Wednesday, June 30, 2010
My Aunt Diane had a great idea last night, and I am really considering starting on it. She suggested that we start compiling all of our family stories and anecdotes, and we have many! Kd found some old picture albums a few weeks ago, and looking at those photographs brought back so many memories. Having a huge family has been a blessing beyond belief. I hope we always stay close. Kd once said that we were all cousins by family, but friends and more like sisters and brothers by choice. It's true. It is the biggest credit to our parents (all four pair of them) that they have given us this foundation and that they made sure to secure it for us when we were small. How many cousins are as fortunate as we are? No matter where we go or how long the hours in between, we are bonded forever by the memories we shared on Grandpa's land, running wild and free.
Since I have some pictures already posted on Facebook, I think I will keep this blog to text-only. We had such a fun night celebrating Kd. Aunt Donna and Uncle Rich offered a delicious feast, much to Katie's liking as well. Katie loved playing with her cousins (I really think of them as cousins to her even though they are second-cousins). Kd and Katie share a love for dancing, and we also played outside before much of the party arrived. Katie ran across the backyard singing Disney princess songs with her arms open wide. Kd showed us her bedding for college and some of the other items she is collecting before her send-off in September. What an exciting time!
The party began at 7:00, and so we didn't get home until nearly 11:00, but Katie settled in and went right to sleep after a bath and a couple of stories. She was Miss Social Butterfly last night, which I have been noticing more and more. She has become more confident in herself and in the ways she approaches people. I love knowing that she feels so safe. I am always right there, but I love seeing her feel the freedom of venturing on her own a bit. Of course, my cousins and aunts and uncles also make her feel comfortable and happy and are growing more and more familiar to her. We cannot wait to spend more time with everyone this holiday weekend!
Also, we started swimming lessons on Monday. We'll have them daily for awhile. I am happy to see the cloud cover burning off more quickly this morning as I write this. Katie is fearless when it comes to the water, and we've been enjoying ourselves.
I was able to make it back to Toastmasters yesterday (it is has been two weeks since my last attendance). I have missed seeing everyone!
Today we're going just to swim lessons and then have an around-the-house day. Tomorrow is again dynamic: gymnastics, swim, OB appointment, Dad's birthday party!
Sunday, June 27, 2010
We spent a lovely morning in our pajamas, making buttermilk pancakes and reading and playing with her dolls until it was time to dress for our matinee. Katie picked out her outfit, from her dress to hair ribbon to her red shoes, which she named "apple shoes" sometime ago. She could not have been more excited. When it was time to go, I plucked a red rose from our garden for her to carry, and she was thrilled to have a rose just like the Beast.
The ballet fascinated her. She was so good about watching and paying attention. As we returned from intermission, the couple next to us commented to me about how well-behaved Katie was. She did get a little more vocal with some questions during the second act, but she sat quietly for the most part. The personification of the red rose intrigued her as a ballerina danced in a beautiful red costume. Katie remarked, "I didn't know a rose could have a face!" I love that Katie knew it was the rose, and I really enjoyed watching the ballet through Katie's eyes. Both scenes in the woods frightened her a bit, and I realized how very real everything was to her. Magical, to have the capacity of a child to imagine so intensely.
Part of the appeal of taking Katie to a ballet version of a story she knows well is that she had to respond to the music and dance without the aid of any words. She had only music and visual cues to spark the unfurling of the story in her head, so she really got to work other parts of her brain today. She seemed to keep up, and she even laughed at parts with Gaston that were meant to be more comical.
After the show, we all shared gelato. It made for an extra-special treat and end to our day.
At home later, we talked about the ballet. I asked her if she could still picture the ballerinas dancing on stage, and she gave a hearty, "Yes!" I love that she has all that prettiness now swirling around in her mind.
Here are some pictures from our outing:
After the show, some of the dancers came out to the front of the theater. Katie saw Lumiere from a distance and wanted to say hello. Cosgworth also came over to greet us. To Katie, these two young men are Lumiere and Cogsworth. We printed out this picture after her bath, and she carried it around all the way until bedtime. "Lumiere is my super-duper friend" she kept saying. These young men probably do not quite know how special they are to my daughter, but I can say to all artists/performers out there: whenever you doubt your art or what you do, just think about how magical your art appears to a child, because he or she loves you enthusiastically with all his or her might. And isn't that what art is really for?
Saturday, June 26, 2010
We did take a break from track in the afternoon for a very late lunch/early dinner. I usually cook for his birthday dinner and make his favorite meal, but this year we went out to Claim Jumper (where he could have a very good version of his favorite meal). We don't go out very often, so it was a real treat as a family.
Katie and Daddy smile and color at Daddy's birthday dinner.
Today we had Bill's birthday party with his brothers and sisters-in-law. Bill and Katie and I had such a good time visiting. We watched a little track, I talked with my sisters-in-law, Katie developed an adoration of Carly, and it was the perfect summer afternoon with people we love. We are thankful for this time we shared.
Carly and Katie play outside.
Katie took an immediate liking to Carly, holding her hand, leading her to special places in the yard. She wanted to sit with her and was sad when Carly had to go home. Carly was such a loving cousin, playing hide-n-seek and spending lots of time with her. After Carly left, Katie wanted me to pretend to be Carly. Later, she said she wondered if she could be a grown-up like Carly is. I told her that she would be a grown-up someday. There was something about Carly that Katie just clicked with---although I am not surprised, because I have always really liked Carly, too, and am excited when she is able to come to our events when she is home from school and always bummed when she isn't home. In fact, one of the first questions I always ask Bill when we're planning things is, "Will Carly be able to come?" She is easy to talk with and good-natured. There are lots of reasons why Katie has connected with different people, but this is the first time I have really seen her connect with someone because she was "looking up to" her and wanting to be like her. I think Carly is at that age where she is both a grown-up to Katie but also still youthful at heart---a magic combination to little girls, for sure. I remember times when I was younger and felt that way, too.
Uncle Pat and Uncle Seth.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
In the beginning of June, I fulfilled my first goal: achieving the Competent Communicator distinction in Toastmasters (10 speeches in a variety of modes). Toastmasters has been such a blessing this year, as the people who are part of our chapter motivate me to keep pushing myself. So many times we have talked about goals and goal-setting, and although I haven't set formal personal achievement-oriented goals for many years, they motivated me to do so.
Now I have fulfilled my second major goal, which was to take my real estate courses (three), study, and sit for and pass the real estate salesperson exam. Balancing the time I dedicate to my home and family with the time needed to do coursework and study has been challenging, to say the least. Yet the reward is great: I sat for my exam this past Tuesday, and I just found out today that I have passed it!!
I was very intimidated going into the exam, because I read somewhere that it has only a 50% pass rate and that most people fail it on the first try. Lots of people recommended that I take a weekend crash course during which actual test questions are discussed, but frankly, I didn't want to spend money on that when those funds could be put to different use for my family (like one or even two semesters worth of music for Katie right now, or a dresser/changing table for Eric). My dad also inspired me because he took both his salesperson test and broker test and studied for them entirely on his own---and passed them both the first time. I wanted to try my best on the exam just by working hard, really hard...and to see what might happen with my tried and true methods.
It's been an intense couple of months. I finished my coursework in late winter and then began the studying-for-the-exam process. I have studied every Saturday for three hours for a couple of months. The only Saturday I missed was David and Ashley's wedding, and I made up for it on the following Sunday. I was pretty strict with myself on keeping up the Saturday schedule. I also studied many mornings before Katie would wake up and often when she napped. It feels so good to know I will now be able to wake up and not have to look at my flashcards or re-read chapters and make notes. I had some practice exams, but those turned out to be much harder than what I saw on Tuesday. Still, I am glad I practiced on the hardest questions I could find: it is better to walk into a test and see more straightforward items than to see items that are more difficult than expected, right?
I am so relieved and so thankful to all those who helped me carve out study time. I know that earning my license has now opened a door for me to help provide for our family should I ever need to do so. I can always teach, and now I have other options, too. Life is about potentiating ourselves, because we never know what journey is around the corner. I am excited to be working for/with my dad, and I know I still have much to learn. As an independent contractor, I will now have the possibility of working in a career that would leave me more time/time I choose with my children. If I ever go back to work full time, we need not give up our music classes or gymnastics---things not possible if I went back to the classroom. These have been the motivating thoughts through all of these months. I put extra pressure on myself and felt so anxious before the exam, because I know I am doing this for Katie and Eric. I had to pass this exam...because I need to be responsible for providing for them should anything happen to Bill, I need to find ways to control my work schedule, and I need to make sure that I am planning far enough into the future such that they will both be able to attend the college of their choosing/college that chooses them.
All of my immediate family has heard me lament and lament my nerves for the past few weeks. They all assured me I would pass, but I am not arrogant enough to have thought so. Doubt is my nemesis. I am so glad to have the period of doubt behind me.
And two significant pre-birth goals have now been checked off my list!
Remaining stated goal: finish my cross stitch sampler.
In the past couple days I have added a few more "nice-if-I-get-it-done" goals, but those kinds of goals tend to be a little weaker.
I am so excited that I do not have to worry about this test anymore! It's been a big part of my life this year... And now I can just play and play and play! Whew! Just in time: the summer is rolling along and we have so many family events and fun memories coming up!
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Nonetheless, we had a fun dessert night with Amie and Boppa, and of course, half the fun is anticipating the bonfire and change in nighttime routine all day. Katie helped to make our fairy cakes, and she loved dressing as a fairy this year.
Putting the finishing touches on the fairy cakes.
Amie surprised her with some toy dog figures today. Katie's favorite animal is the dog. She put one on a fairy cake and said, "It's a doggy cupcake party!"
Bill on Midsummer's Eve!
Before we made s'mores, Katie said to Amie, "I'm going to let you let me have a marshmallow." Ha ha.
It's always strange to me that we start counting a child's age over again when he or she is born. Eric is alive right now, and he is 31 weeks and 4 days old. Maybe feeling this way is particular to being a mommy? I completely imagine my little person in my womb and have since he was conceived. I knew when he was conceived, and I actually could feel him implant (I didn't feel that sensation with Katie, but with Eric it was clear). His life started long before his birth... Having Katie showed me what a continuum the development of a child's life really is. There is no logical, sensible place at which we can say a baby is not alive---other than right before the beginning of his or her life, conception. And then it begins, that process of cell division and growth guided by our own particular combination of unique DNA: the same process that is part of human development until we die.
Eric loves to move and move. He is more of a mover than Katie was. Or maybe my muscles in there are more lax and I notice even more. Still, with Katie there would be stretches of time of her relative calm during which I would worry about how she was doing in there. Eric moves constantly---and I love it. I will never get tired of feeling a baby moving inside my womb. In fact, I am going to miss it profoundly once Eric is born. He loves to move early in the morning, and the start of those early morning movements are one of the several times I get up at night to use the restroom...but usually I can go back to sleep even while he is rocking and rolling.
I am continuing to feel great. My body loves to be pregnant, and I am thankful for that. Every once in awhile I have a bit of extra pressure on my pelvic region (I never felt that with Katie either), but it doesn't really hurt and I don't think of it as a complaint. In general, I think pregnancy is a time to love the changes in our bodies and to celebrate all of them. Everything we feel or every symptom we might have is part of our child's life, so let's not complain about it. We are blessed and fortunate to feel the way we feel---even moments when we feel bloated! I love how my body has changed in response to Eric being with me: each change is a reminder of the bond we will always share. It is the way I felt in natural labor with Katie: no matter the sensation, those sensations were reactions to her existence (two variables in dependence upon one another) and I didn't want to miss a single one.
Exercise feels great (I have been trying to walk or use the house bike). Walking is a little easier in many respects because I can elongate my torso. I went for a big walk yesterday morning to center my mind and breathe in the early air, and toward the middle I could definitely feel Braxton Hicks. I wasn't alarmed at all, since I know that I was being very active and also needed to use the restroom (two triggers of Braxton Hicks). In fact, I was overjoyed. Everyone talks about Braxton Hicks, and I never was aware of feeling them much with Katie. A few times I have suspected having them with Eric, but it is hard to know for sure. However, yesterday morning I definitely knew, and they feel great! I was hoping I would get to experience those with one of my pregnancies. I probably had them with Katie, too...but I think I have a high tolerance for contractions before they register much. I felt no discomfort with Katie's labor contractions and hardly noticed them until we were almost 5 or 6 cm dilated. The difference with a second pregnancy though is that all of my muscles have been more conditioned now, and I think I am more aware of how they are feeling this time around. I am really, really looking forward to labor on so many levels, not the least of which is curiosity about how it will feel and whether it will be similar to Katie's.
I love my little Eric so much!
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Katie and I had tremendous fun this afternoon creating Daddy's and Boppa's Father's Day presents. Using tempura paint and large pieces of paper, Katie used feet, hands, and brushes to decorate. We have yellow, blue, and red tempura. I asked her which two we would mix to make green, and she said, "Blue and yellow!" After we had made our artwork and I set it inside to dry, Katie wanted to paint her feet and legs.
"Go ahead!" I said, "Have fun with it!" Sooner than we knew it, she was painting her arms, too. Then she wanted to paint my arm.... and before we knew it, we were both painting each other all over! It will always be one of those golden moments with my daughter that I never will forget. She was laughing and so full of joy. "How about a blue nose?" I would tease her, and her revelry was complete. She loved painting my face, too...and my hair...and earrings...and neck. Pure silliness; pure delight. I love those moments when she discovers she can embrace a silliness that she might have thought impossible: how often do we ever paint ourselves? It is almost as though I can see part of the world open for her, as though I can see her penetrate a deeper understanding about what life is really for: to laugh at, to live passionately, to know when rules do and do not matter. Silliness often brings us closer to real philosophical understanding.
Here we are. I look pretty frightful (particularly with my painted lips), though Katie looks cute and you can see that she loved the first glance of our painted selves.
Afterwards we went outside and sprayed each other with the hose. She loved chasing me with it. With the Temecula breeze, we got a little cold so we came in and cleaned up and changed.
We prepped dinner and dessert (brownies) for later, reminisced about meeting a nice doggy earlier this morning on our walk, had some lunch, and settled into reading and a nap. I studied for my test a little more, and then we walked Boppa's painting over to his house while dinner cooked in the oven (so nice to live so close)!
Later, Katie gave Daddy his painting just before dessert. I love her little rainbow footprints. This will be precious to have as she continues to grow.
Happy Father's Day to Bill and my dad! We love you guys!
Friday, June 18, 2010
I've been so thankful for this class and for Miss Kara. I have really seen Katie blossom through music over the past many months. When she started the class, she mostly wanted to sit in my lap and watch and was hesitant to interact... Now she is singing, playing instruments, hugging (and even kissing a couple of times) Miss Kara, dancing around, and talking to others. We have been singing our class songs all year at home, too, and so this has been a really big part of our lives as mother and daughter and as learners together. I must admit that I felt a little choked up (as I always did as student or teacher) that the end of the year is here!
Katie's "last day of school" picture by the roses before we head off to Fallbrook this morning.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Pushing up on the parallel bars.
Using some of the higher bars. Katie liked these, and she is working on touching her toes to the bar.
Working on her balance.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
On tip-toes with poms.
Ready to leave after dance class.
Zesting the lemon into the filling mixture.
We place the filling in the center of three wide strips.