Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The summer wrap-up so this blog will stop stressing me out post

We just returned from a long and wonderful (and horrible at moments) vacation, and I was able to read two books in a row.  And they weren't even written by Dr. Seuss.  Can you believe that?  Still difficult for me to believe, BUT anytime I read I am inspired to write.  Even if I do happen to read books by Chelsea Handler and Tina Fey, but that's beside the point.  I mean, if they were able to find time to write, then why can't I???

But I have these nagging feelings that I absolutely must get finished with my "summer of slacking on the blog posts" prior to writing about what is going on in my world and mind right now.  Finding the time has never been easy, BUT I might have a solution:  make Mimi take a nap.  It sounds crazy, I know, but she has actually been napping since she got the "cold from hell" a few weeks ago.  Remember I wrote that it wasn't a big deal -- just a runny nose and cough regular cold -- but it turned into so, so much more.  It took Mimi about a week to get over it, BUT Mack and I caught it and someone should have just shot us.  We were the worst.  Fussy, whiny, miserable -- and Mack was almost as bad as I was.  We thought we would get better once we got to the beach, but we were oh so wrong.  Anyway, I'll stop complaining because the beach is not even a part of this post -- I want to save it for later.

So this is my feeble attempt to catch myself up on one of the best summers I've ever had.  Birthdays and fun visitors and beautiful weather and flip flops.  That's about all it takes to make this girl happy.  So here I go . . . 

Mimi had her first ballet recital EVER!  The theme was Disney princesses (of course, it was), and she danced to some song that went, "Every girl can be a princess, if she truly believes . . . "  It was enough to make me barf, but Mimi took it so seriously.  She completely goofed off during classes but got it together for rehearsal and the recital.  At the end, she bowed and actually blew kisses to the crowd while saying, "Thank you, thank you . . ."  

And I must brag on her awesome dance studio Baby Take a Bow for being so organized.  Most recitals last at least 22 hours and relatives are forced to sit through a bajillion solos and stupid duets with best friends (one always chubby and one always skinny.  Always) in pink lycra and curly ponytails.  But this was so short and perfect.  Can't wait for her to start again in the spring.

Mimi graduated from Kiddie Kollege at the Lakeview YMCA.  Let me start by saying that I am NOT a fan of any type of school that insists on starting words with "K's" that should begin with "C's," BUT we really had an amazing experience at this place.  The teachers were kind and patient, Mimi learned a few letters and made plenty of glitter and popsicle stick crafts, and I made some WONDERFUL mommy friends.  Oh, and Mimi made some cute friends, too.  Even Mack got a few buddies out of the deal.

The adorable lady in the middle is Miss Kelley.  We love her.  When we said good-bye to her on the last day of school, she said, "Wow, and I remember Mimi during her first week.  She's really come a long way."  Yes, she has.  Wow. . . yes, she certainly has.

I need to add that during the graduation ceremony the classes were singing some of their favorite songs. Mimi was bored when they got to the ABC song, so she just sat down and I cut off the camera.  Eh, we had enough video of her during "Down by the Bay."  Then she did something that is so Mimi.  She made her way through her classmates to the teacher holding the microphone . . . and she took it from her, went back to her spot, and continued with the song like it was her solo.  Never batted an eye.  And neither did her classmates because I'm sure they totally expected it.

We spent a lot of time on our roof this summer with popsicles, baby pools, and grilling.  It's pretty bright and can get hot as Hades, but it's the only outdoor area that's really mine.  And the kids love it.

This summer was a little warmer than usual but didn't keep the Darbys from going on ridiculous walks to tire out the monkeys.  Obviously I didn't need to try too hard with this guy.

At a favorite park with "Dah!"  Mack rarely calls Clint Dada or Daddy, so "Dah!" (he always screams it) it is.

We had several sweet friends visit over the summer -- but for some reason none of the other photos would upload -- so Arrah gets the visitor of the summer award!  Way to go!  She was perfectly happy to tag along on park excursions and let me drag her all over the neighborhood.  She even let us drag her out to a crazy dance club way past my bedtime (how awful).  And then we went to my sweet neighbor's bday bash and salsa dancing . . . with fire coming out of my head.

. . . and even Lacy had fire coming out of her head.  We sure know how to set the dance floor on fire!

I finally got over my fear of taking the kids on public transportation, so we had lots of long excursions that kept my calf muscles in shape.  Just shove snacks in their faces and they're good to go.

The zoo was one of our favorite spots (I actually went this morning with our new awesome neighbors).  This is the infamous Mr. Singer and Whats-her-face with pink hair entertaining the kiddos at the zoo farm*.  

*Note:  this was taken the morning that the insane and overprotective grandmother attacked Mimi which you can read about here.  I'm still holding on to the belief that I did the right thing and her grandson needs to grow a pair.

A cool thing that happens in Lincoln Park near the zoo is the fancy schmancy Green City Farmer's Market.  And this awesome old guy was there.  He kept singing the same thing over and over and over again, but it made everyone so very happy.  
Momma's got a beat, baby's got a beat, everybody's got a beat.  Shake it , shake it, shake it . . . If you don't use it, you're gonna lose it . . . 

I kept planning to make this really great list of free things for kiddos in Chicago in case any of you wanted to visit and just not tell me (you know who you are).  The summer is full of freebies in this city.  But I think I am going to keep this list to myself so you'll HAVE to tell me when you'll be here.  Or you could just Google it.  Whatever.

Not the best photo, but Clint bought cotton candy for Mimi for the first time.  And this is why it will be difficult for her to find the right guy.  Her daddy has set the bar way too high.

Our monkeys learned to play together this summer.  Sweet stuff.

I ran my first marathon 5K near the lake.  It. Was. AMAZING!!

And it's all because this girl told me to and I said, "Ok."  We ran like snails the first two miles, and then some fabulous song like "Applebottom Jeans" came on my iPod . . . and then I smoked everyone.  Sorta.

I'm a sucker for neighborhood ice cream and pastry shops, so when Black Dog opened within steps of my home, I had to be their biggest fan.  But I think Mimi is winning.

Mack even loves it, too.  I have to shovel mine in my mouth as fast as lightening or he yells at me to give it to him.  Which I do.  Spoiled little monkey.

And more walking down the sidewalk . . . I think she was channeling one of those old men who sits on a small town square playing checkers.

If this guy wasn't so cute, I would have given him to the gypsies a few weeks ago.  Such a stinker.  But, he is indeed cute enough to keep.  Mack is, too.:)

And we saw David Gray at House of Blues . . . sail away with me, honey . . .

We did the Midwestern summer thing and went to a friend's lake cottage in Michigan.  Absolutely loved it.  I didn't realize that Clint and I hadn't really experienced the whole going to Pickwick Lake together much in college until he told me halfway through the trip that he was shocked by how much I loved riding on a tube.  I'm hoping maybe he'll buy one for me for my birthday . . .

Mimi with her friend, Natalka (but she calls her Matalka).  They met in Kiddie Kollege with a K and are now taking karate together . . . also with a K.  I'm not even kidding.  I can't wait for the stories and pictures I'll have from that.

And this guy was fussy and awful when we arrived because of a cold, but, like I said, cute enough to keep around.

Little guy throwing a tantrum on the tube.  Whatever.  Put on your big boy Underoos and have fun, Mack.

See, Mommy and Mimi loved it.

Big girl.  Did I mention she just turned four?  And she acts like she's four.  She likes to help bake (like I do that all the time) and clean (also, like I do that all the time) and says really, really funny stuff she's learned from Despicable Me.  Gosh, she's a really cool little kid.  She's sassy for sure, but at least it's entertaining.

Okay, I have to stop because I'm craving something chocolate and think I can sneak the last mini Snickers before Mimi wakes up and smells it and steals it from me.  Please don't yell at me for that ridiculous run-on, Mrs. Foust.  I'm a busy mom and have no time for editing.  Gosh, if I could only go back to just worrying about which crayons to use on my coloring page . . .

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I blinked and it was August

I'm in a stage that I like to call the "Bipolar Stage" of parenting.  I'm on a high one minute and a low the next.  Mimi just turned 4 -- and, no, I'm still not ready to talk about it.  Not ready to talk about how big "4" sounds and how she's acting a bit more mature and independent.  Not. Even. Ready to not consider her a baby.  And Mack is about to turn 2, which is scaring the complete shit out of me.  No, you don't have to blink and re-read that line.  The older Mack gets, the more he scares the complete shit out of me.

One minute is fantastic and breath-taking and makes me want to write a book about how I have an amazing attitude and patience and how this parenting little ones thing is so much fun.  And the next minute I'm afraid John Stossel is going to jump out from behind the couch to tell me he is working on a segment about mothers who are borderline crazy.

So this summer has been a bit nuts -- mainly in good ways -- and the poor blog has gotten neglected.  I want so badly to be that amazing woman who raises interesting children and writes about it in a weekly blog post . . . so I've got the "interesting children" part down, but the rest of that isn't working out so well for me.  And since I read some where that people like to see lists and numbers, I'll make this a lists and numbers post to try to fill you in on a bit of the Darby life.

1.  Our home has been occupied with visitors (all welcome, of course) since the middle of May.  It was been wonderful to share our home with so many fun people, but no one is allowed for a while.  It's not that I don't love guests.  It's that I don't love washing sheets and towels and unloading the dishwasher.  If you don't mind dirty sheets or eating off paper plates, then please let me know when you'll be in town.

2.  We've tried our best to enjoy more of this awesome city this summer with our guests, which you should know all about it my husband is your FB friend.  He finally got an iPhone and has tagged himself at every location in this city that he possibly could.  But if you're trying to rob our home when he's tagging away, just know that our babysitters can take you down.  I do have photos and fun stories, but I just had a bit of a panic attack when I downloaded photos from my camera to my computer.  I mean, it's a bit ridiculous.  I'll save that for another day when my child is sick again.

3.  On that note, Mimi is sick.  Dad, stop worrying and please don't call me about this.  She has a cold.  A basic stuffy nose and funky cough and goopy eyes.  She's so, so very sweet when she's sick and even puts herself down for a nap, but, my word, she's been a whiny little thing who flips her lid if I try to leave her side for a drink of water or to use the bathroom.  She's been crying and saying things to me like, "Why are you going to the kitchen to make lunch?  Do you not want to play ponies and Barbies with me??  Waaahhhh!!  You don't want to be my friend anymore?? Waaaahhh!!"  I'm trying so hard to be patient and understanding, but the way I've been raising my voice and jumping at the chance to leave the house by myself just to take out the garbage tells me that John Stossel is probably working hard spying on this crazy momma.

4.  Mack is a holy terror.  Oh. My. Cuss words.  I don't know what happened to my little fuzzy-headed chicken, but he is more like a beast.  I've become calling him Bam Bam because he literally destroys everything in his way.  Toys, food, sippy cups, my hips.  I'm not kidding.  I'm actually going to physical therapy because I have pulled tendons or ligaments or muscles or something in my hips from wrestling this wild thing.  I've also done something to my wrist but I don't really have time to deal with that now.  Most of the time he is still so sweet and cute, and then I will pick him up, he'll show me his sweet smile, and will then slap me as hard as he can across my cheek.  Holy crap.  Clint was trying to snuggle with him on the couch last night, and I think he took a foot and knee and elbow to the face about ten times.  And he doesn't like to talk.  He can say some words, and he completely understands what is said to him.  But he would rather point and yell and throw things than say the words.

5.  Mack climbed out of the crib about a week ago, and I thought that life as I know it had ended.  His afternoon nap is literally the only time I can unload the dishwasher or wash clothes or really do anything because he is into absolutely everything while he's awake.  I took the advice about strategies from about twenty different people, and luckily something has worked.  I don't know how much longer this will last, but my next option is a straight - jacket.  There's some more material, Mr. Stossel.

6.  Mimi has been at summer camp a couple of afternoons a week all summer, and I'll have to admit I'm a little jealous.  Just the word "camp" brings up all kinds of warm and fuzzy feelings about silly songs and swimming and wearing t-shirts and tennis shoes.  It seems so "big kid" to me to be able to do that.  Her teachers call her Jellyfish and have taught her some fantastic songs that I totally remember from camp.  Oh, and she's been doing awesome at swim lessons.  Just a few weeks ago, she was that kid who sat on the side of the pool and told her instructor exactly what she was NOT going to do, and now she's jumping off the side and swimming like a fishy (with a light flotation device, of course).  I'm kind of hoping for a most improved award or something at the end of all of this.        

7.  We hit our 2-year anniversary in Chicago.  And I continue to love this new city and the new friends we've made.  Clint has some really cool clients and co-worker.  I have made some wonderful girlfriends who are also amazing moms.  We've found some precious girls who love our children more than we could imagine.  And my monkeys have made some adorable friends who are just as silly as they are.  There's still so much to do and so much to explore, and I've loved sharing it with our visitors.  The weather has been fantastic in the summer and Midwestern people are just so genuinely nice.  In case you've wondered, we are definitely sticking around for a while to see what the future holds.  Oh, and an almost four-year-old little girl just moved into the building.  You better believe Mimi is excited about what the future holds :).  

So this is just a short synopsis, and I'll get to more once I can focus on the photos.  Life has been fun and busy and crazy.  Just the way it should be . . .

Some big shoes to fill

Kids need a mom and a dad.  This I've learned.  

And they need a damn good dad, for sure.  A dad who will throw them on the couch and teach them to laugh at their falls and bumps and scratches.  A dad who will let them eat junk food for dinner and watch too many cartoons when Mom is out running errands.  A dad who has a broad chest for a fuzzy head to snuggle in when he can't quite get to sleep.  A dad who teaches them how to use potty words correctly -- even if they use them at school . . . in every other sentence . . . and song (hey, the teachers need a giggle occasionally, right?).  

A dad who wishes and hopes and tears up when he thinks about his child's first ballet recital or t-ball game.  A dad who is excited about helping with math and history homework.  A dad who knows he isn't perfect but is learning and growing and getting a little better with each stage.  A dad who prays he doesn't disappoint . . .  

I know not every kid gets this.  My children are luckier than they'll ever know.  Because this is exactly what they've been blessed with . . . 


And of course this is exactly the man he's turned out the be.  He had a pretty good man to look up to himself.

You better believe this guy did a great job of rough-housing and teaching potty language.  And making his children "act right" and respect their mother.  He's one of the greats.

And then we've got this guy.  If you know him, then you need no introductions . . . and are probably wondering how the four of us turned out to be so fantastic :) He he he . . . remember, behind every man there's a great woman . . . and he was wise enough to pick a mighty fine one.  And he's not too shabby himself.

At every single cheerleading, school, church, and whatever event I got myself into.  He even did a great job with the potty language, too. :)  He's quick to argue . . . but very, very quick to apologize.  This guy's got a big heart, and he totally passed it on to my brothers, who are two AMAZING dads.  Like, blow me away sometimes at the distance they'll go for their kiddos.

So I know that Father's Day was a million years ago, but that's around the time that all sanity and free time for the blog went out the window.  Love, love, love the men in my life -- so blessed to have all of them.  Little Mack has some big shoes to fill . . . thank goodness his feet are huge :)