Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013

Christmas 2013 in a word: Healing.

It was the first time I had brought out the Christmas decorations since Seamus died. It was tough to open those boxes, since the last time I put them away he was the same age as Gus and Greta and of course I envisioned many more Christmases together.  "Do we hang his stocking?" is just one example of an emotional minefield we had to walk through. (Luckily the twins made sure no stockings stayed hung so it was a non-issue!) I felt a lot of pressure to have things figured out in terms of traditions and how Seamus would be honored without making us all too sad to celebrate.

Further complicating things is the insane nature of our lives and schedules these days - it's just nuts. We wake up and we run a million miles an hour all day until we collapse into bed at night. I'm sure any parent of young kids understands. I wanted to be really thoughtful about Christmas/Seamus' birthday, and I was feeling so guilty for approaching it in this half-assed piecemeal way.

With the help of my counselor, friends and family, though, I came to realize that Christmas traditions can evolve, and we don't have to have everything figured out right away. It doesn't have to be perfect because it will never be perfect without Seamus. So with that in mind, I was able to breathe again.

It was an absolutely lovely holiday. Katie, Barry, Stephen and Laura joined us for Christmas Eve dinner. Gris had originally planned to be traveling but her plans fell through so she was with us, too - a bummer for her but a bonus for us and for the twins. We had great food,  we listened to the John Denver Christmas album, Skyped with Dad and Hassie, talked to my mom on the phone (she was in New York with her family) and went for a walk around the block with the twins. On Christmas, we made French toast while the twins played with all their new stuff, went for a walk, stopped by the park, relaxed, and ate leftovers. For all the anxiety I felt as the holiday approached, I am actually sad that it's over!

Eric's Aunt Amy is an amazing knitter. Her latest gift to the twins was these Santa hats, which we got a lot of mileage out of this year despite the fact that the don't like to wear hats. Call it a Christmas miracle, I guess!


 Out for a walk on a foggy Christmas Eve. 


For Christmas Eve dinner, Eric made some spicy shredded pork. Gris and Laura collaborated on homemade tortillas (a Mexican-Guatemalan hybrid version, not that we would have known the difference!) It's amazing to me that last year at this time I did not know either of these women, and now they are practically family, hanging out in my kitchen speaking Spanish and cooking delicious food.

Katie and Barry found their Christmas spirit.

I wanted to get a family shot in front of the tree, but the twins were not cooperating. They violently protested when we took away their binkies...

…so we thought, if you can't beat 'em, join em.

First, the outtakes. 

There are probably 20 pictures in various struggling/wrestling stages.

Finally!

Gus sampled the limes before we ate.

That one was little sour.

OK a lot sour.

Stephen and Laura have been together a year now. Awww...

Later in the evening, after baths, it was time to climb the presents.

For 1 year olds, the presents are much more fun before they are opened.

Christmas morning, the twins discovered that Santa brought magnets for mommy and daddy to step on,

also a fabric tube,

…and a tiny adorable furniture set so they have a place to relax and read, as well as something to climb on that is relatively safe. This picture shows you the extent to which we have to baby proof the living room if the twins are left alone in there for even a few minutes. Gus climbs EVERYTHING, and Greta is a few inches shorter but following his lead. So we prop up the couch cushions, flip over the chair to block the table which blocks the stereo, and move the other table against the flipped over chair to protect him from the chair legs. I swear that between this and the sea of toys and books spread over the floor it looks like a tornado just ripped through our house.



Finally, here's a video of the big Christmas morning reveal. I have a feeling next year will be quite a bit more exciting with less confusion on the part of the twins :)


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Eric and I hosted Thanksgiving dinner this year - a pretty daunting task considering the little whirling dervishes underfoot at all times. Despite the many challenges of hosting a dinner for 11, it was definitely a big improvement over last year, when we ate leftover casserole and watched the Jets get trounced by the Patriots in the infamous "butt fumble" game. (Yes, butt fumble has its own wikipedia page). This year we cooked a turkey and had a very nice spread with some significant contributions from our guests, who included the usual suspects plus our au pair Gris, Laura's mom Carol and our longtime family friend, Brett. Laura's family is Jewish so we even got to celebrate the first day of Hanukkah (aka Thanksgivikkah, for those of you who have not been on the internet in the last 2 months.)


I realize it looks like Thanksgiving exploded in this picture, but the twins actually ate like champions - so much so that they needed a post-dinner bath. 

Stephen kept them entertained while we cleaned up.

Here's a few more pictures from our otherwise non-eventful weekend, which included a series of tiny  striped sweaters, a couple of trips to the park, a walk to get some coffee and a detour through the Adidas campus. 






Some chair pictures, for old time's sake.

Gus is sprouting some curls - he reminds me more of Seamus every day!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

ONE!


Gus and Greta turned one on Sunday! My mom was in town for a few days, but had to leave on Saturday so we celebrated their birthday on Friday evening with pizza, beer and cupcakes. I will admit that it was not the twins' finest moment - you will notice them looking pissed off and/or confused in all the pictures, but maybe they knew it was not their actual birthday? At any rate, it is a huge milestone for me and Eric - we know from experience that things get exponentially more fun in the next few months. It's starting already!

Greta is a little pointing machine. She walks around with her index finger at her side, like a gun in a holster, ready to whip it out anytime she sees something interesting. Gus is the entertainer - modeling hats, stacking blocks and throwing balls, and making crazy noises just to get a reaction out of us. He laughs all the time. Greta is more discerning in her humor, which just makes us all the more ridiculous when trying to get her to crack.

I have told my friends that my life feels a little bit like the movie Groundhog Day. I have 3 kids; I have been a parent since 2008, but have only ever celebrated first birthdays. I am SO excited to embark on the next stage of toddlerhood - hearing them talk, introducing new adventures, new foods, watching them explore, taking them places... I'm ready for the tantrums and the struggles too. I just want to graduate. I think I should have an honorary Ph.D. in babies. (Note to self: add new degree to resume.) 

Anyway, here are some pictures of our celebration, and also some photos we took on their actual birthday. We went for a long walk to a park in our old neighborhood that we used to take Seamus to. It has gotten a makeover and is super toddler-friendly. The kids had a blast and so did we. 

Party hats were busted out.

Gus hates our singing.

Greta is not impressed either.

Cupcakes? Meh. 

Presents, however, are delicious!

Greta during a rare moment of belly laughs.

Gus looking super Irish.

Peek-a-boo!

Sweet Greta.

I want to send a shout out to everyone who has reached out over the last few weeks - both to remember Seamus and to celebrate the twins' birthday. Dad and Hassie were out of the country but provided a box that entertained the twins for weeks before we opened it and discovered toys that were even more interesting than the box! We love hearing from everyone.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Three Years

Tonight we lit a bunch of candles and told Gus and Greta about their big brother as we were giving them their bedtime bottles. When they finished their milk, we wrapped them in blankets and took them outside to try to see if we could get a glimpse at the moon. Alas, this is Portland so naturally it was cloudy, but since they didn't really know what our purpose was they were not disappointed. We read them "I Am a Bunny," put them both in some snuggly hand-me-down PJ's from Seamus, and kissed them goodnight. Now the house is quiet and Eric and I are about to enjoy some winter beers and a homemade dinner. As far as tradition goes, this feels pretty good, and like the kind of ritual we can all look forward to once a year.

We were so lucky to have my mom here for the last few days. Eric and I got to spend the whole day together yesterday - including brunch, a movie and some birthday shopping for Gus and Greta. We also had a little birthday party for the twins yesterday evening (more on that later). I've been thinking so much about Seamus lately - remembering his laugh, his sweet running-start hugs, and the way he powered through every minute of his 22 months on this earth.

We also learned this week that Seamus' transplant recipients are both doing well. The little girl who received his liver is absolutely thriving. His heart recipient has had a rough couple of years, and actually required another heart transplant in 2011. As tough as it is to learn that Seamus heart is no longer beating, we still are tremendously comforted by the fact that it gave this little girl a second chance at life, and we will always wish her and her family well. Her third heart appears to be doing the job, and last we heard she was taking dance lessons.

Thanks to everyone who has reached out this week. It's really amazing to hear from so many people who are still thinking about Seamus and sending love. We feel every bit of it.



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Gus and Greta's first Halloween

Since Halloween falls on a week day this year, we probably won't be doing much celebrating beyond handing out candy to the trick or treaters. That said, we knew that we would never be forgiven if we didn't dress the twins up in some ridiculous outfits and take pictures. We still have not stopped laughing from this photo shoot. Here you go: