Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving and the zoo

We had a great Thanksgiving again this year. I feel like I just wrote my entry from Thanksgiving 2008, and here we are in 2009. Time is just flying, and these kids have grown up so much it is truly amazing.

Last year, the babies just sat in their car seats or on a blanket on the floor at my dad's and at the Eklund's for our Thanksgiving meals, but this year, they were on the move. We spent most of the day chasing them, and we were all exhausted by the end of the day. However, as always, we are thankful for every minute we spend with them and with our families.

After we recovered, we spent the next afternoon at the zoo. The kids loved it, and even Aunt Teri got to join us for some animal fun!

Here's Abby trying to outrun a baby goat.

Will and Marie walking up to the goat to pet it.

Will is pointing at the goat screaming, "DOG!" They all thought every animal we saw was a dog. At one point, we were looking at kangaroos, and they all kept saying, "dog." Some old lady kept saying to them, "No, they are kan-ga-roos." Our kids would look at her, and scream "DOG." It was hilarious. She gave up. I guess they convinced her they were actually dogs and not kangaroos after all.
Look at the expression of sheer happiness on Abby's face. She loves animals. This was such a treat for her...especially the petting zoo area.

Our mode of transportation at the zoo was the choo-choo wagon. You should have seen how many looks we got, and how many people we heard commenting on them. One child pointed at the wagon and said, "I want to ride that." I guess he thought it was a zoo ride. We should have charged his parents $5 and let him on.

We went in this bird enclosure area, and the parakeets just flew all over us. The kids really enjoyed it. Abby kept saying, "bird" and making the sign for it. Yes, she knew they weren't dogs. She really is a genius.

Abby and daddy playing out on the deck at my dad's on Thanksgiving.

Will looking very handsome in his sweater and tie. He got lots of compliments on this look.

Marie was quite lovely in her little dressed selected by Pop-Pop Zeigler.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cuban Babies Have More Fun!

When I was at my dad's a few weeks ago, I gave the kids milk in their sippy cups in the afternoon. Maureen, my dad's wife, said to me, "Those are the first Cuban babies I have ever seen drink milk out of cups." It dawned on me that she was right...Cubans are not big into weaning. Babies get milk in bottles until they are practically adults. I drank milk from a bottle every morning until first grade. Yes, FIRST GRADE! At that point, my bestie, Amanda, informed me that bottles were for babies when she spent the night over. I had no idea. However, she was intrigued by the bottle thing and requested her own when she spent the night over after that. My grandma, Nata, was oh so happy to oblige because Amanda was entirely too skinny for her liking so any extra calories she could pump into Amanda made her feel better. Amanda's nickname at our house was "La Flaca" (the skinny one). See American kids feel deprived when they get weaned to early and revert.

Along those same lines, Cuban babies are overindulged at an early age. I was looking at my baby book when I was pregnant to see all of the stuff I did at certain ages. Around 6 weeks, I started eating cereal, and then, quickly progressed to pureed black beans. Would an American parent even think of giving their child solid foods before the magic 4-6 months window? NEVER. In my household, though, having a fat baby was key. If that meant stuffing our little faces with black beans, that's how it was going to have to be. Also, those bottles of milk I mentioned in the previous paragraph...well, they were laced with a whole raw egg. Did my grandmother consider salmonella when she made those for us? Of course not. Being a fat child was the most important thing.

What good is Cuban fare if you don't have traditional Cuban drinks to accompany it? That's why when we became toddlers, we began to indulge in an afternoon Cuban coffee with our grandma. She would make it super sweet for us, and we would get a few saltine crackers. We would then dunk saltines in the coffee for our snacks. It's like a biscotti and latte pick me up, but I was like THREE YEARS OLD!

It's only now that I recognize how crazy all of this was. Growing up, I thought it was all just normal. My sisters and I turned out fine, so I guess it's not too bad.

Cuban babies could sleep in the bed with mom and dad (or grandma and grandpa) whenever they wanted. Alice and Liane continued this tradition, and I have tried, but Billy kicks the babies out of our bed. Also, 3 babies don't fit in the bed with us, and it would be mean for me to play favorites....although Abby ends up in our bed just about every morning. ;)

I think Cubans just a have a more relaxed attitude about child-rearing. It's just like, it will happen when it happens. Alice, for example, didn't potty train Drew until he was quite mature. However, she reasoned that she had never seen a normal 16-year-old in diapers so eventually, he would just get it. What made them just do it already was that they had reached the largest size diapers, and Kibby said the next box of diapers they would have to get would be Depends. It was time.

The most wonderful thing about my Cuban family is the sense of love and collaboration between us all. Whenever I have a problem, it becomes my entire family's problem and everyone pitches in to help solve it. They are there for us through everything. I love them so much for that. Well, that's not just my Cuban family, the Gringos on Billy's side are also beyond wonderful. How did I get so lucky?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

It's been too long...

I haven't posted in forever. I have been busying traveling for work the past few weeks, and I just have felt exhausted. I have a few posts I've been working on, but I haven't completed any of them. I just wanted to go ahead and get a few pictures up for those of you who are wondering where I am and wanting to see what the kids are up to these days. Just so you know what to expect in the coming days, I'll have up posts about the following subjects: my new job, a road rage incident involving Alice (funny stuff), and pictures from our fall family photo shoot. I'll try to get caught up this week. There's a lot to report!

Marie got her first pedicure when she spent the night at Marmie's! She sat still for one hour while being pampered. Now that little girl knows how to relax!

Marie is very into caring a purse or bag of some sort. She's quite the little lady. Here she is exiting Marmie's house to come home, and she's got her little overnight bag.

Marmie took Will to the park one of the days she kept him earlier this month. He kept her busy chasing him all over the place.

Abby continues to just love Winnie. She loves to cuddle up with her at bottle time. Winnie doesn't seem to mind. Yes, I'm supposed to be weaning the trips off the bottle, but I just am not ready to deal with that just yet. It will day.

The kids like to take morning rides on Billy's sleeping bag. Billy was sleeping downstairs with Winnie after her surgery, and the kids looked forward to having him drag them around on his "bed" every morning. Winnie is better, and he's back upstairs now. We are both very glad about that.

You can tell this little guy knows he's cute. Look at that subtle grin. He's a holy terror. We've nicknamed him "Destructo" because he wants to break everything! He picks up toys and throws them down as hard as possible. Then, he just laughs. This child is nothing but trouble.

Will looks like a little old man...all bent over on his little car.

Abby is trying to enjoy some quiet reading time in the confines of her little box.
Check back soon...I promise to get up some new stories!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy Halloween

These pictures were taken during a costume "sneak preview" session with Marmie. The kids loved their costumes and wanted to wear them everyday. They just wandered around wearing them for a few days before Halloween. Since Halloween, they have also been wearing their costumes daily. When will they get old?

We had tons of fun on Halloween itself. We roamed the neighborhood in our choo-choo wagon with the 4th wagon attached for adult treats...a cooler full of beer! Will was a tiger, and he did well with his roaring. Marie was the itsy-bitsy spider because that's her most favorite song in the whole world. Abby was a cat, but she probably should have been a dog because of her deep love of dogs.

They actually think all animals are dogs. They watch squirrels run around outside in the yard and scream, "DOG, DOG, DOG!" Michele now refers to all squirrels as "squirrel dogs."

Anyway, back to trick or was a bit wet and cold out there, but we still had fun. The babies were amazed by all the action in the neighborhood. There were so many kids everywhere. It was insane. Next year, the trio is going to have a blast.

At around 8:30, we turned out the lights and called it a night. I posted a sign indicating that nobody else should knock because we had babies sleeping. Do you think our neighbors thought we were a-holes?