Saturday, November 30, 2013

Farewell November

Striped Girl

Thanksgiving crafts

Anna (and the blur of Abigail who doesn't sit still)

Anna & Abigail love Aunt Rachel, who is still speaking to us after Abigail got sick on her this night!

Poor, sick Abigail. Daddy takes good care of her.

Don't you want to eat her up?

Always fun to come home to these two!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

What the kids say they when asked what they are grateful for:

"Baseball, bikes, books "--Joseph, 7

"Chocolate and cupcakes"--Abigail, 3

"Hi"--Anna, 1

Marc and I are especially thankful for our children and our health.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving morning 2013 at the Natural History Museum

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Maybe one more year?

Since Anna's birth, I kept telling myself, "We just have to make it through this first year."  Here we are a year later, and sometimes it feels like nothing has changed. I am still up every three hours all night long, and actually get less long stretches than I did when she was two weeks old. And I'm supposed to "have it all together" when my baby is this old! Sometimes I feel like I haven't made any progress in this year, except that maybe I'm not physically recovering from giving birth, with excessive pain and bleeding.

In some ways it is even harder. Anna--a sweet and happy, playful and content child during the day is going through some crazy phase. (Phase, it's just a phase). She wants me to hold her. She does not want to be put in her bed at any point all night long. She whimpers and cries. Marc has started sleeping in the unfinished, cold basement in a sleeping bag, which he reports is wonderful and much better than the torture chamber (what we had been referring to as our upstairs during the night.

Abigail does not nap at all; Anna naps for minutes, literally. We' re lucky if we get 30 minutes in the morning and 45 in the afternoon. Anna is mobile and wants to explore, but not walking, and heavy. Abigail still doesn't listen well enough to be trusted to walk solo in public, but she thinks she's old enough to fly cross country alone. This makes outings not-so-fun. I find three-years-old to be harder than the supposed terrible-two-year-old. At two, they get in to everything, but it is curiosity that runs amok. At three, it is willful disobedience. Defiance, if you will. Don't let Abigail's big eyes and darling voice fool you. She is crazy strong-willed and wily, that one. With Joseph, I think it was 3 1/2 when we really turned the corner (probably closer to four). With only one child I could strong arm him into obedience and enforce a time-out when needed--so we did many, many fun outings in the city when he was 3. With the two girls, I haven't figured out how to do museums and the metro and such if Abigail is going to defy me and run off, headstrong. And so I keep them home, and then Joseph and Abigail bicker, argue, fight like full-fledged siblings.

But, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'm going to think about what has improved over the course of the year:
  • We now have only one child in diapers!! I did not realize what a difference this would make in my day (not to mention  my budget). Good job Abigail!
  • Anna can eat food and is not wholly dependent on nursing. Anna does not have to feed every three hours. Anna can even feed herself some finger foods in the high chair.
  • I don't wake up multiple times in the night to check to make sure the baby is breathing, no worries every single day about SIDS.
  • Abigail is eating better--no more Pediasure--and will eat a variety of foods, when she is in the mood.
  • Joseph likes 2nd grade. No more unhappiness about going to school in the morning. 
  • Marc is a dream husband who is is truly a partner in this circus!

A friend who talks of wanting to have children recently posted this Daily Mail post.  I laughed until I cried, literally.

And maybe, it will really be better in one more year :)

College Friends

My dear friend Rachel from college was in town for a wedding. I drove out to Harper's Ferry, WV (the wedding locale) and we had lunch together and chatted. Then, she and I drove back to DC together and had dinner with her parents and aunt & uncle at the fancy Army and Navy Club. The food was delicious; it was wonderful to meet her fascinating and accomplished aunt & uncle; and a treat to see her wonderful parents--who are as good a people as you will ever meet. We talked and laughed and even danced! 

Rachel and I have kept in touch over facebook and blogs, an occasional email. But it has been years since we've really had a conversation. But she is the kind of friend where it was like we had never been apart. We talked for hours and hours. We got right down to the most personal issues--and shared like I rarely (never) do with anyone anymore. It was so nice. The only problem? It made me miss her more!

We got a quick photo before the night ended.  Rachel is as gorgeous as ever--and hasn't aged a day. Rachel has three children, three boys to be precise! And she still looks this awesome! And she is ever-talented--beautiful home, fantastic cook and baker, organized beyond imagination, Primary president, talented musician and teacher... The list goes on and on. She is amazing. And, the best part--one of my favorite people in the world to talk to. She's got energy and enthusiasm, empathy and humor. I'm so lucky to count her among my friends. And so thankful we got to visit this year.

September 14, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sometimes I Love Living in DC

Ever since our Solstice Party back in June, we've been hoping to get together with some of our friends for Korean food in an area called Korea-town.  We finally made it work and had such a fun night with two other couples, Steve & Mimi and John & Maria. 

It was my first time to try Korean food. I love it. I am totally hooked on kimchi, who knew? We went to this fantastic place with waiters dressed traditionally, and Mimi & Steve both speak Korean and the ordered all the food for us to share so we could try all kinds of dishes. The table was covered with food--what a feast. We all laughed at how much food there was--and then how we actually ate almost every bit!

Afterward, we went to a karaoke bar--have you seen Marc perform?  He really gets into it--what fun!  We're going to have to go out with these guys again; they keep us young! Special thanks to Marc's mom for watching the kiddos while we went out!

November 8, 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013

Auntie Wonderful

Aunt Elizabeth has been our lifesaver. Anna loves her and is happy to be with her, which is high praise and highly unusual (Marc jokes that Anna cries when I go to the bathroom and close the door).

Back in February I decided I needed to work on my dissertation a bit so Aunt Elizabeth watched the kids a couple days a week for the whole month. Then again in September, I thought we could do a similar arrangement, but sickness of one kind or another has plagued our family and thwarted my plans. Elizabeth has helped us out on my random requests throughout this fall season. Most recently, she watched the kids for over 48 hours! All three kids! Wow! Now, that is impressive, especially since my children are notoriously terrible sleepers.

Elizabeth really is a miracle worker! Somehow she manages to do crafts with the kids, read to Abigail, take trips to the park, and have all three children happy and smiling when I return. Plus, I discover she has done laundry, made my bed, done the dishes, cleaned my kitchen. I know, I know--she's amazing! (And totally giving a thousand times more in exchange than the measly sum I pay!)

Abigail starts to tremble in excitement when I tell her Aunt Elizabeth is coming over and Anna jumps from my arms into hers. Joseph gets jealous that the girls get to be with her while he's at school. We are all a lucky bunch! We love you Auntie Wonderful!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Daily Life

Sometimes I'm overcome with just how much I love this handsome boy!

There's been a lot of sickness going round--but how can you not appreciate these two snuggle bugs?

That night she started a week-long stomach flu. I thought something was up when she fell asleep in the middle of the day.

Anna does not like baby gates on the stairs

These are the days never to be forgotten--both girls in my lap.
Fall, 2013

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Celebrating Anna

Joseph and Abigail were excited to celebrate Anna's birthday.They helped me make a cake (and cupcakes). Joseph got to decorate the cake all by himself. He was very proud of himself. He also wore his "most awesome big brother" shirt in Anna's honor, he told me. In the morning, Marc rode 80 miles with his bike riding buddies while we baked. We tried to decide what Anna would most enjoy and settled on swinging at he park so we had our celebration at Alcova Heights park that afternoon.

 The kids helped Anna open some presents. They were as excited as she was.  That night at bedtime, Joseph and Abigail snuggled up to read Make Way for Ducklings.

November 9, 2013

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Anna turns one!

Our sweet Anna is one-year-old today!

Anna is still mostly scooting on her tummy, She will get on her knees every once in a while, but quickly flops back to her tummy since she can go so fast. She pulls up to standing everywhere. Anna was very determined to do learn to pull up, and at the beginning, would get herself stuck in a straddle, sliding down and crying. When we would rescue her, she would start right back at it. Over and over!

Marc put up a gate at the bottom of the stairs, but she tried to go under it and got herself stuck. When she wants to get somewhere, her determination really shines through. I've started letting her go up the stairs quite often, and she seems to have mastered it. She seems to have an understanding that she shouldn't go down by herself, but I'm not going to count on it.

She has become quite a little babbler. It can get a little busy and noisy around our house during the day. Anna fights to get a word in edgewise. At night, when I take Anna up to her room to nurse her and put her to bed, she gets quiet, one-on-one time with mom.  She starts nursing, then stops and starts babbling, lifting her eyebrows with expression as she tells me all kinds of unintelligible things. She goes on and on for probably two whole minutes and then goes back to nursing. It is really adorable. I think we're going to have another little chatter-box in the family. And her voice--oh my goodness, so sweet and soft and cute!

She has regressed in her sleep, waking every few hours all night long. Oh, baby sleep, the bane of my parenting existence!  She also wants to be held a lot, and is less willing to play on her own or with Abigail. She wants to type on the computer or hold the iphone. She arches her back and fights the carseat.  So basically she is entering into the drive-you-a-little-crazy phase. But, she is as cute as can be so we can't help but adore her.

She is still such a snuggly baby, which is such a treat. She pats my back when I pat hers. She even sometimes lays her head on my shoulder when she's tired. She is very attached to her pink stuffed bunny (with a bell in its tummy) and cuddles it in bed, and won't let go when I pull her out of the crib.

Our Anna, content and patient, a happy, sweet baby. She is observant--happy watching the world from her perfect postured position on my hip. She seems to really just enjoy life as it rolls. She keeps track of her siblings intently, and loves laughing along with them. We're discovering her quiet determination and look forward to more and more of her voice. We love you, Baby Anna!
November 9, 2013

                                                                                  Photos by Ben and Beccalee Munson, Oct. 11, 2013

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Zoo traditions

Most anytime Joseph has an early-release day or a day off of school, we head to the zoo. Election day was no different this year (I actually think we may have gone to the zoo for election days for the past three years). I especially love fall (and winter) at the zoo.

What a pretty day at the zoo!
 The sea lions and pandas were the favorite this trip. And, as always, the giant play-upon pizza!

 November 5, 2013

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Family Bike Rides are Baaack!

We have missed our family bike rides this year. Now that Anna is (almost) one, the powers that be have deemed it safe for us to take her bike riding. We headed out to one of our favorite spots. It was so fun. I felt free and optimistic. Even though Anna ended up crying for much of the return trip.

November 2, 2013

Friday, November 01, 2013

Halloween Happenings

This year, Halloween sneaked up on us! Usually, we are decorating on October 1st, but this year, the week of Halloween we were hurriedly pulling out our Halloween boxes. A new house requires figuring out new places to decorate, too. Luckily, Aunt Elizabeth shared some of her decorations and even did a Halloween craft day with the kids. And, Marc definitely had his strobe lights going during trick-or-treating. 

We attended a Halloween party at church. Joseph was the Gangum Style guy. Abigail was Rapunzel. She was so thrilled with her costume. We gave someone a ride to the party and she promised to show him her costume when we arrived. As promised, she hopped out of car, twirled and said "It's beautiful isn't it?"  Anna wore pumpkin pajamas, Marc was a farmer, and I was a chef.

Cupcakes Aunt Rachel made with the kids for the cupcake walk at the party
On Halloween day, I went to Joseph's class and read Too Many Pumpkins and brought pumpkin muffins. We missed the fun of the neighborhood elementary school parade from our old house. But, I have to say, our neighborhood on Halloween night made up for it! This place is unbelievable! We had a haunted house around the corner. We had a haunted car and a house on our street where a coffin started shaking as you walked under this elaborate wooden beam structure they constructed just for Halloween! One neighbor had hot dogs and hot cocoa in addition to candy, and several houses gave out "full size" candy bars. On our walk to school each day in October, we passed a house with a huge (as tall as the house) inflatable black cat and another house that has an extra side lot filled with hanging mummies and so forth. We couldn't wait to visit on Halloween. For the first time, we left a bowl of candy on the porch (and stopped back by to refill a couple times), so that we could all stay together as a family. I'm glad we did.

Aunt Rachel and Aunt Elizabeth joined us for Trick or Treating. Abigail loved telling each person that she was Rapunzel. She also told the man with the huge inflatable cat, "Your cat is beautiful!" She loved saying "trick-or-treat" and was delighted each time she got candy in return. She really got into it--candy, costumes, and chatting with the person at the door. It doesn't get any better for this sugar loving social butterfly! Joseph was goal oriented on candy this year. He went as a baseball player. And Anna had on her pumpkin shirt again, but she mostly wished she could have been home asleep--especially when it started sprinkling rain! Luckily, it was really warm so we didn't get chilled.

Afterwards, we had some warm apple crisp and ice cream while the children "traded" candy. After Joseph traded Abigail a tootsie roll for a full size Twix bar, we had to have a lesson in taking advantage of others.

Happy Halloween!
October 31, 2013