Sunday, October 30, 2011

Josie & Spirit

Just a quickie from sweet Te's birthday party today at Bonnybrook Farm. I forgot my camera but got a couple on my cellphone. Such a great group of kids and a really lovely farm with so much to do - even rides on beautiful horses like Spirit here.
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Friday, October 28, 2011

Little Chompers

I finally captured Bea's two little chompers on film. Seriously - how cute is she?!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Our Charlotte

I have a story to tell, and I hope you will share it with us. Many of you have been with our little blog since the beginning. You remember the early days of Baby Josie - back when she was just a wee little thing. Back when the thought of a four year old Josie felt like light-years away.  Recently, our sweet baby Josie had to experience  true loss for the first time, and it was really hard on all of us.  This is the story of Josie's first lesson with grief and death. And it is a real window into the kind of child Josie is and likely always will be.

Looking out the kitchen window at Charlotte, Josie looking in from the porch

Near the beginning of July, a little spider built a web in our kitchen window. It was right in the window over our kitchen sink - the spot we all see countless times in the course of each day.  For probably a week, she pretty much went unnoticed. But, it wasn't long before I named her Charlotte and we started checking on "Charlotte's Web" every morning (as soon as I googled her to make sure she wasn't some deadly toxic biting thing and found out she was a simple, harmless garden orb spider).  She was teeny tiny but really fun to watch. Every single morning she would start the day by building a new web. She would catch insects and we would cheer her on as she sprang into action and filled her little spider tummy.  She had a male visitor (who met a tragic end) and it soon became obvious she was full of eggs. Charlotte grew and grew and we became more and more fond of her. Josie couldn't wait to introduce her to visitors and we all said good morning to her each day. Really, she became the perfect pet. And she was really fascinating.

As a child, I loved the movie and book Charlotte's Web, but its themes have always haunted me. I knew what was coming for our own Charlotte and did a little internet research to confirm our suspicions. We found out Charlotte would lay her eggs and die sometime before the first frost. Every single bit of me wanted to shelter Josie from the whole thing. I really got pretty mad at myself for doing everything I did to foster that attachment in the first place. It was a spider - just a spider in the window - but I knew it was going to devastate our tender-hearted Josie for her to disappear.

As parents, we have always valued being as honest as we can with our kids and age four seemed like a developmentally-appropriate time to tell her the truth about Charlotte. That said, we didn't just say "hey there kid-o, don't get attached, she's a goner!"  Instead, we gently eased her into the idea. And even when we told her that she would die when it got cold, Josie instantly volunteered a better alternative - demanding that Charlotte would instead just crawl away from her web, dig herself a hole & stay warm all winter until it was time to come back and live in our window in the spring. That sounded better to all of us, so we didn't correct her.

Oddly enough, on the EXACT day that Charlotte left, Josie asked me what day I thought it would happen. I explained to her that we didn't know when but that it would probably be soon. I explained that Charlotte would know when it was time for her to decide what was next.  That night, I was turning off the lights before bed and I looked into her web over the sink and it was empty.  I couldn't believe my reaction, but it hit me right in my gut. I even teared up as I said to Lou "Charlotte is missing!"  Lou explained that maybe she just left her web for the night. She had done this before, so she would probably be back in the morning. But she wasn't. Crazy enough, that next morning I went out on the porch and in the yard and actually looked for her. (I don't know if my plan was to have a chat with her and convince her to come back or what, but it seemed like the right thing to do.)  By that night, it was obvious she wasn't coming back. And the next morning, a Sunday, we decided to point out Charlotte's absence to Josie in a "controlled environment" while Beatrice was napping so we could help her move through it with our full attention.

Charlotte had left two egg sacs in the corner of the window, so we started with that. "Hey Josie, we have SUCH exciting news! Charlotte left two egg sacs...two! Aren't we so lucky? She must have really liked it in our window because she wanted all of her babies to be born here."  She kind of fell for it at first. We looked at the eggs and she was excited. But, then it started to sink in and it wasn't long before the tears came. Trying to explain away the obvious, Josie suggested that Charlotte must have just gotten on a Spider Plane and gone to the Spider Beach for the winter. "Yep, you are probably right Josie!" We tried to stick with that. But, it hit her. And, I kid you not, my sweet baby girl called out with huge tears in her eyes "Charlotte, come back! Don't go Charlotte! Charlotte No! I don't want her to be gone. I love her." And all three of us were crying.

Even though we miss Charlotte, my tears came more from the realization that life is going to increasingly get more "real" for Josie and we can't protect her from that forever.

So, like the movie that broke my heart as a kid, we will all wait like Wilbur for those eggs to hatch and we will hope that some of them will stay. (These baby spiders will float away on little silken strings just like Charlotte's babies in the movie.)  And, just maybe Josie was right and Charlotte is sleeping in a warm little hole she dug in our yard or will show up again after her beach vacation in the spring.

I don't think she's ready for the movie just yet. Or maybe I'm not ready for her to watch it (among other things, I am not quite ready to explain the whole bacon thing). And I am pretty sure, when the movie gets to this scene, it would be too hard to resist the urge to hit fast-forward. But as much as I'd like to just skip over all the stuff that will be hard and heart-breaking and "real" for our kids as they grow up, there's just no protection from it. (I've gotten another lesson recently on this, but more on that later...)

If you really want to torture yourself, you can click here for the link to the video where poor Charlotte actually sings this song and dies. I couldn't risk the possibility that Josie would want me to play it for her on one of the occasions when she is looking at the blog. Grab the tissues and consider yourself warned...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Little hike... (Big Reminder)

Owl's Nest Park: Walking down the sledding hill

What a difference a year makes!

I posted these two photos over the weekend, but offer this little post-script on Monday.

As Louie said upon seeing this's pretty crazy to see me up in this tree. This time last year, I was pregnant with Beatrice and just starting to show signs of the trouble that landed me on bedrest. This tree is at the bottom of the big hill that Josie and Louie went sledding down last year. It was their first time sledding and so heartbreaking that I had to miss it. We are worlds away from that time now. It was joyous to walk down this  hill as a family of four! And I can't wait for the first big snow so I can go sledding this year too!

Here's that video from last year - when I recently watched it again - I saw it very differently. Last year, as we were living through the bedrest, it was just the reality. We knew it was really hard on Josie to "lose" me for all those months, but when I saw this video and heard her little voice, her pain became very real to me in a way that I guess it wasn't when we were in survival mode while going through it. Like everything else, looking back and reflecting now - things are more clear. There are *still* times when we look at Sweet Baby Bea and can't believe she is real - even all these months later! I guess this is all just the long way of saying that I feel really, really, really blessed and really, really, really grateful for our life these days. Thanks for sharing it all with us.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Family (of four) Photos

Without further ado, here are some of my favorite photos from our Family Photo Shoot a couple of weeks ago.  (Technically they are Baby Bea's 6 month photos from our "first year" package with Krysia Photography.) We love being a family of four and happen to think these photos capture that pretty well.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Baby Bea these days

It should come as no surprise that our dear, sweet, darling little Beatrice is growing by leaps and bounds...too quickly.

Here are some recent updates on Baby Bea these days:

 * She has two little teeth - on the bottom. They came at the same time and with relatively little trouble. Lots of chewing, not too much trouble otherwise. Nothing bums out Bea. She's so easy-going.

 * She is doing great with solid foods. She prefers veggies over fruit. She's getting pretty proficient with a sippy cup, and takes a bottle (although only about 2 ounces before she's over it.)

 * She loves mum-mum crackers and "puffs". She's getting very good at picking things up with her fingers, manipulating toys, etc.

* She prefers standing to doing just about anything else. She just figured out how to pull herself up to standing in her crib, meaning it is time (already?) to lower her mattress.

* She absolutely adores her big sister. And the feeling is mutual. These girls are so close, so cuddly and it's so heart-warming to watch.

* She rolls now from back-to-tummy and tummy-to-back. She's not crawling yet, but she does that cute little move on her tummy where she tries to kick her legs like they are somehow going to send her sailing.

* She's getting good at communicating. She reaches out when she wants picked up. She's got this "nnnn, nnn, nnn" that means she's hungry and a longer "ehhhhhh" when she's tired. I can still count all the times I've heard her really cry on just one hand. We have started early signing with her & will be ramping that up in the coming weeks.

* She LOVES music. She kicks her feet, flaps her arms and giggles to her favorite songs.

* Since starting with our nanny Nicole full-time because I had to go back to work, she stopped sleeping through the night. (We were totally spoiled there for several months with a 7-7 sleeper.)  She now wakes at least once a night to nurse, which is honestly a welcomed thing because I miss her.

* Lou & I talk every day about just how sweet and special Beatrice is. Developmentally, this is really the age that we remember Josie becoming "herself" and it's clear that Bea is doing the same thing now too. Her little personality is unfolding and she really is just the sweetest little thing in the whole wide world.

Sometimes, quite often actually, I catch myself looking at Bea and still finding it hard to believe that she's real. On a daily basis, I still say to her "you're here."  It was such a long journey and the pain of it all comes back strongly from time to time. We are coming up on Halloween, which is when I was first put on bedrest with her during the pregnancy. I can remember so clearly how I felt last year at this same time and wondering then if I would have a baby a year later or not. And I do. And she's perfect. And there isn't a single second of the day that I forget what an enormous blessing she is to us.

Real reading, Fake laughing

We are so proud of our big reader! Josie has been sounding out words and using inventive spelling for awhile now, but she recently crossed into reading with increased fluency and comprehension.

Here's a video of Josie reading one of her "Reading Folder" books from school. (And might I mention she is quite proud of this folder!)

Happy 3rd to Lyla!

We had a wonderful trip to Chicago this weekend to celebrate Lyla's THIRD birthday. Lots of photos to come of that soon. And just realized I never posted this video to the blog...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bluegrass for Babies

Cincinnati has been impressing us lately. Certainly there are other decidedly more-hip cities that spring to mind, but Cincy has been holding it's own lately. I posted a quick bit about the Bluegrass for Babies concert last weekend, and I finally had a chance to update the blog with something more than my cellphone pictures. Bluegrass for Babies - equal parts fundraiser for Children's Hospital, great live bluegrass music, loads of families, kids-activities, yummy (healthy!) food and sunshine. Really, what better way is there to spend a fall evening? As added bonuses - they had a ton of hula hoops just lying around & Josie found her bestie Lucia within five minutes of arriving. Good times. Great memories.

Here's a scan of the scene:

And some snaps of all the fun:

And...they played "Wagon Wheel" (which may or may not have been the result of a certain mom putting in a special request on a certain facebook page):

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thanks Carissa...

...for spending an extra long weekend playing "five schneiders" with us. Love you!!
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