Sunday, March 31, 2013

March favorites

As I shared, I am not feeling photograph editing these days. I am, however, still hopelessly devoted to Instagram. And since we haven't had an Instagram update in here for awhile, guess what you're going to get?

My apologies in advance for anyone who follows me on Instagram. But you love my kids anyway, so I don't foresee any problems here. Without further ado, I present to you my March favorites.

[coy boy]

[that's a push, not a pat]

[orchid show poses]

[wacky Wednesday weirds us both out]

[settling in after a library visit]

[some mornings require a headband, two binkies and a brush]

[this one takes mealtime flirting to a whole new level]

[SeƱor Snorer]

[fizzy bath colors are now a prerequisite]

[pre-meal peacekeeping at our Sunday pancake place]

[exam time]

[getting the line-up in order]
[this child is something]

March felt like a whirlwind, so it was nice to look back at some of the entertaining everyday moments. Here's to more in April!

Friday, March 22, 2013

A.M. admonishment

Like her mother, Mary Clare is not much of a morning person. It's not that I refuse to get up or sleep through alarms, it's more that I need a moment to wake up. On my own terms. And it is very, very important that you not talk to me during this phase. It took six years, but chipper Chip has finally come to terms with this. 

I am pretty good about giving Mary Clare a wide berth during the wake up phase, but apparently I pushed it this morning. I walked into her room to find her playing in the corner with her stuffed animals. I started making her bed and said, "Mary Clare, let's get dressed, and then you can play until it's time to go." 

She whipped her head around, gave me some serious steely eyes and said, "Uh-uh. That's not going to work for me." 

After I composed myself, I managed to get out a fairly even, "Well, it's going to have to work for you because that's the way we're doing it. Get dressed, and then you can play." 

Of course, Chip strolled in just then, and spying the death rays shooting from Mary Clare's eyes, wanted to know what was going on. "It will wait," I hissed. "Just tell her to get dressed. And to stop glaring at her mother." 

Thankfully, he rolled with it. Because if I had told Chip at that moment what Mary Clare said, we would have both lost it, as well as the last bit of sway we hold over our first born. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

He's a pretty one, alright

I took this photo during last week's park outing, but decided it deserved its own post. The cheeks. The plump pink lips. The baby blues. The lashes.

Oh, those lashes.

There is a reason Charlie still gets mistaken for a girl.

All that smooth, squeezable roundness. And don't even get me started on Charlie's big Buddha belly. I could honestly kiss and squeeze him for hours. But I have to make do with the 30 seconds he'll grant me when he's sleepy.

Never leave, baby chub. Never leave.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Never trust the person in charge

These days our kids are very into using toilet paper cardboard cores as telescopes and megaphones. Or, as our family friends the Murphys called them, doot-de-doos. (They are a very musical family.)

The other morning, as Mary Clare marched around the house, barking orders into her cardboard megaphone, I realized that I should take heed, as apparently trouble was heading our way.

"Everyone! Listen! A big storm is coming! A big, big storm. You have to listen to me! A big storm is coming. It will be okay. You have to not trust me. Do you understand? It will be okay, but you have to not trust me!"

Of course I didn't correct her. She was just so certain. But I will keep an eye on her. Because today's cardboard core could be tomorrow's conch shell, and I'm not having any Lord of the Flies business go down on my watch. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

On old friends

This past weekend we had dinner with some good, old high school friends and their husbands. Chelsey and Clint were in from Iowa, which was the impetus for the get together. Kara and Chris, Jenny and Kris and Chip and I all live in St. Louis, but we are not the best about getting together all the time. I think perhaps we take for granted that we're all here together, so we'll see each other at X, Y and Z. And then time passes, and you suddenly realize you haven't seen the friend that lives mere miles from  you in over six months.

Luckily—and that is the whole point of this post—the lapses in face-to-face time are never a problem. There are never any regrets or grudges about the fact that I am poor at providing updates, that sick kids led to the cancellation of a play date that didn't get rescheduled or any sort of other thing that can sometimes lead to misunderstandings. We all understand that this is the way life goes, and we appreciate the time that we do get to spend together. When we are together, the conversation is easy and we can truly relax, catch up and enjoy the company.

These girls are perhaps some of my oldest friends, and as time passes, I cherish the connections and history we have more and more. I equally love the friends I made during college, at work and in the neighborhood, but there is something to be said for old friends. It is simply a bonus that our husbands all get along swimmingly.

So, thanks, girls. It was a really nice night. Even if Chris did drag us to a bar packed with super drunk co-eds. Which I think we all now know was likely not a mistake on his part. Or one that was not appreciated by the rest of the husbands. (I'm looking at you, Chip "a drunk girl is hanging on the arm of my sport coat" Lindh.)

Monday, March 18, 2013

In the swim

Mary Clare takes weekly swimming lessons at Little Fishes. Several friends recommended the place to us, and I can't say enough good things about the facility and the coaches. We started lessons early last summer, and while Mary Clare isn't showing any signs of being a swimming prodigy, she's doing pretty darn well in my book. Most importantly, she loves being in the water and is completely comfortable with what the coaches ask her to do. Since I am in no way a confident or skilled swimmer, this couldn't make me any happier. Or relieved.

I brought my big camera to lessons last week and was able to get a few shots. The fluorescent lighting is bunk, but you get the idea. And the jump shot is fuzzier than all get out, but I had to include it because this is Mary Clare's version of a pencil jump. Bless her, she starts off with the best of intentions, but the second her feet leave the concrete, the girl's limbs start flying in every direction.

 [working her way across the pool, with coach-requested stops for breathing]

 [getting her time ... or a gentle reminder to breathe]

 [kicking back while the rest of the class makes its way across the pool]
[the aforementioned "pencil" jump]

[tossing a toy so she can go retrieve it] 

Aren't the goggles a hoot? So professional, these kids. I love how they all pop them up on their heads immediately after they finish jumping or swimming.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Playground palpitations

Yesterday's spring-like weather had me rushing the kids out the door the second they finished breakfast. I love winter, but man, was I ever excited about the prospect of getting the kids outside so they could burn off some energy. This time change has played heck with naps and bedtimes, so I was determined to wear them out today.

We hit the gloriously fenced off Shaw Park so I could rest easy(ier) and not worry about Charlie taking off on me. What I wasn't planning on worrying about was Charlie taking a running start off of every slide. And I'm not talking about the baby set. Oh, no. We don't do baby things. Not when there are conveyor belt-style slides and super steep, super fast metal slides just waiting to launch him halfway across the playground.

 [and she's off]

[and little brother is right behind]

Neither of our kids are what I would call chickens, but oh, that Charlie is something else. He is going through a no fear phase and seriously scared the daylights out of me on three separate occasions. And by scared the daylights out of, I mean one time I let out a shrill, "OH MY GOD!" as he went feet-first down—and nearly off the side—of the conveyor belt slide. Immediately after that I grabbed his arm and yanked him upwards a split second before he launched himself face first across the playground. Nylon coats go fast on metal slides, in case you were wondering. And each time he just gave me that crinkly, dimpled grin of his and let out a devilish cackle.

That boy.

 [up to no good]

[charging ahead]

[mocking my concern, no doubt]
Oh, and Mary Clare had fun, too. I think. I was too busy trying to prevent Charlie's imminent death to pay too much attention. Again, thank goodness for that fence. Locking kids up is a good thing.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Her Chippie

Alexandra is having a bit of a moment with her Uncle Chip. She loves him. Loves him. Or at least his name. Which happens to be the same as her favorite snack. But I'm sure that's merely a coincidence. 

Anytime Sherri mentions our family to the kids, Chip is the first person Alexandra mentions. And his name is always delivered in a very perky, emphatic manner:  Chippie! The rest of us apparently don't warrant such a spirited delivery.

Last week when Brennan was getting a haircut, Sherri pointed out the Mizzou pennant on the wall and told B that the Tigers are Uncle Chip and Aunt Debbie's favorite team because that's where they went to school. A second later, Alexandra piped in with, "Chippie likes the Tigers!"

So you can imagine Alexandra's joy this morning when she saw the outfit Sherri had set out for her to wear on team spirit day. "Tigers!" she said. "Chippie likes the Tigers! Chippie likes the Tigers!"  

Oh, Alex. You know the way to your uncle's heart.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

And now, let's talk religion

I'm not going to lie. I'm pretty pumped about the new pope. 

Pope Francis feels like a breath of fresh air. I can't say that I had any particular problems with Pope Benedict (well, other than that whole nun crackdown business that happened on his watch), but I am excited to see what Pope Francis can do for the Catholic church.
I just have a good feeling about him. And does he look like a pope, or what? 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Reading reconciliation

Mary Clare and I have been butting heads lately. A lot. Actually, so have Charlie and I, now that I think about it. So perhaps some adjustments may need to be made on my side.

But let's not talk about my lackluster parenting skills right now. Let's talk about books. Because books are the one thing on which Mary Clare and I can always agree. Even after going round and round during the bedtime routine and negotiating until we're both blue in the face, all it takes is a book or two to make everything right between us. She settles into my lap, I hold the book in front of us, and as we work our way through the story, she leans closer and closer until she is nestled against my chest and I am absentmindedly kissing the top of her head.

I'll admit, there are some nights when I am so frustrated by the stall tactics and her painfully slow pace that I don't even want to read a book, I just want her to go to bed. Like yesterday. But by the time we close the cover on the last book, I am always glad that I took the time to read with her. It settles us both down and it makes us good again. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bink boy

So, this is happening.

The child who never took a pacifier as an infant (despite my repeated attempts to get him hooked on the bink), is now Team Binkie. It started two weeks ago. In the middle of an epic early morning meltdown where everything in Charlie's world was wrong and even promises of a pony wouldn't make it right, Mary Clare brought Charlie a binkie. He raised his head from the nude child's pose he was performing on the middle of his bedroom floor (I said it was epic) and popped the binkie in his mouth. It didn't automatically make him pleasant, but it did make him agreeable to you know, putting on a diaper.

Since then, Charlie has asked for the binkie via points and shouts of "There! There!" in similar moments when he feels that all hope is lost. Which is usually first thing in the morning or after a long, hard day at school.

No, it's not ideal by any means, but it's apparently what he needs right now. So it's what he's getting. And, as my mom was kind enough to point out, at least it's not his thumb. Because you can't take away his thumb. In America, at least.

Monday, March 11, 2013

I'm working on it, promise

Pictures are the bane of my existence these days. We went to Disney with the kids and my parents in early February (such a great trip), but I haven't posted about it because I still haven't edited a gosh darned photo. And you have to have photos with a vacation post.

And when I think about doing the Disney photos, I immediately feel guilty because I haven't even touched the photos from Christmas or Mary Clare's fourth birthday party.

Ack! This is how kids grow up without baby books, people. You start out with the best of intentions, but then the days, weeks and months go by and you realize you're six months behind on updates and oh, my, where to begin.

Anyway, this post is nothing but a big stinky pile of excuses, but I do promise that I am working on it.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

I'm going to be more famous-er

Do any of you read my friend Kaly's blog? You should. She is funny. She was originally my sister's friend, but now she is mine. All mine. (This is what happens when you move away, Sherri. I take your friends and make them love me more. Hi, Jeana!)

Anyway, Kaly and I started our love fest in 2011 when we were pregnant with Annie and Charlie, respectively, who were born within weeks of one another. I initially liked Kaly for her sarcastic, self-deprecating sense of humor, but grew to love her when she started asking me for advice and recommendations on baby-related items. God, I loved it. Save for the occasional restaurant suggestion, no one ever asks me for advice or recommendations, so this was awesome. I was drunk with power.

But, alas, all good things must end. And end they did, when Kaly nominated me for some sort of blog award called a Liebster. Despite the grudge I will insist upon holding against her, if only because according to item 10 on her response it is her biggest pet peeve, I am going to go ahead with this little charade, because I, too, want to be famous. And because I need every little nudge I can get these days to blog. Writing slumps are real, my friends.

So here's what I have to do:
1. Answer 11 questions posted by the person who nominated me.
2. List 11 random facts about myself.
3. Nominate 11 other bloggers with under 200 followers.
4. Crate 11 questions for your nominees to answer.  

And here are the 11 questions Kaly tasked me with answering.

1). Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging right after my nephew Brennan was born in 2007. I was obsessed with the boy and since Sherri was doing a piss poor job of keeping me awash in Brennan updates and photos, I wanted her to start a blog about all things Brennan. To show her how easy it was to do, I started Team Botanical. And Sherri never blogged. Instead, I just took care of the Brennan updates for her. She's crafty, that one.

2). If you could do any job other than the one you currently have, what would you do?
I would organize closets. Not build the closet organizers, but actually go in and get that business in order.

3). You can travel anywhere, regardless of expense, without your kids, where would you go?
The Czech Republic and Budapest. Don't ask me why, I just want to go. And I really want to take Chip to Iceland. It is a magical place with tiny little ponies, puffins and a stark landscape that is still beautiful. Iceland was my first international trip, which is probably why I am enchanted with it.

4). Same as #3, but with the kids.

So lame, but I would pack them up and head to Hawaii. Maui, Kauai and Lanai, to be exact. When Chip and I were planning our honeymoon, I distinctly remember saying, "Oh, no. Not Hawaii. I mean, that's somewhere we can go when we have kids." Because obviously I thought having kids would make us rich and able to travel at the drop of a hat.

5). What's the most embarrassing thing you have written about on your blog?
Even I have some limits as to what I share. But probably the most embarrassing item to date was when I shared that I drove off with the gas nozzle still attached to the tank. Because it wasn't the first time I had pulled this little stunt.

6). To which Sesame Street character do you most relate?
Bert. See No. 2. 

7). What is your favorite holiday and why?
Christmas. Not only was Mary Clare born on Christmas, but I love everything about the holiday. Now it's just all the more magical, albeit stressful. Thankfully Chip is as pro-Christmas as I am. 

8). What is one food you will never eat?
White Castle. It's just not happening, folks.

9). Tell us a little bit about your family (siblings, parents, in-laws, etc). 
Obviously, my TB family is the best. Chip is such a great husband and father. He is just a solid good guy. Mary Clare and Charlie make my heart swell with love and pride daily. My parents could not be better role models. I admire their kindness, energy and work ethic. My sister Sherri is funny, and our relationship is funny. It entertains me to no end that two people can be so alike in some ways, yet so terribly, terribly different in others. And of course I love Brennan, Alexandra and that dude they call dad. (Brian is the strong silent type. Except when he's on a roll.)

10). If you could spend 48 hours with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and what would you do?
I would totally spend it with my Grandpa and Grandma Klostermann (deceased). Take everything I wrote about my own parents and multiply it by 10. That's how amazing they were. While I think they knew how much I cherished them, the touchy-feely thing did not really jive with their German Catholicness. So I would spend the 48 hours eating Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies and star crunches and tell them everything I loved and admired about them, and how now that they're gone and I'm older and wiser, I admire them even more. And miss them. I really still miss them. (Please note, my Grandma Thole is equally amazing—and going strong at 94—but if I tried to spend 48 hours with her or even dreamed of telling her everything I love about her, she would have me committed. My grandparents do not do feelings.)

11). Would you rather have to shop only at 7-11 for the next six months, or relive a socially awkward moment every day for the next month?
Kaly, you are absurd. Of course I would pick the socially awkward moment. In these tough blogging times I need all the fodder I can get.

And now on to the 11 random facts about me:
1. The top of my right ear is fused to the inside portion of my ear. It's as strange as it sounds. The left ear is normal.
2. I have a minor in political science. 
3. I went to Eastern Illinois University my freshman year before transferring to the University of Missouri.
4. When I was in first or second grade, I put on a baseball batter's helmet (the souvenir kind) and hit myself on the head with a bat to see if it worked. I broke the hat. 
5. I have never eaten at White Castle, Jack in the Box, Long John Silvers, or any other fast food joint that specializes in fish or chicken (except for KFC, natch). 
6. In third or fourth grade I used one of my mom's razors on my hair. My hairdresser noticed, obviously. It took years to grow out all the different fine little layers. 
7. After college and before Chip and I got married, I lived in the same apartment in St. Louis Hills for seven years. I loved that apartment. Chip still tells me I can go back whenever I like.
8. My first car was a white 1980 four door Ford Tempo.
9. I love doing the laundry and ironing. 
10. I dust the chest of drawers in our bedroom twice a day. 
11. I wanted to be a cake decorator when I was little. Ironically, I suck at cake decorating. 

Now I am supposed to nominate 11 other bloggers. Hmm. Yeah, I don't know 11 other bloggers. I would love to nominate Leslie Stiff because I do so terribly enjoy her tell-it-like-it-is parenting tales, but seeing as she just had her third baby a few months ago, I feel it's probably not my place to ask yet another thing of her. (If you are up to the task, Leslie, let me know and I will get those 11 questions right over to you.)

So, there you go. A grand total of 22 random things you probably never wanted to know about me. Let's just hope that this little trick worked and I can get back to posting on the regular.