Thursday, October 29, 2009

A two- for- one deal they couldn't resist.

The Libutti family is happily exploding!!
Less than 5 weeks after Alec was born, Dan's brother Jimmy, his wife and almost-three-year-old daughter Olivia welcomed beautiful twin daughters to their family. They were born on Monday of this week, and are robust and healthy.
My poor sister in law Michele carried 14 and a half pounds of baby around for 38 weeks.
I will never complain about my back hurting ever again. Whew. What a trooper.

Their names are Sophie and Melina and I can't wait to hold them, kiss them and generally love them up.
I am also beside myself with idea of buying coordinating "My First Christmas" outfits for the twins and Alec and taking a million pictures.
'Cause that's how I roll.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Barn Party fun.

Last night was the famous Annual Barn Party at a local farm whose owners go to our church. The kids can dress up, go on a hayride, eat treats, decorate pumpkins and play games. It is a blast and one of my favorite parts of Halloween.

Michaela wore her mummy costume while Jenna chose, in her very Jenna-ish way, to just wear jeans and a Halloween-themed shirt. No need to draw attention to ourselves unnecessarily.

One of the little contests they held was to guess how many cheeseballs were in a giant plastic tub. Unknown to Dan and I, Michaela and Jenna submitted their guesses before going on their first hayride. At the end of the night, one of the organizers announced the winner with the closest guess: "Jenna!" And we were all, Ohhh... there must be another Jenna here! I wonder who it is!

And then he handed this enormous vat of cheeseballs to our little Jenna.

And the look on her face- sheer joy and surprise and excitement- just melted my heart.

It was a great night.

Cutest Lil' Pumpkin in Town

Friday, October 23, 2009

DeJa Vu. All over again.

Yesterday, I brought the girls for their bi-annual dentist appointment and cleaning.

And we encountered the Right of Passage for All Middle-Class American Children: our dentist handed me the business card of the local orthodontist and recommended that we make an appointment for a consultation for Michaela.

It is the same orthodontist who fixed my woefully crooked teeth, twenty five-plus years ago.
I, too, started when I was eight.

The hygienist who cleaned Jenna's teeth took a good look at her mouth, identified her crossbite, and said, "She's going to need orthodontia, too."

And so it begins.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Michaela and Jenna and Alec.

Today is a breather-day post: everyone's going to slow down for a few minutes and I am going to catch you up on what all of my kids- my THREE kids- are up to. Because the whole purpose of the blog originally was to let people far away know what they were doing.

Michaela.... is transitioning nicely from her long-term substitute teacher at school to her real teacher, who came back last week after back surgery... is thrilled that Brownies have started up again... loved her friend birthday party this Saturday at a bead store, at which they each made a beaded necklace complete with a silver charm... has become addicted to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on Sunday nights and gets tears in her eyes each week during the reveal... attended a basketball skills clinic on Saturday morning and loved every minute of it... does great on her weekly spelling tests IF she can focus enough to study well... is back to singing in the church kid's choir... could argue that the sky is green and the ocean is pink and wear you down so that eventually you'd agree with her... is an amazing help holding Alec so I can shower or make breakfast or just breathe... is as energetic, bubbly, and Tigger-ific as ever.

Jenna... has decided that having a new baby brother is as good a reason as any to suddenly start talking to people... is eager for soccer season to be over in two more weeks and will not be playing again... wants to take swim lessons at the YMCA so she can learn to swim without any assistance... loves holding Alec and then announces, "Okay- I'm done!"... went on a field trip to a local apple orchard today with her preschool and had a great time... could eat her weight in watermelon every day... has become a master of explaining why she couldn't possibly help me clean up her room, and will pick items up and put them away with her TOES just to prolong my agony... has picked out $45,976 worth of American Girl products for Santa to deliver on Christmas... loves to dress up for school in her "fancy clothes"- skirts and leggings and shirts, along with necklaces and bracelets on each arm... is as sweet and gentle and loving as ever.

Alec... is absolutely delicious and snuggly and beautiful... is drinking from a bottle every day, sometimes filled with breastmilk and sometimes formula... is growing like a weed- he hardly looks like a three week old baby... makes fabulous baby grunting noises... is a total faker in the crying department- he'll cry and then just stop... is sleeping well at night (for a four hour chunk last night!!!) when given a formula bottle before bed... has much more relaxed and happy parents than Michaela did... loves to be warm and swaddled... is NOT sleeping in our bed at all... is the easiest, so far, of our three babies... is getting more used to his crib... is getting more and more awake and alert each day... is making great eye contact and looks like he's starting to think about smiling at us... right now has dark blue eyes that remind me of Jenna... is as great a gift as we could ever imagine.

I love my kids. All three of them.

Friday, October 16, 2009

What I'm watchin'.

So I'm nursing yet another of my offspring, which means lots of time sitting on the couch, watching television.
As I've written in numerous other posts, I have a vast array of must-see television, from high-brow PBS specials to the lowest of low-brow reality shows (ie, Rock of Love). I was pretty occupied over the last year being pregnant and all the ensuing projects I did, which really limited my viewing hours (plus I actually did lots of reading over the summer) but now all of that is over, Alec is here and I'm back to mindless boobtube staring. At all hours of the day and night.

In no particular order, here's what I've been looking forward to most on my DVR:
1. Mad Men: I am madly, madly, madly in love with Don Draper and the whole feel of this show. It takes a few episodes to get into it and understand the characters, but it is so well written and acted with just a brilliant sense of time and place and culture that it is well worth the effort.
2. Modern Family: a new show that is also just so funny and well done. I actually watch some episodes more than once so I can enjoy it all over again.
3. The Office: by now, it's a classic. I love the small sense of sadness in each episode.
4. Project Runway: I have watched all but the first season and it just never disappoints.
5. Family Guy: gross, crude, infantile, irreverent, and hilarious. Be prepared to be horribly offended and to laugh your tushie off.
6. Community: another new show that is fun to watch. Starring Joel McHale of The Soup, who I could basically watch do ANYTHING, it is funny and getting a good sense of rhythm.
7. The Soup: a recap of all the best tv moments of the past week. I knew I was watching too much tv while nursing Jenna when I watched almost a whole episode and had seen every clip- the first time it was on tv. Yup, THAT was a wake-up call.
8. Flash Forward: I watched this once just to see what it was about, and am now totally hooked. It's very much like Lost, but with much, much more satisfaction: the plot actually moves along in each episode.
9. Saturday Night Live: I've been watching SNL since middle school and it's just a habit now. I do love the cast they have now, especially Andy Samburg's digital shorts and Fred Armisen's vast array of characters. I do feel a little old when I fail to recognize- and/or enjoy- most of the musical guests. Ugh.
10. Way Too Early with Willie Giest: I don't actually DVR this, but many mornings I am up at 5:30 am when this comes on. Willie has a very skewed, dry sense of humor and puts an interesting spin on the events of the day. There is actually a segment they do each day where they ask you to email them why exactly you are up at that hour of the morning and then they read the most interesting reasons each show.
11. SpongeBob Squarepants: Ok, this is obviously because I have two kids under 8 who are addicted to Spongy Bobby (as we call him at our house) and we watch one episode every morning. But I gotta tell you- I actually have favorite episodes ("Just One Bite" when Squidward eats his first krabby patty is the BEST ONE EVER) and know vast amounts of random dialogue from most of the shows. The scariest times are when I recognize what episode is coming on by the opening music. I enjoy it much more than some of the other kids' programming on Nick and Nick Jr.

Because there are many days that I feel like I'll blow my brains out watching another episode of Dora or Diego.

Monday, October 12, 2009

An Alec by any other name.

I love hearing stories about the process people go through to name their children. Few things are so big, so permanent, so impactful on their children's lives as the name they choose. We had an easy time with Michaela and Jenna: somehow we found girls' names just more flexible. When we found out we were having a boy, we agonized for months about names and combinations.

Of course we had a girl's name picked out before I was even pregnant with Alec, a name that we had always considered for each of the pregnancies and just never used. We were going to name the baby Brooke Gracelin if it was a girl: we both love the name Brooke, and the name Grace (and because it was through the grace of God that Dan agreed to have another baby) and the "lin" was to honor my mom Linda. Jenna's middle name is Alicia, after Dan's deceased mom Alice and Michaela's middle name is Elizabeth, after my grandmother Else.

So we struggled through all the name books and the only names Dan would agree to were Christopher, Matthew (which we were going to name Jenna if she were a boy), John, and David. For 3/4 of the pregnancy, I planned on naming the baby David John and even started thinking of him as just David. But then at about 34 weeks, I got cold feet. David is a great name, beautiful and strong and regal and biblical, but do you know how many people named David there are in the world?? Lots. And I just couldn't wrap my head around the whole "Dave" nickname. Or Davey. And I wasn't sure it went exactly with Michaela and Jenna.

So then we looked at alternatives. We considered James and Jamie. I pushed for Andrew and got nowhere. We thought about John as a first name. I lobbied for Jake. At one point, I said, "Let's name him John and call him Jake!" and Dan replied, "How about we name him Arthur and call him Christopher!" And despite my PROOF in the baby name book that Jake is a nickname for John, he didn't see the connection and refused to consider it. I offered Holden, Hayden, Roman, Marco and Rocco, though I honestly couldn't imagine my father saying, "My grandson's name is Marco (or Roman)" with a straight face. And I figured my German grandmother would roll in her grave having a great grandson named Rocco Libutti.

And then one day, while looking through the Baby Name Wizard book, I was reading the suggested sibling names for Michaela and Jenna and came across Alec. "I could do Alec," Dan said, and I almost fell off my chair. "Really?" I asked. "Because I kind of like Alec, too." So I held onto that and lived with it for a little while.

In the end, Dan gave me final naming responsibility with a strong rejection clause: I could pick the final name but he could nix any one he didn't like. In the final weeks, I was torn between Alec John and Derek John. Derek was the name we had picked out for Michaela if she was a boy and had never really gotten out of our system. But Alec seemed fresh and unusual but not weird; everyone has heard of Alec (thank you very much, Mr. Baldwin and 30 Rock) but I don't know anyone named Alec. (Side note: we actually considered all of the Baldwin boys' names just for good measure.) (Additional side note: My friend Jen just reminded me via facebook that Alec is the name of Judd Nelson's character in the movie St. Elmo's Fire, one of my all time favorite teenage angst movies. I bet Jen and I rented that movie and watched it a million times during our high school years and cried every time. I loved Judd Nelson in the movie. Hmmm... interesting.)

John was a given for any name we picked out. My paternal grandmother had five brothers, named Sherwood, Kendall, Guy, King, and John, aka "Those Handsome Hazelton Boys"as they were described to me by a woman who knew them growing up, and I am not kidding when I tell you that every male child in our family has one of the five names as their first or middle name. Dan and I always loved the name John for its quiet strength and simplicity, and I was NOT going to be the first person in my family to break the tradition. So our Alec John is named for all the other Johns in our family, whom I am quite fond of.

We are two and a half weeks in with Mr. Alec, and I have been pleasantly surprised by how few times I have had to say, "No, Alec with a c... like Alec Baldwin." Most people seem to get it on the first try. We don't really have any nicknames for him yet, though we do occasionally call him D'Brick because we called him D'Brickashaw during the whole pregnancy. To make a long story short, Dan and I were so riddled with anxiety that 1) we were actually having another baby and 2) something would go horribly wrong that we thought of the most ridiculous name to call the baby we could think of to help lighten our mood. And on the NY Jets is a player named D'Brickashaw Furgeson. We told a few people about our little joke and our friend Tom offered to buy beer for Dan for the rest of his life if we went through with it and actually named him D'Brickashaw Libutti. Which of course we did not, despite the tempting offer.

But we do still call Alec D'Brick, especially now that we have him and see how solidly built he is.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Catching up.

The Snugglesaurus
I apologize for my lax blogging this week... I have been going a million miles an hour each day between the newborn, doctor's appointments (flu shots for the girls and pink eye for the boy), shopping for holiday wear before it all gets picked over, getting everyone where they need to be each day, and a fabulous 8th birthday thrown in on Thursday for good measure.
But I am happy to report that we have had a few very good nights with Alec; he is tolerating being in his crib more and more. He is eating well, nursing heartily and gaining weight (up to 9 pounds, 11 ounces as of today). He is just absolutely delicious and I could hug and kiss and snuggle with him all day. He is filling out his 3 month clothing slowly but surely and we are having fun dressing him in all his new clothes. Dan has only protested one outfit: a dinosaur- themed onesie that had a little tag on it that said "snugglesaurus" and had a matching hat and little dinosaur socks (see above). The girls and I fawned all over him and Dan just shook his head and said, Poor kid.
This weekend is a little quieter for us and I am hoping to catch up on lots of little projects: processing gifts from our family and friends, going through pictures, setting up the pack and play, getting my regular clothes down from the attic, going through the girls' summer clothes and packing them away, etc, etc, etc.
Have a great weekend!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunday afternoon.

So it's Sunday afternoon.
Michaela is at a Brownies activity, running around a corn maize on a farm with her friends.
Jenna is spending an hour at my parents' house, playing with her "action figures": little resin figures of the Disney Princesses and a few Polly Pockets thrown in.
Dan is laying on the couch, watching football, holding a rapidly growing Alec, who is also sleeping. (Is there no better feeling than holding a sleeping baby? No. There is most definitely not.)
I am poking around on the Internet, checking emails and facebook and eating a delicious dessert that the mom of one of Michaela's friends brought over this week, along with a killer salad and some baked ziti. I am feeling much better, recovering from the birth and the stitches and the nursing and the cramping and the anxiety and realignment of my back and stomach muscles.
We made our triumphant first appearance at church today and it was wonderful to be back, to be sitting in the pew as our family of five.
In an hour or so, we are going to a friends' house for dinner.
We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of our family and friends who have celebrated the birth of this baby like he was their own.
The clothes, the toys, the meals, the treats, the love.
The Giants won.
The Yankees are winning.
Mad Men is on tonight.

Life is just about perfect.