Friday, May 27, 2011

Annapolis, May 2011

This week Riley, Dean, and I went with my dad to visit my grandparents in Annapolis. It was a quick trip, but so fun to see my grandparents, aunts, and uncles interacting with the kids. Memories always come flooding in when I go back there. As a kid we would spend a week every summer at their house on the Chesapeake (in addition to shorter visits throughout the year). The summer trips were always so special. For several years we went on our own - no parents! At Mumu's house (poor Grandpa always got left out of the title) there were hard rules, but also so many special treats. One of the famous Mumu sayings is "tough!" which was always brought out when anyone was complaining or whining. At Mumu's house you were expected to brush teeth multiple times a day (a hard rule to follow for kids on vacation), wash hands before all meals, bring dishes to the sink, and always say please and thank you. You were also expected to drink your daily root beer float, eat MANY Mumu cookies (to those of you that haven't had them you are missing out), go sailing and eat lots of potato sticks.

Rose perfume, canasta, Disney movies on the floor of the den, rides in the dingy, sailing trips, dodging jelly fish, riding fold-up bikes around the block, trips to the aquarium, naps on the porch, learning to sew, running past the scarey stuffed marlin in the basement, running through the pouring rain with JCPenny's garment bags over our clothes, crabcakes, Mumu cake...need I say more?

It was precious to watch my ailing Mumu play with Riley as she has so many babies. She can make them "talk", laugh, and squeal just by looking at them. Riley was no exception. I loved sitting in the living room and watching them interact. It was magic to have her hold Riley on her lap and see them giggle together. As many know, Mumu is quite sick and sometimes not entirely herself. But in the presence of small children, she is everything I remember her to be. She is my amazing grandmother and it was such a treat to see her in that glow once more.

Update - long overdue

I am embarrassed that I haven't blogged in 5 months. Life has been incredibly busy and time is flying by. Dean is a crazy little boy who loves to learn ("What's that Mommy? What does this mean Mommy?), loves to play outside, and loves to snuggle with his blanket (so much like his Mommy). Riley is growing in leaps and bounds. She is almost crawling now, babbling all day long, and can feed herself little bits of food. The kids together are quite a pair. Some moments they play together, others they have to be separated. It's quite obvious that Riley loves her big brother, but Dean is not quite ready to share all his toys and space with his sister.

We have moved into a new house in Wake Forest and LOVE it. We quickly realized after Riley was born that we needed more space if we wanted to ever have friends and relatives come and see us. With Josh working from home we are free to pick where we live which gave us the freedom to take some time and visit a number of neighboring towns. We were very interested in somewhere that was smaller and a tighter community. Raleigh is a wonderful city, but very anonymous feeling - too many people and too many choices. Wake Forest has been a great place for us and our neighborhood includes wonderful attributes like at-home-parents weekly playgroups, monthly ladies night out, book club, block parties, etc. So great.

We are entering into a new chapter in life. Dean will begin preschool in the fall and ages into all kinds of new activities like swim lessons, parent-kid karate class, and other more independent adventures. The next 6 months is filled with weddings of friends and families. My brother Mark and Josh's brother Joel are getting married this year, bringing fantastic new women into our family. We are only a little over a week away from celebrating our 6th anniversary. Seems like much longer in so many ways, and shorter in others. It's been such an adventure and we await the many more with eager anticipation.

Josh's business is incredibly buys and growing rapidly. He and his brother Zach have joined forces over the last year and quadrupled business. They have a team of dedicated contract employees, not to mention the other family members that are working for them. While my sister-in-law Lauren and I miss our husbands as they travel and toil away, we are SOOOOOO proud of what they have accomplished and the company they are building.

So to sum it up: busy work, busy mom, growing kids, new house, extreme thankfulness for the blessings we've been given.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010 - Wonderfully Simple

(I know I'm biased, but is this not the sweetest thing? He genuinely loves his little sister. What I couldn't get to stay on this blog entry is him singing "Twinkle, twinkle little star" to her while they laid on the couch together right after this. Best Christmas present ever!)

This Christmas was wonderfully simple. Josh has been insanely busy with work and putting in 15 hour days 7 days a week. Christmas came and we got 2 whole days with him. It was wonderful. We played in our pajamas all morning, ate too many sweets, went shopping, napped, and more. Again, it was wonderful. Christmas morning my parents came over in their pajamas and we opened presents while eating Josh's homemade donuts. We played with new toys, watched Christmas movies, napped here and there, ate dinner with more family, and ended the day watching my 2 year old run in the falling snow in his pajamas with carhartt overalls over top and a santa hat on. A wonderfully simple holiday.

Riley asleep before the festivities even began Christmas morning.

Dean pointing out which donut he wants to eat first

Riley has a smile that could make anyone join in. Who couldn't smile at those cheeks!

Wearing her Christmas outfit from Uncle Bill and Aunt Ruth

Dean in the snow Christmas night.

We awoke the next day to over 6 inches of fluffy, white snow. In Erie, PA this would have been normal. In Raleigh, NC this is a treat! It continued to snow most of the day. Josh had to return to work, but Dean and I were able to run around the backyard throwing snowballs for the dogs to catch and making snow angels. We never got out of our pjs that day. A wonderfully simple day.
Our house
Dean cleaning off the cars

I had to teach Dean about "yellow snow"

Hard to walk in rubber boots and carhartts that are 2 sizes too big
Reflections on Christmas 2010
This year my family decided not to exchange gifts, but instead take a weekend trip together in mid-January. At the same time, Josh and I decided not to exchange gifts either. I was very happy to not be searching for gifts for everyone, especially with 2 small children in tow, but I also found that it left me a little "off" this season. I didn't realize how much gift-giving really got me into the spirit of the season. I think I was a little caught off guard by it. Without that search, that anticipation of exchange, I found that Christmas kind of snuck up on me. I put up the decorations, turned on the music, and even made Christmas cookies, but I never really got into it. Those that know me, know that I LOVE Christmas. I've even been dubbed the Christmas Nazi by some family members. Traditions, rituals, routines...these are essential to me in this season. I thought changing the gift-giving would help free me up to enjoy these things more, not realizing that the giving is itself one of the biggest routines. It helped me to really think about family and their individual likes, dislikes, and little quirks. This is a good thing. I'm not saying that gift-giving has to be a $20 present swap or that there should ever be pressure to do so because it's the "ritual" of the holiday. I just think that however we celebrate, the thing to remember is the individuals in our lives - their likes, dislikes, and little quirks - and how blessed we are to have a God that loves us enough to place each of them in our worlds. I love my family and I love my friends. I'm thinking of you all (and thankful that I'm not giving you gifts) and sending my love to you where ever you are.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fall Festivities

10 weeks under my belt and I think I'm flailing a little less. It has been a BUSY ten weeks with many relatives visiting, Josh's business booming (meaning long hours and lots of traveling), seasons changing, and the usual day-to-day craziness that is our lives.

Doesn't Dean look happy? Poor guy had bronchitis.

This Halloween Josh and I took the kids to a "pumpkin patch". This was no ordinary pumpkin patch. Actually, it wasn't a pumpkin patch at all. It was a fall theme park that just happened to be on someone's farm. There were bouncy castles, a petting zoo, huge tunnels through hay, barns with hay 5 feet deep to play in, and 2 story slides on potato sacks. There was a tractor ride that took you to a field where there were hundreds of pumpkins spread out and every person got to pick their own (I guess that justifies calling it a pumpkin patch). We had a great time.

When the actual day came around Dean dressed up as a dinosaur/dragon and went trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, with Jess and Cooper in tow as Batman and Robin. He LOVED the idea of everyone giving him candy. Who wouldn't. Josh and I made sure to ease him into the sugar high capital of the year, by consuming the majority of his earnings ourselves. A sacrifice we took very seriously. The hard part now is getting Dean to understand that you only go trick-or-treating once a year.

We traveled up to Michigan this year for Thanksgiving to be with Josh's family. The original plan was that Dean and Josh would drive up with all our stuff, accompanied by Uncle Zach and Aunt Elizabeth (and Bowser her bulldog of course), while Riley and I flew (we weren't ready to attempt a drive that long with a 2-month-old). Josh ended up traveling all week on business and rather than fly back to NC just to leave that same day to drive 13 hours, he opted to fly directly to Michigan, leaving his brother and sister to drive the 13 hours up with our 2-year-old. Thankfully he is a really good traveler and Uncle Zach and Aunt EB are very patient people!

We had a great week with almost everyone from the immediate family there. Joel's new fiance Catherine and Elizabeth's boyfriend Michael were out of the country and could not attend. They were both greatly missed.

Josh and his Uncle Kim carving the turkeys.

It was SUPER cold most of the time we were there, but that didn't stop Josh, Dean, and Bronwyn from getting out in the kayaks for a spin around the lake.

It was a full house with 8-9 adults (depending on the day), a 2-year-old, a 1-year-old, a newborn, and 4 big dogs. We had great time visiting, playing with the kids, and eating to our hearts content...DAILY. My mother-in-law, Bronwyn, sent my sister-in-law and I off to the masseuse while we were there - a pampering for mothers in need. And the grandparents babysat a few times to let us "kids" go out together and have a few drinks. It was really nice to have that adult time, not to mention all the help with the kids.

One day that everyone seemed to be working or have other plans, my sister-in-law Lauren and me took our 3 small children an hour away to the Ann Arbor Children's Museum. We were optimistic that we could get everyone there, have fun, and back home with no big upsets...and we were RIGHT! It was great fun and 4 out of 5 of us (because I was driving) even managed long naps on the way home! Sadly, we managed the whole day without taking a single picture though .

Dean and my nephew Noah watching the sun rise over the lake.
Noah and Aunt EB's dog Bowser. GG got him pjs with bulldogs on them because they act and look so much alike.

Greatgrandma Barricklow and Riley

Noni and Riley

GG and Riley

Pop and Riley

Aunt EB with Dean and Bowser

With Christmas coming and Josh's business still incredibly busy the chaos of the season seems to be upon us. We managed to get a Christmas tree and put up decorations inside, although our lights for the outside are still in a heap in the living room. Laundry goes undone, floors go unswept, and faces go unwiped, but we're happy and healthy with so much to be thankful for. It's been quite an amazing 11 months and I'm sure this last month of 2010 will not disappoint!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Nighttime with the Barricklows

This is the nightly routine in the Barricklow house:

Bath time - making life easier by bathing them at the same time

Followed by milk on the couch watching Mickey Mouse

I gotta say, I really like our nighttime routine. I am always in PJs at the same time as the kids (7:30pm) and we all get snuggle time on the couch. A good way to end the day.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

1st week with 2 children

It's the end of my first week home with 2 children. I honestly can not complain. I have had it EASY. Not only do I have a doting husband, but my doting brother-in-law Joel and his wonderful girlfriend Catherine were here for the first few days I was home, and my beautiful, loving mother has been here all week. I think I've had a total of 2 hours where it was just me and my children. Tomorrow morning may be a rude awakening!

Both kids are doing so well. Dean, while indifferent most of the time, seems to like his baby sister. He even has bouts of affection coupled with tackling motions and pacis thrust in faces. All in all, a great start for us. A few things seem to baffle the Deanster though: he does not seem to understand why she cries when she's hungry and has taken to imitating her when she does; and he is completely confused as to why she doesn't have a penis and is worried that she's lost it every time she gets a diaper change. Just for good measure he reaches into his diaper to make sure his is still there. He then proceeds to go through the list of people he knows asking if they have a penis. One interesting thing that Josh and I have noticed (and I've heard from others with multiple kids) is that Dean, while perfectly fine around Riley, has been having random tantrums in other areas. None of these tantrums seem directly linked to his sister, but instead seem to be his attempts to grasp at some form of control. For example, he has had outbursts about diaper changes or taking off his diaper that he's never had before, and has been very particular about how things are done while you are with you. The latter we think may be linked to his desire to have your full attention. You can't half-ass it when you have a 2 year old determining every second of play and changing it up when he thinks you aren't paying attention to him. We're both interested to see how the next several weeks go as Dean gets more used to a new routine in the house, and hope to keep a good deal of focus still on Dean so that he continues to feel love and attention from us.

Mommy and Daddy are doing really well. We're getting in the swing of nighttime feedings, a million diapers a day, and the smell of spit up. We are so thankful for such a good first week of sleep. Riley had 2 nights where she wanted to be up most of the night - one of which we dealt with, the other my fantastic mother took care of (a bonus to bottle-feeding, THANK YOU ZIBAH). Other than that it has been a dream of only 2 feedings/night followed fairly quickly with more sleep each time. Yahoo! I'm going to sing praises even though it makes me nervous to think that this could all change tomorrow (or tonight - ah!). Hopefully she'll take after her brother and be down to one feeding a night within a month.

We have had a slew of visitors from near and far: Gigi (Josh's mom), Zibah (my mom), Deeda (my dad), Uncle Joel and Catherine, Aunt EB, Uncle Mark, Aunt V (Veronica), Uncle Jim, a party of extended relatives, neighbors, and more. Riley has performed well and slept through just about all of it. While Aunt V was here she dubbed Riley "Winky" after her somewhat slow eye. Unless Riley really feels that you are worth viewing she tends to prefer to just open her right eye at first, leaving the left eye to follow suite once properly awake. The left eye is getting stronger every day, but until then Winky she will be!