Sunday, February 24, 2013

Opal ten weeks

I meant to make her wear this for her nine week picture, which was the day before Valentine's Day, but I forgot.  It's just as good for her ten week, because it was taken on Mommy and Daddy's eight year wedding anniversary!  Nic and Opal and I went to one of those Brazilian steakhouse places that Nic had apparently been wanting to try.  It was okay, but I doubt we'll be returning any time soon.  We each had a capirinha, which were delicious but tiny and they did this whole drawn-out complicated show of making them tableside that made it so you didn't want to order another one and put the bartender through all that BS again.  Nic still owes me an anniversary trip!  He did send me a really nice bouquet, though:
I think from here on out I'll be posting Opal's weekly pics in four week clusters.  It'll increase the impact and feel more timely that way.  Here's one more adorable picture of Opal laughing that I absolutely need to share:


Zeb has always had a thing where he uses his own hair to soothe himself. Where the other two boys used to pull my hair or slap me while nursing, Zeb would gently pull at the back of his own hair. He continued to do that once weaned to a bottle. Then at some point in the past few months it evolved into twirling his own hair around his finger while drinking his bottle (don't judge). Then in the past few weeks he's started doing it so much that he gives himself a nasty little knotted clump of a toddler dreadlock back there:

If that wasn't enough evidence that we need to give him a real little boy haircut sooner rather than later, last night shortly after being put to bed we hear him crying and yelling "help help, knot!"  We go in there, and he's twirled his finger into his hair to the point where it's stuck and the tip has turned purple!  Nic went and got the scissors to cut the knot but managed to untangle the poor finger at the last second. 
In other dysfunctional use of your own body news, Eli lost his fifth tooth this weekend (bottom right of center incisor).  He swallowed the first three, then finally managed to not ingest the fourth one.  Unfortunately, this didn't start a trend, and tooth number five is currently hanging out somewhere in Eli's guts along with the first three (well actually I hope the first three have already been digested, otherwise there may be a problem down the line). 
And in precious Wolfie news, while Nic was at the store with Eli and Zeb was napping today, Wolfie randomly requested paper and scissors and tape.  Then half an hour later, he emerged from his room with tiny little Valentines for the whole family (except for Opal, but then he remembered and made one for her, too).  Weirdly, mine was addressed to "Mommy" while Nic's was addressed to "Nick."  Hmmm. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mid-February goings-on

So the in-law visit the weekend before last was nice - Aunt Emily made it in after all!  Sally and Leo came down Saturday afternoon, first time for Leo meeting Nic's family which we wanted to make happen before the cruise.  Then Opal had her first dinner out at Salsa's in Montgomeryville.  It was also the first time we took the new stroller anywhere, and upon arriving at the restaurant we discovered that the thing didn't even fit in the aisle in between the tables!  Opal was awake and cranky anyway, so I ended up doing laps around the mall for most of dinner, getting relieved long enough just to suck down my first post-partum margarita and some fajitas.  Then we had a delicious chocolate cake from Dublin Bakery for MIL's birthday, which was the night before.  Dublin Bakery's chocolate glaze icing is one of the only store-bought chocolate icings that doesn't taste like they dumped a packet of gross hot cocoa powder into the grainy vanilla icing.

The next day MIL, SIL, and Aunts Lizzy and Brittany and I went out to the Talking Teacup for Opal's first tea! It was fun and yummy - a nice surprise is that the flavor of tea we had the last time we were there two years ago that they said was being discontinued must have been re-continued in the interim, so we got to have that.  Lizzy treated herself to gluten, though I don't think her stomach was happy about it later.   Opal sat on my lap the whole time and I think she enjoyed herself as much as an eight and a half week old baby possibly could, which she showed me by crapping her pants early in the meal then just chilling.  You know, like we all do at tea parties.

Mother daughter tea time
The highlight of the next day was a trip with Grandpa Teddy to the Indian buffet, which I hadn't been to since the in-laws were visiting newborn Zebulon.  This time toddler Zeb enjoyed chana masala and rice and was in very good spirits the whole time.  Opal decided to finally sleep through a meal for once, only requiring constant rocking in her car seat. 

That winter storm Nemo everyone was worrying about pre-visit dumped just enough snow for Daddy and the kids to make a snowman. Zeb is still talking a lot about all things wintery and holiday, like Christmas trees with stars on top and Santa and snowmen. It was the cutest thing, for a while post-holidays in January he'd say "Merry Christmas and happy New Year!" every night when he got tucked in for bedtime in his crib. It hurt your heart a little it was so precious. Anyway, he finally got to make a much-anticipated snowman (that fixation may be due largely to a snowman stacking toy he got the holidays before last). Unfortunately we never raked the leaves in the backyard and there was only an inch or two of snow on the ground, so the snowman was extremely leafy and gross. I named him Leaf Erickson. 

The leaves must have provided unusual staying power because he's still not completely gone, despite several days with rain and temperatures well over freezing.  He started leaning over and collapsed pretty quickly, but as of last Friday there were still two big leafy gross balls of snow left.  Wolfie had the day off from school and Grandma Ellen was over and it was in the low fifties, so we managed to play in the backyard for a while that afternoon with Zeb and Woog while I held Opal. 
That night, when Grandma tried to leave, she couldn't find her car keys.  She and Nic both looked for a while but it was late so she ended up sleeping over.  The next morning, still couldn't find them.  We'd promised Wolfie a trip to the zoo, specifically the reptile house, but Zeb's carseat was locked in Grandma Ellen's car, so we decided to leave him back with stranded Grandma Ellen and take the two big boys and Opal (first non-meal non-shopping non-doctor excursion for Opal!).  Then at the last second we found the keys - they were buried in Leaf Erickson!  Either Zeb must have dropped them in there the previous day while we were playing or Grandma Ellen dropped them herself when she went to retrieve her scarf that Leaf stole.  At that point we decided to leave Zeb anyway because it was just going to be way easier to leave him back, and the two older boys would be able to enjoy the zoo much more.
Like I said before, Wolfie's always got some sort of fascination/obsession.  When he was a toddler it was pointing out every construction vehicle and fire engine, then the firefighting thing evolved into pointing out all the fire extinguishers and sprinkler systems and alarms like a little fire inspector.  He also had a thing at three for bagpipes and bowling.  He had a thing for plants and gardening.  A few months ago he was most passionate about sea creatures, especially random gross ones like anemones and jellyfish, thanks to Octonauts.  He's still into them (as a former whale fanatic, I'm vicarious-living-through-your-kids proud that he brought home a book on whale watching as his library book this week), and he's also into tornadoes, but his major passion right now is snakes.  We don't know where it started - Nic thinks it might have been from a book in the kids' room at church, but it could have also been some random nature show under Grandma Ellen's watch.  At first, like many of his recent obsessions, it started as OCD-ish obsessive anxiety about them around bedtime (example - another church book talked about army ants that can eat people <sidenote, wtf terrifying church books>, which took root with Wolfie and led to him scared whining and crying about ants at bedtime for about half an hour that night).  But Wolfie must be treating himself with exposure therapy, because after a while these fears are turning into topics of research and fascination.  It's pretty admirable I think, I wish I could do that with my fears!
The visit to the zoo last weekend turned out great.  It was the perfect day for someone with a zoo membership who just wanted to see indoor stuff.  It was so cold and crappy that barely anyone was even there, and even with most of the people inside in the animal houses they were still as empty as I've ever seen them.  We ended up going to the rare animal house (home to the giant elephant shrew, my definite favorite at the zoo now that former favorites the capybaras and curl-crested aracaris are gone, insert sad face) and the small animal house as well as the reptile house.  Philly Zoo is really outstanding for its animal houses, I don't think I've ever been to another zoo that has anywhere near as many or as good as the ones here.   Both boys really enjoyed themselves, despite Eli initially refusing to go because of the possibility of going to the unbearably stinky monkeyhouse and seeing a gorilla eat its own barf again.
Wolfie in his winter coat which makes him look like a South Park character

Fun snake fact - did you know you can tell the freshness of dried sea snake meat by sniffing the anus?  Hint - you don't want there to be a smell.  These are the things that stick with you when you're looking out for facts for your kid.
Wolfie is super impressive with his reading skills lately.  I think he's going to be advanced when he enters kindergarten later this year.  His teacher is always giving great reports of how he's the best kid ever, like I'm not exaggerating, she has literally said multiple times that he's her favorite and the best and a perfect Montessori student and she wishes she could have a classroom full of Wolfies.  We really are so lucky to have him, even if he's nuts and throws his underpants on top of doorframes for no reason from time to time.
Eli's reading is super great lately, too.  Like he's just full-on reading library books to himself.  He's been really into space lately.  He doesn't get obsessed with stuff to the same degree that Wolfie does, but he does have his interests too of course.  You just have to pay closer attention.  At the beginning of the school year he was super into volcanoes and Hawaiian shirts after our vacation in Hawaii in August.  He really seems to love travel the most so far of all the kids.  Of course, Zeb's only two and Opal hasn't even been out of Pennsylvania yet, so we can't really say yet who is going to be the biggest travel buff, but it's great to see Eli enjoying it so much already!  Most of his journals from kindergarten last year were about upcoming or recently taken trips, like the New England cruise and Hawaii.  Anyway, he brought home a ton of space books this week and read a Magic Schoolbus book out loud to the younger boys.  He's been reading to his siblings more often recently with less prompting, it's very encouraging.  Finally, they're starting to take care of each other - we'll have a self-contained system in no time!

Fresh file pic - serving 1970's professor glare face drama
Zeb has been a good boy lately.  His nose has been in perpetual faucet mode and he's been screaming his demands, but that's okay, he's still a jolly fellow for the most part.  He's been yelling "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN," I don't know where he got that from but it's cute.  Also he enjoys holding a Mr. Potatohead chef hat full of ears and screaming "money!" with intensity.  He really likes addressing questions to Opal when I'm holding her near him, like asking where every single person in our extended family is over and over, or asking her what he's holding.  It's very cute.  After the snowman he liked to ask questions about its eyes and hat and scarf and nose, and he'd ask "where's the carrot?"  By then it had been eaten by animals, so I told him a squirrel ate it (in baby Opal voice, of course), but he kept asking over and over, so finally I told him he ate it, then I asked him where it was and he said "I ate it." 
They all love those boots
Anyway, I hear Opal squirming and whining from a rare not-on-Mommy nap (she is refusing to not be attached to me even more than usual lately). It took me days to slap this post together so I guess her ten week pic from last night will have to wait until another day since it's still on the camera. She's been so cute and watchful lately, here's another smile pic of her real fast:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Opal nine weeks

Look at that cutie!  Meanwhile, just found out from my friend Jyl that she didn't print out 52 onesies with the week number.  She actually just puts her son in white onesies and then adds the week number on in some sort of photoshopping program afterwards.  How silly am I that I thought she printed out all those onesies ahead of time?!  So really I actually could have gone to Babies R Us the day Opal turned a week old, bought a pack of white onesies, and started up the week thing the same way Jyl did it!  Oh well, it may be less uniform than I'd like, but at least this way we're getting to put some cute outfits on display.

More on the in-law visit (sister-in-law ended up coming in after all!) and other stuff coming up shortly! 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Opal eight weeks, Nemo, and the Fresh File

Look who's eight weeks old!  I love any outfit with mitts.  Why didn't I discover the cuteness of baby mitts with the boys?  I thought mitts only came on newborn and 0-3 month clothes, but when I went shopping with Eli last weekend for shirts, I found footie pajamas with mitts in size 3-6 months.  Score!

I've really been noticing these past few days how grown up Zeb is getting.  His face is thinning out, I think he's gotten even taller, and he's talking and answering questions like a real little kid.  It's crazy, and also a little sad because I feel like with the baby I've been missing so much with him.  But I was starting to slowly emerge from my neonatal cocoon until the norovirus quarantine two weeks ago.  Now I'm starting to emerge again.  I'd better get ready, because all the help we're getting is quitting in March!  Anyway, last night I was hanging out with the boys and making Opal talk to them like she was a puppet and they were loving it.  Zeb had me going back and forth from him to Eli saying "I love you Eli!  I love you Zeb!"  Anything to make them laugh! 

Nic brought home a king cake for dessert (this year makes nine years gone from New Orleans without returning - sigh) and told me Wolfie desparately wanted the plastic baby in his piece.  It was just kind of taped to the box, so I smooshed it in up to the head in a sparkly green slice, because Wolfie still likes green the best.  He was psyched.  My mom asked if it was a boy or a girl and I said neither, then she looked at it and it appeared to have some sort of projectile genitalia, so we declared it a boy with undescended testicles.  Wolfie named it Josh, I don't know why.

Eli this morning tells me "You have a manly voice for a lady, Mommy!"  Thanks, kid.

Nic's parents and sister are supposed to be coming in this weekend, but Nemo is supposed to be some sort of historic winter super storm (aren't they always).  Oh my gosh if we lose power again I'm going to lose my freakin' mind.  We lost power twice this winter already for brief periods of time, and I swear I had PTSD flashing back to Sandy and the three days we spent in the dark with no heat and everybody sick with bad colds and me in my eighth month pregnant with Opal.  Except at least then it was only autumn and not that cold, and better to have a baby in the belly with no heat than to have one out of the belly with no heat, and we sleep in the coldest room of the house.  Grrr.  At least we're on the outskirts of the predicted path, and if we lose power it probably won't be for that long. 

Just heard Emily's out for this weekend.  That sucks!  I made reservations for Sunday at the tea house we went to with her two years ago.  I hope at least Grandma Susanna can make it so Opal can have her first real tea party!

Oh meanwhile I should probably put up some pictures of Eli in his new pants and shirts.  Did I mention half the reason we went shopping for new shirts last weekend was because he was wearing the same four or five shirts over and over and refusing all other shirts for months until I hid them in our closet for the second half of January?  And at least one of those shirts is comically small and makes him look like Steve Urkel, especally since he insists on tucking it in?  So I said if he went two weeks without wearing them I'd take him out to buy new shirts.  Whenever we particularly like an outfit in this house, we take a picture for the "Fresh File."  No wonder Eli is so fashion-conscious!  But you must admit that ZZ Top was correct in proclaiming the tendency for females to become mentally unstable in the presence of males with well-tailored wardrobes. 

Some recent Fresh File pics of Eli in his new clothes:

Taken near the bathroom when I realized he matches the bathroom.
And here's one of Zeb from the Super Bowl when he passed out in front of Beyonce with a plate full of chickens:

And while I'm crapping out pictures, here's one of Wolfie eating my Downton Abbey indulgence, a mini M&M pretzel.  No matter how many other delicious treats are in the house, even if Wolfie likes them more, if he sees these pretzels he whines and whines and complains about how "awww, I never even tried one" (lies).  Can't a lady have bon bons to herself?  Guess not:

And one more picture, Opal's first definite on-camera incidences of smiling:

Jeez, I gotta figure out what my picture allowance is on here, don't wanna go over it in the first month of blogging!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Recent pictures of Eli and Wolfgang

Just so you know what they look like right now, because the only other pics on here of them so far are from their toddler years, and I know they wouldn't approve of that:


Eli in those aforementioned boots
Wolfie on his birthday in late December

Weekly Opal photos - the first seven weeks

My friend Jyl has been doing this awesome thing with her almost seven month old son since he was one week old.  She made all these onesies (or maybe is still making them?) with iron-ons saying how many weeks old he is, and she takes a picture of him every Monday wearing the onesie for that week.  She's going to do it for the whole first year and then make the pictures into a little book.  How cool is that? 
I didn't have the foresight to do the onesie thing ahead of time, but then that first Wednesday home from the hospital when Opal turned one week old I remembered Jyl's project and got all teary thinking "I want to do that for Opal but we don't have the onesies!"  So we improvised with index cards and using the same blanket (though I think Jyl must use multiple blankets because you never see the edges of the blankets in her pictures but it's already hard to avoid picturing the edges in our pictures and Opal isn't even two months old).
Anyway, here are Opal's weekly photos from the first seven weeks.  We usually take them Wednesday night after the boys are in bed, so I'll try to post new ones on Thursday from now on.
 Our first favorite outfit of hers - the sleeves turn into mitts that make her look like a little Mii!
 She barfed on the first matching cardigan, so this one doesn't match as well
Whoops - repeat dress from last week!

I love those pajamas - little elephants in Parisian scenes

 Holiday candy fun a few weeks past the season.  Oh well, her brothers wear Xmas pajamas all year, so can she.
These pajamas are so bright that when we bought them Nic thought they'd keep us up all night.  Also, giving a fist pump for finally looking less jaundiced in the face!
 Love those headbands!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The fourth trimester

Opal and I are about halfway through the so-called fourth trimester, the first three months where baby is still basically an extension of mom's body.  Emotions are around the same intensity level as during pregnancy, but with the addition of sleep deprivation.  I know from the first three kids that this time period is very foggy in retrospect, but while you're living it it seems both endless (was Christmas really just six weeks ago?) and super fast (wasn't it just yesterday that my sisters were visiting us in the hospital?). 

I always mistakenly overindulge during this time, both with food (so much takeout, so many chocolatey treats to get through exhaustion-filled days) and with TV.  Actually, the TV didn't start until Wolfie.  With Eli we didn't have a TV in the room.  I don't know how we ever got through those nights!  With Wolfie we were in Florida where we didn't have cable.  I recall a bunch of awful middle of the night viewings of "Becker."  It wasn't until Zeb that we had the magic of in-room DVR, and that's where my TV indulgence went overboard. 

Now this time I've indulged in so much good stuff (like rewatching the most recent seasons of Mad Men <in the hospital> and Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thromes, or our current indulgence I look forward to the most right now which is Downton Abbey and chocolate covered mini M&M pretzels) that, like a food addict sucking down mayonnaise packets, I'm binging on garbage TV.  Once I ran out of my old postpartum standby of graphic hospital birthing shows filmed in the early 2000s, I searched for more pregnancy and birth shows.  16 and Pregnant led to Teen Mom 2 and Teen Mom reruns (who knew that off-center labret piercings and tilted floated baseball hats were indicators of the likelihood of teenage reproduction?).  Gorging myself on basic-cable-aired reruns of Sex and the City followed by episodes of Golden Girls (all the girls' names and the actresses' names are currently trendy for baby girls) led to the discovery that without the graphic sex scenes, these two shows are actually the same show!   I remember last time with Zebulon finding a show about giant fish hosted by a guy named Zeb, but I think I only watched like two minutes of it.  Searching "opal" in the DVR led me to the awful awful discovery of Jewelry TV, where one can easily be hypnotized by scores of sparkly rotating gemstones you've never heard of (smoked Ethiopian opal, Siberian chrome diopside and morganite to name a few).  Then there's the terrible yet great random movies that I've seen a million times before but still end up watching, like that '90s Satanic trend classic "Devil's Advocate" and pinnacle of the '80s "Can't Buy Me Love."  Why do I keep rewatching movies but let the ones I haven't seen before pile up in my DVR indefinitely?  I still have movies I haven't watched DVRed from Zeb's fourth trimester two years ago.

I am starting to dial down my TV intake lately because Opal is awake and alert more and more each day.  And it's intense!  She is so focused on my face.  I spend most of my day just staring at her, having nonsense conversations where I call her random things like Googoo Moogoo or Nuggetina Gumbelina.  It's hard for me to call a baby by his or her real name for the first year or so.  I was excited when I made up my first song using her name ("her name is Opal, she is a showgirl . . .") last week during our norovirus quarantine where she and I were hiding from the violent Nic-hospitalizing barf sickness that all the male family members got.  The other thing I do while I'm staring at her all day is try to get her to smile or laugh.  Wolfie and I call it smile school.  She's definitely smiled and laughed multiple times, but it's always very short, random, and hard to repeat.  It makes me feel like her staring is a demand for entertainment, and the lady is NOT amused!  But I know it's still early, she only just started smiling for real a couple of weeks ago.  She could still turn into a jovial baby like Zeb.  At least she seems extremely interested in people and socializing.  She does seem to be trying to talk with her looks and her little cooing noises and stuff, in between spitting up all over me and the bed and the floor and herself every time her position is slightly shifted, of course. 

At any rate, I do love looking at her tiny little face ("her head is terrifying!" - Eli the first time he met his baby sister at the hospital).  I think her eyes may actually be turning blue, which is almost unbelievable to me.  When I first saw her with her profuse dark hair, sideburns, eyebrows, and widow's peak making her look the most like Daddy of any of the kids so far, I thought there was no way she'd have blue eyes (Zeb was the first kid to have them, and he had golden hair when he was born).  Her nose is elfin or gnomish, so perfectly adorable, and her mouth shape with the nursing blister that keeps reappearing makes her look a little like Cindy Loohoo, very appropriate for a 12-12-12 baby.

In other news this weekend, Eli had a big first - his first toilet reading session (some random Christmas books Aunt Emily sent us from her childhood that had been sitting on our dresser since the holidays).    I also went shopping with Eli for his current fashion passion of button-up shirts, mostly western style to complement Grandma Ellen's gift of her old cowboy boots from the 90's, which Eli wears every chance he gets because he's also fixated on being taller and they have a bit of a heel on them.  It was only my fifth non-medical excursion from the house since having Opal (told you I'm a shut-in).  Wolfie watched a show I DVRed for him about giant squid (he's obsessed with ocean creatures, snakes and tornadoes right now; oh Wolfie and your fleeting intense obsessions, the documentation of which was half the reason I wanted to do this blog).  Zeb passed out in front of the Superbowl halftime show with a tray full of nuggets (or "chickens! more chickens!" as he ogre-ly calls them). Wolfie declared this "the worst Superbowl ever - there were no guests, I didn't finish my dinner, and I didn't get a brownie because my stomach hurt."  Let's hope it's from too much junk food this time, not another virus please!!!

Oh yeah, and Sally and Leo committed to coming on the Alaska cruise this summer.  Neither of them has ever been on a cruise before.  I was already super excited for this vacation, now I can't wait! 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Toddler hair dilemma

In our family, the period between one and a half and three years old is a nebulous time for boy hair.  Thing is, we like shaggy hair on little boys that age, but you can't let the hair hang in the eyes too much because the kid has to see.  So we usually just trim the bangs and try to keep the back from looking too mullety.

Eli had great toddler hair. Now Eli's hair is thick and straight, but as a toddler he had this hunky surfer dude thing going on where it was highlighted from the Florida sun and curled at the ends. We just trimmed the bangs area and the back a little bit for a long time and it worked out fine. He didn't get his first real haircut until he was three and a half.

Eli at two and a half. 
Can you see why I thought he'd be a shirtless tourguide at some tropical hotel who picked up cougar sugarmamas at the tiki bar?
Wolfgang's hair is the waviest of the three boys.  As someone with very straight hair from a family full of straight-haired people, at first I thought he just had a chronic case of bedhead.  Then I realized what we had and celebrated another future candidate for the yearbook's "best hair" prize.  His toddler 'do was pretty close to Eli's.
Two and a half year old Wolfie during his rock-collecting phase

Zebulon, though, his hair has been different.  As a baby he had this awesome weird thing going on where the back half stood straight up.  Observe:
But then, once it got long enough to weigh itself down, it got super straight, which was fine when it was still long, but has proven extremely dorky to cut.  Here he is last summer shortly before his first home haircut:

Way too shaggy but cute, right?  Then here he is, post haircut:
You can buy that as a wig from the Halloween store.  It comes with blackened buck teeth and pre-soiled overalls.  Poor kid, it's not his fault his mom's bathtub haircutting skills didn't work with his hair type!  Of course, hair grows back, and recently Zeb's was getting to eyeball-poking level again.  This time I let my mom do the scissorial honors.  She did do better than I did, but this time it's just a pure bowl cut:

So now we've got a dilemma on our hands.  Do we get Zeb his real little boy haircut a year earlier than usual?  Or do we continue inflicting these terrible home haircuts on the poor little guy?  It ends up growing out and looking okay eventually.  I think we'll probably end up taking him to the barber in the spring.  Sigh, I hope he's ready!  I'm sure as long as we keep with the tradition of pacifying him with a soft pretzel he'll be cool. 

Opal's hair is a ways away from styling choices.  Right now she's going through the same baby pattern baldness that the boys went through at that age.  It will be interesting to see what her "real" hair looks like when it grows in.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Okay fine, internet, you win

I've creepily lurked on other peoples' blogs long enough.  Today I start documenting the antics of my children and interesting goings-on of my day to day life, or else it will leak out of my cheeseclothesque brain like so much of the rest of my memories.  Plus the kids might need a record of this, you know, for the psychiatrists later in life.