five

Oh, how the time passes.  I’m a little late in posting this, but my baby recently turned five years old. Five.

Dear Evelyn,

Try not to laugh at my sad little “5” cake.  I like to bake and decorate your birthday cakes on my own, even if I am certainly no expert. This year, we had your first friends party that wasn’t at our house. We had a pool party at the YMCA.  I’m not gonna sugar coat it though.  December birthdays suck.  Between the holidays and the weather, a lot of people we invited weren’t able to make it, but you didn’t notice and you had a lot of fun.

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Five years ago the start of kindergarten seemed like a million years away and now your birthday has come and gone and kindergarten looms ever nearer. You just keep on changing.  Lately, you have been so proud of how many things you can do for yourself.  There are so many cool things about five.

Your dad finally “trained” you to go to sleep on your own at night.  We still do our normal bedtime routine…three books, mom or dad sits with you for 3 songs, and then it’s hugs and kisses and goodnight.  Most of the time you don’t put up a fight.  Occasionally, you wrap your little arms around my neck and ask me to stay.  Sometimes you’ll tell your dad that he can leave the room and recently you told him that soon you will be bigger and you won’t need anyone to stay with you at bedtime.

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You are so proud of yourself when you can get dressed on your own, which is most of the time if you choose to do it.  A few weeks ago, Grandma got you some Converse shoes that actually have laces and you insisted that you needed to learn how to tie right then and there. Of course, you got really frustrated when you couldn’t accomplish the task on the first try….just like your old mom.

We’ve started giving you chores to do and you love to help out around the house. A few days ago you said,  “Thank you, mom!” when I asked you to clean something.

For your birthday this year, we got you a karaoke machine.  You have always loved to sing and that hasn’t changed.  Just today, you told me “I love to sing every day.” We watched the movie Annie for the first time and you said, “Wow, that girl is a really good singer.” You make up your own songs and you get mad at us if we try to sing with you, especially if we don’t sing it exactly the way you think it should be done.

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Lately, when you get mad or frustrated at us, or if you don’t get your way, you stomp up to your bedroom, shut the door and draw a picture at your desk.  The picture usually depicts whatever wrongdoing we have inflicted on you, but by the time you are finished with it, you are usually giggling as you descend the stairs to show it to us.

You draw happy pictures too.  They are not all bad.

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You are obsessed with babies and any kid who’s younger than you, really.  You have an imaginary sister, and imaginary brother, and a large number (100 I think) of imaginary “cousins” who were displaced by a fire in their home and you invited them to come and live with us. We have to save places at the dinner table and you even take your “siblings” to church with you sometimes. You are struggling right now to understand things like love and marriage.  You told me recently that you are going to marry your classmate James.  When I asked you what makes him special, you told me that you “didn’t expect it, but you just fell in love with him.” I’m glad that many of these conversations happen in the car and you can’t see me chuckling at you as you tell me in all seriousness. You also ask about death a lot.  Your brain is struggling to process all these big concepts.  You often ask me what will happen if I die or if Daddy dies or if we both die.  The worst part (to me) about you asking these questions is that you don’t seem to be the slightest bit worried about that happening.  I think you are more interested in thinking about how your life might be different (like you could go to live with the Dobos family, as you once suggested)!

This year you are taking a tumbling class instead of dance.  You seem to like it.  You still love to dance and you like to dance along with music videos.  You also like to do yoga and you are especially fond of the Gummy Bear song, mainly because the little gummy bear’s butt crack shows in the video.  You’re kind of into butts and poop and farts right now.  Ha.

I started teaching preschool again this year. It’s been 10 years, so I am a little out of practice.  You are in one of the other classes, just down the hall, and you teach me songs and games and all kinds of fun things that I get to try out with my kids.  You’re a pretty awesome preschool consultant.

You’re still giving us a run for our money sometimes.  You had a pretty big breath holding spell right around Christmas time, after a year of being spell-free.  I was certain that we had seen the end of them, but you reminded us that you are still our little girl who needs a little extra understanding now and then.

I’m sure that five is just the beginning of many years of you wishing to be just a bit older, but it’s the number that once seemed so far away to this first-time mom and it’s the number of years I have been pleading that time would slow down just a little….

Five.

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And Then She Was Four

It’s been a little while since I have contributed to this space.  We got all caught up in the holiday madness, with places to go, people to see, guests to entertain.  Now that things are a little calmer around here, I can take a breath and reflect on the past year.  What a crazy year it’s been.  Every day, when facebook shows me my memories from the past years, I find myself half smiling/half dying inside.

Last year at this time, I was pregnant and expecting a little boy.  After losing him tragically at 16 weeks, we decided it was too much bear.  We couldn’t go through it again.  While we have decided that we are fine with leaving our baby days behind, I am still coming to terms with Evelyn being an only child.  We are so very blessed to have lots of families in our lives.  Evelyn started preschool this year, so she gets to be around other children all day.  She’s also been cared for by family friends before and after school, so she gets to play with their children as well.  Truly, she’s had the best of both worlds…surrogate siblings with friends and the perks of being an only at home.  Still, she caught me off guard when she asked my why God made three babies for our friends’ family and He only made one baby for our family.  The tears welled up in her eyes as she asked and I don’t know exactly why that would make her sad, but she seemed sad about it.  I could only tell her I didn’t know why and fight back my own tears.  It amazes me how much she has grown and how the questions come when I least expect it.

Aside from the sad memories on my facebook news feed, things are pretty good around here.  I returned to work a few months ago after our financial situation was upended a bit.  Now, Michael and I are both doing work we love and Evelyn seems very happy at preschool.  She seems to have grown so much since she started school, from toddler to a true preschooler.  She’s still having the occasional terrifying tantrum, but they are fewer and farther between and I have been really trying to change my own response to her, which I think has helped a lot.  I am trying to be more patient and positive and she is learning some calm-down methods at school that she actually tries to employ at home.  She will sometimes stop in the middle of a screaming fest to take a few deep breaths and calm herself.

Every day I see updates from friends on facebook….babies growing up, rolling over, sitting up, and crawling for the first time.  It makes me a little sad that those days are over.  Maybe I would have cherished them a little bit more, I don’t know.  But, even though I am sad to see her baby days passed, I am also having quite a bit of fun with this spunky, dramatic little girl that she’s become. Instead of babbling and cooing, we’re playing Uno (and she’s winning) and telling made-up stories at bedtime.  She helps me to cook scrambled eggs for breakfast and rushes the grab the dustpan when we give her dad a haircut. It’s fun to have a little partner-in-crime.

Even though this past year has been a difficult one, I prefer to look back on the fun moments with my 3-year-old girl that I will never get back.

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And, just like that, she was four.

 

Evelyn is 4

The Dollhouse Remade

A few years ago, I posted about my dollhouse.  When I was about Evelyn’s age, I got a dollhouse for Christmas.  Despite the fact that it’s not in it’s pristine original condition, I have been hanging onto it for roughly 35 years.  I can’t even believe I am typing that number.  Makes my head want to explode.  Anyway, I always imagined that one day, I would refurbish it and give it to my own child. Since Evelyn is almost 4, I decided that I have been procrastinating long enough.  This will be the year that I give her my dollhouse.

I started ordering the furniture long before I started working on the house itself.  I chose some sturdy wooden furniture made by Hape.  I wanted the pieces to be durable and appropriate for a preschooler’s hands.  Sure, I love the elaborate dollhouses with delicate Victorian style furniture, but I wanted her to be able to really play with this.

I think I had originally planned to take my time and work on it slowly.  Yeeeaaahhh, that didn’t happen. I am a master procrastinator.  I started working on it approximately one month ago.  I removed the wallpaper and discovered that the walls are a little rough.  I bought some wood filler to try to smooth out the texture of the wood a bit, but soon discovered that working in the tiny spaces was challenging and I didn’t have enough time or patience to bother with it.  So, I just started painting.

At one point, I invited Evelyn to help me work on it.  I showed her how to dip her paintbrush just so to prevent drips from getting on the carpet. Even though we had a moment when she came close to tears after she accidentally started painting the floor instead of the walls, we mostly worked side by side and just chatted about our work.  I told her how I had received the dollhouse when I was her age and that I had been saving it just for her for 35 years.  I told her how I was going to paint the walls to make it look like our house and she started to verbally plan out the rooms.  She even wanted to add a toilet to the basement, just like we have.  I knew that I had made the right decision to invite her to help when she told me, “I love helping you, mom.”  All the dreams and plans I had for this dollhouse were right there in that little statement.

So basically, I just painted all the walls, reattached the borders around the windows and doorways, and gave the exterior a good coat of paint.  The dollhouse used to have a balcony and a staircase. The opening where the staircase used to be left a huge hole in the floor, so I got the idea to cover the hole with carpet to make better use of the space.  Now, I am not so sure that I like the look of the thick carpet, so I might eventually try to rebuild a staircase and try some different materials for the carpet.  I would also love to try to rebuild the balcony someday, but for now the master bedroom has a big doorway to nowhere.

Once I finally got everything painted and felt like I was close to being finished, I started looking at dollhouse tutorials on Pinterest.  That opened a huge can of worms.  The possibilities are endless and I had no idea.  After seeing some of the beautiful dollhouses out there, I am almost embarrassed to post pictures of my own.  I decided that I just had to at least add some wallpaper and some little artwork on the wall.  Eventually, I would also love to make some curtains and add some other little touches.  I imagine this is something that Evelyn and I can do together for as long as she is interested.

It’s not perfect.  I wish I would have started working on it sooner and done a little research ahead of time, but I know she will love playing with it and we can make changes to it as often as we want.  I was already looking for tutorials on how to make a little Christmas tree!

The pictures are a little dark…it’s hard to get in all those little corners, but without further ado…

the Dollhouse

That room at the top was my nemesis last night when I was trying to wallpaper it at the eleventh hour.  I could not get the paper to stick.  I will eventually have to pull it out and start over.  Maybe we’ll turn it into a nursery or a game room.

The living room…

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The dining room….  I think this one is my favorite.

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The kitchen….   I had a blast picking out little pictures to hang on the walls.

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The bathroom was one of my biggest challenges.  It’s the narrowest room in the house and the furniture doesn’t fit very well.  We probably could make do with just the tub and no shower, but the set came with both.

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The kids’ room…

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The parents’ room…

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I think it’s safe to say my girl loved it.  Now, I wonder who’s going to play with it more??

On getting older…

In looking forward to my birthday this week, (turning 30-something yet again!) I decided to resurrect one of my old posts about birthdays and getting older. Enjoy!

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I recently had a birthday and Michael has a fairly monumental one coming up in the next few days. My younger brother and sister have both turned 30 over the past year and my youngest sister just turned 21. All these milestone birthdays have me thinking about getting older.

Michael refers to birthdays as “just another circle around the sun.” I guess he doesn’t see them as anything special. My family has always celebrated birthdays, but never made a huge deal out of them either. Some people don’t celebrate them at all while others think it’s the biggest deal on the planet and will remind friends and family for weeks before the day that their birthday is forthcoming.

They say that age ain’t nothin’ but a number, but when it comes to getting older, I think that most of us are more than a little aware that we’re aging…

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