Saturday, October 27, 2012

Then There Were Two

Posted by Beck

Everyone told me that my heart would inexplicably grow to love a second baby the minute he arrived. And they were absolutely right about that. I had my concerns of course, but JP likes to remind me that before LJ was born I actually said that I hoped I would love him as much as I loved our cat, so I have been known to have put ridiculous limits on my heart's capabilities.

The moment A arrived I was simultaneously filled with an unspeakable joy and an unsettling terror. "A beautiful, healthy baby - hooray!" And, "how I am going to explain this to LJ." In only a moment he went from being my entire world to being a co-star. Still important, but now sharing the spotlight. I was ecstatic and terrified about what this meant for my family.

The first few days after coming home were hard on me. I knew I loved A as much as I loved LJ, even from the first moments. My heart had no problems with the love. It was learning how to balance my intense love for both of them that took a bit more time. I knew I loved them both like crazy, but how was I going to handle it when they both needed me so differently? I cried when I came home from the hospital because I knew things were forever changed. I desperately wanted to climb in bed and snuggle with LJ, but I also had a sleepy new baby to hold, nurse and protect. The love was strong, but struggle was instense in those first, hormone-filled days.

I can safely say now, two months out, that the balance issues are still there, but the emotional confusion has subsided. When A is crying and I sit down to rock him to sleep in his room, I have to remind myself that my sweet little big guy is in the other room watching cartoons and needs his mommy too. Having two wee ones is more rewarding and challenging than anything I could have fathomed. 

As an only child it was hard for me not to put certain feelings on LJ. Feelings like jealousy or resentment; sadness that he no longer has our undivided attention and love. JP, the oldest of three, put things in perspective for me. He told me that, for him, us not giving LJ a sibling would mean denying him an amazing gift. Having it put that way was a game changer for me. I stopped feeling guilty about my divided time and started viewing it as a new and better reality for LJ. He has less of me, but more of someone else who will stand by his side for a lifetime. A built-in best friend. And that is awesome.

LJ has truly risen to the occasion as a big brother. He has moments where he tells us it's time for Little A to go in his swing now and he looks like a little lost puppy when grandpa holds A for too long, but overall he has done amazingly well. He never acts out against his brother or shows any resentment toward him whatsoever. He greets him in the morning with a "Hi Au-tin, hi Au-tin!" He holds his hand when we're in the car. He rubs his head and gives him kisses. It makes my heart so happy to see. One day we were reading the book If You Give a Pig a Pancake and I said, "look at the little piggy, isn't he cute?" LJ replied, "Au-tin cute too." Heart. Melting.


As I sat here finishing up this blog post, I was interrupted by my "big" boy padding into the kitchen wearing his elmo pj pants, squinting in the light and requesting a glass of milk. He wasn't really awake, but I don't really think he was sleepwalking either. Rather than be annoyed that he's out of bed at 11pm, a mere two hours since he was settled there for the final time this even, I took this as one of those opportunities for "balance." A few stolen moments rocking my big boy in the chair with his sippy cup before carrying him back to bed for the night are a precious commodity. The little one is asleep, so there was no competition for my attention. The tables will turn in a couple of hours when I'm up in the dead of night with that one for a feeding and then he is allowed to be the center of my world for a while.

I'm still trying to figure it all out. Probably always will be. One thing I know for sure is that I love these boys with all my heart and feel pretty blessed to be their mom.

Moms (and dads) of more than one, any tips on maintaining the balance between siblings?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pumpkin Fun for Everyone

Posted by Beck

We've been hitting the extracurriculars hard since Little A was born; trying to get lots of little trips and fall fun in before JP and I go back to work in a few weeks. (Did I mention my husband's company gives him 12 weeks of fully paid paternity leave?!? I know, I would hate him too if I wasn't the one reaping the benefits of having him home.

We started out our fall excursions with a trip to Dell 'Osso Farms in Lathrop with LJ's friend Sam.

They held hands and ran to the bouncy pillows.

 LJ put his head down on the goat, like he does with the cat

Fall wouldn't be complete without a trip to Apple Hill. It was amazing to go up on a weekday. No crowds! We started the day with apple donuts. Yum!

 Apple donuts at Rainbow Farms

 Noni and Papa with their boys
 I like to torture 6 week old babies for photo opps. Sorry A.



 More torture. This time with hay.
We have some fun friends visiting this weekend, so I think another fall outing is in order. Hope you and yours are having a fabulous fall too!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Truth Is...

Posted by Beck

I'll be straight with you. Living "this vine life" over the past year hasn't always been easy. Sure, the photos and funny stories about "life on the farm" make it seem idyllic, but there's definitely been some challenges that have made me evaluate the pros and cons of this new life versus our old one. Despite the setbacks, I've come to the conclusion that living out here wins. And I'm even happier that I've been home the last few weeks to enjoy it!

Here are a few "vine life" pics for your enjoyment.

Little A's first walk around the property
This horse loves LJ and usually comes over to the fence when he sees him.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Easiest Pumpkin Cookies Ever

Most of you know that I am not a domestic diva. Click here for Exhibit A on that. For the record, I only use a butter knife these days. If it can't be cut with a butter knife, it's just not for me.

These cookies are so simple, anyone, even the kitchen-challenged like me.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Spice Cake Mix (unprepared) - 1 box
Canned Pumpkin - 1 15 oz can
Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips - as desired

Mix all three ingredients in a bowl and drop onto cookie sheet. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and bake from 8-12 minutes depending on your oven. The result? A moist and cake-like cookie - the perfect fall treat!

Pair with your favorite fall beverage and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Missed Opportunities - 2012

LJ enjoying his time on a real John Deere Tractor. 

JP writes:
Have you ever been kicked in the gut so hard you can't breathe? Have you ever poured your heart and soul into something only to see it fail? At this moment after our harvest today (last Friday now), that is how I feel. Its a terrible feeling of disappointment and what if's. What if I did this or that! Why did this happen? 

He can't just try to drive one John Deere, LJ has to try to drive all the John Deere's. 
Many of us can attest to having  failures and it sucks when they occur. This year the good Lord gave us 2 tons of grapes. They were much bigger and better quality of grapes than last year, however, again only 2 tons of grapes. Now when you compare that with farmers across San Joaquin County who had record harvests and the fact that we had 8.1 tons of grapes last year, when no one was farming them, it is gut wrenching to say the least. My dad told me today "Well Justin you're just not a grape farmer." My response, "Yes I am, just not a very good one this year." Just call me "Rookie".  I have been questioning myself all day with "How did this happen?"  "Why did this happen?" And my favorite "This Sucks!" 

Last winter before we pruned, an experienced pruner came and gave us a bid to prune our grapes. He had 30 years of experience and therefore was very expensive, but he said something that I dismissed at first because everything I read said to "prune grapes hard and they will reap a great harvest."  He said, "We can prune them, but the harvest is going to be light." What he was referring to was because the grapes were left for so long by the previous bank foreclosure, they were very overgrown. Getting them back into shape and giving them what they need actually placed them into shock. I knew from spring time on that it was going to be a light harvest because I did not see many blooms from the start. However, I really was being overly optimistic even though there were very few blooms. I thought surely I would do at least what I did last year. 

Despite set backs, when you see pictures like this, maybe this life country life is worth it. 
This, along with part of our vineyard being burnt due to extreme heat, combined with a broken water line, it took me a while to figure out that I needed help, so I called Lodi Irrigation in mid-September. Once help came, it took them a few days to figure out where the valve was that we needed to fix. This coupled with 100 + temps, hardly any rain this year, it is amazing those vines are still alive. Maybe I could have been on top of it more, but there is also a cost factor associated with all of this vineyard maintenance and my attention was tuned to different priorities the last couple of months, including my full-time job as a banker, a very pregnant wife, a toddler, a newborn, and, ahem, my poultry palace. Let's just say my focus on different priorities resulted in the consequence of only getting 2 tons of grapes this year. 

I remember swimming as a kid and teenager and there were some days and seasons where all the stars would align and I would swim amazing at swim competitions and then there were other times where they did not line up and I swam horribly. I know it's all a learning process and I can't beat myself up too much, but it is frustrating mentally, physically, emotionally, not to mention economically. 

Like my long time farmer Auntie Barbara said, "Hey Justin, that's farming!" 
Through it all I have to learn that in life things that are pruned hard go into shock at first, but with the right care and management a bountiful harvest may await in the future. At least I hope that's the lesson I will learn. I think I will have a glass of wine now.  -JP

Beck said tonight, "Look at the sky". I went outside and was reminded of the verse in the Bible that says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you". Tonight's sky was a reminder of His omnipotence.  

Monday, October 1, 2012

Ant War

Baby A sleeps soundly, unaware he's in ant territory

posted by JP

Beck hates ants and we are at war with them in our house. I honestly don't mind them so much, but more or less despise their existence because Beck hates them with a passion. When there are ants in the house, nothing can move on, but full focus is on the elimination of ants.

On our ten year anniversary a few weeks ago we planned to spend the day in San Francisco and enjoy a little family time in the morning and then have dinner at the Melting Pot that evening. Those plans were delayed because of the ants in the bathrooms and living room and then postponed indefinitely because of a family emergency with my grandmom who had to have surgery after fracturing her arm. The result was me going to a Giants game with LJ (sweet seats behind the 3rd baseline!) and Beck staying at my parents' house by herself with Baby A; it's a long, bittersweet story.)

Anniversary interruption aside; it has become clear that our ideas and philosophies about ants are a bit different. My philosophy is I could live with them and slowly eradicate them when I have time. With Beck they cannot be gone fast enough and even one ant will send her into a tizzy. Beck cannot have a nice day with the thought of those creepy crawly things roaming throughout the house. The ants sap her joy and claim her undivided attention as her motherly instincts kick in and she goes into cleaning overdrive to protect her children from playing on the floor in the middle of an ant march.*

LJ plays in one of the areas most frequently visted by our tiny nemeses

So instead of having fun on our anniversary I was sealing the bathrooms and living rooms with caulk and making inappropriate jokes about caulk that seemed to be really funny to me, but Beck some how did not find the humor in them.* It seems like like we have done everything to get rid of them. We have sprayed outside the house, tried natural remedies inside the house, put out ant stakes, sealed the entry points, and still they are finding ways to get in various parts of the house in search of water.

This has been going on for approximately 6 weeks. On Friday Beck came in and said, "we need to call Clark Pest Control." There are some things that I can negotiate and this was not one of them. Beck is ready to bring out the nukes and go Eisenhower on these small creatures to end this war once and for all. But unlike World War II, Beck has no interest in bombing them and then building up their colony again. Beck's idea is the eradication of them forever and we are hoping our partnership with Clark Pest Control can do the job.

It's beautiful and all, but it's an ant playground out there!

Beck's Sidenote #1:  So far the only "natural remedy" that has worked for me inside the house is baby powder sprinkled on the ant stream or near their entry points.

*Beck's Sidenote #2:  What JP failed to mention is that on more than one occasion he told me at both 8.5 months prego AND one week postpartum that if I wanted the ants taken care of *right that minute* I should get down and apply the caulk to the cracks myself. That DID NOT go over well and after 10 years of marital "bliss" I'm willing to admit that some unkind words were exchanged in the heat of the moment.

*Beck's Sidenote #3: I now skip over the "Ants Go Marching" song on LJ's kiddie cd in the car. I refuse to celebrate the little buggers.


Anyone have any good "ant be gone" solutions out there?