Sunday, November 23, 2014

E.J.'s Eyes

Since he was born, I have been saying that E.J. has "dark" eyes. I have been hesitant to assign a color to them because they have seemed to change day-to-day, or even moment-to-moment as the light changes. They certainly were never baby blue like his sister's, though sometimes they looked like maybe there was a hint of deep blue in there. Sometimes I see flecks of green, sometimes they look grey, and lately I've been see more and more of his father's handsome brown in those sweet baby eyes.

We feel fairly confident that ultimately, he'll end up with brown eyes like his daddy, but in the meantime, I have been trying desperately to capture those eyes as they are now accurately in a photograph. This one is the closest I've come so far.

Handsome little fellow, isn't he?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ellie Couture

One of our great sources of smiles these days is watching Ellie dress herself up. For the most part, we're pretty willing to indulge her fashion choices, even on days when we leave the house, because, why not? Unless I have something specific she needs to wear or something she's chosen is too impractical, why not let the girl have some say in her outfits?

The result, of course, is a little girl who looks so very TODDLER so much of the time. The best results come during playtime. This one is far and away my reigning favorite:

She's a patriotic superhero Cinderella fairy in a leather jacket. Obviously.

We've been having so much fun documenting Ellie's fashion choices that I couldn't help but start a little fashion blog for her. It's an ongoing work in progress, and who knows how long I'll keep it going because the absolute last thing I need in my life right now is a new project, but hey, let's just see. I just love Ellie's creativity and imagination and I love the way it's reflected in her clothes right now. I love that she's young and innocent enough to still be fearless and just wear whatever makes her feel happy. May she keep that mindset her whole life!

If you'd like to see more of Ellie's style, check it out: Ellie Couture. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Playing Catch-Up

I have had so much to tell you about lately, what with Halloween and various other fun fall activities and such, and now I once again find myself behind on posting about actual daily activities. You know, the day-to-day stuff that happens in between all the big, crazy stuff! So let's catch up a little, shall we?

Let's start with this past weekend. I told you yesterday about Eric's Saturday voyage to Gainesville for the Kappa Phi event, and on Sunday we walked out to San Marco Square for the San Marco Arts Festival. It was a gorgeous day and we had a very nice time admiring the art and checking out some local establishments.

Art festival-ing with the kids!

Happy little hippo

As for other things that have happened in the last month or so...

Both kids had well visits with the pediatrician (2.5 years for Ellie and 4 months for E.J.). Both received a clean bill of health. E.J. also received two shots, from which he recovered miraculously well. Ellie received no shots, which led to a tantrum complete with wailing, "I just want a shoooooot!" Okay, kid. Whatever you say.

Both children mere moments after E.J.'s shots

E.J. found his feet:

So pleased

We hit the playgrounds regularly:

Play time!

We enjoyed the last few days of late sunsets with picnics at the train park:

Pizza picnic!

E.J. endured a pacifier malfunction...:

When pacifiers attack!

...and rocked some great headwear:

Courtesy of cousin Santiago's hand-me-downs

We went to the zoo, because we always go to the zoo:

This girl loves that carousel

We moved E.J. into his crib in his own room at night (but not without a little quality assurance check by Ellie first):

Everything seems to be in order!

Once in the crib, E.J. figured out how to sleep on his side and suck his thumb:

So precious.

I got crafty and made Ellie a ring sling so she could wear her baby doll:

Just like Mama!

We went to Pajama Day at storytime, and E.J. rocked it:

Loves storytime!

Meanwhile, Ellie and Lambie played a game of "Who Wore It Better?:"


I tortured Ellie by treating her to a Disney princesses balloon, because clearly I am the worst:

It was a very traumatic experience.

E.J. suckered us into buying him this Fisher Price Seahorse, because THIS FACE:

How could we resist?

The play mat saw a lot of action...:

Family time!

...and got left in the dust sometimes by this little guy who loves a good scoot these days:

I think he's lost.

We also kept working on tummy time, because CAN THIS KID PLEASE REMEMBER HOW TO ROLL BELLY TO BACK ALREADY.

Achilles helped.

We lit our first fire in our fireplace:


And the kids continued to be the sweetest little people I've ever seen.

Best buds

Not a bad month!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Kappa Phi Epsilon

This past Saturday, Eric drove down to Gainesville for the day to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the beginning of Kappa Phi Epsilon, the Christian fraternity he helped start during our time at the University of Florida.

Ten years already! Hard to believe! In these 10 years, the fraternity has grown from six guys to almost 80 active brothers. They even occupy a 39-bedroom house on campus. Many Kappa Phis have become influential on campus, holding executive roles in on-campus ministries, Student Government and Florida Blue Key. Alumni have earned or are in the process of earning MBAs (including from Wharton), law degrees (including from Georgetown), PhDs (including from MIT), and MD degrees (including from Chicago). And even with all this growth, the organization remains strongly committed to fulfilling its original purpose of providing a Christian alternative to a traditional fraternity.

In order to mark the progress of these 10 years, five of the six of the Alpha class members joined active members and alumni from the subsequent 20 pledge classes this past weekend for dinner, Gator football, BBQ and board meeting. Eric said it was great to be back on campus and to see the growth in the fraternity. He got to spend some time in the house and speak with the men who have helped shape the organization into what it has become. I think there was a little aura of celebrity around him, considering that as a founder, all new pledges have to memorize his name, so there were some "ooooh" moments of recognition when he introduced himself! It sounded like he had a great time and I'm so proud of him for kickstarting something that has really turned into such a positive addition to University of Florida student life. What a great way to leave your mark on your university!

Before the game on Saturday, Eric walked around campus and got to take this picture at the Heisman House! I think it looks pretty natural, don't you? Maybe this is a look into E.J.'s future...

The Kappa Phi house!

Four of the six founders: Josh, Eric, Joey and Gary, ten years later!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Oh, Right. I Remember This.

E.J. first rolled over from back to belly a little over a week ago (on November 9th, if you all want to record that on your calendars at home). Since then, he has really perfected his craft with nonstop practice. If you lay the kid on his back, within minutes, he's rolling. And he's quick about it!

VIDEO: E.J. rolling over! Don't blink; you might miss it!

You might even say he's so good at rolling, he can do it in his sleep.

Actually, you WOULD say just that, because he does. He does roll over in his sleep. Sometimes as regularly as every hour.

Despite having rolled belly to back first, well over a month ago, he somehow seems to have forgotten that that's an option. He also does not care for the idea of sleeping on his belly. So, he rolls in his sleep (especially easy to do by accident considering he prefers to sleep on his side), realizes he's stuck and doesn't like it, wakes up, cries, and requires nursing and cuddling before being put back to bed to do it all over again very soon.

I am one tired mama.

It's funny, isn't it, how easy it is to forget these things from one child to the next. Now that we're in this phase with E.J., I remember clearly going through the same thing with Ellie. In my mind I can go right back to the middle of the night in Hoboken, sitting on the glider ottoman next to her crib, essentially pinning her down on her back until she fell asleep because she, too, was blessed with the "OMG someone just put me on my back, now I must roll" reflex. I had forgotten all about it, but now I can't believe I didn't remember.

I suppose that's sort of the advantage of going through it all again with a second kid, though: the knowledge that this will pass, and in just a matter of months (or at most, a year or two), you will have to be reminded of whatever stressful phase you may currently be in the midst of. In the moment, it feels like it may never end. I remember feeling like Ellie would go to college not knowing how to roll back onto her back in her sleep. Clearly, that is not the case, and in retrospect, the "pin her down so she'll sleep" phase passed so quickly that I didn't even anticipate it the second time around. That doesn't make it any less frustrating (or exhausting) to be back in the thick of it, but the knowledge that it will be short-lived and soon forgotten is reassuring (and also a little sad, if you want to get sappy about it).

In the meantime, though, I could really use a nap.

Monday, November 17, 2014

My Fuzzy Little Guy

Shout-out to all the other toddler moms who know what the title of this blog post is quoting!

My struggles with Ellie's hair have been well-documented. She was one bald little baby for a very long time, and I was forced to put barrettes and bows on hold for months upon months in favor of headbands, to the extent she would allow it. I dealt with regular comments about my cute little "boy," despite the very clearly girly clothes she was wearing. Now her hair is finally growing in, so much so that she probably needs a trim to even things up, but I can't bring myself to cut it, because DUDE. We waited two and a half years for this hair! I may not cut it until she sits on it.

I always joked that it would be just my luck to have a baldy daughter, but my son would have enough hair for a barrette straight out of the womb. Then E.J. was born and hey, guess what? TRUE STORY.

E.J.'s hair has thinned a little since birth, and I suppose in the grand scheme of hair it's a bit sparse, but he still has lots more than his sister did at this age. But that's not even the awesome part about what's atop his sweet little head. The awesome part is that it is the softest, fuzziest stuff AND IT STICKS STRAIGHT UP.

Honestly. Would you get a load of that fuzz?!?! I can hardly stand it. And not only does it look adorable, it is so soft that I have totally busted my husband for rubbing his face in the baby's hair. I don't judge, because I get it. It's just so soft and fluffy. How do you resist?

I sure do love that fuzzy little guy (and his formerly bald sister, too)!

Friday, November 14, 2014

And the Child Grew and Became Strong in Spirit

And the child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him.
- Luke 2:40

On Sunday, September 28, 2014 our Eric James was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Petersburg, Florida - the same church where Eric and I were married in 2007 and Ellie was baptized in 2012. It was an absolutely perfect day! I have been waiting to share the whole thing with you until we had pictures (our go-to Tampa-area photographer, Jason Angelini, photographed the whole event with us), and now we do, so I can't wait to tell you all about E.J.'s big day!

(All pictures courtesy of Jason Angelini Photography unless otherwise noted.)

The day really was perfect from top to bottom. Both kids slept well and woke up happy, and we even had a few minutes to cuddle in bed before starting the getting-ready madness.

I've shared this one before, but I'm sharing it again because it is one of my most favorite pictures of my kids.
(Personal photo)

Like his sister, mother and grandmother before him (among many other members of our clan), E.J. wore our family's heirloom baptism gown. It has been in our family for over 60 years and at least three generations have worn it (possibly a fourth, but we cannot confirm). It was so meaningful to me to see another of my babies wear such a precious family keepsake.

The family baptism gown

We left the house slightly later than I had planned, but we were still in much better shape timing-wise than we were with Ellie's baptism, when we strolled in as the service was underway, problematic because we were the first order of business. This time, we arrived before things actually got started, although there was less pressure anyway because the baptism was in the middle of the service. We arrived, greeted our friends and family who were already there and took our seats at the back of the sanctuary.

The baptismal font, ready for our E.J.!

Ellie sat in the row behind us with my mom, and it should be noted that she was nothing short of a perfect angel during the whole ceremony. She had brought one toy with her and she happily played for some of the time, and the rest was spent sitting on Grammy's lap and sucking her thumb.

Sweet Ellie during church

Ellie playing in the pew

Also angelic: the baptism baby himself. Considering church was starting right when he normally naps, he was amazingly good. He fussed a little bit during the first half of the service, so Eric stood at the back of the sanctuary and held him and that did just the trick.

E.J. and his daddy

Look at that face.

When it was time for the baptism, we grabbed Ellie and moved to the baptismal font at the back of the church. We were joined by E.J.'s godparents: my cousin Molly, and Eric's friend John.

The godparents

And so the baptism was underway. It was a beautiful service, and E.J. was so good. Admittedly, he was a little fussy while the pastor was speaking, and he didn't love the water and blessings, but he was more "mildly inconvenienced" than really mad about anything so we'll go ahead and call that a stellar performance. Ellie was also very good through the whole thing, though she did want to reach down and fuss over E.J. as much as possible.

Admiring our little guy

Ellie just wants to hold his hand!

My mom on video duty

Baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit

Wiped clean

Marked with the cross of Christ

He's not quite as excited as we are!

When the ceremony at the font was finished, we moved up to the front of the church to present E.J. to the congregation.

The newest member of the church!

I have to say, I'm so glad that we found this church "home-away-from-home," if you will. It has been really nice to have a church to keep coming back to for all of these big events for our growing family, in a location that allows our extended family to be a part of our celebrations, too. I fell in love with this church when we were planning our wedding and I'm so pleased it has played such a big part in our married life, too.

Our celebrations at Trinity Lutheran Church: wedding in 2007, Ellie's baptism in 2012, and E.J.'s baptism in 2014

As these things tend to do when you're caught up in the moment, the whole baptism seemed to fly by, and I was very glad my mom recorded it on video for us to watch back later. If you'd like to see the main event yourself, here's the video:

VIDEO: E.J.'s Baptism
(If you can't see the video above but would like to, click here.)

Both children maintained their excellent behavior through the rest of the service, leaving their parents rather impressed. I nursed E.J. after the baptism portion and he slept through the rest of the service, and Ellie just went back to happily hanging out with Grammy.

All worn out from his big moment!
(Personal photo)

Ellie and Grammy

After church we gathered family members and godparents for some posed portraits in the church.



Then, it was off to my dad's house to celebrate! Heather, Eric and I decorated the house the night before with streamers, a banner and some Bible verse signs I made. I also put out the photobook I made of E.J.'s birth and first days for people to flip through.


For lunch, we picked up some Sonny's BBQ and a cake from Publix. My mom also made a delicious cheesecake dip.

Yummy lunch!

Before we really got down to the festivities, I changed E.J. out of his gown and into his party outfit...

Somebody is ready to de-gown!
(Personal photo)

That's better already!
(Personal photo)

(Personal photo)

Cute little shoes!

...and we took a few minutes for some quick family portraits.

Our family! 

Cutie pie 

 Ellie and E.J.

Silly kid!

E.J. also made sure to greet his Nonnie and Gramz, who were unable to make it to the church, but we were very glad to see them at the celebration!

E.J. and his Nonnie

Love these ladies!

E.J. with his great-grandmother

He also had his first official meeting with his Grandpa and Grandma Suellen.

W. Men

E.J. and Grandma Suellen

The rest of the party was pretty casual: just eat and hang out!

Fun times with friends and family!

E.J. made the rounds, as a good guest of honor tends to do, but eventually ended up snoozing in Auntie Kelley's arms. What a doll!

E.J. and Auntie Kelley

So sweet!

Eric also made a lovely toast to thank everyone for coming and for being such an important and special part of our lives. Then, we cut the cake.

His toast was great!

We couldn't resist a cheesy cake-cutting pose!

Speaking of cake, Ellie was just the cutest. She knew we were having cake at the party and she developed serious cake tunnel vision. She climbed right into her high chair as soon as we got to the house and waited patiently (or, you know, relentlessly asked) for her cake. She was not sad when the big cake moment finally came!

At last!

That is one happy girl!

And that was it! Everyone ate and hung out and then slowly our guests said their good-byes. We got things cleaned up, the kids down for (much-needed) naps, then Eric ran off to play a little golf while Heather and I went for mani-pedis. Do we know how to wind down from an exciting morning or what?

It really was such a wonderful day. I am so glad that we have been able to have both our children baptized in our old hometown with our families and friends in attendance. It means so much to us to have so many great people to celebrate our family with. Thank you to all of you who made the day so special for us and for E.J.! We love you!