Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Birthday Bash part 2

I don't have any pictures of the cake eating on my camera, but here's some pics of the birthday girl opening her presents. In case you needed some clarification, the birthday girl is the one whose shirt says "BIRTHDAY GIRL."
Poor non-first-borns. Opening presents will be a family affair for a long, LOOOONG time.

This is Syd getting started on her first tea set, which was a huge hit. And not just with her! Carson has been setting up tea parties for the two of them (and Henry, when he was here!) for the past 3 days.

Here she's telling me how much she likes this outfit from her BFF Abby.

This is four generations of Mulkey women, with my Grandma Ann, Mom Jo, me & Sydney.
I'm beginning to think she knows she's cute.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Birthday Bash part 1.

We decided to have Sydney's birthday at the park this year, a perk for summer birthdays. (Her cuz, whose party was cancelled due to the snow storm, doesn't exactly have that option!) We basically just had a "family" party, but even with both sides of our family, it's way past 20 people!
For Carson's first birthday, I was working and a bit stressed and it turned out I had to go to a funeral for a family friend that was scheduled 2 hours before Carson's party. Needless to say, we he had a storebought cake, which was fine. But then on his second birthday, I started dabbling in fun cake decorating (with the infamous Elmo cupcakes), and I kind of got hooked! It's really fun for me to be crafty in another way, but it's too much work to do often.
So, for Syd's b-day I tried a project I saw online. It was a several-day process of baking & decorating sugar cookies (my FAVE) and "grassy" cupcakes. In my head, they were stinkin' perfect and adorable! The end product wasn't bad!
I won't tell you exactly what went wrong, but five minutes before the birthday party was starting, 2 of my sis-in-laws had to frantically help me save the dream. Let's just say the wind was not being friendly to my top-heavy beauties. But they were still fun and very yummy!

Stay tuned for more pics of the actual birthday girl!

Friday, June 26, 2009


Our precious Sydney turns ONE year old today! I can't imagine our family or my life without her. She is my sweet Bird, my heart. I won't type too much more sentimental sap, because I've shed plenty of joyful tears making this little picture montage for her big day. I know this song may be a little over the top, tear-jerker-wise, but it is true!


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Somebody pinch me!

To 99.9% of you, this video will be dull and boring. But to me, it is hope. It is joy. It is potential. It is a dream come true. It is.....MY CHILDREN PLAYING NICELY TOGETHER WITHOUT MY GUIDANCE!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Places to go, people to see.

In honor of her birthday approaching, this will be a pretty Birdie-centric blogweek.
Sydney is ON THE MOVE, people! She is loving her newfound mobility, and it is pretty darn cute to watch. Some of these are blurry, but this is a fun feature of my camera that I tried out on the speedy girl. The bait was the camera itself, normally a no-no.
On a side note, I love dressing her in green, b/c it makes her red hair stand out. She's got just enough that people are starting to comment about it when we are out & about. Here's a slower play-by-play.

Can't believe she's turning ONE on Friday!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Father of My Children

About, uh, let's see, it was THIRTEEN years ago, I started dating this really cute, funny guy. We had a mutual family friend (who's wife, JAN, reads this blog regularly) who told me before I left for college that I should look him up while at school, because he came from a great family. So, after some dating missteps on both of our parts, and after a few flirtatious rounds of mini-golf, we made things official and started dating.

(This is a picture of our first official date, the spring formal in May 1996. We were both 18!)

Now, somewhere in the five years we dated (for real) I had to decide if this guy was marriage material. I did and he was. I remember being aware that he was a "kid person" (he was really sweet with a baby his mom took care of), and I knew that by deciding to stick with him for the long haul through his commitment issues (did I mention five years of dating?), I was selecting him as the father of my children, which is a beautiful, romantic, hypothetical sentiment to a 19/20 year old.But when you are 20 ish, young and carefree, you have no way of knowing exactly what kind of father this charming young man will be. Yes, he likes children--the theoretical, see-them-when-I'm-home-for-the-summer-hand-them-back-after-five-minutes kind of children.

I had no way of knowing that he would be the type of father who wakes up early almost every morning, often surrendering his precious work-out time, to spend time with our early birds and giving me a few extra minutes of sleep. I had no way of knowing he would be the type of father who makes this mother feel beautiful even after her body has changed drastically--due to said motherhood. I had no way of knowing that he would be the type of father who stops his own conversation and notices in a crowded family gathering that I need help with one/both of the kids and might even like to have a conversation of my own. I had no way of knowing he would be the type of father who changes diapers, wipes poopy bottoms, makes googly eyes, talks in silly voices, cleans up vomit, sings lullabies, wrestles for hours, surrenders his image to buy a minivan, tells his kids daily how important and loved they are, prays for his children, never makes me feel guilty about having "me" time, works very hard to provide for us & makes sure we know that by being my husband and their father, he is living his dream.

He is not the only one.

Love you, Babe! Happy Father's Day.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A little less talk and a lot more action shots.

My last 2 posts have been very wordy, so I reminded myself to take some pictures this morning to post. Carson recently earned a new big boy bike by filling a sticker chart for things like eating all his dinner, having a good quiet time, helping mommy, using kind words & controlling anger. OK, that last column wasn't quite full, but it was close. We got him a bike that is actually a tad bit big, but we're hoping it will last for at least 2 summers. Today, I threw the bike and the stroller in the odyssey (LOVING THE MINIVAN!) and drove downtown to this park area with a great foot bridge. It was a blast! The bridge is huge and Carson was hesitant at first, but he did great.
The weather was warm and overcast & perfect for a walk/ride. Sydney was her usual self. CHILL.
It's actually been so nice with Carson riding the bike, because taking a walk can actually kind of be exercise for me! With him walking, it was just to slow to even get my heartrate up.
Cool bridge, huh?
Make yourself at home there, girl.

This bridge is really long--there is hardly an incline on either side. But when we looked down on the other side of the river, there was a small beach area. When we kept going, the bridge covered a big wooded area, which Carson called "the jungle." Here's him in action, rocking the new wheels!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Greatest Hits, vol. 3

Here's another old post that I remember fondly, which you may or may not have read. I realized this week that it has been one full year since we started potty training Carson. He's mostly done a great job, and we're so proud of his progress! But, oh boy, it was a crazy start! We decided to go with the "From this day forward there will be no more diapers" route. In the long run, I'm glad of this choice for this kiddo. But here's my "log entry" from Potty Training D-Day, June 11, 2008. (By the way, I was 8.5 months pregnant.)

6:50 am. The subject wakes up in a good mood. Excellent sign. Go straight to the bathroom, take off diaper and PJ’s; sit on potty. Success! Continue the routine introduced last night: sit on potty for a minute = one sticker on the chart. Produce visible matter in potty = one peanut M’n M. So the child has a piece of chocolate to start his breakfast. Small sacrifice in nutrition for lifetime of social toileting appropriateness. Put on “big boy underwear” with great excitement and flair. Dramatic tones about the seriousness of losing the diaper in exchange for these. Set the timer for 20 minutes, at which time subject has to try again.

7:20 am. Timer goes off, we head down the hall. Success again! Hoorah! Can’t believe how well this is going. Wash hands, undies back on, sticker and candy. Subject as excited as trainer. Set time again.

7:28 am. Subject claims he needs to go again. Trainer suspicious. In bathroom, subject claims that 1/8 tsp of fluid in the toddler pot is human pee. Trainer thinks is it residue of tap water left over from last rinse. Subject strongly requests/demands sticker and candy. Trainer agrees to sticker but no candy. Decide to set the timer for 30 minutes this time, as subject is obviously gaining master control over bodily functions, clearly due to brilliance of trainer. Trainer even decides to squeeze in a quick shower.

8:05 am. Shower over, trainer sifts through the three remaining maternity outfits that still fit and gets dressed while subject happily plays on the computer in same room. About to brush hair when struck with Odor. Quickly knocked out of autopilot mode and brought back into the reality of The Day and the task at hand; beginning to think could possibly have gotten a little over confident.

8:07 am. CRAP. Substantial set back in the form of large quantity of loose stools, which subject clearly does not have under muscle control. Trainer looses calm, cool and collected mode for several minutes. Must triage the damage and prioritize most demanding clean up necessary. Subject says, “Change my diaper.” Trainer explains (again) that underpants are NOT a diaper, and convinces self to resist the temptation to GET a diaper and/or use the changing table, reasoning that we must convey to subject that diapers are a thing of the past. But this is new territory for trainer. Have not had to clean up messy poop from big boy unders. Have not actually had child’s poop on fingers in about 2 years. Have never had poop on bathroom floor. Instantly regret trying to wash BB unders in bathroom sink—drain not big enough, and just seems extra gross, so toss them in bathtub to clean later. Go through about 20 wipes trying to get sticky feces from subject’s bottom and legs and toilet seat. Finally, trainer gets situation under control. All hands are washed, new undies. As suggested by “Potty Whisperer” on the Today Show (no joke) trainer has subject help clean up the wet spot on the computer chair, telling him gently that this is what has to happen when we have an accident, and that it is his responsibility to help with the clean up. Mental note to trainer self: feed subject more bananas, rice and toast. Less grapes and strawberries. At least during these few crucial days. Also, timer goes back to 20 minute increments.

8:50, 9:15, 9:45 and 10:30 am. Timer goes off, subject has successful drainage each time, even though it is only about a tablespoon or less of liquid. But underpants are dry. Hands washed, undies back on, sticker and candy provided. Feeling back on track. Try to encourage more drinking.

9:45 am. Wonderful surprise! Grandpa Tompkins stops by, bringing Minkee the lovey/softy/security item we left at Gma and Gpa’s house yesterday. This generous gesture saves subject and trainer (and spouse) from another rough night (and surely nap) of separation anxiety from said item. Morale continues to lift in both training participants.

10:58 am. 2 minutes before the timer goes off, subject informs trainer that he needs to pee. Improvement! Hesitant excitement and hope that subject will be allowed into preschool someday.

11:13 am. Call from subject's bedroom: "MOM! I have a problem!" Trainer runs in. Subject has had small (liquid) accident in BB unders. Quickly clean up, sit on toddler pot again, and both parties help clean up small mess on carpet. However, this accident is followed by two quick successes of subject voluntarily acknowleding need for potty and producing pee. Sticker chart looks overly full, but trainer suspsicion does not outweigh determination to persevere!

Epilogue: The rest of the day was rough (feel free to check the blog archives for the rundown), as were the next couple of days, but the work paid off and overall it was a small sacrifice for the wonderful milestone!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

My firstborn blessing.

Taken June 2006

Oh, man. I'm telling you. My son. Carson. OH wow. What amazing things God must have in store for him, because his personality is SOMETHING ELSE. Dr. Dobson compares a strong-willed child to a grocery cart that has a stubborn, broken wheel that makes pushing the cart difficult. It takes a little more work to get the cart through the store, but you can make it. Well, my friends, I'm telling you: these last few months it feels like Carson The Grocery Cart is being pulled backwards (not even sideways) by an industrial strength chain connected to a semi. I can only really put my thoughts into words because we've had several good days in a row. "Good" meaning the tantrums and power-battles could be numbered on one hand, and/or his decibel level was low enough as to not arouse neighborly suspicion.
I can honestly tell that his innate nature/disposition is of a sweet, loving boy. This core of his personality comes out often at home, especially with his sister, which give me SUCH JOY! He also seems to be pretty well behaved for other adults, even daddy. But many days lately, particularly regular, boring weekdays when I'm the only grownup in the house, he finds a way to make EVERYTHING difficult. Getting dressed is a battle. Going to the bathroom is a battle. Eating is a battle. Going ANYWHERE is a battle. LEAVING anywhere is a battle. Any transition is a HUGE battle. If I catch him in the wrong moment and tell him the sky is blue, he'll adamantly tell me it is red. And I've read parenting books. I continue to read parenting books, and am open to your suggestions. I have subscriptions to THREE parenting magazines. I try to employ tactics like giving hundreds of options, giving plenty of warning time before a transition is coming, etc. I know that a lot of this is about him feeling like he has some power/control, so I TRY to let him have some. But these tricks are not fool-proof, evidently, because this fool of a parent fails miserably quite often.
What's really funny is that Carson & I have a wonderful relationship. But it is rather complicated. I mean, as I just described, we are at odds a lot of the time. However, we are also practically each other's best friend! Even when I think we've had a bad day and I need a break from him, he'll still cling to me in the evening when Trent is trying to give me a few moments alone. He is my constant companion. Sydney is still a baby, which means she sleeps more than he does and she doesn't talk. But he and I are together, talking, singing, laughing, arguing, joking, etc. ALL DAY LONG. We talk about things we see, we ask each other big questions and little questions, we have little inside jokes, we recite movie lines to each other, we experiment on projects together...it is so precious! I love him so much I could just cry!
And then? There are the times when I do cry. And not because my loving feelings are overflowing. Without making this even longer, I'll tell you that one of our problems is him making HUGE amounts of angry noise in his bedroom during time-out. (I'm talking about throwing hard-bound books, huge boxes of legos or banging a shopping cart or xylophone repeatedly into his door.) This wakes Sydney up. So, I've been trying to find ways to carry out discipline/time-outs on the other side of the house. Last week this was not working well, and I was losing it. My anger was not well-hidden. (I'm not a yeller, but I have a loud, stern voice and a fierce arm-grip that comes out.) So, instead of putting Carson in time-out, I went into the laundry room and locked myself in. I sat on the linoleum and bawled while he was tantruming on the other side of the door. I was so physically and emotionally tired, so angry, so frustrated with him, so disappointed in myself for losing my temper. It was the only thing I could think of at the time that I would not later regret.


The fact that these challenges are coming with my first child is comforting and also disconcerting. Comforting because I look at Sydney and think there is no way on earth she will give me this much grief. Disconcerting because--how do I know? Carson is my first 3.5 year old. Are they all like this? (Some have told me they are.) In my mind I feel like he is on the far end of the "handful" spectrum, but maybe the Birdie will be the same! Oi. But I think what scares me the most is that I am normally a very confident, together kind of person. (Aside from my housekeeping.) I don't get riled up easily. And for the first time in a long time, I am doubting myself and my abilities and my choices. I'm out of my element, and I'm making decisions left and right that have heavy consequences because they are shaping a PERSON. A person whom I love more than myself, whom I pray over and have such high hopes and dreams for that I can't even articulate them to you or to him.


Now, please don't take this ranting post too far. I'm not sitting on the laundry room floor EVERY day! I've never endangered Carson in my anger. 90% (OK, 80%) of the time I can deal with the issue at hand, try to remember all my "parenting tricks", and laugh about it later. But not always! So, partly I share this because it's on my mind and heart a lot. Partly I share it because I made a small frantic comment on facebook the other day about it, and the responses from parents with similar kiddos encouraged me greatly. Maybe someone reading this needs to know that all those smiling moms & kids at the park (which often is me!) have frustrations and trials at home too. Partly I share because I have faith that a few years from now I will look back and read this and be able to smile that this season did pass. Even in my 3.5 short years of parenting I've learned that certain difficult phases usually DO pass. They, of course, lead directly into NEW difficult phases, but we get through them. And reading again about the ones we've survived and conquered only gives us confidence for the next one. Partly I share it for myself, as I process emotions through articulating them, and afterwards I feel a sense of relief. Partly I share this so I can print it out and give it to Carson's future wife when she is a mother. (My in laws tell me that Carson's strong will, stubbornness, humor & confidence are a mirror of my husband when he was little. This gives me hope! Trent had consistent, God-seeking, persevering parents, and he turned out great!)

I'd like to end this NOVEL ;) with a few glimpses into Carson's lighter side, which is what keeps me going and keeps me from the child psychologist. This one is from a couple days ago.

This one is from last fall when we were continually playing the interview game. We would take turns holding the clipboard with a paper and pen, asking all kinds of questions. I tried to get one on video.


First, here is a supercute pic of my nephew Jack, since (AHEM) his parents don't blog that often these days. Jack has a Minkee, like Carson & Sydney, but his method of transporting his lovey is as seen in this picture. This is not him being silly or playing peek-a-boo, this is simply his convenient method of transporting Minks, keeping him close and also keeping his hands free for other mischief. It totally cracks me up! Here's a shot I snuck of the Birdie as she was sleeping. The position looked so unbelievably uncomfortable I had to capture it. She looks more like a frog in this one!

In a moment of weakness the other morning, I let Carson take some pictures with my special/Jen's only/no one else can touch/pink camera. Here's a self-portrait. (I think it's interesting, because one of my eyes closes more than the other when I smile too.) Do you think he looks a little older? For some reason I do.

And here's one he took of his sis. I think she is giving the "fist bump" like her uncle Chad taught her.

And this is Carson talking to our neighbor girls through the fence. He is totally enamored of them, and always hopes that they are going to come over and ask him to play. This day they struck up a conversation through the slats in the fence, which was good enough. (and great for us, b/c he is allowed to be in the back by himself without supervision, but if they go out front, we have to go too.)

Here's some funny Carson moments this week. First, he and Sydney were on the floor near me in the kitchen. He was playing nicely with her, but put a pillow on top of her head, which she didn't like. I asked him to stop. He did it again--harder. She cried. I scolded. As I was scolding, he took the pillow, put it on the floor and threw his head on it, bursting into sudden, loud and totally fake sobs.

C: WAaaaaa! Waaaa!

Me: Why are YOU crying?

C: Because! (sniff) I'm just not a very good brother! Aaaaaaaa!

Oh, lordy. I felt like I was back in college with girls crying to each other "I'm so fat!" "I'm so ugly!" just so the nearest red-blooded females would chorus back "You're NOT fat! You're thin! You're pretty!" What a little drama queen he is!

Then at dinner, Carson and I told Dad we took the new van down to Jojo's to give her a ride.

Trent: Did she like it?

Carson: Yeah!

Trent: You didn't give it to her, did you?!

Carson, smiling: No!

[a few seconds pause]

Carson, able to hold a straight face for a few impressive seconds: Oh no! Dad! I think we left the van at Jojo's! We lost the NEW VAN!

We were both amused with his attempts at our grown-up style of teasing. At least if he has a career on the stage he can try drama OR comedy.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thanks, AJ!

Thanks to my Blog BFF, AJ, for sending me this hilarious option for Future Sydney to consider to decorate her "special toes."
(Click here for the post about her toes.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

For my mommy friends.

Be forewarned there are some bleeped out words, ifyaknowwhatimean.

Saturday, June 06, 2009


OH, man. Lots of stuff going on around here. This week we have been hanging out with my aunt, uncle & cuz visiting from Southern Cal. They are so fun we drop everything to spend as much time as we can with them! On Thursday we went for a hike at Silver Falls. About 2 hours after we got home, we saw a tornado warning for exactly where we had been hiking! A huge thunderstorm hit our neighborhood and went from sunny to practically hurricane weather in about 5 mintues. It was crazy! Glad we made it out to the falls when we did.Also, last week while I was up in Beaverton for the Cousins' Closet consignment sale, I got my hair cut. It's a little shorter than I expected, so it will be just right in about 2 weeks. :)

But the big news in our house is that we got a new mini-van. OH yes. We are now mini-van owners, and proud of it, thankyouverymuch. Trent and I have paid our dues, by driving old cars (his is the same since college!) for several years. We've been saving our pennies to pay for as much with cash as possible, and re-working our budget to finance the rest, since we've never had a car payment. Trent, bless his heart, is a VERY. THOROUGH. Consumer. We began the research/shopping/buying process in January-February, and I'm still in shock that he was able to pull the trigger. For months he could quote all kinds of statistics about new and used Siennas and Odysseys, and we finally got an offer we just couldn't refuse. It has some bonus features that we didn't need, but sure are loving! But the best part is just the extra room and space, especially when we go camping or on longer trips. Fun stuff!

Also huge news is that Sydney is crawling! She took her sweet time and I've loved having her non-mobile for longer than Carson was. But we are very proud of her and it's fun watching her get around the house and figure out her new-found freedom.

So, that's the news around here! We have lots more videos that I hope to post soon. Happy June, everyone!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Name them one by one.

Remember that old song? "Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God has done"?

I'm doing that tonight. I'm HAVING to do that tonight.

Today was just a lousy day. Carson and I had several knock-down-drag-out arguments. OK, no one literally got knocked down, but he literally got dragged to his room twice and I had to chase him up the play structure at the park and drag him to the car later in the day. Also, during painting time, Carson freaked out when I freaked out that he was wiping his paint-covered hands all over his shorts and the easel. He promptly RAN through the house, escaping my grasp by about 3 inches, and touching his paint-covered hands on every possible surface he could. While dealing with that, Sydney found a NON-WASHABLE marker and decorated her new pants and her body. After dealing with THAT, I found Carson splashing in the toilet like a baby in a sinkbath. No, the toilet was NOT clean. (But it was just pee and TP, no poo.) He just manages to find every. Last. Button. and pushandpushandpushandpushandpush.

My allergies have hit 100 mph, and I'm sneezing & sniffing, snot literally dripping so fast out of my nose that some landed on Sydney while I was changing her diaper, and I want to claw my itchy, red eyes out of my congested head. I stubbed my toe so hard it bled. I got a paper cut on a piece of junk mail and it bled. And on TOP of that, my jumbalaya attempt for dinner did horrible, painful, unspeakable things to my stomach.

So, what's a girl to do? I'll tell you. I'm counting my blessings. One by one. My wise friend Kristi once told me she finds peace in going into her children's rooms when they are asleep and praying for them. I have adopted this practice and it does give me peace and usually brings me to tears of humility and unspeakable gratitude. I prayed over these challenging little blessings, I read my own blog from last week about unthinkable tragedy, I looked at pictures of healthy baby Wyatt, I grabbed a handful of chocolate chips from my cupboards full of food, I took a shower in a home that we own and can pay for each month with a job my husband loves.

And I will sleep peacefully (and hard) tonight.

And wake up tomorrow and do it all over again.

Thank you, Lord. Thank you, thank you, thank you.