Tuesday, December 29, 2009

White Christmas

Hi everyone. This is Nate typing. Hilary was uploading photos for a post that she intended to write later and I guess I must have hit the publish button or something before she was done. Hilary is busy at the moment and so she wants me to explain what is in these photos.


That sums it up. But in greater detail, we have here approximately 24 inches of snow covering everything in the mid-Atlantic seaboard. And I had to shovel it. And it seems like I'm the only one in Virginia who feels any kind of moral obligation to shovel his sidewalk. But I digress. The snow-shoveling habits of my fellow Southerners are not the point here--the point is the snow itself.

Snow. And a lot of it. Enough to keep roads closed for days. Enough to close the federal government two full days afterwards, and give a "liberal leave policy" after that. Enough snow to make Hilary push the stroller through the street because people are too lazy to shovel their sidewalks. But I digress.

On a happier note, snow can be lots of fun. See the exhibits below as evidence.

Here's a little snow house I built on our back porch. This is after a week of melting, by the way.
Here is our back yard as seen from the dining room.

Same location, closeup of what's right outside the door. Notice the 24-inch strait edge ruler sticking out of the snow.

This photograph was not faked. That is indeed a 24-inch strait edge ruler pushed up to the hilt in snow.

And this is the cutest little yuminess in the whole world playing in the snow.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Double Stroller Dilemma

Knowing I would want to get out with the two girls as soon as possible, I decided to get a double stroller before Emiko was due to be born. I thought. I fretted. I researched. I started to dream about them...double strollers dancing through my dreams. I even considered NOT using a double stroller and relying on my fabulous Ergo baby carrier (featured below) to carry Emiko.

But finally I decided on the Phil and Ted, which I obtained used. I won't say how much I paid for this pricy bit of metal and fabric...it is AMAZING how expensive these babies are. Below is Emiko in the bassinet seat...you have to look cosely to see her!

Here's Mayumi in the top seat. You'll note that the special 'point' of the Phil and Ted stroller is that it is neither double WIDE nor double LONG. The seats are 'in-line.' Some say the kid in the back gets the shaft...but I have high hopes.
Mayumi's paternal grandmother Rosalie (Mimi) was concerned that Mayumi might want her own baby to match mine. She kindly rushed off a package containing a baby doll complete with all kinds of accessories. Mayumi loves it (her?) and takes (and puts) her everywhere:
This is where we found her one morning:

Monday, December 14, 2009

One cute meets another

Our good friends recommended that we get a photograph of Mayumi meeting Emiko. While we tried, our shutterspeed just could NOT keep up with her wild excitement. She jumped. She spun. She laughed. She clapped. She danced. We TRIED to capture the moment but I am afraid we failed. What I DO have are a few photos that are 'classic yumi' (if you ask me) and one short little video clip.

Here we Mayumi offering Emiko Emi's own pacifer. Very considerate of her, I felt, and quite auspicious. Mayumi, you should know, is addicted to her own pacifier.

However, in classic fashion, she changed her mind shortly thereafter and tried to take it back for her own use.

Honestly, my favorite moment was when Mayumi offered Emiko, still snuggly tucked into her car seat, her favorite pink ball. That, too, we were too slow to capture on film. Here, however, we DO have Mayumi doing something she hasn't stopped doing since the moment Emiko came home: kissing her new baby sister.

Many people have noticed that most of my pictures of Mayumi are of her with Nate (and not me). This trend will probably continue--but how can I help it? Nate and his girls are so photogenic.

Emiko's Grandma Glo was very much a part of this experience, but for some reason I don't have any good photos of her with Emiko (yet...I trust she got plenty on her own camera and will send them to me shortly...). I DO have a GREAT one of Papa Astroland giving Emiko her first sponge bath at home.

Emiko so far has proved to be a very calm and contented little girl. Or are we just more confident this time? Who knows. But she is sleeping well through the night and is calm during her wakeful periods. Excellent!

Finally--just a little clip of Emiko at her first doctor's visit (and a nod to Grandma Glo who, along with Papa Astro, were HUGE helps before, during, and after Emi's birth).

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Emiko Leila Ayer, Age 20 hrs

Emiko is here!

The following is a pretty detailed description of her birth. Not for the squeamish. :-)

We decided to induce labor so that she could be born well before my parents needed to return home. I knew it would be a lengthy process; it wasn't a short one by any means last time around, and I was definitely 'in labor' when I showed up at GWU Hostpital to deliver Mayumi.

So, we checked in at 7am and by about 1pm I was experiencing quite painful contractions. I was advanced enough to make me think that I could hold on and have a 'natural' birth (although why I thought of doing that after having been induced I have no idea...). But by the time I was 'at a seven' I was in agony. If the doctor thought it could be any minute then I may have held on longer. But the positioning of Emiko's head suggested that I had some ways to go. We ordered the epidural but had it turned on 'light'--allowing me to still feel the peak of the contractions. I was still in pain but it was do-able.
Finally it was time to push. This was (by far) the worst part for me last time; I had no idea that it could take so long (it took well over an hour last time...much longer than the three pushes they show in the movies). I had been discouraged and even angered by everyone's instructions (push harder!) or encouragement (just one more like that, good job!) because it JUST DIDN'T SEEM TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Well--I ended up feeling the same way this time. Once again, I started to cry when tons of pushing seemed to yield no results and just further instructions.

But alas--it WAS faster this time. I started once, took a break, and then she was born after 25 additional minutes of pushing. Last time, Mayumi was crowing for many minutes and many pushes....but Emiko came right out more or less after she crowned. That is, she came out and got a little stuck (V. PAINFUL), but eventually made her way through.
She weighed in at 7lbs6ozs, almost one pound heavier than Mayumi! Wow. I knew she'd be larger...she felt heavier. She is 20 inches. Dark, short hair (not as much as Mayumi had) and that glorious natural suntan.

And now we have her! I feel just fine--more or less back to normal. She is sleeping, nursing, etc. We are authorized to stay in the hostpital for two nights but I'd like to go home today. It isn't very restful having someone barging in every five minutes, and I can't WAIT for Mayumi to meet her baby sister.

There you have it! We have a few pictures and a video for you to enjoy. Naturally, more will come! (But not necessarily soon...I may not have ANY time now for blogging...we'll see).

Monday, November 30, 2009

Countdown to Emiko: Part Two

Luckily for us, Mayumi has turned 1 1/2 JUST IN TIME for her baby sister to arrive...allowing her to attend the nursery at church (and give us a big break). Here she is, not so proudly displaying her nursery artwork (we could NOT get her to look up). Please note her leopard-print miniskirt (courtesy of Heba).

We also want to spend as much one-on-one time with Mayumi as humanly possible before she looses her number-one star status in our household. Thus--trips to the local farm to indulge her in her absolute most favorite thing: animals.

Christmas time in Reston (a nearby town) is quite fun. A huge tree, skating rink, and gingerbread village COMPLETE with train are just some of the features. We went over there weekly last year. This was our first 'holiday season' visit. You can't really tell but we are standing in front of the candy village and train. I ask you: have you seen a cuter Mayumi in your LIFE? The darling hat is straight from Bolivia and courtesy of one of my fabulous students (thank you Jamie!).

And what blog post would be complete without a random yumi muvi? Here's Mayumi dancing...not as vigorously as she is known to do, but definitely getting down.

In case anyone is wondering, I am just 8 days away from my due date...yay! I think I am ready for her--ready to switch from anticipation into reality. Still going to the gym, still feeling great. This probably means she's NOT coming out for a bit yet. I felt fabulous until the day before Mayumi was born so if that is any indication of how it will be this time...we may still be in for a wait.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Countdown to Emiko: Part One

We've been trying to get caught up and 'ahead' on a lot of things as Emiko's arrival approaches. One of those things was a day at the zoo which, as you can see here, really exhausted Mayumi.
We've cleaned up the yard, raked up the leaves, and jumped in them.
We went to IKEA and, amoung other things, purchased the most adorable pink table and chair set. This has allowed us to introduce Mayumi to crayons--her new FAVORITE activity.
Along with the cute table/chair combo, we FINALLY splurged on a new dresser (at least two of the drawers of our now old dresser were unoperational). Here is Nate doing a fabulous job comprehending the IKEA assemblage instructions (only half of which were included and he STILL managed it). Mayumi loves to help out her daddy.
And finally-we are trying to make our house a little more fun for the ever-adventurous Mayumi. This means trips to the thrift shop for used toys.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I feel a little like Nancy Drew.

For weeks (months!) now, Mayumi has been talking about 'bah-bees.' I knew it had to mean something as she said it distinctly and frequently. Only recently, however, she has been saying 'bah-bees' and 'Kids Club' (where she plays when I work out at the gym) together. "Bah-bees, kids club!" Over and over. So often (at least 20 times during dinner the other night) that Nate asked me to go into the Kids Club and do a little sleuthing. I felt equal to the task.

We thought it MUST mean 'barbies' but that idea was shot down when I found that they have no barbies at Kids Club. Not to be defeated, I went back in today and asked a few of the ladies who worked there to brainstorm with me. Amoung the possibilities (puppies, babies) was bubbles. Hmmmm, bubbles. I formulated a plan.

This evening, after Nate returned, I set a bottle of bubbles out on the counter within plain sight (but while Mayumi was out of the room). After some time Mayumi entered the kitchen, spied the bubbles, and shouted 'BAH-BEES!!!' :-) Nice work, Nancy.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

As always, I am in a New York state of mind

My mother and I share a love of New York City. She is one of the few people I enjoy going to the theatre with, as she is willing to analyze the shows, the actors, the music, etc. with for hours afterwards.

Thanks to the help of my darling husband, I was able to travel sans Mayumi to New York several weeks ago and meet my mother (who also made many sacrifices to make the weekend possible). We saw TWO shows: Memphis (a musical) and A Steady Rain (play). Here's a little bit about both:

We scored front-row 'student rush' tickets to this show of which we knew NOTHING about. This is where we must thank Sally Atkinson, my old and dear roommate), for guiding us. I'll let you all do your own research on this show, but I'd like to inlcude two links here--links to one of the main songs in the show. The first features the leading man singing his song outside the theatre in New York's 'Shubert Alley' as a promotion for the show opening. The second features Bon Jovi singing the same song (Bon Jovi's fellow band member wrote the music for Memphis).



Our second show was the much-anticipated A Steady Rain, starring Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman. Here I am, looking extremely glamorous, sitting out for the student rush tickets that morning. (Thank you to Amber for the use of her chairs AND for letting us stay in her flat).

I have to say that A Steady Rain is pretty grim...downright gritty, actually. And unlike other performances I've LOVED that portray a gritty life, I didn't walk out of this enlightened, inspired, or better informed. I certainly wouldn't say it was a 'disapointment,' and any true theatre fan (or lover of D. Craig and/or H. Jackman) SHOULD see it. But be prepared to be exposed to the seamy side of life.

And yes, there WAS a steady rain that night...as you can see from this photo!

Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible!!!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Halloween Cuteness

Alas, we haven't any record of our costumes on the Big Night. Nate dressed as a Gulfi Arab, I as a belly dancer, and Mayumi as a bunny rabbit (wearing her cousin Allie's old costume meant for someone 3-6 months). It really is a shame we don't have a picture (yet) of her in that costume because the leg cuffs of the costume only came down to just below her knees. Ha! We had some fun the week before carving pumpkins:

As we've enjoyed lots of warm Fall weather, Mayumi and I spent a great deal of time outside a week or so ago--much of it with our good friends Brittany and Juliette. Here we are at Clemyjontri Park in McLean.
The Farm at Frying Pan Park is another one of our favorite destinations. Mayumi CANNOT get enough of animals. She'd have climbed right into the pig pen if she could have managed it.

Sadly, Mayumi caught some nasty chest cold last week. We barely left the house (boring!) and spent lots of time cuddling (fabulous). Here are a couple of clips showing just how lackluster our little fireball was.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Adventures in Yumiland

This girl knows how to have fun! A few (or more than a few) pictures to entertain you: At Clemyjontri Park in McLean, VA.

All suited up and ready to be carried in Shanandoah National Park.

Beautiful waterfall in said park.

With our buddies in Shanandoah, L-R: Juliette (Mayumi's 'best friend'?--Juliette fell on Mayumi and accidentally knocked her down today, so maybe the bestfriendship is off...I am not sure), Mark, Brittney, Nate, Mayumi, Hilary.
An important conversation between Mayumi and Juliette in Shanandoah.

Wouldn't it be nice? Mayumi, living the good life.

With Grandpa Astroland at the Sterling Library park. Mayumi cannot get enough of these see-saw things.

Like, totally pyschadelic, dude.

Mayumi absolutely ADORES animals, especially dogs. Here she is at Lincoln Park in Washington, D.C.

Warning: no Mayumi in the next few photos (gasp!). Nate and I indulged in an anniversary weekend up where we honeymooned--the Finger Lakes region (thanks Mom, for babysitting!).

It was beautiful!
But a little cold.

And finally--Mayumi with her buddy Juliette and J's mom Brittney on the Mall in D.C.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Catching up

The fact that I need such a massive catch-up post...one that is already outdated without anything really recent...should excuse me from writing clever, detailed text. So--without any frills, this is what I've got:

We promised ourselves that when we lived in a home we'd start a garden and develop some food storage. After lots of self-prodding, we've made SOME progress. Here we have a picture of some basil and tomatoes from our garden, followed by a photo of some peaches that I canned (CAN you believe it? hee hee). We also canned tomatoes, oven-dried tomatos and basil, prepared 72-hr kits, and bought enough oats/beans/wheat to last two months. I say this not to brag--well, just a little.

Our great friends Jeoff and Rachel (featured on this blog before) threw a marvelous birthday party for newly four-year-old Bekah, pictured below. She is biting straight into her cake (and Wilks family tradition). Note the gourmet-ness of this cake--Rachel is the crepe chef and does nothing part-way. She is a Martha in the Making.
The party theme was, naturally, princesses. Mayumi was (kindly) invited, although not really a part of Bekah's peer group.

The darling Nate was nice enough to send me off to NYC for a weekend (and my NYC friends were kind enough to receive me). Here's us out front the one show I saw: Burn the Floor (feature ballroom dance).

And now for a few Yumi Muvis:

Mayumi is starting to feed herself. She's not much better now then at the time of this video (at least three weeks ago). She DOES, however, say 'please,' 'Kids Klub' (where she goes when I work out at the gym), and many other words in Arabic (I think she's brilliant).

Mayumi's closest friend (in age, at least) is Juliette. These two girls have been 'playing' together for nearly a year, but I think only recently realized the other existed. Now, they are even trying to say each others' names. Juliette has it easy; she says 'mmmm mmmm mmmm' to refer to Mayumi. Yumi, however, isn't quite up to three consonant words yet, but she's trying. We THINK she refers to Juliette as 'Jushbab.' We think.

Mayumi's favorite place to play is Rachel's house, which was created for young children (unlike ours). Here she is, with loads of other kids, entertaining themselves while their mothers are visiting teaching or being visit taught.