Saturday, February 13, 2010

happy tooyoo, gwacie!

that's how gracie sings "happy birthday": she goes, "happy! tooyooooo..... mamaaaa!" or "happy! tooyooooo, mousieeee...." or whoever she's thinking about. daddy, mema, her friend audrey at school... lately, we'd been thinking about HER birthday, since she just turned two years old a week ago.

i remember when she turned one, how upset i was that a year had passed, and she was no longer a baby anymore. we were nearly done nursing, she could feed herself, put herself to sleep, close to walking, she could say a few words and sing some songs. she just seemed like a big girl already. and i was saaaad. but this year, i was REALLY excited about her birthday party because it seems like she's been two FOREVER now. she's just so BIG, and so intellectually developed, and so physically capable... i've been saying "she'll be two in a couple of months," for a couple of months already! so this was just a great excuse to finally have a party that honored this life event for all of us. what a big girl she is!

my mom flew out here for the event, and she and i spent a few days before shopping for the party: streamers, party favors, food, paper plates. but the night before the "big day," she got violently ill. so she was down for the count, which normally i think would have totally stressed me out, since i was counting on her! but i don't know, i just went with it... i thought to myself how much does a two year old really care that the house is a mess, or the cake didn't turn out right, or the decorations aren't exactly perfect? and it turned out to be a HUGE help. that, and adam, of course. that man is a freaking rock star. he helped me get the place cleaned up, dug out the decorations, hung them up, and basically did everything that needed to be done. i just hung out in the kitchen and made up the food. he did all the work!

so it was the night before the party, and we stayed up until about 10:30 pm decorating and prepping. i scrubbed the bathroom before bed. (not the ideal time to scrub a bathroom, but really, what is?) woke up early to shower, get dressed, finish up the food... you guys, seriously: we were SO on top of it, that we were ready for the party a full hour before the guests were set to arrive! so proud of us!
it was so much fun to see the expression on gracie's face when she woke up that morning, and found the living room all decorated with streamers, balloons, and signs. she kept pointing and saying "lookoo dat! lookoo dat!"

at about 10:00 a.m., the first party guests arrived. and they just kept streaming in, until our house was bursting with activity and friends and sticky little toddlers. i think we had about a dozen weebies, all of them under the age of three (check that: there was ONE four year old), plus their parents, plus some grandparents, plus the neighbors, plus people from church, plus the neighbor's kid's friend. it was AWESOME. what i love the most is that we've only lived in this town for a few months -- and we already have a huge, loving, supportive community of friends. i really do love living here!

when adam and i greeted gracie's guests at the door, we explained to them that there was no plan for the day: there was food on the table for when they wanted to eat, and things to do outside for when they wanted to play. i think having a flexible outlook on the morning's activities really kept us (and our guests) laid-back. trying to navigate a dozen two-year-olds is like herding cats anyway, so why not just follow their lead?

when people arrived, they graciously offered gracie her gifts: seeds, plants, flowers, and herbs. we did a garden-themed party since this is the perfect time of year to get your seeds started, and gracie loves to dig, and our yard needs a load of work done on it anyway. even though it was cold and grey outside, most of the kids went outdoors anyway to dig in the dirt. some children brought flowers, which they planted into pots. some children brought seeds, which we planted in the dirt. some children brought plants (strawberry plants, a tiny rosemary bush, etc.) which we planted in the yard. it was so much fun, and just precious to see how excited they were! i asked the children to label what it is that they brought, along with their name on it, so that when that thing is big enough they can come back to gracie's garden and pick it with her. gracie's friend milo brought carrot seeds (among others) which we planted in the soil. i've been told that every day since then, he's woken up and asked his dad if the carrots are ready to eat yet. he's very excited, and we are too!

after we finished planted things (omg, there's still so much more to plant out there! i'm so excited to get it all in the ground!), we came inside and found that people had started to eat lunch. god bless americans! they make throwing a party soooo easy! i love how they just help themselves, so i don't have to be constantly running around, filling drinks and offering more food to eat. just point them in the right direction and they'll do it themselves! hallelujah! so when we came indoors, we found that everyone inside had already started to dig in to the homemade macaroni and cheese i had set out in a couple of crockpots. the kids headed straight for the fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries, mangoes, and kiwi!), and the lemonade and juice boxes were replenished in people's hands.

after eating our lunch, we got out gracie's birthday treat: dirt cake! crumbled up chocolate graham-crackers, layered with pudding, whip cream, butter, powdered sugar, and cream cheese. and gummi worms throughout! yum! i screwed up the recipe the night before, as i realized i only had half the amount of pudding that i needed, but again i figured that a 2-year old wouldn't care, so why would i? it was a huge hit, and the kids kept coming back for more gummi worms to pull out of the dirt. (plus, it was uber-easy to make, and i'd totally do it again, and if you want the recipe just email me and i'll send it to you!)

the rest of the time we all just kinda hung out, dancing and throwing balloons around. playing in the ball pit, playing with gracie's "elmos", and playing with each other. the party was a huge success, and i think everyone had a good time. most importantly, GRACIE had a good time, and adam and i felt calm and happy throughout. it was so much fun!

Friday, February 12, 2010

snow day!

so, who knew texas had all FOUR seasons?

i've been complaining to adam for some time now that the only reason i agreed to move here in the first place was because i thought it was SUNNY AND WARM all the time... but since september all it's seemed to do is rain rain rain! (it's a good thing i actually like my town and love my neighbors, or i'd be on the first plane back to colorado for good! -- or holland for that matter -- the weather seems to be the same there as it is here!)

but then, just when i think i'm sick of winter and i'm ready for spring already, we get a BEAUTIFUL snowstorm that has paralyzed our city for two days! it's soooo pretty!

last i heard, we got 11 inches (28 cm) of wet, sticky, heavy snow yesterday. the airport in dallas was virtually shut down, with hundreds of flights cancelled due to the weather. both adam's and gracie's schools were closed yesterday, and again today because of it. and no wonder -- i don't even know if our city owns a single snowplow, and i doubt my neighbors have windshield scrapers for their cars! besides that, the stores down here just don't sell winter boots and parkas, so when the weather gets cold and wet like this, you pretty much see people wearing sweaters over sweatshirts, and a couple of pairs of socks for layers instead of good, warm, winter boots. better to just stay home!

yesterday we built a snowman -- an activity we may never get to do again here in texas. i've selected only a couple of pictures here because they're all in front of our house and i don't want to publish pics of the outside of our house on the blog. but needless to say, we all had a great time. our snowman, when all was said and done, stood about 5 feet tall, with a real carrot nose, acorns for eyes, arms that were sticks from that big maple tree that fell down back in september, and a scarf that my mom made. i was so glad i was feeling better (just the day before i was sick in bed all day long with a fever of 102 f -- 38.8 celsius -- but by 5:00 pm yesterday i was right as rain, so we all took advantage of the snow day to build a snowman!) then inside for some homemade spicy tomato soup and biscuits. the house still smells like last night's dinner as i type this the next morning -- how wonderful! (it's making me hungry for breakfast, actually...)

walking outside this morning, it just felt like a peaceful winter day: our street is absolutely quiet, covered with a blanket of heavy white snow. nearly every neighbor has their car parked in the driveway, as most businesses have cancelled their normal operations today. (only poor cal, the best neighbor ever, has to trudge through the icy, slushy streets to manage his quality control something-or-another over by the city airport... drive safe, cal!) i was able to dig out my old ice-fishing boots from when i used to live in minnesota (good thing i thought to bring them to texas!) and tromped through the deep flakes all up and down the street to take these pictures for you, dear reader, before gracie woke up this morning. it was all i could do to come back inside... i wish i could play out there all day!

so, wherever you are today, i hope you enjoy your day as much as we will enjoy ours! what a very special (if somewhat disturbing) treat, to have a blizzard in texas! (and they say global warming is a myth... think again!)

Monday, February 08, 2010

mema biss

i've alluded to it before, but haven't told you the story yet: gracie and her "mema biss."

when gracie was still an itty bitty, way back in the summertime when we still lived in holland, gracie saw a fly flitting around the house. she wanted to know what it was. we said "fly" and then made the sound for it: "bzzz bzzz bzzz!" gracie, still too little to make the "zzz" sound, said "psss! psss! psss!"

shortly after that, ANYTHING associated with bugs became "psss psss": dustbunnies, appleseeds, cobwebs, other bugs, etc. if it was little and looked like a bug, or something that came from a bug, it was "psss psss!"

now, she didn't have a favorite blanket for a long time. but eventually she became attached to these handmade crocheted blankets that my mom had made for her. she liked them cuz they were so fuzzy, and gracie has always liked to tug on and touch fabrics, even when she was just an infant. (i remember nursing her when she was just tiny, and she'd get her arm behind me and start just flailing it around, feeling the fabric behind us: the couch, an afghan throw, a fleece blanket, a wicker chair back, etc.) these fuzzy blankets had a nice way of peeling little bits of fuzz off of them when she picked at them, which was an activity she enjoyed doing as she was trying to settle down to sleep, or relax from an exciting activity.

i noticed it when we were on our trip to oxford: gracie had this insistency in her voice, wanting something "pss pss psssss!" i figured out that she was asking for her blanket. i'd hand it to her and instantly she'd melt; she'd pick fuzz off that thing until she had finally recovered her senses and could function again in the world. when i told adam this, he said that he had the same experience with her -- so we started asking gracie if she needed her "pss pss" whenever she was upset about something.

eventually the word became "biss biss", and then just shortened to "biss". she had two of these "bisses" (or is it "bissen"?), both of which were becoming pretty ratty and bald since she spends all day long picking fuzz off of them. then my mom, gracie's "mema", made her a nice new heavy pink and purple one for naptime at school; she mailed it in a carepackage along with a bunch of other goodies, and put this new biss at the bottom of the box. gracie and i were opening the box together, admiring the little knick knacks that her mema got for our new house here in texas, when all of a sudden gracie shouts "BIIIIIIIIIISSSSSSSSS!" and practically DIVES into the box to grab this new blanket. she ran away and sat in a corner and just sat and picked and picked and picked the fuzz off that thing for the rest of the day. ever since then, it's been her "mema biss" since it's a biss that mema made.

my mom is out here right now to celebrate gracie's birthday with us, and to keep herself busy she's made gracie a nice, new, blue biss. (blue is gracie's favorite color.) as soon as she finished it, we showed it to gracie and said "look, gracie! another new biss!" she took one look at it, screamed "mema biss!" and ran the other way to get her mema biss. she has shunned this blue one entirely, which is VERY unfortunate because it's about a third the size and weight of the other, monstrous, mema biss. maybe we can convince her eventually, but i doubt it!