Friday, November 8, 2013

Halloween

It was Eleanor's first Halloween! Which she almost didn't have a costume for because both kids were sick the week beforehand and I was almost too tired to remember I had this old duck costume in the attic left over from Charlie's first Halloween. I think she made a lovely duck, don't you? With the little duck head snapped on, she and Charlie look identical. 

Charlie decided he wanted to be a red ninja a few weeks ago, after giving serious consideration to Jango Fett, Luke Skywalker and "white ninja".  I got excited at the prospect of Luke Skywalker, as Eleanor could go as Leia and I thought I could hunt down a Darth Vader mask for Brad. Alas. Maybe next year.

I found an online karate supply store that had some karate/tae kwon do/ninja type costumes and was really pleased with the quality when it arrived. Nice heavy material and strong stitching. Since Charlie will wear this costume for at least another year, it needs to wash well! Poor Batman costume from last year didn't survive the Spring. 

The costume you see above also came with a hood, which we omitted because it seriously took the whole look to an uncomfortable level of KKK resemblance. Clearly not what we were going for and very glad we moved on from white ninja!  I'm not sure why the company includes the hood - looks much more ninja without it.

We kicked off Halloween a week prior, when our preschool had their Pumpkins and Pasta dinner, where the kids get to break in their costumes. Charlie was just getting over the croup but still coughing some. Fortunately, the mask shielded others from germs.
Charlie had a great time with his friends, barely ate anything and just ran around being a ninja with an assortment of ninja turtles and civil servants. By that night he had a fever again and was sick for 3 more days. Ugh. 

We made it out by Sunday (even though Eleanor was still sick) to the University of Richmond's Halloween carnival and Charlie had a great time. He didn't feel like painting pumpkins when there were bouncy castles and s'mores to make, but Brad did and the result was the pumpkin version of Wilson the volleyball:
Am I right?

We all recovered by Halloween and Charlie had his class parade and party that morning. He forgot his mask for the parade, but stayed in character the entire time. He is so method.
This cutie watched the parade with me. She squealed when she saw Charlie.
I had my usual amnesia about what a pain it is to keep an excited child entertained all afternoon until it's time to trick or treat. When will I learn and have some kind of activity planned? It was a long afternoon. Note to future Kara: PLAN SOMETHING.

I had to wake Eleanor up from a mega-nap to get ready for pictures and our neighborhood potluck. We have it each year before trick or treating and it's really fun. LOTS of kids.
Our neighborhood is so fun on Halloween. A lot of homes now decorate and set up tables in their front yards for distributing candy. We make some roadies and walk around with the kids and socialize. It's a blast. Usually there's a bonfire in the cul de sac, but it was 70-ish and we were all sweating instead.

Brad made it home from his work trip in time to scarf down what was left of the potluck and get started on trick or treating. After Eleanor decided she was quite done with all of it, I took her home and passed out candy while Brad took Charlie trick or treating with friends. My helper:
It must have been a long, tiring day for Charlie because he announced to Brad that he was done trick or treating and ready to go home. Last year we had to drag him kicking and screaming back home. He was happy to pick some treats, camp out on the sofa with The Great Pumpkin and pass out candy to the last of the trick or treaters.

Also unlike last year, he has not insisted on going trick or treating every night of the week following Halloween. Our Charlie is growing up! He is now asking about how long until his birthday because he really just wants to turn 5.

Anyways, it was a very Happy Halloween for Ninja Charlie and Duckie Eleanor! HIIIIYAH!

10 Months of Eleanor

Admission: I never wrote a post for 9 months of Eleanor. I can't even find the slip of paper from her 9 month appointment that has her height, weight and percentiles. I remember she was almost 18 pounds and 90th percentile for height. Poor second child, the number of blog posts detailing your life is quite small.

I remember thinking about what I was going to write at the 9 month mark and couldn't think of a ton to write so I'll just mush it all into one. I came back from Cape Cod and she had just turned 9 months and she was crawling up on her hands and knees. She also pulled up for the first time, on the fireplace hearth. And then promptly looked like she had no idea what to do from there. 

There was also a lot of eating, still some getting up at night and the beginning of getting into everything. So far she is not as persistent about it all as Charlie - he would open cabinet doors and really put a lot of effort into Search and Destroy. She is curious, as babies are, but takes a closed door as a sign to move on, not a challenge to overcome. 

I can cover the past two months in saying she loves her brother so much. She is always watching him and reaching for him. We will walk up the stairs with him right ahead of us and she is lunging to grab his hair or smack him - anything to get his attention. I started putting her in the bath tub with him last month and they have a blast playing together. He makes her laugh and it, in turn, makes my heart melt.

Eleanor now notices music and will start bouncing up and down to the tune. It's like a reflex! She'll hear a little blip of something on the tv or Charlie and I will sing a song and she stops whatever she is doing and breaks it down. Like it's her job. It's really cute. 

She's making some sounds out of her babbling - the mamamamama and dadadadada. I can tell she wants to call Charlie something but can't quite figure out what. It will be neat to see what baby nickname he gets. Today, at just past 10 months old, she looked up when I walked in the room and said mama. I about died. 

She's also just learned to clap for things and it is beyond adorable. She'll just start clapping and I suddenly remember why it's sad when the baby phase is over. Sure, you're sleeping more, but there's no adorably clumsy clapping of the chubby hands.


Eleanor got sick again this past month. Charlie had a virus and then she got sick, though not majorly like he did. She does not have Brad's asthma lungs like Charlie, so it was a minor virus. With some very major diaper rash. Not fun.

Her top two center teeth broke through around the same time, so I'm not sure if some of the fever and congestion (or even diaper rash) were due to those. They are such cute little teeth. I see some white in the surrounding gums, so I think more are coming. Man I hate teething.

I just realized some time in the past couple of months that she has completely stopped spitting up. Maybe it the last time was actually a while ago - I'm not sure. The stains are there, but we have moved past that particular phase.

I'm starting to have way too much fun dressing her. We have reached the end of the line on most of the baby gifts and hand me downs, so I am frequently on a quest to find her cute outfits. It is about the most fun thing ever. I love finding things I myself would love to wear. Jeggings, cute shoes, cardigans, tunics - it is so fun. Because she is so long, she is in 18 month clothing right now. I would like her to just stay this size for a little while so we can enjoy the clothes!

She loves to eat table food and will eat just about anything. I can't tell you how many frustrating dinners I go through where Charlie will turn down just about anything. Eleanor, on the other hand, will eat it all. She especially loves meat. And cheese - even very pungent cheese! I attribute this to her first few months in utero taking place in a country that has truly exceptional cheese. 

We took Charlie and Eleanor to Chipotle last weekend and I don't think two children in the world could have enjoyed dinner as much as they did. Charlie kept taking bites and saying "This is the BEST food!" and Eleanor ate a bunch of my carnitas, rice, beans and guacamole. It's neat to go somewhere and just eat what they're serving. So easy!

She is taking two naps a day, usually a shorter one in the morning and a longer one in the afternoon. I try to schedule them right after we drop Charlie off at preschool in the morning and again after we pick him up. She seems to sleep best when she has both naps. Overtired has never been good for Eleanor.

That's all I can think of. In a few weeks she will be 11 months and then her first birthday will be upon us. I can't believe it. It really does go by in a blink.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

My Niece!

Isn't she adorable?? We found out Megan and Bruce were expecting a baby ages ago and I have had to keep it mostly a secret since then. Killer! But they had their "big" ultrasound yesterday and are now sharing the big news! In other words, it's Facebook Official!

And they are having a girl!! We all thought it was a boy. Her morning sickness has been similar to what I experienced with Charlie and we all just had that boy instinct. My family was 2 for 2 on guessing the gender of my kids.

I am usually wrong in guessing gender, though. I thought Charlie was a girl and Eleanor was a boy. So if you need an accurate indicator, ask what I think and go with the opposite!

Eleanor and her new cousin will be just over a year apart in age. It will be so fun to have two little girls close enough in age to be good friends.

Charlie was on the phone with me yesterday when Megan called to share the good news. He was so excited! He asked what they were going to call the baby and I told him that they haven't decided yet. He must be studying the 50 states in school because he suggested Carolina and New Jersey as possible names.

I can't wait for April to get here so I can meet this little peanut! She is already as cute as can be.

Cape Cod

My mom turned 60 this year and to celebrate, my sisters and I planned a trip for us to have a girls' weekend in Cape Cod. None of us had ever been so it was an adventure for us all.

In addition to my mom's birthday, we had Meredith's engagement and Megan's pregnancy to celebrate! The morning sickness gods granted Megan a pass for the weekend so she fortunately felt well enough to enjoy the yummy food they have up on the Massachusetts coast.

We rented a cottage in the town of Chatham, which is about as picturesque and perfect as a little town can be. There was a "downtown" area with shops and restaurants and we could walk to several beaches.


Saturday was my mom's special day and we started it off by walking to the beach and then hitting up the one bridal shop in town for Meredith to try on gowns. We didn't really expect to find anything, but there was one dress that we all got excited about. In the end she has selected something different to wear on the big day, but it was exciting to have an actual contender!

After the bridal shop, we had lunch and then hit the shops and had a nap and relaxed for a while. I had not felt that relaxed in a long while. Even flying to get there was relaxing. On a plane with no children and the latest Vanity Fair. Bliss.

That night we went to the Chatham Bars Inn, which has a beautiful view of the sea. We sat on the front porch and had drinks and a snack. We also watched this massive wedding going on down at the beach club. A shop owner had told us earlier in the day that the wedding party had 17 groomsmen. Can you imagine?

We had yummy seafood and wine at the Impudent Oyster, which is the can't-miss restaurant in town. By the time I flew home I was actually sick of seafood. Here we are at the Inn, Meredith shivering, per usual:
View from the Inn:
Beautiful, perfect Chatham:
Monomoy refuge:
View from the Pier and a little friend:
I think we would all go back in a heartbeat. It was about a 2 hour drive, with traffic, from Boston Logan. You can also fly into Providence and it's further mileage-wise, but less traffic. 

Meanwhile, the kids were back at home with Brad, who went to visit Art and Sue in Williamsburg. Well, first he loaded up both kids and made it to soccer in time for team pictures. That had me impressed.

This little pumpkin liked the swings with her Daddy. I could not tell you where her shoes are! And Charlie only suffered injuries not requiring emergency room visits. Success!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sandbridge

We spent the last week of summer on a beach vacation with our very good friends, the Mahons. We were celebrating Mike's 40th birthday and hoping for some relaxation despite the large number of small children around. The beach house came with a 4 year old, a 3 year old, and 3 babies. 

Given those numbers, we weren't sure what it was going to be like. But it turned out to be pretty relaxing! The boys played beautifully together, fighting was limited and the babies didn't sleep any worse than they did at home. I think that can be considered a successful vacation.

The house was right on the beach and sunrise was stunning each morning. Unfortunately, we were usually up to see it. Now that we've stayed beachfront, I'm not sure I can ever go back! I am so spoiled! It was just so easy to go back and forth to the beach and not feel like you had to commit to being there for a long time. I have commitment issues with the beach. 
Took these with my iPhone. Can you believe??

The first weekend was Labor Day weekend and Lakshmy's sisters joined us with a husband, baby and fiance in tow. It was so fun having a packed house; it felt like a party all the time. Charlie got to see the infamous "Charlie bit my finger" You Tube video and also watched some Bollywood. He found both to be fascinating! 

Sandbridge is near Virginia beach and therefore near the Naval Air station where pilots are trained. All day long you can see and hear fighter jets flying over. This was of course very exciting for our two little boys. 

Because Mike works for the government and is former military, he was able to take Brad and the boys on the naval base to see the planes. They got to see some take off and land and see the hanger where technicians were working on the jets. Cameras were not allowed, so they just had a few shots from outside the base. It sounded so exciting! The girls stayed back home but we were sad to miss it! It was definitely a highlight of the trip.
We drove over to Virginia beach one night to walk on the boardwalk and have dinner. We checked out the places online first because we really wanted some oysters. We found the perfect place, got a table, sat down, ordered some oysters and waaaah waaaahhh no oysters. They don't serve them anymore. Such a bummer.
Strollers. The Ultimate Hip Dad accessory.
But we were sitting outside with a beach view and were even closer to the jets flying over. Like, you could not talk when they were nearby because it was so loud. If I was staying in those hotels, it would get so old. But the boys were captivated throughout dinner and that made it awesome. 
Begrudgingly cooperative
We walked over to a carnival type place after dinner and let the boys ride some rides and play games. Fortunately, we were the only people there or we would have spent a fortune getting the boys stuffed animal prizes. They each left with 3. 

The rest of the time we played on the beach and relaxed at the house, enjoying the beautiful views. And there was wine. Lots and lots of wine. Many episodes of Paw Patrol. Some kite flying. We found a closer restaurant on our last night and finally got our oyster fix. 
An example of lots of wine.

Virginia Beach also has the Virginia Aquarium, which Lakshmy and I wanted to see but could not interest anyone else in. We are really counting on the girls being interested in aquariums. 
Sahana says I don't think so

Overall, it was a wonderful beach trip, even with all the children our beach house came equipped with. I had beach withdrawal the entire following week. Sign of a good trip, when you're that sad it's over. 

Charlie's First Soccer Team

 
Charlie is on his very first official soccer team this fall. He is playing with the Richmond Kickers. He's done some soccer classes before, but these are actual practices and games.

Not having ever played soccer, I had no idea what to expect. But he's 4 so I thought, how serious can it be? Quite serious as it turns out!

We showed up at the first game in the uniform we bought from the team and some regular sneakers. Because what I didn't realize is that 4 year old soccer requires cleats and shin guards. And each player needs their very own size 3 ball. I didn't even know the sizes of the balls before that day.

Brad used to play soccer and I could tell he was quickly realizing he should be managing the soccer team aspect of our family from now on. One would think the team organizers would send out an email with this information, but no. So we were totally unprepared for game 1. Mommy fail!

Don't worry, I got it all together before the first practice the following Wednesday. We got a bright green ball of his choosing, some cleats and I even bought him extra socks. He actually already had shin guards that we got him just for fun one time.

The games are as you would expect - like herding cats. They had to combine the Under 5 and Under 6 groups so sometimes we are playing teams where the kids have had a year of coaching already and are much, much better. It's kind of annoying.

Overall, I haven't been thrilled with the Richmond Kickers. I don't think we will play with them again. It's been disorganized from the start and we didn't even get coaches assigned until 2 days before the first game. Those coaches, who are in high school and play in the Kicker's older age groups, didn't even show up for our last game. Brad and one of the moms who used to play soccer coached. I sat there and wondered what all the money we paid was going towards.

Even though we haven't loved the league, Charlie loves playing "real" soccer. It is all he wants to do these days. He would wear his cleats everywhere if I let him. He gets mad at me when it's time to go home from practice. Unless it's hot - that kid hates playing in the heat!

Junior Kindergarten

Charlie started Junior Kindergarten oh.... a month ago. Since one of his goals in life is to Go to Kindergarten, Junior Kindergarten is acceptable for the time being. But we talk almost daily about starting Kindergarten.

They have so many older kids at his preschool this year that there are two JK's and a pre-kindergarten. They had to shift around some teachers. The pre-kindergarten is for kids who will probably be held back due to summer birthdays.

Both teaching teams for the JK class are wonderful. One team has been doing JK for many years and the others are the same teachers Charlie had last year, who we all loved. He ended up with last year's teachers and a few kids from his class last year.

We got an overview of what the class will be doing this year on the first day of school (meet the teachers) and it all sounded really fun and definitely well thought out. It's a nice combination of being outside playing and exploring their nature trail and inside doing projects. They have earthworms as class pets.

So far Charlie seems excited to go to school and loves telling me what he did all day. He is going 5 days a week. In the spring they increase the school day until 2 (I think?) to get them prepared for a full day of kindergarten.

Until then he is doing some of the after school programs like soccer and tennis. He loves staying for lunch and an activity - it makes him feel very grown up. I think that's a carryover from his London nursery, where the big kids stayed for lunch. Charlie was always quite jealous.

Brad delayed his flight out to stay for the morning and check out Charlie's new classrooms. Eleanor stayed with the sitter for a morning nap so we could focus on Charlie and make it his big day. And it marked the first day of my denial that my baby is starting Kindergarten next fall.

Oh and please excuse the dead plants in these photos. We were at the beach the week before school started and they all died!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

8 Months of Eleanor

I'll be honest, the last two months are kind of blending together, so I'm going to separate as well as I can remember. It was August. I was suffering from summer burnout. 

I do vividly remember we had sleep troubles throughout the month. She was still getting up in the night about half the time, sometimes more. I was a zombie a lot of the month, shuttling kids to this and that and then so relieved when bed time arrived. The week before we went on our beach trip she was up every night at 4 and I had no idea what vacation was going to be like. Then she slept beautifully there!

Army crawling started and Eleanor pulled herself all around the house. This felt earlier than it had been with Charlie but I went back and checked and it wasn't. I forgot how dirty their clothes get from scooching around the floors you haven't had time to sweep or mop. 

Probably the most surprising thing she did in her eighth month was completely reject pureed food. She would spit it out, turn her head, buzz her lips. She wanted what Charlie was having, so I started giving her more table food. Pretty soon that was all she wanted. And she will feed it to herself, thank you very much. If Charlie gets a snack in the car, she wants some and will be so loud until she gets it! 

She wants to feed herself the bottle, as well. I typically put her in her sling chair and she will bounce in that, eat and watch whatever Charlie is doing. Sometimes joining him is more important than eating. 

At night we have started a horrible habit. She takes her final bottle in the crib. I'm not even sure how it started, but she loves it and it's going to be AWFUL to break her of it eventually. A sleep crutch. What was I thinking?? And then I sit there and scratch my head and wonder why she's up in the middle of the night. She's used to sucking on something to soothe herself to sleep. Foot, consider yourself shot. 


She is not a particularly snuggly baby, though she does enjoy being walked around to view her kingdom from a higher vantage point. She does not like being held or rocked very much. She gets quite squirmy and the whole thing can get frustrating quickly.

She spent the entire month teething, with very little progress. I had definitely blocked out how frustrating teething is. It just seems to go on forever! 

Napping is all over the place, as it has been all summer. She's had to nap on the go quite a bit so that Charlie can have a life outside the house. Hoping we can have something of a schedule once school starts, though Mommy likes to have a life outside the house too!

Eleanor is a very happy baby and healthy, as well. Brad points this out whenever I start worrying about this or that and he is very right. Funny, though, he doesn't bring it up when she is up at 4am on the weekends and he gets up with her! But we are so blessed. She really has completed our family.