Sunday, June 28, 2009

Meet Me in St. Louis

We are back in KC after four fun-filled and HOT days in St. Louis. What fun we had. The kids exceeded my expectations. They were so well-behaved and we avoided any major meltdowns. They handled the complete upheaval of any schedule without missing a beat. We made some amazing memories and I needed this time, more than I realized, to disconnect from my work life and just spend quality time with my wonderful kids and sweet husband.

In four days, we packed our schedule yet we didn't set a timetable for any activity. We followed the kids' lead and just enjoyed family time. The two big highlights for us were the zoo and the Magic House. Those RAWK! We also hit the arch, union station, the museum of transportation, the hotel pool each and every night, Ted Drewes on Route 66 (the one Alton Brown hit on Feasting on Asphalt) and dinner with good friends. What a great trip it was. Pictures to come, but we're tired and with Monday facing me, I'm keenly aware of the shock awaiting my system. A few random gems from the trip.

*Ella had an encounter with a sting ray. Sounds more dramatic than it was. It took a few patient attempts but she finally got the chance to feel one as it swam by her. In addition, she pet a guinea pig and brushed a goat. Sam was more interested in flicking the goats' ears than brushing them.

*Ella was quite amused by the automatic circle door (i.e. revolving door) at the hotel's entrance. She requested that each time we left and arrived at the hotel that we use that entrance. It's the little things people.

*Sam was continuously helping us pick up our hotel room as we would find random items in the trash. An APB is still out on two toothbrushes.

*Ella climbed a giant bean stalk, rode a three-story slide and tried Cinderalla's shoe on for size all within the same few hours.

*Sam remains quite amused by refrigerator doors. Open and shut, repeat.

*Who needs a attractions as Ella was the most excited about going swimming each and every night. She has to be part mermaid.

*Ella spent more time in the stroller than Sam. The boy refuses to be contained, making meals some of the more difficult times.

*We're done eating out. The detox starts tomorrow.

*Ella scared the SH*T out of Mike and I. She attempted to play frogger on a busy downtown St. Louis street. I aged 20 years, but I am attempting to block that painful incident from my memory. Oh the tears that flowed from both her and I. My heart only now is returning to its regular rhythm.

*Four days and three nights is plenty of time for this family of four to be couped up in one room together.

*I like to romanticize cuddling with my children throughout the night. However, it only takes one elbow to the head to be reminded that kids do not belong in bed with me.

*To commemorate our trip, Ella purchased a pink polk-a-dotted sting ray, while Sam came home with a giraffe stuffed animal and a monkey t-shirt (neither that we saw during our trip to the zoo.) Once the sting ray was purchased, it didn't leave her side, and is currently tucked safely next to her in bed.

*Ella demanded that we see the elephants as she specifically wanted them to see her Ellie (an adorable elephant stuffed animal) to the zoo. Yeah, I don't think they were amused.

Pictures to come and quite maybe some youtube videos.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hey, that’s my brother

When I was pregnant with Sam and before I knew he was a boy, I pondered the idea of what having another girl would mean for our family. We already had a plethora of girl stuff. (Have you seen Ella’s closet?! Ok that’s a post for another day! Hand-me-downs work best when crossing gender lines when it's from boy to girl -- not so much girl to boy). My knowledge and comfort level was stronger with girls than boys. (No clue then how to handle the fountain spray from a boy.)

In all seriousness, the thought I kept toying with was giving Ella the gift of a sister, a relationship and a bond that I longed for many times throughout my childhood. I enjoyed the idea of raising two girls and the collision of all that estrogen.

I do know the joys, and let’s be honest the physical pains, of having a brother. The brother/sister relationship is something worth treasuring, but it’s not like I would invite any of them to hold my hand while giving birth. I like to think if I had a sister, I would have. However, life dealt me a hand with three brothers, and for that I am blessed. My relationships with each of my brothers are unique and unlike the others, but we didn't share clothes or spend hours toiling in the bathroom, and I never went to my brothers asking for dating advice. All this was what I thought Ella could have with a sister. (Yes, it's a Pollyanna perspective on sisterhood but I was raging with hormones.)

In my wishing and hoping for her to have a sister, I had overlooked what having a brother would mean to her. It wasn't until Sam's gender was identified did I acknowledge life with a brother, like maybe she could be his sidekick in his Boy Scouts' magic show. (I had such an honor. I even sported my first dance recital outfit. Photos exist somewhere on said event but I hope they stay tucked safely in photo boxes.)

Of course I worried about Ella accepting a sibling into her life regardless of gender. Would she feel displaced? Would she be jealous that she had to share the spotlight? All normal fears when bearing the second child. Luckily, from the beginning, she was and continues to be an amazing sister.

Fast forward to the other night. We are enjoying a standard evening playing in the neighborhood. Ella and Sam have ventured over to our neighbor’s house where the kids have congregated. One of the boys is playing with a spinner gun -- something you would expect to see at a circus. As my kiddos enter the garage, the boy points it at Sam and casually pretends to shoot him. Ella without skipping a beat, stops dead in her tracks, glares at the boy and sternly states, “Hey, that’s my brother.”

The boy slightly stunned by Ella’s strong reaction shrugs it off. As he changes his focus, Ella walks up to Sam, throws her arms around him and reassures him with a “it’s okay Sammy.” Sam who was unfazed by the gun seemed more startled by Ella’s interference.

As a mom watching this unfold, all I could think about was how happy I am that my kiddos have a mutual adoration and respect for each other. Well, for this week anyway. Ella may never have a sister, but I hope Sam and her always appreciate the gift of each other.