Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016, a conclusion

2016 started off with a bang, literally, as Scott set off a firework display over the Gulf of Mexico as the clock struck midnight.  We rang in 2016 with champagne, dance parties and too many pina coladas with my parents and siblings (and again with a different kind of bottle 5 hours later when Jacob woke up)!

We rang it in with hope, too, and excitement and optimism.  2015 was a banner year for my family, and it would be tough to beat.  

Our vacation ended and we came back to a snowy Chicago.  Winter turned to spring.  We celebrated Jacobs first Valentine's Day at uncle Matt and aunt Kelly's house (and J celebrated his first bite of donut).    March brought us Jacobs first birthday, and our first anniversary of the profound responsibility of being his parents.   We toasted one year, the gift of JSS and the gift of sleep as he (finally!) began sleeping through the night.  

Spring brought us Easter, a work trip to Scottsdale, and Scott's 31st birthday.  We discovered Jacobs absolute adoration for the park and all things outdoors, and spent more time outside than in my previous 10 years combined.  We enjoyed simple pleasures like watermelon on the porch, squirrel chasing and spraying the garden hose. 

The highlight of our summer was finding out we would be welcoming our second baby!  A joy we discovered on the 4th of July.  Christine's wedding was a highlight of the year- as we got to celebrate a truly solid couple with the 65+ members of my family.

The fall brought the tail end of our two year major renovations (thanks dad and mom!)  It brought amazing baseball and terrible football and a terrible election that I'm still not at peace with- maybe that will be my New Years resolution. (Not holding my breath).

Thanksgiving was spent as it always is- with some of my favorite people at my parents.  We rang in December with more Christmas cheer than I've maybe ever had- Santa and baby Jesus a toddler who was excited about them both. 

2016 was a hard year for a lot of good people (HRC, I'm lookin' at you).  I'm grateful for the profound blessing of a second baby that I learned about in 2016, but I'm otherwise ready to see it go.

I ring in 2017 in a profoundly different place mentally.  Happier than I've maybe ever been, but less optimistic, I think.  It's a weird spot, but it's been a weird year.

2017, lets do this.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

today and tomorrow, for the next four years

I went to bed before the election was called, because with a sick toddler, I wasn't sure what the night would bring for us.

I woke up the one who is sick.  Sick for a nation who could elect this man: misogynistic, racist, sexist, homophobic (not to mention unqualified).  I voted for Hillary Clinton, of course, but I would gratefully take nearly anyone but him.   I've never felt so disconnected from this country- perhaps that's how some felt 4 and 8 years ago.  I'm not sure where to go from here, or even why I feel compelled to post.  I don't discount this election or the results, I believe in democracy and in each persons right to vote.  I believe in the concept of checks and balances, and while I will pray for unity and peace over the next 200+ weeks, I will also pray for strong representatives, who fight for the 50% of us who voted otherwise.

To my beloved friends who are LGBT, of other races, or religions, or women, or simply disagree with Mr. Trump: please know: #imwithher, and today- and for the next four years- I am with you.

It's still dark out- literally and figuratively. But I believe that America is already great.  And I believe that the sun will come out again today, and tomorrow.  And the next four years.  We have a lot of work to do, clearly.  But I believe in the 60M of us who voted as I did, and I know we're up for the task.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Jacob at 16 months

I definitely sound like a broken record, but this age is so wonderful.  Jacob's personality is so adorable - he's so happy, and curious and playful.  I haven't done a thorough update since his twelve-month, so thought I'd take this opportunity to share a few recent stories about our little love.

Jacob is very verbal.  The other night, I put him to bed (which is unusual as normally Scott does it) and I tucked him in and then left the room.  He had shifted while he was falling asleep, so about 20 minutes later I went in to peak in and check on him, and he pops his head up and says "HI!"

He loves to throw his food or water bottle off of the high-chair while eating dinner and then shout "Ut-oh!"

Jacob LOVES being outside, especially going to the park or on wagon rides.  He is obsessed with dogs (which is hard for this non-animal-lover to wrap her head around, but I'm trying!)  The other day we were on a walk with my cousin Jenifer and Scott and came across an older dog who loved Jacob and licked his face.  Jacob was in HEAVEN (and I was super grossed out).

Jacob is SO happy - I love taking him grocery shopping because he just adores people.  He says "HI!" and "BYE BYE" to every single person we pass.  It's amazing.

He loves strawberries- and whenever he gets some he'll say "mo'!" (More).  Other favorite foods include grilled chicken, rice, yogurt, noodles and raspberries.

He says about 20 words - Mama, Dada, Go, Outside, Tree, Dog, Up, Cup, Ball, Balloon, More and a bunch more.  He's very verbal.

Jacob, we love you more than words can say!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Fourth of July in Iowa

In true Iowa-ish fashion, we spent our favorite summer holiday in our favorite place: Iowa!

My cousin Christine had a bachelorette party in Iowa on that Saturday, so we decided to make a big weekend of it - Jacob and I went to Iowa on Friday morning with my brother and SIL, who graciously agreed to drive us - along with all of our gear! - so that we could go early and only have one car in Iowa.  They picked us up at 8:30, and drove us to Dubuque, where my dad met us and drove us the rest of the way to CR.  In CR, my dad surprised us with a new slide for Jacob!  Jacob was asleep at the time, and when he woke up he LOST HIS MIND with excitement over it.  It only took three minutes for him to be climbing up it via the slide part ;)

After Jacob went to sleep, my parents and I enjoyed wine on their beautiful patio.  We called it a night relatively early, not knowing how Jacob would sleep in an unfamiliar room in a pack-and-play... BUT... he slept perfectly through the night.  (Go JSS!)

On Saturday morning, Kelly picked me up and drove me and our cousin to Dubuque for the bachelorette party.

There were six of us cousins - which made for a fun family reunion to celebrate Christine.  (Christine, you may recall, was one of my beloved maids-of-honor at my wedding five years ago!)


Her sisters planned a super fun day - complete with a trolley, a picturesque winery, and a fun murder-mystery dinner with eight actors!

After a late night (literally 3 hours after my bedtime, hey-yo!) and relatively early morning, we were back to CR to see my baby :)  I was dying to see him - and literally sprinted in to the house to find that he was ASLEEP!  (Of course). Scott met us in CR after working all weekend, and it was so nice to be reunited with my hubs.   We spent the day swimming at my uncle's pool - Jacob is a little fishy.  He was obsessed with his older cousins.  One of the perks of being from a big family, is that Jacob is one of 15 "cousins" on my mom's side.  I have about 15 first cousins on that side alone, and a lot of them already have children.  It's very fun to get together with all the little ones.

It was a fabulous weekend, filled with celebrations for the bride-to-be, cousin time, and relaxing.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Five Year Getaway

For our five year wedding anniversary, Scott and I wanted to get away.  We tossed around ideas like a long-weekend in Mexico, Boston, Seattle... but ultimately decided that for our first time away from Jacob overnight, that we wanted to go someplace closer to home - a drive, instead of a flight.   We chose Door County  - a location about 4.5 hours north of Chicago.  My parents graciously agreed to watch Jacob (for two days/nights - not a small feat!) and they arrived late Friday of Memorial Day weekend.

On Saturday morning, we were out of the house by 7:30, driving to Green Bay.  Despite being a Bear's fan, I wanted to see the famed Lambeau field.  It was fun!  Still not a Packer's fan, but fun to see.

We had lunch at a local brewery, and walked through their impressive farmer's market before setting out to Door County via the Door County Wine Tour.  The first stop was in Angola, WI at a beautiful and authentic winery and taste room.  I loved it.

From there we stopped at one more before making our way to our hotel.  We stayed at the Ashbrooke, which was a very nice adults-only resort.  (Door County is mostly cabins and cottages - I wanted more of a resort feel).  Our room was huge and lovely and we enjoyed it a lot.  Would definitely stay there again.

Over the course of the weekend, we did a nice dinner, went on a "booze cruise" - a sunset cruise with live music where we drank a nice bottle of champagne, courtesy of my in-laws - and went to a fish boil!  We got a couples massage, went shopping and hiked in the state park.  We just had a really nice time celebrating five years of happy marriage.

Door County was very scenic - gorgeous sunsets, beautiful and calm water, and just lovely.  We had a fabulous five year getaway.  Thanks, mom and dad, for watching our boy!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day 2016

Happy Father's Day to the two most important men in my life - my husband, Scott and my dad, Shawn.

Over the past 15 months, Scott has proven to be an extraordinary father.  He goes in to work early every single day in the hopes of leaving on-time to pick up Jacob early from daycare.  He takes Jacob to the park or pool, and feeds him dinner - all before I get home.  I almost hate to admit this - because so many of my friends are envious - but he also does Jacob's bath and puts him to bed every single night.  The most important factor in my "success" as a working-mom?  A hands-on dad.  I could not do this life without him.  As important as the tactical, boots-on-the-ground work that Scott does to raise our son is the simple moments that make Jacob's childhood.  Scott runs around with Jacob on his shoulders.  He tickles him and rough-houses on the floor with him.  He reads him books (the Giraffe book a million times a day!) and sings him songs.  He explores the park with him, urges him to climb higher, pushes him on the swings, and takes him around the block on his tricycle.  I have no doubt that Jacob will be a spectacular father someday - he's being modeled a version of fatherhood that is impossible to beat.  Jacob's life is better for having Scott as his father. 

A Father's Day post would be incomplete without a mention of my own beloved father.  Shawn Steil was a stranger until I was 11.  The exact moment he became my father (legally) was five years later, when he rose to the challenge, and adopted three father-less children who loved him.   It took Scott and me almost 24 hours to settle on Jacob's name, but one thing we knew from the start - his middle name would be Steil, a name to formally tie him to his maternal grandfather, a man we hoped he'd grow to be like.  In Jacob's first few weeks of life, my dad would take the "early early morning shift" - from about 5-8am - allowing the rest of the house some blessed sleep.  He's been described as a "machine" by more than one person - his work ethic is second-to-none.  (Famously, after his first half-marathon, he went on to hand-sand my floors in preparation for staining).  He has literally transformed my house - but more importantly - our LIVES.   The lights were turned on when Shawn Steil entered our lives.

Happy Father's Day to these tremendous men.  Men who have shaped my life so significantly, and who I am lucky will also shape Jacob's.  We love you.

Monday, March 21, 2016

JSS: Twelve Months

Happy twelve months (one year!) to our sweet Jacob!

Jacob is officially one year old.  A toddler!  He continues to be consistent with sleep.  His bath is from 7:30-8:00, and he splish splashes with dad every night.  He then goes his bedtime routine complete with lotion and snuggles/bottle, and is usually asleep by 8:15/8:30.   His dad leads the nighttime routine, and enjoys snuggling and bonding with Jacob.

He is INCREDIBLY active.  He takes swimming lessons, and the spring edition of his music/dance class begins again in a week or two.  He's taken swimming lessons for six months now, and it's paying off - he LOVES the water!   He crawls incredibly fast - look out, world! - and took his first step on March 13th.  On March 16th, he took four steps in a row - and has continued to do that every day since.

Jacob can eat just about anything (except honey and legumes).  He loves yogurt, crackers, chicken, and oranges.  He had whole milk for the first time on March 5, and continues to get about two ounces of whole milk in every bottle.  He eats table food for 2 meals a day, plus two snacks.  He loves "pouches" (fruit/vegetable combinations served in pouch form) and much prefers to feed himself.  (We  primarily follow the Baby Led Weaning technique for most table food).

Jacob can clap (and say "clap"), he drinks out of a sippy cup on his own.  He waves, goes "lalalala" intentionally.  He LOVES peek-a-boo.

He had his first serving of SUGAR (cupcake) for his first-birthday party and LOVED it.  (#sweettooth)  He loves balloons, and people, and being outside.

Jacob, I've said it before and I'll say it again:  you are a JOY.  The best joy of my life.  I am honored to be your mama.  Happy, happy birthday, sweet boy.

Month one // Month two // Month three // Month four // Month five // Month six //Month seven // Month eight // Month nine // Month ten // Month eleven

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Tomorrow he is one

Tomorrow he will be one.

This has been the best year of my life.

It has been the hardest year of my life.

It’s been the most emotional, the deepest, the sweetest, the loveliest. 

Jacob was born a year ago tomorrow, and with him, I was re-born.  Being his mother is the most profound responsibility that I have ever had, and I feel it deeply.

A year ago right now I was in labor – experiencing the strangest phenomenon I had ever felt – and not just physically.  It was a fruitless labor, ultimately, but it was truly a time of transition – from an old life, to a new one.  Being a mother – Jacob’s mother – is a role I was born to hold.  The first thirty years of my life contained less metamorphosis than the 31st

I think back over the past year, and it’s impossible to overstate the impact on my life, or the lives that his has touched.  He is loved deeply, fiercely and profoundly.  My life is better with him in it.

There’s a lot about the first year that blurs, beautifully, together in my memory, but that first day – those first few precious hours… those remain sharp:

At 10:09, a year ago tomorrow, he was birthed by an act of medical prowess, and let out his first cries.  He has “catchers mitts” they said, and he was perfect (IS perfect).   “We have a SON!” I kept exclaiming, not quite understanding the blessing that had been bestowed.  A short time later, minutes not hours, he was next introduced to our families – my parents first, with Matt and Kelly, and then Scott’s parents and sister.  He was deeply loved at only minutes old.  Seeing my parents set eyes on him – oh my.  I’m weeping over that moment still.    Joe being in DC, and wanting to book a flight right that minute, especially when he received the 2am phone call telling him that his nephew was born.

This child has transformed me, and my life.

I will never be the same.  And I don’t want to be.  

Sunday, February 21, 2016

JSS: Eleven Months

Happy eleven months to our sweet Jacob! 

Jacob acts more like a toddler every day. He sleeps through the night about half of the time, and when he wakes up during the night, usually just needs a quick bottle or a snuggle.  In the morning, he either wakes up right on time (or a little early) or I wake him up - when I wake him, he stretches dramatically and does this big YAWWNNN.  He's pretty much a one-year old teenager :)  
He is incredibly active- he loves weekly swimming lessons, has learned how to dance with mama and he crawls so incredibly fast (especially while someone "chases" him). Jacob loves to play with his toys, but his favorite toy is acting like his mom is his personal jungle gym or going for rides on his dad's shoulders.  He also loves to tickle feet ;) 

Jacob loves to eat, and this month his palette has really expanded- his favorite table food is yogurt and meat (although not together, ha!). He has six teeth and can say four words: clap, dada, mama, and cup. He has a few adorable tricks- clapping, waving, "so big" and a hilarious noise-maker imitation.

Jacob, you are a joy. We love you more than words can say!