Thursday, November 20, 2014

Happy 3rd Birthday, Maddie!

My baby burrito!

The first time we met.

My smart, hilarious, energetic, snuggly little lady turned three today; happy birthday Madeleine Jane! She has brought her family, friends and every single stranger she encounters such an unbelievable amount of joy and I feel so lucky to have a front row seat to her life. In true Maddie fashion she woke us up at the crack of dawn (like, before 4am) wanting to party, just like she did in those sleepless nights of her first couple of years. Sometimes, you just gotta stretch this birthday girl situation out as long as possible, am I right? 
In honor of three years of Maddie, here is a little post on all things Maddie Hammers like I did last year!

Favorite activities: She has become more of a homebody lately and prefers to play with her trains, making huge tracks on the living room floor (with a little help from Daddy) and doing her new favorite thing: "artcrafts". She loves to paint, cut paper into animal shapes (or at least supervise her nanny doing so) and glue all the things together. She also loves puzzles and is ridiculously good at them already. I cannot wait to do huge ones together over hot cocoa this winter!

Favorite foods: She is a toddler in every sense of the word with food and is not nearly as adventurous as she was as a baby. Her diet pretty much consists of pasta, fruit, yogurt, and pancakes (homemade every single morning by Daddy). I recently implemented a food chart (which I will blog about soon) in which she can earn a sticker for trying a new food, and that actually did boost some new things into her diet which I hope we can continue!

Favorite people: Not much has changed since last year except she is more mobile and with a larger vocabulary so everyone is subject to being her best friend. We call her "the mayor" for the way she works a room, whether waiting for a table at a restaurant or at her weekly gymnastics class. I absolutely love that trait in her and hope that it continues with her as she grows. When she isn't recruiting fans she is all about her peeps - Jane, Gramma, her wonderful nanny, Godmamas Amy and Kendra, Uncle V, Kate and her extended family and friends. This year she also has friends that she asks to see by name and will all be joining us for her birthday party on Saturday!

Her personality: Maddie continues to show a lot of empathy (concern when anyone is crying, even babies and cracking up whenever she hears anyone else laughing); she is pretty kindhearted most of the time, except when she is not, which is when we spend a lot of time talking about how it feels to be treated kindly. She is funny, smart (has her alphabet and numbers down pretty pat) and so, so inquisitive about the world around her. She definitely has a HUGE personality and a lot of energy but at least now she sleeps it off at the end of the day!

Maddie Jane, you are an amazing person and watching you grow, discover and understand the world around you is one of my favorite parts of life. Thank you for making me and your Daddy so filled with love and happiness; happy birthday, kiddo!

Our pre-bedtime routine of pjs, Thomas and snuggling. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It's a Sister!

This past weekend we made an appointment for a gender determination sonogram at one of those weird "see your baby in 3D and make a pop up video about them" places because my doctor said that she couldn't order another sonogram since I have a healthy, low-risk pregnancy (a lovely problem to have, I know). So, begrudgingly, but really wanting to know whether this is a little brother or little sister, we paid $70 and finally got a good peek at this little baby. 
The sonogram tech was super nice and made it really fun by slowly typing out "it's a girl" on the big screen we were all watching and once I saw that "g" I was so excited, but at the same time felt very un-surprised. We are two families that make girls, and I just feel like I am made to be the mama of girls. Boys are awesome, and I like the one that I married an awful lot, but girls are my thing and I am thrilled to be bringing another one into the world along side my little firecracker, Maddie.

A little sister! Another daughter! All those adorable clothes in the basement waiting to be worn by another little person! And no chance in hell that I am giving up the third room office/guest room/arts and crafts room! Exciting times, indeed. 

So now, halfway through this pregnancy (20 weeks today!) it is full-steam ahead to prepare for our new family member and the idea of raising two kids.

I just started reading this book Siblings Without Rivalry and it is truly scaring the only-child shit out of me. As with any parent, I want my kids to get along, for their sanity and my own, and I really hope that having a sibling will be a positive experience for Maddie but since I have no reference point I had no idea how much could (and does) go wrong in the sibling relationship. As if the pressure to raise a strong, involved, empathetic and kind woman was not pressure enough, now I have to add "and also don't hate your sister and forever compare yourself to her" to that list. Don't get me wrong, the book is super helpful and making me think about the way I want us to parent the girls as siblings, but the horror stories make being a slightly weird bookwormish only child seem not so awful!

Tomorrow my first little lady turns three years old and on Saturday we will throw her a big ol' dinosaur themed party at the Boston Children's Museum. I can't wait to see what the next year of Maddie brings and am hoping that she will love being a big sister as much as she is doing so now!

Happy Thursday, y'all. I am off to get a serious split ends trim for the first time in an embarrassingly long time :)




Telling her baby sister all about the world outside of mama's belly.
Yay sisterhood!

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Family Hike in the Blue Hills

Last weekend while out running errands we decided to avoid the highway and cut through the Blue Hills to get home, as we often do when we are trying to lull a certain toddler into a weekend car nap. Maddie wasn't really falling for it, and it was super gorgeous outside, so Matty had the great idea to take a spontaneous little hike on one of the easy trails. It turned out to be the best random idea of the day and provided us with a much less cranky toddler after all that fresh air.

One of the many things I love about living in Boston is the close proximity to some pretty amazing outdoor spots that always seem to amaze me with the way you feel so out of the city (but really it is just right there!). The Blue Hills is one of those spots; hike to the top of the Great Blue Hill lookout point and you get a great view of Boston and beyond. It is seriously just a few miles outside of city limits, but it feels like you are in the middle of a wonderful, quiet nowhere. 

Maddie is in an awesome phase where she is so thirsty for knowledge and absorbs things like a little sponge, so she was loving that Daddy was explaining the types of plants to her and letting her put her little hands all over the moss and tree trunks. I asked her to help me gather up some leaves, careful to have her choose different sizes and colors, which we then took home to make a poster out of. We had so much fun looking up the types of leaves on the iPad to identify what kind of tree they fell from and I was definitely proud of my little perfectionist who wanted to arrange them just so.

This week was a doozy and I am hoping that the rain (and snow) hold off a bit so we might be able to sneak another visit in before winter really takes over in New England! 

So many pretty leaves and one super cute toddler!

Learning about moss and other cool things with Daddy.
Using her airplane arms skills from gymnastics class!
This kid sure loves adventures, and it makes this Mama so happy!
Our foraging poster - paper, glue, a pen, and an iPad were all we needed!



Monday, November 10, 2014

A Quick Trip to Brooklyn

Halloween was my niece's 2nd birthday so after a night of trick-or-treating we woke early Saturday to drive to Brooklyn and celebrate. We were supposed to go to a little Halloween parade in her neighborhood but the rain caused it to be cancelled, which turned out to be a good thing since a four hour road trip and a potty training toddler take a lot longer than usual. 

Maddie did awesome telling us when she needed to stop and only had one accident after she told us a little too late, but not bad for her first few weeks of no diapers. I am pretty sure she loves this whole stopping at each rest stop situation because it means she gets to chat with strangers and get something to snack on (she sure is her Mama's child!).

We made it to Brooklyn with most of the day ahead of us so after a visit with our family we headed off, just the three of us, to get lunch at Momofuku Noodle Bar. I had so cruelly gone without my beloved back in March, so I really wanted to make it up to him and take him too, since I am sure that pork bun we brought back was just not cutting it. We took the subway into Manhattan, and though the cold rain in between wasn't super fun, Maddie had a blast comparing her city's train system to NY's :)

It was a little busy when we got to Momofuku so Matt and I took turns hanging out under an awning looking for taxis and dump trucks with Maddie. I tried to explain to her that it was really important for her to sit in her seat during lunch so that Mommy and Daddy could eat and that Daddy was really excited to be there so she needed to be extra awesome for him. We ended up having a seat at the bar, which made us a little more nervous than the prospect of a table, but we made do. I gave Maddie my phone to watch PBS, ordered pork bun appetizers and some soft serve and tried to include her in the experience as much as possible. She ended up doing pretty awesome for a toddler who had no nap and a four hour car ride and at one point I just looked over at Matt and thought "hell yes, we are doing this, we are nailing it even though it is super scary and shit could go wrong at any time and everyone here could hate us"! It is a crap shoot to take kids into certain environments and most parents don't even bother with it based on the disasters that could (and do!) happen, but I am always so proud of us for giving it a try and not letting parenthood equal never taking chances and doing awesome things. Maddie actually loved the noodle soup too, so that was a pretty awesome learning experience for future ramen excursions.

After lunch we made our way back to Brooklyn, stopping at a little toy store to get Maddie her "potty present" for doing so well for the week. She chose a rhino because, well, because she is Maddie and she is just kind of awesome like that. Then it was time to celebrate our favorite two year old with pizza, cake and presents! Maddie was really excited that her cousin was so into playing with her this  and the two of them spent a lot of time running around being adorable together, which was awesome to watch.
After all of  us were pooped and partied out we drive about 45 minutes to our hotel in CT (NYC Marathon plus late searching for an AirBnB means a Hilton in CT) and collapsed into bed. We had booked a suite hoping for a two room suite, but I didn't read the fine print and it ended up being a huge studio. We set up Maddie's travel bed but she was way more interested in snuggling the night away with us, which was just fine for us.
We woke up nice and early thanks to daylight savings, enjoyed a big breakfast and then hit the road back to Boston just in time for lunch, some warm weather accessory shopping (scarf season, how I love you) and even managed to get all our Sunday chores done. Not bad for a weekend!

Next blog I will be bringing you our gender reveal story....stay tuned!


Maddie loves taking pictures and snapped this on our way to NY.
Potty stops at Dunkin' mean donut snacks!
Noodles at Momofuku!
She loved it, spicy broth and all.
Home in time to bake bread for the week!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Our Halloween, 2014

I realize that Halloween was a week ago, but in the grand scheme of how crazy things have been around these parts, I must say I am pretty excited I am getting this post up so soon! We have lots to catch up on (a trip to Brooklyn, baby #2's mystery sonogram) but for now, here is a bit of our Halloween fun!


We took Maddie out to IHOP the morning of Halloween; I had not been there in years and was so excited to see the boysenberry syrup still rocking it in the little carafe! They had a free pancake deal for kiddos that came out like a jack-o-lantern and more sugar than any kid needs before 8am :) We all enjoyed and think we might have to make this a silly annual tradition.



We went trick-or-treating around my AIL's neighborhood because it is kind of the most awesome place for littles. Most of the houses on the streets participate and there are a lot of young kids out so we just traveled in a big ol' candy hunting pack. There is one house that goes ALL OUT every year and while it kind of spooked Maddie (and her God Mama), it made for an awesome starting out point for our night. Maddie was having so much fun going up to strangers and saying hello; she got a little mixed up on her "trick-or-treat" and "thank-yous" but overall she kept her manners and patience well for an almost three year old who is getting free sweets. 





The weekend before Halloween we went to the Castle Island Haunted Fort party that we go to every year and this year Maddie's BFF (Ninja Turtle Elsa) joined us. The girls had a great time checking out the fort, getting candy corn tattoos and generally running around like crazy people. 




We even managed to get a night of pumpkin carving in (the weekend before!) and this time Maddie was pretty hands-on, though it started off poorly when she accused Daddy of killing the pumpkin upon his first cut. Whoops. This is the (one) downside of raising such an empathetic kid! She requested a happy pumpkin and so Daddy did his best, and we think it turned out pretty awesome! Every night Maddie asked to say goodnight to her pumpkin and every morning she wanted to say good morning, so I think it is safe to say she approved of his handiwork. She is already talking about how we need more pumpkins next year, and I have to say that I agree! Maybe one for each of the four of us?!

I hope you all had a super wonderful Halloween and were able to steal as much candy from your littles as I have!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Currently

Hi everyone, and happy Monday! Just kidding, I don't know why people even say that because the first day of the week, no matter what calendar day it falls on is usually pretty awful, right? Mine has not been, but I am trying not to say that out loud so nothing blows up. I spent my morning getting new tires on our car (thanks, Santa aka Mom!) and am ending it with an OB appointment to listen to this little human growing in my belly, so things are not all that bad, for a Monday. Here is a little snippet into what else has been going on in these parts:

Currently...

Reading
I am thisclose to finishing The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest and foresee reading it on the car ride home tonight because I am literally in the last chapter and really need to know how this trilogy ends! This book was a little slow to start out but got really exciting in the last quarter and I am looking forward to seeing how the author wraps it all up.
When I am done I have a spooky YA book recommended by my personal librarian (hi, Kate!) and then want to read Siblings Without Rivalry which is waiting for me at the library. I spent soooo much time reading baby books in my first pregnancy but have barely touched anything this time around. I figure that I am pretty much a baby expert now, but have no idea what to do with siblings since I don't even have one! Any other books you recommend for baby number two?

Eating
Still doing a pretty good job of eating like a pregnant woman, but continuing to be conscious about the quality of food I eat, just as I do when I am not pregnant. The good thing about continuing to run and be so active is that I have only gained about 6 pounds at almost 17 weeks, though I have not been running as much and am definitely feeling the little 4 miler and yoga class I went to last night. I have been reading all these articles about elite runners and their experiences pregnant and though I am not even close to the type of athlete these women are, it has been super motivating to help me want to keep my miles up.

Thinking About
Money management, or rather, having more money to manage. I do a pretty good job about managing what comes in and what goes out, but we seem to be at a point where we need more coming in. This is definitely something I know a million other people are dealing with in much more significant ways than us, but this is my blog and my experience so I thought I would share. Hopefully I can come back here and share that we have solved that problem soon :)
On a less glum note, I am also thinking about Halloween and how awesome it is this year! Maddie is so into it and we have a good amount of events for her to wear her adorable doughnut costume too!

Listening
I am in a seriously boring pattern where I pretty much only listen to the Pandora "Rolling Stones Radio" on my T commute into work and then NPR whenever I can steal the radio waves away from a certain tiny dictator on the car ride home. If I am at my desk and plugging away at work I will throw on my usual Miles Davis mix, but I have been really bad about actually listening to music lately. I just found out that Sleater-Kinney expanded their tour to include Boston, so I think I am definitely going to have to go to that, which makes me want to bust out all my riot grrl music and have a listening party. I think Maddie would love Bratmobile :)

Watching
I just finished up the entire Six Feet Under series and  have been devoting the rest of the 45 minutes between Maddie going to bed and me falling asleep on the couch to The Sopranos. Matty and I started watching this when I was sent home from the hospital to wait it out while in labor with Maddie, but my water broke not even halfway into the first episode and we never started up again. Now we are well into the second season and I am feeling pretty good about seeing the season finale before baby number two heads to kindergarten.

Loving
All these kicks, flips and flutters going on in my belly today! Last night in yoga class I felt the baby moving stronger than I have felt yet (future yogi, perhaps?!) and it has not let up since. I can't wait for Matty and Maddie to be able to feel the little kicks going on, though I am thinking that only one of them will not be totally freaked out by it. I am trying to include Maddie in everything that has to do with her baby sibling, including taking her to my doctor's appointments and our upcoming sonogram (one week until the gender reveal!), so I hope that she can get excited by the little kung fu artist Mama seems to be growing!

PS. Here are some Halloween pics from our weekend, with more to come over the week/weekend for sure!

In a sea of Elsas, there was Maddie! 

She has insisted on saying good night and good morning to her pumpkin every day since this picture.

I swear she asked us to wrap her up like a mummy, That is a smile under there!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

On Seasons

I have been thinking a lot lately about seasons (and not just because we are in full-on fall mode in New England with this lovely nor'easter blowing through) and specifically about the seasons of our lives. I would say we are in a serious "check that off the life to-do list" season with our first home purchase, one kiddo growing up and another growing in my belly, Matt plowing his way through school and both of us really trying to grow in our careers. 

It is a busy, busy season and one that can be considered a little stressful. Our expendable income and savings does not exist; we owe a lot of money from buying our home both to the mortgage company, people that helped us out, and the credit cards companies that we had to utilize to get us through that time. Add in to that a mortgage, paying for school and paying our nanny to help us raise such an awesome little girl and there is not much leftover for the rest of life. Right now most of my income goes to childcare, which is more than worth it and should really be a lot more than what we pay (Lord knows she deserves every cent times a hundred!). Sometimes this keeps me up at night with stress, especially with a new baby on the way and a largely unpaid maternity leave, but I know that this is just a season, Raises will come from the time and money we put into our careers and educations, some day our children will be older and the cost of their care will be significantly less and surely one of these days we will pay off some of our debt. 

Sometimes I wish we could travel more, spend more on new things for our home and splurge on some fancy things I have been wanting forever (like a computer for home to blog on!) but then I think of this season and all that it gives me at this moment, and I feel in such a better place. We are so lucky to have a home we own, to have careers that we love and want to thrive in, to have a super happy little one who is in such loving hands every single day. We are working to make a happy, successful life, and not just in an income sense, but in the sense that we want to be present for our kids, to show them what loving what you do looks like and to role model healthy, respectful relationships. And despite how busy we are, I think we are doing a pretty swell job. When I hear Maddie playing pretend with her animals it is amazing to hear the scenes she plays out having them share, go to races to cheer each other on (no, seriously, the giraffes are avid marathoners) or make each other pancakes for breakfast. That says an awful lot about what she sees around her, not only from us but also from her extended family of caregivers, friends and family. 

This season may be poor in one sense, but it is so, so rich in another and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in my life.

Her pick at the pumpkin patch - the smallest, least orange one she could find. 
Now that is a happy kiddo.
Making friends, wherever she goes. 
Maddie took this! I added the filter, but a pretty good shot for someone that doesn't stop moving.
Oh, Maddie.