Saturday, January 31, 2015

Bits and Pieces: January

I hate to tempt the Weather Gods by saying anything, but boy, this winter has been SO MUCH better than last winter. We've don't have to worry about getting frostbite walking from the house to the car! We can play outside! I don't have to wear two sweaters and a pair of mittens inside the house!

We've taken Clare ice skating several times. (Christopher came once. He rode around the ice in his stroller. He was not impressed.) Clare, however, cannot get enough time on the ice. She's getting pretty good at skating, too. She can skate backwards and spin around in circles. Not gracefully, mind you, but she is still doing it. We met some friends at the rink a few weekends ago, and then went to Snuffy's for lunch afterwards. A fun winter Saturday. Oh, and can I just say how great it is that Groveland Rec Center lends out skates for free? For free!

Last weekend, we went down to the St. Paul Winter Carnival. We rode the bus, which I think was the highlight of the trip for the kids. Even Christopher was into it. It was such a beautiful, warm day. The ice sculptures looked a little worse for wear, but it was so nice to be able to get out and do something as a family.

Our other news for the month is that we are now minivan owners. I feel like such a stereotype. All we are missing is the dog. However, I have to say that the minivan is nice. It is comfortable and it will be wonderful for camping trips this summer.

With nights out with friends, book club, dinner parties and family time, it has been a fun month. The winter blahs still come and go, but for the most part things are good. Now that I've said I am enjoying winter, we'll probably get a huge blizzard next week. I can handle it, though, since we have so many good days in the bank.

Waiting for his milkshake at Snuffy's.

At the Winter Carnival.

Christopher was also not impressed by the Winter Carnival.

Clare on one of our many trips to the aquarium at MOA.

Saying goodbye to our old Prius. I didn't even like that car much, but it still felt a bit sad to leave it behind. It was the car we used to bring Christopher home from the hospital, after all.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Resolutions

I know I said I wasn't going to do any New Year's Resolutions this year, but I can't seem to help myself. There is something about the new year that makes me want to set goals. Start fresh. Get organized. And getting organized is exactly the subject of my first resolution. Now that I am out of the fog that is the first year with a new baby, I feel ready to tackle some house projects. The first thing I need to do is go through all of the places that I can close the door on: closets, the basement, drawers. These things are certified (by me) disaster areas. So that's resolution number one: organize my house. I've already scheduled all of the dates to do this, so I am really hoping I will get it done.

Resolution number two: stick to my workout routine. I really, really want to focus on this. I know it is a very commonly made (and broken) resolution, but I am going to try. Really.

Number three: read all of the books on my bookshelf. I have a stack of books next to my bed that I keep ignoring in favor of books from the library or on my Kindle. Several of these books are on loan from my mother-in-law, so I really should read them and get them back to her. Edited to add: I already broke this one by checking two books out from the library. All well, I will still try to get through the stack on my bookshelf.

And number four. Watch the entire series of Friends on Netflix. Yep. I think I can do it.

And now, here is how we burn off extra energy in the winter. Or, I should say, how Clare burns off extra energy. With special appearance by decrepit cat. (Yes, with possibly inappropriate lyrics. She didn't understand. She was too busy tossing her head.)




Monday, January 5, 2015

15 Months (and One Day)



Christopher has become Mr. Independent this month. Anything he can do for himself, he will. If I carry him up the stairs rather than letting him climb up himself, he cries in frustration and anger. He wants to turn off the light. He will put the cap back on his food packet. He tries, unsuccessfully, to put on his socks.

Of course, he still doesn't walk on his own, so I guess he is not all that independent. His crawling certainly gets him where he needs to go, though.

He had a great time over the holidays. Why wouldn't he? He had the full attention of at least one of his grandparents, great-grandparents, or an aunt or uncle almost every day of Christmas Break. When we were at my parents' house, he couldn't get enough of Baba Ralph. Any time he was around, Christopher ignored everyone else. I tried to take him from my dad at one point, and Christopher literally slapped my hands away. I guess I know where I stand.

On Christmas morning, Christopher pulled a pair of maracas out of his stocking. Christmas could have ended right there. He sat and shook those maracas like a madman, grinning like crazy. He only took breaks to stuff his face with gingerbread. When Ben finally cut him off, he sobbed and tried in vain to reach the gingerbread, which was now safely stowed on top of the mantle.

Speaking of stuffing his face, every time he eats something he says, "Mmmmm!" I love it. Especially since he'll happily eat anything I make, unlike his sister, who will only eat cheese burritos, plain pasta, frozen mango, and tomatoes. Christopher seems insatiable some days, reaching out his hand and bleating "Ma! Ma! Ma!" (More, of course.) My mom says he sounds like a baby goat. He really does. He has also started feeding other people whenever he can. I think my mom was force fed at least 10 pretzels during one sitting over Christmas. This morning he fed me my toast.

He adores his new cousin. He doesn't usually realize she's there until she starts crying, and then he gets super excited. When they first met, Josie stopped crying and stared at Christopher when he started squawking at her. I am sure she was wondering just what that thing was. I hope they'll have a great time together when she's a little older - they're only a year apart, after all.

I am looking forward to getting back into our routine now that the holidays are over. It was a good Christmas, but it is always nice to get back to normal. Or nermal, as Clare says. Here's to a great 2015!





Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Year in Review: 2014

Well. Last year was a big one in our family. New house, new baby, Christopher's heart surgery, etc. This year was much, much quieter. Even boring, perhaps. And that's okay with me.

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

Became an aunt. Took two small children camping. (It was a success!) Had a child start preschool. (Maybe in the long run that won't seem like a big deal, but it felt momentous.)

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

No. Once again, I did not keep them. I said that I was going to stop yelling at other drivers while in the car because it scared Clare. Well, it doesn't scare her anymore, but every time I do it she says, "I am not going to tell you again. Stop talking to the other cars. They can't hear you." She is SO three. I also said I was going to start eating less sugar. And no. I didn't do that either. My track record on these things is not very good, so I think I may just skip them entirely this year. We'll see.

3. Did anyone close to you have a child?

YES! My sister had my beautiful niece Josephine. My friend Jessie had Evan, Suzy had Isla, Maggie had Rachel, and Mandy had Piper.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No.

5. Where did you travel?

We went to Pipestone, Minnesota, on our first family vacation in June. We also went to Grand Marais and the Gunflint Trail. And of course, multiple trips to Evansville.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

A better fitness routine, including making sure I get to my weekly yoga class. I NEED to do this. I need to.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory?

January 5: Christopher's Baptism. February 1: My brother and sister-in-law's wedding. December 1: My niece's birthday.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

SLEEP!!! Last year all of my answers to this questionnaire seemed to involve wanting more sleep. Well, Christopher has been sleeping through the night for the majority of the year. SLEEP. Is that really an achievement, though? Maybe not. In all seriousness, I would say that my biggest accomplishment is finding my groove as a stay-at-home mom. It is nice feeling like I have this thing under control. (Note: this will probably go out the window when I start caring for my niece Josie this spring. DON'T WORRY KATIE IT WILL BE FINE.)

9. Did you suffer illness or injury?

A few colds and my usually litany of random weirdness.

10. What was the best thing you bought?

Hmmmm. I really like some sweaters I bought at Old Navy? I can't think of anything major or interesting.

11. Whose behavior merited celebration?

I read an article that stuck with me about doctors working to combat Ebola. I just really admire those people. They are doing such important work.

12. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Internet trolls. I have always known the internet was toxic, but it just seemed extra bad this year. I know I should just stay off of it, but I can't help myself. I always go back.

13. Where did most of your money go?

The usual: mortgage and diapers. Our budget can mostly be summed up as "Things for Children."

14. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

This may be lame, but I am really excited that I found a group of stay-at-home mom friends to hang out with during the week. We don't see each other everyday, but it means a lot knowing they are there.

15. What song will always remind you of 2013?

Everything on Elizabeth Mitchell's "Little Seed" album. I think I have listened to it almost every day this year. (Except for this month, when I issued a "Christmas music only" decree for car trips.)

16. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

Happier, maybe slightly thinner, and about the same financially.

17. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Exercised. I always feel better when I do it, but I have such a hard time keeping to a routine.

18. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worried about things that are out of my control. I think I'll wish that every year. Also: obsessed about things that have already happened. (And are therefore out of my control.)

19. How did you spend Christmas?

Christmas Eve was spent at home with a sick 3-year-old. Luckily, she rallied for the main event and had a blast on Christmas Day. We had Christmas morning at home, complete with homemade gingerbread and a full English breakfast, and then had Christmas dinner at Ben's parents' house. We traveled to Evansville for the weekend following Christmas and had a nice visit there, filled with good food, good martinis, and good football. Also, a fun trip to see the lights at the Rotary Gardens in Janesville, which Clare really loves.

20. What was your favorite TV program?

Orange is the New Black, The Mindy Project, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Black-ish.

22. What was the best book you read?

I read a lot of books this year that just did not live up to their hype. The worst offender: "The Goldfinch." I did not enjoy that book. I did like a few, though.

1. "The Paying Guests," by Sarah Waters
2. "Me Before You," by Jojo Moyes
3. "The Fault in Our Stars," by John Green
4. "The Rosie Project," by Graeme Simsion
5. "Hyperbole and a Half," by Allie Brosh

23. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I mentioned that I have been listening to Elizabeth Mitchell every day, and I actually really like her. It is music for kids, but her voice is so pleasant, and the music so pretty, that it doesn't get on my nerves the way some other music does.

24. What did you want and get?

Sleep! Yay!

25. What did you want and not get?

A minivan. However, I will be getting one early next year. I have officially turned into an old person/mom.

26. What was your favorite film of this year?

I saw four, maybe five movies this year? And of those, two were in the theater. I really liked "Gone Girl," but I think I'll have to go with "Guardians of the Galaxy." That movie was just fun.

27. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I went to a fundraiser where I met Al Franken, and then out to dinner at Red Cow with my sister. It was fun and delicious. I also had a little family party with the kiddos, and then a date night with Ben at Craftsman a few days later. It was nice. I turned 35. I guess I am officially in my mid-30s. GASP.

28. What one [or three] thing[s] would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

More time doing things that are not related to children or child maintenance duties. This may not be possible when you have a 3- and 1-year-old and are also a stay-at-home mom, but it would be nice to have some time to myself or date nights or girls' nights or lunch out without kids or something!

Sort of related tangent: my friend Heather and I took our kids to Noodles for lunch recently. We turned our attention away from the three-year-olds for literally one minute to have a conversation, and we look back over and they are both waving their knives in the air. I asked Clare what the heck she was doing. "We're playing SUPER KNIVES!" she shrieked.

Yes. A lunch out without Super Knives would be absolutely lovely.

29. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

Any clothes that are mostly clean and kind of match. And Old Navy sweaters.

30. What kept you sane?

Ben. Friends. Family. Also: having a routine is HUGE for me.

31. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I started following Mindy Kaling on Instagram and Twitter, and I love her. She is hilarious.

32. What political issue stirred you the most?

Bah. That sums up how I feel about politics right now.

33. Who did you miss?

Rob and Andri.

34. Who was the best new person you met?

Josie!

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.

On a small scale, I learned that if I keep my cool with Clare when she is acting up it really helps prevent the situation from escalating. Goal for 2015: learn how to keep my cool.

I've also spent a lot of time feeling grateful. Grateful that I live where I do, that I have the life I have. I know I am really lucky. That doesn't mean everyday is a good day, or that I don't have any problems, but remembering that helps a lot.

Happy New Year, all!

Christmas morning chaos.

Silly goose, silly hat.

Working on the annual Christmas puzzle.

Baba Ralph with his sidekick for the weekend.

Clare enjoying the Christmas lights.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Weaned, accidentally

Over Thanksgiving, I injured my back. I have no idea what I did, but I could barely bend over. I took a few aspirin, completely forgetting that aspirin is a no-no when nursing. I figured it was no big deal, I was only nursing Christopher twice a day at that point, anyway. I'd just skip a day or two until the aspirin was out of my system.

I checked with his doctor, and she said it was fine to nurse again. I did, and he was kind of meh about it. Then, the next day he outright rejected me. He is fine with his cow's milk, thank you very much. I thought about trying to get him to nurse the next day, but I decided just to let it go. It is easier this way.

He still loves to snuggle, which was my favorite part of nursing anyway. I feel kind of sad about it, though. With Clare, I was sad after her last feeding, and the next day I was so happy. I am still waiting for the so happy this time. I think it is partly because he is likely my last baby. You never know, though, I suppose.

And I guess I am not sad to say goodbye to the nursing bras. I also plan to stock up on wine for Christmas, which I will be able to drink at anytime of the day. Not that I will. But I COULD.




Sunday, December 7, 2014

Three and a Half




I was looking at what I wrote at this time last year. Of course, I was amazed that she was already two and a half. Now here we are a year later. Guess what? Time went by fast. Again.

I thought a good way to mark this new age milestone would be a brief interview with Clare. I've been wanting to do this ever since I read about it on another blog. She thought it was a blast, and I can't wait to see how her answers change from year to year.




I love that she thinks watching Mickey Mouse is the meaning of life, especially since she's only watched Mickey maybe once or twice. Apparently she is very fulfilled. Also: she loves the Children's Museum, so I am not sure what she thought I was asking there. I can't remember if I mentioned on here that she failed the hearing test at her school screening. I am not overly concerned because her ENT said she was fine when she saw him this summer. However, she has been saying "what" and "huh" a lot lately. All well, it just makes her answers more fun.

I had to include this last picture, because I love the look of pure joy on her face. Uncle Robby had just arrived for a visit, and it had been several months since she'd seen him in person. As you can see, she absolutely adores her uncle.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

14 Months



He's walking! Okay, so not on his own, yet. He walks behind push toys or anything else he can move across the floor, like the garbage can. He did it for the first time on November 12.  He can walk with one of us holding onto one of his hands. He crawls in a hilarious way now, especially if he is holding something. He has one knee on the ground, one foot on the ground, and one hand on the ground. Then he drags himself across the floor. He looks crazy doing it.

He says mama, more milk, nana (banana) and uh-oh. He waves goodbye. He gives high fives. He claps his hands. Whenever he is doing anything, he looks around to make sure he has the full attention of the room. If he doesn't, he lets you know about it.

He is still giving the best kisses in the world. He does it without me asking, now, just slobbering all over my face.

When we pull up to the building where we have our ECFE class, he starts grunting with joy. He knows what's coming. He could care less when I leave the room for my parent class. All of the other kids are crying, and I glance back at Christopher and see him chewing on a block, looking a bit bewildered. I am sure he is wondering what all the fuss is about.

He and Clare play together, and it is the best thing in the world. They both love playing outside, even this time of year. I hope that is something they can do together for years to come.

He has started using a fork. I just remembered a few weeks ago that he should probably start learning how to use one. The poor, neglected second child. With Clare, I was obsessed with every milestone. With Christopher, it is more like...wait, what should he be doing now?

I am just kidding about him being neglected, of course. He is so loved. If anything, I do too much for him, because I can't resist that smile, or those snuggles, or those bright eyes. There is just something about baby boys. He's got me wrapped right around his finger.

Still a bit confused about the snow.

Handsome lunch date.

Learning how to use a utensil. He needs some more practice.

In awe of the fish at the Minnesota Zoo.

A typical scene in our house.