• Dear Santa

    Date: 2014.12.17 | Category: Baby, Family, Holidays, Home, Leela Fish, Life, Me, Norah, OMG YAY!, Sarah | Response: 0

    Before I had children, one of the things I got most excited about when I thought about having them in my life was celebrating the holidays with them. And for all the craziness that kids bring into our lives, that aspect does not disappoint.

    Suddenly we’re out on the streets on Halloween trick-or-treating again – watching them don their costumes and excitedly (or sometimes warily) approach each house to ask for candy. We get to put them in beautiful spring dresses for Easter and church, and then afterwards watch them slide under bushes and scamper up trees to reach hidden eggs.

    I feel like having children has totally brought back the magic of Christmas. I smiled with joy as Sarah begged me to “get out Jesus’ house (the nativity scene) and set it up.” I watched with exhausted delight as she pulled up her step stool to put the breakable ornaments high up on the tree so Norah couldn’t break them. And her enthusiasm at helping me bake has made the kitchen a mostly better place (we’ll just gloss over that flour disaster).

    But perhaps one of my favorite moments this year is having Sarah dictate her letter to Santa for me to write and send. She carefully picked out a pink piece of paper, brought it to me with a pen, and then told me exactly what to write. Here’s the result:

    I told her she could tell Santa five things she wanted. And despite the fact that she’s been a “good, fancy, princess girl,” it turns out filling Santa’s shoes is sometimes a tall order.

    Some things were easy. A crown? Easy and cheap. Check! The requested Alexa Barbie doll even happened to be on an Amazon lightening deal. Score! Cinderella was a little tricky, but it turns out that Little People makes a pretty convincing set, albeit without Cinderella actually holding the pony. Now that Elsa doll though – turns out it is the hit toy of the Christmas season.

    Thinking to get an early jump on my shopping this year, I decided to go ahead and order her off the internet about two weeks before Thanksgiving… except that she was sold out everywhere online… except Amazon who wanted $65 for her. Um, no. So we started our ground quest for Elsa. Mark and I visited several local big box stores, only to see that they were also sold out. I admit at this point my inner Grinch started to rear its ugly head. So this is why parents get mad at Christmas… I sort of get it now. But then I checked myself. Elsa dolls are not what Christmas is all about and I hated how materialistic my focus was becoming. Still though, it was the one toy she repeatedly asked for and I decided to just sit, wait and watch. Mark called his mom and she visited a Wal-Mart near her house and low and behold, there were exactly TWO singing Elsa dolls left – all for the great low price of $28. Done and done!

    Now about that last requested item: Star dancer shoes. Just what are star dancer shoes , you say? Well that is a very good question. I asked Sarah very pointed questions about these shoes. We looked at pictures of shoes online, but nothing was matching her description of “shoes that are pink with stars and sparkly that you can dance in.” I came to the conclusion that she had made these shoes up, which presented a small problem. I briefly considered Converse shoes, but didn’t want to drop the money on them if they weren’t the right thing (plus, let’s face it, she’ll outgrow them in six months). I finally found some that sort of matched her description at Target for $7. I guess we’ll soon find out how well honed Santa’s intuition is.

    And Norah? Well Norah just likes her creature comforts. I’m pretty sure she would think it was the best day of her life if we gave her an ice cream sandwich and a satin pillowcase. We did get the pillowcase and a beanbag so she, Sarah and Leela can stop fighting over the one we already have.

    They should know Leela always wins.

  • Life as a Parent

    Date: 2014.12.16 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Life, Mark, Me, Norah, Pregnancy, Sarah | Response: 1

    I’ve started to blog so many times over the past month, but then the chronic exhaustion sets in and I don’t think anyone wants to hear about the ridiculous morning sickness I went through or how tired I am all the time ( I don’t even want to think about it, after all). But, as one good friend told me over lunch today, blogging is one of the best ways to keep up with people. And she’s right! I miss writing and reading and sharing.

    I’ve always known that as a parent I’m constantly teetering on the edge of crazy, but sometimes I have to laugh at how much our kids have stomped their way so firmly into every aspect of our lives.

    Case in Point #1: Tonight was a particularly hard night. Both girls were exhausted. By 6:30 they had both dissolved into screaming baskets of tears and Mark and I kept giving each other those looks over their heads – you know the ones that say, “Oh my gosh I’m going INSANE GET ME OUT OF HERE.” We put them to bed at 7:15, then just looked at each other and shook our heads as the silence finally washed over us. And here I sit, not 10 minutes later pulling out prints of photos of them I’m giving as gifts and sharing them with Mark with a happy smile on my face. So yes, I may feel insane with their screams tonight, but I can still appreciate how adorable they can be less than 5 minutes after wanting to run out of the house screaming.

    Case in Point #2: My girls love Minnie Mouse and I  really wanted to get them Christmas Minnie’s for Christmas. Turns out that’s not something that’s easy to find. Disney likes to make things exclusive and even online I was having trouble finding what I wanted. A good friend and coworker was headed to Disney World, so I asked her to look for me. She found two of the most perfect Christmas Minnie’s, and when she handed them to me after she returned, I wanted to parade through the office and show everyone, even though I knew they would not get why I was so happy and excited. So I took them home and showed my husband who got nearly as happy about them as I was. That’s parenthood right there: a grown man getting excited about Christmas Minnie Mouse dolls.

    Case in Point #3: I don’t have much time off of work to spare these days with my numerous doctor appointments and my I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-going-to-do-about-time-off maternity leave coming up, but the few pitiful hours I’ve managed to scrape together have been happily traded in for field trips with Sarah. I’ve been with her to a farm out in the middle of nowhere to feed baby cows and goats and plant seeds and pick pumpkins. I’ve been to the local science center to watch an awful IMAX movie about Santa vs. the Snowman, and on Friday I will go to Sarah’s Christmas program where she will dress up as a shepherd (but we have to tell her she’s Mary, because otherwise she deems the costume unacceptable) and watch her sing her little heart out to “Away in a Manger” and I could not be more excited.

    I feel like little things like this come up all the time – these swings from absolute frustration to pure joy at the thought of our girls. These moments where we get so caught up thinking of their joy that it spreads infectiously into us.

    These twins are no exception to that. Morning sickness, exhaustion, impatience, fatigue: it all fades away (well mostly anyway) the moment I sit in front of the ultrasound screen and watch them shove each other around. Even now, exhausted at the end of the day, at the end of a long string of days, I’m smiling as I feel Baby A flutter in my ribs and Baby B shove on my bellybutton (though it helps that my husband just returned from a run to TCBY to help us eat away the stress of this evening).

    I am exhausted. I am worn out. And I may not always feel like sunshine, but man am I happy… especially when all the exhausted children happily and willingly go to bed early. :)

  • Your Burning Questions

    Date: 2014.11.11 | Category: Baby, Family, Friends, Life, Mark, Me, OMG YAY!, Pregnancy | Response: 4

    I have to admit, even through the shock and tears of finding out we were unexpectedly expecting twins, I have loved sharing our news with people and watching their reactions. People almost always fell into two camps: 1) They were overjoyed and extremely excited, or 2) They were vaguely horrified. The second camp was hilarious because I often found myself reassuring these folks that, no really, we were going to be ok. Everyone has been just as shocked as we are though, and their expressions and physical reactions have been hilarious. From yelling out obscenities to nearly choking, it’s been pretty entertaining.

    I’ve also found myself answering a few of the same questions over and over, so for those who are dying to know, here they are in no certain order.

    1)   Do you know if they are identical?

    We do know that they are not identical – they are fraternal. That has to do with their yolk sacs and the number of placentas. Plus, we just found out that they are a boy and a girl, so no chance of being identical there!

    2)   Do twins run in your family?

    Yes, there are lots in Mark’s family, but there are none in mine. Which is crazy, because fraternal twins come from the mother. Oh well, got to start somewhere I suppose!

    3)   How old are your girls?!

    When the babies are born, our oldest will be turning four and our baby will be 18 months. Yes, I know, it will be insane.

    4)   Are you going to move?

    Nope! We love our house and our neighborhood and we have way too many stressful things going on right now to be worried about trying to sell/buy a house and keep our house clean for people to look at. If we need to in a few years, we will look into it. In the mean time, I’m taking the advice of my good friend Katie and stacking those kids up.

    5)   When are they due?

    Well, that’s kind of complicated. Their 40week due date is May 4, but with twins they won’t let you go past 38 weeks, so the latest we would have them is April 20. In all likelihood though, we are going to do our best to make it to 36 weeks and hopefully have April babies.

    6)   Why did you wait so long to let people know you were expecting twins?

    I was very emotional and unsure of everything for a while and I had to come to terms things and arm myself with some of the comments I knew people would make so I wouldn’t take them to heart.

    7)   What do you mean? What kinds of things would people say?

    In no particular order: “Again?! Or Already?!”;  “You know how that happens don’t you?” (Me: Why yes, I have a very happy marriage, thankyouverymuch); “Your life is going to be insane.” Plus there’s always those looks from people who are obviously thinking, “Glad it’s not me!” Note: I know almost all of these people meant nothing mean or hurtful by their comments, but when a girl is already stressed and worried, sometimes she just needs to think happy thoughts.

    8)   But you look like you’ve lost weight!

    Hey thanks! Some of that I can take credit for. I dropped nearly 20 pounds before I got pregnant, and then once I got pregnant I dropped another 13 or so (not on purpose). Thanks morning sickness. I’ve been really struggling to put on any weight this pregnancy at all (and I NEVER thought that would be a problem, especially with two on board!)

    9)   What’s been different about this pregnancy compared to your others?

    Well, we’re still pretty early into this whole thing but there are some biggies: 1) Morning sickness. I had it with both girls, but never lost a significant amount of weight with it. It’s been more like all day and all night sickness this time and it’s lasting much longer. 2) Fatigue! But that is more than likely from taking care of two on the inside and two on the outside. 3) All the ultrasounds and doctor appointments have spoiled me this time. Instead of every four weeks, we go to the OB every two, plus a high risk appointment thrown in there so that I go to a doctor and have an ultrasound 2 or 3 out of 4 weeks of the month. It’s pretty amazing.

    10)  Are you ok?

    I really appreciate people’s concern, but I’m happy to let you know that, Yes! I really am ok and very happy and excited now. People have been private messaging me and calling me and offering to help in a variety of ways: from hand-me-downs to bringing food once they are born to throwing a diaper shower to coming to visit just to stay and help around the house while we adjust. I am constantly overwhelmed by the amount of love and support in our lives. We are more than ok, we are excited to welcome and meet the two new members of our family in the spring, and can’t wait for you to meet them, too!

    P.S. If you like this sort of thing, here is their most recent “picture.” Baby A is on top and is the girl, Baby B, the boy, is being crushed on the bottom. Poor little guy.

  • The Surprise: Part 2

    Date: 2014.11.03 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Pregnancy, Weirdness, Whoops | Response: 3

    I wrote this post about a week after we found out we were expecting twins. I know that this post may sound a little doom and gloom, but rest assured we are very happy and excited now… nearly two months after the fact. Still though, it never hurts to keep us in your prayers. Many of these worries still plague us!

    *****

    After we learned that we were unexpectedly expecting again, Mark and I settled into a state of disbelief and shock that manifested itself in a few different ways.

    I had to start acting pregnant again for one.  After previous progesterone problems with Sarah and Norah, I immediately had to have blood work done and schedule my first appointment. And then there was that whole not drinking wine thing and heating up my lunch meat again. The blood work came back and confirmed the pregnancy and things started getting real.

    Mark and I battled with worry. How would we provide for an additional child? We needed to get bunk beds for the big girls. Norah was only ELEVEN MONTHS OLD!  How was I going to tell work after not even a year back from maternity leave?

    All these questions continued to bounce around in our heads when we went in for our first OB visit. After filling out paperwork and saying hi to all my “old friends” at the office, we went in for our first ultrasound that would both confirm the pregnancy without any doubt and give us an idea of the baby’s due date.

    As we prepared for the ultrasound, I told the tech how I had always wanted three children, but we just weren’t prepared for it to happen so soon. She stared at the screen and said, “Well, what about four?”

    My heart dropped and I started to shake. Sure enough, up on the screen were two very distinct little babies, each in their own yolk sack with little heartbeats fluttering away.


    Our first ultrasound

    I cannot adequately explain the shock that went through my body. I yelled, “Holy shit!” very loudly and I think I scared the tech, though she laughed good-naturedly.  Mark sort of half laughed and we held hands and stared as she checked each baby and explained that they were fraternal twins (not identical), which is the very best situation for twins because they each have their own nutrition sources. There was a chance, of course, that one twin could dominate and we could lose one, but they both were the exact same size and both had good heart rates and looked very healthy.

    As we left the ultrasound room, we were the last people left in the waiting room. The ladies at the front desk were joking a little about “seeing us again so soon,” when I told them about the twins. The news drew a massive crowd of nurses and workers. “How old is your baby?” “How old is your oldest?” “Oh my gosh that’s going to be a lot of work.”  I continued to shake.

    We went to see our doctor from there.

    I love our OB. She delivered both my girls and has a very good sense of humor and is very direct about everything. She has been a great fit for us and knows us very well.

    She came in, turned the lights off and in a very calm voice said, “It’s going to be ok.”

    “You say that so calmly,” I said. “That’s because I don’t have to take them home,” she said and smiled.

    She then started explaining what we are looking at as far as the pregnancy goes. We would be getting an ultrasound every doctor’s visit and going to the doctor a lot more frequently. We would be seeing a high-risk pregnancy doctor. We went over past pregnancy history and she took a big sigh of relief.

    “I know you probably don’t want to hear this right now,” she said, “But you’re the perfect candidate for twins. You are tall, which will give them more room to grow and hopefully allow you to carry them longer. You’re young, you had two healthy pregnancies before and you have a stable family environment.” She was right, of course, but I just couldn’t process it all.

    We got home and told Mark’s mom who didn’t believe us until we handed over the ultrasound picture. She picked up congratulatory dinner for us. I could barely eat a bite, but Mark managed to eat like six pieces of chicken, all the sides and two biscuits. During dinner Norah started this fake choking thing she does to get attention. It completely freaked me out. Then she started laughing at me when I panicked and I broke into a horrific sob right there at the dinner table… and then ran to the bathroom and hurled.

    The number of emotions racing through me were unbelievable. I was terrified. How in the heck were we going to pay for childcare for FOUR children? Would we need to get a bigger house? We definitely needed two bigger cars… and then two of EVERYTHING – two carseats, two cribs, two highchairs and OH MY GOSH I would have FOUR children ages four and under.  I was a shaking, rattling mess. I called my family later that evening and they were amazing. They lifted my spirits and reminded me of the awesome support network I’m surrounded by in town. My mom and my youngest sister are both teachers and don’t work during the summer and they will be ready and willing to help.

    I’m not going to lie, it took me nearly a full week to be truly happy about the news. I found myself driving Sarah to school and simultaneously freaking out and then sobbing with joy.

    Here I was, the girl who was suppose to need help to conceive children, accidentally pregnant with twins while I had a 3-year-old and 11-month-old at home. It was insanity. It was a blessing.  It was a miracle.

    I can honestly say now that Mark and I are overjoyed. Yes, we are still worried about paying for four children and providing all that they need. Yes, I am worried about their health and welfare already. But, I truly believe that after all the trouble we had conceiving Norah, that the fact that we’re having twins is no fluke. Our babies may be a surprise, but they are a gift from God and we are ready, willing and excited to take up this gift and do our absolute best.

  • The Surprise: Part 1

    Date: 2014.10.31 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Pregnancy, Whoops | Response: 9

    I originally wrote this post a week after we found out we were expecting again in the first few days of September (before I knew the WHOLE story). I know I’ve been absent from blogging for a while, but sometimes when something like this is so life consuming and you’re not ready to share, it’s difficult to stare at that blank screen and write. So with this, get ready for my stream of ramblings to start up again!

    *****

    I need to write this down now, while the memory of that day still clings to me.

    But before I tell you about that day, let me tell you about the few days leading up to it. On Sunday I had been at my parents house hanging out with my family, celebrating my sister’s graduation with her Master’s degree and drinking a couple of glasses of wine. My heart started racing of its own accord, something not unfamiliar to me, but also something that hadn’t happened in a long time. I got it under control and chalked it up to the alcohol and sleep deprivation.

    Monday I went to my Piyo class, and during the sections of the class where we moved up and down, constantly changing elevation, my heart again started speeding out of control. I chalked it up to the elevation changes – even though I’ve been doing that class for a few months without any other problems before.

    Tuesday I went to lunch with my friend Angela, and we started talking about hormone changes, and I thought, “Oh that must be it, my cycle is about to start and that must be what’s causing these heart issues.”

    After lunch I checked my calendar to see when I was supposed to start and realized that I was very late – eight days late in fact. And then I remembered the last time my heart took off racing all the time: when I found out I was pregnant with Norah.

    I drove to the store and bought a two pack of pregnancy tests, but didn’t take them. Those things are kind of pricey and I didn’t want to waste one. I went home and put them in the cabinet and then settled down to a fun evening with my best friend who was in town for a few days. We drank wine, watched our girls play and had a great time. Shortly after she left that evening, Mark and I started arguing. Honestly I can’t even remember what it was about now, but that evening we had a long talk and he mentioned my short fuse and extreme impatience. I confessed to him then that I was worried because my cycle was late and my heart had been racing. He comforted me and reassured me that this wasn’t completely unusual and he was sure everything would be fine.

    Still though I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned and worried all night. Finally at 5:30 that morning, I decided I needed the reassurance of that little negative sign so I could get on with my day without fretting.

    I went to the bathroom, took the test and watched as the positive sign immediately showed up. I sat there in a state of shock muttering not a few profanities. Finally, 15 minutes later I pulled myself together and went back into the bedroom. I told Mark I needed to turn on the lamp and handed over the test. His immediate response was a disbelieving and reverent, “No way.” Then he immediately broke out into a huge grin. And me? Well I burst into tears and started sobbing.

    It’s hard to describe what I was feeling at that moment, but I’ll take a stab at it. For one, I was in complete and utter shock. I have always wanted three children, but I did not expect them to be quite so close together. Norah was only 11 months old and still nursing after all. We had so much trouble conceiving Norah, that I figured when we did get ready to try for a third, we would have to prepare ourselves for another year-long journey of months of hope and disappointment. I had even prayed about it and come to complete acceptance and happiness with having two children. In fact, part of me already felt like we were done. God had given us these two amazing little girls and we felt complete; we were happy. We had even started planning a big family trip for 2015.

    And then there was the overwhelming feeling of having three, THREE children ages four and under, with two very much still in diapers. How could we possibly manage it strategically, mentally and financially?

    And then there was a feeling of complete and overwhelming amazement and disbelief. I was told, after all, many years ago that conceiving children would be difficult and we would likely need assistance. And here we were, despite the fact that we were actively avoiding pregnancy, pregnant so quickly with a THIRD baby.

    Mark gazed up at me in that early morning hour as we sat alone in our bed, grinning at me and said, “It’s a miracle.” And truly, it is.

    I pulled myself together as best I could and, in a daze, took Sarah to school. I stayed for morning assembly where I learned that it was the feast day of Saint Monica, the mother of Saint Augustine. During morning prayer, all the children said a prayer for their mothers and all mothers. I felt my knees get a little wobbly. Following an inner call to go to Mass, I stayed for the school Mass that morning. The priest started by telling all the children who Saint Monica was and how she prayed desperately for her son and asked that the children pray for all mothers everywhere who are worried and in distress.

    If anyone was looking, I’m sure they were wondering why that crazy lady standing by herself had tears running down her cheeks for most of Mass. But I left there with a new perspective and a stronger feeling of joy. And though I’ve existed in a state of shock and disbelief for a week now and continue to worry about logistics and finances, I am so very thankful, so very blessed and so very happy.

    We will, I pray, welcome our third baby to this world in April of 2015. Here’s to the start of another great adventure.

  • Seven Years and Getting Stronger

    Date: 2014.10.20 | Category: Family, Life, Love, Mark, Me | Response: 2

    Today Mark and I celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary (and a little over 11 years as a couple).

    When we got engaged, I pictured our lives together in that hazy romantic “happily ever after” way that I imagine many young girls do. We would almost always be happy and infatuated with each other, and children, when they came later, would bolster up our love and everything would be magic.

    In some ways my initial. starry-eyed idea of marriage still holds true. I am still madly in love with my husband, and children have definitely added to our marriage, making us stronger in our love for one another.

    What I didn’t realize back then is that the reason our love would be stronger (helped along by our children) is because we would have to fight for it more. It’s hard to make time for your spouse when you’re up to your eyeballs in sleep deprivation, breastfeeding and the millions of other needs of tiny people. But, especially after Norah, we learned that we had to fight for our time together. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and the more we fought for and made time for one another, the more our children have seen that love bloom in our family and responded accordingly.

    Are we perfect? Ha! No. I mean we still occasionally argue over laundry, groceries and discipline of our children. But, even in the worst of our arguments, we always  find a way to draw back together, communicate and tighten our bond.

    Sometimes, especially at night, my mind will wander to Mark and what a perfect fit he is for me and it amazes me. He works so hard to help support our family, loves our children in a way that makes me love him even more, and still says things that surprise me. When he picked me up from the airport after we went to Pittsburgh, he said, “I am one lucky guy to have such a beautiful, thin woman waving to me out the airport window.” (He got bonus points for adding the “thin” in there, ha!)

    He still hugs me and holds me at surprising times, and I had to learn to stop shying away from that in an attempt to take care of everyone else. Mark and I take care of each other. When life and work get tough, we are there for one another. Sometimes we may not say or do the right things for one another, but I always know he is on my team and I will always be on his.

    Forever is a long time to commit to another person, and sometimes that can be difficult, but most of the time Mark and I are great roommates, best friends and a very happy to be husband and wife. Seven is a good number, and I hope that we are blessed enough to experience many more years together.

    I love you Mark. Happy Anniversary!

  • The Patient Traveler

    Date: 2014.10.15 | Category: Family, Health, Life, Me, Sarah, Travel | Response: 3

    My kids surprise me all the time, and while many of those surprises aren’t always pleasant, from time to time one of them will truly amaze me with their behavior.

    Last Thursday Sarah and I began our journey to Pittsburgh, where we stayed with Cassie and her family for a long weekend. Prior to leaving, I was very nervous about how Sarah would do with the airport and the planes. She hates loud noises and I had visions of me frantically trying to calm her while she freaked out over loud plane engines and the thousands of travelers we would encounter along the way.

    When the day arrived, we got to the airport in time and prepared to board… but then we didn’t board. Our plane, it seemed, was having a mechanical issue. In my mind I immediately thought, “What kind of mechanical issue?! Is it safe to take my child on this plane?, etc.” After an hour wait, they boarded us… only to have us sit on the plane for 20 minutes, drink water, then get back off the plane.

    It turns out the mechanical issue was a broken light on the outside of the plane. A part, it turns out, they did not have at our local airport and they would have to wait on the next flight in from Atlanta to obtain. They started projecting new estimated leave times. Our 8am flight was then a 9:30 flight. Not a problem, I thought, I built in long layovers on purpose. That 9:30 time came and went and our flight slowly started pushing further and further back.  (The missing part wasn’t on the first flight – the part finally came in and we had to wait on mechanics – mechanics finally fixed it, but it wasn’t not up to the pilot’s standard – pilot had a two hour long phone conversation – mechanics came back out and finally fixed it for real).

    I was getting so frustrated, as were nearly all the adults on the scheduled flight.

    Sarah, however, was having a great time. She would run up to the window, shout, “Mama! Look at the airplane! Why isn’t it pink?!” and then happily return to me where she would look at a book / play with the iPad / color pictures. She made several friends out of the other passengers with her sweet smiles and silly dances. At one point she started coloring pictures and handing them out to fellow passengers. People were charmed and I was floored by her great behavior.

    Our flight delay ended up being around 6.5 hours total. As we were finally boarding the flight, I had about 10 people come up to me and tell me how impressed they were by how well behaved Sarah was, she even, one lady said, behaved better than her teenagers would have.

    The flight itself proved not to be troublesome either. As we took off, Sarah delightedly squealed, “We’re FLYING MAMA! We’re flying! We’re like Care Bears up in the clouds!” People looked and smiled. Delta can go ahead and send us a thank you package for providing one of the few reasons all the passengers didn’t mutiny.

    They re-booked our second flight out of Atlanta for 10pm at night (ha! Can you even imagine what sort of state the two of us would have been in by then?!) But we finally managed to find a Delta agent in Atlanta who actually knew what he was doing and booked us on a flight that left within the hour. Now, if you know the Atlanta airport, then you know that means we had to haul it to get to the right terminal in time. I ended up at one point hustling while wearing my 30lb backpack, carrying my 35lb child, while she was carrying her much smaller backpack. Workout complete!

    We made that flight, on which Sarah made another friend who let her play games on her iPad, and we finally made it to Pittsburgh around 7:30 that evening, a full five hours late. Sarah passed out on the drive to Cassie’s house, but she deserved a rest after that crazy day.

    The travel home was also insane, but not nearly as bad. Terrible storms in the south caused our plane to have to take a different path, adding about 35 minutes onto our flight time. During the flight, Sarah and I had to take a bathroom break (side note: do you know how hard it is to squeeze into an airplane bathroom with another person?! That’s no joke). A lady came out of the bathroom while we waited and Sarah ran up to her and gave her a huge hug like they had been best friends forever. The lady was delighted. She was flying first class and saved her cookies to give to Sarah later.

    When we finally made it home, Sarah had a meltdown just as her daddy arrived at the airport, but she was such a trooper that we just stuck her in the car, let her have at it, then took her to Wendy’s for chicken nuggets. After all, I still think she handled the traveling better than me!

  • Norah is One

    Date: 2014.09.23 | Category: Baby, Birthday, Family, Home, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Norah, OMG YAY!, Sarah | Response: 3

    Norah’s first birthday was Saturday.

    My baby is one.

    There, I said it.

    Emotionally, I’ve had a little bit of a tough time with her birthday. Sure, she’s not technically different from one day to the next, but it is so hard for me to believe that it’s been a full year since the day she was born – a day that feels like a few months ago.

    Norah’s first year of life started out crazy. In the weeks before she was born I was in a car accident that landed my 9-month-pregnant self in the hospital. We were both ok, fortunately, but that was our first time getting to know the labor and delivery staff.  False labor provided us with a second opportunity to meet the staff,  and then real labor three days before my scheduled c-section sent us back in a third time.

    Norah came roaring into the world, and, as we soon discovered, it was a premonition of things to come.

    Norah’s first 3+ months of life were extremely difficult. While she napped well during the day, at 9pm every night she roared to life in a state of unabated fury until sometime around 3am. Mark and I were miserable, sleep-deprived, angry human beings. Sarah asked for “quiet” for Christmas. I didn’t think we’d survive… until Norah found her thumb and then the heavens opened and the angels burst forth singing. Our baby started to sleep.

    In the following months, we saw that she continued to have a very hot and cold personality. She’s either the most glowing, relaxed happy baby, or she is a screaming, angry beast. We lovingly refer to her as Jekyll and Hyde. Nighttime continues to be a problem. She will still wake up for short periods of time most nights, but she’s learned to self soothe and go back to sleep pretty quickly.

    Despite all that though, she has an amazing and beautiful joyful side.

    Our baby girl is up for almost anything (except maybe extended, tight hugs from her sister). She continues to be a great eater and always has an easy and contagious smile and  cackle.

    The day before she turned one, she decided it was high time to put her legs to good use and started walking in small spurts around the house. She still prefers to crawl, but if she has food in her hands, you better believe she’s not going to get it dirty by crawling with it.

    At one year Norah is our prankster. She will fake choke at the dinner table to get attention. And when I say fake choke, I mean full on holding breath and turning purple business until I start to panic and then she bursts out laughing.

    At one she will play with her sister. Just this past weekend I was laid up on the couch not feeling well and both girls wandered off into Sarah’s room. I heard lots of laughter from both girls and asked Mark to go investigate. They were both in Sarah’s princess pop-up castle tent, alternately playing peek-a-boo and sharing toys, absolutely delighted by each other’s company.

    Norah’s favorite thing on the planet (besides ice cream) is being on the trampoline. When we put her on there, she hurls her little body all over the place, even doing flips, and laughing while she flies into the air.

    Mark, Sarah and I all love to do things to get her to laugh, and she always loves and rewards our efforts. Whenever she smiles, her little nose scrunches up and she bares all 9.5 of her little teeth in a huge grin. Her smile reminds me so much of my little sister Shannon.

    Norah is a spectacular little person, and despite our rough start, she has more than made up for it with her sparkling and silly personality.

    We all love her so very much, and having her in our lives this past year has been an amazing blessing.

    Happy Birthday sweet Norah bean! We love you!

  • Toughing it Out

    Date: 2014.09.05 | Category: Family, Health, Life, Me, OMG YAY! | Response: 0

    My extreme lack of blogging lately is due entirely to the fact that 1) I’ve been consumed with our new family transforming routine and 2) The kids and I have been facing a few health issues that have been dragging me way down and causing me to limp along exhausted most days the past couple of weeks.

    But, despite all that, I want to do an update on my fitness. A few months ago, I decided it was time to really fight to get the last of my pregnancy weight off – something I didn’t have to do the first go round.

    I started attending 3-4 gym classes weekly and completely overhauled my diet. Gone are 85% of our processed foods. We are doing a lot of whole eating and the whole family is adjusting pretty well.

    Three months in, I’m seeing results. As of today, I am down 13 pounds, less than 5 pounds to go before I hit my pre-pregnancy weight. And even though the weight loss hasn’t been insanely quick, the most exciting part is the drastic changes my body is going through.

    I’m getting strong. I can tell when I lift my children easier and haul grocery store bags. I can tell when I pull myself up on to things, or most recently, do repeated side lunges while holding my baby to get her to calm down at the pediatrician’s office. I can tell when I go to my classes. I went from being unable to do a standard plank at all, to doing them and adding on other exercises while I hold them. And I can tell when I look at my shoulder muscles finally starting to take shape. And you know what? It feels amazing.

    I’ve dropped two inches in my waist and hips respectively.

    And perhaps in the most exciting moment for me so far, I discovered that my high cholesterol level I use to have to be medicated for has dropped down to a safe, normal, healthy level just through diet and exercise. It’s truly amazing what three months of living a healthy lifestyle have done for me.

    Lifestyle and routine changes are so tough, but it has been so rewarding.

  • 11 Months

    Date: 2014.08.22 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Mark, Me, Norah, Sarah | Response: 3

    I tried to shoot some great 11 month photos of Norah, but almost all of them came out looking like this.

    That is due in large part to the fact that Norah never stops moving. And now that she has figured out how to stand and balance for a bit, things are getting really interesting. She will stand up and hurl her body onto things. I’m pretty sure she is doing that because of all the time we spend playing with her on the trampoline. She absolutely LOVES to be bounced all over the place. When Mark first started bouncing her, I was worried that he was being too rough, but her loud bursts of giggles proved otherwise. She and Sarah both beg to go play on the trampoline after dinner, and since we’ve had a relatively mild summer, we do that nearly every day.

    Over the past couple of days, Norah stood up, took two steps and then gracefully sat back down again. She hasn’t repeated the trick again yet, but I know she’ll build the courage to do it.

    She is also completely fascinated by her belly button. When we put her in the bath tub, she stares at it and tries to grab it over and over. If she’s not after her belly button in the tub, then she’s going after a cup or some toy that she can pick up and use to attempt to drink tub water. We usually catch it first, but a few times she’s got it past us and drenched her face, mouth and throat with bath water.

    This past month has been a physically tough one for Norah. She now has eight teeth and these two newest ones have taken a long time to come in and caused no end of pain and problems. Plus, she keeps running into things, falling down and even leaping off of things. We  had a choking incident a few days ago and I had to implement the Heimlich Maneuver (pretty sure that moment shaved a few years off my life). She’s also jumped out of her high chair on to the tile floor and been run over by the dogs a few times. Poor kid.

    Despite that, Norah is mostly a very happy and content girl. She still loves food, with sliced grapes and spaghetti being her two favorite foods. She also loves mashed potatoes, sweet potato fries, chicken and applesauce.

    She’s at the age now where she loves to dance. Any time music comes on, she shakes her little booty and bobs up and down. It is so cute.

    She continues to be a fun little personality and her daddy, sister and I love to try to make her laugh. Peek-a-boo almost always gets the giggles going, and if it doesn’t, then clapping and saying “Yay!” always gets her doing the same. Sarah has even figured out that if she sings “Wheels on the Bus” to Norah, then the baby will likely stop fussing and start smiling.

    We love our little Norah Bean so much! It’s so hard to believe that she’s been a part of our lives for nearly a year. We are blessed indeed.

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