Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Grandpa Deyle

On the morning of Charlotte's birthday party, right after Remy obsconded with the caterpillar cake's head, we got a call from Will's mom saying his grandpa had died. It was a bit of a shock, as much as the news an 87 year old man who has been in and out of the hospital for the last couple years CAN be. But he and grandma had just moved from their home to a retirement facility a month ago. He had been doing relatively well recently when it came to health issues. He had called us on Tuesday, Charlotte's birthday, to sing to her as is the custom in their family. The call had bad reception, but we managed to talk for a bit, telling him what she'd been up to and how we were going to have her party on Saturday. A day that it turned out he would not be alive to see.

He apparently went to a dentist appointment, fell on the way out of the office, and was taken to the hospital as a precaution since he was so old and frail and riddled with the associated health problems. He died in his sleep at the hospital that night.

He never got to meet Charlotte. For that I am very sorry. We made a special trip up to Rochester almost exactly 3 years ago to introduce Emily to the grandparents, but we didn't manage to work out anything like that with Charlotte. Maybe that's why I felt so strongly that we should all go up to the funeral instead of just sending Will up. If we all went then at least Grandma would get a chance to meet Charlotte. I know that not many people ever do get to meet all of their great grandchildren, but he COULD have met Charlotte. I guess that's why I feel so guilty.

I didn't know the man very well...I had spent time with him probably less than 10 times over the past 13 years. By the time I met him he was old enough that he looked nothing like his younger self, and in dealing with his limitations his personality seemed to be defined mostly as "old". I didn't really get a chance to hear about much of his life at the funeral either, as we only made it 5 minutes before I had to take my disruptive girls out to the church's daycare room. But I do know he was sweet and kind, and cared very much about his family. Although Will and I roll our eyes at some of that side of his family's stories and traditions, I know we'll both miss Grandpa's voice singing to our girls over the phone.

The trip itself went ok. It entailed a 6 hour drive up on Friday, and a 6 hour drive back on Sunday, with lots of snow forecasted for each of our travel days. Strangely enough, we didn't get any snow while we were driving, and the drives up and back were probably the most relaxing part of the weekend. I spent more time than I care to remember dragging wailing girls out of various restaurants, houses, churches and Wegmanses, and a total of 4 hours (also more time than I care to remember, but I DO, oh I do) listening to Charlotte scream at me from her hotel crib while I feigned sleep and snapped (in a whisper) at anyone else who dared move or make a noise in the room. It will be quite awhile before we share a hotel room with Charlotte again if I can help it.

All said though, I'm glad we made the trip. I didn't exactly get to say goodbye, but I don't know that I'm the kind of person who needs that type of closure. Hopefully the people to whom that kind of thing matters more and who knew him better did.

We'll miss you Grandpa.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Caterpillar Party

On Friday night, I stayed up late working on Charlotte's cake and cupcakes, plus various other food props for the Very Hungry Caterpillar party on Saturday. That Caterpillar ate through quite a few different kinds of baked goods. I got everything done, and went to sleep exhausted but happy that all I had to do the next day to get ready was to make fruit salad and straighten up the house. On Saturday morning I took Emily out onto the back porch (which is now functioning as an extension of our refrigerator) and showed her the cake.

She got very excited, and asked if she could have the caterpillar's head. I explained that the head was a special smash cake for Charlotte, and that on Emily's first birthday she had gotten the special ducky off the top of her cake all to herself. I brought her in to show her pictures of her first birthday party.

I was hoping that doing so would remind her that she had had a turn, and now it was Charlotte's turn. Then we heard Charlotte yelling good morning, so we went up to get her out of the crib. When I brought her back downstairs, Emily wanted to show her the cake. As I opened the back door, I heard Emily say "Where's the head?". Sure enough, this is what was now sitting out on the back porch:

Apparently Remy had slipped outside in all the excitement and had taken advantage of an unsupervised moment to help himself to the cake.
The culprit:

(This is how I imagine he looked as he plotted his crime)
SO, instead of cleaning all morning, I spent the better part of 2 hours making the caterpillar's face again. Since the face was for Charlotte I had made it a bit healthier than the rest of the cake, so I had to go back and make the cake and frosting from scratch again. This resulted in an extremely stressful morning, but thanks to wonderful husband, sister, and mom the party was ready to go on time at noon, and the cake had a new head:

I'm very lucky he went for the head and not any other part. Since the head was a seperate piece, he didn't have to touch the rest of the cake. If he had tried to sample the caterpillar's butt we would've had a major problem.

Emily had been begging for a lollipop for weeks, so the minute the party started we finally allowed her to have one.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a party theme that writes its own menu.

I realize now I should've taken 20 seconds to put the cork squares back on the wall because it looks pretty gross with just the tape sitting there.

Very few people know this, but in Eric Carle's first draft of the book the caterpillar finished eating through 1 slice of watermelon and then plowed through 36 martinis.

That's the REAL reason why he had a stomachache.

More party fun

Charlotte enjoyed playing with the frosting, that's about it.

Fruit! Much better.


So now I get a little break from buying presents and planning get-togethers until Emily's party in May. She initially told me that she wants a yogurt-themed birthday party, then a donkey-themed birthday party, but luckily she seems to have changed her mind and now wants a unicorn birthday party. I think that's much more doable.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Toddler Charlotte

Tonight at 8:00 I will put my baby to bed. At 9:10 I will probably pause for a moment and remember how exactly 1 year ago at this time my water broke. At 1:20 AM tomorrow I HOPE I'll be asleep, but if I have the misfortune to be awake, I'll remember how exactly 1 year ago Charlotte said her first loud hello to the world. And when Charlotte wakes up tomorrow morning, she won't be my baby anymore, she'll officially be my toddler! We will have to remember to call her "Toddler Charlotte" instead of "Baby Charlotte", which we still often say. We'll just ignore the fact that she has been toddling for a couple weeks already.

Once again, I find myself in the odd position of facing my child's milestone with pride, anticipation and excitement, but barely any of the nostalgia that I feel like I SHOULD be feeling. I hear and see other moms moaning that their baby is growing up, wondering where their tiny newborn went each time their child starts doing something new. And here I am, with my VERY LAST BABY about to turn 1, and I say bring it on! I thought the fact that Charlotte is my last would make me treasure every minute of her babyhood, but really my thoughts have been more along the lines of "I am ALMOST finished with having to get up with a baby every night for the rest of my life! Yay!" or "Only another year or so of diapers! Fantastic!". I was much more freaked about Emily hitting all her milestones than I have been about Charlotte, which I find strange since with Emily I knew I would be doing it all at least one more time.

When my kids are babies, they are adorable and snuggly and I love them. But they also scream for hours without being able to tell me why. They wake up 4 times a night. They teethe. They ooze drool and spit-up. They suck all my energy out through my boobs. Did I mention they scream and cry a lot?

Once they hit the toddler years, they learn to walk, communicate, sleep reliably, use the toilet, tell you WHY they're crying, put on their own shoes, and they grow a personality. Eventually you can even reason with them! PLUS they're still adorable and snuggly and I still love them. I love getting to know who they are as they become their own person. There are tantrums and battles of will, but I will happily take those for a good night's sleep and enough independence to leave them watching a show while I take a shower. Or maybe I'm just saying that because Emily is in a good behavior phase.

It's funny to me that I'm not a baby person. Even before Will and I were married, I couldn't wait to have a sweet little baby to cuddle. It wasn't until shortly before we decided to have Emily that I gave much thought to the fact that my babies would grow into kids, and decided that yeah, kids would be kinda cool too. That's when I realized I was ready to have actual kids, and was not just dreaming about the idea of a baby. Now, after having had 2 babies, I realize that I'm just too selfish to really enjoy having a baby.

So I face Charlotte's impending birthday with nothing but happiness. To me it means we're mostly through the tough part. I've heard bad things about the teenage years, but so far with Emily things have only gotten better as she's gotten older so I am very much looking forward to Charlotte's second year and beyond.