Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ketchup...

or catch up, if you will. I can't believe it's been 5 months. Before I get to my excuses, I'll just say hello. I've loved reading all your posts, about new babies, new jobs, pregnancies. It's all wonderfully exciting, so keep it coming.

So, to my two sweetest, most adorable excuses ever...




Dragonfly is still a big boy... he is over 23 pounds and almost 31 inches at 9 months, which is 99th percentile in weight and 99th in height. He is wearing 18 month clothes and looks like he could easily be at least one. He sits up and is getting up on his hands and knees to crawl, but hasn't yet made any forward progress yet. Dragonfly loves his forays into the world of solid food, but still nurses a few times a day. He is sweet and loves to cuddle and is also very sensitive. I try to be very mindful of this when I talk sternly to Love Bug. If I'm not careful, just a small change in my tone of voice sends him into tears. But as sensitive as he is emotionally, he is still extremely physically strong and sturdy. I imagine myself hugging my teddy bear of a boy one day, who surely, with the doctors quick calculations, will be easily 6'3" or 6'4", maybe more.


Love Bug is only a few pounds more than Dragonfly, despite their 23 month age difference! She is wild and outgoing, and loves to run, climb, jump, and dance... especially DANCE. She isn't sensitive in any sense of the word, laughing off discipline and just jumping up from hard falls before I can even express worry. Love Bug also doesn't have a bit of jealousy in her. I didn't know what to expect when it came to having a younger brother, but she just adores him. She thrills in making him laugh and is eager to share her toys and hug him. It warms my heart. Although I've always been cautious about TV and movie watching, she just insists on watching High School Musical once a week and now she's into the movie soundtrack from Mamma Mia. Love Bug walks around the house singing 'Dancing Queen' most of the time. I've given up on her learning numbers and letters for now... she just isn't interested. Most of her life revolves around physical activity anyway, so why fight it. And with college costs going up each day, maybe have all my kids on athletic scholarships isn't a bad thing to push! :-) We've actually been working on throwing and catching, since it's something she loves to do. She met some lacrosse players recently (we attend a lot of sporting events) and I couldn't believe how well she could use the sticks and actually caught the ball one time and threw it back. This is especially pleasing because we'll eventually end up at our place back in Maryland (just outside of Annapolis) and lacrosse is everything there!

I also just spent 6 weeks in the US. My husband had to go to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for work and I decided to go home to visit my Mom, rather than deal with two kids alone for that long. It was wonderful to see her and we were able to visit most of our family, as well as my husband's, but it was hard to be away from B for so long. I kept busy with trips to the zoo, aquarium, and visits to see old friends, and my cousin sent me the 'Twilight' series, since she had been telling me for months to read it. I did and I loved it. Of course, it made me miss my husband even more. Reading such a sweet love story, with a sensitive guy like Edward, made me miss my sensitive husband and reminded me of what a sweet love story we have. We've had a few heart to hearts now that we're all home, and he's decided to skip these long trips for the next few years and take a few short ones instead. I understand his reasons for the long trip this year, and last year to India, but I think he agrees that it's just too hard to be apart that long. He misses the kids, eats terribly, and doesn't sleep well without me there, so it wasn't hard to convince him.



Other excuses... another one could be my new found desire to take care of myself sometimes too. I woke up on my thirtieth birthday feeling pretty bummed, but didn't know yet what I could do to change that. After my husband had a fantastic surprise party for me and gave me a new guitar, I realized what I wanted. So I made a list of 30 things (since I was turning 30) that I would like to accomplish before I turn 31. Some things have already been accomplished, like getting involved in charity work and learning how to bake bread like my mother-in-law. Some things aren't even close, like learning to like tomatoes. I tried, really I did! And learning to snowboard isn't close either, mainly due to the nice weather. My husband has promised a weeks worth of lessons when we go skiing this winter, and I plan to take him up on that. As much as I love to ski, I will gladly skip it to finally snowboard... I've been dreaming about this for years.

Most things on my list (about 23 of them) are in progress. One is getting rid of all my thyroid/baby weight. I'm happy to report that I've lost 31 pounds, and have another 22 to lose. I owe it all to jazzercise and Weight Watchers. I also am taking guitar lessons and practicing piano (I play both, but want to be much better) and I'm taking Italian as well. And I'm slowly getting more involved at church and praying more.

So, most of the time, when I'm not trying to be a good wife and mother, I'm working on myself and my 'list'. I hope you all take time to be good to yourself. Blogging still isn't enough of a priority to promise I'll update soon, but I'll come back when I can. Maybe when I finish my 30 things? We'll see...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Where have I been?

Well, first of all, last Saturday was my 30th birthday! I was treated to a manicure and pedicure by my husband, but that wasn't actually the celebration. It was a way to get me out of the house. While I was gone, about 10 of my girlfriends came over and decorated and prepared food (and helped him with the kids). I came home to a surprise party of about 40 friends! It was so much fun and such a great surprise.

Now that we've been home for about 6 weeks, I've been getting back into a schedule and I'm including a lot more educational activities for Love Bug. She is finally making more connections between English and French, and as a result, both languages have taken huge leaps. She didn't really know any colors or numbers like other kids her age, but now she is finally getting them, and in both languages.

We're also doing more activities outside the house, going on playdates, going to the park. We've gotten more involved in church and I might even join the choir after a few years away- yeah! On top of that, I've gotten involved in Chemo Angels and I'm also doing community service here in Italy.

So, where does this leave blogging? Sadly at the bottom of a very long list. More and more I'm realizing how much fun I have when time with my family is uninterrupted. It's similar to how I don't use a cell phone much. I set aside an hour each morning to send emails before my kids get up and I also make a few phone calls each Sunday- to my brother, aunts, cousins, or close friends. (I also call my Mom every other day.) This is my time to keep in touch, and otherwise, I try to just keep life simple.

Just this week, Love Bug and I were making Valentine's to send to family and friends. We used old gift bags that were a little wrinkled or old, since so many have flowers or hearts- perfect for a Valentine. We cut them out and started decorating with paint, markers, stickers, ribbon. Then, I thought I should share this on my blog (I've been in a funk lately and needed something to post about). I started to take pictures and choreograph our crafting. But it wasn't working. I was taking time away from Love Bug and her activities to do this. (And I would probably take more time away from her to post about it and get it just right.)

I've often thought about posting the funny things that happen to me in Italy or writing about the neat places we travel. But by the time I tell my Mom, laugh about it at dinner with a few friends, and fall into bed, the blog gets neglected again. I keep a travel journal and make photo books, and those are important to me, to keep a hard copy of what we've done in our family.

So, what I'm trying to say, is that I think blogging must go off my schedule. I've mentioned taking some time off before, but now I think it may be more permanent. But I love you guys, my little group of faithful readers, so I know it will be hard to stay away. We'll see how this works with my life and I'll try to stop by once a month until I decide how permanent this is for sure.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Our Christmas...



Welcome to a little tour of our apartment at Christmas... it's about 3 weeks late, but I'm still proud of my decorating. I got it all arranged about two days after we got home, even with two jet-lagged children. This is a view of our foyer and I put up garlands in different doorways all over the house, but I made sure to put one in every doorway of the foyer to make it more festive. You can see far in the background ornaments dangling from the curtain rod. I usually hang ornaments from my chandeliers, but the one in the living room is too low, so I hung them on the curtain rod instead.





Our tree in the living room... it turned out really pretty this year after I found new ribbon to go with the cranberry garland.
















This is a view of the dining room from the living room. I have my red ornaments hanging from the chandelier and my dishes are red with silver snowflakes on them. I even have matching snowflake napkin rings and silver chargers. I'll have to do a close up of the table next year.




These are our stockings... we need to find a better place for them. Any suggestions?









A high school friend's parents always used to put bows on top of all the pictures in their house. So I decided to copy the idea a few years ago and bought 60 bows. I used almost all of them, since we have a lot on our walls, but the effect seems worth it to me!










I put our advent calendar on top of the piano, along with some of my nutcrackers. I have over 70 in my collection and you can see them in different photos- along all the windowsills, on top of the crystal cabinet, and other furniture.









We've bought a White House ornament every year and I love them. I wish you could see it better, but the light and close ups are a difficult combination.









This is "La Belfana"... the witch who brings children gifts here in Italy. I think they must have gotten Halloween and Christmas confused here. She's not too scary in the ornament we bought, but some are just ghoulish. We went to a Christmas market and saw some that shake and cackle, and even a few with sparkling red eyes.









My husband buys me (and now Love Bug since her arrival) a snowflake or star crystal ornament every year. I love all of them, but this one from Waterford is special given the company's struggling financial situation. I hope they can improve and don't have to close. I'd hate to think this is my last ornament from there.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Sorry that I haven't been online, but I can't believe all we've done in just under two weeks!

We've decorated the tree, put up other decorations, sent almost 100 Christmas cards, and gone to Holiday parties. Even more importantly, we made almost 30 dozen cookies to pass out to friends as gifts, wrapped presents and did lots of great stuff witht he kids! We made gingerbread house (see below) and went to Christmas markets. It is so much fun watching the kids discover Christmas. More pictures to come, but a sample for now...



Thursday, December 11, 2008

Prayers for a safe flight...

We're going home tomorrow, so please pray for a safe and easy flight. I hope Love Bug will enjoy some movies and have fun with her Col.or Wond.er Fingerpaints. I hope Dragonfly sleeps a lot. But mostly I hope and pray we get there safely... and so does all our luggage.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Taking Christmas Card Pictures

Well, I thought that having two kids was pretty easy, but that was before I decided to try and take Christmas card pictures! Two-year-olds are generally not known for their cooperation, but Love Bug (I thought) was pretty agreeable and docile. Ahhh, I think I started to cry about 50 times during this process. Here are some lov-er-ly photos from our different attempts:


"Do not attempt to bribe me with cookies, because I'll figure out a way to get them BEFORE I smile!"







"Oh, he's crying so maybe I'll kiss him! That will be a really cute picture!"






"I'm not holding him either!"















And here's a beee-u-tiful one from my Mom's attempts:














Finally, we had success, but only if we held them both for more control! You can see that lovely picture as our new profile pic. I was officially going to boycott being in the pictures, but there was no way around it.

Good luck to all of you in your photo taking adventures!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

We're going home... I think!

My weeks as a medical mystery are finally over. My doctor still wants to double check a few things and has called some experts to consult. Basically, my hypothyroidism is probably linked to some other low hormones and we're working out which ones and when I'll need to start treatment. It's all early stages, nothing needs to be done now, but I'm reading up and trying to avoid becoming a walking experiment in hormone replacement.

The cause of all this mess? Stress... and no one I know is surprised. I'm the most stressed person I know. I'm always trying to do more and fit more in a day. Hence the reason this blog is falling by the wayside. I'm working on eating better and exercising more. I've been getting massages and I'm starting yoga again when we get home. I'm a person who needs yoga to be balanced and normal and I think my medical problems reflect this. Certainly my doctors are fantastic and medicine is important, but I can prevent further damage to my body with meditation and de-stressing activities. I'm also, as much as I hate it, cutting out more and more unnecessary tasks from my life.

The other thing I need? More service to others. I did a lot with my church growing up and then joined a service group in college and have always enjoyed helping others. We tithe to our church and give money to organizations we feel are important, but I want to physically do something instead of throwing money at problems. I love helping others and hope to take the kids so they can learn that this is a good habit in our lives. It forces us to think about others instead of ourselves and really look at the blessings in our life. This will be a challenge in Italy, since I don't speak much Italian, but I'm going to go to my church first and see where I can find more service opportunities from there.


B is back in the US to help us with our trip home and I'm so thankful for him. He is amazing. We went to see his family for Thanksgiving (see the picture at left) and had so much fun. His parents and brother were also so nice to give us some time away to go see my Mom's side of the family and my Dad's side the day after. We also went to see my Granny and Grandparents on our way home and B was so patient with all of my family activities.

Dragonfly is really taking to Daddy in just the time he's been back and Love Bug is, as always, Daddy's girl. We have been doing lots of fun stuff together like the Children's Museum and the Aquarium. As we were driving home from the Aquarium yesterday, we were asking Love Bug to repeat all the things she saw, from jellyfish to coral. When we asked her to say "sharks" she said it so well, my Mom asked her to "say sharks again". Her reply? "Sharks again"! Aren't kids just the best?

Other than that we're counting our blessings and praying for a safe flight one week from today.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

We've had a busy week!

First, the movers came Monday and picked up everything we've bought while we're here to ship it back to Italy. It was a lot- shopping and getting everything in order was a big job. I bought clothes for the kids for the next year and a half. I bought some birthday and Christmas gifts for next year too. I bought sheets and a comforter for Love Bug's "big girl bed" (which were pink and purple princess themed- what a girl!) and got some things for potty training. I also bought all our favorite toiletries and food items, enough to last the rest of our tour in Italy.

So, now you're probably asking... why, Abbey? Why would you subject yourself to three horrible months as a crazy consumer?

1. The shipping was free, arranged by B's job.
2. Clothing, even for children, is three times as much in Italy
3. Most favorite toiletries and food, even if available, are twice as much in Italy.

So, as you can guess, I saved a lot of money. Even shopping major sales, I know how much I've spent on clothing and toiletries in Europe. I've calculated some of what I saved, and trust me, it's very worth it. Plus, this means I will do very little shopping in the next few years, which makes me very happy!

We also said goodbye to our babysitter on Monday. She has been coming over a few times a week, for a few hours, to help me with the kids. Her mother died last weekend, so she had to go home and won't be back until after we leave. Please pray for her, that she has peace and comfort in her mother's passing.

Both kids had a check-up this week as well. Love Bug is 80th percentile in height, and about 70th in weight. Dragonfly is 95th-99th across the board... what a bruiser! Both are completely healthy and doing really well- thank God for all our blessings there.

I had my six week check-up and have healed really well. I've lost 35 pounds so far, but hope to lose about 35 more. I gained 45 during the pregnancy and never lost the extra 20 from Love Bug, so I have some work ahead of me. B had such a great time running the Rome marathon last year, that he planned to do Paris this year, but he's decided to take off one year and postpone it until 2010. What a great husband! This means that he can watch the kids for me, so I can focus on losing the weight I gained over the pregnancies. Let's just hope I have the will power.

I also had more testing to figure out the source of my hypothyroidism. I feel great, so please pray for me that it's nothing!

I've got another busy week ahead, getting ready for our trip to see family during Thanksgiving. We'll be distributing Christmas gifts that week, so I'll need to get all those in order. Then, we'll be heading back to Italy just one week after that. We're having a big Christmas party two weeks after our return, so I'm excited to get home for that. I'll try to check in with your blogs tomorrow and leave some comments when I can!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Happy Birthday Love Bug!


Two years ago today...











Happy 2nd Birthday sweet girl! I love you more than anyone could dream possible.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Some pictures...



Love Bug at the Pumpkin Patch
















Love Bug and Dragonfly (the Princess and Dragon) on Halloween







All decorated for Love Bug's Birthday Party






The party princess with a few friends






Mommy and Love Bug with her beautiful cake!