Saturday, June 28, 2014

Light the Night Kick Off Event - Our First Nationals Game!

For the past four years Team Cotey has taken part in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's annual Light the Night walk.  While we are a small crew, we keep growing in number, and we are proud to fund raise for and support such a wonderful organization.  Both of our children walked in their earliest days and we are already looking forward to this year's Light the Night Walk on October 18th in DC.  (Please consider joining our team and walking with us, LLS has Light the Night walks all across the US, so we could all walk virtually together!)

This year the National Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society invited returning teams to a kick off night at the Nationals and we went along!  It was an awesome night - there was a threat of thunderstorms, but they stayed to the North of us.  In typical fashion our children took fabulous afternoon naps - they slept so long that they scuppered our plans to take the Metro to the ballpark. :)

We arrived just in time to get motivated for this year's walk by hearing from two survivors about the way that involvment from LLS has improved their lives.  As team captain I developed a little bit of name envy.  The second key note speaker's Light the Night team is called TEAM RELENTLESS LEE.

If you are interested in helping us reach our fundraising goal, we would be honored to have your support.  I have included a link to our entire team's page. TEAM COTEY  I hope to update all of our individual pages shortly.  Expect another post on the three Cotey girls' first major league baseball game.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Eloise in the pool - my first water baby.

I know that this is really a "throwback" but I can't believe how much has changed with Eloise in the last two years of her life.  Wow.  They really do grow so very quickly.  Taking Isabel to the pool has brought back memories of my first swims with Eloise in Chapel Hill.

 We took the American Red Cross infants swimming lessons through Chapel Hill Parks & Rec.  I hope to enroll in a similar course with Isabel once we are finished with our summer travels.  I pushed getting Eloise into the pool right at 6 months because she was so incredibly energetic and I wanted to get her involved in things that would tire her out.

I opted to bypass early swim lessons with Isabel for a few reasons.  The main motivators were Isabel's early arrival and how unbelievably cold it was this winter.  With access to the pool in the building, I hope to replicate some of the activities with both girls.  I just have to convince Phil that he really wants to join in the fun!

My Little Mail Clerks

One of the things that I have enjoyed about our current building has been letting Eloise learn how to check the mail.  (At Baity Hill our box was at the top of the grid & it was challenging to juggle Eloise & teach her how to use the keys...something always was falling out of my arms...)

When we first moved in Eloise could barely reach the mailbox on her tip toes. In fact she insisted that the lowest box was the one to check.

In the middle of the winter she noticed the numbers and began sounding them out to make sure she had the right box.  In the new year she was able to insert and turn the key.


After her latest growth spurt she now has the requisite height and strength to check the mail from start to finish - including reaching and retrieving the mail, closing the mailbox, and extracting the key. (The key sticks a bit - it has taken quite a bit of practice to get it just right. I am impressed by her determination to master the skill.)  The preceeding two photos are a few that I managed to take a few photos the first day she checked the mail with no assistance.

Yesterday we hit a new milestone, but this time it was Isabel's.  She is no longer being carried in the building.  I am having her walk to and from the elevator, to the courtyard, in the halls and around the lobby.  Our kids don't really seem to be content with resting on their laurels.  Isabel took her new responsibility in stride and attempted to keep up with her sister.

Running to keep up with big sister.
Eloise's mastery of the task has come at just the right time for her to begin teaching Isabel.  Until yesterday, I had forgotten that this process began right at the time Eloise learned to walk.  I would let her carry the mail upstairs to keep her mind and hands occupied while she walked down the hall.  And once again I am the last one to the party.  There was Isabel, given the freedom to walk around, choosing to be right beside her sister.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

And she's off...

Isabel, at the ripe old age of nine and a half months, has decided to start walking.  She is certainly in her early days of toddling, but I am seeing a true shift in the way she moves and she is no longer defaulting to crawling, but choosing.

Eloise loved helping Isabel along as she was learning to walk.  The days of crawling are rapidly ending in our house.  Isabel certainly favors walking at this point and she has begun to truly pick up speed and loose a bit of the bowlegged walk that she has.  I was not expecting this milestone to be upon us as quickly as it was.  With her early arrival, I assumed I would have a few more months than I did with Eloise.  Both of the girls have walked before 10 months, which is both exhausting and incredibly cute.

Playing on the patio in our swimsuits.
And for old times sake:

Eloise as an early walker at the Oakwood Playground in Chapel Hill

Eloise enjoying some time at the beach with Bill and Sara.

Manassas Battleground National Park: Eloise "Ricketts" Cotey faces Eloise "Stonewall" Cotey on a fine summer day.

We are really enjoying living in the DC metro area.  The opportunities for exploration are truly infinite.  Last Saturday was a prime example of where we end up when plans go awry.  We had planned to catch the tail end of the strawberries in Northern Virginia, but forgot the cardinal rule of naps...never get in the car immediately after the baby takes a monster one!

Isabel was NOT HAPPY about being in the car.  As we merged onto Route 66 we were debating just turning right around.  Then I said, we could always do a pit stop at Manassas or Bull Run.  Seriously.  How fortunate are we that our stops along the way are beautiful national memorial parks that carry the weight of our history and the creation of a true and abiding nation.

Eloise enjoyed the Union cannons...their wooden supports made them easier to scale.
By the time we arrived Eloise had just fallen asleep.  Isabel and I jumped out and did a quick diaper change while Phil took Eloise out to examine the cannons.

Assessing Ricketts line.
Receiving battlefield instructions from her NCO.
Hiking out of a draw while discussing strategy.
We decided that we could all use a bit of a run in the grass and did a mile loop that went along the tactical highlights of the First Battle of Manassas.  It was really interesting to listen to Phil assess the battlefield.  I have always been fascinated by the nuts and bolts of the impact of war - life on the home front, the personal psychological and physical impact of warfare, the way that technology advances and wartime shifts movements forward in policy - but alongside my husband I felt the battlefields come alive in a way that I had never felt.

Isabel managed to remain cantankerous on the walk about.
The day was gorgeous.  There was a light breeze that kept us from being too hot and the sky was brilliant.

Looking back across the draw from Stonewall Jackson's line.
It was amazing to let the girls work their wiggles out in such a historic place.  We walked up quite an appetite and decided to head to IHOP and have breakfast for lunch.  Isabel proceeded to charm the pants off of all the waitresses.  Eloise and I throughly enjoyed a tall stack of strawberry banana pancakes and Isabel and Phil went straight for the eggs!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Fire Alarm!

One of the legacies of living at Baity Hill that has forever changed the things I worry about was the fire alarm.  I know.  But, do you remember the loud, super sensitive dorm fire alarms from your college days? You know, the ones that would go off at 2AM over some burnt toast or too much steam from the shower?  I always thought they were great fun...until I moved into family dorms in my 30's.

When we moved to our current apartment, I wondered how I would handle an alarm with two girls and so many floors.

On Thursday, I got to carry two sleepy kiddos down 15 flights of stairs thanks to some construction dust on our floor.

Eloise was very calm, she was concerned because of the emergency alert, but the intercom instructions actually helped her stay focused on getting organized and out the door.  (I fortunately had been waiting for them to wake to head to the grocery store.  I had my shoes on and the diaper bag and carrier next to the door - it truly couldn't have been better timing.)

Isabel was content to be on my back in the carrier.  It was nice to have a subdued alarm compared to the ear splitting alarms of the previous three years.

When we arrived at the front of our building the Fire Department was just arriving in a single engine. Eloise loved seeing them dismount, suit up and enter the building.

All in all it was a reasonable afternoon activity.  Let's just hope that we live on a lower floor if we are fortunate enough to have more kids!  We just hoofed it back to the third floor, hopped in the car and headed to the store for dinner.

Friday, June 13, 2014

First dip in the pool!

While Aunt Sue and Aunt Annie were over on Memorial Day we took our first dip in the pool this season!

Boy is the water cold!  Aunt Sue manned the camera and Eloise practiced jumping to Aunt Annie.

Isabel enjoyed her first time in a pool, but just wanted to cuddle with Mommy.  At one point I turned to Annie and said "Oh! I think I am acclimating!" She laughed and said: "Nope, you are numb!"

After a few minutes the kids were blue and the adults could no longer feel our legs.  Eloise, who I am fairly certain is part fish, kept attempting to sneak back in despite shivering!

St. Katherine's Greek Festival

Slowly, slowly we are beginning to branch out and find community!  It is amazing how the unbelievable pace of life last Summer has slowed me down.  I am a girl who takes a while to catch up - but enough is enough!  The Friday before Memorial Day I got to meet Phil's boss while we were showing Aunt Sue around the USPTO campus.  (At least one Memorial Day weekend post is owed! Mea Culpa.)  She is really nice and friendly and she clued me into the fact that we are in the middle of festival season for the Greek Orthodox parishes in the area.  One of my favorite memories of my childhood explorations of New Orleans was the time we stumbled upon a Greek Festival.  It was the first time I ever had stuffed grape leaves and began a life long love affair I have had with feta cheese.

She let Phil know that St. Katherine's in Fall's Church was having their festival last weekend.  We arrived in between nap times (the girls are stretching me these days I feel like someone is always asleep between the hours of 8am & 6pm or we are eating).  We caught the tail end of the live music.  Eloise loved dancing with the other kids.  We grabbed two pitas (chicken and pork) and some Greek fries.  We kept missing the honey balls - boy they ould go fast once a batch was ready!  Isabel and I made up for it by choosing a tray of desserts (cookies, baklava and custard) inside.

Eloise enjoying the pork sausage pita.

Isabel doing her best to eat all of the sweet treats.

Eloise has asked me to do my best to make Greek Fries.  She said - "so spicy, so good!"
 It felt amazing to be immersed in a strong community for a few hours.  Everyone was friendly and welcoming.  There was a craft and coloring area for kids that Eloise enjoyed.  Isabel had her cheeks pinched by quite a few grandmothers and the Father ruffled her hair as he rushed by, arms full of wine bottles.

We missed the timing of the Church tours and hit the road as the dinner crowd began arriving.  All in all it was the perfect afternoon treat on a really lovely June weekend!  Thanks a million Lisa!  I can't wait for the next one - I am getting some wine!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Inaugural Ikea Breakfast for Isabel

It took us a little while, but we finally introduced Isabel to a favorite family tradition - breakfast at IKEA!
Eloise patiently waiting. Isabel digging in. 

After we dined on delicious 99 cent plates Eloise settled down to a spot of counting with an abacus.
Eloise in her "office" after breakfast. 
We picked up a replacement large frying pan and some small tumblers for the girls.