Monday, December 15, 2008

Quite the Charmer

Sawyer is 6 weeks old now, and when he's not sleeping (which he still does a TON of), he's all smiles! Especially for big sisters who give him about an inch of personal space. Here's one of his first smiles while meeting Aunt Kathy (she got the first real smile). I swear, ALL of my kids like her better than me! That's right, ladies, he's a charmer. He'll dream about you in his sleep. He'll be
on the market...NEVER. And this sweet one was for mama (though I'm still bitter about the Aunt Kathy smile!)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mr. Sawyer

Here are some new pictures of "Mr. Sawyer". I've been affectionately calling him that since he came home, and now Ainsley calls him that about 50% of the time.
Here's Sawyer with Daddy - he's a twin of Baby Kevin!Enjoying morning play time with big sisters...
...and clearly finished with big sister play time

I love this picture of his big, rolly belly, and his look of "are you kidding me, Mom? Pick me up before I get smothered in hugs again."
As I'm finally publishing this post, the pictures have become dated. My babies pack on the pounds fast. I'll post more soon!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Let's Go Fly a Kite

Saint Louis enjoyed some really beautiful fall days (highs in the 70s, full sunshine) the week after Sawyer was born. We hit a park every afternoon, and Kevin and I got the itch to fly a kite. A few snags in the plan included A) no kite, and little luck in finding one; and B) little experience with successful kite-flying. As luck would have it, a trip to Once Upon a Child for more Sawyer clothes yielded a two-pack of "Easy 2 Fly" kites. Two first-born, over-achievers should be able to handle "Easy 2 Fly" - right?

We now had kites in our possession; however, the weather was now even colder than usual - cloudy and in the 40s. Determined, we arranged for Kevin to come home from work early to take advantage of a windy, but not freezing day. Reiley, having poured over a treasury of Spot stories (by Eric Hill) from the library, which included a tale of Spot flying a kite, was thrilled for the chance to fly a kite. She was also mildly concerned that our kite would get stuck in a tree (which was Spot's fate), and unlike Spot, we wouldn't have a talking, top-hat wearing kangaroo to jump up and save our kite from the tree. We promised we would hold on tight to the kite.

We packed all the kids and my mom (GrandMar to the kids) into the van and set off for our local elementary school down the street with a big soccer field perfect for kite-flying. Kevin spent a nerve-wracking 5 minutes trying to launch the kite. Kevin and Reiley share similar frustration tolerances, and I could sense their anxiety escalating simultaneously. "Is the kite ever going to fly high in the sky, Mom??"

After several sprints from Kevin, the kite was successfully launched to the sound of cheers from the rest of us! I love the sprinting stance from Kevin in this picture.

The kite rode on the wind for about 20 minutes, which gave everyone a chance to hold it and watch it, and for parents to attempt artsy photos.
Reiley was so genuinely thrilled to fly the kite. It was another opportunity for me to experience excitement and wonder through the eyes of my children. Such a simple act - flying a diamond-shaped plastic sheet in the air - created a great family memory for all of us.
Ainsley was mildly entertained by flying the kite, mostly because she was able to sing "Let's Go Fly a Kite" from Mary Poppins repeatedly. She became distracted by the playground next to the soccer field, and after we had spent a while with the kite, we headed up to the playground. The grown-ups were in charge of steering the kite away from the trees around the playground. Unfortunately, on my watch, the kite plummeted onto the school roof, and then into a nearby tree. Reiley, reminded of Spot's misfortune, burst instantly into tears, and asked us how we were ever going to save the kite.
The tree was too high to climb, and Kevin proclaimed it a lost cause. However, GrandMar and I combined our woman power to grab the string and pull it down with some random things we had with us and saved the day!

Here's a video of our adventure

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Welcoming Sawyer Home

We've had a busy two weeks welcoming Sawyer home! He's breastfeeding well, sleeping A LOT (he's only awake about 4 hours a day), and so nice to snuggle! Here's the little man with his eyes open. I was too lazy (I have about 5 minutes to throw this post together) to get the red eye out. We are starting to think that he might end up with brown eyes. The dark blue that he had the first few days has changed to a murky grey/brown color. I've had some dissenting opinions regarding my theory, but I think my Mom hunch is right (or do I just really love brown-haired, brown-eyed boys?).

The girls were SO excited when his umbilical cord stump fell off and they were able to take a bath with him. He was very calm in the bath and tolerated Reiley's thorough washing of him, and Ainsley's attempts to drag him out of the bathtub so that she could sit in it (yes, Ainsley is experiencing some middle-child angst right now; Mommy is trying to give her lots of Ainsley-alone snuggle time).

I think that he looks especially beefy in this picture. His face is really starting to fill out, but his legs are still super-skinny, which looks hilarious sticking out from his huge cloth diaper.

Reiley and Sawyer have some special snuggle time whenever he's awake. She'll hold him for 20 minutes at a time, stroking him and filling him in on what's going on in the world (Obama's presidential win, the weather, where we are going to go during the day, etc.) It's one of those sweet scenes that warms a mother's heart (and makes my eyes well up with big, post-partum tears).

The "I have two big sisters" dress-up games have officially begun. Fortunately, we don't have any play make-up around with which to decorate my dear son.
The girls like to read to him, though they become quickly frustrated that he can't sit through a 20-minute story.

Ainsley's favorite Sawyer game is anything that involves sitting or laying by him. She'll quickly dump Baby Jesus to save a spot on her lap for Baby Sawyer. Unfortunately, she also tries to roll Baby Sawyer off in the same way. We're working on that one!
We'll keep you posted, and will hopefully get more Sawyer eyes-open pictures as he has more awake hours during the day.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Introducing Sawyer William

Our baby boy is finally here! Sawyer William was born on Thursday, October 30 at 4:11 pm. He weighs 8 lbs, 2 oz and is 21 inches long (our heaviest and longest baby yet). He has a little bit of dark brown hair, blue eyes, and a face that is somewhat reminiscent of the girls, but all his own.

The labor went much more quickly then my previous ones - so quickly that we thought we had much more time than we actually had. By the time I realized that contractions were 3 and 2 minutes apart, Kevin was throwing last minute things in bags and running them out to the car. We raced through rush hour traffic to the hospital, and my water broke as I was kneeling on the concrete in front of the emergency room having contractions (much to the surprise of people waiting on the bench outside). A nurse came out with a wheelchair, and helped me onto a gurney. Kevin and two of the nurses ran pushing the gurney up to Labor and Delivery (much like one of those crazy birth movies), and we got into the room at 3:50. I started pushing and Sawyer was born at 4:11. Very intense but very exciting!

The girls are completely in love with Sawyer and are squabbling over who gets to hold him and how long. We came home on Saturday and are settling in to our new routines. He's figured out that night is a time for sleeping - so we are getting much less tired! Fortunately, the girls are still sleeping well and up to their usual antics. We're having fun welcoming Sawyer into our family!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Spotlight on Ainsley

Maybe it's because I'm approaching my due date and am feeling overly emotional about everything, but I've been having some Mom guilt that lots of posts have addressing Reiley's new adventures and thoughts. Perhaps Ainsley's been slighted. So I've dedicated this post to showcasing Ainsley.

Her passion in life right now is pretend play, typically focusing around her baby - Baby Jesus. Yes, that's right, the infant Lord lives in our house and is Ainsley's constant companion (except at night-time and nap, he's just too exciting). Meet Baby Jesus in this clip. Where does she say Baby Jesus lives? Galilee. We only figured this out because she would spontaneously exclaim, "Galilee!" One day she followed it up with, "Baby Jesus, lives there." I guess Reiley's current interest in reading multitudes of Bible tales has added to Ainsley's Bible trivia.

Singing is another one of her faves. She makes up songs about things she eats, where she's going , rocks baby Jesus to sleep, and opens the hymn book at mass and invents little diddies. This often happens during times of silence, which gets a few glances. But if she's singing Jesus her own invented song - what am I going to do? I'm sure God doesn't mind. Here she's trying to sing "The Lord Hears the Cry of the Poor" for any of you familiar with it.

She also enjoys narrating and storytelling. When Kevin gets dressed for work in the morning, she coaches him on the next steps. "Put Daddy's white shirt on. Get Daddy's belt on. Socks! Shoes!" On sleep-deprived days, this is very helpful. Here's a clip of her telling you about how the chicken at Prairie Day bit her.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Conception Overanalyzed

A few mornings ago, while I was having prolonged bed-lying time due to Ainsley's new routine of 5 am wake-ups, Reiley hit me with this: "Mom, if you think a lot about having a baby someday, will your body just make a baby inside ofyou, even when you are still a kid?" Stifling laughter, I said, "No, Reiley, you can't make a baby all by yourself." She gave a sigh of relief and said "Good, because I am still a kid, so I don' t have a job yet. I also still live with you guys, I'm not married yet, and I don't know a lot of things to be able to take care of a baby right now." Whew! I don't have to worry about having a pregnant 4-year-old. I hope this same calm, level-headed, critical thinking is still there when she's 17.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fall Fun

We had some fall fun a few weeks ago with an event each day because of the previous weekend's rain out. I always feel like there are so many fun fall things to do and not enough weekends to do them! On Saturday, we went on our annual apple-picking trip. It is ironic to Kevin and I that we went apple-picking, since we've been cursing the apple trees in our yard for over-producing this year and giving us so much yard work to do! However, our backyard does not have wagon rides, pig races, ice cream store, or a pumpkin-shooting cannon like the Eckert's Family Fun Farm.

Last year, Ainsley was not yet a walker, so she was able this year to pick apples off the tree. However, decaying, bug-infested apples on the ground were also equally enticing choices.
The most exciting part for Ainsley was carrying the bag around. Do not try to touch or help her with the bag. Even if it has gotten so heavy that breakage is imminent.
Reiley has a yearly tradition of sitting in an apple tree. She's very interested in climbing trees (or at least attempting it) right now, so her typical fear of heights was forgotten.
Eating ice cream at the "country store" is always a big hit, typically cited by Reiley as more important that the actual apple-picking. This year's wagon ride and tree-sitting must have very exciting because they were rated as "the favorite thing I did at the apple farm" this year.
On Sunday we made a trip out to the Missouri prairie for "Prairie Day". Reiley was psyched because she loves Little House on the Prairie books, and there were going to have "a REAL covered wagon!!" We had to take the shot that all parents take at the wooden stick-your-face-through-a-hole-and-smile cutouts. Reiley is playing the part of over-worked prairie girl fairly well, and Ainsley as the boy reminded me of all the wooden cut-outs that I made MY little sister look through. "Look, Meg, you can pretend to be the boy!"
The girls played in a house made of sod. I love Ainsley's look of wonderment in this picture. "Could I really live here??? A house made entirely of mud?!" She ran around the house, hitting the walls, saying "Walls - mud on them!"
The girls (Ainsley especially) had a lot of fun petting the sheep. Though Ainsley extrapolated "OK to touch sheep" to also mean "OK to stick fingers in chicken cage", and received a quick snip. She was more shocked than hurt, but Ainsley has been telling us the story since the incident, "The red chicken...bit me...NO chicken!" Prairie Day was much more walking than I had anticipated, and the weather was fairly humid, so we were getting hot, tired, and sticky near the end. This felt AWESOME as a hugely pregnant lady lugging around too-tired toddler. When the girls and I were walking toward the shuttle while Kevin took a bathroom break, I heard a grandma-aged woman say, "Look at that poor pregnant lady, carrying around that baby." Two minutes later, a woman passes me as I'm carrying Ainsley and holding Reiley's hand, and said "Oh my gosh, you seriously have your hands full - do you need help?" Perhaps I'll have to post a separate blog entry about how people feel they have liberty to say anything to a pregnant woman. I was just trying to walk to the freakin' bus, people! Give a tired, sweaty pregnant lady a break!
We took a moment to take a picture near the end because the wildflowers were so pretty - and I don't think I look nearly as pathetic and distraught as the Prairie Day folks believed me to be.
Happy fall to all!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bend It Like Heffern

Soccer season has begun! Reiley is playing soccer for the first time on our parish's co-ed 4-year-old soccer team, and Kevin is one of the coaches. I'm liking it because all of the coaches are focused on the kids learning through small-group, fun exercises, with a few team scrimmages at the end of the season.

The temperature was in the 80s during the first practice, and we wondered how typically heat-resistant Reiley was going to feel about the sweating, and the heavy soccer shinguards and socks.

Reiley was also the second-youngest kid on the team, so you never know what the experience will be like with the "bigger" kids. The team sat in a line on their balls, and counted off into four groups. Reiley was in a group with three boys and one other girl (who turned out to be the one kid younger than Reiley). Reiley had a great time - split between playing with the boys and trying to console the other girl who was clearly not comfortable with the whole team sports thing (as evidenced by a nearly continuous stream of tears). At one point, Kevin was trying to encourage the other girl to join in the "Simon Says" game, and Reiley said, "Dad, it's ok if she doesn't want to do it right now. She'll start when she's ready."

By the end of practice, Reiley was ecstatic.

Reiley: "Dad, I had fun with you and Coach Tim and Coach Mike and Coach Eric, too, but I need a shower when we get home because I'm very sweaty."
Kevin: "You're right, soccer makes you sweaty. Some of the other kids told me they were getting sweaty and thirsty, too."
Reiley: "Yeah, but even though I was thirsty, I didn't say that. I just KEPT PLAYING until the coaches said it was time for a break."

Reiley also said her favorite friend from practice was a girl named Lindsey. Kevin didn't remember a Lindsey playing so he asked Reiley which girl she was. "Dad, do you remember that girl with a blue and yellow flowery dress and flowery sandals? That was Lindsey."

Yep, her best friend was the six-year-old big sister who was watching practice from next to the water bottle bench.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Another Brick in the Wall

Since we bought our house four and a half years ago, we've had a running list of home improvement projects. The list keeps getting longer and we haven't quite been able to strike as many items from the list as we would have hoped. We cite having three kids in a little over four years to be our primary reason for this slow home improvement!

Despite our turtle's pace, we've really attacked some big projects this year. It's always been our hope to finish the basement, but we had structural cracks to repair and water issues to address. We had the structural cracks/foundation issues repaired this summer, and were convinced that this was the solution to our basement water woes. Not the case - water still floods into our window well in the basement (thanks to our awesome home location at the bottom of a sloping hill, where our yard becomes home to all our higher-lying neighbors' water). We have big plans to regrade the backyard in the spring.
A smaller DIY project that we knew we could do was build a retaining wall to keep water out of our carport that inevitably seeps into the basement in small, yet annoying quantities. We finished the project in 4 days/evenings and had some very helpful pint-sized laborers! The project was every small child's dream: a huge pile of dirt delivered by a dump truck, a rainstorm that turned some of that pile of dirt into a mud pit, and much shoveling, dumping, and splashing. The girls braved the heat and humidity to build our wall that we all feel pretty proud of as our family creation. Here are some photo highlights!

Ainsley checking the soil saturation levels. (A very technical project than resulted in her little body caked with mud)

Reiley clearing out the mud from the puddle in order to "rebuild the river."

The mini manual laborers enjoying a well-deserved snack.


The finished product!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Most Important Job

The Mary Poppins soundtrack is getting constant play in our minivan's CD player. Reiley's seen the movie once, but with her unrivaled steel trap memory, she recalls little subtleties about the movie that I didn't realize she had picked up on. This has led to some in-depth discussions about the inner turmoil of various characters. We've talked at length about why the Daddy (Mr. Banks) is simultaneously distraught and happy about losing his job (for those of you who don't talk about this daily - his realization that work does not completely erase the need to spend time with his family).

She's seemed to have come to terms with Mr. Banks' character development throughout the movie, and now she's turned her interest to Mrs. Banks. Prompted by questions about why the kids have a nanny, I tried to give an age-appropriate summary of the Women's Suffrage Movement, and Mrs. Banks ("The Mommy's") excitement about getting women the vote. Being pro-woman and pro-political involvement myself, I was stressing the importance of the Mommy's involvement by saying, "That's an important job, too". Reiley replied, "But that is not the MOST important job, Mom. I think the most important job is being a mommy, because kids' jobs are are to play and learn. And they need a grown-up, like their Mom or Dad, to help them do that."

Whoa - four-year-olds don't worry about the political or social ramifications of their opinions. While various women could jump all over this statement and land on one ideological side or the other, I silenced that part of my brain and heard what my daughter was implicitly saying:

Thanks for being there for me, Mom. I think you are important.

In that moment, it became very clear to me what I have been grappling with these several years that I started working very part-time from home to stay home with my kids. My kids don't look at me as woman with advanced degree and student loans she's still paying off stalling her career by working part-time and unsure of when she'll ever re-enter the full-time work force. Who do I think the people that have this opinion are? Does it matter what society's expectations for "women like me" are? Over the years, I've turned my back on those messages to find out what I really want for my family and my children, and things have become more and more clear. As many of you know, the world of motherhood isn't always valued by society, and doesn't come with a lot of tangible pay-offs and promotions like the business world. Little fleeting moments like these are illuminating and validating.

Thanks, Reiley, for putting things in perspective so simply. I stay at home with my children for my children. Not to make a political or feminist statement or stand in judgement of others. I'm here to just be there for them, and it was incredible to feel truly appreciated.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sprinkler Picnic

On Sunday, we decided to bypass the late-afternoon hump with a picnic at the park. How did we enjoy a picnic in 95 degree weather, you may ask? With huge, delicious burritos for pregnant Mommy (my all-time favorite pregnancy craving three pregnancies running), Budweiser for Daddy, and sprinklers for the kids.
What is it about upwardly moving water that is so exciting for kids?? I am amazed at how my girls can be so grumpy and antagonistic in the air-conditioned house, and once you take them outside into the scorching heat and turn on the sprinkler, the rage melts away. Seriously, the look of careless abandon on Reiley's face cracks me up - it's just fast-moving water! Though the fact that she loves it so much is exciting to me, because she refused to touch any water spraying from a sprinkler until last summer.

Ainsley also got mentally lost inside some type of waterworld wonderland while we were there. I imagine her mind playing a trippy Beatles-esque song (Sprinkler Park Forever to the tune of Strawberry Fields Forever) as she pads along the sprinkler park.
I felt happily full of burrito in the summer scorcher, Daddy felt slightly drunk (only kidding :-)), and the kids were enthralled with the water. I think we have a new plan for every Sunday afternoon in August.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Spiritual Musings of a 4-year-old

Reiley has developed a self-directed affinity for Bible Stories. Christenings, Christmases and Easters have brought us an assortment of children's bibles and story books. We were reading the Creation Story during breakfast this morning, and Reiley had some editorial comments. "I know why God made people to live on earth. He was probably getting lonely in Heaven, and thought that if he made people, they would die someday, and then SO many people would be living in Heaven with Him!" Then she listed all of our family members who are "keeping God company" until we die and get to see them too.

We also had some big discussions about David and Goliath. "Did David actually kill Goliath??" Which every Children's bible and story book of course says that "the giant fell over". When Mommy reported that I thought that he was indeed killed, she paused for a long time. I said "What do you think about that?" "I think that seems very mean; why did they want to fight each other?" After some attempts at explaining war over land and geopolitics in the past and present, I was amazed at the clear thinking of a child. She said, "Why didn't they just talk about why they each wanted to live there?" Hmmm, great question.

I grappled with how to explain to her that many parents teach their children to use words rather than force to settle their disagreements. However, many adults and our own government might make a single attempt with words, then use whatever force necessary to take what they want. Ainsley interrupted my train of thought - impatient to read another book. I realized my only answer was, "I don't really know why they didn't make that choice."

Monday, July 14, 2008

Confessions of a Minivan Lover

Before a few weeks ago, I had always been a mocker of minivans. Soccer moms in their sunglasses and coiffed hair, shuttling their children around town - I swore it would never be me. I thought I'd have some sort of "cool car" that didn't proclaim my mom status to the whole world. At 27 and almost the mother of three, I decided I need to stop kidding myself. With three kids four and under, people aren't going to "miss" the fact that I'm a mom. I might as well declare it with my ride.

After Kevin's car almost died, we did a lot of car research. What we soon came to realize is that the hard truth is that if you have more than two kids and would like to take them somewhere without moving a seat a million times to get them in and out AND would like decent trunk space, you get a minivan. After an evening of mourning, we did more research and choosing. The final selection was a 2008 Honda Odyssey (minus the cool stuff like DVD players and Bluetooth, and other assorted features that seemed like a joke to us after driving cars made in 1997 and 1999).

After two weeks of driving it, I unabashedly am proclaiming my love for my minivan. I love the sunglasses holder directly above the rear view mirror. I live for the smooth handling and gentle zoom of the engine. I love the dual air conditioners so that I don't have to hear my children complain about the summer heat. I love the captain chairs that slide back and forth so that my short lady arms can still reach Ainsley when she drops everything out of her chair. I love the huge trunk that I keep my double stroller in and still have room for groceries. I love riding high above other drivers and feel like giving other minivan mom drivers an air high-five for minivans. I find any excuse to drive it somewhere. It is a sad, sad truth - but wonderful at the same time.

Happy Birthday Reiley!

We had a whirlwind birthday weekend for Miss Reiley who turned four! Earlier in the week, I had my mom sobbing moment where I looked through all her old pictures and her baby book and wondered where the years have gone! I blamed it on pregnancy hormones, but I should really just accept the fact that I'm a huge sap, and the crying is unavoidable.

With tears out of the way, we geared up for two parties during the weekend. We had our "family" party on Saturday afternoon, which was a Reiley-chosen firefighting theme. She's been wanting to be a firefighter for about 3 months, and we rented a DVD from the library that told us all the aspects of becoming a firefighter. She memorized the prerequisites, and informed me that "Now that I'm four, that isn't that far away from 18, and that's when I can become a firefighter! I'll have to spend the night in the firehouse for a few nights, but then I'll come home." Here are the girls anxiously awaiting the cake.

We got her a Little Red Riding Hood cape, and it was worn for the rest of the party, and for days after. I've been working on my Wolf voice and Reiley's been pondering the ethics of the fairy tale. "That wasn't very nice for the hunter to kill the wolf; he could have made a different choice, Mom."
Ainsley is sporting the fire chief hat from the costume Reiley received. Reiley's been rescuing women, children and families from apartment building fires, with the help of Ainsley.
Reiley's "friend" party was Sunday morning, and she chose a construction theme. While she's semi-interested in construction vehicles, I think she ultimately made the choice because she saw a picture of an excavator cake in my Family Fun magazine and declared it the choice for her birthday. I completely understand making decisions based on food:-). Here's Reiley with her BFF Savannah blowing out the candles. Reiley and her buddies donned construction hats and dug in the sandbox to find paintbrushes, which they used to paint a cardboard box house. Then they pulled out some treats from the construction cone pinata and had some cake. Hot outside, and messy, but lots of fun!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thank You, Curious George

We don't watch a lot of TV at our house, but we do enjoy borrowing different DVDs from the library and Reiley watches an episode during Ainsley's nap. Lately, she's been liking the Curious George DVDs. The show is cute - it has an animated story, and then kids doing some sort of activity that is a take off of one of the show's themes. Reiley watched an episode where George breaks his leg, and after the show, some kids trace around their bodies, guess what their bones look like by feeling them, and draw them in the body outline. Reiley thought this looked like a cool activity, so she told me she wanted try it too. She was really proud of it and exclaimed, "I can't believe that this is what my bones look like!"

I knew I could look like one of those supermoms who actually has these kind of enriching activities all planned out and claim that this was my doing. But I won't lie - Curious George gives me a 30 minute break during Ainsley's nap, since most days Reiley doesn't nap anymore. So thank you, Curious George, for the break and for the fun with bones. Here's a video of Reiley talking about her "skeleton drawing". She really wanted me to put it on the blog.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Elmo Nunu

This exciting name was chosen by Reiley for our...


We had our ultrasound last Friday and our new little boy is growing well. Reiley thought it was very interesting to see the ultrasound picture with an arrow pointing to his "private area". She declared in the ultrasound room that his name would be Elmo Nunu, to which Ainsley outstreched her arms and exclaimed "NuNu!". Despite the cute display, we will not be entering that into our list of name options. We're trying to find a way to let Reiley down easy. We're super ecited and I've already started stocking up on cute boy clothes!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tiny Dancer

Last weekend, Reiley started her first dance class. She's always enjoyed dancing, and has become more comfortable with separation, so we thought we'd give it a go. We're sending her to COCA, which is a multidisciplinary community arts school that has a reputation for being not a supper-snotty "train my child to star in the Nutcracker at age 6", which was the attitude I was looking for. I think I had way too much fun going to the dance store and having Reiley try on little leotards and tights and teeny-tiny ballet shoes. (Well, as much fun as an excitable almost 4 year old and on-the-go 18 month old will let you have in a store the size of a family room).

The class dress code called for a bun, which is a hilarious task with Reiley's hair. Like mine, it's incredibly thin, and currently cut in a chin-length bob. Here we are, trying to accomplish the task.
Armed with bobby pins and lots of hairspray, we succeeded in creating a makeshift bun. Reiley, posing as a "shy dancer" for you all. The Angelina Ballerina book series has become one of her favorites, so during this photo shoot, she wanted to pretend that she was Angelina, and I was the dance teacher taking pictures of everyone. I was honestly a little nervous, because this is the the first "no-parent-with-you" class that she's asked to do. Every other class-type separation we've attempted in the past has required a lot of preparation, and she just hasn't been ready for it. It was amazing to see what six months will do! We got there and she said "bye, Mom," and didn't look back! The dance studio has a two-way mirror where all of the parents can watch (which was nice, but also seemed kind of creepy). The class is her every dream, complete with tutu time, princess-crown wearing, dancing with ribbons, and this week, a reading of Angelina Ballerina. It's been fun to see her serious and concentrated look during warm-up, and the careless abandon with which she pretends to be a butterfly emerging from her cocoon. Here's a video. Don't be confused with the near-twin girl who is also dancing nearby. Reiley's the one on the far left, who comes toward the middle during the clip.