Monday, December 31, 2012

Taking Stock of Twenty Twelve

I'm lying in bed with Zahra lightly snoring on my chest, Sam at the neighbors house fortifying our Mahncke Park relationships, and Zayd long since asleep. Perfection.

What a wonderful year.

Zayd turned one and I got to throw the party of MY dreams. Sam has already warned me that there will be no more fruit or vegetable parties in Zayd's future. Our son has favorites now and that will dictate our party themes for the next ... 17? ... years. This makes me wonder how long I will get to throw birthday parties for the lentil and lollipop. I had never considered that it is a really finite number until that last sentence.

Sam and I escaped to Europe, living like the young adventurers that we are or at least used to be.

Zahra is definitely a highlight from the year.

Not only did Zayd get a new sister but I did too!

We hired an architect to design the bathroom of our dreams. And she did!

For what I honestly believe was the first time in my life, I slowed down the pace of my life. As a family we have spent every weekend since the end of September in our own home. That is the longest I have ever gone without packing a suitcase since I left.for college in 2001. I consider it a real sign of growth for me.

We attended the first ever labor day bash with my best bryn mawr ladies and company. It was a highlight and something I hope to recreate again and again.

We took Zayd on his first trip to New York!

I made/grew some wonderful friendships with a few lovely Mahncke Park mamas. To be honest, I (we!) put down roots outside of Houston. I must really be growing up!

So, what's in store for next year? I feel slightly uninspired in the resolution department but here are some I have and some I stole.

Give warm greetings and farewells in our home.
Figure out a way to display the photos I keep ordering. Then implement it.
Learn how to use my new DSLR.
Print this blog in a book!
Get real about having date night!
Build the bathroom of our dreams.
Teach Zayd about giving and charity. I think he's ready.
Be a better friend. When I think about the people I love, there is no one outside my children, husband and parents that I think I work hard enough to earn and keep the relationship. I have so many people that I love dearly and fail to show it month after month, or in some cases day after day.

Eeks. It's midnight and I am pretty terrified about all this fireworks  ruckus and my sleeping babes. Wish me luck - I'm outnumbered!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A moment to reflect

My house is quiet after a whirlwind couple of weeks. Thanksgiving blended into fake labor, into actual labor, straight through to Christmas and here we are. Mom and Sam are at the movies together which makes me giddy for about 1000 reasons. My kids are sleeping and there is the last little piece that makes it all perfect. I can't imagine the last few weeks without Sam on maternity leave and my mom here to cook, clean, and hold my screaming newborn, but being alone snuggled with my Zahra on my chest is wonderful. A wonderful change of pace.

I have watched our Christmas video about a half dozen times in the last hour. How silly is that? I've been with these kiddoes and Sam 24/7 for about 16 days and I've spent nearly as much time with my amazing parents and what do I do while they are all out or sleeping? I watch videos of them. Ha!

Thoughts on the last few weeks:

  • Zahra screams through nursing sessions especially during the day and most especially as we move into evening. I am counting down the weeks until 3 months, when her stomach will be much more mature. I have started substituting coconut milk for skim, daiya cheese for the good stuff, you know the drill. I am not going full dairy free and definitely not elimination diet bound yet but we will just play it out and see. I would say her stomach is significantly better than Zayd's but something is up. I think the amount of hysterical screaming associated with gas and nursing is on the upside of normal. To that end, I am also setting up an appointment with a lactation consultant. We have a lot of choking and sputtering during nursing and that might be something that we can fix. There is also a lot of talk around this house of a possible reflux diagnosis but I am the last hold out in the "she doesn't have reflux" camp. In the end, I think Z1 never had it despite the diagnosis and months of prilosec, but we will see. If we test everything else, have a professional tell us that the screaming is abnormal, then we will let the pediatrician decide. Maybe newborns are supposed to scream hysterically while eating. I've never had a healthy stomached newborn to compare it to. (I have noticed that the neighbors' babies nurse and fall off to sleep...lets just say that Zahra is considerably NOT falling asleep while nursing.)
  • Zayd is amazing. He just astounds me everyday. I want nothing more than to spend time with him. It makes me happy and helps me get through the tougher times with the littlest Mammen to be rejuvenated by a little play time with my tot. I know a lot of moms have trouble with their toddlers when the new baby arrives, or even have trouble connecting with the older one. I am probably veering in the opposite direction, if anything. He can do no wrong. Maybe he hit the baby, but he was the baby last week and it must be so hard on him. Ha ha. I am wayyyy to soft.
  • Zahra, like her brother, is so very alert. She can look right at you and is already amused by things. She LOVES the slats from the blinds and is interested in the fan. I can't wait to see what catches her eye next.
  • Zahra hasn't lost the full coat of hair on her temples and shoulders but I am happy to announce that her eyelashes have doubled in length in the last week. I am going to go out on a limb here - this girl is gonna be gorgeous!
  • Zahra snores and Zayd has started talking in his sleep. It is simply adorable on both counts. Its amazing because a few short months ago, I was afraid Zayd would never start talking and now he is busy babbling away in his dreams. I ask him every morning if he had any dreams. He almost always says yes but I have yet to hear about one. (I am using hear loosely as it would mostly be pantomime.) It is hard to know if Zayd has any idea what I am asking him.Only time will tell.
  • I married the best dad the world has ever known. It's for Sam to tell you about how amazing he is with our kids so I won't particularly go into it. I could go on for days. But he amazes me everyday and I couldn't ask for more. Honest to God. I never would have guessed how much was in him when I met him, when I married him... Even the dad he is today blows away the amazing dad I could have written about three weeks ago.  Blessed. The Z's and I are blessed.
Here is a bit of advice one mom to the next:
When you feel like maybe you aren't doing it all right, send everyone out, snuggle up with a baby, and watch a Supernanny marathon - you have never felt like a better mother.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas from the Mammens

We had a wonderful tiny Christmas this year. One that was a first in many ways.
  1. It was literally Zahra's first Christmas.
  2. It was our first Christmas in San Antonio.
  3. It was the first Christmas where Zayd cared to open gifts.
  4. It was our first Christmas without the whole Holder/Saleem/ Turner clan (and I missed them all!)
  5. It was our first Christmas featuring filet mignon. (Which you can't do with 40 people but you can with 4!)

It turned out to be a very pleasant day and felt Christmasy despite the absence of so many things (mostly people!) that I normally use to define the holiday season. We had two sessions of gift openings because Zayd didn't have the patience to open more gifts until he had played with the first round and Zahra woke up and demanded her newborn needs be met! We ate at the normal time and mommy enjoyed dairy-restricted fare while the other adults ate the aforementioned steak and Zayd snacked on peanuts. Dessert on the porch was a nice touch before the cold front blew in last night and Nani was clutch with the champagne. I like that people drank from fancy glasses, Nani and Sam like the actual champagne. Its a win win. The highlights would definitely be Zayd walking in his new cowboy boots, playing with his Montessori-inspired rainbow sorting and scooping set, Zahra in her slightly ridiculous tutu, and just having everyone together. I'm so grateful to my parents for forgoing the normal Houston festivities to help us have a little Christmas cheer just two weeks after Zahra was born. It wouldn't have been Christmas without them.

P.S. Zayd asks where his Nini is everyday. Nini is Zayd's new word for Auntie Andie.

P.P.S. If the video is too small, which I think it is, you can view it larger here

Frosty the Snowman Bathtime!

There is a blog I have been following on Pinterest all about bathtime activities for kids. Somehow it fell into my lap with all of my Montessori followings.

Here are some photos from our recent Frosty the Snowman bathtime. 

I drew up a three circle snowman outline to see if Zayd had the motor skills to paint somewhat inside the circles. He doesn't but that means we just need more fun bathtime painting activities!

He was actually much more interested in painting on the drawing I had there for reference.

You can sort of see the foam glitter snowflakes that I let him stick up whereever he liked. In the end, he wasn't tall enough to get the face or hat in place, but he did stick the three buttons right on top of each other - success!

Either way, we had fun and I got to teach him about one of Christmas's oldie-but-goodies, Frosty the Snowman. (Speaking of, I had to look up the words, because I knew about three of them...)

And here is Zahra's most recent (though sadly, unthemed, bath).

Friday, December 21, 2012

Zahra's First Bath

She took the water like a duck. Or like her big brother Zayd. (Before he started to fear all things wet that is.)

Thursday, December 20, 2012


I often say that I want four kids. My mom has seven siblings and my dad has nine so I never understood how my brother and I ended up as a duo. Four has always seemed like a perfect number - my mom is actually from two sets of four, and my brother and I were extremely close with our two cousins thus recreating the quad-effect.

Sam, on the other hand tells everyone that we are done. The Mammen family is complete.
I know I'd love more kids, but I love my husband too and so I've been rolling the idea around in my head.

With one sibling, you never have to pick your favorite. I would feel terrible if some other Saleem had come after my baby brother. They wouodnt  stand a chance! I cant imagine another kiddo that could go up against my love of my baby brother. Yes, I'm referring to the one who got married this year and will turn 28 in just two weeks - that baby. My first baby.

I've been telling Zayd a lot about being an older sibling lately. I told him how amazing it is to get to help someone you love learn about and navigate the world. And when they succeed, you feel so happy because you think maybe you helped so many years ago. And when they need help, you feel lucky to get to be that person they go to. With a sibling you get an automatic best friend, the person you will know the longest throughout your life.

I told Zayd that I have loved my brother for almost 30 years, and that I was going to have the next 60 years with him as my brother. Zayd loves Zahra now. Can you imagine the relationship they get to build over the next 100 years? It's hard to top a love like that.

You also never have to pick your favorite son or daughter, niece or nephew!

Jon with baby Zayd!

Then there is this business of having four, having a full dinner table with your siblings. I've come to realize that I'm working my way up to four, just slowly. In 2009, I married Sam and got a sister. Then this year Jon married Andrea and doubled my sister quotient. So, I'm already to three siblings, three aunts and uncles for my lemon and lollipop. And, when the time is right, we'll get another wedding and a new uncle/brother in law! That will make four. Maybe the Z's will be just as lucky in matrimony and sibling-making!

Two Christmas's ago - pregnant with Zayd!

Because when I say I want four kids it isn't particularly because I think having four KIDS sounds ideal, but having four SIBLINGS seems amazing. Maybe I give Zayd and Zahra all the siblings daddy can handle, then send them out into the world to build on what they've got.

Here's a little bit of the ones I love and count in my eternal and eternally flexible "foursome".

The original foursome!