Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mr. November

Say hello to the good-looking gentleman you'll soon be staring at as Mr. November in this year's fireman's calendar.

Likes: Dalmatians, curling up with a good book and hunting for garbage trucks.

Dislikes: Overripe bananas and being told "no."

Motto: "I'm a goofball!" (stated repeatedly throughout the day)

Ideal date: Riding a train all night long (let's channel Dr. Cooper for this one) while eating yogurt and listening to Raffi. (Bonus points if Legos are allowed at the table)

Status: Women are quite attracted to this one. He has a much older woman who chases him around all day long (and who cooks and cleans for him!) and a much younger woman who is always trying to get her hands on him. Though technically unattached, he has been known to profess his love for the girl next door.

His Angle: The CHARMER. This little boy knows really knows how to lay it on thick. Last week, as Mommy came downstairs dressed for date night, he ran up to her and stroked her dress, saying "Mommy looks cute today!" with a giant grin on his face. It doesn't end with compliments though.
Just this weekend, Mama was upset with him for misbehaving. She asked, "Do you know why I'm sad?" After he answered her correctly, he turned around, gave her a big hug, grabbed her face and planted a big kiss on her lips. "Mommy happy now!" he said as he ran off to play. After seeing the smile it brought to her face, he decided to try the tactic again a couple days later. When one of his requests was refused yesterday, instead of crying or begging, he resorted to kissing -- and asking again... ever-so-sweetly. Though he didn't get his way, the incident just shows how much trouble this guy can be.

Why he'll drive you crazy: He'll throw tantrums if you give him the wrong colored fork and has no inner dialogue. He's also been known to practice for the Olympic long jump... while naked.

Why you'll love him: He's polite, always cleans up after himself, and has an infectious smile that is sure to brighten your day. He's also been known to practice for the Olympic long jump... while naked. ;)

Bottom line: As long as you don't mind occasional meltdowns or listening to a play-by-play of all the fun you're having, he's definitely a keeper.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Fun Dad

I always tell people that one of my favorite things about my awesome hubby is how much fun he is. Though I can't stand admitting it to him when he's fishing for laughter (and he fishes pretty hard), he's hilarious. Truly. He's brought so much laughter and fun into my life -- and now he's doing the same for our kids. I love watching him with Brayden (and now Elissa). The kids are so excited by his presence, always laughing and smiling at his ridiculous antics. It's a formula that works. Kids want to be amused. Lauren wants an audience.

Brayden wanted to play on the cushions. Lauren ended up stealing the show.

Although he's destined to be "the fun dad," his antics have a pretty wide range of diversity. He provides entertainment ranging from wildly amusing to obscenely inappropriate (for both his two-year-old son and his 31-year-old wife).

Some recent notable moments from my son's "fun dad"...

Old McDonald

I already blasted my husband for teaching Brayden the wrong animal noises (who doesn't know that a sheep says "baa"?). This error was just the beginning of farmyard fun, though. During Elissa's bath time, Lauren noticed she had a particular fascination with clucking noises. For some reason, pictures of chickens and clucking noises made her crack up (yep - the "weird gene" runs strong in this family). Not only did the clucking noises become more elaborate (and ear-splitting), but other animals suddenly started mimicking chickens. Pretty much anything that resembles a bird now clucks. Including peacocks.

Vulgar Bedtime Stories (formerly known as "he doesn't understand what I'm saying")

Lauren often gets bored while reading bedtime stories to Brayden. If my husband thinks Brayden isn't paying attention, he ad-libs the text and adds in his own (incredibly inappropriate) storyline. It used to be sort of funny. But now that Brayden is old enough to understand, it drives me insane. Despite Daddy adamantly believing otherwise, I kept telling Lauren that his son could understand all these terrible things he was saying. Finally, one day last week, we hit a turning point. Lauren was "reading" all about what Minnie Mouse gave to Mickey. To make a point, I stopped Lauren and said, "what did Minnie give to Mickey, Brayden?" And he repeated it. Verbatim. (Now will you stop with the inappropriateness, darling??)

Breakfast Theater

Earlier this week, Brayden woke up in a grumpy mood. While we were having breakfast, he started to meltdown. I usually go for the distraction method in these circumstances, so I grabbed a few of his nearby stuffed animals and had them talk to each other. Although Brayden was watching with some interest, Lauren was very unimpressed with my performance. He took the two toys (one was Mickey, the other was a dog dressed as a pirate) and started this elaborate theatrical performance. It was a full-on three-act play. He added voices with accents, storylines and plot twists and even character development. And of course, it was a hysterical play. Brayden sat there for the 10 minutes mesmerized - just staring. (Admittedly, this was one of the most hilarious things I've seen in a really long time.)

Lauren and I often talk about how we value experiences over possessions. Our disposable income doesn't go towards fancy cars, designer clothes or expensive toys. It goes towards vacations, sporting events, plays and the like. Life is made up of experiences. Experiences are what you look back on fondly, what you remember, what you cherish. They're the stories that change you and stay with you forever. The stories you tell other people with a happy and full heart. And I love the fact that Lauren is giving his family so many amazing experiences and memories. He adds so much joy and laughter into our lives. I'm a lucky, lucky wife to have this crazy character by my side. (I'll just have to remind the kids about this when they're in middle school and find these same antics mortifying)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Lock and Lunge

Our deceiving sweet 8-month old has a signature move. We've named it the "Lock and Lunge" and it truly epitomizes her personality.

She scans her surroundings until she spots "it" (whatever "it" happens to be at the moment - a television remote, an electrical wire...). You can immediately identify the moment when she sees it. Her eyes grow wide with this crazy animalistic predator-vs-prey look in them (ignore the fact that the predator is wearing pink bows and frilly skirts). She locks onto the object with this insane focus and immediately lunges her entire body towards the object.

After the initial lunge, she does everything humanly possible to obtain it. Things we didn't realize she could do. Things she didn't realize she could do. To top it all off, she does. not. give. up. A few days ago, I put a plastic bag on the couch. She locked on, was at the couch in half a second, pulled herself up, and then tried to scale the furniture to get it. Of course, physics doesn't work that way, so she fell. But she tried a dozen more times before I finally got up and moved the bag. (Part of me wanted to see how long she would keep at it but I just couldn't do that to such a sweet little girl.) The lock and lunge (and subsequent pursuit) is an extremely common part of our day here. If she sees something she wants, she just doesn't know how to ignore it.

She certainly inherited an interesting combination of Mommy and Daddy - Mommy's focus and hard work with Daddy's stubbornness. Brayden wasn't like this; he inherited Daddy's impatience so he often gets frustrated if he can't do something right away. It doesn't take much for him to break down and move on to something else. Elissa doesn't understand the concept of giving up.

What's funny is how ingrained this is to her personality. I kept a pregnancy journal this time around (writing just a paragraph or two each week). In it, I wrote (to her):

"I love that I'm starting to get an idea of your personality. I feel like you’re a very kind, sweet baby who is active, focused and determined. You definitely don’t seem high-strung or off-the-walls, but you’re not so mellow that you just lay around all day. You’re a kicker… but in a gentle way. You move around quite a bit (which makes me feel like you’re like your mother – focused and always having to be doing something or working towards something!)."

I love watching how her personality develops. It doesn't change - it just shows itself in different ways. I love seeing how she uses that determination and focus, or how crazy she gets in order to accomplish her goals.

We're a family of crazy. And Elissa truly fits right in. :)

Don't underestimate this seemingly sweet and innocent little girl.
She lives up to Daddy's assessment of her: a total spitfire. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

According to my dog

My dog passed away yesterday morning... and it has left me completely heartbroken. (I feel like I was run over by a giant 18-wheeler that keeps coming back for more.) 

I'm not missing a dog though. I'm missing her - my crazy, neurotic, reliable dog. Kinley was a really unique and special dog. And she lived like one. There are a lot of articles out there about what dogs teach us and why dogs are better than people. But Kinley gets her own list because she was truly a unique companion and because she epitomized things no other dog ever could.

These were some of the rules Kinley lived by that everyone could stand to learn from.

When you find what you love, spend your life doing it as often (and with as much intensity) as you can. 

The few things Kinley loved, she did as often as we'd let her (and sometimes even more often). She was so into balls that she would sit in front of one and shake until you threw it. Did she care how insane that was? Of course not. Just throw the damn ball.

Tunnel vision.

Always be there. Even if it means staying up until 3 in the morning.

One of the things we loved about Kinley was that she would always stay up with us. Our other dog, Scarlet, would go up to bed with whoever was retiring earlier. But Kinley? She stayed downstairs until all parties were accounted for. When Lauren would work late on a big project, she'd be downstairs keeping him company. When I made my first wedding cake and was up until 3 a.m., she was with me the entire time. It's going to be pretty lonely at night without her.

When in pursuit of a goal, ignore all obstacles and perceived boundaries. 

Most people don't do this. They come up with excuses, reasons or problems that prevent them from pursuing their goals. They stop short once difficulties arise. They operate within an invisible safety net and don't push themselves. Not Kinley. She lived without limits. We used to joke that she was going to die fetching balls because she had absolutely no regard for her own body while playing. It was pretty common for her to get injured (sometimes even fairly badly) while playing, and to ignore it until she was done. We wouldn't even know she was hurt until afterwards when she finally started limping.

We still have no clue how she got up there.
What was she doing? Looking for a ball Lauren threw. Of course.

Be selective about those you love. 

She didn't give love to just anyone. You had to be pretty special to get her affection. Which made it mean so much more when she gave it to you.

Make your presence known.

When this pup was around, you knew it. She barked - at mail trucks, people with dogs, leaves in the wind... you name it. She demanded attention when she wanted it. She incited riots with dog #2 and a mimicking toddler. She added so much life into our home. She wasn't an easy or quiet dog. But that just makes us miss her more since her absence is so obvious. It has been so quiet around here... and I just keep waiting for her to fill that silence.

Be a leader. Even if you don't know where you're going.

Kinley had two speeds - off and full-steam-ahead. There wasn't much in between (which was why she loved sprinting for balls but couldn't stand jogging at a moderate pace with us). It didn't matter where she was going or what she was doing. She was forging ahead with all the intensity she could muster (which was always a lot!). 

Never underestimate of the importance of a heartfelt greeting.

No matter what, Kinley would rush down the stairs to greet whoever got home. It didn't matter if we had been gone ten minutes, if she was tired, or even if she was injured. She greeted us each and every time we walked in the door, coming up to us with sweet eyes and a sincere tail wag. And if it was Daddy getting home from work? Watch out. Fireworks were going to explode because she just couldn't contain that excitement. 

Ready to pounce on Daddy.

Be who you are. Unapologetically. 

Nothing was ever as clear from my dog as this. Kinley was quirky, crazy, loud, neurotic and just insane. And she never changed. Not for me, not for Lauren, not for anything in the world. She was going to be herself and she wasn't going to be sorry. She embraced her quirks; she embraced her faults; she embraced everything that made her unique. She couldn't have changed if she wanted to.

Kinley hasn't even been gone two days, but her absence has left me with a giant void. She was an amazing dog and companion to our family. She was there for so many milestones in my life (first house, the birth of my two children, job changes...). She added so much joy and crazy into my world and it just won't be the same without her. The only other thing I can possibly say is that I'm so grateful to have had six amazing, joyful years with such a special friend.