Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Mary Clare, four years

Happy birthday to our sweet Mary Clare. What a complete and utter joy the past year has been. Seriously. Even the moments where I see flashes of the teenage years, flashes of my own personality and flashes of our visits to couples counseling. (Your dad has already informed me that since the similarities between you and I are so strong, he and Charlie will be getting an apartment when you turn 13.) But in all seriousness, the teenage moments are outweighed by the fierce hugs, your concern for others, your excellent dance moves and the enthusiasm you bring to everything you do. We are obviously partial, but you are one heck of a great little girl.

Like most kids your age, you are beyond inquisitive and I all too often grow exasperated trying to answer your seemingly endless stream of questions. Your father, however, can keep answering questions until the cows come home. You are incredibly protective of Charlie, and usually quite patient with him. There is nothing we love more than seeing the two of you play together. When you take his hand as we walk through the zoo, the mall or down the street, well, I basically lose it. It is just that precious. And the nine out of 10 strangers who comment on your cuteness cannot be wrong. 

You are not the least bit bashful, and I love it. I love your confidence and how you are completely at ease talking to people and making new friends. 


The way you phrase questions is still sometimes jumbled ("I not know that!" and "Thank you for we having a good day tomorrow.") and your pronunciation of words delight us to no end (pack-pack, Chawlie and weaves), but we've noticed more often than not you are getting things right, and well, that makes me sad. Proud, but sad. Because the Mary Clare way of saying things is usually 10 times more awesome.

You started out 2012 in a new classroom of three- to five-year-olds, a bit hesitant and a bit reluctant to make nice with your new teacher, but it didn't take long before you guys were best buds. Best buds who frequently butt heads, but friends nonetheless. You were smitten with the older kids in the classroom—particularly the boys, ahem—and now you are one of the big kids who show the younger ones the ropes.

Books are still your favorite, and if it's ever quiet, we can usually find you holed up in a corner somewhere with a stack of books. You are getting along well with the scissors, you know your numbers and your alphabet, you spell and write your full name and you are not only coloring in the lines now, you are selecting appropriate colors and drawing great pictures. It amazes us what you can do. In fact, I frequently ask how long you've been doing something, where you learned it or how did you know this or that. Frequently the response is, "I learned it at school." That works. As long as you're learning. I am cool with just taking care of the feeding, clothing and grooming portion of your upbringing.

Your imagination is in full swing, and we love watching you set up your trains, play with your dolls and subject unsuspecting guests to your beauty shop regimen. It is even better when you rope Charlie into your elaborate games. Luckily, his favorite word right now is "yeah," so that helps.

From battles of will to baby-like talk that decreases by the day, and thoughtful comments to an increased awareness of the world and others around you, it has, like I said, truly been a joy seeing you grow the past year. While it makes me sad to think how quickly you are growing, I must say that we are enjoying the ride.

We love you, our sweet and happy girl. Happy fourth birthday.

Merry and bright

What more is there to say but thank you on this fine Christmas day? Here's hoping your Christmas is equally joyful and shared with the ones you love.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Four eyes

My eyes are terrible. So terrible that I regard it as a personal triumph if my prescription doesn't change from one year to the next. Sadly, that rarely happens.

I wear contacts during the day, but the first thing I do most evenings is take out my contacts and put on glasses. Because of my ever-changing prescription and the fact that our insurance covers one set of contacts or one pair of glasses each year, I usually let my glasses slide and only update them every three years or so. Or when the dog chews on them.

I had read about Warby Parker, an online eyewear company, on a few blogs, but didn't give it too much thought, thinking it was just the latest hipster trend. And then I came across profiles in Vanity Fair and Time, and I was intrigued to hear two things (1) glasses are only $99* a pair and (2) for every pair they sell, they give a pair to someone in need. So, you know. Once mainstream media was on board and I saw that I could (sorta) do good for a mere $99, I figured they were legit.

Anyway, after two rounds of try ons (10 total frames) and a very cool online pupil measuring process that automatically launched the camera in our Mac, I received the finished pair this week. Mary Clare was intrigued. She wanted to know why I had new glasses, and why I couldn't wear them for her at the same time I was wearing my contacts.

Last night before bath time she came trotting into the bedroom wearing my glasses and nothing else. How she made it from the hallway bathroom to our room is beyond me, as she repeatedly told me, "Mom, I can't see anything in your new glasses. I can't see you! I can't even see your phone!" 

[no, really, I can't see you at all]

Let's hope she inherited her father's eyes and is forever blinded by my glasses.

*My pair actually came to $125 because they gently suggested that with my prescription, it might be worth it to have the lenses ground down.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

They're surly on the outside

Remember that time, two posts ago, when I said that all Nana Thole wants for Christmas is a photo of her grandchildren in the clothes she makes them? Yeah, my latest attempt didn't go well, either. In fact, I think we're regressing.

Put them in Target hand-me-downs, and they are all smiles. Put them in a cute shirt and ask for a quick picture on the way to have a super! fun! day! and this is what you get.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Feast days with presents are the best

So, last week was our beloved St. Nick's day. We are still struggling to differentiate between Santa Claus and St. Nick ("But mommy, they call Santa Claus 'jolly old St. Nicholas,' so St. Nick is Santa Claus"), but like I said last year, as long as there are presents, she'll happily celebrate anyone's feast day. We'll tackle the saint stuff next year.

Mary Clare vaguely remembered setting the shoes out last year, so back to the front door they went. And this year Chip, Buddy and I all got in on the action. Mary Clare selected all of our shoes, but was nice enough to let Charlie pick out his own pair. Which he picked up and replaced. Repeatedly. Despite the fact that his sister told him not to do it. Repeatedly.

[perfectly lined up]

[perfectly lined up, now with more little brother]

[the remodeling work begins]

[assuring Buddy that St. Nick won't forget him]

All of the shoe relocating and swapping was forgotten the next morning when Mary Clare saw that St. Nick did, in fact, pay us a visit. And when she told me she heard his reindeer on the roof, I didn't bother to correct her. It was too darned cute.

[scoping out the stash]

[jockeying for position]

[books are always a crowd pleaser]

[the "what was I St. Nick thinking?" slap bracelets]

[looking for more things to hoard]

[posing, pondering]

In other Christmas news, we have two Advent calendars going this year, and let's just say they are a far cry from the little window-style ones I had as a child. The one we bought last year is comprised of small boxes that we fill with fruit snacks, stickers, magnets, M&Ms and the like, and the second is a new book every. single. day. from none other than Nana and Papa Thole. While Mary Clare takes liberties with the number of books we open each day ("But Charlie wanted to open one, too!"), and Charlie thinks the other Advent calendar should provide him with treats every hour, on the hour, it certainly has made things festive around here.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

And it's the holidays

Seriously, where have the past 10 days gone?

First it was Thanksgiving, then we had Brennan's birthday party, then I jetted off to NYC (more on that later) and now we are full bore into the Christmas season. And I've been spending more time at the office of late, so there's that.

I love, love, love Christmas, so I shouldn't complain one bit, but I would be lying if I didn't say I go through these bouts—hourly bouts, typically— of feeling completely overwhelmed. And then I snap, wave an extensive to do list in Chip's face and aggressively rub my forehead (thanks for that trait, Dad)

After six years of this, Chip knows the routine, so he has me look at the calendar, points out it's only December 8, reminds me of his extensive holiday vacation time and tells me it will all be fine. Which it always is. 

And he's completely right, that I do freak out for no reason. And that everything always comes together. It's just hard sometimes to keep it all straight in your head, you know? The festivities, the gift lists, the Santa visits, the holiday Christmas light displays that cannot be missed. It's especially wonderful now because Mary Clare truly gets it, but that ups the ante because I want her to see everything, to get so excited, to love Christmas as much as we do. 

Oh, and I know I am ridiculous. Completely ridiculous. But, like Chip, you'll just have to indulge my neuroses. And my crappy writing. Because seriously, this post is terrible. And I don't even know how to save it, so I'm just hitting publish and calling it a day. 

I promise to make it up with St. Nick pictures. And maybe, just maybe, a shred of coherent writing.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

They're excited on the inside

As you well know, Nana Thole works hard keeping her grandchildren in handmade Halloween costumes, matching outfits and more than their fair share of monogrammed goods. Some might even think we keep her chained to her sewing machine.

While her efforts do not go unnoticed, and at times even seem to be appreciated by the actual people wearing the clothes (Mary Clare's reaction to her Tinkerbell costume was actually quite magical), those fools just cannot get it together when it is time to take a picture of them in said garments.

This—this—is the best picture I could get of Mary Clare, Charlie and Alexandra wearing their gingerbread cookie shirts. Mary Clare's eyes are glazed over, Charlie is trying to escape and Alexandra is working the poker face her mother gave her for all she's worth.

Come on, kids. Your Nana Thole appliqued you three—count 'em, three—perfectly adorable Christmas shirts this year, so you better believe we're going to be giving this a go again. And you better be ready. Because all your Nana wants (other than your love, health and well being, of course) is a picture of you all perfectly posed in the clothes she made you.

I know you can do it. You have to do it. The poor woman can't take much more.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

So thankful I could just squeeze you to death

Oh me, oh my. I am a thankful one. Like the annual anniversary letter, this is a nice time to sit back and take stock of all the blessings bestowed upon our family. Grandparents (the regular and the great variety!), two cute and funny kids, a skittish but lovable Lab, oodles of family, kind neighbors, caring teachers and a cozy home. Oh, and that husband of mine. He's pretty great. 

When you look at all the goodness listed out like that, it makes it kind of hard to complain about sinus infections, the kids' non-stop runny noses or the fact that our washing machine is systematically eating our clothes. We are lucky, indeed. And thankful for everything from our health to the random items Mary Clare gives thanks for each night at dinner (Charlie's girl eyes! Painted fingernails! Shredded cheese!). While Chip and I have to sometimes try not to snicker or roll our eyes as she yammers away, it is fun to hear what warrants a shout out from Mary Clare. It makes you appreciate the small things, gives you some perspective and makes you realize that yes, we are in fact fortunate to have shredded cheese. To say nothing of the baby boy with the beautiful girl eyes.

We are in for a full day of eating, driving and celebrating with our nearest and dearest. I hope you have an equally wonderful Thanksgiving. Complete with shredded cheese.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Just beat it, part two

Someone certainly enjoyed his first pass at a mashed potato-coated beater.

And as she reads this, my mom will say to herself, "Debbie, what kid doesn't like to lick a beater?"

And to that I say, you're right, mom. But what I didn't expect was how delighted I would be to hand Charlie his very first beater. I know, it's ridiculous. But my mom knows her way around the kitchen, so I had my share of beaters back in the day. (And raw egg. And yet, I lived to tell the tale.) So I guess I viewed the old beater handoff as a right of passage. 

Mary Clare made short work of her very first sweet potato beater, and while Charlie was a smidge apprehensive at first, he soon got into it and licked that sucker clean. And then proceeded to stand by my side and chant, "Mowr. Mowr. Mowr." as I beat the second batch. (Fear not, Lindh family who will be eating the second batch—I washed the beaters in between. With soap and everything.)

Is it unnecessary? Yes. Slightly gross? Yes. But oh, so entertaining. So the beater licking will—must, even—continue. And when Chip's not looking, I'll sneak them the cookie- and cake batter-coated beaters. Because a mild case of samonella poisoning is also a right of passage, am I right?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Funny man, meet funny girl

I write occasionally about my brother in law Brian's parents because, hello, they're awesome. And that's not just because they buy our kids a lot of toys. Swear. The real reason I like them is because Brian's dad dad Steve reads the blog occasionally—and even comments. My own mom doesn't even comment.

So, you know, I try to make it a point to throw out the occasional mention of Papa Moo and Nana Pat. Got to give the people what they want and all.

Brian's mom Pat is incredibly sweet. And Steve, well, Steve is funny. Really funny, if you ask him. A few years ago, he was having a particularly funny streak, so he declared it his funniest year ever. That proclamation alone delighted me to no end.

It appears we have a mini Steve in our midst, because tonight at dinner Mary Clare announced, "I was funny all day." And with a wiggle of the hips and a wave of the arms she declared, "You can call me Funny Girl."

Steve, you have met your match.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tiger twins

It's the last home game of the season. The kiddos are bunking up with Nana and Papa Thole, and we're headed to Columbia with some friends to enjoy some of the city's charms (read: bars) before the Mizzou vs. Syracuse game. Best of all, it looks like the weather is going to be nice—in the 60s and sunny. Not bad for November.

Let's go, Tigers! Make it a good one!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Let's pretend

Let's pretend the kiddos get along like this all the time, shall we? That they walk through life on a well manicured lawn dotted by fall leaves obsessively tended to by their Papa Thole.

Because lately there have been some real doozies. (With the kids, not my dad's lawn. The green velvet carpet is looking good, summer drought conditions be damned.)

Charlie wants everything Mary Clare has, and no alternative toy, book, snack, drink, step stool or headband will do—it has to be the one currently in her possession. For awhile we would nicely ask Mary Clare to share with Charlie, and she would patiently oblige, until we decided that probably wasn't good for either kid. So then we started removing Charlie from the situation and offering him completely and better alternatives. And that worked. Sometimes. Then last night, Mary Clare said screw it, and just started screaming and crying along with him. I mean, hey, if screaming gets you better swag, why not? She's crafty, that one.

[Look, four whole leaves!]

 [Nana had to rake all over the yard just to make this small pile for the kids. Not even joking.]
[Charlie attempts to make his escape.]

[Mary Clare promptly whips him back into line.]

So let's just look at these and see the love. The love that sometimes looks like suffocation or strangulation, but is love just the same. I hope.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Brennan, 5 years

Happy fifth (!) birthday to our sweet nephew Brennan.

Mary Clare loves her cousin B something fierce, and it's easy to see why. Brennan is one of the most thoughtful, patient and kind little boys you will ever meet. (We still don't know where he gets it, but we love it just the same.) His imagination delights me to no end, and I crack up every time Sherri texts me his latest B-ism.

Have a fantastic time celebrating your birthday, buddy. We love you!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Selective hearing

I don't know if it's because he's a boy, he's number two or he just plain doesn't care, but Charlie isn't talking all that much. We get a lot of yeahs, uh-ohs, more-mores, dadas, mamas and hot-hots (not in relation to the mama, sadly), and he loves to mimic Buddy, helicopters and cars. And that's about it. I would be worried, but I honestly think it was the same gig with Mary Clare. We worried and counted words and even had her do a light version of speech therapy for six weeks at Childgarden, and then boom—one day she was a talking machine. (It didn't hurt that we stopped talking for her, either.)

The good news is that Charlie understands everything we say to him. Sometimes it's shocking how much he understands. I've actually said, "No, Charlie, give me your right hand," and then was honestly surprised when he kept jabbing his left hand at me. And while listening comprehension is great and all, you better believe that it can backfire on you.

Last night after reading more than his fair share of books with Chip and Mary Clare, I broke the news to the little lad that it was night-night time and Charlie needed to go to his room. Just like that, he flew off of Chip's lap. Only, instead of heading to me, he ran to the wall, pressed his face against it and refused to acknowledge us. About anything. He even ignored Mary Clare's pleas for a hug. And so there he stood, with three people cajoling and pleading for his attention. But he was resolute. There would be no turning around, and there sure as hell would not be a voluntary walk to his room. So, I retrieved him, and that went about as well as you'd imagine.

I think I'm going to have to keep the video camera by my side during tonight's bedtime routine, as I'm certain there will be a repeat performance. And his determination is something else. More cute than infuriating, really. At least for now.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

We're watching you

As threatened promised, I am hitting you with more photos from the fall photo extravaganza at my parents' house.


The awesome hazy background effect is compliments of a leaf fire. An under control leaf fire, of course. Managed by none other than my dad. Like I would let our kids romp around fires that aren't managed by retired fire chiefs. Play with matches, yes. But take photos within a 20 foot distance of a smoldering fire? Don't be silly.

Sunday, November 11, 2012



Happy anniversary, dear husband. Six years! Go, us.

So, I have a confession. I have a love/hate relationship with these yearly notes. I love them because they make me sit and think about us, and because it gives me an excuse to flip through our wedding photos, which is such a nice treat. What I dislike is coming up with something to write that sounds genuine and isn't an exact repeat of the previous year. Sure, I could stop writing these. I mean, you're not exactly clamoring for them, nor are the 10 people who read this blog, but you know me. I like traditions. And once I start one, I stick with it. So an anniversary letter you shall get. Every year. FOR-EV-ER.

So, back to what to write that sounds genuine. But still nice. Because what is genuine and true is that marriage is hard sometimes. Even when you have a good person by your side, healthy kids, a sweet dog, a supportive family, a home and good jobs, it's still hard. Because you're in this with another person, which means you have to navigate all of the things, good and bad, that come with the kids, the dog, the family, the home and the jobs. And you have to do it together, making sure that you're on the same page, everyone is in agreement and everyone is happy. So there are arguments, there are lengthy discussions about seemingly mundane matters and there are curt texts that read "DISHWASHER" on the days someone forgets to unload the dishwasher.

But the good part about the hard stuff is that it makes you realize how great the person next to you is. How they are always looking out for you, taking your feelings, wishes and concerns into consideration. How they take the time to do little extra things that make each other happy. And that, I think, is where we really have a lock on this marriage thing. Love and grand gestures are swell, but consideration is key. Now that is something I can get behind.

And so, I love you, you thoughtful, considerate fool who empties the dishwasher and recycling bin 99.5% of the time without being asked. You are good. We are good. And that makes the kids, the dog, the family, the house and the jobs good as well. We certainly couldn't do this without one another. And this is pretty great.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Blue and brown

I took the big camera (and the kids) to my parents' house this Sunday. The weather, the light and the kids were all perfect, and with the help of my trusty assistants, aka Nana and Papa Thole, I managed to get some awfully darned cute photos of those awfully cute kids of ours.     

I haven't done anything except upload them, but these two immediately caught my eye. For once, I can hardly wait to go and edit photos. So you know what this means. Kid photos until the cows come home.

You have been warned.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A sippy cup and snack trap in every hand

Never one to pass on a good theme, I donned the kiddos in red, white and blue today in honor of election day. Mary Clare's ears are getting keener by the day, and lately she has been picking up on the names she hears on the regular when she's in the car with me. So we've been talking politics. Or at least the names of politicians.

Well, it seems that her dad got his wish and his firstborn might be a Republican. Last night on our way home she informed me that she would vote for "Ritt Rodddney," as would Charlie and Buddy. I asked her if she remembered who I planned to vote for today, and she said, "Yes. Rock Ohmama."

This morning she tried to tell me she would vote for both Ritt Rodddney and Rock Omama, but I told her that unfortunately, that's not the way it works and you have to pick your favorite. She stuck with Ritt. And informed me, as speaker of the house, that Charlie and Buddy would too be sticking with Ritt.

We'll soon see if the country follows the informal voting majority of the Lindh household. I, of course, hope that is not the case, but however it goes, let's just all try to get along. And do our best to make sure everyone gets their own sippy cup and snack trap. It's the American way.

Friday, November 2, 2012

November blast off

This morning I took Mary Clare, Charlie and Charlie's luscious red lips (seriously, look at those plump babies!) to Rocket Park in Webster Groves. It was a new park for us, and neeeew parks, as Mary Clare likes to say, are always cause for excitement.

You can't tell from the photos that we were in a space-themed park, so you'll have to trust me when I say that it was pretty cool. There is a monstrous three-story space ship play set, a small rocket ship and a little rover car, all just as cute as can be. But did the kids want anything to do with the deluxe play set resting on a smooth, soft poured play surface? Of course not. They wanted the old metal toys that were placed in a sea of small rocks. You know, the same ones we had as kids.

[the designated bouncer]

[the bouncee]

[the bouncee, after being abruptly abandoned by the bouncer]

But everyone was happy, and surprisingly few pebbles ended up in the car, so who am I to complain if the kids want to sit and bounce for an hour? But seriously, they don't know what they were missing. That play set was cool. I'll We'll be back.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tricks, treats and tantrums

Happy Halloween from Tinkerbell and her sidekick, the thoroughly peeved Peter Pan!

We took these photos last Friday night before heading to the kids' school for a fall festival. It had been a long day, and while Charlie does actually like putting on his Peter Pan gear, he wanted two things: to be held and to hold his sippy cup, snack trap and anything else he deemed worthy of his grasp.

Mary Clare, however, was loving it with a capital L. I mean, with a Nana Thole-made costume like that, how could she not?  

[she's got the Tinkerbell sass thing down pat]

[fancy clothes, a doting papa ... this is the stuff of dreams, people]

Charlie rallied for a bit, so we took a few more pictures and then headed to Childgarden for the big event. Everyone had a great time, Charlie included, but then the poor boy hit a wall as soon as we sat down at the Tap Room for dinner. Here's hoping that tonight goes a little more smoothly for our pal Peter Pan.

[agreeing to smile pretty so they can hurry up and get to the party]

 [adult eyes on the camera, kid eyes on papa]

 [a photo with the Peter Pan wrangler and the woman who made Halloween possible]

Oh, and fear not, mother of mine who spent 25+ hours sewing Mary Clare's silky frock—I will post more photos from the big event later this week. (And for the next few weeks for good measure.)

[pardon my wand, someone wants to take my picture]

I hope everyone has a great Halloween!