Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Quiet Holiday in the Chi

According to our holiday rotation schedule we were to celebrate in Minnesota this year. But with Baby Girl #2 scheduled to arrive in just over a month (and my level of general comfort declining rapidly), we made the difficult decision to hang out in Chicago this year. While we missed sharing the festivities with the Westrom family (though we did get to partake via Skype), we enjoyed the peace & quiet (come February, we'll no doubt wish for more of this) of our own little celebration here in Logan Square.

On Christmas Eve we enjoyed a beautiful candlelight service along with many friends. This was followed by a delish dinner out at Feast in Bucktown. Since this was one of few restaurants open on Christmas Eve (the drive down normally busy North & Damen Aves. was eerily quiet) it was bustling with a fun mix of families, friends, and in particular, expectant couples (there were at least 5 others while we were there). It was fun (and almost movie-like) to seemingly all celebrate together while a beautiful snow fell on the quiet street outside.

Of course, Christmas Day was the highlight! Our fave gift from Elynor was her sleeping in until 9:30am (hopefully this trend will continue!?). After this late rising she was thrilled to find her stocking filled with gifts. Apparently our build-up to this event in the days leading up to Christmas was effective. On this, the first Christmas where she comprehended and fully partook in the events, I was reminded of life's simple pleasures through her innocent eyes. There were no Christmas lists or expectations beyond getting "something special for Elynor to celebrate God giving us Jesus". She was on cloud 9 with the $1 sunglasses and Reese's Peanut Butter trees she found in her stocking and the fact that Mommy and Daddy were both at home to play with her all day. She seemingly bounced from person to person around the room, just wanting to help with all the gifts. In fact, we had to take breaks between gifts so she would have even a chance of appreciating them all. She was excited to learn which extended family member sent each gift and talked about the giver almost as much as the gifts (thank you so many loved ones).

Beyond the gifts, we celebrated with a not-our-average breakfast and dinner here at home. Both have always been big deals in our family Christmases, so even though it was just the 3 of us, Rye & I wanted to maintain these elements as best we could. I spent most of Christmas eve prepping dishes with family connections as well as some newbies allowing us to simply cook and partake on Christmas day. Again, Elynor's recognition of and delight in these special meals (I think she loved everything) reminded me of why we invest the time and energy to celebrate through food. Of course, after all the prep & clean up, I did tell Rye he better enjoy the left overs, because I wouldn't be cooking again for some time. :)

As we consider what future Christmases will look like for our family, I pray we can maintain the essence of this celebration... the Childlike wonder, the simplicity, the togetherness, and the emphasis on Jesus.

Capturing the Christmas eve outfit on our busy girl was difficult... unless we can stage it again, this will have to do.

A classic Christmas morning shot (though I don't recall my parents being in any... I suppose it only happens a few times with the first child).

Delighted by her $1 sunglasses!

... And the Reese's Tree she got to share BEFORE breakfast!

Opening gifts takes awhile when you stop to read most books...

We're hoping this gift provides hours of entertainment after the arrival of Baby Sister.

A grand finale Christmas feast (yep, those PJs didn't come off all day)!

Winter Wonderland

Though we missed out on the 18-ish inches of snow that fell in Rye's hometown this holiday season, we enjoyed a white Christmas week of our own. As you can see from these pics, Elynor has inherited some of the Westrom family's Scandinavian blood. She loves almost any opportunity to be out in the snow, even assisting with shoveling duty (any chance this will still be the case in 13 years?). Her only unsolved mystery is why Mommy doesn't rush outside with her & Daddy. For now we'll let her think it's because someone has to stay inside and make the hot chocolate.

Prepping for a Christmas night adventure (yes, she's still in her pj's).

Christmas night on our winter playground.

Proof that Mommy does go out... even if she can't zip up her coat (I think there was a Starbucks incentive involved).

Finally, a sunny day on the winter playground.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

31.5 weeks & counting...

Looking back over this blog, some of you (especially those who followed the progress of Elynor's pregnancy) may be wondering if I'm really pregnant. Poor Baby Girl #2... hopefully my lack of pregnancy documentation does not predict the documentation pattern for her future!

At any rate, the answer is YES!, I am preggo... actually feeling oh-so-preggo in recent weeks. The back aches are still not as intense as those I experienced with Elynor, but they have snuck in. So, too, has the difficulty sleeping and fatigue by the end of each day. But, alas, that's par for the course, right!?

At last week's ultrasound we learned this little girl (or Coco, as Elynor sometimes calls her!?) is tracking at the 80%tile (currently 4 lbs. 3 oz.)! For those comparing, this is really exciting because it's smaller than Elynor was at this point. I suppose many of you would argue this isn't too difficult to accomplish, considering E was 11 lbs. 3 oz. at birth, but given my diabetes and genetics, bigger babies seem to be in the cards. If she gains approx. 1/2 lb./week and I deliver at 39 weeks (they won't let diabetic women go later), we could be close to 9 lbs! Of course, there is no guarantee... the next several weeks will be critical with my blood sugar management directly impacting the final birth weight. But this has renewed my resolve to keep the blood sugars tight. We'll reassess her growth in about 4 weeks.

Here's what she looks like (Rye & I think very similar to E's ultrasounds):

And here's what I look like (what woman willingly takes these shots?! this is for you, later, little girl...):

For comparison, this is approximately the same point in Elynor's pregnancy:

I'm looking a bit bigger this time around... probably because that tends to be the trend with subsequent pregnancies and there's a little extra fluid in the placenta (evidently this happens w/ diabetic women, for reasons they can't explain). The good news is the extra fluid presents little concern other than my water may break a little early (darn!). Mostly it's just an inconvenience for me carrying bigger (but praise God, it will disappear upon delivery).

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Haircut House Call

How awesome is it that my hairdresser is our neighbor and makes house calls!? Especially when a squirmy 2-year-old is desperately overdue... Even with some Barney entertainment and a brownie treat for distraction, Elynor was finished after about 10 minutes. Fortunately Gina was too! And E now has much more manageable, healthy looking curls to prove it (I'm still getting used to caring for the curly hair).

First Snow Fun

Note: Elynor has not been skiing, as the label on her coat suggests. I just haven't gotten around to cutting it off of this second-hand find. Better do so before the questions start coming!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Halloween in NYC

Better late than never seems to be the theme of my life these days... so here goes with a Halloween post -

The weekend of Halloween we took a family babymoon to NYC. My cousin Maggie had recently moved there and graciously hosted us for 2 nights (I pray she's no longer having nightmares about E's crazy 2-year-old antics...) on the Upper East Side and we then ventured to a B&B in Brooklyn for 2 more nights. As usual, we had a blast exploring all that NYC has to offer (though it wasn't at our typical pace with a toddler and preggo in tow). Here are a few highlights from our adventures. We love you, New York...

E practicing her "stay away from me paparazzi" pose.

Happy to be sitting after a LONG hike to the LES for some raved-about gluten-free goodies (sadly, we didn't find them to be as amazing as the hype or the price).

Our little ladybug trick-or-treats NYC style - to the businesses on 2nd Ave.

Trying to wrangle the choking-hazard cinnamon disk from the ladybug. She's clearly already on a sugar high.

Watching the NYC Marathon from the comfort of Maggie's 8th floor balcony!

A rainy, cool Monday morning is apparently not the most happenin' time at Coney Island.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I shy...

While saying our standard goodbyes on Friday morning, I told Elynor to tell her friend's mom thank you. Instead, she turned her head away and said:
"I can't Mama. I shy."

Huh? What? I thought. 1. You are NOT shy! and 2. Where on Earth did you come up with this one Miss Personality?

The next night after dinner Ryan asked Elynor to sit up so he could clean her hands.
"I can't Daddy. I shy."

Close. But we'll have to work on the use of this excuse.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Honesty & Consequences

Here's a fun story relayed by our beloved nanny, Heather, this week - providing a little peek into the developing mind and heart of this little girl. Enjoy -

I went upstairs to get Elynor up from her nap and she had the Jonah (as in, Jonah & the whale...) book in bed with her (it was not there when she went to sleep).
"Elynor reading Jonah," she informed me.

"Oh, should we read Jonah together??" I asked her.
She readily agreed.

We cozied up in the big blue chair and I read the first page about how Jonah didn't do what God told him to do, and then tried to explain in E terms what Jonah did.
"Jonah disobeyed God," I said.

Elynor turned to look at me. "I got out."

At this point I wasn't tracking with her. "What do you mean?" I asked.

"I got out of bed," she answered.

"Do you mean that you disobeyed by getting out of bed?"

She nodded. (Note: My biggest fear in going to a big-girl bed was Elynor freely roaming about upstairs when she should be sleeping... so we initially told her - and she has really taken to heart - that she is not to get out of bed unless we come get her.)

"Well, do you think that Jonah got a consequence for disobeying?" I asked.


"What do you think his consequence was?"

"A pinch," she answered without hesitation! (Note: Elynor often gets a pinch on her leg when she disobeys. It's kind of funny how effective this consequence is!)

"Well, let's see what happened to Jonah after he disobeyed."

We finished out the story and saw that Jonah's consequence was getting thrown overboard and swallowed by a whale and that in the end he obeyed God.
"So, do you think that you should have a consequence for disobeying and getting out of bed?" I asked.

And she willingly sat out a two minute timeout with no murmur or movement... and was a happy kid when she got out!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Two Years of Eating

I recently took some time to review/print pics from E's first 2 years (just a little behind, I know...). I was blown away 1) by how many awesome pics we have and, 2) by how much she's changed. I also noticed some themes to her photos. Over the next few weeks I'll try to share some photo samples of these observations. Today, I'll start with the most obvious - EATING! I suppose it's consistent with her frequency and enthusiasm for eating... but we have SO MANY eating photos. In this realm, she fits right in the family. Here are some of my faves:

And those non-food eating shots -

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Worth The Wait - Party Pics #2

Thanks for your patience, friends...

It's hard to believe it's already been a month since our Summer Soiree! Enjoy these, some of my fave takes from the event... and if you're brave (or curious) over 200 others here. If you joined us for the event pics of you &/or your kiddos are likely included (no, it's not over 200 pics of us!)... and you can download them for yourself - so check it out. Props to our fab friend & photog, Natalie Graham. Let her know if you're looking for your own photos!

Let the bouncy house games begin!

A bird? A plane? What's that G'ma & G'pa?

Ahhh, the joys of a family portrait with a 2-year-old distracted by a bouncy house, cake, and other more enticing options.

Silly girls...

Quite possibly my fave shot of all. Captions, anyone?!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's a... and other news

Seeing as it's been nearly a month since my last post, I better have lots to share, right? Fortunately, I do... as usual, we've been rockin' & rollin' in the Westy house. Since I know I'll never get around to individual posts, here's a quick run-down of what we've been up to. I'll do my best to do some individual posts, but no promises -

A Celiac Disease diagnosis knocks me down for about 2 weeks
So, the bummer news first. I can probably blame 1-2 weeks of my blogging silence on a diagnosis of Celiac Disease. For those unfamiliar (as I was until about 3 months ago), this is an autoimmune condition where the presence of gluten in the digestive tract causes the immune system to attack the small intestine's lining. I'll stop there at trying to sound like a doctor and send you here to learn more. Though I present no symptoms, this was detected through a routine blood test conducted by my diabetes MD. Evidentally autoimmune issues run in packs and since I have Type 1 Diabetes, it's not crazy that I'd also have Celiac. Bummer. Yeah. More details can be saved for another post... but the short summary is since late August I've:
- Visited 2 GI docs (both of whom think it's likely I have it but can't confirm anything until
after the pregnancy),
- Started following a gluten-free diet (fun times... at least I can still have most ice cream,
peanut butter, and wine/sushi in February),
- Spent many days mourning the loss of such gluten-filled treats as pizza, cupcakes, licorice,
and donuts (probably won't hurt me to eliminate these in the long-run, huh?),
- Spent several more days just crying and feeling sorry for myself (elynor learned to quickly
recognize/say 'mama sad...' and bring kleenexes),
- Finally got out of the pit and started figuring out how to make the best of this new reality
(including downloading an 'is that gluten free?' ap on my iphone), and
- Still praying this is all a false positive, to be further tested in the spring. Our God is a BIG God
- it's possible!

We celebrate Labor Day with house projects fun!
Does this house adventure feel like the song that never ends to anyone else? The good news is it's slowing down... after a month hiatus we hit it again over Labor Day weekend - Rye with the spackle & caulk gun and me with some beautiful, bright paint! That's right, with fumes mask to protect the growing babe inside I tackled painting the back porch play room. I think my nesting instinct kicked in a little early...

Elynor rings in her 3rd year with a low-key Sunday
Similar to last year (when we were homeless), we celebrated E's 2nd b'day (Sept. 13) with a low-key day of time together. We started the day with a very special breakfast on the front porch. Since we'd never done this before, getting to sit on the porch and eat/read comics (a new fave activity) in our PJ's was very exciting to E! I just love the simple things that make a toddler happy. Late afternoon several friends came over to help with a front yard project, so E ended the day digging in the dirt w/ buddy Keegan (another fave activity), trying out a yardsale-find b'day gift fairy wings (see pic below), and sharing a Mexican feast with Mr. Paul & Miss Lauren.

We cap off the season with a rockin' summer soireƩ
Don't let the low-key Sept. 13 fool you... we celebrated E's b'day (and her 1st b'day, since we were then homeless, and Rye's & my 30th b'days, and housewarming...) with a major party last weekend! We called it the Westy's Summer SoireƩ and could not have imagined a more awesome evening with dear friends & family. Since so many friends with toddlers were coming we decided to rent a bouncy house for the kiddos. Though at first I struggled a bit with us being "one of those families", I have to say it was an awesome decision. The excitement the kiddos shared (and the babysitting services the parents enjoyed) was priceless. This, along with great food, decorations, company, weather, etc. created a truly memorable night. Beyond the bouncy house I think E's highlights were the balloons (she's still playing with them) and the birthday song/getting to blow out candles. Immediately following she asked for more and I assumed she meant the cupcake. She quickly clarified that she wanted more "happy birthday" song! Thanks to Miss Heather & my mom for all the prep help and all who joined us. Pictures will come soon (waiting to get them from our dear friend & photog, Miss Natalie).

E graduates to a big girl bed & other current faves

Looking forward to the arrival of #2 in Feb. and a timely hand-me-down from friends caused us to make the step up this past Monday. We'd set the bed up in E's room a few weeks back and had been talking up the transition, but I'll admit that I was a little hesitant to potentially sacrifice our sleep-filled nights and afternoons (or possibly more, hesitant to give her some freedom). Rye was ready, though... so with little fanfare, we covered it with sheets and tucked her in on Monday night. She was so excited that she didn't even want to read books! Thankfully, though the initial excitement has worn off a bit, we have still enjoyed sleep-filled nights & afternoons. We'll see how long she observes my "rule" to not get out.

A couple of E's other current obsessions include hide & seek (even in the pitch black... this is now part of our bedtime routine), more imaginative play, more independent reading, digging in the dirt, and learning to count (supported by hide & seek, i think). She's also shown her fair share of "terrible 2's" bossiness, strong will & tantrums. All signs that she's growing, right? :)

And about that baby inside me -
The baby's really moving & shaking and my tummy has really "popped". We had our big 1/2-way ultrasound on Sept. 14 (I can't believe we're already 1/2 way)... and the biggest praise is the baby looks healthy. Let's all give a collective, YAY! God!

And oh, yea, it's also quite clear it's a little GIRL!

That's right, we'll apparently add another emotion-filled lady to this house next year (good luck, Rye, right?). I wasn't really pulling for one sex or the other, but I'll admit that I like the practical side of this news - few changes to the kiddos' bedroom (since they'll share) and added incentive to keep scrubbing all of E's stained clothes with OxyClean. Now onto the job of naming...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Coming Soon...

As you can see, Elynor is diligently prepping for her upcoming starring role as BIG SIS!
Her debut as this leading lady will take place the first week of February, 2010.

Her costars, Mommy & Daddy, haven't given this role quite as much prep time as they did for their last big screen appearances in Sept. 2007... too much mental and physical energy is devoted to helping Elynor prep. Mommy couldn't avoid the regular nausea and exhaustion for many weeks earlier this summer, giving Elynor plenty of opportunity to practice being gentle and quiet. But now at 17 weeks she's pretty much back to normal (minus the growing belly, that is).

The directors of this guaranteed blockbuster anticipate learning the sex of Elynor's costar sibling on Sept. 14. Stay tuned!

Peek - A - Boo

Captured during a rainy day finger paint session...