Thursday, October 1, 2015

Chuck, Hank and Someone New

Texted to Rachel on the morning of June 23rd:

Me: "Rach, what does this mean??"

Rach: "JENN. You're pregnant."

Me: "No no no. I can barely see a plus. I don't think it's right."

Rach: "JENN."

I'm pregnant.

I'm freaking pregnant.

At 18 weeks in, this still surprises me.

I've left this blog so very neglected for over two years while trying to reign in a life that was just too full of too many things... I needed to shed parts of my life just to be able to breathe, and our family's personal cyber-space took a backseat. But it's time to bring it back. With our new life here in Texas, both boys in school all day, a better ability to just say no to all the school volunteering and 1/30th the amount of PB&J clients, my time is more leisurely and I miss capturing the moments in our own lives. I want to keep our memories, my thoughts, and the boys' little lives, that are going by much too quickly, safe and savored.

So, back to where we started: I'm pregnant. 22 weeks from now, we will be growing into a family of five (FIVE!!!) with our Chuck, our Hank and our someone new.

Lots of people have asked me if we were trying to get pregnant based off my sheer surprise that I actually am pregnant. People seem very curious about that part of it. I guess the answer to that is, "sort of???" with LOTS of question marks. The juicy details of it for all you weirdos out there who want to know the insider information about my husband and my reproductive decisions is: We were sort of trying...?  We wanted a third child. We just couldn't get past the part that having a third child meant having a third baby and that sounded awful and hard and we couldn't really get to the point where we were like "Sure. That sounds awesome. Let's definitively do that thing where we don't ever sleep again while a tiny terrorist screams at us for a year." It just seemed to us that getting pregnant by surprise would be a much better way to go about a third child because once it's done, it's done. It all seemed much less stressful to not have to actually think about all of that change... and all those diapers, and the waking up to pukey cribs, and the 1am and the 3am and the 5am feedings... It would be better if it just happened... Except, it wasn't happening.

So, we sort of tried for this baby. But we were also surprised. Because we only tried that one time. I know, I know, I'm in my thirties and only teenage boys trying to get in their girlfriend's pants think you can't get pregnant from just one time. But seriously!?!? In five years, we only tried the one time because we were big, giant scaredy cats about the whole thing. And by "try" I mean that I had enough wine at our going-away party (to which I had worn a sheer white skirt -- and Mike claims the skirt is the culprit to this whole thing) that I was very much in the mood to mask my devastated emotions about packing up our Virginia home with a less-than-mindful and wine-hazed bout of getting-it-on.

Wine + Impending Drastic Life Changes + Sadness + Sheer Skirts + Mike's Weekend Scruff = Babies

We spent the next 8 days in a 400 square foot hotel room (with a cat!) getting Charlie through his last days of fifth grade. On Wednesday June 17th, we flew 1500 miles south through a tropical storm, unpacked like tasmanian devils, and on the following Monday, had one of our dearest friends over for dinner who was in town on business. Still rather sad to be away from Virginia, I drank it away with some red wine with the guys and went upstairs to put the boys to bed. A tad tipsy, I passed Charlie's mirror while getting them in jammies and thought "oh my god, I think I'm pregnant" as I glimpsed my unusually large bosom.

Pretty sure I didn't want to have wine-laced pee tell me whether or not I was pregnant (I am, after all, a responsible mother who waits for sober pee to predict pregnancy), I went to bed just a little wary that I kinda, sorta, might be pregnant. The next morning, I waited for Mike to go to work and snuck a pregnancy test out of a still-packed box. Expecting the usual, boring negative, I was a bit confused when the very faintest extra line barely appeared. NOT BORING. I'm the kind of girl whose uterus is as consistently late as is the human who carries it around, so I stopped buying expensive pregnancy tests years ago, opting for the cheapest brand to tell me "no" instead. And this particularly cheap test was too inconclusive in my opinion.  I needed more tests. I needed every test on the grocery store shelves.

Five tests later, I was fairly convinced, and surprised, that we were having another baby.

I totally understand the question people keep asking about whether this baby was intentional or not. I do have an 11 year old and a 5 year old, neither of whom was made with any sort of conscious effort, so I get it - it's not exactly the "normal" time line for creating siblings. And people are always curious when you don't do things the normal way. But I've never been a fan of doing anything the normal way. The six year age gap is our way and it totally looks purposeful now. Whoo hoo! Legitimacy! And we do really love the 6-ish year spread.

We will never have to pay more than one college tuition at a time.

Monday, September 16, 2013

First Days of School.

We were ready for school to start this year. We were very done with this summer.

August camps were cancelled when we realized our scheduled Golf & Tennis camps at the ICC probably had a lot more to offer with two arms. And our plans for a second excursion to the beach just seemed way too expensive to have a cast to still worry about. The pool water in August is pretty cold due to falling evening temps which is still so surprising after living in Texas and enduring bathtub-like pools. We'd been on day trips to DC a hundred times already and as much as I love them, I just couldn't take another excursion for cupcakes. Our best friends who always joined us for spontaneous activities and kept both kids entertained had moved... So, August went from being fun-filled to filled with lots of time together at the house. Lots. Of. Time. Together.

By August, we had just run out of things to do and were bored. School needed to happen. And thankfully, it did.

Charlie had his Open House on the Friday before labor day. His teacher is lovely and bubbly and energetic. And after I spotted the posters on her wall that reminded the kids to be awesome, I fell quite in love with her.

Fourth Grade. FOURTH GRADE. These kids are like, ONE grade away from being the oldest kids at school. Their classrooms are in the same hall as the fifth graders. They have THREE teachers to switch classes daily for different instruction. And they're all so tall that they basically look me in the eye. It is FREAKY!!!

Charlie was so mad at me for making him wear a collared shirt and boat shoes. He hates when I make him dress "handsome". #meanmom
On his first day of school, I took his picture on the driveway - front and back - like we do every year. It's unbelievable how big he looks now.
The following week, it was Henry's turn!!

Last year, I didn't take the front and back first day pictures of him and honestly, wasn't planning to do it this year either. I figured I'd wait for kindergarten. But Henry sees everything his brother does and walked out to the driveway and stood in the exact same spot as Charlie had and got ready for his pictures! So, of course, how could I resist!?
Once at school, Henry found his best friend, Max, and they spent time coloring and staring at the kids who were crying. They love each other and they love school. It's adorable.
Henry's preschool class is FOURTEEN BOYS and two little girls. Most of the boys in his class are Henry's buddies and they have all been together for two years at this school. Several of the moms and I have become very good friends so we *might* have made plans to get Starbucks and show up to registration day VERY early to make sure all of us the kids were together again.

The 3-year-old class is a co-op which means that every day there is a volunteer parent helping in the classroom. It works out to about once-a-month, I get to stay at school and help out.  I ended up with having a "shift" on the first week of school and as much as I feared I'd feel stuck at school when I really wanted to be running errands alone, I LOVED IT!! It was so much fun to watch Henry, his buddies, and all of our new friends for a whole day. They sing songs and learn about the calendar and they all have little jobs like "lunch helper" and "door holder" -- and oddly, these little people are very good at handling all of these things!! It's so cute. I just ate it up.   2013-09-11_0015

Friday, September 13, 2013

Pounding Crabbies

A few years ago, we went to Annapolis with the intent of smashing crabbies on the table. But in 90 degree heat that day and my pregnant sister-in-law with us... and ya' know, Henry... we ended up just walking into ANYWHERE and eating WHATEVER. Smashing crabbie dreams smashed...

Fast forward to my hair appointment back in July when I actually got to read a magazine and the Washingtonian said Cantler's was the authentic place to smash crabbies. And the idea was back on the table.

We decided to go on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. Well guess what? So did everyone else. First, we waited in line Then we waited in another line to get a table. It was about two hours of waiting. {insert shocked emoji face here}. And I couldn't get any cell service!!! Tragedy!!

But our boys are pretty awesome and did great waiting. We sat on a bench overlooking the water and I stole a bunch of crackers from a waitress so we could feed the ducks. And we took some pictures. Bless my hubby. He's no photographer... notice the pop-up-flash and the REALLY horrible angle which pretty much ensures that I'll be thinking about exercising all week because, um, thighs!
Once we got a table - holy gracious. The menu. I figured you just ordered crabbies and be done with it -- but their menu!!! It was HUGE and full of so many delicious things! I wanted crabs but I also wanted ALL THE THINGS! I think we settled on FOUR side dishes + 6 extra large crabs. It was ridiculous.

They also had REAL Kraft Mac n' Cheese for Henry. Which he didn't actually eat. Because it wasn't shaped like Spongebob...
No wonder why this place was a two hour wait. It. Was. Worth. It. Feel free to come visit us in DC. We'll take you.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Buy All the Stella & Dot!!

Hey y'all!!! Notice anything new around here?? "Chuck and Hank" has had a makeover! I'm quite in love with the new look!

I've been falling for lots of new things lately. Last week I threw my very first Stella & Dot party with the help of my stylist from Very Busy Mama, Maria, and I fell truly, madly and deeply in love with all the things!
Maria helped me to realize that my style is "dainty". I prefer thinner pieces and avoid a bold statement with my jewelry. This is probably because jewelry is new to me! For years, I wouldn't put on a single piece aside from {fake} diamond studs in my ears because I just didn't know how to accessorize my outfits and would get overwhelmed. But as a photographer, I've realized the value in looking my best when I'm with my clients. I want my clients to know that I'm going to make sure they look their best and I can't do that while I look like I just rolled out of bed! And as a mom, I've realized that tossing on a necklace {or two!} with my skinny jeans, vintage tees and flats, makes me feel so much more put together and confident as I drop the kiddos at preschool and navigate the grocery aisles. With a little sparkle, I feel just - better.  

I figured there was no better way to debut my pretty new blog design than to show off all the pretty jewelry I love!
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Even if you don't share my style, Stella & Dot seems to have something for everyone! Take a look around the Stella & Dot Website!! Find something you love that suits you! My show will be open until the 29th of September! Happy Shopping! 

Monday, August 26, 2013

July Photo Dump

Because it's almost September, it's time for a serious photo dump of all the fun things we've done (and I photographed) in July that I haven't had time to blog. Ugh. I'm busy. And I take too many pictures.

Gravelly Point with Cakes & Kids  

While Mike was traveling for two weeks to Asia and Europe in July, my Cakes drove up to keep us company. We took the kids to Gravelly Point - a park immediately north of Reagan Airport - to watch the planes take off and land, literally, FEET above our heads. 

We followed up our picnic in the park with a quick stop in Georgetown for Baked & Wired cupcakes!
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Our {Cutest Ever} Lemonade Stand

While Mandie was visiting, she promised her girls we'd all do a lemonade stand. Except I didn't want to. Like, at all. I thought I had successfully avoided it when she left and no lemonade had been sold... but the boys still just had to have a lemonade stand. So, we "squzzed" 28 lemons and made $16.50!

Oh. And it was really cute.
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Swim Lessons at SwimKids

I decided that since Henry always loved going to the pool, never minded getting his face dunked and always wanted to do the things his big brother was doing at the pool that he would do really well with swim lessons. So I signed him up for two weeks of lessons at SwimKids.

Well, I was wrong. He hated it. But after two weeks of threats, bribes and LOTS of patience, he passed SwimTots Level 1. He will now kind of let you dunk him, spider-climb the wall, kick his legs and blow bubbles.
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Big Blue Goes Big Red

Charlie switched out his blue cast for a new red one - which was the color he originally asked for that the Orthopedic surgeon had run out of in the ER. He was really nervous for the saw but giggled through the whole thing.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Washing All the Cars

My hubby is from Michigan. And apparently that means he needs to wash our cars. Like, a lot. They breed serious clean-car pride up there.

This really works out for me because I have two kids in my car all.the.time. and it's messy. And since I'm not from Michigan, I don't care. Messes in cars are losing battles. I choose not to fight losing battles. There will always be more crumbs. And lollipops stuck to leather seats. And milk cups that rolled under the chair and no one bothered to say "heads-up, mom, I dropped my milk cup and it rolled under the chair" so you don't even know it's there until your keen mom sense picks up on the scent of the ounce of unfinished milk that is now gourmet car-cheese. There will always be another mess. Always. Why clean the car if tomorrow I'm going to have to give Hank a yogurt so he stops whining in the back seat and someday in the future someone will say "how did whatever that is {that you never even noticed} get up on the ceiling of your car?" By the way, it's yogurt up there. And this *might* be a true story.

In my opinion, you just don't need to clean your car unless you know someone who might be judgey is going to take a ride and point out the yogurt that spilled UP instead of DOWN to you.

But this, ladies, is why we marry midwestern men. They will just do it for you on the weekend. And also clean their car while they're at it. And insist on involving your darling children so that weird car pride is passed down to the next generation.

So... Clean car. Kids occupied. And all you have to do it take pictures when it starts getting really cute... and then blog about it {because midwestern men love cleaning cars but all the family documenting is up to you, girlfriend}. I think this is a pretty sweet deal.

Spoiler Alert: Henry got really wet. Who's shocked?

Also, Charlie has a waterproof cover over his cast if you're wondering what the blue thing with the really giant thumb-hole is. :)
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Once those cute little feet got in the bucket, it was all over. 
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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Blackberries at Great Country Farms

About 45 minutes west in the beautiful farm hills of Virginia, there is Great Country Farms. And blackberries, ripe for the picking.

While Mike was away in Singapore, I was happy to fill our days with anything and everything and picking blackberries sounded like a perfect day! My girlfriends, Jackie and Bridgett, and I took all of our boys on a drive through the gorgeous country up to the farm.

There is a wonderful deal for an all day pass to Great Country Farms for only $5 on certifikid HERE. It lasts through August, so go, people! Go!!! Read on to see all the reasons to make the trek yourselves!

The blackberry field was a tractor-trailer ride away. Boys love trailer rides. Moms love the cuteness overload.
It was an overcast day which was such a blessing in the middle of July. It could've been so hot. But it was nice and mild.

We had NO CLUE what to do. Clearly. My girlfriends and I were all wearing flip flops and I put my kids in JCrew outfits, and Charlie's was WHITE. Dumb. Luckily, we ran into some other ladies who seemed a bit more experienced than we with their boots and buckets. They pointed us to the best vines and told us how to pick the berries. "Pick the ones that have turned black and are so fat that they come off easily - those are the ones you want". Thanks so much, Moms-Who-Have-Done-This-Before. We appreciated it.
I really didn't expect my kids to like this. I just figured they would be terrified of the ticks that might get on them like I was and refuse to get deep into the fields. {Seriously, I pretty much just stood in one spot  cursing myself for wearing shorts and flips and wiped down my legs on repeat. I might have asked my girlfriends just a few times if they were certain the farm was fenced so the deer, and their ticks, stayed away from the fruit}

But the kids loved it. Charlie filled three pints! And they were soooo good. So much more flavor right off the vine than any you can buy at the grocery store. And so sweet!
After picking the berries, we had a picnic lunch under the shade of a big tree behind the farm store.

At that point, we were sold on the fact that GCF was amazing. Little did we know, there was SO. MUCH. MORE.

Behind the farm store, there are playgrounds, farm animals, mini golf, slides - AND A GIANT JUMPING PILLOW!!! Yup. A giant. jumping. pillow. Kid heaven.
I couldn't resist. I had to try it out too! 
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After the jumping pillow, we decided to see some of the animals and feed them. A cup of feed comes with every $5 pass. Henry loves animals. For a kid who used to hate everything, we kind of eat it up when he finds something he loves. And he sure loooooves farm animals. When he sees them, he says "Hey {insert farm animal here}, you come home with me and I will pet you." He loves to have the goats eat out of his hand. Charlie does NOT. Charlie will look but will NOT touch. We all did fall in love with sweet Daisy the mini cow though. She was soooo cute.
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With toddlers in tow, we finished the day at nap time - long before we got to see everything there was to do at Great Country Farms. Luckily, there is always a new crop to pick and a reason to go back. Next up - PEACHES! Can't wait.