Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

Another Thanksgiving on the books! We have had quite an eventful week around here. The first unusual event: My brother and sister-in-law came down for a visit for almost the entire week! They had been planning to come for an extended visit to meet Declan and spend some time with Marshall. It was so wonderful to see them!

We are all especially excited because Chris and Ashley recently announced that THEY ARE HAVING TWINS!!! Ashley is due in Spring, and I am absolutely ecstatic about becoming an aunt for the first time. We're also thrilled that Marshall and Declan will have cousins so close in age!

So, back to this week: We've been busy with lots of fun outings, little adventures, park visits, meals out, and lots of time hanging out around the house together. My parents joined the group on Wednesday, and they all stayed only two blocks away from us, so we easily packed up and walked over whenever we all wanted to hang out.

By Thursday, Terry and I were scrambling around getting ready for Thanksgiving, because we were the hosts! We handled the turkey, gravy, stuffing, and apple pie. Terry's family joined, too, so we had ten people (plus little Declan!) and plenty of food! Appetizers, salad, potatoes, yams, pumpkin pie, vegetables, and lots of wine. I was a little stressed about hosting (not to mention the fact that Marshall skipped his nap), but it all worked out wonderfully. I was also so excited to use our wedding china!

 Oh, this glorious turkey. We bought it from our local butcher, and they brined it for us ahead of time. Terry got it all prepped and threw it in the oven. And it was DELICIOUS.

I took care of the pie--my very first apple pie--a brown butter a la Martha Stewart. Plus some homemade whipped cream!

I insisted on some group photos.

Amid all the chaos of hosting, we have found some moments to slow down and enjoy our little family, too. Like this morning, when Marshall and Daddy played peekaboo with Scout. :-) 

Today, my family took Marshall for a while so Terry and I could focus on all our cleaning and tackle the pile of dishes. After a couple hours, we had a clean house and the group joined us again just in time for Marshall's nap. We all relaxed for a while and looked up Black Friday Deals online, and then after Marshall's nap we headed to Firestone Brewery for a couple drinks and appetizers. We came home for dinner, which included Marshall devouring a small slice of pie,

as well as bath, bedtime, and a bit more hanging out before my family left. 

Another awesome holiday, and lots of fun watching my family bond with Marshall and Declan all week. Hearing M's sweet little voice say, "Uncle Chris, can you play with me?" and, "Aunt Ashley, you're coming with us?" makes my heart so happy. PopPop and JanJan got lots of love, too, and we're sad to see them head back home. Luckily, Christmas is right around the corner! 

I am so thankful for my family, especially "my boys" who fill my days with noise and chaos and so much joy I sometimes wonder how it will ever be better than this. And then, somehow, the next day gets even better. For this, and for so much in my life, I am thankful. May we all enjoy a holiday season of peace and love.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Halloween 2016

...only two weeks late. That's not bad, right? (Okay, now almost a month late, and I'm racing to publish this post because today is Thanksgiving and we need to only be one holiday behind!)

We had several Halloween-related family events this year, starting with a visit to our local pumpkin patch about a week after Declan was born.

Marshall really liked the hay maze; in fact, it was the only activity there he was willing to try! (They also had a petting zoo, giant bounce house-style pumpkin slide, and more.) We just went in the maze about fifteen times, which was fine with me since I was still recovering from Declan's birth.

Eventually, we headed to the pumpkins and chose some to bring home. It took about 30 seconds, and I must say I was pretty happy that Marshall chose the perfect toddler-sized pumpkin for himself and then a super tiny one for Declan!

My boys in green!

Declan slept the entire time. :-) 

 Oh, we did find a bulldozer for Marshall, which was a hit for a few minutes.

On to pumpkin carving! I thought it would be cute to carve out on our lawn, but there were ants everywhere and it turned out to be more of a hassle than anything. 

So we went back inside for the artistic part.

Our finished products! (Declan's is a "d".) Mine is scraped out but not carved because that's the reality of life with a newborn.

Halloween night we got all ready and ate a quick meal once Marshall was home. He was willing to eat without the costume but the head was there to stay.

And then we headed out for trick or treating! Have you ever seen a cuter dinosaur?

He was a little shy, a little uncertain, a little excited. I soaked up every minute. Highlights included a huge cat ("cat tunnel") over a doorway, selecting treats, and Marshall insisting that he wasn't allowed to eat his candy until we got home (his own rule). 
We hit about six houses and headed home. It was truly a perfect little Halloween, especially for Declan's first. He was a dinosaur egg, all tucked into the Ergo. 

And now it's Thanksgiving and we're hosting and it's time to bake a pie! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Declan - One Month

Happy one-month, Declan! 

We are so thrilled you're here. You have added so much to our family already, and we love getting to know you.

Especially your big brother. Marshall seems to have a healthy curiosity about you ("Declan's sleeping?" "Declan's waving at me!" "Declan, you're waking up a little bit!") while also continuing to enjoy his usual independent activities and play. He often likes to cover you with a blanket, and we're working on not covering your face. :-)

He likes to hold you and loves holding your hand. Often, he'll call you "Dec." (He also used to say "Ducklin," which was too cute.)

I know this relationship will continue to grow, and I'm excited to see where it goes.

This weekend was Daylight Saving time and at 4:30 in the morning I heard, "Hi, Declan!" and awoke to find Marshall standing next to your co-sleeper in our room. I think he likes you.

Daddy and I like you, too.

(Creepy photo of me, but cute of you!)

You also celebrated your first Halloween! Marshall was a dinosaur, and you were a dinosaur egg.

We won't get "official" measurements until your two-month check up, but my unofficial measure of standing on the scale with and without you suggests that you weigh 11 pounds, 9.6 ounces and are about 24 inches long. Big boy! A little bigger than your brother at this age, but we'll see if that continues. You've already outgrown all your newborn clothes and some 0-3 month clothes. It's a little sad to know I'm packing those items up for the last time, but I also know what fun we have in store for us as you grow up.

Scout seems to feel a lot more sure about you than he did your brother. He walks up to you frequently, snuggles up to us (and you!), and has been much more willing to hang out with the family.

For me, this month has been such a wonder. When you joined us, I had a little trouble because I was in a lot of pain and felt frustrated that I struggled to recover from childbirth, even without a C-section. I have also struggled to balance my time, energy, and attention between you and Marshall and am still (and will likely forever be) working on that.

You seem pretty chill, though. You rarely cry, and we've only heard you get worked up maybe once or twice? You grunt a lot, especially in the early morning hours, and you are LOUD. We have nicknamed you "little goat" because you really sound like one! I'm trying to figure out if there's anything I'm eating that might upset your tummy, but mostly you seem content.

Except during cold diaper changes. :-)

You look quite a lot like your big brother did at your age, but you have dark hair (and you HAVE hair). Although it does seem like your hair might be falling out, so we'll see what happens there. When you open your eyes, you look less like Marshall because your eyes are smaller and more...piercing? Intense?

Nursing is going really great. You eat only on one side at a time, which is new for me, but you also eat more frequently--every hour and a half or two hours, I'd say. At night you'll go three hours. And so far, your spit up is WAY less intense than Marshall's! There's still some, but it's super manageable.

 You sleep a LOT. I usually get a long nap from you in the morning and then several catnaps throughout the day. You seem to love the Baby K'Tan wrap, and so do I. You're so snug and cozy in there and will sleep soundly while I run errands or bring Marshall in to day care. I love this snuggly newborn time, and sometimes I'll just chill on the couch holding you.

I also love when you're awake! At home, we lay out on a mat, read a book or two, talk, sing, and dance. You have recently discovered the "witching hour" in the evening and tend to be pretty fussy from 4 pm until 7 or so. It's a tough few hours, because Marshall is getting home from school, you're upset and difficult to appease, we're trying to throw together dinner, and we have to get Marshall to bed. But we're finding our rhythm, and you're finding yours.

The best part of this month has been seeing your first smiles! We kept telling ourselves they weren't the real deal, because it's still pretty early, but now we know for sure those are social smiles! It's such a beautiful sight. You really light up and seem so happy. You also have really great head control and seem eager to look around. I can't wait to see more of your personality and skills emerge!

Overall, we're just so happy to have you here, little boy. You are calm, alert, and certainly a joy to snuggle. Every day with you has been absolutely wonderful, and I'm already excited for month two! We love you, Declan!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Four Weeks, Catching Up

In an admittedly rushed attempt to catch up on everything around here, my plan is to throw up a few quick posts over the rest of this week to get us all back on track, and then hopefully I'll find a more normal posting pattern as the months go on. For now, enjoy lots of photos in no particular order!

Declan has been part of our family for almost FOUR WEEKS already (hopefully I'll manage to do monthly posts like I did for Marshall!), and we've had so much fun getting to know him. So far, he is a total snoozer, especially during the day, but he is starting to wake up a little. When he does open up those beautiful eyes, he seems quite alert and eager to see what's around him. 

(He's already grown out of this outfit.)

Terry is taking a course right now for work, and one of the classes recently was on a Saturday, so Jenn came to help out for the morning (and brought Justin and toddler Monroe, too!). It was so fun hanging out with them, and a relief to me having other adults around for backup/moral support. I have NO idea how people do the two-kid thing with only one adult in the house! 

Right now, our weekday routine looks like this: Terry leaves for work by 6:30 and does as much as he can ahead of time to help me out, such as cooking breakfast and leaving it on the stove or getting Marshall changed for the day if he's awake. By then I'm usually up, feeding Declan, and starting the rest of the morning routine while we wish Daddy a good day. (Lately, since it's darker in the morning, Marshall says, in a very serious tone of voice, "Daddy, don't forget it's dark outside.") Then I get the boys fed and ready and out the door, and Declan and I take Marshall to day care. Here's where I say: THANK GOODNESS I have day care. It's wonderful to know that Marshall gets to keep his routine and continue going to school (which he loves) with people who care about him while I get to come home and focus on Declan.

(Watching the rain with his friend!)

I thought for a hot minute that I might want to stay home with both boys, but I'm learning that those days would result in tons of stress for me, no fun for Marshall, and no attention for Declan. I truly admire and respect all my friends and family members who have managed to juggle a toddler and newborn--TEACH ME YOUR WAYS! I know it will get easier eventually, but right now I'm finding myself wondering if we really do pay enough for day care. :-) Perhaps they need a bonus?

I spend all day with Declan, Mr. Sleepyhead, and we find a mix of activities--snuggling on the couch, tidying up the house, running errands, eating a LOT (both of us). Then, Terry picks up Marshall at the end of the day and we're all back home by 5 pm or so. We do our best to spend some quality time as a family (most successful evenings so far are those we spend out of the house, maybe going for a walk or going out to dinner--there's something about a change of scenery and not being in a place where Terry and I feel we need to clean or do chores) before bath and bedtime.

Making pumpkin fluff with my big boy!

Marshall loves to read to Declan!

We're still in the haze of newborn sleeplessness. While Declan sleeps great during the day, he still eats every two hours at night, so Terry and I are working together to get through these early months while still appreciating the snuggly newborn we've been blessed to have join our family.
(He looks so tiny here! He's already way bigger than this!)

(It's not all adorable--although that face is still pretty cute.)

Out to dinner on a Friday night!

We recently joined some friends at a baby shower for Heidi and Edward, who welcomed their second baby, Grayson, about three weeks after Declan came along. (Fun fact: Kayla is exactly three weeks and two days older than Marshall, and now Declan is exactly three weeks and two days older than Grayson!) Somehow I missed a photo with Heidi, but here's one of me and Katie!
(Sorry, Declan)

Marshall was mostly focused on the ice cream. :-)

Congratulations to Heidi and Edward (and big sister Kayla!) on the new addition. He is adorable and we can't wait to meet him!

Watching Marshall become a big brother has been a truly incredible experience. He didn't express much interest in the idea of a baby before Declan was born, but since the little one's arrival we've seen such a fun side of Marshall--wanting to hold Declan's hand, helping Declan play with his toys, reading to Declan, bringing diapers or burp cloths or blankets as needed (or, sometimes, not needed), yelling, "It's okay, Declan!" when Declan cries, asking lots of questions about how Declan eats or sleeps or the noises he makes. It's a blast, even in the midst of the exhaustion. Sometimes I get a little nervous about Marshall getting too close (coughing on Declan, spreading daycare germs to a newborn, being too rough or excited around him and falling on him, etc.), but I hope I'll relax as time goes on. It's going to be so fun when they can really play together!

With all the chaos of a newborn, we weren't sure how Halloween would go, but we found time to visit a local pumpkin patch! More on that in a Halloween post, but this kid loved it!

Honestly, having a toddler and newborn is HARD. I feel like I'm pulled in 20 directions and can't ever be enough for everyone. Terry is a phenomenal dad and husband, and I am so grateful to have such a strong, generous, helpful partner. Still, there are times when Declan needs to eat and Marshall only wants Mommy to play with him, and my mom-guilt goes through the roof. We're trying to find ways to balance it all.

The other day, I took Marshall out to breakfast, just the two of us, to spend some quality time together. It was nice to be reminded of his "normal" personality, not the one who has tantrums every hour!

Bonus: It was raining, so we got to use our umbrellas!

Going for walks as a family helps because Declan snoozes in the carrier while Marshall gets more of our attention, but he also needs to learn how to be patient and share our attention, and that part is definitely a work in progress.

 As for eating, everything has been a mix of freezer meals (thanks to my mom!), eating out (we've been lucky enough to receive several gift cards from friends and family to help us out on those crazy days when dinner is the last thing on our minds until 5 pm), and even cooking at home. Last night I whipped up this turkey chili 

while Declan took a nap, and last week I pulled out a steak from the freezer to make an autumn salad of steak, greens, goat cheese, roasted butternut squash and Brussels sprouts, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and balsamic vinegar. YUM.

I've made a few batches of this sardine salad (SO GOOD),
(Those chips are called Red Hot Blues from Garden of Eatin, and I had read about them but not tried them until last week. Now I am obsessed and can't wait to buy more. They're like healthy Doritos!)

and we have had a few meal deliveries from friends, too. Yesterday I planned out a super healthy week of meals and then spent $113 at Trader Joe's, so I guess we're hoping to get back into a routine of eating healthy around here.

Just for fun:

And finally, my parents visited last week, which is always a busy, fun week for us all. Marshall LOVED getting so much attention from PopPop and JanJan, I loved having them here to help with tons of chores, cleaning, and cooking, and Declan enjoyed having some new snuggle buddies.

And with that, Declan has decided my time is up. Off to change a diaper, feed, and snuggle!