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Monday, March 02, 2015

1919 - 2015

I'm really lucky to have lots of memories of my Grandpa Vito to reflect on since his passing last week. I'm also really fortunate that my brother Seth is so much older than me that he has some awesome stories to share so we can smile and laugh and remember Vito as he deserves.

I'll always think of my Grandpa as a very calm, easy-going man. He rolled with the punches and never wanted to inconvenience anyone. He was just living his life, working hard and taking care of his family.

In his home in Connecticut, his cellar housed his model train set. It lined the walls of the cellar and was always a source of fascination for me. I have vivid memories of him sitting on a stool down there while Seth and I watched the trains go around the track. I also remember a big pile of fake dog poop that was usually sitting on his work table (HA!).

I remember sneaking down those steep, creaky cellar stairs to the chest freezer below. The good ice cream was usually stashed in there. Occasionally I'd stop on the stairs on my way down and pull out one of the photo albums shelved there.

That little Connecticut home is where I remember sharing a sofa bed with Sophia, and hating how much she kicked. We would all cram into that tiny, two-bedroom house when we visited and it's unbelievable to me now that we did it.

Thankfully, there's a lot of space outside. I remember racing down the black tar driveway in homemade buggies. I remember the swing set and the wood pile. I remember the woods (and that one time I got lost in them and my Grandma Fluf was so mad I wasn't allowed to go swimming after she finally found me). I remember the green sandbox he made with the metal lid (which is now at my mom's). I remember my Grandpa shuffling around the house, always singing.

"How much is that doggy in the window?"

I remember photos of dogs in the living room, and that there was always a pet in the house. I remember the silly things Grandpa Vito used to say, like, "if they ain't paying rent, moooove 'em out!" (this was, of course, in reference to tooting).

Grandpa almost always sat down for a meal and wondered aloud what the poor folks were eating that night. A quick look around the table and the response to his question would be whatever was on our plates.

He couldn't figure out how to set the timer on his VCR to record baseball games or reruns of his favorite shows, so he'd set his alarm for the middle of the night so he could get up and push the record button. When he moved to my parents' house a few years ago, he couldn't quite comprehend that Netflix and the Roku allowed him to watch previously aired shows on-demand, and that they could be paused whenever he wanted. That kind of technology was just too much for him!

I'm so grateful he was able to meet his great-grandchildren and enjoy them in his lifetime. I'm sad my kids' memories of him won't be very vibrant, but hopefully they will be strengthened through the stories we'll share with them as they grow.

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Monday, February 16, 2015

A Park Day in February

I can't believe it, but I took the kids to the park last week. Since I've kind of become a shut-in lately, it was a big deal.

Linc got to ride in a park swing for the first time, and I took him down a couple of slides, too. He's so heavy, though, that I then put him in his stroller and walked around the perimeter of the playground while Aspen played. I can't lug him around much.

And his hair, lemme tell ya. I try to flatten it but there's no taming it. When we went to the grocery store last week the cashier was so excited to see us again. She said "There's the guy with the hair!! Oh look at the guy with the hair!!" So I guess it's cool and he totally owns it.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Letters to Lincoln, month 8


Well, you're cute. You really are. You started saying "dadadada" in the middle of January, and it won over all the family who came into town for Sophia's wedding. Perfect timing! You're also rolling from back to side-almost-tummy and reaching for everything in sight. When on your tummy, you now rotate since you're high-centered, and you can reach for things in a wide circumference. Changing you is like wrestling an octopus. You're constantly wiggling and exploring. In addition to saying "dada," you also love to roar. You roar all. the. time. When you were born I often called you a baby dinosaur, and the nickname still fits.

I took you late to your well-visit last month (7 months instead of 6) and the Dr. suggested I just put you down, wave and say "night-night!" at naps and bedtime. I tried to explain to him the struggles we've faced with your sleep, but then he continued with advice to nurse you only until you're juuuust about asleep, then unlatch you and put you down before you actually fall asleep. I understand that, and did that with your sister, but that's not a good approach with you right now.

However. HOWEVER. We've made a lot of progress. You did about a month of sleeping 8-10 hours at night. Some nights were better than others, but what more could I ask of you at this age, and after all the work we've put in to overcome bad-colic-related-habits? I think it helped that Dad went in to you at night for weeks and basically taught you that nighttime is for sleep, not for hanging out with me. You've recently reverted to only sleeping 4 hours at a time, and it's hard to juggle the morning wake-up when you're up at 5 for the day, and then need to go back to sleep by the time Aspen gets up. But we're working on giving you (AND ME) the sleep we need. Many days I feel like I'm actually going to make it through to the other side of this.

When you smile, it looks like someone cut a slit in a ball of dough; your gummy grin just breaks open those chubby cheeks of yours. Your big, blue eyes get lots of compliments, as does your fuzzy, fluffy hair. You look a lot like my Grandma Bette, who was nicknamed "Fluf" (for different reasons) back in the day. I see a lot of her in your profile and grumpy faces (she was kind of a grumpy lady ;)). Baths are still a delight for you and Aspen loves it when she can share time with you in the tub. When you get excited, you flap your arms like wings and kick your legs like a frog.

A sneaky little trick you like to do is drop food over the side of your booster seat for the dog. It honestly looks like you wait to make eye contact with her, and then you nonchalantly just slide your pudgy little hand over to the side and *plop* something to the floor while looking back at me. Sometimes you act surprised when it hits the ground, other times proud. Whatever's going on, it's the building blocks for a great relationship between man and beast. You also love to drop some wooden rings off the side and watch them bounce across the tile floor. It's fun to see you exploring so much of the world around you.

You also shake your head "no" a lot, and I'm trying to figure out if you do it when you're tired or hungry. I know you're not actually indicating "no," but I know you're doing it for a reason. It's pretty freakin' cute.

I'm so excited that you're growing strong and healthy. I hope we can keep working on sleep so we can both feel healthy and so my mental stability improves. 

We love you, little chubby pants (Aspen insists this is one of your nicknames).

See Aspen's monthly letter HERE.

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Monday, February 02, 2015

Wedding Weekend

The week of Sophia's wedding was very busy and my house was bursting with cousin fun and nonstop play. It was so wonderful to have my younger brother and his family staying with us because the kids got to run around like crazies. I wish I had been better prepared to take photos while they visited with us, but it was tough just keeping up with the day-to-day, let alone document it! And I've been terrible at keeping up with photos I have taken, anyway. There's just not enough time in the day to get everything done.

It's safe to say Uncle Kindle, I mean JESHUA, was a big hit with Aspen. If we wanted any peace and quiet, all we had to do was plug Aspen into the Kindle and *poof*. I miss her cousin Leilani because she has a soft little voice that is the opposite of Aspen's. Unfortunately that didn't rub off on Aspen and she's still LOUD. I recently joked to Kev that maybe we should send Aspen to a school for the deaf. Then she won't overwhelm her peers and teachers with her VOLUME.

Gail and Marc took the girls out for lunch, cupcakes and shopping at Barnes & Noble while they were here and it was so fun to hear about their adventure. They had a good time and got all sugared up before going to Sophia's reception and getting more sugared up that night.

I don't care how old this nephew gets, I will always preface his name with "baby." Baby V and Linc had a few quiet moments together that were so fun to catch. He and Linc played with this for a while but then he slowly scooted it away from Linc and turned his back on him. I laughed so hard.

Baby V is not impressed. He is just a tiny version of my brother and it's amazing to see.

Maddie liked that my brother's kids always had food. She made two very good friends the week they were here.

The girls played so well together, especially considering how much time they had to spend together. They dressed up and ran around and jumped on my bed and colored and used play-doh and ran around outside. It was so fun to see them together. Aspen still holds onto hope that they'll come back again soon. It's so sad that they live so far!

It was so nice having family visiting because when I felt like having a meltdown from holding Linc for all his naps, I could pass him off to someone else and move on with pulling myself together. Julia was always more than happy to take this squishy baby for me.

Sophia's reception was so beautiful, and unfortunately I only had time to snap a few photos on my phone. But for now, it works. I'm looking forward to seeing the professional photos; I'm just so sad I was so overwhelmed with the kids that I didn't even get to have a picture taken with Sophia that night in her wedding dress (her reception was the night before she was married).

She had so many friends who pulled together the evening and I'm so glad she had so much help. I had grand plans of making myself useful the week of the reception but then I didn't sleep, ever. So I couldn't do much and I feel badly.

Thankfully Aspen came around to the idea of Sophia getting married, and she managed to have fun at all the wedding events. At first, I think she was ticked that someone else was going to "take" her Sophia away. But then she realized she'd actually be gaining another Uncle and not losing her Auntie.

Again, I sucked with the photos on her wedding day. Also, did you know that if you need to nurse your baby in the temple, they'll direct you to the BATHROOM?! I was just a little, teensy weensy bit stressed out of my mind about having no where to nurse Linc before the ceremony and ended up not nursing him and then spent most of the morning trying to ignore the extremely painful swelling. I hoped I'd never have to sit on a toilet to feed him but I guess that was better than doing it in my car.

So... yeah. Thank goodness she had a photographer because I was once again useless.

It was definitely a whirlwind of a week and I'm so glad our whole family was together for so much time. I still can't believe my baby sister is married!

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sibling rivalry

Aspen is finally starting to resent her baby brother. I've noticed the last couple of weeks that she's more clingy and throwing tantrums more often and demanding that things be just so or else she melts down.

One night Kev was putting her to bed and I was stuck with Linc. I heard Aspen totally losing it in her room so I suggested we switch kids. Aspen would not pull herself together so I ended up taking her downstairs into the guest room. She could be as loud as she needed down there without disrupting Linc. I kept asking her what was wrong and why she was so mad and she finally said she's mad Linc cries so much and is always so loud.

Part of me wonders how much of that is really Aspen, and how much of that is Aspen parroting me. I know I far too often say out loud that I'm exhausted by Linc. I say I'm so tired of his screaming and how hard it is to get him to sleep. I could do better at not expressing those feelings in front of Aspen so she doesn't create an opinion of him based on me. But having a colicky baby was hard. Recovering from a colicky baby is hard. Aspen and I have been through a lot since Linc was born. She's had to see me break down from frustration and sleep deprivation and that can't be easy. She's been stuck watching shows or looking at books or just watching me spend hours rocking Linc and desperately trying to soothe him so our ears wouldn't bleed from the screaming.

It's obviously very natural for her to be jealous of him, and to be upset at the change in her position as #1 child. She spent nearly four years being an only child and now she's no longer the center of attention. But it's hard for me to hear her say she's not getting enough mom-time when I know I've given her hours of undivided attention. She had a hard time Monday night, and she complained that I had to put Linc to bed while she ate dinner with Kev. She said we didn't play at all and she was so mad. I reminded her we'd had breakfast together before Linc got up, and that we had played ponies for an hour before I had to spend some time getting Linc down for a nap. Then we were able to have lunch together, and watch some of a show together after I showered and did some cleaning. And even though Linc was with us in the afternoon, we did Aspen's idea to have snacks on a blanket in the front yard since it was so warm. I try to remind her daily that I'm doing the best I can to take care of two kids all by myself during the day. I ask her to tell me things we did together so she recognizes that. I also try to point out that she gets to to preschool and dance and Linc doesn't get any of those cool things.

The last couple of months I've also been taking her on dates, just the two of us. I try to make it a big deal that she gets to choose what we do and Linc won't be there. Even if it's just going to a movie or getting something to eat, I want her to know I'm trying so hard to give her attention. I know better than anyone that Linc takes up a lot of my time. In the last 7 months, I've probably spent more hours in his room than in my own. I've probably sat in his rocking chair more than I've been in my own bed. I've lost so much weight from walking the house with him, bouncing him to sleep. It's easy to get caught up in resentment toward the shift he's created in our lives. But I hope we can do better focusing more on the positive.

Hopefully I can show Aspen how awesome it is to have a brother. Thankfully, Seth is a huge part of our lives and she can see how much I value that relationship. I know that as Linc grows and is more fun for her that things will evolve and the jealousy will fade. I just hope I can figure out how to have enough energy to keep giving 100% to two kids for as long as it takes.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Reese's spreads from Influenster

Influenster hooked me up with a yummy product to try this month, and the whole family was able to dive in.

I gave the Reese's spread a taste but didn't love its texture; it comes across as a chocolate spread with little bits of peanut butter in it. Almost like the insides of a PB cup were crushed up and mixed into chocolate. While kind of tasty, I just didn't love it. Kev and Aspen though, they were totally on board. Kev said he didn't notice the texture, and then he dunked a spoon into the jar.

Kev likes the spread with pretzels, but Aspen prefers it with apples (she doesn't like "prentzels" in the first place, and even PB chocolate can't change that, I guess). It made for a nice snack for Aspen after doing some art projects this afternoon.

While this hit the spot for the rest of my family, there's another PB chocolate spread I prefer over this brand (but I can't find it in stores lately so this Reese's sample with do just fine!).

I received this product complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Family Overnight

On Saturday, I drove to Park City with the kids to meet Kev after work. All employees were given the opportunity to spend a night in one of the suites, so we snuck off for a family overnight in one of my favorite cities.

I was shocked at how fancy the resort is. And when I told Aspen it was fun to be in such a fancy place, she sighed and said, "It's not fancy, Mom. It's cool." So... I'm already a super unhip parent who's not down with the lingo. That happened quickly.

Thankfully Kev got us a two-bedroom, and the master bathroom was big enough for Linc's pack 'n play with room to spare. We set him up in there and although he had a rough start to the night, he ended up sleeping 1030-7. I heard him wake a couple of times, but he just fussed for a few minutes before putting himself back to sleep.

Cue jaw dropping in amazement.

Aspen enjoyed having a huge bed all to herself, but she did try pretty hard to convince me to sleep in the other bed in her room. Sorry, no thanks, kid. I had my eye on the HUGE king-sized bed in the master. Night-swimming wore her out enough that she fell asleep while we cuddled and then I escaped from her room.

The outdoor pool is heated to 88*, so we had no problem having a girls' night out there! Linc slept in the room with Kev while Aspen and I darted back and forth between the pool and hot tub. There were a few other kids there so she had a lot of fun playing with them and showing off. One of the boys even let her borrow his life jacket. She was so thrilled.

Right outside our windows we could see the gondolas cruising up the mountain. Aspen asked nonstop when we could ride them, but we had to wait until Sunday morning. And, of course, Linc took an amazing nap so poor Aspen had to wait forever. She and I had fun exploring the building, though, and she ran around the lobbies with my phone taking tons of random photos.

The views were so wonderful, even if it was foggy in PC. Aspen loved jumping onto the gondola and riding up to the ski lifts. She shyly said she'd like to learn how to ski someday! Kev has a season pass thanks to his job, so hopefully next year he can take her to the slopes. I loved skiing as a kid and have a lot of great memories of spending my winters on Sugarloaf.

Before we headed back down, we chatted with the gondola operator at the top and he told us he's from New Hampshire. I always love meeting someone from the East. He said he had two choices for winter work, and when choosing between Sugarloaf and Utah, he decided he needed a little break from all his friends. It's amazing how small the world is.

She's such a good sister for not letting Linc fall head-first off this bench. I had to act fast because he s such a curious little dude and he was not interested in sitting still while I tried to get a picture!

I'm really thankful for Kev's new job. He likes what he does, he keeps much better hours, and he feels like a valued employee. It was such a treat to be able to see where he works, and to be the first people to stay in our suite!

We were gone less than 24 hours, but it was still a great little getaway. The drive itself is one of my favorites. Kev went back up today to finally use his ski pass, and he said it was gorgeous with all the new snow. I can't wait to visit again, even if it's just for the free gondola ride.

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