After a full (and tiring) day, with both kids down for the count by 8:30, I plopped down on the couch and looked over at my husband.
"It's unfair how amazing our kids are," I said.
And it really is.
I totally mean it.
After a full week of playing in and out of the house, and taking some trips to various local destinations (like nature centers, museums, and outdoor pools), I saw it with such clarity ...
I am so lucky.
My kids are amazing.
Malcolm, at two-and-a-half, is always ready to explore and get into something new. He is full of energy, sometimes literally bouncing off the walls, yet he can dial it back and quietly focus on reading a book or playing with his cars. He is talking up a storm (music to my ears!) and is quite the little comedian without even trying. Sure, he can throw tantrums and shout "no!" with the best of them, but, overall, he is extremely agreeable and eager to please. To steal a phrase from my mother, he is "the perfect first child."
My little portable Pearl is a ball of sunshine and smiles. She's not as clingy as her first six weeks would suggest, but she does like a good snuggle. She's a great sleeper (even Malcolm's incessant ruckus doesn't disturb her during the day), and is so patient ... Although she prefers to eat every two hours like clockwork, she is flexible when she needs to be (already, she understands how to "take one for the team"). She's got a determined little personality, and, sometimes when she's kicking around on the floor, she looks like she's trying figure out how the rest of us are walking ... I have a feeling that she is going to be trouble one day in the not-too-distant future!
As I sit here and think back on our fun-filled week, I find it hard to believe that things were ever any different ... That Pearl is still somewhat "new" to us, and that she wasn't even here only four months ago.
It's funny how my family can change and grow, yet still feel so completely comfortable.
My kids are amazing ...
And if this past week is any indication, the rest of our summer is going to be amazing, too!
Now that Malcolm is two-and-a-half, he is so much fun to "take out." Not only is he typically quite well-behaved (and followed directions well), he is happy just about anywhere as long as he has the opportunity to explore and get into everything.
So, I coaxed him out of the house this week with the promise of seeing a "big shark" (I know, I know, it's really a prehistoric Dunkleosteus) at the Rocky River Nature Center.
While I'm trying to get out of the house and explore new parks and places with Malcolm (more about some of them later!), we are also spending a good chunk of time indoors to beat the mid-day heat (and wind down before nap time).
In those usually quiet moments, it is so fun to see the little relationship forming between my children.
They are quite the pair ... And I just know that they are going to be the best of friends!
I took Pearl to get her three month (professional) photos taken this week at a local portrait studio, so, while I had her in the adorable dress I found for the occasion, I decided to have a little "shoot" of my own ...
Height: 24 inches
Weight: 12 pounds
She is turning into quite the little ham ... And not because she's chubbing up nicely!
When Pearl was about a week old, I found this onesie while we were out returning some other baby clothes. There was just something endearing about the bright blue and white polka dot print, ruffled sleeves, and bubblegum pink flamingos ...
It reminded me of something I might have worn as a child of the 80s.
So, naturally, I couldn't pass it up!
Once the weather was sufficiently warm, I made sure we got it in rotation (and on camera for posterity):
Onesie: Wonderkids ($2.00)
Leggings: Carter's (thrifted for $0.25)
Socks: Unknown brand (from the hospital)
*Speaking of the eighties, the title of this post is a nod to my favorite actor (and long-time celebrity crush). While the movie itself isn't the greatest, I certainly love me some Matt Dillon! I even sent him a birthday card when I was in the seventh grade, but that's a story for another day ...
Last weekend was a busy one, complete with lots of face time on both sides of the family. Not only did this make for an occupied (and the thoroughly exhausted) two-year-old at the end of it all, but it also left a bunch of offhand comments ringing in my head ...
Nothing bad, necessarily.
Nothing even all that memorable.
Harmless, probably, to anyone else besides me ... The (sometimes) over-thinker.
I guess I should just come out and say that, thanks to an array of childhood/adolescent development and psychology classes, I dislike when people project various expectations on my children, benign as they may be ...
I don't want Malcolm or Pearl to be saddled with labels.
The smart one.
The crazy one.
The active one.
The shy one.
While, at face value, none of these things are bad, I want my kids to see (and know) that they can be whomever they want to be.
They can be smart, and crazy, and active, and shy if they want to.
There is no "either/or" involved.
I don't want them to hear something about their sibling, and by default, think that it can't possibly apply to them, too. But, I guess I come by these feelings honestly ...
Coming from a family with three daughters, I don't think I was ever referred to as "pretty" when
I was growing up (at least not excessively). I was skinny, freckled, bespectacled, and something of a tomboy. My
hair was always on the shorter side, certainly not long and flowing like my middle sister's hair (the one who got the "pretty" label). I didn't care, though, I somehow had it in my head that
I was pretty anyway and, even better, I was smart. That word,
smart, would probably be the one I'd throw out there if a psychologist
asked me to pick a word to describe myself (pretty would be at the
end of the list), but I'd also venture a guess that that's what I
heard the most of growing up ...
"Look at Emily, lost in that book. She's such a smart girl."
"Ask Em. I'm sure she'd know the answer to that."
"Emily is getting straight A's again this quarter."
compliments from my parents and/or other adults revolved around my
brain ... And while that's just fine (I like being perceived as smart!), I
find it very interesting that it's embedded itself into
my thinking on into adulthood. When with my sisters, I never feel like the "pretty one."
I'm a little more self-conscious and end up secretly wishing I had
cooler, more trendy clothes and/or accessories and a better hair cut.
I'm just Emily, the frumpy (but very smart) one.
Which, isn't bad ... But isn't the whole picture, either!
I truly, truly hope that Malcolm and Pearl do not fall into the same trap and sell themselves short because of what (often well-meaning) people say. I want them to grow up knowing that they can be whatever they want to be, liking and
doing the things that they want to do ...
They are still so young, with endless possibilities spread out before them.
I don't want any of those possibilities to disappear before they even have a chance to explore them ... Especially because of a few offhand comments.
My husband's cousin is having her first baby (a boy) in August and is a bit of a turtle enthusiast ... So, for her shower, I wanted to get creative and make her a turtle-shaped "diaper cake."
As I searched the internet for inspiration, I noticed two things ...
First, although there are many great pictures of finished turtle "cakes," I could not find a free turtle tutorial anywhere.
Second, from reading the descriptions of finished turtle-shaped "cakes" and tutorials that could be purchased, it seemed as if all of them were meant to become keepsakes ... That is, they were held together with glue, ultimately making the diapers and other components unusable.
Since I'm up for a challenge (and I've been feeling crafty lately), I decided to give my own "turtle diaper cake" a try ... And, in the spirit of practicality, I made sure that all the baby items used to assemble the turtle could later be used by my husband's cousin and her newborn son.
On with the tutorial ...
Making the upper shell:
Starting with the open end of the diaper, I rolled seven diapers and secured them in the middle with rubber bands.
Next I arranged those rolled diapers in a circle (with one diaper in the middle and the remaining six around it) and held that configuration together with another rubber band.
To create the top of the upper shell, I opened and flattened out another diaper and covered the top of the seven rolled diapers. I used another rubber band to secure it in place.
Next, to give some depth to the shell, I took four more diapers, fully opened them, and then rolled them lengthwise. I layered and wrapped them around the bottom of rolled diaper shell piece and secured them with a large rubber band.
To complete the upper shell, I opened folded diapers (six in total) and fed them up to the crease under a rubber band that was stretched around the top of the central shell piece. With the rubber band securing the crease of the inside of the diaper, I folded the rest of the diaper back down.
Four more diapers (folded lengthwise), were added on top of the original ring of folded diapers to help "pad" the very
bottom of the shell even more and to make it protrude a bit more than the very top
Once in place, and working in a counter-clockwise fashion, I used the tabs on the diapers to secure them to the central piece, thus completing the upper shell.
Making the lower shell (including the head, tail, and feet):
In order to avoid gluing any pieces, I started by taking a basic paper plate and taping three diapers (opened and rolled lengthwise) along the edge ... I played with this a bit, making sure that the final upper shell would sit nicely on top of the plate, with the rolled diapers protruding from below.
At the front, I created a large arch with the diaper so that the turtle's head (a styrofoam craft ball wrapped in a baby washcloth and secured with straight pins) could be attached (via safety pins) to the paper plate underneath.
I also secured the tail (a rolled baby washcloth) on the plate opposite of the head.
For the feet, I used four baby socks (stuffed with plastic from some baby socks I had received for Pearl) and secured them with embroidery floss to the plate from below.
Putting it all together:
Lastly, to hold the upper and lower shell pieces together, I embellished the turtle with ribbon and other various craft items (as well as some additional small baby gifts). This was also useful in covering up any "flaws" or portions that did not look as nice as I would have liked ...
Overall, I was pretty pleased with my final "turtle diaper cake." It was fun to try and figure out how to make everything work (and stay together), while creating something that still looked good and was, ultimately, usable.