Our 2017 Family Video

I love this app and video so much! What a great, easy way to record the happy highlights of the year.  I’m so glad I started to use the app and am already happy with how our 2018 video is coming along.  The logo displays at the end, but I used the 1SE to make this.  It’s completely free!

Hope your 2018 is off to a great start!

Happy 3rd Birthday, Wes!

Wes is 3 today!  It’s so exciting!  Remember when I told you I wanted to accomplish two things in October?  Well, the second was to  make sure Wes felt celebrated for his birthday, even though he now has a baby sister that takes up a lot of attention.  I’d planned for us to take a family trip to the National Building Museum.  We’ve never been but it sounds like there is a really cool kids space that Wes would love.  He’s in a real construction phase.  But when we woke up on Saturday morning I knew it wasn’t happening.  Initially I felt bad.  We laid out presents for Wes to wake up to, along with a cupcake breakfast.  He was SO EXCITED about these things when he woke up.  It was a glorious day for him.  It was a nice reminder that just cake and presents go a long way for a small child.

Again, he’s in a real construction phase, so we gave him this dress up set with the idea that it would also double as a Halloween costume.  We’re still not trick or treating, but we do have a Halloween party to attend.

Keeping with the construction theme, he also got a drill game.

My parents got him a guitar.  He promptly wrote a song for his favorite girl at school.  He also brought it on the couch with him while he watched his last TV show of the day and randomly strummed it.  Both things were so cute to me.

Sean has been trying to read science books to Wes since he was itty.  They have always been on his phone and without pictures.  So we were excited when we discovered these.  They maybe weren’t as initially exciting as some of the other gifts, but Sean is enjoying reading them and I’m glad we have them for both Wes and Madeline.

For the last few weeks, Wes had been pointing out these cupcakes at Wegmans and told me he wanted them for his birthday.  At first I was disappointed he wanted something store bought instead of home made, and then I remembered I have a newborn and decided to be grateful.  So Wegman cupcakes it was this year!  They weren’t bad.

Sean, Madeline, and I went to Wes’s classroom to read books for circle time and have a special snack.  We had kept it a secret that Sean was coming and it was very special to have him there!

So happy birthday 3rd to our sweet Wesley!  Thanks for making us parents and keeping us laughing with all the funny things you say.  We love watching you grow.

Pumpkin Patch

Even with Madeline, I wanted to make sure we accomplished two things in October.  The first being finding pumpkins at a place somewhere other than the grocery store.  And luckily, my mom friends told me about Nall’s Produce, 12 minutes from our house, and I knew that pumpkin picking could still feel fun this year even if we didn’t make it to some of the big festivals we did last year or the apple orchard.  

This place was right on a busy road but still let their chickens run around with no fences.  It felt like a bold move to me!


This poor pig.  Wes threw a handful or tiny pebbles into her pen and she thought it was food.  She didn’t eat our pebbles, but I’m sad we fooled her.

Wes had a great time!  He jumped and danced and didn’t want to leave.  He didn’t realize at all that we weren’t at some big fall festival.  

And I’ve been meaning this whole week to take pictures of the pumpkins we picked but still haven’t.  So you’ll just have to imagine.  

Introducing Madeline Eve!

Madeline Eve joined our family on September 25th.  Her due date!  She arrived at 10:22 a.m. and weighed 7 lbs 9 oz and was 19 inches long.  We’re delighted she’s here but we’re all still adjusting.

A day or two after we’d come home from the hospital my mom asked me if I liked Madeline better inside or outside.  And I answered very confidently outside!  This might seem like an odd question with an obvious answer, but I don’t think so.  When I was pregnant with Wes I was so excited to meet him.  Every moment of that pregnancy was magical to me.  But when he arrived, I was totally overwhelmed.  I wondered what we’d done and how life could ever feel manageable again.  With Madeline, I’d spent my pregnancy planning and fearful.  Planning by getting things done and making lists and checking boxes and being very transactional about the whole thing.  Fearful about what kind of baby she’d be, if I’d love her as much as Wes, how on earth I was going to juggle the needs of two children all day.  But now she’s here and she’s completely delightful.  I’m so happy to meet her and have her in our lives.  I think I’m still curious about how I’m going to manage the needs to two children once I’m on my own all day, but I’m so much less fearful.  It’s really nice to experience these happier feelings after the birth of a child.

Everyone told me your second child comes faster, but I had no idea how fast that could be!  Madeline was fast!  I really thought I’d have to be induced, and we were scheduled for an induction on the 27th.  But at 4 am on the 25th I woke up to go to the bathroom and realized something was going on.  I think I knew they were contractions, but I wasn’t 100% sure.  Because I was induced with Wes and safe in a hospital, I just didn’t pay attention to my contractions with Wes.  Other than realizing that they hurt.  When Sean woke up at 5:45 my contractions still weren’t totally consistent, but I did tell him that I thought he’d have to stay home that day.  He laughed a me a little bit because he knew right away that we were having a baby.  I was still feeling unsure and working under that assumption that I’d be driving Wes to school in a few hours while my contractions got stronger.  But I did text my parents and ask them to start driving.  And did text my neighbor to ask if she could help with Wes that day.  So I started to get things ready for Wes and myself, and then it was really clear we had to go.  We arrived at 8:15-ish.  I told everyone who would listen that I wanted an epidural.  Everyone else seemed to move so slowly.  I felt like we were in triage for forever and I wanted to leave and get my drugs so badly.  I was 3 centimeters when we left triage.  We got to the delivery room and things progressed very quickly for me.  I was very uncomfortable.  I screamed with my contractions.  I did not expect to be a screamer but I couldn’t help it.  It’s just what came out of me.  The anesthesiologist had to tell someone to close the door, probably so I didn’t scare off the other ladies on the floor.  I was really very loud.  I told someone I had to push.  They told me not to push because the doctor wasn’t there and no one knew how dilated I was.  I told them again that I had to push and it was really hard to not push.  Again, it seemed like everyone around me was moving so slowly.  Finally a senior nurse checked me.  I was at 9.  The anesthesiologist had been trying to figure out what drug to give me.  I did get a drug, not quite an epidural because that would have taken too long.  It was so hard for me to stay still for that epidural type thing I was given.  Sean told me later he didn’t think I’d be able to do it because I was so busy screaming and moving around.   It was hard, but I was scared.  An unmedicated birth is one of my biggest fears.  But, I did pretty much labor completely drug free because almost as soon as it was in the doctor was there, I pushed three times, and Madeline hard arrived!  Just about an hour and a half after we’d made it to the hospital!  While I do have very fond memories of my induction for Wes, I really preferred this quick delivery!

And now we’re all pretty taken with her.  It’s so fun to watch Sean be the father of a newborn again.  It’s not his favorite phase, but he’s sweetly protective.  If she’s crying and he’s not already in the room, it’s not long before he swoops right in and comforts her.  Wes says he loves her and kisses her and hugs her and “reads” her a book every morning as I change her into her daytime clothes, but he’s putting on a brave face and is being such a trooper.  The mom guilt of not enough of me for everyone all the time is pretty tough.  Overall we’re happy, but still working through some of the challenges.

St. Louis

IMG_7861Did you have a nice 4th of July?  We went to St. Louis to be with Sean’s family for the holiday.  I’ve wanted to call it a weekend, but when the holiday is on a Tuesday it’s not really a holiday, is it?  One of Sean’s sisters, Shelley, and her husband, Eric, live in St. Louis, which is why we met up there.


I love St. Louis.  My family took a trip there in 2009 just the four of us and had such a great time.  Sean and I went shortly after we got engaged in 2011 to visit Shelley and had a great time and a very memorable meal.  It’s such a nice city.  Shelley and Eric live a little outside of the city, but we decided to stay in it.  Those photos above are from our first morning.  We walked around City Garden and had breakfast at Rooster.  Rooster was one of a few really great meals we had this trip.  Can you tell Wes is pealing the wrapper off his crayons in this picture?  It’s the first thing he does when he gets to a restaurant with crayons.  We don’t know why.  I think it’s funny.


We went swimming at Shelley and Eric’s community pool.  It was lots of fun and a great way to spend a hot morning.  In Northern Virginia (and probably other places, just not at Shelley and Eric’s pool), the life guards take a break on the :45’s.  They blow the whistle and  if you’re under 6 you head to the baby pool.  When the life guard didn’t blow the whistle to announce a time to go to the baby pool, Wes did it for him.  At first he blew his whistle just for Sean to let him know when to stop swimming, and then we all eventually made it to the baby pool.  Children are such fun!


Sean’s dad’s birthday fell a few days after this trip, so we had an early celebratory dinner for him since we were all together.  We went to Pastaria, and it was another really great meal!  When it came time to order dessert we ordered three.  We almost didn’t get that birthday cake pictured above, but it was the winner!

IMG_7744IMG_7745ball pitIMG_7769IMG_7771

For our last morning, we headed to the City Museum.  Sean and I went with Shelley when we visited.  It’s fun if you’re just adults and it’s really fun if you’re a kid.  I didn’t do very much this time.  There’s lots of climbing and exploring and tight spaces in this museum, so Sean took the lead here and those two and Alli explored under and above and all over! IMG_7779IMG_7783IMG_7763IMG_7760

Plus there is a two story slide!  Which Wes loved even if he’s not showing it on his face here.


That cheese face!  It just makes me so happy!

Take Me Out to the Ball Game


A friend of ours had a birthday recently, and to celebrate a group of us were invited to join her for a Nats/Cubs game.  She’s a Cubs fan.  It was a 7 p.m., Monday night game, so initially I told Sean he’d probably be going on his own if he decided to go.  Getting a sitter to our house in enough time for me to leave to get into the city on a weeknight is tricky.  And then I thought, but this could be so fun!  I want to go!  And Sean and I talked more and we said, we should just risk it and bring Wes because the cost of the babysitter would have been more than his ticket.  So in a very unlike us move, we ended up breaking our rules and bringing Wes to a baseball game that started at bedtime!


I’m so glad we brought him!  This worked out so well and was a lot of fun for all of us!  Wes, of course, didn’t really know what was going on, but he occasionally popped up on Sean’s lap and Sean would walk him through what was happening.  He liked when people clapped and cheered and would join right along with them.  He danced to the music, made friends with the birthday girl, and mastered drinking water straight from the bottle.  A very successful night all around.



We made it through the first half of the 5th inning, or about 8:45 p.m.  Which meant we made it for the Presiden’ts Race!  I love the President’s Race!  George won.  We parked at Sean’s office and our house is a little ways out, so I knew getting home would take awhile.  I thought I was so smart coming prepared with pajamas and putting him in them before we left for home.  Because of course he’d fall asleep.  Right?  Nope!  He chatted the whole 35 minutes home!  “You’re going in the wrong direction, Momma.  Daddy told you the right way to go.”  “It’s raining?  Are we going to see lightning?  I need to call my friend Eleanor.  We’re going to talk about the ligtning.  Did you bring my phone?”  (It was not raining.  No, he doesn’t have a phone.)  “Momma, you crack me up.”  “Do you see the crane?  Are the construction workers still working?”  And he recapped the foul ball that landed incredibly close to us.  The man who caught it spilled his peanuts and Wes cried.  I’m not sure if Wes cried because he was scared by the close proximity of the ball or because the man spilled his peanuts.  I think it may have been the spilled peanuts.  It still comes up and he always leads with the peanuts spilling, not the ball landing.  While I didn’t really want him to fall asleep at 10 p.m., I really enjoyed experiencing a ball game with him and his loopy chatter at the end of his night.


Weekend Visitors

My parents moved to Pittsburgh back in March, and having them closer is so great!  We’ve been to see their new house, and they’ve visited us twice.  The last time they came they brought Maggie and Evelyn with them!  It was a quick trip but we had lots of fun.


I didn’t take many pictures.  In some ways is too bad because Wes and Evelyn were so cute together, but at the same time it’s sometimes nice to not always experience things behind the camera.

My mom brought me boxes of things that I can’t believe my parents have moved from Maryland to Memphis to Maryland to Oregon to Buffalo to Pittsburgh…  But then again, I recently thought I lost Wes’s birth certificate and went through some of the boxes in our basement and couldn’t believe some of the things that I moved from Hagerstown to College Park to Silver Spring to Arlington to Springfield, so it runs in the family.  (I found his birth certificates and also did an excellent job of getting rid of things (I mean that seriously), in case you’re wondering.)  There were some real gems, like this first family picture and the first time I ever tried to write my name.

I had this question myself so just want to clarify that those aren’t boobs.  Those are puffy sleeves. Puffy sleeves were very, very important to me growing up.  My mom had to cut off and create puffy sleeves on all of my dresses.  Also, my dad never wore top hats but this is a reoccurring theme for me.  I can’t wait until Wes starts to draw family photos.

But the best was my sister bringing my doll, Carol Linda!  I thought I lost her!  I’d been texting everyone.  I was so happy to be reunited I cried.


She also brought me some clothes made by my mom and grandmothers for she and me when we were little.  I feel really lucky to have them for my own daughter.


Then of course I made popovers as their breakfast send off.


They left on the day Wes turned 2.5 so as I added his newest height to my wall, I had the opportunity to add Evelyn’s too!  I think I might need to color code it.


Christmas with my mom’s  family is a big time.  She has three other siblings that join us for our Cozy Christmas.  They have seven adult children, and now there’s Sean, two littles, and an extra grandmother that join in.  It’s quite a crowd.  There’s always something going on.  It’s lots of fun.


Oh my gosh, this game was so fun.  Cover us up, Nana!  And then we’ll pop up like you all thought we really weren’t there and it was just Beanie Babies.  By the way, isn’t this one of the biggest Beanie Baby collections?  I had forgotten all about them.


The aunts and uncles watched the littles while the adult cousins when on a Saranac Brewery Tour.  Their regular root beer is delicious!  Maggie got one on tap which was so great.  They also made a spiked root beer which was also great.


I’m trying not to repeat myself while also recognizing that some of you can’t remember all the details of my family.  My mom’s sister, Aunt Annie, leaves two doors down from my mom’s brother, Uncle Mark.  Aunt Annie hosts the Christmas Eve festivities and Uncle Mark hosts Christmas Day.  So here we are with Christmas Eve.


I put my mom in charge of the cousin picture at first.  I have dozens and dozens of pictures documenting the talking, arranging, moving of furniture, moving around of people, etc. to make these pictures happen.  It’s fascinating but took forever to find the best ones.

Oh!  We had a Czech exchange student join us this year!  I totally forgot about that until I saw this picture.  Silvie made the best cookies.


It was so fun to play Santa this year!  It was so fun to watch Wes start to figure it out!  I already liked Christmas but I’m so excited for the Santa phase!


Halfmoons for breakfast!


Sean was happy to get a butchering lesson.


And then Aunt Ginger and Alexis lead us through the most amazing reindeer games.  A series of minute to win it games.  We were in four teams of four and it was so much fun!  That coming from the person who is not a game person.


It was hard to resist snapping the oldest and youngest in our group sharing the couch.


I love this picture so much!  I didn’t want to hug Sean around the waist because then all of the balloons would fall out.  But he was so enthusiastic about being a snow man (he did push-ups!) that I had to hug him.  And laugh.

Thanks, Aunt Ginger & Alexis!  It was so fun!  Sean and I were on Team 3 together, but I guess Team 4 did a really good job of promoting their team and shouting “Team 4” because Wes still randomly shouts “Team 4! Team 4!”  He also says “Aunt Joanne’s house.  Do again.”  So we had a great time.  Hope your Christmas was merry!



I didn’t do the best job of recording Thanksgiving in pictures.  But that’s not a reflection on our time.  We had a great time.  Especially since Sean’s parents babysat on the Tuesday before so we could go on a date and they let us sleep in every morning we were in Missouri.  It was amazing!


At least I thought to capture an important exchange between Wes, his great-grandpa, and vehicles.


This face is not a true reflection on the meal.  It was delicious.  Rich and Beth do such a great job of dinner.  They also do a great job of letting the newer family members add the Thanksgiving favorites to the meal.  Sean and I did the stuffing this year.  Rich and Beth also did a good job of letting Wes help with meal prep while Sean and I were sleeping.  Wes made the green bean casserole.


He, of course, loved the pumpkin pie.


Which some members of Sean’s family really think of as more equal parts pie and whipped cream.


Do you think Wes will ever smile in pictures?  I sure hope so.


The next morning Wes helped with the very important task of making the party mix for the Christmas season (it’s a take on chex mix, since it’s hard to tell what exactly we’re doing in these photos).  This stuff is delicious.  We didn’t take enough home with us so Sean made us a batch.  It’s on it’s last legs now and I will miss it.  Or, more optimistically, I will be so ready for the next batch next November.


Then we went to a tree farm to pick a tree for Rich & Beth.  I had never been to a tree farm before.  Growing up we always had a fake tree.  And we just bought a new fake tree that better fits the ceilings in our house so we will always have a fake tree.  What a fascinating place, tree farms.  Trying to determine which tree is the best for your family, walking around with saws, people shaking extra needles off of trees.


I don’t think we went intending to leave with a tree, but we did!  And you have to give it a bath before it goes into your house.  This is also fascinating to me about tree farms.

There were also wine tastings and puzzles and lots more fun not pictured here.  And I can’t emphasize enough how nice it was to get a little break from the morning shift.  Thanks, Rich & Beth!