Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hey everyone, it's me. Natalie.


Hi everyone, Natalie here. 
*photo of Goblin:
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Aren't I cute? I know that I am, because everybody tells me so about a million times a day! Mama has obviously been a slacker at blogging lately, so I thought I’d fill in for her today.  Anyhow, I introduced myself as Natalie. N-A-T-A-L-I-E. I am not a Goblin, for pete's sake.  What a wretched nickname! Also - look there to your right.  Why hasn't Mama added me to her blog's background? I'm going to have to have a chat with her about that.

Anyway, I thought I might update you on what’s been going on lately around our house.  Lots of things – it’s a very exciting place to live!

The big sister just got accepted to a place called ‘college’.  People keep saying she’s a badger now. She still looks like a person to me. She's enjoying her senior year and Mama and Daddy keep remembering when she was a baby. I think that was about a thousand years ago or something.

The smaller sister is a hoot. Look at her being all silly with these French fries:
*photo of Bumblebee making a mustache out of fries:
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She’s all jazzed up about Christmas. She keeps asking mama very specific questions about some person named Santa. Mama told her that Santa only brings presents to those who believe in him… I’m going to have to remember that in the future!

My sisters are both amazing and I love them so much. But let me tell you about my brother.  He is so sweet.  If Mama is ignoring me while I scream my lungs out (I don’t know why she thinks she has to do things like go to the bathroom and make dinner and fold laundry. She should be holding me all the time!) my big brother will come pick me up and talk to me. He doesn’t like to hear me cry, and he is so good at calming me down.
*photo of The Boy holding Goblin:
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And he has cool hair.  I hope my hair grows like his.

So I mentioned Christmas.  I’m not sure what it is, but apparently it’s a big deal.  There are lots of sparkly lights around the house.  Smaller sister says there are usually more of them but Mama just got lazy this year and didn’t put up all of the decorations.  She said there is normally a giant sparkling tree set up in the sun room!  That’s crazysauce because we already have like three trees around the house. Why do we need another huge one? Anyway, the kids keep talking about what they want for Christmas, and there are pretty packages under the living room tree. I think I will like Christmas as long as Mama is there too.

I don’t like to leave Mama’s side.  When she sits down to dinner, I scream to be fed, even if I ate recently. Why should everyone else get to eat and not me? She usually pulls out the Boppy pillow and nurses me at the table while she eats one handed. That’s called a compromise.  Works for me! I'm glad the rest of the family isn't bugged by it.

I am so tired of Mama taking pictures all the time.
*photo of Goblin sticking out her tongue:
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The Mamarazzi follows me everywhere with that big black flashy contraption. Make it go away!
*photo of Goblin covering her face:
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Several days ago, I played the best practical joke on Mama.  I slept through the night twice in a row!  Mama was so excited, she kept telling me how awesome I am and smiling a bunch.  Her face looked different too – the puffy bags under her eyes weren’t so noticeable. But guess what? If I sleep all night long, I don’t get that extra special middle of the night snuggle time with Mama, so… I decided to start waking up again. Maybe I’ll go back to sleeping all night, but I’m not so sure. I don't understand why she's so tired all the time.  She's asleep whenever I wake up to eat at night!

I’m still mad at Mama for what happened last week.  She took me to a place called the doctor. They took my clothes off, weighed me, and kept calling me things like ‘dainty’ and ‘peanut’ and ‘she’s so tiny!’.  I did not like that.  I may be only 9 pounds and in the 10th percentile for my height and weight, but I am TOUGH and STRONG, darn it. Anyway, they did all sorts of weird things, poking, prodding, looking in my eyes, ears, and mouth with a flashlight, and so on.  It was annoying, so I let them know that I was not pleased.  And then… holy shit, you guys (oops, Mama says 2 month olds aren’t supposed to swear. Sorry!) the nurse stabbed these sharp sticks into my legs! What the hell was that for? I am never going back to that place, I don’t care what Mama says.

There is this thing called football at our house.  Do you have it at yours?  It’s where a loud noise comes from the TV.  It sounds like a crowd of people talking, with some whistles blowing, and some clanky noises, maybe from when the men who wear tights bump into each other? Anyway, our team is the Packers and everyone in the house dresses up in green and yellow on Sundays.  Mama is in love with some big muscly guy named Clay and Big Sister gets all googly eyed over Aaron Rodgers. They like to tease each other over whose 'boyfriend' is the best.  (I'm on Mama's side for that one, but #12 isn't so bad either.) 

We watch the game and Daddy yells a lot. Sometimes it’s good yelling, and everyone whoops it up.  Our dog Reggie is the funniest – he’s a huge football fan.  He runs around and barks when there’s a touchdown. And sometimes it's bad yelling.  Then Daddy goes over to our punching bag and hits it.  He says he's letting off steam, but I haven't seen any steam. Just a mad face and some talk about the blankety-blank refs not calling penalties. Anyway, I’m still not so sure about all of this, but I guess our team lost last weekend for the first time all year.  Daddy was kind of disgusted and Mama wasn’t too happy either.  But look – I didn’t mind.  I love my football game outfit:
*photo of Goblin smiling in her Packers gear:
 

Well, I should get going now. I’m starting to get hungry.  I like to eat about every two hours during the day which makes it tough for Mama to get anything done.  But I know she loves every second of it, because she tells me so all the time while she’s sniffing my head. She says she has to go back to a place called ‘work’ soon.  I don’t know what work is, but I think it must be like ‘doctor’ because she does NOT want to go back.  She gets sad when she talks about it. Poor Mama. I hope she doesn’t have to get shots there.

Anyway, that’s about all I have time for today. Maybe Mama will be able to write another post soon. I hope you have a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Accepted!

*photo of Hollywood looking at her laptop and throwing her hands up in the air in excitement:
Accepted!

This photo was taken of Hollywood at the exact second that she logged into her University of Wisconsin online account and read their admissions acceptance letter. 

She got in! She's now an official Badger.

There was never any doubt in my mind that she'd get accepted.  The kid's top of her class, straight As, great ACT score, tons of extracurriculars, etc.  But it took them 12 weeks to give her the official 'we want you' letter.  She was waiting for a long time to get it, and recently she'd been getting antsy. Wisconsin was the only school she applied to - after her visit to Madison this spring, she was 100% set on going there. It felt like the perfect fit for her, and she couldn't wait to get enrolled!

It was a rare moment in our family last night because we were all in the living room together, except for Bumblebee who was at a sleepover next door.  The rest of us were watching the Iowa vs. ISU basketball game when she came screetching into the room.  She'd gotten an email stating that the admissions decision was available online.  She brought her laptop into the living room, logged into her account, and we all waited holding our breath. As you can see from the photo, she got the news she wanted.

I know that she can't wait to get this new chapter in her life started. Last night she spent time ranking the residence halls and reading up on the enrollment process. That smile never left her face and occasionally, she'd let out a giddy "Whee!" with a delighted clap of her hands. That enthusiasm was so contagious - we were all smiling.  Even Goblin, who usually only smiles in the morning. While I'm a mess when I think of letting Hollywood go, I can't help but recall when I was her age and the world was so... limitless. She's now one step closer to her dreams, her future, the incredible time in her life when she writes the definition of who she is.

Congratulations, baby girl. We are so proud of the young woman you've become.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Expressions

This kid cracks me up:
*collage photo of Goblin with many goofy expressions:
Expressions

Friday, December 2, 2011

Imaginary Photos

*photo of Flat Stanley with a giant turkey leg in front of him:
IMG_5517 (2)
I can't believe it's December already. This week has seriously flown by.  I have been planning on writing up a recap of Thanksgiving for several days, and now I've finally got a calm baby, a cup of coffee, and a brain in the mood to throw some words together. So here goes:

***

I didn't take many photos this year for Thanksgiving, which makes me sad.  Photographs are so important to me - they freeze a moment in time, giving us the chance to look back years later and remember an event.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday; I hope my children look back on their years at home and remember our laid back, family oriented Thanksgivings.

We hosted dinner at our house this year, which is why I didn't have the chance to take a lot of photos.  Between the baby and the food (and the football game - Go Packers, 11-0, baby!!!) I didn't have the chance to walk around getting in everyone's face with the camera.  I suspect people were pleased.

If I would have had the chance to take photos this year, here's what you would be seeing right now:

The first photo is of my mother-in-law, who came up the night before and spent the night so that she could make us a breakfast of ebelskivers - danish pancakes that were delicious!  In our imaginary photograph, Judy is wearing her pajamas and she's standing in front of my stove flipping the donut-like pancakes. Her smile softly crinkles her eyes, and there's a smudge of powdered sugar on her shoulder.  Bumblebee is hovering around her, waiting for the next batch of ebelskivers to be done (and so am I - those things were like crack!- but since I'm the imaginary photographer, you don't get to see me!) As usual, my kitchen is a bit of a mess, but it's still a colorful, sunny, and a happy place to be, especially on Thanksgiving morning. Our imaginary photograph has special powers, so you can smell the chocolate in the pancakes, the hazlenut in the coffee, and the pumpkin pies that were just put into the oven. Mmmmmm....

The second photograph is also of my mother-in-law. She's not as happy in this one, and if we had an imaginary video instead of a photo, you might hear her mutter some mild curses under her breath.  She had the task of making a million deviled eggs because she makes the best ones I have ever tasted. This year the eggs didn't want to peel nicely, so she had trouble with them. In our photo, you see her hands fumbling with the egg shells, trying to coax them into coming off of the eggs easily, leaving a smooth surface of egg white.  The smooth surface was not to be; the eggs had the crater-filled appearance of the moon - but I assure you that nobody in our family noticed as they gobbled them up.

Another photo shows my brother Luke, who was the first of my family to arrive. Luke lives in Kansas City and we don't get to see him as often as we'd like.  This imaginary photo was taken outside in the driveway, just as Luke got out of his car.  It was captured at the exact second that Bumblebee launched herself up into Luke's arms.  Caught in mid air, you can see that she's got a big smile on her face, while he wears a look of concentration: the expression that comes from the effort of counterbalancing the energy of an enthusiastic 8 year old in order to remain standing instead of getting knocked to the ground.

There are other photos of my brothers and their families as they arrive.  Smiles on their faces, arms bearing the food they brought to share. My nephews take off for the basement or the back yard to rough house with my kids, and there are dogs everywhere.

The next photograph is taken in our back yard where there is a crew of guys playing football. It's the end of November and the weather is beautiful - over sixty degrees, which is unheard of in Iowa.  The dogs are participating in the fun, and in the photograph you can see Reggie tackling my nephew Alex as he ran with the ball.  (It was all in good fun, but I do think it scared him a bit, and I feel bad for that.  Reggie didn't mean any harm, I guess he was just taking his job as safety very seriously.) The sun is shining down on the grass, which is somehow still green in places and sprinkled with leaves from the neighbor's apple tree.

Moving back inside, we now see a photo of the women standing in the kitchen doing what is required of them on Thanksgiving day: drinking hefty amounts of wine. Hollywood is among the ladies, and has been given permission to enjoy her first glass of wine with the 'grownups'. There's a glint in her eye, she's pleased to be included in this adult tradition, but if you were to see her mom, you might catch a quick look of sadness cross her face - sadness at the thought that this is the last year she'll be at Thanksgiving while she lives at home.  Next year it will be like she's a visitor. The rest of the subjects in the photo are Judy, my mom, my sisters-in-law, and the ebullient Bumblebee who insists loudly that Hollywood is getting drunk. We are all smiling and enjoying the warm-faced glow that comes from wine and good company.

The photographs taken at the dinner table show mismatched china (who has matching service for 22 people, anyway? Certainly not me!) over a pretty burgundy tablecloth.  The kids' table is set up in the sun room, only a few feet away from the adults.  The photos show people eating mounds of food - turkey, potatoes and gravy, stuffing, corn, green bean, and asparagus casseroles, and so much more.  There is SO MUCH FOOD, you can gain ten pounds just by looking at these pictures.  The photos capture a mouth stuffed with food here, a chin raised in laughter there, and a family squeezed close together around the table. Thank goodness my brothers aren't seeing who can go the longest without using deoderant anymore.

A guest photographer has borrowed my imaginary camera and has taken a photo of The Husband and me.  The photo captures us from behind as we are seated together at the head of the table sharing the wobbly piano bench.  The Husband has put his arm around me and leaned in to give me a kiss on the cheek and whisper his thanks for the food and for putting this all together.  He squeezes my side and the camera captures my squirm, as he's gotten a ticklish spot. For the record, this is a magical imaginary camera and it shows no bra lines or love handles or back fat.  I abhor photos taken of me from behind, but this one is as flattering as can be.

There's a photograph of my dad standing in front of the kitchen sink, washing all of the dishes by hand. Our dishwasher has been broken for a few months and while I ordered a new one a while ago, it didn't get delivered until the day AFTER Thanksgiving.  So here's Dad in the photo, shirt sleeves rolled up above his elbow, while the dishes are stacked ceiling high to his right.  To his left is the clean pile, waiting to be dried and put away.

In the living room, we capture a photo of my mom holding my five month old nephew, Simon.  Nanna is slowly moving her fingers up and down, as you would if you were playing an imaginary piano. Simon is fascinated by this and can't take his eyes off of the moving fingers.  His chubby little hand reaches for the moving fingers, and he eventually grabs one and puts it in his mouth.

The last imaginary photo was taken after all of the guests have gone home.  The Husband went to bed early and the older kids are downstairs watching TV.  The photo is of me snuggling with Goblin.  It's been a busy day and she's behaved wonderfully - the noise and activity is calming for her, apparently.  But I had many things to do today, and there were people who wanted to hold her, so I didn't get my usual dose of baby snuggling.  So this last photo shows me sitting on the sofa, wrapped in my raisin colored chenille blanket with a sleeping baby in my arms. Goblin is making reflexive expressions in her sleep that look like grins, grimaces, and expressions of surprise. My neck is bent down with my nose on her soft head, smelling her sweet baby scent. I'm inhaling deeply, replacing the smell of turkey, pie, and other food with her precious scent that will only last for a short time.  My eyes are closed, and I am at peace, thinking of the day and how wonderful it has been. Thanksgiving - oh yes.  There is much to be thankful for.

In reality, Bumblebee had a school project and Flat Stanley had to get some photos taken over the holiday weekend. So we did take a few photos, but not many. I will leave you with this one: Flat Stanley's dessert:
*photo of Flat Stanley eating pumpkin pie:
IMG_5518 (2)
We forgot his whipped cream topping!  How rude.