Friday, December 23, 2011

Don We Now...

...Our Dashing Apparel!

Auntie Nini crafted these sweet shirts for Thane's Birth Day present.

He looks even more dapper than usual!

We just love them! Thank you, Auntie Nini!

Fa la la la la, la la la la!

Monday, December 19, 2011

S̶a̶n̶t̶a̶ ̶C̶l̶a̶u̶s̶ Grammy is Coming to Town!

Good thing my shopping was done early this year! I can't believe Christmas is in 6 days. We've had a whirlwind of activity since Thanksgiving and those 4 weeks have just flown by.

Jeriann beat us all to it and had her tree put up right after Thanksgiving. She and Knox have such a great bond! We are so fortunate and thankful to have her!

We went to a "party" at the park. Knox is always talking about parties these days, so he was happy to go. And wouldn't you know, Santa Claus showed up on a fire truck!

He brought Knox a helicopter and an airplane. Knox wasn't interested in sitting on Santa's lap, but he did give him a fist bump.

I had a fantastic early Christmas present when Jen Price came all the way from Wisconsin to visit for the weekend. We went to an awesome Cake concert (and took the prized Cake tree home!), the 4th Avenue Street Fair and Winterhaven. And we even managed to get her some Mexican hot dogs before she had to go back to the wintery tundra.

Wouldn't you know, we ran into Santa at Winterhaven, too. Mrs. Claus was with him there. He is a busy guy this time of year!

Jen was amazed at the light displays and we were glad that she got to enjoy a taste of Christmas in the desert with us!

And we even managed to sneak in a photo session at the park. JenniCakes Photography managed to capture Knox sitting still a handful of times...

...and being cute all the time!

Our sweet boys! They are so perfect.

Thane even woke up (early) from his nap and managed to smile for us. What a trooper!

You're looking at 100% boy, right here. How we managed to keep him out of the waterfall (and the duck pond beside us) I will never know.

So it has been pretty crazy around the Contessa house. And now we are just counting down the days until Grammy arrives. She totally trumps Santa this year. It will be a short visit, but we'll take her for as long as she'll stay.

Here's to the past great year, and to an even better 2012! Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, with love. The Contessa Family.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Giving Thanks

Looking at this little dude, you'd have thought we had ham this Thanksgiving! That sly grinning guy is just one of the many things we have to be Thankful for this year.

I'd be lying if I said that being a family of four has been an easy transition. I'd be lying if I said that having another baby is just like riding a bicycle. I'd be lying if I said that I was totally satisfied with my performance as a Mom.

They say all pregnancies & babies are different and it is totally true. After Thane was born, I thought things would get easier. I missed being able to play with Knox. There were lots of things that I just wasn't effective doing, because of my slowed-down pregnancy pace. I couldn't wait for Thane to "get out!" so I could get back to "normal" life.

But "normal" didn't happen for me. As to be expected, there was that one giant emotional breakdown after coming home from the hospital. And then another. And another.

Patience has never been one of my virtues, but weeks went by and things (me) just seemed to be getting worse. I was sleep deprived. I had trouble expressing myself without shouting or crying. I found myself composing "free to a good home" ads for Thane in my head. And when my short-fused, emotional rollercoaster had finally become too much for Ib, we sat down and talked about the possibility of something bigger going on.

Post Partum Depression: It's a bitch.

One afternoon, while battling an excruciatingly painful clogged milk duct, I burst into tears and called the doctor. My 6-week post partum check up was only 5 days away, but I couldn't wait that long. The receptionist got me calmed down and put me in touch with the social worker at the women's clinic. She talked with me for quite awhile, discussing all the different options I have for treatment. I dislike the idea of pills, so we went over some "natural" fixes. Unfortunately, I was already doing most of them: exercise, vitamins, sunlight, sleep (by this point, Ib - bless his heart - had started taking every other night to get up with the baby so I could get a full night's rest). But I agreed to bump it up and give it a try: I added fish oil to my vitamin regimen, got more sunshine and tried to consciously monitor my mood. But it didn't really seem to change anything.

Ib kept reminding me of things we have to be thankful for...and I certainly wasn't disputing any of it, but I just couldn't find the joy.

The social worker referred me to a brand new program for Women's Behavioral Health at the hospital. A group of doctors is specifically researching post partum depression and she suggested that I see someone. She even called our insurance company to make sure they would cover it. So, finally, after several LONG weeks of waiting I have an appointment on Thursday (tomorrow)to talk with a psychiatrist. Yeah...I feel like a lunatic just saying the word. But my kids and my husband deserve better than Momzilla.

Of course, I've been feeling really great for the past week or so. Dare I say, "normal"? I am still going to keep the appointment. If I've learned anything it's that these hormones can do crazy things to a person, and you never know when it's coming. I don't think I will have to start a regimen of "happy pills" anymore, but it will still be nice to talk to someone who can assure me that I'm NOT crazy, despite what is going on in my head.

So on Thanksgiving Day, Ib and I were sitting on the couch together and he asked what I was thankful for. I said "My family and my friends." He asked if that was all, to which I replied "Isn't that enough?" He gave me his list, which included (but was not limited to):

Our healthy, beautiful boys

Our family and friends

Our home

Food on our table

Our jobs

Our reliable transportation


...and our giant TV

And I couldn't agree more.

We took the boys to the playground while our turkey was in the oven. Knox shared his "motorcycle" with some other kids and went down the slide and chased the pigeons. Thane just slept.

It was a perfect day to be outside.

It made my heart happy to watch Knox run around, laughing. And to watch Ib go down the slide with him. And to watch Thane nap, peacefully.

And it made my heart happy knowing that joy it is all mine.

So while it feels like I am out of [the darkest part of] the woods, I know there will still be challenges and good days and bad days. But I am going to strive to make only good memories for my family.

By the time our turkey was ready both kids were down for a nap. So I lit the candles on the table and Ib and I had a nice dinner together.

Did I mention being thankful for a husband who is an awesome cook?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Trick Or Treat

What's that saying about the road to Hell being paved with good intentions?

Being as clever as I am, I thought it would be a great idea to dress the boys as Thing 1 and Thing 2 for Halloween this year. Knowing full well that Knox is really still too young for trick or treating (and neither Ib nor I need the candy!), I still felt compelled to put the costumes together.

Ib suggested we wait one more year, but I was afraid that by next Halloween Knox will have grasped the concept and have his own costume ideas so I figured this was my last chance to dress them how I wanted.

I made the decals for their shirts at work. It's good to be in the Biz. I've got all kinds of handy tools at my disposal! But can you believe that I could not find a plain red long sleeve shirt for Thane in this town? OK, maybe that is a stretch, since I only checked Target and WalMart...but I wasn't about to run all over the city. While browsing online, I found a one-piece jumpsuit, perfect for Knox's costume! But, it only came in one size (18 month) and one color (white). The reviews said that it was actually enormous and many folks said it fit their 2 & 3 year olds. And for $2.99, I figured I'd take my chances. I also ordered a plain white long sleeve shirt for Thane and then headed off to Michaels to pick up some red RIT dye.

Thane's hat from the hospital was the perfect shade of blue so, after one last stop at the party store for Knox's blue hair spray, Voila! Thing 1 and Thing 2. could be so easy.

Whoever thought Trick or Treating on a Monday night between 6 and 8 pm was a good idea obviously does not have kids. Knox came home from day care with no desire to eat dinner. And, in the interest of getting him out and back home before bed time, I wasn't about to force feed him. Thane had been dressed for hours and was sleeping peacefully, between meals. We got Knox into his costume and then it was time to do his hair. Daddy wet it down and started combing it into spikes...which is not something Knox particularly enjoys. But once the can of blue spray came out, you'd have thought he was being tortured. The screaming and crying that ensued was enough to make a saint swear. As to be expected, Knox's yelling and crying lead to Thane's yelling and crying. And that combination lead to Mommy yelling and crying. And it all added up to Daddy playing the role of that afore mentioned saint.

I'm sure, from outside, it sounded like a house of horrors. No wonder we never get trick or treaters!

But it was all about the photos...and, in the end, we did manage to get one semi-respectable shot for the memory books.

We piled in the car and drove to Jeriann's where Knox got into the spirit by handing out candy. He took this duty quite seriously, and was running half way down the sidewalk to toss handfuls into kids' bags before they even made it to the house.

And if you thought that was the "Trick" part of it all, think again. In my infinite wisdom (read: Mom brain), a few days later I tossed the costumes into the wash with the idea of swapping them on Thred Up (an online kids' clothing swap that I recently joined...and LOVE!). It completely slipped my mind that, even though it is November, there won't be truly cold water coming out of our Arizona pipes until at least January. Yep. You guessed it: For the first time in my life I had a washer full of pink laundry. Awesome.

Who knew? RIT also makes a dye remover. Those guys think of everything. I managed to salvage most everything, but not without some battle scars: A pair of navy blue and white striped pants is now tan and white stripes with green trim, some socks made to look like little black and red tennis shoes are now brown and red...and there is still a faint pink tint to just about everything.

But at the end of the day, no one cares if their socks are pink or if there are red dye splotches on their blue jeans.

What matters is that we have clothes and a home to keep us warm. And I have these 3 amazing, beautiful guys who love me, unconditionally...which is more than anyone could ask for.

Welcome to Another Edition of "Guess That Baby!"

I knew that I had pictures of both boys in this hoodie, but imagine my surprise when I realized that they were BOTH taken at 7 weeks. I guess our Arizona [cold] weather is pretty predictible!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sweet Baby Thane

When I was around 7 months pregnant, I came across and ad looking for Expecting Mommies interested in a complimentary Maternity Photo Session. Never having done anything like that before, and being thrifty (read: cheap!), I responded and met Jenni...a super cool chick! Our vacation back east was right around the corner, so we put it off until afterwards. And, by that time, I just felt so enormous that I didn't want a camera anywhere near me!

So, this past Tuesday, we scheduled a photo shoot of Mr. Thane in the outside world! Here is a sneak peek of the sweetness Jenni captured!

If you know us you know that, between me & Ib, we take TONS of pictures. But these portraits are so much more than we could capture. Thank you so much, Jenni! I love, love, love these shots of our little guy! I can't wait to schedule a session for both the boys and our whole family.

If you're looking for a photographer in the Tucson area, look her up! You won't be sorry! - - 520.248.4727

Monday, October 10, 2011

Seeing Double

Knox Paulson Contessa, just over a month old (11.07.09).

Thane Grayson Contessa, just over a week old (09.27.11).

Gee, do you think they are related?! We sure make some good looking boys.

Look Who's Two! Ah-ah-ah-ah!

In the midst of bringing home a new baby, we doubled our joy by celebrating big brother Knox's second birthday. It seems like only yesterday...

But it's true: Our little guy is 2! Grandma's giant birthday box of new books to read arrived the same day that she got to town. She also tracked down a classic Raggedy Andy doll, which is now displayed on the book shelf in the boys' room. Love it!

Grammy and Grampy sent a singing Elmo...and while it does talk, the volume is controlled by how hard (or soft) you squeeze his tummy. Lucky for us, Knox hasn't figured that out yet.

Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa's singing Tigger card was a hit. He played it over. And over. And over. And over. And over. And over...

But Daddy (as usual) scored the homerun.

We took him to the park down the street to surprise him with his "motorcycle."

It took him a few tries to get used to it, but now he rides just like Grampy.

That evening, we had a little get together at the house. It was a combination meet and greet for Thane and we served cake for Knox's birthday, too. Miss Jeriann and John came, as well as Vickie & Louie, Laura & John, Pete & Little Pete and the Howell Family.

Both boys received lots of wonderful gifts and we are truly thankful to have such thoughtful friends.

And, since it's my blog, I'm going to toot my own horn because I am pretty darn proud of the cake I made! Knox is very much into Sesame Street and The Count, so I thought it was only fitting.

I found some clear piping gel at Michaels and added the color. Ma found a kit for me with a piping bag and several differnt tips when she was here. I drew it freehand while looking at a picture I found online. It took me back to my cake-decorating days at Dairy Queen. Not too shabby!

And, from the looks of it, it didn't taste too bad either. Happy 2nd Birthday Knox Paulson! We love you more than words can express.