Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Labor Day in Livermore

We had a great time in Livermore over Labor Day weekend, celebrating our 5-year anniversary and introducing Alice to many of our family friends. Here are some of the highlights!

Alice's first swim! 

Alice hung out and took a cuddle nap with Grandma & Grandpa before hitting the baby pool.

Alice with baby Eli and his dad, Jonny.
In addition to introducing Alice to our good friends, the Meeks, we got to meet their baby, Eli - his mom, Kristen, and I have been friends since the first grade. We've decided Alice should marry Eli and we're going to devote our lives to orchestrating awkward encounters designed to guarantee that they fall in love. In the first of many such situations, Eli brought a flower to introduce himself to Alice for the first time. At two months older, Alice is really robbing the cradle here. I have it on good authority that she likes younger, bald guys.

Alice and Eli got some love from their aunties, Shannon and Marnie. And Alice was dwarfed by her uncle Cameron, or as he is affectionately known, Uncle Sandwich. 

Two happy, little families. Future in-laws...? 
We had a great time and can't wait to share all of our favorite Livermore activities with Alice. Next time, wine-tasting??

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Growing Up Senge: The meaningful and the mundane

Welcome to our new family blog! Since we have a new little addition, I thought this would be a great way to share photos, videos, and news with our loved ones wherever they are - especially since Alice will grow and change so much, so fast.

Jon's been a Senge his whole life and I'm relatively new to the game, but we're both still growing into all of our ever-changing roles and titles. We're still growing up, always learning how to be grown-ups. We're learning how to be adult children to adult parents, and an adult brother and sister to our adult brothers and sister. Every day, we learn more about how to be a husband and a wife, how to be a better team. Now we both get to learn what it means to be parents, to raise a new generation. In our house, we're all growing up Senge.

In case you haven't met us all, here's the whole family!

Jon grew from that adorable little guy into this adoring husband and dad to his three girls (wife, daughter, and special little cat).

That little mini-me grew up to have her own little mini-me.

We're having so much fun watching Alice grow bigger and stronger and learn new things to do and new ways to play. Each new development and discovery is a revelation for all of us.

Our kitties, Eli & Marceline, round out our little family. They were born two years ago (on our anniversary, we decided - since we don't know the exact date), on the back of a sewer pump truck in the backstage area of Tomorrowland at Disneyland. They were being cared for at Disneyland's backstage stable when I happened to pass through on a tour. I couldn't resist having (feral!) cats from Disneyland, and my loving husband indulged me because he's got "nothing against" kittens.

We wanted to give them Disney-inspired names without being too obvious or cheesy. Walt Disney's middle name was Elias and he modeled Disneyland's Main Street after his idealized memories of Marceline, MO where he spent his childhood. The names suit them wonderfully and they really grew into them, though we use a variety of nicknames as often as not (Eli, Baby Guy, Marci, Marci-pants...).

They were only 3 1/2 weeks old when we brought them home. We fed them kitten milk formula from a bottle and helped them use the litter box. They grew up to be the sweetest, most devoted cats we've ever known with such unique and distinct personalities. We can't remember our life before them and couldn't imagine our lives without them. 

just 4 weeks old
always touching each other and/or one of us

Eli's a crafty little guy.

We do not indulge Marci's penchant for adult beverages.

So that's the cast of characters featured in these tales from suburbia. This blog will be a place where I can collect my thoughts and share the adventures in our journeys through parenthood and childhood. It will grow along with us and change to reflect where we are as a family. I intend to post often and to keep a good record of our lives as we navigate our new relationships and responsibilities. I hope that keeping these chronicles will further remind me to notice and appreciate every moment, to record and reflect on both the meaningful and the mundane.

Don't forget to visit our photo and video galleries to see all the latest and greatest photos, including the ones we post here. Those links are always accessible from this blog - at the top right, below my profile.

I hope you enjoy hearing from us. Please visit often - comment, share, and keep in touch!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Happy Five Year Anniversary!

Five years ago today, I became the happiest girl in the world. Here's a little look back at that day, and some of the memorable dates leading up to it.

Late August, 2003 - Jon & I first meet. Some of our initial interactions are inspired by a shared love of Disneyland's FANTASMIC! show music.

November 21, 2003 - our first date.

Thanksgiving, 2003 - I want to tell my parents that I know I want to marry Jon but I know they'll think I'm ridiculous, having only just had our first date. I say nothing.

April, 2004 - Jon asks where our relationship is headed, I reply that I want to marry him and have his children (check & check - Alice is born almost exactly six years later). Obviously, he continued to date me...

October 23, 2004 - During a planned evening at Disneyland, on our way to the Haunted Mansion, Jon suddenly detours to our favorite FANTASMIC!-watching spot and drops to one knee. Despite knowing that he'd been out ring shopping with my sister that very afternoon, I am completely shocked. I of course say 'yes!'

September 3, 2005 - Jon & I spend the day celebrating our love and marriage with so many wonderful family and friends. There were so many special aspects of that day, but my very favorite was the music that Jon arranged and composed. You can see more photos from the celebration here.

 I get buttoned into my dress.
Jon conducts a rehearsal of his music.

Ready for the rest of our lives.
Since the wedding, we've traveled to Orlando, Seattle, Alaska, Michigan, Italy, Paris, and Amsterdam, found jobs we love, bought a house, hand-raised two kitties, and had a baby. We are incredibly blessed to have everything we'd ever hoped for in just five short years of marriage. I can't imagine what the future will bring!

We observed our anniversary last Sunday since we have other things planned for this weekend (I hope to post an update and some photos next week!). Since there aren't any real French bistros handy, and Alice probably wouldn't enjoy herself if there were, we spent a leisurely afternoon and evening cooking and enjoying a French meal at home. I made onion soup, pepper steak, and an amazing chocolate-fudge cake. It was a lovely meal and a lovely way to celebrate, I think we'll remember it very fondly for years to come. Here's hoping for 70 more years of wedded bliss!

Five years ago: a gorgeous wedding cake
This year: an elegant, homemade gateau

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wrapping up maternity leave

Tomorrow is my last day of maternity leave alone with Alice before I return to work on September 23, which means no more of this for me:

Marceline tries to make more room in my lap.
After the upcoming holiday weekend, our lives are going to change pretty dramatically.

Starting next Wednesday, Jon will officially start his new gig as a work-at-home dad. We'll have just two weeks to devise and implement a new schedule and make the transition before I head back to the office full-time. Our plan is that he'll get up at an ungodly hour to get about 6 hours of work in before I leave for the day. I'll be on baby duty until I head out and then Jon will spend the rest of his day caring for Alice, squeezing in the rest of his work while she naps (or after I get home, if necessary). One day a week, our wonderful parents will take over while Jon spends a day at his office.

This may not be easy for any of us, but the benefit of having a parent home with Alice is a huge motivator to make it work (not to mention what we'll save in child-care costs). I hope the close bonds that everyone will form with Alice and the joys of being able to fully nurture and participate in her development are rewarding enough to make it worthwhile for all. I'm looking forward to plenty of lunch dates and photo and text updates that I wouldn't get from a day care center.

I am so thankful that Jon is such an involved dad, willing to taking on such a challenge. I'm beyond thankful that we have such supportive parents. More than anything, though, I am immensely grateful to Jon's team at Alfred Publishing for being so flexible and accommodating. With so many technological tools at our disposable, it is becoming so easy, effective, and economical to work outside of an office. Especially in these uncertain economic times when companies may not be able to offer raises to their workers, quality-of-living benefits like allowing your employees to work from home or take unlimited vacation days (like this company does) can be a huge boost to morale and productivity. I hope this is something we'll see more and more often as companies look for ways to both streamline their operations and offer creative benefits that aren't a drain on the bottom line.

So next week, we'll be getting up every morning and practicing our new normal to make sure we can all function as needed. Cross your fingers for us and send along any insight or experience you have to offer!