Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011

January 2011

As I sit here reflecting on the year, my head is full of fleeting thoughts.  I think back to all the different New Year's Eves over the years.  It's never been a big celebration in my family, but it has always been a time to reflect on the year that passed and to set goals for the upcoming year.  I found some pictures from a New Year's Eve that I remember vividly, from 2004 in Singapore, when we had a Stephens family champagne celebration, which we are really good at, followed by an incredible dance party.

Joseph, exhibiting some of his finest dance moves.

In that same tradition, Jim and I have never had crazy New Year's celebrations--in fact, in our almost 11 years together, this is only our 4th New Year's Eve together.  We were laughing earlier in the evening when we just finished watching Rio (currently Lilly's favorite movie--it's a pretty good one!), and we were singing and playing "Ring Around the Rosy" with Lilly while Jack was lying on the floor by the Christmas tree, kicking and making his baby noises.  We looked at each other and smiled--definitely a New Year's Eve to remember, even if it's not the craziest one.

2011 has been a good year for us.  It's had it's highs and lows, but thankfully, more highs than lows.  The biggest high, of course, being Jack's arrival in October.  He's been such a little (or not so little, as the case may be) blessing in our lives.  He made our family of three a family of four.  He made us happier and prouder parents, while adding a whole new level of discovery to our lives.  We're learning all about what it means to have a son.  Jack made Lilly a big sister.  It's funny to think that as he goes through life, this year will mark the year he was born.  Just as 1981 is significant for me, 2011 will be significant for Jack.

February 2011 marked ten years together for Jim and me, going all the way back to sophomore year of college.

Those ten years have flown by.  Although I knew early on in our relationship that we would end up together, I could not have imagined where we would be today--with a bright and bubbly two and a half year old daughter who fills our lives with so much laughter, and an almost three month old son who we're just getting to know but can't imagine our lives without.  It's a pretty good place to be.

April 2011 saw Lilly turn two, and with that milestone, our silence was shattered.  Earlier this evening, we were looking back to what I had written this time last year, and came across one of our favorite Lilly videos, when she had just learned to tell us to "shit."  Just like we did one year ago, we had a good laugh; only this time, Lilly was watching the video with us, chatting away about how that was baby Lilly and how cute she was.  At least we don't have to worry about her self esteem!

In 2011, we spent time with our families in Florida, DC, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut.  We didn't make it to Austin this year, but will have to revisit it in 2012 for our five year wedding anniversary.  Early in 2011, we learned I was pregnant with Jack and nine months later, Jack was born.  This year, Jim and I both turned 30 and discovered that 30 really isn't that bad.  In 2011, we went to seven weddings of our family and friends, and had a great time at every one, dancing together and remembering our own wedding day.  In 2011, Jim and I went to London for a week and enjoyed spending time together--just the two of us.  Jim did his third Ironman and we spent a memorable week with my family in Wisconsin.  Lilly began referring to my parents as "GigiPapa"--they are now one person to her.  The year was marked by potty training, picnics, and the transition from a crib to a bed.  Lilly created Judy, her bunny, who now accompanies her almost everywhere we go.  She formed a strong friendship with her doll, Daisy, who GigiPapa gave her last Christmas and who spends most of her time imitating Jack.  We keep finding Daisy in Lilly's kitchen sink, and after the initial confusion, realized that this is because we give Jack a bath in our kitchen sink.  This year, Lilly formed an even stronger bond with her one, if that is possible. While there are many more memories from the year, those are some of the highlights.  2011 was good to us and I will look back on the year fondly.

As we look to the year ahead, I can only hope that 2012 brings us as much happiness as 2011 did.  I look forward to kicking off the year in Florida with my whole family!!  We're all making our way down there this week to meet Mum, Dad and Ells.  I say, bring it on.          

December 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Thank You, Santa!

This Christmas is one I'll always remember.  It was our first Christmas as a family of four.  It was the first Christmas where we stayed home to celebrate--just the four of us.  It was the first one where Lilly was really excited for Santa to come.  It was the first Christmas that Jim and I didn't feel like kids anymore--we are officially grown ups who get to see Christmas through the eyes of our children.

Lilly's nativity scene

Santa's beard is very bare.
On his chin there is no hair.
So each day add a puff of white,
Whey they are all on, he'll come that night.

Lilly came into our room and woke us up at 8:15.  Even though she was excited for Santa to come, she still didn't really know what to expect on Christmas morning, hence the sleep in.  Jim asked her if she thought Santa had eaten his cookies and Lilly was very excited to go and check.  She didn't get far before she saw her kitchen, and she was thrilled!  I wish we had pictures of her face but we couldn't get there in time.  She kept saying, "I have my very own kitchen!"  She opened all the doors and gave the kitchen a once over.  Jack woke up a few minutes later and she ran over to his bassinet and said, "Jack, are you soooo excited?  Santa came while I was sound asleep!"

Lilly opened her presents over the course of the morning, so our Christmas morning really lasted until 1:00 in the afternoon.  Most of the presents were things for her kitchen, so she'd open something and decide where in her kitchen it belongs.  Then, she'd play with it for a little while before opening something else.  As much as she loves the kitchen, Santa will be sad to learn that he's not getting any credit for that this year.  Since Lilly asked her Uncle Edward for a kitchen, Lilly tells everyone that the kitchen is from him.  So, Edward may not know it yet, but a bill for the kitchen will be arriving on his door step shortly.  Thank you Uncle Edward!

She also got a few other things--puzzles and instruments--absolute necessities when you're two and a half.  We did each puzzle as she opened it and the drum became part of her attire for the morning. She opened Ariel (from The Little Mermaid) pajamas and said, "This is beautiful!  Thank you Santa!"  Lilly is at such a sweet age where everything is so genuine.

We had snowman pancakes for breakfast, watched a movie, drank too much coffee, took naps and played with toys.  We talked to lots of family over the course of the day; Mum, Dad and Ells in Florida, Edward in Austin, Jim's parents, Liz, Duane and the kids in Villanova, and Joseph in Houston.  We had a delicious dinner complete with lovely champagne.  Our day was comprised of everything we love.

The next day, we realized that we forgot to wrap a present; wings, a crown and a magic wand.  So, we put that under the tree for Lilly to discover, which she did pretty quickly.  As she opened them, she told us, "Thank you Santa!  This is all I've ever wanted!"  Note to Santa: next year, save your time and money and do all your Christmas shopping at H&M.     

We spent the day after Christmas much the same way.  Lilly cooked up a storm in her kitchen, Jim and I enjoyed coffee and a lazy morning together.  Jim's mom, Liz and her little ones stopped by for a visit, giving the cousins some time to run around and play together, which they adore.  I went for my first post-pregnancy run, sporting my new Newton running shoes (which I love).  It was amazing to get out and exercise without a giant belly leading the way.  Although it was hard for me to imagine that I did an Ironman three years ago, I enjoyed every minute of my three mile run/walk.  And I'm still enjoying it, as my legs are clearly recovering today.

Christmas 2011 is one for the books.  I look forward to all the Christmases we will have together as a family, knowing that each one will be special and will come with its own stories. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

Well, actually, there's still a lot of action in the Clark household.  Lilly and Jack are sound asleep, while Santa is hard at work putting together a toy kitchen and wrapping presents.

We had a wonderful Christmas Eve!  This is the first Christmas where Lilly is really excited for Santa to come.  She keeps adding things to the list of things she's asking Santa for.  They tend to be something she wants in the moment but is not allowed to have.  For example, when I was using my earpiece in the car to talk on the phone the other day, Lilly informed me that she was asking Santa for an earpiece.  When she's not allowed to touch things on the stove because they're hot, she tells us that she's going to ask Santa for her own stove.  Today, she added a trumpet to the list (which we really hope Santa doesn't bring--our house is noisy enough as it is).  Over the months, she has delegated presents to certain people.  For example, she asked Edward for a kitchen.  Edward was unaware there were toy kitchens, so the poor guy felt he was a bit in over his head, as you can see here.  She asked Joef for a horse, at my suggestion. Phew, we're off the hook for some big ticket items.  Lilly is still dying for a bike, but we're waiting until the weather is nice enough for her to be outside on a bike. We're saving that one for her birthday.  So, the kitchen it is!  And I have a feeling, at the end of the day, Uncle Edward is going to get a ridiculous amount of credit for this kitchen.

Here, in a nutshell, is how we spent the day before Christmas.  

Jack fell asleep in the middle of the living room floor this morning, amidst music playing, Lilly singing and dancing and Jim vacuuming.  Ahhhh, the life of a second child.

Then, work began on the gingerbread house.

Lilly put on her apron, gave Jim an apron and the two of them got to work.  Well, Jim got to work and Lilly tried to eat all the icing.

Someone (I'm not going to name names), started getting a bit frustrated.  His helper was eating icing, asking questions, and eating more icing.  And the so called icing that was supposed to hold up the house wasn't really doing it's job, causing the house to collapse every few minutes.   

But, at the end of the day, there was indeed a gingerbread house, and Lilly was proud.

Even if the icing was too runny and all the decorations kept sliding off the house.

It's a pretty cute first gingerbread house.  Not edible, but cute.

Jack spent the day doing what he does best--lying on his back and kicking, sleeping, and showing off his adorable little smile.

 Lilly helped give Jack a bottle this evening.  I get nervous when we go a few days without giving Jack a bottle that he'll start to reject it, and he can't reject bottles because I'm off teaching my SAT class on Sunday mornings.  Well, so far, my fears are unfounded.  It's been almost a week since Jack had a bottle and like usual, he tries to drink it so fast that he has to take forced breaks every minute.  He's a good little eater.  Lilly was thrilled to help feed him today!

Then, after our dinner of ribs, corn, baked beans and macaroni and cheese (it was delicious...we're thinking of making it a Christmas Eve tradition!), it was bedtime.  But first, Lilly put cookies and milk out for Santa and some carrots for the reindeer.  She was very specific with what she wanted.  2 cookies for Santa (she must be concerned about his waistline) and 4 carrots for the reindeer.  I guess they can fight it out.

That's where we are now.  One very excited two year old, a two month old who doesn't yet know the excitement that Christmas will bring him in the years ahead, and two tired parents who can't wait to see their little one's reaction on Christmas morning.  

I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out out sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!"

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Out and About

With every day that goes by, life as a family of four is beginning to seem more normal.  It already feels like I was pregnant ages ago.  Those little kicks and punches that I felt in my stomach are becoming distant memories.  The hiccups that I used to feel after almost every meal are now Jack's hiccups.  They are just as strong and last for just as long, but they are on the outside now, and belong to our son.  When I think back, I still can't believe he was the baby inside me for nine months.  He's the one we saw on the ultrasound pictures, giving us a "thumbs up" early on.  Jack is the one who I was doing handstands for in the pool, while 8 months pregnant, trying to coax him to flip head down.  He's the one who sounded false labor alarm bells a couple of days before his due date, and then proceeded to hibernate for another 10 days.  Jack had a party in my stomach every night from 9-10pm, a trend which he continued during his first few weeks of life.  The party just became a lot louder after October 11th.  Pregnancy never ceases to amaze me--how amazing is it that you can grow a human being?

Jack had his two month check up at the doctor last week and he isn't really a "little" baby any more.  He weighed 13 lbs and was 24 inches long.  We try not to compare Lilly and Jack, but in this case, it's hard not to.  Lilly was 13 lbs, 9 oz at 6 months.  He's a big boy!  His favorite activity at the moment is lying on the ground, kicking his legs and waving his arms while staring at the Christmas tree lights.  This provides endless entertainment.  It is hard to imagine life without Jack, even though he has only been a part of our lives for 10 weeks.  We've started to get our little routines back, venturing out to the library, for walks, to the children's museum, Trader Joe's, and this morning we tried out tumble time at a local YMCA--it was Lilly's idea of heaven.  Free play for two hours, complete with trampolines, balance beams, lots of soft mats for tumbling on and uneven bars.  Actually, her Uncle Joef might enjoy this as well, although I was told the ideal age was 1.5-4.  Jack just comes along for the ride, either sleeping in a sling or the moby wrap, or hanging out in his car seat.

Concentrating on the trampoline

This is how we've been grocery shopping--Jack is in his carseat in the back of the cart and Lilly rides on the end.  She loves it!

Frosty, Santa and the Gingerbread Man were all at the Children's Museum yesterday.  Lilly gave Frosty a hug, danced with the Gingerbread Man and when Santa asked her if she wanted to sit on his lap, she said, "no thank you, I'm fine down here." 


Jack's naps are becoming more regular and he is sleeping for longer stretches at night, which means that I don't feel like I have to spend every free second I have sleeping.  I've started reading again...knitting a little bit...and I feel like I even have time to update my blog now!  We're adjusting to our new "normal."  Jack has become a part of everyone's daily life.  Lilly has started having conversations with him.  Last week, when she was splashing around in the bath, I went in to tell her to keep the water in the bath instead of all over the floor.  When I left the bathroom, I heard her talking to Jack.  About me.  Something along the lines of, "and Mum said that I can't splash on the floor but I want to splash on the floor and I'm not going to get out the bath and I'm not allowed to splash..."  Lilly talks and talks and talks, and when I went in to check on her again, she told me that she wasn't talking to me; she was talking to Jack.  And so it begins.  Poor Jack has no idea what he is in for.

Lilly, we've discovered, is very inquisitive by nature.  I have a feeling all little ones are, but we are experiencing first hand just how inquisitive she is.  While Ellie was here, Lilly came out of the bathroom, looking like this:

We noticed that Lilly had been too quiet and went in to the bathroom where Ellie discovered her mascara open, mascara all over Lilly's eye and blush all over her cheeks.  Lilly kept telling us she was just making herself beautiful, so we let her walk around with what appeared to be a black eye for the rest of evening while she looked in the mirror every few minutes calling her makeup beautiful.
Lilly has also taken to dressing herself.  One of her favorite nap time activities is changing all her clothes.  Sometimes, she changes her clothes, gets back into bed and goes to sleep.  Other times, the sleeping part doesn't happen.  This is what emerged after a real nap (complete with a sleep) this weekend:

In case you didn't guess, she picked out her entire outfit herself.  Watermelon hat, pajama top (that she swears is Lucas' pajama top, but that's another story for another time), her favorite heart warm pants, and rain boots.  And she couldn't have been prouder.

This is what happens when Lilly changes her clothes instead of napping, or she decides that she's going to sing songs and read books for 2 hours rather than sleep.

Ellie and I took the little ones for a walk one day after rest time to get a few things from the grocery store, and found both Jack and Lilly sound asleep when we returned home.  I can't even remember the last time Lilly fell asleep in her stroller.  I think it was at the Ironman, around 11:00 at night.  This was one tired little girl.

 Here are some of my favorite moments from the past week:

Lilly lying on her tummy because Jack was lying on his.  And then, she complimented him for holding his head up.

Jack found his hand this week.  He loves it, and makes the best slurping noises when it's in his mouth.  

Lilly doing squats when we were out for a walk.  She learned how to do them when I was pregnant and Jack flipped head down...and we did A LOT of squats to keep him that way.  Lilly still loves doing them.