Thanksgiving 2004.
Swimmin1

day one.

Casey_Addie_0187

one.
One Year. Hated Cupcakes.

two.
the moosh.

three.
Barbie the Island Princess and her little cake too.

four.
four year old wish.

five.
my five year old. on her birthday.

six.
six candles

seven.
7th Birthday

eight.
Friday - Disney Cruise

nine.
Addie's 9th Birthday Party

ten.

10th Birthday-1

Ten is a real kick in the face.

Happy birthday my love.

Spiders, cake, and princesses sum up your current existence perfectly.

I decided to go headfirst into this whole Santa thing, and you know what? I’m SO GLAD I DID. Last year Hallmark sent me a pack of Northpole Magic Mail but I didn’t do it for whatever overwhelming reason. Tonight I pulled it out as a test, I gave the wish list to Addie and asked her to fill it out for the entire family.

“Vivi! What do you want Santa to bring you?”

“KITTIES!”

“What else?”

“NOTHING. JUST KITTIES!”

Addie took that as her cue to fill up the other 27 lines with her requests. She squeezed in a few for Cody, the cats and me at the end as well.

The thing about this paper, you have to put it somewhere cold and a magic message shows up. I wasn’t quite sure how to convince Addie her letter to Santa had to go in the freezer, but I took a deep breath and said “Hey, you know how everyone travels through fireplaces in Harry Potter? Well, Santa is trying out something new this year, he’s using freezers to get his mail this year. So when you’re done you have to put your letter in the freezer and sing “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” while knocking on the door.”

She totally did it.

She opened the door immediately and was bummed the letter hadn’t disappeared. I made her wait another minute then open the door.

“It’s still here! It’s not gone!”

“Well, freezer mail is kind of new, there’s probably still some bugs to work out. Does it look any different?”

“No, it’s just my lett…MOM! THERE’S A MESSAGE ON THE BACK! SANTA WROTE BACK!”

christmas card.

In that moment of squealing  joy I’m so glad I didn’t break the news to her, she still wholeheartedly believes. She’s not doing it for me or for Vivi’s benefit, the kid *believes.* Cody looked at me from across the table with a “Uh-huh, who was right on that one?” look.

He was totally right.

The message disappears completely after being outside the freezer for a minute or two, so the rest of the evening was spent with our two little girls putting their letter in and out of the freezer, out of their minds with excitement.

If you have little kids you need to get some of this stuff, and you can totally use my freezer mail story because it’s brilliant. We have last year’s version, which means I’m going to be getting this year’s version so I’m all caught up for next year. $7.95, seriously.

While I’m all high on Christmas spirit, decorating our tree the other night with Vivi was the absolute best. She’s old enough now that she doesn’t just throw the ornaments at the tree hoping they’ll stick. The John Elway ornament I bought Cody our first month together always goes on first, front and center. Addie has amassed quite the collection of ornaments over the last 10 years (she chose Elsa this year, normally our tradition is to go into Hallmark the day after Thanksgiving and pick out our annual ornaments but when I saw the pre-order option back in July, I jumped on that.) Vivi chose Olaf this year and if you come over she’ll probably make you give him a warm hug.

Christmas Photo Attempt 2013

Vivi puts our nativity to bed every night and each day Addie explains how many days until Christmas (and her birthday) are remaining.

I’m excited for this year, and I have Cody and your comments to thank for that. So thank you, sometimes we think our comments go unnoticed on the blogs we read, but I assure you every one gets read and they really do matter. It may sound stupid, but Addie still believes in Santa because people spoke up and told me I was wrong.

When I told Cody my plans on breaking it to Addie that Santa isn’t real, he grew three inches taller and said “Don’t you dare.”

It turned into quite the discussion with valid arguments on both sides. In the end he made me promise I wouldn’t tell her the truth and if she did have questions I was to send her to him.

With a heavy sigh of defeat, I agreed.

After reading the few comments on the post about breaking the news to Addie and thinking about Cody’s side of the discussion — I was wrong. I still very much want her to believe in Santa, but (maybe you can understand this) I don’t want her to get made fun of. Maybe she has figured it out but won’t say anything because she too wants to hold on to her belief. Vivi on the other hand is all revved up about Jesus’ birthday, Christmas, and Santa. Trying to keep her enthusiasm under control has only been manageable because I have my precious little Addie who makes sure her little sister understands everything there is to know about how we do Christmas.

Cody said this may be the only year we get where they both truly believe.

He also said it’s one of the few remaining parts of childhood she has left.

One of the comments from my last post was from Jill, “…I genuinely hope that he never tells me that he doesn’t believe and that I’m still wrapping presents from Santa when he’s twenty-seven years old. I know…this is my issue and not his, but it’s the one place I just don’t want to see him grow up.”

That’s EXACTLY how I feel, but I figured if someone had to break the news to her it should be me, right?

Addie turns ten in less than two weeks and it’s such an overwhelming transition for everyone. Double digits. I’m more than halfway done raising her to legal adulthood. It’s gone by so fast, when I think I was only 19 when I got married my brain shuts down. She’s still so little in so many ways: she loves to snuggle, she still loves to play with toys, play pretend and play dress-up. But she’s so big, her feet are two sizes smaller than mine, she’s on a 9th grade reading level and is doing 6th grade math. She asks grown-up questions and is capable of telling jokes and puns that are actually funny.  The other day she when she was reunited with Vivi after school she took to caring for and playing with Vivi the way I used to watch grown-up girls play with her when she was a baby.

When I started this blog 8 years ago vs. today:

paddythennow

Oof.

This is a sponsored post. I received compensation from Visa/Gymboree to buy my products and use its Visa Checkout online payment service, but all thoughts reflected here are my own.

Hey Kid,

I have good news and bad news about Christmas this year. The bad news is that at some point between today and Christmas I will tell you that Santa isn’t exactly the guy you thought he was. I’ve seen you become more skeptical as years have gone by and it’s been an awful lot of work to keep up the Santa gig on our end, so this year it ends — and knowing you, you’re going to like playing Santa for your little sister even more than you ever liked the idea of a jolly old guy in a red suit stuffing himself down our chimney. Take comfort knowing your gifts will make it here, Santa or no Santa.

November 2014
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When we were trying to get Vivi here, my entire though process revolved around getting and being pregnant. Every decision I made in or around my house included the fact that one day a baby would be in it and so I had to plan accordingly. I’d think about what kind of baby gates I would need and where, I thought about where I would store toys and how we would arrange car seats and strollers. I’d think about holidays with a baby and how long we could travel with her as a lap child and I’d think about how many times we could go to Disneyworld before she was 3. I fantasized about how I would spend my days with this baby, how I would document my pregnancy and what I would do differently in regards to labor and delivery.

I knew she was out there waiting for us. I felt it, I just didn’t understand why it was taking so long to get her here. (I get it now.)

I also knew I wanted another girl. Yes, healthy babies above all else, la la la, but I wanted another girl.

So what does life feel like now? It feels complete. I don’t think about getting pregnant, my mind doesn’t revolve around pregnancy math and fertility appointments. I don’t feel a nudge that someone else is out there (something I felt STRONGLY even when Addie was only days old) and there is no second guessing our decision to be done even under the spell of a tiny newborn. We’ve cleaned out the closets and rid ourselves of baby stuff.

It feels really good.

We’re meant to be four. Four is good. Four feels right. Four is right for us.

I look forward to the things we can do together, as well as the things I will soon be able to do once Vivi is in school. I have all these projects and jobs I’ve wanted to pursue for years but didn’t or couldn’t because I was either too caught up in wanting to be pregnant, being pregnant or keeping a baby alive. I would never say the time I spent trying to get pregnant was wasted, the things I learned about myself, about Cody, and about other women are invaluable. They were lessons on empathy and compassion that can only be learned the hard way, and unfortunately I did hurt people in my single-minded and obsessed desire to have a second baby. I while I regret hurting others, I appreciate the subsequent lessons on redemption and forgiveness.

If you’re not sure you’re done? You probably aren’t.

If you know there’s someone (or someone else) out there waiting to join your family, don’t give up. Even when you’re convinced you will be swallowed whole by disappointment, jealousy, and pain—don’t give up. Six years felt like an eternity, but now that she’s here, those six years were nothing when compared to what I get to experience every day with these two little girls. It only took six years and nine really hard months to make the most spectacular thing I’ll ever witness, these two together.

November 2014

There are two phrases in particular that light my fury on fire, perhaps there are more (I’m sure there are) but for now, let’s discuss these two because maybe they’re you’re pet peeve too or perhaps you say them yourself not knowing how much damage they can cause.

1. “Someone forgot their medication.”

There’s a difference between finding a prescription bottle someone left at a hotel and sarcastically accusing someone of irrational behavior because they forgot to take a supposed prescribed medication for a mental illness they may or may not actually have. It’s the latter of these two that cause my fists to ball up. For a long time, whenever I would have a bad day Cody would ask “Did you take your medication?” as if the little while pill at bedtime would control every emotion I possess. It drove me crazy because I felt as though he expected me to have no range of emotion at all and that he put all of his hope for a “normal, happy wife” into a pill. Knowing I take medication and accusing me of forgetting it is one thing, accusing a stranger you know nothing about? That’s entirely different. That’s how stereotypes are born and bred. It puts shame not only on mental illness (because clearly we could all be controlled if we were medicated) it is also an unfair judgement of the person being accused. Before claiming someone “forgot their medication” to the person next to you under your breath, take a step back and try to figure out why the person is distraught in the first place and acknowledge that you’re not always on your best behavior in public either. Does that mean you forgot your medication too?

2. “That’s just the way I am.” or “That’s just the way he/she is.”

People can change. I’ve seen it, I’ve changed myself. It’s one thing if I insist on giving my friends a hug when they’re crying, because that is the way I am. However it’s entirely different if you excuse someones a**hole behavior under the guise “That’s just the way he/she is.” No one gets to be a butthead to other people for no reason. “That’s just the way I am” is just an excuse and when you have people excusing your own bad behavior? Whew, that’s when you know it’s gone too far and it’s time to start working on being a little nicer/more understanding/less selfish in general. Vivi likes to hit, scream and cry when she doesn’t get her way. I can’t tell other parents “Oh, that’s just the way she is.” because the other parents would cry foul and Vivi wouldn’t have any friends. However when an adult throws a fit to get their way or uses some other impolite tactic of persuasion — oftentimes their behavior is excused or begged to be reasoned with “because that’s just the way they are.”

No.

We can all do better. Don’t excuse others bad behavior and if you find yourself excusing your own with “That’s just the way I am” really think about how you’re presenting yourself. I for one do not want to associate with people who are unwilling or unable to change, expecting instead for others to bend and accept their unacceptable behavior.

Now, let’s put this into practice:

OKAY: You see a prescription bottle in the back of a taxi so you give it to the driver and say “Someone forgot their medication.”

NOT OKAY: Someone has been waiting in line at the DMV for several hours when they are told they will have to come back tomorrow with more paperwork and the person gets understandably upset. Upon witnessing the person demand to see a supervisor you lean over to your seatmate and whisper “Someone forgot their medication.”

OKAY: I will always have fair skin so there’s no use in tanning — it’s just the way I am.

NOT OKAY: Your brother is being incredibly rude and condescending to your wife, you respond with “You’ll just have to forgive him. He doesn’t understand, it’s just the way he is.”

Are there phrases that chap your hide? (Like ‘chap your hide’ or ‘nail down the details?’)

 

UPDATE: Congrats to Meredith S. and Matt W. for winning the two Wii U Bundles!

Another product post, sorry, but when Nintendo asked if me if I wanted to give away two Wii U bundles to you guys I couldn’t say no.

Addie was asked to be a part of the Nintendo Kids reviewer program several months ago and she’s been taking her job very seriously.

Originally I set her up to write a portion of this giveaway but her little blurb contained so many ALL CAPS DECLARATIONS FOLLOWED WITH WAY TOO MANY !!!!!!!!! I figured I’d bottle her enthusiasm for another project that we’re working on.

I have always been partial to Nintendo as they don’t offer bloody, nasty games where you could run over prostitutes with cars, or gut pirates with your bare hands.

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My friend Heather is a self-proclaimed $7 box of at-home hair color kind of girl, but after today she may very well be spending $20 more on her hair color while I may end up saving $70.

We’re both in love with the Madison Reed at-home hair color I tried on her today. (Full disclosure, I spend a lot on my hair and I’m very loyal to my hairstylist, so I didn’t want to risk messing up all her hard work with some mail order hair color which is why I enlisted Heather, because $25 hair color was a huge step up from $7 drugstore hair color, she agreed.)

Finding a color for her was easy using online recommendations, the packaging was gorgeous (which really shouldn’t matter, but it does) and Madison Reed solves all the problems I hated about at-home hair color from before. Every kit includes two pairs of gloves, barrier cream to keep color off your skin, a cap to keep color-drenched hair under control, a wipe to clean off any stray color as well as enough shampoo and conditioner to last for several washes. It also smells spectacular, absolutely no gross chemical smell and the directions are clearly printed inside the box.

MadisonReed-2

If you have a whole bunch of hair there’s even an option to add an additional color bottle for $10 at checkout. Brilliant.

Since Heather came to my house with some pretty sweet roots, some grays, and her hair previously colored we balanced out the timing leaving the color on her roots for about ten minutes before applying the rest and leaving it on for around 20 minutes. Another huge bonus? Once we rinsed out her hair her skin was free from hair color and her scalp wasn’t dyed a strange color.

This is where we let the before and afters do the talking. Because I can’t tell you anything you can’t see right here:

Madison Reed Before After

GORGEOUS, RIGHT?

We used Sardinia Red – 6NCG and it was the exact color Heather dreams of. She admitted to hoping she would be apathetic about the results so she wouldn’t feel the need to spend any more than $7 on her hair. She’s been converted. I think I have been too (sorry Kristine! I promise I’ll never let anyone else cut my hair! So there’s that?)

Madison Reed Information

Want 50% off your first order? Use code Better4U at checkout. You’ll also have the option to have your color automatically delivered every 4-10 weeks (you choose!) or make a one-time color purchase.

One more before and after because I can’t get over how gorgeous this color is on her (if you’ve ever gone red then you’ll know how hard it can be to get red right.)

Madison Reed BA

(I also convinced Heather to give red lipstick a try last month and I’m so happy she listened to me.)

Disclosure: This post sponsored by Madison Reed. Everything said within is my honest opinion, especially since I’m the one with pretty boring hair at the end of the day compared to Heather’s ravishing red. Links are affiliate.