Thursday, July 7, 2011

The pedicure I tried to steal...but not really!

Happy birthday to my mom!! Last weekend my sisters and I decided to surprise her with a big girls only mini-trip. We took her to one of the best restaurants in Shreveport, went shopping, stayed the night at a local Casino and went for pedicures. (It's not a girls trip unless you get pedi's, right?!?)

I, personally, don't indulge on pedicures very often. I have a hard time justifying the cost when I could just paint my toenails myself but I would NEVER (intentionally) try to "steal" a pedicure. The kind Asian ladies at my mom's favorite nail place probably believe differently.

So here's what happened... my middle sister walked across the mall to the wine store (remember we are in Louisiana) and brought us all over a glass of wine to drink as we got our pedicures. We were having fun just all being together for the first time without our kids since we started having them six years ago. We were catching up and laughing and deciding which polish color we wanted. Mom and the middle sister got done first, paid for theirs and walked to another store in the mall. My youngest sister and I were finishing up, catching up on the latest celebrity gossip and talking about what we'd be doing the rest of our trip.

It was relaxing and really fun and when the lady finished our toes Mom and middle sister had returned to the shop to wait for us. We were sitting close to the back door of the salon that leads outside to the parking lot. Little sister and I promptly got up and walked out the back door still walking gingerly to make sure we didn't mess up the paint job. We were giggling about something as we made our way to the SUV parked close by. We were just about to get in when I heard my little sister say, "Oh, did we leave something?" When I turned around I saw the pedicure lady fast-walking toward us. I immediately felt guilty because I had walked out with the paper flip-flops and toe spacers and I said, "Oh, I'm so sorry. Do you need these back?"

The very sweet, but serious Asian lady raised her voice and said, "YOU NO PAY! YOU NO PAY!" OMG - we had just tried to steal a pedicure!! We were completely distracted and I suppose we were caught up in the "royal treatment" and just forgot. I don't know, but I was mortified! We had to turn around and make the awkward, spacers-in-our-toes walk of shame back through the salon to the front cash register...and it was PACKED!! Everyone had seen the lady come chasing after us and probably thought we were a couple of lousy, good for nothings.

We apologized multiple times and we left big tips, but as we walked out for a second time I could just tell from their eyes that the other customers were thinking to themselves the managers should have called the cops on those losers! It was not a proud moment for my mother either who now says she'll have to find a new favorite nail salon. One where, when the employees start speaking another language to each other she'll know with certainty they're not talking about the time her sorry daughters tried to walk out without paying! :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Going For the Gold -Or Any Medal Really!

Wow! It's been so long since I've blogged. So much has happened over the last nine months. We've been incredibly busy - still, I'm mad at myself for not keeping this updated. I know my girls will love to read these stories one day and now there's a huge gap in memories. Uggh!

My last post was in September. Three months later Big B went ice skating for the first time. She was terrible, but she LOVED it! She spent two hours on the ice that first time while I reported live about the new outdoor ice rink that had come to Little Rock for the holidays. I just happened to let her go to work with me that day. Since then she has become a "competitive" ice skater. It makes me laugh. She's only competed once - but this child is in love with the sport and could spend all day on the ice if we'd let her.

It's been really fun for us to see her develop this passion. She's danced. She's taken gymnastics. But neither was something she would rather do than anything else in the world - ice skating is. I'm all about supporting my girls' dreams, but here's some advice --do your research before you introduce your child to a sport.

Here's why I probably wouldn't have chosen ice skating for her if I had put more thought into it. For one, I've learned it is one of the most expensive extra curricular activities a child can be involved in. I hear really good figure skates can cost a grand or more. What!!?!? The ones she's in now were free with lessons. New ice skating dresses average $85. We only buy used ones. The darn bag you keep your ice skates in is $155. Hers are kept in a $15 backpack right now. Holy smokes! - somebody is going to have to get a second job if we continue this and get serious about it. And when I say somebody, I mean my husband. ;) Secondly, have you ever heard of a college scholarship for ice skating? Yeah, me neither!

But here's the deal - watching your child do something they absolutely love is priceless. (Would make a great Visa commercial, huh?!?) Big B loves the ice. On some days she's been at the rink for as long as four hours straight without ever getting off the ice. She had her first show last month. She was a little lion in the Lion King and a goatherd maiden in Sound of Music. She was precious and loved every minute. We were proud! Last weekend was her first competition. And here's where we got hooked bigtime! She practiced for four weeks. Her coach choreographed a really cute routine to "I Like to Move It" from Madagascar. My child has no fear. She does not understand what nervous means. She is confident and laid back. (Everything I was not as a child.) Mostly, she just wanted a medal really bad - any medal, she didn't care.

On the day of the competition she was ready. Dressed in her little lion costume, she took the ice when her name was called. My whole family was there watching. We started clapping and cheering. She got about halfway onto the ice and wiped out. Yes, even before she started she fell down. I couldn't help but laugh. I always laugh at the worst moments. Once I got so tickled at a funeral I had leave. butshe is Big B she hopped right up with a huge smile and didn't even flinch! Her music started and she performed like it was what she was born to do. (I could be a little biased, but I don't think so.) She was so excited when she got off the ice. I gave her a big hug. It was a moment I'll remember forever.

She didn't mention a word about the catastrophe pre-preformance. She just couldn't wait til the results were announced. She waited excitedly and said, "Mommy, I really think I won the gold." She was proud. I smiled and told her how great she did, but reminded her sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. I knew, though, that she had won, that she would take home the gold...not because she had done so great, but because she was the ONLY ONE in her category. ;) I kept that a secret and it made the awards ceremony so much more exciting for her. She took the top spot at the podium. I don't think I could have been prouder even if she had been on the olympic podium competiting against a thousand of the best skaters in the world. She stepped down and said, "Mommy, I just can't believe I really won the gold!"

I know one day she'll realize the agony of defeat, that she'll look back and laugh when she finds out she was the only skater in her first competition, but right now we are both cherishing this moment. She's still on a high from bringing home the gold. In fact, she's slept with that medal around her neck since she won. It makes my heart smile.

And now I've got to go. Big B is standing next to me begging to head to the rink. I'll happily turn off the computer and cultivate this dream of hers - even if there are no college scholarships for ice skating!! Why didn't we stick with golf???? I guess we're just going to have to rely on her academics to get into college. Bless her heart (and ours!)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Doctors, Firefighters, Paramedics All Help Olga aka Little "B" Celebrate Her 2nd Birthday

Wow! What a birthday week for Little "B" or Olga as she now calls herself.

The name change happened while we were on vacation and someone asked her, her name. I realized I hadn't really taught her to say it clearly. Let me preface this by telling you she is talking really well for 24 months old. She can say just about everyone else's name that we know. She can say "school", "work", "bow", "shoes", "tutu" --- you get my drift. So, I thought her two syllable name would be easy for her to get out. I said it slowly, "Berke-ley". She quickly responded, "Ol - ga". "No, BERKE-LEY, " I corrected her. She got louder, too - "OL-GA!" Since then she has never wavered in her adamant pronunciation. Whenever anyone asks her, her name she says "Olga". I get odd looks. She doesn't really look like an "Olga", but whatever!

Funny how at that magical age of two, like clockwork, they get a mind of their own. This past month is when she not only changed her name but also decided she would wear tutu's - EVERYDAY. Even during her surgery four days before her birthday she had nothing but a tutu and a diaper on as we left her under anesthesia, asleep on the operating table. We tried to keep the hospital PJ's on her but she refused and the nurses agreed it was a battle they wouldn't win while she was awake. While she was in surgery I went to the gift shop. I looked at the stuffed animals and the books and other toys but knew when I saw the hot pink and orange tutu it was what Olga would love most for a "get well soon" gift.

Surgery went as good as it could have, but recovery wasn't easy. She was in pain. Her poor, little hand looked like someone had taken a hammer and beat on it as hard as they could. When her birthday rolled around a few days later, I wanted to do something special for her but I also knew we needed to take it easy since she was still recovering and her hand was still swollen and tender. We took her to get a cupcake and to a boutique where she picked out - yes, another tutu. In fact, she wore it out of the store. Then we needed to make a run to the grocery story - probably the last thing anyone wants to do on their birthday, but it had to be done.

You know how these "my kids in the grocery store" stories go. It is never pleasant. By the time we got to the check-out "Olga" was done! I decided it would be best for my sanity, my husbands and for everyone else's in the store if I took Olga to the car while her daddy and Big "B" checked out. So, out the door I went with my screaming, kicking two year old. Frazzled, I tried to automatic start the SUV. For some reason it wouldn't work. I got to the car and unlocked it then started to put her in the car seat. It was hot so I tried to automatic start it again from the backseat. You have to lock the doors before it will start. I locked the doors it started and I tossed my keys in the drivers seat so they'd be there when I got around there. I buckled "Olga" in, shut the door, walked to the front, lifted the door handle and got that sinking feeling in my stomach when I realized what I'd just done - locked my baby in the car ON HER BIRTHDAY!

The good news was that the car was still running. When you automatic start it, it will run with the air conditioning blasting for ten minutes and then shut off. I quickly called my husband who was in the check-out line. Not a phone call I wanted to make. He paid for our groceries and called Triple A. The nice representative that answered informed him that since a CHILD was in the car and it was over 90 degrees that day he needed to call the authorities. About that time the SUV shut off. "Olga" was oblivious to what was going on as I played peek-a-boo through the window with her. Her daddy called 9-1-1 and almost immediately we heard faint sirens in the distance. I thought surely that's not for us. It got louder...and louder. Then we saw the fire truck turn the corner into the parking lot. An ambulance was just a few minutes behind. Wow! I'm thankful they were there, but was soooo embarrassed! It took about ten more minutes for them to get the doors unlocked. She was sweaty when we got her out but just fine. Our cold food had defrosted - we just laughed. We're getting used to this kind of stuff!!!

It was certainly an eventful week. Little "B" won't remember any of it, but boy do we have some great stories to tell her when she's older! Happy birthday sweet "Olga"! Thanks for the adventures!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Reading, Writing, Arithmetic AND Reality Checks....Big "B" Is Now A Kingergartener

Reading, writing, arithmetic AND a reality check - it's all part of starting school. Big "B" got that lesson on the first day of Kindergarten (sort of). She looked ADORABLE in her little, navy plaid uniform, Mary Janes and of course, a big, matching, monogrammed bow. I told her as we were walking out the door, "You are THE cutest Kindergartener I have ever seen in my entire life!" I was proud, she was happy and off we went to meet her new classmates.

We have two rules that we remind our children of daily. #1 Have fun!! #2 Be sweet to everyone. (We have other rules, too like don't spit on your sister, don't write on the walls and whatever you do...never, ever, ever, ever leave the house without a bow! But, have fun and be sweet are the two we preach the most.) On the ride to school, I repeated those rules. I told her she was going to make lots of new friends. I also told her there might be some kids there that would be a little nervous about starting Kindergarten and that she should try to be a friend to them. When we arrived we snapped more pictures, she got to walk in with a precious, little boy whom she already knew and who was in her class, I shot video of her, we gave her a hug and a kiss and told her just how pretty she looked one more time.

All day long I was thinking about how much fun she was probably having. Her teachers are amazing and she already knew several of the kids in her class. I couldn't wait to hear her version of how wonderful it was.

After sitting in the carpool line with the other 900 SUV's for 45 minutes, I pulled up and spotted my precious, little, curly, blond-headed baby girl walking down the stairs. There was no huge smile like I had expected. She got in the car and I squealed, "So, tell me ALL about your first day of Kindergarten!!! Did you make lots of new friends???" Big "B" responded, "No. Nobody wanted to be my friend." I said what about "L"? (the sweet boy she'd walked in with that she already knew) Frustrated, she said he found a new friend and it was a boy and he likes being friends with boys better than girls. I promised that would change one day. Then she says, "AND one girl in my class sat next to me and told me she was prettier than me!" I gasped, flung my head around the seat to look at her face to face instead of through the rear view mirror and said, "Well....was she?" A shocked Big "B" was speechless. She looked at me as if I was crazy. I was, in fact, the person who just a few hours earlier had told her multiple times SHE was the cutest Kindergartener ever! I forgot to tell her every other mother of every other Kindergarten girl in the world had told their daughters the exact same thing.

It was a teachable moment. I decided the first day of Kindergarten is as good a day as any to give it to her straight..."Baby, there will ALWAYS be somebody prettier than you, smarter than you, funnier than you, somebody who can dance better, sing better and play sports better in school. You just have to show them that you have the prettiest heart. A pretty heart will get you much further than any of that other stuff, anyway.

She thought about it for awhile. I hoped it was sinking in and would be a lesson that would last. Then she said, "I will show them my pretty heart, but Mommy, do you still think I'm the cutest Kindergartner in the world?" "Of course, I do!" She said, "Me, too!"

I laughed and thought this is precisely why I am not a teacher!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Throwing Rolls, Throwing Up & Throwing Down....Vacation 2010

Four days after being back from vacation I'm still having withdrawals from the sandy beaches, amazing pools, great food, great Tiki Bar and lack of alarm clocks! Despite some craziness, it was so much fun spending a week with my entire family...all 13 of us. We go to the gulf every summer and the memories we make are priceless!! The things we most remember are the moments of hilarity or insanity -- and there are a lot of those with our group! Here are just a few...

Throwing Rolls: Those of you who've been to the gulf are probably very familiar with Lambert's restaurant. If not - to make a long story longer - they serve up good, home-cooked food along with some pretty funny practical jokes. They also throw hot, fresh rolls at the customers. After an evening at the outlet mall all the mommas and our babies (9 months, 2 years, 3-year-old twins, and a 5-year-old) had a terrible lapse in judgement and thought it would be a good idea to go eat there. The guys, by the way, were having a leisurely evening of golf and missed this "fine" dinner.

To kick things off, minutes after stepping foot in the restaurant Little "B", being the wild child she is, started running and fell down. Luckily, there was no need for an ER visit but the entire place got to hear her scream. About a minute after that all three of the older ones had to use the potty - fun times!! After getting a table suitable for four adults and 33 children, my niece, Tiny "B", vomits...a lot! (it would prove to be only the beginning of a lot of puking on our trip... but I'll get to that a little later. We (by "we" I mean my sister) clean her up and change her clothes then we start the nightmare of ordering. Big "B" acts as if someone has just cut both her arms off when I, being the terrible mother I am, order her sweet tea instead of pink lemonade like her cousins. The rest of the restaurant is now getting to know my older daughter a little better as she turns on the tears! Little "B" refuses to sit in a high chair and instead prefers to take off her shoes and kick up her feet on the table. By now a waiter has started throwing rolls at us. Funny, they throw them at everyone but it sure seemed like he was throwing the rolls at us a little faster and a little harder than he was to the other patrons. Surely, it wasn't a hint for us to take our rowdy bunch and get out of there....surely?!!? Since we obviously didn't get the hint they sent our waitress by to antagonize our children. She walks up with a little wooden box and asks the twins to open it if they want a piece of candy. Oh, how excited they were until they opened it and out popped a plastic RAT!!! Neither thought it was funny - instead it scared the living daylights out of them...(see picture above). If that wasn't enough...(yes, apparently our waitress didn't feel bad in the least) she came back around with a big pot and tongs and asked the kids if they'd like some more food but instead of food she pulled out a big, fury raccoon. Really!??!? Here's a little tip for you, ---young waitress who probably doesn't have children ---- 2, and 3 year olds typically don't find things like this funny.

Don't get me wrong, while they didn't find it funny my sisters and I did. At this point, we were laughing pretty hard (to keep from crying, too) as our poor children squalled. My mother didn't find it amusing. Someone had made her precious grandchildren upset! How dare they! We finally made it out of the restaurant as they tied helium balloons to all their wrists. Once again, Lambert's -- thank you!! We love getting in an SUV with four tired, crying toddlers and four balloons. Now we won't be able to see or hear as we attempt to drive back to the condo.

Throwing Up: As promised more on the stomach bug that came along with us on vacation. When Tiny "B" threw up at Lambert's we just thought it was a 9-month-old getting too full. Nope...the next night one of the twins threw up in the middle of the night in the bed where his twin brother, my pregnant sister, and her husband were sleeping. As my sister jumped up to get him to the bathroom she, too, started puking and didn't stop until the next morning. She tried to wash off the pillow shams that caught a lot of the 'yuck' but we're afraid we probably, unintentionally, left the next poor people that rented the condo a little "gift". The other twin got the bug after getting home the next day. At least it happened at the end of our vacation and not the beginning, right!?!

Throwing Down: When it comes to partyers in our group - there's really only one. I won't name names but let's just say this person likes to have fun, is loud, talks a lot, is a frequent visitor of the Tiki Bar and isn't afraid to take down one of the other family members. The indoor pool one night became the scene of a WWE Smackdown. So much fun watching our "partyer" dunk Extra Large "B" when she was least expecting it.

There is so much more we'll never forget including a night at the amusement park for the twins birthday. It was the night we ended up with two cars in the parking lot as we got ready to leave but only had one set of keys. We'll also remember cooking out, taking lots of pictures, sharing stories, hearing about the guys' daily golf game and watching our children enjoy being children. It was such a special time and leaving my family and the gorgeous gulf was so hard. Can't wait til next year's trip and all the hijinks that come with it. We might just be the family all those National Lampoon's Vacation movies were based upon!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The belly blues...

With Big "B" 's 5th birthday quickly approaching, I'm reminiscing a lot about the day she was born. I told her yesterday, as we were driving down the road, how clearly I remember being in the hospital ready to deliver her and how special it was the moment the doctor pulled her out of my belly. I wished I'd just reminisced in my head instead of out loud because that comment opened up a discussion I don't think either one of us was ready for.

I've mentioned before how inquisitive she is. Well, she wanted to know (again) how exactly the doctor pulled her out of my belly. When she's asked before I was been able to dance around the "exactly" part, but this time she wasn't satisfied with "he just pulled you out". She wanted to know if he used scissors to cut open my belly. I said no. Then she asked if he just stuck his hands in my belly and I said no again. A little frustrated she raised her voice and said, "Then how did he get me out Mommy?!?" (For the first time in my life, I so wished I had delivered her via C-section!) I just can't lie to my kids. I try to be as honest about everything as I can - even when it's hard. So, I cut right to the sugar-coating... "Here's the deal, baby..." When I told her "exactly" how Dr. "C" got her out of my belly she gave me a hilarious look of shock and disgust. Think McCauley Culkin's face on "Home Alone" but with his tongue also sticking out. She squealed, "Are you jokin' me?!!"

I laughed so hard! It was so cute and exactly what is going through every one's mind when you think about it - most adults just refrain from making that face for fear of being thought of as inappropriate and immature...but let's face it, when you get right down to it - birth may be beautiful but there is nothing beautiful about that image - especially when you're 5!

Now comes the part where I have to explain why she can't use her new found knowledge and go tell all her new classmates how she, and possibly they, came out of their mommies bellies. I suspect some parents don't want their Kindergarteners to know that just yet. I tried to convince her to keep it between us, but she comes from a long line of loud mouths and I'm afraid it might be part of her introduction to her new classmates and her new teacher at her new school later this month. I fear it going something like this, "Hi, I'm Big "B". I went on vacation this summer, I got to swim a lot, I had my birthday party and I found out I came out of my mommy's belly through her.....!" I may send an preemptive apology letter with her box of school supplies.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What happened to my good intentions?

Kids birthday parties are out of control!! I have always thought they should be simple, fun and affordable. In fact, Big "B" didn't have a real birthday party with more than just family there until she turned three. It was exactly what she wanted and met all my criteria for the perfect, little kid soiree. It was at Chick-Fil-A. It was free. There were a total of five children there. Our big splurge was the $15 we paid to have the cow come out and interact with the kids. They played in the play area. We had cupcakes. It was stress free...understated. Big "B" LOVED it!

Fast forward a year. Turning 4 was a little more involved. She was in pre-school by then and had several more friends. There were around 18 children there. It was at Gymboree. There was a fee, but it was very much affordable. The kids had a blast. It was still fairly simple. The only problem is she got way too many gifts that she didn't need.

This year I intended to and encouraged Brooklyn to have her party at the Arkansas Food Bank. They host parties in their warehouse. The kids bring canned goods to donate instead of gifts for the birthday girl. They get a lesson in philanthropy and helping others. It is free. It has a purpose and I thought we'd both feel really good afterward.

Well....convincing a pre-schooler that she would feel good not getting any gifts proved harder than I had imagined and explaining exactly what a warehouse is and why it would make a good birthday party place was even tougher. As positive as I was trying to be, I even found it hard to convince myself. Then I thought maybe this isn't the year. Maybe she'll be able to understand the concept better and get excited about it when she turns six. So then, if we don't do the warehouse....what do we do for a birthday party?

I'm still trying to think small scale, inexpensive, and low-key.

This year we will celebrate both Big "B" and Little "B's" birthday at the lavish Peabody Hotel. We asked all 30 guests to come dressed in their fanciest, play dress-up clothes. Big "B" will be the honorary Duckmaster and get to lead the Peabody ducks to the fountain. The children will be served a "fancy" lunch of duck-shaped grilled cheese sandwiches and french fries (yes, while less fortunate kids - that we could have helped at the Food Bank go hungry). The "paparazzi" (my sisters) will be on hand to snap photographs. You know....small scale, inexpensive, low-key. Ha!

What the heck happened to my good intentions??? I don't know. I let things get away from me. One idea spawned into another and another and before I knew it, we were planning a full-on extravagant event. I know it will be fun. I'm excited about it. The girls are beyond excited about it. They'll remember this one forever. But, I'm also a little disappointed in myself. I feel guilty. I work with children in foster care on a regular basis and I'm throwing my girls the kind of party that those children will probably never have. I want my girls to understand the dangers of over indulgences. I want them to appreciate simple and know the incredible importance of helping others less fortunate. It is something I try to instill on a daily basis, but I may have let this opportunity get away from me. I am making a promise to myself that next year we will most definitely be celebrating their birthdays at the Food Bank. We're going to start talking about it now so they understand and can actually get excited about it.

Until then, I have lots to do to get ready for our Peabody Party. I've got to get party favors, decorations, boas for them to wear, dress-up shoes, make sure the menu is perfect.....OMG...I'm an out of control mommy...throwing and out of control party!!! In the end though...I must admit - it is going to be so much fun watching them celebrate their special day with special friends, dressed up like little princesses! We'll enjoy it for now and work on toning things down for next year!!