Friday, May 30, 2008

Have Baby, Will Travel

Some may think I am a little bit off-my-mommy-rocker, I like to think of it as I am setting off on an adventure. An adventure that will have me and my baby girl passing through three airports, visiting two cities, staying in three different houses, seeing countless family members and friends and hoping that ...
  • our giant hot pink suitcase doesn't get lost
  • we both get at least a few hours of sleep each night
  • NHV continues to do her number twos on a regular basis (a valid concern!)
  • the number of meltdowns, especially those occurring mid-flight, are kept to a minimum
  • neither one of us gets sick
Is that too much to ask?
Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Good-bye White, Hello Pretty

So the blah white background was cramping my style a little. Instead of working on my growing To Do List while NHV snoozes away the morning, I've been playing around with my site ... adding a background, changing fonts, and what-not. The template is from a site called Cutest Blog on the Block ... and well, as my buddy Debby can attest to, anything from "the block" must be a good thing! Anyway, I found the CBOTB thanks to my new Live Feed thingy, which is thanks to the very Debby I just mentioned. It seems someone found me via a Google search, and I looked at those results and found this blog called Mommy in the Woods, and her template was created by CBOTB ... ah, full circle moment! And did I mention my new template was free and beyond easy-to-use ... even though it required some html tampering?

I'm loving it ... at least for now. Oh, there's also a new photo of "Me and My Baby Girl." I was so over the tulips and this was the only recent shot I have of the two of us - it's one of those stick-your-arm-out-and-push-the-button pics that I rely on to capture the two of us - cause it's not like my husband is going to remember to take a few photos of us together!

Alright, time to knock out a few items on that darn To Do List ... make signs for garage sale, update planner with appointments, clean up the kitchen, check craigslist for Ergo, make my bed ... a SAHM's job is never done :)


It's 2:02 am, and I am awake. Not been-out-clubbing-just-got-home awake (ha, ha). No, this is the my-sweet-NHV-just-called-out-to-me-through-the-monitor kind of wake. That darn monitor that permanently resides on my nightstand. You know the one that Chad somehow isn't able to hear ... because of his "bad ear" and the fact that he's male. The same monitor that functions as a secondary alert system because I usually sense Natalie's calls before she even makes them. Yes, I am awake because I am a mommy.

So NHV called out to me at 1:37 am, and I let her attempt self-soothing for a grand total of 5 minutes. She wasn't even crying very hard, more like fuss, fuss, fuss ... long pause. I probably should've let her work it out, but it's hard for me to imagine her alone in her dark nursery, awake for some reason ... perhaps a bad dream or a need to practice a new skill or sore gums ... I run through a long list for those entire 5 minutes, and then I just have to go to her. I go because I know I can make it better and that is a powerful feeling.

I found her up on her knees kind of rocking back and forth, which immediately made me think of the stair-climbing practice we did earlier today. I can't even begin to imagine what her little brain and muscles must be going through; how much she learns everyday is staggering. In my mommy brain, I assume she's woken up because of this overload. I scoop her up out of her newly lowered crib, which is no easy feat, and begin whispering sweet nothings in her ear. She immediate calmed down and melting into my arms, and despite being awake at this ridiculous hour, I feel like I am exactly where I want to be.

Wanting to savor that feeling for just a few more minutes, I sat down in my glider and put my favorite - super soft - blanket over us. And I just rocked and enjoyed the weight of her in my lap and the smell of her hair and the rhythm of her breathing. And I let my mind wonder.

My first thoughts were of my little sister who gave birth to her third child earlier today. I wonder what she is doing right now. Is she awake, too? Is she feeding or changing or soothing her precious Greyson Daniel? Oh, those early days are such a blur; an emotional, sleep-deprived whirlwind of cries, feedings, and uncertainty. And then my thoughts wander to the fact that soon - very, very soon, sooner than I would like - Natalie will turn one year old. It just doesn't seem possible, and I can't believe how different life is. And in that moment, I have a hard time remembering my life before her.

From there my thoughts fall upon a book given to me for Mother's Day by my dear friend in TX. It's titled Someday, and it is a book I absolutely cherish - because it came from Laurie and because it's just beautiful. The mostly white pages are wonderfully illustrated, each one listing a milestone and then wishes the mother has for her daughter's life. For me it serves as a poignant reminder to enjoy where and when we are right now. Natalie will never be this same baby girl again. A thought that is beyond bittersweet.
Someday is everyday.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Have you heard of eebee?

Come on, eebee's adventures is the latest, craziest thing to hit the baby DVD market. And we here at the Verhoff residence dig ourselves some eebee! The songs are terribly catchy ... meaning Chad and I can't stop singing, humming, whistling them. And the puppet baby is as freakish - multicolored body, dreads for hair - as he (she?) is adorable. See what I mean?

And the little shows (about 10 minutes each) feature real babies and adults interacting with everyday items - balls, cups, an inclined plane (fancy, huh?), bins full of Cheerios and rice, water, ... and the website claims it's all "research-based" so I can't feel too bad about sitting my 10 month old in front of the old tube for a few minutes of peace ... and catchy music.
We found eebee completely by accident but Natalie's ... ummm, we've ... been hooked ever since. Our cable - the cable service we no longer have - offered On Demand, and I was tooling through the menu one day when I discovered a whole "kids" section. Major excitement for a new parent!
Since we no longer have cable - a sacrifice of a year spent as a SAHM (and not making any money) and really there wasn't ever anything on cable we wanted to watch anyway - I keep trying to tell myself ... anyway, we no longer have cable, but we do have eebee! Target and Parents have teamed up to bring a line of DVDs and CDs to the millions of Target-shopping mommas out there - holler! And so during a recent trip to the local Target (pronounced with a goofy French accent), I purchased a little slice of eebee heaven in the form of a 4-segment, 40 minute DVD.
Later that night, just as Natalie was perched on the edge of a meltdown, and I had a brilliant idea ... eebee to the rescue! So I hand Chad the DVD, scooped up Natalie from her pile of toys, and headed for the couch for a front-row seat. Like 10 minutes later (and way into a bout of the fussies) ... after fighting, tearing, scratching at the insane cellophane straightjacket of packaging ... Chad looks at me and says, "Is it really necessary to deter theft of a DVD for babies? What kind of mom would steal an eebee DVD?" And, seriously, no one other than a parent is going to be interested enough in eebee to think of stealing it! Once again, Chad had me laughing with his practical view of our world :)
Gotta run ... my 10 minutes of eebee distraction is just about up. Who am I kidding, I started a second segment like 2 minutes ago ... I know so bad ... but I have one more thing to share.
Chad and Natalie playing together - eebee-style - with an inclined plane and balls:

How cute is Chad in his comfy pants?

After much rolling of balls and sliding of various blocks down the ramp, Natalie decided to give it a try:

And, yes, she learned the all important physics property ... what goes up must come down. eebee is one smart baby puppet!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

One of those days ...

Yes, it's true what "they" say ... it does rain - a lot - here in the NW, and even when it's not raining, clouds often prevail over sunshine. After 90 degree temperatures last weekend, we paid for it all week long with gloomy skies and raindrops. When I checked the 10-day forecast on Friday - in hopes of an end to the rain and a beautiful Memorial Day weekend - the "few showers" icon was working overtime. Ten straight days of showers, a common NW euphemism - showers sound almost pleasant, right?

I don't know how meteorologists luck into their jobs here in the NW, but seriously how hard is it to predict "showers" ... everyday? It's like good guess, Bob! Well, yesterday, Bob was wrong - very, very wrong - delightfully, wonderfully WRONG! As far as weather goes, it was as close to perfect as it gets; blue skies, sunshine, cool breeze ...
One of those days that somehow magnifies the good in your life. One of those days filled with simple joys. One of those days when you can't help but feel blessed. Getting out from under those clouds, soaking in a little vitamin D ... it's almost like a drug, I tell ya!

Chad and Natalie sat on a blanket in the grass, blew bubbles, and entertained me ... while I planted flowers and got weirded out by all the worms - and one huge slug (Sorry no photo, I was busy running away in fear of Chad throwing it on me!)

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"The weather is here; I wish you were beautiful." - Jimmy Buffett

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I'm still here ...

Okay, so I admit it ... I've totally been slack-alacking - as my buddy Debby might say ;) I did manage to watch 4 episodes of Heroes: Season 2 tonight ... Chad talked me into it!
Anyway, I've got three posts started - but never finished ... hoping tomorrow provides both inspiration and a few quiet moments to myself. Otherwise, my three loyal visitors may bail on me, and I can't have that!

Waiting to be written:
  1. Mother's Day - Almost two weeks ago now, but it was my first, it was simple yet delightful - definitely blog-worthy!
  2. The Great Nap Rebellion - Good lawd, this girl is giving me a run for my money! And we're both exhausted because of it!
  3. Just one of those days ... no teaser for this one; you'll have to ... wait ... for ... it!

Now this momma is putting her butt to bed ... I can log about 5 hours of zzzzzs before Natalie wakes up wanting to "visit the girls."

Luv yas!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Yet Another Milestone ...

... to ummm ... celebrate?! Then why do I feel like shouting, "Oh no, here we go again!"

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Look what happened today! Everything was going along just fine. I was finally accustomed to the whole crawling thing, and now look what she's doing! My darling NHV is officially pulling herself up to a standing position ... all homo erectus and what-not! Okay, those are words I never thought I'd type!
It happened for the first time this morning. We had just come downstairs for our morning playtime and breakfast eating extravaganza, I went to pop my blueberry bagel in the toaster - as I do every morning - but quickly realized that Natalie seemed quieter than usual. The pile of toys I dump all over the floor typically has her gabbering for several minutes. So I was quick to investigate, and I found her just like you see in the photo - my camera was sitting on the counter between the kitchen and family room.
Her motivation for pulling up is what makes me laugh. She loves laundry baskets (I hope that's a good indication for the future), and I had carried down her basket of clean clothes to fold as part of our playtime - good times, huh? But, apparently, she just couldn't wait to get that little party started because she pulled herself up right in front of the basket.

Oh, just when I thought I had it all figured out, she pulls a new trick! I'm starting to see a trend here ... what can I say, "Yikes and Hip, Hip Hooray!"

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Happy 10 Months, NHV!

What an amazing month! Natalie is one busy baby! Highlights from this month include:

  • crawling ... proficiently and quickly wherever she wants to go
  • drinking from a sippy cup ... sometimes it's more like "chugging"
  • lifting the flaps in her Peekaboo Baby book
  • chatting with her stuffed animals ... I love listening to these "conversations."
  • playing her lips like an instrument (not sure how else to describe it)
  • graduating from her infant carrier to a convertible car seat (still rear-facing)
  • swinging in the bucket swing at the park ... she giggled like crazy that first time

And here's a look at Natalie "through the months" ... it is astounding how much she's changed and grown! But don't take my word for it; go ahead, see for yourself!

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Nap Rebellion

I'm exhausted. Natalie is exhausted. And I am fixin' to break out my big cartoon sledgehammer! You know like the one Tom might use on Jerry? Or Wile E Coyote on the Road Runner? I want that little girl seeing stars or tweeting birds or something! I've tried everything else, and I've been in that darn room like a hundred times to lay her down only to find her standing back up again ... grinning at me around her binky ... so proud of her latest accomplishments: standing up in the crib and dodging naptime like a freakin' pro!

First Word

I'm a little bitter. I should probably be terribly excited. Perhaps even proud. But instead I am feeling somewhat cheated and maybe a tad resentful.
Natalie said her first word. Mama, you ask? Dada; that wouldn't be so bad. No, friends, Natalie didn't give a "shout out" (if you will) to the two humans who take care of her day in and day out ... hour after hour. Instead her first word pays tribute to a special someone of the four-legged variety. Natalie's first word ... "cat." Yes, Louie gets all the love! Well, maybe not all the love ... he also gets chased, pterodactyl screamed at, his ears chewed on, his fur pulled out, ... Natalie's own form of tough love! But regardless, her first word was not mama as I had hoped or dada which I could live with ... no, with great enthusiasm she announces "cat" (sounds more like "tat") anytime Louie saunters in the room.
Somehow it just doesn't seem fair ...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Daddy Idol

Talkative is a word often used to describe me ... my husband, yeah, not so much. He's a man of few words and what little he does say is riddled with a very dry sense of humor. I'll mention again that Chad cracks me up ... pretty much on a daily basis. Moments of silence are often interrupted by a very random - sometimes deep - thought. For example, "Do you think Natalie knows she's a baby?" What does that mean?!
So words are few, but animal noises, whistling, and silly, made-up songs are plentiful. When Chad first took over Natalie's bathtime routine, I would have to remind him to "use his words." Honestly, an entire 10 minutes would pass without a single English word being uttered; plenty of other sounds but NO actual words ... that can't be good for Natalie's language acquisition, right? :)

Here's a small selection of Chad's recent made-up songs:

In response to Natalie's lack of afternoon nap, Chad sang ...
You're not gonna make it, no you ain't gonna make it
You're not gonna make it 'til 7 o'clock.
(to the tune of Twisted Sister, "We're Not Gonna Take It")

As he carried Natalie upstairs for bath tonight, he sang ...
Girl you know it's true, you've got stinky poo
And we're going to go bathe you ... oooh, oooh, ooh
I love you!
(to the tune of Milli Vanilli's "Girl You know It's True")

And an all-time favorite that made a recent comeback ...
You're so gross, you're so gross
You spit and you drool and you poop all day
You spit and you drool and you poop all day
You're so gross, you're so gross
(to the tune of the children's classic "Three Blind Mice")

I love that man! And clearly he loves our little NHV!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Picasa & Photo Collages

Are you digging my photo Collages as much as I am? I tend to take A LOT of photos - often times of the same thing, like Natalie playing on the doormat or Chad and Natalie opening his birthday present - and it's always so hard to choose just one shot from the dozens I've downloaded! The answer to my OCD picture taking ... a collage! But not just any old collage (whatever that means). A collage created using Google's Picasa, the best, most user-friendly and FREE photo editing software out there. To make a collage, you simple select the photos (holding down the Ctrl key allows you select multiple photos) and then click the button at the bottom of the screen at says, "Collage." Magically, wonderfully your photos are blended together into one image and saved to your computer ... viola! You can embed that image in your blog or print it or just gaze at it lovingly on your computer screen ... whatever floats your boat!
Oh, the other fabulous thing about Picasa ... there are like a hundred things I love about this program ... it has a partnership with Blogger. How cool is that?
When I have another minute - when Natalie isn't due to wake up from her morning nap at any minute, I'll try to remember to post more info about Picasa ... it truly is delightful!

Reset, Newly Defined

Reset: verb - to return baby to initial starting place, usually in front of a pile of toys, after said baby has crawled to the other side of the room to play on the dirtiest square yard of floor in the house* This term typically enters a parent's vocabulary when baby masters rolling but becomes more prevalent during crawling. Oh great, Natalie is gnawing on the shoes again; it's your turn to reset her. *Location may vary however on the doormat where shoes track in the greatest amount of dirt and grime tends to be a favorite of our little NHV.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Confessions of a Scaredy Cat

I'm not sure why, but I feel like confessing something, something that is absolutely ridiculous but also 100%, Scout's honor the truth. And I am not entirely sure what it has to do with being a mom, but perhaps if I write about it, a connection will reveal itself.

For the past 23 years, I have jumped into bed each night. I simply cannot stand to leave my feet dangling over the edge of the bed, especially when the lights are out. And so, each night I take a few long strides (not exactly a run) and leap onto my mattress - careful not to expose my tootsies and ankles to the monster I fear is under my bed. If I stand beside my bed for much more than a second or two, I get the hard-core willies. You know shivers up the spine, the hee-bee gee-bees! Each and every time my mind conjures up images of these horrifying, gruesome pale white arms and hands reaching out to grab me and pull be under. My imagination never gets further than that because I will not allow it!

Where does this deep-rooted, crazy fear come from? The answer is simple: Tales from the Darkside. This truly awful, trainwreck of a show that my brother Randy and I used to watch late on Saturday nights. Back in the mid 80s, it was the best and worst 30-minutes of my week.

To be more specific, I think it was the episode called Monsters in my Room, and it starred Seth Green. I can't actually confirm that because after Googling it and finding it on YouTube, I wasn't able to watch it. I tried. I really did. But just a minute or two in, and my heart would race. I just couldn't bring myself to confront those awful pale hands ... seriously, I am so freaked out right now!
And so I am a wife and a mother and a grown woman who jumps into bed each night in an attempt to elude the monster beneath my bed. As a wife, I am glad my husband doesn't complain about the little bed quakes caused by my jumps. As a mom, I imagine being called to five year old's room after she's had a nightmare. I'll want so badly to perch on the side of her bed, to soothe her and ease her fears, but how am I suppose to do that without exposing my feet to the monster beneath her bed!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Puff Daddy

My husband cracks me up ... pretty much everyday. He's such a big kid, which occasionally drives me crazy, but always provides countless opportunities for entertainment, especially when he's talking to our little NHV. The other evening, as I was cooking dinner and daddy was taking care of Natalie's mealtime, I overheard him say, "Yeah, Natalie, you can call me Puff Daddy." And I'm thinking, "What? That's totally random!" ... until I turn my head and notice that he's enthusiastically shaking Gerber's sweet potato puffs onto her highchair tray. Now, in the haze of mommy brain, that's funny :)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things: Nuby Sippy Cup

Breastfeeding has been a joy. No, seriously, for the most part, I have truly enjoyed being able to provide nourishment for my little NHV sans bottles and formula and what-not. It's a decision that I am happy I made. I've been able to provide a "two-course meal" on demand for the past 9.5 months (and counting). But I do have dreams and aspirations of getting "the girls" back at some point in the near future. It seems kind of silly to reinforce a bottle at this point - Natalie is not overly fond of it - and so we began serious sippy cup training about a month ago.

We started with the Avent sippy cup because that's the brand of bottles I registered for (but used only a handful of times) and someone was kind enough to purchase the sippy cups in addition to the bottles. Anyway, the Avent cup is orange with a weird looking white spout - kind of long and flat - and an inner flap-thing that prevents the liquid from spilling out ... or coming out at all, apparently. Natalie had absolutely no luck with this cup; unless I removed the flap-thing, in which case she ended up drenched and sputtering from the deluge. Sippy cup shower anyone? Needless to say, frustration and amusement ensued.
Thankfully, I have a dear friend in TX with a baby boy almost the same age as Natalie. We shared our pregnancies, and now, a few times each week, we celebrate, commiserate, and trade tips ... which led me out of sippy cup frustration and to the Nuby! The lack of handles caused me to hesitate, but not Natalie, she grabbed on, tipped it up, and happily drank ... like a college kid on spring break :)

And so, at this point, if - in the next three months or so - the booby milk gets replaced by some Similac and the Nuby ... I guess I'm okay with that.

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