Archive for March, 2013

Happy Easter!

A few shots from yesterday’s egg dying activities…

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Hanging out with Dad

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Candy Land!

We celebrated Ava’s eighth birthday with a Candy Land theme last Saturday. Doug and Karyl were kind to host us in Nebraska for the weekend, and we were joined by aunt, uncles, cousins and grandparents. Many thanks to everyone for making it a very special day for Miss Ava Kate!

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Little love notes

Olivia is spending quite a bit of time writing lately, producing stacks of sweet homemade cards and little notes.

This one, which I’m happy to say was intended for me, says “I love you. You are the best person on earth.”

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Of course, she may have had an ulterior motive, as I received this demand regarding ear piercing a moment later:

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Given the first note, I’m considering it.

Ava at Eight

I was standing in the kitchen late last night, contemplating which of the pre-party tasks I could take on with so little time left in the day. I decided to work on number cookies, pulling the “8” from the tin of cookie cutters. It took me a split second to realize “9” was the only number I’ve yet to use in this set, and then “number” cookies will become hearts, or circles, or some other shape that indicates Ava is growing up far too quickly.

The thing about making number cookies is that it’s a task that provides plenty of opportunity for contemplation and reflection. Nostalgia drives the process, after all.

A few weeks ago, my mom noted that Ava wasn’t making as frequent appearances on the blog. And, it’s true—as she gets older, it’s harder to write about her in this way. She seems less a baby, less a kid, and more a person. A person who reads this blog herself, and a person who should probably have more to say about her online persona than her mother. And so, I hold back a bit more than I do with her siblings. I hope, though, once a year, she’ll forgive a few musings about who she’s becoming, and how her insistance on aging changes her mother, too.

An old acquaintance of mine recently shared a story about taking her second-born in for five-year immunizations. She reported the child didn’t shed a single tear, though quickly added she couldn’t take much credit: Her firstborn had to be held down by four nurses during the same appointment a couple of years earlier. That addendum made me laugh out loud, because in our house, it was Ava who has made her siblings seem relatively easy by comparison. Perhaps there’s something to birth order, or perhaps it’s personality. Maybe it’s because these first children—daughters, especially—know they have the responsibility of training new parents. Ava’s certainly held our feet to the fire for the last few years.

She questions our motives, executing a cutting cross-examination, and she will exploit any sign of weakness. She’s smart and shrewd and sharp-tongued. She started saying, “Because is not a reason” nearly as soon as she could talk. When she dissolves into a puddle on the floor, awash with tears, I remind her she’s eight now, and eight-year-olds most assuredly do not have tantrums. When she calms, she reminds me that eight really isn’t all that old.

She’s nearly always right.

I worry incessantly about How She Will Turn Out. I want her to be self-possessed but gracious. Assertive but polite. Generous. Inclusive, responsible, poised. Driven. On any given day, I can give you numerous examples of how I failed in helping her become this person. Bryan believes if we just love her, she’ll be all of those things and more.

He is nearly always right.

We’ve spent a fair amount of time talking about the girls while they’re away this weekend. At one point, Bryan noted how funny it is now to think that having only a baby to care for is so easy. That was certainly not how we were feeling eight years ago when we brought our first little one home. As such, I know there will be a time—probably one that involves cars, or dates, or college applications—where we say, “and we thought it was tough back then.”

To date, though, Ava at this age is my favorite challenge. She’s funny and helpful. She makes me work to be a better mom, and like her father, she forgives so effortlessly along the way. For that alone, I am truly grateful.

A piece of cake

Ava’s eighth birthday cake will be a bit out of the ordinary–at least in size. I am using the opportunity to try a recipe and construction that I may use for Katie’s wedding this summer. If this three-tiered, three-layer white cake works, it may just make another appearance in June!

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Little sisters, man.

The girls are visiting their grandparents this week, and I woke this morning to find this hilarious email from my mom:

“I was lying down with the girls at bedtime tonight, nose-to-nose with Olivia.  As I was watched her close her beautiful little eyes and thinking what a pretty girl she was, she put her finger in her nose, turned over and stuck a booger on Ava’s forehead.”  

For what it’s worth, this really made me miss them both!