Thursday, February 28, 2013


I've been writing on random topics lately, but not so much about our days.  Honestly, our day-to-day probably looks quite boring since we work from home and then Eliot naps in the afternoon.  Sometimes it feels like we can't get out for an adventure until after 4:00 pm, and then I need to be figuring out dinner, so we just don't leave the house all day.  (Not complaining, just saying).

We've made more of an effort, though, to get out the door in the mornings for some fun or to shift things around (like letting Eliot nap in the car instead on warmer days knowing his grumpiness to follow will be worth the fun.  Right?  Right?).  I've lost a little bit of pride and am OK with getting myself to look presentable in the mornings without a shower in the interest of getting out.

We tried taking Eliot to the library on colder days, which worked for a while.  He enjoyed doing allll of the puzzles a few times.  He played with some toys.  He is of course interested in the books, but he grabs too many, opens each one, and runs back for more.  Good thing Chris used to work in a library and is great at returning books to the proper shelf quickly.

I think we're doing all right with the whole "big boy bed" transition away from co-sleeping.  I've been consistent and encouraging independence yet not letting it stress us all out.  It's been a month, I think, and Eliot generally starts out in his bed and then crawls in our bed in the morning.  Some nights are easier than others.  Sometimes I see progress; sometimes we take a step back.  I'm just going to keep on with the consistency.

However, Eliot did get sick and wiggle his way back into our bed for a few nights.  He just had a runny nose and then all of the sudden at night he started up with that croup-sounding cough!  Nooo!  He had croup when he was about 10 months old and it was horrible.  I don't know for sure if this was croup, but it sounded like it....  Fortunately, he is older and bigger and has larger vocal cords, so it wasn't as bad and mostly lasted just that night.  However, for that night, he stayed up until 4:00 am and then was awake for the day around 8:00 am (and I got up at 6:00 am), which was not fun.  Ever since that night, he just has a runny nose, seems fine, and coughed maybe twice.  I'm so thankful he feels better!

On the decently warm days (like 55 degrees and sunny), we have gone to the beach twice after Eliot's nap.  We play in the sand, chase seagulls, flirt with the waves, collect shells, play on the playground, and so on.  No one has gotten too wet--yet.  Yesterday evening, we saw a couple of dolphins, which really got Eliot stoked.  He loves sea creatures, especially dolphins, sharks, seals, and rays.  We usually stay about an hour and a half before it is just too windy and the sun is setting.  Eliot is never ready to leave, and I'm really looking forward to it warming up when we can spend hours there, have a picnic, and play.  Not to mention in the summer when we can actually get in the water.

Eliot has been showing a BIG interest in potty training.  I'll probably write more on that later....  I wasn't planning to push it at all and figured we might wait until two and a half or even closer to three.  That might seem rather late to some, but I will have a newborn when he is two and a half, so I thought throwing potty training in the mix might be impossible.  However, he is asking to use the potty and trying to take his pants off....  I'm not sure that he understands how to control it yet, but this could be a good time to start talking about the potty and maybe try in a couple of months (or earlier?).  I'll see how it goes.  The thing is that when I saw that he was getting ready, I was really excited.  But now that I am facing it, I'm nervous and not looking forward to it because I just don't know how it is going to go.  One day at a time!  That's how these things always are.

Life isn't all play, though.  I just choose not to write about work (who wants to read about work?).  These little adventures don't come daily and are placed between early mornings, typing with one hand while Eliot holds my other, working while Eliot builds train tracks, and late nights.  I really love my job and can't believe that I have the chance to work from home while watching my little boy (soon to be boys!) grow up.  So few moms get to both have a career and be at home with their babies at the same time.  I love it.

This weekend, we're heading to northern Virginia to visit Chris's parents.  I think Eliot's first metro ride and trip to DC are in store if it isn't too cold on Saturday.  Natural History Museum, here we come!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

On Photography

I am obsessed with documenting everything.  It is so important to me.  When Chris and I first got married, we bought our first DSLR camera together.  It felt scary and maybe reckless even since we didn't have a lot of money.  However, we didn't want to miss all those important moments of our early marriage.

Taking photographs turned into our favorite hobby.  If we felt like buying something, instead we would go for a walk and take photos.  We took photos of everything.  Each other, our dog, our food, our books, the grass, the trees, the sky, the water, interesting buildings downtown....  When I had new photos to look through, I felt rich.

When Eliot arrived, our focus changed.  Fewer photos of how interesting the cobblestone looks all worn down.  More photos of that beautiful baby boy.  It felt silly taking a photo of just me or just Chris.  Eliot was in every photo.  I took pictures of him doing everything.

As time went on, I took less photos.  Still a lot and probably more than other people, but less.  I had less time to edit.  Even if Eliot were doing something cute, I allowed myself to soak up the moment and not go after the camera.  Plus, I could frequently just take a picture on Instagram.  It's not the same, but it's something, right?

Lately, I have felt guilty about the lack of photos I have been taking.  Of my son, of my family, of myself.  I have so few photos of myself pregnant with Jack.  I try to remind myself that it has been cold, dreary, and busy lately.  We haven't gone off to do much "fun".  We haven't gone on photography walks or trips to the park.  It is winter afterall.  I should focus on taking more pictures at home too, but I know I will take more when we get start getting outdoors this spring.

 At the same time, it's the little moments that are really the big ones.  Eliot "cooking" soup alongside of me.  Putting puzzles together.  Cuddling with the rabbit.  There are times that I don't feel like dealing with the difficult lighting in our house--I need to grab the stinkin' flash or learn how to work with what I have.  I don't feel pretty enough to be in pictures--in the future when I flip through the pages of our photos, I won't care how I looked and I am my biggest critic anyway.

Then the other day, we had work to do but it was warm.  And we had just enough time to run to the beach and see how Eliot enjoyed the sand.  He loved it.  Loved it.  Before, he wasn't so sure about the waves at the beginning of last summer, but he is all about it now.  I managed some great shots.  I felt rich again, just like I did when we first starting taking pictures five years ago.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Summer Plans

Summer is my favorite season.  I need warmth and time outside.  When Chris and I first started dating, he revealed that his favorite season was fall.  What?  I told him he was crazy.  He's the one always talking about the majesty of palm trees.  Fall is the sign that summer is ending and there will be no more swimming through the long, cold winter.  Every year, he concedes that I am right when we are stuck in winter with no end in sight.

On this rainy, winter morning, I'm making my summer plans.  I am so looking forward to this summer.  We'll have beach trips at the beginning of the summer.  Baby Jack will be born at the beginning of July.  We can go to the water park if we feel up to it.  And Chris is planning to open the pool early in April.

I even loved summer in Lynchburg without an ocean in sight and in a house without ac (we had three window units, which kept us comfortable enough, but the house was usually just under 80 degrees).

 I'm not so silly as to think that I'll be swimming in April as soon as the pool opens....  I'm picky when it comes to water temperatures.  I need it at least 80 degrees, so I won't be swimming until June probably.  And then I won't be swimming much after Jack is born.  However, it will still be nice to simply look at the water and dangle my feet in--and I really love watching Eliot and Chris play in the pool together.  I just hope it isn't too much of a fight keeping Eliot and our dachshunds out of the pool when they aren't allowed in--fortunately, we have a fence around it!
This is my parents' pool.  I haven't even seen mine in action!

The other day, I was shopping with my friend Kimmy for her soon-to-be-born nephew's shower present.  I noticed a pair of newborn swim trunks.  It is so hard to find newborn swim trunks!  Even though I've been trying to NOT buy much for Jack too early, I couldn't help myself.  And the fun thing is that Chris has a pair with a similar pattern, just slightly different colors.  And we all know Chris loves to match his boys.

To be honest, I have been worried that I wouldn't be able to participate in the fun this summer since I'd be (very) pregnant and then have a newborn, but I'm keeping in mind that Chris is eager to turn our backyard into a tropical oasis.  He has palm tree plans and wants to buy patio furniture.  We've been using plastic white chairs that belonged to my parents for six years now and then we've been using a glass table that the previous owner of our first house left three years ago.  I am encouraging him, though, that we don't have to make the yard perfect in our first year here.  The yard already has amazing landscaping.  However, we will be acquiring a hammock.  And I will be curling up in that hammock after I have Jack.  And Jack and I will not be moving for the rest of the summer except to maybe get re-fills of my non-alcoholic pina coladas--actually, I'll just have Chris bring the re-fills to me.  Until then, we'll just have to keep on dreaming and paying the ocean short visits when it isn't freezing.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Just a Few Things

Just a few things on my heart.

.Whether he likes it or not, Chris generally hears all about my dreams each morning.  Usually, they are strange nightmares and Chris asks where in the world I come up with this stuff (I don't know!).  When Eliot wakes up, he sleepily mutters a few words, and I like to think that he is telling me about his dreams.  Today, it was "Alligator.  Oh no!  Alligator."  I hate to think that he is having nightmares too about an alligator, but he doesn't seem bothered.

.We have settled on a new bedtime routine.  Eliot doesn't calm down when he is tired--he goes more crazy and acts hyper, but he is quite clumsy and then whines a lot.  However, he won't sleep either.  He enters this mode about two hours before bedtime, so instead of running around the house with him, I've started watching a kid's movie (his choice) in bed with him around 8:00 pm.  Chris can get some quiet time to himself; I can generally do simple work like grading or light researching (no heavy writing); Eliot is content.  I don't even have to finish the movie.  At 9:00 pm, it's big boy bed time, and he doesn't even protest me turning the movie off much.

.Lately, Eliot has started asking, "Take pictures?"  He loves to take my phone around the house and snap little photos.  It is funny to see the world through his perspective.  And he's actually pretty good at it.  I hope to encourage him to pursue art in all forms as he grows older.  Art is what makes us human.  He is so interested in many modes of expression, like drawing, photography, and trying to make music with his harmonica and piano.

.This morning, Eliot brought two cars and asked, "Baby Jack?"  I thought he was saying "baby that" for a moment until I saw the cars.  He wanted to play cars on my tummy again.  I know I've written about this so many times, but I think it is the sweetest thing and love that he does it unprompted.  The only thing is that I would prefer he not demand to put the cars on my bare tummy.  Can't they just drive on my shirtttt?

.I'm now at 21 weeks, which means 19 remain.  That sounds like a lot.  And maybe it is.  I'm trying to savor this time, though, because the second trimester is my favorite.  I'm so excited to meet our Jack and start making memories as a family of four (wow!).  I can't wait to take his photographs.  Is that something most moms look forward to as in one of the top things they most look forward to?  Well, that is one of the many things I am dreaming of.  I don't think I have many "real" photos of me pregnant (just Instagram), so I need to get on that.  I had been waiting until I was showing more.  We're there now!  Maybe we'll find a sunny day and take some photos soon.  Since this very well might be my last pregnancy, I am trying to hold on to every second.

.It is hard to find the right schedule for digging deep into the Bible and journaling my prayers.  I generally wake up two hours before everyone else, but Eliot holds me tight (he crawls in bed with us each morning).  And I can't write with a pen in Eliot's sight--he demands to draw with it and hunts me down if I go in another room.  So, I downloaded a devotional app for my phone, which I have been reading each morning.  Chris has been reading this book below about the early church and reporting all of the interesting facts to me.  There is always more to give to God, but I am trying and I feel like beginning my morning in the Word (no matter how lightly) is a good start.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dressing a Boy Like Myself

Everyone always talks about how girls are so much more fun to dress.  And I do feel a little grumbly when clothes shopping for my boys because the girls' section is so much larger at most stores.  However, I have a lot of fun dressing Eliot and picking out clothes for Jack too (even though I have only bought him a couple of things).

And then I realized something....  I am dressing Eliot in clothes that I would have worn in high school.  That might sound kind of odd coming from a girl, but in high school, I had trouble finding clothes to fit, so most of my favorite clothes came from the little boys' section at thrift stores.  It was my wear-a-bunch-of-bracelets, graphic and vintage tee-shirt, studded belt, punk phase.  For fun, I thought I'd compare myself in high school (mostly ages 15 and 16) to clothes I have picked out for Eliot.

Most of these photos of highschool Katie were taken by me, so they're not the most flattering.  I was always the one among our friends with the camera, so if I wanted a photo of myself, I usually was pulling a "Myspace".

Here is Eliot in your typical little boy's tee shirt with white and blue stripes.  So cute.  Think I can pull it off?  I sure tried.

Eliot in a fancy blue plaid button-down.  And on mom?  I'm pretty sure mine was not from the girl's section.

Eliot is wearing a navy and red "rugby" sweater.  I had a polo that matched.  It was my absolute favorite shirt for a long time.

I loved this polo on Eliot last summer.  I would have killedddd for a find like that in a thrift store.  Instead I wore these two little boy polos--you know, before it was "cool" to wear two collared shirts at once.

I had more examples, but I am kind of embarrassing myself.  Fortunately, my clothes selection has grown and I shop at Target and H&M.  And I must say, I think Eliot looks a lot better in boy clothes than I did.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

His Name

Jack, a variation of John, means God is gracious.
p.s. I painted that whale and also another one for Eliot's room!  This is the second water color I've done (since childhood, I mean) and I'm hoping I can get back to making art.

Christopher and I had agreed on our baby boy's name a while ago, but we wanted to wait to announce it when we knew for sure that it was final.  We also hoped to agree on a middle name so we could present his full name, but we're letting that simmer.

Boy names are so easy to come up with for me.  I thought of Jack, Ezra, Harper, Levi (which is also a friend's son's name), Quentin, Emerson, Bransen....  The list goes on and on forever.  So many good names that sound great but aren't too quirky.

I was hesitant to settle on Jack at first.  If you combine all of the Jacks and Jacksons (along with the various spellings of Jackson), Jack is rather high on the popularity list.  However, since Chris spent a year researching and writing his 120-page Master's thesis on Jack Kerouac, I think we have some extra leverage to use his name.  (As a side note, we are nottt naming our son AFTER Kerouac.  While he was an amazing writer and thinker, I certainly hope that my son will not follow in Kerouac's footsteps.  He lived a destructive lifestyle and died at 47 of internal bleeding due to alcoholism).

When we were thinking of names for Eliot, we also considered Jack.  It was down to those two.  Sometimes I would let out a sigh and hope for the chance to use Jack again, but Eliot is totally an Eliot.  It just felt right.  So when we found out we were having a baby boy again, I knew he'd be a Jack.  The more names we tossed around, the more we came back to Jack.  And when we had said it so frequently that Eliot started saying "Baby Jack" when playing cars on my tummy, well, we knew it was pretty much final.

As for a middle name, I have suggested Jack Harper, but Chris prefers to use a family name, which is fine and I understand.  With Eliot, his middle name was easy.  Thomas is Chris's grandmother's maiden name and also went along great with Eliot--it's the shared "T" sound.  With Jack, it hasn't been so easy.  There aren't any family names we really like that go along.  We have an idea, but I'll probably just wait until Jack is born to announce it.  I mean, I'm sure no one cares about the middle name as much as his first name.

So, if I refer to Jack from now on, you'll know who I'm talking about.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Covering His Eyes: The Time Eliot Tried to Shoot Me

When Eliot was born, I felt this intense pressure to mold him into a loving, confident, compassionate, intelligent, happy boy.  We spent hours reading poetry to him as an infant.  I always felt extra guilty if Chris and I argued around him.  I never wanted to hurt his heart by losing my patience with him.  I worried about the media having a negative influence on him and his understanding of himself.

I make it a point not to lose my cool and yell at him.  I'm not saying I don't discipline him, but my mantra is "calm and firm" when he is doing something bad.  And I try to reserve raising my voice for when he or someone is in danger of getting hurt (the hot stove, pulling on the dogs too much, or things like that).  I wanted my "mom voice" to get his attention more.  I want my words to build him up because there are enough other voices out there to tear him down throughout life.

So, when I saw him making his hands talk to each other saying, "Shut up!  Shut up!  Bad, bad, bad!" I was appalled and heart-broken.  I never speak to him in this way.  Where did he pick it up?  Then I realized that I have said these words in front of him, just not at him.  When the dogs are extra yappy, I am guilty of telling them to shut up.  (OK, before I sound like the worst dog mom ever, I usually say "shut it" or "quit your yappin'" to be silly and say "shut up" when Dexter starts growling at Abed-nego over food or space on the couch, which I think is more serious.  I mostly only say "shut up" when I've been severely pushed to my limits).  When the dogs eat Eliot's toys or pee on the floor, I am guilty of calling them bad, bad, bad.  The thing is that my dogs really only respond to the wagging of a finger and a very stern word.  I hate it, but I have to use a mean voice with them to get them to stop whatever bad thing they are doing.  However, I am exposing Eliot to more negative words than I thought--something I took extreme measures to avoid.

I want to build up Eliot's confidence and self-image.  I don't want the media to be telling him who he should be or what material things he should want to be happy.  I can try to shield Eliot from hearing these messages, but there's only but so much I can do.  When it comes to TV, we mostly just watch kids' shows and sports.  Watching Teen Mom was a guilty pleasure for me (you know Jenelle is funny in such a sad way), but then there was just too much yelling and upset babies.  It didn't feel right with Eliot around.  So, I stopped watching it.  We used to like watching shows like Dexter and Madmen (well, I never really liked those shows, but Chris did); however, we just didn't feel comfortable watching them with Eliot around as he grew more aware.  I kind of wanted to avoid getting him toy guns....  There's so much violence in this world as it is that I didn't want to contribute to turning it into a game. Well, the other day, he brought a train track to me, flipped it around, and pretended to shoot me with it as if it were a gun.  No matter what I do, he will exposed to the world around us.  I can't avoid it all the way.

I feel helpless.  I guess this is why some people turn to homeschooling--they want to be in control as much as possible.  Eliot (and our baby boy on the way) is so incredibly precious to me.  I want to be intentional in what he is exposed to and to protect him from all the bad and pain in the world.  While I can try, the important part isn't necessarily the shielding (or the censoring?) but perhaps helping him to form his own filter and lens through which he views the world.  This isn't as simple as blocking everything aside from PBS and Nick Jr. from the tv.  This takes work--a lifetime of work--and communication.  I think I will start trying to read more of the Bible to help form that lens, his understanding of this fallen world, the need for salvation, and a knowledge of who he is in Christ.  I hope I can help our sons to make sense of the world, even if I don't understand it myself.

Friday, February 15, 2013

20 Weeks

I have so been looking forward to saying that I am half-way through this pregnancy that it feels like I should have been at 20 weeks a while ago!  After the dust of the first trimester settles, I really do enjoy being pregnant.  Sure, picking out clothes becomes more of a challenge, but I loved being pregnant with Eliot and also am thankful to experience carrying this baby as well.
I'm not thrilled with myself in this photo, but I thought Eliot was funny.

I had my 20-week appointment on Tuesday.  They said I gained five pounds since last month, but I think they need to check their math.  I weighed 106 on Tuesday and 103 at the previous appointment.  That is looking more like three pounds to me, but they were fine with it, so whatever.  Anyway, we also had an ultrasound!  Everything looks great and the lady double-confirmed that Babe is definitely a boy.  I was a little worried that I'd feel silly for getting the extra ultrasound at 18 weeks since we'd just find out two weeks later, but I'm so glad we did.  Prenatal imaging is more of a family-friendly place and really concentrated on showing us the baby while the doctor's office ultrasound was more of a medical procedure (which is to be expected).  Also, Babe's legs were crossed at the 20-week ultrasound, so she was only able to get a glimpse.  Not to mention that we have a video from our 18-week ultrasound and a 3D image.  So, yeah, I don't regret it at all.

At my doctor's appointment, the nurse made it a point to tell me that since I am half-way, it is pretty much downhill from here since the second half of pregnancy is harder than the first.  What?  Way to be encouraging.  Who says stuff like that?  But I'm not worried because, uh, I've done this before, and I'm pretty sure the first 15 weeks of being sick and starving and unable to eat were a bit worse than what is to come.  I do know I'll continue to grow more uncomfortable, but I'd say it's just the last month that is rather difficult (the false alarms, everyone saying "any day now" when you really have weeks left, the anxiety about giving birth, the discomfort, the contractions that don't go anywhere,  the heartburn, how painful those baby kicks grow...  I know it gets rough--I remember--but I think I prefer the second half of pregnancy).  Sorry for the rant.  I just hate it when people (especially those who are supposed to be supportive) are so unhelpfully negative.  Of course, this was after the nurse did a double-take when I approached her after she called my name and then looked puzzled while looking up my information.  "You're 26?"  Um, yes.  She likely thought I was a teen mom--and what if I were?

I'm feeling pretty OK these days.  Headaches are lessening....  My food aversions are mostly gone and my energy level is good enough.  I am back to cleaning a lot and cooking, which I hated to take a break from in the beginning--I was just so tired before and hated all food.  About a week ago, I was having some intense pains, but I am certain I was just growing.  I'm also getting a twinge of heartburn every night lately no matter what I eat.

The baby is moving more and more.  Chris has been able to feel the baby move, which makes me so happy.  And Babe weighed 11 ounces at our appointment.  Everything is right on track!

Since finding out the gender, I feel like we should get going with everything baby-wise.  Then I try to remind myself that we have so much time left.  It is crazy that we just announced our pregnancy eight weeks ago.  Chris and my mom (and Eliot) painted both the baby's room and Eliot's room a blue-ish grey.  The room will be all set before we know it!  By the way, the nursery nooo longer smells like dog, which is awesome.  We did have to baby gate it off because Eliot and the dogs were having too much fun.  The dogs wanted to eat things and Eliot wanted to draw on the walls.  And Eliot loved playing with the new double stroller so much that he cracked some of the molding around the closet door!  Yikes!  We'll make it presentable somehow, but Eliot and the dogs are banished for now.

Eliot has really grown to understand the baby more, I think.  Maybe it is because I am showing more or maybe we have been talking about the baby more to him since we know it is a boy.  He likes to play with cars on my tummy.  He puts his hand on my tummy and says, "Baby brother."  And today he was hugging and kissing my belly.  Eliot loves all things "baby"--like, he prefers looking at the baby turtles at the aquarium opposed to the adult turtles--so I'm hoping we'll have as smooth of an adjustment as possible.
So, everything is continuing to go well and I am so thankful for that.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dear Eliot: Two Years, One Month

Dear Eliot,

There are so many details that I feel like I left out of your letter last month.  There are so many funny, quirky things that you are doing and saying lately.

You're a sweet boy and almost always say "thank you" when we give you something.  A trick that is especially cute is when a waiter brings us drinks or our food.  You always say "thank youuuu" in this adorable voice.  I love it!  You have started saying please when you ask for things, which helps calm down your frantic toddler demands and makes you look really well-mannered too.  And it usually works to help you get what you want.  Also, you say "bless you" when someone sneezes.  Of course, afterward, you start fake sneezing.

You're very considerate too.  When the oven is on, we warn you that it is hot.  You understand and keep your distance.  We one of us goes to put something in or take something out of the oven, though, you point and yell in a very concerned voice, "Hot, dada!!!  Hot!"  You are quite worried that we're going to burn ourselves.  Thanks, Eliot.

One of your favorite things in the world is a trusty flashlight.  You love to take flashlights around the house, explore dark closets, and look under furniture.  Here's the kicker:  your dog, Dexter, is obsessed with light, so he follows you everywhere chasing that light.  You think it is hilarious--I think you're going to give the dog a heart attack one day.

I don't know what it is about red solo cups, but you have to have one with all of your drinks.  One day, we put your sippy cup inside of a red plastic cup as a joke.  Ever since, you have demanded one with your drinks.  "My cup!" you yell as if you are offended that we forgot.

Your love for art continues to grow.  You love to color, draw, paint, and play music.  If you find a pen, you must draw.  And everyone must draw with you.  We have fun drawing big scenes together.  The funniest thing is that you try to draw sharks, gasp, and yell, "Oh no!  Shark!"  You expect us to pretend to be scared with you.  You really seem to be left-handed....  You're really good at playing the harmonica and also play piano.  The other night, you were playing on the piano while singing, "Daddy, Dexter!" over and over.  I think you'll grow into a creative boy.

You love doing everything we do, especially the things your dad does.  You copy his every move.  We were eating once and your dad dropped his fork.  You immediately threw your fork on the ground and looked to him for approval.

This month, we learned that your growing sibling is a baby boy!  I can't imagine a more beautiful gift to give you than a brother close in age--not that I have the power to decide these things.  I am just so excited for you two to grow up together.  I think you will make an amazing big brother.  You have helped with so much with the baby already.  You helped us put his crib together and paint his room. 
And you love playing with the baby too.  You play cars on my tummy while saying, "Baby brother!"  One night, I was cleaning the kitchen when you brought all of the baby and receiving blankets out of your dresser one by one.  You said, "babyyyy" and wrapped each one around my tummy.

Earlier this month, we had our first (and probably last) snow of the season, which was your second snow.  You loved it!  You would have stayed out there shivering all day with your sled.  It's a good thing you had your dada to play with you because I was not braving the cold for too long.

Eliot, I think you are the prettiest little boy.  You're so special to us.  You make us laugh every day.  You push us to grow in our patience and communication every day.  And I think every day about how you are so incredibly handsome.  You make me proud, Baby.  It's been two years--and it keeps getting better.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Robinson Vegan Week

Chris suggested that we have a vegan week.  We eat mostly vegetarian at home aside from holidays and I know eventually we'd like to do more vegan meals for health reasons.  Cholesterol issues run in my family, and I have already had high cholesterol at points--hopefully not anymore!  One clear way to fight cholesterol issues is to cut down on dairy.  I don't do eat many eggs.  I only have milk when I cook with it (I prefer almond milk).  My biggest weakness is cheese.  Cheese makes everything better.

Anyway, here's a small menu for the next few days.  Not quite a full week, but here's what I'm planning for so far.

lentil curry soup over jasmine rice
veggie-stuffed portobello mushrooms; blackbean-mango cous-cous
perogies; asparagus; broccoli-avocado brown rice (with a drizzle of soy sauce)
blackbean soup; chips and guacamole
bleackbean-lentil sloppy Joes; spinach salad; baked fries
veggie pigs in a blanket; roasted red pepper humus and pita chips

If you want to follow along with our vegan week, I'll be posting more on my food tumblr.

Our first night was last night.  I've posted this lentil curry soup a bajillion times on instagram.
Sorry, friends.  It's one of our favorite meals.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


That moment when you realize that you bought new eyeliner on Monday, but it is now Thursday late afternoon and haven't used it yet because you haven't gone anywhere....

I was sitting on the couch after my morning run-arounds (feeding the boy, feeding the animals, picking up extra toys, sweeping, putting away dishes, feeding myself...) when Chris asked if I felt OK.  I mean, I am pretty tired because Eliot was awake from 2:00 am til 5:00 am trying to convince us to go play with the cat, but I feel OK.  Achy, but OK.  Then I realized that I just have been feeling kinda down.  And that is because I haven't been leaving the house and barely even stepping outside at all this week.  On Monday, we went to the grocery store and HomeDepot, but that has been it.  And I don't even remember what happened this past weekend.

I've had plans, of course.  Every day, my goal has been to go to the grocery store, write, and grade.  I do my work, but don't get to the grocery store.  So, I sent Chris today during Eliot's nap.  And maybe I'll get around to getting OUT and doing something FUN (even just a walk) after Eliot wakes up.

I haven't updated much because every time I go to write on here, my brain says, "No one wants to read about that...."  Yeah, it's been that kind of week.  And I'm not trying to throw a pity party, just saying I have been quiet and boring lately.  Eliot and I have just done A LOT of drawing.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Shifting Gears: Getting Ready for Boy #2 Instead of a Girl

When we had our ultrasound and I saw that it was a boy, my immediate thought was, "It's a boy!  It's not a girl."

I don't mean to sound disappointed--I'm not.  I told Chris that I was thinking like a Structuralist.  I was creating a definition with binaries.  The opposite defines the other.  Black aids the definition of white.  Nothing defines everything.  Cold defines hot.  Post-structuralists would go on to say that truth is inaccessible through binaries because while there is black and white, there is also grey.

I miss literary theory....

Moving on...

Ultrasounds are great for daddies because they get to see the reality of the baby.  Chris has been excited about our baby, of course, but our 12-week ultrasound made it more real since he hasn't felt the morning sickness or strange, violent hunger.  A few weeks later when I felt flutters, Chris couldn't feel that reality, just hear reports of it.  But, when he saw the 18-week ultrasound and learned that he'd be having a son, I think it helped him see the baby even more as an individual--we can say "he" instead of "it".  And now we refer to Baby by his name (which I will reveal later when we have a middle name nailed down).

For me, I've been able to feel the changes in my body all along as an indication of the changes that will come to our family, but what helps me to comprehend our new baby boy's gender is getting ready.  Or nesting.  Or organizing.  Whatever you want to call it, preparing our home, assembling baby gear, and starting a registry (even though we need very little) is how I sit back and say, "Wow.  Our baby BOY will be here in the summer."
Last weekend, I steam cleaned our boy's carpets.  It still smells a little when the sun is shining through the windows (I guess I didn't use enough soap?), so I'm going to try the baking soda trick.  This weekend, I went through Eliot's old clothes to find that we have about four newborn short-sleeved onesies (that Eliot grew out of in a week...) and two 0-3 month short-sleeved onesies.  The rest are sleepers since Eliot was born in the winter.  Chris said I could order a few summer outfits and then I'll pick up a couple packs of onesies, and we should be set.  I know this seems early, and Chris prefers to wait to buy things when we still have five months left, but it really helps me "get it".  And I'm glad Chris has just shrugged and been like, "sure," when I point out the summer-y rompers that I've picked out for our boy despite his nature to wait wait wait and be sure that is what we want and the right deal.  By the way, I'm resisting the urge to make a day trip to Williamsburg for the Carter's outlet.  Maybe in the spring.  I mean, Chris has been saying he wanted to go to Williamsburg since the fall. And the good news is that Babe should be OK for fall and the following spring since he will just wear Eliot's spring clothes in the fall and then Eliot's fall clothes in the spring (if that makes sense).  Opposite seasons line up about half-way if you aren't too picky about seasonal colors.

When Chris and I talked of having Eliot, I always imagined we'd have a boy and we did.  When we talked of a second, I imagined we'd have another boy--I always saw us with two boys--but figured it might have been because I didn't know what it was like to have a girl.  Then when I got pregnant with our second (well, third if you count our miscarriage), I tried to prepare myself for the possibility of having a girl and everyone said girl and my symptoms said girl and my mind thought girl so much that I thought it had to be.  I think maybe I wanted to know which this baby was so badly that I clung to it.  So when I saw a boy inside of me, I was surprised and thrilled.  (As a side note, I accidentally said "he" during our 12-week ultrasound and felt guilty for WEEKS since we didn't know.  I think I'm extra sensitive to this whole not offending when it comes to gender).  Anyway, after saying, "I can't stop puking so it's gotta be a girl!" for months, it took a moment to shift gears.  And I gotta say, I think Eliot and his brother will have so much fun together.  And I'm looking forward to not arguing over whether we'll watch Cars or a princess movie--instead it'll probably be arguing about Cars or Thomas, but at least they're more similar.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Transition from Co-sleeping

I have written before about why we decided to co-sleep and also our sleep battles in attempts to transition Eliot out of our bed.

Did I mention that we've been transitioning Eliot to his "big boy" bed again?

After a year and nine months of co-sleeping, we transitioned him to his toddler mattress on our floor, which went OK.  At the end of a week and a half, he would fall asleep in our bed, be moved over to his bed, and then we'd allow him back in our bed the second time he got up (the first time, I'd lay him back down).

After a little while, though, he got a terrible virus.  He had to sleep elevated, which meant I had to hold him all night.

And then we were getting closer to selling our home.  We were having at least a showing every other day (usually every day).  Do you know how hard it is to get a mattress BACK ON a toddler bed without messing up the bed skirt?  It's frustrating, especially when you're trying to keep the whole house clean for showings all the time.  Arranging his floor bed set-up was kind of complicated with floor mats, lots of pillows, blankets, and so on.  I knew when we moved, I'd have to do it all over again since we'd be in a new place, so we let him back in bed with us for a few months.

So, after we got settled into our new house, we bought Eliot a twin-sized mattress.  That thing is comfyyy!  I want to sleep on it all the time by myself!  We've been working on the transition for about two weeks (or three? I can't remember!), and it honestly is going a TON smoother than last time.

Before, there were tears.  A lot of tears.  And he would NOT go to sleep in his own mattress even if I lay with him.  He had to be in our bed to get to sleep at first, and he is a light sleeper, so moving him didn't always work.

Maybe last time he just wasn't quite ready.  Maybe he understand more now.  Maybe he likes his larger bed.  I don't know, but this is how we have been doing it.

We made a big deal about picking out the mattress and getting sheets.  Eliot doesn't have a favorite blanket or stuffed animal because I am his stuffed animal.  Seriously.  He cuddles my arm all night.  So, I tried to find something similar to stand in for me.  He has a crocodile from the aquarium....  That is kind of long like an arm.  Also, he loves cars, so he has a Lightening McQueen pillow.

When it is bedtime, I tell him to go night-night.  Sometimes he goes for the big boy bed; other times he tries to get in our bed, but I correct him and he lays down.  We cuddle like usual until he falls asleep.  He is a horrible sleeper and it takes forever for him to get in a deep sleep, so sometimes this takes 20 minutes and others more like an hour (or a dreaded two hours).  When he is asleep, I replace my arm with the crocodile.

If he stirs and starts calling for me, I ignore him until he gets up.  I used to lay with him, but I gradually distanced myself to the point where I just sit next to him to calm him down (and he nestles right back to sleep) or tell him from my bed that it is OK and to go back to sleep.  If he does this twice and actually gets up, I let him in our bed.  It is usually 3:00 am or later by then anyway, and I just can't keep getting up all night.

I am trying to be consistent and loving while also setting boundaries.  It is taking a little while, but he has slept until 8:30 am by himself and sometimes he starts calling for me but soothes himself back to sleep without my help.  Slowly making progress and no one is getting mad or crying all the time, and I think we're all happy. 

My hope is that through consistency, we can slowly move him into his own room.  I'm not stressing about kicking him out of our bedroom all the way before the baby comes.  I think he might be able to sleep through the newborn cries, and we'll figure it out when we get there.  I have found that when I am calm about a transition with Eliot, it goes a lot more smoothly than when I am putting pressure on the two of us and trying to meet a deadline.  I learned that one while trying to figure out breastfeeding in the hospital, and I have tried not to forget it.

To be honest, I really loved having Eliot in bed with us--and still do--so if I can just get him to come snuggle in the morning, I'm counting that as a big time win.