Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

How is Christmas come and gone already?! I had intended to post something before it happened, but… that didn’t happen. Parenting a toddler is crazy, way crazier than trying to manage a newborn. She’s constantly moving and into everything. Onto Christmas…

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We celebrated Christmas with the in-laws the weekend before Christmas itself. It was just easier, as we were leaving for Pennsylvania that Wednesday. They came over with gifts, we all exchanged presents, and they watched Evangeline open hers. It was all good fun and it ended with us all going out for Chinese.

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Evangeline made out like a bandit. We got her a Paw Patrol chair, blanket, large Chase plush, some books, and other odds and ends for her stocking. The in-laws bought her a big green dog named Scout that reads and responds to your touch. The Paw Patrol overload was mostly due to the fact that she squeals with delight anytime she sees it, and in particular, Chase. Very cute.

The husband got a very nice 27″ BENQ monitor because he was in dire need of a new monitor to go with his fancy graphic card he got for free (yay gift cards!) and a Samus Aran Figma. I also got him a little Amiibo display thing that’s the end level of Mario flag. It was cute and on sale at Toys’r’Us. I ended up getting some N7 gear (always appreciated) and a green chroma key backdrop for my photo studio. I told the husband no big gifts, as I’m saving up for a super expensive camera upgrade. He also got me Yoshi’s Wooly World, which I love!

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Going home to Pennsylvania was a mixed bag. I loved spending time with my family, but I also hate being thrown back into that ‘headspace.’ There’s just such a negative connotation with everything there. I feel forced into becoming who I was and I’m not that person anymore. It’s difficult. I see all the places I once knew and loved and how much they’ve changed. And then I realize how much Ive changed. It’s crazy. I struggle with it a lot and it causes a lot of undue stress and anxiety. The bad parts of my head rear their ugly head and it can take me a bit to get away from it.

Nevertheless, it was nice to see my family and more importantly, awesome for them to see Evangeline. Even if I don’t feel the same way about my home anymore, I still want Evangeline to have every opportunity to know her family and a part of where she comes from. She got absolutely spoiled!

IMG_2595 She received so many toys that we were almost afraid they wouldn’t all make it back with us. We opened presents with my mother’s side of the family on Christmas Eve, which was nice. My grandma got a bunch of clothes she asked for, my grandpa got a Kindle Fire HD, and my mother got an awesome sweater and some smelly stuff she can’t get where they live.

We got money, which I am thrilled with, as I told everyone I was saving for my camera upgrade!

Christmas day was busy. First up, we spend the morning and afternoon with my mum’s family. They cooked a small dinner, which involved some drama, and then we had some drama after dinner, as well. It just wouldn’t be dinner with that side of the family without any.

Evangeline refused to eat during dinner and was being a bit of a bear. I’m almost certain she’s teething, though we have yet to see anymore teeth! She’s still just got the bottom two. I keep trying not to worry, but if she’d just get more teeth she’d be able to eat everything that she’s dying to have. This girl wants to eat but can’t!

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The rest of Christmas was spent with my dad, his wife, their children, and my grandma on that side. Again, more drama, though not directed towards us. My grandma on that side is quite cantankerous and if things aren’t perfectly her way, she throws one hell of a fit. Even so, the dinner was amazing, and Evangeline was again ridiculously spoiled! She now has TWO activity tables. We haven’t even unpacked most of what she’s received, as there’s just too much. Our downstairs and living are overwhelmed as it is!

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The day after Christmas, we visited my aunt’s and saw my cousin and her three children. My other cousin was there, as well, with his daughter. I loved getting to be around them and to have Evangeline hang out with her cousins. The kids all played very nicely together and everyone was fussing over Eva. There were many ‘dog piles’ on my lap of kids, but the husband only caught the smallest one, with me, my cousin’s daughter, and Eva. Too cute!

Unfortunately, the day was punctuated with terrible service, which made us late to my cousin’s, which in turn, made us late to hang out with dad, which pissed mum off, which caused all sorts of a mess. It all fixed itself in the end, but still. For those few hours, it was a nightmare and I was ready to pack up and head home that night!

Going home is seriously difficult for me anymore, but I still love inscribing all the places into my memory–especially my grandparents house. I just stand and stare at the rooms, committing them to memory. I want to remember everything, the way it looked, and smelled. It’s so weird, but my grandparents house has always smelled the same…

Even though it was fraught with tension and anxiety, I’m glad we managed to get up there for Christmas with Evangeline this year. It was worth it.

Twelve Months!

Twelve Months!

How, how is this even possible? Wasn’t it just a month ago that she was a newborn? This is just insanity. My sweet baby girl is twelve months old–technically, she’s a toddler now. Where did my baby go?!

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She’s pulling herself up, crawling, and standing. She uses her walker toy all the time now, pushing it back and forth across the living room. When she hits a wall, she looks at us and makes her “grabby hands” for us to turn it around so she can do it all over again. She babbles, says random words, and socializes with everyone. She loves going out and feels ‘cooped up’ if we just lounge around at home all day too often.

She’s curious, observant, headstrong, emotional, determined, and empathetic. Everyone says she looks like me, but I see her daddy in her more and more every day. I’m pretty sure she’s got my temperament, though, which should make things pretty interesting.

Nursing is going well, though she’s tapering off. She’s ill right now, so she’s clingy and wants to nurse forever and a day. She weighs nearly twenty pounds, her head is seventeen inches and five centimeters in diameter, and she’s thirty inches long… ten inches longer than when we brought her home.

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Her birthday (and mine) was technically Thursday, but we celebrated it on Sunday. She spent Veteran’s Day with grandma and grandpa while I ran errands to try and get everything ready. My mum and her boyfriend came down for the party and just left today (Monday.)  Poor thing was sick, but she had a good time. I decorated the kitchen and the living room.

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It wasn’t a huge gathering, just family. There were no overblown thematic items, pony rides, or expensive entertainers. We had a smash cake for Evangeline and a regular cake for everyone else. I had them done by a local bakery and while they may not have been as pretty as some I’ve seen, they were delicious!

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I had an outfit made for her, complete with a ruffly tutu that was just too cute for words! Her ruffly butt was just too cute. It’s still so hard to believe that my little baby is one year old now. A year ago today, we were experiencing our first week as parents and it was rough. Everything was new, scary, and overwhelming.

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Evangeline loved her cake! She pieced at the icing, not really want to rip into it until one of us pierced it with a fork… then she went to town. It was too cute! I didn’t allow her to have too much of the sugar, however. She really hasn’t had much exposure to it yet and I didn’t want her stomach getting more upset than it already was since she was still sick and spiking fevers pretty regularly.

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She seemed to have a really good time, despite her illness. She was jovial and a good sport, opening her presents and suffering through all the fussing people did over her.

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She received a ridiculous amount of gifts. We’re not even sure what we could possibly do for Christmas now! She got a little riding scooter, a ball pit, a xylophone, a smaller compact xylophone, a bouncy cow, an activity table, a beatbo, some books, clothes… basically everything. We really hadn’t anticipated her getting that much stuff! Our house is overrun now. It’s ridiculous.

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The build up to the party seemed to take up a lot more time than the actual party itself. I really loved getting everything together and decorating. I wanted to make sure that when she looked back on this day, she’d remember it fondly through the pictures. It may not have been the ridiculous parties some people plan, but it was perfect for us and she really seemed to enjoy it. Good memories were made–and captured–on that day. I’m keeping a few mementos, along with her cards, to put away in a box for later. What can I say? I’m ridiculous about archiving things!

It’s crazy to think about what this next year will bring! We’re coming into the holiday season now and I’m super excited. From now on, it’s going to be even more exciting. Children always make the holidays ten times better! Soon, I’ll have someone to enjoy Christmas movies with. We’re even acquiring decorations for the house, which is definitely a new territory for us. Hopefully, this puts the husband in the ‘Christmas spirit’, too!

I haven’t cried at all, but I’ve been sad and reflective. It was hitting me today, as I took down the decorations. Everything has just been so hectic lately, I haven’t really had a chance to process it all. I’m sure it’ll smack me hard when I’m filling out the last details of her baby book. Whew.

Key West 2015

Key West 2015

The trip to Key West was plagued with issues, but all in all, everything went okay. I needed a vacation from my vacation afterwards, however. Vacations are not the same once you have kids…

We left here on Saturday and boarded a plane by 7am. Evangeline did really well throughout, only a few bouts of fussiness. She even trooped through us being stuck on a plane for 45 minutes past boarding just to find out the plane was dead and we’d have to switch planes. By that point, I was exhausted. By the time we arrived in Miami, we were almost three hours behind “schedule.” We didn’t even arrive at our condo until around 7pm. It was a rough drive. Evangeline was so tired she cried and cried, but eventually went out…

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Sunday was spent recovering from Saturday. We hung out around the condo and took Evangeline on a walk so she could see all the different trees and sights. We spent some time in the pool, too.

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My aunt joined us on Monday. Before she arrived, the husband and I went out on our own. We had a fun few hours trolling familiar sights. We picked my aunt up and had a late lunch. Evangeline and I promptly napped upon returning to the condo, haha. We had wanted to schedule a sunset sail with my aunt, but she wasn’t interested, so we scheduled one for ourselves the next day. It was a day riddled with a bit of conflict because everyone was kind of being a wet blanket. We were also being completely ignored as per what we would like to do… we ended up having a very late dinner, but it was delicious. Mr. Z’s stromboli… well worth the wait.

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Tuesday we (me, the husband, and Eva) spent the morning with my aunt downtown. She had wanted to try out this one place that she claimed was “a local haunt”, but truth be told, it was a trip advisor recommendation with substandard food. Luckily, we couldn’t find it so we got to try a place my husband had wanted to go. My food was terrible, but theirs was good, and that’s all that really mattered. It was a seafood place and I don’t really “do” seafood. We walked around, bought some stuff, and then headed back to the condos. We got dressed in our costumes, dropped off for our sail, and then we had a great dinner at Pepe’s and enjoyed a bit of the nightlife. We went to Key West during Fantasy Fest… so there’s a lot going on.

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The next day was more of the same. We had a lot of fun, but my aunt wasn’t happy about all the walking or the heat. Let’s note that she’s a Floridian! You’d think she’d have made peace with the heat and humidity by now… anyway, we took Eva to one of my favorite places… the Butterfly Conservatory! She loved it, especially the flamingos. It was so fun to watch her squeal and point at all the butterflies fluttering around. One landed on me while I was holding Eva, but the husband missed getting pictures of it. My aunt’s ferry departed at 5, so we ate lunch and then said goodbye.

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The rest of the week was a smattering of going out at night and trying to do stuff during the day. I actually went kayaking! The husband has wanted to do it forever and I’ve always been reticent because I’m so pale. I finally gave in and it was actually a lot of fun. Very hot and sweaty, though. And I definitely got a lot of sun… We went to the beach, late in the day, so Eva could experience the sand and ocean! She wasn’t very thrilled… but it was still a next experience to share with her.

Evangeline and her grandpa dressed up like pirates and spent some time downtown walking around. People were constantly stopping them and wanting pictures of her. She looked adorable! We got a chance to go out on our own some more and that was fun, though I worried about leaving Eva with the grandparents. They’re not usually good about respecting how pale I am versus the sun… but they did well with Evangeline.

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I finally got another chance to visit the Dolphin Research Center and holy crap, has it changed! It’s awesome. They have a splash pad now and a neat little garden. They’re remodeling the visitor’s center, too. I was thrilled to show Eva the dolphins! She squealed and pointed when they jumped. It was a really fun time, we spent several hours there. I even played with her on the splash pad a bit, though I wished I had known about it beforehand… I would have had our bathing suits handy instead of being all packed up. We stopped on our way out of the keys as we headed towards our hotel outside of Miami.

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The trip home ended up being way simpler than the one we took to Miami, so that was nice. Eva did a really good job on the plane. I nursed her to keep her calm and she usually slept, unless the plane failed to get going (like when we had the maintenance issue.) Plane rides are definitely stressful now, though. No more leisurely reading and passing the time by, sigh.

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Even though the visit was fraught with tension and issues, it was still nice to be in Key West and to have Evangeline experience all the things we love for the first time. Any time I was having a rough time, I just looked at her. The expressions on her face and the wonderment she had at everything just made it all seem pointless. Even now, I don’t even really feel like focusing on the bad. I’d much rather chronicle the good. Although, I will say, I was definitely disappointed in my Aunt’s visit. She’s usually a lot of fun to be around, but this time… yikes. Husband thinks it’s because her business is failing and she’s super stressed out. Whatever it is, the crazy needs to go back in the box. It was like vacationing with my mother. I am glad she got to spend time with Eva, though.

Wow, Just… Wow

It’s so hard to believe that it’s October again already. At this time last year, I was uncomfortable, horribly pregnant, and a little bit nervous about what was about to happen. We were taking the birthing class, looking at cars, and scrambling around trying to get everything ready for Evangeline’s arrival. I had zero idea what to expect. It’s almost laughable how little I knew. Like, there was absolutely no way of truly knowing, but the change between now and then is just crazy!

Evangeline is moving around like a champ now. She’s trying to pull herself up onto things. She still refuses to crawl, although if put on her belly, will do an ineffectual crawl backwards… which then just results in her getting really angry about it, haha. I’m both excited and anxious about her walking. It will be so awesome to see her toddle around, but it opens up so many more issues with danger and trying to make sure she’s safe. It will also mean that she is truly no longer a baby

She’s been in her crib for three weeks now. The first week was rough, but towards the end, she really seemed to get it. She was so happy because she was sleeping well. We had a bit of a slip-up this week, but we’re working through it. I hate seeing her miserable and tired. Giving her the opportunity to well and truly sleep has really changed things with her baby rage and actually being able to set her down. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m confident it will get better. I’m still waking up once or twice in the night to nurse her, so I’m not really getting more sleep… but she is. That’s what’s important.

My grandmother has lost sight in one eye. They’re not sure of the cause. I’m trying to figure out a way for us to go to Pennsylvania for a quick, short trip before we leave for Key West at the end of the month. It’s going to be a busy end of the year…

I’m also trying to prepare for Evangeline’s 1st birthday. We’re not doing anything huge, but we are having family gather. I want her to have a little cake to destroy. I plan on getting some decorations/etc. It won’t break the bank, but I want her to have pictures to look back on fondly and I want her to experience new things like cake.

Things, in general, are going okay. It’s still an adjustment, even almost a year later. It’s amazing how much changes. Sometimes, I get pretty down and feel like I’ll never be the way I was before. It’s okay, though. I’m just really bad with change. I’m not going to lie, I certainly miss video games–I miss being able to play them whenever and for however long I wanted. Now, even if I do get the opportunity, I don’t play very long because I feel guilty. I need to get over that. Video games are how I decompress… and I’m slowly losing it, haha. My anxiety is super high lately and I’m having issues dealing with things. Since video games are usually unavailable to me… I’ve turned to shopping. I have a baby clothes addiction fueled by anxiety, sigh. It’s getting better. I’m addressing it.

Sometimes, I get so frustrated at myself when I remember back to my recovery time and maternity leave. There’s so much I could have done or should have done. I had plenty of time, but I was just so mentally out of it. Even though I can’t change it, and there’s really nothing to be done for it, it still frustrates me since my time is so limited now. I was just so overwhelmed and my hormones made me insane. Plus, I was in pain, and couldn’t take any pain medication… the ones they prescribed me were harmful to Eva and would go to her through my breast milk. It was a rough time. If I had known what I know now about breastfeeding, it would have been slightly easier… but how was I to know?

Breastfeeding is still going well. We cut down to three bottles at daycare to encourage Evangeline to stop snacking and instead take full meals when she’s with me. It’s helped a lot. Pumping is going okay, my automatic pump still isn’t working and I’m still using a manual one. I’m not getting as much as I was, but I’m trying to figure out if it’s just the natural progression of things or if the fact that I started working out a little after work has anything to do with it.

I’m hoping it’s not working out, as I feel like a total fatty. I’ve gained five pounds the last few months and now I’m at 150 lbs… which is less than before I lost weight and certainly less than when I was pregnant, but it’s still not great. My body refuses to shed weight easily due to breastfeeding, but I’m hoping exercise will help my mood and adjust my appetite back to normal a bit.

How weird to think that my next entry will likely be Evangeline’s eleven month post… yikes. How did we get here? How has this year flown by so fast? Hell, the past two years!

Ten Months

Ten Months

Evangeline is ten months old! I can hardly believe it. Time is just flying by… ugh. Soon, she’ll be a year… I can’t deal. It just seems too fast. Aside from the complete lack of sleep we’ve been getting lately, I’ve been really enjoying this part of her development.

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She’s changing so much, so rapidly now! Almost every day, I notice her doing something new or mastering something she used to struggle with. She’s scooting around like a champ now. I’ve caught her a few times up on all fours, but it never lasts long. She doesn’t seem interested in crawling. She’s attempting to pull up at daycare, but when she’s with us, she expects us to help her! She’s also started pointing and reaching for things she desperately wants, which is adorable.

Her words are the following: “mama”, “dada”, “daddy”, and she’s been trying to say kitty lately. Sometimes, she says things and we don’t quite catch them but she won’t repeat them. She babbles, but not as much as some other kids do. She mostly starts so we’ll talk to her and then she just intensely observes us as we speak. If you tell her “no”, she smiles and laughs at you… little butthead.

Breastfeeding is going well. I’m being forced to use my manual pump at work, as there’s something wrong with my expensive automatic one and I can’t figure it out. Only a month and a half left of full-time pumping! I can hardly believe it. I’m going to continue breastfeeding past a year, but definitely cutting back the pump until I’m done entirely.

Solids were going amazingly until Eva got sick. Now she’s being rather difficult about it all. She won’t eat the purees anymore unless they’re chunky, and even then, she eats very little. She’s regressed back into wanting boob and only boob if I’m around. She was doing great with table foods but now even refuses them sometimes. At daycare, it’s touch and go. She refuses to eat chunky purees she used to love but will take table foods, sigh. I’m hoping it’s a phase.

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She’s definitely developing a little personality now. She’s goofy and silly, but also quite fiery. Her temper is going to be a point of contention, I know it. Her emotions seem to be quite intense. She’s also a little stoic sometimes. It’s interesting to watch the facets of who she is going to be take root and develop. I definitely see a mix of us both in her.

We survived the croup plus ear infection, but not without some issue. It was hard without the husband here. I stayed home that Wednesday with her and it was kind of a nightmare. She was angry, the steroid plus the pain just made her an absolute terror! She scratched me and even bit me–several times–while I was nursing her. It was a rough, rough day. Not being able to talk to the husband consistently was wearing on me, too, plus recovering from my mum’s visit. I ended up breaking down crying on the phone with the husband that night. I survived, though, and Evangeline seems to be feeling better… though I think we’re in for another round of teething.

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I needed a break at the end of the week on my own with Evangeline, so on Friday after work, we drove down to the in-laws and stayed with the mother-in-law. It was fun, just us girls hanging out. We went shopping while waiting on the men to get home the next day and I was super excited, because I never, ever get to shop with ladies. I’m always with the hub and he’s not the most enthusiastic shopping partner…

Unfortunately, that started a bit of an issue as the husband was desperate for us to be there when they got back and they got back a lot earlier than planned. This was mostly because the husband drove through the night! He was determined. It was mostly exhaustion and hunger talking. There was a little bit of drama, but at the end of the day, we were just happy to be together again. He held Evangeline for a very long time. She didn’t quite react the way we’d hoped, but she was feeling particularly ill that day. The ear infection and croup were rough on her.

The husband didn’t end up taking the other job he was offered. It was too much time away and not enough pay. He would have been shipped off to Langley, D.C. for an entire month starting out and he’d be unable to go to Key West at the end of October. He’d be there so much that they’d planned on renting out an apartment for him. It was quite the cosmopolitan offer and perhaps at a different point in our life, he’d have taken it, as the opportunities that followed would have been immense… but right now? He told me that his gut said no.

It worked out, though. His current job offered him a 20% raise and a job re-classification, which is unheard of in our organization! I got a 20% raise two years ago, but that was my entire department and our boss fought hard for it. Husband is so vital they don’t want to lose him. I won’t complain about more money!