Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Halloween in Pictures

It will be quite the adjustment to see Halloween end this year, having spent most of the last two days so greatly immersed in the related festivities. Never before in my life have I been so involved in every aspect, from planning, to preparation, from route-walking to door-manning, from candy-doling to candy-consuming, from galvanizing the children to winding them down to bed.

All went off- amazingly- without a hitch, and I almost wish it weren't over just yet. Not least because I have bigger, scarier things awaiting my attention on the immediate horizon, but also because this was a momentous Halloween for all of us, and it's sad to see it pass us by.

Though we didn't venture very far at all, we did actually go trick-or-treating this year, which was a first for all three of the children, since last year I was only up to taking Abby over to the house immediately next door. First, however, came yesterday's play date, during which each child played their role exceedingly well: Abby was spunky and adorable, Mia was angelic (yes- she was a fairy, not an angel; details), and Michael had eyes only for the food.

Group picture.

One of the only shots on record with the shark-hood up.

Admiring her new pal, Itsy Bitsy Spider.

On the hunt.

She really liked her dress.

Those sparkles must have been pretty tasty.

My perfect little Madeline. You can even see the reddish tones in her hair.

I'm still so moved when I get an occasional glimpse of her growing likeness to me. It's breathtaking.

He's quite the scavenger, my Sharknado.

Then came Halloween night. Though I was initially feeling rushed trying to get dinner on the table much earlier than usual, and felt entirely too drained to be dealing with additional outfit changes, especially so soon before bedtime, once I saw them in costume I got in the spirit pretty quickly.

I couldn't help feeling a little frustrated when the children (predictably) refused to really sit for me on the couch, I realized (too late) that I had the wrong lens on the camera to easily get everyone in the frame, and the flash acted wonky on my best shot (though I tried very hard to fix it as best I could in editing), but I shook it off pretty easily as I watched the excitement spreading on their little faces.

Abby and Mia have gotten pretty good at posing for me, but Michael had to be retrieved and positioned.


Abby was particularly psyched.

I still think she's pretty much the best Madeline ever, but I'll admit to a tad bit of bias on that claim.

Looking out for trick-or-treaters.

"Mommy, are we going to the houses?"

First stop: Abby learns to say "Trick or treat!"

For the second stop, she needed prompting; by the third stop, she nailed it.

Mia looks on in amusement (mostly). She got pretty tired by the end.

As for Michael, he can't yet say "trick or treat," but he caught on super-quick to the importance of holding and carrying his bucket, even when it started to get so heavy that it weighed down his arm and knocked against the back of his tiny little knees as he walked.

Visiting neighbor-friends en route.

Last stop. A little more visiting, a lot more puppy. Michael was thrilled.

Enjoying the fruits of her labor (and her very first lollipop). She picked it out of all of the candy in the bucket, and declared it "delicious."

Total haul (minus a lollipop). Considering that we only visited five houses, I'd say that our neighbors were a bit over-generous this year.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Stealing Hearts at Seven Months

Against all odds, I snuck in a photo shoot today, between the play date festivities of the morning and the abject exhaustion that hit much later in the afternoon. I didn't have any of the usual things ready: couldn't find the curtains I use as a backdrop, Pooh was in the basement, Tigger was in the car, Piglet is... well, who knows where. I figured that the most important element was right there with me, however, and in a pretty great mood after nodding off during a long stroller walk with her father.

I threw over-analysis of the situation to the wind and seized the opportunity, which was rather freeing. No more worries about where next to look for the missing drapes, what outfit I should dress her in, or how to arrange her stuffed animal friends. Just Mia, a nearby toy, and buckets of all-natural cuteness.

As you can see, she's pretty well mastered sitting up now. (Crawling still resembles a tedious, inefficient drag along the floor, but we're slowing making progress on that.)

I really didn't have to do much, initially, to get her smiling. I made use of silly faces and noises, to great effect.

When she got a mite distracted by the toy, I let her do her thing for a bit.

Smiles and all.

I now know that this will be her last series of "month" pictures sans her two front teeth, though you can just barely see the tips of them now, especially in this picture.

That was also the last picture inspired by sheer happiness. Mia was growing tired of the game, though Abby helped extend it a bit by acting silly, out-of-frame, for her little sister's benefit.

Can you see the desperation building in her pretty eyes?

No? Well, I bet you can see it here:

Wait, wait- winning her back for just a bit longer...

Big thanks to Miss Abigail!


... it's gone.

It was just as well, though. When it comes to my beautiful children, I could take pictures all day.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween Sneak-Preview

Just a day to spare before the big play date and two days to spare before the actual date, I was finally able to declare us ready for Halloween this year. Ready as we'll ever be, anyway. Our pumpkins remain un-carved, but we've got the two most important elements: costumes, and candy.

Abby received her costume on Saturday courtesy of Mima, who found it for her online. We tried it on then-and-there and declared it good, which is why she was not among the (partially) costumed on Monday night, when I first began to snap some pictures.

After editing those pictures, I decided that I didn't want to omit an Abby spoiler, so I planned to get a picture of her in the hat that goes with her costume, which I was sure she'd be all too happy to don during her pre-bedtime story. Indeed, this was most certainly not the case- despite her clear love of the costume and long anticipation of wearing it- and, never one to pick an unnecessary fight, I did not press the matter.

No worries, though. She's the one I'm most certain to get a picture of completely decked out "for reals," when the time comes to do it.

It will be clear from the photographs what everyone intends to be, but there will be finishing touches, small additions, and (hopefully) smiles still yet to come.

"Sharknado" was thrilled to see a picture of his costume displayed on the computer screen.

She may be dressed as a fairy, but to me she looks an angel.

Still missing: one pair of tights, one under-dress, and one precocious little girl.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back; Three Steps Sideways

I won't say I've made no progress on my seemingly impossible to-do list for the week, but it's certainly been predictably difficult to get any traction.

Mia's downward teething spiral has put a particular crimp on things since it's affected both my ability to get much of anything done on the house, and my opportunity to take any pictures of her for her Seven Month shots- she's been in too foul a mood to pose for me. (Not that I really have been expecting to get those done anywhere near to on-time, with everything else going on.) It was just as well, today, since she ended up blowing out in the outfit I put on her with the intent to get to photo-taking at some point.

When lunchtime came and went without a decent first nap, and Mia began putting an inordinate amount of energy into fighting a second, I began to despair of ever getting Michael's Halloween costume done. I found a simple enough design via this blog post at Living Well on the Cheap. However, I knew it would be time consuming, especially without the aid of a sewing machine, so I wanted to get on it as soon as possible. Nothing doing with a cranky baby in my arms. Even the wrap wasn't going to help much, since I'd have to combine its use with a lot of rocking, and bouncing, neither of which are conducive to the task of pulling thread through fabric with a sharp implement.

In came Mei Mei to the rescue. She dropped by on her day off to deliver the baptismal gown we'll need for Sunday, and volunteered to give the costume a go. As I was finally getting Mia settled, Mei Mei began cutting and pinning. She continued to work dutifully as each child began to stir and made their way downstairs with me.

Mia's worst hour was in the time following that 30-minute second nap, and once it had passed, I was so tired that I began to nod off. Conveniently, in that time Michael found an unaccounted-for crayon and proceeded to redecorate one of the walls that I'd spent Sunday morning scrubbing clean.

I was frustrated, to say the least. However, the blow was softened a bit when I was presented with a finished costume as I brought the children upstairs for dinner a short while later. It took Mei Mei about three hours, but she did a fabulous job.

No big reveals on that one yet, though I may provide a spoiler tomorrow.

After dinner, Mia seemed- finally- to be back to her old self again. She was, in fact, in such a good mood that I felt confident that I could get away with trying a potential Halloween costume on her. I'd initially intended to use Michael's monkey costume from last year, but haven't been able to find the main body to complete the set. My only other option is Abby's Tinkerbell costume of two years ago, which I begrudgingly brought down from upstairs. Once I saw it on Mia, I couldn't help but get excited about the prospect, despite my prior feelings of disappointment.

As for those three steps sideways, those unexpected boons of the day...

Abby made a conscious decision to go binky-less last night, and succeeded.

That same night, Mia slept from 8:00 pm to 7:15 am, with just a short waking after midnight that she put herself back down from.

As I undressed her one last time in preparation for bed, I checked Mia's mouth and was astounded by what I saw. This morning, I was disappointed at the lack of breakthrough. This afternoon, I confirmed that she'd finally begun to cut her left top tooth, and figured I just didn't look closely enough earlier in the day. This evening, however, the top-left was even more defined, and the top-right was exposed along half of its width! At least her earlier misery was not for naught.

Though I don't expect to get much of anything done tomorrow, with Tom gone for most of the day, I hope that by Wednesday afternoon Mia will be so much improved that maybe there will be some hope for further progress, yet.

Little Sweetie, in her mismatched pants, but finally feeling much better.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Mobile Moments, 10/21-10/27

Mia turned seven months today. Her pictures went undone, partly because I let a golden opportunity (and mood) slip by just after her first nap as I was attempting to recover from a flurry of early-morning cleaning, and partly because I knew I wouldn't get to posting them today anyway.

I'm not sure how or when I'll get to taking them, let alone posting them, just as I'm unsure how I'll be getting a lot of things done this week, including: locating one Halloween costume and making another, lugging all three kids to a Halloween-themed play date, eradicating the last vestiges of cat smell from the basement, and finishing up the hardly-begun planning, cleaning and organizing required to pull off the birthday/baptism combo celebration that we have planned for Abby and Mia this weekend.

I had a thought, at one time, that we might get to carving those pumpkins we bought. That thought has long since vanished.

Tom and I got a really great head-start at the beginning of the week on all of the preparation thanks to contributions from Nana and Aunt Ali, however once they'd gone we were quickly bogged down in other goings-on, like the follow-up appointment for Gracie and subsequent passing on of her care to my sister, minor plumbing and electrical problems, and dealing with Mia's continuing nap-striking, mood swings, and tummy issues.

There have been other distractions as well, as Abby has begun experimenting with breaking her binky habit, and I've begun feeling overly-sentimental since my recent realization that I've managed to keep breastfeeding Mia for longer than I lasted with either of her two siblings.

Even over the course of the day today, it's been tough to keep momentum. I started off strong, but overly-focused on minutae. It's true that I could probably have held off on worrying about the crayoned walls until I was sure I had spare time to deal with them (they are the walls of a children's playroom, after all), but I was feeling overwhelmed by the larger picture, and had to start somewhere. Thus it was that I found myself armed with a magic eraser and a bowl full of water and baking soda, scrubbing through the ache in my right shoulder to Abby's latest reprise of "But why doesn't crayon belong on the wall, Mama?"

My later attempts to work a bit on the room itself only brought on an allergy attack. Suffice it to say, I didn't get much done today, and have been left in a veritable panic over all that is yet left to be done. Can someone just fast-forward me to Sunday already? I'm gonna assume it all gets done somehow and I'd dearly love to skip the paralyzing anxiety that's bound to fill the in-between.

Crafting with Aunt Ali. Who knew she was so meticulous?

Few things are so exciting as a new pair of shoes...

Mets girl loves to color.

Getting to see Michael in sleepers again is more than worth enduring the chilly drafts of coming winter.

Keyboard solo.

She does duets, too.

My sweet little sickie.
Bookworms at the gate.

Last glimpse of Abby's wall art before Mommy took it down.

Someone's figured out that strong towers require a sturdy platform and a wide base.

Unfortunately, Little Brother has also figured out that the platform makes a fun little push-toy.

All tuckered out after a long, hard day of being seven months (and dealing with a relapse in teething discomfort).

"Mermaid." She made it herself.

Overheard this week: 

Between Abby and Me
(After she attempted to put a foam cut-out in Mia's ear)

M: "Abby, we never put things in anyone's ear."
A: "But, we take the temperature..."
M: She got me there- "Well, but that's a thermometer. That's a special case.
A: "That's not a case. That's a suitcase!"