Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

The biggest change our family is expecting is a new member (on the outside) within the next month. That's a change we've been eagerly awaiting and will certainly turn our house upside down as we all adjust.

Taking maternity photos at Elizabeth Gamble Gardens - March 25, 2021

Along with that are some other major changes - some expected and some not so much.

The Return of Air Travel?

With vaccination rates going up and (hopefully) COVID-19 cases going down, we've started planning air travel later in 2021. After vaccination dose one for Chris and Elizabeth, we started talking about what it would take to feel comfortable getting on an airplane. It was a weird conversation after a year of not considering air travel at all. 


Vaccinated, Part One!

Turns out, we are optimistic enough that we booked some flights for late in the summer. Fingers crossed! We're also starting to sort out a flight or two to SoCal. Flying with three beasties is going to be... interesting. Especially since Everett and Imogen haven't been on a plane since January 2020. Entertaining them and avoiding motion sickness will be almost brand new as they've changed so much since then.

Long-term Photographer Moving

When Elizabeth was about 5 months along, we reached out to our photographer about maternity and newborn photos. Turns out, she was in the process of moving to Utah to be closer to family (and also expecting!). While we are happy for her and her family, we are sad for us. Abby has been our photographer since she took Oberon's newborn photos - both at the hospital and at our home. Since then, she's taken Everett's maternity and newborn photos, Imogen's maternity and newborn photos, and annual(ish) family photos. 


Our first photo shoot with Abby - December 9, 2014

She's familiar with our story, because she was there. We knew she wouldn't be weird about the Molly Bear or a photo of Oberon or any other symbolic things we wanted to do. We didn't have to worry about telling the story to someone new. 

We were able to make maternity photos work by having her photograph us while in town to get a moving truck and the last of her belongings out of the Bay Area. Newborn photos though... we'll have to go with someone new.

Everyone loves taking pictures with Ms. Abby - March 25, 2021

Preschool

Our original plan was for Imogen to stay in day care until she turned 4 - just like Everett. Instead, she's transitioning to preschool on March 31. Due to unexpected circumstances, our day care provider had to close down. It was jarring to get that news as we'd been dropping off one or both of them at Siha's since May 2016. 


Day Care Drop Off - March 13, 2017

Day Care Pick Up - March 30, 2021

On one hand - we've been so very lucky to have such an amazing care provider. On the other hand - now we have to find care for Imogen right away AND start searching for Itsy Bitsy's eventual day care. Fortunately, we already have a relationship with the preschool Everett attended and they had room to enroll Imogen right away. She's excited for the new adventure and we're all holding our breath for this new adjustment at the same time she takes on the role of big sister.

Work-Life-Pandemic Balance

For awhile, the remote work situation seemed to have no end date. Elizabeth started getting used to the idea that Chris might be working, but would still be around for an emergency "hold this baby while I shower/pump/scream for a minute." As time goes on, this scenario seems less and less likely. 
Elizabeth was very house-bound with Everett in the newborn phase. There was construction outside the condo with dust everywhere and it wasn't safe to go for walks or hang out outside. Plus, she was learning how to manage nursing, naps, diapers, all the things.
With Imogen, it was much easier because of the prior experience and being able to get out of the house every day - at least for a walk but often for grocery runs and the like. 
It's unclear what things will look like when Itsy Bitsy is on the outside. Will it be walks around the block and nothing else? Will Mom dates be a thing again? Will going back to work after parental leave mean remote or an office? Both? So many open questions.

Babymoon!

Almost forgot to mention, we had an AMAZING trip to Yosemite at the beginning of the month. It was so needed and so amazing to take a break from being in the same house - at the same dining room table - for months and months. Plus, the kids got to play in the snow!


Do you want to build a snowman? - February 27, 2021

Yosemite Falls - February 28, 2021

How are we doing with it all?

So far we seem OK. There are moments of anxiety - sometimes tears - but for the most part we are able to take a deep breath and keep on keepin' on. Once Itsy Bitsy gets here, we expect a lot of that to lessen. The biggest and scariest uncertainty is her getting out safe and healthy. The rest can be managed.









Tree pose with the trees















Tuesday, February 23, 2021

A Heroic Birthday

It was six weeks late, but Everett got to enjoy the Avengers-themed Birthday Party he envisioned and helped execute. We're so proud of his contributions (both ideas and help), and thrilled we got to have some distanced social time.

Like Imogen's birthday party last fall, it was a breath of fresh air to see (masked) friendly faces and marvel at how our kids have grown. Was it a lot of work? Yes. Was it worth it? 100% Yes. Did we take enough pictures? Of course not.

Avengers... assemble! - February 20, 2021

We've witnessed and attended a handful of outdoor parties over the past year, and we're getting the swing of hosting. The first thing on our minds is everyone has a different level of comfort - and this can be tough to manage with toddlers. We were very clear with Everett and Imogen that if they took their masks off, they had to go inside, and luckily they didn't try to test us.

Without further ado, the activities that Everett insisted on, helped design, and / or helped prepare:

  • Superhero Scavenger Hunt - Mommy helped cut out circles, then Everett put character stickers on and helped layer the Con-Tact paper. Because Everett wanted to be able to do the finding, Mommy and Daddy did the hiding all around the front yard. There were 24 superheroes and villains to find. If you didn't want to do the hard work of finding, Everett was more than happy to run around and point them all out. Full disclosure - he stole this idea from a neighbor's party and has been talking about it for two months.
Captain America by Everett and Falcon by Imogen - February 20, 2021
  • Pin the Star on Cap's Shield - Similar to Immy's party, we put a blindfold and the sticky thing in each favor bag. Everett decided what he wanted to do (although we did try to dissuade him from pin the bird on Falcon...) and painted the Captain America. Mommy helped by sketching an outline and Grandma Fiorani made us the stars.
  • Superhero Stats Card - To measure guests' heroic abilities, we set up measurement marks for high jump, long jump, and a distance for timing speed. There was also a balance station (how long can you stand on one foot?) and an accuracy check (throw your bean bag at a target). Guests had a card and a pen in their bag to keep track of their performance. Everett's Superhero Name is Oarrowbird (Arrowbird, with a silent O at the front) and Imogen's is Rocket Raccoon.
Crayon manufacturing - February 6, 2021
  • Spiderman, Iron Man, and War Machine Crayons - We melted so many crayons. The kids helped breaking them up and filling up the silicone trays. The trays started breaking down so we had to stop... ohhhhh noooo :)
  • Hulk Smash! - Everett's favorite activity to do and encourage guests to do! Chris made a double sided punch board using green trifolds, purple tissue paper, Solo cups, and a circle cutter. Plus a LOT of tape. Instead of plastic toys destined for the garbage, we put fruit snacks or M&Ms inside for prizes. Everett was very opinionated on what stickers should decorate: Hulk (of course) and villains (Daddy's idea, Everett fully committed to it). The only downside was one smash per Hulk.
  • Infinity Stone Guessing Game - Non-branded would be, "how many Skittles are in this jar?" Both Everett and Imogen helped count Skittles as they went into the jar. Mommy did the decorations with color input (demands?) from Everett. Any guesses based on the photo?
  • Groot - We totally got the idea from this Avengers Party blog post. We didn't follow the directions exactly, and we used packing paper from Amazon and other deliveries over the course of a month. Chris was skeptical at first, but this ended up Elizabeth's favorite part of the party. It did not take long to make, Everett and Imogen had fun adding leaves, and we used twine to keep him from blowing away outside. When the party was over, the kids decided they wanted to keep Groot around a little longer to take more pictures with him (and they even brought other toys for the photo op).
Everett and Imogen both had a blast literally running around with friends they haven't seen in months. It wore Imogen out early and she crashed (but woke up before the party was over!), and Everett also started to fade towards the end. Five hours is a long time for a kids' party in normal times! We made it that long to try to spread out guests. We even had one guest come before official party time to avoid attending a "gathering" and another that had to come late because of an emergency earlier in the day. It happens, and we were easily able to roll with it. 

More Groot photos - February 21, 2021

The most stressful part of the whole endeavor was the rain overnight and during the morning - set up time was drastically condensed which put the adults on edge a bit. Luckily, the kids played (mostly) nice that morning. 

It isn't lost on us that this was Everett's last pre-kindergarten birthday. The number of parties where Mommy and Daddy get to invite their friends is coming to an end. We're savoring that, we're savoring the themes, the party games, the utter joy. 

What else happened in February?

As the months turn over and we look back to write these posts, it's always a bit of a shock to see how much happened in the past few weeks. Everett had "spirit week" at school, Valentine's Day, a visit to Happy Hollow, Elizabeth hit the 28 week mark, and Elizabeth and Chris hit the 14 year mark. A month full of love, to say the least!

Sports, Disney, Wacky Socks & Hair, PJs, and Valentine's Colors Day - February 8-12, 2021



Rugby ball, rugby face! - February 12, 2021

Valentine's surprise - a fort full of balloons! - February 14, 2021


President's Day at the Zoo - February 15, 2021

14 years - February 17, 2021

Dragonfly pose

Everett chose the heroes for his letters, and Grandma Fiorani delivered!


Saturday, January 30, 2021

A Big Birthday, and a Delayed Celebration

It's repetitive, it's basic, it is what it is. This month FLEW by.

In normal times, the end-of-year holiday blitz would be quickly followed with a birthday bash for Everett. Given the COVID-19 surge happening, we made a decision in early December that we were not doing that. We waited to see how January went and then make a decision from there. And Everett - who is now FIVE - has been very mature about the whole thing.

Everett the five-year-old - January 7, 2021

It can also rain a lot here in January, so an outdoor party is just tempting fate. On his first birthday party, there was a rain storm strong enough that many people canceled day-of due to unsafe road conditions.

Just some rain - January 22, 2021

On his "actual birthday" - we took the day off and had amazing family time. Bike ride, cupcakes, and Katamino while Immy napped.

In late October, Immy had her outdoor, socially-distanced birthday party. She got to see and wave at her friends, play outside all day, eat a cupcake, and have all kinds of Rapunzel stuff around for a couple weeks.

Everett was a fabulous host at that party, and since then he's been anxiously awaiting his turn. 

The delay meant that Everett could be much more involved in the planning. He is really digging both the brainstorming and getting some of the prep work done. 

Showing off his Thor LEGOs (thanks Uncle Graham & Aunt Sandy!) - January 24, 2021

In case there was any doubt, Avengers are the big winners right now. His Superhero party will focus mainly on the Avengers with a few Wonder Woman touches for good measure. 

As an example, he is art directing the "Pin the..." party game. We went through a lot of ideas and talked to Grandma Fiorani about what she could help us make. After many considerations (leaves on Groot, staff on Loki, hammer on Thor), we landed on "Pin the Star on Captain America's Shield." It doesn't roll off the tongue, but it will be fun. The special bonus is that Everett painted the Captain America that we will use! Imogen didn't want to be left out, so she helped paint Falcon for added decoration.


Why not just let it go? No adjusted party? Everett being so proactive and helpful is certainly the biggest push for us to go ahead and have a birthday party over a month late. Another big reason though, is the beastie on the way. Once she's born, we'll naturally be more restrictive with activities and interactions. This is both his chance - and our chance - to say hello in person to the people in our lives and get some of that delightful connection we are all missing so much. 

Happy New Year! - January 1, 2021