Birthday Extravaganza

Sweet baby Paige was turneg 5 (FIVE?!?!?!? HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?!?!?!?) on January 11th.

If you know me at all, you know how I feel about birthdays. They are my favorite – especially for my girlies. Doors are decorated with streamers, balloons are placed throughout the house, birthday t-shirts are worn. Oh, and I am not afraid to tell every single person we see that it is so-and-so’s birthday (that goes for grown ups, too – consider yourselves warned).

We headed to Florida after Christmas for a little over a week. We were scheduled to be in Florida with Nani and Botsie through the 7th, but I still already had lots of plans made and plenty of time to take care of purchasing everything else.

Or so I thought.

Enter the Polar Vortex of 2014. Stupid Polar Vortex – what does that even mean? It sounds like a roller coaster at King’s Island. And I hate both roller coasters AND amusement parks. So, I think you know how I might feel about Polar Vortex. During the days leaving up to Jan 7th, the entire Midwest and East Coast basically shut down. Flights were cancelled all over the country, roads were closed, travel was reserved for “emergency only.” Our friends in Indiana were talking about how terrible (and freezing) the weather was at home (they were rudely unsympathetic to our being-stuck-in-Florida drama).

I just kept thinking, “What am I going to do about Paige’s birthday?”

Cut yo us driving to Tampa early on the morning of the 7th, getting there, standing in line with 300 people, having my crying girls appear on the local news … and finding out our flight was canceled (which, by the way, “I FREAKING TOLD YOU SO, DERRICK!!” Phew. That felt good).

We salvaged the day by taking the girls to the (amazing) Florida Aquarium in Tampa, then turned around and headed back to Nani and Botsie’s. Thank God they pretended to act like they were glad to have us back. Did I mention this was Tuesday? Because the earliest flight Southwest could get us on was Saturday. Night.

As in, Paige’s actual birthday.

So, I cancelled the party we had planned at The Children’s Museum. You know, the one she’d been talking about for months, and had invited her cousins and cute little girlfriends from her preschool. The one she planned herself, and had been looking forward to like … well, like it was going to be her 5th birthday party?

So, we did what we mammas (and grandmammas) do best. We improvised. And then we spoiled the crap out of that child.

She got loads of junk gifts, tons of outings, and basically got to eat whatever she wanted. We celebrated a day early with Nani and Botsie, loaded up the girls for our second attempt to get home, and then continued to celebrate for the next 2 weeks. I’ll save you the narration, and will let you see the celebration pictures below.

Celebration #1 – Dinner at Eat Here in Sarasota

Making her own pizza (this place is amazingly kid-friendly, if you're ever in the area)

Making her own pizza (this place is amazingly kid-friendly, if you’re ever in the area)

These girls … oh, my heart.

These girls … oh, my heart.

Sitting between Nani and Bots!

Sitting between Nani and Bots!

The cake - I SWEAR, she chose it. The fact that it coincided with the "changing her name" threat is purely coincidence.

The cake – I SWEAR, she chose it. The fact that it coincided with the “changing her name” threat is purely coincidence.

See? I even love singing Happy Birthday!

See? I even love singing Happy Birthday! And, that shark tooth necklace around her neck? That’s an example of the giving her whatever she wanted. Thanks again for that Nani. Who knew it would go with everything? Including pajamas.

Celebration #2 – Breakfast at ‘Mickey Mouse Pancakes’ (otherwise known as The Blue Dolphin)

Another example of "fun gifts" - the pink poodle purse you see in the middle of the table. Shark necklace is currently inside.

Coloring, hot chocolate AND chocolate milk. Also, another example of “fun gifts” – the pink poodle purse you see in the middle of the table. Shark necklace is currently inside.

I wanted to show you a picture of the hat I got for her to wear later that day on the plane, but I can't seem to find her anywhere.

I wanted to show you a picture of the hat I got for her to wear later that day on the plane, but I can’t seem to find her anywhere.

Celebration #3 – Paige’s ACTUAL Birthday – Tampa International Airport/Southwest Airlines Flight to Indianapolis 

Watching one of many movies that day with Blair. What you can't see is that Mommy and Daddy are drinking on the other side of the table. And what you also can't see is that our flight has been delayed. Twice.

Watching one of many movies that day with Blair. What you can’t see is that Mommy and Daddy are drinking on the other side of the table. And what you also can’t see is that our flight has been delayed. Twice.

A bit far away, but the flight attendant is leading Paige to the front of the plane, where she got to meet the pilots and see the cockpit.

A bit far away, but the flight attendant is leading Paige to the front of the plane, where she got to meet the pilots and see the cockpit.

And then this happened (I apologize for cutting it off at the beginning – I wasn’t expecting it!):

Celebration #5 – Pizza/Cake with the Colby Family

Honestly, you'd think they hadn't seen each other in weeks. Oh wait, they hadn't.

Honestly, you’d think they hadn’t seen each other in weeks. Oh wait, they hadn’t.

The coveted 'Doodle Bear.' Huge, huge hit. Thanks Colbys!!

The coveted ‘Doodle Bear.’ Huge, huge hit. Thanks Colbys!!

Celebration #6 – Present from Mommy and Daddy

Welcome Jordan…er, Norman…er, Nordman. I THINK we've settled on Norman. And I KNOW I'm the only person that cares about him. He's so pretty, I just can't help myself. So…I basically bought myself a fish.

Welcome Jordan…er, Norman…er, Nordman. I THINK we’ve settled on Norman. And I KNOW I’m the only person that cares about him. He’s so pretty, I just can’t help myself. So…I basically bought myself a fish.

Celebration #7 – Benihana (duh!) with Susu, Uncle Robbo, Aunt EJ and cousins, and Aunt Jenny

Earlier that afternoon, Paige had an appointment at the opthamologist. They dilated her eyes (ugh), and she promptly fell asleep on my lap. I bet that doesn't happen every day with a 5 year-old. And I loved it.

Earlier that afternoon, Paige had an appointment at the ophthalmologist. They dilated her eyes (ugh), and she promptly fell asleep on my lap. I bet that doesn’t happen every day with a 5 year-old. And I loved it.

Doing whatever Gracie does. Ordering whatever Gracie does. Loving whatever Gracie does. Always.

Doing whatever Gracie does. Ordering whatever Gracie does. Loving whatever Gracie does. Always.

"Hey! Where eberwybody doe?" (And, yes, she actually said that.)

“Hey! Where eberwybody doe?” (And, yes, she actually said that.)

That's my girl - enjoying the birthday singing

That’s my girl – enjoying the birthday singing

Aaaand, finally, Celebration #8 – Bowling and Pizza

Girlfriends!

Girlfriends!

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Celebrating knocking down pins!

Celebrating knocking down pins!

At one point, my nephew took off down one of the alleys. No joke - he almost made it all the way to the pins. He's a quick little buster!

At one point, my nephew took off down one of the alleys. No joke – he almost made it all the way to the pins. He’s a quick little buster!

Yay! Happy birthday to Paige!

Yay! Happy birthday to Paige!

We love you! (Daddy was traveling, but he wishes he was there!)

We love you! (Daddy was traveling, but he wishes he was there!)

Sweet Baby Paige – we cannot believe you are actually five. I’m getting a little choked up even writing this – I just hope you know what a little miracle you are. You make my world a brighter place. Your exuberance and passion for everything you do makes me want to appreciate every single aspect of not just the years of my life, but the weeks, days, minutes and seconds. You are my baby, and you are my big girl. And I promise to love you with all of my heart every second of your life (even when it seems like I might not … I promise you, I do).

Happy birthday, Paigers.

Sweet Newborn Paige

 

 

Six Months

Six months. How is that even possible?

How is it possible that it was six months ago today that we lost you, little brother?

I can’t decide if it seems like the past six months have crawled by, with hours and days barely seeming to pass. Or if they have flown, with days passing without so much as a blip on my radar. Most days, it feels like both. Every day, it feels like I wish I could fast-forward through all the “firsts.” First Thanksgiving. First Christmas. First second Monday of January. First…well, you get the idea. Everything.

Dealing with grief like this truly makes you feel like a crazy person. There are so many mornings when I awake, fresh from a dream about Jobear. A dream that seems so real I want to fall back to sleep as soon as possible to see him again. And I get so angry at myself when sleep eludes me. Once, around Thanksgiving, I had a dream that our family went to Florida only to discover that he was living there. He had to pretend the accident was real, he said (no reason provided, and we all just accepted it – totally rational). He said he was so sorry, but he had been waiting so impatiently for us to get down there and find him. I woke up feeling so mad at him for putting us through that, and then so happy that I had just seen him again. And briefly convinced that he was actually living in Florida and that we needed to get there as soon as possible. All of this happened within about 20 seconds.

Then the Mack Truck that is reality hits, and you realize it was a dream.

Stop. Rewind. Play. Repeat.

I tried to explain it to someone the other day. That it seems to get easier to talk to people about Jobear. It feels so good to laugh at stories about him (he was a character, to say the least – so there are LOTS of stories like this). It feels so good to talk about him and to hear other people remember him. It may make us cry to hear him remembered, but it truly does help to hear other people remember him. And, in that way, my heart seems to be feeling lighter.

But, the lows seem so much lower. There are some times when the hurt is so physical, so painful that I can’t imagine getting through the rest of the day. Tears spring into my eyes at random times, and I seem to have no control over the silly things that will remind me of him. Hearing a low-flying plane pass overhead is likely to make me happy to remember him, and/or sad to think about how much he loved flying. I mean, tell me a funny story about him and I’ll laugh my head off. Quote a line from Christmas Vacation and I’ll turn into a sobbing mess.

And? Most of the time these feelings happen during the same day. Often within minutes of each other.

Thus, the “feeling like a crazy person” and all.

I don’t know how my parents are doing this – even just getting out of bed. They are still interested in our lives and their grandchildren. They are still working. They are somehow moving forward. Not moving on, but moving forward with the motions of life. I’ve decided they are the bravest people I know. I think I want to be like them when I grow up.

This post is so “rambly,” I know. But, it’s like my brain today. Jumbled. Trying to make sense of how this could have happened. While at the same time folding laundry, making beds, getting kids ready for birthday parties. Daily life.

All I guess I wanted to say was this:

I miss you Jobear. I miss your silly laugh. Your giant bear hugs. Your arguments with me about … well, almost everything.

I miss watching what you would have done over this past 6 months. Hearing all about the job you would now have. The relationship you would be in. The house you would have bought, and the city where you would have chosen to live. The books you would have gotten my girls for Christmas (always books, which I loved). The funny texts you would have sent to me, and the silly cat videos I would have sent to you. The reaction you would have had to Family Guy killing off Brian the dog. (I don’t even watch that show, but I had to keep up on the developments, knowing this would have elicited quite the reaction from you.)

I love you, little brother. And I hope you’re not watching over us too much right now – I think it would make you so sad to be watching us grieve. Check in later – or only during the times when we’re laughing about you (which, come to think of it, might just actually be your way of checking in on us).

We love you so, so very much.

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Name Change

Oh, Paige. What a pistol.

Her sassiness and grouchiness has hit an all-time high over the past few days. Christmas, vacation with the cousins, staying up late, trying to stop napping, all combined with being about to turn 5 is not a good look on her.

So, to say she and I have gone head-to-head a few times this week would be an understatement. We’ll also just say I haven’t some of my finest moments this past week. I’m tired. She’s tired. We’re basically the same person.

It’s not pretty.

It may or may not have come to a head during lunch today. She had been working me all morning – potty talk, mocking what I say to her (seriously, she mocks me), screaming, talking back. The works. (Honest to God – at one point, I told her I wouldn’t hesitate to pull down her pants and spank her bottom in the middle of St. Armand’s Circle. Her response? “Then everyone will be staring at you, Mommy.”) After asking her for what seemed like the fiftieth time to SIT YOUR BOTTOM IN THE CHAIR at lunch, I’d almost had it.

And then? And then! And then she told Nani that she didn’t care what her mommy said about taking things away, because she’d just get them back at some point anyway. (Which, by the way? Is NOT the way I parent. I will throw a brand-new toy into the garbage if need be. I’m not sure which parent she might be talking about. I’m looking at you – other parent in this family.)

We got into the van, she looked at me and growled, and I lost it. I told her if she was going to act so grouchy then I was going to change her name from “Paige” to “Crabby.” In fact, I was going to call the courthouse that very afternoon to get it done (Obviously, thank God she’s still a preschooler. And that she doesn’t realize that she doesn’t even know what a courthouse is. Or that it wouldn’t be open today. Or that none of this could be done with a phone call.).

She. Flipped. Out.

And? Then? We got back to the condo, and got out of the van and Botsie put his phone up to his ear. And this happened:

Botsie: Hello? Courthouse?

Paige (yelling): No! No! No!

Botsie: Yes, Courthouse. I’d like to make a name change please.

Paige (screaming): Noooooooo!!!!!!

Botsie: Yes, that’s right. We’d like to change Paige’s name to Crabby, please.

Me (chiming in): But same middle name, Dad. Keep it Lee, okay?

Botsie: Yes, Crabby Lee Feldmann.

Paige (Hysterical): Please! No! Don’t change my name! Please!

Botsie pretended like he got disconnected, and at this point Paige was crying real, huge tears. I told her she was lucky he dropped the call, but warned her that the courthouse was open until 5:00 pm today, so she’s better shape up. I honestly don’t think I’ve seen her get quiet so quickly, or get ready for her nap so readily.

I may have hit the threat jackpot.

However, I may NOT be winning any parenting awards.

Eh, what would the first day of the new year be without a solid parenting fail moment?

Not any day of mine, for sure.

Happy New Year, everyone. Courthouse is open until 5:00 pm.