checking in


It's been a while, so consider this my check in:

Things here are good. they are really, exhaustingly good. I'm always tired, I've found how amazing I am at multitasking and have been surprised to find all the things I can do while I'm nursing (the list is seriously impressive), and I'm kind of a weird, awkward and hormonal version of myself right now, but things are good. We are good. I'm trying my best to enjoy this stage. It's a hard stage...that's all there is to it. This newborn thing is damn hard, and Dale and I are still reeling trying to figure out life with two. We are doing what we can, when we can, with little to no expectations of what we can and can't do or how much we (I) will be able to shower during the week or how social we'll be or how sanitary we'll look on any given day.

 I took these pictures when Merrill was 3 weeks old on a luxuriously slow morning when the light was perfect and he was a sweet, cuddly ball of squishiness and I was feeling so happy to have four of us tangled in one big bed. He is still a sweet cuddly ball of even MORE squishiness (he's so chunky and I love it! His cheeks could keep a small army alive for a month!) and I still love all of us tangled in one big bed...even though Dale and I are dead-eyed, sleep deprived zombies and the kids are wide-eyed and ready to go.


I have neglected this part of my life because...hey. who has time for this stuff these days? It has me feeling a little guilty that Viv has had so much attention on this blog and Merrill is shafted. So for my records, here are a few things I want to remember about him:

 He has a perfect little streak of bright blonde in his hair down by his neck. It's still just as blonde now as it was when he was born. It looks a little bit like the beginnings of a jedi braid or something equally awesome. And his rolls.....ooooooohhhhh his roooooollllls! They are delicious!!

Now he is almost two months old, and such a little sweetheart. He has this little pleasant, slight smile on his face all the time, and though he does cry and always wants to be held and is kind of the worst sleeper ever, his sweet little face gets me every time. He eats like a champ (obviously), and after he does, he's the most talkative, smiley baby. He almost always has a death grip on my shirt and my hair and is happiest when he's laying on my chest with his head is tucked under my chin. He's a mama's boy, and it's about time a kid likes me more than Dale! But really, my back is killing me and I sway and bounce even when I'm not holding him -- yes, I would like a break, thanks Mo.


But speaking of dads (just roll with it), it's so heart melting to see these two together. Dale has been busy and wasn't around for the newborn pictures we had taken (coming soon!), so according to my instagram lately, it looks like I kind of had a baby on my very own...immaculate conception and all that. But he IS here! The father does exist! Just thought I'd throw that out there, in case people were wondering at his lack of appearances on my social media (i know it's been the height of your worries).

And speaking of heart melting, these two together is the best part of my life right now. Viv loves him and has from the beginning. She is always covering him with blankets, smothering him with kisses and hugs (literally), smashing his face with her two little hands, yelling excitedly in his face and always asking him "have nice nap Mo?" when he wakes up from his naps. She insists on always helping me change his diaper and loves to include him in anything she's doing. I am so so happy that this transition has been so smooth with her. She has been happy that he's around since the day he arrived, and I'm so grateful for that.  When he was born and she was visiting us in the hospital, she was a little concerned about the bracelets we all had on our arms and wanted one too. So the cute nurses wrote "big sister" on a bracelet and gave it to her. I kid you not, that thing stayed on Viv's wrist for FIVE WEEKS. she did not take it off once, not for anything. It got wrinkled and dirty and started to fade, but she still wouldn't take it off. And then one day, she did, and i have it saved in her little journal. It is something I will always remember about this time.

So, although there is so much going on and so much to catch up on and so little time and so many times I will choose sleep over blogging (over anything and eating included), I'm hoping to be around a little more, find a little bit of my old self in this old blog and catch up on my life. There's something to getting back into a routine and remembering who and what you are outside of the 25/8 job of being a mom who is also a milk cow and a gold-medalist at multi-tasking and a chef and a taxi, etc, etc.

So that's that. I'll keep checking in and hopefully things will start getting back to normal around here. Until then (who knows when then will be), sayonara peeps. It's been real.

PS: This was written late at night and I was tired but determined to get something if it makes no sense...well, now you know why. I can't be blamed for this kind of nonsense, if that's what it is.

and then there were four


Baby boy was born a little more than a week ago, and I have to say, I am loving this whole newborn thing ( much as you can love that newborn thing). Lack of sleep is no bueno, but when you're getting more sleep than you ever did with your first hellion of a newborn, I'd call that a win. 

Meet Merrill.
He is sweet and mellow.
He has chubby cheeks and reddish brown hair that curls when it's wet (yay!!).
We like to call him Mo
Sometimes he looks a lot like his sister and a little bit like Dale, but the older he gets, the more his own look shines through. Some people (my mom) try to make me feel better by saying he looks more like me (thanks).

June 22nd was my due date, and it came and went without much incident. Except that one incident when Viv accidentally shattered my ipad. that sucked. Made my lack-of-baby-on-due-date day just thaaaaat much better [insert sarcasm here]. but you know. Shit happens.

At my appointment the next day, I decided to take the jump and set an induction date since NOOOOOOTHINNNNNG was happening. I mean nothing. WTH.

The date was set for the 24th at 8 AM.
I wasn't too happy about having an induction, and it turned out to be a long labor that included ice chips, popsicles, really slow contractions and an epidural that ended up not working for most of my labor.

To say that this labor was harder than my last is a severe really wasn't fun (ha. ha. ha.). And it had me questioning how people live through childbirth and why anyone would ever choose to deliver a baby without the drugs and how I was probably going to die in the process and how if I did by some miracle survive this that I was going to murder Dale for doing this to me.

Yes. It was bad.
But after much shaking and puking and pep talks and swearing and giving up, they gave me a cocktail of drugs that helped slightly and I was able to NOT die and get that damn baby out of me.

And 3 pushes later at approximately 6:21 PM:
Merrill was born.

A squishy, cheeky, curly-haired boy with a tiny little wail and a little bruised face.
7 pounds 12 ounces of baby, 19 inches long, a full pound heavier than his sister.

He was beautiful. With Viv, I didn't fall in love until about a week after she was born. But him? I instantly fell in love with the kid, and there was so much joy and relief that he was finally here, that he was safe and healthy and mine and I wasn't in pain anymore, or pregnant, hallelujah.

They put him on my chest and he cried a little cry and then lay there quietly. Every once in a while he let out a big squawk and then stopped, observing the things around him. I just couldn't believe how sweet he was, and I didn't want to let him go.

So many endorphins....those things are the shiz. They don't mess around.

I was so excited for Viv to meet Merrill, so we got her up there as quick as we could (thanks mom). My heart probably grew 20 sizes when I saw my now giant baby girl walk in the room with a big grin on her face and we showed her the baby we'd been talking about for months. I don't know if she grasped the concept, but she sure loved him right away. She held him and giggled when he moved his feet, and laughed when he blinked his eyes. She has been so sweet with him since, asking to hold him, and always waving to him, smothering him with hugs and kissing him straight on the mouth whenever she can. I love it.

After that it's mostly just a big hospital blur or sleeplessness and recovery. We did the whole hospital thing (which was really too long) and enjoyed the hospital food (but not really) and got some really great sleep on those hospital pillows (right?) and got bombarded by nurses trying to tell me how to nurse (thanks but no thanks).

One nurse told us to stay in the hospital as long as we could, bond with the baby and get some rest. But the hospital is anything but restful, and we missed Viv and our own bed a whole whole bunch. We couldn't wait to break out of there.

So we did. And then we went home.

The first thing Viv asked us when we got home that day was if Merrill wanted to come play blocks in her room. So he did, and she loved it. They have been instant friends ever since, laying in her bed together at bedtime, holding hands and her asking how his day was and if he had fun? She has been incredibly sweet with him...I didn't think I could love her more, but I was most definitely wrong.

And surprisingly, the transition from only child to sibling life has gone more smoothly than I could have imagined. The two-year-old tantrums have intensified only slightly and I'm pretty happy about that.


Since then, it's felt so natural and wonderful and I feel like it has always been this way.
It's always been us.
I love our little family.
We love Mo.

He's the sweetest thing; so very chill. He lets me sleep entirely too much (entirely...I can't complain even a tiny bit right now)(knock on wood). He makes nursing seem easy, and the kid hardly ever cries. He has the most beautiful eyes, and he looks incredibly sweet when they're open. I love that little face of his.

Can you tell I'm completely in love with the little boyfriend?
This baby nonsense is already a complete 180 from my experience with Viv.

Now, he's only a week old, and I fully expect things to go haywire in the next week or two, with him or my hormones, but as of right now, I'm taking the days one at a time, appreciating the good when it's good. So far it's been really good, and i'm enjoying it while it lasts.

I think there's something about your second that lets you appreciate everything so much more. You know that the crying and sleepless nights will be worth it. You know that things get better eventually and that the sweet newborn cry and soft skin and kissable rolls will be gone in the blink of an eye. 

I hold him way more than I probably should, I don't like to share him, and I'm kind of obsessed with him. And I'm ok with that. 

If I've learned anything about babyhood, it's that they grow up entirely too fast.
And I'm not wishing this one away.

We love you so much, Mo.
Thanks for reminding me how great this can be.

spring break in deep summer


I'm posting about spring break in deep summer.

I mean.....

I'm just cool like that I guess.
Also because I need to remember the awesomeness that helped me get through the rest of the winter in Ithaca. Dire circumstances, you know.

So, when spring break rolled around, I was literally literally DYING to get out of there. I was about to go completely and utterly insane from the endless, torturous winter in Ithaca. By the beginning of April, it was still snowing. It was still cold. There was no sign it was letting up.

On top of that, I was a pregnant single mom for 2 weeks, deep in the middle of rehearsals for The Taffetas (which deserves its very own post that I'm getting to shortly), late night practices, skipping naps, overusing my friends' offers to watch my kid and trying to stay sane while Dale had school things that included attending fancy parties in New Orleans and eating at amazing places in NYC.

It was rooooouuuugh. I prefer not to live through it again. #ihategradschool.  Luckily, I have awesome friends that saved me and was able to make my husband feel guilty enough to send flowers in the middle of my week:

Finally, Spring break hit and Viv and I drove the 2 hours to the Rochester airport, froze our butts off and luckily made it with all our bags/carseat/stroller-with-toddler combo because some super nice stranger took pity on a pregnant me. The flight went swimmingly, we made it to Sarasota/Siesta Key, and that's when things started looking up.

We of course had no plans except beach plans. And ice cream plans. That's usually about the best planning we do. Viv was so excited to go to the "deach", especially because of her little pink chair we bought for $5. She insisted she carry it herself.

It was a little cloudy and windy the first two days...not exactly the warmest beach days in the world, but we did not care one bit. At that point, low 60's to us was like high 90s -- literally heaven. We stayed as long as we possibly could, eating sandy sandwiches, grapes and apple slices like it was our job. Viv played in the sand, screamed with happiness at the water, ran from the waves and destroyed Dale's carefully constructed sand castles. I basked in happiness, squeezed into a swimsuit too small for me, relaxed in the half sunshine and warmth and actually read a book.



We took full advantage of our laziness for two days at the same beach. Ate ice cream both days. Walked around downtown Siesta Key and the piers by our hotel. That first night we ate Italian and here's something awesome: I had my first sip of alcohol (completely on accident, mind you), and it was epic.... as in epically DISGUSTING. Imagine me, poor pregnant lady, dying for an ice cold lemonade. Factor in my craving for honey this pregnancy, when lo and behold I see honey stung lemonade on the menu. Delicious. So I order it, but only after do I realize that it's 7 bucks. Ouch. Dale's gonna be pissed. Too bad, I'm pregnant, blah blah blah, internal dialogue and all that. So while Dale is taking Viv to the bathroom for the 100th time, our drinks come and I'm surprised to see my very tiny $7 drink. Like TINY, guys, complete with a little tiny stir straw. And I'm like, come on, what a rip off. Now Dale's REALLY gonna be pissed when he finds out. blah blah blah, internal dialogue and all that.

So I take a sip. EWWWWW. Cough syrup status. I seriously almost gagged and I was like, dude, that is some seriously gross honey lemonade. I mean, WTH?! I was so mad. I JUST WANT SOME LEMONADE DAMNIT! So I wait for Dale to get back and tell him how gross my drink is and have him taste it. And he looks at me weird. Tastes it. I get a weird feeling that I'm missing some mildly important detail here.

Ya, there's definitely alcohol in that Elyse, says he.
I had a sneaking suspicion, yes I did.

And THAT, my friends, is probably the dumbest pregnancy moment of this pregnancy (akin to the time I thought I gave my then-Vivian-fetus fetal alcohol syndrome when I ate vodka-based tomato sauce on my spaghetti-- ya, that was a great one too).

SO I had to be the one to ask the server to get me a DIFFERENT drink that didn't have alcohol in it, because no I didn't realize it did, and yes I am pregnant and no I don't usually drink, I swear, blah blah blah, awkwardness and all that.

Good times for the Mormon pregnant lady and her family. Keep it classy.

On our third and final day, we decided to find a new beach. We found a more secluded place with prettier water, more shells and less people. It was suuuuper hot and proved to be the best day yet. Viv loved the shells and the water was a  little easier for her to play in.

We also had a whale sighting (above), a blue heron sighting (below), and a sting ray sighting (not pictured--but it was the coolest. Someone caught one with a fishing pole!)

On our last night we went to downtown Siesta Key, ate at an amazing restaurant, ate ice cream (again), checked out shops and dogs and parks to Viv's content. We watched the sunset on a beach and enjoyed every last drop of warmth before heading back to frozen hell.

And we really did go back to a snowy, frozen hell, but somehow it was bearable because we saw the sun for 3 days in a row. And we stayed alive until May.

It was a spring break for the books, and I'll remember it fondly as the spring break that kept me sane and helped me keep my hair on my head and my brain in my body.

8 months pregnant and camping like a fiend.


Can you tell things around here have been crazy?

They've been crazy.
We're settled in California, our  apartment is sparsely furnished, thanks to some really wonderful and selfless people, we finally have internet, Dale is finally working (yay for interships!!), and I am still pregnant.


This week, I'm officially 36 weeks, a week away from being full term and only a month left living in this terribly swollen body of mine. It's hot. It's just so hot. My feet are hot always. I sleep with a spray bottle by my bed because my feet are so hot. I want to cut my lower back and hips off my body on the daily because they always hurt...but, you know, that would make things look awkward. Anyway, I'm just at that point where people start telling me I look pathetic or tired or done or some other nice way of saying, " look really pregnant and fat".

Baby boy is growing like a weed, we still don't have a name, except the one that Viv is requesting. So far she's insisting we name him Jack, after one of our good friends' brand new baby. She calls all the little babies Jack, and calls our fetus Jack too. Either way, un-named alien has given me 3 stretch marks on my belly. Which is fun, since I didn't have any there before. I love that part.....the part where your body stretches to a point that it won't look normal again. I love it a lot. It's great, right?

Anyway, we've been trying to get out and do a few things before I'm in a newborn haze that will last for who knows how long.

Because you guys know we love camping a lot.

We headed down to Big Sur...somewhere we've been wanting to go for a long time.
We went with our other camping-loving friends and found an entire campsite that we got entirely to ourselves. Running water, big tables, flushing toilets, even internet access, and a little river with a damned up pond running right through the camp site.

Basically, it was awesome.

The drive down the coast was amazing to say the least. Have you ever driven down Highway 1? It needs to be on your bucket list. It's definitely on mine...I've never seen such beautiful sights. I was making Dale stop constantly, gasping and oohing and aahing over and over. 

I've decided that THIS is where I want my 2nd house... Big Sur/ Monterey. You get the best of both worlds: Beautiful turquoise ocean with white sand beaches against a backdrop of mountains covered in beautiful pine. 

Just sayin....Someday, when I'm rich, it's happening. You're all invited.

Anyway, our 2-day trip was full of perfect weather,  a great campsite, easy food and better company. The kids did great, we did a little hike, ate so many s'mores and played in the perfect little stream that ran through our camp, damned up quite nicely for a two year old to splash around and throw rocks into. And a perfect place for baby Hazel to kill us with her cute little squishy face.


This here is McWay falls, only the prettiest place ever. Pine trees and waterfalls and moody ocean and jutting rocks and Jamaican-worthy white sand. Also poison oak. Looooots of poison oak.



No. That's not a whale. It's just me in clothes that don't fit anymore. 8 months pregnant and camping FTW, always.


Viv and Hazel were so damn cute together this trip. Viv went from abhorring babies to loving them in just a few days. She loved helping with everything the point that she doesn't really help. She's more like a T-Rex, wrecking everything in her path, stepping on all the things and generally being two-ish as she tried to read Hazel stories, tuck her in, get her dressed, wipe her face or change her diaper. But when she gets so excited to see her that she jumps up and down, squeals with joy, bends down right in her face and says "Hiiiiiii Dadel!" while putting her in a full-nelson-type hug, it seriously melts my heart. She loves her so much.

Something tells me I'm gonna need to develop a whole bunch of patience come July. That is if she likes this baby boy. She may just want to adopt Hazel instead. I'm totally fine with that.

All I'm saying is that our trip was epic, and what made it even MORE epic is that our two men were both equally unemployed at the moment, making this camping trip a MID-WEEK camping trip, no strings attached and freedom abounding. I'm really into this unemployed thing. Those Obama supporters really are onto something.


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