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.