Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011, With a Side of MIL Saga: Part 8

As you may already know via Twitter, I found out two fridays ago that MIL was no longer having us over to her house for Thanksgiving, and instead wanted to come over to our house. Through a string of miscommunications, it initially seemed like this was typical MIL shenanigans, but I think it was actually legit.

First of all, other than a brief mention in October, we were apparently never formally invited to Thanksgiving at her place to begin with - hubs just assumed that we were, since it has been a tradition to go over to MIL's the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and split the actual holiday between my family and Justin's dad's side. Secondly, when she texted him about Thanksgiving, it did not say anything about making arrangements to go over there, it just said "I need to talk to you about Thanksgiving", so again, we were just assuming it was to cement a time to go over there like we usually do.

When Justin did finally get ahold of her (after MANY, MANY tries, which again seemed like she was ditching us), she gave some weird story that they had to repair the roof and therefore couldn't afford to replace their dining room table and chairs, so there would be nowhere to sit.

(Let's pause to consider if there is any world in which this makes actual sense)...

I instantly thought she just didn't want to see us, and then later thought that maybe they couldn't afford to do a big Thanksgiving (which would mean I'm just a jerk), so I offered to cook. After all, cooking a Thanksgiving IS on my 101 in 1001 list, so it's not like it's something completely out of the question. And I think it would have been super rude to have them over Thanksgiving weekend and NOT cook, so whatever. I didn't really particularly WANT to, but I was going to cook a full Thanksgiving meal.

Jumping ahead, to tie up the MIL portion of the story...Several times throughout the meal, she mentioned that she had made a 25 pound turkey, so it wasn't the being able to afford it thing. And she came, so it wasn't the not wanting to see us thing. So...she really got rid of her table and chairs and there would be nowhere to sit. No shenanigans, but definitely weird. It shouldn't be ENTIRELY shocking, seeing as how she ripped out the carpet and has been living off plywood for the last 2 years without any plan to replace the flooring (assuming it's still not fixed, I didn't ask). And last Thanksgiving, her couch was mysteriously gone so we had to sit at the table the entire time. And their room only had mattresses on the floor, as they had ditched the bed frame. Is there some kind of obvious explanation here, that I am too dense to see? Bedbugs? Termites? Some weird anti-hoarding disease that causes you to get rid of all of your basic furniture without replacing it first? I AM SO CONFUSED.

Moving on.

I didn't grab my nice camera because I was super tired from Lucy not sleeping all week and because I didn't want to explain to MIL that I needed fancy photos for my blog in which she is heavily featured, so iPhone pics it is.

For the table, I was going for "casual, but nice". Molly from My Happy House had posted a tablescape that a) was pretty and b) featured a wooden pumpkin I already had, so I went for a less fancy version of that. Our Target has a whole section of porcelain goodies, so I picked up a cake stand, butter dish, sugar bowl (the creamer was out of stock), spoon rest, and a couple of platters. The table cloth and napkins were also reasonably priced, so I grabbed those too. I now own stuff to entertain that is less fancy than our wedding china, yay!

For the appetizer, I made the Pumpkin Pie Fruit Dip from Smashed Peas and Carrots. It was pretty yummy, but everyone except Adriana pretty much ignored it (and then Justin cut her off so she wouldn't spoil her appetite).

For the entire rest of the meal, I went back to Life of a Doctor's Wife's awesome Fakesgiving posts. I totally replicated her entire meal (aside from subbing my garlic mashed potatoes for hers). When I first read those posts last year, I contacted her and got her OCD-friendly meal prep timeline, which was also a huge help.

The best part by far was her Totally Untested Marshmallow-Topped Sweet Potatoes. These were AMAZING and way better than throwing some marshmallows on canned yams and calling it a day. I couldn't convince Justin to even try them (rude!) but whatever, more for me!

Instead of doing smaller breasts, thighs and legs, or a whole turkey, we took the middle road and got a 10 pound breast. This made for some interesting improvising with thawing and with the recipe itself. It needed to cook for a good two hours longer than I expected before it hit the required internal temperature. Also, I kind of winged it with the gravy since that recipe only yielded two cups, and I wanted way more than that. I think I won without sacrificing much taste.

The end result:

And of course, the best part of doing it myself, is that we get to keep all of the leftovers!

This is probably silly to those of you who have been cooking your own Thanksgiving meal for years, but this was a HUGE accomplishment for me. My mom is a Supermom, and will never give up control of Thanksgiving. If I wanted to, I could literally go for years without cooking a turkey dinner. However, this is one of those things where I wasn't going to feel like a Real Mom until I knew I was capable of doing it myself. And now I know I can!

A big thank you to all of the bloggers who tested everything out first, so I could succeed without putting much effort in myself :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho

So, I am now a money making member of the workforce again. I am not thrilled with going back, but being able to afford groceries is always nice.

The bad news:
  • I miss little miss squishy cheeks and her silly sister :(
  • I only get to work from home one day a week, not to exceed three months. They waited until the friday before I got back to tell me. There really isn't any reason they said no, or any reason they couldn't have said yes. It also really sucks that they capped it at three months, without even giving it a chance to see if it was working. The Office just isn't a very flexible workplace, especially when it comes to working moms.
  • To make up for the fact that they were giving me the shaft, they offered to let me have my own pumping room that would have a lock on the door (from the outside, so I'm the only one who used it) and a fridge. When I got there on monday, there was no special room, just the same old "personal room" INSIDE THE BATHROOM, that locked from the inside, and had a locked fridge. Last time, people would just HANG OUT in this room all hours of the day, napping, reading, and doing their makeup, so it was never free for the one or two people who needed to use it for its intended purpose. And these people are SLOBS, leaving mineral makeup all over the counters. And it's a room IN THE BATHROOM, so there are BATHROOM GERMS where I am making food for my BABY. If I really wanted to be a jerk, I could refer them to the law that says "the employer must also provide a place, other than a bathroom, for the employee to express breast milk." But then they would argue that a room in a bathroom is not a bathroom. SIGH. Here are some pics of the would be fine if it weren't IN A BATHROOM and was just used for pumping. Oh and I was forced to be the Fridge Note Person, as people were sticking their crap in the fridge during the 20 minutes between when it appeared and the lock was installed, so I had to move it.

  • Our group moved to a different part of the building while I was gone. The closest entrance is on the side that has ELEVENTY JILLION spaces that are reserved for carpool vehicles. I get that we wanted to make the point that we are a green building, but dude. NO ONE USES THE CARPOOL SPACES. There is also a row for hybrid vehicles nearby, but I have less beef with those since people use (some of) them. Excessive:

The good news:
  • I still get to work from home one day a week, which was one more day than they could have given me.
  • I don't have to keep breast milk in the community fridge (unlike last time).
  • My pumping situation is still better than what a lot of people have to deal with.
  • Without going into too much detail about what I do, I missed two of the biggest, craziest cases of the year, and they are neatly wrapping up just as I'm getting back. So I don't have to jump into the middle of anything, and I'm not really behind. Yay.
  • As part of the move, I somehow not only got one of the awesome desk chairs that you have to special order, and I got a cube with a "view". Sort of. Our company does this weird thing where even if you are right by a window, they don't take down the cube walls unless you are a supervisor. Also, these windows are like half the size of the ones where we used to sit. Bit whatever, I get to sit by them! I have seniority!
I can stand up and look at transformers whenever I want!

Or cars!

So that's my week. I can not thank you all enough for all of your kind comments, emails, tweets, texts, etc. You have no idea how much that brightened my day and made the whole crappy going back to work situation a little easier. I love you all!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

NaBlew it

Shit, I missed another day! I was just going to pretend like the first time didn't happen, since I double posted the next day, but now I have to officially place NaBloPoMo in the fail bucket, right next to 30 Day Shred, and a placeholder for painting the girls' rooms and probably getting the electrician's estimate.

However, I am SO GLAD I at least tried to participate. I wanted to tell our backstory for a long time, and I am still planning on adding both girls' birth stories and how we bought our house to complete all of our "major life events". I am still going to try to post every day for the rest of the month (and beyond?!) because I still have tons of semi-composed posts taking up brain space.

While I didn't post yesterday, I spent a ton of time giving my blog a new look, figuring out how to add tabs, and tagging old posts. I didn't really put a lot of thought into picking out a template when I first started posting, and the one I slapped up there was NOT ME and also FUGLY. I also plan to design a header myself, and I figured out exactly what I want it to look like. Between that and learning how to do those little photo collages in Photoshop Elements 10, I am pretty darn pleased with myself this month, despite my NaBloPoMo fail. Click on through to check out the new look! It's probably still FUGLY, but at least it's PURPOSEFUL FUG.

While we are talking about bloggy stuff, I want to let everyone know that when I go back to work on Monday, you might see less of me as far as commenting on your blogs, twitter, and pinterest go. It's not that I won't be reading, I just can't comment on most blogs from work (only on approved breaks, of course) and will be busy with Lucy and Adriana and dinner and housework and (hopefully) sleep at night. But please know that I'm still there, cheering you on and thinking about how cute your kids are or how funny your drawings are or how amazing your crafts and recipes are or how smart and funny and interesting you are. I promise!

Friday, November 18, 2011

...Then Comes Marriage...

Then Comes (a really, really long post about) Marriage!

Even though it was fun planning a more traditional wedding, I was pretty relieved once we decided to abandon the big wedding in favor of a shotgun wedding in Niagara Falls. Big crowds are NOT MY THING, and I REALLY did not want to stand up and get all emotional in front of eleventy jillion people. Our intimate wedding was SO PERFECT - our entire wedding party included my parents, my brothers and their wives, my nephew, my cousin (maid of honor), Justin's cousin (best man) and his wife, FIL and SMIL, and MIL and SFIL. Including us, that's just 16 people.

I googled "Niagara Falls Weddings" and quickly decided on a ceremony at what was then called the Konica Minolta Tower, on the Canadian side. Now it's just called The Tower and it looks like they redid the inside. They have also changed up the wedding packages - I am fairly certain that the packages used to be Gold, Silver, and Bronze, and the Silver (now "Classic") package was a good $1000 cheaper for all of the same services except the tour and maybe the welcome package, but I could be wrong.

Here is my quick take on all of the services:
  • Personal Wedding Consultant: Her name was Jane and she was nice. I let her (and my mom) do everything, since I was NOT REMOTELY interested in planning a single detail. I just wanted to show up and get married.
  • Chapel: The "chapel" was just the observation deck of the hotel. It had really ugly carpet and tacky fake decorations, but the view is nice (assuming you get a clear day, which we did not).
  • Officiant: We had a tiny lady who sounded like a Canadian muppet. We had asked Jane to get us a copy of the vows (we selected "non-religious") in advance, and she never did. Weird vows in a muppet voice led to some unintentional humor at various parts of the wedding. It was kind of fun not knowing what we were going to be saying, and the wedding video always makes me laugh.
  • Music: I let Jane play all of the traditional wedding stuff. I alway imagined picking some quirky indie music for my wedding day, but when it came down to it, I just wanted to enjoy the ride without planning anything. I don't regret this at all - my only music-related regret is that I didn't get to dance with my dad since we didn't have a reception, just dinner.
  • Flowers: I didn't want a silk bouquet, and got a little specific on this one. I told them I wanted a monochromatic pink arrangement, listed some flowers that I wanted included, and maybe even sent a sample picture or two. They didn't really get the "monochromatic" part right, but my flowers were GORGEOUS. This was by far the best thing they did.
  • Photography: I was horribly disappointed by the "professional" wedding pics, which is probably why it has been over 2 years and I still haven't selected the shots for my little album. All of the pictures you see here were taken by my little brother, and my older brother did our wedding video. They are the best.
  • Accommodations: The rooms were TINY - pretty much a bed, a bathroom, and a closet. The windows were huge so you could see the falls, and seemed like they would break if you leaned up against them.
  • Dinner: The dinner afterwards seemed really nice. All of the staff were pleasant and basically let us do whatever we wanted.
All in all, it was much less cheesy than expected, and whenever there was cheese, it was welcome. We figured it came with the deal, kinda like getting married by Elvis in Vegas.

The only thing I really had to do was get a dress - no small feat when you are 24 weeks preggo on the big day. I actually just bought the dress I wanted before I found out I was pregnant (Nordstroms, $200ish), and had a tailor add some panels on the sides (which explains any funky beading you see in some of the profile shots). I LOVE my dress and wish it hadn't been altered, but Adriana didn't want to be squished in the name of fashion.

We drove up on a Thursday night, because you have to be in the country for 24 hours before getting married in order to get your license. We went to the city hall the next morning, and didn't have any trouble. The whole shebang took maybe an hour?
By that time, our families were rolling in. A bunch of us took the trip down to the falls to take pictures and check out the view. Crazy mist + maternity top = unattractive cling.

Since there was no need for a rehearsal dinner, we all had a relaxing dinner at Outback. The two things I remember most about this are the ridiculous prices (for a minute you think that it's not that expensive and just SEEMS expensive due to conversion from US to Canadian, then you do the math and realize that they are INSANE) and my cousin falling asleep at the table after three sips of her alcoholic beverage.

We were married on Saturday, June 20, 2009. I met up with Jane that morning to go over things - maybe like 2 hours before the wedding? The observation deck was split into two parts, the area where we would have the ceremony, and a little area for the bride to get ready. Jane had arranged for someone to come do my hair, which was an add-on option to the wedding package. In the spirit of winging it, I let her do whatever she wanted, as long as it was half up, half down (a compromise between me and FutureHubs).
Once my hair was done, there was a lot of sitting around and taking tons of pictures. I got a little snippy snappy at the photographer because he must have taken 150 shots of me and various people standing in front of this stupid plastic plant (Jane was quick to interject that it was SILK, not plastic). Part of the reason all of our professional shots were so bad was that everything was overexposed since it was rainy and all you could see out the windows was a huge mist cloud. The other problem was that this dude had NO IMAGINATION, and didn't change up any poses or adjust the zoom even once the whole time. (Bitter much?)

My brother got a lot of really nice moments though. I love how cute and happy Justin and his dad look here:

Wedding time! My dad and I are both giant saps, so OF COURSE we both burst into tears right before walking down the aisle. I turned to him and said "I love you, dad", and he said something like "dammit, I knew I'd be okay as long as you didn't talk to me", and then it was all mush from there. Oddly, after watching the wedding video, it didn't look like we were as crazy emotional as we felt, but trust me, we were barely holding it together.

I remained choked up for the first part of my vows. At one point, Justin squeezed my hands (we were holding hand the whole time), looked me in the eyes, and said "You can do it, babe", which really helped. I'll never forget the way he looked at me throughout the entire ceremony. We were both so happy. In fact, I would venture to say that this was the happiest day of my life, including when the girls were born. Births are stressful and just plain crazy, so there are tons of other emotions going on. Our wedding day was so simple and easy and fun and non-stressy, that it was just pure happiness.

Remember how I said our officiant sounded like a muppet? One of our cheesy vows was about being "LOVAHS" and I totally laughed out loud, like a 4th grader.

Canadians also have this weird thing where they make a really big deal about signing the license. I felt like we spent FOREVER at that little table with the big fancy quill. At one point the photographer joked that it was our maid of honor and best man's turn to kiss, which cracked us all up and won him back some points with me. I'm sure he always makes that same joke but whatever, it was funny.
We took another million pictures after signing the license, and then were released to the lobby since another couple needed to get hitched. The woman was actually getting her hair done in our little dressing area before the ceremony, which I thought was weird.

They weren't ready for us in the dining room, so we went to the lobby, opened some gifts, drank some champagne (just a sip for me!) and ate some cookies. My parents come prepared!
We had our little "reception" in the hotel restaurant. They had set up a little head table for the wedding party, which was a nice touch. I honestly don't remember what we ate...chicken? This is why I always take pictures of food when I'm in charge of the camera.

My dad tried to give a speech and choked up too much to get the words out. He is so cute. He was trying to say something to the effect of "When you were little and were misbehaving, we always used to threaten that we hoped some day you'd have a daughter JUST LIKE YOU. Now that you are going to have a daughter, we really do hope that she is just like you." I'm sure if he could have gotten it out it would have been much more eloquent (communications background!) but you get the gist. It was really sweet.

I love this picture, but it took me SO LONG to figure out that my cousin's shadow is what makes me look dirty.
Cake cutting time! This seems like a good time to talk about how amazing my mom is. She made sure she got the most beautiful cake from a local bakery, and hauled it all the way to Canada without so much as a smudge. This is just one of MANY, MANY examples of how she always makes sure that everything is perfect. She and my dad also hosted an amazing reception in their back yard after we got back, and I know that her planning is what made it such a success. I wish I had pictures to share, but I spent the whole time talking to the guests, and never got to take any. They had freaking valet service and a bartender! It was crazy. They both really went out of their way to make everything special, and I hope I can do the same for my daughters some day (OMG two weddings - PLEASE HELP ME, MOM). Anyway, best mom ever.
After dessert we changed and went gambling. The perfect end to the perfect day.

That's all, folks!

UPDATE:I forgot to ask you to link to your wedding story in the comment section, if you've posted about it. Swistle already commented, so I will link for her - it's one of my favorite bloggy wedding stories ever. If you've never posted, please, tell me the highlights! I love this stuff!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lucia: 3 Months


I can't believe it's already been three months since you joined our family! The day you were born was easily one of the happiest days in my life.

You were born with a thick head of hair and beautiful blue eyes - and you still have both! You also have a sassy personality - we knew you would fit in with our family right away.

You have had a very busy three months. When you were three weeks old, we took you to Surfside Beach. You slept and ate pretty much the whole time, but I'm so glad we decided to go. I will never forget our quiet moments on the beach, listening to the ocean while I cuddled you in my arms (or on my boob, haha).

You lost your belly button at just five days, and it took a long time to heal. You were a month old before you had your first real bath! Your big sister helped - that's her head in the bottom left corner. She still assists during all of your baths, testing the water and telling me if it's too cold or too hot.

You are a very healthy girl - you weighed 12.34 pounds at your two month appointment! Your only problem has been an ongoing battle with thrush. At least you look good in purple!

You learned from an early age that your sister should not be trifled with. Although she can be rough, she can also be very sweet. She always makes sure you have your binky and your blanket, and you are the first person she wants to see in the morning and the last person she wants to kiss before bed.

You have traveled all over the place in your baby bjorn - the zoo, the park, the pumpkin patch, the museum, trick-or-treating, the grocery store, you name it. You have also been to a few movies and restaurants. You are a good little companion!

You are different from your sister in that you cry more and you smile more. You had the best cry when you were born - like a tiny squealy scream. I wish we would have captured it before you stopped crying like that! As awesome as your cry was, your smile is a million times better. Your whole face lights up. You started smiling real smiles when you were just two weeks old. I was holding you, and Dada popped his head next to mine. You looked at us both with the most adorable smile I have ever seen - all gums and eye crinkles. Any time you are awake, you are quick to return our smiles, and today, you had your first real laugh. I hope you are always as happy as you are right now.

You also don't seem to mind tummy time as much as Adriana did. You can make it 5-10 minutes before crying, which is about 5-10 minutes longer than she did. You both were early to roll over from tummy to back - you did it around 7 weeks.

You are your father's child, through and through. Would it kill you to look a TINY bit like me? I will forgive you if you are left handed, so keep that in mind.

You have discovered your hands and the art of blowing bubbles and raspberries. You also "talk" to me, taking turns cooing and grunting. I know you have so many more milestones to experience, but I have enjoyed all of these little achievements, because YOU are the one who is doing them.

I am so sad that I have to go back to work on Monday and won't be able to kiss your squishy cheeks and tiny toes all day long. Hopefully I will get official permission to work from home two days a week so we can keep having fun together. I love you so much, baby girl!

Love, Mama

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Diniwilk Stew

  • GAH, Swistle is right! Blogger is randomly publishing posts if you accidentally hit enter after the title. Stupid blogger.
  • After three months of being relatively okay with interrupted sleep, it's finally caught up with me. I have felt AWFUL the past few days, and no amount of napping is fixing it. OF COURSE this happens right when I'm going back to work.
  • Also in time for work, the great postpartum hair shedding has begun. I pulled out two large fistfuls today. I know from last time that the little baby hairs that come in to replace the hair loss drive me nuts, and I will have to cut some bangs in another 4-5 months. I think after THAT I might chop it all off and go short, which excites me to no end.
  • I have finally joined both twitter and pinterest. It's been fun playing around on both, but I have no idea how I'm going to have time for all of this stuff now, and it's making me sad!
  • I am so not ready to go back to work next week. I thought I would be, during my peak frustration with Adriana, but we have settled into a nice groove at home, and I'm going to miss my silly little girl SO MUCH. The other day, she walked up to me and said "Mama, I'm CONFUSED." I laughed, because I was pretty sure she had no idea what confused meant. "Why are you confused, baby?" "I don't KNOW! Because...because...because I CRYIN!" (She wasn't crying, so obviously she WAS confused!)
  • I'm also going to miss being able to kiss Lucy's chubby little cheeks on demand. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITHOUT THOSE CHEEKS???

Monday, November 14, 2011

2011 Holiday Card Update

Subtitle 1: "Still too busy/lazy/overwhelmed to write my wedding post"

Subtitle 2: "NaBloPoMo 2011: Phoning it in"

Guess what? I am one of those people who asks for advice only to ignore the overwhelming majority! I hate those people! But I hate my wonky eye even more. I'll look at the camera next year, when I'm (hopefully, OMG) getting more sleep.

I decided to go with the Fantasy Snowflake from Tiny Prints. Also of note: I signed the card with Justin and the girls' last name. Seemed like the thing to do, now that there's 3 of them and one of me. Sigh.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

2011 Holiday Photos

You might have noticed that I am addicted to getting our pictures taken. I actually have to pat myself on the back, because I realized that I could knock out Adriana's 2 year photos, Lucia's 3 month photos, and our holiday pictures all at the same time (since we had both maternity, hospital newborn, and 2 week / newborn photos, I decided not to do 2 month and 4 month pictures for Lucy, and to just do 3 month pictures). See, I can show restraint!

Question re: holiday cards. Would you use the second picture or the third? I like to show the whole family, but I think I look both tired and insane in the second one. When I'm sleepy, my wonky eye gets a lot worse, and it's all bad. But I think the reading one might be too cheesy? I don't know.