New Adventure for Us

Quick catch up for all…Brandon quit his job and we moved to the suburbs.  :::insert record scratch…say what??:::

So, last fall Brandon started talking about going out on his own (starting his own architecture firm).  At the same time he started talking about moving out of the city–rents are sky high/ridiculous/uber competitive and so there was no way we could afford to move within the city.  While we have no family expansion plans in the works right now (read: I am NOT pregnant), we couldn’t help but think about our living situation and trying to add a little person to the mix.  Some people can rock the two-kids-in-a-1 bedroom, but with us and the cats it was just too much to contemplate.  All this said, I wasn’t ready to think about leaving the city, so while Brandon was sending me listings and keeping an eye out for things, I ignored it all.

In January we started having more serious talks about Brandon starting his own thing and what that means for our family.  We realized that moving out of the city, while extremely sad, was financially inevitable if we were going to take this leap (especially if we want to expand our family).  Finally I got on board the moving train (feet dragging still) and started looking at listings and even going to see a few places.  We looked all over the Bay Area but nothing was really catching our eye.  We found some stuff that was “fine,” but a) who wants just “fine” and 2) coming from a super cute SF 1920’s apartment with hardwood floors, character and tons of light, a dark 80’s condo was really hard to stomach.  Call me a snob, but I needed a place that would soothe my transition.

Mid March, two things happened almost at once: we found out Brandon landed a job he had put out a proposal for, and I found us a house (for rent) in the town I grew up in (which happens to be where my grandmothers/parents/sister/aunt/uncle/cousins live).  At first I wasn’t sure I was excited to move back, but I realized how much the help would be welcome and the house really was (spoiler alert: IS) awesome.  I had actually looked at the listing before, but right around the time we were like dang, okay, we need to move NOW, the house dropped in price.  Serendipity?  Plus, it was downtown (a requirement when we talked of moving back to my hometown) where I could still walk to everything like I did in SF, and it was a 1913 house with tons of character.  The selling point that put it over the top?  3 bedrooms PLUS an office (well, technically a parlor, but it makes a perfect office).  The office is off the living room, full of bright sunlight and original hardwood floors.  Score!

So, circling back around, I am typing this from my new living room in my cute house and Brandon is in SF celebrating his last day of work.  Tomorrow we will go and finish cleaning out the apartment (he has been living there while he finishes out his notice period at work) and officially begin our life in the suburbs.  It has been a whirlwind and I’m still very sad about leaving the city (yes, a few tears have been shed) but I’m so excited for Brandon in this new venture in this adorable town that I am once again calling home.

Interlude

Well, in between my vacation posts FROM TWO YEARS AGO, I’d like to take a moment and say how sad I am that I’ve stopped chronicling my life over the past couple years, especially in light of the fact that I now have Eleanor.  I haven’t written or blogged about our life with her, and that makes me incredibly depressed.  I just read this article about a mom who kept a journal, and I’m jealous I didn’t do that.  So, only 4 months into the year I’m making a resolution to blog more, and to be more relaxed about it.  So what if there aren’t pictures, so what if it’s just a couple sentences.  It is my journal of the adventures with my family and I’m committed.  (I can hear my sister now saying “SHEESH!  It’s about time!)

 

Vacation, Part II: Charleston

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Le sigh.  I have an extreme affliction of Wanderlust.  Every time I go to a new city, I want to move there–just temporarily, but still.  I often daydream about grad school just as an excuse to move somewhere for a predetermined period of time.  Charleston definitely made the list of “Yeah, I’d like to move here for a little while…”  It’s a beautiful city with so much history and great architecture!  I mean, the porches…oooooh the porches.  I have a slight porch obsession, and I sometimes fantasize about living in the south, having sweaty hot summer nights drinking my mint julep (or other adult beverage) on my porch.  I realize that there are downsides to this (sleeplessness, feeling sticky, BUGS) but I choose just to imagine the romantic idea of this lifestyle.

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Anyway, I digress.  Basically I had a lot of lusting for the large ancestral homes on the Charleston waterfront, as well as plenty of other homes around the various neighborhoods.  I mean, porches/balconies on every level?  Yes please!  A girl can dream…I’ve already told Brandon that if we ever get to design our own house, there will be a porch, preferably a wrap-around.  This is non-negotiable.

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A major selling point for the porch? A porch SWING. In Charleston by the harbor there are these amazing huge porch swings. I made Brandon sit on them with me every night. It was very romantic and relaxing. I never wanted to leave…in fact, on our last day I might have gotten a little teary. I’ll blame it on the pregnancy hormones.

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We watched the end of an amazing electrical storm from the swings one night (Brandon wanted to go out during it, but I was too much of a scaredy cat–this Bay Area girl is not used to major lightning!). Speaking of storms, we also learned a lesson: when the wind suddenly REALLY picks up, run for cover because a downpour is approaching. Luckily we learned this the easy way while in Charleston. On a side trip to a plantation, however, we learned it the hard way.

We visited the Magnolia Plantation on our way out of town.  On the way in, I noticed a sign saying no refunds for weather.  “Luckily for us,” I thought to myself, “it’s a beautiful, sunny day.”  And it was.  We started at the petting zoo, and made a few friends

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We then ventured into the gardens. They have a map with 20 something various sites to see that are all along a winding path around the beautiful gardens, so there we were wandering and gradually we noticed it was less sunny.

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And then we heard some thunder in the far off distance. We still had quite a few sites on our list. And the wind. Oh, the wind came. Sudden, large, strong gusts of wind. Brandon and I looked at each other and said “uh oh….” but we were pretty much exactly halfway through the gardens–the only way to shelter was forward or backwards. We chose forward and continued on our way and then the rain started. It began absolutely POURING, and first we took shelter on a bench (the gardens are extremely dense and lush) under a tree. It worked for a bit, but then we started getting soaked and realized we should keep moving.

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This is the storm that was approaching

As a little reminder, I was 6 months pregnant at the time. And I was wearing wedge sandals. And a skirt. Anyway, we start moving (quickly) and then the thunder and lightning is directly on top of us, and we’re in a foresty garden area. At this point I start freaking out a little. The gardens are flooding and I’m running through trees in water in lightning in wedge sandals while pregnant and the storm is directly over us. I will admit I was terrified. We kept going, however, and we made it back to shelter to where a bunch of other people (equally as wet) were also waiting out the storm. A native of the area confirmed for me that being near trees is not a great idea, so it was good we moved.

And here is us after we survived our little storm encounter:
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Phew!  Since we were on our way to Hilton Head already, we had our suitcases in the car and were able to change into dry clothes and get on our way.  And speaking of Hilton Head, that will be the next post destination!

(All photos except the final 3 were taken with film)

Vacation Photos…From Almost a Year Ago

Whoooopsies.  I guess this is what happens when you are 6+ months pregnant and you take film photos on vacation and then go ahead and have that baby…your life gets a little crazy and you forget to develop those photos.  ANYway…last year Brandon and I attended the wedding of my good friend in Nashville.  We decided to make a trip out of it, and visit a few other destinations that we had been wanting to go to, namely Charleston and Savannah.  We also added a little side trip to Hilton Head while we were at it.

I’ll separate this out into a post per location, so for starters, our trip to Nashville, in film:

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Construction site visible right next to our hotel

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Next up will be Charleston!

Overdue Update

I really have to just stop apologizing for the infrequent posts and accept that as the norm, or get on my game.  I’d like to do the latter, but we’ll see.

Anyway it’s been since April, so there is a lot of catching up to do.  Now, to do an abbreviated catch-all post, or stretch it out over a few posts…how ambitious am I feeling?  Decisions, decisions.  I’ll start with the present and then hopefully backfill later.  SO.  Now we begin with today.

My sister and I have been wanting to hang out for a while, but between her kids getting sick and my work schedule, nothing has worked out in an embarrassingly long time.  Today, however, the stars aligned and Eleanor and I went out to visit Aunt Jen and the cousins.  Nothing like the self esteem boost you get when, upon arrival, you are greeted by adorable jumping kiddos shouting “Auntie B! Auntie B!  ELLIEEEEE! Auntie B!!!”

We spent the morning attempting to put the littles down for a nap (success for Kieran, complete failure for Eleanor, but she was good humored about it all) and then making some homemade graham crackers (yum, I’ll have to find out where my sis got the recipe).  Once the other little one got up we let Kieran and Ellie hang out for some quality get-to-know-you cousin time.  Needless to say, it was Adorable with a capital A.

Notice Kieran holding Ellie’s foot in that last picture?  Too cute.  They mainly rolled around grabbing their toes and sticking out their tongues, which made us giggle.  Jen got some video, I’ll have to post that once it’s up on the internet.  Then came what I call The Great Thigh Comparison.

Eleanor and Kieran are around 6 weeks apart and about the same length.  Kieran’s hands and feet are bigger than Ellie’s, and Ellie weighs about 3+ pounds more than Kieran, and the circumference of her thigh is about 5x that of Kieran’s.  It was ridiculously adorable.  And for those concerned, no I am not worried about the size of Ellie’s thighs, or worried that she is overweight.  I know once she lengthens out and starts crawling/walking things will thin down.  For now, I find them one of her most endearing qualities.  I LOVE those thighs.

Post thigh time, we headed outside for a picnic lunch where Eleanor actually accepted some solids without tears for the first time–in fact, she seemed to enjoy them.  I’m not sure if it was the much more smooth consistency (store-bought instead of home-mashed by me), the flavor (peaches), the setting (on mom’s lap outside surrounded by her Aunt and cousins) or just the fact that she’s had a few more weeks to get used to this new concept, but I was excited.

Next came naps for everyone under 4 (some shorter than others, ehem Eleanor) and then the most exciting part of the day: SWIM LESSONS!  Claire and Conor have been in swim lessons for a couple months now and I’ve wanted to go watch but haven’t been able to yet.  Wednesday night, Jen messaged me and told me that their swim school had a free trial and suggested that Ellie and I come along and participate.  Great idea!  We picked up Grammy, grabbed some In-N-Out beforehand and then headed over to the pool for some swimming fun.  Ellie was a little bit crabby due to her massive nap failures throughout the day, but she seemed to not mind the lesson for the most part, and I think had she been more rested she would have actually enjoyed it. She liked the noodle-floating portion the best.  Jen and I died of cuteness.

I mean, seriously?  Between the bathing suit and those arms out while she floated along…I could barely stand it.

All in all it was a fantastic day, and now I’m anxious to find a place to put Eleanor in swim lessons more consistently.

Technology

My sister and I only live about 45 minutes apart, but between us there are 4 children (and 4 nap schedules), 2 jobs, 2 bridges…you get the picture (okay, who am I kidding…I only have one of those 4 children, but still.  I contribute to the number).  The reality is we don’t get to hang out nearly as much as we would like to.  Instead we have to be satisfied with phone conversations and our newest “discovery”–Skype.  Yes, we have known about Skype for a while but it has only been recently that we have actually started using it.

This is a typical scene during our chat sessions.  If I remember correctly, about 10 minutes later on this particular day I couldn’t see my sister at all because Claire decided to join the pile.

Now, if you have followed this blog at all there are countless posts about Claire.  Unfortunately Conor and Kieran have gotten MUCH less air time.  I would like to take this moment and gush a little about Conor.  This boy…sigh.  He is the biggest sweetheart EVER.  E-V-E-R.  As is common with boys, his verbal skills came along much more slowly than Claire’s (and who knows–maybe he didn’t feel the need to talk since his sister took care of most of the talking for him) but lately he has become much more talkative.

As soon as Eleanor appears on the screen, I hear a big intake of air and then “LELLIE!!!!” (well, sometimes it’s BABY!!!!).  He then spends the rest of the Skype time asking me to alternate between Eleanor and the cats.  It sounds a lot like this: “Kitty?  Kitty?” [I pan to the cats, giggles ensue] “Lellie?  Lellie” [I turn to Eleanor, giggles ensue] “Kitty?” You get the picture…He also likes to kiss the camera to show his affection.  How sweet is that?  There was one day where my poor sister’s computer was probably covered in fingerprints and lip marks because Conor and Claire both had about a 5 minute kiss session sending kisses my way.  The other day Conor was upset because Claire had gone somewhere without him, so I offered up an Ellie Skype session to make him feel better.  He was eating breakfast (pancakes, in case you are wondering), chatting it up with Eleanor and me.  We did the obligatory apartment tour (the cats, our exercise ball, and the baby), we made some animal noises (cats now say “rawr!” in case you were wondering), discussed the dinosaur on his shirt, and just enjoyed “hanging out.” Claire typically pops in to say hello, inquire about where Uncle B is, and then runs off to do whatever she was doing or asks to play games on the computer and Kieran just hangs out much like Eleanor does, but Conor truly seems to be the one that enjoys it most.

I love these sessions because I at least get to see this munchkins more than I would normally.  Conor has been much more interested in me since Eleanor came along, and I couldn’t be happier.  I love that little boy fiercely!  I mean, he brought my sister her robe after her shower the other day.  He isn’t even two!

Alright, enough of my little gush fest.  And no, Skype did not sponsor this post or have anything to do with it.

One of these days…

One of these days I will write a post with substance.  Perhaps one that doesn’t cheat by just having a bunch of pictures of Eleanor and calling it a day.  This is not that day.  I want this blog to include plenty about Eleanor, but I also don’t want it necessarily to be all about her.  These days, however, it’s difficult not to write about her because well, 1. she’s so dang cute but 2.  she pretty much consumes my activities 24 hours a day. We haven’t gotten her to take a bottle yet (I admit the effort has been poor at best) which means she isn’t far from me for more than a couple hours at a time.


(Eleanor helping Brandon study for his exams and yes, she only has one sock on)

Not that I mind–she’s proved to be quite the entertaining sidekick!  I also have a backlog of non-iPhone photos to share, but they are still on my camera (along with some family portraits of my sister’s family…yes Jen, they are still on the camera…SIGH) and I just never seem to get around to downloading them.


(chatting with a polar bear.  That literally kept her entertained for about 30 minutes straight. Also, thighs!)

I have to admit it’s been a little overwhelming at times, being mom full time AND working part time AND attempting to keep up with chalk + dot.  I still dream of a day when chalk + dot can be a serious money maker, but for now I have to keep the day job.  These past few weeks we have gotten into a much better routine which has been great.


(Ellie and I out at lunch with Brandon)

For a while I was getting frustrated and upset because I felt I was always half doing something–half taking care of Ellie and half trying to work at the same time, which meant neither task was getting my full attention.  Of course in my sometimes-still-a-little-hormonal state I mentally spiraled down the road of how I was going to miss so much of Ellie growing up because I wasn’t able to focus on her.  After I got to the end of my mental pity party (I mean, let’s be real–I am fortunate to be able to be in the situation where I can stay at home and still earn money!) I decided to institute a strict schedule where work time is work time and Ellie time is Ellie time–no trying to combine the two.  I work while she naps and once she goes down at night.  When she is up, the laptop goes away.

(Ellie in her Easter best.  And yes, there are photos from Easter on the camera too)

So far for the most part my scheduled time has worked out quite well.  Of course there are days where naps are a mess and I don’t get any work done, but then I just put in extra time in the evening or the weekend and try not to get upset or frustrated.  I just have to accept that things are beyond my control and I just have to do the best that I can.

(Me: “Brandon, you need to see the look your daughter is giving me!”)

It’s amazing how quickly the time goes when your days are built around mini-cycles.  Wake up.  Feed.  Play.  Wind down.  Nap.  Wake up. Feed.  Play.  Wind down.  Nap.  Wake up.  Feed.  Play.  Maybe cat nap.  Bath.  Feed.  Bedtime for E, work time for me.  That’s my schedule in a nutshell.  The time seems to slow during the final cycle because Ellie gets a little crabby because she only gets a cat nap in but that means she is up for a longer period of time than normal.  She enjoys the bath so that helps pass the time but as you can imagine crabby baby = slowed perception of time.


(Mrs. Pickle in her new sun hat, waiting for Brandon to get his new glasses)

Well, I guess I ended up writing a little more substance than I had planned!  Check that out–675 words and counting. My goal for this blog going forward is to yes, chronicle the goings on of our life, but also incorporate a little more reflection, share a little more of the inside me.  We will see how that goes.  For now, I’ll leave you to stare at the pictures of Eleanor.  Go on, scroll back up to that picture of her with the polar bear and those amazingly scrumptious baby thighs.  You know you want to.

Photobooth {Belated}

Only a few months late, below is a photobooth picture Brandon, Eleanor and I took at the Renegade Holiday Craft Fair.  Eleanor was about 3 weeks old when these photos were taken.  Brandon and I had gone to this craft fair the previous two years, and taken a photobooth pic at each, so we decided to carry on the tradition with the addition of Eleanor.  Enjoy!  Also, note how she progressively is more and more asleep in each photo…

Out and About


I live in San Francisco. This means it’s not always practical/convenient to drive; well, who am I kidding…it’s in fact rarely convenient to drive. Between getting the car and finding parking, it usually just doesn’t make much sense, especially because most things are within walking distance or are a quick bus ride away.

For my sanity and for the sake of fresh air, I try and get out at least once a day, and have done so since Eleanor was about a week old.

It’s amazing how much attention you get when you are out and about with a baby, especially a younger baby. People remark “Aww, a baby!” and ask how old, boy/girl, etc. I don’t mind these interractions typically (unless someone is trying to touch Ellie, then I mind) but sometimes people volunteer suggestions that are a little bit…unnecessary. I am always polite and return their comments with a smile or nod and then wait until I have my back to them to roll my eyes.

Some of the comments I have gotten are:

“It’s too cold to have her out in this weather!”
“She’s not warm enough!”
“Why are you holding her like that?”
“Can she breathe?” (this is when I had her in the Moby wrap, and she had face-planted into my chest. Yes, she could breathe, although I was tempted to say no, she can’t)

And my favorite, while taking Ellie on the bus:
“On the bus at this age! Well, she is going to be immune to everything…”

When Brandon and I are out with Eleanor and we get the comments, Brandon always remarks how I really can’t go anywhere without someone saying something. Nope…luckily I am confident enough in my parenting that nothing really gets to me. Smile at the time and then laugh when I recount the “advice” to Brandon later.

A Weekend Away

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The week after my birthday proved to be a long week for some reason.  The baby was crabby and not sleeping well which puts a big drain on everyone.  On Friday around noon I was at a café working, and I got a call from Brandon asking what I was doing.  I said I was working, but just about to pack up and go home to which he replied “Good.  When you get home pack an overnight bag for you and Eleanor.”

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Woohoo!  I love surprise getaways.  Brandon booked us a room at the Seal Cove Inn in Half Moon Bay, where I took him for his 29th birthday.  It’s a beautiful, cozy spot that is only 30 minutes from our home so you feel  like you’re getting far away without taking up the whole weekend to get there.

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Between some good naps that day and just how relaxed Brandon and I were, Eleanor was amazing on the trip.  We had such a great time!  I even got a soak in the jacuzzi tub while Brandon entertained Ellie.  We took walks along the coast, watched a movie, ate, drank and just had an extremely relaxing time.  A jacuzzi tub, a fireplace, a comfy bed, fresh baked cookies…what more could a girl ask for?

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Trips like this are a great refresher, reminding me of all I have to be thankful for (and it’s a lot!). Thanks to Brandon for making this trip happen…such great memories as one of our first family trips!