Friday, November 28, 2014

Keene Pumpkin Festival

In mid-October we drove up to Keene, New Hampshire to see the Pumpkin Festival. I can't explain to you how excited I was about this. I just get really amped about a LOT of something all in one place. In 2013, the festival broke the Guinness World Record with over 30,000 lit jack-o-lanterns, and they were hoping for a repeat this year.

Normally Keene is a really small little town (population around 20k), so having about 4 times that many people crammed in their little town square is a site to behold in itself.

The highlight of the day for Mariah was riding in a school bus from the parking lot to the festival.  My highlight was seeing all the pumpkin headgear and costumes.

The giant jack-o-lantern tower!

 There were so many thousands and thousands of pumpkins lining the streets it's hard to really capture it, but there were some really fun carvings, like Botticelli's Venus in pumpkin form.

We went there with the Giffords; here we are escaping the crowds for dinner on a side street.

Around dusk, people starting lighting their pumpkins. It took a few hours just to get everything lit. There were official counters going around, marking X's on the pumpkins as they were counted.

When the time came, they made everybody stay really really still and quiet so as not to disturb any jack-o-lantern flames while they did the final count. This was serious business.

 There were live bands playing in the pavillion and everyone was really into it. It actually made me kind of love Halloween for a day. The whole thing totally reminded me of Punxsutawny in the movie Groundhog Day.

When we got home, we saw on the news that there were actually violent riots at the festival- we had no idea. We had seen a bunch of police cars but we thought it was just regular crowd control. We were really lucky and came right after the riots had broken out, and left the festival before things got crazy I guess. We never noticed anything.

The next day, we heard that the world record had been broken, but then several days after that we found out that too many pumpkins were disqualified for being unlit at the official count time. So, better luck next year Keene!

(And, in case you were worried about pumpkin waste, they actually have a team contest right after the festival for cleaning up the jack-o-lanterns and then they're all donated to farmers to use as pig food.) 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

On being pregnant again.

(I know, I know you all already saw this picture on Instagram but it's all I've got!)

*Skip to last paragraph if you're not in the mood to read the emotional ramblings of a pregnant lady.*

Surprisingly, after everything in the last year, it feels like this great inevitability that we would be expecting baby number two right now, and we are really really happy, hopeful, and immeasurably grateful. Of course this is how the timing would work out. But, it does feel different. Like, I don't even like using the phrase "expecting a baby" because that's not how it felt for the first 6 months. It feels like I'm pregnant and things are going well and I hope the baby makes it here safely and in good health. Also, I always hesitate in my head when I say "baby number two" because deep down it feels like baby number two came and went and I don't know what number this is. But, of course, this really is baby number two. That probably sounds silly but I can't explain it. I never thought I would have this really weird complex sadness and anxiety attached to pregnancy and everything related to it. I really do feel happy and peaceful. It just felt like I was waiting to feel EXCITED about this pregnancy, like how we felt with Mariah, and with the pregnancy after her. I told myself, I'll feel excited when we see the heartbeat for the first time. I'll feel excited if we STILL see a heartbeat the next time. I'll be excited if everything is still okay at the next appointment. I'll feel excited when I can feel the baby kicking. When each of those little milestones passed instead of feeling excited I felt relieved, and also scared of losing what I already love so much. This pregnancy has been really relatively easy, my only difficulty has been being really tired, and that's just not the worst thing in the world. Also, chasing around a toddler doesn't leave me a lot of time to sit and think about how I'm feeling and how the baby is doing. Actually, when I have a quiet moment my thoughts often drift not to the baby to be, but to the babies that were. June and August were both hard. I tried not to think about it but having due dates pass with nothing to show for it feels really crappy.

So, I didn't really feel like making a public pregnancy announcement. Not because it's a secret, I really didn't care who knows, and most people I've talked to over the last several months already knew if the subject came up. It just felt weird making any sort of public declaration about something that is only a part of a private struggle we've been going through over the last year. Besides that, I wasn't even totally convinced we had anything to announce until like a month ago. But I actually do feel excited now!! I feel like I should be taking pictures and writing down all the details of how things are going because it's fun to look back on. I just don't want to, and it's not because I don't care, it's the opposite. But hey, maybe I'll get on top of things and take some pictures and write some things down these final few months! So, that is the long version of this:

We're due on February 4 with Baby #2- another girl! 29 weeks down and feeling pretty good. Mariah talks about the "girl baby" in my tummy all the time and tries to put raisins and other little goodies in my belly button to help feed her. She knew it was a girl baby a couple months before we did, and she seemed pretty confident about it. When Mariah wants morning cuddles, she sits on my lap and says, "Good mooorning baby siiiister!" and gives me big pats on the belly. She sometimes asks to sit on my lap, facing me, and says she wants to "see baby". She'll lift the bottom of my shirt and lay her head on my stomach and give the "baby" kisses, hugs, cuddles, and squeezes. If that's not the sweetest thing I don't know what is. Mariah also thinks she has a baby sister in her own belly and every once in awhile she stops and gasps, pointing to her tummy and says, "See that baby sister moving in there?!" More recently Mariah has been grabbing at my belly saying, "Hard to reach it baby sister! Come out, play with me!" I love my two little ones with more than words can say. I already have a very special place in my heart for this little girl, the second child with an older sister.