Expectations vs Life As We Know It

December 27th, 2016

Ever since Caroline was born, I have dreamed of the day I get to give her an American Girl doll. If you were a little girl at any point in the 90’s, you probably understand (My husband completely does not understand. “Don’t be disappointed if she doesn’t love these dolls as much as you do,” he said to me. HAHA AS IF.) In those days, they were made by The Pleasant Company and were completely unlike any other toy I had ever seen. They were beautiful. They had the most amazing clothes. They all had tiny tea sets or picnic baskets or ice cream parlors. And everything cost one million dollars. Or at least it felt like it did.

When I was 7 or 8 my parents and grandparents teamed up to make my sister and I American Girl dolls. They bought blonde 18-inch baby dolls, purchased a few tiny accessories that couldn’t be easily replicated, and then hand-made everything else we needed for our own Kirstens. They did the braids. They made beds with tiny mattresses and quilts. And my grandmother sewed me a child-sized version of Kirsten’s pink checked dress because there was nothing in the world I wanted more than to be a Swedish pioneer girl, even if that meant my best friend might die of cholera. I still remember finding our boxes with the dolls under our Christmas tree.

Eventually, I got a “real” Samantha doll and several of her outfits. I treasured her until the day I accidentally pulled her leg off trying to get her into a pair of tights, then I gently put her away and thought “some day I’ll send her to the doll hospital”. I still have all of it, both the Kirsten and the Samantha and the clothes and accessories and the bed and the box. It’s been in Caroline’s closet for years. So I decided THIS year, when she turned 6, would be the year of the American Girl. I would stop hiding the catalogs when they came (because of course I get the catalog) and we would look through and talk about how pretty everything was. I would buy her a doll, then ask for my family to sponsor a gift card so we could go to the store and do some dream shopping. We could get tea and ice cream in the American Girl Cafe where your doll gets a special seat and her own cup and everything would be so pink and so sparkly and she would look back on this birthday as the best birthday of her childhood.

But I had a baby 3 months ago, who I can’t really leave for long enough to do a girl’s trip to Boston. So I needed to bring my baby with me. But I didn’t want a crying baby to disrupt our trip so I talked E into bringing everyone so he could watch the boys while Caroline and I did our special birthday stuff and then Finn would be close enough to nurse if he needed. In my head, it was a great plan.

In reality, it was a terrible plan because there was no plan. We left late. No one ate anything. We ended up with all of us standing in the middle of the American Girl store while Linc threw a tantrum, the hungry baby cried, Evan leaned against things because he was bored and I wondered how I could have even thought this was a good idea. Caroline picked out a couple things and we left. No tea, no magical mother-daughter time, no wandering around for an hour looking at every tiny detail for the dolls.

By the time we got home, I felt like I had genuinely ruined Caroline’s birthday. She would never look back on the day she got her first American Girl doll and think about how magical it was.

But the truth is 6-year-olds don’t internalize everything the way adults do. Caroline was so excited to play with her doll and to dress her up in all her new clothes she barely noticed how grumpy I was. So I pulled myself together and asked her if she wanted to run some errands with me, one-on-one. “Yes! A girl date! I love girl dates!” she said. We went to Target for diapers and toothpaste. We wandered around for an hour with our Starbucks (hot cocoa and a cake pop for her, the hugest peppermint mocha frapp ever for me), looking at Christmas decorations, checking out the stuff in the dollar spot, and picking up small presents she could give her brothers for Christmas. She brought her American Girl doll and they rode in the cart together, singing a made up song and telling every person who smiled at her that it was her birthday.

I have always struggled with keeping my expectations in the realm of reality and adjusting when things didn’t work out exactly as I had imagined. Going with the flow is not my specialty. Enjoying the moment if the moment isn’t the moment I had planned.

I’m working on it.

 

 

 

 

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Christmas 2016

December 26th, 2016

Merry Christmas! Happy Everything! My parents left today after spending a few days celebrating the holiday with us. I took too many pictures of some things and none at all of others (why didn’t I take a picture before we went to church? No idea.) but the baby took a nice nap today so I had time to cull and edit what I got, so here’s our Christmas weekend in photos.

My mom has worked at Target forever. Almost 20 years, I think. She got me a job at her store when I was 15, then I opened 3 stores in South Carolina when I was in college, worked at another when we were stationed in Virginia Beach, and started working for our district office until we were moved here to Connecticut. So we both love Target way, way too much. One of her co-workers makes and designs shirts, so these were a very appropriate gift. They say “Dear Santa, Just take me to Target”.

Christmas Eve, ready for Santa!

Christmas Morning!

I really, really, REALLY tried to go with useful and wanted over quantity this year. Santa brought the big kids new kid Kindle Fires plus a few small things on their list (Caroline asked for socks and notebooks, Evan asked for a laser gun and Legos, so that was pretty easy). From us they got some clothes and lots of books. Extended family did a great job with thoughtful, fun things the kids have been playing with intently. We’re doing one more mini-Christmas when my in-laws visit in a few days.

I hope you and yours had a beautiful and merry holiday too! We’re going to treat the rest of winter break as extended Christmas, so more matching jammies to come!

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December 21st, 2016

Surprise! I’m catching up on my blog so you get two of these in a row.

Sunday:

Caroline took 2 dozen Nutcracker selfies

The Garde Arts Center in New London

I’ve taken this same picture almost every day this week

Monday:

SO MONDAY

Totally normal way to drink water.

He really loves his baby oranges

Tuesday:

This Tuesday is also very Monday

First try! I totally forgot how to do it but he liked being up there.

MATCHING

Wednesday:

Parking lot nursing sesh

Daddy doing an Elsa braid

MORE MATCHING

Thursday:

Red velvet cheesecake thumbprints

Beautiful toddler cookies

Superman helps make dinner

Friday:

More of me NOT walking the kids to the bus stop

Static hairs

Skeptical baby is always skeptical

Saturday:

Winter wonderland

Super cool superman

Caroline and her new best friend Kit at her birthday dinner

 

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December 20th, 2016

I was looking for an old post on the blog this week and ended up scrolling through tons of these iPhone photo posts from weeks 210-220. It was SO fun to see what we were doing 100 weeks ago (Evan was getting head stitches, I wore Lincoln in a lot of wraps, Caroline smiled). So even though this is a full 2 weeks late, I’m vowing to catch up and do better in 2017.

Sunday:

Baking day!

Helpers

Most of these are gone now.

Monday:

You go to the bus stop, I’ll stay on the porch out of the snow.

Penguin wearing

Making kale salad (which was delicious)

Tuesday:

Kitchen helper

Seriously, my kids LOVE cooking

At the Polar Express

Wednesday:

Cute brother time

King of Bedhead

More cooking

Thursday:

Blanket? Scarf? Blanket scarf!

I keep wearing this kid so I never get to wear the baby

Cookie makers

Friday:

Very patient cat

Snoozing through the Velvet Mill Holiday Market

Stuffing his face with dinner cupcake

Saturday:

They asked me to take their picture and posed

Again, this was at Caroline’s request

BEBEH SUSPENDERS

That last picture is from the day we took our family photos so I could order Christmas cards. Today, most people should GET our Christmas cards in the mail, thanks to my quick editing, remembering to buy stamps last week, and Minted’s amazing addressing service (not sponsored, I paid them a ton of money for cards, but the envelope address printing is SO WORTH IT). Almost all the wrapping and gift buying is done too, so most of this week I just get to relax and do Christmasy stuff like more baking, planning fancy Christmas appetizers, and watching Christmas movies. I might even get a long winter’s nap or too, because E has most of the week off. IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR.

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Caroline: 6 Years Old

December 19th, 2016

Today, my one and only baby girl turns SIX. She has grown both physically (why are all her dresses too short?!) and mentally (she’s already surpassed first grade reading and it’s not even half way through the year) SO much in the last year I’m often shocked when I remember she’s ONLY six. And then she has a rough, long, very tired day where she can barely make it to dinner without collapsing in tears and I remember she’s a tiny child and sometimes she just needs cuddles. She is delightful company, an amazing help around the house and with the baby, a budding chef and kind to people and animals. I could not be more proud of my Caroline.

After you turn 5 you don’t get a huge party anymore, but you do get a family fun birthday weekend. We did some shopping, some Caroline-chosen meals, a girl date with Starbucks, and she took cupcakes to school to celebrate. She said it was the best weekend ever.

It only took one take to do our birthday question video this year. (Links to previous year’s videos: 5 years old, 4 years old, 3 years old) No explanations needed, she’s got this under control:

If you’d like to waste time today and/or take a trip down “Suzanne spends way too much time and money on birthday party” Lane, here are some helpful links:

First Birthday Party (Winter sparkle wonderland)

Second Birthday Party (Winter woodland fairies)

Third Birthday Party (Princess party)

Fourth Birthday Party (Mermaid party)

Fifth Birthday Party (Nutcracker ballet party – my FAVORITE)

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