Monday, October 31, 2011

Sick of Halloween Yet?

Aaron, Grace, and I might have OD'ed a little on the October and Halloween spirit. We have eaten almost everything pumpkin flavored on the planet: pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin waffles, pumpkin bread, pumpkin spice chocolate chip cookies, and we made a valiant attempt to eat pumpkin pie. Over the course of this month I have somehow accumulated 5 pumpkins. Yes, five of them. I really am not sure how they got here. Grace and I went to two different pumpkin patches, and Grace went trick (or trunk) or treating three different times. She has a target bag full of candy. In my head I have about 5 different Halloween related posts written (do you ever write blog posts in your head?) but deep down inside I know I have over done the Halloween thing and I just want to move on. So, without further ado, the last and final Halloween blog post.

This was the first real time that Grace has gone trick or treating, although this would be her third year celebrating the holiday. This year, however, she could walk and talk on her own and we felt like she would be up for the challenge. We possied up and went with a group of friends.

The Ladybug, Jessie and Woody from Toy Story, and two Tinkerbell fairies.
I was extremely excited that Aaron got off work in time to come with us. We were quite the sight going door to door, but having the adults there made for awesome conversation and extra hands to corral. Perfection.
I gave Grace the room to go up to the door and say trick-or-treat without me prodding or whispering into her ear. At least this was my original thought. She walks up to the very first house. Doorbell rings. Door gets opened. Grace is the first one out of the gate (can you see her?). I hear her mention something about candy, digs her hand in the bowl before it is actually offered, and then proceeds to walk inside this persons house. I ditch my camera and run inside after her as I am apologizing over and over to this woman while my 2 year old is breaking and entering. Grace gets super annoyed that I'm pulling her out of this house, but I finally get her out. Next door, I'm standing right next to her. So much for not helicopter parenting.
I think she eventually got the hang of it, and enjoyed walking up and saying Trick or Treat, knowing that candy would be involved. She now asks to eat candy about 47 times a day, thank you for that Halloween. After a few meltdowns, one last door, and one lollipop, we headed home and kissed our little ladybug goodnight.
Halloween 2011, you were quite wonderful. Thanks for a great year. 

But now, you are over, and its time to move on.

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I'll Never Live It Down

There are pictures below, but, because this blog is authored by me, there is a long story that comes beforehand. This story is about cobbler.

Our church was putting together a Fall Festival. Food, fun, and trunk-or-treating. There were sign ups going around each Sunday asking for volunteers to make chili or apple cobbler for the fall festival. I never actually saw theses sign ups. But Aaron did. About a week ago Aaron casually mentioned that he had signed us up to make apple cobbler. Due to his extremely busy schedule, when he signs "us" up he normally just signs "me" up for things. This wasn't the first time he had done this. He has good intentions at heart, but I was slightly annoyed. Fast forward to Friday where he reminds me about making the cobbler and that we need to buy the proper ingredients. I am a little more annoyed. I had forgotten. Please don't get me wrong, I am open to the notion of serving others but I'd like to give my consent first.

Saturday morning I buy the ingredients we needed, which was literally a bag of apples. When cobbler making time rolled around I wash my hands and before I start, I walk out of the kitchen and say, "Aaron, I really don't like when you sign me up to do things without my consent. Next time talk to me before you sign me up for something." His response, "Well I knew they needed cobbler and really didn't think it would be a big deal." Me, "It's not a big deal, but in the future, let me know beforehand."

In my lifetime I have only made cobbler once before, and I no longer have that recipe. So, I typed "easy apple cobbler" into google. If I was going to do this, I was going to take the easiest route possible. How is that for grabbing life by the horns, eh? I began the tedious task of peeling the apples. Easy recipe in hand. In the middle of this process it was brought to my attention that the cobbler wasn't merely going to be a dessert, it would be a contestant in the cobbler competition. Oh great. There would be blue ribbon, world class cobblers there and then my half hearted, mediocre cobbler sitting untouched in a corner. I put a little more effort into it, hoping it wouldn't fall completely short. I popped it in the oven, set the timer, and got in the shower. Once I was out I checked the clock and realized that I put the cobbler in too early and it would probably be cold by the time the Fall Festival rolled around. I could feel the epic failure seeping in, but thought to myself, "At least I did it." 

We got Grace dressed up, and we headed to the church. Our cobbler was placed on the table and given the number 5 for the competition. As Aaron and I did our best to attempt to corral Grace, and after we ate our chili, I headed out to grab dessert. There was pumpkin pie that was literally being attacked on all fronts by hungry pie-loving church goers, I was under strict orders to get a piece of that pumpkin pie. By the time I blinked, it was gone. I scooped up some of our apple cobbler, and some berry cobbler and headed back to our table. I told Aaron the pie was gone and gave him strict orders to eat our cobbler and let me know how it tasted. I don't actually like cobbler and really didn't want to eat it. Grace was off to play games, with me in tow, before his verdict on the cobbler was in.

The night progressed and as the donut-eating competition was being set-up (our fall festival is crazy legit), the winners of the costume, chili, and cobbler contests were announced. Runners up were given wonderful rounds of applause, the costume winners walked a little cat-walk, and different kinds of chili winners were pointed out. Winners received a gift card to a frozen yogurt joint that is literally across the street from our apartment. Then there was cobbler. Best berry.....Best peach...And now apple. "There weren't names associated with the cobblers so we'll announce the number. Cobbler #5 is our winner!" I about fell over. My cobbler, my easy, half hearted, cold when arrived, cobbler? The one I didn't want to make but felt cornered into doing so? I accepted the gift certificate and Aaron turns to the announcer and says, "You know whats funny? She didn't even want to make it!"And it was in that moment that I realized, I will never live this down. 

I am more than aware that the clout that comes from winning a small ward cobbler contest is nothing to write home about, but I learned a seriously valuable lesson. I could have had fun with it. I could have enjoyed the process. But instead I was grumpy and fought it and was angry and annoyed. After winning with a cobbler, which I still have yet to taste, I wish that I would have enjoyed the process a little more. And y'all better watch out, cobbler #5 is coming to play next year. Bring it.

We wrapped up our night with a little trunk-or-treat. This being Grace's second one of the year. A lot more people joined us for the end of the night trunk or treat.
With her Ladybug costume in place, Grace was up for the challenge.
Since she is a veteran at this going trunk to trunk thing, she knew what she was getting: candy. We had her repeat "Trick or treat!" as she walked up to the cars, and with prodding she slipped a few "Thank-yous" in there. But after I while she would just walk up and say "I want some candy," and dig her hand into the bowl. At least we tried.
And finally we got a current family picture. One day Grace will keep her eyes open, but last night wasn't that day.
And yes, the signature red jacket is back. You know you love it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halpy Halloween

It's not a typo. The title I mean.

The trunk that sat across from ours had an adorable Halloween sign. It wasn't until later that my Mom pointed out the fact that "Happy" was actually spelled "Halpy." I just hope they didn't pay too much money for that sign.
We got the kiddos ready
And took our Ladybug
Corpse Bride
and the ever evil Darth Vader, trunk-or-treating.
While my fellow candy-hander-outers and I manned our trunk,
Carly stepped up to the plate and took the littler ones car to car
We love Carly, she is the best.
And at the end of the night, Aaron and I reaped the sugary rewards, since Grace has yet to really figure out the candy thing. It's tough being a parent sometimes :).
Halpy Halloween everyone!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Patch Adams

Is anyone else having serious issues with blogger? As in, it takes you 45 minutes to upload pictures. No? Is it just my internet? Either way, it has taken me days just to get the pictures uploaded to this blog post. It was frustrating. Let's move on, shall we?

Grace and I headed up north with my Mom, Sister, and her kids to another pumpkin patch. It was in the middle of farm country, on a real farm.
And the pumpkins actually grew out of the ground. Pretty rad in my opinion.
The first stop was the petting zoo.
It would not be a Texas petting zoo without a crazy legit longhorn. One of many. Taylor was a whole lot braver than I was.
Grace was in animal heaven, as per usual. I don't think she stopped screaming for the first 25 minutes that we were there. 

Next we saddled up for a hay ride

Finally we made a mad dash to find the perfect pumpkin.
Working hard or hardly working, eh Grace?
After a quick Goat-to Grace pep talk,
We took our dusty feet and headed home.
Yes, bail of hay, we will be back.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

So We'll Fight

I am not one to hold information in. Not my style. When I keep things to myself I get overwhelmed by them, I think about them constantly, and struggle with not being able to reach out. I find talking about things extremely theraputic. So here goes nothing. The past two years.

I was one of those women who enjoyed being pregnant. I loved everything about it. Sure it wasn't rainbows and unicorns at all times but I wasn't sick, and felt almost completely normal. I knew plenty of women who struggled all throughout their pregnancies to even keep food in their bellies, and I knew just how lucky I was and told myself to never take it for granted. I wondered if Heavenly Father gave me an easy pregnancy to encourage me to have a lot of kids in the future, because for me, the thought of pregnancy was a positive thing. I was more than happy to take on that challenge. Perhaps my thinking was naive and ignorant, but those were the thoughts I had at the time.

Grace was about 4 months old when I started to get the feeling like we should have another one. I kept the thought to myself for awhile. I casually posed it to Aaron one night and he looked at me like I had an eye in the middle of my forehead. So I pushed it off. Then I started wanting it. I wanted another baby. Was I ready? No. Could I handle two kids close in age? Heavens no. But I wanted another one. I didn't acknowledge that this was my sincere desire until Grace was about 9 months old. I waited a month and told Aaron when Grace was 10 months that I wanted baby number 2. We had a serious conversation about it. Our expectations, our desires, etc. Aaron said he wasn't quite ready,  so we set our sights on trying in December of 2010.

In December I got my IUD removed. I had heard stories from friends about how they got pregnant 3 days after their IUD was removed. My sister, 8 years my senior, got pregnant about 2 months after hers was removed. After mine was removed my doctor looked at me and said, "You are now fertile my friend." So this was it, no adjustment period off of birth control. I was more than ready for this. My sister was getting married in January and I thought, "I might be pregnant at her wedding!"

No dice. My brother was getting married in April and I told myself, I'll definitely be pregnant by his wedding. I wasn't. Then I set my sights on our family beach trip, there is no way I won't be pregnant. My period came during that trip. In that time I took countless home pregnancy tests, because every month I convinced myself that I was, and they all came up negative. I wanted it so bad that it hurt. I waited what felt like forever just to try again, and struggling to get pregnant wasn't part of the plan.

After 6 months Aaron and I started trying more aggressively, taking more calculated action. I read tips on how to increase your chances. Everything I read that decreases your fertility weren't issues for us. Through it all my heart was on a roller coaster. My hopes would slowly build and click higher and higher, but the ascent was long and I just had to wait for it. And then my period would come and I would crash down the other side faster than the speed of light. It would take me days to pick up the pieces of my heart. I didn't know why it was happening, we already had a baby, why was it so difficult this time?

Last month I went to the doctor. I had 10 period cycles in 9 months, and through some temperature tracking I thought I noticed a serious discrepancy in my cycle. As I presented my doctor with all of the necessary information, he concluded that the issue I came in for, wasn't actually an issue at all. But, since it had been close to a year that he would send both Aaron and I to get further testing done.

After some awkward and semi-invasive procedures, we had our answer. We had a fertility issue.

We did our research and were referred to a specialist. We decided to take a month off of trying, just to let things sink in and calm down.

We learned that our chances are less than normal. But there is a definite possibility that we could get pregnant, we would just have to put ourselves in the best circumstances and keep our fingers tightly crossed. Things could be done to improve our chances, but there were no guarantees that the process would fix the problem. During this month off I didn't allow myself to think about anything baby or pregnancy related. I got a few comments and elbow nudges, "Grace is great with my baby, I think she's trying to tell you something." (wink wink, nudge nudge). And it rolled right off my back, and I smiled because it felt good not to have it sting, because I knew she had no idea what was going on. I didn't think about it until around the time my period was due, then I let all of it seep in. The hope, the curiosity, the "people totally get pregnant even when their chances are slim when they aren't trying for it." And right on time, my period arrived. It was the first time in 11 cycles and 10 months that I didn't cry. I was expecting it, in fact, willing it to come. I thought to myself, "Wow, I must be growing up."

So, today Aaron and I stand on the starting line for a race in which we don't know the length. We don't know if we're property equipped for the terrain, we don't know how to pace ourselves, we don't know if there will even be a finish line. But we're standing here ready to fight, ready to run until our bodies give out, ready to endure to the bitter end because we know it is a cause worth fighting for. We might not get to choose when we have our kids, but we can darn well choose to fight like heck for them.

Until then, I will hold and love and swoon over the little miracle that I already do have. Because I know that she was meant for us, however she got here. I am so grateful for that little girl.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Boom Goes the Dynamite

Aaron had called me last night on his way home from work. We were in the midst of a serious conversation about Grace. Grace is a pretty awesome little gal, but is definitely capable of doing some not-so-awesome things. As we were talking I could see lightening flashing outside our windows. The thunder rolled in shortly thereafter. I paused briefly in my conversation with Aaron, "Is it raining there yet? It just started pouring here." The lightening seemed close and the thunder was loud. Suddenly I heard an extremely loud crack, so loud that my bones shook, and it seemed to happen right above my head. "Oh my gosh Aaron, that was so loud!" 30 seconds later alarms started going off in my apartment. "Aaron, do you here those? What is going on?!" I got off the phone with Aaron to check on Grace. The alarms went off sporadically for a minute or two. Through it all, amazingly, Grace remained asleep.

I could hear sirens outside and figured with the crazy storm that people might be getting in accidents thus summoning ambulances left and right. I was shocked to learn that the sirens whaled and came to a stop right outside of our apartment. The camera on my phone came in handy while performing more covert ops as I pretended I wasn't a nosing rubber-necker, when I totally was.
Aaron got home while the firemen were making their rounds through the building. It turns out the crack that I heard earlier was lightening hitting the roof. Alarms were going off all throughout our building.

While we were all safe, and most everything in our apartment was fine. Our modem, unfortunately, was our only casualty. No matter what we did, we couldn't get it to turn back on.

I'm posting this from the functioning internet at my sisters house. I see a long phone conversation with AT&T, a trip to best buy, and another modem set up in my near future.

We'll be out of commission for a little while. Dang it.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

And Party We Did

On the first rainy day in October, my sister Stacey celebrated her birthday. So we partied.
After a hearty meal of Tikka Masala, Curry, Naan, and corndogs for the kiddos, we kicked back and relaxed.
Maybe the adults kicked back and relaxed while the youngins played.
Stacey skyped with our parents back in Virginia. Many a "Happy Birthday!" was shared.
And we lit the candles on Stacey's birthday pie. Seriously, you need to try Tootie's Chocolate Heavenly Pie. Beats the pants off of cake any day of the week,
She made a wish.
And she blew out the candles. You turned 25 again this year, right Stace? ;)
In celebration we ate too much, talked to much, and stayed up way too late. And the party did not end there.
While the men worked (or were in preschool), the ladies spent that money for a birthday/girls day pedicure party. If you squint really hard you can see Grace in the fourth seat.
Although a pedicure was offered to her, Sister friend, screamed "Ow, ow ow!!" anytime someone even looked at her toes. No pedicure for her.
The results were lovely.
Did you think it was over? That isn't how we roll 'round these parts. Lunch at Costa Vida also had to take place.
We talked on the way there, and through lunch, and on the way home and talked so much that we didn't realize that we were driving the wrong way. We got completely lost and with Taylor needing to be picked up from preschool and the clock ticking away, we participated in some covert ops that may or may not have involved some screeching turns and a few breakages of the speed limit (just a few). We rolled up smoking tires and all to the preschool and played it off like it ain't no thang. Because that, my friends, is how we roll.

And we sent Stacey's birthday out with a bang.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Sleeping Debacle

Sleeping is not my strong suit. Let me rephrase that. Falling asleep is not my strong suit. Once I'm asleep I'm golden. I'll fall into the deepest depths of sleep, so much so that a train could drive through the walls of my apartment right by my face, blare its train whistle, and I wouldn't even be phased.

But falling asleep, not the easiest for me. It takes, at the very least, 30 minutes for me to fall asleep. For the first 15 my mind races and as much as I try to shut my eyes, they pop open and I stare at the dark grey color of my ceiling wishing I could just drift to sleep. The last 15 are a bit fuzzier. My eyelids feel a little heavy, its easier to keep my eyes closed, and my spinning mind slows just enough for me to conk out at minute 30.

Unfortunately, if I watch an exciting show, or one that was particularly dramatic (cough...the bachelorette...cough), or if I have a caffeine full (read: DDP) soda at dinner time, it takes a couple hours to fall asleep.

I didn't realize I was such a high maintenance until recently, and as I looked back on my childhood, a lot of the puzzle pieces fell neatly into place. At a young age I struggled with slumber parties. I loved the activities and the excitement of the party, staying up late, laughing, chatting, snuggling in a sleeping bag on the living room floor; but when the clock struck a late hour and everyone drifted to sleep, I laid awake. My mind wouldn't turn off. I felt alone and scared, and the more I wished myself to sleep the more I couldn't sleep. I ended up in tears, and my parents ended up driving to (insert name of friend here)'s house and picking me up. Bless those friends parents for being so understanding. I just didn't (and don't) get tired at night.

I would classify myself as a Night Owl and Champion Sleeper-Inner (very technical term). And since I only feel tired from 2:00pm-4:30pm, I'm a pretty awesome napper, which always leads to late nights.

Last weekend was a busy one for us, and Grace and I have fallen into bad habits of unintentional late nights and late, late, mornings. She and I were cut from the same cloth, sister friend knows how to sleep in, and I totally dig that. But now, just like last night, its 1:45am and I'm wide awake...and therefore blogging.

I know what I need to do. It involves an alarm clock, a serious amount of will-power, and waking a sleeping baby. But maybe out of sheer inner force I can get her back on track, and therefore start going to bed before midnight.

Keep your fingers crossed for a sister who needs to sleep.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Pumpkin Patch

Remember how I said that the skies were clear in Texas? Well, you can call me a liar. The very next day the clouds rolled in thick. But clouds can't put a damper on my October Festive Spirit and as a group we forged ahead with our pumpkin patch excursion. 

"Gracie, smile!" You really can't teach poses like this, they just come naturally.
Much better
While my friends, both of whom have two children, calmly kept their children in check, "Don't go too far sweetie, stay by Mommy," and their children listened and heeded their counsel, my child was taking off in an all out sprint down rows of pumpkins. All the while I am screaming, "GRRRAACCEE!!! DON'T GO TOO FARR," as I'm sprinting after her.
While my uncooperative child was running aimlessly, I snapped pictures of Sadie who patiently smiled while I clicked away.
Grace took a brief pause to pose for a picture with Bella.
And then she was off, yet again, to tackle every single attraction at warp speed. Mind you, the ladies I came with were methodically stopping and savoring every moment as their children played calmly
I hate to admit that on more than one occasion I found myself frantically saying "Oh my gosh! Where is Grace?!"
You know those frantic Moms that seem to have zero control of their child, yeah, that was me.
But she was having the time of her life, and that was the whole point of going. So I sucked it up and pretended like the chaos was all part of my master pumpkin patch plan.
And then we sat down, and I was so grateful because I was tired, so very tired.
But we had a good old time. And despite the wind, and the dust, and the exhaustion, we enjoyed ourselves.
And you better believe that we napped like champions. Olympic Gold Medal Napping Champions.

Next pumpkin patch excursion I'm taking Aaron so we can double team Grace.