Wednesday, February 12, 2014

An (Eerily) Quiet Afternoon

Two Hours.  I have two whole hours to myself today, while Jack and Hannah are asleep and Lilly is over playing at a friend's house.  It's eerily quiet and I keep looking at the clock, feeling like there's something else I should be doing.  I've folded laundry and cleaned up after lunch.  I've paid bills and ordered birthday presents.  I've prepared (as much as one can prepare) for the impending snow that we're supposed to get tonight and tomorrow.  I've checked everything off my to do list for the day.  I've organized my tutoring for tonight and so now, I really have nothing else that I should be doing.

From the earliest hours of the morning, today has been a good day.  I went out last night for a girls' night with some of my favorite people.  What an amazing feeling it is to be able to sit and chat over dinner and drinks, without little people running around and interrupting our conversation at every possible chance.  We all laughed and drank (well, those of us who aren't pregnant) and left saying that we had to do this more often.  Even though I went to bed later than normal, I woke up feeling refreshed.  Then, when I checked my email early this morning, I found an email from Edward waiting in my inbox.  I smiled, knowing that Edward's emails are like really good short stories, so I read it and caught up on Edward and Kristin's life in Singapore and beyond.  Dad has always told us that what you read first thing in the morning is really important to setting the tone for your day.  If you read something negative, you start your day off on a negative note, so reading about Edward's wonderful life in Singapore set the tone for my day.  I was instantly in a good mood.

After dropping Lilly off at school, I walked out to the mailbox and discovered that with the usual junk that arrives and goes straight into the recycling, was an envelope from Joseph.  I opened it to discover the most thoughtful note and wonderful book.  It's a book where I can write down one memory a day--for 5 years.  A few weeks ago, Joseph sent me an email after reading one of my blogs, and I told him that I love writing them and was making it a goal in 2014 to sit down and write more, because there is so much that I want to remember from this time in my life.  So, Joseph who loves notebooks and writing, sent me the perfect book that will encourage me to write more.  It's so simple and so brilliant.  I can't wait to use it.

At dinner last night, some of the girls asked about our family and I love looking at everyone's faces when I tell them that Mum and Dad are in Austin but coming up to visit at the beginning of March before they head over to Singapore for a few months.  And that Ellie is in Guatemala but may move to Stamford.  And Joseph was in Austin but is currently living in San Francisco, doing a job that he loves.  Oh, and he's stopping up to visit next weekend (!!!) while he's over on the east coast.  And Edward is working away at an amazing job in Singapore, enjoying life with Kristin and traveling at every opportunity.  It's hard to love people so much, and have them be so far away.  Yes, we Skype all the time, and send emails and everyone comes to visit us but we haven't been able to get together like we used to.  Ellie may have the opportunity to work in Stamford, which would be so close to us that I almost can't believe it, but I'm trying not to let myself get too excited in case it doesn't happen.  I know that no matter what, we'll all be together at some point this year.  We have a lot to celebrate.  Mum and Dad just celebrated 35 years of being married.  Mum will turn 60 in July.  Ellie is doing a half-Ironman in September, and you can bet that every person in our family, no matter where they are in the world, will be there to cheer Ellie on, as she has been the most amazing spectator at all of our races.  I'm already dreaming up things to write on signs.

Just as I decided I was going to make time to write more this year, I also decided that I was going to spend less time using social media.  I barely go on Facebook anymore, and I find myself happier.  What little free time I have does not need to be spent looking at what 500 of my closest friends are doing on a daily basis.  I do love Instagram though, and have decided that is where I will spend my "social media" time.  It's so simple and drama free.  In the past few weeks, I have been able to see videos of Mum rowing and surreal pictures of Ellie and her work in Guatemala; I've seen photos of Edward and Kristin with tiger cubs and elephants; photos of Dad and Edward walking in the gardens and drinking beer together in Singapore; photos of Joseph posing on top of monuments across the United States; photos of the gorgeous little animals that Mum knits and sends to lucky little babies all over the world; photos of my nieces and nephews as they grow up a few states away; photos of my friends and their little ones playing in the snow (which is all we seem to be able to do these days); photos of Joseph and Dad doing races.  One of my favorite Instagram photos is one that Joseph took, of Mum and Dad taking a "selfie" on Dad's birthday, that Edward reposted on their anniversary.  I never close Instragram and feel annoyed, as I do often when I'm on Facebook.  That's how I know what I should make time for and what I should get rid of in my life.    

I didn't know what I was going to write when I sat down today.  I know that in the near future, I want to write about Lilly jumping in the pool fearlessly at swimming and Jack walking around the house saying things like "Oh, the indignity..." as he imitates Gordon the train.  I want to write about Hannah who follows me around the house putting everything she finds on the floor in her mouth, "cruising for floor snacks," as Lilly says.  I want to write about the seemingly never-ending snow and Lilly and Jack playing in the snow.  But in the quiet of this afternoon, my mind wandered around the world.

Mum and Dad taking their first "selfie"

The "selfie" itself.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Two Blue Eyes, Seven Little Teeth, Ten Months Old

2 little teeth...Nov 30 2013
Hannah is currently in one of my favorite baby stages.  Of course, each stage is special.  There's nothing like a newborn, swaddled up and sleeping on your chest.  A toddler running around and chatting and playing and discovering the world is pretty special.  And being able to have conversations with your little ones as they transform from toddlers into real little children is astonishing.  But there's something about a 10 month old that I just love.  Actually, there are lots of things.

Hannah has chubby, leathery knees, from lots of food and crawling.  She has yet to turn away a single item of food.  The girl eats everything from parsnip and pomegranate seeds (not together, of course) to broccoli and beets.  She loves chicken.  She loves spaghetti sauce (Gigi's famous meat sauce is her sauce of choice, which I believe was the first real food that I took a liking to when I was little)! She enjoys yogurt and cheese.  She adores Vegemite.  Really, the only problem I have at the moment is not feeding her too much, as she gets really cross when she's finished eating.  She locks her arms out straight and clenches her teeth together and lets out some grunts and growls that make all of us laugh.  I used to be able to distract her with a teething ring when she had finished, but now, when I hand her that teething ring, she's onto me.  She puts it in her mouth, as if to appease me, smiles, and then tosses it onto the floor before requesting more feed (clenching teeth, grunting, growling...)

I dare you to take a look at Hannah's toothy grin and not smile.  It's impossible.  She currently has seven teeth.  Seven.  As Dad says, she's in full on Nascar driver mode.  She looks like a little baby, and then she smiles and this little mouth is full of teeth!  Hannah has been a teething dream--she doesn't act any differently at all (a runny nose here and there or a squeal in the night) and then she wakes up with a new tooth.  There was the week in December when she got all four of her top teeth in one week, and spent the week her happy, smiley self.  Having spent the last few years watching Jack, who hasn't been the easiest teether, I fully appreciate every little tooth that makes its way through Hannah's gums in such an unobtrusive fashion.

January 2014...7 teeth!
Hannah is learning how she fits into our family.  She just adores Lilly.  They sit next to each other in the car, and Hannah laughs and plays and blurts with Lilly endlessly.  When I snap her car seat in each morning, the first thing she does is look over to see if Lilly is in her car seat next to her.  Lilly, in turn, adores Hannah.  Every day, when she comes home from school, she asks if she can have some time to play with Hannah before I take her upstairs for her nap.  She reads to her, builds her towers to knock over, and crawls around the house with her.  I see the relationship between the oldest and the youngest unfolding, and it's definitely a special one.

Hannah and Jack are little buddies.  They are so close together in age and with each day that goes by, that gap seems to get smaller.  Hannah spends her mornings crawling around, checking out whatever Jack is doing.  If Jack is doing a puzzle, Hannah is right next to him eating puzzle pieces.  If he's setting up train tracks and playing with his trains, then Hannah is pulling herself up on the train table to see what's going on.  These two have an understanding.  Jack lets Hannah eat his puzzle pieces or his drill that belongs to his take-apart airplane (one of his favorite toys at the moment), but as soon as he needs to use it, he tells Hannah that it's "Jack's turn" and she drops it.  As soon as he says it, she just lets go.  I have no idea how long this will last, but for now, this little 10 month old and 2 year old have an understanding when it comes to playing with toys, and it makes me smile every time.  Jack loves reading to Hannah too, and she's a very patient audience.  She lets Jack hold the book, turn the pages, and claps whenever he's finished reading.    

This time last year, little Hannah wasn't a part of our lives yet.  Now, she's a 10.5 month old with her own little personality, who makes all of our lives brighter every day.

One of her many fantastic expressions