The Greatest of the Great

My Great-Aunt Val definitely lives up to her name. That is to say, she is great. Really great. She knitted beautiful green and yellow blankets, hats, booties and sweaters for Zoey and Eleanor before they were born. She has now done it again for the new baby.

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Just looking at these beautiful items makes me want to “squeee!!!” Each handmade item has so much detail, so much time and love put into it.

Wee baby sweater. Adorable!

Wee baby sweater. Adorable!

Little baby cap and booties

Little baby cap and booties

Close-up of the booties because SWEET TINY BABY FEET!!

Close-up of the booties because SWEET TINY BABY FEET!!

As if all the purple and white sweetness wasn’t enough, Aunt Val also knitted a second outfit for the baby. An adorable blue-green sweater with tiny buttons and matching pants.

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The icing on the cake? She also sent along a handmade baby doll with diaper and blanket for Zoey, a bear for Eleanor and a nurse doll for me (that looks a lot like my mom).

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I’m pretty much on cuteness overload about now. I imagine you are too. You’re welcome.

The Hoarding Stage of Life

I have determined that we are intentional hoarders. We prefer to call it “being frugal” though. Seriously, we have so. much. stuff. We have mountains of clothes for girls ages birth through five (and even a few hand-me-downs for older girls in a “to grow into” pile). We have all the gazillion things one “needs” for a baby: swing, bouncer, crib and mattress, crib sheets, eight thousand baby blankets, baby bathtub, swaddlers, pack & play, an enormous tub full of cloth diapers, an astonishing variety of bottles (which so far have received zero use between two kids), breast pump, etc etc etc. You get the idea. At one point, we had not one but four different versions of a bassinet/crib/moses basket/place for an infant to sleep. On top of all this, we have the usual clutter of toys and stuffed animals that come with having small children. Oh, and all the toys and stuffed animals that my parents saved from my childhood. This all mixed in with the usual furniture and necessities, my overflowing baskets of sewing and crafting goods, a large collection of coloring books and art supplies for the kids, nine billion pairs of shoes, boots, slippers, mittens, hats, coats…I’m beginning to fear that one day we’re going to wake up buried under a pile of “stuff” and not be able to escape.

I think there are a couple of factors making me aware of how overloaded we are in the material possessions department right now: the upcoming holiday season which promises more stuff in the form of gifts and some beginning pregnancy nesting urges that are inspiring me to “organize all the stuff.”

What I really want to do is sell and donate huge chunks of stuff, but it really isn’t practical right now. For starters, all the baby stuff is going to get used again quite soon. And then we’ll pack it away and store it once more until we decide if we will be having more children in the future. Similarly, even if this baby turns out to be a boy, we’ll probably still hang on to those mountains of girl clothes until we determine there is no possibility of a fourth child for us who could someday need them. Even as Zoey and Eleanor outgrow the baby and toddler toys, we’ll be introducing at least one more baby to them. So those stick around as well, until we’re sure of there being no more babies in the house.

I guess what I’m saying is, being in the “having children” stage of life essentially requires you to be a hoarder. Unless, of course, you are filthy stinking rich and can afford to buy all new stuff each time around. I don’t think I even know anyone with that much money, do you?

Kids Stacked from Floor to Ceiling

Christmas came early this year. On Veteran’s Day, to be precise. We’d been wanting to get bunk beds for the girls for awhile now, and my parents offered to give them to us as the girls’ Christmas present for this year. Yes please! The beds were delivered over a week ago and we surreptitiously hid all the parts in plain sight on our bedroom floor. The girls then proceeded to have a blast playing with the enormous boxes without ever questioning what came in them.

They're a wee bit excited.

They’re a wee bit excited.

The girls were ecstatic when Grandma and Grandpa showed up at our house and told them they were getting bunk beds that day. So excited, in fact, that it was all I could do to keep them occupied out of the bedroom so they wouldn’t be in the way of the actual building.

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The whole thing came together by lunchtime and looks quite sharp. The girls are thrilled to pieces and just want to play in the bunks all the time.

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Once again, yay for grandparents!!

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Stop Gender Stereotyping My Spiderman

I have a peeve I just need to get out there. On Halloween, Zoey dressed up as Spiderman. She found the costume almost two months before Halloween and just had to have it. She really doesn’t know much about who Spiderman is; just that he is a superhero who shoots webs and helps people. That was enough for her: she had to be Spiderman for Halloween. She wanted it badly enough to overcome some serious sensory issues with the mask.

So here’s the thing. We went trick-or-treating and, at about half the houses, the homeowners would give the usual exclamations of “Oh how cute! Look at all of you! Here have some candy.” These comments were aimed at the entire group of toddlers swarming their front porch and, in my opinion, very normal. Then you had the other fifty percent of the houses where the homeowners make an effort to comment on each child’s individual costume. Something I recognize as polite and certainly kind, to try and acknowledge each child. We all know how proud children are of their costumes.

My issue comes with the blatant gender stereotyping heaped upon my daughter that night. Almost every  person that attempted to verbalize her costume stuttered and stammered over it, ending with something like, “Spider…girl?” or “Spider…woman?” Always a dubious, questioning tone. It’s hard to tell when something affects Zoey, because she often does not wear emotions on her face clearly. However, it was very clear how she felt at the one house that recognized her for who she was. It was a house with several twenty-something guys living in it, who opened the door and exclaimed, “Spiderman! That’s awesome!” Zoey just beamed.

Now, I’m not faulting these individuals for not recognizing my child’s costume and naming it correctly. I appreciate that they made an effort. I’m not worried about them hurting my precious little snowflake’s feelings. What bugs me is the norms in our society that make it impossible for most people to accept that a little girl could be Spiderman. Why not?! If she dressed up as some inanimate object, say a banana, they would have no problem saying “She is a banana” even though that is just ludicrous. To stretch it further, if a boy dresses up as a girl (something tweens and teens often did in my day) it is deemed as funny and creative, and it is well-recognized. If a boy dressed up as a witch with a black dress, broom and warty nose, I doubt people would refer to him as a warlock or even a wizard. They would know he was a witch and call him that. So why can’t they recognize a wildly popular male character when it is worn by a little girl? Why can’t she be Spiderman?

Spiderman and Monkey

Spiderman and Monkey

The twenty-somethings in that one house give me hope. Considerably younger than the rest of the homeowners in the neighborhood we visited, they inspire me to believe that future generations are more open-minded and accepting when it comes to gender roles. I hope this holds true. My little Spiderman could sure use the support.

More Fall Toddler and Preschooler Crafts

There’s something about fall that just makes a mom feel crafty, amirite? I kicked off my annual crafting splurge by sewing us some new fall-themed cloth napkins:

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After that, it only seemed right to get the kids in on the crafting action. Zoey enjoyed last year’s fall crafts so much and had been begging to do some new art projects.

We started off with traditional Halloween ghosts. Some squares of white fabric from the scrap bin, yarn and markers and voila! Friendly ghosts! We hung ours in the front window of the house.

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Eleanor had been pulling the paints out of the art bin and begging to use them on an almost daily basis, so I figured I should come up with another project involving them. I had a large felt leaf and pumpkin from the dollar aisle I’d been meaning to use in some sort of craft for the girls and this seemed like the perfect time. The felt was really stiff, perfect for tracing and using as a template.

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So I cut out both a pumpkin and a leaf for each girl from construction paper. Then I gave them each a paper plate dabbed with “fall colored” paints. I figured, why not use this as a learning opportunity? I had the girls tell me what colors were fall colors, encouraging them to peek out the window at the changing leaves for inspiration.

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After the girls painted blank pieces of paper with the fall colors, I helped them top the painting with the void made by cutting out the pumpkins and leaves.

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The girls also painted and glittered the cutout pumpkins and leaves, but I forgot to take pictures of them to share with you. So there you go. Easy peasy fall crafts for toddlers and preschoolers.

Zoey’s First Haircut – For Real This Time

I did it. I finally cut Zoey’s hair. When she was Eleanor’s age, I trimmed her bangs to keep them out of her eyes, same as I’ve done for Eleanor. But I never touched the beautiful long locks that tumble down her back into effortless spiral curls.

Check out these curls!

Check out these curls!

I mean, honestly, her hair is gorgeous. We get compliments and comments on it all the time and all I can do is smile, shake my head and say, “I know.”

Give me those curls!

Give me those curls!

However. It is Zoey’s hair, not mine, and she has been asking to have it cut for a very long time now. She first started asking over the summer, when she noticed I had cut Zach’s hair. I couldn’t even begin to handle the idea of it then, so I quickly talked her out of it by mentioning that it would mean cutting off all her “curlies” and they might not ever come back. She immediately changed her mind and I breathed a big sigh of relief.

Over the next couple months, Zoey would randomly bring up the idea of a haircut now and then, but always end with some comment about how she wanted to keep her “curlies.” It was as if she was testing the waters. The past week or two she has outright asked almost every day for me to cut her hair. Every day we had the same discussion: what we would be able to do with it (or not do) at various lengths, how long it would take to grow back, the chance that her curls may or may not come back. I wanted her to think about it for awhile so that we could be sure she really understood the choice she was making (at least, understood it as well as a four year old can) and it wasn’t just a whim.

Honestly, though, it needed to be cut. When not in a ponytail, Zoey’s hair was all the way to her waist. I remember how much my hair drove me crazy as a kid when it was that long, and it seemed to be irritating Zoey as well. It was also getting somewhat unmanageable from my end: always getting in her food, a constant snare of knots at the end that were torturous for her when I brushed them out, the lengthy process of washing and rinsing that her sensory system has learned to endure but is still always a struggle for her. It was time for a haircut.

We took a few last pictures to document the curls:

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unfurled curls

unfurled curls

Then we washed her hair, wrapped her in a robe and set about cutting:

So excited!

So excited!

The first cut is the hardest...

The first cut is the hardest…

Apparently we have the same smirk...

Apparently we have the same smirk…

All done!

All done!

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In the end, I cut off about four or five inches of hair, bringing it from waist-level to mid-back. Zoey was happy that we saved her “curlies” in a ziploc bag to put in her baby book. No way am I letting go of those!

It Never Rains But It Pours

I love the rain. I truly do. But not so much the metaphorical rain. You know, when it’s life that keeps dumping down on you and your mouth it already covered and the water is creeping ever closer to your nose. That’s about what it has felt like around here lately. So I’d like to just take a moment to say “Ugh!”

It’s not that there has been any huge thing, just a combination of too many small and medium-sized things. Zach’s car had a leak in it, which we discovered when the weather switched from “oddly-long-summer” to “monsoon” and there was suddenly a swimming pool where the front passenger’s feet should go. We managed to find the source of the leak and, because we are too poor to care about things like how pretty our car is, we bought a tube of caulk, gummed it up and thought “Phew. Done.” Ha. As if. Apparently there is another leak. Somewhere in the vicinity of the sunroof, although we have yet to be able to determine the exact spot. So now it is the driver’s side that gets soaked and we can hear water gurgling and moving in the roof of the car. In other words, it doesn’t sound like a cheap fix.

Then there is Zach’s knee. It has been hurting him for about a month now and he finally got it checked out. After an MRI we know he has a complex tear to his meniscus and will need surgery. So we’re in the process of trying to find a surgeon we like and get him on the schedule ASAP. (You know, before we have a newborn).

It is also time for my “VBAC” appointment. This is the appointment where I go meet with some OB/GYN I’ve never met before and have them give me “permission” to give birth to my baby. They tell me what they think my odds of a successful vaginal delivery are (with Eleanor they gave me 70%) and make me sign a form stating that I realize my baby might die because I want to give birth to it the natural, least-complicated, least associated with actual risks to baby, most associated with actual benefits for both mom and baby, way. It is degrading, unnecessary (in my opinion), and emotionally difficult, not to mention costing us more money. Yet I have to do it if I want my family practice doc to be able to deliver our baby (her insurance won’t cover her if I haven’t been “approved” by a surgeon). So anyway, we just had this really fun, beautiful, extremely detailed ultrasound done of the baby, prior to making this appointment. Then they tried to tell me that I would need another ultrasound at their facility (note: this is all the same medical system, just different campuses where the ultrasound machine and the OB are located) because supposedly their machine is better quality. I pulled the “I’m a nurse, it was high enough quality, don’t give me that crap” card and scheduled the appointment anyway. So next week I go in and meet this doctor and have to hope that he isn’t going to be the egotistical type who is upset that I wouldn’t jump through all his hoops and therefore won’t sign off on my VBAC. Because, quite frankly, we can’t afford another ultrasound.

Did I mention the PTSD nightmares about the c-section have come back?

Between Zach’s knee appointments, my OB check-ups, the girls’ yearly check-ups and appointments just for flu shots which always seem to become available just after all our yearly check-ups, it feels like we are living at the doctors’ offices. Heaping all these things on top of the usual crazy schedule of work, school, and me still feeling crappy with this pregnancy and Zach having to pick up my slack all the time means we are all just feeling stretched to the limit. Every little thing with a “due date” – no matter how insignificant – feels like another brick loaded on. The library books have to be back by tomorrow? That’s it. I quit. Throw in the towel.

Thanks for letting me vent, internet. It’s cheaper than therapy. Now if only I could have wine while pregnant, I’d feel 80% better…

Halloween 2014: The Adventures of Spiderman and Monkey

We had a crazy whirlwind of a Halloween here at Clegg house. Life has been unusually hectic and chaotic lately, so throwing a holiday into the mix was a bit overwhelming. That said, I think we all still enjoyed it.

My Little Goofball

My Little Goofball

 

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Zoey directing daddy’s pumpkin carving

We carved a couple pumpkins a few days before Halloween. I had big plans to take the girls to a pumpkin patch again this year, but between rainy weather, preschool, work, doctor appointments and the usual colds, it just didn’t happen. Zach grabbed a couple good-sized pumpkins from Safeway and we called it good. The girls sure didn’t seem to mind much.

Mom got in on the carving action too

Mom got in on the carving action too

Much like last year, Zoey was incredibly excited to carve pumpkins but, when it came down to it, absolutely refused to touch anything on the inside of the pumpkin. As she’s a bit too young still to wield sharp knives, that left her and Eleanor in the joint roles of supervisor. They told us what shape of eyes, nose and mouth to add, where to add them, and whether they wanted a scary or silly pumpkin.

Eleanor helping to poke out the nose

Eleanor helping to poke out the nose

We did find a trick (treat?) hiding on our pumpkin, however. When we retrieved them off the front porch to carve, there were about a dozen itty bitty newborn snails sliding around all over our pumpkins. The girls helped relocate the snails and I washed the slime off our gourds. One baby snail, however, must have camouflaged himself because we found him later when we went to carve the pumpkin.

Baby snail

Baby snail

This really makes me wonder how snails are born. Do they hatch from eggs? With their shell already there?

The Family Pumpkin

The Family Pumpkin

On Halloween, Zoey and Eleanor were SO excited about going trick-or-treating. Zoey had picked out a Spiderman costume over a month before Halloween. When it came time to put it on, she was hesitant. She explained to me, the best that she could, that she didn’t like the way the mask felt around her eyes. Zach and I both tried to help her re-position it to be more comfortable, but she would flinch away, already overly sensitive. I finally took her over to a mirror and showed her how much room there was around her eyes from the mask. I helped her to adjust the mask herself and she finally declared, “It feels good now! Let’s go trick-or-treating!” I was so proud of both of us in that moment. Me, for having an insight into what might help, and her for not just giving up and melting down, refusing to wear the mask. She really tried so hard to find a way to make it work, and was rewarded for not giving up.

Spiderman and Monkey

Spiderman and Monkey

Eleanor got to wear a hand-me-down monkey costume and was thrilled with it. We went with some friends who have children of the same ages. A trip around the block was sufficient, and the kiddos were more than happy with their candy haul. When we got home, the kids ate themselves into a sugar-stupor and we promptly put them to bed. Then we sat down to devour a good portion of the leftover candy we had bought for trick-or-treaters that never came. A happy ending for all.

Fall Toddler Arts & Crafts

momsasaurus:

I’m reblogging this post from last year because
a) I’m lazy
and
b) seasonal
Enjoy!

Originally posted on momsasaurus:

There’s just something about Fall that makes me feel so….domestic. I want to bake things. Sew things. Do arts and crafts. It’s my favorite season. I love the colors, the smells, the tastes (oh God, the tastes…). With an onslaught of rain and wind and a very sudden change in the colors of the trees, Fall arrived with gusto here in Seattle last week. I couldn’t be happier. After a trip through the Target dollar aisle, I was all set to do some fun Fall crafting with Zoey. And, hey, I can even call it educational since it teaches her about the seasons, right?

First up: a pumpkin mask. I drew a pumpkin shape on a piece of orange craft foam and handed Zoey some paint and glitter. We let it dry overnight, then I cut out the pumpkin, added two holes for eyes, taped a craft stick to the…

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