Christmas 2013

What a pretty family. :-)
What a pretty family. :-)

As Christmas fell in the middle of the week this year, our schedules were thrown into something of a tizzy.  Christmas in Columbia with my family was the weekend before, we still traveled to Louisiana, MO to spend Christmas Eve with Brooke’s grandparents, we returned to St. Louis for Christmas morning so the kids could open presents under their own tree, and then we went to Hannibal for yet another Christmas celebration this weekend.  That’s all with a second trip to Columbia for Meg and I between St. Louis and Hannibal destinations so I could see a few friends of mine from high school (good times had by all, by the way).

Needless to say, while the countless presents have been welcomed by our eldest, I’m sure the constant travel and disrupted sleep schedule has strained her.  Still, in some ways, it helps us by having easy things to keep her occupied for days when she’d otherwise be making me play “sleepover” with her, or “hide and seek” (wherein she lays on the floor and considers this to be “hiding”…).  It also helped all that traveling by having a new car to drive in

Regardless, we had a pretty great trip.  We received far too many presents, but that just goes to show how generous our two families are.  Meg really enjoyed opening presents four times in a week, so getting to spread these things out over a longer period of time than usual was nice for her.  Christmas just kept on coming!

Though I knew this phase of my life was coming, it’s starting to become even more evident that Christmas is becoming less and less “for me,” at least with regards to the “magic of Christmas.”  I’m not talking about the religious aspect of the holiday, but more the shift from childhood to adulthood, where Christmas was such a big deal for a large portion of my early life.  It still is, but now, it’s more of a big deal for my kids than it is for me.  I still love Christmas, don’t get me wrong, but it’s beginning to take on a new meaning: where it’s now my job to make Christmas magical for my kids rather than make it enjoyable for myself.  I hope that doesn’t sound “bah humbug”-ish, and maybe it’s just something I need to try and work on for next year, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about.

Still, watching Meg open her presents (and Calvin in the coming years…he was kinda useless at opening things this year…) was enough “magic” for me.  It wasn’t the same, watching someone else open presents as opposed to me opening presents, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be as meaningful.  It certainly was this year.

Merry Christmas, everyone. :-)

A New Addition to the Family

Why, hello, beautiful. :-)
Why, hello, beautiful. :-)

If you go back to the post I made about our previous car, a 2006 Kia Sportage, I wrote:

We’d been discussing a 2010 Subaru Forester for awhile, largely because they hold their value substantially longer than other vehicles, they’re reliable, and they have all-wheel drive standard.  However, considering the value of our trade-in (which wasn’t much…), it just wasn’t going to be feasible anytime soon…

“Anytime soon” was accurate.  Since getting that car, Brooke in particular hasn’t been all that happy with it.  It had a few issues, for sure, and the interior didn’t really instill you with the feeling that it was a “nice” vehicle.  Still, it worked.  It drove.  It rode pretty well for long distances.  In retrospect, however, we put at least $3000 in maintenance and repairs into a car that we were still making payments on, so we never really felt secure in its reliability.

That, and it didn’t have a moonroof.  My 1993 Nissan Altima that I drove in college had a moonroof.  And I loved it.  And I missed it.

A few weeks ago, we started looking into whether it was getting time to upgrade.  Not necessarily whether it would happen now, but more questioning of when it could happen.  After making a few calls, going on a test drive, and looking into things, we ended up taking the plunge: we’re the proud owners of a 2014 Subaru Forester 2.5i.  And I couldn’t be happier. :-)

It’s fun to drive, it’s got all-wheel drive, it has Bluetooth integration, it has a rear-backup camera, it has heated seats (and side mirrors!!), it has a timing chain, it has CVT, it actually moves when you press the accelerator…and most of all…it has a spectacular moonroof.  It’s pretty tech-laden, so I’m having to read through the instruction manual on this one to get everything figured out.  It’s a nice problem to have, at least for someone like me.  Meg likes the moonroof too, but probably likes the cup holder next to her seat better.

And the plan is, she’ll get to drive it some day.  When we bought Brooke’s 2006 Scion xA new, the plan was (and is) to “drive it into the ground,” or at least as close as we can.  We’ve got about 97,000 mi on it now and had almost zero issues with it.  The one issue we did have was with the blower motor resistor, and I was able to fix that myself.  We’ll probably end up replacing it eventually, put likely not until we’re done making payments on the Subaru.  And the Subaru, we’ll keep as long as we can.  Now, for the first time, we’ve got two cars we bought off the lot, getting exactly what we wanted with the intent of keeping them for a long time.

Regardless, we’re excited!  It’s fun to drive and now we want to go on a long trip to Colorado or Yellowstone.  :-)

On Visits and Progress

Ma, Calvin and Meg
Ma, Calvin and Meg

To be honest, I can’t remember quite how long we waited before taking a lengthy-ish trip with Meg for the first time.  In Cal’s case, it was at the age of almost 5 weeks, when we took him up to Hannibal for the night, and then down to Louisiana, MO to meet his great-grandparents for the first time.  He did shockingly well in the car, despite a two-and-a-half hour drive through heavier-than-expected traffic.  If only we can keep that up indefinitely, trips like that will be a cinch…

Regardless, we had a nice lunch with Ma on Saturday afternoon and then visited with Grandma and Grandpa for a bit.  It’s great to see how their faces light up when there’s a newborn in the room to hold!  Of course, Meg is happy to entertain everyone with her various antics on these visits, and now that she can talk pretty well (relative to the last time she saw them), she’s quick to ask questions, tell stories, and sing songs.  If anything, we’re just happy Calvin and Meg both have great-grandparents to grow up with.

In other news, Cal’s sleeping has been “hit or miss.”  There are some nights where he’ll spend most of the night in his own crib.  There are other nights where he ends up sleeping on my shoulder in the rocking chair upstairs for an hour.  And still most nights where Brooke ends up lying in the twin size bed upstairs with him to coax him to sleep.

Meg’s “fussy hour” was usually around dinner time, if I remember correctly.  Cal’s appears to be a bit later than that, however it still shifts on a whim.  When he had his check up last week (he’s gained almost 3.5 lbs since birth!), the doctor didn’t think it was colic or anything.  Probably after he “finds his finger,” he’ll be able to calm himself down a bit easier.

Hopefully, that happens sooner rather than later…

Lastly, in the past few days, we’ve noticed that he’s looking around the room more, tracking people’s movements.  He likes to watch his big sister, so that’s giving her a few more “entertainment” duties.  It’s good to be able to interact with him a bit more now: not just in holding him, but in being able to talk to him and have him listen to you.  He’s growing and developing fast!

Regardless, Cal’s doing well and we’re getting sleep occasionally.  It’s about all we can ask, I guess. :-)

P.S. Sorry it’s been so long since posting.  With my abbreviated work schedule and not having two hands available to type in the evenings, blog postings have fallen by the wayside.  I’m catching up though.  Promise!

It’s Been One Week (And Change…)


Actually, it’s been more like 11 days, but close enough…

Everything’s been going pretty well, really.  Looking back, Meg was apparently pretty good that first week, too, so perhaps I shouldn’t be too surprised.  Calvin’s been letting us sleep most nights in 3-4 hrs stretches, so it’s made the transition to a family-of-four remarkably easy.  By that, I mean that when Meg was this age, we could sleep in, but now, Meg wakes up at 7:00 am, so sleeping in doesn’t really happen…

Other than that, Brooke’s been staying home with Cal this week.  I’ve been taking Meg to school at 9:00 and picking her up at 4:00, and going in to work inbetween.  Brooke has been getting to know our little boy quite well, but I’m still getting my time in.  Some days, he’s sleeping for relatively long stretches – other days, Brooke has to hold him to keep him content.

He’s already make some pretty good progress, at least with respect to gaining better control of his hands, keeping his eyes open, lifting his head for longer periods of time.  I guess I just don’t remember Meg  progressing this quickly, but I’m sure it just seems faster now because he’s our second child.  We’re even catching glimpses of what seem like smiling, even though we don’t think he’s really supposed to be doing that yet.

Regardless, we’re all doing great!  And Meg likes her baby brother.  Can’t ask much more than that. :)

Meet Calvin

calvinCalvin Andrew Linsenbardt (or “Cal,” as he will be called) was born on Monday, September 23rd at 3:54 am.  He was 7 lbs, 13 oz and 21-1/4″ tall.

Compared with Meg, this delivery was remarkably easier!  We had to induce Meg at 10 days post-due date to get her out, so the delivery was very difficult for Brooke and took a good 3-4 hrs of pushing.  This time, Brooke was able to do it without induction (though still got the epidural) and only ended up pushing for 9 whole minutes.  Craziness.

Regardless, Calvin is doing well and Mom and Baby are resting at the hospital (while I rest at home with Meg, who needs to go to school tomorrow).  As I will likely get the better night’s sleep, I suspect it’ll be my duty to entertain him tomorrow while Brooke gets a bit of rest.

Happy to help, of course.  He’s cute like his big sister. :-)

Jogging Update


A little over two months since starting jogging, I’ve completed my goal of “being capable of running a 5k.”  For the most part, I’ve been jogging 2 miles each week day, aside from holidays like Labor Day or rainy mornings (of which there have been very, very few…).

Two miles a day has actually become surprisingly easy.  After Meg started school and I started taking her with me, I shifted my morning schedule a little bit, getting up at 6:30 am and jogging for 20 min.  My pace has gradually improved, where I now (roughly) average about a 9 min mile, on most days.  By the fourth or fifth day in a row of jogging, I’m getting pretty tired, so my pace slows, but I still make sure I run the full 20 min.  Really, I’ve been pretty sure I could run the 5k for the past few weeks.  It was just a matter of having enough time (and will) to do it.

Now that the weather improved (finally), was in the mid-70s and sunny during the day, and I finally had some free time in the afternoon, I decided to go for the 5k run that I said I was going to do.  Brooke’s due date is coming up and my jogging will drop off precipitously thereafter, so I was running out of opportunities to get it done…unless I was going to get up earlier…but that’s just silly…

As you can see above, I ended up actually going about 5.38 km, so I over-shot a bit.  Shucks.

Still, I’m hopeful I can continue running most days during the week.  Perhaps I’ll need to shift to weekend jogging for awhile after “Clarence” arrives, as I’m confident my sleep will be disrupted enough such that I won’t want to do anything on weekday mornings.  Brooke picked me up some better jogging pants so, as it gets colder, I should be able to extend the routine a bit.

Regardless, I’ve proven I’m capable of running a 5k.  At least I know I can do it.

First Day Of School

DSC_0297So almost a year ago, we started looking into applying for the magnet school program here in St. Louis.  As the St. Louis Public School System isn’t exactly the best in the area (they just achieved state accreditation again, after 5 years without it), we were wary of considering that option for Meg’s education, but the magnet schools are accredited individually and all feed in to each other: once you get into one of them, you stay in the system, and your siblings are grand-fathered in.  Once you turn 3, you can enter into a lottery for a limited number of slots at various schools across the city.

To be honest, the whole process was a bit difficult to navigate, as the web sites for each school are separate from one another, each with their own procedures, etc.  Still, Brooke took care of the application to the magnet program and we entered Meg in the lottery.  She ended up getting in on the first try, getting one of 24 spots at her school, Mullanphy Investigative Learning Center.  This school is located near the St. Louis Botanical Gardens, which is about 10-15 min from our house, and halfway between our house and Washington University, where I work.  It also happens to be a “science-oriented” school, so believe you me, I’m all for it.

Anyway, Meg has been pretty apprehensive about this.  For the past few weeks, she’s had trouble being left at her old school in the mornings, as she could tell things were changing pretty soon.  She liked her old daycare quite a bit and had friends there, so it’s understandable that, even at age 3, she’d be pretty worried about starting in a new place with new people.  Still, we continued to bring it up so she’d be constantly reminded the change was coming.  We went and met her new teachers last week twice, so she was at least introduced to these new people she’d be seeing every day.

Monday was still pretty difficult, though.  To be fair, after I left her there, everything was fine and her teachers said she did a great job, raising her hand to ask questions, laying on her mat at nap time, etc.  But the act of actually leaving her there was the most difficult part.  Let’s just say there was a good deal of screaming and hyperventilating to deal with that morning.  The past few days, things have improved somewhat, though there are still quite a few tears as I leave in the mornings.  I’ve gotten a bit better about breaking away quickly, rather than lingering too long, allowing her to keep me there.  After a few weeks, I’m sure things will get better, but for now, it’s still pretty tough.

At the very least, I hope this school ends up making life easier once we get to Kindergarten.  This way, it won’t be nearly as much of a shift for her, as she’s essentially attending elementary school now, two years early (the preschool is housed in the elementary school, though the different age groups are separated for lunch time, recess, etc.).  She’s getting used to the routine, the set times for activities, the different subjects, and most of all, the yearly change in teachers and classmates.  She’d been at the same daycare with many of the same teachers and the same kids since we moved here, so while there was obviously some turn-over, much of the experience remained the same.  This new school will be much more like “the real thing,” so hopefully that helps her transition even better each year.

But it’s hard to watch how quickly she’s growing up!  In some ways, I don’t think my 3-year-old should be wearing a school uniform, wearing a backpack, and taking her lunch to school already.

I guess I’d better get used to that, too.  :-)

Biloxi Vacation

Getting our feet wet...
Getting our feet wet…

Brooke wanted to go on a little vacation this year, but wanted to go a bit early in the summer to avoid being far away from home when she’s closer to her due date.  She was also thinking this would be a good time to take Meg to “see the ocean” and experience a beach, as we likely won’t be going very far next year with a newborn.

Thus, she looked into a few options and we decided to head down toward Biloxi, MS, a place neither of us had been to before, but close to the ocean (or “gulf,” technically).  This was a relatively short trip, as we spent two days driving, and two full days actually at our destination.

We got up last week on Wednesday morning relatively early, leaving just after 6:00 am.  We expected a 9+ hr drive, based on Google Maps, most of which would be a straight shot down I-55 towards New Orleans, cutting off on US-49 at Jackson, MS.  Unfortunately, Google didn’t understand that US-49 is filled with small towns and stoplights, so our 9+ hr trip became an 11 hr trip…grrrr…  Meg stayed entertained for most of the trip, with an assortment of books, stickers, and movies, and thankfully was able to sleep for a few hours that afternoon.  In total, the trip down really wasn’t all that bad, despite the traffic lights.

Technically, we stayed in Ocean Springs, which sits northeast of Biloxi.  Our hotel was maybe 10-15 min from the nearest public beach, so we checked it out Wednesday night.  After a long day in the car, though, we grabbed a bite to eat at a local restaurant and headed back to the hotel to go to sleep (even I was asleep by 9:30…).

Fillin' my bucket...
Fillin’ my bucket…

The next day, we drove to Gulfport, where we boarded a ferry to Ship Island, part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.  After an hour (and a brief dolphin sighting), we crossed the island to the Gulf of Mexico side, where Meg played in the sand for 4 hours.  The high was in the low 80s that day and, while it was quite comfortable out on the beach in a swimsuit, it wasn’t quite warm enough to get into the water.  Then again, as Meg can’t swim yet, we probably wouldn’t have been out there much, anyway.  Still, she had a good time dipping her toes in and letting the waves chase her.

There was also a Civil War-era structure, Fort Massachusetts, to see.  It’s amazing that building has survived so many hurricanes.  There were displays of pictures showing how buried everything got during Hurricane Katrina, suggesting it was quite an undertaking to restore it yet again.  Still, it was an interesting bit of history to see while on the island.

DSC_0034 (1)
Fort Massachusetts

After we were done at the beach, we went back to the hotel for a few hours. Meg fell asleep in the car on the way back, and then fell asleep again on her bed once we got back to the hotel.  Once we finally convinced her to get up, we went to a good seafood restaurant in Gulfport and filled up on plenty of fried fish.  Pretty sure I ate enough to never eat again.

The next day was rainy, so we didn’t do all that much.  We still took some time, between showers, to hit the other portion of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, closer to the bayous.  This was your typical national park visitor center-type exhibit, complete with a video describing the history of the area, and some child-friendly activities.  The bayous were cool to see, but we didn’t observe much wildlife.  We had a good time getting Meg to help us search for alligators, though.

By Saturday, it was time to leave.  As we weren’t about to try and take US-49 again, we looked at the alternative route to I-55 by way of I-10…and as that route takes us right by New Orleans, we opted to stop in for breakfast at Café du Monde for beignets, and Central Grocery for muffulettas.  I was just in New Orleans for the annual Society of Neuroscience meeting in 2012, but Brooke hadn’t been there since our honeymoon back in 2005 (pre-Katrina).  As expected, everything was wonderful!

The rest of the ride home was mostly uneventful, though the amount of time in the car and the constant proximity with her parents had finally worn on Meg.  This was a looooooooong 11 hr drive home…but, we survived.  :-)

It was a good trip overall!  A nice little excursion for a few days, seeing new places and having new experiences.  Though Meg likely won’t remember this particular trip, we can at least point to the seashells in her fish bowl and say “you found those down in Mississippi when you were three.”

A Big Sister and Her Little Brother


We went in for an ultrasound yesterday (we’re just about 20 weeks along now) and found out that we’re going to be having a little boy this September!

Personally, I was rooting for a boy this time.  I’m a bit biased, having come from a family with two siblings, one boy and one girl, so I’m used to the dynamic between a “brother and sister,” as opposed to a “sister and sister and sister” as Brooke has (and based on the text message I received yesterday after delivering the news, Brooke’s Dad seems pretty excited to finally have a little boy to play with!).  Brooke’s just happy to be having another baby, though I suspect she’d like to have another girl someday.

In the coming weeks/months, we’ve got to go through Meg’s baby clothes and see what all we’ve got to work with.  We were pretty specific in asking for “gender neutral” baby clothes and, for the most part, I think that’s the majority of what we’ve got, at least up through the 3 – 6 mo age range.  After that, Nana and Mimi were more than happy to shift Meg’s clothes options over to the “girl” side of the ledger.  Still, I think we’ve got enough clothes to get started with, we’ll likely receive more in the form of gifts, and we’ve got plenty of time for Brooke to grab some more stuff “on the cheap” when she’s out for her nearly weekly thrift store excursions.

For the past few weeks, we’d been asking Meg which she would prefer: a little brother or a little sister.  I think “little sister” was the answer she gave most often, but “little brother” came up sometimes, too.  I think she’s ready to be a “big sister,” but clearly doesn’t know what’s coming.  We’ve been struggling these past few nights to get her to stay in her bed once we hit bedtime, as she’s apparently finally figured out that she can get out of her bed, open her door, and leave the room.  We keep having to sit at the top of the stairs to make sure she doesn’t try to escape.  And despite the fact that she’s gone to sleep 1-2 hrs late these past few nights, she’s still gotten up early (and was playing with puzzles this morning when Brooke walked in).

Granted, we’ve got a few months to figure this out, but our patience is running thin already, and we’re still getting a full night’s sleep…

Ah, parenthood. :-)

…and one more thing…

Guess what…

Remember that picture from yesterday? I strategically cropped out what was written on the shirt. :-)

Brooke’s pregnant again! No idea what the gender is yet (boyboyboyboyboyboyboy…), but the due date is September 21st, 2013 and all is well with Mom and baby.

Well, maybe not with “Mom,” as much.  She’s taken to a bit more “morning sickness” (read: all day sickness) than she did when she was pregnant with Meg, but hopefully as the first trimester draws to a close, that’ll start to subside a bit.

Still, we’re excited to add to the family!  And Meg’s excited to be a Big Sister. :-)