Here are more of my photos from our snow week. It is still hanging on out there, and actually creating some slippery ice as it is melting. I still think it’s beautiful!
On Saturday I woke up bright and early (4:40am) to help my friends do a race in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We met some great friends in our birth class when I was pregnant with Alma. We have loved having such a wonderful group of friends who all have kids within a few months of each other. One of the dads from this group does these races that are sort of hard to explain. It is sort of like the show The Amazing Race. Tyler has a team (go Nads!) that competes all over the country. And they usually win. It’s pretty cool. I have started helping out with the races by doing clue solving with some others. It is really fun, and really intense. They get the clues and send them to someone, then we all get the clues and solve our assigned ones. Then the racers on the ground have to run around, and complete challenges at each of the locations. Makes perfect sense, right?
I have helped with races that were in New Orleans, Portland, and now San Juan (maybe Denver, too?). Anyhow, on Saturday, the championship race was taking place in San Juan at 9am, which meant that I had to be up to help with clue solving by 5am. No big deal, I’m up then anyway (thanks, Harriet). My clues were super easy and I was confident with my answers. This is a huge relief, because I would hate to send the racers to the wrong place. In a heartbreaking turn, the racers didn’t make it to the final round, despite being very fast and generally awesome.
The final round was going to happen at about 10 am our time, and Tyler and I agreed to help with the clue solving for another couple teams. Tyler and his family decided it would be more fun to all be together for a clue-solving-toddler-and-baby-wrangling party, so they braved the snow to come over to our house. Tyler and I were on clue duty, while Jesse and Leia were on kid duty.
The clues for the final round were a lot more difficult than the ones from the preliminary race earlier in the day. There was one clue that included an audio/picture file that had us totally flummoxed for awhile. The teams we helped came in 4th and 5th, so it was a bit of a disappointment. But still fun, and I think Tyler really enjoyed the beer he drank shortly after I took this photo of him in our clue solving room.
Jesse and Leia had a more successful kid wrangling time. How could they not with these adorable babies and toddlers. Leia and Tyler are just as awesome as we are (some would say crazy, others brave, I say awesome), and they have two kids under two just like us! Max is a couple weeks younger than Alma and Desmond is about 5 weeks younger than Harriet.
While the race results were sad, it was still a fun day of clue solving and hanging out with our awesome friends.
It is becoming a tradition to go cut down our own Christmas tree. I like this for a few reasons. First, it’s fun to get out in the middle of a muddy field, look for the perfect tree, and find it. Second, I love that Jesse can show off his man-skills by cutting down the tree. Third, we like trees that are little more sparse so there’s room to hang the ornaments, and it’s often hard to find these at Christmas tree lots.
Last year we with with my dad and step-mom and had quite an adventure (including our trailer un-hitching from the tractor and the tractor driver not noticing). This year we went with my mom and step-dad and had a less eventful, but just-as-fun time.
This year we went to the bargain field (which is actually the same field we found our full-price tree in last year, just way more picked over this year (obviously)) and found my favorite tree we’ve ever had.
We don’t usually get amazing amounts of snow here in the Willamette Valley, but this week the weathermen were predicting snow. We have learned never to trust weather forecasts (unless the forecast says rain), so we were all skeptical. When I woke up on Friday, I was amazed to see that it had snowed a couple inches, and that it was still snowing!
It ended up snowing all day long, which is even more unusual. If we get snow it’s usually gone by the afternoon. I remember one day in high school where they cancelled school, and the roads were completely dry by 10am. I watched movies at a friend’s house that day, and it was amazing. Anyhow, this time, not only did the snow stick around, but it just kept falling.
It was really beautiful, and I only had to venture out in it once. Jesse had to work (and actually came and got Harriet and me for our outing), but got to come home a little early. It was fun to get to play in the snow as a whole family. Alma’s friend, Rory, and his family met us on the street for some sledding.
We got out Jesse’s old sled and he pulled the two old kids around in it for a long time. Alma and Rory loved it.
I have been thinking a lot this year about how to make traditions for my daughters. I know that it is very important that they grow up with special traditions – especially at Christmas time. We already have some fun traditions, like going and cutting down our Christmas tree, doing Advent calendars, eating dinner by the light of the Advent wreath, going to the Festival of Trees, looking at Christmas lights… there are so many ways to build traditions.
One thing I want to do is create traditions that are focused on giving to others. Most of these won’t work until they are older, so I thought it would be good to put them in writing so I won’t forget about them!
Here are a few things we’re going to do:
1. Christmas Stockings: I want this to be more concretely connected to Saint Nicholas. Instead of filling my daughters’ stockings with little toys and candy, I will fill it with gifts for others. Some ideas I have are putting in a roll of quarters – they can keep half, and give away the other half. They can leave them on a playground and watch as other kids find the small treasures, they can leave them in the offering plate at church, give them to homeless people, whatever they want as long as they are giving them away. Another idea is to put a gift for their sister in their stocking that they will give when they notice their sister doing something nice or generous. The other idea I have is to buy a small ($10 or so) gift card to our grocery store that they can give to another shopper on our next shopping trip. I’m sure I’ll get more ideas over the years, but that’s a start.
2. I want to do something for the homeless on the day of the Feast of Stephen. What better way to unwind from the craziness of Christmas than by helping out those who are less fortunate the following day? I’m sure this will change as the kids get older, but it will always revolve around helping homeless people.
3. We are going to do the Something you want, Something you need, Something you wear, & Something you read gift giving idea. I love this to stave off some of the hyper-commercialism around Christmas.
4. Kindness Elves. The idea of Elf on the Shelf never really felt right to me. I don’t like the idea of having an elf come into our home and be a bad example for my kids. This idea of kindness elves feels right to me. They come and give ideas of how to be nice and helpful. They compliment my kids on being nice and helpful! What a lovely idea for Christmas time!
When we brought Harriet home from the hospital, I wasn’t sure how Alma would react. When I was pregnant with Harriet, whenever anyone asked me how I was preparing Alma, I would feel the tears very close to the surface. I was so sad for her. I was mourning the fact that she would be losing some of our love and attention.
I would picture her little heart breaking as our hearts transitioned from loving just her, to loving another. I asked everyone if it was really, truly possible to love another baby as much, and still love Alma as much as I always had. I couldn’t understand that it was possible. I couldn’t understand how Alma would deal with losing some of my love – because that was the only way I could fathom the transfer of love onto the second child.
It was confusing to me, so I imagined it was undecipherable to Alma’s 20 month old mind. How could we prepare my baby to understand that there was another baby growing in my belly, and soon she would come out and be real? There was no way.
I totally cried as we left Alma with my parents, and headed to the hospital. I felt like I was losing something – losing her.
But, as with all things concerning love, I was wildly mistaken. I was over-thinking it. I had Harriet, and instantly loved her as much as I have ever loved Alma – just like I was told I would. When I saw Alma again, I still loved her just as much as ever. Somehow, despite all my ideas to the contrary, my heart had enough room for both my girls.
And Alma? Alma got a sister. She came in, saw Harriet in her swing, and didn’t seem at all confused about the situation. She went right up to her and seemed to welcome her. Somehow she knew – she knew – this was her sister.
Now Harriet is three months old and I am constantly amazed at their evolving relationship. While we certainly have our moments when I think Alma would rather have all our attention – or, rather that Harriet not get much of our attention – she is generally a very good big sister. If Harriet is crying, Alma will run over and try to help her. She will give her her pacifier, or her blanket, or just touch her cheek. Harriet’s eyes are on Alma if she is anywhere near by, and Alma gets a lot of Harriet’s sweet smiles.
I think Alma is figuring out that Harriet will be a playmate someday. She will crawl up next to Harriet when she is playing on the floor. She will try to show Harriet how to use the toys on her playmat. She will share her toys with Harriet (I often find toys tucked into Harriet’s swing and carseat). She gets it.
I was so busy worrying about how Alma would react to losing our love, that I forgot to imagine how she would react to gaining the love of her sister. I am just starting to see glimmers of their sweet friendship developing, and I am so excited to see how strong it will grow.
I’ve been inspired by Elise Blaha Cripe’s weekly letters to her baby daughter. She beautifully and openly puts to words what it means to her to be a mother, and how difficult and beautiful her experience has been. Her most recent letter talks about the pain and anticipation of not being able to help and heal all her daughter’s future pains.
Today Harriet got her first shots, and Alma got her first shot that she will remember. Until today, Alma has always happily laid down and gotten her shots without showing any realization of what was coming. Today she watched Harriet get her shots, then when her dad put her on the table, it was clear she knew what was coming. Big, sad tears rolled down her face. It is easy to ease Harriet’s pain these days. I can nurse any sadness from her. I can’t do that for Alma anymore. I have to rely on hugs and cuddles, and, as Elise wrote about, there will come a time when even those will stop working for my girls.
I feel like I have a lot to say about what it means to have daughters, but right now I’m having an impossible time finding the words. I want to revisit these thoughts, but for now, I’ll borrow the words of Sarah Kay and her beautiful poem, “B”
“If I should have a daughter, instead of mom, she’s going to call me Point B. Cause that way she knows that no matter what happens, at least she can always find her way to me.”
“And she’s going to learn that this life will hit you – hard – in the face and wait for you to get back up just so it can kick you in the stomach, but getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air.”
“When you step out of the phone booth and try to fly, and the very people you want to save are the people standing on your cape. When your boots will fill with rain and you’ll be up to your knees in disappointment and those are the very days you have all the more reason to say ‘thank you.’ Cause there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline no matter how many times it’s sent away.”
I used some of Alma’s nursery decor in her new closet book nook. The bunting from Katrina, the wreath from Jacque, the quotes, and to mobile I made her came along to the new room. I also covered crib mattress pads with fabric from her first year photos, made a tuffet using this tutorial out of some of those fabrics, made a book sling using this tutorial, and hung up her special Alma sweater.
It’s been a long time since I’ve done anything on this blog… Maybe blogging just isn’t me. I really should. Maybe I will get better when I have this next wee one. probably not…
Anyway, we’ve been doing some work around the house to get ready for Baby Girl #2 (though I’m starting to panic that it’s really a boy and I’m not going to be ready for that… even though the ultrasound tech said she was 99.9% it’s a girl… and it didn’t matter to me last time and we didn’t even find out then…another story…).
Without further ado:
Baby’s Nursery (to see what it looked like before, click here.)
And Alma’s new room. I don’t think I have any photos of this room before. It was a guest room/ TV room.
I had a lot of fun with this room. I hand-drew and hand-painted her world map, had fun with ombre on the dresser and ALMA letters. I was going to do an ombre dye on the curtains, but chickened out – I am so glad I chickened out – in the end I love the dramatic white curtains with the coralish ties. Alma really loves her new room!
To the beach.
We woke up on Sunday morning and decided it was a lovely day for a trip to the beach. I love the beach and the ocean more than almost anything. I didn’t want Alma to make it to 8 months without having seen it! Since it’s only about an hour away, we just did it!
Alma was fascinated with watching the waves come up on us. I held her and walked into the ocean just up to my ankles and she loved it. She also loved it when we would dig in the sand. She didn’t get a chance to dig herself (we’ll save that until she stops putting everything into her mouth), but thought it was pretty cool when we did it.