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Author: Eric

Pork Pie Thighs

Pork Pie Thighs

Happy New Year, Peeps!

Here we are, 2013. Seems weird to say that. But what seems weirder is the fact that Eloise is now 6 months old! Time really does fly. You would think that all that lack of sleep would seem like the days move like molasses; and some days they do. But it’s mostly been a fun-filled 6 months.

One of the best things is to see just how different she is from Frances. Frances was fiercely independent from the get go. She was also extremely persistent and determined to do things on her own. It’s one of the reasons why I think she crawled right at 6 months and was walking before her 1st birthday.


Eloise is a different animal. She wakes up in the middle of the night for no reason other than to be held. And that’s fine, BTW. It sucks for us, but she melts away any ill feelings when she lays her head on my shoulder and goes back to sleep. Who could deny a loving shoulder when needed? And even when she wakes up in the middle of the night, she still doesn’t sleep late. It usually doesn’t matter if it’s 7pm or 9pm when she goes to bed… It’s always a 5am wake up call for us. We can’t seem to figure it out. We think it may be an enthusiastic train horn at that time, but trains go by all the time, so who knows?

Frances sleeps like the dead. It’s 12 hours for her, and don’t wake her up before then or you get either A: the stare of death, or B: the most confused look a 2 year old could give. And the hair is awesome. Think Nick Nolte mug shot great.

So let’s move on to some milestones. Eloise is finally getting teeth, and she’s not pleased. In fact, she’s pissed. But I suspect she’ll get used to them soon enough when they completely poke through. I think we are about there. And yes, we figure that’s also one of the reasons why she is getting up in the middle of the night. It’s not our first rodeo, you know.

She’s not quite ready to crawl yet. She has the determination. She can pivot left or right and roll over to get where she needs to. It’s her legs that fail her, but I think it will be soon. I can see the wheels turning, and when she figures it out, look out! 2 mobile kids in this house will be our ruin.

She went for her 6 month appointment and we found out she is almost 18 lbs and is 26 inches long. Frances at that age was thinner and taller, and I suspect that is why she crawled a little earlier. Eloise and her pork pie thighs just aren’t long enough yet.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m pretty scared of this Flu “epidemic” everyone is predicting. Frances brings home EVERYTHING from day care, and I know it’s a matter of time before the flu follows her home. She’s already gotten Roseola and a wicked cold, which, thank you very much, I caught both as well. What say you? Adults don’t get Roseola? Oh yes they do, especially if they never had it when younger… And let me tell you, it sucks. Sucks big big. The extremely itchy rash was the topping on the 7 days of aches and fever. And you know what I got in return?.. A cold like a week later. Which lasted 3 WEEKS! Thanks, Frances. You are the best.

Speaking of Frances… Cross your fingers, but it looks like we are about to turn a corner on potty training. The key was to just put panties on her and clean up any accidents. So far, as of this past weekend, she’s been asking to go potty with very few accidents. It really looks like she is getting it. Momma and Dada are so very very happy.

Eloise is also eating food now. We’ve tried carrots, sweet potatoes, pears, and apples. Mostly we mix it in with her rice cereal and she loves it. She is still breast feeding, and hope to go as long as possible.

That’s it, folks. Another year has begun and we are happy to share it with everyone. Keep checking in!

Is it December already?!?

Is it December already?!?

Well, well, well. What do we have here? It’s freaking December, of course! November just flew by didn’t it? Everyone got their Christmas shopping done? It’s about that time, you know. Us? Heck, no. Who has the time? Certainly not us. Proud parents of two very time-consuming girls!

So let’s catch up, shall we? First off, who knew having kids is like constantly licking a Petri dish laced with the cold virus? The sickness never ends. One kid gets sick, then it starts to spread to each of us one at a time (Including us glorious parents), and then by the time it’s made it’s way to the last person, the first carrier is sick again. This time, no doubt, with some mutated variant of the first cold. I feel like any day now someone in a haz-mat suit is going to burst in and quarantine the whole area. I think I’d actually welcome that some days. “Yes, officer, see that one rubbing her snotty nose with her hand and sticking it in her mouth? Take her away before she touches the baby!”

But I digress. If wishes were fishes the sea would be full…

Eloise continues to grow and become increasingly entertaining. Her smiles and laughter are commonplace now. She’s a joy! For the most part…

Let’s explore the mind of a child:


“I really like it on my back. I can see up and around and even reach my fingers in my mouth easily. Oh, hey! There’s my feet and toes. I wonder what they taste like. I’m sooooooo happy right now. Hey, I wonder what would happen if I roll on my tummy? Let’s see… okay, here we go…. Oh shit, shit, shit! I hate it, I hate, Turn me over, turn me over, NOOOOOOOOOO, it’s like the worst thing ever! I’ll never do it again, dad, I promise!!!!!”

Approximately 2 seconds later after I turn her over on her back again:

“Hmmmm…. I wonder what it’s like on my tummy? Let’s try it!… NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!”

Rinse and repeat about a thousand times a day, and several times in the middle of the night.

Yep, pure joy!

Okay, I know I sound like I’m being negative. But I’m not. It’s just part of being a parent. It’s reality, folks. Deal with it. Having kids is not all rose pedals and unicorns. It’s getting poop on your hands and vomit in your hair. But if this really is the extent of our problems, then we have it pretty easy. Certainly easier than some of the other parents we know. Triplets, anyone?

So let’s continue airing the dirty laundry, shall we?

Frances is in the middle of her terrible twos and believe me, I totally get why they call it that.

She has gotten so great at communicating to us what she wants. I don’t know if she’s advanced or just on the normal spectrum, but she knows A LOT of words and how to use them. The downside to that is while she is so happy that she can communicate exactly what she wants, it’s equally devastating when we tell her no to what she wants. She is mastering the “pouty-face” though. However, she has a lot of work to do before it melts this heart of stone!

Not kidding, guys. The other day she said with great clarity and deliberation: “Dada, I want a puppy”. She’s 2 and a half, mind you, and these are the things she wants already.

We are still working on potty training. Some days are great. We sit her down and she goes. High fives and fist bumps all around. She is so proud of herself. Then other days she looks at the potty like it’s a flesh-eating monster with its mouth gaped open, ready to swallow her up. BTW, she hasn’t told me this is the reason, but it seems reasonable due to her reaction some days.

It’s not all poop and vomit. Those two are my everything (Frances and Eloise, not poop and vomit), and I wouldn’t trade them for anything… MAYBE a good nights sleep, but that’s it.

Christmas is almost here, and Frances is really enjoying the holidays. Our neighborhood is a little out of control with the outdoor decorations, and everyone seems to be trying to out-Griswald each other. They seriously have a problem. We however, managed to barely buy a tree and decorate it. And oh what an accomplishment that felt like. Stringing lights up outside and propping up annoying flashing reindeer seem only possible if I could stop time or at least slow it down. Hey, now you guys know what you can get me for Christmas.

Frances loves it all; garish as it may be, and I admit I can’t wait until she unwraps her gifts. She doesn’t NEED anything of course, but you always want to give them the world just to see the smile on their face… She still isn’t getting a puppy though.

So let’s leave it at that. The New Year is a few weeks away and 2013 begins. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us. Eloise will soon crawl, then walk, and hopefully at some point, Frances will be wearing panties!

Happy Holidays, everyone!
Eric, Annie, Eloise, Frances, and Dexter.

Fall is here

Fall is here

I suppose it’s time for an update friends and neighbors.

Taking the girls to the pumpkin patch
Taking the girls to the pumpkin patch

It’s almost Halloween and Fall is here. The girls are growing up faster than I can document. Frances officially started going to daycare twice a week and has since proceeded to get sick every week. No Joke people… Every. Week. I encourage everyone to send their kids to daycare. You gotta boost that immune system before they start Preschool, you know!

I’ve never been shy about describing Frances as extremely outgoing. At the grocery she would always say “hi!” to everyone, and now tells them to put the item back that they just put into their cart by saying something like: “No man, put it back!” She’s awful bossy, she is. So we thought she would LOVE day care. We were SOOOOO wrong.

She hated it… At first anyway. The first 3 weeks, besides getting sick, she would cry when we left her, and inexplicably cry when we picked her up. Normally she is a chatterbox, but she wouldn’t talk at all there. We were extremely confused. It’s like she couldn’t believe we had the audacity to leave her alone with strangers! But little by little she broke from her shell, and now everyone loves her there! The other day one of the kids there said “Wow, Frances can talk!” Progress, my friends… Slow and steady.

We also decided to enroll her in gymnastics. It’s just for toddlers, so she’s not doing anything too fancy. I doubt we’ll have the next Gabby Douglas. I’d rather have the next Janis Joplin (sans Southern Comfort though). But anyway… She loves it and has already developed a bad-ass high five and fist bump. So she’s halfway there I suppose.

Eloise is growing like a weed. She is almost 15lbs! Getting her to take a bottle while Annie went back to work was tough. Frances was so easy to switch back and forth, but for some reason Ellie was not into the bottle at all; even though we are still using breast milk.  However, 2 days later all was well. Now if we can just get her to sleep through the night!

Yeah, that’s right. Eloise is still waking up. Granted it’s not every night. And thank God last night she slept all the way through, but again, by the time Frances was 4 months old, she was sleeping 12 hours straight. Eloise is going to bed sometimes at 10pm and waking up between 2am and 4am. We try not to feed her during the night and usually I’m the one that goes in and comforts her. One whiff of Annie and she’d probably start screaming louder for milk. Not cool, Ellie, not cool at all. Daddy and mommy are too old to be getting so little sleep. And that’s part of the reason why updates have been few and far between. We are exhausted 24/7. Well, I am at least. Yesterday I went to the kitchen to refill my coffee mug and discovered that in addition of putting the half and half back in the fridge, I had also put the coffee pot in there. Good times. Iced coffee it is, I guess.

Let’s face it people. Managing two kids is like herding cats. It’s a constant balancing act, and I don’t see how any single parent out there does it. And let’s not forget that our children are like sponges. Frances repeats things verbatim we said a week ago and had already forgotten about. And not to mention the curse words. Perhaps the hardest part of a parent is censoring what you say around them. It’s hard, damn it… Don’t worry, Frances is napping.

But I love them dearly. Frances is such a character. Immensely funny, and super-smart. Eloise smiles now every time you pick her up, and if you try a little, you can get her to laugh. She loves Frances, and Frances loves her. They are great sisters, and great daughters. Now if only we could get Frances potty trained and Eloise sleeping, it would be like paradise.


Celebrations, and other things…

Celebrations, and other things…

Good afternoon, readers,
We are slowly reaching Eloise’s one month birthday. In those short few weeks since she’s been born, many things have happened, with sleep being the lowest on the list. But I yawn, and digress…

One is Frances and the other Eloise... Can you tell the difference?
One is Frances and the other Eloise... Can you tell the difference?

Let’s catch up, shall we? First of all, after Eloise was born, Annie and I looked at each other, nodded, and said goodbye to any hope of a good night’s sleep for awhile. We were sad to see it go, and hope it returns again someday. In its place? Coffee… Lots and lots of caffeinated coffee.

Anyway, where was I? New baby… that’s right. To help out a bit, my parents made another trek across the country to see us. This time it was in a 2011 Ford, not a 1930’s Model A Ford. And this time it was straight here, and not to Alaska and back.

They were a great help. My dad and I concentrated on things to do around the house… Oh, did I mention we moved? In Annie’s last month of pregnancy we got a wild hair to buy a new house. I won’t bore you with details, but we stumbled upon a great opportunity, and couldn’t pass it up. We are now just a few blocks from Annie’s parents in Hughson. We still have our other house, and no, we didn’t move because we couldn’t make the payments. We are both in the black, and with this new opportunity we have a chance to rent the old house and make a little on the side. Win, win.

But then we had a new house that we needed to move into. Crap, was that not fun. You can’t imagine just how much stuff you acquire when you think you’ve settled down for good. So here we were, a month from a new baby, and me and Annie’s brother single-handedly moving an entire house across town by ourselves. Fun, fun. Thanks, John. Without your help we would still be moving… It took us little by little, but we are finally in the new home, and we love it. It’s bigger and the floor plan is better laid out than our other house. The backyard is humungous and Dexter loves it.  Also having Annie’s parents so close now has been a blessing, and very helpful. But new houses come with problems. Like: The backyard isn’t finished; it’s just a gigantic dirt field. No ceiling lights/fans were installed. Etc…

So with my dad here, we were able to tackle a lot of the problems. The biggest was a shed to house all of my tools and yard equipment. We basically went to Lowes and looked at their sheds and wrote down all the wood, shingles, nails and tools we would need to copy one. It took us several days of 100+ degree temps, but we persevered and before he left we had a kick-ass new shed built, AND at a fraction of the cost if I had had one installed. Most of all it was great spending time with my dad and learning some new wood-working tricks. I’ve learned so much from my dad over the years, and his ability to problem solve using common sense is the quality I hope I’ve absorbed the most. I really don’t think there is much he can’t do if he set his mind to it.

My mom was great too. She helped babysit Frances, and every night cooked us dinner. Before we could turn our heads, she had the dishes washed and everything put away. I think I miss that the most now that’s she’s gone. It was also great to have them here to see me play a gig at the Stanislaus County Fair. My parents hadn’t seen me play since I left Kentucky, and it was nice to see them in the audience cheering us on. If anyone is interested, my band is called River Rising.

So they left and we attempted to get back to normal. Yeah, right… Eloise was sleeping a little better, but multiple times at night she still needed to be changed and fed. She reminded us of that with her very loud crying. Somehow I don’t remember Frances being that loud. In the past week though, Eloise has been sleeping much better. The last few evenings she has slept 4-5 hours straight each night. That has done wonders for our productivity. Like for example, this new blog post! Annie is a milk making machine, and Eloise is drinking like a champ. I suspect that’s why she is sleeping better. At the 3 week weigh in, Eloise weighed 10.5 lbs! We call her Bubba now.

Happy 2nd Birthday!
Happy 2nd Birthday!

You may ask now, “How is Frances doing?” Well, she is doing great! On July 22nd, Frances turned 2. Those 2 years flew by so fast. In fact, July was full of celebrations. I had a birthday on the 10th, Frances had her birthday, and Annie and I celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary. We couldn’t be happier. I love my wife very much. She is a great mother, and even though I try to help out, I know she has more than she needs on her plate right now. She’s a champ though, and I can see the love in her eyes for Frances and Eloise (and hopefully me!) each day.

We want to thank everyone for their kind words, cards, gifts, etc… You have been great to us, and we appreciate it.

Until next time…

Eloise Hazel Akers

Eloise Hazel Akers

After nine long months, Eloise Hazel Akers is finally here! For those that remember the difficult birth that we suffered through with Frances, this labor was the complete opposite.

Just a reminder, there is a photo gallery at the end of this post.

It all started about a week before the due date. Since Annie was induced during the first pregnancy, she was a bit confused with some of the labor signs she was getting. Were they real contractions or just the false ones called Braxton-Hicks? It was clear that she was uncomfortable, and Eloise was taking up A LOT of room. Our due date was the 2nd of July, but of course we never made it that far.

On the 22nd of June, Annie felt like the contractions were consistent, but not very strong. Her doctor told her to go to the hospital to get checked out. We went and of course baby wasn’t quite ready. Annie was dilated to 2, and really thinned out, but the nurses said it could be tomorrow or it could be another week… and another week it turned out to be.

On Friday, the 29th of June, we went out for Thai food with Annie’s brother and his wife Sara. We joked saying that the spicy food would help pop the baby out, and Annie told Sara to have her phone ready cause the baby was going to come that night at 2am. Annie turned out to be a prophet, because at 2:15 am Saturday morning, Annie’s water broke in bed. Now that is a story for another day, but suffice it to say, that was an adventure unto itself.

So after about an hour of sleep we were now trying to figure out how to get to the hospital. Luckily we live close to her mom, and in a few minutes, she was on her way over to babysit Frances. The scare of the previous Friday had prepared us for this evening. We now had bags packed and the car ready to go. All we had to do was jump in and hope baby wasn’t coming in the 17 minutes it was going to take to get to the hospital.

We made it and checked in in record time. The nurses and staff at Emmanuel are top notch. We felt safe and very cared-for. They got us in a room fast and prepped Annie to deliver. Annie was about 5 cm when we got there, but in just a short period of time, her contractions were coming fast and painful. The epidural couldn’t come fast enough! No, really, it really couldn’t come fast enough. By the time the epidural was in, Annie was fully dilated and ready to deliver. The nurse warned us that Annie may not get much of a benefit from the epidural. Things were certainly moving fast, however after a round of extremely painful contractions, Annie was determined to give it time to start working. As the drug began to take effect, she began to feel better, and the nurse was confident to give us some time before she had to push. But I could tell through my peripheral vision that the nurses were prepped already and just waiting for the doctor to show up.

Soon the pressure began to bare down on Annie and Eloise was ready to be out. Sara showed up to give us support, and when Annie requested a mirror so she could see what was going on, Sara also got a view she probably never wanted to see. The doctor showed up and he was an artist guiding the baby out. Slowly turning Eloise out as Annie pushed from above. Soon a head surfaced, then shoulders, then toes, and she was out.

I got to cut the cord this time, and it was a weird experience to say the least, but I can say I did it. It was a tough little sucker to cut!

The NIC unit was hovering in the background, because in the chaos of all the nurse chatter, I did hear that Eloise had had a bowel movement in the womb, and they wanted to make sure she hadn’t swallowed any. But all was well, her color great, and her crying a beautiful sound. She was certified OK and the NIC unit nurses were shooed away.

At 6:22 am baby Eloise graced us with her presence. 4 hours. Let me repeat that… 4 hours of labor. Pretty amazing considering Frances was a week late and we were in the hospital undergoing inducement and delivery for 3 days. So while Frances may be stubborn like her mother, Eloise may be impatient like her father. We shall see.

It’s such a satisfying thing to have all my girls home safe and sound now. Annie is almost 100% now. No tearing or complications. Eloise is sleeping, eating, and pooping like a champ. Annie’s milk came in pretty quick, and I can tell what little weight baby lost at the hospital, she is already getting back. Sleeping through the night was difficult the first couple of nights because it seemed like that’s when Eloise liked to party. From 10-3am the first 2 nights, she was up wide awake. But last night and the night before she has slept in 4 to 5 hour intervals which has been great.

We really couldn’t ask for much more. Now we wait to see how Frances adjusts. So far she has been great and wanting to help. She asks for baby first thing in the morning, and says “bless you” when ever Eloise sneezing or cries. It’s really cute.

So with all that, I leave you 20 pictures of a photo shoot I did yesterday and today. Thanks for checking in, and reading about our lives. We miss those we can’t see, and personally, I’m excited to see my parents in a few days.

As always: more blog posts coming soon… or not.