Sunday, December 14, 2014

Aiden Turns 7


   

Last Friday Aiden had his seventh birthday. He celebrated by taking some cookies in for his class and then yesterday he had a party with his friends from school. He decided he'd like to have the party at the pottery painting studio and having 10 sugar addled six year olds in a small room with paint and breakable pottery actually went very smoothly. Everyone seemed to have a great time and after a coule years of smaller birthday parties he was excited to have a big to-do.

Watching Aiden mature and grow this past year has been wonderful. He is becoming so independent and turning into a really interesting human being. That sounds strange but sometimes we start talking and he tells me these hilarious and really weird stories about school or his friends or whatever happens to be floating around his head. Other times he doesn't want to talk at all because ugh, mom, whatever.

 He is whip smart and it can make being a parent very difficult. The other week I was saying goodnight to him and I said "I love you and remember that you are so special". He then asked me if everyone was created equal which I answered with yes of course, and he said "If everyone is equal and I'm special then everyone is special....and that's not really special is it?". Okay baby Socrates. Another night he asked me what adoption was and after we talked about it he asked if I'd always be here. I assured him that I would do everything in my power to be here as long as I could which then led to a discussion about things we should do to stay healthy. Nothing like hearing your kid say "Goodnight! Love you! Don't get too tired if you're swimming in deep water!" as you're turning out the light.

 He is no nonsense, our rule follower, and yet he has this creative side. As much as he loves math he also loves drawing. He likes everything to make sense and be as black and white as possible but then he has this fascination with God and the universe and so many gray areas. I don't even know what I think or believe about some of the things he asks me and it leads to some really beautiful conversations and I realize that we sort of work through it together. That has been my experience with Aiden right from the moment he was born. I thought being his mother would be me leading him down a path but it's really been us walking down it side by side, figuring it out as we go.

   


   


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Halloween 2014

So since it's mid-November and we're about to start the holiday craziness I thought I'd better get around to finally posting some pictures from Halloween. This year Aiden went as a shark, and he LOVED the costume that we borrowed from Sean's sister, and almost every house he trick-or-treated at commented on how awesome it was. Halloween win. Rory, who is still at the mercy of his parents, went as James Bond. We loved it. He was on the fence about it and mostly distracted by all the other festivities. Audrey was a teddy bear since she's just a wee baby and it was the warmest thing we had.

Dead ringer:
  
Aiden had his school parade which was adorable and then his class acted out a little Halloween story. I took about four thousand pictures and none of them really came out, but here's Aiden at the parade: 

 
 
We all went out to trick or treat together and after about ten houses the babies were ready for bed so I took them home while Aiden and Sean went out for a more serious round. They were extremely successful and I was very satisfied with the variety they brought me. I mean...that's Aiden's candy and I would never touch it. 

This fall has been getting progressively busier. September started and Aiden didn't have a single after school activity and I thought things would be pretty laid back but within three weeks he was signed up for piano lessons, chemistry club and a painting class. There is homework and play dates in between. I have just about lost my mind trying to keep track of his schedule this year.

Audrey, while still a darling, decided overnight a few weeks ago that she's going to start standing and practicing walking. She's a bit of a dare devil right now and requires a lot of attention or she tries to climb the stairs or furniture. 

 

In other news, Rory got an actual serious haircut. He looks way older now and I already miss him. He's talking up a storm and is a such a joker. He stills loves to call me June, which both cute and exasperating. Typical Rory.


 Whew, now that I've put those Halloween pictures up I'm all ready for Thanksgiving!


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Back on the Blog Wagon

So I didn't blog alllll summer, mostly because there were three kids around constantly and they all needed food and attention and various other things. Every time I sat down to write something would pop up and then after a while I started to assume everyone had forgotten that this thing ever existed and then a few people asked if I would please for the love of Pete write something or at least just throw up a bunch of pictures of these children so I figured I'd better oblige, especially now that Aiden is back in school and I can't use him as an excuse. I apologize for that run-on sentence.

This summer went by so fast I'm still thinking it's the end of July. After Aiden finished kindergarten I was a little (a lot) worried about how the summer would go with one of me and three of them. To my surprise it was beyond wonderful. We spent most of the summer tackling a laundry list of house projects including a new driveway and retaining wall outside, new floors and paint inside and chopping down about fifteen or so trees (which Sean did by himself, I was quite impressed). The projects just went on and on and on and one would lead to another. Everything looks great now but much of the summer felt like living in a construction zone. 

We were able to tackle so many projects because the kids were just fantastic. Around June, Audrey turned that corner from really erratic newborn sleep into predictable and blessedly long stretches of sleep. Just having some semblance of a schedule and eight hours of sleep at night makes me feel like a superhero. Also,Rory and Aiden still bicker occasionally but this summer they started playing with each other.  Aiden figured out that if he gives Rory a part in his expansive make-believe scenarios, that Rory will happily play instead of just tearing everything apart. Aiden was also so helpful all summer, entertaining Rory when we had to go to the store, holding his hand in parking lots and introducing him to children at the library. It was so wonderful to see them finally becoming friends. Rory for his part has learned more words and made huge leaps in his gross motor development. It's nice to know that he can go up and down stairs and run across a bumpy lawn and not constantly worry that he's going to have a major wipe-out. He still trips and falls like any two year old but for the most part he's finally found his legs.

I was sad to see Aiden head back to school because I felt like we'd finally found such a great, peaceful place this summer after a couple of years filled with huge changes. He was excited to go back however, and it was a smooth transition into first grade. I have enjoyed having more time to spend with Rory and Audrey individually and I still get the afternoon with Aiden once he comes home and the other two are napping.

I'm going to try to be on here more often now that things have settled down. In the meantime here are some pictures from our apple picking adventure and few random shots from the summer: 








Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Baby Thor turns 2




Rory is two!

These two years have been both exhausting and delightful and getting to know Rory has been so much fun. He is our summer child: bright and sunny one moment then thundering the next and then warm and calm when it's over.




He is somehow sweet, cuddly and kind while also being so fierce and fiery. He wants what he wants and he will not be deterred or  distracted. He's whip smart and wants to be as independent as possible. We figure he'll want to move out just as soon as he can reach the pedals in the car.


He is all passion, all heart and it can lead to some pretty rough tantrums. He's slowly learning to stop and think and wait before launching himself headfirst into whatever he's trying to do (or headfirst in the ground occasionally).

 

video video

He's always been very verbal but still needs to be reminded that "Hey, you know how to say 'milk please' instead of just shrieking like your hair is on fire". Physically, he's our little rugby player. He wants to be rough and tumble and tackle things and people in a way we never experienced with Aiden. He's still not too steady on his feet however, and being rather top heavy, he tends to have some spectacular wipeouts. Rory doesn't just trip and fall, he somehow manages to trip, do three summersualts, bounce off the wall and spin around like a top. I don't really understand the physics of it but he usually sits up, shakes his head and is off screaming and running like he's leading Spartan troops to battle.


We've discovered that his one weakness is Audrey. He could be in the middle of a screaming fit and he'll suddenly stop and go give her a kiss and rub her back. This tenderness towards her is so heart meltingly sweet and a relief to witness after a day of tantrums or roughhousing.

 

He may not have slept at all from 0 to 1, but from 1 to 2 he's made up for it. He'll happily sleep in late, play fiercely all morning, consume his entire bodyweight in food for lunch and then slip into a coma all afternoon, wake for dinner and crash again by 7:30. Eat and sleep and briefly tear about the house like a viking warrior. This is his life.

We love to see him growing and learning to channel his boundless passion and drive into accomplishing new things. He may be a lot to handle as a toddler but I can only imagine that he'll be utterly unstoppable when he grows up and finds his path in life, and that makes all the battles and rough days worthwhile.



And in case you've never seen the movie, this right here is why we call him our Thor:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Adios, Kindergarten

Aiden had his last day of kindergarten today, that's just according to the school calender however since they've been watching movies and having "double recess" for the past week or so. He said goodbye to his teacher who was an absolute saint and had a pretty lively group this year. He said goodbye to his art teacher who encouraged his drawing which is his one creative outlet, and his music teacher who gave him top grades no matter how on or off pitch he sings, and his gym teacher who always gave him poor grades because he'd rather pass the ball to the opposite team since they didn't get a chance to score yet and he was just trying to be nice.

He's learned to count by fives and tens, he's learned some new fangled method of addition that he had to teach me because it's the least intuitive thing I've ever seen and he surprised his teacher with his grasp of small multiplication and his fantastic  spatial awareness. None of this came from me. He's beginning reading and slowly becoming more confident although he's lost any interest in fiction and only wants to read nonfiction. I love reading with him but I'd really love to read a story instead of an in-depth explanation of the life cycle of cicadas but I'm just glad he's reading.

His curiosity is at an all time high which is a wonderful and exhausting thing to witness. He'll ask "How do narwhals communicate? Who first classified humans as animals? Is the moon spinning around the earth or is it that the earth is turning and it looks like the moon is? Let's talk about chickens..." and that's all in the first seven minutes he's awake.

His grasp of and willingness to use sarcasm and his penchant for eye-rolling is also at an all time high, especially if I don't immediately know the answer to his questions. 


Sean and I have no idea how it's already the end of June and we've just gotten him acclimated to school and now he's got a new teacher and new class and new standards. Kindergarten was a great chance for Aiden to make new friends and generally learn how school works but academically it wasn't much of a challenge and we feel like he might've even lost a little ground in certain areas. First grade seems to be totally different and much more focused on actual school work which I think Aiden will enjoy but did seem a teeny little bit intimidating when we got the long list of things Aiden needed to have mastered by the first day of first grade.  He also has a whole summer writing journal to fill out along with summer reading requirements and optional math work. We planned on doing these things with him anyway but the minute it becomes "required" I start to hyperventilate (sheer panic at the idea of failure pretty much drove all of my academic achievements from 4th grade through my senior year of college, and for better or worse Aiden has inherited this trait. We like to do things perfectly or get an ulcer trying). In all honesty though, he's ready and he's excited and that's really refreshing to see in him.

We hope to spend the summer reading and visiting the library. We also plan on catching grasshoppers and riding bikes and spraying each other with the hose.

Oh, and eating ice cream. Lots and lots of ice cream.




Monday, June 9, 2014

Four months


Audrey is four months old! Okay, she's nearly five months old because it takes me forever to post anything. Anyway, she had her four month check up last week and she is...spectacularly average!  She's not a tall skinny beanpole like Aiden or a defensive linebacker sized baby like Rory, she is her own perfect self, the 40th percentile across the board. That's the way it always seems to be, these kids just HAVE to be completely different from each other.  I won't even being to speculate on who she looks like because once again, TOTALLY UNIQUE. She has a deeper complexion like Aiden, but blue eyes, and no hair so who knows what color that will be. I think she might have my nose? Maybe Sean's eyes? Except they're blue? What's up with that? Yes, she's very much her own little person. Only time will tell. 

 Personality-wise, she is our ray of sunshine. She's is always ready to laugh or smile and she's typically very predictable. I can easily tell when she's hungry or tired or hot or cold. She doesn't randomly wail for no apparent reason. She loves me and wants to be near but she's not clingy or fussy. Generally, not much phases her. I think I have Rory to thank for that. You see, he went through an exceptionally clingy period while I was pregnant. That, on top of Rory just being Rory, meant that he would frequently come up and scream his little lungs out while face planting into my stomach. So Audrey spent a lot of time in utero listening to him freak out. Now, on the outside, she doesn't so much as blink when he screams or the dog barks or whatever noisy thing is happening. She does get a bit wary of him when he tries to kiss and hug her (which, adorably, he does ALL THE TIME) mostly because he's as steady on his feet as an octopus on rollerskates and nearly squashes her. The rest of the time she's calm and happy and ready to check out the great big world. She rolls over like a champ and is trying so hard to crawl (she can't quite get them opposite leg/arm thing and moves the same leg and arm which results in her toppling over, but she is trying). She also loves to "talk". We laugh because people hear her talking or even when she cries, and ask if she's okay because she's SO SHRILL. We're lucky her crying is pretty rare because MAN OH MAN does she sound like a girl. She has the most adorable squeaky voice that makes both of the boys sound like Barry White and anytime she cries it sounds like she's in a complete panic when that's just her usual high pitched voice.  

Overall, she is a delight. We can't wait to see her personality develop more and we're so thankful for how well she handles whatever happens in this crazy family.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Since March...

Checking in because life has been zooming by so quickly lately I haven't been able to keep up with the blog! Audrey is finally slipping into a somewhat predictable schedule so I'm going start making sure I sit down once in a while and post here, but for now, some pictures:



Monday, March 24, 2014

The Learning Fair

This past week Aiden had a learning fair at his school. This is an event where the kids can pick any topic they're interested in to research and then present. Aiden came racing home the day he heard about it and begged to do a project. On the outside I was very excited because, well, I had to be. Learning is super fun! On the inside however, I imagined all the extra work this was going to create when he eventually bailed halfway through because he's a kindergartener with the attention span of...well....a kindergartener. That might sound cynical but he's a typical kid whose interests are very mercurial and I don't have a whole ton of extra time these days.

We talked about what he'd like to do and he bounced from topic to topic. Bugs! Ladybugs! Volcanoes! Birds! Sharks! All the bugs on the whole planet! The night before the deadline to sign up I finally put my foot down and suggested Shetland sheepdogs since we have our very own subject to study. He agreed. I suggested some websites to check out, we printed off some information and pictures and I bought some poster board. He decided what info he thought was important, he cut and pasted pictures by himself and painstakingly copied the facts that I wrote out for him.

I ended up doing very little of it and he followed through on each part. Each day he sat down and wrote, glued and colored in this poster. At the very end he was so proud of his work and that was just the most heartwarming thing. The little moments of watching your child work and accomplish something that you weren't even sure they were ready for is one of the best things in life. Of course, I was worried too. He worked really hard but he's still mastering his handwriting and his cutting skills and I was afraid he'd be taking this awesome, adorable but slightly wobbly effort into a fair filled with typed out, totally perfect posters.

He kept working right up until the day of the presentation. Even though the poster was done he told me he'd been practicing saying all the facts to himself each night as he fell asleep. Hearing that almost had me in tears because he was working so much harder than I expected and this perfectionist streak is something I can relate to for better and worse. I really didn't realize how seriously he'd take the whole thing and it made me really hope he could maintain this pride in his hard work regardless of what everyone else's looked like.

The night of the learning fair was great. He was really nervous at first because, much like me, he hates crowds and it was packed. But eventually he loosened up and got to talk about his poster to his friends and his teacher. As it turned out his poster was perfectly imperfect and almost every other kindergartener had hand written and decorated their work.

Of course, this project taught Aiden all about Shetland sheepdogs the satisfaction of hard work. It taught me that maybe I need to have a little bit more confidence in my children's abilities and to just get out of their way sometimes. He's clearly got a lot to teach me.


The master and his masterpiece

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Life Since January

Audrey is nearly two months old! I'll start with that as the excuse for why I haven't been able to sit down and blog. Do you realize we have three kids now? Do you know what flavor of crazy it's been over here? Yeah, wow.

Bringing Audrey home has actually been a pretty easy transition. We are still learning to juggle all three but some things have gone quite smoothly. Sean and I spent my entire pregnancy both longing to  meet her and dreading the inevitable insanity a third baby would bring. Yet, when we got home and every day life kicked in, it was just not that difficult. The move from one to two was MUCH harder and now we both feel like life is so busy anyway what's one more ? We also worried about her and Rory being so close in age but it in some ways it's easier. There are difficult moments where I am carrying both kids down stairs and praying I don't drop someone or when I have to nurse her and Rory takes it as his cue to climb furniture and empty cabinets. However, we haven't slept through the night since Spring 2012 so waking up with her at night isn't a shock. We are still elbow deep in the "baby stuff" with Rory so it's not a massive change for us. We've got it all down.

We were also worried about sibling rivalry and once again we've been surprised by how both boys are so protective of her. They love giving her kisses and bringing her blankets and they've even been getting along with each other better since she's been home.

So even though it hasn't been to difficult it's still been very busy. We're still in that stage where we wake up and suddenly it's nine o'clock at night and you wonder what you did all day. I spend my days getting people dressed and fed and refed and then it's night. I'm looking forward to the days where we can actually get more than that accomplished but I'm still trying to enjoy this newborn phase too.

Aiden has been doing awesome in school. We just got his first "report card" (as if you can really call it that in kindergarten). He's definitely strong in math, which we knew, but he is also loving music! He sings his heart out all the time and we're hoping he'll take an interest in piano. We've been stuck inside this winter thanks to some of the worst weather I can remember, but Aiden has been having lots of play dates and sledding with our new neighbors so at least he's enjoying this season.

Rory is still our little linebacker. He is too smart for his own good and gets into anything and everything. If Aiden likes to engineer things, Rory likes to reverse engineer. If it can be broken or pulled apart he'll do it. If you hide something, he'll find it. If you try to distract him from something he'll throw all of his energy into getting it. Too smart. On the bright side this means he's been picking up words also. He has a wide vocabulary and is putting together two words at a time now. It's so nice to hear him says "all done" or "please help" instead of him getting frustrated and throwing things across the room.

Audrey is just growing like crazy. For some reason I always assumed she'd be on the small side like me (narcissism I guess). Well, this little girl has blown through all the early sizes of clothing and we are barely keeping up with her. All she does is eat and grow, eat and grow and now she even smiles!

Those smiles make all the crazy worth it. She fits so perfectly into this family like a little piece we never knew was missing. Life has been very busy and sometimes overwhelming but I still stop and look around and can't believe how lucky we are to have these amazing little people in our lives.
  









Saturday, January 25, 2014

Isn't She Lovely

So, our sweet, perfect, angelic, lovely daughter is here. Our daughter. We have a daughter. A little girl. I still can't believe it.

This is going to be a long story, mostly so that I can remember it, so if you just want pictures (which I totally understand because she's gorgeous) just scroll down.

My last doctors appointment was on Friday the 17th and I basically leveled with her about how done I was with being pregnant. She worked some special doctor magic and said that hopefully I'd go into labor within 24 hours, otherwise it'd be another week of waiting. All day I excitedly paced and cleaned and hoped and by the end of the day it was quite clear nothing was going to happen. I texted my friend Tierney, who had been waiting for the past month to come watch the kids at the big moment, not to worry because nothing's going on.


Skip forward to 3am. I was having contractions every five minutes, the big sign that you should head to the hospital. I was laying awake, Aiden for whatever reason, kept waking up with nightmares and had to be returned to bed, and Rory was awake playing in his crib for some unfathomable reason. In the midst of this strangely active night I finally turned to Sean and told him that I was in labor. He asked what I wanted to do and I said...nothing. I'll just lay here awake and...wait. Seemed like a good plan. And he somehow went back to sleep.

By 5am I was pretty certain I should go to the hospital but I really didn't want to bother anyone just in case it wasn't real labor. Yes, at 39 weeks with my third baby I should have known it was the real thing. I finally called and woke my mom up who told me to call the doctor but again, I figured I'd just wait until later so I didn't wake anyone up. I had this weird vision of calling my doctor and interrupting her Saturday morning pancake breakfast with her kids. Finally, at 9, I called and told her what was going on and she very firmly told me to GET TO THE HOSPITAL. So, we did, except we dithered around for another hour because we are crazy.

We got there at 10am and they assured me that yes I really was in labor.  I told them all I wanted to try going without pain medication. Sean begged me to reconsider and the doctor and nurse exchanged a "okay crazy lady" sort of look. The contractions had tailed off so my doctor decided to break my water, which I knew was a horrible terrible idea but went along with anyway. Within minutes my labor went from chugging along slowly to moving at a break neck pace. And I quickly changed my mind about that pain medication. I knew I could get through the contractions but there was no way I could push a baby out with this kind of pain.

The anesthesiologist showed up and it wasn't the usual guy. It was some lady who I'd never met, who kept stabbing me in the back which caused horrible muscle spasms, and then she'd scold me for moving. I was on the verge of telling her to just get the heck away because the pain was worse than the actual labor pain. Finally she finished and I waited for some relief.  I waited and waited and waited through the contractions before the doctor mentioned that it might just be too late in the game for it to kick in. At this point I started to panic.

Finally, I could tell it was go time. This stretch of half hour involved much yelling, mild hysteria on my part, annoyance and frustration on the doctors part and utter terror on Sean's part. It was like a classic Hollywood portrayal of labor with all the screaming and yelling and crying. And then she was here! And she was actually a girl! The most perfect, beautiful girl ever.

 
Audrey Juliet
January 18th, 2014 12:20pm
18 inches, 7 pounds 2 ounces

Sean and I have been at home snuggling our kids all week. The boys are both very much in love with her and I can already tell she'll have them both wrapped around her finger. Life with three has been absolutely wonderful.









Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Longest Christmas Break in the History of Christmas Breaks

This is the last day of Christmas break for Aiden. It has been a wonderful two weeks filled with lots of family time, pajamas, junk food and enough toys to swim in. We were really lucky that Sean had six whole days off, including Christmas Eve and Christmas and even New Years Eve.

We had a great Christmas, mostly because Sean was home to celebrate with us and I didn't run myself into the ground trying to make everything perfect, unlike this year's very exhausting Thanksgiving. This has actually been a really restful time, despite both kids being home and perpetually hopped up on sugar and new, fun, shiny toys. 

Sean and I even bought ourselves new, fun, shiny toys: Iphones. That's right, we've surrendered our ancient, no-texting, only-make-phone-calls cellphones and bit the bullet. I've been open to the idea for awhile but Sean has been firmly against it and in the end we never went for it because it seemed so....frivolous. Just so unnecessary.  Do I need to stream music and movies from a tiny hand held device? Do I need useful coupons to pop up on my phone when I enter a store? Do I need a nice lady named Siri who answers all my most pressing questions? No. I don't. BUT IT IS SO FANTASTIC. So, yeah, we were quick converts and frankly it's really nice to be able to text family or friends instead of trying to make a phone call over the sound of two very loud children. So unnecessary and so utterly fantastic.

After Christmas we had a rather epic snowstorm that left us with a foot or so of snow. Aiden was supposed to head back to school the Thursday after New Year but got both Thursday and Friday off from school. Thank goodness because going back for two measly days seemed really silly to me and frankly I just didn't want to get myself out of bed and make lunch and stand in the cold while he waited for the bus. Snow days are good for everyone over here. Except Sean, who will never have a snow day. Poor Sean. 

Finally, we (meaning me) are in the final (seriously, FINAL, the end is nigh, please) days of this pregnancy. I'm at the point of practically living at the doctor's office I have so many appointments and they've given me the not-useful-at-all discussion about how I could go into labor at any minute. Also, I may not go into labor for a couple of weeks. Either one. Constant vigilance! But try to relax. So, you know, not helpful at all. During the day every twinge and ache makes me hope that this could be it! Please let this be labor! At night however every twinge and ache throws me into a panic as I think about how unready we are. So not ready. I think it's pretty normal but my attitude amuses Sean who just hopes everything happens when he's home.

So tomorrow we're back to real life. Alarm clocks and non-pajama clothing and having to be places on time. These two weeks have been great but maybe getting back into the swing of things will encourage the last little Christmas present we're waiting on to finally get here.