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Monday, June 30, 2008

Welcome to the world Brayden Thomas!

Our adorable nephew was born yesterday, June 29 at 2:09 p.m., weighing in at a perfect
7 lb 9 oz. He followed Maya into the world exactly eight months after she was born. I remember that we were home from the hospital only about 10 days when Kathryn found out that she was not just tired- she was pregnant.


Proud daddy.

Sorry there are no pictures of the proud mommy. My camera lost its battery.

All three are currently settled in at the Maine General Thayer campus maternity ward- a.k.a. the Ritz-Carlton of all maternity floors. Kathryn's room looks like a hotel room, seriously. It has an armoir, a pull-out sofa, and a table and chairs. Her labor room had a jet tub, real bathroom fixtures and a wooden dresser and cabinet. The bathroom was a big as our home bathroom. Cushy, yes indeed. I think it made more of an impression on the visitors than on my laboring sister, though.

Ella's beloved cousin, Michaela (the new big sister) was thrilled to have Ella there. My mom and I took the girls out to supper and then watched them run off a sugar high. As Patti, Sandi's mom said, it's a good thing that there is another, younger cousin for Maya to have because Michaela is all Ella's.

So happy you're here baby boy. We aren't a perfect family but we have a lot of fun and I think you'll like us just fine. We already know that we love you.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

On his way...

Right now my sister is in Thayer hospital in Waterville in labor.

Right now.

I am here on this rainy, relatively yucky, Sunday trying to keep my girls happy. Making lunch, folding laundry, cleaning up. She's working on birthing her baby. Doesn't quite seem right.

I feel entirely powerless. I can't very well pace the halls of the hospital with the girls in tow (although I do plan to pack them up and go when the birth is imminent.) And it's not as though I would have a whole bunch more power to help her even if I was on the premise, wringing my hands and waiting to hold my new nephew.

It's just weird that I am doing nothing and she is doing everything- the grand event, the greatest gesture, the biggest thing most women do in one single act.

Her labor has started and stopped and she has had trouble progressing. So they broke her water in hopes that would kick it into gear. There is no going back now. He is on his way.

And I am waiting for the call that there is SOMETHING I can do to be helpful or constructive. Good luck Kathryn. I love you.

Movies

We don't see a lot of these. If we do, it takes us two to three nights to get through them (you know, Netlix.)

However, in some fluke on the time/space continuum, we have seen TWO really good ones lately that warrant a small write-up.

First, on our vacation, we got to go out and see the "Sex and the City" movie. On the way there, we mused that we had probably only been to the movies ONCE since Ella was born. I don't even remember what we saw but I vaguely remember being in the dark and waiting for it to start. I'm thinking one of the Harry Potter's. We watched all six seasons of Sex and the City and I was super excited to see the movie. It did not disappoint. It was funny, sexy, surprising, dramatic and really very moving. For anyone who has hung out with those 4 crazy women for six years, you'll know what I mean when I say it was good to see them again! Thanks Maria and Jeanine for watching the girls for us.

Secondly, slow-comers that we are to most current things, we finally watched "Little Miss Sunshine." I think this movie made the Oscar round quite a few years ago. Some people had told me it was funny, some had said it was dark, others (my mother I think) said it was wholly dysfunctional. We absolutely loved it. It is all of those things, but the funny wins them all. Nothing is funnier than real life being real. Do you know? If you haven't seen this wacky movie about a crazy family who goes on a life-altering trip for their very ordinary looking, but very extraordinary daughter to go to a beauty pageant, go rent it NOW!

Okay, that's it for my movie reviews for at least another year.

The X

So some of you have heard me talk about P90X.

The tag line for this extreme workout series is "Do you want to get ripped in 90 days?"

Every morning, or at least six days a week when I would rise at 5 a.m. I would ask myself this question.

Usually the answer was, "Not really."

Why then? Why remain dedicated for THIRTEEN weeks to a program so grueling (I'm talking 13 different workouts on varying schedules designed to "confuse" your muscles so that when they adjust to the difficulty of something, you switch it up make them do more) that I think the Navy SEALS might want to think about incorporating it into their training? For me the answer is simple.

It's called mental sanity.

Yes, you heard me. I gave up much needed sleep for a little something called endorphins. This became my morning coffee, the jolt that would put me in the frame of mind to keep up with our little rugrats day in and day out. It was the only time that I could carve out for me (although at least 60% of the time I had one or both girls underfoot by the time the workout ended.) Getting ripped (which I must admit I am a little bit) was just an added benefit.

I had started P90X before Maya was born, got halfway through and gave it up when she was 10 days old for obvious reasons. When she was just shy of 5 months, I decided I was ready and needed an outlet. It was either exercise, eat, or take up a drinking habit. Exercise seemed the best, albeit not the easiest, option. Trish and I decided to do it together and I am incredibly grateful to her for it. She made it fun. I could have done it myself but I would have just pushed through. Trish brought the joy factor, all the way around. When it would get hard (well it started hard- I should say when it got impossible) and the sequence for one arm push ups or one-legged wall squats would come on, Trish would start badmouthing Tony, the coach, and swear at the TV. What better way is there to start your day then to take out all your pent up aggression at a defenseless recording?

And even though I begrudged my early risers, I have to admit I love that the girls get to have role models of capable and strong women. "Is that hard. Momma?" Ella would ask as we grunted and sweat like men trying to do just one more rep of the 15th push-up exercise. I love to see Ella leaping across the floor with us doing Plyometrics or getting on a yoga mat and copying all the various forms of stomach crunches. She thinks resistance bands are the most fun toy ever made. Sandi bought me some push-up bars (to make it harder- go figure) and Ella loves them. Sometimes now in the middle of the day she'll pull them out. "Just a minute," she'll say when I ask her to come. "I've got to do my push-ups."

So what's next for me? Another round of P90X, of course. We did the classic program. Next time I will do the lean program which has a bit less of the crazy muscle building work and more cardio to lean down. Mostly, I want to maintain what I have worked so hard to build. First a break is in store for this strong but tired body. But not too long - there is no grass growing on me.

P.S. Thanks Trish for bringing it. You rock.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Seriously?

Ella has been saying the most INCREDIBLE things to me.



Yesterday, at breakfast she said, "Is my spirit still here?" Then she lifted up her dress, checked her tummy and said, "Yup."



I was commenting on how I love when the city paints the lines back on the road so we can see where to go. She asked why and I explained that in the winter they get worn off and then they paint them back on. As if fully grasping now the constant evolution of seasons she said, "And then they will wear off again in the winter and they will paint them back on again." To everything, turn, turn, turn.



We pulled into a shopping center and there was a woman walking into the pharmacy. She was wearing a slightly inappropriate top, like a halter top that forgot to cover her belly, with a long flowing skirt. Ella had been remarking on loving summer because of short sleeves, skirts and dresses. "Like her skirt, Momma," she said. "Except, what is her shirt?" I told her it was like a small t-shirt.



Ella very confidently and without the slightest bit of scorn, says, "No. That's more like a bra."



When we went to Storyland, Sandi took her into a shop to get some things (read: junk) and told her that she could pick out the much requested t-shirt in addition to the jewlery she had already chosen. Ella told her that she wanted to get two matching stuffed animals, one for her and one for Brevie. And that is just what she did. The look of pure joy on her face when she gave it to him should be bottled and sold for good money.


We got a new Jewel CD (my favorite female singer and a long anticipated purchase for me.) Ella has taken a shine to Jewel, my heart beat proud. However, if anyone remembers last summer's loop play of the Beach Boys "Barbara Ann" (we listened to it on repeat the entire 2 hour trip to Beals last summer) then you know Ella can ruin a song for an adult better than anyone I know. Sandi would say, "Well, I used to like Barbara Ann...." Well, Ella is slightly obsessed with the first track of the Jewel CD. And, she's a girl after my own heart, singing along with the chorus: "I'm gonna love myself more than anyone else- believe in me even if no one can see the stronger woman in me. Gonna be my own best friend, stick with me 'till the end. Gonna lose myself again? No. No. Cause there's a stronger woman, stronger woman in me." I tell you, Raffi can't beat Jewel with a stick.

The other night she slept with us while I was racked with a bout of the stomach flu (long story as to why she was in the bed next to the germs.) When she woke up in the morning, instead of asking me to rub her arm like she ALWAYS does whenever anyone snuggles with her, I woke out of a deep, sick sleep to find her rubbing my arm just as gently and with just as much love as I rub hers.

This morning she got up at 5:15, ostensibly to "spend time with my family." I think she was hungry and the light was bright around her window shades.





We've had some TOUGH emotional dramas with Ella in the past month or so but they finally seem to ebbing. What is left is a smooth stone, like a piece of sea glass whose edges have been buffed by the surf, one you want to rub with your thumb as it sits nestled in your pocket. I want to hold her at arm's length and see if I still see it or if my vision is clouded from being so close. And when I do, when I step back, I see that she is truly becoming the little person she came here to be- the determined, magical, gifted, free-spirited and vibrant being she came to be. When I look at the rest of the pictures Amanda took of the girls (which we'll post soon) I know that she sees it too and got it on film.





I said to Ella as we sat snuggling today, "You are such a special little girl." She replied, "Thank you, Momma." Thank you Ella. Thank you for picking us.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Oh my are these kids fun!

Ella's and Maya's playset, while still under construction, is ready for play!! And Ella has done a ton of it in the past couple of sunny days. Here are some snapshots of her fun romping in the yard. Sorry, there are no full shots of the playset. I think it's either Sandi's modesty or her desire to finish is completely before she posts a picture of it.















Naked is always best- okay almost always.

Storyland

We wrapped up our vacation with a rockin' trip to Storyland in Glen, NH. We had so much fun there last year with my sister, our niece Michaela and my mom, that we made sure to build it into our summer itinerary this year. Since my sister is about to pop, closing in on her due date to deliver a much anticipated little baby boy (and our second nephew), she wasn't able to go. This was a bit of a bummer since my sister and I had as much, if not more, fun than our daughters did last year, running and skipping around Storyland more like five-year-olds than the thirtysomethings we are.

So we gathered up a group of equally lovely women and children for this year's trip- Kristi and Brevan and Kristi's friend Jess and her son Jonah, and, squeezed into a little cottage with us just like family, were Mindy, Charissa and Emerson. We knew it would be Ella and 3 two-year-old boys. We knew we had a baby this year to factor into the mix. We thought we could foresee all and secure any problems that might arise. This was largely true- we had the necessary rain gear for a few momentary downpours, we packed Maya's giant swing for sleeping which was more than necessary, and I ramped up my energy level so I could play with Ella the way Michaela would have. But the truth is, Ella was a bit lost.

Sandi and I learned fully and completely that Ella is at the stage where friends, and especially peers, are incredibly important to her. She had a ton of fun with the boys, especially romping around with them back at the cabins. But when it came to the bigger rides, the ones she LOVED last year, it seemed she really needed to borrow on the courage of an older, wiser friend who was, unfortunately, absent. The saddest part for us is that we couldn't be this for her. No amount of enthusiasm on our part (including jumping up and down, at the edge of cartwheels) or participation and bravery from the clan of boys could prompt Ella into full blown enjoyment of Storyland. We could have sat right down and cried.

But there are, of course, some wonderful pictures. And by the way, Maya had a great time, was a champ about the travel, the stroller, the sun, the whole thing - plus she got her first taste of ice cream.

Ella and Brevie- on the run.




Maya with her mini-mohawk and lickin' her chocolate ice cream.






Peekin' out of Peter Pumpkin's pie.



Emerson had the best time at Storyland! I think he went on every ride and he may have even received some sort of medal for the most time ever spent on the Storyland train.


Maya LOVED the carousel. I, on the other hand, got a bit sick after the second go-around.




Ella had to have her sunglasses - not for her eyes but to wear like a headband. She gets more and more specific about her personal fashion with each passing day.


I think this was harmless play but it looks like Brevan is taking Jonah down in the ball pit.

I will say that the adult time we had on our trip was incredibly fun. After we got the kids to bed, we sat up and drank wine and laughed ourselves silly, something we don't often do anymore (this seems too basic, but why is that?) And here, are some snippets of things I heard people say that cracked me up.

"Please don't eat the floor." - a request for Jonah from his mother when we stopped for lunch.

"Will Humpty's Dump do?" - question posed to Jess and Kristi regarding their desire to go to Freeport on the way back to Maine. We passed a junkyard by this name on our way to Storyland.

"Do they sell beer at Storyland?" - Charissa asked the night before we went.

"I don't think they can do anything to it by pressing buttons." -Jess's famous last words regarding the boys playing with the CD player.

"Is it too early to buy wine in New Hampshire?" -me asking at 7 a.m when I went to the Irving for maple syrup (I was planning ahead for the evening.) "Oh, hell no!" -the answer from a fellow female customer.

"I'm not lazy. I just really like to be waited on." - Charissa in reference to how well Mindy takes care of her.

"Get a whooper today." - a sign on a Burger King Mindy and Charissa passed on their way to NH.

"I see a red skittle. Did somebody poo?" - question posed by Jess to Ella regarding Ella's skittle reward system for using the toilet.

"What is it that people say I am?? What is that word? Oh, I can't think of it! What is it??" - Kristi asking everyone. "Overstimulated?" I offered. "Yes, that's it."

And here is a P.S.

"I wish I had a flurident." - said by Sandi the evening we came home. Mindy had spent some time convincing us of the merit of the flurident- a fancy shaped toothpick that takes the place of flossing for plaque removal. Initially skeptical, we were full participants in the nightly ritual by the time we departed.




Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Amanda's Magic

Here are some sneak peeks of the photos we had taken of the girls. This woman, Amanda Burse, is a brilliant photographer who is just starting out. She is offering an incredibly reasonable "portfolio building" special and we were fortunate to get in on it. If you are interested in any of her work her website is http://www.labellavitaphotos.com/.

I think these are so very special. I love the way she captured the spirit of our girls- her talent is just magical. Thanks Amanda.







Monday, June 16, 2008

Vacation...or something like it

In true Carver fashion we are in full vacation swing, packing our days from morning till night. Yes, yes, we know. We are trying to slow it down. But truly, I am beginning to wonder if it is even within our scope of functioning to operate at an abbreviated pace.

Vacation can feel like it will last forever when an entire week or more stretches out before you. Oh, we can do this and go here and work on this. We have been spending our days outside, working in the yard, on the gardens and, for Sandi, on the playset. Pictures will be forthecoming- I promise. Ella and Maya were able to swing on it yesterday. The play towers are still under construction and will be complete with slides, a rock wall, a ramp, a ladder, a trap door and a walking bridge. What lucky girls!

The girls have been having some issues sleeping, especially Maya with her sprouting teeth and all, but I think we are settling in, determining what we want out of this time, REALLY, and have it not just be about projects. For instance, I want to go on one bike ride, have one day to sleep in (which I got yesterday), have one really good ice cream cone, and go on a date with Sandi (and thanks to the dynamic du0 of Jeanine and Maria that is in the works too.) The end of our week wraps up with a kickin' trip to Storyland with the girls, Mindy and Charissa, Kristi and Brevan and Kristi's friend from Beals Island.

Perhaps my favorite part of vacation so far has been the hour that Sandi and I spent out on the balcony off our bedroom the other night. After spending close to TWO HOURS getting both our girls to sleep, we were weary and a bit broken. Sitting out on our gravity chairs, watching twilight decend and the moon brighten- it was pure, restorative magic.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Soothing

Lots of things feel good- running through a sprinkler when it is 93 degrees, eating ice cream cones, running around naked and jumping in a pool, sleeping with the windows open and just a sheet for cover, accomplishing something you have really needed/wanted to do... all these things happened this weekend for various members of our family.

Other things feel good too. Ella was riding with Tia (Trish) in her car for the first time the other day. She said, "Hey, Tia. You know what? I love you."

It feels good to have a beloved friend come and babysit and keep your children well and happy so you can fit in an extra client before going on vacation. It feels even better when they stay for lunch and a romp around the kitty pool.

For me it feels AMAZING that our electricity bill decreased by $65 last month with only 3 weeks of the month using our new washer and dryer, the ones I have affectionately dubbed Lucy and Ethel.

And then there is the moment when you are trying to pull it together, trying to keep your head in the game with two children crying/whining/screaming at the same time, when your three-year-old comes up to you, hugs you tight and says, with extreme empathy in her voice and in the manner and tone matched exactly to mine, "Sometimes it's just hard, Momma" just like I say to her.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

laundry reduction

We have a new method for reducing the amount of garments mounting into laundry stacks on the bathroom floor. Ella came up with it actually. It's called wear-the-same-thing-to-bed-that-you-wore-all-day. After a bath, she'll say "Can I put my skirt back on?" And we've come to say, why the hell not? Forget the pj's. Ella just wants a skirt and a shirt- or better yet, nothing at all. Ella doesn't wear "regular" clothes anymore. Each day is a new opportunity for a new dress, skirt, or a newly discovered combination of her usual standbys. While she does change her outfit many times a day, unless she is outside making a mess, the clothes don't get all that dirty, making for a large volume of worn clothes but not so many in need of laundering. This makes me a happy mom.

Do we see her passion funneling into a career as a high powered New York fashion designer or some obscure, clothing obsessed woman who still thinks a tu-tu is the way to go at age 25?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The new and improved motorcycle

We had an unbelievable downpour this afternoon- the type where the drops fall on the windshield the radius of a tea cup and the high speed wipers don't even do the job.

Emilie and I took our kids to get an ice cream (and it was going to be the park before the rain washed away that plan.) On the way there, we passed a couple of motorcyclists getting soaked in the rain. Ella noted some things that would make their ride better.

"Motorcycles should have a roof on them."

"Those guys on the motorcycle should carry an umbrella."

Picture those in your mind and try not to laugh. Especially if you substitute parasol for umbrella.

Completely unrelated, I want to make a public (or semi-public for the 5 people who read this blog) declaration of appreciation for our friends and family. I get the sense that people know how much support I have needed recently. Yesterday, my very pregnant sister came and spent the day with me and our dear friends Jeanine and Maria babysat the girls so I could give her a massage. My mom has been coming up to visit, sleepover and help out a ton since Maya has been born- she comes up most Sundays that Sandi works just to keep me company since most of my friends are busy with their families on the weekend. Mindy and Charissa are a grounding force who know just when to stop by, offer supper, take Ella for a few hours or drop off a yummy piece of rhubarb pie. Emilie, always looking for something to occupy her time too, can be counted on for an easy trip to the park or a visit at one of our houses. My friend Angela has become wonderful company for me, both in person and on the phone and email, just when I feel I might lose my mind, and Ella (and I) adore her son Brady. Thanks to Trish for being my ever steady work out partner keeping my physical and mental state strong. And to the rest of the Carvers who would and have dropped everything if we are in need (or even want.)

I don't know if it takes a village to raise a child exactly. But for me, it takes at least all of these people and for all of you (and those I may not have named right now) I am externally appreciative. I love you all.

The Visible Purple Family

The other day we were at Lowe's buying lumber for Ella and Maya's super duper, Sandi designing on steroids, play set. We were walking through the store, Ella on Sandi's shoulders, Maya strapped on me in the Baby Bjorn. A cashier, with no customers, was out milling in the main thoroughfare and came out to see the girls. She oohed and aaahed over them and Ella even told her she was three when asked (something she has never done with a stranger.) The women said to Maya, "You out shopping with your mom?"

In the easy manner I use in these situations, I simply said, "Yup. Their out with both their moms."

Now some people wonder why do this. What does the Lowe's Lady care about a 2 mom family. The answer (which most reading this blog would gather) is simply that it feels incredibly important to be visible, to be proud, to be relaxed and be happy to be just what we are. It is so critical to us that people see that same-sex parent households look a whole lot like the standard.

She smiled and we went on our way. A few minutes later, I ran back to the bathroom to get water for Maya's bottle and passed her on my way out.

She told me to have a nice day and then, as I was running toward the parking lot and our crying baby, she called, "By the way, you two make a cute couple... and a cute family!"

And a side note: Ella got a kid-safe princess hand fan at the store the other day. It was in the "impulse buy" section of the check-out, right at kid level. She had asked me for it on at least 5 other trips and I had told her no. This day, she had been so good and patient through the whole trip and I was so appreciating her patient perseverance, I said yes. I told her the biggest reason why I said yes was that she had not complained every other time I had told her no.

So she proudly brought the fan home. She was playing with Maya in the kitchen and I was unloading the bags. I had asked her the same question a few times with no answer from her and she was getting aggravated with me. Finally, she spun around and thrust her fan-clutching hand toward me, pointed it with some serious precision and threatened, "IF YOU ASK ME THAT QUESTION ONE MORE TIME I WILL TURN YOU PURPLE!"