Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Easter Eggstravaganza

As always, the Easter festivities began with a preschool Easter egg hunt. Hallie started the day off right in her bunny shirt and the clip on bunny ears she'd recently received in the mail from Aunt Sara, but by the time the egg hunt began she'd transitioned from the bunny ears to a (too big) bunny hat she'd made in class. The bunny hat made a lovely necklace.

On Good Friday Hallie and I made an AMAZING - if I do say so myself - homemade carrot cake with homemade cream cheese frosting. Usually I would have decorated the cake with something carrot-themed, but my hands were pretty tired after decorating Hallie's My Little Pony cake and cupcakes the previous weekend and I opted for a simple sprinkled Easter egg instead. Will wanted his piece out of the middle of the cake.

We also dyed Easter eggs, and then turned those Easter eggs into a delicious egg salad. (The Easter Bunny hides fake eggs at our house, just in case he can't remember where he hid one and the kids can't find it and it slowly goes rotten under the couch cushions or in a closet or on top of a bookshelf.)

On Easter morning the kids enjoyed going through the goodies the Easter Bunny left them in their baskets and hunting for the eggs the Easter Bunny hid throughout the playroom.

After the Easter Bunny business concluded we dressed up and headed to church for a lovely celebration.

We came home for a yummy brunch (which disappointed the children, who wanted to go out for brunch or donuts), and then I took the kids to see Rio 2 while Tom spent a couple of hours at work. We finished off the day with a round of disc golf at the park and an epic family Uno tournament.

Happy Easter from the four Ferri! (And from Hallie's new bunny, Jeff.)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Celebrating Five Years

Last week/weekend we celebrated my Hal Gal's fifth birthday.

Just like last year, we filled Hallie's room with balloons on her birthday eve. Unlike last year, this year we let Will pretend to go to bed until Hallie had fallen asleep but then get up to help us with our secret mission. Will had a blast, and Hallie loved waking up to festive reminder that the day ahead would be a special one.

We always eat donuts for breakfast on birthdays, but this year I bought a bag of little white powdered sugar donuts ahead of time rather than trying to sneak out of the house and to the donut shop at 6am. Both kids praised my decision to go with the "snoopy donuts" (did anyone else call them that growing up?) and these donuts turned out to a perfect birthday breakfast because I could put candles in them.

Hallie's birthday happened to fall on picture day, so she started out the day looking like this:

Once she and her classmates had finished their class, individual, and graduation pictures, Hallie changed into her "I Am Five" shirt that Grandma Brenda made for her. She took Rainbow Dash cookies (our birthday tradition has become cookies for school, cupcakes at home, and cake for the party) to school and to dance to share with her friends.

We spent Hallie's birthday afternoon running from Hallie's school to Will's school to dance to Tom's department's spring picnic to Tae Kwon Do to McDonald's, which she LOVED because it meant that she got to show off her outfit and receive birthday well-wishes from lots and lots of friends, acquaintances, and strangers.

After dinner Hallie opened presents and blew out another candle in her birthday cupcake.

Two days later we celebrated again, this time with a birthday party - complete with lots of friends, Grandpa Mike and Grandma Susie, a Pinky Pie pony cake, and multicolored My Little Pony cupcakes - at Thunder Elite, a local gymnastics facility.

For the first time we "let" Hallie accept presents from friends on her birthday, and she loved opening them later that evening. (We didn't open them at the party because that process can be tough on four- and five-year-olds.)

Happy birthday, sweet girl!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bee-eee-u-tee-ful Earrings

When a sufficient amount of time had passed after Hallie's ear piercing (they say six weeks, but I went with eight weeks, just to be on the safe side), I took her back to Claire's in the mall to choose a new pair of earrings. We ended up coming home with three new pairs of earrings (buy two, get one free): pink butterflies, "diamond" daisies, and silver hearts. She FREAKED OUT the first time I took an earring out of her ear - I think she was anticipating the same kind of pain that came with piercing them in the first place - but did just fine letting me put the new styles in. 

Hallie received a few additional pairs of earrings for her birthday, so the days of changing earrings frequently and to match every day's outfit have begun!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Dancing Break

Will and Hallie spend at least 50% of their time together arguing. Thankfully their arguing doesn't often escalate to actual fighting, but the fact that their relationship is so wrought with conflict and disagreement drives me crazy. I've been told their behavior is normal, especially for mixed gender siblings, but that doesn't make it any easier to listen to, ignore, or mediate.

The one positive to Will and Hallie's tumultuous relationship is that I find myself truly appreciating the moments in which they get along or work together.

While making dinner one evening last week I listened to Will and Hallie bickering about who would tie up whom with the jump ropes. Then suddenly, their bickering stopped. Worried that one of the kids had done something terrible to the other, I ran to the backdoor expecting the worst.

Instead, I saw the best. They were dancing. I may have cried.

And then he stepped on her toe, she punched him in the stomach, and I cried a little harder.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Let it Go

While we're on the subject of musicals…

Oh, Frozen…we love you so, we're never ever ever gonna let you go. We only saw the movie twice (though Hallie will receive the DVD as a birthday present and as a result I expect that number to increase quickly), but we watched the online videos of Let It Go, Do You Want to Build a Snowman, In Summer, and Love is an Open Door at least 100 times. Hallie now knows every word, every note, and every gesture.

Practicing along with the video shortly after the movie came out.

Singing along with daddy on the piano more recently.

Singing along with daddy on the piano…and rockin' her unique style.

And this is what happens when any of the rest of us try to join in.

I told her to "let it go". She did NOT find that comment very amusing.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I Know Things Now

My Gal Hal can't get enough of musicals, so I regularly introduce her to songs from my favorite shows, one of which is Into the Woods.

Many years ago, Aunt Sara played and stole the show as Little Red Riding Hood in our high school's production of Into the Woods. I fell in love with the story right then and there, but have only seen the show twice since then because it hasn't made the broadway/off-broadway rounds in decades and is rarely performed by high school casts.

Into the Woods is rarely performed by high school casts because it's tremendously challenging. There are nine principal characters, which means a high school with only two or three musical "stars" could never pull it off. The music itself is very difficult, which means it takes longer to learn and in some cases, is simply too much for inexperienced high school students to handle. Our high school put on Into the Woods the year Sara was a senior, but started planning for the show the year she was a freshman. The theater and music departments had always wanted to do Into the Woods, but it wasn't until Sara's class arrived that they thought they had enough talent to cover all of the main roles. They spent three years preparing those talented but inexperienced freshman to take on Into the Woods when they finally became seniors.

I mention all this because despite the difficulty of the Into the Woods music, Hallie learned one of Little Red Riding Hood's songs and one chorus song in less than day, and just by listening to me sing them for her. If she wants it, the musical world is hers for the taking.

Yes, a few of the words Hallie sings are wrong - "repaired" instead of "prepared" and "face" instead of "faith", for example. She won't let me correct the words she uses while singing. And in the second video she forgets the words and circles back around to a verse she's already sung (which happens to be about the grandmother dying - yikes). But the notes are incredibly close for a four-year-old who learned the music by ear that morning.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


A couple of weeks ago Will prepared and gave his very first school presentation. First grade seemed a little young for presentations to me, but I suppose starting early better prepares kids for the many individual and group projects, presentations, and speeches ahead of them on their academic paths.

Will chose to present on the armadillo (each child had to choose a Texas symbol), and throughout the days leading up to his presentation he researched facts about and searched for pictures of armadillos online. Once he'd chosen his facts and pictures, we made a poster board for him to use during his presentation. (Will actually made the poster board himself, but I helped him figure out how to evenly space his bullet points and words. Anyone who knows me could look at Will's poster board and know that overall I had very little input - his asymmetrical picture placement nearly drove me crazy.)

Then Will practiced his presentation, many times, with Hallie and me acting like his classmates. Hallie paid close enough attention that she memorized nearly everything Will planned to say; on Sunday I heard her telling one of her stuffed animals, "Armadillo is a Spanish word. It means 'little armored one'".

All that practicing reminded me of one of my all-time favorite Cheerios commercials… As the little sister listens (while eating Cheerios in her highchair), the mom quizzes the older brother on state capitals. When the mom asks for the capital of Vermont and the older brother pauses, the little sister smiles and chimes in with "Montpelier".  

Will gave his presentation last Monday and on that same afternoon I received an email from his teacher, letting me know that he'd done an excellent job presenting on and answering his classmates' questions about the armadillo. I was just happy to hear he'd made it through the presentation without picking his nose.

Here are a couple of videos from Will's first practice session. (Thankfully he improved as we continued to practice throughout the weekend.) As you can see in the first video, NOT picking your nose while giving a presentation is NOT common knowledge.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Breaking the Rules

I wrote this piece for MomsEveryday, but I need it posted here as well…I need to know for certain that she'll see it someday.

On her first day of life she fell asleep on my chest.

Since that day she's fallen asleep primarily in her crib and then her big girl bed, and on rare occasions sleep has won her over while in her daddy's arms, on her grandpa's chest, or in her carseat or stroller. But not in my arms. Never in my arms.

I believed - and still believe - very strongly in the importance and benefits of sleep training. I couldn't have survived those first few months of my babies' infancies without a regular nap schedule (I recognize now that postpartum depression contributed to my inability to relax and "go with the flow" during that time period), one that included consistent nap times, durations, and locations. During the napping years - which have officially come to an end...excuse me while I shed a tear or two - my kiddos slept like champs, and to this day they handle bedtime and sleeping through the night in stride. I worked hard to give them the gift of good sleep - and to give my husband and me the gift of peace during nap time and at night - and all four of us are happier because of it.

It's kind of a "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" situation. Do my kids prefer sleeping independently because I sleep trained them? Or were my kids successful at sleep training because they were predisposed to prefer sleeping independently? It's impossible to say for certain, but if I were the betting type, I'd wager that my two children fall into different categories. I think my first-born prefers sleeping independently because I sleep trained him, and that my second-born was successful at sleep training because she was predisposed to sleep independently.

I never felt as though I was missing out on anything because my girl wouldn't/couldn't sleep in my arms; she gave me plenty of hugs and kisses and love while awake, and I felt grateful for the ease with which she slept in her bed.

Until a couple of weeks ago, that is, when she developed an ear infection after suffering from a week-long head cold and started crying in her sleep. The only way to console her was to let her sleep on me on the couch. As she drooled down my neck and sweated through the front of my shirt, tears streamed down my face. All I could think about was how it had been nearly five years since she had fallen asleep on my chest. FIVE YEARS.

I don't regret sleep training my children, not even a little bit. But a small part of me wishes that sleep training had included a chapter on breaking the rules. I missed out on five years of nap time cuddles (and drool and sweat) on the couch that I can never get back.