Lexi Meets Birthday Cake

Okay, so here’s the deal. I originally wasn’t going to plan anything for Lexi’s birthday. I mean, she won’t even remember this birthday, right? I thought that I’d just make her a cupcake, we’d sing “Happy Birthday” and then go about our business. But then two things happened: (1) I looked through the photo album of Parker’s first birthday, and (2) mommy guilt set in. Turning one IS a big deal. Celebrating life IS a big deal. And getting together with friends? Well, it’s something that I need to get better about doing instead of playing hermit.

So, we had a little-ish get together for Lexi’s birthday with 10 adults, 6 five-year-olds and 4 infants. It was total craziness and total mayhem and a total blast. I think what I loved the most about it was how great our friends are and how accepting and normal they all are. In this context, normal means real. The littlest kids alternately laughed/cried/squealed, the bigger kids played/ran/screamed/destroyed/laughed/ate and the biggest kids drank. It was wonderful and no one got bent out of shape about any of it.

Like at most parties for a one-year-old, Lexi met a slice of cake for the first time ever. I want to thank the Irishman for capturing most of these pictures since I was slicing and serving cake for the masses. Looking at these pictures, I feel like I was standing right there the whole time instead of running back and forth to check on her cake progress. For the record, I think one of my favorite things about these scenes is the beautiful chaos in the background. I didn’t crop the pictures because I didn’t want to lose the “feeling” of her crazy little party.  And her expressions? Priceless.

 

 

Lexi’s Big Day

For Lexi’s birthday, we got her a pony.

Just kidding! As luck would have it, Parker was invited to a big birthday bash (4 kiddos teamed up to have one huge Carnival-themed birthday party) on Lexi’s actual birthday, so we headed off to the mother of all kid parties on Saturday night. They had pony rides for the wee ones…

Onwards, horsey!

And horse rides for the older kids.

Lexi decided to say hello to this big fella.

Are you still taking pictures?

Naturally, Lexi eventually hopped up with her big brother for a photo op. (As an aside, I’ve started shooting in full manual mode on my camera and I had the ISO set too high for the picture below. I’m bummed that it’s so over-exposed because it’s a great shot, but alas, this is how I learn to get better at photography.) 

Our friends’ property is simply gorgeous. Their house is set in a valley (with their horse pasture), yet they’re surrounded by mountains. Everything is so lush this time of year.

They also have a creek running through their land and the kids were racing rubber ducks by dropping them in upstream and then chasing them down while shouting encouragement.

The birthday girl was having a great time and looking as cute as ever. I guess her daddy is kind of cute, too.

And Parker ate cake. It wasn’t Lexi’s birthday cake (which will come next week at her little party), but cake is cake and Parker is not one to complain about where it came from.

Lens note: all of these pictures were taken with my new 24mm lens. It’s sharp, it transitions well between landscapes and people and it focuses very quickly even in low light conditions. I love it and can’t wait to take it to Greece with me.

Remembering Lexi’s Birth Story

Today is my sweet baby girl’s 1st birthday. Is it possible that an entire year has gone by? Parker’s first year of life felt so long, but that’s primarily due to the fact that (1) I wasn’t sleeping, and (2) I had no clue what I was doing. Suffice to say that this past year went much more smoothly. Amen! 

The crazy thing about celebrating the birth of my children is that I can’t help but relive (in real time) the entire birthing process. Starting at 6pm yesterday, I was constantly aware of the timeline of how Lexi came into this world and when I woke up this morning, it was with a smile on my face. 

In honor of her timely arrival into this world and into our lives, here’s her birth story again in its entirety. 

As I sit here in the hospital room not yet 12 hours after her birth, I can’t believe how fast Lexi came into this world. Her labor story starts at my OB visit yesterday, which put me at 40 weeks and 5 days. I had a non-stress test, which consisted of hooking me up to the monitors for 30 minutes to assess her heart rate and my contractions. The non-stress test was followed by an ultrasound to determine her size and the quality of my placenta/amniotic fluid. These things are pretty standard procedure once you pass the 40 week mark. At that appointment, my midwife determined that I was 4-5cm dilated and that my amniotic levels were a bit on the low side, but not alarming. Those two thing combined with the fact that Lexi’s head was causing me serious back pain led us to the decision of setting an induction date for the following day. I was to check into the hospital at 7am on April 21st to get things going. I went home nervous, scared, excited and a bit disappointed that I had agreed to an induction. I had my heart set on a natural delivery

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Of course, I never made it to that appointment. Around 6pm last night, I started having contractions every 15 minutes that were fairly painful. I knew that these were the real deal because while all of my previous contractions were noticeable, they were not painful. I got ready for bed and laid down at 8:30pm, but by 10pm, I knew that I wasn’t going to make it to my induction. The contractions, while remaining 12-15 minutes apart, hurt. In fact, they hurt so bad that I could no longer lay down through them and took to pacing around the bedroom instead. During one of these pacing sessions, I made a quick call to labor and delivery to ask them about if/when I should come in and they gave me the standard answer of contractions coming 5 minutes apart for 1 hour. I decided to try to stick it out as long as I could at home..which wasn’t very long at all. At 11:45pm, I knew that we needed to head in because even though my contractions were still coming 8 minutes apart, I actually heard myself whimper. A very non-Cyn thing to do.

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When we arrived at labor and delivery and got checked in, it was about 12:15am. The nurse checked me and much to everyone’s surprise, I was 7cm dilated, 100% effaced and in transition. Holy moly! No wonder those contractions were dropping me to my knees. I decided to go ahead and request an epidural even though there was a good chance that the anesthesiologist wouldn’t make it in time. At about 1am, I got the epidural, but naturally, I was almost fully dilated by then and instead of giving me the regular epidural meds, the anesthesiologist gave me a shorter dose of a different medicine to “take the edge off.” By the time I started pushing at 1:30am, it was clear that the meds would not have enough time to kick in at all so even though I hadn’t planned on an entirely natural birth, that’s what was in the cards for the night. I’m not going to lie, I felt every single mind-numbing contraction and I had some very “real” moments where I couldn’t believe that I was actually in the middle of a natural childbirth. Unlike Parker’s birth, this one was not remotely surreal. I was very much present in the moment.

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I pushed for (a very uncomfortable) 16 minutes and at 1:51am (a mere 90 minutes after we arrived), our sweet baby girl made her grand entrance. Holding my babies for the first time has to be one of the sweetest moments in my life and I am so blessed to add last night’s memory to the one I cherish of Parker’s birth. As you can imagine, we are incredibly in love and incredibly sleep deprived. Considering that I never went to bed last night and have only managed two 30 minute naps today, it’s been quite the deliriously happy ride.

The Bird Saga of 2012

If you’ll recall, last year’s bird saga involved a Carolina Wren turning my hat, which was hanging on a peg outside of our back door, into a nest. We were on pins and needles wondering if the birds would survive, if the mother would abandon the nest or whether one of our dogs would make a meal out of a baby bird (Nona, I’m looking at you).

Apparently, bird’s making their nests in hazardous places is a “thing” around here. Before I get ahead of myself, let me give you the back story. Last October, after we had been renting our current house for 18 months, I asked the Irishman whether we had ever filled the propane tank. He said no. I said that we probably should. He said okay.

Guess what didn’t happen.

So, last week, I was happily cooking dinner on the stove…..when the propane ran out. Sigh. Considering that our appliances run on gas, that just won’t do. When the Irishman got home (and after I gave him the stink eye), he went to make sure that the tank was truly on empty.

And this is what he found.

A bird had made her nest right under the lid of the propane tank. The problem with this is that the nest was right next to input valve that would need to be accessed to fill the propane tank.

The next morning, I went down to the propane place to explain the situation. (1) We needed propane immediately; (2) I didn’t want the birds killed. They looked at me long and hard to see if I was serious. Naturally, I was.

When the propane guy came out, we devised a system where I would hold a silicone baking mat between the nest and the valve to divert the gas spillage away from the day old hatchlings. Suffice it to say that the propane guy thought I was totally nuts. He even commented that most people would have him “dispose” of the bird nest. I explained to him that I mourn dead squirrels in the road and that shut him up pretty quickly. Ha!

So, later that day, I went down to the nest because I couldn’t handle not knowing whether they survived.

They did! Here’s the problem, I can’t bring myself to go back to see whether they are still alive. I don’t think I could handle dead baby birds. Here’s the kicker, the Irishman can’t handle it either. He actually loves birds and would have some in the house (as if we needed to add to our zoo) if I didn’t object so strenuously. I think we might flip a coin to see who goes to check on the birds because not knowing is driving me nuts.

Here’s the deal – if I talk about the birds again, they made it. If I don’t bring it up, they didn’t. I don’t know how long it will be before I can bring myself to check on their progress (or lack thereof), but if it’s a happy ending, I promise I’ll share it.

I’m sorry that I brought you to this dark, scary place today, but I simply could not keep the suspense to myself.

We really need to get out more.

This, That and The Other

Two weeks ago, we left our house in shambles to jet off to Florida for Spring Break. While we were gone, I received an email from our landlords telling us that they wanted to meet a Realtor at our house….three days after our return.

I inwardly groaned at the prospect of  having to hit the ground running when we got back, but the Irishman helpfully got the kids out of the house for 6 hours the day before their visit (effectively dodging all housework) and I managed to once again unearth desk tops and dresser tops and restore some semblance of order to the chaos that has ruled my house (and life) for the better part of the last 3 months. While I definitely did not enjoy going all Rambo on our messy house this week, it is a nice feeling to have a completely clean house….at least for the next 5 minutes, right?

So, now that I have time to catch my breath, it’s time to catch up with all of you! Here are some highlights of the last couple of weeks.

A couple of weeks ago, I walked into Parker’s room to find Lexi buried in stuffed animals, E.T. style.

Naturally, Lexi loved it. I’ve gotta tell ya, these two are really starting to enjoy each other. Lexi thinks that Parker is hysterical so she’s game for anything and Parker loves that Lexi can’t yet voice an opinion or objection to his antics. For now, it’s a win-win! Just look at how cute they are together.

As you’ll recall, my parents were here for a couple of weeks before we headed to Florida. During that time, my father let Parker do all kinds of things that I would not have approved of had I know. For example, he taught him how to use large shears to prune bushes (!!), he let him sit in his lap while he moved the car 10 feet in the driveway (!!) and finally, he let him check the food on the grill. No bueno, Papou.

We also had a nice Name Day celebration for Parker and my dad. My father’s name is Evangelos, which is Parker’s middle name (and the name he was baptized with). In Greece, you celebrate your Name Day just as you would your birthday, so I baked a cake for the occasion and wrote “Evangelos” in mini M&Ms, which turned out to be way more time consuming than I first anticipated.

In other news, Lexi has moved towards eating more adult-ish foods. Here, she’s sampling a pancake…while wearing Christmas PJs. Hey, if they still fit her, it’s all good, right?

She’s also learning many new things. She can blow kisses, dance on command and she’s even mastered the art of putting things on people’s heads. Hampers, toy boxes, hats…she’s indiscriminate in what she chooses to “accessorize” people with.

Finally, he’s a picture of Parker running through the sprinklers in his underwear.

It’s not that he didn’t have a bathing suit with him (this was in Florida), it’s just that I was too lazy to get up off my keister to walk inside and grab it. Besides, do kids really need any encouragement to run around in their underwear?