Oct 12, 2015

My half-yearly post

I realized last week I haven't blogged or even thought about blogging in a few months. It doesn't really cross my mind anymore, which is a shame because so much has happened which has gone unrecorded, and I'm sure I've already forgotten most of it. Let me do a quick catch up here.

Firstly, Marnie is 11 months this week. She has the sweetest disposition, and adores her brother. She is currently crying herself to sleep in her crib, and I'm hoping she's not in too much discomfort, as I think she swallowed a coin this morning? #secondchild

Henry is at school, he goes every morning and I pick him up for lunch, apart from 2 days a week when he stays for lunch at school with his friends. He has grown up so much this year, and is still a major train fanatic, loves riding his scooter and going "weelly fast!", and in general has grown into quite the engineer, tinkering with things trying to make them work and building new things. It makes me so happy to watch him play so happily at things like that.

I'm going on 2 years of being a stay at home mom, and have really grown to loving it, although recently there's been a little pang in my soul of perhaps being ready to start work again. But the jarring process of finding a nanny, messing with the kids (and my) daily routine scares me away for the time being. I love this time with Marnie and Henry and hope that even if I push it off for another year or two, it won't render me completely useless in my field.

And lastly, our rock, Mark, has been busy with work and his primary love (apart from his family): crossfit. At this point, he has muscled out of all his shirts and I've ebayed all of them so he can get a new wardrobe to fit his new physique. Call me shallow, but I can't say I mind the muscled Mark. He's really inspiring how much he's dedicated his time and effort into something he loves, and how it has changed his life!

We spent the summer in the US, a couple weeks in Virginia, and a week on a Disney cruise and Disney World. When we came back, we stayed at a Welsh farm with Robbie and Hannah Hamill and their adorable funny little girl, Rhoda. And in an ultimate show of laziness I am going to forego my blog post on Wales for now because Hannah just basically summed it up way better than I ever could on her blog here.

So this update has been pretty boring so far, hasn't it! I'll add a few pictures to spice things up a bit. And here we go...

Me and my Marnie girl xxxxxx

Heading to church, Mark thought it would be funny to give him a book and he looks like Richie

Moon Rivaaaaaah

 Rain rain, go to Spain

Summer funfair in Ravenscourt Park


The Bournemouth seafront

Bonnie and Clyde

Potato chip-off: Which flavor is the best? (Kettle chips won!)

Family train ride selfie

The National Air and Space museum, we all loved it!

A day out shopping in Georgetown

Walking on the National Waterfront to the Nats baseball game!

Saying Goodbye at the airport

Heading to the Disney Cruise

Basically loved this ship and the water

Princess Snow White

We made it to Magic Kingdom! It was so hot.

At Epcot, in "England" with a little lion

Marnie learning Heart and Soul

Waiting for our plane back to London

Back and London and whisked away to the Welsh coast, this was Tenby beach

Our Welsh farm, we had the best time. Ducks, chickens, cows, sheep, and the sweetest farmdog, called D.

More Tenby beach and sweet Marnie

 Me and my babies

May 15, 2015

6 months/ 3 1/2 years

The children's half birthdays are today.

Will I ever get over the fact that they were born on the same day? Probably not.

Henry told everyone all day that he was 3 1/2 years old. I sang Happy half birthday to you, happy half birth---
NO, says henry. Just sing Happy Birthday.

Marnie's day started off lovely, but by the end of the day she had a slight fever, runny nose, and slept a lot, and only wanted to be held. Teething.

We went to the Science museum to meet friends, which in hindsight was a bad idea, but I can never say no to a good outing. Marnie screamed all the way to the bus stop, and all the way from the bus stop home. She was asleep and tolerating the outing in between the screaming. She never screams or fusses really, so I got flustered and stressed out. But now I'm sitting here writing this and realizing how lucky I am to have a baby that hardly screams or fusses. She's mostly just pleasant as can be, and curious about everything, and always looking around for someone to smile at. What a dear.

I thought of making a little cake for their half birthdays but then I realized I haven't slept in 6 months and who am I trying to kid. Instead I bought a box of ritz crackers and cut up some pineapple to share. Nothing says party time like American crackers and tropical fruit, right? ;)

I love my babies. Love their friendship. Love the way they can't wait to see each other every morning. Love how Henry gets mad at Marnie when she grabs a toy he puts in front of her or pulls his hair if he lays next to her (she just loves you, Henry, I always say). Love how Marnie's arms and legs flail wildly every time Henry comes into the room. Love how they understand each other. And I LOVE when they both let me snuggle them at the same time. Basically mom heaven.

Apr 15, 2015

Marnie is 5 months

Marnie June is 5 months today. I need to document this sweet little girls life before she's walking and talking!

I'll just do a quick top 5 favorite things about Marnie.

ONE // She is the spitting image of her big brother, but his complete opposite. Everyone, still to this day sees Henry and says, oh he's so serious. But Marnie will smile and laugh at anything moving. She loves people, and lights up when people look at her. It melts my heart to see the way she charms people. Sometimes I'm just walking around the room, doing whatever and I look over at her, and she's just been staring at me, waiting for me to look at her. She'll break into the biggest, gummiest grin and kick her legs, or jump if she's in her jumper.

TWO// She is in that amazing chunky snuggly baby phase. She's just started rolling over, so not quite on the move yet, but loves to be snuggled and cuddled, so I put her on my lap and she grabs on tight to my hands and starts chewing on my fingers. It's so cute, I honestly can't get enough of her roly-poly body. I've been doing baby massage with her, and it soothes her so much. She starts to coo and give me the most loving looks when I lay her down for some baby massage. I've tried some baby yoga with her, too, and recently tried a move that puts her upside down and she started laughing so much. Just loved it.

THREE// She's a great daytime napper, which I'm very grateful for. Sleeps well in her crib or in the carrier. She is so pleasant since she is typically well rested, and she falls asleep usually without crying. I just sing her a little song or two - I can't help but sing to her, she lights up whenever she hears singing - she smiles and then she falls asleep. It's crazy. We just stopped swaddling her and switched her to this transition sleeping bag thing that makes her look like a starfish. It's so cute, and she loves it. 

FOUR// Marnie loves her big brother. They already have this cute little relationship. I always make Marnie "talk" to Henry and he's started to do it, too. I'll say, Oh Marnie do you want to go to the park? And Henry will say, Marnie says yes mama! I love the park! And he talks to her, too, oh Hey Marnie wait for me - I have to go get a toy, I'll be right back. He loves to smother her, which I'm working on with him, but she actually seems to think it's funny. If she doesn't, she'll scream and let you know. Henry isn't a fan of the Marnie scream, but she gets her point across.

FIVE// She's just started grabbing and reaching for things, best of which is Mark's beard. She likes to play with my teeth when she's eating, and she tries to pull Henry's hair now if he gets too close, which is hilarious because Henry always gets mad at her, like she's doing it out of malice or something. KIDS.

Marnie is a really great little baby. I can't wait to spend this summer taking her to all the parks and playgrounds of London, and letting her feel the breeze on her bare legs and arms. These winter babies just spend their whole lives bundled up, they don't even know what their bodies can do without all those layers!

Feb 20, 2015

3 months, and a blessing.

 Mark gave a beautiful blessing to sweet Marnie June this past Sunday, on her 3 month birthday. She wore a bonnet from the Taylor family heirloom chest, and even though it was a little small (definitely meant for a newborn!), it was so special to have her wear it. I got her a blessing dress that is just beautiful, and I plan to save it for her heirloom chest. You know, if I ever live in a place where we have room to actually hold onto important things like that.

At 3 months, Marnie is the most pleasant, sweet, mild mannered baby. She will just lay on her blanket or sit in her chair and coo and smile and play. She's sleeping really well, and we've heard a few laughs from her. She's grown into a chubby roly poly little baby, and we are all completely obsessed with her, Henry included. 

This isn't the best photo of all of us, but I loved it because Henry put his arms around mine and Mark's neck and pulled us into him for the photo. It was so funny and adorable.

Dec 21, 2014

Longest night.

Tonight is the longest night of the year, and apparently the longest night ever. So it is fitting that last night I decided to start with some light sleep training for the wee one. She is already so fat and happy, and we are already so accustomed to bouncing her. I just remember fat little baby Henry, gaining weight steadily and the bouncing getting harder and harder...so here we are trying to help sweet little Marnie learn how to sleep, and so far...not so bad.

I've had her on a schedule for about a week now, and it looks like this:
7:30: wake up, 1st feeding, she hangs out in her bassinet and watches the wind blow through the trees outside while I fix us all breakfast
8:30 first nap
9:30: wake up, 2nd feeding, play with Henry and Marnie
10:30: second nap - sometimes in the wrap if we go outside to play or run errands
12:00/12:30: wake up, 3rd feeding
1:30: third nap - her longest nap of the day
3:30/4:00: wake up, 4th feeding
5:00: fourth nap
5:45: 5th feeding, time to get dinner ready - she plays in her bouncer until she starts fussing, then into the wrap for her last nap of the day
6:30: fifth nap
7:15: wake up
8/8:30: bedtime

FIVE NAPS. Of course, this schedule is flexible - a partly aspirational - based on when she sleeps and eats. I mostly try to have her awake for 45 minutes - 1 hour, and eating every 2.5 - 3 hours. It works pretty well most days. If she seems hungrier or to need me more some days, she gets fed and worn in the wrap a lot more. Her night wakings are still ridiculous - 11, 2, 4/5/6. But she's still young and I mostly feed her when she wakes up, but Mark will take her if she does her gassy fussy wake up at 5 and won't go back to sleep. It's very kind of him, and I'm not sure at this point how to get her to stop waking up at those times other than not feeding her. I hope at some point she gets the drift that it's not worth waking up for if she's not eating. [Nervous laughter]

Anyway we didn't do sleep training with Henry until he was about 9 months old. 9 months! He was still waking up all the time at night and I was back at work full time and just exhausted. I look back on the things I did and can't believe the willpower and tenacity I had for that first baby. I guess you just don't want to mess them up...and then you have a second baby and think WHAT WAS I THINKING. For me, I realized that most of the decisions you make as a parent are shaping you - as a parent and adult - rather than shaping your kid into what you want them to be. I didn't want to let Henry cry when he was a baby, but none of us were sleeping and it made for a miserable time most nights. I wanted to be a compassionate parent, but I wasn't doing what was best for me or Henry. So I'm trying to do a better job this time around. And also I just want to sleep again. There is a funny written-for-adults kids book called Go The F*** to Sleep and I think of that every time it's 4 in the morning and my loud snorting grunty baby won't settle. It makes me laugh, and the sense of humor is the only thing between me and insanity, so thumbs up!

It's a cruel thing - non-sleeping babies and tired mothers. Because if you were reading above, she takes 5 naps during the day and then there's bedtime - that's 6 times of putting a baby to bed every day. And if you have a baby that hates to sleep, your life can get frustrating so quickly. That's why we do the wrap, we have nightly dance parties (me, Henry, and Marnie), and Henry actually has been so pleasant and sweet. Sometimes after I've put Marnie down for a nap, he looks around and says - Hey lets wake up Marnie!! He adores her. If she cries, he puts his fingers in his ears and looks at me, annoyed, then he'll say, Mama, Marnie is calling for you.

Once we get this sleep thing down, I'll start venturing out of the house a little more. But honestly with these dark and cold days, we are just as happy staying inside baking cookies and watching Christmas movies together. Not a bad life.

Dec 18, 2014

Papa Mickey

Papa came to London and stayed with us for a MONTH. Crazy town. What would I have done without him? More importantly, what would Henry have done without him? He flew back on Tuesday and spent last night in the ER...with a kidney stone! Maybe we pushed him a little too hard while he was here? Feel better, Papa! This picture was taken the day he left. Awww we miss you, Papa!

Dec 17, 2014

Marnie June.

Marnie had her 1 month birthday on Monday. Time is flying by so fast and it's slightly upsetting. This newborn phase passes by so quickly and I am just in that tired loopy phase of new baby - sleepless nights and stealing naps during the day, and just loving on this baby when she is awake. She has the prettiest dark eyes that just stare into mine and observe the world around her, and it feels like we've known each other forever. But both my kids are asleep right now, so I'd thought I'd take advantage of this free time to share a few things from the past month.

I'm not going to share my full birth story here, but I'll give some of the highlights. I went into labor at 41 weeks and 1 day, on November 15. Those of you following along may already know - that is Henry's birthday. And yes - spoiler alert - Marnie and Henry have the same birthday. So that will make for an interesting family birthday dynamic! Contractions started lightly around 11pm on Friday evening, November 14, and I spent most of the night on my bedroom floor breathing through steady contractions - taking a bath, using the exercise ball, and sleeping as much as possible in between contractions. At 7:15, Henry was awake, excited to have birthday waffles. We made his waffles, while I took contraction breaks every 3-5 minutes.

We left for the hospital around 9am, had three strong contractions in our taxi on the way there, and at 9:30 we were admitted by the midwives to the Birth Center, and I was dilated to 5cm. I spent the next two hours pacing around a dimly lit room to the music of Beach House, kneeling over an exercise ball, using gas and air to get through the more difficult contractions, and finally got into the birthing tub around 11:30. I wasn't planning on a water birth - only planned on laboring in the tub - but when the moment came I couldn't imagine getting out of that warm tub, so I stayed in and I'm so happy I did.

I pushed for about 15 minutes and she was born at 11:54am. I lifted her gently out of the water and brought her to my chest. It was one of the most powerful and beautiful (and painful!) experiences of my life. I wish I had better words to capture how it felt and how I felt. We cuddled for a few minutes and then Mark cut her cord, and we just marveled over our little baby girl who looked so much like her big brother - same serious face and even the same little nose wrinkle.

I absolutely loved everything about the experience of birthing at the Birth Center at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. I love the midwife model that the UK uses, and I love the support they offer to mothers who want to try and birth without an epidural. I tried so hard to have a natural birth with Henry, but it just wasn't in the cards. I can't even compare how much easier this birth was. As my friend and former midwife told me, "Second labors are what keep the world populated", I was so happy to have a positive birth experience and grateful for the midwives who kept me motivated and cheered me on when I felt like I couldn't go on any longer. I literally said at one point, just pull her out of me, i can't do this anymore, but they cheered me on and told me you're almost there! you can do this! 

We named her Marnie, which is a Scottish name meaning "of the sea", since she was born in the water. June is a throwback to June Carter - a little bit of Americana to remind her of her roots - even though she was born in London. And no, she does not qualify for British citizenship, she is an American citizen. We already have her passport (taking a 6 day old to the American embassy was crazy to say the least).

We've been settling in happily as a family. Henry adores Marnie and kisses and hugs her all day long. My dad has been here for the past few weeks to help with Henry and the baby, which has been the only thing keeping me sane (and rested. lots of sleeping while the baby sleeps while Henry entertains Papa). I feel so lucky to have two healthy children, and grateful for the chance I have to raise another sweet little baby. Two kids! I still can't believe it!

Nov 4, 2014

Halloween and more.

This morning we went to mums group - a nice weekly gathering of neighborhood mums and their kids - and afterwards went to Tesco to stock up on pumpkin puree (they have it for 1.50/can!).

We came home and had a major cheese and crackers session while snuggling next to each other. Henry is reaaaaally into snuggling and smooshing our cheeks together. Every time he does it, my heart breaks a little about the impending changes. But, I will keep enjoying the cheek smooshing as long as he does it. It's the best.

I made a spreadsheet of dinners, meals, and snack ideas for after the new baby comes. Because I find my biggest hang ups in eating are just not being able to think of anything, let alone what to make for dinner. It's easy on the dairy and spices, but this time around it is not vegetarian. It is beef-free, but I'm still going to keep eating poultry and pork because it is such an easy and adaptable way to get unprocessed protein into my diet - something vital if I plan to stay upright and not pass out on public transportation like in my sordid past of vegetarianism.

We have 3 days to go until the due date. I've been feeling contractions randomly throughout the past couple of weeks, but I've also been purposely staying away from things that might get this baby born before her due date. We really want her to come when my mother in law is here so she can watch Henry. I have friends here who can watch him, but what if I go into labor at 2am and have a quick labor? My biggest fear is that Henry will be stranded and Mark won't be able to help me through labor and the baby will be born at home, etc etc panic ensues. So, I've been staying away from super spicy foods, staircases, long walks, and raspberry tea. But come Thursday night, BRING IT labor tricks. I have a few things up my sleeve.

And now for a few random photos from the past couple of weeks.

Halloween silliness. I got that curly wig for Mark and he dressed up as a retro basketball player or something, it was hilarious. Henry liked testing it out.

The leaves changing everywhere - one of the reasons Autumn will always be my favorite season.

Traffic jam in the hallway!

An elephant and Princess Anna share a cupcake moment.

Flowers from a sweet friend for the impending arrival of little miss.

And finally, this photo will make me laugh for the rest of my life.