Monday, December 19, 2011

Advent 2011

This year, with a three- and almost-two-year-old to entertain and a real, grown-up house to decorate, I decided 2011 was the year to start some Christmas traditions.

No matter that I've been Classic Exhausted Pregnant Lady for the last six months. I love looking forward to special occasions, planning bits and pieces to celebrate along the way, and what better opportunity for all of that than the advent season?

So here's what we did this year:

-ordered sixteen Christmas or winter-related books from the Scholastic book drive at Will's preschool (that was back in November)

-got out the advent calendar given to the boys by Dave's parents

-printed out sixteen "Find a Book!" notes, almost one per weekday leading up to Christmas and put them in the corresponding boxes in the calendar

-wrote little notes in each book to match its plot, e.g. in The Longest Christmas List Ever: "December 15, 2011: Are you done writing your list for Santa? We love you, Mom and Dad"

-scheduled more labor-intensive projects like "Get a Christmas tree!" or "Decorate a wreath" (or even "Make hot cocoa") for weekend days

-juuuuuust remembered to hide the appropriate book under a bed or a couch pillow in time for the boys to do "Avin calder!" as Finn calls it every morning

The book idea helped me a lot because a) it's an easy way to get 'er done every day, and b) it adds to our at-home library, which means there's less of a chance that I will have a nervous breakdown because I've just read Berenstain Bears Go to the Dentist for the umptrillionth time.

The Christmas tree pickup was mostly me and Dave eyeballing trees while the boys wreaked havoc on the lot; because of this we ended up with a 90% great-looking tree with a 10% bald chunk that we could only kind of hide. Oh well!

The wreath decorating at Will's preschool was a non-starter as a project, although we did end up with two lovely wreaths (scantily adorned) regardless.

It should go without saying that the hot cocoa was a hit, as was lollipop day. There was also St. Nick's Day, where we had the kids put their shoes outside their bedroom doors and then gifted them with a Cars 2 toy the next morning. (My best friend in high school Maria's mom did this--except with candy and stocking stuffer-ish treats--and I was jealous every year.)

On Christmas Eve we're planning to decorate gingerbread houses with my sister's kids during our gift exchange, and I think that will be A LOT of fun and also EXTREMELY messy.

And now for a little pre-New Year's pledge: It's important to me that I document the months leading up to the new baby's arrival since they will be our last as a family of four. Also, Finny will turn two next month (!!???!??!?) and there is so much that is delicious and amazing about him at this age that I really want to record it. Meanwhile, Will's imagination has exploded and I've been slacking on writing down his recent gems. So in January, I'm planning to write here at least every other day, or four times a week, or fifteen posts in total. I figure if I put it online, I have a better chance of sticking to this pledge.

(I'll also post the whole backlog of photos from this month...)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

We hosted Thanksgiving for the first time ever!


My dad and Dave played with the boys while I helped my mom cook--
although she still did most of the cooking.

Clearly, some people crashed hard in the early afternoon.

Then we ate!
This was our wedding china's inaugural supper,
after four years of being ignored.

 After dinner, the boys ran themselves ragged and took Mampy down with them.

(Note the red faces and sweaty hair.)

It was a small celebration--only six (and a half) people--
but with delicious food and great company,
and we didn't have to leave our cozy home!

*I realized this is the first picture I've put up here that shows my belly (24 weeks tomorrow).
As you can see, it shot right out at the four-month marker and hasn't looked back.
I also think I'm carrying a little high this time--most shirts make my upper body look like one big shapeless entity, with my shoulders and rib cage and baby all merging together.
Maybe this means I'm having a girl? Or, you know, quadruplets?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

October Whirlwind Recap

October began with our first of two annual trips to Edaville, this time to see Thomas. We went with the five Flemings plus Mindy and Jack, and the kids had a great time (as evidenced by Finn hysterically crying as we tore him from the Tilt-a-Whirl after his second ride). I did too, until the eightysomething-degree weather combined with MY two rides on the Tilt-a-Whirl caught up with me. (Paul, just before the ride lurched into motion: "A baby would just fly right off this seat. It's been here since at least the early '70s." [Jiggles the handlebar] "Oh, and this thing's useless.")

We went apple-picking, too, with Ceci and Connor as well as the three Orr ladies. Have I mentioned here yet that Will and Abby have announced their betrothal? Abby's dad, Ade, asked when the happy event would take place, and Will confidently replied "When we're five." Of course, Will has also informed us that he and Finn are "going to our wedding now, and I'm wearing a suit!" and mentioned a handful of other arranged marriages, but this one seems pretty serious:

Two things I love about that series of photos: one, that Connor is usually grinning his face off, and two, that the Orrs and the Noons have produced similar pairs of same-sex offspring. Note in the last picture how the blond Bobbsey twins are off to one side smiling while Finn and Natalie look suspicious and, in Finn's case, kind of surly. I love it.

Mid-month, we attended birthday parties for close friends Kenley (3), Jack (2) and Catherine (3). I don't have pictures, although Kenley's party featured an enormous blow-up dinosaur (huuuuuge hit), Jack's was great because I got to watch him go through the gamut of facial expressions (he has my favorite face to watch--the most adult reactions on an adorable peanut face), and Catherine's was of course the birthplace of the soon-to-be-famous ABC Karaoke Crooning Duo, where Connor and Will discovered a love of the stage, the microphone, and the sound of their own voices.

We then celebrated Halloween early with the Spooky Walk. Both Will and Connor dressed up at Lightning McQueen, and Finny borrowed Ryan's costume from last year (thanks, Ry!) that was conveniently a sweatshirt and sweatpants, so we didn't have to pry him from the full suit to change a diaper or relieve him when he complained "Too tight! Tooooo tiiiiiiiight!" Jack also walked with us most of the way, but I didn't get a picture of his perfect fireman's costume because he was too busy dodging his dad as he ran through the crowd to find the candy:

Then we partied at the obstacle course in honor of Connor's third (and the twins' belated first) birthday:

Inger with just-turned-one Lia,
who wanted to get down and run with the big kids.

We finally hit the end of the party trail this weekend, although my Halloween birthday boy husband turns thirty-three tomorrow, so we did go out with Kerry and Christian for THAT occasion while Nan and Mamp babysat. It turned out to be a mildly treacherous drive because of our freak pre-Halloween snowstorm, and the month that started out feeling like July is ending up more like January. It's a very weird finish to a jam-packed and fun-filled October.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Third Time Around: A Bulleted List

  • I swear I won't believe this down the road unless I record it now: my once-marveled-at (among my family, at least) memory is shot to pieces. My ability to multitask has vanished. My brain is toast. Today I couldn't find my keys for the third time in as many days. They were in my car, in the ignition, running the battery while some Music Together songs blasted in an empty minivan with its headlights on. I had left them there for AN HOUR.
  • (Also, yours truly, the keeper of three calendars--monthly on the wall, daily in my planner, Google calendar for iPhone use--has so far managed to forget a prenatal appointment entirely AND double-book dinners on a night out.)
  • This just in: I'll never be the kind of woman who surprises everyone with "I'm already six months along!" Nope. As I said to Ceci, there just isn't enough midsection for me to hide anything for that long. And once I start showing (to friends, three months--to strangers, based on the due date curiosity that's just begun, it's apparently four). I think I'm over the disappointment.
  • I feel babies move pretty early. With Will, I was 18 weeks, give or take. With Finny, I was closer to 14, and with this baby, there were suspicious sensations even at 13 weeks--although, given how horrible my stomach still felt then, it was hard to be sure. If I can't have "You don't even look pregnant!" gestations, at least I can feel the flips earlier, right? God doesn't give with both hands, I suppose.
  • As I've talked about with my mother-in-law a few times, I don't understand the handful of women who LOVE being pregnant. Even during my pregnancy with Will, when I felt relatively comfortable throughout and didn't have any other kids to sap my energy, I still didn't *prefer* pregnancy to non-pregnancy. There were things that I loved (see last bullet point), and I appreciate(d) the experience, but I really didn't get why anyone would want to replace their regular clothes with a different, less attractive wardrobe, or why they would want to swear off alcohol, or in later months, the chance to sleep belly-side-down.
  • I especially don't get it now that I've experienced this pregnancy brainlessness. Again, it's more than worth it for the baby that comes at the end, even WITH the bummer nausea that accompanied this one from weeks 8-14--I'm not saying it's all bad. It's just that for me, some pretty significant pieces of my identity get put on hold for the duration, and that's NOT a part of pregnancy that I can savor or spin positively.
  • (Maybe I just don't have that specific gene. I think my friend Laurie has that gene, and I'm admiringly baffled by her. She also really didn't show until she was six months pregnant, which sort of blows my God/two hands theory out of the water.)
  • By the way, this baby is moving like a speed demon in my lower abdomen right now. One thing I do like about maternity jeans is that when you're sitting down and the stretchy waistband is pulled against your stomach, babies (or mine anyway) are much easier to feel. 
  • I run the dishwasher twice a day and cycle through the laundry about as often. Yet we perpetually have a sink full of dishes and hampers piled high. Why? How?
  • Will came into the room for my ultrasound this morning. I thought he'd be all "Hi, New March Baby!" (what he calls it) but instead he looked at us like we were crazy when we tried to show him the feet and face, and then he wanted to know when we could leave. Oh well. At least he proudly carried the profile photos out into the waiting room.
  • When you're not finding out the baby's sex (which we aren't this time--for the first time!), the middle of pregnancy really is sort of long. Thankfully I have my two whirling dervishes to keep me distracted.
  • It also helps to make time fly when you aren't getting anything ready for the new baby pretty much until he/she arrives. Being a preparation nut, I'm usually at least writing wish lists for the third trimester by now, but I just don't have the spare time or the inclination. Also, after two babies, I understand that my need to feel prepared doesn't actually result in being prepared. So, why bother? We'll figure out the sleeping arrangements and the name rest of it at 39 weeks, right? Plenty of time!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Finny at 21 Months, Addendum

I never posted Finn's eighteen-month stats from the doctor (poor, poor forgotten second child), so I'm tacking them on here, three months later. Whoops! You were:

30 lbs (95th %ile)
33 in (86th %ile)

I also didn't include these pictures in the twenty-one-month post. This is Finn feeding Riley, his future wife (if all relevant parties have anything to say about it), and at the bottom, trying to fill Daddy's shoes.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy Birthday, "Con-Con"!

I don't know how many people are lucky enough to say they have or had a best friend--a real best friend--at three years old. But Will is that lucky, and his best friend Connor is three TODAY. Connor is the kind of kid who is always thinking up something fun to do, and in that vein their dads reported that the two of them took the stage last weekend at a friend's party for some karaoke ABC's. That is the sort of thing Will wouldn't do on his own, I don't think; Connor brings out Will's adventurous side, and I love him for that (among many other reasons). Although they occasionally struggle to share toys and they're working on turn-taking, they are always, always excited to see each other. Like I said, lucky.

 In honor of Connor's birthday and their totally wonderful friendship, I put together this birthday movie. To paraphrase Mater, you boys definitely made the right choice of "bes' friends."

Monday, October 17, 2011

Twenty-One Months of the Finn Man

The first thing you need to know about Finny recently is that with a months-long verbal explosion has come a personality shift. He's still the same boy who loves to jump before looking, gives us the sly eye before teasingly contradicting us--his favorite game is to announce that something is "hot" until we declare it cold or warm, and then debate us in between fits of giggles. He also likes to point at his transportation decals and say with an upward inflection "Truuuuuuuuuck?" as he points to a bus, grinning.

But probably like most kids, Finn is empowered by this boost in communication, and there's something more confident in his manner now that he understands and is being understood. His crankiest period of the day is the typical one, post-nap and pre-bedtime, and particularly right after he wakes up. Yesterday, after a three-hour nap, he grumpily drove with the rest of us to Costco. He kept darting away from us and then freaking himself out once he knocked into a stranger's legs. Finally I pulled him aside while he was crying for "Daddy!" (who was quickly thrown over for "Mamaaaa!" as soon as we switched--you know how it is) and said "I'm going to give you a time-out if you keep crying. There is no reason to cry. Do you want a time-out?" "No," he sniffed. "Then stop crying." That was that. It might not have been if we hadn't been leaving anyway, but we were, and I was able to make jokes and cajole him until we were back in the car. THAT never used to happen, and I attribute it to bridging the verbal gap only because I remember it happening (several months earlier) with Will; as soon as he registered that we "got it," he was so much easier to appease, to reassure, to explain things to.

Finn is also more fun, because I don't feel compelled to baby him all the time. If he can comprehend my instructions (for the most part), I can trust him in our backyard or at his toddler program. We can concentrate on teasing each other, and I can encourage him with some success to play fair with Will and his other friends, to give and take and share. It also means that most of the time, I can allow him to join the big kids like he so desperately wants. Here he is apple-picking with the mighty three-year-olds (and Lala, not pictured):

It's really fun to hear him cobble together sentences. The other day he asked Ceci "Where Brendan and Riley?" Today he said "Time-out for Will?" And he's constantly saying simple phrases like "I did it!" and "I reach," or "I fell." All parents have different points on the timeline that signify where their kid moves up a level in person-hood. For me, this developmental jump is a big one. "I swimming!" isn't just bathtime conversation to me--it's how Finn can tell me he's proud of himself, a way of soliciting my praise and attention, and it makes me happy. He makes me happy.

Because he copies everything Will does, Finn pees in the potty every night before bed--the little potty. And once he's half-naked, he starts grunting "COOKIE? COOKIE!" Afterward, he gets an alphabet cookie and walks around with it hanging from his mouth. He also shouts "LUSH!" meaning "flush" while he's sitting there, and I have to remind him that the little potty doesn't flush. So...he takes it into the bathroom and flushes it there. This one doesn't miss a trick.

Finny kisses my belly and says "Hi, baby!" and I can now really see him as a big brother. He'll be talking to the baby, kissing him or her, probably trying to pounce while I attempt to deflect him. But it makes sense now. He's not just my baby anymore (although he'll always be that, too); he's a person with ideas and plans and perspectives and opinions, and I get to know him a little better every day. It's awesome.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Is There Room for One More?

By next March, we'll need another horse on the carousel.

And another ticket to the firehouse tour.

And some matching tee-shirts for the TWO big brothers.

March 17th, St. Patrick's Day, 2012, to be exact;
we're having another baby!