Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lily is 5 years old!

I did the birthday party post, but I want to document a few things about Lily at age 5. #ofcourseIdo For the last two years, I thought of words to describe her on her birthday. It is really hard, because I want to pick the exact ones that will capture Lily at this age. I like year 5 best, because I get to choose FIVE words! 

Here were the last two years, and these definitely still apply.

1. Girly
2. Intense
3. Thoughtful
4. Engaged

1. Responsible
2. Big Hearted
3. Stubborn 

Side note- I get embarrassed for myself when I read blog posts from when Lily was really young, because I was obnoxious about some things. Apparently, Lily ate spinach regularly, rarely ate junk food, and drank only DHA milk. I have since learned that pretzels and lemonade are not a guaranteed death sentence. And TV is pretty amazing and probably definitely even beneficial for kids.

Lily at FIVE:

1. Big Sister. 
It's not an adjective, but it is the most prominent part of her identity at five years old. When I first found out I was pregnant, we were terrified about how Lily would handle it. She is not exactly nurturing and has never played with babies. But, this girl has blown my mind with how much she genuinely loves Reese. I honestly don't know if I will ever be more proud of her in her entire lifetime than I am of how she is as a Big Sister. Don't be deceived- she will still write "No Babies Named Reese" on paper and tape it to her door when she is annoyed with her. And, Reese hurts Lily's feelings at least three times a day, and Lily runs off to her room crying hysterically and yelling that Reese needs to apologize for stepping on her foot or for not holding Lily's hand or for sneezing directed at Lily (Why, yes, I do in fact realize how ludicrous this sounds. This is my life). But, almost every day, her crafts at home and papers from school are decorated with "Reese" and "R" and pictures of sisters. She squeals, "REEEESSSEEE" every time she sees her, still. She is constantly trying to make her food, feed her, carry her around, read her books, hug her, hold her hand, pat her head, etc... Unfortunately, and rightfully so, Reese confuses this intense love for a possible smothering attempt or an attack, so she usually fights Lily which point Lily runs off crying. Then, Reese is banging on Lily's door, yelling, "Lalalala!" so she can go in and play with Lily's toys. After a few minutes, they adore each other, again. I think this cycle is called: sisterhood. It is truly one of the greatest pleasures of my life to get to witness my girls being a part of it.

There are notes like this one, ALWAYS. Apparently this one is from December; I save some of them and date them. I just throw everything into a plastic tub container in my closet. 

My Asian babies.

Lily made herself a buckle on her seat (look closely- she tied herself in with silver string), so she and Reese could match. 
For the record, the joint TV watching lasts about 25 seconds, but it does give me hope. So much hope for the future. 

The letter of the week at school was S, so she had to draw something that started with S. "Sisters." Of course. And Mama. 

Lucy is really her daughter, but I need to give a shout out to how good of a Mama Lily is to Lucy. 

2. Participant.
I chose "Engaged" last year, so I don't want to double dip. But, it still describes her perfectly. She is overflowing with confidence. She is fully engaged in life and wants to participate in every single aspect of it. The downside is that she gets upset if she does not get to go first or if someone else is the Calendar Helper at school, so we are working on not being a brat in those situations. But, most of the time, I love that she is not shy at all. Ever. In any situation. She is like a mini calendar with her routine and knowing what she is supposed to bring to school on which day and when the field trips are and who was absent, etc... More than once, a parent has texted me to find out about what they are supposed to wear on a certain day or bring in to school. The quote is always, " I know Lily will know..." And, she always does! She is a mini-adult in so many ways.

3. Angry.
It's just the truth. Lily is wonderful and funny and silly and very thoughtful and a loyal friend, but she gets angry very easily. I think this is just part of her personality, but I know it is not helped by the fact that she is TIRED all of the time. She is dramatic, sensitive, and gets her feelings hurt too easily. I never know what is going to set her off. On average, at least once a day, she runs off crying to her room, collapses on her bed and is ridiculously dramatic because I asked her to put on her shoes or to stop hugging Reese. It is really rough raising a teenage girl EIGHT years before she is even a teenager! She is very loud, vocal, strong willed, and opinionated. Almost every situation would turn into a power struggle if I let it. I have read so many parenting books trying to figure out what to do with her! On days when she slept a normal amount the night before, though, she is a dream kid. Discipling her is difficult since I know she is acting out because she is tired.

90% of the time, she is this sweet, hilarious, loving, happy girl. But, I would be doing a documenting injustice if I wasn't completely honest about her personality- she has an angry streak and can be quite grumpy, especially in the afternoons on school days.

She was mad when I picked her up, because something about flowers. I never know why she is crying or pissed off.

4. Crafty.
Lily doesn't really play with toys. She has never been a kid who liked toys, but she has loved crafting since she was 15 months old. Paper, glue, scissors, staples, pipe cleaners, glitter, feathers, pom pons, oil pastels, markers, colored pencils, crayons, string, sequins, etc.... She knows which craft situations require Elmer's glue versus hot glue (she has her own low temp hot glue gun) versus Tacky glue. Hughes taught her to tie a knot a few months ago, and that was probably impacted her life greater than anything that happened during the past entire year. She is constantly crafting.

She seriously writes bubble letters. I am raising a teenage girl!

Lily would cook ALL day long if I let her. I hate the mess and hate cooking, so I try to limit it. I think cooking is basically like crafting to her. 

An iPad and iPhone for Lucy. I just picked random pictures from the 800 million I have of her crafts. 

Eloise got her a paint your own tea set for her birthday!

She made a castle with a door and towers. She even made people and little beds for them. "Mom! I need about 1/4 yard of fabric for a project, please." hahahaha! She actually said that to me!

She makes crowns constantly and then wears them in public. Usually with her nightgown and homeless looking hair. #chooseyourbattles

My mom got her the most AMAZING craft desk from Kohls. It is perfect!! She is allowed to do one craft after we read books at night. #favoritepartofherday

There is usually some sort of bucket/mail/delievery system rigged up somewhere. 

5. Social.
"Can we go somewhere tonight?" "Who is coming over?" "When are we having another party?" "So, you are telling me that no friends are coming over tonight? What am I supposed to do?" "Mooooommmmmmmm. PLEASE can we go somewhere?" "Well, will you play with me?"

That is every single day. I love that she is social, because Hughes and I both love people and going places. But, I also struggle with it, because she gets lonely so quickly when we are home. She doesn't even like to watch TV by herself. She was probably meant to be in a family with five kids. With her as the obvious oldest so she could boss everyone around. 
She is a really thoughtful friend, and if she thinks she has hurt someone's feelings, I can practically see her little mind fretting about it. At an Easter egg hunt the other day, she noticed a kid didn't have many eggs, so she nonchalantly walked past him and then quickly dropped one of her eggs in front of him so we would find it. I don't understand how she can have the biggest heart one minute and then be growling at me in anger the next. Sigh. 

On Sunday, our three little boys called and invited us over for impromptu/thank God it's warm Slip-n-Slide fun! Alyson said, "Do you guys want to stay for dinn..." and I am pretty sure Lily interrupted her to say, "YES!" It was delicious, too!


I am excited about Five. It seems like an official age, like she is a REAL kid now. 

When Lily was tiny, I started singing "The Best Day"  go watch it right now if you haven't seen the video over and over to her, probably 30 times a day. I was sleep deprived and confused and in love with her and overwhelmed and clueless and happy and miserable and... sleep deprived. 

It starts out, "I'm five years old, it's getting cold, I've got my big coat on..." I remember holding onto that phrase in my head, almost trying to physically grasp it. I sang that one line over and over, because I kept thinking, "One day she will be five. She will be five, and she will sleep and she will be my best friend. We will tell stories and giggle together, I will paint her nails when she is five, we will do crafts together, and I will teach her about the world when she is five. I will not be in the sleep deprived zombie newborn stage when she is five." I can close my eyes and I am back in her pink and green nursery in Alabama, walking her around as a newborn, pacing, both of us crying, trying desperately to figure out what to do with her and just wishing for the day when she is five. I was desperate for her to be five.  When I went back to work when she was six weeks old, I played The Best Day on repeat in my car. I remember thinking that if we made it to Five (actual survival seemed iffy at the time), it would be better because she would understand why I had to leave. I have had a lot riding on FIVE. It feels really good to be here, to be at Five. I am really proud of us, actually. We figured this out together, this mommy-daughter thing. I love having this wonderful baby girl as my teammate in my life, my little best friend. She will always be the one who made me a mommy. 

Every moment isn't perfect, and there are times I cannot wait for her to be older, but I love this girl with every part of who I am. I am so grateful to be her Mommy and to have had the best days with her. I cannot wait to see all of the fun experiences that five-year-old Lily brings us!

A few VIDEOS that sum up Lily at 5:
1. Dancing at Kohl's:

2. Lily singing to Reese:

3. Lily dancing to "Let it Go" at dance:

4. When Lily was in Knoxville, she sent a video to Reese. Silly girl:

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spring Break Vacation*!

*Week where I got a death virus/plague. 

Lily got a GI plague three weeks ago, and it lasted about two weeks. I STILL think she isn't fully over it, actually. She missed 2 days of school and was late 2 days. I thought I was in the clear, because it had been over a week and a half, and I still wasn't sick. Sigh. It was just waiting for the perfect time. 
I am not being sarcastic! It was actually PERFECT!

I know it seems like we are in Knox constantly, but we are really only there once every 4 or 5 weeks, and it is usually for a reason and sometimes for less than 24 hours. Since Mom had Reese over Lily's slumber party, it seemed only fair enough for Mom to get one-on-one time with Lily, too. Right? So, we met at halfway a Cracker Barrel on Sunday night (Lily's birthday), and I was going to leave early Tuesday morning and go get Lily/hang out for a day or so, since it was Spring Break.

Lily was having an epic time, per usual. Here, they were going to paint the inside of the treehouse that my parents built for them. It's a rough life.

On Sunday, I felt awful, but I assumed it was because Lily had a sleepover the night before. On Monday, I ended up with a 103 fever and was certain I had some sort of medieval plague that was going to kill me. I could barely move to take care of poor Pieces on Tuesday, but the fact that I should have also had Lily and did not gave me renewed strength. There was no way I could drive to get Lily, but SURELY the 24-48 hour bug would be gone by Wednesday?
It was not, but I had promised Lily I would come on Wednesday. The normal 2 hour drive took me almost 4 hours, because I had to stop constantly. But, I made it! Pretty much as soon as I got there, I realized I needed to go to the doctor ASAP. Lily loooovees me, so she tagged along. And then Pops showed up. Haha. Mom was home with Reese and Max. 

Mom kept trying to feed me, which I appreciated. I lost at least 7 pounds. It was crazy. By Friday, I still didn't feel completely better, but we came home, after inadvertently spending basically the entire Spring Break in Knoxville. It was wonderful to be taken care of by my parents while I was sick. 

Reese was pumped for the extra time with Bop and Nono.

Melissa's kids love me, but...they are boys, so they don't flip out every time I walk in the room like my kids do with Sissa. Maybe Sissa is more awesome than I am? Probably. They have both basically been lovingly indifferent to me for most of their lives. Well, until this time, when Max decided I was his Mama and he must be in my arms at all times. My mom had Max and Anderson at her house, and I was determined to stay away from them as much as possible, but I only lasted about 2 minutes, because I could not tell this sweet boy no. All he wanted to do was cuddle with his Mama. My own children also wanted to cuddle with me, so the quarantine didn't really last like I intended. At one point, I fell asleep on the couch in the same room as all 4 children. I think I have taken 3 naps total in my adult life, so I was clearly sick.

I really love that I actually got to see the family for a little bit, though! It was almost worth the plague!

On Saturday, we went to Meredith's house for a "Welcome Spring" party, which was a really fun way to celebrate finally feeling better! I adore Meredith! It was so much fun!

Lily and Bennett, having cheese dip on the floor at 10 pm. They were having a serious discussion about losing teeth. 

Lauren, Eloise, and Lily, playing a hardcore game of Princess dress up. 

I think there were 15 kids? It was a huge mass of running, screaming, pizza, laughing, and amazing childhood memories. It was fun to actually do something on Spring Break besides moan in agony. ;0

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

"Baby" (I am not pregnant)!

I originally just had "Baby" as the title but realized that was a tad misleading...

One of the main reasons I was so excited about having another girl is because I am so frugal/practical and was pumped about Reese basically wearing all of Lily's clothes and playing with all of her old toys. Lily was born in March and Reese in February, so their seasons match perfectly!  I have 2 tubs overflowing with just girls size 12-18 month Spring/Summer clothes.'s a shame Reese is actually STILL in 9 month clothes. (WTF). 

Oh, well, we have every girl toy imaginable, so at least I will not have to buy Reese any new toys. Oh, except Reese likes baby dolls and Lily never did. I think Lily looked at a baby doll one time in her entire life, and even then it was just that- a look, as she glanced over it to probably watch TV instead. Lily never went through a baby doll phase, and despite a year long effort, she never took to any sort of lovey that was not a marble, rock, or lotion bottle. 

Aunt Manda got Reese a monkey lovey before she was born, and it was her first "baby." She cuddles with it all night long. As soon as I walk into her room in the morning, the first thing I hear is her frantically saying, "Baby! Baby!" and holding it out so I can kiss it before I scoop them both up.

She prefers the Aunt Manda lovey, but she will definitely settle for others that look similar. It looks like she has tossed this one aside, but she does love it. The hoarder/must-have-a-back-up part of me, which is the main part of me, has several lovies around the house. This was actually a lovey I tried to make Lily like, and it is monogrammed with "Lily" on it. Haha. I found it in a bin, still looking brand new. I think here I was taking a picture of her asleep with her booty in the air. Lily always slept like this:  with her booty in the air and one hand grasping her hair. Oh, I have another hair twirler. Is that genetic? 

She loves, loves, loves a baby and always has one within reach. 

Sometimes she has several within reach. 

Melissa sent me a picture of Max surrounded by balls, which are his favorite toy, ever. I sent her this one back. Boys and girls- it is just innate. 

This one giggles and makes her crack up.

Feeding the baby some milk. She makes these little smacking sounds like the baby is drinking. 

She climbs up in our laps and makes us hug and kiss all of her babies. She is relentless about it. It is precious for about 5 minutes, and then I am over having to hug and kiss and raise 13 stuffed animals. 

Sometimes she wants to carry the ones that weigh more than she does.  I just finally switched her to the Marathon carseat! I kept putting if off, because I am lazy, and she barely weighs 18 pounds.

Here are a few videos that will probably not be exciting to anyone except maybe the grandparents, but I am putting on here anyway, so I can use the "video" label.  

First time she said baby at 10 months:

At 9 months, pointing out the baby on the squeeze pouch (I didn't even know what she was pointing at the first time, because it is tiny):

Reese and the baby on the yogurt container (she freaks out to try and hold the baby on the YoBaby yogurt)

Reese giving a baby the sippy cup:

Laughing at the giggly baby doll:

I am going to sneak these pictures into this post, because they are too cute to not be posted on the blog. Her little pouty face ties in perfectly with a "Baby" title, right?

My poor baby. At Lily's dance class, they always close the door, and Reese got her feelings hurt trampled when they closed the door and she couldn't see "lalala."

"Dad, can I have a new car?" 
pouty face
"Of course. Let's go get one right now."

We have our hands full with this one and the other one.

And, let's not forget her favorite "baby" of all: Baby Ma!*
*This is pronounced like Max but without the X. Obviously. It looks like Ma as in Mama, and I just feel the need to clarify.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Lily's 5th Birthday SLEEPOVER!!

There are many things that have been passed down from my mom to me to Lily:

  • dark hair
  • an overabundance of eyebrows 
  •  a love of lists (I grew up with lists everywhere, I always have several lists around the house and on my phone, and Lily's first reaction to any event that requires planning or a decision is: "Let's make a list!"
  • amazingness, in general
  • OCD cleanliness
  • and, it is clear now that Lily has also inherited the love of sleepovers

Growing up, Melissa and I probably had something in the area of 300 sleepovers at our house. I am not exaggerating here. When I think of my childhood, one of the first memories I have is of our epic birthday parties. (Another immediate memory is of those creepy, small, naked troll dolls with different color hair). We didn't have a huge house, my parents weren't rich, but I am telling you- we had the best sleepovers and birthday parties, ever. Our birthday parties were usually 25 girls in the backyard doing silly games (the ice cream game! the marshmallow in chocolate game! the relays!! neighborhood scavenger hunts with that one special person who would boil an egg for us!), eating Funfetti cake, and staying up way too late. Pure old-school, pre-Pinterest awesomeness. 

Our many, many, many sleepovers were basically the same thing, but maybe just 10- 15 girls. My parents would make spaghetti, we would jump on the trampoline, run around, go to Piggly Wiggly for ice cream sundae supplies, eat Hostess food, stay up super late, wake up and eat waffles. Despite living in a house with less than 1,000 square feet, my parents NEVER got mad at us for being loud. We were 18 and still having these hardcore sleepovers! #bestchildhoodever

So, I have basically been waiting to host sleepovers since I found out that Lily was a girl.*

*seriously, IN the ultrasound room 

Lily has been begging for a sleepover since she went to Mazie's in December and also since she watched the episode of Max and Ruby where Ruby has one. I tried to convince her how much fun a Wallabies or a craft party at Michaels would be, instead. But, then I thought- what on earth? YES! Let's do it! It will be super inexpensive, there won't be a million kids (siblings always double or triple the number of party guests), and she is SOOO excited about a sleepover. 

We started, of course, by making a list. Lily told me every single thing to write down. These were completely her ideas.

She has been crossing off the days on her calendar. 

She wanted a vanilla Funfetti cake with purple icing, and she wanted to decorate it herself. We have so many sprinkles and random cupcake decorating supplies, so the cake was basically $3. I tried to direct her into decorating it with making a 5 out of m&m's. But, the girl had her mind made up. She used candy eyeballs, pink candy melts, bunny cupcake toppers, pumpkin sprinkles, Christmas tree sprinkles, rainbow sprinkles, etc...

She was SO proud and excited about it. I kept thinking- Christmas tree sprinkles? It's March. Candy eyeballs? Gross.

Balloons and crepe paper. Frugal, fun.

Bop made each girl a flower balloon, and Lily wrote the names of the girls coming to the party. Yes, one says "Mama." Love this girl.

A few activities- nail painting, lip gloss making, and pillow case decorating!!!!

Birthday girl waiting for her "guestests" to arrive!

They all arrived, ate pizza, had a tea party, and then immediately requested a fashion show. It was hilarious. They changed outfits, helped each other get dressed, put on makeup at Lily's new vanity, and danced hard core for 25 minutes. 

Short clip of the hilariousness:

We painted nails and used little nail decals that I bought on clearance forever ago.

There were costumes and outfits strewn everywhere.

Birthday cake time!!


I showed this picture to Hughes the next day, and we agreed it sums up Lily. If I ever need to remember what Lily was like at age 5- this is it: purple Rapunzel nightgown, pearls, birthday crown, cake she decorated herself, basking in the attention and love from her friends, joyful to be at a party. 

The funniest part were the "oohs" and "ahhhs" about her cake. I felt a little bad that Lily has never had a cake like the one Reese got on her birthday. Lily has always had the $13 for 30 Sam's cupcakes. But, her friends loved this cake ("There are eyeballs! I LOVE THE EYEBALLS!!" " I want some of those pink circles!" "CHRISTMAS TREES!" "Do you see the bunnies?!!?") more than they would have loved any expensive cake. We also had Oreo ice cream and chocolate chip cookies.

Lily made a robe out of  a blanket and giant clips, and she slept in in/wore it constantly. I finally decided to buy her an actual robe. I was pumped when I realized it was $5 on clearance at Kohl's. Then, GENIUS struck when I realized- BIRTHDAY PARTY FAVOR!!! Lily is such a gift giver (that is from her Daddy). She was more excited to give her friends these robes (wrapped in purple paper) than to open her own gifts! ("Girls! Girls! I have a gift for each of you squeals all around You are going to love it!" She passed them out and announced: "You can open your gifts!" and threw her arms up in flourish!

Silly picture.

They decorated purple pillow cases (from Wal-mart). 

I had several puffy paint bottles in my craft stash, and Sissa gave us fabric markers a while ago. I bought $3 GLITTER spray paint, which I highly recommend! It provided an overall shimmer* which the girls loved. 

*when I say phrases like "overall shimmer," I am acutely aware of the fact that I am a mom to girls

They watched* Frozen in the basement while they ate popcorn and drank apple juice boxes. I realized a bit of the ridiculousness that is Lily's childhood, because the girls were awestruck by the movie screen in the basement and the popcorn popper in the corner. They couldn't stop pointing and squealing. 

*Sang all of the songs and quoted the movie verbatim 

This is my favorite video clip: going downstairs to watch Frozen. Hilarious/Terrifying.

Lily read them Hop on Pop before bed. She also passed out purple glow in the dark bracelets!

Her friends are amazing. Honestly, they were so good! Several times, I heard them say "Let Lily go first- it's her birthday!." They were careful, cooperative, sweet, excited. Before bedtime, one of them said, "We should all go potty before bed. Let's get in a  line." I was really impressed with them. 
Bedtime was a bit tricky...two of the girls wanted to sleep in the same sleeping bag, two of them were REALLY tired, fits of giggles took over everyone at some point. As soon as I thought they were calmed down, one of them needed a drink, which meant all of them needed a drink. I finally went and just sat on Lily's bed for 45 minutes to gently remind them that we had more fun things planned for the morning, so we needed to go to sleep. By 11, they were all asleep. Lily and one of them came down the stairs at 3am, ready to watch TV but went right back to bed. At 4am, another one lost one of her stuffed animals, but she also went back to bed. I didn't sleep great, because I was constantly on guard, but they did okay besides those two times. At 6:00, we heard Lily up and saying, "Girls, girls,..." Hughes intervened and tried to just get Lily, but they were all up by 6:20. 

We were crafting by 6:40 am, which is totally normal in our house.

They ate a picnic breakfast: cinnamon rolls, blueberry muffins, donuts, and apple slices.* Lily had a candle in her cinnamon roll, because Sunday morning was her actual birthday!

*nobody ate the apples, but I did put them out

The parents were coming at 9, so we had time for one final craft- we made lip gloss!!! It was SO MUCH FUN. Okay, so it was also a bit messy and probably a little too hard for them, but they turned out SOOO cute and fun. I will definitely do it, again. 

I also let them add a little sugar (Kool-aid is bitter), and Wilton edible purple shimmer (in the baking aisle at Michael's). I ordered the containers from Amazon for $5 and used a 1 inch hole punch to make labels out of card stock. They decorated them and glued them on. Oh, if you ever do this, use popsicle sticks for them to stir and to use to put the lip gloss into the containers. 

I really recommend the lip gloss craft. It WAS a bit messy, but it was fun, frugal, and different. Plus, the lip gloss hardens and is DELICIOUS and shiny. It is ACTUAL lip gloss. (Gold star to myself).

Hughes gets so mad when I take pictures of him ("Is this going to be on the blog or Facebook, Nicole? Please stop"). Haha. Too bad. He was amazing. Then man deserves credit. I could never have done this without him. Lily originally broke the news to him, very gently, that he was invited, but would have to stay in the basement for most of the night, since he was a boy. That didn't really work out, because I obviously needed a second set of hands. He was patient, sweet, funny, helpful, patient, patient. 

We gave her a real bike for her birthday! It has pink, purple, and glitter! She was PUMPED!!!!!

She was also incredibly hungover and a bit miserable for most of the day on her actual birthday. Sleepovers are exhausting. BUT, she already asked me if she can have another one in 2 months. I said yes. :)

So... why is Pieces not in any of these pictures?
Answer- my mom is amazing. She had the genius idea for Reese to stay with her during the sleepover. It was a tough sell for Lily, because she was SO excited about Reesie being at her party. (Over the last month, she would randomly exclaim "I can't wait for Reesie to be at my party!" Or, when I said there would be 5 girls, she would correct me with: "No, Mom, seven- you and Reesie are coming, too."  But, she finally accepted it and never once mentioned Reese during the party. I cannot imagine if I was also trying to deal with her in addition to 3 five year olds and 2 four year olds. I met Mom on Friday and Sunday, so the Pieces got some alone time with Nono and Bop, too.

This girl loves her some Baby Ma.

I have already added a "sleepover" label to the blog posts, because I know this will not be our last sleepover!!!!  I am so crazy, I know. I really wish I got this excited about other areas in my life, like dressing my kids in non-homeless clothes or cooking actual dinner. I love that we have entered the age of the sleepover!

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