All Systems Go

Back in the old days, when we only had one kid, it was easy enough to maintain many of the spontaneous behaviors of our prior DINK lifestyle. For example, we could decide what to have for dinner based on what we were in the mood for at the moment, and even pop into the grocery store on a whim if we were missing an ingredient. Because Gloria was a consistently good sleeper with an early bedtime, we had our evenings to ourselves and could use the time however we liked. It was relatively easy for one of us to disappear in the evening for a yoga class or to meet up with a friend. We even had significant free time to devote to this blog, as evidenced by our careful documentation of Gloria’s first two years. Looking back at that time, I now believe that it doesn’t take much in the way of planning or lifestyle adjustment to manage one child — you may need to adapt your schedule, but you can get by without being terribly organized.

It’s when you have two kids that things get chaotic (and now we have three – yikes!) Kenny and I, having spent enough time managing software projects, zealously believe that the way to counter chaos is with systems. Until I reflected on it today, I didn’t even realize quite how many systems we had devised for managing our household. And given that we still feel like things are out of control much of the time, we likely need more! Here are a few useful systems we have in place:

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Meeting Daddy

I’ve been enjoying looking through photos and finding interesting comparisons between pairs of – or even all three of – our little ones at various stages of their early development. We’ll be posting these with the side by side tag on the blog.

Here’s a cute one for today. Our fabulous doula captured these shots of our newborns’ first moments bonding with their sweet daddy. It appears Kenny has his own preferred way of meeting a newborn.

GloriaKenny meeting Gloria

MicahKenny meeting Micah

EzraKenny meeting Ezra

There’s No Place Like Home

In late June we sent out a save the date for Gloria’s fourth birthday party. Gloria has been obsessed with the Wizard of Oz since December 2014 and we wanted to capitalize on her interest before it passed.

To give ourselves some buffer after Ezra’s due date, we scheduled the party for this past Sunday, a week after Gloria’s actual birthday (and, as it turned out, also a week after Ezzy’s bris). Gloria put on her “Dorothy dress” and her “ruby slippers” and we had an invitation photo shoot during Micah’s nap.

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We were originally going to have the party at a nearby park, leveraging its jungle gyms and water features for party entertainment. Unfortunately, the forecast called for rain and we had to update the party location to our house (there’s no place like home!). Which meant in addition to preparing treats and decorations we also had to come up with some party games.

With the big kids in bed at 6:45PM, it was time to get serious on our party prep. It’s amazing what you can do when you forgo sleep for a night (which our newborn had been giving us lots of practice with over the past two weeks). Here are the steps we followed to put together a Wizard of Oz themed party for a four year old.

Step 1: Prepare some games

We researched some game ideas online. After sifting through a number of ideas, we decided to prepare two games. The first was Pin the Heart on the Tin Man. I zoomed in on the head and shoulders of a picture from the movie, and created the rest of the tin man from a roll of aluminum foil and a nature stick Gloria picked up outside a few days ago.

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The second game was Melt the Witch. Lauren painted a wicked witch on a poster board using washable tempura paint. We’d fill water balloons the next day for the kids to melt her.

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For party favors, we printed out some Wizard of Oz themed coloring and activity pages, tied them into scrolls with yellow ribbon, and finished them with our extra themed cupcake rings.

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Step 2: Thematic treats

Fortunately our kids all have summer birthdays so we have no shortage of fruit available. We put together a rainbow colored fruit plate with strawberries, oranges, pineapple, kiwis, blueberries, and purple grapes.

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Some of the few thematic items we had ordered in advance was cupcake liners and rings. As part of her late night trip to QFC, Lauren also found a pack of rainbow candy on sale, so we used those to top half the cupcakes (freeing up some of the rings for our aforementioned scrolls).

We made some white cake batter and lemon buttercream, and Lauren used the cupcakes as a warm up for the main cake-decorating event.

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Step 3: Stay up late decorating a thematic cake

Each of the past two years we made Gloria a Hello Kitty cake, this year we were liberated from that labor. Instead (because we are sometimes crazy) we decided to recreate the Emerald City. We started with this image from the movie and proceeded to make an array of colored buttercreams. We progressed from the sky with a few clouds, to the yellow brick road, the Emerald City itself, the fields, and finally the poppies. We finished the cake just before 1AM, then we had to clean the kitchen.

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Step 4: Wake up, have coffee, decorate the house

Fortunately we had done a little bit of advance planning and purchased a themed balloon set that included a particularly impressive rainbow balloon. Uncle Shawnie and Amanda used sidewalk chalk to turn our front porch into a yellow brick road. Yellow arrows led guests down the garden steps to the backyard (assuming it didn’t start pouring).

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Step 5: Welcome guests, play the games

Finally, party time. We let the kids mingle and snack for a half hour, and then started the party games. First the kids lined up for Pin the Heart on the Tin Man.

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At this point it had started drizzling outside, which was the perfect atmosphere for Melt the Witch. The water balloons were a little challenging for our preschool crowd, so we upgraded to cups of water (from a bucket of course).

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Step 6: Eat the cake!

We concluded as all good birthday parties should, with a feast of sugary treats on Emerald plates. Micah was especially into the cupcakes.

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Introducing Ezra

Ezra Abraham, our third and last little one, came screaming into the world on Friday morning, after a very quick and intense labor. He was born at 8:05am and weighed 8 pounds, 1 ounce and measured 22 inches long (very tall!). Incredibly, big brother Micah was born on a Friday morning at 8:04am – and their birth stories had several other parallels. With both boys, I was dilated to 3cm and 50% effaced the day before labor began, and labor started in the early morning and proceeded rapidly from there. Because things had moved along so quickly with Micah, we knew that we should head into the hospital quickly this time around. When we arrived, I was pronounced to be 6cm dilated and quickly admitted (just as I had been with Micah).

This labor seemed more intense and painful than the previous one – perhaps because I hadn’t spent much time reviewing my comfort techniques this time around, or perhaps because (as we learned later) baby was in an awkward position (occiput posterior, aka “sunny-side up”). My doctor offered to break my water just after 7am, when I was at 9cm, and I quickly agreed. I had expected the baby to be out within minutes of this procedure, as Micah was, but due to the baby’s position it took some time for him to descend. Fortunately, after a few rather uncomfortable maneuvers, we were able to get baby into the proper alignment, and once we did he came barreling out just like his big brother did. My doctor excitedly held him up and exclaimed, “Hey guys, it’s a boy!” (she – and we – had anticipated a girl). Kenny cut the extremely long umbilical cord and the little guy started nursing right away. Labor was under five hours long. I lost a worrisome amount of blood, but my nurse was able to get things under control quickly and I actually felt great (albeit tired) after the delivery.

We couldn’t be happier with our tall and skinny little guy. Because we had anticipated a girl, we had procrastinated a bit on whittling down our list of boy names. It took us until he was about eight hours old to settle on Ezra as his first name, although his middle name, Abraham, had been decided months earlier in honor of his paternal great-grandfather. We made the final decision over the phone, while Kenny was driving home to pick up the big kids to visit their newest family member at the hospital.

Gloria and Micah had a sweet first meeting with their new brother. Gloria appeared to have gotten over her initial disappointment at not getting a sister, and she thought our new baby was very cute. She announced his name to my mom and the rest of our family. Micah seemed very curious about the new guy, and was quite gentle with him, although we don’t know whether he realizes where Ezra came from or that he’s a permanent part of our family now.

After a short hospital stay, we are home and looking forward – admittedly with some trepidation – to figuring out how to manage as a family of five.

At home
Timing contractions at home

Doula
My fabulous doula helped me stay comfortable

First weigh-in
Ezra weighed a bit less than Micah at birth, but was quite a bit longer

Bonding with Daddy
Bonding with Daddy

Proud grandma
Proud grandma

Snuggle bug
Snuggle bug

First meeting
First meeting with the big kids

Gloria holding Ezra
Gloria was so excited to hold him

Sweetie
Our sweetie

Just like big sis
We were struck by his resemblance to newborn Gloria

Ezzie in a basket
A la Moses

With Mom and Dad
With Mom and Dad

There are more sweet photos from Ezra’s hospital stay here.

March Highlights

The first half of March was not a good time for our family, health-wise. Unfortunately, I expect I will always remember Micah’s first Purim Carnival as the one that he and I both spent covered in vomit (apologies for the imagery).

It started with Micah on the night of the 4th, most of which was spent ejecting his dinner. He ended up getting a little bit of sleep in spurts while Kenny held him, first rocking in our glider chair and later snuggling in the guest room bed. A few days later, when he had been keeping food down for 24 hours, we thought we’d try to take him to the Purim Carnival at school, but that was a mistake – he had his relapse in my arms while we were waiting in line for a balloon animal. He had another episode an hour later while we were at Walgreens buying Pedialyte. Gloria’s symptoms started that afternoon – and we had another night featuring very little sleep and several loads of laundry. Starting at 1:30AM I experienced my own bout of vomiting, observing that, ironically enough, I had escaped my entire first trimester without vomiting, but here I was in my second with a nasty stomach bug.

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January Highlights

A few days after the New Year, we told Gloria over breakfast that she would be getting another brother or sister. Her initial reaction was a look of amazement, and I saw her eyes grow bigger as she considered the implications. Then she remembered her Berenstain Bears book, in which Mama Bear’s lap shrinks as her belly grows, and she said, “Mommy, I’m worried about your lap.” As we were finishing our meal, she requested to sit on my lap, and she came and snuggled with me and I reassured her that there would be space for her for many months still. When I arrived home from work, the first thing she asked me was, “Mommy, is there still a baby in your tummy?” She asked me a few more times in the following days, and since then has had all kinds of cute observations and questions about the new brother or sister who is expected just before her birthday this July. One day, Gloria said to Kenny, “Daddy, you don’t have to worry about taking care of the new baby – I’ll take care of this one.” We’re glad that’s settled.

Gloria and I took an MLK-weekend trip to Southern California for a “girls’ weekend” with grandma. I had been a bit nervous about the trip for a couple of reasons: Gloria had had nightmares and other nighttime disturbances at home for a few nights in a row; she would be sleeping in a bed (not a crib!) at my mom’s house; she would be missing her Saturday and Monday naps due to flight scheduling; and she and I had been bickering a bit lately (although usually related to her interactions with Micah, who was staying home for a guys’ weekend with Kenny).

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A Few Small Steps for Man

For months I’ve been watching Micah cruise furniture and then delicately lower himself to the ground with a squat to convert to his patented gimp crawl. It’s been obvious for awhile that Micah was strong enough to walk but lacked the conviction to do so. This afternoon I used two of his favorite toys above eye level to coax some steps from him on film: