6 and Sassy!

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To Carrie on your 6th Birthday:
You’ve been counting down the days for weeks. Every day you ask, “Mom, how many days until my birthday?” About 10 days ago, you stopped asking and just started telling anyone and everyone that would listen that your birthday is coming up. Well today it’s here…. well kind of. You get the benefit of celebrating early since we’re in Cambodia for your birthday.

You’ve had quite the year, filled with amazing milestones, memories, and a few meltdowns along the way. You graduated preschool and started kindergarten. Bit by bit, you’ve started reading in English and Spanish, although you keep reminding me that Spanish is easier to read than English. Have faith kiddo, at some point, probably in the near future, something will click in your brain, and reading in English will be a snap. You’re not just reading in Spanish, but you’re also starting to speak and understand it too. I’m mighty impressed with all that you’ve learned in school this year, mighty impressed.

Last year, you were still trying to master riding a bicycle. This year? You’ve got it down and can hold your own with your sisters when we go on family bike rides. You try with all your might to keep up with Olivia and Erin, but give it time. They’ve got a few years and inches on you. When you’re not riding on two wheels, you roll on four wheels with your new skateboard. I love watching as you push off and cruise down the sidewalk.

You also manage to make me laugh on a daily basis. It makes all the laugh lines around my eyes worth it. You’ve even created an alter ego for yourself. Her name? Carrie Martinez and she’s from Cary Texas. She even has her own language.

While Olivia is all about taking pictures, you’re all about being in pictures. You are not shy about striking a pose whether we ask you or not.
I don’t know where you got your voice, but you sing better than anyone in our family. As much as I love hearing you sing however, I’d be happy for you to let go of “Let it Go.” You can’t get enough of that song, and you go on YouTube looking for versions in every language imaginable.

You are one creative, sweet, and sassy kid, and I can’t wait to see what this next year has in store.

I love you!
Mom

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Look Who’s 11!

2 Apr

To Olivia on your 11th birthday:

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In years past, I’ve looked back on the amazing year you’ve had. This year though, I’m changing things up. I’m looking at what you have to look forward to in these next 365 days, and I’m convinced you’re going to make the most of the 525,600 minutes. Yes, there really are that many minutes in one year. It’s also a great song from the Broadway musical Rent.

It’s going to be an EPIC year. In just a week, you’re going to get to show your sisters around Cambodia. I’m sure you’re going to relish in the role of tour guide, and even if you don’t remember much about the last time you were there, you’ll act like you do.

Look how young you look!

Look how young you look!

Just remember to be easy on them. It’s brand new for them and they may be a bit nervous.

This year, you’re also going to graduate from elementary school. Yes, graduate! In just a few months, you will have made it through six glorious years at Adelante. You will leave with lasting memories and a fluency in Spanish. I can’t tell you how impressed I am at how easily you embraced the challenge of learning a new language.  Now if you could only master your spelling. Then, you’re going to be off to Middle School. Middle School! It will be a brand new school with brand new friends. Sure, it will be an adjustment, but you’ve proven time and again you can handle new challenges.

You’ve done great so far adjusting to the many changes your body has started to go through, (well, except for that eyebrow shaving incident) but I promise this is the only thing I’ll write about puberty. Ok, you can stop rolling your eyes at me now.

I’m 100% certain you’ll continue cooking in this upcoming year. Well, that is if you actually learn how to clean up after one of your culinary creations. As I write this, Dad is cleaning the kitchen after you made your own birthday cake.  Baking your own cake?

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Way cool! Leaving a trail of sticky powder sugar everywhere? Not cool.

I know you’ve been campaigning hard to get your own room. You’ve written requests and begged and pleaded. Time will only tell if Dad and I relent, but you know what you have to do to convince us. It’s all about the number 4. Lots of them!

You’ve surprised me plenty in your 10th year and I’ve got no doubt that you’ll keep me laughing and occasionally yelling in your 11th year too.Happy Birthday, kiddo! I love you more than you’ll ever know.

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Mom

Bang Your Head

30 Mar

A hair stylist I am not. It’s obvious after you take one look at my out of control frizzy curls. On weekends I throw it into a puff-ball ponytail, and during the week I walk around with wet or damp hair for a good part of the morning. But this post is not about me and my bad hair. It’s about my daughter’s, and it’s all my fault. Let me preface by saying I meant to only trim her bangs. They were long and getting in her eyes, and I wanted to save the fifteen to twenty bucks I’d have to spend to take her to a professional. It’s just bangs, I thought. I can do this.

We walked upstairs to the bathroom and I pulled out some scissors. Erin, in all her wisdom was talking me through the bang cutting. “Mom,” she said. “You need to comb the bangs away from the rest of the hair.” Right. Now where was the comb? I remember seeing it downstairs next to the big-headed Barbie, so I sent Erin down to get it. In hindsight, maybe I should have experimented on the Barbie’s fake hair before snipping my daughter’s real beautiful brown hair. She returned with the comb and I set out to work. I grabbed her bangs between two fingers and cut. Easy. No problem. Until I looked at what bangs remained. They were a good 1/2 inch above her eyebrows. Erin took one look at my face and turned to look in the mirror. First she laughed. Then she cried. Then she ran downstairs and flung herself on the couch sobbing. I ran after her apologizing over and over. It was no use. I asked what I could do to make her forgive me, besides never cutting her hair again. Ice cream she said. Smart kid. I then found headbands and bobby pins and explained we could pin or put her hair back until her bangs grew back.

I also took her to the drug store to buy some head bands.

You can always accessorize

You can always accessorize

The ice cream and new head bands seemed to do the trick. She even let me take a picture to show my friend Vicky, who also cut her daughter’s hair.

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To quote my friend, “She can totally rock it.”

Indeed she can. Indeed she can.

Head Scratcher

3 Feb

My head itches right now. Its been itching ever since I spotted lice in my youngest daughter’s hair. It doesn’t matter that an incredibly generous and kind friend checked my hair piece by piece to see if any of the little buggers decided to call my scalp home. (They didn’t, at least not yet, or that she could see.) This is the same friend that volunteered to take my daughter home from school and delouse her. I didn’t even hesitate to say yes.  I’d love to say if roles were reversed, I’d offer to do the same thing, but I’m pretty sure I’d wish her good luck and run in the other direction while scratching my head. Little did she know what she was volunteering to do. While I was miles away at work getting grossed out, this Patron Saint of Lice was treating my kid’s head. It was so bad she had to call in reinforcements from another friend, who without a second thought not only shared her supplies, but came over and helped out. I’ve always known these ladies are awesome, but oh my god, I really don’t know who would volunteer to do this. I did thank them both profusely, but also thanked them with something that could also drown those nit picky pests.

The lice killing kits are for my family. The Skinny Margaritas are for the fabulous friends

The lice killing kits are for my family. The Skinnygirl Margaritas are for the fabulous friends

As I said, this same friend came over to my house tonight to check my hair. Then she double and triple checked my other two kids’ heads, who miracle of miracles, so far do not have it. I may be singing a different tune tomorrow morning when we comb through their hair in the sunlight.

Lice happens. It happens to millions of kids every year. It happens so often that schools are changing their policies on kids who show up with lice. It was a story I pitched in our morning meeting a couple of weeks ago after I received yet ANOTHER notice of head lice in one of my kids’ classrooms.   I’m not sure where my kid got the lice. School? Maybe, but maybe not. It could have come from anywhere, except the dog, because lice only stick to humans, not animals. It’s true, according to the CDC.

The critters burrowing themselves in my daughter’s head may have made my skin crawl, but except for the itching, it didn’t really bother her. After I gave her my expert diagnosis, she yelled to her sisters, “It’s official! I have lice. Throw away the brushes!” It was almost like a badge of pride, like when I was a kid and my mom found a lone chicken pox on my butt. I remember thinking, “Finally!” Who knows, maybe someday people way smarter than me will come up with a lice vaccine, just like they did for the chicken pox. Until then, I’m just thankful for my wonderful friends who didn’t shy away from my cute but lousey kid.

 

 

 

 

Home Alone

2 Feb

When can you leave your kids home alone? There’s no simple answer, but we’ve been testing the waters for a little while. We’d let them stay by themselves while we ran to the grocery store or went out for an actual run. During these trial runs, the kids didn’t kill each other or even cause minor bodily harm. That gave us the confidence to try a dinner out with the oldest in charge. She’s as bossy as it gets, so she was relishing this responsibility.

We filled their bellies with In & Out burgers and fries, told them to be nice to each other, quizzed them on our phone numbers, double checked the doors were locked, and took off. I hadn’t even sat down in the car when my cell phone rang. Yep, they had my number seared into their brains. On the other end, I didn’t hear any tears, just giggling by Erin. Then I heard Olivia in the background yelling, “No talking on the phone while you’re eating dinner!” I wonder where she learned that. We finally made it out of the driveway, drove to the restaurant about 10 minutes away and sat down to eat before 6 p.m. Less than 90 minutes later, we were back home. We quietly unlocked the front door and only heard the sound of the T.V. All three were lying on the couch contentedly watching a movie. It worked!

I’ve waited for this moment for a long time. While waiting, I often wondered if it would make me bittersweet. In a word? Nope. Not even a little. I was just as ready as they were. I still don’t think we’ll be taking a long leisurely dinner in the city anytime soon, but a quick bite out at a neighborhood restaurant will be happening again in the near future…. with the kids home alone.

 

Erin The Great Eight

25 Jan

Happy Eighth Birthday Erin!

Oh what a year it has been for you, my sweet sassy girl. You’ve not only grown in inches, but also in confidence. I’ve seen it on the fake snow ski runs at Tahoe…

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Showing off your skiing skills

and on the soccer fields of Redwood City. Sure it may have taken some bribery of candy and cupcakes to get you to score a goal or two, but you are nothing if not highly motivated by your sweet tooth. You must take after me.

You haven’t just shined in sports. Your Dad and I couldn’t be prouder of you as we watch you excel in school.

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You are one smart cookie, and you know it. You like being right. What you don’t like however, is being wrong, or even worse, having someone correct you when you make a mistake. Good thing it doesn’t happen often because no one is tougher on you than yourself.

You can also be tough on your sisters, but for as much as you fight with them, it is sheer joy for me to watch you all play together. It will never get old  when I drop you and your sisters off at school, peek in my rearview mirror, and watch as you and Carrie climb out of the backseat and hear the two of you giggle while running onto campus. I’m sure you’ll never admit it, but I know you will always keep an eye out for your little sister, just as your big sister will always keep tabs on you. Don’t worry, Olivia will never admit it either.

You are getting to an age when you’re thinking about what you want to be and what you want to do when you grow up. So far, traveling the world or writing a novel top the list. You’ve also suggested that you could write a novel while traveling the world. See, you are smart, turning your top two choices into one magnificent idea. I haven’t forgotten that you’ve promised to take me to Australia as soon as you can afford to buy two plane tickets to the land down under.

As much as you enjoy playing sports, you really LOVE watching sports with your Dad. You got into the Missouri Tiger’s stellar football season ALMOST as much as he did, and you both mourned the San Francisco 49′ers just falling short of the Superbowl. It took Dad taking you to just one Golden State Warriors game to get you hooked on pro hoops.

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And although they didn’t come through with a win on the eve of your birthday, I’ve got a feeling this will be a memorable year for both you and them.

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I’ve loved watching you grow and learn and come into your own this year, Erin. You’ve managed to surprise, delight, and yes, drive me crazy too. You’re one of a kind and I wouldn’t want you any other way.

I love you!

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Mom

Fun at Fort Funston

4 Jan

As a native Minnesotan, I feel a little guilty about this post. It’s all about frolicking at the beach. In January. In 70 degree weather. All this while the Governor of Minnesota cancelled school across the state on Monday because the projected high stands at a whopping -13. The word high and the number -13 should never be in the same sentence. Ever. But I digress. This isn’t about cold in Minnesota. This is taking full advantage of the beautiful California weather. We have to get some benefit for the crazy cost of living.

So this is the benefit.

Picture Perfect Day at Fort Funston

Picture Perfect Day at Fort Funston

If you’re a dog or a dog lover, this is the perfect place to be. Fort Funston is right on the coast (obviously) bordering San Francisco and Daly City. Full disclosure. More days than not,  this place is completely socked in by fog and chilly. It doesn’t matter though because it is nature at its finest. It’s a bit of a hike to get down to the beach, but the walk is buffeted on one side by the ocean and beautiful native plants on the other. Best of all? Not only does this park allow dogs, it also allows kids, as long as you pick up their poop.

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We love coming out here, but we don’t do it nearly enough. It’s a place where we can all run free, especially the four-legged family member. Just as Buster has become more adventurous bounding up cliffs and sand dunes, so have the kids. I remember the first time we came out here with the kids and they tentatively and hesitantly made the climb up from the beach. There was a fair amount of whining, but not anymore.

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There’s just this. Smiles and giggles soaking up the sun, and chasing after their dog. OK, the youngest one still whined, but not about the hike. I think it had something to do with an older sister throwing a ball at her. Even though it was only a few hours ago, I honestly don’t remember because there have been countless sibling fights in the time we were at Fort Funston and now.

But I’m going to choose not to remember the squabbles. I’ll remember the sun, the surf, and dumping all the said sand from our shoes.

 

 

 

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