How to Ruin a Surprise (or Not)

Yesterday was Brinley’s 5th birthday.  Scott and I had given her all of her presents from us at her family-and-close-friends party on Saturday and were felling a little bad that we didn’t have anything to give her on her actual birthday.  So on Tuesday, after Brinley got on the bus for school, I took Nora up to Toys R Us to get Brinley a new bike. 

{Aside: Brinley has a bike but it’s way too small for her and she stinks at riding it because her legs are too long.  She can’t build up enough momentum on it and gets frustrated.  We’d talked about getting her a bike back and forth but didn’t want to invest a lot of money so close to winter in fear that she might outgrow this one just as fast as the last.  Well, turns out that the bike she liked last time we were at Toys R Us happened to be on sale for $49 so we figured it woudln’t break the bank.  Then when I got to the store, I was informed that it was on clearance for 25% off of that.  So it only ended up costing me $35!}

So, Nora and I go in the store, I find the bike (it was the last one!) and grab it.  I also get her a cute little basket for the front because she keeps talking about putting her (already-named-but-not-yet-and-may-never-be-owned) puppy, Sprinkles, in a basket to take him for rides.  Nora and I get back in the car with the (unassembled) bike and basket and head back home for nap time.  The entire excursion was pretty uneventful and we were back home in no time.

Later that night after the girls were in bed, Scott and I assembled the bike and left it in the downstairs family room with the plan to give it to her after breakfast the next day, her actual birthday.  So morning comes, I made chocolate chip pancakes and we we ate breakfast as a family to celebrate Brinley’s birthday.  Scott mentioned to Brinley that we had a present for her and her face lit up.  Then Nora chimes in, “We got you a bike, Brinley.”  I try to change the subject with Nora and direct her toward her pancakes because I was pretty sure Brinley didn’t really hear her.  Then she says it again, “Right, mom?  We got Brinley a new bike for her birthday?  Hey Brinley we got you a new bike.  It’s for your birthday.”  Ugh.  Brinley is complete into her pancakes and I still think she may not have caught on.  But the she looks up and says, “I don’t want a bike for my birthday.” FAIL!

I figured the surprise was ruined but we all just carried on eating our pancakes and pretending like that conversation never happened.  We finished breakfast, I gave the girls baths and got them dressed.  Then Scott went down and got the bike.  When Brinley saw it, she was really excited.  It was the exact one that she had picked out and she hopped right on it and started riding it in the house!

So I guess the surprise wasn’t ruined after all. Only a two year old to could try to ruin a surprise and fail!


Dear Brinley,

I’ve never written you one of these birthday letters before but I figured now would be as good a time as any to start.  Today you turn five years old!  When I say that out loud I can hardly believe it.  It’s hard to imagine that five whole years of your life have already come and gone.  It’s truly amazing to see how you have grown and changed in those five years.  When you were born, you changed my life forever.  Being your mom is the best thing that has ever happened to me.  Watching you grow into the young girl you are today has been one of the greatest joys of my life.

You never cease to amaze me.  You are beautiful, inquisitive, loving, determined, and beyond-your-years smart.  Your smile brightens my days and your hugs warm my heart.  I am so proud of everything that you’ve achieved in your young life.  You are so eager to do things and you put so much effort into your passions.  You are so creative, just like your mom and so methodical, just like your dad.  It’s amazing how you truly are a blend of both of your parents – in both looks and personality.  What a lucky girl you are :-)

Your excitement and intrigue about the world around you fascinates me.  You are always asking questions and yearning to learn more.  You love to draw and craft.  The way you can take simple objects you find around the house and turn them into works of art is amazing.  You’re always making pictures and books for your friends and family.  You love to read and to be read to.  You always have.  Daddy and I have been reading to you for your entire life and you’ve always soaked up everything that you’ve heard.  I’m sure that’s why you’re so smart.  It comes as no surprise to us that you are reading books that some third graders can’t yet read.  Sometimes you’re too smart for your own good and you can’t be fooled.  You certainly give us a run for our money!

I can’t believe that you are five years old, Brinley.  Sometimes it feels like just yesterday that we brought you home from the hospital.  You were always such an easy-going and mellow baby.  You blossomed into a very inquisitive and joyful toddler and have grown to be such a spunky, loving and, at times, dramatic young girl.  I love you more than words can express and am truly proud to be your mom.  Thank you for bringing so much love, joy and meaning to my life.  Happy Birthday Baby Girl!




{click to enlarge for better quality}

Walking Commercial

I’m not one of those parents who forbids their children to watch TV.  I loved watching cartoons as a kid and can’t imagine keeping that joy from my kids.  But let me be clear, we don’t have the TV on at all hours of the day so the girls can just go and stare at it and rot their brains either.  In fact, we don’t even have a TV in our living room or playroom.  We have two sets – a large one with surround sound in the family room/basement and a small one in our bedroom.  In a given day the girls probably watch one hour of TV and sometimes none at all.  (Correction: Brinley watches the TV, Nora runs around the room disturbing her.)

Anyway, up until about two moths ago we were a strictly PBS or Disney Jr watching family.  I wasn’t opposed to other shows, it’s just that the girls would always ask for George, Elmo, Mickey, Jake or Angelina.  In fact, Scott and I were the ones to try to broaden their TV watching scope to include Wonder Pets, Wild Kratts and eventually Strawberry Shortcake, Pound Puppies and My Little Pony.  Thanks to a nifty little invention called DVR we just queued up a bunch of said shows for our kids evening viewing pleasure.  Brinley loves the new shows in her repertoire.  However, after sitting down with her and watching some of these shows Scott and I make the executive decision to remove Pound Puppies from the line-up.  The show is just crap basically.  It has no real message and seems to clearly just be a “brain rot” type of show.  I don’t think Brinley has yet noticed that we’ve nixed it and hopefully she won’t.

But on to the original point of this post – PBS and Disney Jr shows do not contain commercial advertisements.  They simply air the show and when it’s over we’d turn the TV off therefore missing any commercial breaks in between shows.  Enter “The HUB”, the channel that airs My Little Pony, Strawberry Shortcake and the dreaded Pound Puppies.  These shows all contain commercials.  At first I thought it would be a pain having to go in and fast forward through all of them so that Brinley would stay interested but I was wrong.  The kids LOVES the commercials.  I think it’s because she’s getting to see a whole lot of (mostly crappy) products that she’d never otherwise see.

Case in point – Pajama Jeans!  Why on Earth this infomercial airs during a kids TV show is beyond me, but you can bet your money that Brinley has become their youngest spokesperson.  A few weeks ago we were shopping in a clothing store and she said to me, “Look mom, Pajama Jeans!” (They were actually jeggings, but I let it slide.)  I thought to myself, “How the heck does she know what those are?”  And she continued, “Mom, they have the look of jeans with the comfort of pajamas and they don’t leave any unsightly marks!” I couldn’t help but laugh as she proceeded to tell me that I should order a pair.

Summer Hiatus and the Big K

You’ve probably noticed that I took a summer hiatus from blogging.  There was no particular reason for it.  It’s just hard to stay loyal to something when you’re living with basically no schedule at all and every day is filled with spontaneity.  I’m not complaining at all.  We had a fantastic summer filled with so many fun trips and adventures.  We traveled, took day trips, visited friends, went to parks and ate way too much ice cream.  We were living the life.  I know, you’re jealous!

Now it’s back to the grind.  And honestly, I’m not complaining about this lifestyle either.  Things do seem to operate with more ease when there is routine.  Especially with an almost five year old and a two year old running around the house.  Our daily scheules will be filled with playgroup, dance classes, gymnastics, soccer and a little thing called Kindergarten.

Brinley’s first day was last week and she had been counting down the days for almost a month.  She absolutely loves school and could not wait for the first day to arrive.  I knew she’d do fine in school and that she’d be happy and make friends.  My issue was with the bus.  It just felt so wrong to be sending this little person off on a big yellow bus with no car seat or seat belt driven by a man who I had never before met.  When the bus pulled up that first day I had a huge pit in my stomach and seriously felt like I was going to throw up.  But I stayed strong and didn’t let her see my fear.  When the bus stopped she marched right up the stairs, walked to a seat and sat down never once looking back to us.  As they pulled away I felt my throat get tight as my husband signed “Oh man”.  That may have been the hardest thing I’ve had to do to date.

Today is her third day of school and everything is going perfect.  Though it’s hard to pry out of her what she does all day, I know she’s enjoying it.  When she wakes up in the morning she wants to get dressed right away and has a very hard time waiting for the bus to come.  Since she’s in afternoon kindergarten, the bus doesn’t come until almost noon.  It’s going to be hard to distract her in the morning until she switches in January.

So that’s basically what’s been going on with us.  I’m going to try to get back on track with the blog as I know there are many who enjoy reading about our lives.   What’s new with you?  Any big changes for your family this year?

Mean Mom

This morning I had a doctor’s appointment and I had to bring both girls with me.  It was interesting cramming us all plus a stroller into a little tiny exam room.  Nora enjoyed slamming on the computer and taking medical supplies out of the drawers and Brinley sat quietly on a chair and played her Leapster.  My doctor loves seeing the girls so even though it’s such a pain to bring them, occasionally I do.

My doctor’s office just so happens to be in the same building as the girls’ pediatrician.  Even though neither girl had an appointment today, we stopped into the office so I could schedule a visit for Brinley to have the three remaining shots she needs before entering Kindergarten in the fall.  The girls made themselves at home at the coloring table while I spoke to the receptionist.  I was trying to draw up my calendar mentally but since I didn’t have it on hand I was having a hard time figuring out when we’d be available to come in (something I definitely should have thought of before deciding to try to make the appointment, doh!).  Anyway, the receptionist asked me, “Is Brinley with you right now?”  I said yes and she said, “Well how about we do the shots today?”  Now I’m sure I’d be hard pressed to find any kid that actually likes getting shots and willing goes, but Brinley certainly is not someone who has an easy time going to the doctor.  Regardless, I told the receptionist that it was fine.  I figured I might as well get it over with while I was right there.

Brinley had no idea it was coming and I feel really bad about it.  She knew that we were going to the doctor’s for me to have an appointment and I know she never in a million years thought that she’d be the one getting poked.  Anyway, a nurse came and called her name and we headed back to a room.  Brinley started to look a little suspicious.  She asked me, “Mom, how come I’m seeing the doctor now?”  I explained to her that she had to be checked and ready to go to Kindergarten in the fall and that they had to make sure that she had all her shots.  She was NOT happy with me, but she sat on my lap and just looked a bit sad.  The nurse started talking and said that she needed a Chicken Pox vaccine, an MMR vaccine and her fourth Polio vaccine.  Brinley immediately chimed in and said, “Wait, I already have a fourth Polio!”  I just smiled figuring she was trying to get out of one of the shots but the nurse looked at her and said, “Oh really, when did you get it?”  Brinley explained that I took her to a supply store and bought it for her so she could keep her drawings and art work in it.  Then it dawned on me.  She was talking about her art portfolio!  (Forth Polio = Port Folio)

Anywho, she sat on my lap and took the shots like a champ.  She definitely wasn’t thrilled about it at all and she did cry but I am amazed that she was so cooperative.  It’s pretty unlike her :-)  I felt bad that I sprung it on her but in hindsight it probably was the best decision.  If she’s anything like her father, and we know she is, she was better off not knowing about it before hand.  I rewarded her afterward with ice cream and a stuffed animal from the mall.

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