Saturday, August 28, 2010

Grayson Henry

Grayson Henry (we finally have a name!) was born early Friday morning, August 27, 2010 - 3:37 a.m. to be exact. It was a fast and furious labor, but we are so thankful for the experience. We were in our room for a total of 22 minutes before he was out - yowsah! I'm glad we left the house when we did. He is about 12 days early, but weighing in at 8 pounds 11 ounces, we're glad he didn't wait any longer. We were so ready to see him and we couldn't feel more blessed to have him out and in our family now. Our family doctor has done a good "once over" on him and says he's perfect. My nurse mid-wife said that everything looks great and was encouraged when she interrupted my shower last night. Here are some pictures of our little guy.
Moments after birth:
Baby Gray got Ilana some Play-Doh. Despite the picture, she was very excited. How thoughtful of Gray. :)
Daddy enjoying some Daddy-son time.
He was 20.5" at birth. Here he is stretching out.
I already love his button chin!
Falling in love...again.
AWESOME Dad of TWO!! Mommy loves having these guys visit. :)
It's been a great few days!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ian's Pizza

One night, about a week after our Taste of Chicago experience, we decided to go out for pizza - we are in Chicago after all. We looked on for a good recommendation and landed on Ian's Pizza close to Wrigley Field. This did require another El ride, but it was to a much different part of town in Wrigleyville. There wasn't a game that night, so we figured the streets wouldn't be too crowded, plus we were heading out nice and early to give us plenty of time (we had learned a few things the week prior).
From what we could read online their "Mac & Cheese" pizza came highly recommended - what?! Well, we knew we'd be able to find something for Ilana to eat. :) What we found was that all of Ian's pizzas are some sort of meal in and of themselves, put onto a pizza.
Paul had veggie and meat somethings, we (of course) got the mac & cheese pizza for Ilana and I had the chicken They were AMAZING!!

But...most amazing of all was our dessert pizza. As we were ordering, we asked the guy serving us for his recommendations. He mentioned their s'mores dessert pizza. He said that if we wanted a slice we'd have to let him know then because they'd have to make it up. Of course we obliged.
 IT WAS OUT OF THIS WORLD!!! I told Paul I might just have to send him all the way down to Wrigleyville to get it as a special treat once in a while. (My mouth still waters when I see this picture.)

We walked around for a short bit, got conveniently stuck under some scaffolding while a short evening storm rolled through, saw Wrigley Field, then headed back home. It was so enjoyable and gave us confidence that we could schlep all of us onto the El downtown every once in a while ... just never to Taste of Chicago again.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Our little climber

Well, Ilana has made Paul's life and become quite a climber since we've been here. I guess I never let her explore much at Baylor because the stairwell was so dirty and we had no real reason or opportunity to practice safe climbing. Well, they do have dirt in the mid-west, but at least it's not shared dirt with 200 other guys, it's just outside dirt or our dirt...somehow that makes it all ok. So, that in combination with the fact that I simply don't have the energy to pick her up very often has resulted in Ilana becoming much more brave and actually climbing. It's very exciting for me. Here are some pictures of our recent climbing adventures.

The next 3 are taken at the park that's 3 houses down the street from us. We'll probably live there most of the fall, after this little guy comes along. She LOVES it! Ilana was so proud of herself for climbing up the 2 steps to get to this landing (hey, we've gotta start somewhere!).
After she braved the small toddler structure, she decided to try her hand on the "big kids" structure. She climbed all the way up the steps, but wasn't quite brave enough to slide down this slide...
or the other one. Hey, I did say she was becoming a climber, not a slider, right?
She's continued her climbing adventures inside. She's found a safe way to get into and out of the living room rocking chair.
We encouraged the climbing by getting her a step stool for the kitchen. We also want to start incorporating her into as much cooking and kitchen help that we can get. Of course, I turned around one day and found her even putting on my gloves - she's going to be a great helper one of these days!!
Just tonight she climbed up into one of the plastic lawn chairs in the back yard - Paul was even impressed with her technique. Recently she's also started climbing into and out of the bathtub all by herself. All in all, we're really proud of our little climber. She's still one of the most cautious toddlers that I know, which puts my mind at ease. So, I tend to just let her go and try. She hasn't had too many bumps, bruises or scrapes to discourage her yet.


Baby Update

Well, since we're seeing the nurse mid-wives every week now, it only seems appropriate to do baby updates that often as well - we're getting down to the wire now!

How far along: 37 weeks and 5 days
Baby’s heart rate: exactly where it should be, in the 150's
Total weight gain: still 34 pounds, but the baby is still measuring right on, so I must just be losing it on other places - crazy!
Sleep: I'd say 4-7 hours a night, depending on contractions, hot flashes, anxiety levels and general comfort; I'm basically always tired (I have a feeling I'll be feeling this way for quite some time)
Best moment this week: I forget who we were talking to, but someone was asking Ilana if she was excited about being a big sister. She started jumping all around screaming "Yeah! Yeah! Baby Brother! Yeah! Yeah!" It made my week. So did this, although this doesn't really have anything to do with the baby:

Food cravings: anything cold and wet - I eat lots of popsicles these days
Belly button: almost completely stretched out :(
Labor Signs: contractions, braxton hicks, hot flashes, sharp shooting pains in my back, tightness that takes my breath away ... yeah, all of the above! This labor is already completely different; I had none of these things the first time around!
What I miss: being able to do the dishes without having to almost completely bend over
Weekly Wisdom: drink water! Between the temps and my hot flashes, I'm doing a lot of sweating these days.
Milestones: for the first time, I actually had peace about the labor and delivery process - hopefully that only means that the prayers are working and nothing else :)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Taste of Chicago

Imagine this:
We had been in Chicago less than a week.
It's the last week of Taste of Chicago.
We wanted a "real" Chicago experience.
Everyone's recommended Taste of Chicago to us.
So, we decide to have a "real" Chicago adventure and take the El into the city for dinner at Taste of Chicago.
Sounds like a great idea, huh?
What we did not put together: everyone who had recommended Taste of Chicago to us doesn't have kids. :)

We arrive:
and like good first-timers, go straight to the directory. We figure out where to buy tickets to get food and head on out on our journey.

We got some recommendations, and although I think we got some pretty good food, the quantities were really small for a pregnant lady, her husband and toddler to share. None the less, we found a table (that I thought I was going to break when I sat down), let Ilana out of her stroller and had dug in. Ilana was really enjoying running around, so we sat and watched her explore for a bit. We heard some live music and saw some dancing, so we went over and enjoyed ourselves. I think Ilana had the best seat, on Paul's shoulders. The whole time, we're schleping the stroller around.

Side note: this is no ordinary stroller. We got it when we arrived in Chicago because we needed someplace to put Ilana on longer walks, our ordinary stroller didn't fit into the car when we left Gettysburg. However, this one is too small for Ilana, her legs spill out the sides instead of naturally staying in the front, it's too short for me (making it way too short for Paul), and every time you take a step you hit the back bar. So, Ilana gets a pretty bumpy ride and you end up frustrated because you don't feel like you can walk.

We were still hungry, but decided to help Ilana have a good time by going to the kids' area. We head over to find a CAROUSEL!!! Paul and Ilana immediately get in line
and begin the process of picking out a horse to ride. Her turn comes and she couldn't have been more thrilled.
Then it began moving and the fun really started.
Looking back, this was definitely the highlight of the night for us. I'm so glad we did it!

We were still hungry, and we still had a few tickets left, so we decided to go to the recommended cheesecake booth for dessert. Looking at the map, from the kids' area the cheesecake place was "right across the street." Well, it was dinner time, and the last week of Taste of Chicago. We thought that because it was a Tuesday it wouldn't be too crowded - wrong, Wrong, WRONG! It took us about 30 minutes of inching across the street to get to the cheesecake booth - I'm not kidding at all! All the time...schleping the stroller along. Poor Ilana probably felt lost in a sea of knees. We get the cheesecake and look for a place to enjoy it. We see a huge empty field, so we head toward it. What we found right in front of the field was slightly disconcerting: a metal fence and police men who told us that the field could not be used by anyone (not even very pregnant ladies and their toddlers - we tried). So, standing up against the fence, we decided there was no better place to eat our cheesecake.

After enjoying our very small portion of cheesecake, we asked the "kind" policeman what the fastest way out was. It was already past Ilana's bedtime and we needed to get her home. He pointed directly across the street and added a nice "good luck" at the end. We audibly groaned at the thought of crossing the even more-crowded street again.

This time, instead of trying to stay together, we decided to divide, conquer and meet up on the other side. I carried Ilana and Paul carried the stroller...above his head. People were so surprised by the stroller in the air that they actually moved aside for him, thinking that a baby was actually in it - ?!?! Needless to say, he beat Ilana and I to the other side - we should have stuck together!

On the way to the El we encountered people being arrested on site, buses and even ambulances weaving through swarms of people, and much much more inner city culture than I ever thought I'd expose my 2-year old to. We got back onto the El about 9pm, feeling a bit more settled and glad to be on our way home, but still hungry and exhausted. I think we got home around 9:45 that night. I don't think we even bathed Ilana, we just put her to bed. She was such a trooper. She only screamed once: when Paul took her off the carousel, because the ride was over (yes, I had convinced Paul to take her on the carousel ride partly because I've taken her on 2 others, knew this would happen, and wanted him to fully experience the "fun" - I know, I'm awful).

All in all we learned a very important lesson: don't take a toddler to Taste of Chicago.
AND, when you get a recommendation, make sure the people doing the recommending have kids.
Oh, and when you're pregnant, take snacks everywhere.

Our Taste of Chicago experience was certainly one way to fully experience culture shock.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Moving with Dependents

We have learned a thing or two about moving with dependents.

1. Rely on family and friends.
 (I can't figure out why this picture keeps turning. Just turn your head to the right and you'll see how it's supposed to be.) :)
 Paul and I try to be as independent as possible most of the time (it tends to happen when you move half a country away from your entire support network), but moving is NO time for independence. We could not have made this move without our supportive families and incredible friends. THANK YOU ALL!!!

2. Sleep schedules will be off, so anticipate it and just roll with the punches.
This was the day we left Gettysburg - 5 hours later than we had hoped. Ilana hadn't taken a nap all day - too many things going on I guess. This picture was taken around 5:00 in the evening, about 20 minutes into the car ride. She slept for about 20 minutes, was awake the rest of the 4 1/2 hour trip to Pittsburgh then stayed awake until about midnight that night. She was good and tired the next few days in the car out to Chicago. :) :) I've learned not to stress out about it. She'll sleep when she's tired. 

3. Dogs are smarter than you think.
Moses could always sense our stress better than we thought he could. He also knew exactly when we needed a shoulder to cry on, a good laugh, or just something to put it all in perspective. When we travel with him, we know that wherever we are is home. Even though he's tons of work to schlep around, we wouldn't have it any other way. Moses - you are one loved dog!

4. Celebrate life every once in a while!
I did something I thought I'd never do: I bought some pop-tarts at the grocery store when we arrived in Chicago and actually fed them to my daughter. They were an extra special treat every once in a while and we thoroughly enjoyed them.

5. On loading and unloading days, gate your dog in.
It seems that on loading and unloading days, Moses could sense our stress in sky-high levels. We found it best to gate him into a confined space, as long as we visited him fairly frequently so he knew we hadn't forgotten about him.

6. Kids will find something to do, but a little "sanity TV" every once in a while never did anybody harm.
Ilana was a true champ in finding things to do. I think some of that is due to the fact that we haven't had TV for over 8 months now (!!!) so she's learned how to stay busy and keep happy. Paul and I always enjoyed seeing what she would find to do for fun. All this to say, every once in a while, a Veggie Tales or Wiggles movie would be really handy.

7. The sun will shine again!
The most important lesson we learned is that we will make it through. No matter how much further you have to go or how impossible it seems, we will make it through. Another day will come. We will sleep again. Ilana can't scream forever. Moses will settle down and de-stress someday. Some days it was a difficult, seemingly impossible, decision, but we will make it through. Transitions are never easy, and most of the time, not all that much fun, but it's not worth stressing. Just roll with the punches, smile as often as possible, and do your best to find the positive in as many moments as you can.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Baby Update

(Yes, I thought both pictures were needed to really appreciate my size these days.)

How far along: 36 weeks!!! (full term)
Baby’s heart rate: 150's - exactly where it should be
Total weight gain: 34 pounds
Maternity clothes: I'm to the point where I'm even outgrowing my maternity clothes. :) I can only fit into the large and extra-large stuff - eeeek!
Sleep: only on my left side, this baby doesn't like it when I sleep on my right; he takes forever to settle in and then has to turn around when I wake up or switch sides. I must say, sleeping on our new pillow-top mattress is SO much better. That came at the perfect time. Too bad Paul thinks it's too soft for his back.
Milestones: I'm stocking up on the essentials!!
Best moment this week: NONNI AND POPPOP CAME TO TOWN!!!!
Movement: all the time...even in the downward direction.
Labor Signs: My nurse-midwife says that the baby has definitely dropped into my pelvis (hence the crazy profile). I'm "a good centimeter" dilated and about 50% effaced. He's definitely on the move!
Food cravings: not anymore. I'm hot all the time, so I'm mostly thirsty for anything wet and cold.
Labor Signs: a few contractions here and there, but nothing regular, lots of braxton hicks
What I miss: personal space
Weekly Wisdom: Family is a blessing.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Boating Adventures

We had a fun Father's Day Celebration with the Millers while we were in Pennsylvania. After a meal that was way too large (and all fantastic) we got a boat ride! Here are some pictures:

Ilana was REALLY excited!

Of course the sun was setting most of our ride. It was beautiful.

We sat up front with Erika, Timmy and Baby Jack. Mom and Dad Miller sat in the back with our hosts.

Ilana walked around most of the time, but I think she liked standing up front and watching the water go by the best.

We all had a really great time!

Thanks again Mom and Dad Miller!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Canoeing on the Brazos

Well, I figured I mine as well start catching you up on some of the stories from our transition first thing this morning. :)
Before we left Waco, we decided to do one of those things we wanted to do from our first day there: canoe on the Brazos River. The busy-ness of life had kept us away and by the end of our day we wished we had done this every possible weekend.

We had to get a little creative with my pfd ("personal flotation device"), but thanks to some friends of ours, Ilana was all set!
Ilana took a little convincing, but once we were on the water she loved it (this was still on the shore, don't worry).
Paul was in the back.
I was in the front.
Ilana was in the middle!
We paddled around for about 45 minutes or so. Saw tons of ducks and a few turtles. Ilana absolutely loved it, saying that we were in a "doa" ("boat") the whole time and squealing whenever we'd see an animal, especially a duck.
We ended our time with a much-needed snack,
got all cleaned up,
 and headed out. It was so fun and so easy. We really wished we had done it more often!