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Tiaras and Trucks

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Photo Session Failure

The other day, I took some pictures of Dylan, using the black & white setting on my camera. I thought some of them turned out pretty cute, so I decided that I would try to get a cute one of the two kids together. Well, that is much easier said than done. Granted, I am not anywhere close to a talented photographer, and I’m working with a pretty basic camera, but it was still a comedy of errors. Abbey loves “holding” Dylan; she also loves poking and prodding at him. Thankfully, he generally puts up with her antics and just looks a little annoyed by the whole thing. He smiles at her and sometimes coos, which sends her into giggles, because she thinks he is laughing. I can’t wait until he really does laugh; she is going to get hysterical.

I digress, though. I took a bunch of pictures before I realized that I was NOT going to get a “good” one. So I settled for some funny ones, with a newfound respect for photographers that manage to photograph more than one child at a time and make both of them look happy and beautiful. I have a friend, Joann, who takes great pictures of her kids all the time. Color me jealous!

Abbey has countless expressions, but Dylan is holding his own.  He cracks me up, because in some of them he looks like he is wondering what kind of crazy house we're raising him in!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I don't think I am being too sentimental when I say that one of the most fun parts of parenting is seeing the world through the eyes of your children.  When Abbey figures something out for the first time or finds something new and exciting, I get a kick out of it, too.  Dylan's only about seven weeks old, so his adventures in exploring the world around him are pretty limited.  Thankfully, the makers of baby toys actually know what they're doing (although I will reiterate that I don't understand the need for the louder volume choice on musical toys!)

Our Jungle Gymini was always a big hit with Abbey (and still is, now that she is on round two with it.)  Dylan likes it as well.  He is not a fan of laying flat on his back most of the time, so we tend to prop him up on the Boppy when he is chilling out playing in it.  The other day, he figured out that he could make the elephant move by hitting it with his fist.  To those of us that have mastered cause and effect (well, maybe not mastered, or no one would make bad choices, right?) this may not seem monumental.  To a little guy who still hasn't quite figure out how to maneuver that same fist into his mouth?  This discovery was huge.  Just call him Columbus ladies and gentlemene.

Hmmm, this little elephant makes noise sometimes when Mommy or Abbey are playing in here with me.  I like when he makes noise.
Aha!  I hit him!  That's what makes the toy move!  Hooray!

"Listen, I know you think that the Tiger Woods scandal is important.  But Mr. Editor of People, I don't think you understand.  My little brother made an elephant move!  I think that deserves your cover story this week."

We Love Grandpas

We all know that grandpas are pretty cool guys.  I was only lucky enough to know one of my grandfathers, but he was a truly wonderful man.  I feel so lucky that Pap was part of my life for thirty-two years, and knowing and loving him makes me so happy that Abbey and Dylan have two special grandpas. 

For example, when Abbey, Dylan, and I went to visit with GPa Don last Thursday, Abbey was surprised to find that GPa had purchased a special treat for her - a little snow saucer.  Not only did he buy the snow saucer for her, but he (and GMa) took her outside and pulled her around on it while I was inside, in the warm house, feeding Dylan.  Abbey loved it! 

Thanks Grandpa!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Playing Inside

I try to get out of the house at least once a day, but we are taking on the elusive holy grail of toddlerhood - using the potty.  Since I know there will be more accidents than successes the first few days, I have basically committed myself to staying inside for a day or two.  Of course, I should have checked the weather, because it is actually sunny and nice out here finally.  I need to find some of those old fashioned plastic pants to form a protective seal over the underwear so we can at least take a walk!

Our first inside day consisted of taking some pictures of Dylan and making hot pretzels.  The pictures were decent, and the pretzels were really easy and fun.  I got the recipe from  Abbey had a good time, and I had everything I needed in the house.  (Also, for those that cook with toddlers, the recipe doesn't have raw eggs in it, so they can munch on the dough if they want.)
This is the life.  I am not sure why they insisted on moving me from my comfy Boppy...
Abbey wanted to be sure to stay neat and clean while cooking.  (Well, also, she was not wearing pants, and I don't want to be saddled with ALL of her therapy bills in the future.)
As usual, her favorite part of the baking was the clean up.  I am saving this picture for her teenage years, when she refuses to do any work around the house.
Dylan was not impressed with the pretzel making.
Hmmm, this is pretty comfortable.
This is more like it.  Finally some pictures of me!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Scapegoat

So, Ryan, Abbey, Dylan, and I were reading a book before bed.  Abbey was drinking her water and chewing on her sippy cup (yuck!)  I noticed she was chewing on something while holding the cup and asked her if she had plastic in her mouth.  When she said yes, I asked her to spit it out.  Pretending to oblige, she stuck out her tongue, but I couldn't see the plastic.  I asked her where the plastic was, and she looked thoughtful before answering. 

Abbey: "Probably downstairs."
Me: "No honey, I don't think it's downstairs."
Abbey: "Probably it's in Dylan's mouth."

Poor guy.  He can barely hold up his own head, and he's already getting blamed for her silly antics.

This isn't bedtime, but you have to love a dude rocking a Run DMC onesie.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Run Run Run

I stayed in better shape while pregnant with Dylan than I did with Abbey. I was still working out (albeit at an embarrassingly low/slow level) the week that I had him. However, I definitely need to get myself back into gear. My doctor has given the green light to return to any sort of exercise that strikes my fancy, so it’s time to get back into some sort of shape. The other day I took the kids for a walk, and I could tell that I am ridiculously out of shape. Of course, the double stroller is a pretty heavy workout partner, but it was still a wake-up call.

I’m not a natural runner; I’m not slim or tall or fast by nature. There’s something about it that I love, though, so my determination can help me a little in overcoming my physical short(ha ha)comings. Plus, this will give me a chance to listen to something other than The Lion King Soundtrack. (I shouldn’t complain, because it’s definitely an upgrade from The Chipmunks Christmas CD.) There was a time when I truly considered myself a runner, and I hope in a few months I will feel like that again.

It’s going to be so easy to rationalize skipping workouts…Dylan is having a fussy night, Abbey woke up early, we ran out of coffee…so I am hoping that by putting my intentions out there in cyberspace, I will be shamed into keeping myself on track. My first goal is to run a 5K in April. It’s time to lace up my running shoes and see if there’s any way that my legs remember how to move above a snail’s pace. Let the training begin.

If they can do it (working off their pizza at Brendan's birthday party), then so can I!
A gratuitous picture of Donnie and Dylan.  Dylan really liked his Uncle Donnie (you can see a smile if you look closely enough!)  Besides, I have to include him in my workout ramblings, since he got all of the athletic ability in our family!
It's cold here, and I think everyone in Michigan is over the whole winter coat thing, but it's still fun to get outside and walk.  Abbey doesn't even mind riding in the stroller, since it's new and a novelty for now.  Like I said, it's pretty big, but I really like how it's working for us.
It must be pretty comfortable, because this is what the kiddos looked like by the end of both walks I've taken with this stroller.  Dylan's generally out within minutes; it takes Abbey a little longer, since she likes looking around.  In better weather, she likes to find things on our walks (leaves, sticks, pinecone, important things like that); we can't really do that in the winter, so I let her pick something for us to find on our "treasure hunt".  Today it was bunnies, birds, and kitties.  We saw a few birds and one cat, so she was happy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Making it Work

Despite my propensity for making lists and having pretty planners, I like to think that I am was a spontaneous person. Abbey changed that to some extent. I read a ton about parenting styles and sleep aids (for her, not me!), and felt armed with a pretty impressive arsenal to attack parenthood. However, once a real, live infant entered the scene, things like taking a vacation shower involved a little extra planning. We finally got into quite the groove this summer when I was home on a regular basis. I got rid of the diaper bag, Abbey didn’t yet have opinions about what to listen to on the radio, and we were able to come and go whenever we felt like it.

Adding another person to the mix really complicated things. Suddenly, getting out of the house is a twenty to thirty minute process…and that’s on a good day. I’m back to the diaper bag (and might even need a larger one, gasp!), the infant carrier, and a toddler who sometimes doesn’t want to get in the car since it’s more fun to eat snow. All of a sudden, I am making some parenting decisions based on convenience and not a well-formulated philosophy gleaned from the wisdom of one of those books I read. For example, on Friday I made my first trip to the grocery store while wearing Dylan in a baby carrier on my chest. Aha, attachment parenting! We are using cloth diapers on both kiddos. Aha, eco-friendly parenting! Am I finally embracing some crunchy, inner hippie I didn’t know existed, you ask? No, I am just grabbing a la carte anything that seems like it works for our family in the present moment. Sometimes that’s the best a mom can do.

My independent girl has basically decided to give up napping (not that she was ever really good at it!) This happened the other day while we were reading on the couch.  She simply leaned over and was sleeping within seconds.  I left her there, because I take what I can get right now.  Sleep experts would not approve.

My friend Joann bought Abbey her own little baby sling.  She uses it for a variety of her friends (Elmo is the lucky one in this picture.)  I only use my carrier for Dylan; Cookie Monster will have to wait his turn in Abbey's sling.
Check out the cloth diaper on my ladylike sitter.  She likes the baby gym so much that she was coloring with her arms around one of the arches.  Dylan is a pretty chill baby (when he's not uncomfortable from his reflux issues...but that's another post), and he doesn't mind sharing his toys with his big sister.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Birthday Girl

Dearest Abbey,

We made it to two! Despite the countless nights of broken sleep, the last two years have absolutely sped by, and I somehow don’t believe that you are actually two years old. I knew you wouldn’t be a baby forever, but you are truly becoming your own little person. I’d like to think you are a joy to everyone around you; I know you are a source of constant happiness and amazement for your father and me.

I hope and dream so many things for you. I hope that your curiosity never wanes and that you are always able to discover something new and wonderful in the world. I hope that your stubbornness leads to determination in reaching you goals. I hope that your (sometimes funny) combination of caution and recklessness develops into measured risk-taking and spontaneity without stupidity!

Life will not always be easy, but I want you to know in your head and your heart that we love you more than words can express and that you will always have a safe haven in our arms, our home, and our hearts.

Love, Mommy

P.S. I also selfishly hope that one day you become a better sleeper. Of course, you will probably not develop this skill until sometime in high school when I’d like you to roll out of bed before noon.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

And Dylan Makes Four

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Dylan will never know the luxury of being an only child, a position Abbey held captive for almost two years. Before he came along, I thought a lot about that from both of their positions. At times, it felt unfair to Abbey, and at times it felt unfair to not-yet-born Dylan. However, most of my thinking was done in abstract, emotional ways and not in the practical day-to-day moments that make up our lives. For example, when Abbey was a newborn, feeding her was a leisurely, drawn-out process; I would sit comfortably on the couch, have a glass of water, and watch something fun and indulgent on TV. Poor Dylan sometimes gets fed while I’m sitting cross-legged in the bathroom, because Abbey has decided the only thing she wants to do is brush her teeth.

Funny? Sometimes…yet I still worry that neither of them can possibly be getting enough attention or enough quality time. I mean, no matter how well I plan out a day, there are two of them and one of me, and I haven’t figured out how to grow an extra set of arms or how to pause life for just a few minutes. Yet, in the midst of the chaos that seems to emerge from even the best laid plans, there are moments that take my breath away in their sweet simplicity. Today Abbey was dancing around the room to a tongue twister, asking me to repeat it again and again. Dylan is starting to smile and really observe the world around him. Then there are those fleeting moments where she wants to hold him at the same time he is calm and happy, and I realize that neither of them are only children, but they have each other, and that quality time as a whole family can be just as precious as those early days and months when Abbey was the center of our universe.

My Valentines

I am pretty sure she's telling him her theory about sleep being a waste of time.  Hopefully he isn't listening too closely.

Hmmm, why is Abbey sharing Boop and Elmo with me at the same time?

She wants to borrow my gym!  Silly girl is getting almost as much of a kick out of it as she did when she was three months old.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Back to Abbey

Determined not to give up her throne as the reigning center of the universe, Abbey likes to remind us of what happens when we stop paying attention, even for a moment!  Donnie and Jessica came over to visit the Sunday we got home from the hospital, and Jessica and I were playing with Abbey in her kitchen.  I ran upstairs for something, and Jessica grabbed some chapstick out of her purse.  By the time Jessica turned around, Abbey had rotated her refrigerator.  She proceded to do the same to the rest of her kitchen, and played with it like that until she decided Daddy had to move it into the other room so she could play AND be part of the rest of the action.

I love how she is just cooking in the kitchen like it is supposed to be facing that way.

She is loving the fact that she gets to open all of Dylan's presents for him.  In this picture, you can see the "new" location of the kitchen.  It was moved back that night after she went to bed.

The Dude

So, it's taken a little while for me to get back on the blogwagon, but here we are! We are adjusting well, or as well as can be expected. I don't know what kind of horrors I imagined when I pictured juggling Abbey and a new baby, but they haven't materialized yet. Obviously, we're still figuring things out, but I've made a pact with my coffeemaker to get through each day with as many smiles and hugs as possible. I’ve chosen my allies carefully, and caffeine is an important one, since Dylan and nighttime sleeping still aren’t synonymous in our home.

Abbey has really been phenomenal, considering that she is so used to being the center of the universe. She enjoys helping Ryan and me with Dylan, and likes kissing him and holding him. Of course, she has moments of jealousy and simple curiosity, and we have to remind her to be gentle with him. Telling her she’s a wonderful big sister is usually enough to point her back in the right direction. I know he will soon look up to her in amazement and wonder as well, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

These photos are all from our hospital stay. I was there three nights; Ryan stayed with Dylan and me for two nights and then went home to hang out with Abbey. Abbey spent two nights with GMa Sharon and GPa Don, which I’m sure was a lot more fun than hanging out with her parents! Despite the (unwanted) second c-section, we had another great experience at our hospital. My recovery went extremely smoothly, and I think a lot of that has to do with the excellent care I received during and after birth.

I've got a little brother!

He has a little bit of hair (this is something Abbey likes to comment on fairly often.)

I took this when Dylan and I were hanging out and waiting for Ryan and Abbey to pick us up to go home.

He looked so little in there!

Our oh-so-professional first family portrait.