Monday, July 14, 2014

My bologna has a middle name

My middle name is Marie, and so is my sister's. You would think my mom or dad had some sort of family significance in using the same middle name for both of us, but apparently, they just happened to like it. I continued the tradition and used Marie for Addison's middle name as well. 

When you're growing up, of course the only time you hear your middle name being used is when you're in trouble, doing something you shouldn't be doing. So naturally, what we heard was either "Stacy Marie!" Or "Stephanie Marie!" We have a funny story in our family dating back to when Stephanie was about four years old, and I was two. Stephanie caught my dad doing something she didn't think my mom would approve of (no one remembers what, exactly), and reacting as she had always seen mom do with us, she promptly yelled, "Daddy Marie!" Since then, giving everyone and everything the middle name Marie has become somewhat of an inside joke for our family. Insert this fabulous card my sister stumbled upon and sent me for my birthday one year:

Last weekend, Matt and Addy and I spent a large chunk of time doing yard work outside. Matt's task was to transport a dirt pile from our front yard to the perimeter of the house in the backyard. Each time he loaded up the wheelbarrow, Addy would follow him to the back yard to watch him dump it. On one occasion, she was busy catching frogs and missed the trip to the back. When she came looking for him and didn't see him, to my utter delight she called out for him, "Daddy? Daddy Marie? Where are you Daddy Marie?"

It gets even better. A few days later Addy sat down next to me on the couch and quickly expressed her concern over my need for a shower with, "Ewwww, you're STINKY MARIE! You need a shower!" 

And so the cycle continues. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Letter to My Daughter

Dear Addison,

One of the things I love best about having you as my daughter is that I get to see the world through your eyes. So many times, watching you has reminded me of what truly matters in life: being loved and giving love. The best thing about your age right now, as a girl, is that you are absolutely in love with yourself. You radiate confidence, and you see pure beauty when you look in the mirror. When you get dressed, or play with your hair, or even put one of your daddy's hats on your head, you say, "Don't I look beautiful!" You are not yet aware of what society and the media deems "beautiful", you have no idea what being teased feels like, and you don't know what it means to compare yourself to other girls. As you grow into a woman and learn those things, I wish that it wouldn't have any impact on your confidence, but it undoubtedly will.

As your mother, I am the role model that will shape how you view your body, how you react to the portrayal of women in media, and how you cope with societal pressures of what it means to be a woman. If I teach you nothing else, I hope I can teach you this: Your self-worth is not determined by your physical attractiveness. 

As I write you this letter, I am nearly 34 years old, and I am just now allowing myself to believe that statement. My self worth is not determined by my physical attractiveness. My self-worth is determined by the actions I take every day. It's found in the way I treat other people, and the effort I put into relationships. My self-worth is the result of the person I am on the inside. It has nothing to do with the size of my waist, my weight on the scale, or the shape of my arms.

I want you to know that YOU are the reason I'm finally finding the self-confidence to think this way. I look at you, and you are the spitting image of me. And I think, this little girl is so beautiful.

 You have my thin, flat hair. I've always complained about my hair, but I look at yours and see beauty. You have my wide feet, with a bulbous big toe. I cringe when I look at my feet, but I look at yours and think how awesome your feet are to carry your body wherever you go. You have my smile, right down to my ornery smirk. I've never liked my smile because it's not "classically beautiful", but I look at your smile and it fills my heart with joy. You are beautiful, and through you, I'm learning that I am too. Thank you for that gift.

I hope that I can take this newfound confidence and teach you that, while it's important to take care of yourself and present yourself to the world in a clean and well-groomed manner, your value as a woman goes far deeper than your appearance. I hope I can give you the tools to battle the bitchy girls in high school who try to make you feel inferior, or the boy in sixth grade who tells you your knees are fat. I hope I can teach you to always see something beautiful when you look in the mirror and when you examine your soul. I am aware of the responsibility I bear in shaping your vision of your self-worth, and I know it starts with improving my own. I promise you that I will do my best. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Totally Cute Tuesday

Making "Dirt Soup"

She caught a toad all by herself!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Nut Job

Last week while on our road trip, Addy had some trouble sitting through the movie Frozen at my friend's house, which is usually the case when we try to sit down and watch a movie. Coincidentally, the very next day, my friend Stacey invited us to an upcoming free screening of Frozen at her local library. Given the previous night's experience, I declined her invitation, and resigned myself to continue to patiently wait for Addy's attention span to improve.
We had plans to visit the zoo with my sister, Stephanie, on Wednesday, but with temps here still in the low 30's, we had to plan for an indoor activity. Stephanie suggested going to see a movie for $1 movie day in Canton. I decided that since it would be two adults versus one child, it would be the perfect time to give the movie theater a try. So we took Addy to see the animated film Nut Job.
Cute little movie
 Aunt Steph treated Addy to popcorn and cookies
The popcorn wasn't really bigger than her, I promise
and we settled in to our seats, not really sure what to expect, but assuming we would not be seeing the whole movie.

Addy cheesin' it up with Aunt Steph
Amazingly, Addy lasted over an hour before she became really fidgety and asked to get up and walk around. There was even a super cute ten minutes when Addy was curled up on Stephanie's lap with her blanket, calmly focused on the movie. And then there was a most embarrassing moment when, during a quiet time, Addy exclaimed loudly, "I farted! Hahahahaha!" That received a few hushed chuckles from the people surrounding us, and I muffled my laughter for a good three minutes. It was one of those moments that you can't stop laughing because you know you aren't supposed to be laughing.
Addy and I walked a few laps around the hallway outside the theater, then Stephanie took a turn with her until the movie ended. Even though she didn't see the whole film, she thought the dark theater and huge TV (her words) were really cool. So, her first movie in the theater was about as successful as we can hope to get with an energetic three year old. Yay!!!!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mommy/Daughter Road Trip

One of my very favorite people lives 6 hours away from me, near Baltimore. She has two adorable boys, aged 4 and (nearly) 2. She's smart, kind, funny, and sometimes as lost as I am in this world, though I think she's come a long way in finding herself over the past few years. She comes back to Ohio to visit fairly regularly, but she has a large family and understandably does not always have time for lengthy visits with friends. I figured it was time for us to make a trip out to see her, so we planned a three day roadtrip for me and Addy - our first solo adventure!
We hit the road on a Sunday morning, leaving the house earlier than Addy usually wakes up. She's still talking about getting up early: "Remember last time, you woke me up and said it was morning? But, it was still dark out." She totally doesn't believe me that it was morning when we left. Anyhow, being this was my first solo roadtrip with a tiny human in tow, I made sure I was well prepared for any car catastrophes that might arise. And by catastrophes, I mean the incessant whining of "Are we there yet?????" and such phrases. I found an old toiletries travel bag that I only use for lengthy trips that I thought would be the perfect organizer for Addy's stuff, and could hang by her carseat to easily be within arms reach for her. I loaded it was snacks, a book of mazes, a couple dry-erase crayons, a number-tracing dry erase book, her tablet, and some travel felt boards that I made (which, by the way, I think I have found my new hobby: making felt boards and pieces!)

I'm glad I was prepared, but now I know for next time that eating snacks is the only thing my daughter is interested in doing to occupy herself on a car trip. If I had a piece of wood and told her it was a snack, she probably would have tried to eat it. Here's a rundown of how the drive to Baltimore went:
7:35am - Bye-bye house! We're off!
7:50am - Addy has consumed all her snacks within reach. 5 items, gone in 15 minutes.
8:30am - Addy finally digs in to the activities in her bag, starting with the felt boards.
8:41am - Felt boards and lap tray (a cookie sheet) fall to the ground.
8:42am - Addy exclaims, "I don't want to go!!!!!!!!"
8:48am - Addy wants the music turned off.
9:09am - I get my first "Are we there yet?" Amazingly, it was also my last!
9:13am - My bladder begins to tell me to stop soon. And here I was worried about Addy's bladder.
9:27am - Addy proceeds to sing just about every cartoon theme song she could possibly know.
9:46am - My bladder is screaming; we stop at a rest stop. I have to force Addy to try to pee; she does.
10:00am - Addy starts up her tablet.
10:20am - Addy puts her tablet away.
11:47am - Addy drops her blanket between her seat and the door. Somehow, she manages to get it with her foot. Catastrophe avoided.
12:30pm - We stop to refuel and eat lunch. After a potty break in McDonald's, we sit in the back of the car and eat the lunch items we packed.
2:15pm - Hello Katie!!!! We arrive safely at our destination.
Yes, I did jot down the above occurances while driving - in extreme shorthand. I missed a few happenings because I chose safety over keeping a thorough log of the trip. Overall, Addy turned out to be a most excellent traveling partner. I truly had a lot of fun heading out on a road trip with her!
When I planned the trip, I assumed we'd get to enjoy the warmer, milder weather Baltimore has to offer this time of year. But guess what? I brought the craptastic Ohio winter with me!!! This is what we woke up to the morning after arriving:
It was warmer in Ohio by double digits. Curses.
Once we realized that it was St. Patrick's Day, we decided to have the kids make a craft. We searched Pinterest, and Katie rounded up the supplies she had on hand. This is what we came up with:

Addy and Luke making shamrock handprint crafts. It turned out great!
Later that day, we took the kids to a crazy awesome section of the library called Storyville. It's a wing of the building closed off by a gate and an attendant, there for children 5 years old and under to enjoy, completely free. It's a collection of different themed rooms, each with activities and books relating to the theme, that inspire imaginative play and creativity. Here's a sampling of the rooms:

Top: A pint-sized full kitchen (my head nearly hit the ceiling) and a "library" with a giant
rocking chair that seats 2-3. Bottom: A post office with actual mail that can be delivered
to the mailboxes at each themed room, and a grocery store.
Top: Addy rockin' the boat in the ocean room, and Addy constructing a tunnel path to get the
ball from top to bottom (in the construction room). Bottom: Owen working as a cashier at
the grocery store, ringing up Addy's items, and Addy playing with the toys in the playroom
above the kids kitchen.
There was also a theater room, where the kids put on a brief puppet show and Addy worked as the ticket collector. We mostly had the entire place to ourselves, save two or three other kids, the entire time. It was a wonderful place to play and interact with each other. I really wish we had something similar here!
On Tuesday, we had a lazy day at home, staying inside to play all day. All three kids really played well together. There were very few fights over toys, and in fact, Addy was usually the instigator if there was one. Owen and Lucas were more than happy to let Addy come into their house and play with all of their toys. That evening, we thought it would be fun to get the kids ready for bed and then have a fun movie night! Katie's husband, Jon, brought home Disney's Frozen, freshly released on DVD. We set the kids up on the futon in the basement, turned out the lights, and put on the movie. Jon made some REAL popcorn on the stovetop, and each kid got a bowl of their own.
Movie time!
Addy settled right in, and I thought she'd have no problem making it through the movie. Yeah, I was dead wrong. She lasted about 10 minutes before she got up, danced around, stood directly in front of the TV blocking everyone's view, etc. She refused to sit down and enjoy the movie, so I had to take her upstairs. The futon the kids were on also happened to be our bed while we were there, and all Addy wanted to do was go to bed. She was beginning to turn into a holy terror upstairs, so the movie was relocated to the living room, and Addy and I went to bed.
After getting Addy to sleep each night, I joined Katie in the living room for some adult wind-down time. Though we didn't drink nearly as much wine as I thought we would, and on night three I was too tired to hang out, I am very happy I got to spend some quality time with Katie.
Our first Mommy/Daughter road trip was definitely a success. I hope we can plan another trip to Baltimore when skies are sunny and the air is warm, so we can explore the harbor and other sights of the city. I think Addy will really dig that, and I'm already looking forward to my next glass of wine with my dear friend.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The best compliment ever

As Addy and I were strolling through the zoo today, she said to me:

"Mom, I love your imagination. You are so fun to play."

She has no idea just how much I needed to hear that! 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Best Friends

Addy had her best friend, Lilah, over for a sleepover a couple weeks ago. I only snapped a couple pictures and had totally forgotten about them until I went to clean out my camera roll. I stumbled upon this fantastic moment captured: 

Best friends and their blankies, cuddled together watching morning cartoons. I love these girls. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Valentine's Day 2014

The 2013/2014 winter season in NE Ohio has been one of the worst in my memory. We have been snowed in on multiple occasions, and temperatures have regularly been too cold to play in the snow, or even leave the house period. As a result, we've spent way too much time cooped up in the house. 

By the time mid-February hit, my winter blues were so strong that I had very little desire to go all out celebrating Valentine's Day. If you recall from my 2013 V-Day post, this holiday is very special to me as celebrating it helps me feel connected to my late mother. I no longer see it as a commercialized reason to say I Love You, rather, I see it as an event to remind Addison how special and important she is to our family. I was still excited to celebrate it this year, but I toned it down quite a bit from what I did last year.

As soon as heart-themed stuff started popping up in the stores, Addy began asking if it was Valentine's Day. In the weeks leading up to the 14th, we completed a few Valentine's crafts:

We made this craft that I found on Pinterest,
but about one month later now, and it still
hangs from the tree untouched by any critters. Boo.
Such concentration!

We made these Valentines for all the grandparents,
also an idea found on Pinterest. The thumb print is Addy's,
and I held her hand to write her name.

Homemade bath bombs, following this surprisingly easy recipe.
Addy had fun helping me mix the ingredients and push the
mixture into the heart molds. I finally used one this past weekend,
and it was fantastic!

We also prepared Valentines for Addy's friends, assuming we would see them at play dates and the planned Valentines Day party.

I'm on the owl craze bandwagon for sure...

Unfortunately, Addy was sick the days surrounding the party, and play dates were few and far between because of the weather. We only handed out two of the 11 Valentines we made. 

We handmade a card for Daddy again this year too:

Yes, another Pinterest idea.
I did most of the work because I waited until the last minute and Addy was sick. She helped me glue a couple of the heart pieces on:
The heart pieces were punched out of Behr paint color samples from Home Depot that I had used to make bookmarks for a few of my family members and girlfriends:
Pinterest again. I'm useless on my own really. Except it was
totally my own brilliant idea to use the punchouts for the pieces
on Matt's card.
All of the was done before the actual holiday. Valentine's Day itself was pretty lame. Addy had a few small gifts to open and a special gift from Daddy too. But I made no heart-shaped foods this year, there were no special Valentine's Day clothes to wear, and she didn't get to enjoy the party with her friends we had planned on. Nevertheless, we all had a great Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Achievement Unlocked

I'm sure I've mentioned before that Addy has extremely limited focusing and concentrating abilities. This is especially true in instances where she senses we WANT her to focus - like coloring for instance. She rarely sees an activity through from start to finish, unless it's something she has collectively spent a lot of time on and can finish quickly with little thought - like her wooden puzzles. But something that requires concentration, or learning a new skill? She'll give you two minutes tops, then forget it.

Over the past few days, however, I've noticed some positive changes in her desire and ability to focus, particularly with games. GAMES! I love games. In my head, I've been planning family game nights since before Addy was even born! We will have Rummy tournaments and Candy Land adventures. She will send me into bankruptcy while playing Monopoly. I.Cant.Wait. So pardon my uber enthusiasm over this latest development!

Aunt Steph and family gifted Addy the classic game of Don't Spill the Beans for Christmas. We attempted to play it once, but she couldn't focus long enough to even hear out the basic rules. So in the closet it went, along with Memory and a few others, until Tuesday. She found herself perusing the closets for who knows what, when she spotted the games. We spent - I kid you not - an entire hour playing games! This girl gave me AN HOUR of her attention listening to instructions and seeing games through from start to finish. We played at least six games of Don't Spill the Beans. We tried a pattern game from my childhood called Pick-It (made by Discovery Toys), and we ended with Memory. That's where I finally lost her. She plays matching games on electronic devices all the time, and she's quite good. But in real-life form, the concept of turning over two cards and ending your turn if they don't match was difficult for her to grasp. She kept flipping cards until she found a match, and she never set the mis-matched ones back in their spot. She quickly got frustrated with my trying to instruct her on how to play, and we put the games away for the day.
To my delight, however, she has asked to play games every day since. Here's what we played today, again for about an hour total:

Lots of bean spilling going on...this is her newest obsession.
At some point, it turned into this...

Don't Spill the Fruit Loops.
Not pictured, Don't Spill the Popcorn.
I did not agree to play Don't Spill the Crumbs. I had to draw the line.

This awesome Sorting Pie, gifted to her for her birthday by
my bestie and family. Pardon the blurriness.

This wonderful "game" available through Usborne Books & More
(my consultant is my bestie, Jennifer)
This is the Learning Palette, and we were matching pictures
to their beginning consonants. I LOVE this interactive learning tool!
I have had so much fun playing games with her the past few days. I hope the trend continues!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Totally Cute Tuesday

Addy received her newest issue of Highlights magazine in the mail today...and she wasted no time diving in - didn't even take off her coat. She gets so excited over her very own mail! Matt was on lunch break, so she sat with him to read the stories and play the games.