17 June 2009

Birth Story: Part 1

Since I have nothing exciting to share today, I thought I would recount the birth story of Gabe. Hopefully to be followed at a not-so-distant time in the future by the birth story of Nick.

Pigpen and I were married on October 30th, 2004. It was a beautiful ceremony at the main post church on Ft. Meade. I wore my mother’s wedding dress (altered to fit). I went with a fall color scheme of red, orange, and yellow. My friend Jen and Pigpen’s sister were my bridesmaids. They wore simple floor-length red dresses. The best man was Pigpen’s brother and his other attendant was my brother. I used fake flowers for the bouquets, and still have mine to this day.

We honeymooned for a week in Hawaii, it was beautiful and magical, and everything a honeymoon should be. I discovered I was pregnant three weeks later – which happened to be a few days after my 23rd birthday. Of course the timing couldn’t have been worse, even if we had agreed to a let’s see what happens approach to having a baby. So Gabe was definitely planned, I just wasn’t expecting him so soon.

You see, in June I had reenlisted for three years with a two-year guaranteed assignment in Colorado. Pigpen and I had planned to do the time apart until he got out in January. We would have spent every holiday weekend available together and used our leave for additional time. We would have made it work. We had just sold our townhouse in Maryland and I had scheduled the date for the movers to come pick up our stuff. We were about to sign a contract for a townhouse in Colorado.

And I was pregnant. That changed everything. I had no desire to be alone in Colorado AND pregnant. There was no guarantee that Pigpen would be able to make it in time for the birth, and then I would be dealing with a newborn mainly by myself. So we tried to get him an assignment out there, with little success. So instead I chose to leave the Army and stay in Maryland.

Pigpen was so excited about the baby that he actually tried to plan me a surprise baby shower. His mom and sister drove up for it. His mom had made a diaper cake and planned games. Unfortunately all my friends sucked and none of them showed up (most of them missed my wedding too, hmmm…), although a couple friends of Pigpen’s came. It was very sweet and I really appreciated the thought and effort.

I then had to find a regular job, hopefully one in Virginia, because that’s where Pigpen is from. Also, his mother has always been a stay-at-home mom and wanted to be the only one to watch the new baby. Which is how I ended up in Northern Virginia. The military hospital I was using for my OB was in Bethesda, which was about a 45-minute drive from our apartment.

I did not end up starting my new job until three weeks before I was due, which of course I made sure was known before I was hired. That was interesting. Here I am, 37 weeks pregnant and starting a new job. I stayed with my in-laws while Pigpen was up in Maryland cleaning up our apartment before our move to Virginia. We moved the week before Gabe was due and spent the weekend prior getting his room set up. I was so worried we wouldn’t have everything set up in time.

The theme for his room was the Original Pooh and the furniture was purchased from J.C. Penney. My MIL made a number of items for his room, including a cover for his Boppy, extra sheets, and a diaper stacker. I can still picture his room in my mind. The mirrored doors that ran the length of one wall. The big window with his rocking chair sitting in front of it. His dresser and changing table were right next to each other, and his crib was right by the door. His bassinet was kept under the window in our bedroom.

The ladies I worked with were very sweet and actually planned a baby shower for me on August 2nd, about a week before my August 6th due date.Unfortunately, my baby boy decided that he didn’t want to wait until the 6th and I started having contractions around 3:00 pm on the 1st. It was funny; all the ladies were so disappointed that there wouldn’t be cake. Also, Pigpen was currently at our company headquarters signing the paperwork for his new job. It wasn’t ideal, since it was a shift work job, which included nights and weekends. However, the pay was good, and well, he needed a job, since he had just been med boarded from the military.

He had dropped me off at work that morning, so he raced over to my office to pick me up, and I insisted he go back and finish signing the paperwork, since that would be one less thing to worry about and the contractions had only just started. Afterwards we grabbed a bite to eat at Wendy’s.

I was up most of the night with the contractions, often pacing. I got to see what the mucus plug looks like (ewwww). I also called the hospital a couple times. Finally around 5 in the morning we drove to the hospital. There was an express exit near our apartment, which was open in the direction we needed to head. However, Pigpen was so worried about getting to the hospital in time that he was speeding, and of course we got pulled over. Luckily the officer was nice and let us go with a warning, since I was in labor.

The contractions were super painful at this point and all I wanted was to be checked in and given drugs. I am not the natural type. Pain? No thank you. They examined me as soon as I got settled into a birthing room, and told me that I was already 9cm dilated, was I sure I wanted an epidural? I said, yes, of course, as long as there is time to give it to me. Thankfully there was, since Gabe was delivered about two hours later at 7:04 a.m. via forceps. Apparently he had gotten the cord caught around his neck halfway out, so they used forceps to pull him out.

His arrival coincided with shift change, so his distress prompted my room to be filled with two shifts worth of doctors and nurses. My hoohaw was on display for everyone to see. Although I didn’t really care because my baby was in distress, and dammit I want to see my baby. Pigpen was not able to cut the cord because he was taken to be examined as soon as he was out to ensure he was all right. He weighed in at 6 lbs, 13.9 oz and was 19 inches long.

All I wanted was my baby, and of course he needed to be fully examined. I was so anxious, I hadn’t had much experience with babies and suddenly my baby is here, and was he all right? It was much longer before I finally got to hold him. We tried breastfeeding, but that was a frustrating process. He got supplemented with formula a lot during our three-day stay. He also was taken to the NICU a few times to be examined since he was diagnosed with a heart murmur, which he still has.

Those first few weeks and months flew by so quickly. It took so long to heal from the delivery. I did not receive an episiotomy, and due to the method of delivery, I ended up with a third degree tare. I remember shortly after we came home from the hospital, maybe a day or two later, Pigpen forced me to take a walk. We only walked out of our apartment complex to the corner, and yet it was so painful.

The first few weeks were great, because he was on leave from the military, and hadn’t started his new job yet. So we were home together. It was after that, when I was still on maternity leave, and often alone with Gabe that things got harder. Or when Pigpen was working nights and weekends and I was working during the week. I was so tired and Gabe would often cry for hours on end and nothing I would do would get him to stop. In the evenings I would often call my MIL to come over to help me. Because I was alone. And desperate for him to stop crying.

Breastfeeding didn’t work out very well for us. We didn’t bond well to begin with, and getting a latch was always difficult. So he was partially formula-fed pretty much from day one. Also, my job at the time, didn’t really have a place for me to pump while at work. I mean, there was a health office in the basement that had a couple rooms, but I worked on the fourth floor, on the opposite side of the building. So I only pumped once a day at lunch. Also, I had a Playtex pump, that didn’t seem to be powerful enough to get much milk.

I continued nursing Gabe in the mornings before I dropped him off at my MIL’s and in the evenings before I he went to bed. I also managed to pump about three ounces at lunch. However, by six months he was officially uninterested, preferring a bottle or pacifier to suck on over me. He adored his pacifier from the moment the nurses first gave him one at the hospital. In his newborn picture his lips are pursed and his eyes are staring off to the side because we removed his pacifier right before the photo was taken and he’s staring at it, waiting to get it back.

We moved from our apartment to a townhouse a few months after Gabe was born. The months flew by so quickly with Gabe. I remember that he was a pumpkin for his first Halloween, at the advanced age of three months. We went over to my MIL's, while she gave out candy. I don't remember exactly when he learned to sit up or pull himself to standing, but I do remember that his first word was "ba" (ball). I remember that he loved to zoom around with a little push cart that assisted him with walking. His first step occurred on the August 6th, which was the Sunday after his first birthday party and I have it on camera.

His first birthday party was at my MIL's on August 5th. The theme was Curious George, because he loves monkeys. I made the carrot cake and frost recipe from What to Expect the First Year. The guest list was small, with only three children in attendence - my MIL's neighbor's grandchild who is a month and a half younger, my coworkers daughter, and his 2nd cousin. I made the mistake of trying to open gifts at the party.

He started gym classes at 13 months, and made some good friends in those classes, we still hang out with them to this day. I loved those early gym classes, with Pigpen and I both in the room with him. It's one of the things I regret we can't do for Nick. Gabe's first gym class was traumatic - he spent most of the time crying and clinging to Pigpen or me. However, the second went much better and he quickly grew to love going. Shortly after that we moved from the townhouse we were renting to an apartment.

At 18 months, he figured out how to climb out of his crib, but not how to do it without falling. We choose to convert his crib to a toddler bed, which made bedtime so much more difficult, since he could now get out of bed to voice his complaints. Had I known about those cool mesh crib nets that you can put over top of cribs, I think I would have opted for that over the toddler bed, but hindsight is 20/20.

His 2nd birthday party was at a moon bounce place, which we had discovered when we attended the birthday party of one of his friends from gym class. The theme was again Curious George. His cake was from Costco, although my MIL also made him a cake. We invited most of the children from his gym class, as well as his cousin. It was a great party. We did not open the gifts at the party, having learned by attending other parties, that it wasn't what people did at parties.

We did a lot of fun things during his third year, despite me being all pregnant with Nick. We went to the National Zoo and the local petting zoo a couple of times. We also moved again, this time from an apartment to another townhouse. His 3rd birthday part was held at the Little Gym. During the previous year he had discovered Playhouse Disney, so the theme he choose was Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Again we chose to purchase his cake from Costco. His close friends attended, as well as the daughters of one of my coworkers.

I started blogging a few months after his 3rd birthday, so most of the stories that come afterwards are held in this blog. I'm trying so hard to capture my memories, so that I have them in years to come. Many are very foggy already, and he's not even four. I don't want to forget. That's why I started blogging. That's why I'm working so hard to get a handle on our pictures. Because I always want to be able to remember.

12 June 2009

I Was Warned

Today was Gabe's big show for his sports class. He did such a great job. It was adorable. There were six kids present today, and no suprise, they were all little boys. They had practiced an intro where they each came running in, walked across a balance beam, and then threw a Frisbee into a *donut*. Gabe did a really good job of listening.

After the intro, they got a few minutes of free time while the instructors set up the stations. On the big red mat, they showed off their sports skills, and on the other side of the room they showed off their bar skills. Gabe was great.

The skills they had practiced this session t-ball, hockey, and golf. First they threw a ball overhand, then they caught it underhand, then they hit it. Next they hit a ball into a net with a hockey stick. Finally they hit a golf ball under half a donut into a hole. On the other side, he did a bar routine which involved switching grips on the bar and a couple of different hangs.

he whole class was wonderful. He was adorable. He was so excited to have Pigpen and I there. It was very sweet. I really enjoyed watching his class, and I loved how excited he was. It made me so very happy. I adore him. My beautiful baby boy, he's almost 4.


Gabe finds Nick's eating habits very amusing. The other night we were eating Thai food (I made macaroni and cheese, PB&Js, and chopped strawberries for the boys). Nick was very interested in both the rice and the Pad Thai noodles. Gabe made the comment that "Nick's a little garbage disposal, he eats anything." I laughed. I'm sure it's something he's heard his grandma say, but it's still so cute to hear it coming from him.


Tonight Pigpen and I had a date. We went after work to the Taste of Reston at the Reston Town Center. There was a ton of great food, plus a lot of cool things at the booths. I think I got four or five Frisbees for the boys. Also there was wine, good wine. And strawberries dipped in melted chocolate from the Melting Pot. It was wonderful.

We walked up and down, enjoying our food. Also, we went in a few of the stores to browse, which I always enjoy. We didn't buy anything at the town centre, but followed it up with a trip to Target. Where we most certainly did buy a few things, including some more t-shirts for the boys. I really have a thing for cute cheap t-shirts for them.


A couple weeks ago, Nick had a cold that kept lingering, so we took him to his pediatrician where he was diagnosed with an ear infection. We followed the course of antibiotics, but afterwards it still seemed like his ear was bothering him, but he's also getting a couple new teeth in, so we just figured that was the issue.

This past weekend he came down with another cold, and over the past week he has developed a rash all over his chest, also a few random splotches on his arms and legs. So after we picked up the boys from my MIL's this evening, we took Nick to our local urgent care.

The doctor told us the rash wasn't anything to worry about, but we need to keep an eye on the splotches. If they develop white *heads*, he could have chicken pox. She also checked out his ears, and determined that he still had an ear infection. So we got a higher dosage of antibiotics.

Poor baby, teething, an ear infection, and a rash. Plus both the boys were up past their bedtime. However, I am really glad we took him in. We know what to look for with his rash, and also can hopefully get rid of his ear infection this time.

However, I am not looking forward to the future contents of his diapers. At least I was warned.

11 June 2009

Class Act

I totally can’t get rid of this cold. It’s been a week and I don’t even feel marginally better. I am all sniffly and hacking and phlegmy. It’s awful. I’m also cold all the time. Unless I’m like directly in the sun. And then I’m not cold.

I suppose if I’m not feeling better by Monday, I might have to schedule a dreaded doctor’s appointment. I really hate scheduling a doctor’s appointment. That’s probably why my local urgent care has a better record on me than my doctor does. However, I also don’t want to still be sick when we go to the beach, and if I have an actual infection, I might want to get started on an antibiotic course sooner rather than later.


Last night was Nick’s last gym class of the spring session. They practiced some of their big skills they’ve been working on, which related to rolls. First they did a forward roll on the balance beam. Then they did a forward roll down a wedge followed by a reverse roll over something they call a hot dog.

Nick loves to do rolls and eagerly ran to be the first one to do both. However, that was his only desire to participate. While he does like the bells for the intro, he didn’t want to participate in the warm up. Nor did he want to have anything to do with the Air Track. Gabe, unfortunately, was very eager and dived on with little regard for all the small children, a few who still can’t walk. I felt bad for him when he had to be removed so that the babies could crawl around.

Since we needed to have time for the certificates, balls and bubbles were combined, which Nick thought was the greatest thing ever. He couldn’t decide what he wanted to do. Chase bubbles? Play with balls? I’m so confused. Before the closing circle, the teacher gave out certificates for the children and had them each pose on a large block mat with their arms raised for “ta-da” for pictures.

I enjoy gym class, and miss the ability for Pigpen and I to both attend, like we did with Gabe. Next week starts summer session, which will be at the same time and with the same age group. Only with a different instructor. However, she is our favorite instructor, so that will be good. In the fall, Nick will move up a class and we will start going on Saturdays instead, since we feel that 6:15 on a weeknight is too late for class.

Gabe will not be taking a gym class this summer. Instead he will be doing Vacation Bible School at the church he attends with my MIL. In addition he will also do a three-day “camp” at the gym. He was signed up for his sports class at the gym originally, but ended up being the only child signed up for the time slot, so it got canceled. His usually time slot will be back in the fall.


We looked at a couple rental house on Tuesday, and while we realize they won’t be available when we’re ready to move, we were trying to get an idea of the size and features they had. We may not even move, but we are thinking about. Unfortunately neither house was in the boundaries for the elementary school we want Gabe to attend.

We’re finding out that to get Gabe into this school gives us a surprisingly small selection of house to choose from. I suppose he doesn’t have to go to this school, but one of his friends is going to go there, and if we’re planning to stay in this community and will need to move into a house eventually, why not try to ensure he’s in the same school?

The first house we looked at wasn’t bad, and would have been fine if it had either had a third bathroom upstairs or a finished basement. When we move into a house my MIL is moving in with us and we would like her to have her own bathroom. The master suite always has its own (at least in new homes around here) and so a bathroom for the boys and a separate bathroom for her is desirable.

The second house was beautiful, but a little more than we wanted to spend on a rental. And again, not in the boundaries for the elementary school. It had four bedrooms with 3 baths upstairs, plus a large finished basement with a bedroom and a bath. Also, I’m not so sure about taking care of a house that size. I realize that I won’t always be balancing work, parenting young children, and school, but I struggle to take care of our townhouse, even with it being cleaned every other week.

I’m not sure what the right answer is. I don’t know if we should try to move into a rental house this summer or stay put and wait until next summer and maybe try to buy something. I just worry that we won’t be ready to buy next summer, which means Gabe will definitely be going to a different elementary school. And I don’t know if that really matters.

08 June 2009


Sniffle, snort, glrrck, hack, sniff. Excuse me, sorry. Seems I managed to come down with a bit of a cold this weekend. Between the sniffling and the coughing and the mucus and the sore throat I feel awful. Also, the chills and body aches in the evening. That’s an added bonus. And yet, I still made it to work today. I even came back after dropping my friend off at the airport.

Of course, I have like no vacation days, and am planning to take a beach trip at the end of the month, so I really didn’t have much choice.


My weekend passed by way too quickly, as they usually do. I picked my friend up Thursday morning and dropped her off at my house so she could nap before returning to work for a little bit. I then took a few hours of leave and left early to grab lunch with Pigpen since we won’t have much time alone together this weekend. We had Red Robin, which involved a delicious salad. And lest you think I was being *good*, lunch also included a Rookie Magic shake.

He picked up the boys so I could go straight home and see my friend. As Pigpen remarked many times, we are very different. We always have been, and yet we were very good friends. It was so nice to see her. I’m so glad she came. We ordered pizza from Papa John’s and also picked up some sushi. I know, what a combination, but it was good. The boys just ate pizza.

On Friday, we had breakfast at Bob Evans and then caught the metro from Vienna to D.C. It is amazing how long it can take to look through one museum, and we didn’t even see all of it. Our choice was the National Museum of American History, which is amazing. We spent the longest amount of time looking at the War exhibit.

We got downtown about 10:30. We didn’t pause until almost 1:00 when we finally decided it was time for lunch. Lunch was ridiculously overpriced and we split both a sandwich and a bag of chips. We finished up with the science exhibit. I was particularly entertained by the large display they had on the evolution of birth control pills and the controversies that surround them.

Once we were done with the museum we stopped in one of the gift shops where I picked up a magnet and postcard of President Obama for Gabe. Then we went to look at the Washington and Lincoln monuments. It took us two hours to get from the museum, see both monuments, and get back to the metro. The Lincoln monument is very cool, and I managed to get a completely clear shot of the entire statue.

The only thing that sucked about our day downtown was the rain. It wasn’t really raining hard, so it didn’t hinder our sight-seeing, but the drizzle was annoying. However, it did limit the amount of tourists that were outside. Unfortunately a number of schools decided it was a great day for a field trip, so the museum was very crowded.


After the museums we came home and I helped get the boys fed and ready for bed. Pigpen picked up Ruby Tuesday’s for dinner. The book I ordered and wanted to read Gabe is The Giving Tree. It surprised me that we didn’t already have a copy, but it has now become Gabe’s favorite story. I’ve read it every night since he first heard it on Thursday.

After the boys were in bed, we went driving while Pigpen stayed home to be with the boys and do homework. I showed her a bunch of the neighborhoods in the area while we talked. Before we came home we stopped and got some ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery. I made the mistake of trying their new butterscotch pudding flavor, and I thought it was way too sweet. I think I’ll stick to their basic flavors next time.


Saturday morning Pigpen had to go into work for an hour so we went to the playground for a little bit, and then the mall for a little shopping. I ended up with a really cute polo in dark blue with a dragon fly graphic from Old Navy. My friend picked up a skirt from H&M. As a reward for being so good while we shopped, we took the boys on the Merry-Go-Round (yes, the Dulles Town Centre has both a Merry-Go-Round and a train with a *conductor* that drives around the mall).

They both had a good time. Nick loved riding the horse as it went up and down. Gabe really wanted to ride in the *cup* that you can turn in circles, but I there were older kids already in the cup and I didn’t want us to be separated. He still enjoyed riding the horse.

After the mall we met Pigpen for lunch at Moby Dick’s, which is an awesome Mediterranean restaurant. The flat bread with their cucumber yogurt sauce is excellent and all their meat is so tender. Also rice, lots of rice.

In the afternoon we went to our community’s carnival. This is the third year that we’ve gone. They’ve upgraded since the first year I went. They now accept credit cards and have an ATM at in the carnival. That’s nice since it was a pain to show up without cash (okay, I should have known better, but I spaced) and have to go someplace else to get some so that Gabe could have a snack and go on some rides.

Gabe has had a great time every year. We met up with our friends about hour after we got there. Gabe had already gone on a few rides, as well as the moon bounces (we got him the unlimited ride bracelet). Once they arrived the three kids (Gabe and their two girls) stopped at a few of the child-friendly booths, went on a few more rides, and then we went to get snacks.

Originally Gabe’s last soccer practice was supposed to be today, but it had rained so much the last few days that the fields were really muddy, so they cancelled all practices despite the warm weather we had on Saturday. His last practice will now be next Saturday.

After we were finished with the carnival we went to Bertucci’s for dinner, which was very good. In addition to the typical kid’s menus with color crayons, they also have real dough for the kids to play with that can be made into shapes and then baked. Gabe thought that was really cool, and was more than happy to eat the results. Bread usually goes over well. Nick, as usual, wanted to try everything. He particularly liked the rigatoni noodles because they were round and hollow so he could stick them on his fingers.


On Sunday we went to see Up with our friends rather than go to the Aquarium. Just like with Monsters Vs. Aliens, I missed the end of the movie because Nick was too restless. Instead I spent that time following Nick as he walked up and down the hallway. Pigpen took him out for about 10-15 during the first part of the movie and then I spent the rest of the time trying to entertain him.

What I did see of the movie I enjoyed a lot. Although, I agree with all the comments I’ve heard that it really wasn’t appropriate for the preschool set. This is, of course, the ages of the children that we had in attendance (14 mo, 2.5 years, 3.5 years, 4). It was a beautiful movie, and wonderful in 3D, but the themes were very adult, and some of the scenes were a little scary for small children. It was not nearly as delightful as WALL-E. Next summer we will get Toy Story 3, which I think will be a great movie watching experience. The kids will be older and it’s a movie about toys.


After the movie Pigpen and I took Gabe and Nick for a drive so that Nick could sleep and Gabe could hopefully calm down after the high he’s been on all weekend. It also involved a stop at the grocery store. Nick did sleep, and stayed asleep the whole time, unfortunately, Gabe did not spend the time chilling, and instead chose to have a major freaking tantrum. OMG, it was the tantrum that would not end! It lasted like three hours!

Finally he calmed after a bath, and then ate dinner in his PJs. He was agreeable for stories and went to sleep relatively easily. I’m sure he was exhausted. Between having a guest, the carnival, the movie, and the tantrum, I’m sure he was worn out.

Once the boys were in bed we played Scattergories, which is a favorite game of mine. So easy to play, yet entertaining. Perhaps I’m just easily entertained. Then again, I am a parent, I find amusement in the antics of small children. I had tea (with honey and whiskey) and a blueberry muffin filled with cream cheese as a snack… so tasty. Pastries stuffed with cream cheese, so good. A particular favorite is the pumpkin ones that Starbucks has in the fall and winter… mmmmm (and you wonder why I have a hard time sticking to a diet).


I had a great time with my friend this weekend and was sad to see her leave. It was nice having someone who new me in high school and still liked me. I just worried that she didn’t have a good time. Other than Friday we really didn’t get a chance to just hang out and talk with out the boys. Like we used to. We used to spend hours driving around just talking about nothing. And everything.

Our lives are very different these days. Not that we were ever that similar. It just seems more glaring now that we’ve become adults. Now that our differences have shown up in our life paths. Still, I really enjoyed her company. I’ve missed having friends. I’ve missed having her as a friend. It’s been almost nine years, really. I saw her briefly on one trip home while in the military, but that was it since we graduated.

I hope we can stay in touch. I wish the time difference didn’t make things so difficult. Trying to find time to connect on the phone is challenging. Three hours can make a huge difference. Still, there is e-mail… even if it’s not the same.

02 June 2009

Young at Heart

Sometimes I think that I must be the only women my age with small children. Because the parents of all my friends are much older than me, heck they’re older than Pigpen too, who has five years on me as it is.

It seems that everybody I know that has children around the same ages as mine is at least in their mid-thirties, in some cases their late thirties. I guess they established their careers first, or something. It just makes me feel so young.

Like this weekend we went to a barbecue at a friend’s house. They have a daughter who just turned four and another daughter who will be three in October. They graduated college before I even started high school. I mean, what do I even have to talk to them about besides our children? I’m a product of the eighties, and for them those are their teen years.

It’s not like I don’t have a decent career, even with two children. I make a decent salary and so does Pigpen. Yes, I haven’t finished my degree yet, but I’m working on it. And sometimes it really sucks. Small children, plus work, plus school, doesn’t leave much time for anything else.

I just feel really young. I *know* there are women my age with small children. My SIL is the same age, although she is just now pregnant with her first. And two of my good friends from high school have or are about to have children. It’s just no one I hang out with is my age. It’s a little lonely sometimes.

It’s also hard to remember at times, that we are much younger than some of our parent friends and that we didn’t spend years as DINKs (dual-income, no kids). We got married and had a baby a little more than nine months later. I was 23 for goodness sake! Much too young to have a baby, yet there he was. So we don’t have as much disposable income. We haven’t bought a house yet.


At the end of the month we’re going to go on our first vacation with children. We’re planning to spend four glorious days in Ocean City. It will also be our first vacation with friends. I’m a little nervous. They keep much different hours than we do (their children sleep until eight or nine, can you imagine?). They also are able to afford a lot more than we are, so I’m also worried that they won’t like the hotel we’re staying in.

I mean a party or a barbecue is one thing, but a whole beach weekend? Yikes! Very nervous. And yours truly is not the best conversationalist. I get so shy and tongue-tied and second guess everything I say. The running commentary in my head usually includes classic lines such as “OMG, that was so stupid,” “Idiot”, and “I can’t believe you just said that.” Good times. Such a supportive self-monologue I’ve got going there.


In other news, my best friend from high school is coming to visit me this weekend. Not only is she visiting, but she’s also staying in what passes for a guest room in our townhouse. There’s a twin bed, that’s fairly comfortable. And there will be sheets. Also a half bath.

Unfortunately the room also has our broken computer (which sometimes works), that sits on a beautiful Pottery Barn desk, the only piece of Pottery Barn furniture that we own. My treadmill is stored there. As well as all our movies, and assorted other items that we wanted out of the rest of the house, but haven’t done anything else with. I have two nights to attempt to tidy it up a bit.

I'm really looking forward to her visit. It’s been so long since we’ve seen each other. I really hope she has a good time. I mean, she doesn’t have kids, so I hope a whole weekend around them doesn’t drive her nuts.

On Friday, I’m taking the day off work and we’re going to go down to DC and look around, mainly at the museums. Saturday is Gabe’s last soccer practice, so there’s that, and then we’re going to go see Up in 3D. There might even be ice cream afterwards. On Sunday, I believe the plan is to drive up to the Inner Harbor in Baltimore and go to the Aquarium. A fun, action-packed weekend. I’m going to be exhausted by Monday.

29 May 2009

Private Benjamin

When I left work yesterday, it was so humid. The air was so thick you could feel the moisture as you breathed it in.

Virginia in the summer (okay, almost summer). Hot and humid. The only place I've spent time in that was worse was South Carolina. And I apologize to anybody who lives in SC and loves it, but dang, that place gets freaking hot and humid in the summer. And don't get me started on the d@mn fire ants!

Of course, I could be a little bit biased against SC. I mean I am from Seattle, and up until the point when I was shipped off to Basic Training at Fort Jackson I had never left the West Coast, with the exception of a trip to Alberta, Canada when I was 13.

I know, Cookie in the Army, pretty funny. I imagine that was a pretty amusing thing to watch. I mean I wore BDUs. And I marched. And I shot a rifle. Just picture Private Benjamin and you might be close.

Any way a Seattlite in South Carolina in the summer is not a good combination. Especially when it did not involve anything resembling a beach, unless you count the sand pits, which I definately do not.


I have another shameless Amazon plug, I mean children's book recommendation. Last night one of the stories I read the boys was I Love You So... by Marianne Richmond, which is a delightful story explaining to a child how much is so much love, and that a parent's love is unconditional.

"I love you"

"How much?"

"So much."

"How much is 'so'?"

"WAY, WAY MORE than you know..."

The artwork is lovely and the prose is beautiful. Gabe loves to ask questions about all the pictures and what it means for Mommies and Daddies to love their children no matter what.


Today, I actually feel almost well-rested. Nick slept through the night. Of course, that means he slept from 7:30 to 5:00, but hey that works for me. I'm ecstatic! I guess this means his cold is completely gone. So yay! Antibiotics rock!


Last night I did my No More Trouble Zones video again. I love how much stronger I feel when I'm finished with it, even though I hate it while I'm doing it. I always feel so much better after I've completed a workout.

I really want to be consistent with exercising even though it's difficult sometimes with work, school, the boys, and Pigpen. This is something that's important to me and good for my health. There is always something else I could be doing instead of exercising, but I have to make the time. I have to believe that I'm worth it.

Sometimes I have a hard time believing that.

27 May 2009


So Nick's new favorite word is "nack" followed by pointing at himself - indicating that he wants a snack. Of course, he means he wants a specific snack, and actually means that he wants fruit loops. He did that this morning when I was downstairs making my coffee, and of course I complied. I was rewarded with a giant grin when the requested "nack" appeared on the little red chair (there's no point in putting it in a bowl, he would just proceed to dump it everywhere).


Last night was a very unsuccessful food night. Nick, who normally is an excellent eater, wasn't interested in eating anything that wasn't a a Fruit Loop. And Gabe, despite requesting a Voila! Meal (we like the Garlic Chicken) refused to eat most of it. He doesn't eat vegetables, although we keep trying. Tonight we asked him to eat one little sliced carrot.

You would have thought we were trying to poison him the way he reacted! He spent almost 15 minutes in a meltdown over eating one lousy carrot. Then he refused to eat some of the curly noodles because they had little bits of broccoli on them. Finally the chicken, which he had claimed he would eat, resulted in another tantrum. He spent so long having tantrums that he lost out on the chance to watch a DVR'd TV show before it was time to get ready for bed.


As I've mentioned before, I love story time with the boys. Last night I read a Bob the Builder story, Someday and Good Night, Grover. If you have never ready Someday before, I highly recommend it. It's guaranteed to make me tear up every time I read it, despite being about a little girl. The story is basically a mother talking to her little girl, and some of the things she will experience as she grows up. Here are a couple of the lines from the story:

"One day I counted your fingers and kissed each one".

"Someday your eyes will be filled with a joy so deep that they shine".

The book is written by Alison McGhee, who also writes the charming Little Boy.


After the boys went to bed last night, I worked out for the second night in a row. Go me! Last night I did Jillian Michaels' No More Trouble Zones and I was sweating like crazy by the end of it. My legs are quite sore this morning. I love Jillian's videos. I think she's a great trainer, and I would jump at the opportunity to have a personal training session with her.

I am determined to finish losing weight by this summer so I actually look decent in a swimsuit. We're planning a beach trip at the end of June and I hope to make good progress by then. My goal is to work out every night, even if it is just a long walk or a yoga video. I'm not sure how successful I will be, especially since I do have school to worry about.

Wish me luck!

26 May 2009

Monday, Monday

We decided to return from the country yesterday afternoon, rather than today like originally planned. Mainly because of homework. I was having trouble concentrating and Pigpen's computer decided to stop working. So was came back early, although Gabe stayed up there with my MIL. She dropped him off a couple hours ago.


We had a nice time. Shortly after we got up there on Saturday, Pigpen put the little charcoal grill together and grilled burgers and hot dogs for lunch. We also had baked beans (canned) and roasted veggies (potatoes, onions, and carrots). It was very good. I had a little difficulty eating the hot dog, due to my mouth still not being 100%, but enjoyed it none the less. Afterwards, I helped Gabe roast marshmallows.

Saturday evening we went out to dinner at Pizza Hut. Gabe is fascinated with ea ting in at a pizza place, so whenever we go to the country house we always take him out to dinner there. This time, in addition to ordering a Pepperoni pizza (a favorite with the men in the Cookie family), we also tried on of their new pastas - the Chicken Alfredo. It wasn't bad. Certainly not as good as the commercials make it out to be, but not bad.

After dinner we went back the country house and got the boys ready for bed. Nick was resistant to sleep, since his routine was messed with, so we took him for a car ride into the town of Strasburg. There's a little ice cream shack in the main part of town that is absolutely fabulous. I had a blueberry delight sundae, which consisted of freshly made soft serve vanilla ice cream, cheese cake, and lots of blueberry topping. Mmmmm. So go. Pigpen went with a blueberry shake.

I worked on a little homework after we got back, which is hard when you don't have an internet connection and realize that you don't have all the information you need. Luckily my paper wasn't due until Sunday. Poor, Pigpen, he had tried to download AOL so he could use a dial-up connection if necessary and it totally hosed his computer. He spent all evening trying to get it to work with no success. In fact, it's still not working.


On Sunday we went for a hike in the woods after breakfast. My in-laws have about eight acres with a creek that ends in a lake, although the lake was built by their neighbors and for the most part, isn't on their property. Pigpen and I talked about the possibility of moving from the suburbs and building up here, but it's probably not feasible. More than likely we will just expand and upgrade the house my in-laws have to make it more pleasant for weekend trips.

After we returned from our walk, we went for a drive so the Nick could take a nap and Gabe could chill and watch an episode or two of Go, Diego, Go in the car. We went and found all the local schools and stopped at the elementary school so Gabe could play on the playground, which he enjoyed. After our drive, we all ate lunch and then Pigpen and I got ready to drive back home. Nick stayed awake for most of the drive, and was still awake when we reached Gainesville. We needed to go grocery shopping, and decided to stop at the Super Target there.

After Target Nick fell asleep for the rest of the ride. When we got home Pigpen and I unpacked the car and tried to tidy up around the house. Pigpen also tried to get his computer to work with little success.

Sunday evening we decided to go to Outback for dinner, which was delicious. I even had a drink - a blueberry martini, which was excellent. We ordered Nick macaroni and cheese, which did not use elbow noodles, so Nick wasn't too sure about. However, he loved the bread and everything that Pigpen and I were eating. The weather was beautiful, so we also went for a short walk around the block when we got home from dinner.


This morning we went to Panera Bread for breakfast, stopped to get me Starbucks, and then went for a drive so that Nick could take a nap. I love going for drives, it's one of the few opportunities for Pigpen and I to talk. We came to the conclusion, like we usually do, that we are never leaving our current neighborhood, and will eventually buy a house here.

Nick woke up as soon as we got home and decided that he could not get out of the car without a pair of my sunglasses. He looked very cute, and silly.

Any way, I need to finish my homework, so I better end this post so I'm not up too late.

22 May 2009

Out of Town

I am actually doing something for Memorial Day Weekend. Go me! We're going out of town this weekend. Unfortunately it is no where exciting. We're heading up to my in-laws house in the Shenandoah Valley. They have about eight acres up there with a house. Gabe loves it. He actually headed up there today with my MIL. 

Pigpen and I will go up tomorrow with Nick. We both had a bunch of homework to work on, and we haven't had time this week to get anything ready for us since we'll be gone the whole weekend. If we get lucky we might even get a bonus date on Sunday. And of course, we will take Gabe to Pizza Hut, where we, the novelty, actually sit down in the restaurant!


Nick was really cute this evening, even though it was obvious he missed Gabe. His new favorite treat has become Fruit Loops. And he know where we keep them. So any time we go to the pantry he comes running up hoping he'll be given some. He's also learned how to say snacks, or as he says it "nack", which is super cute. So if you ask him if he wants a snack his face will light up in expectation of receiving Fruit Loops. 

He also is fully aware of his name, and the names of many other objects, even if he can't say them. If you ask him where's Nick, he will point to himself. He can also identify most of his body parts when asked. You ask him and he'll point the right part, and then giggle, which means I end up giggling too. It's very cute. 


We called Gabe tonight at his bedtime and we're told that he had ROASTED MARSHMALLOWS! And do we want to roast marshmallows too when we come up tomorrow? It was very cute. I miss him when he's not around. He's growing up so quickly. I mean in another year we have to register him for kindergarten. Kindergarten! How did he get to be so big? 


In other news, I am still in pain from the darn wisdom teeth removal. Eating anything solid is still difficult, although certainly better than it was. It gets worse if I don't medicate regularly. WTF? I didn't think it was supposed to hurt this much for this long. If I'm not feeling significantly better by Monday, I better call the oral surgeon and get them rechecked. 

Once they heal I can finally go in for my dental check up. It will only be three months past due. I had an appointment scheduled for the end of March and when they called me up to remind me I canceled because I wasn't going to show up still in possession of my wisdom teeth. I didn't want to have to explain to my dentist why I still had them when she had given me the referral six months ago. 


Now I think it is time to go to bed. Like I meant to do half an hour ago. Nick will be up multiple times and then get up for good too early. And then we have to pack and then drive up to the country house. I will be fortified with caffeine... ah caffeine, what would I do without you?

18 May 2009

A Real Pain in the Mouth

So, I had my last two wisdom teeth removed on Friday. My mouth is still sore from it, especially the right side. Pigpen went to work for a few hours and then took the rest of the day off to take care of me. I decided to be sedated for the procedure, since I was fully aware for my upper two when they were removed in high school and found it excruciating.

I had the first appointment of the day, and then went home to take a nap. Pigpen went out and picked me up some lunch - Taco Bell's pintos 'n cheese, yummy... and then we caught up on some of the season finales from the week. It was nice to just chill at home with him minus the boys. We're really trying to make an effort to spend more time alone together, without cutting in too much to our limited time with Gabe and Nick.


This weekend wasn't the best weekend for me to be out of commission; although I did my best to muddle through. Gabe had soccer on Saturday, followed by a picnic for whole league. Plus, one of his friends had her birthday party on Sunday.

My MIL went with Pigpen to soccer practice to help out with Gabe and watch Nick while I took a nap. I did go with them to the picnic, but it started to rain, so I stayed in the car with Nick, while Pigpen quickly took Gabe out there to see what that had set up for food and activities.

The food was from Moes, which is not one of our favorite Mexican places, and we had to pay for it, so Pigpen didn't get any. They did have some of the players from D.C. United there to sign autographs, so Gabe did get at least one player's autograph on a poster.


The party on Sunday was nice. It was located at one of those moon bounce places, and most of Gabe's friends were there, so he had a great time. Nick really enjoyed it too. Especially the slides, which he kept asking Pigpen to take him on. Unfortunately, you had to crawl through some really small opening's and climb up this makeshift ladder to get to the top. It got to be very tiring for Pigpen to do that while carrying a 23 lb baby. Nick wanted to go down by himself, so I was always at the bottom waiting for him.

Gabe had the most fun playing with one of his friend's older brother, This is the nine-year-old we went to the movies with a couple weeks ago. The especially enjoyed playing on the pirate ship; at least that's what I think it was supposed to be. I didn't pay much attention to what it was.

I tried to bounce with Nick a bit, but due to the pain in my mouth, it started to make me nauseous. Luckily Nick enjoyed playing with the balls they had out as much as going on the moon bounces.

Unfortunately for the kids, we only got an hour on the equipment before it was time for pizza, cake, and goodie bags. Poor Gabe, he really wanted to go back down and bounce some more. I wish we had room for one of those little moon bounces at our townhouse. Nick wasn't feeling well, so he didn't eat much pizza or cake. Gabe was more than happy to eat the frosting off of the slice of cake that Nick didn't want.


The one thing that does not happen at parties here is the opening of gifts. I remember that being one of the big things at birthday parties when I was little. But nobody does around here. Is this now common every where? Or just here in Northern Virginia? We opened gifts once at Gabe's first birthday party, which was at my MIL's, but by the time his next party rolled around we had been to enough parties to know that it just wasn't something people did.

12 May 2009

Mother's Day

I had a really nice Mother's Day. After we got up (way too early, as usual), Pigpen brought the boys downstairs while I finished getting dressed for the morning. He had the boys both sign their car to me, which was really cute. Both of their scribbles, and then Pigpen signed their names, it was sweet. Gabe has almost mastered his G, so Pigpen just added the rest of his name to Gabe's almost G.

Pigpen then went out to get me Starbucks, and returned with roses as well. I love roses! So that was really sweet. Nick was fascinated by them, and wanted one to play with. While I wouldn't let him play with one by himself, I did take one out and let him smell and touch it, which really made him smile. Have I mentioned how incredibly cute Nick's smile is, with his five little teeth?

I also had breakfast made for me - scrambled eggs with cheese, sausage, and waffles. The waffles were originally bought for Gabe (they're organic Sesame Street themed mini waffles), but he decided he didn't like them. I think they're pretty good, and so does Nick. My little Nick will eat just about anything. Sometimes I worry that's why he gets so many stomach aches - he eats too much.

Then again, I worry that Gabe doesn't eat enough. I often think that's one of the main things mothers do. Worry, that is.

Normally Gabe goes to church with my MIL on Sundays, but she was out of town for her brother's 50th wedding anniversary, so he just chilled at home with us. He did, however, go over to spend the night with her. Pigpen and I figured that would be a good Mother's Day present for her, since she really isn't getting anything tangible for Mother's Day.

We already chipped in for her plane ticket to Alaska to visit my SIL (my BIL's wife) when she has the baby. It also covered her recent birthday and her Christmas present.

On the way to drop off Gabe, we stopped to pick up Outback for dinner, which is always a favorite. They recently redid their menu, so instead of crab cakes, they now have these humongous crab stuffed shrimp, which were fabulous. Although I will miss the crab cakes - they were one of my favorite items. I also had prime rib and mashed potatoes, both of which were very good. To be expected, they were also well-liked by Nick.

All in all it was a really nice day.

03 May 2009

Movie Weekend

Every month Pigpen and I have been making an effort to go on a date. We've been alternating between a nice restaurant and a movie. Last month we went to the Melting Pot, which was awesome. This month, as in Friday, we went to the see the opening of Wolverine. It was really good. I've been a fan of the X-Men since I was a child, so I've enjoyed all the movies in the franchise, just not all the casting choices (I'm still bitter about Rogue).

The movie theater we went to is part of a nice town center for one of the local communities and has a lot of little restaurants attached. We had a quick dinner at the Asian restaurant there, which we have never tried before. It wasn't bad, but it was no Hunan's, which is our favorite little Chinese restaurant. We caught the last matinee show, so the theater wasn't that full. There is a high school up the street, and we were early enough that most of the high school crowd was just getting to the theater as we were leaving.

I won't spoil the movie for those that haven't seen it, but it was definitely more about the action than the story. A lot of holes, for those who have only seen the previous movies and have never read the comics, were filled in. The dialogue seemed like nothing more than a way to get from one action scene to the next, but at least the action was good. The Easter egg after the credits hinted at what the next movie will be about.

I got to see another movie this weekend, as well. Two movies in one weekend is a rare occurrence, especially with kids. We met up with some friends to finally see Monsters vs. Aliens, which Gabe has been asking to see since he got his first toy tie-in from McDonalds (darn you, successful marketing ploy). I missed the last half hour because Nick started to get fussy. Also, the theater was really full. The movie has been out for a while, but we saw it on the 3D screen, and the weather was bad, so a lot of people had the same idea.

After the movie we went to Cold Stone for ice cream. Gabe had more fun playing with his friends than eating his strawberry ice cream with sprinkles. Our friends have two little boys, one is almost five, and the other is nine. Gabe really likes them both. I'm glad he had a good time. I do worry about him not socializing enough.

27 April 2009

First Haircut

Today Nick got his first haircut. It was traumatic to say the least. I felt bad, since we didn't actually go to the salon to get Nick's hair cut. We went to finally get Gabe's cut, since it was getting quite long and becoming a mop. Also, lots of people had been commenting on the length of his hair. We had yet to cut it, because Gabe kept insisting he wanted to grow it long, and Pigpen wanted to respect his wishes.

The reason Gabe agreed to have his head shaved today (he looks adorable with a buzz cut) is because Pigpen said he would shave his hair if Gabe shaved his. We decided to also get Nick's cut, since we were there and his bangs were starting to fall in his eyes. Nick's hair did not get shaved, just cleaned up around the edges.

That, of course, was the hard part for the stylist. Nick was crying and shaking so hard because the strange lady with the clippers and scissors scared him. She had difficulty getting it even, especially in the back. I felt so bad for Nick and the stylist. He was just so upset. Gabe was the same way for quite a while when it came to getting his hair cut. Dumdum lollipops helped him get over it.

I think those lollipops are something stylists and barbers are required to have. My grandpa, who recently passed away, always had those lollipops in his barber shop. Also, at his house. I really think they make a big difference in how a child responds to a haircut. Unfortunately, Nick is still too little for lollipops, even though he would happily have had one.

Pigpen cleaned up the back of Nick's hair when we got home, but otherwise it looked really good. We have family pictures coming up in June, and I wanted to get the big haircuts out the way early, although we will will probably have both cleaned up before then. Pigpen, of course, was not happy about cutting all his hair off again (not that it was that long to begin with), but he'd do anything for Gabe, and that made Gabe very happy.

18 April 2009

Soccer Starts

Gabe started soccer today, which is something I was a little apprehensive about. Even with Pigpen as the coach. Gabe has problems listening and following directions, which is something that is required to succeed in learning how to play soccer. Also, Pigpen had to pay attention to all the kids on the field, and I had to pay attention to Nick, so who was paying attention to Gabe?

He did find the soccer coach provided by the county fascinating. All the U4 teams have a coach from a soccer academy based out of Maryland. These coaches are the ones actually teaching the kids soccer skills. Pigpen is really just there to help corral the kids. Any ways, the coach for our team this season is a cute perky blond, who also happens to be Canadian, not that that has any relevance. Gabe refused to talk to her, even though he like her, which is common with people he doesn't know.

When he's actually doing what he's supposed to be doing on the field he's not bad, but he often is not doing what he's supposed to be doing. He's running off the field for water or not paying attention or lagging behind everyone else. When I was able to pay attention, rather than placate an irritated Nick, I was able to encourage him to participate beyond what Pigpen was doing on the the field.

Unfortunately, I spent most of my time placating an irritated Nick who didn't understand why he couldn't play with the balls on the field, and oh hey look rocks, let's see how they taste, hey I'm hungry, I want milk, no a snack, no milk... yep, really fun.

Afterwards Pigpen and I put the boys in the car for a much delayed nap for Nick and, eventually, a nap for Gabe too. It usually takes Gabe forever to fall asleep on car rides, and he usually only does so after much protesting, even if he really needs it. I enjoy going for drives in the afternoons. The boys sleep and Pigpen and I drive around neighborhoods and talk about houses and [maybe] more children.

15 April 2009

First Dentist Appointment

Today Nick had his first dental appointment. And he has a grand total of four teeth. Four! And he is almost 13 months. He did very well, although he was a little leery of having a strangers put their fingers in his mouth. They did not take any x-rays, probably becuase he is so little.

It was actually more painful for Gabe, since he had to sit and wait for so long and was not able to really do anything. He did, however, get Nick's "prize". Normally he chooses to get the token so he can get something out of the little prize machines, but today he chose to pick something out of the treasure chest. His pick was a miniature container of playdoh.

We were told to use a tiny dab of fluoride toothpaste on Nick's toothbrush. Also, we are to start using it for Gabe. We had been told previously not to use it for babies, and also not to use it if they were still swallowing their toothpaste, but our dentist told us that guidelines regarding fluoride toothpaste and children had recently changed.

Gabe is getting really good at brushing his own teeth, and flossing, although he dies need a little help for his back teeth. He is growing up so quickly, and he is able to do so many things on his own, even if he would prefer to have Pigpen or my MIL or me do it for him. It's so hard to accept that he is no longer a baby. My baby has been replaced by a little boy.

Nick still isn't huge on having his teeth brushed, although he does like to play with the tooth brush on his own. I had been brushing his teeth at bath time, like we do with Gabe. However, since he does get a bottle of milk before bed, our dentist wants us to brush his teeth after he finishes his bottle, and then no more milk at night.

13 April 2009

Hunting Eggs

We have reached the last first for Nick. His first Easter, which being in April, came after his first birthday. He loved it. We put most of his eggs in his Easter basket (mostly filled with Fisher Price Little People or Sesame Street characters, but a few had money). He also got a couple of stuffed animals, a couple small age-appropriate and a light up duck, which he thought was great. Although, I think he was more interested in the eggs than their contents.

In addition to eggs, Gabe also got jelly beans and M&Ms. Most of his eggs had Matchbox cars in them, which he really liked, as we have never bought him cars before. We've been pretty strict about following the age recommendations on toys. His favorite car was the Lightening McQueen car. He loved hunting around our house for the eggs and then eagerly opening them to see what they contained. He had such a good time! I loved watching him; it just drove home one of the greatest joys of the holiday - the exuberant joy that can only be displayed by a child.

After Gabe hunted for eggs we had breakfast - Pigpen picked up McDonalds. Afterwards we got Gabe ready for church. He goes with my MIL every Sunday, and he really is enjoying it. Eventually, once we are settled, Pigpen and I plan to find a church that we all can go to . However, we are not there yet. Right now, I am just glad that Gabe has the opportunity to go and wants to go. If he did not want to go, we certainly would not make him.

We went over to my MIL's for a late lunch and more Easter egg hunting. We picked up Boston Market for everybody on the way over, so that my MIL wouldn't have to cook, although she did make a bunch of deviled eggs, because Pigpen loves them. Some of the eggs were from cracked eggs that Gabe had decorated earlier in the week. He was so proud of his eggs. He picked out his decorating kit this year - Marvel Superheroes.

Pigpen and I helped hide the eggs in the backyard - all these eggs had money in them. Nick even "helped" look, although it was more coaching from Mommy on where to look, than Nick actually finding eggs. He enjoyed it though. Gabe had so much fun. After he found all his eggs, he wanted to hide them again and have us look for them. We got a lot of great pictures, even some cute family ones. Although when they will ever make it into an album, I'm not sure, but at least I have them.

31 March 2009

Party Animal

On Saturday we celebrated Nick's first birthday with a party at The Little Gym. It was a really nice party. The theme, as you know, was Sesame Beginnings, which seemed to please Nick. Except for the hat. He really didn't like the hat that went with the decorations. The staff on hand for the party did a great job decorating and facilitating the activities.

All of Gabe's friends showed up, so that was great. He had a wonderful time, which helped take away some of the issues with the party being for Nick. The best part was the moon bounce, as it was at Gabe's party last year. Nick was excited to join in on everything too. It was cute, when we played with the bean bags he climbed into the bin and tried to claim them all.

The Elmo cake that my MIL made was wonderful. She did such a great job. Nick LOVED it. We served cake from Costco to everybody else (after all, who would want to eat cake a baby dived their hands into?). I think Nick preferred the pizza to the cake. He really likes pizza. Especially when we offer him a whole slice. He hates to be left out of anything.

I'm so glad the party went well. Nick got a lot of nice toys (the Playskool Busy Basic Ball Popper is a favorite with both boys). Now we need to start planning Gabe's party. He wants a bowling party, which I think is really cool. We'll probably invite the same small group of people and have a great time at it.

24 March 2009

Happy Birthday, Nick

Today is Nick's 1st birthday. And while I am saddened by how fast the past year has gone, I am excited that he has reached this milestone. I watch him toddle along with his newly acquired ability to walk and I think back to my new baby who couldn't go anywhere. He's so excited to be able to walk, and yet I miss the wonder that was rolling and crawling and standing. He's growing up so quickly.

We had a party at my in-laws tonight, which was nice. My MIL and Gabe made Nick a little cake with blue-green frosting and then cupcakes for everybody else. We have a nice picture of Nick diving his hands into the frosting, but ultimately becoming bored with being sticky. And of course we had Chinese food for dinner, which is very common for birthday meals. Our favorite place is right up the street from my in-laws.

Tomorrow Nick will have his one-year check up and this weekend he will have his party. Pigpen and I finished all the gift bags last weekend, as well as ordered the balloons, so all we should have to do is pick up the balloons and cake and bring everything to the party. The Sesame Beginnings theme is very cute, and certainly more appropriate for Nick than my original choice. I hope he has a good time at his party. After all, you only celebrate your first birthday once.

19 March 2009

Would you like cheese with that?

Gabe has started a new, very annoying habit - whining about anything and everything that he does not like or agree with or want to do. Even if doing what he is asked will get him something he wants. The entire time I was getting ready for work this morning, he had something to whine about.

"Please take your pajamas off and throw the pull-up away."

"I don't know how. I don't want to. You do it."

"Please put your socks on. Remember the writing goes on the bottom."

"I don't know how to put the writing on the bottom."

"You can't lie down on the bed, I need to make it."

"But it's already made, Mommy."

It was a very long morning. I love him dearly, but was quite happy to drop him off with my MIL and escape to work. An hour of that was more than enough, especially before I had my morning coffee.

Gabe is definitely becoming more defiant. He has had difficulty listening to requests to do or not do things for quite some time now, but he is adding to his repertoire. Everything from whining, to escalated tantrums, to no, to I don't want to are used in an attempt to change our minds or get his own way. It is not helped by an almost-one-year-old who wants to get into everything. Locking up the cabinets really wasn't something we had to do for Gabe. I mean we locked up the dangerous stuff just to be safe, but he really wasn't interested in emptying the contents of drawers and cabinets. Nick, on the other hand, most definitely is.

Our kitchen was a mess this weekend, thanks to Nick, with some help from Gabe, as Pigpen and I attempted to do homework and prepare lunches for the week while the boys played. All of our Tupperware got taken out and spread over the kitchen, add to that some pots and pans, large spoons and spatulas... and it was hard to walk without tripping over something. Still, they had a good time playing, and it allowed us to accomplish things with little interruptions. Unfortunately we never accomplish as much as we would like to on the weekends. Too much to do and too little time to do it in.

I am really enjoying watching the friendship blossom between Gabe and Nick as Nick shifts from baby to playmate. Gabe still has his moments where he wants to be left alone by Nick, but mostly he loves having him around. And Nick just adores Gabe, although he does get jealous when Gabe is getting affection and he isn't. Nick loves to be cuddled and to cuddle. He regularly "attacks" Gabe in an attempt to hug him. And every morning as soon as he hears that Gabe is awake, he will go crawling into Gabe's room to attention him. It's wonderful. Their relationship is what Pigpen and I had hopped for, and the biggest reason why we decided to have a second child. We wanted to ensure that Gabe had that relationship. It's also one of the reasons we are so torn on having a third.

17 March 2009

Facebook Users Anonymous

The first step is admitting you have a problem. I am addicted to Facebook. I like reading the updates of people's statuses. I like learning about new groups. I love how many old friends that I've connected with. And don't get me started on the apps and games. Plus it is another way to connect with Pigpen, which is nice, since our lives are so busy. However, I have a habit of spending way too much time logged in, which is an issue when I have homework due.

When I'm not on Facebook, I am being amazed by the advancing abilities of my children. Nick is almost walking. He's taking a few tentative steps on his own, but nothing that can really be considered walking. He still prefers crawling over anything, occasionally with the very amusing bear crawl. His pointing ability has improved, we can usually figure out what he is referring to within a couple of guesses if he's pointing to something that is not nearby. And then there is his vocabulary. He can say hi, hello, bye, buh-bye, mama, dada, dog, ball, that, there, and yum.

Gabe is doing amazing things too; however, at three and a half his learning is not at the rapid pace of a baby. He is able to mostly get dressed on his own. He's great with the computer, he needs a little assistance to turn it on and to open applications, but once he's in a game he has great control of the mouse and knows what to do to play the game. The educational games we have for him are really helping his vocabulary, as well as his ability to recognize words. His ability to say words that he used to struggle with are also improving. He's getting so big, but I still see him as a baby, and while I know it is important to ensure that he says words correctly, like noodle instead of noo-noo, it's hard not to feel a little sad when his babyisms disappear. The doubling of a word's first syllable was very common for Gabe when he was learning to speak.

In a week Nick will be one, and that makes me very sad too. Of course, I am excited by this milestone he is achieving, but I wish it hadn't arrived so quickly. It doesn't feel as though it has been a year. It seems like just yesterday I was in the hospital waiting to deliver him before being rushed in for an emergency c-section instead of the scheduled induction. And the long hours I had to endure while I waited to finally be able to hold my baby. He's changed so much in the past year, and we've learned a lot about who he is. I know there are many more wonderful years ahead, but this will be his only first. In the next year he will shift from being a baby to being a toddler. And as much as I look forward to watching him grow, I wish I could have a little more time with my baby.

03 March 2009

Work It

Nick's balance has been rapidly improving; he no longer stands up only to fall on his bottom. He can now stand for extended periods and even stay standing when set down on his feet. He's also improved his ability to cruise around using furniture or toys with handles and wheels. He has also started to do the funniest thing when crawling. In the past week he has started bear crawling. So about half the time instead of crawling on his hands and knees, he'll crawl with his feet flat on the floor and his bottom up in the air. It is really cute, and shows how anxious he is to be walking, he's just not quite there yet with his confidence in his balance.

Gabe is also doing great. He is really improving his ability to dress himself and put on his own shoes. He still needs a little help making sure things are the right way, and then struggles with buttons, zippers and shoes that have straps or ties, but he is getting much better. His eating at meal-times is also improving. Pigpen, my MIL, and I are all making an effort to cut down on his snacking between meals so he will eat more of the healthy items offered. We are also trying to introduce new foods that are similar to ones he already likes, in an effort to add variety to his diet.

Invitations for Nick's 1st Birthday Party should be going out by the end of the week. We just need to print off the address of his party to put it in all the invitations. Oddly enough there was no place for location on them. Just a line for who the party was for, the date, the time, and how to RSVP. We still need to buy the supplies for the cake, but we have all the decorations and party favors. Pigpen bought those when he bought the invitations. The Elmo cake will be for Nick and I think we are just going to order a Costco sheet cake for everybody else. Costco makes great cakes.

This past weekend Pigpen and I joined a local gym. He has wanted a place where he can play racquetball and find people to play basketball with, as well as a swimming pool and weights, so this seemed like a great option for him. They also have a spa, cafe, and on-site childcare with good hours. Plus, they offer children's swim classes for a reasonable additional cost, which is less than what we were paying at the nearest rec center for Gabe.

In the near-term it won't be that conveinent for me to use, but I am planning to try and get to a class most Saturdays. Eventually we will live closer to the gym, since it is near where we want to buy a house, and I can use it more often. Gabe seemed to like the childcare. We let him stay while we went on the tour of the gym and he was. In fact, he would have been happy to stay longer. I'm glad he is having a better time being away from Pigpen, my MIL, and me. He has a habit of being very shy with strangers.

27 February 2009

Now if only he would change himself

Nick has become very adept at point at things he wants or wants to see. He also is able the say there or that (more like de and da, but we know what he means). So I was very amused this morning when he woke up to have him point to his changing table and say de as soon as I picked him up. He didn't fuss the entire time that he was being changed and as soon as I had taken off the wet diaper and wiped him down his mood was instantly playful. Then again, Nick has never liked having a wet or messy diaper, so it really shouldn't come as a surprise that he would tell me he wanted to be changed.

Nick still does not have his two front teeth, despite the pain they have been causing him and the fact that you can feel the ridges right above his gums. He really is taking his sweet time getting his teeth. Eleven months and still only two teeth. However, I do think he will be walking soon. He is a champ at standing on his own, and is a speed demon when given a cart to walk with, so it is really just a matter of confidence. Although he might very well skip walking and go straight to running just so he can keep up with Gabe. His gym class instructor is amazed at how well he can stand and bend and stand back up without falling over. Nick really enjoys gym class and loves to participate in everything.

Gabe is also really enjoying his sports class. It seems to be a much better fit for him than his gym class was. So I'm glad we made the decision to sign him up and keep that class over the gym class. Hopefully the team sports and the skills will help him when he starts soccer again this spring. Plus he'll be older and Pigpen will be coaching. I think all three combined will help make soccer a better experience for him this time around. I really want both my boys to play sports and enjoy it, even though that was never something that I liked or was good at.

I am doing better with my workouts in the morning. Nick has been sleeping better, and while it is hard to feel motivated at four in the morning, I figure that since I'm already awake I might as well go work out and be done with it for the day. I have one more week of both level 1 of my iFit workouts and level 3 of 30 Day Shred. The following week I move up to level 2 of my iFit workouts, which will now be 30-45 minutes and Jillian Michaels' No More Trouble Zones, which is a 45-minute workout. So I will alternate between the two. Hopefully I can continue to tone, my stomach is still a big problem area.

16 February 2009

Two Front Teeth

This weekend was nice. My MIL watched the boys while Pigpen and I went out to dinner on Valentine's Day. We went to a Japanese steakhouse for dinner, and then followed it with sundaes from McDonald's :) It was nice. I got a blue tooth headset for my phone, which I have been needing. I got Pigpen a dozen chocolate covered strawberries and a heart-shaped cookie from the boys. Gabe stayed the night at my MIL's, so he could go to Sunday school with her in the morning.

On Sunday we went bowling with some friends of ours, who have a son who's about a six or so months older than Gabe. I'm trying to remember when his birthday is. Any way. The kids had a good time, and so did we. We played two sets. I didn't break a hundred either time, but then, I never claimed to be any good at bowling. It was really nice to get Gabe together with someone his age, and to socialize. We don't do it that often.

So Nick is in the process of getting both his top front teeth, which will bring his grand total to four. Four teeth at eleven months. And he is not happy about it. He's up every hour to hour and a half at night to complain about it. In other words, I'm really tired. I'm not sure what to do, other than comfort him. He's not interested in any medicine at night. No Orajel or baby Tylenol, and gets rather offended if I try to give him anything. During the day he i s more than happy to take something, but not at night. This is something he shares with his brother. Gabe is also very resistant to taking any kind of medicine at night.

In addition, I discovered that Nick's diaper had leaked at about 2 AM. Luckily, it didn't get his bed wet, but his pajamas had to be changed. He was not happy about that. My only consolation is that he is not taking long to get back to sleep when he wakes in discomfort. I just hope those teeth hurry up and break through. The one on the right is almost through; you can feel the ridges right under the gums. I don't remember teething being as painful with Gabe as it seems to be for Nick.

Despite the number of times that Nick had me up last night, and the difficulty I had getting Gabe back to sleep when he woke up around 3:30 AM (he has a hard time just about every morning when Pigpen leaves for work), I still got up and worked out this morning. I missed all of last week due to the stomach bug, so I needed to make sure I didn't start off the week by missing a day. I was tired, but felt good when I was finished. Tomorrow is my last day on level 2 of the 30 Day Shred. On Thursday I will move up to level 3. I can hardly wait, really...

When I spoke with my MIL this morning I was happy to hear that both boys had eaten well for breakfast. Gabe has always been a sporadic eater, so it's nice to hear when he actually eats enough to fill him up. And Nick has had trouble shaking that stomach bug, plus the teething. He didn't eat much this weekend, and really wasn't interested in bottles of any sort. All he seemed to want to do was nurse, which was hard, since I am starting the weaning process, so my milk supply is reduced.

In other [sad] news, Pigpen's puppy, a beautiful pure-bred Chihuahua, passed away this morning due to kidney failure. Although, he was not really a puppy, since he was almost 10 years old. He has been living with my in-laws for the past couple years since we haven't exactly lived places that were animal-friendly. Plus we work all day. My MIL was very attached to him, so she's pretty sad. And Pigpen got him when he was about six months old, so of course he's pretty sad about it too, that was his puppy. And poor Gabe. Try explaining to a three-year-old where their pet went.

13 February 2009

Stomach Bugs

I've been dealing with a stomach virus for the past week. First Gabe got it, then Nick (who still hasn't gotten over it) and then me. Gabe only threw up once and then seemed to be over it. In fact, his appetite has been pretty good the past week. Nick, however, has thrown up multiple times. Four times in the course of 24 hours last Sunday. The fourth time was in the middle of the night and it got everywhere - even in my hair. Ew! Plus, his appetite has been weak, and he's normally a great eater. He's also been extra cranky and clingy, again not like him. I feel so bad for him.

I ended up succumbing Tuesday morning. I managed to work two half days Tuesday and Wednesday, but then came both days and napped. It seemed to help. I didn't throw up, but My stomach hurt and I didn't have much of an appetite. I was still a little iffy yesterday, but I am doing much better today. Thank goodness. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and I am looking forward to going out on a date with Pigpen. The last thing I want to be is sick.

Since I wasn't feeling well Wednesday, I stayed home with Gabe while Pigpen took Nick to gym class. I have wanted Pigpen to take Nick any way, just to interact with him there and see how much Nick likes it, so this ended up being the perfect opportunity. And Gabe and I had a nice time together, as well. I so seldom get alone time with him. He usually prefers anybody but me. He was very cooperative and we enjoyed our story time together.

Pigpen said Nick impressed his teacher with his ability to stand, crouch down and pick something up, and stand back up without falling over. It's a recently acquired skill. Nick has been working on standing independently over the last few weeks, but keeping his balance while picking up something has only developed over the last week. I love watching my boys learn new skills; it just feels like they are growing up so fast. Nick's new skill in the class was flipping over one of the bars, which he enjoyed.

Speaking of gym class, we decided last Saturday to drop Gabe's gym class. He will still do his sports class on Fridays, but will stop his Saturday gym class. We spoke with the lead teacher, who instructs both classes, and she agrees that this is a good decisions. Gabe pays much better attention in his sports class, which is comprised of mainly boys, unlike his gym class, which is comprised of mainly girls. His Saturdays won't be empty for long - he starts soccer again in March. Pigpen should be coaching, so hopefully, it will go better this time around.

I'm enjoying a nice break from school. My statistics class ended on Monday, so I have a short break before my next class starts. Thankfully, it has nothing to do with math. This week has been bad for exercise, what with Nick and me being sick all week. Hopefully next week will be better so I can pick my routine back up. I'm below my prepregnancy weight, but still not at my lowest weight, so more work to be done. I've been enjoying my workouts, and while I'm not a morning person (nothing will ever convince me that I should be), I do feel better when I start my day with a workout, especially my iFit treadmill workouts.

05 February 2009

Sick and Tired

My boys are both sick with something, so their dispositions haven't been the best. Gabriel hasn't wanted the eat the last couple days, and even threw up what little he did eat on Tuesday - that was fun to clean up, since he was still at the dinner table when it happened. Nick is about to get his two top front teeth, has a head cold, and his stomach is bothering him. He was very cranky last night. Plus Pigpen is not feeling well, also a head cold, and called in sick to work today.

Neither child wanted to sleep last night, and both have been up since about a quarter to five. Pigpen had Gabriel, and I took care of Nick. On top of it, Nick was extra clingy this morning, which made getting ready for work difficult. He was fine if I was holding him, or if Gabe was playing with him, otherwise he wanted to get into things or be held. I'm really loving obsession with electrical cords, particularly his strong desire to put them in his mouth. It's great, really.

So, I am very tired, and not just because the boys didn't sleep well last night. I also adjusted my work schedule this week, so instead of getting in close to 8, I'm going in at 7. And I'm now working out in the mornings instead of the evenings, so I'm getting up at 4:30 and working out for an hour. This morning I was able to get my iFit workout in, but had to quit after the warm up of 30 Day Shred because Nick was being extra fussy and only wanted me.

I had hoped Nick would sleep better last night because he had gym class, but no such luck. However, he did greatly enjoy his class. He practiced walking (still not there on his own) both on the floor and the balance beam, and he did forward and backward rolls over something referred to as a "hot dog". He still adores the balls and is curious about the bubbles - he was more aggressive last night in his pursuit of them. I am so glad he likes it. It has been beneficial for Gabriel and I hope it is for him. Gabriel was home with Daddy, and enjoyed being in our bed with him and watching Curious George, which he choose over having Daddy read him a story.

I had a chance to talk to Gabriel's gym and sports class teacher during Nick's class last night, and was glad I did, since I have little idea how he acts in his sports class, since my MIL takes him during the week, and only observational knowledge from his gym class on Saturdays. She said he actually is doing really well in his sport class and is much better at listening and paying attention than he is in his gym class. He's really enjoying it. Right now they are learning hockey, which they started last week, and after only one session I can see that he's getting it. He has a hockey set at my MIL's and I got to see him practice with it and I though he did really well.

I am so glad I am in my last week of my current class. Statistics is driving me crazy. The workload is much heavier than I have had in any of my previous courses, so I'm really struggling to get it all done. Still, I have been working hear, and it's reflected in my grade, which is nice. After this class is over I get a three week break before I start my next one. Not that I'll be relaxing. There are a number of things that I need to use those "free" evenings to accomplish.