Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Charlie at 5 Months

Charlie turned 5 months old last week. He is my active, sweet, still teething, happy little guy (except when he wants something in his mouth and it’s not working out for him, like a toy, paper, whatever is close by – then he gets upset).

He rolls all over the place and really seems like he wants to crawl because he moves his legs all the time when he’s on his tummy. I kind of think Charlie will start out with the army crawl (it could still be months away, but it’s interesting seeing him gear up for it). Eli wasn’t crawling until 9 months and then walked at 10 months, so it will be fun to see how the boys are different or alike. Here are some pictures I took last week (it was a hot day when I took these, which is so weird because today it’s probably 20 degrees cooler… Chicago’s weather is CRAZY):

DSC_9570 DSC_9577 DSC_9586 DSC_9595 DSC_9611 DSC_9662 DSC_9702 DSC_9705  DSC_9716 DSC_9720 DSC_9723 DSC_9729 DSC_9741 It’s so fun to see Charlie grow and become more and more interested in whatever Eli is doing. Eli has a great time doing goofy things to make Charlie smile or laugh and I love it! (And other times, he yells at Charlie, “MINE!!!!!!!” over and over, holding whatever toy it is that he does not want to share, even though Charlie is showing no interest in it, which is also kind of funny)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Goodbye Party

If you haven’t noticed by now, we’re pretty sad Steve and Carrie are leaving. They’ve lived here for the last six years and went through a similar PhD program as Ben (Steve did Materials Science, another type of engineering degree). Carrie and I were in the Primary together and when I was nannying, her kids and the kids I nannied for were close in age, so we got together often for playdates. Carrie and Steve are some of our best friends and they’ll be missed!

Last night we hosted a goodbye party for the Christensen’s. There were 70 adults and 45 kids inside our house and out in the back yard. Somehow we all fit just fine and it was really fun! I’m glad there was such a great turnout of friends coming to say goodbye. We had the party right after church, which explains why some people are all dressed up – I’d say about half changed and half were still in church clothes.

Carrie and Sam:


Bishop Downs and Steve:


Marlee, Sam, and Alex:


The fun, beautiful teenage girls – Grace (in the red), Lauren, Emma, Lucy, and Mallory


My family came to help (especially with the kids). Here’s Gram enjoying Keenan playing the ukelele:


I picked up some fun lanterns and made the red poofy decoration and hung them from the pergola:

We borrowed a ton of chairs from friends and neighbors – it was nice to have a lot of seating in and out. We had food inside and outside too, and asked everyone to bring a dessert or appetizer to share.
DSC_9879 Here’s Khania and Rachel (Rachel took all of the photos at the party since I was busy running around the whole time):
DSC_9881 There is no way things would have gone smoothly with my kids if we hadn’t had help--my dad was in charge of watching Eli (and even took him on a walk after he started to get a little overwhelmed with the party) and my mom had Charlie. This picture was taken after he ate some baby food, so his little overalls were pulled off by this point, revealing his juicy thighs :)

And one fun highlight of the evening was that our friend Mark helped us rearrange our living room! He has a great eye for decorating and it was so nice to have him give us ideas and help move things around. Before, the couch was along the wall where the piano is and the chairs were on opposite sides with the ottoman in the middle. The piano was to the right of the fireplace. I think the new setup feels more cozy and better for conversation. Carrie played a Chopin piece and Beethoven piece and it was beautiful. Eli was in awe of her music since Ben and I basically just play with our right hand. Hopefully we’ll get better and remember how to play the piano with some practice since we both took lessons growing up.
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Surprise for Carrie and Steve

I had mentioned before that I had been busy working on a surprise for some friends – and here it is! Khania had the idea to have friends from church submit memories or notes for the Christensen’s and we would put them all together in a book (Rebekeh was helping too). We emailed a bunch of people and ended up getting about 60 responses and I compiled them all with a picture of each family into this book (I printed it through Blurb.com). It was so fun to surprise Steve and Carrie with the book on Saturday night—their official move day is this Wednesday.   DSC_9807 DSC_9810

And later outside at the Lund’s house, Charlie was kissing this baby doll (he is still teething like crazy, but no teeth have emerged yet)

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He wants to chew anything that comes near his mouth, poor guy. I hope his bottom teeth will come sooner than later. Eli had his first teeth right at 6 months, so maybe Charlie will be the same way.

Father’s Day (posting a little late)

It almost seems silly to post this one weeks after the holiday, but I wanted to share the pictures. Eli was insistent on wearing a tie just like his daddy, so we made sure they had ties in the same color scheme since I couldn’t find matching ones :) We drove up to my parents’ house after church and Eli was TIRED… (hence the yawn in the picture below)


He perked up after a little while though…

DSC_9495 Opening gifts

Eli and my dad reading books before we drove back home


Beach Day

Last week we spent part of the morning at the beach – it was our first day of the season that we went in the water. It was a perfect day to be outside – nice and hot, so the water felt good, but not TOO hot and muggy like earlier in the week.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009


I know I've turned into a lame blogger. Part of it is that this month has been very, very busy. The other is that I was having issues with my pictures on blogger and haven't had time to deal with it, so I'm not inclined to post since I'm worried the pictures may not work again. But here we go - a test picture of my friend Rachael and I late at night on Thursday. She drove from Cleveland to Chicago with her three kids and stayed with us for a few days, which was a lot of fun.

I'll catch up more this week!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fantastic Contest Win!

I have entered contests pretty regularly since I was in junior high. I used to call in to the local radio station during the "Hot 9 at 9" where they would give a prize to the 10th caller right before playing the last song - I think I won at least 10 pizzas in the span of a few years. I also won concert tickets and some other random prizes from that radio station, good old XLC 102.3 in Lake County, IL. More recently, I've entered quite a few blog contests and won some really great prizes.

But today's winning takes the CAKE!

Last week I read about a "Freshen Up Your Father" contest, hosted by a custom suit boutique in downtown Chicago. The contest was looking for dads in need of a personal and professional makeover, whether they were laid off, looking to start a new career, working toward a promotion, etc.

Unfortunately, my dad was laid off from his job last month and has been looking for a new one ever since. I was so excited when I saw this contest and knew I had to enter my dad. Here is my essay (it had to be under 300 words):

I'm writing about my father, David Stuart, who was laid off last month and could really use a makeover to help him land a good job. He also recently lost about 30 pounds to get down to a more healthy weight (he was diagnosed with Type II diabetes), which is a huge accomplishment for this candy-loving guy who has now given up sweets and exercises daily. This weight loss means that his suits are way too big, but he doesn't have the income right now to buy a new suit.

In addition, I have one sibling, a brother, who has multiple disabilities and currently lives in an adult group home about 35 minutes away from my parents. Every weekend, my dad drives out to pick him up and brings him home for the weekend so my brother can enjoy some time away, since the group home isn't the most fun place. My dad has devoted his life to helping my brother have a fulfilling life, despite my brother's physical and mental limitations. He has sacrificed a lot on my brother's behalf.

My father is an amazing individual--he's a creative thinker, a good listener, and always thinking of others. It would mean so much to surprise him with this fabulous makeover during this really tough time. Thank you!

So you can imagine my excitement when I opened my email this afternoon and saw that my dad had won the following:
  • Custom made suit, including personal consultation & measurement session from Nicholas Joseph Custom Tailors (these suits start at $499!!)
  • The Rockstar treatment at HALO [FOR MEN] including a cut, shave, manicure, pedicure and massage
  • A resume overhaul, interview/etiquette coaching session and personal site profile management from professional networking site LinkedIn

Congratulations Dad!!

(and yes, I know my blog images are having issues... it will hopefully be fixed in the next day or so)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Happy Baby, Nap-less Toddler, One Tired Mom

I’ll start with the positives from the week – Charlie is sleeping SO well through the night now!! I almost hate to write that and jinx myself, but he has been sleeping 11-12 hours straight for the last week. I tell you, when a baby sleeps well, everything is much brighter! However… he has started sucking his thumb (I was in denial at first, but it looks like it’s really here to stay).

I think it’s great that Charlie can self-soothe, but I’m nervous for breaking this habit when he’s older. Oh well! I relented a little last week on my resolve to not give him the pacifier, but he wasn’t very good about keeping it in his mouth for longer than about five minutes. It would fall out and then he’d get frustrated. DSC_9045

See that drool down his chin? He is still teething like a madman. Chewing on anything he can get in his mouth (usually his fist) and I can feel something sharp on his bottom gums. I feel lucky that he’s sleeping so well at night when his teeth do seem to be bothering him. I think the fact that he can chew on his thumb helps a little.


He is such a lovable little guy. I kiss, snuggle, and love him like crazy. I’m so glad to have this mellow, sweet baby at a time when…

DSC_9072…this darling face below is one of a boy who is giving me so much trouble. I would never look at this picture and think he had such a difficult side.   

DSC_9111But he has made this week really, really hard (these pictures are from Tuesday morning when he was playing with his cars on top of the radiator and actually in a good mood – that changed by the afternoon, unfortunately)


I had a lot I needed to get done earlier in the week – the surprise for my friend, an article that was due, and a slew of other things.

Eli hasn’t napped since last Tuesday (as in June 9th) and it is killing me. Typically, I try putting Eli down when Charlie is going down for a nap so I can actually have a few minutes alone, but then Eli proceeds to yell, cry, make SO much noise in his crib that it either wakes Charlie up or keeps him from falling asleep. They are in separate rooms, but the rooms are right next to each other. So I spend most of that first 30 minutes or so, running up and down the stairs, trying to calm Charlie down, reminding Eli that it’s naptime and that he at least needs to be quiet.

But it’s a big joke because Eli has no intention or great understanding of being quiet. And after about 40 minutes, he’s yelling for me: “OH MAMAAAAAAAA! OH MOMMYYYYYYYYYY” over and over until I go in to his room (keep in mind that I wasn’t having much of a chance to be productive in those 40 minutes since I was still dealing with both kids – I especially can’t do anything that requires great focus because everything going on upstairs is very distracting). When I go in, he’ll say in a sweet, soft voice, “Quiet time?” and I’ll take him out of his crib and tell him he can read books or play with his blocks until I go back up to get him.

This lasts for about 5 to 10 minutes, if I’m lucky, before he comes down the stairs and announces he’s done with quiet time (and breaks down in tears if I try to take him back upstairs). This happened on Wednesday, when I was doing a phone interview with someone for my article that was due that day. Then the rest of the afternoon was so frustrating as Charlie was too worked up to take a much-needed nap and Eli was tired and clingy. I was so frazzled by the time that Ben came home from work! He took the boys out for a jog in the stroller and I scrambled to finish my article.

Today I tried shutting his door during quiet time so he couldn’t escape after 5 minutes, but this was VERY upsetting to him and not worth the aftermath. I called a friend and we met at the pool – I was so grateful that it wasn’t raining as was forecasted so we could get out of the house. Eli had a great time swimming, Charlie napped in his car seat, and we made it through the rest of the day without going too crazy.

So now I’m feeling stuck. How do I get much of anything done, when my barely 2-year-old has decided naps aren’t for him (and quiet time is not quiet or effective), but he is becoming less and less able to play on his own because he gets so emotional from being cooped up (awake) in his crib and then needs me to be right there with whatever he is doing for every other part in the day? Even if I don’t have an article due, there are always things I try to save for nap time that I haven’t been able to do. By the evening, I am so physically and emotionally drained from the drama of the day that it’s hard to do much of anything.

Every morning I tell myself that maybe it will be different, maybe Eli will nap (and believe me, he looks exhausted after lunch, but something changes when he gets in that crib), and when he doesn’t nap, I try so hard to be patient. But it’s hard.

If you made it this far in the post, I’m sorry because I know it’s long. I know we’ll adjust, that in time things will get better.

Hooray for the weekend that is almost here… :)

Ben’s Fishing Trip

Ben went fishing last Saturday in Southwest Wisconsin with friends Mike and Andrew. They had a fun time fly fishing and I think Ben used his spinner too. Here are some pictures from the trip (they were gone from 5:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. that day because the fishing spot is about 4 hours from here).
DSC09583 DSC09574Here’s a picture of Mike in his gear – we don’t have any of Andrew, unfortunately.

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I don’t think I took any pictures from my day on Saturday… I was so exhausted by the end of it! It’s a whole different thing to have the kids by myself the entire day/evening on a Saturday since I’m used to having Ben around. I’m glad he had a great day of fishing though!