Saturday, December 24, 2011

Handmade Gifts

I'm officially done with my gifts--yay!  I've been a busy bee this last month because I decided to make two gifts each for the a knitting project and one a sewing project.  Although I have a really bad habit of being excited about a project the entire time I'm working on it and then finding a reason to be less than thrilled with the final project.  It's pretty annoying because it doesn't happen until the very last moment, but it happens almost every time.  That being said I am proud of myself and will spare you the reasons I'm NOT happy with these:

I Spy Bag for Zoe...I found a tutorial on Pinterest but when I actually sat down to follow the directions, I discovered that it was explained in this really horrible, unclear way so I'm not going to post the link to it.  It's basically just a pillow with a vinyl window sewn into one side.  On the other side is the list of (about 30) small items I found around our house that are hidden inside among some "Polly Pellets" that I got a the craft store.  I printed the list on an iron-on transfer sheet that you can also get at the craft store...

Fishing game for Owen.  I just improvised totally on this one.  I stuffed the fish with cotton stuffing, dropping a little magnet in first so it would sort of settle into the mouth.  The fishing poles are dowels with yarn wrapped around one end for the handle and then more yarn wrapped and glued to the other end and to another magnet at the end of the yarn.  I bought some really inexpensive "minnow catchers" (75 cents) at the hardware store and put everything into an inexpensive, basic flat tackle box.  I was hoping the poles would fit inside too but they were a bit too long, so I sort of made a pocket thing on the side of the box for them.  I'm sure it won't last so might end up making the poles shorter so it can all fit inside for easy storage and cleanup...

Knitted lamb for Zoe with a leotard and skirt.  This one was totally unplanned but I'm so glad I decided to do it.  I had all the materials from other projects so it didn't cost me any extra...really hoping she will like it.  Here is the pattern for the lamb and here is the pattern for the outfit (and other outfits for it).  I'm excited to make more outfits for her sometime soon...

Finally, the first of all the projects I started almost a month ago...Woodland creatures for Owen.  The pattern includes a little hat too but after struggling with the correct gauge quite a bit I decided to just not make it.  I like them without it anyhow!  I also took the leftover material from the fishing game and put together a little bag to store them in...

There!  Wrapped and officially done!  It felt good to spend way more time working away at home as opposed to making trip after trip out to shop at the stores...I did do plenty of that too I guess but the majority of the preparation leading up to tomorrow for me was just working away on my couch with a glass of wine...much better than waiting in long lines!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice!

The official first day of winter could not have been more beautiful around here as we welcomed in possibly our biggest snowstorm so far this year.  Zoe went out into it this morning and took a few pictures and it still continued to snow through to the afternoon...
Zoe and I spent some time making our solstice cupcakes (we got this idea from a great children's book that we checked out from the library this year titled The Shortest Day) and decided to give some to our friends the Rech's and the Smith's.  We love them so much and wanted to share this beautiful day with them.  It was fun getting bundled up to deliver our goodies to our wonderful friends on such a quiet, peaceful day. We had our cupcakes after dinner...lit the candles, sang the following song to the tune of "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" and then blew the candles out, making a wish for the coming year:
We wish you a happy solstice
We wish you a happy solstice
We wish you a happy solstice
and a happy winter!

Headed out to make our deliveries..Zoe is holding a hat I made for Gretchen's cutie pie baby girl and a picture she made for the family.
For dinner we made our own we ate we talked a little bit about the cycle of the seasons going around and around like a circle...

Our finished "Thankfulness Stars" countdown to the solstice.  We each took a turn every day this month to write something we are thankful for on a star and hung it up.  Today, we all wrote something on a sun and hung it on the last pin...this is my favorite window this time of year...looking at it at night from both inside and out makes me feel really peaceful and happy....

The first light of solstice is the light of stones
Light that lives in crystals in seashells and in bones,
The second light of solstice is the light of plants
Plants that reach up to the sun and in the breezes dance
The third light of solstice is the light of beasts
Light of hope that shines in the greatest and the least
The fourth light of solstice is the light of you and I
Light of hope and love and peace and harmony
I'm so happy to have had my interest in Winter Solstice sparked randomly last year.  It has inspired us to add so many wonderful new traditions to a time of year that we already cherished more than any other.  I hope you all had a wonderful day!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Naughty or Nice?

Okay, I feel I made a controversial decision this Christmas season.  If you are friends with me on Facebook, you may or may not have seen the video message that Santa sent to Zoe last week.  A few of you commented on it, but many of you did not.  That, along with the fact that I had at least 2 people tell me directly that they couldn't believe I'd done it to poor, sweet Zoe leads me to believe that many people have the impression that I'm a cold hearted mother.  I MIGHT agree with you, but let me at least explain and maybe we can all come to a decision together.  Maybe not, but whatever...if there's one thing that's become crystal clear to me over the last 4 years it's that guilt is one of the most common feelings involved in the mothering business...on both sides, actually...sometimes we use it to our advantage but many times we inflict it upon ourselves...hey, it's the name of the game so let's all just accept it and move on.

Anyway, it all started on the first night of our Winter Solstice candle lighting.  We were having a lovely dinner when Zoe decided to have a huge meltdown.  As she slowly calmed down, we started talking to her about how she had to be careful because Santa was always watching.  We told her that if Santa decides a kid has been naughty he gives them coal for Christmas instead of presents.  She asked what coal was and as Nathan was describing it, I closely watched her face as it slowly registered a look of panic. I braced myself for the reaction and she finally said in a wavering voice as she threw up her hands and cast her eyes skyward: "I like coal but I also like presents!!" and then folded her arms and plopped her pouting face onto them. Nathan and I both did our best to stifle our laughter but we were both almost immediately unsuccessful.  I continued to watch her and I swear to you she looked exactly as if she were trying to decide which path to choose...."Well, I could be nice and get presents, but coal really isn't so bad so I could just go ahead and be naughty...hmmm..."  Boy oh boy, this kid is something else.

A couple of weeks later I read someone's status update on Facebook saying that she's been pretending to call Santa when her kid misbehaves.  I thought it would suit us perfectly so instantly told Zoe I'd gotten a hold of Santa's number.  It was working like a charm....all I had to do was open my phone and pretend to start dialing and listening to the ringing and she would stop misbehaving right away.  One day though, she was having the mother of all meltdowns and I opened my phone and started pretending to listen.  All of the sudden she said "I want to talk to him" and I panicked.  I was making dinner at the time so I bought myself a few moments by saying he didn't pick up and that I'd try again after I got the pasta off the stove.  I decided to call Nathan's phone knowing he was at the library and wouldn't be able to pick up.  After I listened to his greeting I gave her the phone and she left him a message (instantly putting on a sweet voice and asking some sort of innocent, cute as a button question like "How do your reindeer fly?") and hung up.  I felt relief at getting through the moment but all I could think was "Okay, but what happens if Nathan is with us next time?".  So, I described what happened in my status update and asked if anyone would be willing to pretend to be Santa and return Zoe's call.

I got a lot of responses, one of which was a suggestion to make a free Santa video message at this website. (If you're interested, here is the video I made for her).  It's really cool because you can put in information and pictures about your kid so it actually looks like Santa knows all of this stuff about them.  I knew she'd eat it up, but the only dilemma I was  having was that you have to choose either the "naughty" or "nice" version.  The naughty version isn't horrible, but Santa does utter the words "Uh oh!  Looks like you're not on the nice list yet." and I was worried that it might be a little harsh.  The nice version, though was just TOO nice.  All they do is throw confetti and cheer "Yay!  You're on the nice list!"  What I really wanted was something in between...maybe something that said "'re doing pretty well, but be sure to keep behaving!"  but that wasn't an option. I made the video late at night and spent that whole night and the next morning going back and forth, trying to decide if I should show it to her or not.  I finally just bit the bullet and showed it to her, prepping her by saying I'd heard that most kids go back and forth all year and that when you do things like throw tantrums, Santa usually takes you off the nice list for a little while...I said that it didn't mean you were on the naughty list, only that you were off the nice list for a bit.  Anyway, she loved it.  She was completely mesmerized the whole was super sweet (I actually got it on film, but can't seem to upload videos from our camera to Blogger) but at the very end she totally decided to ignore the fact that he said she wasn't on the nice list.  When I asked her about it, she pretended to have no idea what I was talking about.  She is a tough nut to crack I'm telling you.  Since getting her video message from Santa, she's watched it at least 30 times and now has the whole thing memorized.

I think it's safe to say that this adventure along with the fact that I now have Santa and Mrs. Claus on speed dial (they've been sending text messages and Santa actually called and talked to her yesterday) made her visit to the actual Santa on Pearl Street yesterday one she'll probably never forget.  She brought along some carrots to give to Santa so he could give them to his reindeer and was so in awe she hardly uttered a word.  It could not have been more perfect.

SO, am I a mean Mom for having Santa tell her she wasn't on the nice list?  Maybe.  Could I have scarred her for life?  Maybe.  Does this whole thing totally contradict with my belief that Christmas should not be about the gifts but about spending time with people we love?  I'm afraid it might.  Does it clash with my efforts to instill in my kids that seeing is believing and that there is no such thing as a higher power?  Hell, yes.  There are a lot of things I don't know but what I do know is that I'm not perfect but I love my kids and believe in having fun.  Believing in Santa is magical and short lived so I'm milking it for all it's worth while I can.  I also have a sweet kid who happens to be getting very good at pushing my buttons and bringing out the worst in me.  I love her and she's super smart.  She knows deep down that there's no way she'd only get coal for Christmas...although apparently she wouldn't mind. 

Totally off topic, but I love this and wanted to show you...Zoe, Nathan and I made this together under her's our Winter Solstice she put it "So, everyone who comes can look at it and say 'Oh! It's Winter Solstice!'"

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rainbow Gnome Adventure, Part IV

More adventures!  I've been daydreaming about what it would be like to drive a campervan through New Zealand, thinking of these guys doing just that....beautiful!

Enjoy this latest installment with Becca's descriptions below the photos:
"At Orakei Korako, a geothermal area in the centre of the North Island"  (I love Nina in this picture, taking a picture of the gnome and her dolly....makes me miss that little munchkin!)
"Very windswept on the ferry as we enter the sounds on the northern tip of the South Island"
"Sunbathing in Abel Tasman National Park (the water truly was that colour)"
"In our campervan on Arthur's Pass - the kids slept in the very cool pop up tent" (Hi Fynn buddy!)
"Buried on the beach at Lake Wanaka, South Island"
"Hard to tell, but the gnome's driving a snow mobile at the International Antarctic Centre, Christchurch"

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Confidence Boost

Ugh!  I am admitting failure once and for all...I've been trying really hard to think of something to do for a couple of people on our Christmas list...I thought I'd finally settled on something and bought all the materials...Zoe and I started it last week and every day that passes it's become more and more clear that it might not work out...finally just now I gave it a good go and it's officially a bust.

SO, I'm sharing with you two things that have gone well and that I'm happy about in the hopes that it'll help me move past this particular failure and be alright with getting a couple of store bought gifts instead...we can only do our best right?

Anyway, one of my brothers is engaged to be married and I couldn't be happier for them.  I've always loved Wally's sense of humor and he has found a partner in Katie who not only gets him but totally jives with him.  They have a blast together and I'm so psyched for both of them.  I decided I wanted to make this "smitten" for them as a sort of engagement gift.  It's totally cheesy and impractical (what about the other hands??) and so I thought they might get a kick out of it.  I'm actually pretty proud of myself because it posed a lot of new knitting challenges for me!
To be worn while holding the pattern says: "Nothing says love quite like a smitten"...ah, love and corny knitting projects.
Then today, Zoe and I made some wrapping paper using freezer paper and sponges.  I cut the sponges out in different shapes including a couple of Christmas trees and a star and we went crazy with green, red and yellow!

So, yeah...wiping the slate clean here and moving on to the next project.  I'm finishing up a knitting project for Owen that I'm excited to show off when it's all done and I'm also jumping in with both feet with my new sewing machine.  I have a couple of gifts in mind for the kids and I'm hoping for the best.  Hope today's failure will be the only one--wish me luck!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

When did that happen?

I tend to think I'm pretty good at "living in the moment"...or I've at least spent some time working at it over the past couple of years.  I know that these kids are going to grow up before I know it so I'm trying to soak up these early years, even though it can be such a battle a lot of the time.  For as many challenges they throw at me, they give me just as many...actually way more completely amazing things, so I try to recognize all of that whenever I can and really experience it in the moment.  Something about this holiday season so far though has made me realize that there has been a big chunk of our life that I haven't been appreciating and experiencing down to my bones.  I've been keeping the East Coast (aka "Home") close to my heart since we moved to's where I grew up....I love it and feel I will always belong there.  Nathan and I both hope to be able to move back there after he's done with school and although we've been enjoying everything wonderful there is to enjoy out here, I feel like we've just been sort of waiting to go back East.  All of the sudden though, I've been realizing that somewhere along the way this place has turned into our home.  I think raising kids in a place must do that to you automatically because as parents, we are in the business of creating memories for our kids...we seek out ways to make life for them special, memorable and doing so, those feelings seep into my psyche as well so how can I not end up feeling attached to this place when all is said and done?  I've come to the realization recently that when the time does inevitably come for us to say goodbye to Boulder, it's going to be really sad so even more than ever I'm trying to really take everything in.

We went to the "Festival of Lights" parade in downtown Boulder last night in the freezing cold weather.  We've gone every year since we moved here and although it's not the most spectacular parade in the world, something about it makes us feel really at home and happy.  This year was no exception and the added bonuses of Owen being aware of everything, Zoe being older and more tolerant of the cold and chaos, finding a better parking spot than we normally do, eating dinner beforehand instead of at the actual parade and the fact that it's now officially "tradition" since it was the 3rd time all made it feel...well, just completely awesome.  Nathan and  I couldn't stop smiling as we watched Owen's little face light up at all of the trucks...his big eyes tearing up from the cold and his little voice chirping "dukdukduk!!" as they passed by.   Zoe wanted me to hold her most of the time, and even though she is really way to big to be held for so long like that I didn't mind in the least because I could hear everything she said and I got to see her face when Santa came rolling around the corner.  I tried to see Santa pass by as she was experiencing it...I felt content as I remembered what it was like to really believe in him and we clapped and cheered...the moment was topped off perfectly as a parent nearby yelled out to Santa "YOU ROCK!!!" and we all walked quietly and happily back to the car, recounting all of the highlights and talking with Zoe about how busy Santa must be right now.

I don't know where we will end up after all of this but I know we have at least a few more years to make the most of this place.  I do dread leaving but am excited about our future too...Zoe put it perfectly when we had this conversation the other day:

Zoe:  "Mommy, when are we going to move?"
Me:  "Not until you are about 6 or 7."
Zoe:  (frustrated sigh)
Me:  "Why do you keep asking that lately?  Wouldn't you miss all of your friends if we moved?"
Zoe:  "Well yeah I would definitely miss my friends, but I just, like...wanna see what else there is...I mean, I could always visit."

Think I need to take a lesson from my kid's hard to resist getting sentimental especially when you've experienced difficult goodbyes and faced the reality that visiting the people you love most is sometimes so impossible that it literally never happens...but we can't dwell in that because if we do, we miss out on the stuff that's happening right in front of us and in this moment, there is nothing more important to me than my little family.  THEY are what make a place "Home" and as long as they are with me, my life will be filled with wonder.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Here we go!

The Christmas season is in full swing at our place!   After our lovely Thanksgiving here, we have gone full steam ahead into Christmas.  Nathan and I are usually raring to go on the Christmas decorating so this year is no exception but it's always a little shocking that it's actually time for all of it again.  We actually did consider waiting a week longer to get the tree this year, since we're going to be home for Christmas but realized that Thanksgiving weekend is the best time for us to decorate and get the tree up.  Nathan was home all weekend without having to work at all, and now until Christmas break he will be living at the library again, trying to get a paper done so we concluded that it was best to go ahead and get the tree this weekend..much to our dismay, right?  Yeah.  We love it so much it's a little ridiculous.

Anyway, so as I said we will be home this year for Christmas.  We'll head to Oklahoma a couple days afterwards, but Santa will actually be able to find the kids at their own house for once.  We are pretty psyched about's a great year for it to happen too (although I guess the year Zoe was 1 we stayed in Brooklyn for Christmas, but you know what I mean) because we've been discovering how much more aware Zoe is of everything now.  It's cool because we are not only getting the older kid perspective through her, but we are getting the adorable baby reactions again through Owen...the wide eyes, the "ooo"ing and pointing at the tree and so cute.  We usually wait until after Zoe goes to bed to put everything up because the apartment gets totally turned upside down and Nathan and I do a lot of arguing discussing about what to put where.  Doing it sans "helpful" child was always a no-brainer, but this year the combination of her being a year older and Nathan and I having decorated this same apartment already it all seemed much smoother.  I felt the same way about Thanksgiving this year...every year we seem to find our groove more as far as these holiday traditions go and it so nice to feel like we're finding OUR way to celebrate together as a little family.  Anyway, while Owen was napping, the three of us took to decorating and Zoe was actually a big help!  Nathan and I did a lot of smiling at each other as we answered Zoe's questions about what ornaments came from where and listened to her say things like "Well, last year we put these bells on THIS door."  She helped me start filling our kitchen window with paper snowflakes and was able to do every step of it herself so some of the snowflakes are ALL her...she put the star on the top of the tree...she and I made salt dough ornaments and some of hers actually came out looking like whatever she intended them to be.  Of course, we got a couple of the obligatory 20 pound paint covered ones...the ones that require a close to the trunk branch as well as an equally strong one just below as kind of an ornament safety net, but I personally wouldn't have it any other way.   I just love having some ornaments you pull out every year that make you all laugh and reminisce (a certain  5 in x 5 in square piece of silver paper comes to mind)...seeing the tree full of those kinds of ornaments makes me so happy.

Along with the things we've done every year and carried along from our childhoods, I've also loved finding new traditions.  I started reading about Winter Solstice last year and really love learning about it and incorporating it into our celebration and I'm excited that Zoe is able to talk about it all with me a little.  While we were in the car going to get the tree, I was telling her how I read about why it's traditional to bring a tree into your house.  I told her that long ago, when people didn't know about why it got dark so early in the winter, they were afraid that the sun was slowly going away and that one day there wouldn't be sun at all.  One of the things that kept them hopeful was the fact that some trees didn't lose their green color.  Evergreen trees became a kind of symbol of hope that one day the sun would return so people started decorating them to sort of honor them.  I was kind of going on and on I think because I'm still learning all of these stories and haven't found a short way of explaining it.  I was sure I had lost her totally, but when I finished my story she said "Tell me more, Mommy!"...ah, music to my ears!  I told her one or two more I'd just read but it made me that more excited to keep reading and learning...

So anyway, here are a few pictures of our hall-decking festivities!  Love love love!

After realizing she was too young last year to understand the "Hide the Elf" game from my childhood (hiding the elf and helping the person find it by telling them their hot or cold), I've been thrilled to see that she totally gets (and loves) it now...she's even added this Rudolf I made last year to the mix.

Our kitchen window...the clothespins hanging down are our "Thankfulness Stars"..a countdown to Winter Solstice.  Each morning we write on a star something we are thankful for and pin it to a pin.

The ornaments she made for her preschool teachers

This is what Christmas is all about if you ask me. ;-)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hooray for another Thanksgiving at the Stith residence!  For the past 4 years, ever since Zoe was born on Thanksgiving morning, we've made it a tradition to stay at our house and keep to ourselves all day.  Don't get me wrong, we are incredibly thankful for the wonderful family and friends we are lucky enough to have in our lives.  At the same time though, it really is pretty great to not have to travel and to be in your own house on a day like today.  We have the day lazily mapped out every year, and it goes something like this...of course there are differences each year because the kids are so different from year to year, but basically it's the same. ...this is what we did this year:

1)  Woke up
2)  Had coffee/put pull aparts in the oven (this isn't the recipe we use, but you get the idea)
3)  Hung out with kids all together
4)  Owen went down for nap #1
5)  Watched the parade and demolished pull aparts while having one too may mimosas.  It was interesting for me to notice that the last couple of years, since we moved away from New York, I've felt a pang of nostalgia and sadness while watching the parade.  This year I didn't feel that at all.  I felt totally content to be in my apartment in Colorado, sitting on the couch knitting while Owen napped quietly upstairs and Nathan and Zoe cuddled on our big ol' recliner.
6)  Nathan started dinner around 11am (he makes the WHOLE dinner.  The only thing I did this year was put the pull aparts in the oven and I stirred the gravy while he took a quick bathroom break...don't worry I take care of clean up)
7)  Watched Santa come down the street and did a little family dance in the living room while waving to and cheering for Santa
8)  Turned on Christmas music
9)  Nathan continued to cook and I hung out with the kids
10)  Zoe and I kept busy while Owen napped.  This year we worked on our Winter Solstice wreath and Zoe helped Nathan cook here and there
11)  After Owen's nap we ate a little lunch and wrote a letter to Santa (see below)
12)  Headed outside to mail letter to Santa and go to the playground.  We also went on a nature walk to collect things to add to our wreath
13)  Headed home for Owen's afternoon nap
13)  Helped Nathan if he needed it, but otherwise hung out some more (more work on wreath)
14)  After Owen woke up it was pretty much exactly time for dinner right then (Nathan's getting better and better at this huge task...the first year we did this I think we ate at 10pm)
15)  Ate
16)  I started cleaning up and Nathan hung out with the kids
17)  Bedtime for the kids
18)  Pie for Mommy and Daddy! Zoe didn't seem to care about it this year...anyway, she hardly ate anything so we had to tell her if she was too stuffed to eat dinner, she was too stuffed for pie.  She didn't put up much of a fight so we don't feel too guilty about eating the pie after bedtime.

So there you have it!  I know you were all dying to know what our day was like so I knew I had to jump right on the computer to fill you in.  Truth be told, I haven't even had my pie yet--that's how concerned I was about getting this information out to you....honestly, though the main reason I rushed to post this is that I wanted to find a reason to show off our finished Winter Solstice wreath!  Here it is with a couple of pictures of the steps we took to get there:
Wrapped some fuzzy white yarn tightly around a craft foam wreath from Joann's

That step completed

Adding a couple of waxed leaves and felt flowers (to learn how to do these flowers, see my "Lack of Projects and an ER visit" post from October)

Finished product!

We will light one candle each week in December, leading up to Winter Solstice on the 22nd.  Each time we light one, we'll read poems about winter or just talk about why we love and appreciate this time of year.
 Here is Zoe's letter to Santa.  This is easily turning into one of my favorite cute and fun!

Yay for this time of year...our favorite...hope you all had a great day too!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Zoe!

I put Zoe to bed last night and after I turned out the light, she wanted to know how many hours until she was going to be 4.  I told her and she fell asleep with a smile plastered on her face.  This morning at 6am, she woke up and asked "Mommy, is it morning yet?" and I said "Yup!  You're 4 now!"  We hugged each other for roughly 5 seconds and then she promptly threw up on my pillow.  Poor baby.  It should be against the laws of nature to have to be sick on your birthday, especially when you are a kid.  Luckily she didn't seem too upset about it.  She was basically just low energy all day but we didn't have any plans anyway.  At one point though, she did say "Mommy, I never thought I would feel like this on my ACTUAL birthday."  We postponed the cupcake eating until tomorrow night and we had her birthday party a couple of weeks ago, so all is well but man what a bummer!

Anyway, when I posted Owen's birth story on his birthday I realized I painted a much more complete picture than I did in the actual baby book so I want to try and do the same with's been 4 years so I don't know how many details I'll remember but I hope you won't mind if I try...
November 21, 2007...we had just done our Thanksgiving dinner shopping in a very crowded Fairway Market in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  Why we had waited until the night before Thanksgiving, I don't remember now but I'm sure it had something to do with a crazy work schedule.  I was almost two weeks over due and feeling really, really uncomfortable (to put it mildly) but also feeling like the baby would never come and that I might go on looking and feeling like an elephant for the rest of my life.  I picked up my first canned item from the bag on our living room floor and as I reached up to put it in the cupboard I felt my first twinge of pain.  I told Nathan I thought I'd better sit down and that was the very beginning of the most insane ride I'd ever been on in my entire life.

It was 9:30pm, which was already not part of the ideal picture Nathan and I had painted for ourselves when imagining the birth of our child.  We both had visions of walking around our neighborhood (still one of our favorite places) in the daytime or evening (we were "keeping an open mind" and not hoping for one or the other of course) with the autumn leaves helping us stay positive and our fantasy, we did a lot of hand-holding and hugging in the crisp fall air with an eventual cab ride over to our hospital.  I did NOT want to ride in our car because the car seat behind the passenger seat made it impossible for someone as huge as me to fit up there so I would have had to climb in the back.  I didn't know what was ahead of me, but I was 100% sure that it would totally and completely suck to be in labor and have to crawl into the backseat of a two-door sports car, so the plan was to call a car when the time came.

Anyway the contractions were very gradually getting stronger but I still felt pretty with one point I told Nathan "Wow.  If these are just the mild ones, I'm in big trouble" and we both laughed a little.  It got to be pretty late so we decided to try to go to bed.  I knew it would be best to try and get some rest so I laid down and tried to at least doze a little.  I was doing okay until I started feeling really cold and shaky.  I got into our shower and stood under the hot water for a really long time until I realized I couldn't stand in there all night long.  I asked Nathan to bring me some warm clothes and I bundled up and we hunkered down in our little living room.  I was feeling really awful, and not just because of the contractions.  When I wasn't having one, I realized I couldn't stop shivering.  We'd turn up the heat and I'd put on a sweatshirt and I'd be hot 1 minute later.  So, I'd take off the sweatshirt and start shivering.  I couldn't find any position that was comfortable...sitting, standing you name it.  Nothing felt right.  We were trying to time my contractions and I'd say "Okay another one is starting...I think.....and it might be going away, I don't know..."  It was the middle of the night and we didn't have a clue as to what to do.  So far this wasn't following any of the formulas anyone had taught us that help you figure out when it's a good time to call the midwife and go to the hospital.

We finally did call our midwife though because we were so totally confused.  We told her about the contractions and she said they didn't sound like they were progressing quite far enough for us to go in yet...I then said "I just wish I could stop shaking" and she suggested I take my temperature.  We did so and realized it was almost 102, so she told us to go right in.  It was smack dab in the middle of the night now, coming into early morning hours of Thanksgiving morning and we called our trusty car company.  I was shocked and totally crushed to learn that they had NO CARS AVAILABLE.  I think we tried one or two more before realizing that we were never going to find a cab that morning.  So I climbed into the backseat of our car and had the worst car ride ever.  As I walked past my midwife in labor and delivery, I saw that she was holding a cup of coffee and I said "I'm so sorry!" I passed by, Nathan told me later that she looked at him and said "She doesn't look good."  We went into a little room where they took my temperature and checked the baby's heart rate.  It was going up and down like crazy so they got me into a delivery room right away.  The next few hours were complete hell.  I had wanted to do a lot of walking around and maybe sitting in a tub...trying different positions, listening to music--the whole nine yards.  Instead, I was confined to the bed because I had to have 2 different monitors on to make sure the baby's heart was okay.  I was alright with it though, because I trusted my midwife and agreed that it was all, I felt so terrible that I don't think I could have moved if I'd wanted to.  They gave me something to help bring my fever down and when it eventually did I became so drenched in sweat that Nathan's biggest job became just mopping my head off every 3 seconds.

Contractions were the most unbelievably overwhelming sensation I could ever imagine.  I can't think of any common example to give you that could describe it.  The most accurate thing I can think of  is to say that it's what I imagine sitting in an electric chair must feel like.  It was so crazy.  At one point, I said "WHO'S IDEA WAS THIS??" and poor Nathan thought I meant was it his or mine, but what I meant was "WHO THOUGHT THIS UP??" What a crazy, cruel thing to make us women go through, seriously.  I was worried that I was scaring Nathan at one point when I looked him in the eyes during a contraction.  I can't imagine what he must have been thinking and feeling in that moment.  I also, at one point yelled out something that I'm sure has put me on some sort of Wall of Fame in my midwives office..during a contraction I said "FUCK YOU, MOTHER NATURE!!!!" and Nathan said he and the midwife had to look away for a second to hide their smiling faces. 

After a while of that, I finally got to the point where I could push and I did so for about an hour.  Luckily it kind of flew by because it was really really hard.  I'm not sure how people push longer than that because I was so totally spent I could barely lift my head.  Thank goodness she finally came out and, as I described in Owen's birth story, the relief you feel when it's over, coupled with the euphoria of finally being a parent after waiting all of that time (personally, my whole life) makes for some pretty incredible highs and it makes the whole battle worth it.  It also felt perfect because we had this beautiful view out our window of the river and a a big tree with beautiful orange and yellow leaves.  It was 9:01am on Thanksgiving morning and my midwife said "Hey, and I can still get home and bake my pie!"  All was perfectly right with the world.

I can't believe it's been 4 years since I met Zoe for the first time.  In the hospital on that first day, as he was holding her, Nathan said "We are going to have so much fun with her." and man, was he right.  She is the most smart, funny, beautiful and wonderful kid I know and I can't believe she's mine.  I can hardly remember how I felt about anything before she came along and I feel so thankful to know her.  Thanks for coming our way, Zoe...I hope we are always what you need us to be and that you think of these early days as fun and comforting.  I'm not sure I could ever pay you back for all of the wonderful things you've done for me in the last 4 years but you can be sure I'll never give up trying.



Friday, November 18, 2011

Rainbow Gnome Adventure, Part III

For those of you following along on the Rainbow Gnome Adventure, we got two more great photos from the Cullis family today.  They are in New Zealand and I am SO JEALOUS!  I know they are soaking it all up, although I'm sure they must all be totally exhausted at the same time.  They are such an adventurous family and the kiddos are such great travelers, I feel sure they are all getting the most out of the experience though...anyway, here's the latest with Becca's descriptions beneath as usual:
"Nina by the yachts in downtown in Auckland, a very seriously civilised city with boats everywhere you look."

"Hiking on the west coast, looking out over Karekare (where The Piano was filmed). Stunning, terrifyingly high cliffs."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fairy House

Thanks to our friends Jessica, Ainsley, Sierra, Gretchen and Hunter we are now officially on a fairy kick at our house and I couldn't be happier about it!  Growing up, we had several big, huge maple trees in our yard and I have wonderful memories of spending hours (well, I guess to me it seemed like hours but it could just as easily have been 15 minutes here and there) building fairy houses.  I'll never forget that feeling of really believing that there were troupes of fairies traveling around all of the time.  I loved to picture them coming upon the house I'd built for them, being SO relieved to find such a comfy place.  I always imagined them completely exhausted from a long day of traveling around the world and relaxing in my house.  My mom would leave candy in our houses for us to find, as a "thank you" from the fairies and I fell for the whole thing hook, line and sinker.  I've been excited to share fairy houses with Zoe when she was old enough to appreciate them.

That's why I was so thrilled to see that for her birthday she received a book from Gretchen and Hunter called "The Midnight Fairies" that came with a little fairy necklace (she's totally obsessed with both).  She also got a beautiful and thoughtfully assembled package from Jessica, Ainsley and Sierra that included a handmade fairy (made by Jessica), some "building materials" (sticks, stones and shells) to help get her started on a fairy house, and a book called "Fairy Houses" that includes helpful tips and a great story.  She brought both books to school with her today and wore the necklace.  When I picked her up, one of her teachers told me that she had read the "The Midnight Fairies" to a group of kids outside and that they were all really excited about the matching necklace.  She said at first she felt shy reading it, but as soon as her teacher asked her to talk a little louder, she relaxed into it.
The fairy and building materials from Jessica, Ainsley and Sierra
It's been really windy around here ever since her party on Saturday and she has been DYING to get started on building.  I finally gave in today, even though it's still pretty windy...I just warned her that it might all blow away and that we should wait to put things like leaves and grass down until it's not so windy.  She was perfectly happy with that and got started straight away.  At first, I was trying to stay out of the process so that she could build it however she saw fit, but she seemed at a loss when it came to how to get started.  I finally decided that she's still pretty young and that working on it together as a team would be just as great an experience for her, so I ended up helping her out.  After overcoming my own "how do we get this thing started" feelings (it's been a long time since I built a fairy house!) we quickly got into a rhythm together and came up with a pretty cozy place, if I do say do myself!  It was just as much fun for me as it was her, I think, and I'm pretty confident in saying that it was 100% teamwork.  If she asked me how to do something, I made sure to always say "What do YOU think?" and if she had an idea, it was implemented every time.  If she seemed stuck, I'd suggest something and if she seemed like she just wanted to gather more materials, I'd start a walkway or something with what she was gathering....something she could easily take over and finish if she decided she wanted to....

Anyway, what a nice morning!  She says she wants to check on her fairy house "EVERY DAY" and if we're speaking truthfully here, so do I!

Here's a little "before and after" video....the basket at the "back door" that is now empty and waiting to be filled with flowers was almost a collection basket.  She got it out and said "I'll put this here in case anyone wants to give me money for staying here".  She and I went back and forth for a while...I was trying to say that that's not the reason we built the house for the fairies...that we built it to be kind and give them a place to stay, and she just kept saying "No, in case they just WANT to give me hey, THANKS for making this house for us!"...she finally agreed that it didn't make much sense anyway, since fairies don't actually use money and decided to put flowers in there if she finds any pretty ones....

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rainbow Gnome Adventure, Part II

We got a few more pictures today of our little traveling rainbow gnome from the wonderful Cullis family!  I'm so glad they are as excited to be doing this with us as we'd hoped they would be.  What a wonderful way to hear about their travels and keep in touch...I'm also excited to see Nina's Three Little Pigs t-shirt traveling the globe!  They are in California now, and they will soon fly to New Zealand...can't wait to see pictures of this little guy and our friends in my personal "dream vacation" destination!  Here are the latest photos with Becca's descriptions below:
"Muley Point (Southern Utah) with Monument Valley behind - one of the most spectacular 360 degree views I have ever seen"

"Mohave Point at sunset, Grand Canyon (there was a full moon too, just not in this picture)"

"Downtown Vegas - a crazy, crazy town"