A Wedding in Three Pictures

We traveled to New York this past weekend for the wedding of Bob’s nephew. The weather was unbelievably beautiful for late July, the setting was absolutely charming and the couple themselves are just plain delightful.

Attending with three young children, we were relieved to know that the entire affair was designed to be casual, fun and, most importantly, that the ceremony was expected to only last about ten minutes.

Millie was restless while we waited for the wedding procession to make their way down the aisle. To capture her attention and encourage her to sit still, I told Millie that Elsa, her favorite character from the film Frozen, would be walking by in mere moments. It was a plan that provided temporary relief but backfired in the long term since she then spent the bulk of the reception trying to track down “that princess.”

At one point, late in the proceedings, when her confidence had kicked in, Millie placed her hands on her hips, furrowed her brow, stomped her foot and declared, “Imma gonna go talk to dat pwincess.” We found the bride on the dance floor so Millie grabbed my hands and asked quietly to dance with me. We began to swing and twirl with Millie creeping, ever so slowly, one step at a time, towards her princess. Her efforts were rewarded when we got a photograph of the two of them together.

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Charlie, who has never met a stranger, who just flat out approaches random people now to introduce himself and chat for a bit, spent the bulk of the wedding hanging out with anyone that would listen to him.

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I have absolutely no idea who those people are. What I do know is that Charlie’s cousin lent him her phone, on which she had downloaded a Civil War app. Charlie looked around for a place to sit while he played the game and when he couldn’t find an open seat, he approached the first person he spotted and asked to join them. They did not mind. No one ever minds with Charlie.

At one point, he had a small army of adults recruited for his wedding site Civil War reenactment. I’m actually not exaggerating. More than one family member and stranger approached me to say they were sorry but had to abandon the cause because dinner was being served.

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This is the most I saw of Henry for the bulk of the reception; a glimpse of him on the deck off of the barn before he was gone again, running around with cousins and other kids in attendance. There were a few lawn games set up so he kept busy playing Cornhole and Giant Jenga.

At one point, an elaborate game of hide and go seek meant the kids were running full-steam laps around the property so, of course, he eventually got hurt doing this (someone ALWAYS gets hurt). After a few minutes of hugs, he was off again, wrestling in the grass in an impromptu tournament.

It was such a great afternoon and everyone had a fantastic time. It was also really nice to spend time with Bob at a social event. I’ve been pulling solo duty representing the family while he recovers so to be somewhere together as a whole unit was pretty special and something we haven’t done in months. Many thanks to our hosts for making that possible.

(Also, many apologies for the gas Millie passed right when the bride and groom were saying their vows. We’re praying that, even though it was audible a couple of rows away, the microphone on the video camera didn’t pick it up.)

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First Anniversary

It was convenient that this week, my one year anniversary of writing here, Pottery Barn Kids sent me their back-to-school catalogue. I enjoy this edition of the PBK catalogue for many reasons: tracking trends in names according to their many embroidered items (“Susie” and “Maureen” seem to be making a comeback, fyi), keeping up with what the kids are all wearing these days (berets and an inexplicable number of layers, apparently) and, of course, my favorite part of the catalogue, perusing the lunch box section to see what Pottery Barn suggests I send to school with my kids for lunch that will get thrown away devoured with enthusiasm.

I have to say, I was surprised at the lack of twine this year. I think the anti-twee movement is gaining traction! However, my eyes did roll so far back in my head when I turned the page and spotted this, that Bob was visibly concerned:

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Just, no.

I am going to admit that I stared at this hard. And, for probably way too long trying to figure out how they made the bullseye sandwich. Is that a cookie cutter thing? In graduated sizes? With two different types of bread? That can’t be possible, could it? The only thing I can think of is that maybe they make bread that already comes swirled like that? Is that a thing? That’s probably a thing. But, you still have to use a cookie cutter to get that perfectly round shape, right? So, when I’m making Henry’s lunch at 6:45 in the morning, I would have to wield a cookie cutter with precision? I’m never going to do that.

Also, the toothpick “arrow.” That’s a thing that someone has to consciously purchase, right? Like, they are suggesting a parent out there spend actual money on special toothpicks to recreate this whole stupid vignette. Maybe they made the arrow out of a toothpick and one of those Post-It flags and some scissors? That wouldn’t be as bad as purchasing it, I think. Also, I’m pretty sure my son would turn that toothpick into some sort of lunchroom weapon in about five seconds.

Actually, the most ridiculous part of this whole lunch is the real silverware. I give it about a week before the fork goes missing, ten days before the spoon is gone forever and two weeks before you’re filled with regret for ever sending your kids to school with actual items that had to be returned.

Listen, I think it’s great to be creative with food and get your kids interested in eating and fostering adventurous little taste buds. But, honestly, if your kid opens up their lunch box at school to find this and their first reaction isn’t to recoil in horror, well, pat yourself on the back, you’re doing something right as a parent:

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I’m pretty sure it’s not actually alive. But, I can’t be certain.

I believe that is vegetable cream cheese on a butterfly-shaped piece of bread (another early morning cookie cutter!), garnished with sliced radishes, flat-leaf parsley and chives.

Good heavens. I give up.

Packing Light

I’m in Kentucky with the kids for a week-long visit with my parents. We had to leave Bob behind this trip and since this was the first time I have made the drive to Louisville from our new house, I was worried it would be treacherous on my own with three young children. However, a strategic early departure, some well-timed movies on the Kindle and a couple of naps worked in our favor and we made the trek in nine hours.

I’ve kept a page in my planner for several years titled, “Packing Checklist.” Overwhelmed with the task of traveling with a young baby Henry, I can remember making a detailed list of everything I would need to shove into our Subaru to ensure we forgot nothing. Because when you’re a first time parent and it’s 1:30 in the morning and you’re trying to get a six-month-old to sleep in a pack and play in a Hampton Inn 500 miles from home, YOU BETTER HAVE ENOUGH PACIFIERS!

Every trip our family has taken since, I have run down that list prior to departure, checking items off as they get packed.

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And, every trip since, that list has shrunk a little bit as I erase items that Millie, our youngest, no longer needs.

It started when we were done with bottles for good. No more bottles, bottle liners, formula and burp rags. Soon, Millie outgrew baby food so we could shed all of the baby food jars, baby-specific snacks, special spoons, bibs and booster seat. Once two of our three children were fully potty-trained, the quantity of diapers packed decreased by 1,000 percent. (Incredibly, I can remember one trip where I packed about six different types of diapers between regular diapers, pull-ups, swim diapers and nighttime diapers all in various sizes.) Over time, we’ve stopped needing special baby shampoo or toddler toothpaste and Millie has made the bridge from infant medications to the standard children’s variety so all of the kid toiletries have decreased dramatically, too.

This trip, the pack and play got removed from the list. Millie sleeps in a regular bed now, just like a grown human and everything! She still has a favorite blanket and stuffed animal but I no longer need to remember the portable bed, the sheet for the portable bed, the blankets that provide a better cushion for the portable bed, and on and on.

It struck me, as I prepared for our journey to Kentucky this week, that the list now has a fraction of the number of items it used to have. I am amazed that I am only one potty-trained kid away from no longer needing a diaper bag when we go just about anywhere. I feel like I’ve been waiting for things to get easier forever and very slowly, one item at a time, everything has just gotten so much easier. This is kind of blowing my mind.

I look forward to the road trip we’ll take one day, not too far off in the future now, when I can throw three backpacks at my three kids and tell them to pack themselves. Can you even imagine?