Alice: 13 Months

Apparently, I won’t be getting any better with posting Allie’s monthly updates in a timely manner in her second year! She is closer to 14 months than 13 now, but I’m sharing anyway…

In the past couple of weeks Allie has officially become a walker. Literally, from one minute to the next, she went from taking a few tentative steps and falling on her butt to striding across the room. Her stiff-legged style has earned her the nickname “Franken-Baby.” It’s adorable. Of course, now that she can get into everything, she is more of a hurricane than before. Most days involve following her around the house, while she takes toys out of bins and books off the shelves, proudly leaving a trail of debris in her wake.

A is the proud owner of her first pair of real shoes, and although she cries when we first put them on her in the mornings, she doesn’t try to pull them off. This shocks me, given the fact that socks don’t stand a chance of staying on her feet (She’s been like that since she was a newborn, and I love glancing to the back of the car when we are driving and seeing those tiny toes sticking up from her rear-facing seat).

A has developed the obsession with Elmo that all toddlers inexplicably have, but kitties are her true love.  She applies the term to anything with four legs and a tail (including squirrels and poor Tracy). She will basically maul any cat of the stuffed variety and can spot the toy versions of our feline friends on the highest shelves in the store. I call her the “Crazy Cat Lady”

Other new words this month include “a-den (again), mailman and rub. The latter she definitely picked up from her sister, who loves to have her arms and legs rubbed. Sometimes, during dinner, they both beg me to rub while I’m sitting between them, which makes eating a challenge!

Alice still loves food, and although teething continues to be slow going, she now has six teeth (with the addition of two more at the top), to chew things with. Blueberries and bananas seem to be her favorite fruits—I have had to stop eating the latter in front of her, because she’ll end up yelling “I det (get) dat (that)!” and I have to give up at least half of it. Now that she’s getting more mobile—and vocal—she’ll often open up the kitchen cabinet and point inside, demanding “cack-ers.” At dinner, we pretty much give her whatever we’re eating, and it’s nice to have someone who doesn’t reject things like salmon and black beans…at least for now.

Now that Alice is more mobile and vocal, the interactions between her and B have become even more adorable. A definitely wants to keep up with—and do—everything that her big sister is doing. I mentioned in B’s update that she is in an arts and crafts phase, so Alice now loves crayons (and she is actually quite skilled at scribbling with them, for someone who is only over a year old!) and stickers, too. My particular favorite is when they dance together because it’s basically an exercise in extremes—B twirls around the room like a ballerina, while A stays in one place bouncing up and down like the awkward uncle at a wedding.

I can’t think of a good way to sum up Alice’s personality—so, I’ll just say it’s big. In social situations, she will usually start out with a serious face, while she assesses the situation, but once she is comfortable, she is generally the loudest person in the room. If she likes something that you did, she won’t hesitate to squeal with laughter to the point where she can’t catch her breath; if she is annoyed with you, she won’t hesitate to claw you across the face. There is no middle ground. I don’t think anyone will ever look at her and think “I wonder what she is thinking.” With Alice, you always know!

B: 3.5 Years Old


It’s been awhile since I’ve written a few words about my oldest baby, who turned 3 1/2 (!) last month. And, since I can’t get enough of our most recent set of family photos, this seemed to be a good time to share a Little B update!

B’s exploding social skills have been, by far, the biggest change that we have seen in the last few months. It no doubt has to do with her starting school in September. For the first month, she cried every. single. day at drop off. Then, one day, we walked in and she let go of my hand without so much as a look back. I felt so un-needed in that moment that I almost wanted her to break down and cry!

All that to say, she is no longer the little girl who refused to look at strangers when they tried to talk to her in line at Target. She loves going to parties, playing with other little kids and generally charming everyone she meets.

B’s favorite activities include any kind of craft, particularly those that involve paint, markers or crayons. She loves color—her favorite things to draw are rainbows and she takes pride in filling a coloring book page with every color in the crayon box. She is getting increasingly into imaginative play. Her favorite games are house (I’m always the baby sister, Alice is usually Tracy and B is the mom) and doctor (there is a specified routine that you need to follow when playing this game with her: stethoscope first, then check eyes/ears, take temperature. Everyone gets medicine and a bandage, whether they need it or not). She sings and dances up a storm, and she even likes some “real” music. Her current favorites include David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” (which she calls the “Red Shoes Song”) and Marian Hill’s Down.

B seems to have adjusted well to our move, and frequently tells us how much she loves the new house. We have a little bit of a longer commute, but she loves to pass the time on the road by counting the number of Walmart trucks she sees on the highway. We never to go to Walmart, but she loves seeing the logo anywhere, solely because of this song that they used on commercials for awhile. One day, we saw eight trucks en route to South Philly, and I’m pretty sure that it was the best day of her life so far.

B is still one of the pickiest eaters that I’ve ever met. She recently developed a love for boxed macaroni and cheese. Every time she eats a bowl, she says “Look, mama/dada! Aren’t you so proud of me? I’m eating grown up food!” I assume that because the pasta has a sauce on it, and comes in fun shapes, this makes it seem fancy. When offered chicken or some other food that everyone else is eating for dinner, though, she’ll politely refuse it and say “I have to wait until I’m older to eat chicken (or fish/beef/some other food not covered in a cheese substance).

B says a lot of funny things—I’m not as good as I used to be at writing them all down, but here are a few “B-isms” from recent months that I can actually remember:

  • “Mama, maybe you can clean-up the toys by yourself. I can’t do it because my hands are too small.”
  • “No, Alice! You’re too little.” Always…doesn’t matter what Alice is doing.
  • After offering to help us get the house ready for company and dusting off one shelf: “I need to go sit down and relax now! I did a lot of work!”
  • “When you are my age, maybe you can come to my school.” Apparently, she thinks I’m Benjamin Button and will be aging backwards.
  • When I say “ouch” after sustaining some sort of injury: “Mama, do you need a bandage?”
  • She’s never one to let you live down a mistake. For example, “Mama got a flat tire and she had to go wait for the Triple A in the Starbucks and she cried. And, Nee-Nee had to come take me to school.”
  • And, yes, all of this was true. It was one of the more epic meltdowns that I have had. But, in my defense it was right around the time we moved and everything seemed to be hitting the fan. Later, when my mom asked B if she was also sad that I got a flat tire, B said “No! It wasn’t my fault.”
  • “Remember, when I was little? And I was allergic to peaches?” She has never even eaten a peach, but she’s watched the Daniel Tiger episode where he has an allergic reaction to them so many times that she thinks the show is about her.
  • “Daddy, do you love my hair? Doesn’t it look beautiful? I need to go see it in the mirror.” This is because I recently introduced her to the blow dryer, which she absolutely loves. I have created a monster.
  • “Do these ones flush by themselves?” Although B is getting much better about using public restrooms when we are out and about, she is petrified of toilets with automatic flush.
  • She knows most of the words to “Hello!” from Book of Mormon. I don’t know whether to be proud because, clearly, she is developing a love of show tunes, or ashamed because although that’s pretty much the tamest song in the show…it’s still inappropriate. It all started because our doorbell reminded me of the song, so I had to play it. B loved it immediately and demanded it on repeat. I can only imagine what people at the grocery store think when they hear her say “Hello, my name is Elder Price and I would like to share with you this book of Jesus Christ.”

If you’ve read this far and you are thinking that B sounds pretty much perfect…do not be fooled. There are plenty of moments where our sweet B disappears and a threenager rears its ugly head. We have to start getting ready about ten minutes before we actually need to leave the house because B wants to put her backpack and coat on “BY MYSELF!!” Sometimes, when we put her preferred dinner in front of her, she dissolves into a puddle of tears because she “Only wanted ten mac-and-cheeses!” “Why?” Is the most frequently used word in her vocabulary.

What will I be in for when she actually is a teenager?! Can’t I just keep her this little forever?

Allie’s Winter One-derland

It’s been a couple of weeks since Allie’s first birthday party…but, I only just took the decorations down. So, I thought I might as well share a few photos of our baby girl’s big day!

Since Allie has a February birthday, I decided to go with a Winter One-derland theme. As soon as B heard about the theme, she asked me every day if it was “time for Allie’s wintery party?” That kid loves a good celebration!

I found an adorable invitation on Etsy, and set to work pulling together some pink and gold decor, which was a mix of DIY elements and repurposed Christmas decorations.

Some “in-progress” shots from the party prep

Chester was especially excited to spend an evening punching out a million little snowflakes for the garland, as seen above. And, since I hadn’t done anything remotely creative in forever, it felt good to pull out the glue gun again.

Everything all together, over the fireplace

A’s monthly photos and some of my after Christmas Target/Pier One finds

And, then, because the universe is hilarious, it was 73 degrees and sunny on the day of the festivities. I suppose this was fortunate, because I forgot to get tights to go with Allie’s tutu and onesie ensemble. At least her little legs weren’t cold!

For the food, we ordered hoagies and sides from Primos, but I did make some snowflake shaped sugar cookies and setup a hot chocolate bar with a variety of toppings. This slow cooker hot chocolate is my new favorite, mostly because the longer it sits, the thicker it becomes!

The centerpiece of the buffet was this amazing cake from Sweetbox Bakery. We had this cake for B’s second birthday and it’s now our go-to special occasion dessert. The cake itself is light and fluffy, and the icing is a combination of marscapone, cream cheese and, I assume, crack.

Allie was in a serious mood on the day of the party, due in part to some teething difficulties (which have yet to result in an additional teeth making their appearance). She didn’t let that get in the way of enjoying the sweets!

Slightly confused by the “Happy Birthday” serenade

I was especially excited that the party would provide an excuse to entertain in our new home. We would have never been able to fit 20 plus people in our old house. And, as a result, most of our family gatherings have either been at my mom’s or in the case of all of B’s birthdays, at an outside venue. I’m looking forward to filling our home with family and friends for years to come!

And, finally, what would a post about a first birthday be without sharing a few photos of Alice’s cake smash session with the talented April Ziegler

Not as pretty as our Sweetbox Cake, but I made it myself!

She was hesitant at first, and seemed unsure if she could touch the cake, let alone eat it…

But, I put a little icing on my finger and she quickly got the hang of it!

She certainly did not have the same tearful reaction that her sister did!

Allie loved this birthday crown, and I was so surprised that she kept it on for her photo shoot AND party!

Alice: 12 Months

I used to think that the first year of B’s life was the fastest one of mine…until these last 365 days.

Over the last few days, I’ve been trying to remember the details around Alice’s birth and it’s all a bit fuzzy. I was pretty mad that I had to be induced, feeling like I had somehow failed in some way because my blood pressure was out of control and my body couldn’t just do what it was supposed to on its own. I have a vague memory of watching reruns of Downton Abbey and repeatedly pushing the call button to summon the night time nurse every time it felt like my epidural was wearing off.

But, I clearly remember the moment that they laid her on my chest. Alice’s eyes locked on mine instantly, and it felt like we had known each other forever.

I loved her immediately.

But, bringing her home threw me for a loop. Those first few months were hard. While I was pregnant, other mothers told me how much easier it was for them to go from one to two kids. Not so, for me.

Knowing that Alice was going to be my last baby, I tried to soak in every bit of her newborn-ness, like I did with her sister. But, it turns out that’s a lot harder to do when said newborn cries almost continuously for the first five weeks of life and you are running up and down the steps with a potty train a 2.5 year old.

I remember my exact worst moment: standing in the kitchen, holding a wailing three-week old Alice, willing a bottle to just warm up faster god damn it, while an over tired B tugged on my pant leg while yelling “Mama, mama, mama” over and over again at top volume. All I could do was stare straight ahead and cry myself.

It took months for me to begin to feel like myself again and months after that to even begin to figure how to balance the demands of two tiny humans, along with all of the other things that life dishes out.

But, suddenly, one day, our new normal actually felt…well, normal. It was like she had always been in our lives.

And, before I knew it, it was February 18 again, and the littlest love of my life woke up as a one-year old. She is taking tentative baby steps, learning new words every day (her latest phrase is “good girl”) and getting bigger–in terms of size (21 pounds, 9.5 ounces and 2 and a half feet tall!) and personality–every day.

It’s hard to put into words all of the reasons that Alice is so special…but I’ll try:

Most days, it seems that no one loves life more than our Allie Girl. She smiles with her entire body, and when she laughs, her eyes crinkle so much that they are reduced to tiny little slits. When I’m having a down moment, all I have to do is think of her little face and I can’t help but laugh, too.

In spite of this extreme goofiness, she has a serious side. I frequently catch her in a daydream or intently studying her toys to figure out their inner workings. So, it seems that she’ll either be a stand-up comedian or an engineer.

A always seems to know when someone needs a hug, kiss, a laugh or a pat on the head (for her friends of the four-legged variety). I love how much she loves B. Just this morning, the two of them walked across the living room floor holding hands, and I was so happy because I know that no matter what happens in their lives they will always be each other’s “person.”

She has strong feelings, and she isn’t afraid to let you know about them. When she’s happy, she practically vibrates. When she’s pissed, it’s hard to tell the difference between her and the Hulk. She’s completely and totally herself.

I didn’t think it was possible to feel more love, joy and sense of purpose than I did when B came into our lives. And, then, along came Allie. She was the missing piece in the puzzle of our little family.

Happy Birthday, my Allie.

I’ll love you forever.

I’ll like you for always.

As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.

Alice: 11 Months

I tried to fix her hair for this shoot, but those wisps could not be tamed

By the time B was 11 months old, I was ready to give up on this monthly photo project, because she started to become pretty uncooperative around that time. Alice, on the other hand, LOVES having her picture taken. As soon as we set out this chair, she climbs right in and starts striking poses. It’s making me feel like it won’t be so bad to continue it past her first birthday…which is just a few days away!

Alice can stand up on her own, balance really well, and climb steps but as of this moment, I’ve only witnessed Alice take two baby steps on her own. When she figured out what was happening, she promptly plopped down on her butt. Since then, she’s taken to knee walking, which is hilarious, mostly because she resembles John Leguizamo playing Toulouse-Lautrec in Moulin Rouge! This unique style of movement gets her where she needs to go quickly, and now that she has figured out a way to stay in near constant motion, she is slowly losing her baby fat, which makes me a little bit sad!

One of Alice’s favorite things to do lately is our front window. The sill is just the right height for her to lean on and sometimes I catch her standing there, resting her head on her arms, and daydreaming. Other times, she scoots back and forth from one end to the other, taking in all the sights and generally being nosy.

Town Watch

She’s learned how to say and shake her head “No” (And, as with her sister, “yes” is taking longer to work on) and I think that I’ve started to hear some new words, too. For example, when I walk into her room in the morning, I usually say “How are you?” and she replies, “Goo!” (which I take to mean “good!”).

Alice generally doesn’t take crap from anyone. If B steals a toy from her, Alice tells her off and then attempts to steal it back. If someone gets to close to her and she’s not in the mood to share her personal space, she will try to claw their eyes out. She doesn’t seem to hold grudges though, because in the next instant she’ll give a “hug” which equate to her wrapping her tiny hands around our necks and pulling our faces towards hers for a slobbery kiss.

During the past month, she’s tried some new, non-pureed foods, including chicken, blueberries and peas. The latter was the only thing she threw on the floor. She is also getting to be a pro at using a sippy cup, which is good, because this house is becoming a bottle free zone right after she turns one…whether she likes it or not. She still has only four teeth to chew with, but we started brushing them anyway. It turns out that it’s one of the highlights of her day, probably because she thinks that the brush and paste are food.

Alice’s favorite things include putting things on her head, showing us her feet (and, when we ask her to show us her belly, hand, ears, etc., she still points to her toes) princess castle and her doll stroller. I’m trying to get her to sit still so I can read to her, but that’s a challenge! There are a few books that hold her attention, mostly of the board, textured and mirror variety, but it’s hard to get her really interested in stories. Most of the time, story time involves me sitting in the chair, reading while she scoots around on the floor. Way different from my experience reading with B, but at least it’s something!

One of this month’s highlights: First carousel ride at the Please Touch Museum

It’s hard to believe that in just a couple of weeks, we’ll be celebrating Allie’s first birthday. I’m looking forward to her party and her first birthday photo shoot and cake smash. Something tells me that she won’t be as sad about having a whole cake to herself as her sister was!

Happy 11 months, Ally O’Malley! I’ll eat you up I love you so!

My wild thing

Alice: Ten Months

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In yet another example of second-child/second-time-parent syndrome, I almost didn’t post this monthly update. Although we actually took these photos right around Alice’s ten month birthday, the hustle and bustle of getting settled in the new house and celebrating the holidays meant that getting this post together is way, way overdue. In fact, A will be 11 months old in just about a week! But, since these photos are so darn cute—I have to at least say a few words about all that’s been going on in Alice’s world.

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Our girl now has a total of four teeth, with her top two in the front making their way in around the time she hit the ten month mark. And, she knows how to use them—she’s actually developing a bit of a nibbling habit—I currently have a bite mark on my arm to prove it!

Alice flirts with and smilies at everyone she meets. Naturally, everyone thinks she is a total sweetheart. But, man, does she have a devious streak. When she thinks you aren’t looking, she will start rummaging through cabinets, taking stuff out of bags, ripping up paper and generally, just behaving like Godzilla. When you catch her eye, she just snickers and continues down the path of destruction.

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As we settle into the new house, Alice seems to be enjoying having her own room, as well as the fact that our first floor space still needs some furnishing. She and her sister are having a grand old time racing through the empty space. Although A defied all of my predictions and isn’t walking on her own yet, she can easily keep up with—and sometimes even overtake her sister in a race. I love hearing the echo of their laughter as B races through the living room on her tricycle, followed closely behind by A, who is either crawling or pushing a toy at lightening speed.

Currently, Alice loves clapping her hands, blowing kisses and dancing. She continues to learn new words, most of them courtesy of her sister. For example, The BeatBelle that Alice got for Christmas will record your voice and repeat back what you say. B thinks it’s hilarious to hear the robot’s voice say “butt!”…and now, so does A. B is also attempting to teach her the names of all of the members of the Paw Patrol gang—so far, Rubble is her favorite.

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Happy (belated) ten month birthday, Allie Girl! I promise I’ll be on time with your updates going forward so that you have one less thing to put on the list of what you will lament about in therapy someday!

Christmas 2016

I know we’ve already said goodbye to 2016, but I can’t resist sharing a few (okay, a bunch) of photos from our Christmas festivities.

The season felt a little bit rushed this year because of the move. We pretty much had to leave all of our our decorating, seasonal outings and Santa prep activities until the week before the holiday. Nevertheless, the girls seemed to have a blast. In addition to it being Alice’s first Christmas, this was the first year that B really understood what was happening. She sung along to every Christmas song on the radio (her favorites were You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer), couldn’t wait to bust out the decorations and bought into all of the Santa Claus lore. The latter is the most adorable to me, and I’m already dreading the day when she starts to question things.

So, without further adieu, here’s a glimpse into our holiday season!

While we were preparing for the move, we had a tiny tree up at our old house. But, B could not wait to put up the real thing. So, as soon as the boxes were sufficiently cleared from the living room, we got to work.

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Showing off Elmo, one of “her” ornaments

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Just up from a nap, in time to supervise the decorating process.

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Finished! We have the tree on a timer, so that it turns on every day at 4 p.m. B thinks that “Santa Magic” is responsible.

The holiday season in Philly isn’t complete without a visit to Macy’s, to see the light show and visit the Dickens’ Village. Alice actually seemed to enjoy all the lights, and clapped along with the music.

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Chester and I have resigned ourselves to the fact that we’ll always have to be in the annual Santa photo. B actually waved to Santa when she walked into the room, so I had high expectations that things would go well. But, when it was time to pose for the picture, she wasn’t having it. Alice just seemed stunned, which fortunately, prevented her from having a meltdown. And yes, she isn’t wearing any socks in this photo. After the 100th time she pulled them off that day, I didn’t bother to put them back on.

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We broke in our kitchen with our first baking project: sugar cookies for Santa. B was in charge of rolling them into the red and green sugar, and she proclaimed each one of them “a Christmas miracle!” in between eating bites of dough. The real miracle, if you ask me, was having ample counter space for this project!

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On Christmas Eve, we headed to my mom’s for the afternoon. We ate way too much food, and B had a great time hanging out with her Uncle Mike.

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And, then it was home to get ready for Santa. This year, in addition to the cookies and milk, we left an apple for the reindeer.

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Everyone was up bright and early the next morning (wearing matching Nutcracker pajamas) to see what Santa left!

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B’s favorite gift was her Code-A-Pillar and Alice really is enjoying her Beatbelle

Our girls looked like Christmas princesses, for more food and presents on Christmas afternoon at Nee-Nee’s.

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I loved this dress so much when B wore it. So glad that it fit Alice this year!

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B was in no mood to pose for pictures. She requested ” a lot of Christmas M and Ms” in return for posing for this shot, but she really wasn’t feeling like her usual self that afternoon. By the end of the day, she was running a fever, which later gave way to a cold that made its way through our house over the next week. Fun times. But, holiday illnesses seem to be par for the course, where kids are concerned, so I suppose we should get used to that fact!

I’m already looking forward to next year, when we’ll be fully settled into our home and ready to make some new holiday traditions. I hope that your holidays were just as swell!

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Goodbye, 2016!

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My #2016BestNine photos, according to Instagram

I’m sure that many of you–especially if you are in the throes of raising small children–have heard the phrase “the days are long, but the years are short.” In my experience, this is generally a true statement…except when applied to 2016. I know that I’m not alone in saying that this felt like the longest. year. ever (Lest you think this is an exaggeration, it actually includes an extra second). Between all the stuff going on at home, work and the world in general, I felt like I was living in the Upside Down, a la Stranger Things.

Don’t get me wrong, this year was filled with a lot of bright spots, like:

Welcoming our sweet little Alice home and knowing that there could not be a more perfect little person to complete our family.

Sending our first baby out into the world (and, breathing a sigh of relief when she finally fell in love with school, after crying every day for the first month).

Selling our first house, buying another..and completing both transactions just before the process crow us completely insane.

I am grateful for all of those things, and plenty more that I didn’t write about. But, basically, this bit of sage advice (and a whole lot of Starbucks) has gotten me through last 12 months:

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(Although, in my case, it’s more like a doggie paddle, since I don’t know how to swim).

All that to say, that after a year of doing all the big things–seemingly all at once–I’m tired. So, my new year’s wish is for a much calmer 2017. Hopefully, by this time next year, I’ll feel just a tad less overwhelmed, and a little bit more like myself again.

And, if that’s not possible, may 2017 bring more sushi, cake pops and weekends at the park with my favorite people. If I’ve got those things, I’m sure I can make anything work.

We Moved!

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Our 2016 Christmas Card

We {barely} survived the Great Move of 2016.

(I should get that put onto a t-shirt.)

In our typical fashion, we were still finishing up our packing when the movers pulled up to the house last Saturday…in a smaller than promised truck. As a result, it took 17 hours and two trips to get all of our belongings from point A to point B. As daylight dwindled, the girls and I de-camped to a hotel, since it became clear that bedroom set-up would have to be left until the next day.

It was probably better that we left Chester on his own to oversee the rest of the move. The glacial pace with which the boxes were being loaded and unloaded made me very anxious. And, to top it off, both girls were battling colds. Fortunately, hotel life seemed to agree with them. I think B was disappointed to find that the new house didn’t offer room service delivery of chocolate ice cream and Alice wasn’t pleased to return to her crib after a night of snuggles in a king-sized bed.

One week later, our house is still covered in boxes, none of our furniture seems right for the space and the only pants that I can seem to find are of the yoga variety. We’ve been discovering that the house comes with some quirks that we didn’t notice when we first looked at it (such as the fact that Alice’s room has zero electrical outlets, while the living room has an outlet every three feet or so). During the past week, I’ve spent most of my free time and money either at Target (well, that’s really no different from life pre-move) or fighting with Lowe’s about appliance deliveries that arrive way behind schedule (or, that don’t come at all).

It’s all disconcerting in some ways, but so good in others.

Everyone has more space. Both the girls seem to be sleeping better now that they aren’t sharing a room, and I’m not missing the noise that comes with living in a row home.

There is a place for our stuff. Closets! Lots of kitchen cabinets! And, a room on the third floor where we can stash all of the toys!

Tracy is getting a workout with walks around the neighborhood. It was lovely to take her out in the quiet, early morning hours yesterday and find that we were the first ones to leave our footprints in the snow.

Our neighbors are nice. Today, Chester came handling a gift bag gingerly, as if it were about to explode. We opened it up to find a freshly baked banana bread and welcome/Christmas card from the couple next door. Phew.

So, for the next couple of weeks, we’ll be adjusting to our new routines and finding places for all of our things, but I am grateful to be able to do it without the pressure of the deadlines that we have been up against for the last two months. I feel like I’ve missed out on a lot of our holiday traditions while everything has been in flux, so with one week to go until Christmas, we’ll try to take breaks from the heavy lifting in order to focus on making memories with our girlies (we finally got our tree up and decorated this weekend, much to B’s delight).

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I think we are going to like it here.

This Old House

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September 2009

Who are those young, well-rested looking people in that photo up there? Oh, yea. That’s me and Chester, on the day that we got the keys to our first home.

On that September afternoon in 2009, we raced from the broker’s office, unlocked the door to our house, and sat in the middle of our empty living room, laying out all of our grand plans for the house (that mirror taking up the entire living room wall and the ugly industrial carpeting would be the first things to go). We mentally picked out furniture and paint colors. We made a long list of possible home improvement projects. We talked excitedly about having more space to entertain family and friends at the holidays.

For the next three years, we actually did some of those things. And, then, life happened.

The improvement projects that seemed feasible when it was just the two of us brought on migraines we thought about managing them with an infant and a dog. We realized that having one bathroom is fine and dandy, until you have to haul a potty training toddler upstairs multiple times a day, while seven months pregnant, (and later, you have to haul said toddler and one cranky newborn). And, it’s really difficult to have anyone come over to the house when it looks like Toys R’ Us after the Black Friday rush.

All that to say, our life today looks nothing like it did in 2009, and we had come to the realization that our current house couldn’t be our forever home. We had more than outgrown the space and there was the issue of school for the girls to consider. We sketched out a timeline for making a move, closer to the time that B would be ready for real school. But, in the late summer/early fall, we watched a few houses on our block sell in a matter of weeks and worried about missing out on a hot market. So, we got our house ready (putting things in storage and making minor improvements), just to see what would happen. If we didn’t move, we reasoned, at least we would be ready to try again in the spring.

Within three weeks of the “for sale” sign going up, our house was under contract and we had found a new home.

And, it was really that simple.

And, not stressful.

Like, at all.

HA!

Real talk: It’s been nuts.

Relocating two kids and a dog for house showings is no picnic.

Compiling the reams of paper needed for a mortgage application is a full-time job.

Trying not to fall in love with the house that is just perfect for your little family, when you don’t know if your current house will sell in time for you to actually purchase it, is tough.

Coordinating the final details of inspections, repairs and settlements on two houses—and waiting for all of the pieces to actually fall into place—is maddening.

And, the packing–oh the hell of packing. Last time we did this, it was just the two of us coming from a one bedroom apartment. It’s amazing (and mystifying) how you can accumulate so much stuff as the years go by (Just a warning to anyone in need of bubble wrap in and around South Philly: there is none left. I bought it all).

We are grateful to family members who pitched in to watch kids and dogs, deliver more boxes and haul trash away. Because, here we are, two months later and we’ve signed all the documents we possibly can sign and packed up the contents of our life so far. Tomorrow, the boxes will be loaded into a truck, we will lock the front door for the last time, and drive off to start a new chapter.

(In the suburbs. Gasp!).

I recently found that list of improvement projects written our first day, on top of the refrigerator. I laughed when I saw how many of the items hadn’t been crossed off. At the time we wrote it, it seemed like those would be the most important things to do, in order to turn the house into our home.

We had no clue what was in store for us.

People keep asking me if I will miss this house. I won’t really–pretty much for all the reasons named above and probably a handful more that I’m not thinking of right now. Plus, I’ve filed away countless memories that I’ll be taking with me, and will always look back on fondly, when I think of this place, where we navigated the early years of marriage and parenthood. Things like:

Sitting on the living room floor with (Big) Bridget and Chester, stuffing and sealing our wedding invitations.

Returning from our honeymoon, excited to sort through our gifts and settle into married life.

Later, returning after all the other trips that we took, simply glad to be in our own home, with all the central air we could handle (we stayed in some questionable hotels).

Cramming 12 people around the table for Christmas dinner, and made a rack of lamb—and all the side dishes—in a kitchen with no counter space.

Fighting over stupid things, stopped speaking for days and eventually forgot why we were angry with each other.

Laying on the couch on Sunday mornings, while pregnant with B, waiting for her to kick me so that I knew she was still okay in there (I don’t know why, but I was always worried about her the most on that day of the week).

Laying B in a bassinet next to our bed on her first night home, and then proceeded to try to sleep with all the lights on, just so I could see if she was still breathing.

Watching in disbelief the next day, as Tracy’s anxiety over the new baby got the better of her, and she jumped through the plexi-glass window in the kitchen door, and straight into the backyard.

Capturing how much B grew each month for the first two year of her life, with a photo shoot in the nursery that we put together just for her.

Sitting in the bathroom on Father’s Day 2015, pregnancy test in hand and freaked out.

Laying Alice in the Rock-In-Play next our bed on her first night home and changing diaper after diaper because she just would not. stop. pooping.

Feeling my happiest at the end of the day, snuggled next to B in her big girl bed, singing “You Are My Sunshine” while hummed along and Alice peered at us over the side of her crib.

I could go on.

But the point is this: in the end it didn’t matter how we decorated it or if we turned the flat roof off of our bedroom into a deck (seriously? When did we think we were going to get around to doing that?). Slowly, we started filling it with memories and people and realized that projects, things and the four walls themselves don’t matter much at all, really.

The first time I scrolled through the photos of our new house online–before we even looked at it in person–I knew that it was the perfect place for us. I’m excited to write the next chapter of our lives there.

And, it’s a good thing I feel that way, because, so help me God, we are NEVER moving again.

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December 2016