Friday, August 31, 2012

She Gets Me

Yesterday, my friend Jenny stopped by to drop off some hand-me-down clothes for Maggie. She also brought me a Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee and a homemade peanut butter cup. (!!!)

When I told David about my treats later that day, he said, "Wow. Free stuff, caffeine, and chocolate. She really GETS you."

OMG, you guys. She does. She TOTALLY gets me.

(Okay, okay, she brought me TWO peanut butter cups. I just ate the other one before I decided to take a picture. Aaaaaand then I promptly ate the second one. I JUST NEEDED IT, OKAY?)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Line of Demarcation


David was gone for an early morning meeting.
Maggie slept terribly that night, because she had a cold.
Henry, also with a bad cold, woke himself up with a coughing fit at 5:50am, which also woke Maggie up.

Too tired and disoriented to try to put everyone back to bed for just one hour of sleep, I instead threw a bunch of Cheerios on a blanket, put a cartoon on the tv, and then fell asleep on the sofa for 20 minutes.

It doesn't sound like much, but those 20 minutes of half-sleep on the sofa represent my personal line of demarcation between sanity and insanity.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Baby's First Manicure

Just KIDDING you guys! I would never paint my baby's nails!

She has to learn how to do her eye makeup first.

Monday, August 27, 2012

On The River

This is my final vacation 2012 post. A moment of silence, please.



Okay, thank you.

Our little patch of riverbank on the Cheat River was a lovely. Slow current, shallow wade-able bank, and in the middle of the river, a swimming hole with about a 5 foot depth. Since my biggest vacation fear is always that my children will drown in dark, fast-moving waters, I was BEYOND THRILLED to find the river so mild. I mean, I was still a litle Nazi-ish about lifejacket wearing and constant supervising and such, but I could have been SO MUCH WORSE, you guys.

We got Henry one of those puddlejumper life jackets and he turned into a two-year old Micheal Phelps. He loved it! The river was a little cold for Maggie's taste, but she enjoyed riding along in the kayaks and munching on arrowroot teething cookies.

One day there were some murmerings about taking innertubes and rafts and floating down the river for a few miles. A team went out to assess, and they found a place to put in about 2 miles upstream so that we could just float for a couple of hours, and then arrive at our own patch of riverbank.

David was not going to join us (he had hurt his back the day before), and my Dad, Lauren, and Whit were going to stay behind also. Because I am a GENIUS, I decided to go on the float with everyone else and take both of my children. I dunno. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

So, we drive down the road a couple miles, and wiggle down a pretty steep embankment to get the river. We bring with us one kayak, 10 floats, and a cooler with beer, soda, one sippy cup, and one bag of teething cookies. That's right, treats for everyone.

As we're about to jump in the river, we hear... wait for it... THUNDER. (Also, known as funder.) Now, more reasonable group of people may have just climbed back up the embankment and gone home, but, uhhhh, we didn't. Instead, my dad drove back to the house, checked the Viper weather forcast, and drove back to tell us that there was a thunderstorm, but it was moving the other way. HOORAY! We bid him farewell, and put in. Float On!

The first hour or so was awesome! Floating, chatting, little baby rapids (the water was super shallow, so we often just stood up and walked though parts), Maggie rode with Mumsie in the kayak, and Henry rode on my lap. Henry, for the record, was not too confident about the whole 'floating in an innertube' business. He repeatedly told me "Mama, I wowwied. Mama, I feeyl scawed." Eventually he stopped being 'wowwied' and started enjoying himself. However, about the time he STOPPED getting worried, I started.

Because, the thunder came back. And it kept coming. And it got louder and LOUDER. Now, normally, I am not afraid of a little rain. I like a good storm! But this was a THUNDERSTORM. And those usually come with LIGHTNING. And we were floating down a RIVER.  With my CHILDREN. IN THE WATER.

You see the problem, right? There's not much to do in this situation, but keep on floatin'. And pray. You could also pray for deliverance.

So we floated! And the thunder kept coming! At one point, my brother Mark decided that things were getting too dodgy, and that we should try to get out and walk along the riverbank. So we did, but that was even slower than floating. And, um, it was starting to rain a little.  Justin and Mark walked ahead of us a little ways and decided that it looked like we were really close, and that we should just get back in and go for it.

So we did! We floated. Thunder rumbled. A little more rain came. We had put Henry in the kayak with Mumsie (which would have been safe if lighting hit the river) and I was holding a sleeping Maggie. Just as we were discussing how far down the river an electrical current could travel IF INDEED lightining DID strike the river, we came around a bend, and saw a yellow kayak paddling towards us.

SALVATION! It was my Dad, coming to be sure we didn't get toasted into river soup! He assured us we were, indeed, very close, so we started paddling our rafts with greater force. (Which, does nothing, in case you were wondering. Innertubes just sort of move at their own pace.)

So, Justin grabbed the rope on mine & Maggie's tube and jogged us down the last stretch of river towards home. We got out of the river just as the rain really started coming down, and as I was walking up the steps to the porch, saw the first streak of lightning reach across the sky.

It just wouldn't be family vacation without at least one ill-advised, under-researched, and over-confident expedition, right?

Now, in conclusion, a bevy of photos depicting river frolicking and riverbank lounging, with nary a thundercloud in sight.










Farewell Vacation 2012! Until next year.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Letter to William

Last Friday, I was able to be with a dear friend, as she gave birth to her son. It is a privilege to call her my friend, and an undeserved honor to attend her son's birth. Thanks Chelle, for what was, by far, the most breathtaking way I could ever spend a morning.

Also, if anyone else out there wants someone to hang out with them when they give birth, OH MY GOSH CALL ME, I WOULD DO IT AGAIN IN A HEARTBEAT, IT WAS THE MOST AWESOMEST THING IN THE WORLD. I do not have any training, any expertise, or anything else that might be useful, but man oh man, it is something awesome to see a baby born and I would do it everyday if I could. The End.


Dear Baby Will,

Today I saw you born. And it was incredible.

I would love to know for certain that when you are old enough to appreciate the things that I will write to you today, that your mother and I will still be fast friends. That we'll still live in the same city, still meet in the early morning for coffee; an once empty pre-dawn hour that's now full from tears and laughter and prayer and two other women who share our accidental sisterhood. That the four of us will still be leaning over a table together as we, one by one, and all together, struggle under the weight of life's disappointments and float on its joys.

But, life is predictably unpredictable, and so I decided to write this letter you you, in case the tides of years and geography separate our families and I cannot tell you myself.

Since I have known your mother, she has wanted you. Talked of you. Thought of you. Planned for you.

And you have been elusive.

There have been years of trying, of hoping, and of disappointment.

Over and over, the deep and irrevocable heartache of babies hoped for, prayed for, conceived, and then lost.

There has been sorrow and despair and empty mother-arms.

But, today you were born.

I saw them place your tiny squirmy body in your mother's arms.  Heard your first weak cry. Saw your first gasp of breath. Watched your father weep at the sight of you. Today, I saw your soul come to life.

Every baby is a miracle, Will. Every single one.

But, you. You have been long-awaited. Much desired. Eight pounds and one ounce of the Lord's sweet mercy, and twenty-one inches of His unrelenting faithfulness.

I hope that as you grow, you can somehow feel the force of all the love and determination and faith that pushed you into the world today. I hope you will know that your parents love you past your wildest imagination. And I hope, most of all, that you'll know that Jesus loves you even more than that.

Welcome, Baby Boy. We are so glad that you are here.

Love,
Rachel




Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Henry's Vacation Highlights

So, in the past two posts I shared with you Maggie's highlights of our vacation week (nursing & meat paci, duh!) so today I'll share some of Henry's highlights from our vacation.

1. Lollipops. And Thomas the Train fruit snacks. And graham crackers (pronounced 'damn crackers' by Henry. I'll just let you imagine how much fun I've had with THAT over the past few weeks...) And basically all the sweet treats he asked for all week, because it's vacation and because he's so darn cute. And persistent. Man, is he EVER persistent.

2. Fake Snake! He loved that thing. OF COURSE HE DID, he's a two year old BOY. He also loved this long narrow stretch of back deck, and would have 'races' up and down it with Mumsie. I think Frank also pulled him up and down it a couple times, using an empty cooler for a wagon. Nuncles are fun, man.

3. The Art of Oral Storytelling. Nuncle Justin regaled Henry with stories of sharks and bears and other ferocious animals all week long. He was captivated and required multiple repetitions of every story. At some point during the week, Nuncle Mark also took him out in the front yard to 'check for bears.' Now, he checks for bears every time we walk to our car. I tried to explain to him that there are no bears in our driveway, or in the Costco parking lot, or at the library playground, but he insists.

"I jus' checkin' Mama. I jus' checkin' to see if dere bears here."

Check away, son, check away.

4. Henry's Apex of Joy. In this picture, Henry is (A) sitting in an AWESOME giraffe chair that was at the river house, (B) using a 'grown up' water bottle that he put a yellow beer coozy on and toted around all week, and (C) watching Monsters Inc. on Annie's portable DVD player for, like, the 745,897,234th time that week. What? It was vacation. Cartoons for everyone!!

We love LOTS of things about you Henry, but one of my favorites is your ability to find joy and delight in the smallest of things. It's one of the most lovely aspects of your budding personality, and I hope you never lose it. Seeing you joyful brings me more joy than I could have imagined. So, seriously, keep it up. :)

Love,
Mama

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Nursing on Vacation

It can be difficult to take a nursing baby on vacation. If you're looking for tips, Lauren & I recommend a flexible attitude, a comfy nursing cover, and at least one good beer every day.

Oh, and the expectation that you will get little to no sleep. That helps too.



Monday, August 20, 2012

Wiffle Ball

We attemped a family game of wiffle ball while on vacation.

I think it lasted 2 innings? Maybe 3. But it was fun regardless.


  

 
(please note: Henry running through the infield with a monkey float around his waist. He did not understand the game.)


In other news, you know that thing little boys do, where every single object they pick up somehow morphs into a gun, sword, grenade or other such weapon?
 

Well, apparently, they never really outgrow it. En garde!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Meat Paci

I know that everyone has a different idea of what a good vacation should be like.

For some people it's exploring new places, trying new activities, checking out the local restaurants, seeing museums or iconic buildings, maybe some shopping. You get the idea.

In my humble opinion, THAT IS NOT A VACATION, ARE YOU CRAZY. My idea of a vacation is to move as little as possible. And, if I do have to move, it better be toward a large body of water.

Obviously, since I have children now, I don't get to lie on a beach towel all day (not even on vacation! cruel, cruel world!), but you had better beleive that I am NOT going to be schlepping them around in the car from one place to another and trying to call it a vacation. GAG. No way. We are going to a fun place and STAYING PUT for a week.

Thankfully, my family shares my opinion of vacation. We drove to a river house in West Virginia, and then proceeded to not leave it all week. With the exception of a few trips to WalMart, because we were running low on beer and other essentials.

We did not go out to eat. We did not go hiking. We did not explore the town. WE MOVED AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE, YOU GUYS.

We turned pages in books. We sat around and talked. We watched some movies. We walked down to the river. We splashed around. And then we walked back up to the hot tub.

The most strenuous things we did all week were a family game of wiffle ball, and a two mile float down the river (both of which will get their own picture-filled posts later this week.) After that, we all needed a nap.

We do, however, cook on vacation. Oh boy, do we ever cook.

For several years now (7 years? I think?) we've had a cooking competition on our family vacation. Each married (or dating) couple cooks dinner on one night of vacation and at the end of the week, my parents pick a winner. The winner then lords their victory over everyone else for the next year, until vacation week rolls around again and the competition starts afresh.

I think it started out as a way to just sort of share the cooking load, but it quickly devolved into a cutthroat competition involving elaborate menus, secretive shopping trips, a lot of trash talk, and an incredibly messy kitchen each night. But the culmination of all that is that each night, dinner is a multiple course EVENT. Signature drinks, appetizers, multiple-course meals, homemade breads & condiments, to-die-for desserts... it's just SO DELICIOUS.

My sister-in-law, Lauren, summed it up best this year when she said that the best thing about the cooking competition, is that everyone wins. Because even if you lose, you got to eat everyone's dinners all week, and THAT IS WINNING.

This is my favorite picture from the kitchen this year:

It's Mark & Mary Alice, preparing their main course which was local, organic, grass-fed steaks, smeared liberally with pastured butter and grilled to perfection. Mark looks BIZARRELY excited, for obvious reasons, and Mary looks impishly guilty for slathering all that meat with all that butter. She should have felt a little guilty, as the pile of steak in front of her was ridiculous:

In her defense, there were 15 people there. We needed a lot of steak.

It takes a while to cook that much food, that well, for that many people, so most nights we fed Henry & Maggie and put them to bed before we all sat down to eat dinner around 8. Each night David & I would put the kids to bed and then as soon as we walked out of their room and closed the door, David would give me a high-five and say "Vacation starts now!"

Then we would go eat dinner. And it was glorious.

We did however, share some of the yummy foods with the kids the next day.

Maggie has pretty much decided that anything given to her on a spoon is gross and boring, so she has mostly skipped the purees stage and moved straight into finger foods. And by 'finger foods' I mean "Get out of my way woman, I want whatever is on your plate and I want it NOW."

And honestly, I pretty much just give her what's on my plate. Here she is chewing on a hunk of the aforementioned steak:

Here is Frank, trying to steal it from her. She looks perturbed.

Here is Whit, chewing on his own slice of ribeye:

The babies loved the steak so much, that we took to referring to it as "the meat paci" since it kept them so happy for so long. Gross, yes, but look at the joy on his face! (Also, this is my favorite picture of Whit, ever. EVER.)

I think that's pretty much what we all look like, scarfing down dinner each night. We're only slightly more dignified than Whit.

So, long live the meat paci! And long live the vacation cooking competition!
It's the best food I eat all year.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Twinsies

Maggie was born last December, and Whit was born 2 months later, in February.
Maggie is a little on the petite side, and Whit is a nice squeezable-sized boy.

This, plus some strong genetic connections, means that they basically look like little twinsies.

(For extra fun, check out Justin's hair in that first picture.  That's called 'vacation hair.')

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Back Porch Breakfast

The house we stayed in was lovely on so many levels. It was secluded, in the mountains, and on a river.

And, if that wasn't enough it had a HUGE kitchen and a big wraparound back porch with a screened in portion.

The weather was so cool up in the mountains, that it really wasn't warm enough to swim in the river until close to noon, so every morning that it didn't rain, most everybody ended up sitting on the back porch.

A back porch, breakfast, books, and temperatures juuuust cool enough that you might want a sweatshirt...


that's bliss.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

We're Back!

We're back!

Vacation was awesome!

If you're dying for more details, don't worry! I plan to post nothing but vacation pictures and anecdotes for the next week! Maybe two weeks. It might get boring, but I'm okay with that.

For now we are slooooooooooowly unpacking and getting back into non-vacation mode. It's quite a switch. QUIIIIIITE a switch.

For Example:

Vacation View: Our spot on the Cheat River in scenic West Virginia. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Home View: My kitchen this morning. OMG. Send in a HAZMAT squad.


Vacation View: My parents, holding and entertaining my children for me.


Home View: Oh, sorry, I couldn't take a picture for this one because MY CHILDREN ARE HANGING ALL OVER ME. GAH!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Maggie Wears A Frilly Outfit

Ack! I've had this post in my drafts folder allll week, but I've been procrastinating finishing it because it involves selecting pictures. And we took a bajillion pictures, so it's a daunting task.

But I did it! We're all so proud of me!

We had Maggie baptized at our church last Sunday, July 22. It ALSO happened to be my birthday. DOUBLE CELEBRATION!


She behaved EXTREMELY well, and was UNBELIEVABLY cute in her little frilly white outfit.


We had a baptism/birthday party at our house afterwards. My whole family came down, David's dad, and some close friends from church. Of course, I failed to take pictures of the party. Let's not even act suprised. This is my M.O. now.

I was so antsy about getting there on time that we got there almost half an hour early. Probably the only time in my life I've suceeded at not being just a SMIDGEN late to something, so we decided to make the most of the extra time by asking Frank to take family pictures for us! You know, since we were all dressed up so pretty. And early. This confluence of events will probably never again occur in this lifetime.



Not perfect, but waaaaaay better than the family pictures we got at Henry's baptism.

And then, of course, we had to try to grab a few shots of the Baby Girl of the Day:



HOW DID SHE GET THAT CUTE?!?!? Maggie will be wearing white frilly outfits and giant pink headbands every day for the rest of her life, End Of Discussion.

Also, Henry wants everyone to know that he wore suspenders.
The SAME suspenders that HE was baptized in two years ago.

And despite the fact that they were just a BIT too small, and so yanked his pants up a SMIDGEN too high and gave him a LITTLE wedgie, he loved them and could not be talked out of wearing them. And he looks so dapper in them!  Well, at least, his top half does. The bottom half was a bit unsightly, what with the perpetual wedgie and all.

There! I did it! Maggie's Bapism post, out of the drafts folder! Huzzah!

I wish I could say that I'll get back to the normal posting schedule after this, but we leave tomorrow for A WEEK OF VACATION, HOLLA! There's a slight chance I'll post a few pics while we're gone, but it's much more likely that there will be a week of blog silence while I bask lazily in sunshine and read book upon book while enjoying tasty drinks with umbrellas in them.

Ha! Just kidding! I'll be smearing sunscreen on wiggly babies and chasing drown-happy toddlers down the riverbank while chugging ice water to keep the dehydration at bay.

And I plan to enjoy every second of it.