Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas at the Papczuns'.

Where to begin with recapping the weekend? Elliot did fine on the drives, so check mark on that success still. Elliot and I were able to have a lovely breakfast/cup of coffee with some of my college friends on Saturday morning and we caught other friends on Monday before our trek back to Chicago. 

Sunday was the big Papczun gathering, and boy, was it big this year. It was the first time everyone was together since Marcia passed away.  Pat's sisters, Katie (in from Texas) and Heidi (in from Wyoming) headed the show along with a friend who joined Katie (Caryn from Germany). Food was fixed, house was scrubbed, cookies were baked, you name it, they got it done.  There were many elf hands that helped make it happen.  Pat's dad had extended the invitation to all who traditionally had come, but many of us now have kids, and the number was at 27. We weren't sure who might be sitting on the steps to eat!  But we knew everyone would love being together.
The elves started baking on Saturday afternoon; Pat trying to look important.  

Brian, Katie's husband, who figured out that it's best to steer clear of the kitchen until summoned.

We managed to steal away for an afternoon visit to Great Grandma while everyone else set up for the gathering.

Charles, Heidi's husband, was given a choice: hold Elliot or mash potatoes.  He mashed.

It was chaotic, but so good to see everyone.  It definitely felt like the holidays.  When the smoke cleared, we still had enough food for an army (literally, the dining room table was covered in sweets, pies with one piece out of them; everyone who came was so generous... I finally had to scrub the floor because I was tired of feeling the grit of sugar on my socks!).  

A tug-of-war broke out in the kitchen.  Worried there was no adult around, we went in to find Pat on the sidelines, documenting.  

Time to break down the tables to have room for presents!
(That's the tableful of desserts I mentioned!)

Good use for those new snowboarding gloves I got you, Charles...

Nerf guns were a big hit and look who's in on it.

Elliot hit a growth spurt this weekend, which was lovely timing.  On Saturday morning, he was a grumpy Gus until I realized that he needed 11 oz (!) instead of his regular 4-5 oz, along with nursing about every 2 hours that day.  On Sunday, he fell victim to overstimulation and overtiredness, as he got half of a nap all day long.  Come midnight, he was crying so hard and would not go to sleep, the poor kid.  But, he wore himself out enough that on Monday, when we drove home, his eyes did not crack for the entire 6 hours, and then he still slept the night through once we got to Chicago.  

After hitting two friends on Monday, we got on the road and rolled into Chicago around midnight.  I awoke this morning feeling almost nauseous from tiredness-- Pat and I have a very bad habit of staying up until 1am... 2am... one night Pat came to bed at 4am... because we want to visit with family.  After getting Elliot fed, I didn't even realize I had fallen asleep until I awoke again at 11:30am.  Pat said Elliot crashed again, too.  It's now after 5pm, and Pat has been napping himself for an hour or so.  Hopefully normalcy can return by tomorrow, but at least we had the time to catch up and not just jump right into things the minute we got back.

We did literally a 30 minute stop-over to see Lisa Winkler, one of our Kent friends who was in from Washington, D.C. before heading to the Miners on Monday.
Our Monday afternoon at the Miners-- nerf sword fight was on the agenda.

Nicholas and Will were great at making this grumpy Elliot laugh (and it was reciprocal).

Back Up to Christmas Eve with the Rieses.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

We sent Elliot to bed last night after a very poorly memorized dramatic recitation by yours truly of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" (I had to look up some of the later lines! I thought I would do better-- my students perform it every year). He laughed out loud throughout the poem, which made us just laugh and glow and I kept going again with the lines I did know. He loved it. We put him to bed, and he was out in a few minutes.

And it's his first Christmas morning! Dad was trying to entertain him when he was getting a little fussy with playing airplane, and Elliot graced him with a huge batch of spit up, all over Pat's face. He came into the bathroom, and I just gasped, then realized he needed help. It looked like he had gotten a pie in the face. It was impressive. Merry Christmas!

We're packing and getting on the road to Ohio this morning. Off to Grandpa Papczun's house.

Christmas Eve felt like a holiday, too-- we did a lovely late lunch (Italian style) at Dave and Jen's. The kids were great and let us all enjoy the awesome homemade meatballs, sausage, and yummy sauce that is Dave's specialty. We failed to make room for the salad!

I was feeling a little rough (Elliot had slept 12 hours the night before, which left me in, let's say, catch up mode nursing-wise), but we got home in time to recover a little and then catch a candlelight Christmas Eve service at a church down the street. The rain was less than favorable to walk in, but Pat had Elliot tucked in his coat in the carrier, all snuggled in, under an umbrella. Elliot seemed to be mesmerized by the beautiful choir music.

So MERRY CHRISTMAS, everyone! Here's to many more that will only get more wonderful as this little one gets older.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Jump, Jump.

Let me see ya JUMP, JUMP.  (Ok, cheesy...)

Date Night.

Saturday night was babysitter success again. We left Elliot with Dave and Jen while we went out for our 10th anniversary at a restaurant in Lincoln Square near their apartment. We thoroughly enjoyed a long dinner and it was lovely. Elliot did well, as he should when he's in good hands like that! Avery and Elliot had not spent time together in quite a while, so it was great to see her and to catch up with Dave and Jen, too.

Before we left our place, we put Elliot in the Jumperoo to wear him out well. He went to town, not wanting to stop when I took him out 45 minutes later. He normally does some jumping when I have him in it during the day, but I'm usually doing other things and I'm not watching him. Well, with Pat as an audience, he just hammed it up and went nuts. I captured a few moments on video. I worry his head is going to roll off once he gets tired, because he keeps jumping but gets more floppy. I guess this explains how he falls asleep so often in the Jumperoo-- he completely wears himself out.

After we returned from dinner, Dave told us how he put Elliot in their Jumperoo. "Man, he was going to hit the ceiling!" Again, he went crazy jumping, and Dave captured it on video for us as well. He certainly has his father's energy level. (And he was too busy to eat well... humph...) Yep, he crashed hard that night.

Jen also got some great shots of the kids together, finally. Usually, one is sleeping while the other is up, or one is fussy, and until now, we couldn't set them up next to each other. As you can see, Avery wasn't so sure of this guy sitting next to her who was leaning in a little too close for comfort.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cabin Fever and an Early Reader.

Momma had to get out of the house, even though it was raining (at least it is above freezing!).  Pat wanted to go, too, meaning the little guy is in tow!  Aunt Emily and Uncle Brad got him this great snowsuit for Christmas, and he looks like a blue Michelin Man!  Nice and toasty.  Perfect for urban living in the winter.

Aunt Karen, Uncle Walid, Thomas and Anna left him some cool books that turn into blocks for Christmas.  He was laying on the floor, playing, with one of them next to him.  He reached for it and started flipping through it, cooing/talking like he was reading to himself.  We were cracking up and wondering how much of this was a fluke, and how much he might be imitating from our reading together??  It soon progressed into reading with his feet, though... but still, makes this reading teacher proud!

Christmas Photos 2009

I have to do something to remind myself how cute and sweet this kid is--he's been actively fighting a nap since 11am (it's now 2:30, and he's been awake since 8am).  I've rocked him down numerous times, nursed him twice, and the minute I put him some place else (this is the third try with the crib, and the swing was attempted twice), he wakes up, needy.

He's in the crib now, crying, while I am eating my lunch (it was crying in the swing for my shower).  It's definitely an "over-tired" cry by now, versus the "I'm mad" cry from before.  I've set the timer on the stove for 20 minutes.  Sounds like he's starting to calm, talking to himself.  No problem-- keep at it, dude, I'm ok with that.   But I'm expecting more of a tyrant come evening!

Man, I miss my walks during the better weather.  Really?  It's been 20 minutes already?  Sigh.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


On Monday, Pat had his office Christmas party. We took Elliot for a moment for show and tell, and then our former neighbor, Candace, had agreed to watch him for the rest of the evening. I was pretty uptight having him at the gathering, as I could just see him spitting up on Pat's boss or worse, seeing that he had refrained from blessing me with a full diaper all day long. However, everyone seemed to like seeing him. He was a touch overwhelmed, but did well. I, then, relaxed and enjoyed myself once he was at Candace's, as then I knew she was there to take care of him, would give him all of her attention, and he could do whatever he liked without making too much of a disaster of the evening. A successful babysitter evening! Candace rocks.

And, Dave and Jen have graciously offered to watch him on Saturday as we go out to dinner for our 10th anniversary. These moments are few and fun, but we find that we miss him quite a bit! He is a great way to celebrate our 10 years of marriage, that's for sure.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Random Fun Facts about Elliot.

- He seems to hate apples (I had to retrain him to eat after he started refusing to open his mouth and gagged with every other bite).
- His new favorite is peaches.
- We have tickle fests sometimes twice a day.
- He won't be reading Puss in Boots anymore (moral: trickery will get you everywhere in life?!).
- His hands are almost always cold, but you know he's getting sleepy when they get toasty.
- Pat pointed out that he tends to look into people's eyes.
- He's starting to hold on and hug.
- I think he reached for me for the first time this morning!

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas...

So just like a lot of things, everyone says that the holidays start to have an entirely other meaning when children come along.  Elliot isn't even old enough to know the difference, but I am finding myself all caught up in the season in a way I never have been.

Sunday seemed the perfect day to get our tree; the first weekend at home in a while.  Pat was quite the trooper-- he hit 5 places, with 2 being sold out and the others not living up to his standards before he had a tree that was acceptable.  We decided against trucking Elliot along for the novelty.  (As you can see here, I was trying to get him to focus on the amazement of the tree, and he hardly noticed it was there...)

My job then was decorating.  As always, I'm on my second strand and the first one goes half way out.  "Don't throw it out, I'll mess with it," Pat promises.  Even without that strand, we weren't nearly done.  10pm, I run to our trusty 24-hour Walgreens.  Sold out.  Onward to Target.  Sold out.  I grab the last box of dangling icicle lights and head home, after circling the Christmas aisles about 3 times in disbelief (we're not THAT late, are we?!).  All excited to complete the job, determined to not go to bed with the mess still out, I go to plug in the new lights... and the plugs are not compatible.  I start a dramatic diatribe, poking fun at myself, when we solve the solution by digging out a big green extension cord to run from the center of the tree for the new lights.  Voila.  And, by the way, icicle lights are lovely to cover a dense tree.  Try it!

Had to get that extra stocking this year.

On Saturday, I did a workshop for teachers at the Chicago Teachers Center.  Pat manned the boy.  I called to see how he was doing on my drive home, "Oh, he's asleep in the Jumperoo."  Awww, this is becoming a habit apparently.  "Yea, he's been asleep for an hour or so..."  Oh.  I usually take him out once he conks, thinking he's not comfy or shouldn't sleep that way or something.  I took a breath and let go, then finding out that there had already been one round of Pat trying to remove the sleeping baby only to have him perk right back up, so he decided against this move when the situation arose again.  Ok.  I guess it doesn't look that uncomfortable.  

Friday, December 11, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Testing the volume?

As you can hear, we were entertained.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Aunt Emily's quilt.

I helped Emily learn how to sew two summers ago. Aunt Emily has been working for a while on a quilt for Elliot-- she travels a lot for work, so it was hard for her to find time to work on it. Plus, she told me it took her 80 hours to complete! WOW! It's gorgeous and quite cozy (it kept me nice and warm on the drive home!)

Christmas, the Baptism, and the Pumpkin Pie Saga.

I recall thinking to myself about a week+ ago, how nicely paced and balanced my life/schedule seemed... sure, I'm busy, but I don't feel stressed and I have not had a migraine since January. I thought I was managing quite well. Um, that all went kapoot this week.

We were getting a little worn from our travels, but I really saw no way around it since I just have to see far away family when they are at my parents, and we always have a nice time there. As I mentioned, Elliot fought off his cold after a few days, but Pat promptly picked it up in a worse form. Hacking at night, dragging during the day, sore throat... this all left him wanting to steer clear of Elliot to prevent him from getting sick again. And this left me with little relief in the evenings or at night-- How could I ask Pat to get up with the baby if I'm dragging, when he's in worse shape and going to work?

Thursday I had my Christmas party for school, and it was so great to see everyone again. It was a lot of fun, great food, and lots of laughter. I had Elliot in tow, and he was quite the trooper. We left the house at 12:30, and got home that night around 8pm (we had to make a flower and food delivery to a hospitalized friend before coming home). But, yes, by that time, he was completely spent and was having a minor meltdown in the car. I knew I was pushing it.

Throughout the week, I was prepping for Elliot's baptism back at my parents' in Ohio. Pat and I have always felt so welcomed (where I grew up) and admire the warm community that embodies this small country church. Of course, my mom loves to do meals to celebrate, but I wanted to take on some of the burden this time, since it was our event. My brother, Brad, and Emily came in from Portland to serve as the sponsors or guardians, or god parents, whatever you'd like to call it. Because of them being in, and the fact that Pat and I will be at his side for Christmas, we went ahead with another big sit-down meal on Saturday and enjoyed opening our gifts for Christmas.

So, I had six lists going this week to make sure I didn't overlook something. I had it all mapped out-- go to the grocery this day for the non-perishables, that day for the fresh stuff, bake on this night, laundry, pack, without being able to ask Pat for much.

Thursday night, after my party-- it's midnight, I'm not packed but have a few things in order to leave the next day. Gotta get my pumpkin pie made. Easy peasy, right? It looks a little dark, seemed different. I rinsed the can of evaporated milk for recycling, and ah-ha... it expired 8/08. No worries, they're easy to do, and how convenient that on my shopping trip at 10pm the night before, I picked up more ingredients to replace those I was using from my pantry. I'll just whip up another. Ohhhhh, I forgot that once it's in oven, I'm now committed to staying up the hour+ until it comes out of the oven. This becomes 2:30am and I am beat. I put them to cool in a safe place and hit the sack.

I oversleep a little, forget about the pies until 10am. Oh no, it was supposed to be refrigerated after 2 hours... and it's now been almost 8. Can I really serve this and be ok with it? I post a note on facebook to get a consensus... half of the people say, "Not worth the risk..." which I knew was my real answer. Half the people say, "It's fine, I've left mine out before; don't grocery stores leave theirs out?" Nah, I'm erring on the safe side. Pat runs out for more ingredients to take home to bake yet another at my mom's. I called home to double check mom's opinion-- she's not home, but dad is, and he offers to feed my pies to the barn cats. "Bring 'em along, they'll love 'em!"

Saturday night at my moms-- we've enjoyed such a lovely dinner and Christmas, lots and lots of food... and Pat and mom get going on this new pie. Of course, the can of pumpkin is for two, so two it'll be. They come out of the oven. Mom sets them on the counter to cool, "Ok, so those will be fine until morning." WHAT?! I tell her, that's exactly why I could not serve the one I made... it had set out all night. "Oh, no, it would have been fine." The cats were already feasting on my perfectly fine pumpkin pie. I just put my head down and sighed. (The tired tears of defeat had already been shed back in Chicago.)

Back to my notion that all was going smoothly with no migraines: I was blessed with one Friday night, which left sicky Pat driving the whole way home. Elliot was not the greatest traveler for this trip in, and we were about an hour longer after we had to stop so I could nurse him AFTER he'd had his bottle! (But on the drive back to Chicago, he fell asleep within 5 minutes and never woke!)

Overall, however, the weekend was so great with the family. Pat's dad came down with his friend, Nancy, along with Pat's brother and his family (Bill, Jen, Kyle, Timmy, and Kate-- photos in a previous blog), all from the Cleveland area, for the baptism. We had a full house with some local people too, with food for about 2x that. :) It was so nice of these out of towners to make the effort to come in.

Elliot did awesome at the baptism. My mom has gotten to calling him Mr. Personality, and he was certainly that during the service. Pastor Patty personalized the service so nicely for us and Elliot just took it all in stride.

About 4pm on Sunday, everyone took off to head back home. My parents' house was quiet, and before we knew it, both my parents, us, and Elliot were asleep on the couches or in chairs. We were exhausted.

Mom commented that the weekend couldn't have gone better-- there was nothing she would have changed. I agree-- despite the tiredness and headache, I had such a lovely weekend. This is exactly why Pat and I love living in Chicago-- we can make it in for these weekends that otherwise would be out of reach. Elliot is so blessed to be surrounded by so many people who love him-- many of our family members were there in spirit as well. Our families certainly have a fair share of tensions, but we are very very lucky.

Today, I think I will do a whole lot of nothing, waiting for this migraine to run its course. Then I will get to the cleaning and such here (when we are home, we've been trying to organize the apartment. For almost two weeks now, we've had a knee-high pile for Goodwill sitting in our hallway...). Mom sent enough food with us to last at least the whole week, plus more frozen, so we will be well fed and hopefully can get back to a healthy schedule.

It's funny-- on one hand, I think, "Good, no more traveling for a few weeks!" and on another, because we enjoy family so much, I think I'd do it all again next weekend! Well, maybe two weeks from now... :)
(New Year's resolution-- to blog more often so they're shorter!)