Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloweeeeeeen!

With cute kids like this, it makes me really wonder what our first boy would've been like at nearly 4 years old. I'm certain he would've picked an awesome costume and loved all the excitement. Andrew, you are missed, as big as this bumble bee mama can miss someone.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Active October

We're busy bees over here!

In a nutshell, the last two weeks included the following:
  • California grandparents arrived for a few days.
  • New pumpkin patch exploring.
  • Visited the beautiful Cantigny Park.
  • Grandparents watched the kids so we could have a rare date night at our very favorite restaurant! Complete with cocktails! And no kids sitting on our laps!
  • Benjamin attended preschool a few times.
  • Claire had her first trip to the ER for a quick spike of 104.6 fever which yielded nothing... until a few days later when she developed the Roseola rash. She had a catheter and urine test and it was ruled viral and the rash confirmed it.
  • Claire turned 9 months on that very same high fever day.
  • She also sprouted her fourth tooth. 
  • I got one of the best massages of my life... Mother's Day gift finally used from my parents!
  • We flew to Orlando (and stayed 5 days) with two pretty good flights (round trip).
  • I was a sucker and paid $20 for a ridiculous inflatable alligator that was hardly used. #facepalm
  • 3/4 of us had our first trip to Disney World.
  • Benjamin was perfect and without a single tantrum during the entire 10 hours of Disney fun without a nap. That place is MAGIC!
  • Benjamin's WORLD was made when he met Mickey Mouse and Buzz Lightyear (and Pooh & Tigger).
  • I successfully failed at getting the kids to sleep through the night or nap in the hotel room that was too small for my liking but successfully managed two double stroller naps!
  • We arrived home completely exhausted, with many loads of laundry and a couple cranky kids.

I'll post pictures and commentary from the Disney trip in another blog post, but until then...

Left photo taken October 12. Right photo taken 48 hours later at the ER during her temperature spike. Doesn't even look like the same girl!
Gawbee arrived (same day and time of Claire's fever hike. OF COURSE). Though, it proved rather convenient because she handled Benjamin at home while we both whisked Claire off to the doctor. Thank you, paid deductible because of the NICU cost in January. She took Benjamin to storytime, we had bagels in the local downtown and hit up some fun places and shops.
Dinner date with my hunky husband, some alone time with my beautiful daughter & a FABULOUS massage (and for those who remember my phone debacle, my parents came to my rescue with a phone for my birthday! New cover in use!)
That fever baby was back to normal and was delightful at her 9mo appointment. Clocking in at 18lb4oz, we're just about in size 3 diapers over here. She and Benjamin might be in the same size diaper soon if he doesn't get his butt in gear and potty train! My dad arrived and they took the kids to a local indoor bounce place and out to dinner while we had our date night.
Donuts for breakfast and off to explore beautiful Cantigny Park!
 We heart Cantigny.
We hit up a local pumpkin patch that was just okay... we'll be back to the far place next year. I seriously think experiences are often dependent on weather and the weather that day was drizzly and cool, hence our mediocre experience. We still managed bounce houses, train rides, a hayride, pony ride, animal feedings, cider and cider donuts, holding baby chickens and cute pumpkin pictures... so I'd say it was a success.
 Um, how cute are they? I seriously can't believe they are our kids.
 Benjamin is fearless. I love it.
Pumpkin carving (Benjamin INSISTED he handle the knife for portions!).

Monday, October 27, 2014

Toddler and Baby Lifesavers

The only reason I'm a capable and relatively happy human being right now is because of Benjamin and Claire. Well, mostly Benjamin. He came after Andrew and saved me from a very dark place. Not that the dark place doesn't still exist, but him being alive and allowing me to perform the duties of a mother literally brought me out of a dark place into some light again.

I often tell strangers about Andrew. At least a few times a week, his life comes up in conversation enough for me to explain things. I usually add the whole bit about being able to talk about him without crying because it's been a long time and I have two living children who carry on somewhat of a legacy for him. They carry some of his traits, features, and quirkiness, I'm assuming. I want to assume. I'm guessing I'd be bawling my eyes out while explaining his story if Benjamin and Claire were not in the picture after losing him, no matter if it had been 4 hours or 4 years like we're approaching in December.

With these kids, I feel like I gained some of my happiness and life back.

Without them? I would be in a very bleak place, I think. It's because of them and only because of them that living without Andrew is made manageable. It's a little scary to me that they carry so much of that healing burden for me. It's not fair to them, maybe. But honestly speaking, where on earth would I be without them?

Perhaps a dark post for a Monday, but honest. Something I've been thinking about a lot this week. I'll be back soon (after Halloween festivities and Benjamin's first school program!!) with pictures from pumpkin patch adventure and Disney World!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Letters to Andrew + Invitation

If you will join me, please unite in lighting candles to remember the babies at 7 p.m. this evening.

Small Bird Studio
Dear Andrew,

I almost wrote "sweet" Andrew, but really, who knows who you would have been. You might have been spunky, but I presume more circumspect than your younger brother. I think you would've been an intellect and someone who was easy to please. I guess I can't picture you being anything but wonderful because that's the dream I had for you as a baby growing for those nearly 39 weeks.

One thing is certain; the person you would have been has left a gaping hole in our family. I always said I wanted two children, but missing you makes me sure I want three. Except, I have three and you're not here. If I had one more, I would feel like I want four. I will always want you.

Missing and loving and lighting a candle that is not enough, because we love you.


Monday, October 13, 2014

NILMDTS Featured!

I wrote back in August about winning $1,000 for an organization near and dear to our hearts and the reason we have beautiful photos of our Andrew, NILMDTS.

Well, they're featured this week! It's Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day on Wednesday and it's timely to have them at the top of the website with a beautiful photo.

Check it out!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

No, Benjamin.

He's been hearing that a lot, lately. Followed by an explanation, of course, but I feel like a broken record.

  • No, don't spit on the floor. If we do that, we will have a messy house. 
  • No, don't (insert mean thing here) your sister. We are kind to one another.
  • No, you may not put your sandwich bites in the play cart. It's unsanitary. Food needs to stay in the kitchen and on the table.
  • No, hanging on the spice cabinet will cause it to break. You've already broken two drawers recently and we don't want anymore drawers we cannot use.
  • No, you are not allowed to throw Mommy's phone because it will break.
  • No, you may not take out four pieces of string cheese, chew on them through the wrapper and put them in the pantry because that's wasting food and then they will spoil in there.
  • No, you may not take off the cap to the vinegar and chew on it. We need a cap on the vinegar and chewing on it is unsanitary.
  • No, I can't read you that book right now because I am making breakfast/lunch/dinner. I will read it when I am done, but I must make it now because we are all hungry (to which he replies, "No Benjamin eat breakfast/lunch/dinner." and I reply, "But Mommy and Daddy and Sister are hungry and I need to make us food.")

I could go on. FOR DAYS. Not just that, but other explanations of how leaving his sandwich on the table without eating it for hours will result in flies eating it. So. just. please. eat. the. stupid. sandwich (as I stare at one next to me that he left there and did not eat during lunch with a fly on it).

I have had such a short fuse with him lately. Not-so-lucky for me, Dad has a business dinner tonight and I've had one of those mornings that involved everything going wrong: the neoprene handlebar on my BOB ripped because it was in the trunk and was scraped off somehow, the store was out of most of the things I had on my list, the next store was closed, there was no parking at the next place until I got all the way to the entrance carrying the sleeping baby in the baby carrier that now weighs 25lbs which then woke her up from her useless 10 minute morning nap, thus resulting in me getting little done while Benjamin was at school this morning and a cranky and clingy baby to contend with when we picked up brother. Phew, run-on sentence totally necessary there for effect. Correct use of affect/effect? Oh, I don't care. I'm exhausted and it's my only "free" time until bedtime.

He's jealous of Claire getting lots of attention. It's not that I want to give her more attention, it's just that she's at the stage where she must be held or she will lose her everloving mind and it's all I can do to keep myself from cracking open a beer before dinnertime. She can't crawl yet, so instead she just requires I hold her. I remember Benjamin at this stage and how exhausting that was toting him around all day, but I didn't have an older sibling (insert crying face emoticon here) to manage at the same time.

I've been hearing "put baby down" and "no feed baby" a whole lot lately. But I can't. I kind of have to feed her. She's better than most babies and knocks that business out in about 5 minutes, but asking him to wait that long and denying him the rights to "read airplane book" for the 17th time that day already because of sister's needs starts to wear on him. In that 5-minute time of feeding her, he usually finds me (as I hide lately bc she gets so distracted) and proceeds to pester me which then causes sister to turn away and spray milk everywhere, ruining her feed entirely.

I need to carve out some Benjamin and Mommy time, but I simply have no idea what to do with little sister. She's got minor separation anxiety and she's awake during almost every minute of his waking hours, too. There's that morning nap she takes that he doesn't, but we're usually gallivanting around the children's museum or at storytime or at preschool during that time as she naps on-the-go.

It will get easier as they get older, I'm sure. But right now, it takes everything in me to tolerate his toddler tantrums and nonsense when I know the root cause of some of those things are the very things I can't really fix right now.

#luckymomproblems, I know. But in the midst of this chaos, I will admit defeat. So then, #sendvodka.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fall Color 5k

I've been itching to get out and go for a family race since Claire was born. Of course, she was too little and born during the longest winter ever, so that couldn't happen right away. Now that we're on the verge of another long winter (snow flurries on Saturday, people!), we definitely needed to make it happen.

We signed up for a local 5k along with about 2,000 other people at the Arboretum in the suburbs. It's one of my favorite places in all of Illinois with so much for kids to explore and nature all around you. We went with friends to a concert night for kids there a couple months ago and it was just so great. Here's a little throwback to December 2012 with pudgy Benjamin at the Arboretum. He was just one month older than Claire there. You almost forget you're in the middle of a populated suburb when you're there. Benjamin loves the tree houses and children's garden and all the offerings for little ones. We don't have a membership, but plan to get one next year for Benjamin and Claire to run and play and explore.
The couple who took this photo ran with their Baby Jogger Citi Mini and kept pace with us the entire time weaving through walkers. Claire's snowsuit is a hand-me-down from Benjamin that was a gift... and it's awesome. And blue. :)
The runners with strollers were sandwiched between the runners and walkers. We were essentially behind the people who were determined to "run" and that often ran the first 1/4 mile and then walked. This is a relatively steep run (for Illinois), but the inclines felt good and made it interesting. Aside from the whining from the toddler to pick him up, it was enjoyable and over before we knew it. Not the fastest time (but we're such slow runners anyway), but considering we were dodging walkers left and right and pushing the kids in the double jogger, we were fine with our 34:00 time. It was for fun, after all. It was one of those days I could've just kept running because it felt so good with the 36-degree weather and was just so pretty. We plan to make this race a tradition for our family.
After our race, we had to get Benjamin all ready for his kid's dash! Check out the video on Instagram of Benjamin not in action. He was cranky all morning to begin with, so I expected nothing more, really. Finally Dad went in there and ran with him after all the other kids had dashed on by and then he melted in the middle of the dash. I then ran with him to the end with Claire in my arms. He wasn't the only crier, but anyway.
Much more content painting a pumpkin (for 2 minutes) than running that dash!
We are headed to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving this year and signed ourselves up for the Turkey Trot that runs us around PNC Park (Pittsburgh Pirates) and over the Robert Clemente Bridge. We'll be running that with "Aunt Mansa" and her boyfriend while the kiddos are back at the hotel with Gramie & Grandpa. Got to find some way to make up for the sizeable amount of Prantl's Bakery Burnt Almond Torte & Primanti Brothers I plan to eat while there!