(Yeah. Truly sorry about that. Clearly I peaked as a blogger before I had children.)
So without further ado:
A is for AVOCADO and the ARBORETUM.
AVOCADO: Just like with Banner, we waited six months to start solids with Schafer, and - when we did - I again opted to start her on baby oatmeal instead of rice (neither one of my babies ever had rice cereal. It just made me too nervous). Unlike Banner, however, Schafer wanted nothing to do with solids and refused almost everything until she was closer to 8-9 months in age. Girlfriend just preferred her boob milk, and - looking back on it - I'm so happy I never had to give her formula. There isn't anything wrong with formula at all (Banner had it!), but Schafer is just one of those kiddos who doesn't do change well and I was lucky that I was able to give her exclusive breast milk for her first year and then some (14 months to be exact, but the last two months was mixed with cow's milk as we slowly weaned).
But I digress. Schafer's favorite food (first and current) is avocado and we have so many pictures of her completely covered in green from the last year. Even when we are able to get her to eat nothing else, we can usually get her to eat avocado.
ARBORETUM: Seriously. One of my most favorite places - especially with two very mobile kiddos.
B is for BASKETBALL and BAPTISM.
BASKETBALL: We had to lie about Banner's age because he (technically) had to be 5 before November 1st in order to play for the YMCA. But - let's face it - Banner is taller than some 7 year olds we know, and the YMCA doesn't check IDs (nor are they in the habit of telling little kids that really, really want to play that they can't because of an eight week age difference). Banner overheard us discussing this and immediately assumed he was really about to be 6 in January (spoiler alert: he is still 4, at least until next Wednesday).
But the white lie is totally worth it because of videos like this:
CHRISTMAS: As much as I had always hoped for a screaming child on Santa's lap photo, both my kids love the jolly ole' elf. Especially Schafer. She actually toddled up to the Women's Club Santa this year and said, "Up" and then contentedly sat in his lap until she almost fell asleep (she wasn't feeling the best that afternoon).
CAMPING: This was also the year that we introduced Banner to camping (he technically camped right before Schafer was born, but it he really started to get into it this last spring). It has almost exclusively been in the backyard, but there are plans to take him offsite (state parks and whatnot) in 2017.
D is for DOGS, DENVER and DAYCARE.
DOGS: The Awesome Pawsome continues to thrive, but with increasing health issues. Gypsy is 13 (and completely deaf), Alley is 12 and Haskell is 11, though, so it is to be expected. In the last year or so we've have everything from allergies to thyroid problems to ear hematomas to unexplained weight loss to tumor removal and redevelopment. Despite their declining health, they continue to be the best dogs on the planet.
Also, 2016 started with Alley giving us quite the scare by disappearing for three days. Apparently, she followed one of our neighbors home on Saturday afternoon after my MIL accidentally let her out, and spent the entire weekend being called "Greta", lounging in peace without small, screaming children, and sleeping IN THE BED with her savior and a small dachshund named "Tuff". All this took place about five blocks away, and - even though the sweet neighbor posted Alley's picture on FB, no one shared it or made the connection to our posts (also on FB and NextDoor) looking for her. Finally, Monday afternoon, the neighbor, thinking Alley was a stray, took her to Operation Kindness, a local no kill shelter, where they scanned her for a chip and we were all reunited. While it is unlikely Alley learned any kind of lesson from the ordeal (or at least not the one you'd normally learn after being lost for three days and two very cold nights in a big city with cars and coyotes), we were all very happy and relieved to have her home safe and sound. She now has a pink collar with her name and number embroidered on it (as do Hasky and GK Woo).
DENVER: Banner and Trevor went to Denver to spend a boys weekend with Trevor's brother, Spencer, over TX/OU weekend back in October. For a little boy, it might have been the Best Trip EV-VER. Banner not only got to "fly" the plane, but he also got to ride the Georgetown train, hold snow, pan for gold, visit Red Rocks, look for dinosaurs and "camp out" in a tent and sleeping bag in Uncle Spencer's living room.
DAYCARE: August marked the end of Banner's daycare days as he transitioned in to Pre-K at "big boy school". He can technically drop in until he is six, but - really - I don't foresee him dropping in very much (if at all) in 2017. It is the end of an era.
E is for EASTER.
In hindsight, Easter was one of the hardest times of 2016. Trevor was traveling a lot for work, Schafer was suffering from horrible chronic ear infections, I developed a painful blood clot in my lower leg, the museum lost another director, I was still waking up every morning to pump at 4 AM...there was just a lot going on and I was exhausted. I think it was the thinnest I was spread all year long, but I learned a lot and endured so I'm just gunna' go with that.
Plus, the pictures were cute. You'd never know from looking at them that anything was amiss.
FOUR: Four is a great (albeit whiney) age. Banner is definitely a kid now. It seems like things fall into place at four - like putting train tracks together in loops, big arm strokes and side breaths in swim class, writing, phonics, simple math concepts, etc.
FOURTH OF JULY: We did what we always do and it was perfect.
FIRST DAYS: 2016 was a year of new beginnings, new bosses (I had three and I'm still at the same museum that I started at in 2004) and new schools. Here is my BIG BOY on his first day of PK.
G is for GIRLS WEEKENDS, GROCERY STORES and swim class GRADUATIONS.
GIRLS WEEKENDS: July was a big month for spending time with some of my besties. Right after the Fourth, Jacq, Little and Anna came down to visit from Baltimore and D.C. Seven people and three dogs all under one tiny roof. It was crazy and loud and full of laughter (ordering ice cream in the drive through at the TCBY might be the hardest I laughed all year) and just what my soul needed.
Then, at the end of the month, I went to Hot Springs with Hilary and Melissa for three much needed nights away (it was my present to myself after being tied to a breast pump for over a year; including over 12 months of waking up at 4 AM to make Schafer's breakfast). Lots of reading, late morning sleeping, wine drinking, good food eating, thermal water soaking, Gilmore Girls watching and August birthday toasting.
GROCERY STORES: True story. Life is so much easier when both kids like riding in one of these:
Related: Two kids eat you out of house and home. I feel like we are always going to the store or planning to go to the store. And when we DO go, Trevor and I will spend more time looking for a cart with steering wheels than actually shopping. Because passing a race car shopping cart with steering wheels in the store while your kids are in a regular old shopping cart? Yeah, significantly less pleasant than if you had the race car cart to begin with. I've actually
Swim class GRADUATIONS: Mostly I just wanted to share this:
H is for HALLOWEEN and HAND, FOOT AND MOUTH.
HALLOWEEN: Banner has wanted to be Batman since LAST Halloween. Trevor was proud he chose the old school Batman over the Dark Knight. Schafer was initially going to be a puppy (because of her adorable "woof woof"), but she threw such an epic tantrum at the store that a skunk seemed much more appropriate for our little stinker.
HAND, FOOT AND MOUTH: We dodged this bullet when Banner was a baby, but were not so lucky with number two. Poor Schafer got it in July (days after her last breastmilk bottle - talk about irrational mama guilt) and looked absolutely horrible. For the record - if should totally be called Hand, Foot, Mouth and Butt disease (the butt part looked like it felt the worst too). Luckily, she seemed happy despite looking like a mess and recovered fairly quickly.
Biggest post HFMD surprise? Her finger and toenails coming off a few weeks later.
I is for IMAGINATION.
We made it NINE MONTHS with this huge cardboard box in my living room. They literally played with it until it fell apart. It was amazing how many things a box can become for a child. Best toy ever.
J is for JEEP and Grandpa JOE.
JEEP: 2016 was full of Grammy Pammy sleepovers and pancake breakfasts. She has also been teaching Banner to cook, and the two of them can make a mean potpie. It has been so sweet to watch her with her grandkids. Banner and Schafer get so excited when they see her car in the driveway. So precious.
Grandpa JOE: After years and years, Trevor's father reappeared in our lives this year. Twice, actually. I literally hadn't seen him since Christmas 2002, but Banner got to meet him at a family reunion back at the end of April. Then, surprising everyone again, he came to Dallas for his high school football reunion in the fall, met Schafer for the first time (who proceeded to throw up all over Buzz Brews) and attended one of Banner's soccer games. So glad both kiddos have gotten to now meet their paternal grandfather and have photos with him.
K is for KARATE.
KARATE: It is amazing what two years can do. I never took karate as a kid, but I'm an absolute believer in it now. Granted, the program is geared towards little ones, but the growth we saw in Banner between white belt and white belt with a black stripe was unbelievable. Karate taught him discipline, manners, respect and confidence, and - while he is now in a different self-defense centered program through his school - I think we will be returning to this program in 2017.
L is for LAUNDRY and LOVE.
LAUNDRY: Dude. Four people create a lot of laundry. Especially when one of the members is four years old and has to wear white to school. Seriously, WHY? No one in the history of ever who has come in contact with a four or five year old boy thinks white is a good idea - especially if they are going to be in a situation where they will be intentionally and purposefully armed with things like markers, paint, ketchup and BBQ chicken.
Banner started school at the very end of August and I had to order six new shirts...FOR OCTOBER.
LOVE: Specifically between siblings. These two love each other so much. No one can make Schafer laugh like Banner. When I take one to help pick up the other, they reunite with big hugs and smiles. They play and share and worry about each other and genuinely want to be together. It makes my heart swell.
M is for Banner's first MOVIE, MUSIC and half MARATHONS.
MOVIE: Banner's first movie was FINDING DORY. We took him to Alamo Drafthouse in July with my friend Lane's little girl, Peyton, and my mom (who had never been to a dinner and movie establishment and really got into the whole "you can order WINE" bit). Overall, he did very well, and only got antsy towards the end. He has been asking to go to another movie. It hasn't happened yet, but I think there are plenty of movies in his future.
MUSIC: Banner and Schafer have a playlist on my cell phone ever since I got my new car last December and we listen to their songs all the time. Banner's favorite songs of 2016 include I LIKE TO MOVE IT (from Madagascar), LOST BOY, HANDCLAP, UPTOWN FUNK and WAY DOWN WE GO while Schafer is much more of a Bee Gee (specifically, STAYIN' ALIVE) and Meghan Trainor fan.
Here is a short clip of girlfriend dancing:
Half MARATHONS: Trevor and I ran the half last December (2015) and again this year (2016). Both times I trained for the race in less than six weeks, and both times I finished without incident. The biggest difference was - last year - I was still nursing and training was hard to schedule around pumping every 3 hours. I'd be in the middle of a long training run and my milk would come in and it was downright painful. But when I would go to pump afterwards, the calorie burn during the run would have decimated my supply - sometimes for hours or even days. Luckily, I had built up quite a supply in the freezer, but it was still stressful trying to run and be Schafer's primary food source. I've never been so hungry in my life.
This year, on the other hand, was brilliant. My finishing time was no where near my PR pre-children, but it was about 10-15 minutes faster than last year. I also discovered caffeinated Cliff Goo around mile 7 (right after the naked cowboy on Greenville) and my fastest miles were the final 6 - accidentally leaving Trevor behind (oops). If it weren't for my veins (see V) I'd seriously consider running a whole this spring.
N is for NIGHTS. Specifically THREE WHOLE NIGHTS away together in San Francisco. It was the first trip Trevor and I had taken - just us - since Banner was nine months old and we went to Cleveland for Susie and Aaron's wedding. It was fabulous and well overdue.
O is for ONE.
ONE: Schafer turned one at the end of May. She took her first steps around 11 months, but really took off a few days before her birthday. Banner wasn't a good walker for 4 or so months after he took his first steps (also around 11 months), but Schafer was a good walker almost immediately. Her main goal has always been to catch up to big brother, and girlfriend is DRIVEN.
Here she is two days before her first birthday:
For her first birthday, we threw a party for Schafer at the house and over 40 people showed up. Because of the number of RSVPs, we had food catered from Matt's. A bunch of kiddos were there too (the biggest difference between Banner's first birthday and Schafer's first birthday is the number of tiny people that have been added to the families of our friends), and the grown ups threw an after party that involved lots of wine and card games. It was a blast.
Her smash cake was an owl and we also had adorable owl cookies made to celebrate the occasion. #Athena
If I had one word to sum up the first 6 months of her second trip around the sun, it would be OPINIONATED (another O word but quite possibly nothing else sums up Schafer quite as well). I'm going to sit back and watch girlfriend change the world.
P is for PUMP IT UP.
PUMP IT UP is an indoor inflatable bounce house party place. We had Banner's 4th birthday party at Pump it Up, and then attended approximately 25 birthday parties there over the course of 2016.
The place is fun and the kids love it, but - quite frankly - I am pumped out. Especially after a close friend of Banner's was injured there in September at another kid's birthday on my watch (long story involving a fall, a concussion, an ambulance ride and a 5 hour ER visit - all on my first - and possibly last - play date where I was the parent in charge).
All that said, the place is great if you have a bouncer or a climber. Accidents can (and will) happen anywhere.
Q is for QUOTES.
QUOTES: Banner (and, increasingly so, Schafer) says the funniest things. Feel free to review some of our favorites HERE.
R is for REUNIONS, RANDY and Alan RICKMAN.
REUNIONS: Trevor went to his dad's family's reunion in April and saw family members he had not seen or heard from in decades (including Trevor's dad, Joe). He and his brother, Spencer, took Banner down to the family farm (which has been in the family since the 1800s), and spent the weekend hanging out and catching up.
It was also the weekend when Banner caught his first fish in the G-Wink family pond with several of his cousins.
Neither here nor there, but those shorts he is wearing in the reunion photos? Those were the unofficial Banner shorts of 2016. He literally wore them until they fell apart. I should have them bronzed. That shirt, too, now that I think about it.
RANDY: Uncle Randy passed away at his home in early May; just before Schafer's first birthday. He was a gentle giant who wanted Banner to call him "Uncle Ran-Ran". He lived only three or four blocks from us, and would randomly bring presents over for the kids. Banner's favorite was always the treasure chest Randy gave him one Christmas. We used it until it fell apart to store all of Banner's costumes and masks.
I could go on and on about Randy, but I'll conclude with how much we will miss him. Seven months later and Banner still asks about him and points at his house when we drive past.
Alan RICKMAN: Speaking of loss, it is no secret that we have lost a lot of people in 2016 - including a bunch of celebrities. For me, the hardest celebrity to lose was Alan Rickman. It is silly, but he was in a bunch of my favorite movies over the years from Galaxy Quest to the Harry Potter franchise to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. A part of me feels like he narrated my childhood and early adulthood. RIP.
S is for SOCCER, SHOES, SQUEEZIES and SLEEP.
SOCCER was Banner's first team sport and he started at the end of August. To say he loved it would be the understatement of the year. And - even better - the kid was good (well, good for 4 years old, at least). He scored a goal in his first game and then in almost every game thereafter.
Once we were late to practice and he chastised me because he missed warm ups. Kid is serious about his team sports.
SHOES and SQUEEZIES: a.k.a. two of Schafer's most favorite things. She calls shoes "shhhhhoos" and squeezies "Zees". The only favorite thing that doesn't start with a S is "books". Book was actually one of her very first words (after "uh oh") and girlfriend prefers to do the "reading" herself instead of being read to. There is a bookcase in her closet that is filled with board books. It was hidden until November behind toys that are now in the attic. When she first saw the bookcase it was like that scene in Beauty and the Beast when Belle first discovered the Beast's library. Her favorite thing to do is go in her closet to "read" while simultaneously trying on "shhhhhhoos".
SLEEP: Thanks to Schafer, we still aren't getting much. But it is slowly improving (knock on wood). That is until it isn't (like when her allergies flare).
T is for TUBES and TRAIN TABLES.
TUBES: Schafer had to get tubes in April after seven months of ear infection after chronic ear infection. No wonder we never slept that first year of our daughter's life. Schafer was in horrible pain.
In March, right before we made the decision to meet with an ENT, Schafer ended up at the pediatrician's office for the third time that month. The ear infection had stopped responding to the antibiotic that had been previously prescribed so the doctor ordered a different antibiotic be injected into her thigh to wipe it out. Trevor was out of town on business, and my sweet girl was exhausted, hot and screaming from the pain in her ears. The antibiotic, when injected, is apparently rather painful, and Schafer screamed so hard that she passed out. I've never felt so helpless in my life and broke down in the office in front of all the doctors and nurses.
Once we were told to get tubes, I called the ENT every day to get on the list for an appointment. I was persistent and it paid off. Before an ENT will put tubes in a child's ears, they require a hearing test, and it was only then that we realized how much the ear infections had compromised Schafer's hearing. It was heartbreaking to discover but - thank God - not permanent. I'll never forget getting into the car for the first time post surgery, and Schafer startling to the sound of the radio.
Schaf almost immediately started sleeping better (well, better for her), and hasn't been on antibiotics since. Tubes were a total game changer for her (and us), and - as of her 18 month appointment - are still in place. Hoping we can get at least through the winter before they fall out.
TRAIN TABLE: After witnessing Schafer climbing on top of the train table in the playroom/office several times, we made the decision to give it away for free to another family who would love it as much as we had for (just over) two years. Banner had a hard time letting go (as did I). We adored that thing.
U is for UNIFORMS.
UNIFORMS were definitely an adjustment from this...
Even months later, he occasionally still tries to sneak the wrong shoes or socks passed me on the way to school because, "Mama! I wore that yesterday!" Cracks me up.
Banner also requested I buy him more size 6 skinny pants for Christmas. He is thin and didn't like the regular size pants because he said they were too fat ("fat" as in too big, not fat-fat). The size 5s were starting to look too short so I was happy to oblige, but even the size 6 slims have to be taken waaaaaay in at the waist. Thank goodness for adjustable waist bands!
My favorite uniform incident was the day I picked him up and discovered this:
Still have no idea how that happened, but I totally should have bought stock in white polos with three buttons.
VEINS: My veins caused me a lot of discomfort while pregnant with Schafer, and I knew I'd have to have them fixed again. Sure enough, ultrasounds confirmed that I was a good candidate for three additional surgeries, but had to wait until 2016 to do it because - before the doctor would operate - I had to be cleared by a hematologist because of all my clotting issues.
The first two surgeries (and a phlebotomy) were performed in February and the third in March. I was in support hose for six weeks, and then had to spend the rest of the spring going back and forth to the doctor for other minor procedures. But it was all worth it when I developed a blood clot in April. Granted, it probably formed because of all the work I had recently done on my veins, but the surgeries themselves actually kept the clot from moving or doing anything dangerous. Still, I learned first hand how painful they can be, and - if you leave a clot to reabsorb on their own - you run a fever.
I went back recently for another ultrasound and it looks like I'll be back in support hose in 2017. Sigh.
W is for WATER.
WATER: Just like Banner, I started Schafer in swim classes when she was about 15 months old. She's picked it up quickly and loves the water just like her big brother. I'm looking forward to this summer and spending lots of time at the pool and splash pad with my two water bugs.
X is for X-TREME.
X-TREME: As in Schafer. Love that little girl so much, but - wow - her tantrums are epic. I think we hit the terrible twos early. Possibly at birth.
This specific tantrum was because she wanted to leave the ENT's office back in November. She was screaming while the doc was asking me a million questions - one of which was about words Schafer knew and could say. Because of all the noise, though, I couldn't think of a single word or phrase. I stood up to try and get her to calm down so I could think and - in the process - unblocked the door that Schafer had been trying to get to for the entire visit. Without so much a pause, Schafer stopped crying, marched to the door, opened it, said, "Buh-Bye" and walked out. I sighed and said, "Well, she can say 'buh-bye'." The ENT just started laughing.
Y is for YUCK.
Yuck: Specifically, snot and vomit - my least favorite parts of parenthood. Schafer is definitely my pukey kid. She isn't the best chewer and has a tendency to choke, gag and empty the contents of her stomach all over everywhere.
She also gets carsick.
The pediatrician says she'll probably always be a pukey kid so I'm trying to get over my disgust and my tendency to sympathy puke/gag. If only Schafer would do me a solid and learn to blow her own nose. Because snot. Ick.
Z is for ZZZZZZzzzzz.
I just love pictures like these after a good, long, fun day.
See you all in 2017!