Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lou at TWO

Lou is two.  TWO.  I can hardly believe it.  We are officially out of baby jail.  

Things Lou loves at two: carbs, french fries, broccoli, trucks, trains, cars, books, baths, bubbles, slides, Norah, basketballs, saying no, television, diggers, fruit snacks, jumping on the bed, running, throwing, jokes, toots, Mickey Mouse, pirates, school buses, cookies, pretzels, jumping, cousins, singing, hugs, talking very loudly, forts, body slamming, dog-piling, and strawberry yogurt.

Things Lou doesn't love at two: sharing, taking turns, balanced meals, consistent sleep, brushing teeth, peeing in the potty, not being allowed to drink soapy bathwater, stuff on his hands, sitting at the table, and staying out of time out.

We celebrated last Sunday by taking the kids and the cousins to Chuck-E-Cheese.  There are a lot of things I said I would never do as a parent and I have done just about every one of them.  Going to Chuck-E-Cheese was high on that list.  It was about as bad as I expected, but Lou loved it so that's what matters.  He didn't have much use for any of the games other than skee-ball.  Boy after my own heart.  

We decided not to do a party because I was convinced Baby Junebug would be here on or before Lou's birthday.  I mean, look at this poor woman: 

(As of 8:30 pm on February 28, she's still cooking.  My bets are for March 1.)

Anyway, since we didn't do a party we got him a fancy cake.  My colleague at work has a cousin who is a pastry chef and does custom cakes out of her home.  I asked for a fun Bob the Builder cake. This is what I got:

It was unbelievable.  The level of detail was amazing.  That's all hand rolled fondant.  I mean, Bob had a tool belt with a tiny wrench and hammer.  I couldn't get over how awesome it was.  I hated to even cut it.  (Her business is called My Sweet Austin and you can find her website here.)  It was amazing.

I think this photo is hilarious.  He looks like a little mouse.  He was really into the pizza.

Thank goodness for people who love you enough to brave Chuck-E-Cheese with you.

As an interesting FYI--Chuck-E-Cheese now carries a gluten free cheese pizza.  It is not made there, so there's no issue of cross contamination and it's baked in an individual sealed wrapper.  It was Norah approved.

Megan and Trevor were great sports and helped the little kids play games and amass tickets.  I think they had more than 500 tickets by the end.  It earned them a tiny plastic car and some smarties.

Today, on Lou's actual birthday, we gave him our gifts and then it was a normal day--kids went to school, BVZ and I went to work.  Norah made him a card.

We got him a basketball goal, which he loved.  He is pretty good at it and loves to dunk.  He likes to move fast.  The kid is really athletic.  If he follows the path he's on he will never be a football player (which is totally fine with me), but I can definitely see him being great at baseball and/or basketball.  BVZ likes to remind me that he was the MVP of his high school basketball team.  I like to remind him everyone at his school was white and he was the only one over six feet tall.

We also got him a little toy piano.  He loves it and when he plays it reminds me of that guy from old school Sesame Street episodes who would get frustrated and beat the crap out of his piano (I don't think he's a character anymore--very un-PC).

He got to eat french toast with whipped cream for breakfast, oatmeal cookies at school, french fries and strawberry yogurt for dinner, and leftover cake for dessert.  His culinary dream come true.

I can't imagine our family, or this life, without this guy.  Happy birthday, Lou.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Saturday, February 23, 2013


The adjustment to Lou sleeping in a toddler bed has been as difficult as I expected it to be.  For the first four or five nights, he woke up just about every hour screaming and/or banging on his door.  It was about as fun as having a newborn again.  It's gotten progressively better.  He still wakes up a couple of times a night, but is (for the most part) able to soothe himself back to sleep without our intervention.  Unfortunately, we still hear him on the monitor and so even if no one has to go get him, we are still waking up because he's really loud.  BVZ and I have taken to sleeping in separate rooms and taking turns who has to be on duty.  In the morning when he is up for the day he bangs on the door and yells, "Mamacita!  Come get Louie!"  It pretty much makes up for all the late night wakings. (Norah is obsessed with her Spanish class and likes to teach Lou what she learns).

He's getting better about staying in the actual crib at night, but most days this is where his nap ends up. 

Last weekend I discovered him asleep on the floor with no pants and wearing his red cowboy hat.  We're going with it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Our Friend Wyatt

This is Wyatt.

Wyatt is a boy filled with joy, unending curiosity, and love. He enjoys going to preschool, helping his Dad in the garage, cooking with his Mom, kicking the soccer ball, and playing with anything that has wheels. Wyatt is like any other three-year-old: silly, energetic, naughty at times, and full of life. He brings boundless amounts of happiness to his parents, his family, his friends, and everyone who is lucky enough to meet him.  He is the perfect reminder that life is for living out loud.

Wyatt also has a horrible disease that will rob him of his mobility; his speech; his ability to read, write, eat and drink; and ultimately, will take his life.  In September 2011, Wyatt was diagnosed with a very rare and degenerative disease called Ataxia-Telangiectasia (A-T).  The disease is progressive and affects the control that Wyatt has over each of his muscles.  If you take the symptoms of muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, AIDS, and cancer and put them together--you have the symptoms of A-T.

In the time since Wyatt's diagnosis, his days (as well as the days of his remarkable parents, Mike and Maggie) have been filled with tears, doctor's visits, therapy sessions, blood tests, and endless waiting for results.  But they have also been filled with laughter, love, and the boundless energy of a three-year-old.  The road is long and the fight is unfair, and every days calls for courage and bravery.  Wyatt's name means "little or brave warrior" and he is exactly that.  

A-T is considered to be an "orphan" disease, meaning there is no government funding for research. Approximately 500 children in the United States and Canada are afflicted by the disease, and all progress in research and development depends on donations from individuals and private organizations.  Every advancement in research brings life-improving therapies and the hope for a cure. Research into A-T can also help medical advancements on more "mainstream" diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, various kinds of cancers, and immune deficiencies.  Wyatt deserves hope.  So do his parents.  So do all of the children devastated by this cruel disease.

So, what can we do?  Well, this Labor Day weekend, Mike, Maggie, Wyatt, and their family and supporters (alongside other A-T families) will be running/walking in the annual A-T Race for a Cure in Disneyland.  Research is the best hope for doing something about A-T and research takes money.  They need help in this fight.  You can click here to go Team Wyatt's page to read more about him and make a donation in his name.  Please consider donating if you can.  Even a few dollars makes a difference to Wyatt and his fellow brave warriors.

We love Wyatt and we love his parents.  You don't need to know them personally to know that no one deserves the suffering and devastation that A-T causes.  Wyatt deserves the chance to life a long life, free of pain, and full of hope.  Help us show him that hope.

Be Still My Heart...

This is what Norah left me in the drive way yesterday, to be discovered when I got home from work.

Monday, February 11, 2013


Louis climbed out of his crib today. He cried during his nap today (I was home) and I let him fuss until it was clear he wasn't going to stop without intervention. I went into his room and he was hanging off the side of the crib, deciding whether or not to drop down. I put him back in and stood there while he climbed out again. Rinse and repeat.

Needless to say, the crib got converted to the toddler bed before bedtime. He was really into it and shouted 'big boy bed' about eight billion times. It took him a while to settle down and go to sleep and he's been up about four times already (it's just about midnight). I knew it was only a matter of time with this guy.

I am 1% sad there will never be a baby sleeping in a crib here again (at least one that belongs to me), and 99% elated that there will never be a baby sleeping in a crib here again (at least one that belongs to me).


I can't believe this dude is going to be two in less than three weeks.  He's an animal.  He has the worst table manners of any kid on the planet and blames his toots on anyone else in the room.  He also gives the best hugs possible and will respond with "I love you, TOOOOOOOO" when you tell him that you love him.  He counts to ten (one, two, purple, ten); knows all of his colors (when in doubt he calls it purple); and demands the "Hop Hop song" and to be shown as many school buses as possible every time we are in the car.  He eats nothing, yet in-explicitly has enough energy for break dancing and ninja climbing the stairs.  He will tell the same knock-knock joke 8,000 times in a row and think it's hilarious every time (knock, knock; who's there?; train; train who?; choo-choo train!)

I can't even remember what life was like without him.

Valentine's Party Playdate

From the time she was six weeks old, Norah was having play-dates.  And by Norah having play-dates, I mean I was having play-dates.  We saw Ruby and Caleb at least once a week, and sometimes lots of times a week.  We got together with other baby friends all of the time.  It's been harder since we've been in Texas, not because there aren't awesome people with kids, but because we haven't found that same groove within differing work schedules, new babies, other commitments, etc.  Also, having cousins around has relieved some of my guilt in not making more effort in setting more play-dates up.  And if I am being perfectly honest, I know that the majority of the friends Norah is making in pre-school will not be going to her same elementary school and I figure she will have to start from scratch at that point anyway.  (Don't even get me started about how much I suck regarding play dates and Lou.  He's never had one with anyone he's not related to.  I will pay for his therapy, I promise).  

We have been really fortunate in that my work schedule has been very flexible and Bubby is around to pick up a lot of the child care slack.  When we first got Norah into the school she is at now, the only availability for her class was full time (five days a week, all day), or the Tuesday/Thursday class, all day.  We didn't need full time care and I did not want to pay for full time care, so we took the Tuesday/Thursday spot.  She likes her school and her class, but only going two days a week and going ALL day turned out to be a bit of a problem (okay, a big problem).  She felt very disconnected from her peers and what was going on in the class because she missed so much of it and wasn't around when the girls were really getting to know each other, as almost everyone else was there full time.  Plus, she really, really hated having to nap at school and even the thought of it gave her major anxiety.  For whatever reason, things kind of came to a head last fall (after she had been on that schedule for a few months), and school days really became stress days.  She would cry on the mornings she had to go to school, beg not to have to go to school, and then completely effing lose it when I took her to school.  I mean, full on hysterical crying, begging me not to leave, losing it.  

WTF?  This wasn't her first time at the rodeo.  She had been in the care of someone else for a good part of the day since she was a year old, and had been in a school environment for well over a year.  After conferencing with her teachers we decided she needed to be there more often and at the first of the year we transitioned her to five days a week, half days.  She is there every day now, but either myself or Bubby picks her up after lunch as the other kids are winding down and getting ready to take a nap.  It's made a remarkable difference.  She is back to being really excited about going to school, there doesn't seem to be any anxiety, and she's really engaging with the other kids.  At her parent-teacher conference last month he teacher said that while she's always been at the very top of the class academically (holla!) she is now really starting to come into her own socially.  She has always been kind to others and very well liked by other kids, but super shy and unlikely to either initiate play or actively engage with what's going on.  That's finally starting to change a bit and so when Norah asked if she could invite the girls from her class over for a Valentine's Day party, I was only too happy to oblige.  

There are only six girls total in the class (including Norah) so it was a perfect number.  I let Norah pick out all of the cups, plates, napkins, etc. and decide on the menu.

We ordered pizza, had fruit skewers, and carrots with ranch dressing.  Basically, Norah's favorite meal.

We set up a cupcake decorating table and baked the cupcakes that morning (gluten free--when the girls were eating them I could tell some of them thought there was something not quite right, but thankfully no one said anything to Norah.  Ha.)

As soon as the girls got there they decorated cupcakes and made a spectacular mess.   I might be sweeping up sprinkles for the next year.  After that they just kind of went bananas.  I am actually glad I didn't plan any other activities because they just tore through the house and then played outside on the play set.

Pizza was eaten, cupcakes were consumed, all fruits and vegetables were ignored.  Then they headed upstairs for popcorn and a showing of "Princess and the Popstar."  One by one all of the girls tired of the movie and went and found something else to do until Norah was the only one left watching.  She agreed to take a break to play, with the promise that I would "pause it so I can watch it later."  She's an addict.

It was a great success.  I was very relieved to see how into it Norah was and how sweet and fun her friends are.  The moms were into it as well and hopefully some kind of regular play date will get going with this group.  No one will ever replace our "baby friends" but at least we will send her to kindergarten being able to make her own friends.

(This dude was a mess.  He's had the cold that never goes away the past couple of weeks and was so pissed on Saturday that we knew something was wrong and BVZ took him to urgent care during the party.  Ear infection, of course.  He got fixed up with an antibiotic and a sticker and then came home to six girls who wanted to play with him.  Not a bad life.)

The Lion King

GG hooked us up this year with season tickets to the Broadway in Austin series.  It's been awesome. We have seen some great shows and it has forced BVZ and I to leave the house and spend some quality time together.  Plus, the theater serves wine.  (It's also actually a really nice reminder that Austin is a big city with lots of cultural opportunities.  It's easy to forget sometimes in light of all the bbq and splash pads, but given the right set of circumstances it can be a cosmopolitan kind of place.  Sort of).  

Anyway, one of the shows in our package was the Lion King, so we swapped our two Saturday night tickets for three Sunday matinee tickets and took Norah to her first musical.  I knew she would love it and figured she would be fine even at a 2+ hour show, considering the kid can sit and watch all three Toy Story movies in a row.  She was very excited and brought along her stuffed lion, "Lionee" because "he will enjoy seeing his original family."

Outside of the theater:

Holding up her ticket and program:

BVZ was in charge of exchanging the tickets and he went all out and got the best seats in the house.    I always enjoy sitting in the balcony, but it was a really good call on his part for Norah's first show-she was at the perfect vantage point and being so close kept her interested and engaged the entire time.  That and the bag of m&m's I had in my purse.

At intermission being "sad" about the dad lion dying.

It was a huge success and it made me very excited to think of all the fun stuff we are going to be able to do with her that is not necessarily kid-centric.  Next season includes Wicked and she's already picked out her outfit.

Friday, February 01, 2013

It's a Mad, Mad World

You may have seen this story around the national news the past couple of days.  The lawyer killed was someone I knew.  He graduated in the same law school class as BVZ (the year behind me) and was quite possibly one of the smartest, nicest, most genuine people I have ever met.  I did not know him well myself and while he and BVZ were good friends in school, they had not really kept in touch in the years following their graduation.  But I can't stop thinking about him.  About his wife and his elementary school aged kids (he had a newborn in law school--that alone makes him a superman), about his firm and the legal community he served.  About his friends and extended family, about all of us who were fortunate enough to cross paths with him.  And about how everything can change in an instant.

It was a senseless tragedy.  And was probably preventable.  I don't care where you fall on the gun control debate, you have to agree.  This madness has to stop.


This is currently my favorite picture of Norah.  It's the perfect combination of sweet and sass.  Moments before it was taken she was being a total nightmare and refusing to smile.  I told her to shape up and I got nowhere.  I told her she could have a marshmallow in the car on the way to school and I got this.

The get-up is for "rodeo" day at school.  I am not exactly sure what that means, but I imagine it is the PC alternative to "cowboy" day.  Although, I really wasn't aware that cowboy wasn't PC.  Anyway, since Norah refuses to wear pants we had to go to Target to get these jeans for the occasion.  She definitely has the VZ body type.  She has no hips and we could not find pants that fit her both length wise and waist wise (boo-hoo, I know).  I finally found some adjustable ones and took the ribbon out of my pajamas pants for a belt.  She also begged for this hat at Target.  I told her it was a cabana hat but she was not dissuaded.  I admire her perseverance.