Game Day! – Baltimore Trip pt. 2

Waking up in Baltimore on game day was a bit surreal.

We were actually going to an NFL game! A critically important-for-the-home-team-game. A game that both of my brothers-in-law and man had only dreamed about before this Christmas present plan was hatched. A game that a few short months before had been just that – a plan.

The sisters BBM’d our good mornings, agreed to meet shortly and got to getting ready for a hearty breakfast in preparation for an afternoon of beer and football.

Gathering in the hallway outside of our well-accommodated rooms in a row, conversation covered the beds in The Lord Baltimore hotel receiving mixed reviews, with the sirens and interesting screams from the streets below gaining a collective dislike. We were clearly in need of coffee and sustenance.

We decided to try out The French Kitchen, one of the in-house offered restaurant choices, for breakfast and quickly fuelled with coffee, eggs, steak, bacon, and of course carbs in the form of croissants, pancakes and lemon cake.

The internal entrance from the hotel

The internal entrance from the hotel

Our waitress was awesome and extremely friendly, we had the restaurant to ourselves, and even better the food was quick and delicious (and for the record did not have the side effects as the Hardee’s excursion of the day before).

Our fantastic waitress!

Our fantastic waitress!

The French Kitchen was a win in our Canadian books!

It even had this amazingly placed bush...

It even had this amazingly placed bush…

At this point containing the men’s anticipation for getting down to the stadium was next to impossible, so with a few last minute preparations to outfits to get game ready, we headed out on the short jaunt to Raven’s Walk for paraphernalia purchases and our first exposure to tailgating.

I would like at this point to revel in the fact that we were wearing t-shirts and jeans – IN DECEMBER – and at one point I even broke a sweat. In a t-shirt. In December. Best weather for game day, ever.

Best Ravens' fan vehicle, ever.

Best Ravens’ fan vehicle, ever.

We were quick to locate a vendor that sold the jerseys the boys wanted and one carrying the sweatshirts and must-have Raven’s face tattoos that the ladies desired and then headed towards the stadium with the growing swell of energy-filled fans.

All geared up!

All geared up!

This is my nightmare...

This is my nightmare…

Such an awesome moment

Such an awesome moment

Seats and beer acquired, kickoff was one cheerleading and one big-band performance away.

Now, here is where I am going to lose the part of our reading audience that came here hoping to read a play-by-play of what turned out to be a thrilling, once in a Ravens fan’s dreams type-game, however my ability to recall these details is lacking. Also, there are many websites dedicated to such a task.

What I do remember were the giant smiles on all of our faces as kickoff took place, and the cheers, screams and bellows that came from our row of 6.

These people <3

These people ❤

I remember the Browns’ fans in our section taunting us, the confused fan not knowing what team his loyalties laid with, the hot dogs that made Jacqui so happy and the beer that gave me the giggles.

Browns family, Raiders hat, Ravens jersey.... So confused

Browns family, Raiders hat, Ravens jersey…. So confused

Stadium dogs - cheers!

Stadium dogs – cheers!

I rememebr being worried in the third quarter as we lagged and it didn’t seem a win would be in our corner on our mini-vacation.

Worried in the third...

Worried in the third…

And mostly I remember the screams, cheers and excitement that came in the fourth when Flacco started throwing and we made a run for the win.

The best moment though came when the Ravens did win and it was announced that Kansasa City had defeated San Diego, meaning the Baltimore Ravens were headed to the playoffs.

They did it!!!

They did it!!!

The sound and feeling of the crowd of 72, 000 hometown fans erupting in celebration will forever be ingrained into my brain and heart – what a feeling! Even more to that, I got to experience it and celebrate it with 5 of some pretty damn important people in my life. Amazing.

Fans celebrating, players and families rushing the field

Fans celebrating, players and families rushing the field

Even writing about it now, I can feel the rush that came with those moments.

The walk back to the hotel was filled with play-by-play recaps of the most exciting movements both on and off the field and of course a pit stop for coffee. The satisfaction of the day still fresh on our faces, we returned to our weekend home-base and quickly decided on an evening in to cap it off.

We split off shortly to change into our comfies and reconvened back in Julia and Ben’s room (as it was most conducive to community hang outs) where we settled on taking a chance with room service.

Once dinner concluded, we were treated to a royal rumble between Jacqui and…well, everyone that she could egg on. The wresting match between Julia and Jacqui – which ended in a throat jab and face slap delivered by Julia – turned into a wrestling match with Cody, followed by a double threat gang up attack on Ben, which his injuries might lead most to believe Jacqui and Julia won that match. Ben even treated us to handstand push-ups at one point due to a bought of pent up energy wherein he expressed his desire to wrestle again…

Our evening consisted of a lot of this:

The throat jab

The throat jab

IMG_0439

….this went on for some time…

Cody got sucked in too

Cody got sucked in too

Poor #7 nipple....

Poor #7 nipple….

And even more laughter than we thought possible.

We all went to bed satisfied and happy that evening, well-prepared for the long drive home the next day.

~ Toni

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The difference a year makes

A year ago, I thought I had all the time in the world. My bag wasn’t packed. I was focusing on Sophie starting school. I was focusing on getting a not-for-profit for PPD/PPMD awareness off the ground. I was focused on loving my new niece and my broken sister-in-law. I had all the time in the world.

And then you happened.

First photo

First photo

I was sleeping in bed. Dreaming of steak, probably, because that’s all I craved with you. STEAK. And PORK. And anything barbecued. I wanted MEAT. Lots and lots of FIRE-KISSED MEAT. In my BELLY. NOW. (By the way, your dad couldn’t have been happier – I craved chocolate milkshakes and chocolate milk and fudgsicles with Sophie, and strawberry milkshakes with Lillian – but MEAT? Barbecued at all hours of the day and night? SOLD.)

First REAL clothes

First REAL clothes

And then, I started peeing the bed. Or at least, that’s what I thought was happening. Lots and lots of pee.

Father and son

Father and son

I got up, trying not to keep peeing, thinking that there was no way at 3:45 a.m. that I could have this much pee in me. I hadn’t been drinking all night long…I had gone pee before bed…and at 7468543 months pregnant, I had a bladder the size of a peanut. There was NO WAY I could be peeing this much.

First official photo as a couple

First official photo as a couple

When I sat on the toilet (TMI? Too bad.) a huge gush of water came out of me. My water water. It broke. I actually had a normal labour phenomena (I suck at birthing babies. Cooking babies, I’m a pro. Birthing, getting them out, not so much.)! Now to wake up my deaf (Ben takes his hearing aid out at night) husband while not spilling my innards (TMI again? Too bad again.) all over our carpet. I shoved towels in between my legs and waddled over to our bed. I poked the sleeping bear husband and got him to put in his hearing aid. He looked at me grumpily. I said, “My water broke.” He jumped out of bed. Correct response.

Official photoshoot courtesy of Close Your Eyes Photography

Official photoshoot courtesy of Close Your Eyes Photography

We called my incredible, favourite, most awesome midwife Cathy. And by we, I mean Ben, because people, I had to PACK A BAG TO TAKE TO THE HOSPITAL. With towels between my legs. Priorities. And then we had to call the mothers (someone has to take care of the current babies while we birth the next baby!).

First bath (aka his favourite!)

First bath (aka his favourite!)

Nana (Ben’s mom) came over and Cathy met us at the hospital. We had done something similar at 31 weeks. I had had contractions all day that wouldn’t go away no matter how many left-sided lie downs I had. They were able to give me the lung-boosting shots and the contractions eventually stopped on their own with two days of bed rest. But this, at 36 weeks, was leaking AND contractions. CRAP.

I love me some snuggly baby.

I love me some snuggly baby.

When we got to the hospital, Cathy told a nurse that my water had broke. The nurse asked if I was sure – sure that it broke and it wasn’t just pee, which apparently is a regular occurrence. Cathy said, “She’s got three towels in her pants (I DID, and I sat on a bunch in the van), so I think she’s serious.” The nurse was suitably impressed. I was suitably leaking.

Baptism day! Heathen no more.

Baptism day! Heathen no more.

I got hooked up to an IV, a fetal heart monitor, and a clicker for contraction tracking. Ben and I both got bracelets. This was the real deal. We had a C-section booked for 8 a.m. on Friday September 13. It was Tuesday August 27. BAH.

He's a suit man. SO CUTE.

He’s a suit man. SO CUTE.

The on-call OB came in, because although it looked like our baby wanted to come out the all-natural way, he was breech, breech, breech and with my super awesome (read: CRAP) history of getting babies out of my belly, a C-section was by far the best answer. I was in the operating room, getting my spinal and chatting with a new round of nurses, holding my breath and praying that everything would be okay, that Ben would be there in time (he had zero reason not to…I’m just a professional worrier), that our babies would be okay, that if anything happened to me everyone would be okay, that my baby would be okay.

First food. Success?

First food. Success?

At 7:11 a.m. on August 27th you were born. Isaac Earl Kenneth Mills. Our son. A boy.

You can see why I was freaked out by the boy thing, right?

You can see why I was freaked out by the boy thing, right?

You weighed 6 pounds, 7.5 ounces. You were in an incubator on monitors because of your early arrival (just days shy of being considered term) and because you were in withdrawal from the antidepressants I had been taking since my bout with PPMD from Lillian (you were jittery, but okay). You were perfect. And I got a nice little break from life since you weren’t in my room and your crazy sisters with hanging out with Aunt Toni and Grammie. It was kind of heaven.

Such a stud

Such a stud

After a few short days, we both got to go home, to reality and crazy and ramping up to Sophie starting school. The first day didn’t go as I had planned (go figure). Instead of walking to Sophie to school as a family, with a giant pregnant belly, we drove to school because I couldn’t walk that far with a new C-section incision or just after giving birth. I stood, against my midwife’s instructions, for 45 minutes, watching your sister get used to her new classroom and all the parents and children marveling at how small and new you were. Exactly one week old.

The beginning of the end

The beginning of the end

Things have changed a lot since then. I broke again and Aunt Toni and therapists (or super heroes, as Sophie calls them) Colleen and Victoria put me back together. I was in love with you from the start, which was different than the earned love I had with your sisters. I learned a lot about penis care, which is VERY different from vagina care (HOLY SCHAMOLY, who knew morning wood began this early in life?!). And I learned to love a son, which really is no different than loving a daughter at this point, but I’m told it will change, will become something unique to the love I have for your sisters.

Our almost-one-year old boy, eating dirt and taking names

Our almost-one-year old boy, eating dirt and taking names

You will be one on Wednesday. It’s been a year since we met you, a year since your punkish ways disrupted any semblance of plan we had for the transition from summer to fall, from no school to school. A whole year. And we are so blessed that you are ours and that you’re here.

Happy, happy birthday, mister. We love you.

~ Love, Mama (a.k.a. Julia)

Date night, Mills-style

When you get married, people tell you that you should never stop dating each other – make plans, go out, talk, ensure you never lose that connection.

When you add kids to the mix, the advice gets louder – don’t just focus on babies all the time, make sure you take time for yourselves, remember to nurture the couple relationship you had before you became parents.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Now, you have to organize child care, steal time where there are no appointments or responsibilities, ensure no one is sick, and, the big one, rally the energy so you are able to not only stay up past 8 p.m., but be interesting past 8 p.m.

It’s a tall order for any parent.

Ben and I have been all right at keeping the romance alive while we are elbow deep in poop and potty training and tantrum taming and crazy wrangling. Not perfect (most months go without any date at all), but we’re doing okay. We make sure to go out on our dating and wedding anniversaries, spend time together on the 21st of each month (both of our anniversaries are a 21), and remember to look up every once in a while and say, “Hi! I know you!”

For Father’s Day, I thought that maybe I’d give both of us a present – a night out! I purchased tickets for us to go see Les Misérables at our local theatre, The Dunfield Theatre. I had seen the movie in theatre with Kim, sister-in-law extraordinaire, and Andrea, cousin-in-law extraordinaire, and LOVED it. I knew Ben would love it too, because he’s a band guy, so he’d appreciate the music, and the French revolution backdrop was action-packed enough to override the fact that the actors sing. The. Whole. Time. After buying the movie and having our own private viewing of it, Ben did indeed love it. So much so that he downloaded the soundtrack to listen to at work. The tickets to the local production were a slam-dunk gift – a night out AND a fun activity. Woohoo!

Two tickets to childless freedom!

Two tickets to childless freedom!

Date night, of course, means the usual getting rid of children. Now that there are three, the number of people willing to sit on all of them at once has gone down…considerably. Note to child-wanting couples everywhere: this is something to consider when figuring out how many kids you want. Thankfully, the grandmas are still both game, so the babies had a sleepover at Nana’s house with Grammie and Grandpa Mike pitching in. It was the first night that we had no children since Isaac had been born…11 months…normally we wouldn’t wait so long, but the three kid thing made it tricky. And at that point, only having Isaac at home and getting rid of the older two IS a vacation, so we had done that lots of times already.

Next on the agenda is the prettification of the parents. Also known as having uninterrupted showers. Or putting on clean clothes that have a good shot at still being clean after a few hours. I think we did an okay job.

We're so pretty! And clean!

We’re so pretty! And clean!

Next is the decision – have a rushed dinner first, then the play OR go to the play hungry and come home to a late, yet leisurely dinner. We ultimately decided on late dinner, easygoing to the theatre.

Touristy picture in our hometown.

Touristy picture in our hometown.

We literally drove for two minutes and were at the theatre. If it hadn’t taken us so long to ditch the kids and get gorgeous (taking layers of stickiness off of one’s person takes time!), we would have walked. Next time! We parked and found the Les Misérables van! Totally had to take a picture. And totally got dirty, incredulous looks from the couple that was waiting to park in the spot beside it. Whatever. We took the picture. They waited. The end.

Our seats were AWESOME. We were in the middle of the row, third row from the stage. We could see everything, even the spit from the mouths of the actors. (No, seriously.)

Reading over the program...no kids touching us...noting the "No Babes In Arms" rule...loving the grown-up time.

Reading over the program…no kids touching us…noting the “No Babes In Arms” rule…loving the grown-up time.

The production was INCREDIBLE. The music was amazing, the singing was perfect, and the story was well-told. It was beyond cool to see something so polished and familiar in our little local theatre.

For me, the stand-out player was Thom Allison who played Javert. He was awesome. I loved his voice and presence. He was far and away my favourite.

Thom Allison as Javert - my absolute favourite player

Thom Allison as Javert was excellent.

Runners up were the kids – I don’t know how they performed in front of such a big crowd…and the parent in me couldn’t believe how awake and alert they were since the show began at 8 p.m. and didn’t end until 11! Wonder children.

Brooke Bauer, the young Cosette

Brooke Bauer, the young Cosette

Drew Davis, spunky revolutionist Gavroche

Drew Davis, spunky revolutionist Gavroche

After we gave our standing ovation, it was time to go home. It was after 11, so we were considering not eating the meal that I had prepared and picking something up…but we chose wisely. We went home, Ben barbecued, and we ate a little-people-free dinner together. It was divine. And probably tasted even more incredible because of how hungry we were.

Steak and shish kabobs - YUM

Steak and shish kabobs – YUM

We went to bed late, woke up late, and had a decadent breakfast of banana bread toasted with butter and coffee, while watching some House (Yay for Netflix!). It’s the little things.

Holy yum.

Holy yum.

We had a super fun, adult night. It was exactly what we needed and the entertainment, food and company didn’t disappoint (Hello?! See how handsome my date was???). It was perfect.

And when we picked up the babies they were happy to see us and had suitably tuckered out both grandmas and a grandpa.

All in all, a date night success! Seriously can’t wait for the next one.

Seriously.

~ Julia