Thursday, December 29, 2011

George's first Christmas.


I love the word "dude." Depending on the intonation you put on it, it can convey so many meanings. But that only works well verbally, so allow me to expand on my use of the word here in writing. Duuuuuuuude. Picture a little dual eyebrow raising and a little exhale through rounded lips with a little upturn at the corners.

If this was baby's first Christmas, how crazy is it going to be in future years? Our living room needs to be bigger, is what I am saying. And I need to not be nursing a cold at future holidays. And my neighbors need to not throw a party until 4 a.m. on Christmas morning.

But we can totally repeat doing Christmas at our house. This was our first year ever getting to enjoy the holiday in the home where we have been building our family for the past few years, thanks to my generous mother-in-law for cooking the meal. This was also our first year celebrating with both sides of the family in the same place.

And of course, it was our first year with George. Nine and a half months old. Crawling, but not walking. Just beginning to pull up. Capable of ripping off one piece of wrapping paper which then becomes the toy rather than the actual gift we are trying to get him to unwrap. Loves everybody and everything. In other words, the optimal age I would pick for baby's first Christmas (because I have SO. MUCH. EXPERIENCE! with babies at holidays. We've had, like, three whole holidays with him since he was born! Hire me for consultation on planning the timing of your conception/adoption/stork visit!).

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We spent Christmas Eve at my parents' house, hanging out with my eldest nieces before they headed back home to do their own holidays.

George with wrapping paper in front of the Christmas tree.

We learned wrapping paper is awesome.

George tackling wrapping paper.

Like, really awesome.

Three generations on Christmas Eve.

We were reminded what suckers we are for a cute baby.

George and I on Christmas Eve.

I suckered people into taking photos rejoiced in the kindness of my dear family for taking photos of me with my baby.

Family of three at Christmas.

I really ran with that generosity and dragged El Hub in the action.

Child playing at our feet.

We pretended we are a Norman Rockwell painting (I doubt my skirt would fly in that time period, though).

Rob and I laughing up an inappropriate storm.

Rob and I laughed really, really hard about inappropriate things. Seriously. Some things don't belong on the internet.

Michelle and George in front of the Christmas tree.

My nieces got in on the portrait-with-George action.

Cassandra and George in front of the Christmas tree.

I am related to such pretty people. Don't you want to be able to pull off a bob like that?


We do over-accessorize sometimes, though. But it is so fun.

George's first Christmas gift.

George unwrapped his first ever Christmas present, courtesy of his Mammaw. I am going to call my mother when he figures out how to make that thing laugh maniacally, and I am going to make her listen to it. Every day. And then she is going to stop taking my calls, and I will suffer alone until I wise up and take the batteries out. Also, I am totally in love with George's distal pointing in this photo. Go, George's developmental milestones, go!

Bows in his hair.

The girls decorated George. I think they wanted me to have a girl.

The evening was a pretty good warm-up for the actual Christmas day. It was nice to know that George could kinda-sorta-in-a-way rip off wrapping paper, since we learned way back at the baby shower that it feels kind of strange to have everyone stare at you while you open baby gifts. Please stare at this beautiful baby I birthed instead, thank you.

What's this? George's first Christmas ornament.

George's first gift? From his Nana, his very first Christmas ornament, all the way from London. Take my word that it's a silver metal teddy bear, and what you are looking at is George very intently inspecting the bear's butt. Babies are weird.

All for me?

Do you see what I mean about the size of our living room? The big box on the right ended up being a PlasmaCar, which I confess El Hub has had more fun with than George so far. (Go. Go read the reviews. You will want one.)

Our baby-safe Christmas tree.

Holiday Decorating Tip: I decorated our tree with the holiday cards we received from our friends and family. I wanted a free, baby-safe alternative to our existing ornaments with metal hooks since our cats love knocking stuff out of the tree. The result was colorful and cheery and reminded me how lucky we are to have such wonderful people in our lives.

George and me on Christmas morning.

Suckered someone else into taking photos of me and the butternut.


We ate. So much. My family raved about my mother-in-law's cooking.


A kiddie table! In our house! Seriously, our house feels that much more like a home after this Christmas.

A busy Christmas afternoon.

Gift unwrapping in action.


More gift unwrapping.


And toy playing.


And game playing.


And cleaning up.

So. Dude. Dude. I loved it. It was awesome. I can only imagine how much more fun it will become in the future as George grows and he "gets" it more. But give me about a year to recover before the next one, okay? The living room especially, it still looks like a toy bomb hit it.

(Shhhh, don't remind me that George's first birthday is in a few months.)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy holidays, from us to you.

George with Christmas lights, part 2.

I have seen this concept everywhere lately (cough cough, Pinterest and Facebook), and I thought it would be an interesting lighting challenge. Especially with a nine-month-old who doesn't like to sit still. I think I'll try again tomorrow night, shooting in manual as opposed to aperture priority. George and I had fun though, and that was the goal.

George with Christmas lights, part 1.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy belated birthday, Dad.

Happy birthday, Dad.

Don't worry. I totally wished my dad a happy birthday on his actual birthday a couple of days ago. I even let him snuggle with George, THAT is how wonderful and gracious a daughter I am. Snuggling with George is like frolicking through a field of daisies without suffering from seasonal allergies, in case you were wondering how well my son snuggles.

I have a goal. Over the next year, I would like to make time to sit down with my dad and listen to his stories. He has told me so many over the years, about where he grew up in New Jersey, his time in the Marines, what it was like to travel the world as a hotshot Vice-President of Marketing for a cutting edge computer company, what life has been like since his strokes and marrying my mom in the seventies. I want to not only listen to his stories, but to write them down.

Life has had its moments with my dad, and as a result he does not have many material objects from his life prior to his late thirties. It makes me want to talk to him even more about the few items we do have, to hear their background and learn about their importance to him. So maybe I will be taking a few photos as well.

When I was growing up, my dad was always and without fail interested in my day. How was school? How was that one test I was dreading? Did I have more thoughts on what I wanted to major in when I went to college? (I'm pretty sure he started asking me that one when I was about seven. My parents' strategy: NEVER LET COLLEGE BE MERELY OPTION. It worked. Evidence: Graduate degree, aka they raised an overachiever.) We still talk on the phone almost every day of the week, and my dad knows more about my life than some of my friends' do. I think we are long overdue for me to do some listening.

Love you, Dad.

Dad and George

Monday, December 19, 2011

The eyes play tricks.

My boys.

El Hub decided to wake me up this morning by placing a thrashing baby whose nails badly need to be clipped in bed next to me. A few weeks ago, I asked him not to shave over the holidays (he usually only shaves on Mondays) so I can get to enjoy his beard, which he sadly dislikes growing out, especially while he is working.

Victoria: ...mmrrmmmm...
El Hub: Time to wake up!
George: *thrash*
Victoria: *mumble mumble* Mondays are stupid.
George: *flail*
Victoria: Did you at least not shave today?
El Hub: Oh, I totally shaved.
Victoria: NOOOOOOOOOOoooooooo whyyyyyyyyy you're only working one day this week. *buries face in pillow to dramatically mourn a week's worth of facial hair growth*
George: *smash*
El Hub: You are so blind without your glasses. *grabs my hand, rubs it against his unshaven face*
Victoria: YAY!
El Hub: I also laughed at you but you couldn't see that either.
George: *bite*

I am okay with that. Well, the laughing at me. The biting, not so much a fan, especially now that kiddo has three teeth.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Nine months.

Nine months.

Dear Mister George,

A big title for a big boy. And this was definitely a big month for you.

Your props this month are too eensy teensy to show up in this photo, but I promise, they are there - you have three little teeth in your mouth. The two bottom teeth showed up a few weeks ago, and then just today at your nine month pediatrician appointment, your dad noticed a third tooth poking through on the top. Ninja tooth! Or...we have become so accustomed to your constant teething behavior, we kind of gave up on actually expecting another tooth to pop through.

But your dad knew those top teeth were coming soon, thanks to some x-rays you had earlier this week when we were worried you might have swallowed Momma's pendant. You loved gnawing on that thing, and it is getting harder and harder to keep an eye on you these days.

Crawling is one of the reasons you are more wily now. You are surprisingly fast considering you are still army crawling rather than getting up on all fours. Instead of carrying you from room to room, I talk to you and encourage you to follow me. You are also super clingy as of late, so you happily follow me anywhere.

Smarts, you have them. This month you began consistently giving kisses when asked (either when we say "Kisses!" or making a "mwah!" sound), could play "How big is George? So big!" over FaceTime with your Mammaw, and even waved hello to someone for the first time. You have been clapping your hands for ages, and seem to understand that it should be done when something exciting happens.

You have outgrown a few items this month - your infant carrier car seat, your kitchen sink tub, and the highest setting on your crib mattress. Now you are in a convertible carrier, a duck tub in the real tub, and the lowest setting in the crib. You are growing in every way.

Another holiday has passed - Thanksgiving! Christmas isn't far behind. You went to two turkey dinners, but your particular meals were still our George-safe, dairy- and soy-free options. We have been experimenting with your bottles, trying to see if you will drink larger quantities less frequently so we have more time between them to work on solids. This is what you have taught me about babies - parents are constantly either trying to get them to eat or sleep.

Knock on wood, but you are a great little sleeper. We have been working on consistency with your naps for months, and finally finally finally there is predictability. You are awake two hours in the morning, three hours in the afternoon, and then a few hours in the evening until you go to bed at eight. I am more grateful than I can say. Those early months where you would stay awake for 12 hour stretches are behind us...for now.

You are growing up, kiddo. Someday you will be a child who legitimately stays up for 12 hours during the day without having epic meltdowns. When I look at your face, more and more I see the little boy you are becoming. I absolutely love getting to know you ever day. Thank you for letting me.


Missus Momma

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Family of three.

Whip it! Whip it good.

Free trees at Leu Gardens 50th anniversary.

George on the green grass.

Graduated to the duck tub.

Christmas arrives a little early.

George is styling in his shades thanks to Auntie @just_kelly.


Bye bye, infant carrier.

Found you!

George at SEA Thai wondering where his food is.

Lowering George's crib mattress.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The things we lose.

I feel like I should write a disclaimer. That this is about losing an inanimate object. One that wouldn't mean much to anyone else, but that causes me to grieve.

My necklace.

My relic pendant is gone. It was a Padre Pio da Pietrelcina Capp religious medal, given to me many years before he was even canonized as a saint. I received it from my mother many years ago, after what was a frightening surgery for my then 13-year-old self, when the best way she could think to show me the depths of her feelings was to give me a little piece of her and her Catholic faith. I wore it to all the other surgeries, scary medical appointments, job interviews, important tests, and big moments when I wanted to remember faith and my mother's love. Years ago I wrote here about how it was my "something old" for our wedding, pinned into the lining of my dress. I later wrote again expanding on my feelings for the pendant, calling it a talisman. I wore it when I gave birth to George. I have worn it to all his scary medical appointments.

If my family was safe, it was the one thing I would have grabbed in a fire.

Relic on a past birthday.

The relic on a past birthday.

I was wearing it while I was out, and it went missing while I was out. The clasp on my necklace wasn't even broken, just open. I have printed photos, offered rewards, sorted through trash (I hope whoever used that pregnancy test at Target wanted that negative result), crawled on the ground, and cried to store employees. We took George to the after-hours pediatrician, since he liked to chew on the pendant (as years of babies in my life have done), just to be certain he didn't swallow it. Thank Padre Pio, he did not.

Relic worn as I gave birth.

The relic worn when I gave birth to George.

I scoured the internet last night for hours, trying to find one like it. In those hours of pouring over Google images, eBay, etsy, religious medal dealer websites, and thinking up different permutations of "Padre Pio medal" or "relic" or "charm," I only found one just like mine in two places. A blogger found one at a flea market last year and then turned it into part of a charm necklace commemorating, interestingly enough, her own mother. I sent her an e-mail before seeing the second post wondering if she would ever part with it, but after seeing it, it is hard for me to have hope that she would be able to do so. The only other place is on the "Sold" section of an obscure vintage jewelry website. They have a voicemail and an e-mail waiting from me as well. That's it. On all of the internet, just two like mine. I am trying not to have hope, because hope hurts.

Relic pinned inside my wedding dress.

The relic pinned inside my wedding dress.

My husband asked me if I really want a different one, if it would be the same. Of course it would not be the same. I could only hope it helps fill the hole. And that when I looked at it and touched it while it hangs around my neck, that I would remember everything I want to remember. I realize this is a lot to expect from an object. But I think this is why we created the word talisman. We have the amazing ability to assign meaning and memories to tangible items. When I look at my future, it can be painfully uncertain at times. But I pictured myself wearing that necklace every day until the day I died, and hopefully wearing it when I died as well. That seems like a good time for thinking of faith and love.

The relic a few weeks ago.

The last photo of me wearing the relic necklace.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Newsflash: WE HAVE A TOOTH.

Newsflash: WE HAVE A TOOTH.

Eight months and two days old, and George's first tooth has officially made its appearance. He did not have it this morning when he was gnawing on my finger, but I sure noticed something sharp on his bottom right when he was gnawing away again after he woke up from his morning nap. I don't think I have been so excited about something tooth-related since several years ago when they came out with those Crest whitening strips.