26 May 2015

Wedding Prep

Did you ever have to do that science experiment in elementary school where you have a glass jar and a bunch of stones? You have to get all the stones in the jar, but you have to pack them just a certain way in order for it to happen? The big stones first, the pebbles second? That's what these last few weeks have felt like to me. Abigail's birthday on Monday, the wellness visit Tuesday afternoon, the aunt and uncle for dinner on Thursday evening, the Bachelorette party on Friday night. Slow cooker dinners Tuesday and Thursday, make cupcakes Monday morning, make the dish to pass for Friday night on Friday morning, throw laundry in the washer right after breakfast and maybe I'll get it in the dryer before Eleanor's nap. Did I bleach the girls' tights? How much time should I spend trying to break in my wedding shoes? Wait a second - will my nylons even fit at this point?

But thankfully after three long weeks and two long days, the family-wide cold has left the building. It was brutal.

Getting ready for the bachelorette party with two young kids.

I am a very organized but high-strung person, which means I do things like...create a wedding-day schedule that specifies exactly where everyone will be, who they'll be with, and what they'll be doing down to the half hour. Such a thing is very helpful when you're staring down the barrel of a two hour Latin Mass.

This means that everyone has time to get ready. That I know exactly what I need to bring to the church to keep the kids distracted during pictures. I know when and how often Matt and I will both be busy and therefore need someone for the girls. I know all these things well enough in advance that I already secured an aunt and uncle to be with the girls during Mass and we had them over for dinner so they girls could get to know them a bit. It means that we went to the church ahead of time and I checked out where the bathrooms are and if a stroller will fit down the stairs to the bridal room. This kind of planning means that no one I come into contact with will be left holding the short end of the stick.

But being organized yet high strung means I also totally freak out over every little detail. Matt! I don't look pregnant, I just look fat in this dress! Why didn't we stick with that 30 day plank challenge, my arms look so flabby! It's so hot in this apartment, I'm turning the air on! Eleanor, gosh darn it, I just put that away! Ugh, should I hem this dress or not? This sheer stuff is so annoying!

In sum, shit gets done, but it has it's stressful moments.

Lots and lots of things are getting bumped to June with the promise that "we'll take care of that after the wedding." We're hoping to have a fun and productive summer while I'm in the blissful second trimester.

In the meantime, I'm over here being both productive and panicky. The girls sashes have been sewn in place, their tights bleached, both pairs of shoes are clean and matching and in a bag on the same hanger as their dresses.

What am I going to do with Eleanor's hair? I need to take the car on Wednesday so I can run to the dollar store and get some quiet trinkets to keep the girls quiet during Mass. I need to make sure I have ingredients for clean and easy lunches and snacks for the girls in between pictures and the ceremony and during the ceremony itself.

I have a babysitter arranged and hotel room booked at the reception hall. I emailed the babysitter the itinerary. The shoes, shall, nail wraps, and wedding gift are all ready to go in plenty of time and are never misplaced.

Does my wedding lipstick color work with whatever "season" my skin tone is? (I bought it on a girls' night with the endorsement of the bride). What the heck am I going to do about dinner for the girls? What earrings am I going to wear? What if there isn't enough time for me to get the girls up to the hotel room before we start the entrance into the reception hall? Should I worry about the bust of my dress being a bit loose?

I wouldn't normally worry about things like wedding lipsticks and bleaching tights, but this is a family wedding and it might be the last wedding I get to be in. Plus all four of us are in the wedding, and I'm super close with all my sister-in-laws, so this wedding is really special to me. So I'm paying to get my hair done at a real salon. I totally hatched a plan so I could be the one make the rehearsal bouquet. Despite the seemingly impossible nature of it, I am determined to make New York style bagels and surprise my mother-in-law to relieve some stress for her at her day-after brunch for the out-of-town family members. (She doesn't read my blog, so don't tell her my plan, people I know in real life!)

It's stressful, but it's worth it. Or it will be once I figure out how I'm going to keep Abigail from pulling the ribbons out of her hair on the big day.

22 May 2015

Decision Making

At the end of the month, we will have lived in this little apartment for 21 months. That is significant because it'll be tied for the "Longest We've Lived In One Place Since Getting Married" - 7 years ago - award. We spent 21 months in our first apartment in Florida too. But this place will likely win first place soon because we've decided to turn down the townhouse and stay here.

When I sat down to blog about our different options, I felt so unsure. What is the right answer?! Where should we live?! But once I got out all my thoughts and organized them in a coherent manner, the right answer seemed obvious. When I prayed about it that night, I finally felt some peace. I talked over everything with Matt in the fresh morning light and we came to a conclusion. We then sat on that conclusion for a bit and continued to like it.

It basically boils down to this:
-There is a decent chance Matt's permanent job will not be within commuting distance of the townhouse.
-Moving twice in one year and breaking a lease would be a huge financial burden.

So....if we move to the townhouse, there is a decent chance we'll end up with a huge financial burden.

Our apartment complex is willing to let us sign a six month lease or go month-to-month. We believe it's the right decision. We are going to rent a storage unit in town so that we can open up a bit of space around here. We are currently storing some things in my parents' basement, but as they are about 20-30 minutes away, it's not feasible for me to just run out there to drop something off or pick something up "real quick." If the unit was in town, I could stash more stuff because I could access it much quicker. I'm also going to stop stalking Zillow.com. Ogling all the available houses makes it impossible for me to be at peace with staying here when it's raining and the kids are bouncing off the walls.

One of the biggest advantages to staying here is that we can continue to save money, which is going to come in handy when we go car shopping the summer. We're still going to have all the same struggles as we've always had in this tiny space, but I'm going to keep reminding myself that I made this choice. We didn't get stuck here.

It's not all bad - when Matt gets a permanent job, we can buy a house! We could easily be in our own house by Christmas. And then this place will be a memory. And our apartment days will finally be over.

18 May 2015

4th Birthday, Rockstar

Coincidently enough, Abigail actually shares her birthday with a number of friends' kids (and a second cousin) of ours, so every May 18th, my Facebook fills up with adorable tributes to precious littles. This morning was no different. "I love you to the moon and back!" "May God continue to pour out His blessings upon you!" As my Facebook wall bloomed with, "his sweet smile completes me/she is the reason I live" and photos of adorable smiles, my life-completing blessing was running around the apartment shouting at the top of her lungs, "NO! NO! UH OH! BAYBEE! NO! MY CHURN!" as Abigail ran along behind Eleanor ripping every toy out of her hand and preventing her from playing with anything in the entire room.

Anything. She wouldn't even let Eleanor play with Eleanor's birthday present.

Ah, to be four.

I tried hard to capture a sweet smile worthy of annoying Facebook with, but Abigail hates having her picture taken. I took about 100 photos today (albeit they are not all attempts to get Abigail to smile).

I have lots sweet, innocent, look down/off into the distance angles:

A few of the "are you still holding the camera?" glance:

Of course, some "all done" walk-aways:

and a few close runner-ups:

Some of the runner ups were nice, but I thought the Frozen stickers were distracting and all the "she's touching a toy I like" meltdowns were preventing me from Photoshopping them out. I did end up posting that one on the lower right on Facebook. (I liked that the camera's focus is on the foreground, it's not blurry, and you can see her freckles).

But in the end, I did get one genuine smile:

When my kids are older, I totally plan to let them skip school on their birthday if they want, but for Abigail, skipping school would be like punishing her, so off she went on the bus at precisely on time, much to her little heart's delight. And once she was gone, I compensated Eleanor by letting her play with Abigail's new birthday toy all by herself.

And we're going to file that away under "Things we'll take with us to the grave."

But I did arrange with Abigail's teacher to bring in some treats during snack time - mini banana cupcakes with hot pink sprinkles, mind you - and so in honor of my life-completing blessing, I woke Eleanor up early from her nap, slathered us in sunscreen, and ventured out into the 83 degree, 1,000,000% humid air to walk the 6,000 .6 miles to preschool.

Abigail was very excited to see Mommy and Baybee at school and Baybee was super enthralled by all the big kids running around. I totally love observing Abigail in school, seeing how she interacts with the other kids, how well she follows the teacher's directions. She's doing so well and growing so much. I don't know where we'd be without preschool.

For dinner, we went to...you guessed it! McDonald's. Why McDonald's? Because we're four. Abigail got her very first happy meal (which she split with Eleanor because she'll only eat the french fries). We ate at the restaurant, but I convinced her to pose with her toy and her adorably tiny fry pod when we got home.

You can see how thrilled she was about it. Anyway, when we returned home, Abigail sang "Happy Birthday" to herself (it was adorable) and actually attempted to blow out her candle for the first time. And Eleanor...Eleanor was ready for that cupcake.

"What a difference three year's makes!" Matt noted.

Yes, but what a difference four years makes.

16 May 2015

An Insider's View

There is a lot of pressure on a pregnant woman to have a Healthy Baby. As if getting a Healthy Baby were as easy as picking out a new pair of shoes. Advice always ends with the decree: “as long as it’s healthy!”

“Do you want a boy or a girl?”
“Actually, I’m hoping for a girl!”
“But it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s healthy, right?”

“Oh, I have such terrible heartburn!”
“It’s okay, just so long as the baby is healthy!”

“My arm spontaneously burst into flames yesterday.”
“You’ll be okay, just as long as the baby is healthy.”

Read the full post on Sapphire's Dream!

13 May 2015

She Keeps Getting Better

This picture blows my mind.

As soon as I saw Eleanor standing in this pose, I quickly snapped a picture. It was one of those times when I wish I could have yelled across the room to Matt, "Look at this! Look at what Eleanor is doing!" Standing. On an uneven surface. At 12 months. Sure, she's helping herself a bit by holding on to the toy, but you can tell by the quad on the leg on the ground that she's also using legs, butt, and core to sustain herself. She's voluntarily using slow twitch muscles groups. That is mind blowing for me.

I spent three years in physical therapy with Abigail talking about muscles and movement. Abigail needs structured play and you have to support her muscles in the ways you want her to use them and you have to hold her accountable when she cheats. It's a lot of freaking work. And for three solid years, therapy was my whole world.

To watch someone conquer a squishy pillow course for fun, with a smile, oi. The human body is a beautiful, beautiful thing. To lift an arm while on all fours...

Watching her transfer her weight to her shoulders and arms and use her core to lift her legs...

Her arms are even staggered! Watching everything just work is like watching a magic show. Or finding out how your favorite candy is made. So that's how they do it! Eleanor is like a behind-the-scenes tour of my favorite tv show. I am constantly in amazement at how perfect the process is that takes us from weak newborn to solid child. Whoever designed this system is brilliant. *Wink*

10 May 2015

Ellienor's First Birthday

Today is a very special day. What happened today? We turned one.

So what does one do on her first birthday? First, open a large present.

Call for backup if necessary.

Demand cookies for lunch.

Convince Mommy and Daddy to spirit you off to a hands on museum. Bribe with iced mochas if your birthday happens to fall on Mother's Day and Mommy claims to want a little attention herself.

Romp around blissfully. 

When you return home, it is advisable to take a short nap to build up your energies. After a delicious dinner of macaroni and cheese, order gourmet cupcakes.

Since it's your first birthday, you may be uncertain exactly how to consume a cupcake. Ask a role model for advice. 

Make sure you smear frosting on as many places as possible (including Mommy's camera lens) to be sure you get a warm bath. Since it's Mother's Day, Daddy will be forced to do the bathing, but this works out in your favor because Daddy lets you splash water on the bathroom floor and Mommy doesn't.

If you have siblings like mine who take over your toys, insist they go to bed first. Then stay up late and play with your new toy all by yourself.

And that, people, is how you score an awesome first birthday.