Saturday, January 26, 2013

6 and Upton Abbey

The biggest piece of news lately is that Ava James somehow transformed from this - 

into this - 

Josh and I are so thankful for our sweet girl.  From the moment they handed the pink sweet bundle to us in the hospital she has been the perfect fit into our little family.  She started out as this magical little thing that could hold our attention for hours just by scrunching her face, breathing, and sleeping.  We were smitten.  Watching her develop into a little person has been the most rewarding experience.  Looking back at her baby pictures has made it even more real that we'll have another little Lockett baby in our arms soon.

After a month of trying to decide on a birthday venue where all of Ava's kindergarten class plus church and other friends could come, we landed on an outdoor play-at-the-park party.  I was so nervous as we waited for her party date to get closer and the weather reports started rolling in.  The party day ended up being one of the prettiest Saturdays we've had in months.  We had the most chill party.  Josh and I made cake pops, and we had juice and water.  The kids played at the park until they started getting thirsty and ready for snacks.  We served the cake pops and drinks.  When they showed interest in Ava opening her presents they brought them to her and she opened them.  That's it.  As favors we handed out the balloons we'd used to decorate and sparklers left over from Aunt Jaryn's wedding.  The party was cheap, low-stress, and I think all the kids had fun - I know the birthday girl did.

One strange thing about Ava's birthday this year was that no family from Texas came in for it.  With our big move next weekend, we decided to delay Ava's family party for everyone's convenience.  She is excited to have another party to look forward to, and I know the grandparents are excited about Hideaway Pizza.  Thank you so much to everyone who sent cards and gifts to Ava in the mail.  Thank you for the phone calls and text messages.  She felt loved on from every angle.

A special thank you to MLML and PLPL for the sweet treasures in the mail.  Ava is loving the American Girl books and she was able to use her B&N gift card to buy a book light and some other books she's had her eye on.  Instead of us reading to her at bedtime, she uses her new book light to read herself to sleep.  Josh and I both fall asleep reading, so it's fun to watch her patterning her nighttime routine after ours.  As much as I'd like to take full credit for this trait, I can remember laying in bed next to MLML waiting for her to get to a stopping point in her mystery book before she'd turn out the light.  I guess those years Ava and MLML spent together will continue to shine through as she grows up.  So special.

By the way, cake pop making is a laborious process.  Thankful for my foodie hubby who took over when I couldn't go on...even if his cake pops did end up looking better than mine.  Grr.

Birthday party decorations, we let God handle the rest of them.

Sweet friends with the birthday girl 

We did buy one cupcake to stick her 6 candle into during the birthday song.

The next day at church Ava asked to have a friend sit with her during the service.  They were so well-behaved, coloring and quietly working without noise.  She's such a big girl.

After church we went to lunch with my pick for our new nanny.  Josh and Ava wanted to meet her before we made things official.  Inspired by Jane and Michael from Mary Poppins, Ava made a list of questions for her.

She passed the questions with flying colors, and Josh and Ava were just as charmed as Levin and I were.  Donna will start working with our family during my maternity leave (3 months off, by the way, Toto I don't think we're in public school teaching anymore!) part time.  Once I go back to work I plan to work from home one day a week, so Donna will care for Levin four days a week.  She'll also pick up Ava from school, handle housework, and mostly just love on our two little ones until one of us gets home.  I've always told Josh I didn't want to have another baby until I could stay home.  Technically, we could make it without my income, but I love my job.  It's the most fun I've ever had, and it brings me so much happiness.  The flexibility allows me to feel like I can still be the mom I want to be to Ava and Levin, the wife I want to be to Josh, and work at a job that meets my needs.  With Donna on our team I feel even more confident that we can make this work.  I know it'll be a big transition, but we're excited about the changes coming our way.

Speaking of changes, all Ava really wanted for her birthday was to get her ears pierced.  She's talked about it for six months.  We've always said that when she asked we would let her pierce them.  We all had  a holiday for MLK day on the day before Ava turned six, so we headed to the mall.  She was all smiles until the first ear was pierced.  It took some comforting and encouraging from us to calm her enough to pierce the second ear.  I wish I'd thought to ask them to pierce them at the same time.  Within a couple of minutes after the second ear she was all smiles and so proud.  I cleaned her ears the first night, but then Ava informed me that she could handle it.  I do watch and make sure she's doing it correctly, but so far she's been very responsible.  Five weeks left until she can change them out.

Later in the week I took Ava to her pediatrician for a checkup.  At the appointment they informed me that children at this age usually don't come in for yearly checkups.  Seriously?  It's like she's an adult overnight.  Anyway, she is in perfect health.  She's a big girl, 85th percentile for height and 70th percentile for weight.  Very thankful for our healthy girl.

Trying to remember to soak up every small moment with Ava in our last few weeks as a family of three.  I've heard other mommy friends talk about this time before the second baby.  Most of them have much younger kiddos, but I think it's just as important with our big girl.  She understands that Levin is coming, heck he was mostly her idea.  Josh and I were okay with just our one, but for the past three years Ava has talked about wanting a sibling.  Still, I know she can't understand how much things will change in late March.  I'm not even sure Josh and I get it.  All we can do is embrace this change while treasuring every minute.

One thing I don't treasure, moving boxes.  I'm so ready to be in our new house, but packing and moving is exhausting.  Josh is doing most of the work, just like he did during our last move.  There are many bright spots in this move though:  1) it's not happening in the middle of a 115 degree summer, 2)  I'm not in my first trimester and sick, 3) we anticipate this to be the last move for the foreseeable future, 4) our sweet parents, both sets, are coming up on Friday to help us move.  We can finally see the light at the end of this nomadic tunnel.

Levin (and Mommy) Update

No bump picture this post, sorry.  Levin is 8 1/2 weeks from his due date.  However, if he follows big sister's schedule it's more like 7 1/2.  He will technically be "full term" on March 7th, and is due March 28th.  My best guess is that he'll arrive on March 21st.  My mom plans to come spend at least part of her spring break with us (March 11th-15th).  Josh's mom will come after that and, hopefully, stay until Levin makes his appearance.  With Ava's spring break, an unpredictable brother on the way, and a really busy season of work for me, I'll just feel better having a grandma in place and on guard.  That's our plan for now anyway.

Physically, I'm still feeling great.  I definitely notice my energy level starting to drop off, and there are a lot more aches than I remember with Ava.  

Mentally, this past week was a bit of a roller coaster.  The weight of the house closing, moving, about seven huge projects going on at work, and everyday life in general paired with our growing boy started to overwhelm me a bit.  My dreamy doula, Sarah, was able to speak peace and comforting words that soaked away some of the AHHH.  Also, Josh and Ava have held me up and allowed me to take the breaks I needed.  I was so nervous to be pregnant again after Ava.  My pregnancy with her was 100% healthy, but so full of emotional stressors and rocky times.  This pregnancy has brought about healing of hurts that I didn't even know existed.  I'm thankful for the hidden blessing that this pregnancy weakness and dependence has brought me and for the absolute rock that Josh has been to me through it.  I'm also thankful for my tender-hearted daughter who always cries along with me.  She softly rubs my back and wipes away both our tears while encouraging me in her own special way.  Levin is a lucky little one to have Josh and Ava, that's for sure.

Over and out from The Hundred Acre Woods (our rent house), next post coming to you from Upton Abbey (our new house).  I hope your 2013 is off to a fabulous start!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Merry and Bright

December was a busy month, as it tends to be each year.  For the first time Josh and I are both working in the real world.  Josh only had off for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.  Can you believe it?  Luckily since I work in higher ed, I had the same break as Ava except for the Friday before Christmas.  As usual we spent most of our holiday in the car trekking from our house to grandparents to great-grandparents to other grandparents to other great-grandparents and back.  In a four day period we were in the car for twenty-eight hours.  Not sure if we're going to be able to maintain this pace of nomadic Christmas when we have an 8-month-old brother next year.  How do you manage Christmas?  I'd love to hear some of your perspectives on seeing all family without running ragged.  Comment please!

Just before Christmas break it was Ava's turn to have the class bear, Hug-a-Bear, for the weekend.  We toted him around with us for the whole weekend and snapped a few pictures for the class scrapbook.  It was a blustery cold couple of days, so Hug-a-Bear borrowed some jammies from Levin.  On Saturday night Ava carefully buckled him into the car so we could go and see the Down's Family Christmas Lights.

They moved to the front seat once we were parked in the field for optimal light show viewing.

The lights move in rhythm to a radio station and create a pretty magical 15-minute show for the low price of a canned food donation.  Seeing these lights has become a tradition for us since we moved to Norman.

After all the fun it was time for Ava to write about her time with Hug-a-Bear.

She set right to work.

You can click to make this bigger and read about our weekend.  I'm pretty impressed with her ability to produce written work like this with just a little spelling guidance from us.

I love to peek in on this sweet sleeper.

James stayed with us right up through Christmas Eve.  He even followed us to Texas.  I'm not sure why that surprised us since he did bash all over Europe with us last December.

We've always enjoyed playing games with Ava, but as she gets older the games are even more fun for us.  The Game of Life and Skip-Bo Junior have been two of our recent favorites.

Independent reading is another activity that keeps Ava busy lately.  She can read higher level books than she chooses, but when you're 5 you'd rather read about Sesame Street and Disney Princess characters.  I encourage her to choose more difficult books when we're reading together, but if she's reading on her own I leave book selection entirely up to her.  She doesn't even read the words out loud anymore.  A few nights ago I decided to quiz her a bit on the book she was reading after we tucked her in, just to make sure she was actually "getting it".  The book was a Little Golden Book that she hadn't read before so I knew it would be a good test of her comprehension.  She was able to retell the story with detail and even flipped to a few pages to show me her favorite lines from a sarcastic Bert to an annoying Ernie.  Nothing thrills me more than to watch her love of reading develop.

We made a special gift for Ava's class stocking stuffer exchange.  I saw the idea on Pinterest and adapted it slightly for ease of construction.

The finished product:

We traveled with some great friends over the river and through the woods to see the Christmas lights at Chickasha.  Rich and Stacy packed a yummy picnic dinner and we made an evening of it.

Bundled to walk through a small section of the light display.

Between Christmas excursions and fun, a lot of work was happening at the law school.  Sure, some of it was happening with my feet propped up on the desk.  I'm way more efficient that way these days.

Ava was in her first play this Christmas season.  She played a child who was writing letters to characters from the nativity scene.  Luckily the part allowed her to read her lines from the letters, no need to memorize.

When we first talked with her about the play she was hesitant and not sure she wanted to perform in front of that many people.  We encouraged her to try a practice or two and see if she liked it.  With an opportunity to spend one evening a week with her church friends, she was sold.  I was so nervous for her the night before the performance, but she was solid and sure.  We let her pick out a fancy Christmas dress and she was confident.

When the time came for her to read each of her letters, she marched right up to the microphone and nailed each line.  I'm so proud of her for pushing through her initial fears and truly enjoying the whole experience.

During Ava's school Christmas party a special visitor came to see the children.  After watching several of her classmates' younger siblings meet Santa, Ava insisted that Levin be introduced as well.

Soon we were all in Texas to kick off Christmas time with family.  Baba and Ava make gingerbread cookies every year.  This year cousin Nolan got involved in the fun too.

Watching Ava interact with 2-year-old Nolan was a great preview to how she'll be as a big sister to Levin.  I know their relationship will be different, but she was so eager to help and take care of Nolan.  She liked to help him wash his hands, stand on the stool to reach things, look in the direction of the camera, and just play.  She was so careful to help him avoid dangerous places or things that Sarah had told him to stay away from.  I love the relationship she has with Nolan.  These two will be friends forever.

A trip to Houston mandated a stop in College Station.

A future Aggie?

Ava was so excited to see her Beene Beene, who now lives in Houston near Josh's parents.

Beene Beene with her two grandkids and one great-grandkid

For Christmas Ava asked Santa for a new doll and a real waffle maker.  He made good on both presents.  I can't help but think that next year we'll take a similar picture with her holding a squirmy brother.

We returned to a snow dusted Oklahoma and spent another day watching flakes fall.

Using her new waffle maker for the first time with help from Coach

Levin's first snow

After a yummy German dinner with Josh's family Ava scooted her chair back from the table and groaned, "Uh, I look like you now Mommy."  Here we are with our respective full bellies.

Speaking of full bellies, I'm officially in my third trimester now!  I remember struggling to make it through each day of my first trimester, but the second flew by.  Levin will be "full term" on March 7 and his official due date is March 28.

 I feel like he is sticking out a lot more than Ava did.  I'm carrying him completely different than I did her.  He's a spunky little guy, growing stronger judging by the kicks and punches I feel.  He reacts dramatically when I use the coffee grinder or food processor; it's like he's trying to run into the living room and hide under the couch from the noise.  Poor baby.  We can't wait to kiss his sweet face in about twelve weeks.

Reading by lantern light late into the night

Since Ava and I had extra days off, we had a brunch date at Panera.  When Josh was in his first year of law school and we lived in the tiny campus apartments, Ava and I frequently had school at Panera in the mornings.  She learned to read and count by 2's in this booth.  So many memories I cherish with my sweet girl.

We spent a very chill New Year's Eve with friends.  Ava helped roll out yummy cinnamon rolls.

Proud of the finished product, 

and eager to taste it.

We're wrapping up our Christmas break with a very relaxing anniversary at home.  I've got black-eyed-peas in the crockpot and cornbread in the oven.  I'm still in my pajamas and Josh is only dressed because he made a grocery run to grab paper towels and Fruity Pebbles (ahem, Levin) earlier.  This is our glamourous life and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Enjoy a few of our favorite pictures from this day eight years ago:

Wishing you all a wonderful start to 2013!