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Friends > Toys

My husband had a work commitment the night of Lily’s birthday, so the day before we had a little family party for her where we unveiled what we thought was her biggest and most exciting present: A Wii Fit from her paternal grandpa.

Lily LOVES the Wii at my mother’s house so much that she talks about it constantly between visits there. We were sure she’d love it. Both my husband and I had our video cameras rolling expecting the most excited birthday present reactions ever. We anticipated it to be the present excitement to end all present excitements. It was supposed to be like those videos of kids you see bursting into tears when their parents tell them they are going to Disney World.

Well, that didn’t happen. Lily opened her present and instead of getting excited and asking if she could play with it, she asked if she could go play outside with her friends.


I mean, who the hell opens a new video gaming system and doesn’t want to immediately become a video gaming zombie? I know I wanted to try the Wii right then and there!

She didn’t even want to decorate her birthday cake with me, a coveted activity she’d talked about all day, all week even, because she saw her friends were outside down the street.

When did friends become more exciting than cake and brand new Wiis? I don’t think I’ve matured to that point yet. Or maybe I’ve matured past it? It’s hard to say. We let her go. I decorated the cake with Rose instead and decided at the last minute to take the cake down the street to share it with our neighbors. We ended up having an impromptu birthday party for her in someone else’s front yard.

It’s days later and the Wii has been played almost non-stop, so obviously she likes it, but in that moment the Wii had no appeal because her neighborhood besties were hunting for bugs and eating popsicles down the street.

What’s Lily’s favorite part of her birthday? “I really liked it when you brought the cake out to my friends and when you saved Scootaloo.

Six is going to be a great year.


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Facebook Saves the (Birth)Day!

Today was Lily’s sixth birthday. When Lily came home from kindergarten, Rose gave her a present that Rose herself had specifically picked out for Lily. (Man, it’s hard to deal with pronouns in writing when all your kids are girls.) Rose and Lily are obsessed with the Cutie Mark Crusaders on “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.” They are obsessed with My Little Ponies in general, but the Cutie Mark Crusaders are their favorites by far.
In case you are not a brony (adult fan of My Little Ponies, or “MLP” as those in the know call it), the Cutie Mark Crusaders are the little sisters of three of the older ponies. A cutie mark is the decal most ponies have on their flanks. It apparently shows your true talent and comes when you hit puberty discover your passion. The Cutie Mark Crusaders are three ponies who have formed a club with the intent of getting their periods cutie marks as soon as possible.

My girls spend most of the time they are not playing with their many MLPs pretending that they are the Cutie Mark Crusaders. When Lily saw a friend open the Crusaders at a birthday party recently, her eyes got really big and she ran to me and said “MOMMY! LOOK! It’s them!”

I knew what I had to do. And needless to say, the Cutie Mark Crusaders were the highlight of Lily’s birthday. She was so very pleased to finally add them to her collection. She and Rose immediately ran off to play with them.

Five minutes later, Lily yelled “Mommy! HELP! Scootaloo fell down a hole in the piano!”

We have a converted player piano and the music stand/front cover of it was unstable and unsafe to be around kids, but we are too cheap to hire someone to fix it. We have taken off the over and you can see all the strings and hammers inside the piano. It’s kind of educational looking, but occasionally a toy/book falls in the top of it. It’s easy to reach in and get it out. I told Lily to just pick up the pony and move on.

Don't mind the mess. The piano is in the playroom.

Don’t mind the mess. The piano is in the playroom.

“I can’t reach! I can’t even see her! She’s WAY down the hole!”

“What do you mean you can’t see her? What hole?”

I came in and discovered the hole Lily was talking about was nothing I had ever noticed about the piano before.
How? HOW? How did Scootaloo even fit?

She claimed it was an accident. I looked down the hole and could see nothing. It was a pitch black cavernous hole to the bottom of the piano. I looked around the piano and could see no way into it. Then I informed Lily that I would try my hardest to fish Scootaloo, who is not only a Cutie Mark Crusader but Lily’s FAVORITE Cutie Mark Crusader, out of the hole, but the truth was we may never see Scootaloo again.

Lily burst into tears. She was so upset that Scootaloo was lost, and so was I. Scootaloo is only available in a Cutie Mark Crusader 3-pack like the one I bought for $25. I didn’t want to pay $25 to replace a pony (but I think I would have because it would be SUCH a bummer to have only 2 of the 3 characters they love SO MUCH).

I honestly thought Scootaloo was lost forever. I got a flashlight and I could see Scootaloo looking back up at me. “Help me! I’m inside a piano!” I rigged a wad of duct tape to a couple different poking apparatuses and tried my best to get her, but no luck.

And that’s when I posted a picture of the piano hole on facebook and told a shortened version of this very distressing birthday tragedy. Within 15 minutes, a friend of mine popped up and told me she knew how to open my piano. Her father was a piano tuner, so she knew that if you pulled up on a metal bar hidden below the keyboard, the front panel of the piano would flip forward.

I ran over to the piano, found the bar, yanked it and the next thing I knew I was staring at a lot of dust, Scootaloo and a Little People doll (how long has THAT been there?).
Facebook totally saved Scootaloo! If it weren’t for facebook (and my friend), Scootaloo would probably be trapped in that piano forever and I would be $25 poorer for it because my girls HAVE to have all three Cutie Mark Crusaders. HAVE TO.

Thank goodness for facebook miracles! Also, always friend the piano tuner’s daughter! You never know. It just might save a toy’s life.


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Big Girl

It was a very exciting day at our house.
Little Violet turned one year old!

It’s hard to believe there was a time we weren’t sure that we wanted a third kid. Obviously the correct choice was to go ahead and do it. Violet is so fantastic that we would have missed out on so much if we hadn’t made her a part of our lives. Whenever someone tells me they are having trouble deciding if they should have another baby, I tell them to do it. As long as there is no major financial, health or infertility obstacle, if you THINK you might want a second, third or fourth kid, but aren’t sure, DO IT. You might regret not having another baby, but you can’t regret a baby you already have.
Before I put the girls to bed the night before Violet’s birthday, Rose told me that Violet would be a big girl today.

“Tomorrow she’s going to start wearing underwear!” Rose said.

I’m sure that would be an excellent idea, Rose.

When Lily woke up in the morning, she was perplexed when she saw Violet.

“But she doesn’t look any different than she did yesterday! She looks the same! She’s still a baby!”

I reminded her that although one day is the difference between being ALMOST one and ACTUALLY one, you don’t really grow that much in a day. Lily then remembered she looked the same as she did the day before when she turned five in September.


The first birthday of a third girl in 5 years is hard to shop for, but I have the answer thanks to a brilliant friend. What does a third same-gendered kid need for his or her first birthday when he or she already has seemingly EVERYTHING? Bath toys. Get the kid lots of bath toys. Bath toys get gross fast. You can only clean them so well. New bath toys are ALWAYS a need, but nothing you ever think to buy on your own. Bath toys are the PERFECT go-to present for same-sex sibling #3.

Violet doesn’t know one way or another that it is her birthday. She didn’t care much about the bath toys, though she will enjoy them later. She did, however, approve of the cake.

Happy birthday, Violet!


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Three Drama

Me: Good morning! Happy birthday! Do you know how old you are today?

Rose: I’m two and a half!

Me: No! It’s your birthday today! Today you are 3 years old! Happy birthday!

Rose: No, I’m almost three. I’m two and a half!

Me: You’re not almost three anymore! You ARE three! Today you are 3 years old!

Rose: NO!!!! *bursts into tears*

She was really really upset she was three instead of two. She cried for a very long time. It took a lot of talking to get her to understand that her birthday was a good thing. I think the birthday donut, balloon, presents, trip to Chuck E Cheese and cake may have persuaded her to be excited about being three.

But I guess finding out you are no longer 2 years old is very traumatic. I don’t like finding out I’m another year older either these days, but I’m THIRTY-three. If I were just three, I’d be elated to be a new number. I guess Rose is just wise beyond her years!


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Time Warp

With every age that Lily turns, I am absolutely flabbergasted that she could possibly be that old already. She turned 5 last month and I was floored that she has been around 5 whole years. It made me feel old.

And yet Rose is turning 3 today and all I can think is “Only 3?” It seems like she is the same age as Lily. I think she should be turning 4. In fact, I think BOTH Lily and Rose should be turning 4. It seems insane to me that there were two whole years when we had just Lily and no Rose. They are such a duo that it’s hard to imagine one without the other.

Three or four years old today, you be the judge.

To add to the illusion that she’s older, Rose is almost as big as Lily. She only weighs 2 pounds less and isn’t much shorter. She looks like she’s 4 years old to me. In fact, I’m pretty sure she’s taller than Lily was when Lily turned 4. Rose also talks like a 4 year old and puts together more complex role play/doll story lines than Lily does now. She also is in the exact same all-ages preschool class that Lily attends.

And that is why Rose’s age confuses me. Allegedly she turns 3 today, but in my mind she seems one year older… though if you’d asked me 7 months ago how old Rose was, I’d have no problem answering “Two! And terrible at that!” It’s amazing what 7 months does to a 2 year old.

Happy 3rd or 4th birthday, Rose!


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How to Cheap Out on a Barbie Cake

Rose is obsessed with the Barbie dress cake at our local Meijer. Every single Saturday, she stares at the cake, points at it and says “Mommy, I want that Barbie cake for my birthday.” She said this even before she had any business knowing what a birthday was. It started shortly after her second birthday. So for the past year, I knew we’d have to get that Barbie cake for Rose.

(Image from allrecipes.com)
We had a joint birthday party for our big girls on Saturday. Their birthdays are a month apart and I am not cleaning my house and inviting the same people over twice in 34ish days, so we just lumped them together. This past Monday, I called Meijer to see how much the famed Barbie dress birthday cake cost.


Um, no.

I am not paying $36.99(!) for a 3 year old’s birthday cake. I know there’s a Barbie inside the cake, but still. That’s almost as much money as we paid for her actual birthday present.

Making a regular Barbie cake dress at home wasn’t really an option either. The dress pan cost at least $20 and by the time I bought the doll, cake mix and cake decorating stuff we’d probably be back up at $36 or higher. Sure, I could use the pan again, but I know I suck at cake baking and decorating and probably shouldn’t even try. I just saw that there’s a way to make the cake without the special pan, but that would be an absolute disaster with me involved. Cake and I just don’t get along. I’ve been trying to decorate a decent cake for the past 4 years and 80% of the time I take a cake out of the pan it falls apart. There will be no pretty cakes for dairy-allergy Lily until she gets over her allergy.

^What happens when I try to make a pretty cake on my own.

I was sad, but then I had a thought. Last year my mother made me a Rice Krispie cake that ended up looking like a hill. Or a boob. I had a feeling that if I sculpted some warm Rice Krispie treats, I could make them into a Barbie dress.

Our ingredients, including decorating candies and sprinkles.

The unresearched plan was simple: triple the regular Rice Krispie treat recipe, mold a mountain around a Barbie doll and decorate it with candy and frosting. We used two bags of big marshmallows, two boxes of Rice Krispies, margarine, a can of blue frosting, blue food coloring, Twizzlers, multi-colored mini-marshmallows, candy corn, two types of sprinkles and gummy bears.

Since Rose will only wear blue dresses, it was very important that this doll cake have a blue dress and we tried our darnedest to make this happen. Even though my marshmallows were a little browned, everything was fine in the pan. It seemed like we were going to have a blue dress even after we poured it into the cereal (and I burned my arm something awful on the pot).

Alas, Rice Krispies are apparently yellow enough to turn blue marshmallow goo green, but behold! It worked!

A Barbie dress cake for $15ish instead of $36.99! I saved at least $20! Genius! Rose didn’t even care that the dress ended up turning green. She insists it is still blue because the marshmallows were blue.

If you attempt this at home, my insider tip is to put the Barbie in AFTER you make a giant Rice Krispie hill instead of trying to build a dress around the Barbie. Barbie kept leaning into the still gooey/warm marshmallow mix and nearly knocking her dress over when I tried to build the dress around her. Once I made a mountain without her in it, she slid into the goo fairly easily and didn’t have much more trouble with tilting, though some of the Rice Krispie chunks did try to jump off her waist before things solidified.

The dress had the potential to be really beautiful even with ME decorating it, but my kids really wanted at it and they decorated it themselves. Who am I to say no to their enthusiasm? I mean, it was their birthday cake. So, it ended up looking like this.

Definitely decorated by a 5 year old and an almost 3 year old! They did it while I nursed the baby so I wasn’t even really there to monitor it. Less work for me and they had fun– I’ll take it!

So, if you want a Barbie cake and have zero cake making/assembly/decorating skills and don’t want to spend $36.99, this is your solution. If a cake idiot like me can do it, so can you!



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Five years ago today, I went to the hospital and they let me come home with this.

Apparently my husband and I managed to make that cute thing, and we’ve done well enough keeping it alive for five years that it now looks like this.

It even knows that holding up a whole hand denotes that you are 5 years old. Imagine that!

It’s hard to believe that Lily is 5 years old now, but judging by her size and the fact that she now has TWO little sisters, I suppose she must be that old. Time is slipping away so quickly that if I blink she will be 18 and graduating from high school.


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Birthday Bingo

Last week on my birthday, I was surprised to get an unidentified call from Arizona. I had no idea who was calling. It turned out it was my aunt. The fact that the number was unidentified on my cell phone should give you a clue as to how often we talk to each other on the phone! The truth is, I don’t talk to any of my aunts and uncles very often. We’re all scattered all over the country. I hear a lot about what they are up to from my parents, but there aren’t a lot of phone calls between us and there never has been. I don’t think it means we care any less about each other. We just don’t happen to use the phone with each other much.

It turned out, my aunt wasn’t calling because it was my birthday. She was calling on what she thought was a random day to tell me about an idea she had for a gift for Violet’s birth. I didn’t tell her it was my birthday then because it really didn’t matter, but it was kind of funny to me that of all the days of the year she would call me it would be my birthday and she wasn’t even calling because of that!

Tonight my aunt randomly called me again about the gift she is planning for Violet. This is probably the tenth time she’s specifically called me ever. We usually speak randomly on the phone if I answer at my parents’ or grandparents’ house when she’s calling. When we got off the phone, I got on facebook and actually looked at the birthdays for some reason. I am completely anti-facebook birthday because you end up getting 200 mostly meaningless two-word birthday wishes from people who probably don’t really care and probably are only sending you a message because they have a daily ritual of typing two words to each person in the birthday box. I never look at whose birthday it is. Do I want people to have happy birthdays? Sure. But I find facebook birthday messages so annoying that I figure I’m doing the person a favor by not flooding their inbox. I have completely removed my own birthday from facebook and it was a huge relief to have a normal sized inbox that day. I think of this as a gift to myself. I love facebook otherwise, but facebook birthdays are evil. And, yes, I know there are ways to stop the messages for that day, but I don’t want to miss any other, more important notification I might get.

Anyway, I looked at the facebook birthdays and realized it was my aunt’s birthday today and I hadn’t known it when we were talking on the phone! What are the odds that we would both be talking to each other on our birthdays this year without realizing it was each other’s birthday?! Our birthdays are only six days (and 27 years) apart. You’d think we’d be better at keeping track of this!

I called her back to wish her a happy birthday and point out this bizarre coincidence because I thought it was hilarious. I mean, really, what are the odds?


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Another Birthday Masterpiece

As we’ve covered before, I fail at cake decorating. When my mother was coming up for her birthday, I should have known I was incapable of making a beautiful cake. I mean, if you’ll recall, this is what happened when I tried to make Lily a Dora castle cake for her September birthday.

What are you talking about? It looks just like the picture!

I didn’t think the nightmare of that cake could be topped, but apparently I underestimated myself.

This weekend when I made my mother’s cake, I decided to sub the eggs with flax seed. I’ve done this before many times and had the cakes turn out fine. For some reason that’s not what happened this time. Maybe the cake was undercooked or something. I’m not really sure. When I tried to remove the cake from the pan, it crumbled. The cupcakes we made for castle turrets fell flat and also easily crumbled.

My mom is a good sport and was excited just to decorate a “cake” with Lily, so they went to town with what they had. This was the gorgeous result.

Like you could do better. (I’m sure you could. In fact, I’m sure a 6 year old could. I really really suck at making pretty cakes!)

Now, we could pretend like everything was ok because the cake tasted fantastic, but for some reason it didn’t. This cake totally sucked. I really don’t understand what happened. The frosting was good and I used the same mix I always use. I’ve used the flax seed egg substitute before and the cakes tasted fine. What happened?!

Whatever the case, my mom and Lily were VERY proud of their creation and have declared it the NEW best cake ever because they got to make it together.

Also, because I really don’t have enough about this to make a full post, you should know that pigs play Candy Land.

What? This totally happens at your house EVERY DAY!



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Rose is 2

Celebrating 2 years of this monkey

Two years ago yesterday, I woke up at 3 in the morning with regular contractions every 8 minutes. They were uncomfortable, but they didn’t hurt so I thought they were probably Braxton Hicks contractions… but maybe not.

At about 10 am, I was still having contractions, but they still didn’t really hurt. I drove myself to a doctor’s appointment 30 minutes away. I told my doctor about the contractions, but since they didn’t really hurt, she said I probably wasn’t in labor even though I’d been contracting for a full minute every 8 minutes for the past 7 hours. She checked me to discover I was nearly 5 cm dilated. Almost halfway there. You would think this would get you a free pass directly to labor and delivery, but since my contractions weren’t painful she sent me home and told me to go to the hospital if I even “smelled” labor since I was dilating so easily (I had been at least 3 cm the week before and something like 2 cm since 35 weeks).

I went home and continued to have the same contractions all day long. I started calling the people (several different families) we had lined up to watch Lily while we were at the hospital just to see who was free/put everyone on alert.

Nobody answered.

Nobody called back for several hours.

Which was disturbing. What if this had been a labor emergency?!

Finally I started calling other people. My friend studying to be a nurse practitioner FREAKED OUT when she heard I was at home contracting and “nearly 5 cm”.


It was about 4 pm. I was getting a nervous. If I had been nearly 5 cm hours ago with no real pain, I was concerned I could get to 10 cm without even knowing it.

I texted my husband and told him he should come home soon. It should also be noted that even though Dr. Toy Warden knew I had been contracting every 8 minutes and was 5 cm dilated he didn’t call me all day to make sure I hadn’t given birth on the kitchen floor. I guilt him about this and the fact that when I woke him up at 12:30 am to tell him I was in labor with Lily he said “WHAT? WHAT DO YOU WANT?!”

My contractions still weren’t hurting me, but they had picked up pace a little to 6 minutes a part. My doctor had said if anything had changed, we should go in. So we decided we should go… though I felt very silly about it even though I was almost 5 cm dilated. I wasn’t hurting. When I went to the hospital in labor with Lily, I was in screaming-level pain. This time I was like “Contraction? What contraction?”

But we went. And 6 hours (a water breaking, a last-minute epidural and a delivery by a male doctor even though I went to an all female practice) later Rose was here at 12:47 am.

Originally, the hospital screwed up her birth record and had her down for October 8.

But it had definitely been October 9 for 47 minutes.

It’s hard to believe that was two years ago. That strange and somewhat comical labor got us one of the most hilarious, sweet and feisty little girls on the planet.

Asserting her dominance since 2009



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