This little munchkin named Olivine has been one of my biggest blessings. She was not the baby I pined after for years (that was Paul) or the unexpected surprise (of Henry). She was the fear of not being good enough. She came in the last semester of my Master’s program, and as a girl- all I could think was “How will I?” I have since discovered, in a twist of fate, that “How could I not?” This girl makes me wonder how I would have survived without her. I can’t really remember life before three years ago. I remember being nervous, but not much else.
She is creative. Like the other day when she told me she had figured out the password to my iPad. I asked, thinking maybe she really did, She said it was “please.”
She is sensitive: Joe said she was watching an online episode of Daniel the Tiger going to preschool. When he said good-bye to his parents she burst into tears.
She is funny. She puts her foot up to her ear and dials on her foot phone.
She is stubborn and has a temper like me. She doesn’t like hearing ‘no” and can stick up for herself pretty good. She is potty trained, a thumb sucker, has a ‘yum yum,’ writes some letters, and can count to twenty,
She likes to play babysitter with Henry, legos with Paul, and draw. Her dinosaurs are amazing.
She has friends at school named Chelsea, Elliot, and Annie. Sometimes when she gets an injury she likes to tell people she was bit my a shark.
In her honor and for all these reasons, we celebrated her turning three on Sunday with Grammy.
DSC_8696Starting with a breakfast buffet of her favorites: yogurt, fruit, and honey.


A pink theme is easy to assemble with all the Valentine’s decorations available.


She loves the singing and attention. Even when getting everyone to the breakfast table, she called “come to my party.”


After eating, we opened presents.


We didn’t get her the iPod she asked for or the swimming pool she said she really wanted. But we did get her a scooter (red micro mini) and a new helmet (My Little Ponies).


We put on her birthday outfit that Paul picked out for her (there is a cute vintage shop nearby)


and took a walk to the coffee shop for her to get a feel of her new helmet and new wheels.


She climbed around, showing how she is as active as her brothers.


Grammy came over for lunch.


We had more singing and a little dessert (from the Saucy Shop).


This girl loves chocolate.


She has to wait two more years for a big party. But don’t tell her that. Because she had one and she was happy all day. She went to bed saying “birthday again.”

Fisher King

Paul transformed the bedroom into a store for his siblings to go shopping in.


The customers had a hard time waiting for the opening hours.


But as Paul announced, there was a grand opening with all sorts of deals.


This store had a little bit of everything, with signs to help.


I am sure you can guess what he is learning in school these days:


He later, randomly said, “Mom next time I make my store I can empty all my drawers and have a clothing store.” As long as he puts it all away, sounds great.

Busy Hands

Henry spent some time with practicing one to one correspondence using stickers and glue. Along with coloring with crayons to help with color identification.


He helped sort silverware as an easy kitchen chore. I can hear him talking to himself. I love the help.


He wrote out his numbers and letters, which he loves to do. This is an easy way for me to see what he might need more practice with.


Funny thing is. I remember really struggling with the letter “s” and the number “five.” Looking at his work brings that all back to me now.


Grammy gave Olivine a mermaid doll for her birthday.


Which meant it was only a few hours until she had her bathing suit on and was playing at the sink.


Of course, the brothers were as intrigued and curious about playing mermaids as she is. I must have turned my back for a second to snap that photo, when I turned back around and found this:
DSC_8770This didn’t seem safe at all. So upon suggesting the game move into the bathtub, the boys were changing into swim trunks faster than the tub could fill up.


They must have played in there a good thirty minutes together. Three kids and one mermaid doll seems like a simple recipe for fun.


Bounce Fun

We were at a party today without Paul or Joe, who were at their first baseball practice. This meant Henry really needed some time to warm up to climbing up and sliding down all on his own. It really came down to asking the father of the birthday boy to take Henry to the top, so he could see.


As soon as he went up once with Franz, he was a bouncing boy for the next hour.


I snapped only a few and mostly carried Olivine around. These places are sensory overload for me.


But they are the perfect place for this five year old monkey.


It is when we are sick that we most appreciate our health, which is terrible and true around here. Starting last Sunday, Olivine slowly declined in health. Remember how truly optimistic I was on Monday night. I walk a fine line between being hopeful and naive, as Joe can testify. The consistently high fever combined with breathing difficulties gave me that deja vu feeling of caring for a newborn. We were waking every two hours in the night for breathing treatments and as evening approached I had that same feeling of apprehension. So we went to the doctor’s office on Friday morning just to know if there was anything more we could be doing to help our baby girl.


We were sad to hear how low her oxygen levels were, she has an ear infection on both sides and a respiratory infection. But slowly she is coming around, eating more and sleeping longer. I am craving a return to normalcy around here that I so desperately want. I want to file away the papers with all the times and medications recorded. Along with tucking the breathing machine and the humidifier back into their boxes. DSC_8680

This girl has to get better, she has a birthday to celebrate.

Finally Free

Paul had this loose tooth for months in the front, on top. In the last week it was sticking out funny and I was begging him to just pull it out. He was scared and really wanted it to just fall out with no blood. Then last night he bumped it with his knee while playing with Henry. I hate blood. So now it is bleeding, but still in. He was crying and nervous, but I just pulled it out.


More surprising than painful. His last tooth he swallowed, so I know he just really wanted to have the tooth to stick in his tooth pillow. He was traded a tooth for a dollar. This morning I woke up to him asking me, “Mom, what toys can I buy with a dollar?”

Connecting to Text

The other morning I snuck into the chair behind Olivine and listened to her read the pictures of the Gingerbread Girl Story. She was mostly singing to herself, saying “I’m not like my brothers” and smiling as she said “I am too fast to catch.”DSC_8467I heard her imitate some of the animals but I really loved that she could see herself in the story. It’s about a little sassy and smart cookie, and is a story I really love.

DSC_8463Seeing how happy the story made her it all made sense. Of course she likes a story with a character who is so much like herself. Isn’t that what we love about so many stories, the way we connect and relate to the characters.

*Note: she is wearing her brother’s cape.*

Groundhog Day

Why care? Because my Henry made this cute picture at school and brought it home (along with five permission slips to go on walks through his community). Also, we are supposedly going to have six more weeks of winter and if that means a few more rainy days, I am thrilled.


Today was not the usual Monday around here. Last night and most of today Olivine had a fever of 103, so I stayed home.


I love the role reversals. I got so giddy about staying home that I took this picture at the doorway of my three boys heading out.


If all cards line up, maybe my life will resemble something similar next year (you never know). She took a four hour nap with periodic breathing treatments. Leaving me to do things like hand wash her party dress that had cake and ice cream on it. Then take it out to dry and just stand in the sunshine, aware of the temperate weather and precious passing of time.


Or spend the mid morning, before she napped, making play dough. She chose the colors and rolled a whole tray of magical snacks.I think at one point she said “I made you coffee because I am couging” (sounds similar to her toddler ears). DSC_8583 And I took Joe’s advice/reminder to stay present wit her. He knows my personality. This was not a running errands, catch up on house cleaning, or paperwork organizing day. This was a day for me to spend with my daughter. And before she went to bed, she seemed well on the road to recovery with a 99 degree temp, steady breathing, no wheezing,


and a big smile on her face. All that love and attention speeds up recovery is what I am learning.

Bolsa Chica

Every few months we take a walk out to these wetlands with a ton of birds to watch for.`


Paul wanted to be in charge of and carry the binoculars,


but we all had a turn looking up close at the different birds.


They like to walk ahead or fall way behind as Joe and I stroll along. We are okay with taking breaks to throw rocks making targets out of objects in the water. At one point we found Paul (racing up ahead) playing a game with three young adults. They were all aiming for a bucket in the water, and Paul was being high-fived for scoring first.


A good way to slowly build their stamina for walking. This one in particular, seems to need a daily dose of fresh air or he starts to get stir crazy indoors.


These types of family walks seem to recharge us in the most necessary of ways.