Friday, November 30, 2012

My Hero

Marc used his sick leave from work to take time off to care for me after Anna's birth--and after my mom was gone. He has been so kind and attentive to my needs, in addition to caring for Joseph and Abigail.  It has made me love him even more. What a gift.

At home with Anna
Bath time

Marc with Anna, minutes after her birth

We have all enjoyed the bonding time. Abigail loves to have Daddy put her to bed (and won't even let me do it anymore).  Both children love biking or walking to school with Dad. Today Abigail spent all afternoon with Marc in the backyard making a winter garden, and Marc took Joseph to the game night at school. Plus, he's packing lunches, bathing and dressing the kids, and getting up with them in the morning while I sleep. He's had a chance to read to Joseph's class, and I even got out of the house to join Joseph at school for lunch. We're enjoying this season when our world is standing still for just a few weeks and we can focus on this little family of ours.

November 2012

Daily Life

Sometimes I find myself sitting on the couch holding Anna watching the chaos that has become my life!  I'm starting to realize that my illusion of control may be gone forever. I'm still learning to "embrace the crazy!" But we wouldn't trade it!

 Anna's bouncy is enclosed in the pack n play for added protection from over-love!  I found Abigail reading "Kim and Carrots" to Anna the other day. The first night home when Anna was crying, Abigail said "It's okay sweetie. Don't cry."  Melted my heart.  I think these two are going to be good friends.

We may have new baby gear, but we still have to have room for lego creations

Abigail climbing into bed with me while I nurse Anna. Love my girls!
November 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our Thanksgiving was wonderful this year.
I am thankful for reading time with Joseph, Abigail's constant chatter and singing, and Anna's healthy arrival.

We were grateful to spend Thanksgiving with Marc's family. Aunt Elizabeth arrived from Los Angeles just in time!  We had a delicious Thanksgiving feast with the Oliphants on Thursday. Anna charmed everyone with her chubby cheeks and terrific sleep-in-your-arms skills.  Aunt Elizabeth, Aunt Rachel, and Uncle John took the kids to the zoo on Friday. Then a birthday celebration for Rachel Friday night. Saturday, Aunt Rachel took the kids over to Grandma and Grandpa's for a Christmas decorating party.   
With all the doting and outings with our wonderful extended family, Joseph and Abigail have hardly noticed that Mom has been a little busy with the baby.  Thank you to all who have made this transition so easy for them. We're grateful to be surrounded by loved ones.

Aunt Elizabeth and Joseph

Cousins:  Lucy went to sleep at our house while her parents were at a movie. The kids enjoyed playing in their pajamas before bedtime.

Love this girl!  Abigail had fun helping decorate for Christmas at Grandma and Grandpa's. Rachel sent me this picture since I was home with the baby.  Priceless!
Thanksgiving weekend, 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Anna Oliphant

November 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Grandma Time

The kids loved having my mom here. She took them to the park, went to Joseph's Veterans Day program at school while I was in labor and went to Joseph's Primary Program performance while I was in the hospital. She took Joseph to and from school, supervised homework, and packed lunches. But it was Abigail who really got to spend time with Grandma. I will always remember little Abigail bursting through the front door with my mom after an outing to the park or Costco. Each time I asked "How was it?" and Abigail grinned, ran up to hug me, and said "It was GREAT!"  

Grandma got a kick out of hearing all of Abigail's singing and chattering. Many afternoon naps were actually just Abigail singing or talking for an hour in her crib. Mom said the phrase "vaccinated with a phonograph needle" applies to our Abigail.  Indeed.  One day, I was upstairs feeding the baby, and I heard Abigail coming up the stairs talking about being "very careful" because something was "very dangerous."   Mom said she was also talking about the fork at Costco being "dangerous."  I was glad Grandma got to hear Abigail's vocabulary such as her version of a water bottle, "water bobble." 

On Mom's last day here, she took Abigail, Anna, and me out to lunch at Panera. We had a fun time, and Abigail is ready to go back for more cheddar broccoli soup!

Abigail helping Grandma make whipped cream for the pumpkin pies that Grandma and Joseph made together
I loved having my mom here. It was such a comfort to know the kids were happy as could be with Grandma while I was in the hospital. And once I got home, I had my mom taking care of everything.  I told her it took the entire Fairfax Hospital staff (doctors and nurses, lactation consultants, housekeeping, dining services, and more) to do what she was single-handedly doing at my house (plus child care!).   

As mom was leaving she told me to enjoy my children, that before I knew it, I'd be going to help Abigail and Anna when they have their babies.  It does seem just like yesterday I was home as the little girl with my mom. And for a couple weeks, I'm grateful I got to be taken care of by my mom like that again.

November 2012

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Day with Mom

A day with my mom.  Anna likes to stay up late and then fall asleep just before 5 am when the other kiddos are waking up. So, in hopes of giving me a chance to sleep in, Marc took Joseph and Abigail over to his parents' house to sleep on Saturday night. They went straight to church from their house, and then over to Aunt Rachel's to spend the day after church. This gave my mom and me (and little Anna) the day to spend together.  It was really fun to drink Russian refresher and chat in the morning--and not have to share her all day!  We  gushed over Anna's cuteness (I try not to talk about it too much in front of the other kids because I don't want to make Abigail jealous), took lots of pictures, and Mom even gave Anna her first bath.

November 18, 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012

One week

Anna turned one-week-old.  This shot perfectly captures my three children at this stage in our family life: Joseph couldn't be a prouder big brother. Abigail is sitting in Anna's car seat. She also now carries around a pacifier, which she calls a paciflower (love it!! we're all adopting the new word). And Baby Anna is just sleeping--though looking a little irritated that she was transferred from arms to a bouncy for the picture.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Welcome Home Anna

 Anna is a perfect little specimen of baby--round and rosy, sweet and soft. Just as a baby should be.
Anna in her carseat to make the big trip home.

We arrived home to a welcome home party! There was almost electricity in the air, the kids were so excited. Joseph had decorated with all kinds of "Welcome home Mom and Anna" signs. Joseph was really glad we didn't have a long hospital stay this time. For days after our arrival home, in his prayer, he would say thank you that Mom got to come home from the hospital so quickly. Sweet boy.

Joseph's signs:  one says "Little Sis, Big Sis, Big, Big Brother" for Anna, Abigail and Joseph. Also, another sign is a picture story of the doctor's office, car, house, hospital, and car to home again--tracing our route to having Anna and coming back home. Joseph also likes to draw mazes for us to do. He also has a rainbow "Welcome home Anna and Mom" drawing that he holds up for Anna whenever she is fussing, "It is the only thing that will make her happy, " he tells me.

Rachel was home with Grandma and the kids when we arrived.

November 12, 2012

Meeting Anna

Marc and I had planned out how to introduce the kids to Anna. We were (and are) trying to be sensitive to Abigail's potential feelings of displacement or jealousy.  So, when the kids arrived in the hospital room, we made sure I was not holding the baby and could immediately hold Abigail. She ran in, her happy Abigail self, "Mommmmmy!  Hi!" and gave me a big hug, then started looking for the baby who was in Grandma Donna's arms. 
Joseph and Abigail meet their little sister

Abigail waving a "hi baby" to Anna upon meeting her

I missed my kiddos while I was in the hospital.

Aunt Rachel and Anna

We wanted to have a picture of our new little family....

But Abigail really preferred to play in the cabinets and wouldn't come for a group shot.

Grandma Charlotte meets Anna

Cousin Missy and Anna

Abigail checking out all Anna's features
Daddy and Anna

Joseph is a proud big brother.

It was fun having so many visitors. Cousin Fatima also came, but when it was just Anna and me so we didn't have the camera out.  After all the excitement, Marc took the kids home and left my mom with me Sunday evening. It was wonderful to just be with her and Anna for a few special, quiet hours.

November 10-11, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

Introducing Anna

Anna Moore Oliphant
Born November 9, 2012
11:28 pm
9 pounds, 11 ounces
20 inches

We're all in love with our Anna. 

Monday, November 05, 2012

Almost There

The end of pregnancy is a strange time to me: the anticipation of meeting the new little one mixed with a bit of anxiety of actually getting her here.  Of course, there is also some worry about the things you didn't get finished that you planned to do before your world gets turned upside down. Then, there's the addition of sentimental thoughts about changes in the family dynamics--mourning the end of things as they are while being excited for the way things will yet to be. A bunch of emotions mixed with hormones, and wow, what a mess!

Life has been crazy--like never-take-a-breath-crazy lately. In addition to all the other demands of life, I was determined to get my dissertation proposal submitted, defended, and on its way for human subjects review before the baby was born. I scheduled a defense, I met all my deadlines-and had phenomenal support from the faculty on helping me meet all the deadlines.  I had positive feedback from my committee: "This is the best proposal I've ever seen since I've been at Catholic."  Yet, they reminded me, "No proposal has ever been accepted without revision,"  but I confess I secretly hoped that I would be the first--or at least I could just have some typos to fix. There is nothing like a committee of academics to put you in your place as a lowly grad student: my proposal defense meeting concluded with many substantive revision requests that required much more than grammatical corrections. I held it together until I got to my car and then began to sob and then went into a Sarah-depression for about a week. I was so ready to be done! I had pushed hard to make this happen, and was ready for a break--mentally, physically, and emotionally. And though my committee was ready and willing to help me turn around my revisions quickly, I finally just called it quits. I told my Chair how much I appreciated her willingness to meet my deadlines, but that it was time for me to focus on my family.  I will get back to the proposal after the baby, maybe after the holidays.  The rush to graduate in May has been trumped by my desire to nest. (And a little snippet advice column in an Oprah magazine at the doctor's office by a Pulitzer Prize winner who said the best advice she ever got was to give up trying to make it perfect. Such good advice, which I always need to be reminded of. I cannot do it all at once!!!)

And so now we're nesting. I'm rocking Abigail just a little longer. I'm reading a few extra stories to Joseph. I'm grocery shopping and cooking and baking as if my family will starve while I'm in the hospital for two days! We've pulled out all the baby clothes, the bassinet is by my bed--with newborn diapers below.  The hospital bag is packed and in the car. The list of baby names is down to ten or twenty!  Each night I try to have the house tidy and dishes done before bed--just in case we leave for the hospital in the middle of the night. My mom arrives on Wednesday. I'm wanting to pull everyone just a bit closer as we head into this new season of our family. And waiting. Waiting for our baby to arrive.

Marc took a few pictures of me in this ripe stage of pregnancy (huge belly, puffy face, even the pregnancy nose--gotta document it).  We're told this one will be a 9 + pounder like Joseph. I'm trying to manage my labor expectations--if we make it to the hospital, that counts as a success this time around! 

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Our Abigail

At a recent family dinner to celebrate the return East of Aunt Joyce, Uncle Dave, and Missy, we "trapped" Abigail in her high chair for quite a while as she played Boggle. She loves to put each cube in its own spot.

Gone is the girl who refuses to eat. In this photo she had sneaked up on the table and started eating the roasted red pepper, coriander, & cumin sauce that was to go with rice and meat for dinner.  Eat up, Abigirl, we'll make more!

We recently unpacked all the baby clothes and gear from the attic as we ready for new baby. Abigail has reclaimed the bouncy chair. I'm not sure she'll give it up for the baby, but that's okay. She can bounce and we'll let the baby use the swing. 

Abigail's hair was beginning to look a bit like straw on a scarecrow to us (and it is almost impossible to keep a clip in her hair) so I took her in for a haircut. What I planned to be a trim turned out to be a short, short haircut. Even worse, it is a terrible haircut--kind of like it was just whacked at. So frustrating--especially since I could have whacked myself for free!  Anyhow, as I look at these pictures, she actually looks darling so maybe the haircut isn't so bad after all!  The truth is, Abigail is physically beautiful, but it is her magnificent personality that just makes her so irresistible. And a haircut won't touch that!

November 2012