MUCH More Like It …

Soooo, you may remember our introduction to ballet. Or, perhaps, our un-vitation to ballet?

Let’s just say we quickly realized little Paiger’s personality isn’t exactly suited to the types of activities that require lots of standing around and listening. Or old-ish teachers who don’t have much patience for … um, how do you say? Strong-ish personalities?

Soccer was a tad better, but mostly because we are pretty sure Paige really enjoyed hanging out with her friends and getting the snacks at the end. And she might have had a teensy crush on one of her coaches. Who is also her dentist. (A coincidence that she could NOT get past.)

Then, a few weeks ago we started gymnastics.

Before the first class there was a lot of hemming and hawing about how much she didn’t like gymnastics (um, except that she had never been). And lots of talk that she was worried the other kids would laugh at her (I’m not even sure where the HELL this comes from? WTF? Why would a 4 year-old even think that?!?!? That’s a subject for another post).

She and I walk into her first class, along with Blair and Gramma. It helped that Paige had her birthday party to look forward to later that day. It also helped (apparently) that she was able to announce said birthday party to the entire class. It certainly gave her an ice-breaker.

Her teacher is a young woman named ‘Ms. Chris.’ She is spunky, energetic and she doesn’t take “I can’t do it” for an answer. She is just what Paige needs – a certain blend of sweet and fun, yet hard-assed bossiness. In short – her nemesis who is also her idol. Probably a lot like Paige will be one day.

The classes have gone really well. She spends most of the time running around, saying “Ta-da” and waving to me. The first class, she excitedly yelled to Ms. Chris “I DID IT!” every time she did a somersault. Ms. Chris let Paige know this was unnecessary. I didn’t have the heart to tell Ms. Chris that Paige was so excited because she had never actually DONE a somersault before.

I mean, do you know me at all? I hear somersault and my mind immediately jumps to broken neck. I hear cartwheel and I’m all like “well, let’s pick out your wheelchair.” I figured it was better for her to learn in the presence of an expert. And, yes. In my mind, “Instructor at the YMCA” = “Expert.”

Anyhoo – here are some pictures from the past two classes. She had to miss a class because of my stupid appendix. But I think she’ll be alright.

Ready to go to her first class! Thanks, Gramma and Grampa for the cute outfit! (And seriously? Those legs? I would pay a trainer everything I have for them!)

Practicing her first ‘Ta-da!’ (That’s Ms. Chris beside her. And, in the blue leotard, quite possibly one of the cutest little girls I’ve ever seen that aren’t directly related to me.)
See? LOTS of running. This is one of MANY pictures of the running I took. It was the least blurry.
Working on a handstand
Blair, watching the beginning of class. Shortly after this shot she tore stuff off that bulletin board, threw a fit, tossed her snack all over the place and spilled her water on my iPad. Being a little sister is HARD work.

LOTS of firsts in this class – bouncing somersault!
Her next class – learning the ‘pike’

Working on somersaults. Seriously. I hold my breath EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. she is not standing upright.

“TA-DA!!!” Followed by an, “I DID IT, MOMMY! I DID IT!” Paige, once again: Please, stay like this forever. I heart you. So, so much.

Breakfast Dates

This is going to sound crazy, but the girls and I had our very first sit-down breakfast date yesterday. I know, I know … you might be thinking, “what the heck has she been waiting for?”

If that is the case, please go back through and read all previous posts for clarification.

Our day began early because I had to drop the van off at 7:30 am at the dealership (awwww yeah, remote starter! No more shivering babies waiting for the heat to kick in!). It helps that our girls wake up at the ass-crack of dawn. Yet, to make this happen, we had to dress ourselves and the girls, give them breakfast, brush teeth and hair, get everyone out the door and loaded into the van, drive to Nani and Botsie’s to borrow their car, put carseats in said car, drive to the dealership, drop off van, take Derrick back to Nani and Botsie’s to get his car again and … wait, that was it. Did I mention it was snowing and everyone was driving about 10 miles per hour?

I mean, for the love. Anyhoo, we had a few hours to kill before Paige’s 4 year-old check up (sob!), so rather than go home, unload and then start the process all over again, I decided to run some errands.

We were at Trader Joe’s by 8:15 am. Which, incidentally, might actually be the best time ever to be at TJ’s. We were the only people there besides the employees. Meaning no one gave us dirty looks when my girl’s found the monkey (aka, started screaming excitedly and making loud monkey sounds). TJ workers get my kids, which makes me love that place even more.

Even after more than our fair share of samples (crumpets with cookie butter. COOKIE. BUTTER. Literally a jar of creamy goodness made out of crushed cookies. Who could blame us for going back?) we realized we were starving. Things had been going fairly well, so I decided to give a restaurant a shot. We headed to Panera.

I mean, I’m not crazy. Not a sit-down and order restaurant. Baby steps, people.

They were delightful dates … albeit a little high-maintenance. But, who doesn’t have a hard time deciding what to order (it took Paige 5 minutes and an ultimatum) and cry for her own empty coffee cup (I get it, Blair. I feel that way about coffee). And, it’s nice to know I’m missed when I take the 10 steps to the coffee station to fill up my cup. The girls let me know they missed me by telling “Mama! Hi Mama!” until I came back to the table.

MAN I make cute kids! Shortly after this, Blair let out one of her pterodactyl screams. Right after a group of old ladies walked in. One of them looked at us and said “Oh no!!!” I looked back and said, “Oh yes!!!”

I mean, it’s not like she was upset or being bad. She was just excited (yes, she doesn’t get out much).  Yet, we decided as a trio that it was probably time to head on out.

Let’s roll, ladies. We got places to go and people to see.

Stupid Appendix

Okay, here’s what I don’t understand. Why the HELL do we have organs that are useless? And, if they’re not going to do anything in there, then why the HELL do they have the ability to do anything … like, um, get infected and need to be removed?!?!?

Let me back this bus up a bit. To around Monday morning.

I woke up with what I would call a little tummy ache. Sort of like the feeling that maybe I needed to go to the bathroom, but couldn’t (you know what I mean – and, no, that wasn’t the case). Just enough to make me a little grouchy. Not enough to stop me in my tracks. I mean, I went to the gym and did a wicked-hard workout class and proceeded to do the rest of my Monday morning errands with relative ease … with a side of discomfort.

But, by the time I got Paige home from Preschool things were quickly taking a turn downhill. I couldn’t get off the couch without feeling like someone – or actually, multiple someones – was stabbing me in my mid-section. By 3:00 I had to call Derrick and beg him to come home early from work.

Fast-forward to 2:30 am, when I finally hit gently nudged my husband awake and told him I was going to need to go to the hospital. Something was DEFINITELY. NOT. RIGHT. He wanted to wake up our girls to take them with us to the Emergency Room. In the middle of one of the worst flu-seasons ever. I looked at him like he was a crazy person.

Then I proceeded to behave like any crazy person Mommy. And I drove my own, keeled-over, moaning self to the hospital. In all honesty, I was thinking maybe I had some crazy version of the flu or something. In my head I was going to be given a quick dose of fluids combined with an antibiotic and then be sent on my merry way.

Not so much. It was wishful thinking. Especially since on the 1-10 pain scale, I was hovering around 9.5 (folks – during labor I never listed myself as higher than a 7 … and I was probably over-estimating just to get that epidural in as fast as possible). Needless to say a call was made to Susu and Derrick quickly joined me in the ER.

I was given an IV of fluids and a pain killer that I didn’t quite catch the name of, but that I can only hope is provided over-the-counter at every single place I visit in heaven. It was wonderful.

A quick CT and some bloodwork confirmed that my appendix was indeed protesting it’s current status as an organ in my body. I was transferred up to a room and scheduled for an early morning surgery. It all went quickly and well.

Well, except for the wicked case of hives I woke up with:

Sadly, this is not all that unusual for me to look like this. Also sadly, the nurse in recovery tried to inform me that I couldn’t scratch. As if I was unaware it would make them worse. And also as if I was some sort of child. So, she ended up dealing with a strongly-drugged strongly-willed me. NOT a good combination…

I had an uneventful overnight stay. I was sort of hoping it would be restful – I kind of imagined myself sleeping through the night, waking up to the delightful sounds of bluebirds chirping. Not so much … how quickly we forgot just how crappy it is to sleep in a hospital. I finally turned off the TV at 9:30 pm, and woke up later imagining it was probably near around 5:00 am. It was 11:53. I did go ahead and watch a movie. And then watched another one when this happened again at 4:00 am.

Sooooo, the surgery was Tuesday morning, and today is Saturday. And I am PISSED. In my head, I was going to bounce right out of that hospital, maybe even stopping at the gym on the way home. Okay, not really, but … seriously?!?!?! This is crap! I am still sore, still exhausted and still keeping my reflexes cat-like (my girls alternate between using my abdomen as a ‘pushing-off’ point to get up from the couch and running at me full-force to give me hugs to remind me how glad they are that I’m home.).

I realized my limitations this morning when I was woke up feeling pretty good. Then Blair took a header off our bed while we were all hanging out. Meaning, she landed face-first onto our hardwood floors. I quickly jumped up, ran around the bed and scooped her up. She earned herself two bloody lips and a bloody nose. I earned myself what I can only imagine was a regression back to what I think was probably Thursday evening’s progress.

Awesome.

However, it’s not all bad.

I realized how grateful my girls are to have an active mommy. They do NOT appreciate sedentary mommy. They are going stir-crazy (they are not the only ones) and don’t seem to know what to do with me while I’m sitting around. They almost seem confused.

I realized, or rather, was re-affirmed of, just how much my girls love me. They did NOT do well waking up and finding out I was in the hospital. Paige cried when I talked to her on the phone. Blair has yet to sleep through the night since I’ve been home – she wakes up crying for me and promptly earns a spot in our bed (I can’t pick her up, so Derrick’s solution is to just tuck her in next to me. Not a great solution.).

I realized that if you’re gonna have to spend some time on the couch/in bed, it definitely helps to have two little girls that LOVE television. They are good little caretakers, and partners-in-crime.

Just the girls (me, Paige, Blair and Princess Sophia/Doc McStuffins)

Still. I’m ready to be back to 100%.

Stupid appendix.

Gall bladder, don’t get any ideas.

Happy 4th Birthday, Paige

I’m not sure how this happened. I swear to God, Paige was born about 6 months ago. And Blair is still an infant. Right?

Somehow this:

Became this:

And then all of a sudden become this:

I swear to God, I went to bed one night, and all of a sudden she’s four years old.
Below are a few pictures for Paige’s 4th birthday party. It was rainbow-themed, and I’m pretty sure it was everything she hoped it would be (or, at least, I hope so). 
Before that, I’m going to get sappy for just a quick second. Only because I hope that someday my girls will look at these posts as a sort of journal on their youth.
Dearest, dearest Paigers, you are my sunshine. You TRULY make me happy … even when skies are already sunny. I love you so much that my heart literally hurts (in a good way) on a daily basis. (Here I go, tearing up). 
Your Daddy and I hoped and prayed for you for so long, and we even thought that there was a time where we would never know you. And then, a miracle. And there you were. My little baby girl. Perfect in every way a baby should be. And imperfect enough that you don’t ever have to worry about living up to an unachievable expectation.
I want nothing else for you but a life full of love and happiness. But I know that hurt and pain will someday come your way. In that case, I want nothing but to be your rock, your understanding ear, your sympathetic heart, and your ever-waiting arms. I will always love you. No matter what you are. No matter who you are. No matter where you are. Your daddy and I will always love you with all of our hearts.

Aaaaaaannndddd, then Uncle Jay-boy stole our camera. Of course he did. Silly twin.


Post-birthday viewing of ‘Finding Nemo’ with Uncle Brian, quickly followed by a pre-6:00 pm bedtime. 

Overall, a birthday success.
Happy, happy, happy birthday my dear Paigers. I love you more than anything. To the moon and back. And even more then some. Times infinity.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow (Cake)

Hi Mamas!  Some of you have been asking for the recipe for the Rainbow Cake I made for Paige’s 4th birthday party, so – viola! Ask and you shall receive! (Warning: it’s a bit of a mish-mash of recipes I’ve collected and adapted, but they were chosen after many years of trial and error, so stick with them!).



Cake recipe:

Hands down, the best white cake recipe I’ve ever tried. It’s easy, and simple to follow. I’ll tell you this – having the ingredients at room temperature is key!
Each batch makes two 8-inch rounds, or 2 layers (or, if you want a smaller cake, 4 layers – simply cut each finished round in half with a serrated knife). So, for this rainbow cake I made each batch 3 times.
Each recipe is about 5 cups, so to split the recipe in two before dying the cake batter, separate into 2 bowls – approx. 2 ½ cups per bowl.
Also, be sure to use GEL food coloring. The color is much more vibrant, and it won’t change the consistency of the batter. (I used Wilton Gel food coloring – available at any large grocery or at a Target that carries groceries.)
As a sidenote, I use these tips as my ‘baking bible’. Seriously, I’m on something like my 5th version because I keep getting cake batter all over it and have to reprint them! Learn them, use them, love them!
Ingredients:
Cake:
            1-1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
            7 large egg whites, at room temperature
            1 whole egg, at room temperature
            1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
            1/2 teaspoon almond extract
            4 cups cake flour, sifted
            2-1/4 cups sugar
            1-3/4 tablespoons baking powder
            1 teaspoon salt
            1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
            6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
Instructions
For the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease, line with parchment and flour two round 8-inch pans.
In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir 1/2 cup of the milk, stir the egg whites, whole egg, vanilla and the almond extract. Set aside.
Sift cake flour twice. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients, including the sugar, together on low-speed (I use the “stir” setting on my mixer) for 30 seconds.
Add the butter and shortening (I actually skipped the shortening and just altered the recipe for more butter, but to each his own!), blending on low-speed for about 30 seconds, then add remaining 1 cup of milk, and mix on low-speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1 -1/2 minutes (90 seconds), but no more.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg/milk/extract mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition.
Pour 1/2 of your batter (~2 ½ cups) into each prepared pan, spreading it evenly with a small offset palette knife.
Bake cake layers two-at-a-time in center of oven and 2″ apart for 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes clean when inserted into the center. Be so careful to not over-bake. Check cake at 20 minutes, but not before, and once you feel it’s almost ready, set the timer for 2 minute intervals. Let cool on racks for 20 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely.
Wash the 2 cake pans and line, grease and flour again and repeat.
Wrap tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Best enjoyed day 1 or 2.
Instructions
Icing:
            2-1/2 cups (5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
            5-1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
            4-1/2 tablespoons milk
            1-1/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract pinch or two of salt
For the Whipped Vanilla Frosting:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 3-5 minutes on medium speed. Butter will become very pale & creamy.
Add remaining ingredients and mix on low-speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy. Best used right away (for ideal spreading consistency), but keeps well once frosted.
After I iced the cake I used a small tip to add a small ‘line’ around the base and the top of the cake. I then added small gumballs. Wait until the last minute for this, or else the gumballs will bleed into the white icing.

A Bit More Believable

Remember that one time? When we flew on an airplane? And my girls were super well-behaved?

Ah. That was fun. And, yet, it seems so very long ago.

Then we had to fly home. I guess that’s the problem with round-trip tickets, huh?

Now, let me be fair. Paige actually was pretty well-behaved. Surprisingly so.

Because I’m pretty sure her mission while on vacation was to see just how many times she could drive me to the brink of madness, just to bring me back with something adorable. (Stupid lisps, pigtails and pink glasses. How do I stay mad at those?)

We weren’t seated together. I was in an aisle seat, Paige was directly behind me, and then Derrick and Blair were next to Paige (with Blair on Derrick’s lap). Fully-packed flights are awesome.

This was her pretty much the entire flight. Well, a little more smiley. This was just an “off” moment. Probably when Tinkerbell realizes her wing is ripped.


See the woman sitting next to Paige? She actually couldn’t have been nicer. At one point, Paige turned to her and basically yelled “CAN I TELL YOU SOMETHING? MY COUSINS FOUND A STARFISH ON THE BEACH AT THEIR FLORIDA. A REAL STARFISH.” Then turned back to watch her movie. (Seriously? Does people yelling because they are wearing headphones and they can’t tell how loud they’re talking ever NOT seem funny?).

Not included is a picture of me shoving a diaper underneath her while we spent 45 minutes stuck on a bridge just outside Tampa. She actually thought that was hilarious. Me? Not so much. (Okay, maybe a little. But mostly because she didn’t get any pee on me. And because we were forced to make eye contact the entire time because I was leaning into the backseat. Which led to a giggle-fest. Derrick included.)

Let’s see … who else was on the flight with us?

Oh. That’s right.

Blair.

Yowza. That’s really all I can say. A friend of mine was on the flight and she said that she and her family didn’t hear anything at all.

She is now one of my favorite-ist friends. She is willing to lie to me, especially via Facebook Messenger. So I can’t see or hear her laughing while she’s lying to make me feel better. (Thanks again!)

Blair was HORRIBLE.

She screamed. She cried. She pulled my hair. She scratched my face. She dumped a cup of ice onto the lap of the little boy sitting next to Derrick. Who was traveling by himself. And who then spent the rest of the flight sitting on Derrick’s sweatshirt and Blair’s blanket so it didn’t look like he peed his pants (it still sort of did).

At one point, she and I were in the teeny tiny airplane bathroom and I was begging, BEGGING her to Please. Just. Stop.

I’m not sure if you’ve tried to reason with a hysterical 18 month-old lately. Let’s just say I won’t count that one as a ‘success’ in my column.

After about 40 minutes of absolute terror, Blair looked like this:

Because it’s exhausting being this cute. Look at those pigtails. Look at those cheeks and those lips.
What was I talking about, again? Who was being horrible?
Stupid pigtails. They get me every time.

Repetition. Again.

I have often said that Paige will someday be either CEO of a large company, or dictator of a small country. Either way, she will rock it, I’m sure.

I’ve also mentioned once or twice that Paige would be an excellent addition to either terrorist cells or those designated to break the spirits of terrorists.

Case in point:

We are currently in Longboat Key, Florida. The Feldmann crew is staying in Nani and Botsie’s condo, while the ‘cousins’ (and their parents, obv) are staying in a condo down the road. This has actually been awesome, because their place is on the beach and we spend time there with them during the day,

and then at least one of the cousins have been spending the night with us.

Seriously? How much fun would it be to have this many ready-made playmates? And there is even one missing from this picture. The youngest, a boy … poor kid. If only he knew this is what his future held …

On more than one night, all three Whitacre girls have spent the night.

(Just setting the scene for you, here).

So, the Feldmann family’s day began at 5:35 this morning (typical). When Paige came into my bed (ugh…really?) and curled her little body next to mine (still a perfect fit) and told me she loved me (oh, sister. Please always do this.).

Then she asked me when her cousins were going to wake up.

M: “I don’t know, sweetie. It’s SUPER early. Let’s shut our eyes and go to sleep.”
P: “Okay, Mama.” Insert 10 second pause. “Hey, Mama. When will my cousins wake up?”

People? This went on for 2 hours. 120 minutes. Of being asked EVERY. 10. SECONDS.

At first, I was sweet about it. Then I became a little impatient. Then I became annoyed.

Then, I lost my shit.

Around 7:25 I may or may not have raised my voice and said “PAIGE!!! I CANNOT answer that question! There is no way for me to possibly have any clue when your cousins are going to wake up!! I cannot know the answer to that question!!!! I will promise you this: they WILL be awake at some point today! That is all I know! PLEASE!!!!!”

She seemed to get that she was driving me very close to the edge. She seemed to recognize that I was only 2 cups of coffee into the day (or, already two cups into the day … however you choose to look at it).

She gave me a vaguely dirty look, put her thumb in her mouth and went back to looking at pictures on my phone.

Then, after about 30 seconds, she turned to me, gave me a sweet smile and said:

“Hey. Mama? When will my cousins wake up?”

Seriously? Government people? Pay attention. Get this girl on your payroll now. Because when it comes to breaking people down, she has the market cornered. She even has the wherewith all to looked shocked, STUNNED even, when I get frustrated with her. As if she can’t BELIEVE why on Earth I would be upset with her.

And, I start to wonder if I’m a little crazy. Perhaps I AM being irrational. I begin to doubt myself. Maybe, somewhere deep inside, I actually DO know when her cousins will wake up.

Well played, Paige. Well played.

Update: Since I began writing this post, the cousins have indeed woken up. Just as I predicted. For those of you interested, it was just before 8:00 am. I actually didn’t know kids slept that late. Huh.

Addison and Paige greeted one another in the hall with a hug. The cousins all congregate in our room to say good morning to each other, and Paige literally squeals with joy. They all look at Paige, incredulous at her energy so early (I’m only guessing). Addison has declared “That Paige sure is a wunner (runner).”

 Blair and Paige have had two fights, Blair has tried to break Paige’s glasses once. 

They are now all playing house. Gracie is pretending to be the Mommy, and I just heard her tell the girls it was time for their spankings. She then just ran into our room with her “purse” and said, “Sorry, I’m trying to hide from my kids.”

Derrick and I just looked at her, knowingly, and said “Yeah. We get that. Us too.”