Thursday, June 20, 2013

And We're Back

Yes, it's been a terribly long delay in blog-land, but I barely manage to shower, fully dress myself and check e-mail on some days, so blogging (along with things like reading, checking up on Facebook, putting on make up or blow-drying my hair) have lately taken a back seat.
And yet, things are going really well. With all of the changes that have come around over the last five months, I'd say that although we're far from being experts, Elizabeth and I are starting to get the hang of this parenting gig. We're trusting our instincts a little more, and worrying a little less. We're enjoying the fun and the funny and the sweet moments, and learning to breathe deeply and occasionally even find the humor in the not-so-sweet moments.
The older Cupcake just celebrated her second birthday this past week. She's officially in the terrible twos, although we're pretty confident that she's a gifted child and actually began that stage when she was still one. As our friend Liz put it, there's nothing terrible about The Cupcake at all, she's all heart and passion. It's just unfortunate that our agendas don't always match. However, I will say that as stubborn and headstrong as she can be, The Cupcake is also a sweetly affectionate child with a bright and cheerful personality.
The Cupcake 2.0 is almost five months old. I really can't believe that. When I look at photos of her when we first got her, it's like two different babies. She still has the mop of dark hair, but now she's holding up her own head, smiling and giggling, and kicking her feet like crazy. I'm enjoying the last few months of having only one mobile child, and that might be stretching it, seeing as how Cupcake 2.0 can already manage to scoot herself around on her back while on her play mat.
So other than general exhaustion, which has become kind of the run-of-the-mill everyday around here, there are a few things I've noticed that we've started doing now that we've become parents. These things randomly include:
1. We bought a minivan. I've never been one of those people who swore they'd never ever get a van, because, quite frankly, I'm really not that cool and don't care too much about cars. But there was something a little eyeroll-inducing about the two of us going out and getting a giant entertainment system on wheels. Our sister-in-law, Felicia, has threatened to move in to the backseat, since it has just about everything she needs in life. All that being said, the minivan is pretty awesome.
2. We now choose restaurants based on the speed of the food appearing on the table and the noise level within. If it's fast and loud, we're in. This is pretty much the inverse of how we chose restaurants in our previous life. Dining in restaurants, from the time the children leave the carseats until they are buckled in again, takes roughly 30 minutes. I faintly remember a time when we'd linger over a second glass of wine, or maybe share a dessert with some coffee. The thought of doing this now makes me want to laugh hysterically. Or freeze with fear.
3. Which leads me to my next observation which is that both Elizabeth and I have lost weight. This, I'll admit, is a nice side benefit. Although something good has to come from the fact that mealtimes last for about five minutes, our activity level has shot up exponentially, and that a small person with supersonic hearing lives in our house who has the ability to hear a potato chip bag being opened from three doors down.
4. We say the weirdest things now. I never thought that "bottom in the seat!" would become my new catchphrase. Other gems include "use your words," "what do you say??" "say thank you, say THANK YOU!" or "finger out of your nose!" Sentence structure has become very simple around here. And most sentences are of the imperative variety.
5. I put ice in my coffee now in the mornings. I do this because it then enables me to drink my coffee immediately and quickly. I noticed that I was doing this and it dawned on my that my dad does this, too. Nothing relevant, just an interesting observation.
6. My conversational skills are kind of falling apart. I'm a horrible listener since I'm usually on the lookout for a wayward two-year-old who is using the opportunity of her mommy's involvement with another adult to try and navigate the basement steps, climb up on the bed and use it as a trampoline, open the refrigerator and empty its contents, or find the nearest writing utensil (preferably one with permanent ink) and begin drawing on the walls or furniture. Also, I can remember nothing. Chances are, if I start to tell you something, I'll forget halfway through, anyway. My sister swears that this is called mommy brain, because she has it, too. We've both gotten into the habit of randomly shouting out things that pop into our brain the moment the thought occurs, because the thought will be lost in the next ten seconds. Which means that anymore, our conversations go something like this:
Me: "so I was thinking we could get together the weekend of the 8th --"
Sarah: "BABY FOOD COOKBOOK!"
Me: "huh?"
Sarah: I'll forget again if I don't tell you. I want to borrow your baby food cookbook.
Me: "Oh, of course! In fact, let me write myself ... MOTHER'S DAY GIFT!!!:
Sarah: "what?"
Me: Sorry, we were supposed to decide what to get mom for mother's day.
Sarah: "right! Maybe we could get PHOTOGRAPHER'S PHONE NUMBER!!!"
Well, you get the gist. It's like some form of insipid Tourette's Syndrome for women with small children.
This is an incredibly random list of observances of the past few months, and I promise that I'll try to sharpen my writing skills somewhat and become more organized soon. The baby is down for a nap right now, which makes me giddy with possibilities. I might actually be able to shower, which is quite exciting.
Until next time!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

And the Beat Goes On

 Almost six weeks has passed since the Cupcake came into our lives, and during that time, her big sister, Cupcake 1.0, has joined our family, and we are getting our everyday established. This is harder than it sounds. I feel like this has alternately been the longest and the shortest six weeks, ever. It's really hard to describe.
We continue to learn. We thought newborns were tough. Then a toddler came along. And we realized that the newborn was cake. Newborns cannot toddle through your home, opening drawers and cabinets and cupboards you rarely think about, finding random Cheerios under the couch, trying to hug the cat, and grabbing any item within arm's reach and making it her own.
We learned to baby-proof more effectively.
We're learning when to say "no" and when to let it go.
We're learning that little girls of all ages require lots of cuddles to make it through a day.
We're learning to accept the things we cannot change and we're trying our best to be content in the knowledge that if it is our job in this universe to love these little people for a temporary period of time, putting as many deposits into their emotional and self-esteem bank accounts as we can, than it is a job we will do happily.
We love our girls.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Learning

We're two fairly intelligent, college educated people, but even so, we're cutting ourselves some slack where a new baby is involved. Step one in raising a baby: love the baby.
We've got that one covered.
I think we've gotten a handle on feeding and changing diapers and even swaddling, which proved to be trickier than we had originally thought.
The past week has been one big learning process. Here, in no particular order, are things we've learned this week:
1. Babies eat when and what they want to eat. It makes no difference that yesterday at the same time she drank almost three ounces, if she decides that today it'll only be one ounce, then that's her prerogative. And if she was not hungry this morning at 9 a.m. after her morning nap, she'll be ravenous tomorrow.
2. People who joke about babies needing about five outfit changes a day are really not joking.
3. Five outfit changes a day is actually a low-ball.
4. We've done more laundry and run the dishwasher more in the past week than we have in the past month.
5. Gifts of food from neighbors and friends has been a godsend. I've become a leftovers convert.
6. Do not mess around with sleep deprivation. People will always say, "oh, be sure to take care of yourself so you can take care of the baby!" Like every other mother in the history of mankind, I thought I was exempt from this rule. Until about hour 36 in a stretch of sleeplessness that included a non-sleeping baby, a first home visit, the realization that I had not eaten or drank anything during that time, and subsequent dehydration coupled with sickness resulting in a mental breakdown in our living room. It was not pretty. But it leads me to item #7 that I've learned this week:
7. Be grateful for the friends and family who are around to pick you up when things like this happen. I have marveled so many times this week at just how single moms or parents of multiples cope. I just simply don't understand how it's done. The network of support that Elizabeth and I have is truly amazing, and we are endlessly thankful for them. Which also leads me to:
8. Don't be afraid to ask for help. This is not easy for most of us, but it becomes crucial in times like these. (Please see item #6).
9. There's something strangely fun about being the only one in the house up at 4 a.m., holding a baby while watching late night tv.
10. We have learned that we really do have the ability to fall asleep at any time, in any place at a moment's notice.
11. I have learned that I love the little girl we've been blessed with more each time I look at her, which doesn't seem mathematically possible, if I already love her to infinity. I also have learned I really like this new role of mommy.
12. Oddly, and this can certainly change as time goes on, I've learned that I think I'll be the best mom if I'm a working mom. I always thought I'd jump at the chance to be a stay-at-home mom, but at this moment, anyway, the idea just doesn't seem to fit the way I thought it would.
I suppose that this list could go on ad-nauseum, but really, since the cupcake is sleeping, I really should take advantage and grab a power-nap for myself.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A New Addition

 To say that we are over the moon is an understatement. The fact that we are sleep deprived and unshowered does not faze us one bit. We have been turned into two piles of goo over a tiny little person who weighs just over five pounds, has a head full of crazy black hair and huge brown eyes.
I need to be fairly careful about what I write and post, because this new person in our family is technically a foster child, even though it took us exactly 30 seconds to completely fall in love with her and decide unequivocally that we would throw ourselves in front of any danger that would ever come her way.
Her grandmas also feel this way:
 And her cousin Max thinks she's pretty cool.
P.S. doesn't Max look HUGE?? He was a tiny baby five minutes ago, but when you put him (at almost four months) next to his newborn cousin, that dude looks about like he could hop in my car and drive it away.
We sent Max out to get us some pizza and beer after this photo was taken.
 Not really.
I love my family.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Weekend Trip

 Since it was a three-day weekend, we thought it'd be a great time to plan a little getaway. For months now, our friends Marvis and Dave have been talking about taking us to their old stomping grounds in Iowa for some fun by the Mississippi River. The stars aligned and everyone's schedules were free, so we loaded up the "Whale," Marv and Dave's great white Tahoe on Saturday afternoon, and headed to our first stop on the route, LeClare, Iowa. There we stopped for lunch at a little German pub and enjoyed the gorgeous weather, and then we went to the storefront run by the people who are in the American Pickers tv show:


After that, we  walked by the river, stopped at a few shops, enjoyed a drink, and then picked up to complete the second leg of the trip.
We drove through the little town where Marvis grew up, Miles, and then proceeded to Dave's hometown, Sebula, the "island city of Iowa." Like many of us, Dave came from a small town where he was related to many of the town's residents, and so we got to stay at "The Castle" bed and breakfast, run by his cousin, Sharon and her husband. We also got to go to the "Bombfire" pizzeria, which is run by another cousin, who built a traditional wood-fire fueled brick oven after studying them for two days online. The pizza at this little place, which was packed to the gills on a Saturday night, was among the best we've ever had. The live music and generally rowdy, good-spirited ambiance was nice, too.
We love taking little trips like this, and it was especially nice to spend some time with two good friends. As I told my sister the other evening after we got home, it was a perfect trip consisting pretty much solely of visiting and eating.
We love a good three-day weekend!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Happy New Year!

 Happy 2013!
Hard to believe, isn't it?
Here's one thing I've noticed as I've gotten older: New Years Eve parties have taken on a decidedly different tone. When I was younger, I would put ice and beer bottles in my kitchen sink as a makeshift cooler, buy a bag of chips, and friends and I would indulge in debauchery until the wee hours. Massive hangovers would ensue. Later, we actually planned activities or themes for our parties. But lately, it seems that our favorite type of New Year's Eve celebration includes a good meal, company, maybe some games, and champagne at midnight. (If we make it until midnight).
This year's party was extra-fun because my mom and dad, as well as my sister, Sarah, her husband, Mike, and baby Max joined us, the Ryders, and David and Felicia. Because of the extra-special assembled company, Elizabeth suggested we cook a whole beef tenderloin for our dinner:
This is something we've never attempted, but let me please tell you that it was decadent, wickedly delicious, and completely worth every penny and calorie. Since I was paranoid about properly cooking such a good piece of meat, I consulted several recipes from trusted sources and finally decided to follow the advice I found from Cook's Illustrated, which is to cook the filet at a relatively low temperature for a longer period of time. We coated the meat with a crushed peppercorn crust (simmer the crushed peppercorns in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil for a short time to tame some of the harsh bite) and made a pomegranate and port sauce to serve on the side.
 A lovely night, and especially fun to do something special for the people we love.
In other news, I've been enjoying the rest of Christmas break. I realize that I am a very lucky person that I get to have time off around the holidays, and I was able to use these days for a good combination of work around the house, reading, fun activities, and just plain relaxing. This afternoon (Saturday) I actually spent the majority of the day assembling a jigsaw puzzle on the dining room table while Elizabeth watched football on tv. I honestly cannot tell you the last time I did something like this. Occasionally the thought, "wow - I should really do something productive today" would enter my head, but it very quickly left, and I was able to re-focus on the puzzle. And I finished it!
We' re enjoying some leftover pizza, a fire in the fireplace, and "brit-coms" on PBS this evening, which is just about as close to a perfect evening as I can imagine.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Fun

 This is Elizabeth with my dad, and there's something going on here that involves sports, a bet, and a jersey.
I have no idea.
Sports I don't know from.
Elizabeth is a Cubs fan and she's wearing a Sox jersey and my dad is smiling. So my guess is that Elizabeth lost the sports bet.
I'd be willing to place bets on Food Network shows, Downton Abbey or scrapbooking, but so far no one has taken me up on any of that.
This is Max, getting the hang of opening gifts.
Well, not really, but how flipping cute is this photo??
 Here is a picture of a grandpa. When you're a grandpa, you set aside the book on Lincoln you just got and kind of wanted to peruse in favor of putting on Three Little Pigs finger puppets and putting on a show for your granddaughter.
 This is a picture of an auntie with a smiling baby.
Which one is happier?? It's hard to tell.
 Happy, laughing Christmas baby!!!
Is there anything nicer??
 Here's another grandpa who has been loved for many years.
 And a happy Christmas family of Anvicks.
The whirwind tour of family Christmases was just as fun as always.