Firsts

This week was a big  week of firsts for our house. J.J. is back in NYC today recording his first real album of his music. Today is his second day of studio time with his trio, and the album will be mostly his jazz compositions and a few fun covers (Phil Collins?). It's a project that he's been working on since we started dating, and he won a huge grant to get him into the studio. He's doing great work.

While I'm proud of him, his muse is having a major motherhood reality-check manning the homestead alone for a few days. As always happens, these three days have also been three of our most busy and challenging, pretty much ever since kids arrived on the scene.

Peter's big first this morning was his first day of school! He has been looking forward to this day for months, and I can't believe it is finally here. He's been trying to ensure for the last several days that "Mommy go with me to school," so I was nervous about how it would go. He was amazing, though! I was fortunate that my super generous friend Anna offered to come over and handle the little ones while I took him there, so that we could have an easy drop-off. 

You may be seeing this again as a Christmas card.

You may be seeing this again as a Christmas card.

He shocked me when we arrived by happily jumping out of the car and heading into the building with his Guide (that's what theyc all the teachers in Montessori...just to be different, as far as I can tell). He did pause for a second to turn around, give me a wave and a "Bye bye, Mommy!" **Heart breaks HERE**. I was so proud of him.

They all have to wear crocs at this school. Don't judge. Does it make it worse that these are fake crocs? Probably. Sorry little dude.

They all have to wear crocs at this school. Don't judge. Does it make it worse that these are fake crocs? Probably. Sorry little dude.

I was also proud of myself for holding it together until I pulled out of the drop-off line. Then, sure enough, I burst into tears. I never thought I would be that mom! Last night when he was making me want to jump out the window during bath time, I was counting the minutes until I could get him out of the house. But this was new. This was hard.   I'm sure every mom who has sent their kids to school for the first time knows what I'm talking about. Seeing my little guy stroll into his school with such confidence, after having given the last 3+ years of my life to keeping him happy and safe and loved, I felt an achy happy-sad-lonely-liberated-all-at-the-same-time feeling that was very new, but I'm predicting I'll feel it many more times during my motherhood. And as J.J. said, at least only one of us was crying.

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This morning before he left, when I was still worried about him missing me, I gave him a special rosary to keep in his pocket. I told him that if he missed me during he day to touch his rosary and tell Mary that he missed me and that she would let me know. Maybe that's not quite theologically sound, but it's making me feel better to know that he has a way to connect with me if he's nervous. And it makes me so thankful to our Blessed Mother for keeping an eye on both of us today. 

Mary Frances is experiencing her first morning without her bestie and camp leader around. For the first hour or so she wandered around the house calling "Peta?? Peta!" and asking "Where Peta, Mamma?" She's a little lost without him, but I'm so excited for her to have some more one-on-one time with me and a little independence from his sometimes overbearing leadership and, well, bullying.  The house certainly feels a little emptier without him, but it's oh so quiet. 

James' big first today was his maiden voyage in the double chariot. He slept happily the whole way so I think it suits him.  

Lookey who's riding high in the front seat

Lookey who's riding high in the front seat

Which brings me to another of my own big firsts. After the drama of the drop-off I loaded the little ones into the stroller and walk/jog/crawled my way through my first couch to 5K workout! I'm not actually signed up for a 5K, but I felt like maybe the program would be a nice introduction to running. This was also really hard for me. By the end, my eyelids were sweating. That's not even normal. But I DID IT. This is huge, because last time I hit 6 weeks postpartum, I was just about bedridden from being crippled by and autoimmune disease (more about that another time). But thanks to good drugs and an improved attitude and determination, I not only am walking around my house able to take care of the kids, but I jogged (!!!!!!!!!). For 90 seconds at a time and cursing under my breath, granted, but God is so good to have me up and out and about. 

My final first of the week is my first time back at any sort of outside job since I got married and pregnant with Peter. On Monday I started working at Peter's new school running the extended day program. The awesome directors of the school offered me the position as an exchange for the very pricey tuition, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to send Peter to a great school and to work at a part-time job where I can have all of my kids in tow. It hasn't been perfect, but I'm going to give it a few weeks to see if we're just getting the hang of a new set up or if it's just going to be too much for my little crew. Either way, even though the afternoons are LOOOOOOOONG, it's nice to have a destination. 

I'm pretty pleased that we've all survived our big changes for these first few days, but thank goodness J.J. will be home tomorrow! 

 

 

Transfiguration

In honor of the feast of the Transfiguration, here is J.J. and several of our very talented musician friends performing J.J's arrangement of Sufjan Stevens' "The Transfiguration". 

This is one of my favorite songs that J.J. has arranged, and we'll hopefully be hearing more arrangements of it. I (biased, perhaps) think it's a really beautiful reflection for the feast. Enjoy!

 

This is Sufjan's original recording if you want to check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqBujJ9OVFU 

1, 2, 3, 4, Every day I love you more.

Today is our fourth anniversary. While I've loved J.J. nearly from our first date, I am finding myself this year especially satisfied, comfortable and joyful in our marriage. It feels like we've hit a stride.  I am regularly in awe of how blessed our little life is, and we're so grateful. 

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In my usual anniversary tradition, out came the dress for a try on...

39 weeks with baby #3 and it still fits like a glove.

39 weeks with baby #3 and it still fits like a glove.

Crunch crunch crunch

We are hopefully (dear sweet Lord PLEASE) wrapping up pregnancy #3 in the next several days with a happy, healthy delivery. Despite what J.J. might tell you about my complaints, the pregnancy itself has been pretty easy breezy compared to the other kids'. For the first time ever I'm even nesting, and I kinda love it. I'm trying not to set myself up for too much disappointment when the hormones settle and I'm not magically transformed into a clutter-clearing machine permanently, but it does feel good to be starting another major life shift with a clean slate, err, house.

 

Peter has been soooo excited about "Baby Brother in Mommy's tummy". In fact, when he joined me at a midwife appointment a few weeks ago, he was sorely disappointed (read: rolling on the exam room floor tantrumming) that during the course of the appointment Dr. Peter had not been permitted to take Baby Brother out of Mommy's tummy to take home.  However, everytime I've tried to get him to feel the baby's movements, he's gotten a little too impatient or freaked out to get the whole experience. Finally, yesterday I got him to give it a try and the result was awesome:

 

So, yes, baby is "growing like the flowers" and will hopefully "come out soon". In the mean time, at Katrina's prompting, I am going to tell you about my greatest pregnancy craving discovery EVER. I'm proud to say that this third time seems to be the charm for me in that I didn't completely gorge myself on garbage food and only gained a reasonable amount of weight (a.k.a. not 70 lbs. like my first go-around). However, because I'm anemic as I usually tend to be when prego, my one craving that has been consistant all three pregnancies has been ice, especially in the third trimester. Mmmmm. Crunch crunch crunch. It's making poor J.J. crazy and is probably bad for my teeth but I can't get enough of it. 

In my quest for the perfect crunch I figured out that you can fill ice cube trays only about 1/3 of the way with water to produce quick-freezing and bite-sized cubes. Good, but I knew I could do better.  Then a few weeks ago we were visiting some friends in Chicago and ended up at a bar that served amazingly crunchy, soft, chewable "nugget ice", and our sweet waiter never let my glass go empty. I was hooked.

Thoughtful Renee suggested that maybe Skymall sold a home machine that would produce the same sort of glorious ice cubes. Upon some research I learned that such machines are disappointingly not offered by Skymall, but that in-home machines were in fact available for direct purchase. For thousands and thousands of dollars, that is. Amy Grant bought one for her ice-loving husband.

Now, J.J. loves me. He loves me enough to bring me that occasional pad thai craving or to rub my back when it's sore. He does not love me enough to buy me an ice machine for thousands and thousands and then remodel our kitchen to fit it in. 

Did you know that ice chewing is one of the less-weird (in my brain-freezed opinion) forms of pica? People, prego or not, are hooked on ice chewing. Just like those people on that awful show "My Strange Addiction" who eat couch foam.  And they have entire websites and chat rooms dedicated to their frosty addiction. At some point in my hormone-induced craziness I managed to Google my way into one such site, and got the most wonderful tip and well-kept secret:

 

SONIC DRIVE-IN RESTAURANTS SELL THEIR PRICELESS NUGGET ICE IN 10 POUND BAGS FOR ABOUT $1.50. 

 

Did you get that? Whole giant bags. For practically nothing. Just pull up and order a bag of ice, like it's a cheeseburger. And someone brings it to your car. On rollerskates. And no one thinks you're crazy (at least until you get home and your husband catches you trying to shove it into your freezer.) Ladies, take note.

Buckle up, my precious.

Buckle up, my precious.

Happy crunching! 

Dance dance dance

Easing myself back into the blog world today. Let's start with this great new video.

To be competed with only by some of the recent Wright household dance parties.

Kindly ignore the mom cackle.

It's fun having a musician husband who has lots of talented musician friends. This is J.J. playing with our friend Anna, who used to be a very serious contender on the fiddle competition circuit. Yes, that exists. In fact, fiddler gossip has it that among fiddlers in the US, she is one of the best. And these days we get to enjoy that talent in our living room -- so fun!!! This is the first time the kids actually danced together, aka Peter dragged poor MF around in circles until she repeatedly fell over. 

PS - The cutie pie baby is henry, son of Lauren and Steve (better known as SLawson). We loved having them come up for a visit!

PPS - My grandfather was super tech savvy way early on, and used to love showing us this video. Remember that one? We thought it was SOOOO cool. Love you, Bapa!

Party Across the Street

In my former life, pre-marriage and pre-children, I was fortunate enough to work at a beautiful Washington DC Art Gallery and Art College in the special events office. While in retrospect I wasn't great at my first job and I admittedly spent much of the year distracted and a little overwhelmed by my engagement and pending move to NYC, I was nothing if not enthusiastic and blessed with the most gracious and kind boss in the whole world. The job felt glamorous, working across the street from the White House and hosting parties for embassies (oh, Poland, you were the death of me) and DC socialites. On my first day of work I headed out to lunch with my new boss and co-worker, and we were asked to pose for photos in front of the White House with Japanese tourists as the quintessential blonde, brunette and red-headed "American Girls". It was fun. It was tiring. It was a great first job.

One of the highlights of that year was President Obama's first Inauguration weekend. The gallery hosted three nights of back-to-back HUGE parties, with event equipment and caterers rolling in at the crack of dawn and finally loading out around 4AM each morning. That meant our job was to protect all of the precious art in the gallery and the historical building itself from cranky waiters, to beg Secret Service to let our catering trucks inside the barricades because we had 1200 people on their way expecting to eat, deal with nasty political staffers and musicians, all on about 3 hours of sleep that were taken each night on our office floor. Because the subways were so crowded, we even got to walk about 3 (hundred million) miles to catch one shower in the midst of it all at the home of the museum's director (awkward! and COLD.) I guess the upswing of the weekend was that President and Mrs. Obama never actually showed to any of our parties (avoiding the need for complete Secret Service insanity and my self-control to restrain my personal moral and political feelings about our new Mr. President), and that it was an exciting, once-in-a-lifetime experience to tell stories about. 

**Not sure if this is actually  one of the photos from those nights or from a different party we hosted, but I was too tired to remember details and my old computer housing my own personal photos is buried in a moving box in my basement. Like I said, I was enthusiastic, if nothing else. But you get the idea**

**Not sure if this is actually  one of the photos from those nights or from a different party we hosted, but I was too tired to remember details and my old computer housing my own personal photos is buried in a moving box in my basement. Like I said, I was enthusiastic, if nothing else. But you get the idea**

So today I am throwing up a few prayers and wishing the best of luck to all of the event planners, caterers, florists, lighting vendors, Secret Service, etc., etc. who are working themselves into a frenzy trying to make this weekend historic and memorable, especially Kathleen and the team at the Corc.

And Allie, and Brooke -- Cheers to us! Tonight we can sit on our couches and toast to 4 years ago and our dear sweet Joe! 

Work it, work it!

The week before Christmas we headed home to Buffalo to visit J.J's family. While I grew up there, I am sad to say that many of my connections have faded as can happen when you leave home. Over this visit, though, I finally rallied everybody into the car in semi-clean clothes to go meet up with some dear friends from my childhood. Eliza was one of my best girlfriends growing up as we spent the summers near each other on Lake Erie, and her mother Katie and the rest of her family were always so special to me. Now with my little guys in tow, I was bound and determined to make time to catch up with Eliza and Katie.

Eliza has become very interested in the whole foods/healthy living world, and started the wonderful Buffalo vegan restaurant and art space Merge with her sister Sarah a few years ago. She's a talented musician and still has the deeply kind, glowing heart that's always been her trademark. Katie is taking gorgeous photos, which is one of her greatest talents besides being an awesome mom and now grandma to little Augie. They so thoughtfully brought clementines (aka Wright children's crack)  for my kids to snack on, and we had so much fun playing with the photo props in Katie's downtown studio. This family is so full of life and goodness, and I'm blessed to have had them in my life growing up, and glad that my kids have been able to experience their joyfulness. 

During our visit Katie surprised me with a great gift. She whipped out her camera and started catching shots of the kids. So far a professional photo session of the kids hasn't really been in our budget, so I'm so grateful to have these photos to mix in with my usual iPhone memories.

If anyone in the Buffalo/Western New york area needs a family photographer, now you know who to call!

http://www.katieschneiderphoto.com/
http://www.katieschneiderphoto.com/
http://www.katieschneiderphoto.com/
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http://www.katieschneiderphoto.com/

Whose Birthday is it?

"Sweet Baby Jesus!"

We've been going for a most basic understanding of Christmas this year, and I think they finally got it.

So, Merry Christmas to you all, and

Happy Birthday, Sweet Baby Jesus!

Love,

J.J. + Alexandra

Peter, Mary Frances...

and BABY!!!!

"Hey, Peter! Aren't you excited about our new baby on the way?" "Sure, Sis. As long as he/she's as cute and *cough* attention grabbing *cough* as you were!"

"Hey, Peter! Aren't you excited about our new baby on the way?" "Sure, Sis. As long as he/she's as cute and *cough* attention grabbing *cough* as you were!"