Happy Advent to everyone! Since this post also serves as part of our holiday cards this year, we also wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year as well!
2015 is going to be a wonderful year for us, as we will welcome a baby boy into our family sometime in late March or early April. But until then, we would like to reflect a bit on the excellent year that 2014 was for our family. We were really bad about keeping up with the blog for most of 2014, so we figured this way we can hit the highlights for you and catch you up to speed.
In January, Hallie officially became certified as a postpartum doula by Doulas of North America. This means I am qualified to provide quality non-medical support for mothers and families after the birth of a new baby. I help moms (and dads) with things like breastfeeding, physical healing, emotional adjustment, learning to care for a newborn, sibling adjustment, family transition, and household management. I provide non-judgmental companionship, guidance, and resources to families in the first days, weeks and months after baby arrives. I absolutely love the work I do with clients, and am honored to have had such a successful first year of official doula work serving families.
In March, we had a blast enjoying a “stay-cation” weekend with Hallie’s parents and brothers. We needed a break from the long, harsh winter cold, so we went to the Sea Life aquarium at the Mall of America and The MN Children’s Museum, among other things.
Mike ended his third year as Principal of a Catholic elementary school on a high note by attending the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) annual conference in Pittsburgh in April. At the conference he presented a session about how school leaders can use iOS to be more productive, a talk that he has given several times since.
In June, we were excited to meet our newest family members: identical twin nephews Elias and Jude! They have been so fun to watch grow and see how darling their huge smiles are. We are still learning how to tell them apart, and can’t believe how big they are now compared to when they were born prematurely. We are so glad to see their whole family doing so well in adjusting to life with twin babies.
In late June, Mike and Hallie took a much-needed (and long overdue) true vacation and actually boarded a plane and went far away to Washington, D.C. for five days. It was our first time on a plane together since our honeymoon four years ago, and we had been saving for this little trip for quite a while. It proved to be well worth it. While we had both been to D.C. before (Hallie in high school and Mike many times as a kid and middle school teacher) we both love the city and wanted to rediscover it together. We were able to visit our good friends Sarah and Chris, who both work for the U.S. State Department and live right in D.C. proper. We stayed with them for a few nights and they showed us a good time out on the town. We also met up with Pat, a friend and mentor of Mike’s. While on our trip, we explored old town Alexandria, VA which is full of charm and history. I love being married to a history buff because we can stop at some nondescript brownstone corner building and he tells me all about what happened there hundreds of years ago and why it’s significant. In the nation’s Capitol, we went to a number of the Smithsonian museums and the Library of Congress, toured the Capital, and rented bikes to more quickly and easily get around the National Mall to see the monuments and memorials. Genevieve and Mari seemed to hardly notice we were gone; they were having so much fun with Grandma and Grandpa (Hallie’s parents). We missed them, of course, but knew it was going to be a while before we had another opportunity to travel together. It was definitely a highlight of the year for us.
A few weeks after getting home, Mike flew to Los Angeles for an education conference while Hallie packed up the girls and headed to northern Wisconsin for a week at a cabin with Hallie’s side of the family. Mike was able to join the family after he returned from the West coast and we had a great time swimming, playing in the sand, playing on the playground, exploring nearby small towns, and just relaxing and enjoying nature together.
In late July, we took a road trip down to Haverhill and Marshalltown, IA where much of Mike’s family gathers for almost-yearly reunions. It’s always a fun time catching up with each other, seeing how the kids have grown, meeting the new babies, and visiting the old stomping grounds that are so special to his Mom’s side of the family.
August and September were busy months for our family, as I was busy with clients and Mike was beginning his fourth year as principal. During this time, Genevieve began preschool (at Mike’s school) and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (a religious education program in the Montessori method). These changes marked the first time our girls were regularly separated from each other. It took them a while to adjust and it was clear they really missed each other when they were apart. Of course, that didn’t last forever, but it was so sweet while it did. Also in September, I completed a 40-hour intensive training to become a certified lactation counselor (CLC), which means I am now able to better support mothers who want to breastfeed, are initiating breastfeeding, or are managing lactation. Naturally, this helps me in my work as a postpartum doula, but also allows me to serve women who may not need the full services of a doula but do need some assistance in their breastfeeding goals or challenges.
As Christmas approaches, we find ourselves full of gratitude for all the blessings we’ve been given this past year. At age 3.5, Genevieve is learning every day and sharing her expanding world with us. She’s an observant, caring big sister and has loved meeting new friends in the last few months. We have no doubt she will be a wonderful big sister to Baby Boy when he arrives. Mari turned two in September and has amazed us with her verbal progression. It seems like every day we hear her say new words and complete sentences. She is our mischievous (sometimes stubborn) one. We’ve loved watching her grow into a big girl and she too seems to be preparing for her new role as big sister.
I have been preparing to teach postpartum preparation and breastfeeding classes starting in January, and am enjoying my work on the volunteer Board of Directors for Guiding Star Twin Cities, a new non-profit serving families in the metro area.
Mike has been keeping a well-read blog on technology and education, and has been a speaker at a number of professional education conferences in the Twin Cities. In January, he starts his third and final year in the University of St. Thomas’ Murray Institute. He will graduate next December with an Ed.S. degree and principal licensure.
2014 was a great year for us, and we hope it was for you too! Here’s to 2015 and all the promise the new year always brings. May you and yours be happy and healthy throughout.
Hallie, Mike, Genevieve, Mari, and Baby Boy
In the past couple of weeks, Mike and I have been witness to a few “firsts” that have felt significant enough to us to be, well, significant. In no particular order:
- I just realized we have not posted anything on our blog yet about the fact that we are expecting our third child. Oopsie-daisy. Sorry about that. Yes! We are having another sweet little one, due in early April (April 8th is the official due date, for those of you who like to know). And here is the “first” in this…IT’S A BOY! We had our 20-week sonogram the week before Thanksgiving and saw definitive evidence of the male sex. I mean definitive. …We are very excited to meet this little guy when he decides to debut, and can’t wait to see how our family dimension changes and expands as this fifth person grows into it. Welcome, little boy! We already love you so much!
- Genevieve and Mari had their first “sleepover” experience, as in, they got to party hardy with little people their own age and didn’t see mom and dad again until late the next morning. This adventure was provided by our generous (and somewhat bafflingly courageous) brother and sister-in-law, and the kids in the scene were our sweet nieces and nephews. It’s no small feat to warmly suggest/offer/invite a two year old and a three year old to spend the night at your house when you already have four little ones of your own under age 4.5. I know. Crazy and awesome at the same time, eh? They got to have pizza for dinner, munchy snacks and hot cocoa during their “movie” (Pooh bear–about 30 minutes long, maybe?), a fancy breakfast, and of course plenty of play time that night and the next morning.
- This also brought a new awareness to Mike and I of the love/hate relationship all parents surely must have with sleepovers. We experienced the joy and freedom of having no (outside the womb) children for a good 19 hours or so, but for the first time in what will likely be many times, we also experienced the crash and burn of the rest of the weekend that results after such frivolity and excitement for our kids. Don’t get me wrong; we did not regret it. Our girls had a great time and so did we. We will be hosting our own sleepover for the cousins soon, too. But it was a glimpse into what it will be like for years to come, and I suddenly had a new appreciation (and apologetic understanding?) for my parents’ times in dealing with me in middle school and high school when I was out too late with friends. Uff da.
- Genevieve received her first-ever school pictures. And they are SO CUTE. Obviously, I’m biased when it comes to things like this, but man. That little girl is adorable and I’m not afraid to admit it, people. I definitely teared up a bit when I first saw the photos. I had to resist ordering magnets, mugs, calendars, and t-shirts made with them. Just kidding. Kind of.
- Genevieve also made her first “I want ___” statements. As in, “I want you to buy ____ for me!” This was an unfortunate byproduct of mistakenly strolling through the toy area of Target with the girls a couple of weekends ago. We were looking for gifts for other people, and whoops. There was the Frozen aisle. “I want a Princess Elsa dress! And a Princess Elsa wand!” ensued multiple times daily for the next few days. Finally, mom had to bust out another first with which to fire back: “Ok, honey. I heard you. We’ll make sure Santa knows that and maybe you’ll get that for Christmas.”
- Yup. Santa has also entered our world now, for real, for the first time. We try to not make a big deal out of it, but I’m not going to lie about the fact that sometimes I have to use that good old “Santa’s watching” leverage when the girls are being particularly assertive in their independence. (Read: “not listening to their parents.”) Two and three year olds disregarding parents’ wishes? Astonishing.
- Next week, Genevieve will have her very first school Christmas concert. Preschoolers in their finest holiday garb, singing Christmas songs in front of an audience, and our little girl among them. I don’t know if I will be able to handle it.
So, once again, we have fallen off the intended habit of regularly posting (writing) on our family blog. Apologies. But now it’s time to do some catching up!
On Sunday, September 14th, we celebrated our sweet Mari Beatrice turning two years old. It was a fun birthday party with mostly family and (“god-sister”–or maybe “god-cousin”?) Baby Nora, who we absolutely love to play with whenever we get the chance. For those of you who don’t know, “Baby Nora” is our goddaughter–daughter of Jessica and Leo–and is about the same size as Mari herself, but will likely remain forever titled “Baby Nora” because she was born right at the start of our girls’ baby fever phase, in which they are still active. In fact, every time they play babies, the baby’s name is Baby Nora, and for a while, Mari would tell strangers her name was Nora.
Anyway, our tiny Bea is still tiny. She is growing well but is a bit short, like her mom. Her head continues to be large. Her smile continues to be the most winsome many claim to have ever seen. Her big brown eyes almost always sparkle, and she is finally starting to grow some real hair, which is turning out to be roughly the same color as mom’s. Her good cheer is indelible (she will often grin through her tears) and her affection and excitement about life catching. She has more and more words each week, forming comprehensible sentences now and using vocal expression like a pro. Her favorite phrases lately are, “I can DO it!” and “Ok, I will!” She’s also developed a strong sense of knowing when she doesn’t want to do something, and we have begun to see a glimpse of the other side of our happy girl: she can throw a tantrum and scream in rage with the best of them.
Her liveliness and adventuresome spirit are a joy to watch. Mari, your dad and I love you so, so much and are so proud of the big girl you are becoming. Here’s to another great year growing together!