use the antenna to turn our computer into a television. Since the signal is digital now, the picture quality is amazing.

I was so grateful to him for his genius in setting it up. It was probably so trivial to him, but to me it was an incredible gift. So, now we can get all the free television stations on our computer. No more waiting until the next day to watch The Bachelor! Haha. We can even record the shows onto our hard-drive. I was like...is this legal? And yup, it is. Crazy, huh?

So, long story short, we got to see the Olympics. :-)


This was Paprika's second Summer Games. I remember watching the 2008 Summer Games in a hotel room in Panama City Beach, Florida with Mr. M and Paprika when Paprika was not even two years old. Vivian and Annemarie had just passed away, and I wasn't yet pregnant with Ginger. So, this is Ginger and Baby Violet's first Summer Olympics!


We watched the swimming finals of the Men's 400 Meter Individual Medley with the girls. Paprika was so excited about it. As they were swimming, I said to her, "That guy is the fastest swimmer in the world." And she looked at me and said (in all seriousness), "But I thought I was the fastest swimmer in the world!"

Clearly, our girl has gained some confidence in her swimming abilities. Haha.


One thing that was kinda weird about the Olympics for us as a family was all the commercials. I know that a lot of people have the ability to fast-forward through commercials now, and maybe we will be able to figure that out with the new set-up...but for right now, we're stuck watching commercials.

So, this weekend, Paprika and Ginger saw their first commercials ever. I kept muting them, but then Paprika would turn the volume back on and say, "No, I want to watch!" Most of the commercials were Olympic-themed, so I didn't mind it so much. But there were a few ads (like that McDonald's one about the sandwich under 400 calories) - that were in bad taste, literally! ;-)

I am really grateful that my girls have not been exposed to commercials and ads. Those commercials are so insidious, and I am pretty sure that my kids cannot tell the difference between an advertisement and actual content. Phew! Stepping off my soapbox now. :-)

We are really enjoying watching all the sports, and we are so proud of Team USA and all the athletes around the world. Part of the fun of the Olympics is watching it through the eyes of your kids and seeing all the hope in their eyes. Paprika is convinced SHE is going to the Olympics for swimming, and is now begging me to put her in gymnastics, too. There were a lot of jumps off the couch last night as we watched the women's gymnastics. :-)


I can remember where I was when I watched every Olympics for the past 20 years - and especially the Summer Games (my favorite). I wonder what memories my girls will have of this Olympics?

I am so excited and it's just getting started. I am in Heaven watching and cheering along with the rest of the world! How about you?

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

It's The Little Things


Yesterday, Paprika ate a whole banana. I know this may not seem newsworthy to most, but around here, it was a big deal!

If you've been reading this blog long, you know that Paprika saw a Pediatric OT for many months for feeding issues. We've travelled to the moon and back to try to get Paprika to expand her diet.

She ate a strawberry once (a year ago). And yesterday, she ate a WHOLE banana. It was awesome! She gagged on it at first, but was able to get it down, and then she said it was delicious.

I was so proud of her, I can't even express it appropriately. It is funny for me to say that I am proud of my daughter for eating a banana, but really...it's about trying new things. When you see your child succeed at something that you know is really hard for them, it is just such an awesome feeling. I don't think I'd be more proud if she won an Olympic Gold medal. Go Paprika, Go!

Now the trick is getting her to eat it a second time. Haha! ;-)

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Friday, July 27, 2012

A New 'Do!


Do you notice anything different about Paprika?! Last week she had the second haircut of her life! Her first haircut was two years ago, so it was about time. Haha.

She has been talking forever about how she wants to grow her hair like Rapunzel. I was really supportive of that, but with swimming every day, it just got to be too much. That chlorine really does a number on her hair, and she refuses to wear a swim cap...so let's just say that our morning routine involved A LOT of brushing (ouch!)


I told Paprika that if we cut her hair, we could go to Target and pick out a special Barbie she'd been wanting. She got so excited about that, she couldn't run to the bathroom fast enough to get her hair cut! Haha.


I was so nervous, I almost cried. It was so emotional for me, cutting those long baby locks.

Snip. Snip.


Paprika was decidedly less emotional about it than I was! ;-)


Right after her haircut, we all loaded up in the van and went to Target to pick out her toy. Ginger went off to grocery shop with Mr. M while I stayed with Paprika in the toy aisle.


She went straight for the toy she really wanted. It was a Barbie Bridal Set, and I know she's been wanting it for awhile. I looked at it, and it was $42. I was more expecting to get her an $8 Barbie...so I just said quietly, "Wow, Paprika, that one's over $40."

She looked at my face. I was trying to figure out how to tell Mr. M that I was going to get Paprika a $40 Barbie for getting her hair cut. When she saw that look on my face, she immediately put the Barbie back on the shelf and said, "Nevermind. I will save up to buy that one with my own money that I earn from doing chores."

I said, "No sweetie, you can get it."

And she said, "No mom, it's okay. It's too much money. I can choose a different one and save up for that one later."

Be. Still. My. Freaking. Heart.

I felt so happy and sad and overwhelmed, all at the same time. I didn't even know what to say, so I let her pick out a different doll.


She went for the Merliah Surfer Barbie, so I didn't feel too sorry for her. Ha!

She was so excited, she had to bring her to swim lessons to show her teacher.


And then, of course, her doll got a swim lesson, too!


The End.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I Am Your Sweetheart!


Ginger is at such a sweet age. I know every age is precious...I know that. Right now just seems especially sweet with this little one. She is wild and happy, energetic, fun, and also just still a baby in so many ways.

It is crazy for me to think that eight months ago she was the baby of our family still, and how quickly all that changed when Violet was born. I know becoming a big sister turned her world upside down...for the better (because she got a great sister in the deal)!


Anyhoo, Ginger is just such a fireplug of energy, but then will surprise me by being the most cuddly, sweet girl ever.

She's a girl who knows her mind and her boundaries. If an adult she doesn't know well approaches her and tries to touch her, she will yell at the top of her lungs, "Get your hands off me! Don't touch me!!!" This usually happens when I'm carrying her on my back in the Ergo and someone approaches her to tell her what a cute little girl she is. Ha! I have to secretly confess that I love that about Ginger. She knows how to stand up for herself, and even though she has this itty bitty body, she is not afraid to speak her mind.

At the same time she is so determined and strong, she is also so incredibly loving and sweet. Ginger thrives on one-on-one attention. She adores it when she gets to do something special just with me. I took her to Target by herself the other night, and you would have thought I'd taken her to Disneyland. She loves that special time with just me more than any of the others, I think.

I have been making it a point to connect with her individually at many points during the day, but especially when she first wakes up, at transition times (changing activities), mealtimes, and before bed. That extra connection with just her (letting her know how important she is as an individual) has gone a long way in making her feel happy, secure, and loved.

I connect with all the kids in that way, but I find when I am intentional about it, it really makes such a huge difference. Violet naturally gets a huge amount of 1 on 1 time because she is attached to me 24/7. Paprika also gets a lot of 1 on 1 because of all the homeschooling stuff I do with her every day, her enrichment activities, and all her activities that I get her ready for each day.

It would be easy for me to lump Ginger in with Paprika, since they are always doing things together. But, I have made a conscious effort to celebrate Ginger individually and make sure she knows that I SEE her as her own person. Every day, I feel like I learn something new about each of my kids, and Ginger is no exception.


I did a little question/answer with Ginger the other night at bedtime, just to see what she thinks about things. Here is what she said:

Favorite food: Ice cream with cookies
Best friend: Mama
Favorite part of the day: Falling asleep in mama's bed
Other favorite part of the day: Snuggling wish (with) mama

If I ask her what I'm thinking about, she will put her hands on my head and say: You're thinking...I love you with all my heart. You are a precious little baby girl.

Probably because that's what I say to her all the time.

One other fun thing we have that's "just us" is that I'll say something like: I love your heart. And then she will say, I love your eyes. And then I'll say I love your smile. And it goes on and on and on with us telling eachother something we love about the other.

Another funny thing she does is that she is always making me food from her little play kitchen. Every day, she makes me these enormous pretend meals. She is always wanting to take care of me. She'll say to me: Okay, mama. I'm going to be the mama and you are going to be the sweetheart baby gurl.


Another little bedtime thing we do is that she will ask me to tell her the story of the Two Angels (Vivian and Annemarie) who sent her to me. I don't know how she came up with that, but she just did. And so most nights, I tell her that her twin sisters in Heaven sent her to me as a gift after they searched the Heavens for the most perfect and special baby girl to add to our family.

I can't tell you how happy that story makes her. She is always smiling when I tell it to her - especially the parts where I say that they searched all over for the smartest, sweetest, funniest, most wonderful baby girl they could find. Then when I'm done telling her the story, she will say, "Please tell me again!" :-)


Can you see why I am loving this stage with my sweet Ginger so much? In her words: I want to stay wish (with) you forever and ever, Mama. Wherever you go, that is where I want to be because you are my mama and I am your sweetheart.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Weekend Is For Partying!


It's already Tuesday, but I am still flying high from our very busy weekend. A weekend full of indulgence and fun, I might add!

Friday we spent the afternoon with some friends at the playground. The girls got soooooo dirty, it was unbelievable. I took them home afterwards and had to scrub (really scrub) the dirt off them. That's a sign of a good time, right?!

Friday night I got to go out with one of my friends - I haven't done that in so long. It's amazing how refreshing a glass of wine, an uninterrupted meal, and some girl talk can be. I didn't want the night to end, so I ordered dessert. :-)

Saturday, Paprika had a birthday party to attend...at that indoor bouncy house place. We got there and she was the ONLY girl at the party! The only one, in a sea of screaming six year old boys. She wanted to stay, so I had Mr. M stay with her while I took Ginger and Violet home. That place is way too rowdy for Ginger, and even Paprika had a hard time with it. I'm hoping that if she goes to birthday parties at this particular bounce house often enough that she will NOT want her birthday party there. Haha.

Anyway, I got home and saw on Facebook that two of my friends/neighbors were having a rib cook-off that evening. I jokingly asked if they wanted judges, and they invited us! It was last minute and impromptu- but it was just awesome. Mr. M and Paprika got home from the birthday party, and we all went over for dinner. Halfway through dinner, Paprika jumped in the pool with her clothes on...and so then it became a swimming party!

I went and got swimsuits and a floatie for Ginger, and they had the best time just swimming in the pool while the adults chatted poolside (we were always supervising them...don't worry!)

Violet missed her nap, but she held her own pretty well at the party and had a great time being passed back and forth between our friends. When we got home, she was so tired she fell asleep for the whole night. :-) That was pretty great!

violet-sleeping 2

We also had our weekly family picnic - we picked up food and hit the playground for the afternoon. I had planned on re-doing the family pictures, but when we got to our spot, they had trimmed the trees so much there was no shade - I mean, I am surprised the trees are still standing! So, I've got to find a new spot. I even got a remote for the camera, so I can try to take pictures without one of us running back and forth to set the timer.

Sunday night we were going to go out to dinner as a family, but Ginger refused to wear clothes and I didn't feel like paying good money to experience a meltdown...so, we ordered in and dined at home. If it sounds like all I did all weekend was eat and drink wine, well...that's about right! Haha. But it was a good and relaxing weekend.

Monday came too quickly with all its responsibilities - so we are back to reality now. I signed Paprika up for double daily swim lessons again (what was I thinking?!!!) - so now I am back to the routine of occupying Ginger and Violet for two hours every day while Paprika splashes in the pool. Ah, to be five years old again! :-)

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Friday, July 20, 2012

The Best Toys Money Can't Buy!


All of these pics were taken on my cellphone because I lost my Lumix! I feel lost without it. Haha. I am sure it will turn up in a toy bin in the next month or two. That's how most things get found around here lately. :-)


Here's Paprika on one of our afternoon playground jaunts...notice the swim hair. She usually takes a shower right after swimming, but some days not so much and this is what happens:


On this particular day, Paprika hit one of those awesome, yet bittersweet milestones. She learned how to swing herself on the big swing - now she can pump using her own legs. I have been trying to teach her to do it for about two years now, and she has always refused. She's been too scared, or wanted to give up before she even got started.

But this time, she did it! And then she was so proud of herself, she wouldn't stop. She wanted to swing herself for hours and go very high.


She said, "You never have to push me ever again! I can do it all by myself! I will never need someone to push me on the swings. This is amazing!"

And then my heart sank a little. Never push her again?! So, then I asked her if I could push her for just a few minutes. And she said yes.

So, my heart was happy and maybe just a teensy bit sad, too. I guess that's what this growing up thing is all about. ;-)


Ginger (age 3) loves to build towns - she does it at home with Duplo blocks and Legos. She creates lots of buildings and puts them all together into little cities. When we were at the playground, she made this "city" out of sticks.


It's funny, you think your kids need fancy toys, but really what my kids like best are sticks and dirt. Or sand. Or leaves. Or rocks. Or flowers. Or bugs.

Ginger's current favorite thing in the whole world is Big Ice (that's what she calls it). Basically, she takes a quart sized ziplock bag and fills it up with water. Seals it up. Then, puts it in the freezer. Once it's frozen, she takes it out and wraps it in a little towel. She wants to carry it around all day long and play with it.


When she first did it, I thought it was just kind of a kooky fluke. But now it's been going on a month, and every day, her favorite thing in the whole world is playing with her Big Ice.

I will admit, it is a little messy because the ziplock bags ALWAYS leak the water. But, she's so happy with it, I cannot refuse. So, if you come to my house and see a bunch of ziplocks bags in the freezer filled with blocks of ice, you will know why! Haha.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Groundhog Day!


I was talking to Devon the other day about how every day lately is seeming like Groundhog Day. The movie, not the holiday. Maybe that just means we have hit our summertime rhythm...our stride. :-)

Paprika has had double swim lesson every weekday for the past two weeks. So, she has a private lesson for 45 minutes, and then right after that she has her group lesson with two or three other kids.

This means I spend an hour and a half entertaining Ginger and Violet while Paprika is in the pool. I so wish Ginger would have taken lessons. But, she is very stubborn on that issue! So, for the first half of Paprika's lesson, Ginger usually plays educational games on the IPad. She's learned all her letters, the sounds they make, all her numbers up to 50, and she's teaching herself Chinese! Not to mention that she draws pretty cool artwork on the IPad. I know people are judging me when they see my barely three year old playing with the IPad. But, who gives a hoot. Really.

When she's "done" with the IPad (about 30 minutes in), I chase her around the park and try to get her to keep her clothes on. She is NOT a fan of clothes these days, so it is very challenging. Haha!


Anyway, the swimming has been a commitment for all of us but it is so worth it. It has been amazing for Paprika's self confidence and mood regulation. She is such a happy kid when she's in the water, and the effects last for the rest of the day.

We've also been doing an at-home art camp! That just means that I've bought a ton of art supplies and let the girls have at it.


They love painting, and last week I also got them oil pastels. They were such a hit - I took some solid colored scrapbooking paper I had in the closet (bright colors)- and the art they created was amazing. I am going to have to take some photos of that...but for now, here are the girls painting (and Ginger in her favorite shirt, of course...it says Everyone Poops...you know, like the book). :-)


Here's Daisy chilling in the backyard. She thinks she is a lapdog (probably because I carried her in the Ergo until she was 5 months old). She is really an awesome doggie. When I throw the ball with her in the backyard, she will jump up on the picnic table to hand me the ball because she knows it's hard for me to lean down with Violet in the Ergo. This picture was taken before her most recent bath, so she's looking a little dusty!

She is so gentle with the girls, and has become very close with Ginger (age 3). I had hoped for Paprika to have a closer relationship with Daisy, but so far that hasn't happened. Paprika is much more interested in insects, everything from roly polys to butterflies. I think Daisy overwhelms her a bit, but for Ginger, Daisy's temperment is perfect.


Paprika is very happy just to be off in her head, making friends with the bees and spiders, snails, and butterflies.

A few weeks ago before bedtime we were reading a book (Frog and Toad), and there was this part about a snail. Paprika stopped me and said, "I have snail friends, you know." I said, "Oh, what are their names?" She said, "Slugga and Lucy. And I have butterfly friends, too. Monty and White Pixie." For the record, Monty is what she named her butterfly who we released a YEAR ago. ;-)

So, the next day we were at the park and she saw a little white butterfly and ran over to it, saying: "White Pixie! So great to see you! I am so glad you are here. Flutter around and I'll see you soon!"


And then, just so you don't think I am forgetting about someone, here is Violet yesterday when we went over to my friend's pool for the afternoon. The big girls were in the pool and Violet was having a great time being passed back and forth and being loved on. She is a happy girl, and is truly up for whatever. Who has time for naps when life is so exciting? :-)


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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Violet is 8 Months!


Baby Violet is now 8 months old. She is unstoppable. She is a fast crawler. She can crawl up on all fours, but prefers the army crawl because it is faster. If I leave the back door open, she will be halfway across the yard in thirty seconds.

She loves to get up on her knees and she is trying to climb stairs already. She can sit up on her own, but usually she only does that for a few seconds before she crawls off in search of the next thing.

Violet is a happy baby. She laughs easily and she is always smiling. When she sees a camera, she LIGHTS up. She knows when her picture is being taken, and she loves it. Ha!


She is starting to love people food. She has started eating applesauce and of course, loves hummus. I gave her a little ice cream the other day, and she went wild for that. I thought she might not tolerate it because dairy used to bother her so much, but she seemed fine! It is amazing what a few months will do...

Violet LOVES music. Probably more than any baby I've ever met. She is so happy when someone is singing to her. She tries to sing in her own little baby dolphin voice. She is mesmerized by music, and loves to bang out her own tunes on the piano.

She has definite musical tastes. I bought a few Mr. Rogers CDs to play in the car for the big girls, and let's just say Violet is not a fan of Fred Roger's singing voice. Haha! She likes Raffi okay. She still loves Adele. She loves Jack Johnson - I got the Curious George movie soundtrack for the car, and Paprika and Violet both love it. Ginger is not a fan of it. You can't please everyone - especially not with three kids! :-)


Wherever I go, Violet is right there beside me. She loves to sit in her highchair and watch me load/unload the dishwasher. She loves to just be where I am. If I am near, then everything is a-okay in her book. I can't tell you how grateful I am every day when I look at her smiling face. She is bliss to me.


We are always going here or there because the big girls have things to do, and we can't just sit home all day. So, Violet has learned quickly how to nap in the Ergo. She is taking two naps/day - one short one in the morning and one longer one (an hour or two) in the evening. She always falls asleep in the Ergo, and I will either carry her in the Ergo the whole time she's napping or sometimes I can sit down and hold her. I'll put on a movie or educational game for the big girls, and just ENJOY these moments with my sweet baby. These days go by quickly, this I know for sure.


So, I have learned not to sweat the small things in life with a baby. Violet goes to sleep at 11 at night, and that is okay with me. I think the number one thing I am learning as the years go by in my parenthood journey is to listen to my own intuition and not worry about what others think. Everyone has their own way of doing things, and we do, too. That is the beautiful thing about getting to raise your own family. :-)

Well, that's the eight month update for Violet. She is as sweet as she can be, and I feel so lucky and blessed to be her mama. I wish I could freeze time with her, because it is all going by way too quickly. But, that is life. I love her more than words can describe, and I think she knows it. :-)


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