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What’s New: Cousins

Annabelle and Alyssa

After more than two long years, we finally got to see my sister and my niece again this weekend. Annabelle was only five months old when we were all together last! As much as I miss Guam, one nice thing about being back from overseas is having the chance to see our loved ones more frequently. I was curious to see how Annabelle would get on with her cousin and I was a bit worried that Alyssa would be hopelessly bored with no one her age around and nothing specifically age appropriate for her in our house. To my delight, the girls had a fabulous time together and Alyssa didn’t want to leave. Annabelle spent the entire forty minute ride home from the airport letting me know how frustrated she was that I refused to take her inside to get on a plane to Colorado.

She loved her cousin so much that we kept feeling the need to remind her to give Alyssa a bit of personal space. They read books, ran laps around the house, collected fall leaves, created things with play dough, and generally acted as though they’d been the best of friends all along. I kept hearing, “Alyssa, do you want to carry Annabelle, Alyssa?” and “Alyssa, do you want to run with Annabelle, Alyssa?” She begins and ends every question with the name of the person she’s talking to these days, and it’s awesome.

Of course all of this excitement in the early days of the post-nap era has resulted in a general exhaustion like I have never seen. I served dinner at 4:45 tonight and rushed the bedtime routine in an effort to make sure A would be sound asleep by six. We were close. A few more nights of the same and the sleep debt may be nearly repaid. I have discovered that naps are possible if I put Annabelle in the stroller and recline it completely, so I gave that a go yesterday and spent some time breathing deeply on a park bench. Tired toddlers are a challenge, but I do love mine!


a nap!

There has been fun despite the exhaustion, too. We’ve been baking bread, making fall decorations, drinking homemade pumpkin spice lattes, and jumping in leaf piles. It occurred to me that I have never before experienced autumn quite like this. Born in the desert and raised in a steppe, I never had the experience of raking leaves or, better yet, jumping in piles of them. Here there is so much variety and such brilliant colors. I’m obsessed with the Sweet Gum Trees in particular, and the deep purple leaves that fall from their branches

Elliot has enjoyed the leaves, too, and he’s taking so much more of an interest in everything around him. On our stroller nap excursion,   he woke up before his sister, so I sat in the grass with him, where he became completely engrossed in feeling around at the leaves. He loves to smile and chat with his reflection in the bathroom and reaches for things with such clear purpose. In his game of hitting the rattle as I hold it for him, he has progressed to knocking the toy right out of my hand and waiting patiently for the chance to do it again. He seems to be working on his first teeth and is not very happy about it, but loves life otherwise. I can hardly believe how quickly his newborn days disappeared.

I’m busily working on plans for Annabelle’s Children’s House years, which are fast approaching. I’m finding more time to actually nurture myself, too, which is one positive thing about the end of the super intense newborn days. Strong coffee, walks under the autumn canopy, pumpkin beer, and snuggles with the daddy have been extra bright spots in already bright days, and welcome indulgences on the days that are a lot bit more on the challenging side. I’m grateful.


Compare to these photos of Annabelle at the same age. :)


I lost count of how many people went on about how stinkin’ cute this little hat was on Elliot when we took him walking on the National Mall.





12 Responses to What’s New: Cousins

  • It must’ve been wonderful to get to see your sister and niece again after such a long separation! I know I miss my own sister a lot, and it’s only been about 9 months since I saw her last.

    We have that same stroller in green—love it. =)

    Glad to hear you’re getting a little more time to focus on yourself lately. Those demanding newborn days (months) are very challenging!

    • melissa says:

      It was so, so good! We have lived together twice in our adult lives, and worked together for a long time, too, so it’s strange and sort of awful to have been separated for as long as we were. I’m sad she’s gone, but glad to know I’ll see her again in a little over six months, if not sooner!

      I noticed your stroller in one of your recent photos and thought it might be the same! I love it, too! It’s about time for me to add the second seat :)

  • Well now you’re getting one more compliment on how cute the little man in the hat is! He really is growing up so fast, and although Annabelle is the big sister she’s still a little girl in need of a nap once in a while. Enjoy those rare moments when they are both taking a nap at the same time! I’m not a beer person, but my husband is dying to try the pumpkin beer-maybe this weekend!

    • melissa says:

      Why, thank you! We ended up accidentally in line for the White House Garden Tour on Saturday and I must say the dapper lad fit in quite well ;)

      There are so many good pumpkin beers! I’d love to know if your hubby ends up finding one he recommends!

  • Amy says:

    Sounds like you might also be doing a pumpkin challenge. I’m trying to make at least one pumpkin recipe a week for October and probably November. Hubby loves pumpkin. And, we’ve had some great pumpkin beers. Glad you are enjoying family! It is always nice! And, amazing how they are more willing to travel to see little ones..

    • melissa says:

      Oooh, I’m not doing a challenge – just generally pumpkin obsessed, but that is a brilliant idea. I know you’re not really a food blogger, but any chance you’ll post about your favorites? I’m accepting pumpkin beer recommendations, too. This week I had the Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale and it was magnificent. Unfortunately my hubby doesn’t care much for pumpkin, but he deals!

  • Sounds like it was a very incredible week for you guys! Seeing your sister and niece I bet kept a smile on everyone’s face. That is a cute hat Eliot is sporting! Annabelle is developing her language skills rather quickly. It is a skill to address people by their name when talking to them. I often forget this, and the little ones ask ” are you talking to me?”. I would have loved to be a fly on your wall this week. I really enjoy reading your What’s New post. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • melissa says:

      Thank you! I hadn’t really thought of addressing others by name as a skill, but I suppose it is. She asked someone their name for the first time yesterday, and I was pretty impressed!

  • Rach says:

    Girl, you are totally into this Autumn (fall) thang! Ha, we have had reclining stroller naps here for, oh, forever! B doesn’t hold with naps in bed, or most, places for that matter. How lovely to meet her cousin! And stop teasing and spill about the children’s house plans, you know you want to…

    • melissa says:

      After three years without seasonal change, autumn is so very welcome in my life! I don’t know where the stroller has been all my life.

      I really do want to spill about school plans, but the details are still being ironed out, so I have to wait just a couple of weeks longer. Hopefully all comes together!

  • MJ says:

    Hello dear Melissa!!! I am marveling at how full and beautiful your life has been. Elliot is gorgeous and Annabelle seems to be losing her baby face and fulfilling her new role as big sis very well. So happy for you that you reunited with your sister and niece, and that you are enjoying life on the East U.S.. I hope D.C. and fall continues to embrace you and your lovely family!!
    Much love to you my friend!

  • Laura says:

    Late as usual but I did want to comment. I could really feel the air of Fall and see the movement of the Gum trees when reading your post. Fall is also a big thing over here (Washington and Barcelona have approximately the same latitude N) and you can get beautiful colors but as we walk towards winter I always have a feeling of nostalgia -summer girl that I am- so your words made me appreciate the beauty of this current season.
    Wonderful that Annabelle and Alyssa had such a great time together!! I am really curious about the Children’s House plan.

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