Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Holidays!

I will apologize to all our photo-loving followers right now: we are in KY for the holidays, and I forgot to bring the camera charger (d'oh!) so I have pitifully few photos.

Things have once again been very busy, but this time it's been much more oriented towards the positive. James was mired in the first finals of his law school career for a few weeks, spending 14 hours a day studying, breaking only for meals and an occasional much needed nap. He managed to make it through relatively unscathed, and didn't hit the major burnout stage until just before the last exam. In the middle of all of that, Cadence and I took on the daunting (but ultimately quite rewarding) task of finding us a new permanent home. It took a lot of work, but in the end we managed to secure a gorgeous new home in Hamilton Heights! We're very excited about our new abode, and are very grateful to the many people who helped us to get everything moved into it just in the nick of time...we have hardly done any unpacking and haven't yet finished scrubbing down the floors, so there is much to be done upon our return to the city, but at least everything is in and we can take our time getting it set up and ourselves settled in. It's very exciting to be thinking more about how to decorate the place than whether we'll find a safe home. In any case, we moved and then hit the road for our holiday trip with a lot of weight removed from all our shoulders.

Cadence has been on a grandparent high; her Nai nai came and spent the evening with us just before we left, and since we got down here she has been delighted to get to play with Nana and Papa.  Not to mention how excited she's been to see Kelly and all the critters!!

The holidays kicked into full gear pretty quickly; I celebrated my birthday right after we all arrived, and we had the great fortune to attend some christmas parties within the week.  Cadence got to attend her very first age-specific holiday party this year, when many of her good friends down here gathered for a Toddler Christmas Party! It was also a farewell gathering for our friends Colin and Anya, since they are embarking on their own new adventure, following Dad Steve's new job to Baton Rouge, LA, so it was a very fun but somewhat bittersweet event.  There was face painting and balloons, good friends, lots of good food, gift exchanges, and even a few tears.  We're sad that they won't be here when we come for visits anymore, but are very excited for them as they take on a new chapter in their lives together as we have done; this is a family full of wonderful, talented people who have been through a lot together, and support each other to the end.  I have no doubt that they will be fine, and I am so happy for them and proud of them.  And, since she just announced it on facebook I feel comfortable now declaring for all the web to see: They are expecting a new baby boy in May, and we couldn't be more glad and hopeful for them.  There are no more deserving parents, they are both wonderful and have already proven themselves parents any kid would be lucky to have.  Congratulations, Anya, Steve...the whole family!!

As I mentioned earlier, we have pitifully few photos, but I do have a few to share with you; and thus I bring you one of the season's miracles:  getting six two year olds to sit on a single couch (without being held!) for a photo opportunity!!

And below you'll find a great one taken by Sheryl Hagan-Booth, Hannah's mom, which shamelessly I stole from facebook because...well, just look at it, it's just a fabulous shot.  Thanks, Sheryl!

L-R: Nadia, Mia, Hannah, Kate, Colin and Cadence.  What a great bunch of kids!  I also stole this next shot from Sheryl.  It really makes me understand why people are always saying that Cadence looks like a china doll.

Anyway, we had a great Christmas.  Christmas eve was very productive, and Cadence had a lot of fun going to the Candles & Carols service at the UU church that evening.  It was a fun service, and surprise surprise Cadence managed to steal the show (as usual) when Forrest, a good friend of my Dad's whom Cadie knows, sat on the edge of the stage in front of the congregation to sing a song, and she went right up next to him and danced along to the music.  After that, she danced to every song that was sung, even getting the minister to dance along with her.  She continued to dance, providing musically appropriate rhythms for each tune, even the candle-lit Silent Night at the close of the service, for which she danced a lyrical, slow, soft dance which fully embodies the calm of the song. It was brilliant.  That night, we stayed up late cooking, baking cookies and preparing for the Big Day! Here's a shot of the cookies and milk (an orange craisin ants-on-a-log) that we left for Santa:

The next morning, she woke up to a dazzling array of gifts (see the photo at the top of this post, though that was before Santa came!), and had a grand time discovering all of her new wonders one at a time.  She seemed almost more excited to give out the gifts she'd gotten for everyone else than she did to open her own, but she spent a looooong time with each new thing before moving on to the next, and that was almost always at great urging from the rest of the family, who were a bit more concerned with finishing the unwrapping with enough time to clean and finish cooking before the Minister came over for christmas dinner...

It ended up working out perfectly, though, and everyone seemed happy.  Kelly had a bright red car in the front yard with a big ole bow on the front (granted, it's the car she helped mom pick out over the summer, which they've both been , Cadence got her Ice Skates and Princess clothes (along with books galore, my mom's old cooking set from when she and her siblings were little, my collection of plastic dogs, puzzles, ducks, movies...) and a highlight for me was when James opened his gift and actually squealed...he will deny this, but I have witnesses.  I was going to post a video of it, but unfortunately the videocamera didn't get plugged in, so it died before the pivetol moment.  Ah well, it's a great memory; it was the Kitchen Aid mixer he's wanted since we got married.  I see lots of yummy breads and pastas in our future!

Cadence models her new Princess Clothes on Christmas morning.  She was a happy kid!

Nana and Baba listen as I read "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" to Cadence on Christmas morning.

We had a wonderful meal, topped off with something that is likely to become a new tradition: New Orleans style bread was AMAZING. Cadence went back to church with Nana that evening, and we all finished the day off with a movie together. All in all, it was a pretty great day.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that we also spent some time baking, building, and decorating a gingerbread house! Here are a few pictures of the finished product. It was a team effort, no one of us had creative control, so the end result was a delightfully haphazard candy home, complete with:

Some standard candy decor,

Some more Avante-Garde designs,

Family graveyard out front with a cross with an apple on it (there was a serpent to go along with it, but a cat ate it. Not kidding. Gingerbread serpent actually was eaten by a cat And not the one on the roof.), and:

A dinosaur with a dancing cane!

Happy Holidays, all!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

20 Weeks!


Yesterday we had our 20 week full fetal anatomy scan. It was so awesome! It's amazing how much the technology has changed even since this point in my pregnancy with Cadence...3D technology existed at that point, but was a several thousand dollar specialty service. Evidently it is now standard procedure...

Everything looks good, in fact the doctor walked into the room after reviewing everything and told us that he kind of had nothing to say because everything looked perfect. That's always nice to hear!

We elected not to find out the sex of the baby this time we won't know if it's a boy or a girl until he or she arrives in April. It's kind of exciting to have such a big unknown...and also puts the pressure on for us to actually find two names we like...Boy's names have proven difficult for us to come up with and agree on. But rest assured, we won't let our little one go nameless!!

Anyway, here's what you all want to see anyway: The Pictures!! Aren't they kind of amazing?? You can already tell that this baby, like his/her sister, has their Baba's nose!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Dear Cadence, month 29

Dear Cadence,

My what a thoughtfully talkative little lady you have become! People ask me all the time how old you are, and can't believe it when I answer that you're only 2. You are extraordinarily articulate, and, as has been pointed out of numerous occasions now, you are ahead of many adults in that you seem to actually think about what you're trying to communicate. If someone doesn't understand something you've said, instead of merely repeating the same thing on into infinity you'll take a moment to think about how to rephrase it in hopes of making yourself clearer. 9 times out of 10, you are able to successfully make yourself understood, and truthfully I generally forget that you're 'supposed' to be too young to be listened to. You have a lot to say, and most of it is very worth hearing.

(though you do occasionally prattle off in gibberish, and which you call "just talking", but even that is fun to hear, if only because it's cute.)

Want some examples of the conversations that show how aware of the world you are, and how much thought you put into what you say? How about this one, the day after you and I baked some chocolate chip cookies together, and you were enjoying the fruits (sugars?) of your labor: You started the conversation by reminding me that "You and I made the cookies, and you put them in the oven!" but then went on, as you enjoyed the cookie, to analyze that "There is sugar all over this cookie! I can taste it. The Brown sugar, but not the white sugar."

Or this one, when I took a bite of annie's:
"Now she can have annie's, Too!!"
"You mean the baby?"
"Uh-huh. if you eat it, then the baby can eat it too."

Or, perhaps most impressively, this one: "when the baby comes she'll be little and you'll have to hold her. You won't be able to carry me so much anymore, 'cause I'll be a big girl."

One thing you did tend to repeat ad nauseam at the beginning of this month was "When I'm bigger, I can eat peanut butter?" and really, I think this was more to keep tabs on the situation, continually checking in with it. You developed a bit of a peanut butter obsession, I think because with the kitchen being open to the living room as it is here, less of our food prep escapes you, and you've watched Baba prepare himself many peanut butter sandwiches to take to class. Due to my own food allergies, we've been holding off on exposing you to the major known allergens, mostly as a precaution since you, thankfully, don't seem to display any allergic tendencies.

We had been planning on introducing peanuts only after your third birthday, however, in light of your obsession, we decided to look at the reality of that a bit more. Upon realizing that you had actually been accidentally exposed to it twice (that we know of), and knowing that it's usually the second exposure that will tell you if there is going to be an adverse reaction, and taking into account your lack of said allergic tendencies...We weighed the odds, and decided that we could go ahead and let you try some, as long as it was done safely.

With the benadryl and phone on hand, I let you taste a fingeritp-full of peanut butter one afternoon, and kept checking in with you about how you felt, which I think amused you more than anything, and then the next day we let you finish the last quarter of Baba's sandwich, and again obsessively watched...and thankfully, there was nothing but giggles and dances and declarations of how much you loved it. YAY!

You are so stunningly grown up sometimes, Cadence. I realized I totally forgot to write about how, back when we had hour long subway rides every day, you'd begun to dabble in basic addition and'd ask how many stops we had left, I'd say seven, and after the next stop I'd ask you how many we had now, since we had seven and were now taking one picked it up remarkably fast, and even then did addition to figure out how many stops we'd already passed (ie this stop plus the five we'd passed since the question first arose is six!) and I began to fear for my ability to help you with your homework when you're older...Have I mentioned yet that you'll probably be best served by asking Baba for help on your math homework? My brain just doesn't work that way. Never has, neither does your Papa...I get it from him, you must get your math-brain from your baba, too. And this was all like three months ago. Aia!

You're also grown up enough to call us out when you catch us not following our own rules. Like yesterday when you saw Baba go into the bedroom with the rice crispy treat (which you made!) he was eating, and you shouted for him, "No food in the bedroom Baba!" and made sure he came back out with it. Or when we were in Connecticut for our early thanksgiving with Nainai, Grandpa, Audrey and your uncles, and the three of us shared the big king-sized bed. As Baba and I whispered in the dark about our plans for the next day, you suddenly, somewhat huffily, said loudly: "Guys, you need sleep now."

You're just growing up so much, all around. You deduce things on your own that we don't expect. For instance, every time we come home, you run down the hall and try to beat me to the door; your goal is to knock and have Baba let you in before I reach the door with my keys. One day, you turned to me and explained that you usually use the palm of your hand, but that this time you were going to use the "bone part" of your hand to knock on the door, since it would be louder and easier for Baba to hear. I was impressed, but assumed it was something you and Baba had discussed. Turns out, though, when I asked him, he didn't even know about our was all you. I didn't realize you knew that your knuckles are harder because of the bones inside them...

And your problem solving skills are ever impressed a lot of people with them the other day when we were on the set of a music video. A friend of mine is a producer, and invited our family to be extras in a new music video she's making for Prince Royce's bilingual version of Stand By Me. You captured plenty of attention just by being your cute little self, more for the fact that you were smiling at the camera, and in fact they asked you to stay and film an extra little segment! Everyone was super impressed with how well you took direction...they had a bunch of (fake) candles which they wanted the littlest kids put into a circle, on specific markers. You were by far the youngest kid there, and I don't think anyone really expected you to be able to do it, but you did it, perfectly, with ease. Then the director asked the other kids to hang back and let you move all the candles by put them into a very straight line instead of the circle that time, but you did it very well, and moved just the way they asked, you even turned the way they directed you to turn when you got them, and walked where they asked, turned, smiled on did an excellent job. (Someone commented to Baba that you took direction like a 12 year old!) Anyway, the problem solving came in while you were resetting so all the kids could move candles together once more. There were three candles left, and you wanted to get them all in one trip, but they were too big for your hands. you tried several times to grab them all, and then paused for a moment before tucking one under your arm and picking the other two up with your hands and off you went. The crowd was terribly impressed. That's my girl.

All in all you had a lot of fun on that shoot, and have said you want to do that again...I think coming to set with me over the summer gave you a familiarity with the set environment, and you had fun getting to 'play' with all the people working there. Maybe we will do more, if the opportunity arises, as long as you truly are having are definitely old enough now to tell me if you want to or not, whether you enjoy it. If we go that route, rest assured it will only be to the extent that it is both enjoyable and beneficial...if you stop having fun or it starts being detrimental to you, that'll be it. I have no need or desire to push you into performing or to be a stage mom myself. You're my awesome Cadie-Lady, and that's all I ever need you to be.

My little lady who has developed a strange new defense mechanism; I think it makes you feel too vulnerable to simply apologize if you've made a mistake, so you'll inform us before hand that you're going to "jump and say sorry!"...and then you'll do just that, taking a grand leap and shouting an enthusiastic "Sorry!" in a rather extravagant gesture which may or may not seem genuine in the moment, but is oddly endearing.

I can't believe that by the time I write my next letter it will already be 2010, a date that always seemed so futuristic when I was growing up, and that seemed distant even when I first thought about your future, about sending you off to school, and the preparation needed to give you a good start. We're working on trying to get you the best options we can, and hopefully before next year is out you'll get to start off with a preschool program that fits you and your awesome, unique way of perceiving life, and maybe a dance class or two, just because you seem to want that and I can't see any cons to letting you do so. So here's to the end of a crazy year, lady b, and looking to the future and all of the exciting adventures it will bring!

Love always,

PS-If you're wondering why there are so few pictures with this letter, it's because my little point-and-shoot camera finally bit the dust shortly before Halloween, and when we made the move into the dorm, we somehow managed to pack the charger for the big SLR into the storage unit, and the battery died, so we had no camera at all for several weeks. Baba just gave me my birthday christmas present early, and it was a fantastic little high end point and shoot, hence the few cute shots here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Love it!

My two year old just declared "Mom, I would like some more healthy food!" and then ran off to get herself a fork. I love this girl. :-)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A long overdue update

Hello everyone,

I'm so sorry for the lack of updates lately. If you read the Dear Cadence letters, you've probably gotten some idea of the ridiculousness that has been going on over the past few months. Things seem to be settling into a less awful, much more breathable state these days, so hopefully we'll be able to be a bit more consistent about writing and thus keeping you all in the loop.

So where to begin? It's difficult to summarize the last few months, but for the sake of time, I will do my best.

Leaving Kentucky was difficult, but we were excited to give our lives some forward momentum and begin on the right foot in our new home. While we, as people and as a family, have definitely been able to do so, the world seemed to be falling down around us. The biggest hiccup in our plans to hit the ground running was the apartment we moved into, which, despite our best efforts, was not exactly the home we had been hoping for. Aside from numerous small defects and annoyances, there was a major environmental hazard in that apartment that made me incredibly sick. After I landed in the hospital and was told by my doctors that it would be dangerous to continue living there, and having consulted with a lawyer specializing in housing law in the city, we made the hard decision to break our lease and move our family to safety.

Since the legal aspects of all this have not yet been resolved, I won't go into the details all here, suffice it to say that we have some major 'Thank You's to give to the folks at the NYU Law School. Thanks to them, we have now been in a gorgeous, safe, very conveniently located apartment in the village for the last month or so, and it has made a world of difference. All three of us have been feeling like renewed people, with more energy, and the ability to enjoy life in a way we hadn't even really noticed we'd lost, but to have it back makes the whole planet seem more welcoming, and it once again feels like anything we dream is in reach.

And there is a lot of good news in the mix, too, again, if you read the letters I've written to Cadence you'll already know our biggest and most exciting news: that we're expecting our second child! He or She (we don't yet know which, and are on the fence about finding out or not) is due to arrive in April (the 26th is the 'due date' but of course, that's not something to put too much stock in!) and we're all very excited, and gearing up for our new arrival.

And I am extremely happy to report that the thing that actually brought us back to the city is paying off and making it all worthwhile: James thriving as a law student. Yes, it is a lot of work, and he has to focus a lot of his energies on his studies, but seeing how much he enjoys it makes it seem like a small price to pay. I have to say, he's done extremely well at still giving Cadence and I all the love and attention we need (sure, we'd like more time with him to just play, and hang out as a family, but we certainly don't feel ignored or rejected, and even if he's doing homework, having his presence there, and tickles during two minute breaks, makes it feel like we're all in this together), and given how much his teachers seem to appreciate him it seems like he's doing a decent job of keeping up with his work, too. I'm very proud. Plus, he's finally found a calling, something he is passionate about, that is his dream-and he is actively pursuing that, which is wonderful, healthy, and bringing a very vital energy into our family that I wouldn't trade even to make the last few months of yuck disappear.

So we are here, doing well despite some undue stress, looking forward to the holiday break and on the hunt for a new, hopefully longtime home. It's been a rough few months, and a transition that hasn't quite landed yet, despite bumping the ground a few times....but, we have many wonderful friends, and amazing family (immediate and extended), and now even teachers and administrators within the law school who have created a strong support network for us, and we're heading optimistically into the future.