When Mom Skipped Town.

Did you hear the news? This mama decided to skip town for a while! And what a wonderful idea it was.

It all started when I made a pretty cool friend in junior high. And then somehow kept her until now. And then she flew all the way here to meet both my kiddos. So naturally, I’ve been waiting for her to get on with the baby making process so I could return the favor. And she did. And he’s cute. So I bought myself a plane ticket!

Can I just give a shout out to this guy I’m married to for a minute? Not only did he encourage me to go, he didn’t balk at buying the plane ticket, and he took off two days of work to hang with the kids! It was a completely guilt free vacation for me, and one I so appreciated!

We had a little trouble getting out of here, though. And by “we,” I mean the kids and I. Last week was supposed to be pretty flawless. The kids and I would play and carry on as usual. I would soak up the short week with them, and prepare everything ahead of time for when I left. It would be perfect. Except it wasn’t. Every time I turned around Quinn was gushing blood, no one napped, and oh yes, we had to have some blood work drawn for Leah the day before I left to make sure she didn’t have a number of diseases, including leukemia (praise Jesus, she doesn’t). I mean, it just did not go as planned. My stress level was through the roof. At one point I believe I said, “I’m just not even gonna go.” But Kyle made me. And thank God he did.

The second I got through airport security, I got really excited. If you follow this blog, you know that I don’t leave much. Or ever. Maybe it’s a fault, but I’m kind of a homebody as it is. Then you throw in kids whom I actually enjoy putting to bed every night, it gets a little tricky to get me out of the house. But I honestly shocked myself with how much I was ready to leave them. Maybe it was the terrible three days we had had before I left, maybe it was such a strong desire to see my best friend in person, or maybe it was the confidence I had in knowing the girls were home with Kyle, but something switched in my brain… and I was so excited to leave them! (Is that bad)?

I could go on and on about the fun time that I had. Adult conversations for three days straight. Really, really good food that was always eaten warm. An adorable, cozy house with a really great bed. Extracurricular activities, which included horses and goats. And of course, lounging all day with a baby on my chest! But the best part was that I truly got to enjoy every second that I was there because I knew that Kyle was in charge at home, and that made me feel really, really good. A lot of times I forgot about the kids all together… in a good way. I knew there wasn’t a scenario in the world that he couldn’t get them through, and even though I got a few frantic texts, I was able to smile through them and feel grateful that he was there.

Can I show you some examples? And these are not to demean his job, but simply to make you smile like they made me smile. I loved every single one of them, not because he was struggling in those moments, but because he was trying.

I didn't just leave him with instructions to run through Wendy's. Oh, no. We are a real food family whether mom's home or not. So he got a crash course in smoothies before I left. Perhaps I should've been more in depth.

I didn’t just leave him with instructions to run through Wendy’s. Oh, no. We are a real food family whether mom’s home or not. So he got a crash course in smoothies before I left. Perhaps I should’ve been more in depth.

Naturally, the three year old can be trusted to tell the truth when it comes to TV watching privileges :)

Naturally, the three year old can be trusted to tell the truth when it comes to TV watching privileges 🙂

Friday night Pizza night also goes on rain or shine :)

Friday night Pizza night also goes on rain or shine 🙂

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And my favorite text, maybe ever, was from my mom who came up to stay the night Thursday night so she could go to grandparents day at Leah’s school Friday morning.

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I am lucky.

Lucky to have such a wonderful friend to visit, and lucky to have such a great partner in all things, but especially parenting. Thanks to you BOTH for a fantastic weekend! Same time next year? 🙂

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Just So.

“Mommy, mommy, I cweaned da bafroom!” She runs to me as I’m putting clothes away in Quinn’s room.

“Oh, honey, that’s wonder……. ful.” I stop myself from getting excited as my brain begins to process her statement and put it into reality.

Wait a minute, she’s three. She can’t reach the clorox wipes. The bleach is hidden. What did she clean… and how?!

“You cleaned the bathroom?” “Ya!” “What did you clean the bathroom with?”

“I don’t wanna tell you.” 

There it was. There was reality. I reassured her that I wouldn’t get upset as I slowly got up from stuffing drawers with folded pants. I took some deep breaths. We walked to their bathroom. Their new bathroom. The one I just painted and redecorated. The one I didn’t even want to let them use.

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“Oh. Look at that. You cleaned the bathroom with toothpaste. Neat.”

It was in that moment that my frustration turned from Leah to the lovely people at CrestKids. Why in the WORLD was their princess toothpaste SO PINK? Had it always been this color and I had never noticed? Was it the crisp grey towels that made it even more of a blinding pink? I mean, really. Hot pink?? That’s the necessary color to achieve cavity free teeth and fresh breath? They couldn’t come up with something a little more… grey?

“Honey, thank you for cleaning the sink. We don’t normally use toothpaste to clean the sink, though. Toothpaste is for our teeth.” “Ok, mommy.” And she runs away to play, clueless.

God bless.

You hear these stories from “empty-nesters” where they miss these little moments. And I’m sure someday I will miss the littleness, the helpfulness. But I don’t know, I mean, I just bought those pretty grey towels. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t even let the kids use them. They would just adorn the towel rack, stacked and folded on top of each other just so. They wouldn’t even have a wrinkle.

And now they sit in a ball, covered in hot pink toothpaste goodness. And I shake my head and add it to the list.

The list of things that have succumbed to the, ‘Ruiners of All Good and Clean Things.’ My children.

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All four of them. Well, the three of them. Duncan is my favorite most every day. They may look cute enough, but don’t be fooled. They can rip a house apart at the seams. And that yellow one has taken his talents to the backyard. Hole after hole after hole he digs. I don’t know where he thinks he’s trying to go, but he’s certainly trying to get there fast.

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But, believe it or not, he is the least of my worries most of the time.

Warm coffee time is a luxury, am I right or am I right? Sitting down on the floor (to feel like a better mom) with a hot cup of coffee while the four of them dance circles around me at 7:00am is not the same as sitting in Starbucks with a newspaper and a hot cup of coffee, but it’s still kinda nice. I still consider it special to have a warm mug in my hand. Whatdoyaknow, the little one toddles over to me and gets the standard, “ah ah ah, Quinnie, no no, it’s  hot.” And because she’s smart, she knows that when something is hot… you blow on it. And what happens when a 16 month old blows? Spit happens. She blows. I watch the drool fall into my hot cup of coffee and stare blankly. She smiles. I get up and dump it. Cold coffee waiting for me on the counter it is. Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow.

Our (my) current recurring argument is my make-up drawer. For the rare times I feel like looking like a woman who has a clue, I like to wear make-up. It’s not much, and it’s not top of the line, but it gets the job done. Only now, I share with Quinn. She gets in my drawer every chance she gets and digs her grimy little fingers into my eyeshadow and picks… and picks… and picks until it’s crumbled all over my sink. She comes running to me with dark and shimmery little finger prints that look as if she’s just posted bail.

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Not that a lid would stop her, but she broke them all off anyways. My argument isn’t with her (although, I do shout QUINNNNNNNN when I see her coming at me with black paws), but with… her father.  

“Why can’t I ever just HAVE NICE THINGS!?” I toss him some of my frustration as I find Quinn painting my sink with mascara. And his reply? “Why don’t you put the child proof things on the drawer?”

OHHHHHH. Riiiiiight. I’ll just locate the nearest power drill (because I know exactly where it is) and I’ll just start drilling these bad boys into all the cabinets. Because that’s what I have time for in a day. And I certainly have been educated properly in drilling holes into cabinets. And that wouldn’t be a safety hazard at all with 7000 feet underneath me at.all.times. Thank you so much for your suggestion. Come on, kids, let’s go have some fun! And yes, my response was every bit as rude and snarky as that one. He babbled something back about “reminding him to do it,” but we all know how that goes.

So, no. That problem isn’t going away any time soon. Nor are any of the others, I suppose. Because it looks like these kids are sticking around. Samson is a digger. Leah is a cleaning lady in training. Quinn is a make up destroyer. (Duncan is an angel). That’s just who they are. They are little. And those who are older and wiser that me tell me I’m supposed to let them be little and that I will miss this someday, so we will carry on. I will grin and bear it. We can fill holes with new soil, and see if we can get some new grass to grow. We will wash towels covered in pink toothpaste… and then start buying natural toothpaste. And I will keep replenishing my stash of destroyed makeup, and keep wiping the face of my coal miner one year old.

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And I will forget about hot coffee all together.

Because I suppose someday everything will be just so. We will have towels hanging just for decor. I know that someday I will have the nice things I always dream about. My make up will not always be in crumbles. Someday there won’t be little wet nose and sticky finger reminders left on the doors and windows. Someday I will wipe the crayon marks off the walls and the marker off the carpet. I will spend time picking playdoh out of the rug. Because someday it will stay clean longer than 5 minutes. Someday there will be a yard full of lush, green, hole-less grass. Someday there won’t be crumbs caked into every crevice of our leather couches. Kyle and I will have to find something new to fight about, because it certainly won’t be child proofing cabinets. They won’t be little someday. Someday I will sit in my kitchen – in silence – with a cup of hot coffee sans drool and stare at my manicured yard… and hate it. 

And I will pick up the phone and call Leah and remind her of the time she cleaned the bathroom for me.

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The Sweet Spot.

A year ago Sunday.

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And today.

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It’s quite a punch to the gut to realize that I haven’t given her her own blog in quite some time. I don’t need to remind you of my excuse list, but nevertheless, I’ve been failing my little Quinn. I hate it. The truth is, she is such a doll and my most favorite second child ever. She keeps me on my toes and laughing all day long. She is needy and clingy and talkative. She is feisty and happy and curious. She is smart and clever and mischievous. She loves her big sister and her big brothers. She is outgrowing every piece of clothing she has, and if she doesn’t stop, we will enter the Spring season completely naked. She uses her potty frequently and always expects toilet paper to throw in it and a high five afterwards. She will stop and play in any droplet of water she sees. She eats… and eats and eats. She cannot be without her blankets. A stack of books will keep her occupied longer than most anything else. Mickey Mouse is her jam. This is the Day that the Lord has Made is her favorite song. Outside is the best. She knows her body parts from head to toe. She says: daddy, papa, nana, Samson, Duncan, bye-bye, shoes, ball, diaper, no, mmm hmm, and bubble. Leah is her hero. She is my happy place in a dreary day. She hates clothes and loves frog slippers. She has all of her teeth. She still needs me at night sometimes. She loves to throw trash away. She loves to be chased. Giggles are plenty in a day. She barks like a dog and sniffs like a bunny. She tells me bye and waves when I put her down for a nap. She always makes sure the dogs get a milk bone (or 10). She loves to color. She loves to jump on the bed(s). She loves peek-a-boo.

That’s the rundown for you. That’s our Quinn at 16 months and 2 days.

But what I really need to say isn’t as easy to put into words. I just kind of freaking love her. A lot. And life is really, really good with her here. And sometimes she makes me want to say no way to more babies because I think we have it too perfect and what if the next one sucked? And to watch her with Leah does something to my insides that no fancy words could describe. She gets away with more than she should and I don’t even care, because she’s my Quinnie. And my goodness have I learned that they grow up too fast. 

I think if I were to give advice to any new parent it would be to hurry up and have the second. Not taking away anything from Leah, because I also happen to freaking love her a lot, but there’s just something so very sweet about the second. I think it has to do with the calm that comes from ‘been there done that,’ but it’s just so much more rewarding. Or it has been for me.

It’s funny what I have done differently this time around. For instance, we put Leah in a toddler bed at 18m. I look at Quinn at 16m and think… no way, no how am I taking her crib apart. Maybe I rushed Leah, maybe she was ready, or maybe I just can’t let go of Quinn being a baby, but it’s just not going to happen in the next two months. Where I always thought Leah seemed older than she was, I now find myself constantly thinking Quinn is younger than what she is. To me, she still seems like that sweet little baby who had just turned 4 months old. I have no idea who that pretty little thing walking around wearing jeans is. The pictures just look so foreign to me when I see her looking so grown up, or when she talks, which is happening more and more. She can answer a question and speak for herself now, and it’s just not right. “Quinn, we need to put your clothes on,” and she shakes her head no and laughs. “Quinn, do you wanna jump on my bed,” “mmm hmmm” and she runs to the steps with her big sister and up they go. And I’m just left in the dust wondering what in the world is happening.

But as much as I complain about her baby-ness disappearing, we are kind of at a sweet spot right now. A really sweet spot. In a lot of ways. I mean, these girls really seem to enjoy each other for the most part, and it’s so awesome. Leah must learn to be more careful, but other than that, I have very few complaints. Right now, Leah is taking on a majority of the potty training and I’m certainly not complaining. She loves to ask her if she wants to go potty.. and then strip her down. She can get them both snacks, read books, fetch blankets, and turn on the TV (can I get an AMEN). I can get things done around the house and listen to giggles or sweet little conversations as I work – and it is music to my ears. I catch glimpses of them and see them when they’re in high school or even older and what a sweet picture it is.

I’m so thankful that Quinn was painted into our family. She just fills the spot I didn’t know we had. And try as I might, she will get the short end of the stick more often than not, but that certainly doesn’t mean I don’t sit back and marvel at everything that she does. She’s growing up so wonderfully and I love every inch of her to the moon and back.

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And the Next Day.

Let’s see, where were we?

Oh yes. We had just had the best family day of our lives.

And then, the next day. 

When we planned this vacation, we knew who we were traveling with. A three year old and a one year old. We knew that although it was Disney World, we didn’t want to suck the fun out of it by exhausting everyone, so we added a little “buffer day” in there. So sandwiched between the two days with Mickey, we put in a day of swimming at the hotel and exploring/shopping at Downtown Disney. And thank God we did. Because Friday morning I woke up with something I had not had before. Or, at least not in a long, long time.

I woke up several times overnight with a pounding headache and just prayed that it would be gone by morning. Morning rolled around and it wasn’t. And it was now coupled with throwing up. I wanted to cry. I did cry. I was so very thankful this was a down day, but it was still heartbreaking. I’m not even going to spend much time talking about it, because I don’t want to relive it. What you should know is that Kyle played with, fed, and entertained the kids all morning in and around the hotel. I threw up repeatedly, and landed on the fact that I had some sort of food poisoning. We all made it to nap time, and I was determined to get better and go to Downtown Disney like we planned. And when they woke up, sure enough, I crawled around to put myself together and off we went. Barely making it out of the cab, I stumbled into the nearest store… Ghiradelhi chocolate (OF ALL PLACES) and threw up. It was my nightmare, but afterwards, I could kind of sense a positive shift heading my direction. The headache was gone, most of the nausea was gone, I reunited with the family and got a little pep back in my step.

Downtown Disney was fun – lots of shopping. The girls both loved looked at all of their favorite characters every.where. I didn’t know what to expect as far as shopping was concerned, I wasn’t sure who would want what, or just how much money we’d drop. We had been saving, so we were prepared for the most elaborate of replica Cinderella Castles or life sized Mickey – but my children are also Kyle’s children – and they apparently can get by with very little. I practically forced Leah to buy something, and would we all like to see what she HAD to have….

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A miniature Pooh Bear! After all, out of the 12 pooh bears she has… not one was this small. She even told me, so excitedly, “I’ve never had a tiny pooh bear before, mommy!” She thought it was the greatest thing. $9.95. The hardest part was not losing him. And Quinn’s choice…

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Mickey. Of course.

We had a nice dinner at Rainforest Cafe (I ate ice), wandered some more, and called it a day. I was happy that although Kyle had to fly solo for the morning, the afternoon ended just how we had planned it. We made it through. I needed a miracle to recover in time for… the next day.

And I got it!

Prayers answered, I woke up 100%. And starving.

You guys, this was no ordinary day. Not even a little. Our little Quinn woke up a 1 year old! Oh, be still my heart. My kids’ birthdays make me a mess. I get so emotional. So happy they’ve grown, so sad they’re growing up. This one especially. This is my baaaaaby. But there was really no time to get sappy with her, she had a big day ahead of her!!

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We quickly crammed her in a onsie to take the last ‘month’ picture. Then it was down for breakfast and on the bus for day 2! This time, we did not stop at the carousel. First thing on Leah’s list was meeting Cinderella… again. I kind of didn’t want her to. The first experience was beyond anything any of us could’ve dreamed up – I didn’t want anything to drown that out. And, I must admit, it was pretty lackluster. A different day, a different Cinderella. She was perfectly nice, but she was not even up to par with the first Cinderella. Leah said hi, bye, took a picture and we were out of there. Thank goodness my pictures are with the first one. Leah didn’t seem to mind, though, and was really excited to get back to the roller coasters!

Day two was full of fun things (duh). Kyle and Leah rode everything she was tall enough for. Quinn and I found our own fun at every turn.

Leah and Kyle rode Goofy’s Barnstormer a million more times, Quinn and I played in Dumbo’s circus tent…

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Leah and Kyle rode the Test Track (Leah got to drive)…

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Quinnie and I found a warm blanket to nap with (it was a colllld day)…

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Leah and Kyle explored the Seven Dwarfs mine and rode their roller coaster…

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(Leah’s little head beside Kyle, haha).

Quinnie and I found a cookie stand…

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And we all helped Buzz Lightyear fight the space aliens (or something)…

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We all watched Leah act out her part in Belle’s fairytale…

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And we all got candy and rested while watching the afternoon parade…

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Oh! And Quinn and I were famous! We wandered in to an interactive Monsters Inc interactive comedy show and they said they were seeking a “two headed monster.” Quinn was sitting on my lap, and thus, we fit the bill. So I answered their silly questions for a few minutes and Quinn smiled the whole time. 🙂

But the big event was coming. I researched a lot about how to handle a birthday at Disney World before we went. As if just being there on Quinn’s birthday wasn’t enough, I really wanted her to know it was her special day. So I learned all about the button she could wear, which actually did bring on lots of fun attention from the crew. I also learned that I could request a cake… so, naturally, I was going to make that happen. Right before dinner, we had an appointment with the one and only…

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She smiled so big when she saw him. I had another one of those ‘moments’ and had to quickly wipe the tear from my eye. I was so happy to see her so happy. But as much as she loved Mickey, she really loved her cake…

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And that’s where we’ll end it.

We had plans to stay up late and watch the fireworks and parade, but I think it was the coldest day Orlando had ever seen. And even though the girls had jackets and we bought a big blanket, it was just plain cold. We asked Leah what she wanted to do and she even said she was ready to go. So we went. We had years worth of memories, full bellies, and exhausted kids. We bid farewell to all of the magic and headed back to the bus. 5:30am was going to come early.

And it did.

But from the very first morning to the very last, the girls didn’t stop smiling. We truly had the time of our lives.

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Perhaps the best part came on the flight home. Quinn was down for the count, Leah was slurping apple juice, and Kyle said to me, “so we wanna do this again in a couple years?” My heart leapt.

Disney World 2016. The countdown has begun.

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That Time We Went To Disney World.

So we went on a vacation. It was roughly 17 years ago.

Gosh, as we’re approaching the END of February (can I get an amen), I find myself thinking, where did the last 4 months go?! It has been forever since I blogged about anything of significance (you know, my children). It’s funny, I chose to stop writing at a time when I had so many things to talk about! I had all of these amazing things happening in October – January, and I went into a writers block of sorts. I wasn’t even sure how to process it all. But I believe I feel myself coming out of it. I’ve got the writing itch again, and I have lots to say. I’m going to start with our vacation, because that’s pretty much where I dropped off the blogging planet.

It still baffles me that I haven’t (really) written since before we went on vacation. That was the vacation of vacations, and yet I couldn’t ever sit down and write about it. Perhaps I haven’t even been able to process it until now. In my defense, there was a birthday party we came home to. Then we had my grandma in town from Buffalo. Thanksgiving. We picked out a PUPPY. Christmas shopping. Christmas decorating. Christmas. A new year. It was a lot, and all at once. But now in the depths of winter, nothing makes me happier than the memories I have locked in my brain of that time we

WENT TO DISNEY WORLD.

I remember waking up the morning we left, and practically leaping out of bed. We had planned this trip since January. We had diligently saved our money so that we could say ‘no’ as little as possible. We had picked out key rides. We had dinner reservations. We had special dresses. Kyle was already down there for business, and all that stood between me and Mickey Mouse was getting my kids dressed, fed, through an airport, on an airplane, through another airport, into a car, and into the hotel. NBD. I was terrified, but I was so excited. I got myself ready as quietly as possible, and then as giddy as could be, walked up the stairs to tell Leah that today was the day! I woke her up, and she asked me if it was a school day. Ha.

“No, honey, it’s not a school day.”

“Today is the day we’re going to go to Disney World!”

“Right now?”

“YES!”

Now, she lacked some enthusiasm, but she was half asleep. Once she came to her senses, it was game on. She wanted her suitcase, and her Cinderella dress. Check, check. Because I have the world’s best little travelers, we made it to sunny Florida without incident. No one cried, no one whined. Not even me. By the time we got to the hotel, I really just wanted to put my arms around Kyle. I got us into our room while he was in a cab to meet us. I was really excited to show him his littlest kid. Quinn was just starting to take steps, and it had only been four days since he had seen her, but he had missed a lot of her progress. But when he got to our room, I said, “check this out,” and she toddled her little self all the way to him (about 5 steps). It was just kind of the perfect way to be reunited. I was so happy to be together again, to have help with the little rats again, and to be on this vacation that we dreamed up for months.

If you’ve ever traveled with kids, you know that vacations aren’t really vacations. Even if it’s the happiest vacation of your life, your kids are still gonna throw fits. Someone will whine. They will need a snack when you don’t want to stop for one. They will have to go potty. You and your spouse will fight. Vacations, family vacations, are not all smiles. But I kind of wanted needed this one to be as perfect as possible. So we had one rule: Leah would rule. Because if you go to Disney World, it just seems right that your kids should run the show. Knowing ahead of time that it wouldn’t be perfect actually helped it to be perfect. I don’t think Kyle and I fought one time. I tried really hard to keep myself in check. We never told Leah to hurry up, or slow down. If she wanted a snack, we stopped then and there. Whatever she wanted to ride, she rode.

Truth be told, in my perfect picture of Disney World, we would walk into all of it’s glory, head speedily past the throngs of people, and jump into Pooh Bear’s honey pot. After all, that was her number one ride. But when we actually entered the magic  – there was so.much.pointing. From both girls. So we didn’t race back, we headed in the right direction, but we stopped at every Mickey Mouse adorned pumpkin so that Quinn could point and say, “DA!” And we stopped Cinderella’s castle for far longer than I wanted to as people rushed passed us – because, hello, it was THE castle. And Cinderella was on the wall. So we stayed and pointed and pointed. And we even stopped for family photos because, Lord knows, I was documenting this vacation 100%.

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After much of the pointing was finished, we continued on to what I thought would be our first ride. But then she saw it… The Carousel. And naturally, because she saw it, she wanted to ride it. “But the honeyyyyy pot, sweetie!” Is what I wanted to say, but didn’t. I snapped myself back into, ‘this is Leah’s day’ mode, we parked the stroller, and we hopped on the carousel with no wait (because it’s a carousel).

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And she was thrilled with her decision. So who am I to not let her ride a darn carousel. After the carousel, though, it was honey pot time. Before we knew it we were right outside the Hundred Acre Wood. And we rode it. And I didn’t take a picture because I didn’t want to miss her faces. And they are forever locked into my brain, and she had a hoot, but you guys… I learned something about my Leah while on this trip… She is an adrenaline junky. And she rode Goofy’s Barnstormer (roller coaster) with her dad over and over and over. And over. Aaaand over. The faster the better. The higher the better.

And I had a moment while they were riding over and over. I remembered being young and going to Darien Lake (six flags) with my family and riding the roller coasters with my dad. He made me go on my very first one, and I cried but I loved it. And I also remembered my mom would always wait for us at the end. I thought she was such a dud. (Love you, mom). She was scared of heights, and just couldn’t do the “fun stuff.” But me and my dad did them all. And here I was… And all Leah wanted was Kyle. I had to beg her just to ride it with her once. She obliged, I got motion sick, and Kyle took over again. We were all happier that way. I stayed with the Quinn, the stroller, the bags, the stuff. I waited at the end to hear how fast it was.

I WAS THE DUD!

This happened again later when she rode a REAL coaster, and STUCK HER HANDS IN THE AIR. I waited to hear how fast it was. I held the crap. I was the dud. But I loved being the dud. Maybe my mom did, too. Dads are supposed to be the crazy ones. I loved sending her off with her dad for all kinds of adventures. He’s a special one, for sure. And I think I loved him more than ever watching him navigate Disney World with Leah.

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But then it happened.

For as much as she wanted to ride Pooh Bear’s ride, and as much as she loved roller coasters… she wanted to meet… CINDERELLA. She had her dress. She had her shoes. She had her crown. She had her bracelet. And it was time. (Thankfully, I suggested leaving the crown and shoes in my bag and she accepted).

It.was.time. I don’t really have words for that moment. But I know that this is the reason parent after parent practically sell their kidneys to buy a ticket to this park. When Leah met Cinderella, I lost it. This Cinderella, if I knew her name or address, I would send her gifts. She was the most sincerely caring character of the day – and boy did we need her to be sincere. It was magic. And I know it was magic because her rough and tumble dad had a little tear in his eye as well. 🙂

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Just look at her face! She showed Cinderella her bracelet and said, “look! this is you on there!” And Cinderella ate it up. Leah was completely lost in the moment. And it was the coolest thing I’ve ever watched. Then Cinderella invited her to twirl…

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And I was done. We could’ve left the park after that moment and every penny would’ve been worth it. Thankfully, we didn’t have to. We had a good 10 minutes with her, then it was time to say goodbye. Bucket list item numbers 1-100 – check.

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For the rest of the time the first day, we just followed little Leah’s quick little legs. Quinn happily accompanied us in everything. We weaved in and out of people, bobbed in and out of stores, watched parades, and danced in street dance parties. We ate good food, better ice cream,

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met some pals,

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danced in the street some more,

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continued to ride the carousel,

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and in the spirit of ‘not saying no’ – left the park with $20 balloons.

It was everything I had hoped it would be. And probably lots more. There really is something to that whole, “most magical place on Earth” thing.

But there were still two more days for us!

(Stay tuned for part 2)… 🙂

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21 Days.

They say it takes 21 days to build a habit. And you guys, I think we’re there.

We have been a real food eating, no sugar consuming, healthy, and energized bunch of Proebstings for the past 21 days, and I don’t plan on looking back. I’m very proud of us. I wish I could really get across to Leah how happy I am at all of the trying that she’s doing. That I do realize how hard it is for her to chew and swallow some of these new foods, but that she is a rock star three year old for doing it anyways! And Kyle, too. This game has come much easier to Quinnie and I. 🙂

About 19 days ago, Kyle pitched the question, (something to the effect of), “what are we going to do when we’re finished with this?” He participated in a challenge four years ago that was 12 weeks of intense cardio, muscle building, clean eating, etc. And when 12 weeks was up… it was over. Back to fruit loops for breakfast and McDonalds on the weekends. But this time is different for me. So I quickly answered back… we aren’t going to be finished with this. We’re locked in this for life, buddy. I’m not sure why it’s different for me this time around. Perhaps that disgusting Wendy’s chicken nugget had a bigger impact on me than originally thought, or perhaps I’m ready to be a crunchy granola mom, but it just is different. I just want better for my family. I want these adorable faces I cook for to have long, healthy, happy lives. And I do believe that what we put in our bodies is what we can expect to get out of them.

And 21 days later I have the evidence to prove it.

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9lbs and 3inches.

I didn’t start this thing to lose weight. Sure, there was the family beach body competition that gave me the start date, but I didn’t care about losing weight, honestly. I didn’t think I had much to lose. Of course, there were areas I wanted to change, but overall I was happy with my size. But when I see that picture – hello puffy. But now I’m quite a bit less puffy. (And ignore my face, taking selfies doesn’t come naturally to me). And this is barely working out… this is simply eating clean. Eating things that were made to go into, and be digested by, my body. If I can’t pronounce it, I don’t eat it. And if it’s not maple syrup or honey I don’t touch it. If it’s a color not of the earth (how’s that for crunchy granola mom), I walk on past. I don’t count calories. I don’t sit in a sauna. I don’t wrap myself up like a mummy. I don’t detox. I don’t cleanse. I don’t starve. I simply eat simple foods. And look at what happened! Not only the weight, but the energy is truly something to behold. Do you know that I can now do 15 REAL pushups? And I squat 30 times holding 25lbs. You guys. I’m not a worker outer, but I have all of this energy and it has to go somewhere – so I put it into random exercise at random moments throughout the day. I have no “workout time,” I just get down and do push ups when I feel like it. It’s not uncommon for me to lunge from point A to point B around the house. Or to squat with Quinnie. Or to do a plank with Leah on my back.

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And I’m not saying any of that to brag, I’m just saying that eating real food has had a profound impact on my life – and in just 21 days!

Here’s where it gets real, though. I don’t think a carrot is as good as a piece of chocolate. And I think people that say things like that are ugly liars. And while I happily refuse candy now, I do remember that it tastes very, very good. I refuse to eat whole wheat pasta – we tried it one night – not for us. I’m Italian… don’t mess with my noodles. I don’t buy everything organic.  Leah still eats the snacks given to her at school (the other day it was colored goldfish, yaaaay).

So, we’re adapting as we go. And I think that’s okay, too. Perhaps that’s why we made it so long. I didn’t set my expectations too high. I just wanted to start and see where the wind would take us. And boy am I glad we did. Here are some ways we’ve changed:

  • Everything I bake now gets a little something green in it.

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Hooray for Zuchinnis! (Leah always asks for seconds of this).

  • Friday night is now Pizza night. And Leah knows it 🙂
  • We have a freshly blended smoothie every day with lunch. Leah picks the color; the only time I failed was when she asked for white.
  • We make our own ice cream now (thanks, Poppy). And with maple syrup instead of sugar it turns out like butter pecan. Um. YUM.
  • Our pantry is bare and our fruit bowl is toppling over.
  • I now crave things like a Blendtec blender, avacado de-pitter, and bread bags (you know, kitchen appliances) instead of candy or cookies.
  • I have Tea time every afternoon, and it’s my favorite time of the day.
  • By menu planning and having a coordinating shopping list, I came in 43.33 UNDER budget for this months groceries. I don’t think I’ve ever come in under budget.

So those are some really fun things. I know Kyle is pretty happy with the last one.

It’s just a different way to live. But it’s working for us. The kids are still little enough that it’s easy to get them on board. Valentine’s Day poses a small problem, but heart shaped balloons, princess toys on clearance at Target, and homemade cookies should help. Easter poses another small problem, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. I’m not saying that we’ll never eat candy again. Or go to a restaurant. But we are in a really good spot right now, and I’m not quite ready to give that up.

21 days. What’s a few more?

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She’s ready.

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4 Under 4.

God bless these kids of mine.

They’re exhausting, but they’re pretty cute. At least I happen to think so. Lord knows I take enough pictures of them. I think they’ve all realized by now that if I have my phone pointed in their direction, they better be smiling. At least most of the time. I also like the candid shots of them doing what they do, however hilarious or sweet or messy it might be. I really like to look back on the pictures and try really hard to remember that moment in time. Sometimes it comes easy, sometimes I have no idea why I thought I needed a picture of whatever it was, but I never regret having taken it. Because as corny and overused as the saying is, they really do grow so fast.

Today was not a candid day. Today was a, “you do as you’re told, listen to your mother, sit in a line, and smile.” I didn’t want to hear another word about it. This puppy season with Samson is so fleeting, I can already tell. I’ve got Leah on the brink of kidhood, Quinnie entering toddlerhood at an astonishing rate, and Duncan looking more big and mature than I ever wanted him to. They are growing and if I don’t force a picture of it now, I’m going to regret it. These are the days I want to look back on. When they are little and chaotic and fabulous. I love them all so much right now, for all kinds of different reasons.

But the four of them, you know, never make anything easy. They are 4 under 4 afterall. Life is a whirlwind, and nothing ever goes as planned. So we tried and tried and tried again, until I released them all to go about their business. And as they did, I looked back at the faces I caught and laughed.

And laughed.

You’ve got the one where three of them look and smile… but the fourth is MIA.

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You invite the fourth back, and he and the first close their eyes…

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Numbers 1 and 4 look and smile, numbers 2 and 3 refuse…

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Then absolutely nobody cooperates…

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Then number 3 looks drugged…

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Then number 4 looks drugged and number 2 doesn’t look at all…

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Then number 2 tries to bite number 3’s ear off…

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Then number 3 finally gets in the spirit, but nobody joins her…

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Then we get both humans on board, but the animals say no…

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Then the babies decide to behave properly, but the big kids refuse…

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Then, finally, I can see 98% of their faces and we call it a day.

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(Would it have KILLED you to look at the camera, DUNCAN??).

And now we will go about the usual. But I have documented Winter 2015, when Leah was 3 and a half, Samson was 13 weeks, Quinn was 14 months, and Duncan was 2 and a half, so I can rest easy… until I find this blog in a year and freak out at how little they all were, and I’ll make them do it all over again.  🙂

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