Thursday, October 25, 2012

Little Jack is ONE!

4 teeth, a cut on his nose from crawling off the couch and mouth covered in pumpkin bread.  The face of a happy 1-year-old!
Jack turned one on October 11th and it's taken me two weeks to sit down and properly write about this little boy who has made our lives even better than we imagined possible this time last year.

October 1, 2011.  Still 10 days to go!
I spent the week leading up to Jack's birthday reliving that same week a year ago--a week which started when I thought I was in labor, only to have everything stop.  We called Mum and Dad to camp out in Stamford and be on call should we need to rush off to the hospital.  Every morning, Mum, Dad and Jim would look at me with their faces saying, This could be the day! and every night, I'd go to bed thinking, How long can this baby stay inside me?!  We had a great week of long walks, delicious dinners and Downton Abbey.  Jack enjoyed it so much that he decided to stay put exactly one week past my due date.  On the night of October 10th, I went to bed and woke up at 2:30am to what were unmistakable contractions.  At 3:30, when I realized they weren't stopping, I woke Jim up (his hair had been properly cut days before, in anticipation that we might not have time during labor this time around!), we headed off to the hospital and Jack was born a couple of hours later.  It was quick (albeit not quite painless) and made up for that extra week of being pregnant.

One year later, we have this wonderful little boy.  That's really the only way to describe him.  He's such a boy!  He's got his chubby cheeks, he loves his food, loves cuddles, loves climbing all over Jim, loves "brrrrrooooming his cars" and loves throwing things.  He has developed his own personality and has established his own little place in our family.  Just like Lilly, Jack took his first real steps on his birthday, chasing some balloons.  He spent the next 10 days selectively walking and crawling, and then on Tuesday, he decided that walking was the way to go.  Jack can be found at any given time tottering around the house, both hands up in the air with a proud smile on his face before he crashes to a halt without warning.  I forgot how sweet a stage this is.  Every time Jack's little feet stomp up to me, I smile or clap and say "yaaaaay" (which inevitably distracts him and knocks him over) and give him a hug.  I know it's going to pass too quickly and he'll be chasing Lilly in no time.  Here's a little snippet of his first couple of days walking--almost a week ago. (You can change the setting to watch the video in HD, and watch it on a full screen on youtube if it's not big enough!)

It's also an incredibly perilous time.  Corners are an especially big obstacle at the moment, as are any objects on the ground.  He doesn't so much as glance at the ground so anything lying in his path poses danger.  This is made even more difficult given that aside from walking, Jack's favorite activity at the moment is taking every single toy in the house out.  He plays with some and tosses others, but it's easy to see how these two activities don't necessarily agree with each other.  I spent much of today clapping and cheering for Jack while darting around the house making sure that there was nothing in his way that would send him crashing to the ground.  I'm not ready for another trip to the emergency room just yet--and these hardwood floors are much less forgiving than the carpet in our previous house.

The first glance at his birthday balloons!

The balloons came everywhere with Jack, all day long!

Reading his birthday card from Gigi & Papa
Jack got his very own toolbox!
Cruising in his new car
In the past week, Jack has also acquired four, yes, that's teeth!  In a week, he doubled the number of teeth in his mouth so he currently has eight little choppers.  I think at this point, teeth are just a formality.  Jack manages to eat everything without them anyway so I don't really know how they'll help but at the very least, they'll make his smile less jack-o-lanternish.

Jack is a happy little boy (especially now that those teeth have come in!) and has figured out things he can do that make everyone laugh.  He knows that when he grabs his bib at the table and waves it up and down, Lilly laughs.  Or when he drops his food on the ground and says, "uh oh," Lilly laughs.  He does these things over and over again!  He loves it when we sing songs and he tries to sing along with us with his "baaaa baaaaa's".  He's learned how to open and shut his hands and clap them when we sing "open, shut them, open, shut them, give a little clap, clap, clap" and grins whenever we sing that little song.  He flips through books, turning the pages and "reading," meaning that he makes "aaaaaaah" and "mamamama" noises while he turns the pages.  He waves to everyone, usually with a few seconds delay so that most people still miss his waves.  And boy, does this little guy love his Dad.  When he hears Jim's voice on the phone, his face lights up and he looks at the door that Jim walks through when he comes home from work.  I saw his longest stretch of walking last night when Jim came home and Jack walked all the way from the kitchen to the living room doors to give him a hug.  Completely and totally priceless.  When Jim is home, Jack likes to be playing with him or held by him at all times.  And when Jim leaves for work in the morning, Jack stands by the door waving for a good five minutes after Jim has gone.

Jack enjoyed opening his presents the morning after his party!
Very excited to have his own basketball hoop!

Covered in pumpkin bread and couldnt' be happier!
As I sit here writing this, I'm feeling the kicks of this next little baby, who I'm sure will have made his or her impact by this time next year.  I was 20 weeks pregnant on Tuesday, making me just over half way there.  I cannot believe how fast this pregnancy is flying by.  At my doctor's appointment this week, my doctor went through the usual routine and then said, "well, given how quick your labors are and now you have 2 little ones at home who need looking after when this baby is born, I'd love to induce you at 39 weeks."  After the initial shock, I started laughing.  I was not prepared to talk about this baby being born yet...let alone induction, which she knows I'm not really in favor of.  So we agreed to "think it over" as we always do, which means that she knows that she's put the idea out there and that I probably won't be taking her up on it, but I thanked her just the same and said that we could revisit the topic in three months or so.    

We celebrated Jack's birthday with our friends on Saturday, and I took a few pictures, although I stopped taking pictures early on so that I could enjoy spending time with everyone.  Here are a couple of highlights from the afternoon.

Lilly and Stella, waiting for a ride
Clark takes his lawn mower duties very seriously...
Oliver, just hanging out in the car
Sweet little Margaret who sat in her stroller and took it all in
Mel, Margot and Maureen
Peter and Daniel, cruising around with their dad.
Stella and her new sister, Emi
Birthday candles!

Not sure what to do with his cake he smashed it up and started dropping it on the ground.
I don't know why we waited until the end of the party to try and get a picture of all the little ones.  Some had already gone home and the rest had no desire to sit for a picture...
...a video would have been much more entertaining.  Everyone was trying to make a break for it!
Happy Birthday, Sweet Jack!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I have two eyebrows again!

Ready to get her stitches out!
Lilly got her stitches out today!  She was very excited to go on another adventure to Rye, NY to see Dr. Khoury and get her "frozen ice cream" afterwards.  I picked her up early from school, which I love because I get to go in and see a little glimpse of Lilly's school life.  11:30 is snack time so I saw them all sitting in a circle saying their blessing and getting ready to eat carrots and hummus--a pretty sophisticated snack.  Lilly's blessing is so sweet.  She wants to say it before every meal now and asks Jim and me to repeat after her so that we say it properly.

Lilly's school blessing
We thank you for this food,
For rest and home and all things good.
For wind and rain and sun above,
But most of all for those we love.
Bon appetit.  You may eat.  
Over your napkin please.

So, I picked Lilly up and off we went.  She was great and was even chatting with the doctor this time, telling him about Jack's walking and how he always drops toys when he's sitting in the stroller.  It took a few visits for our chatty Lilly to appear, but appear she did and Dr. Khoury had to ask her to be nice and quiet for a few minutes while he took the stitches out!

We celebrated with lunch at Starbucks--I brought lunch for Lilly and Jack and enjoyed a latte while they ate.  At Starbucks, Lilly was chatting away to the barista and said, "I got my stitches out and now I have two eyebrows again!"  The barista just laughed and said she was very happy to hear that Lilly has two eyebrows again and it must have been difficult having only one eyebrow.

Then it was off to get frozen yogurt--which Lilly calls "frozen ice cream."  It's a good thing we don't have to go back any more because this outing three times in 10 days was a lot!  Lilly now knows she wants chocolate frozen yogurt with sprinkles, teddy bears (gummy bears), 1 candy corn and 1 pumpkin candy corn, and "just a few" m&ms.  Waaaaay too much for a 3-year-old on a regular basis but just enough for a brave little 3-year-old after these three doctor's visits.  

She can now resume all her favorite activities, and hopefully we'll have a few years before our next medical adventure.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Emergency #1...check.

We had our first real parent emergency this weekend, and as situations like this tend to do, this one arose unexpectedly at 3:00 on Saturday morning.  Everyone was asleep (as they should be at that time) and I woke up to a thud and crying.  Real crying.  I nudged Jim--dads get really good at sleeping through noise--and he ran in and got Lil, who had fallen out of bed.  After calming her down, we were all set to go back to sleep, but Jim suggested turning on a light to make sure Lilly was really okay.  It turns out that she wasn't.  Lilly was reaching for her water bottle, which had fallen on the ground and must have either grazed her eye on it or landed on it, because she slit open her eyelid.  Jim and I went back and forth, trying to decide whether she needed to go to the emergency room, and finally, we looked at each other and decided, we have no clue!  We didn't know how deep the cut was.  We didn't know whether it would require stitches.  So, off Jim and Lilly went to the emergency room, hoping for a best case--it'll be fine, just go home and rest--scenario.  I was lying in bed, wide awake, waiting for an update from Jim and about as far away from sleep as I could be.  Knowing that your child, who is so little and innocent, is hurt and there's nothing to do but wait is just brutal.  I was chatting with Mum--one of the advantages to a 12 hour time difference!  It was 3pm in Singapore so Mum was able to offer reassuring words of wisdom and when the time came, helped us decide to use a plastic surgeon for the stitches.  In the ER, the physicians assistant who was attending to Lilly told Jim she could put in a stitch or two but that a plastic surgeon would probably do more, so we set up the appointment with the plastic surgeon for 10am on Saturday morning.  Jim and Lilly were home from the hospital at 5:30am, and Lilly was sound asleep, snuggling in bed with us not long after.

After the Emergency Room, before the stitches.
The timing was unfortunate--aside from being the middle of the night, this also happened right before I was supposed to be teaching all day Saturday.  We talked about me not going and I was ready to ask for help with my class so that I could stay with Lil, but Jim assured me he had everything under control and that he would be fine taking Lilly and Jack to the plastic surgeon in the morning.  I went off to class that morning, and not long after received messages from all of our Fairfield friends, offering to help out.  I really do love living here!  Jerry and Mel came over with Margot for the morning, so that Jack could nap and Jim could take Lilly to the appointment.  That was a lifesaver for us.  This is when Lilly was such an impressive little girl.  She was brave, did everything that the surgeon told her to do, and was lying perfectly still for about an hour while she was all stitched up.  Lilly ended up getting 14 stitches in her eyelid.  The surgeon was outstanding.  I've seen him a few times now for follow up appointments, and he keeps Lilly informed every step of the way and makes sure she knows what to say if she's uncomfortable or if something hurts.  When he was stitching her up on Saturday, after numbing her eye, he told her he was going to ask her lots of times if she could feel anything.  So the conversation went something like this:

Surgeon: Can you feel this?
Lilly: No

Surgeon: Can you feel this?
Lilly: No

Surgeon: Can you feel this?
Lilly: No

Surgeon: Can you feel this?
Lilly: No

Surgeon: Can you feel this?
Lilly: No

Surgeon: Can you feel this?
Lilly: I said, NO!

Surgeon:  I told you I was going to ask you lots of times!

I talked to Lilly in between my classes and asked how she was and she told me that her eye was all better.  When I came home that afternoon, her eye was swollen shut but she was her normal self.  Trying to keep our little bundle of energy calm for 10 days until these stitches come out is not the easiest task!  She's been going to school in the mornings, but instead of going out on the playground at the end of the morning, she helps Kathleen, the director, set up the lunch bunchers' lunches, which she loves.  Her teachers are keeping an extra eye on her and have been wonderful.  Lilly came home from school on Monday and said in a surprised voice, "Mum, all the children kept asking me what happened to my eye!" She thinks that she's healed and back to normal.

Lilly's friend Clark (and my friend Kate) brought Lilly balloons.  She's been carrying around her "I'm going to get better soon" balloon all week!
The next day, Peter (and Peter's mom, Marie) brought over munchkins.  I don't know who was more excited.  Lilly or Jim.  Or Jack come to think of it.  He stuffed an entire munchkin in his mouth when we weren't looking! 
I'm proud of Lilly.  I'm always proud of her and know that she's a good girl, but we've been having some listening battles at home lately.  Lilly and I have different ideas of what listening entails.  Apparently a 3-year old and a 31-year old don't always see eye to eye on these issues.  I see my Mum and Dad in myself more every day, and find myself saying things that I remember them saying to us over and over again.  I have moments of extreme frustration, when I just don't know what to do.  When I saw Lilly with the surgeon this week, and watched her calmly do everything he said, she reminded me that she really is a good girl.  It's her job as a 3-year old to test her boundaries and discover her limits, and test she does.  But at least she does it at home.  The surgeon told me on Monday that when he saw Lilly's eye and learned that she was 3, he was ready to take her to an operating room and give her anesthesia so he could fix it.  But, she surprised him and was able to lie there while he did what he needed to do.  Lilly got the superficial stitches out today, and the rest should come out next Wednesday.  So, Jim and I can check "first middle of the night trip to the emergency room" off our parenting list.  Somehow, in the back of my mind, I know this is only the beginning.

Lunch at Starbucks on Monday, before Lilly's first check up with the plastic surgeon.  Definitely back to normal!  

Brave little Lilly.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Weekend Alone

This weekend, Jim took Lilly and Jack up to Boston for Sarah and Ross' engagement party and Meredith's baptism.  I was teaching on Saturday and Sunday so as much as I wanted to be there, I was unable to partake in the festivities.  The up side to this, however, was that I had my first weekend alone since Lilly was born!  Jim and I have gone away by ourselves a few times but I haven't been at home by myself, with no one else to take care of, for three and a half years.  I've always loved my alone time so I was looking forward to it for weeks.  Saturday didn't really count--I was out the door at 7am and taught in Greenwich until 4:30.  Afterwards, however, I decided to go home via the mall, where I could just wander around by myself, without providing anyone with a running commentary of what we were doing and where we were going.  I got a latte and sat down and enjoyed it in silence.  I didn't talk to a single person--except the cashier when I was paying--and I loved every second of it.  I had stocked up on ingredients to make myself a prosciutto and arugula pizza when I got home, so left the mall and headed back to Fairfield to a dark and quiet house.  I enjoyed my dinner, watched a movie and took out my knitting for the first time in months.  Wild and crazy I know, but that's exactly what I felt like doing.

I thought the night to myself would be the most enjoyable aspect of the weekend, but actually, my night  wasn't too different from our normal nights.  Jim and I always have a few hours to ourselves before going to bed but knowing that I was by myself in the house was definitely strange.  Sunday morning, however, was unbelievable.  I planned on sleeping in, and even though I wouldn't consider 8am a sleep in, it was amazing to wake up on my own, make some coffee, and lie in bed and read until I felt like getting up.  I talked to Mum and Dad on Skype for awhile, headed out to a PSAT class, and then came home and watched another movie with my knitting that afternoon.  When Jim, Lilly and Jack arrived home around 5pm, a roast chicken and grilled veggies were almost ready and we were all excited to see each other.  Jim was happy--tired but happy.  I think being tired had more to do with staying up and enjoying Sarah and Ross' engagement party than it did with looking after the little ones.  After all, he's been Mr. Mom for a few Saturdays now.  Lilly gave me a big hug and updated me on everything she did and everyone she saw over the weekend.  Jack smiled and waved at me, but only wanted Jim to hold him.  It reminded me of when Jim and I went to Italy right after Lilly turned one, and we came back to find that she would run to Gigi or Papa over us for the first day back.

It was a wonderful weekend for me and after hearing all the stories, it sounds like Jim, Lilly and Jack had a great time as well.  As an added bonus, we all got to spend Monday together as it was Columbus Day.  So we still got our relaxing weekend day in.  Jack has started taking a few steps by himself so it's only a matter of time before he takes off chasing Lilly.  We also decided to see if he would be okay if we put away his bottles yesterday, and so far he has been consistent with everything related to food.  I think as long as he has food, he's happy, so the lack of bottle doesn't seem to bother him at all.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we won't need to use bottles again until this next little one comes along.

As lovely as my weekend was, I missed my little family.  Being by myself is amazing but by Sunday afternoon, it felt strange and I was ready for everyone to be at home together.

Very proud of her newly created mosaic frame
Jack cracks himself up and has created his own cheesy grin :)
...after getting stuck in the rain riding home from the train station.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ready or Not...

That's right!  Here we go again.  In about five months, we'll be welcoming a third child into our family.  Although, according to Ellie and Jim, you're not really a "third child" unless you're the third of four children.  Then you're truly neglected as you're not the oldest or the youngest, and there's no middle child...the two of them can go on about this for hours so I'll leave it to Jim to write about the special third child bond one day.  That picture of Jim and Ellie was taken 10 years 2002.  Even then, those two were trouble when they got together.  We sent the above pictures to my family when we told them we are having another baby as I know the words "third child"speak for themselves in the Stephens Family.

I had my anatomy ultrasound on Monday and everything looks great!  We have a healthy little boy or girl who enjoyed posing for the ultrasound technician (so we're guessing a girl this time) but who really knows.  Every pregnancy has been so different for me, but of all of them so far, this one is truly flying by.  I only had 3 weeks early on of feeling not so great, but they were the 3 weeks that we were moving so I didn't really have time to think about it.  When I was pregnant with Jack, I was nervous the whole time.  This time, I haven't been.  Although losing a baby has taken away that carefree feeling that I had while pregnant with Lilly, I've been much more optimistic and excited this time.  I get nervous leading up to the ultrasounds and that's about it.
cute little hand!
This baby is due on March 12th, although the last two ultrasounds have the baby due on March 11th--Jim's birthday.  It's appropriate given that Jim, Lilly and Jack are all born on the 11th of the month.  If this is a true third child, however, I have a feeling he or she will make a statement and choose a different day in March to arrive.

We haven't told Lilly yet--although Jim and I are pretty sure she knows.  I just wasn't ready for the barrage of questions that would ensue for the rest of my pregnancy!  We're going to tell her this week.  She'll occasionally ask me why my stomach is popping out, and the first time she asked me, I told her I had eaten a lot for lunch.  So now she probably thinks I'm a compulsive overeater.  I think she'll be so excited!  And although she won't yet be 4 when this baby arrives, she is going to seem so grown up and (hopefully) be a big help.

Jack obviously has no idea and probably won't the entire pregnancy.  Jack and his little brother or sister will be right around 17 months apart.  Are we crazy?  Most likely.  But given the things that we've gone through, Jim and I have learned that you can't plan everything, and often when you try, things don't work out the way you want them to.  So life will certainly be busy until we get the hang of three.  As Joseph said, it will be time to switch from man-to-man to zone defense.  Jim and I will be outnumbered, and the thought of that just makes me shake my head and smile.  We have no idea what we're in for!

I started writing down some thoughts when I first found out I was pregnant this time and will share those soon.  But for now, I get to sit back, enjoy being pregnant, make myself another cup of coffee and relish in the silence of naptime.

My view from above