November 26, 2012

Bye-Bye Boston!

I'm continually amazed at how much can happen in the course of a year. This past year of my life has been spent in Boston. We moved here right after Matt and I got married last December, and our last day in this town comes this weekend. It's bittersweet to be leaving, that's for sure. Of course we are thrilled to be moving back to our hometown. It will be so nice to be surrounded by friends, family and loved ones again after what has felt like a year of near solitude. But this is an amazing city, and a wonderful place to live, if you have what it takes which is apparently a social network of peers, lots of disposable income, and a high alcohol tolerance! 

The best part about living in Boston has of course been our family here. Matt's sister Joni and her wife, Laura have been amazing to live around. We have loved every moment we've spent with them, and have made a lot of lasting memories together over our time here. Sophie and Olivia get so excited when we tell them we're going to "go see Linus"! We will miss them terribly when we leave! We are constantly encouraging them to come visit us in Utah. 

This past year, the girls have grown up so much! I look at photographs of them taken when we first lived here, and they are so different now, yet so much the same. It's amazing to watch their personalities develop, to see their abilities expand, and to see their knowledge grow! They are the greatest daughters I could ever ask for, and having been able to spend so much time with them this year has been the biggest blessing.

We'll miss doing all of our favorite things here when we move! We'll miss going to the science museum, the north point park, the "park in Somerville" aka Hodgkins-Curtin park. We'll miss Rudy's and Panza and Mike's Pastry! Oh Mike's Pastry! We'll miss the scenic and picturesque drive between our apartment and Sudbury where Joni lives. We'll miss Crane Beach, the Cambridge Side Mall, the view of the Charles from Storrow and Memorial Drive. We'll miss all of the local restaurants, shops, and businesses that make Boston feel so welcoming. 

But we won't miss Chelsea.

Living in Boston has been a wonderful experience and we certainly aren't writing off returning here in the future. For now, we're going to set up camp back in Salt Lake, and see where life takes us! We hope it lets us settle for a while at least, though!

Bye Boston. Thanks for the memories. 

November 7, 2012

Election-Season Social Media: A Lesson for My Daughters

Yesterday I voted in my second presidential election, the second that I have been eligible for. It was the first time I voted in-person at the polling locations since I had to submit an absentee ballot in 2008. What a difference 4 years makes! I don't mean politically, because I personally believe that 4 years is an incredibly short amount of time to try and turn an entire country around, I'm talking personally!

4 years ago, I sat in a hospital room, next to my husband who was in the middle of a stem-cell transplant and high-dose chemotherapy. I lived off of grilled-cheese sandwiches from the cafeteria, and diet coke (because some things don't change :)). I held Sean's hand and we watched the election coverage together, wondering how our lives would be effected by either outcome.

Fast forward 4 years, and so much has happened/changed in my life--Sean has passed now, I have twin toddlers, I am remarried to a brilliantly amazing man, have a photography business, live in Boston, and a myriad of other things!

One thing remains the same, though, and that's is that Barack Obama has been re-elected to serve another 4 years as the President of this country. My aged and worn memory doesn't reach back to 4 years ago to the comments being made on social media about the outcome of the election, but last night's posts are certainly fresh in my mind. 

All of you have seen them. It doesn't matter who you are or if you yourselves are the ones who are posting about the end of the world, the evil takeover from a sinister dictator, or your nausea induced by the campaigns, everyone has these sorts of posts constipating their news feeds on Facebook and Twitter. 

Yesterday I voted in my second presidential election, the second that I have been eligible for, and I took my daughters with me to do it. I have made it a goal of mine to take my children with me to vote each and every time. If I have to pull them out of school to do it, so be it. I have decided that as a parent, I need to be proactive about introducing this system to my children. It's not to say that my parents didn't do that for me, because I think that they did, but I do believe that my political influence came primarily from forces outside the home, from places such as school, my friends, and social media. Obviously my children will be exposed to my political beliefs. It's a hazard that comes from living with other people. I do hope to be an example to them, politically and otherwise.

Like many many others who have succumbed, I have great and sudden temptations to post my diarrhea-of-the-mouth on my timeline. I have refrained (amazingly, since I am extremely opinionated) from doing this, though, because I don't want to use Facebook as my platform. This is one of the examples I hope to set for my girls. If I want to make a statement or do something to make a difference, the way to do that isn't to gripe about how I feel to all of Facebook (after all, that's what husbands are for!). I hope to show them that if I feel the need to take a stand on something that is important to me that I will do that with civil action, and democratic decency. And even if I feel too small to physically make a difference in this vast nation, I will still exercise self-control and keep my bickering to myself. 

I want to show my daughters that it's okay to be upset that things didn't go your way. I want them to know that it's okay to experience true emotion, and that their emotions are valid. I do hope to teach them, though, that name-calling, berating, belittling, being publicly disrespectful, and shedding outright slander against those who are elected to the presidency is not acceptable behavior. And this lesson has started already, people. My twins are 2 and are the queens of tantrums and throwing fits. They are learning now that it's okay to be upset that they didn't get their way after mommy told them 'no', but that it's not okay to scream and throw a fit about it. They're learning that it's okay to be angry that sissy took their toy, but it's not okay for them to hit or push.They're learning to use their words, to share, to love, and to get back up on their feet. And they're 2.

I want my children to learn from my experience in this election--even if the outcome isn't what you had hoped it would be, it's not okay to behave like a 2 year old. It is only appropriate to behave like a 2 year old, if you are in fact, two-years old. If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. If you claim Christian values and can't behave as God calls us to, pray for yourself instead of for survival from the "apocalypse". Choose your words carefully and realize that there are people in this world who have lived through actual dictatorships, and many, many, many others who did not survive. Remember that there are plenty of things in this world that are far worse than to ask that every citizen of a country provide help and assistance to every other citizen of that country. Remember that God's message to his followers is to love one another. Not love the person who has the same skin color as you. Not love the person who has the same sexual orientation as you. Not love the person who voted for the same person you did. Everyone. Good. Bad. Right-Wing. Left-Wing. Hipster. Preppy. Toddler. Mother. Period.

You get the idea. 

November 3, 2012

2012-Sewell Family Photos

As a photographer, I find it difficult to get pictures taken of my entire family together. I have a million bajillion photos of the girls but very few of just Matt and I, and even fewer of all of us together!

Fortunately, when we moved to Boston, I met another photographer in the area who was looking for someone to take maternity photos for her. We arranged a swap--I'd take her maternity photos if she'd take family photos for us. I did her session back in April, and we finally got around to doing our family session a couple of weeks ago. 

We picked the Charlestown Navy Yard as our location. It's really an amazing spot full of Boston's rich history. As chance would have it, we did our session the day before hurricane Sandy hit, and got really lucky to find an hour before the winds really picked up. It was overcast, but bright outside, which made for some really great, even lighting. The girls were a little chilly but didn't let us put them down for most of the session so we all kept each other warm. The lady who photographed us suggested that she just give me the unedited files and let me edit them myself, and I agreed. you have photos taken by Amie Larson, edited by yours truly. 

I think they turned out great, really! I was worried about how the girls would be with a stranger all up in their faces for an hour, but they managed to give us a few smiles and to provide us with not-completely-sour-faces in the rest of the shots. In the very least, we now have our little family documented for the year of 2012!

November 1, 2012

Happy Birthday Hubby!

October 26th was Matt's 27th birthday. I'm so glad this man was born! He has been nothing short of a giant blessing in my life, and I am so grateful he is mine. I probably don't brag on him enough, and that's a big fault of mine, because he is truly amazing. How many men do you know who have the capacity to jump head-first into a family and make it fully theirs? I've seen it done a couple of times, and this guy rocks it. He does everything for our family. He works long hours, brings home the bacon (literally, he goes to the store to get bacon for breakfast sometimes), loves the girls with all of his heart, and makes his family his biggest priority. He's a genius, seriously, kicked cancer's ass (we all know how important that is in our family), and is absolutely hilarious. He's kind of a jerk, and I kind of like it, and he lets me be me. He's 1960's style, looks Uh-may-ZING in a suit and skinny tie, and never forgets to thank me for ironing and starching his shirts for work each week. He puts up with ME and loves me in spite of the fact that I'm pretty capable of making life difficult a good percentage of the time. He is always looking to better himself without being whiny or ungrateful for the blessings in his life. Oh--and he bakes. From scratch. Enough said.

I could go on and on all day about how wonderful I think my husband is. The point is, I love him and I think he's the greatest!

Here's my hubby, just so you ALL know who I'm talking about :)

Matt's birthday was on a Friday this year, and he had to work. He did manage to get off a little bit early, and came home and started on his birthday cake--a layered red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting--woot! He made the entire thing from scratch, and it was delicious! Clearly Sophie thought so too. She watched as he made the cake and the frosting. I think it's a natural human urge to want to lick the beaters or the spoon or bowl or whatever, as this child went RIGHT for them! 

Annnd the finished product. It looked messy and I was afraid it wouldn't hold up, but it did and it has!

Hehehehe! The faces that she was making were hilarious! She couldn't wait to get her hands on that cake!

 I think she liked it. Olivia actually took quite a bit of convincing to try the cake, and of course, after she did she loved it. Silly girls.

The next day, Saturday, Matt and I went out and left the girls home with a sitter. Thanks again, Colleen! I took him to the Sam Adams Brewery in JP for a tour. It was pretty awesome. While the tour was free, they did ask for donations to one of two charities they were sponsoring, and we gladly forked over a measly 10 bucks for the event. They showed us the ingredients that go into beer, encouraged sampling of the grains and walked us through a hops appraisal process. We toured the brewery floor where they have all of their fermentation tanks and what-not. Our tour guide explained the difference between Ales and Lagers, told us about the brewing process, and dived into the brand's numerous awards from competitions world-wide. Of course, the best part was the end of the tour which culminated in the tasting room. We each received a 7 oz tasting glass (ours to keep!) and then did a tasting of 3 different beers. Boston Lager was first, and it was delicious! Our tour guide walked us through a step-by-step process of how to taste beer, and it was really interesting to be so aware of the aromas and flavors and how they all come together to make that golden-colored goodness. We sampled Oktoberfest second, which was my favorite of the day, and finished with an IPA...which I so didn't care for. These were definitely the freshest beers I've had in my life. Yum! 

Haha on a side note, it took us a stupid amount of time to find our way out of the gift shop when we tried to leave. We weren't drunk or tipsy, but wandering around trying all the doors marked "exit" made us feel that way!

Our next stop for the day was the Cambridge Side Mall. Matt had been dropping gift-hints for a month or so, but kept changing his mind! First, he'd like the Amazon Paper-White Kindle for reading. Then, he'd like a new overcoat. Then we came full circle, and in true Matt Sewell-fashion, he wanted an iPad. I took him to the mall, and basically set him loose. His job was to choose his gift, and guess where we ended up at? :) 

We went for dinner at East Coast grill, which came highly recommended for their seafood and bbq. We first heard about this place by watching Man vs. Food. They had a "Hell Night" featuring one night of crazy spicy food and challenges that draw crowds each year. It wasn't Hell Night when we went, but the food was delicious. The service was crazy fast, but not rushed...and yes, there is a difference. We had an appetizer and salads, and they didn't bring them out together, which I loved. Our server waited until we were finished with one course to bring out the next, and checked in on us frequently enough to get us something if we needed it, but not enough to be annoying. It was delicious, and I'm not sure why I didn't get a picture of anything there. Oh well. Google it, if you must. 

I had fun, and I think he had fun too. :)

They're Two!

Let's be real, the "terrible-two's" started at 15 months. That's right when we moved to Boston, and it's safe to say we had a lot on our plate. But, we've adapted, learned to deal, and even learned how to have fun and get along. I love my sweet girlies SO much-- it hurts my heart. They amaze me every day at the new things they learn, how much their abilities grow, and just when I think I couldn't possibly love them more.....they throw a monster tantrum and I'm right. Haha. Just kidding. 

Their favorite things include playing with play-dough, filling buckets with toys and dumping them out, reading "bob-pop" aka Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss, coloring with crayons, watching Curious George and Caillou, eating noodles, helping mommy make cookies, and taking off their own shoes. They love going to the park, getting dressed in the morning, playing with boats during bath time, visiting Aunt Joni and Aunt Laura, and cuddling with Mommy and Daddy. They say everything, which amuses me. They are getting brave and curious, which terrifies me. They are some serious sour-patch kids--sour and grouchy or ornery one minute, sweet and cuddly the very next! I wake up in the morning to calls of "Mommeeeee, Daddeeeeee" coming from their room, and they have started addressing me as "Mommy" which I absolutely love and can't get enough of. They ask for help, say "oh no!" and say "please and thank you" most of the time. They sit in "big chairs" to eat, use forks and spoons, still wear bibs, and drink out of cups all by themselves. It's so amazing to see them interact with each other--having a sissy is one of the best things in the world...even if they take your toys and give you tackle-hugs all the time.

The girls went in for their 2 year well-child visit and got shots for Hep A and the flu vaccine. (Again, yes, we vaccinate our children, and again, you're welcome.) Olivia has lots of stranger anxiety these days and will straight up throw-down a full-blown two-year-old-tantrum right in the middle of wherever we happen to be. Sometimes it's the grocery store, or the mall, or the park, or the hallway in our apartment building. I try to curb these tantrums with pep talks about how we're going to go into the store and there will be people there that she doesn't know, but that's okay because they're shopping too, just like us. I explain to her that it's okay if they look at her and say hi, and that Mommy is here with her the whole time and if she doesn't like people talking to her, that's okay, but it's not okay to scream while we're in the store. She gets it, and she's really actually great about trying her very hardest to comply with her tattered mother's wishes. Anyway, this visit to the doctor was an hour-long tantrum for her, and it even started to upset Sophie. Sophie is very intuitive but is usually the calmer of the two. Olivia wasn't happy, so Sophie wasn't happy. In the end, they enjoyed their stickers and quick trip to the park right after, and I enjoyed their nap time as soon as we got home. 

Their two-year-old stats:

Sophie: 27.4 lbs, 35.5 inches (2'11.5")
Olivia: 23.3 lbs, 32.5 inches (2'8.5")

Olivia is finally on the "normal" curve of the growth chart, and I'm not sure if that's CDC or WHO. She's always been doing "fine" but hasn't ever reached that curve until now. I haven't been worried. 

I think their pediatrician is a little ridiculous though, and am incredibly anxious to return to Dr. Hurley once we are back in Salt Lake. At their last appointment, their 18-month check, I was told they were drinking too much milk and was instructed to cut back. So I did. Then, at this appointment, I was told they were drinking too little, and was instructed to give them more. Really? Her reason was to ensure they are getting enough vitamin D and I'm like, 'look lady, these guys play outside all the time. They have plenty of sun exposure and drink plenty of milk, I guarantee they are not vitamin D deficient...not even close'. I'm not a believer in milk, I don't drink it myself, and I really only give it to them because they like it. 

We had a small birthday party for the girls here, but I'll post about that in a separate post (with pictures, of course). I did a photo shoot with them, and it was incredibly challenging. At one point, Olivia toppled down some steps and landed on her head. That was an event. Matt helped me out, got them to smile some, and we just got it done. I think they turned out decently, although truly I'm not in love with this session. As their mother, I know they can do better. As a photographer, I think that given the circumstance of trying to photograph TWO toddlers together, the photos turned out pretty well. I think I was able to capture their personalities a bit, and will always treasure these photos as reminders of this stage in their lives.