Monday, July 28, 2008

Walking? Stumbling? Taking Steps!

Hip, hip, hooray! It's official! Natalie is getting brave enough to take a few steps, and it is absolutely amazing! It is also freakin' hilarious to see her teetering around on those little legs of hers. She stumbles from the ottoman to the couch looking more than a little drunk and unsteady! I can't really classify it as walking ... at least not just yet, but it definitely qualifies as taking steps!

I decided this milestone was both blog- and video-worthy :P Enjoy!

video

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Kitchen Cabinet Fun

Ummm ... this may qualify me as a "bad" mom or at least one that shouldn't check her email during morning playtime ... but I am willing to admit my lapse in good mommy judgement because this photo is so precious!

Despite my hubby's protests, I've given Natalie access to one cabinet in the kitchen. She loves to play with the few pieces of plasticware and water bottles and what-not. When she's had enough of her bazillion toys and books, this is a guaranteed baby-pleaser.

This morning I looked up from my laptop to see this MESS all over the kitchen floor.




And then I realized that Natalie was no where to be found. A head scratch and a few squeaks later, and it became obvious that my sweet girl had reached a whole new level of kitchen cabinet FUN. S
o I did what any good blogging momma would do. I grabbed my camera, and snapped this photo. Oh, it just makes me smile!






Oh, and the same day, I found Louie napping ... on the bathroom counter ... in a pile of tissues he had pulled from the box.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

An Award? Are You Sure?

So my gal Debby over at Sanity ~ No Longer an Option has nominated me for this award ...


Do you detect a lack of enthusiasm? I've known about this for two days, and I've been kind of ignoring it ... because my blog ramblings are not even remotely award-worthy ... and I am not looking for reassurance from my three faithful readers. I'm just saying, there is so much more brilliance out there, that I feel like I would somehow cheapen this award by accepting it. I mean, take my girl Debby. Her post/acceptance speech for the Brillante Weblog is a running list of things she almost won, and it's hilarious and clever and is the perfect example of why she won this award.

But I love awards almost as much as I love presents and surprises, so for that reason, I will proudly accept this pretty, shiny award on behalf of my current lack of brain cells :) Oh, and should probably take a second to thank the little people ... like Debby, who got me here in the first place. Girl, I've told you many times, and now I will post it for all to read ... you rock the funny!

Oh, and apparently there are rules ... which kind of takes the fun out of this ... it's like getting a present and them being told you have to read the entire user's manual before you can play with it. However, it does somewhat resemble a To Do List, and I simply cannot resist crossing things off my list!

1. Put this sparkly black Logo on my Blog
2. Put a link back to the person(s) who awarded it (Way back up at the top of this post.)
3. Nominate 7 other blogs
Seven? Really? That's a lot of blogs ... and a few of my nominees already got nominated ... aaargh!
4. Put a link to those Blogs on your Blog
But I am a rule follower, so here goes:
1. Sun Seekers - a wonderful mommy friend who takes great photos and
2. Meet Morgan Avery - she's only 6 months old, but her blogging is excellent!
3. Rocky Mountain Baby - written from our buddy Emmett's point of view
Okay, so maybe I'm a rule bender in this case ... I am only nominating three.
5. Leave a message on their blog

ABC's of ME

I wasn't actually "tagged" to do this ... but I saw it on one of my favorite blogs: imperfect ... and I had just written about a great ABC book, and Natalie is taking an awesome nap, and I am procrastinating (see below), so I decided to do this list ... perhaps you'll learn something new about me ...

A. Attached or single? attached
B. Best friends? Missy, Heather, Laurie

C. Cake or pie? Both! this is a choice I simply cannot make.
D. Day of Choice? Monday (for now)
E. Essential Items? my laptop and digital camera
F. Favorite color? yellow to look at, blue to wear
G. Gummy bears or worms? bears
H. Hometown? Alton, IL (near St. Louis, MO)
I. Favorite indulgence? a good book, a glass of wine ... but not together

J. January or July? January; it's birthday month :)
K. Kids? Sure why not :) 1 newly one year old, beautiful little girl
L. Life isn't complete without? friends and family
M. Marriage Date? July 4, 1998
N. Number of brothers and sisters? 1 sister, 2 brothers - I'm the oldest
O. Oranges or apples? apples - especially with peanut butter

P. Phobias? monster under my bed, stranger taking Natalie
Q. Quotes? "Life is a journey, not a destination."

R. Reasons to smile? Natalie's two-hour long nap, Louie (my kitty) curled up by my feet, and pieces of flair on Facebook :)
S. Season of choice? summer, definitely summer!
T. Tag 3 people: Debby, Deann, and Missy
U. Unknown fact about me? I want to write a children's book but I am too afraid to try

W. Worst habit? procrastinating (like right now I should be writing thank you notes!)
X. X-ray or ultrasound? ultrasound

Y. Your favorite food? blueberry muffins from Starbucks
Z. Zodiac sign? Capricorn

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Shiver Me Letters, A Pirate ABC

Occasionally I've highlighted "A few of my favorite things" here in my little blog world, and I just realized that the past two were actually books, and well, I have quite a few more books I feel are blogworthy ... so perhaps I need a new category. Any suggestions? How about "Books I don't mind reading like a bazillion times ..."

While you ponder that, let me tell you about one of many new books Natalie has received in the past month. It's a book that Chad bought for her ... all by himself. He came home from work the other day carrying a bag with two children's books inside, and my first reaction was, "Did you find those somewhere?" Or "Who gave you those?" He had just for no reason at all bought two new books for our NHV ... not that she needs more books ... it was such a sweet, simple gesture!

Both books are fantastic, but I want to tell you about "Shiver Me Letters" by June Sobel. Who can resist a good pirate story? It is especially cute when Chad reads it in his pirate accent. And I am a complete sucker of a clever ABC book, so pretty much this book "had me at hello" if you know what I'm saying!

The story is about a captain and his crew searching for booty, in this case the letters of the alphabet other than R ... you see, the captain already has "R" 'cause that's what a pirate says, "aaaargh" ... get it?
Here's an excerpt from the first pages: "R," roared the captain. "R's not enough. We need other letters to help make us tough." Each letter is found in some pirate-themed way, and the illustrations are humorous and colorful.

There isn't any deep message in this book - if that's what you're looking for, I am guessing that you don't do much of your reading to a one year old. And, hey, if I am going to read a book like a bazillion times, which mommies often do, I might as well read a book that is this much fun and so very clever!

Delightful Tuesday

I should probably go with the title "Terrific Tuesday" for the sake of alliteration, but I really enjoy the word "delightful," and so it has been a delightful Tuesday ... here's why ...

First of all, I woke up at 6 am to cloudy skies and a crying baby ... not delightful, you say? Well, after a quick diaper change and cuddle in the glider, Natalie, and therefore I, went back to sleep until 9:00! Yep, delightful! As for my optimistic attitude about the weather, it's kind of nice to have a break from the sunshine and warm temperatures ... as much as I'll miss both come winter in the NW.

After a breakfast of blueberry bagel with cream cheese and a cup of chai tea latte for me, yogurt, strawberries, and a banana for my sweet NHV, it was time to play and get stuff done. Natalie was so content looking at books - she loves to turn the pages, taking her blocks out of the tub and putting them back, chatting with her stuffed animals, ... it is such a delight to watch her play! And I managed to get all kinds of stuff done while enjoying time with my favorite one year old :)

Just before noon, we headed out for our only commitment of the day, an Issy Mom's event intriguing entitled "Live Pigs Doing Tricks." (I can almost hear a collective, "delightful," even as I type!) Not a chance I was missing this one! The title was perfectly accurate and the pigs were quite talented. I am guessing all of the humor went way over Natalie's head, but she had a great time watching all the people and being somewhere besides our house - oh, the novelty of it all! My favorite part was watching the pigs' owners, an older couple who obviously enjoyed what they were doing. I gave me great joy to know that these two had found each other and found a way to enjoy life - by raising and training pet pigs to entertain crowds of toddlers and parents - I mean does it get any better than that? I know that seems silly, but it really did make me happy :) It was pretty funny to watch the pigs in action; they did things like shooting a soccer ball into a net, riding a skateboard, jumping through a hoop, and spelling words. If you ever have the chance to watch "live pigs doing tricks," I highly recommend you make time in your busy schedule!


Can you see the pig and the cute old couple up there on the stage?



Just to prove that we were there (jealous?) ... a close-up of my NHV!

On the way home from watching the pigs, I decided to succumb to my lunchtime craving ... I had Jack-in-the-Box: two tacos no salsa and an order of curly fries ... always delightful in my book! Hoping to continue my winning streak, I called the number printed on my receipt and took the survey for a chance to win $10,000 ... now, that would be delightful!

By this time, Natalie had been awake for more than 4 hours, and she was plum-tuckered out (I love that expression!). As a result, she took a 3 hour nap! Ummm, hello, 3 hours of uninterrupted mommy time ... perhaps the highest level of delightfulness! I caught up on some blog-reading and emailing and flair gifting. Basically, I wasted those 3 hours exactly as I wanted to .... hip, hip hooray!

Dinner was a simple pleasure - breakfast for dinner. Chad makes the best eggs! And my contribution, toast - buttered and jammed with love - was also a crowd pleaser :) Tonight's playtime extravaganza included a theatrical reading of a new book, "Shiver Me Letters" by Chad, the introduction of a tactile tub of rice, a little step-taking practice, and several rounds of "What's on daddy's head?"

Notice who's actually "playing" with the rice? Yeah, that'd be me, the grown up!

After all that delightful family playtime - with Natalie cracking us up and wearing us out - we put the baby to bed and caught up on two missed episodes of The Mole. I am a total reality show junkie, and I jump at the chance to curl up on the couch with my hubby ... especially when he obliges me with a head rub ... delightful!

Hope your day was equally delightful!
First person to comment with the correct number of times I included the word delightful in this post gets a percentage of my JITB prize money :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Another First: Day at the Lake

It was a gorgeous day here in the NW. We enjoyed it with Chad's brother, aka Uncle Gare-Gare, who was here visiting from AZ ... wish his family could've been here, too! We missed you, Elaina, Riley, and Lily!
The day started with some post-camping trip ... lounging ... and then we headed out to see a few sights before Gary's evening departure. First stop, the requisite and close-by tourist attraction, Snoqualmie Falls ... if you've ever been to my house here in the NW, you've also been to see the falls ... it's just part of the package!



From there, we went to Pine Lake Park to take a dip in the lake. I conveniently forgot my bathing suit, and therefore didn't get in the water - at least not past my shins. A) I am not sure lake swimming is really my thing - there's like a whole life cycle happening in there! B) I've worn a bathing suit this season - to the pool here in my 'hood - but I am not sure if this post-baby bod is really ready for large-scale public viewing. Regardless of my issues with lakes and my body, we had a great time! Natalie hesitated for about two minutes before really enjoying herself. She looked especially cute in her new, hand-me-down bathing suit from cousin Lily ... her mom always finds the best stuff, and she writes about some of it over at Fun Finds for Mom (there's a little shameless plug for my SIL) and Gary checked an entire extra bag of clothes for NHV ... major score! Goodness I lack focus this evening ...
Anyway, aside from the swim diaper full of sand and what-not, there weren't any blogworthy mishaps ... darn it! I would guess that Natalie, unike her mommy, is a lake swimmer ... at least until she figures out all the yuck that's happening in that water! And as a bonus, here's a few of the many blogworthy photos from Natalie's first Day at the Lake:


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It can't just be me. She really is adorable, right?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Do I really have to share?

I've shared a lot with my baby girl. Ummm, my uterus for starters! And let's not forget the 11 months of breastfeeding - sharing Rita and Louise on demand all day long. Those are obviously the biggies (no pun intended) ... but what else? On occasion I've been willing to share my bed. (Although I must admit, I do enjoy an afternoon nap/snuggle with my NHV.) There have been countless other sacrifices along the way ... you get the idea ...

Well, now I am drawing the line. Now, that greedy little girl wants my most favorite and coveted treat from Starbucks ... the blueberry muffin. You know the one with the sinful crumble yumminess on top? Yeah, well, Natalie insisted on helping me to eat mine this morning. I've discovered I am not all that fond of sharing my darn-near-$2 muffin with my newly-one-year-old. It totally threw off my chai tea latte to muffin ratio! But I could hardly let the mmmmms and hand clapping that is her sign for "more" go unnoticed ... at least not while sitting in the middle of my neighborhood Starbucks. Everyone there seemed to think it was just adorable, and I wanted to say, "If you think it's so cute, why don't you share your muffin?" But no, instead I gave in and handed over tiny bites ... after peeling back the paper to uncover the muffin bottom ... no way she was getting her pincher grasp and one tooth on my muffin top!

On the walk home - sipping what was left of my chai sans muffin - it occurred to me that perhaps I am partly to blame for Natalie's blueberry muffin fixation. I practically lived on those things for the entire second trimester of my pregnancy, so perhaps she's predisposed.

Regardless next time I am craving a Starbucks blueberry muffin, Natalie is staying home with daddy! Somethings I am just not willing to share :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Happy, Happy Birthday!

Today is the day! My sweet Natalie's 1st Birthday! Because I am still awake, I started typing this at 12:36 am - the exact time I gave birth to my baby girl ... and I thought, since it's still very fresh in my mind, perhaps this would be the perfect time to reminisce and share my labor story ... afterall, that's what got me here, to this point of celebrating my baby girl's first birthday!

The short version: My water broke about 8:00 pm. Got to the hosptial at 9:30ish. Natalie was born at 12:36 am. Yes, that's just 4 and a half short hours!

The looong version:
At about 8:00 pm on July 14th, I was in the loft above our garage - checking email - when my water broke - what a surprise! With a bit of panic in my voice, I yelled to Chad - he was in his workshop (the garage, just below where I was) - “Babe, my water just broke!” As I expected, he was shocked but also calm, and he immediately came up with a plan. Call the doctor, take showers, and pack a bag. So that’s just what we did. While I showered, Chad started putting all kinds of things in a suitcase - books, CD’s, clothes, snacks, … none of which we needed, but I’ll get to that. And then while he showered, I called my friends Heather in VA and Liza here in the neighborhood; it was so good to hear the voices of friends who had been through this before. I must admit, I was getting a little nervous at this point.

In the car on the way to Overlake Hospital, I called my mom to tell her the exciting news, and that's when it really hit me ... "I'm having a baby!" I started to cry - tears of both happiness and nervousness. I was about to become a mom and talking to my own mom gave me a dose of reality but also a sense of calm. My mom was very surprised and a little sad; she was disappointed that it was two weeks before my due date and she wasn't here to go to the hospital with us.

I had 5 hard contractions on the way to the hospital; to be honest, they didn't hurt as much as I expected. But I definitely had to stop what I was doing until each one subsided. Also, keep in mind that I had been on bedrest since the end of May and had contractions, controlled with medication, for most of that time.

We didn't really hurry to the hospital because we assumed that many hours would pass before the actual birth, which explains why Chad packed so much stuff! But it ended up that he barely set our suitcase down before "things got interesting" and a very short time later our baby girl was born.
You see, I was already dilated 7 centimeters when we got to the hosptial! I looked at the nurse like she was crazy and suggested that she check again. But she was confident in her original assessment and asked me if I wanted something for the pain - an epidural. I was still trying to comprehend that I only had 3 centimeters to dilate before being ready to push! Feeling really brave and excited, I decided to give birth naturally. The contractions continued right on schedule, and Chad was amazing through each one. By 11:00, before Doctor Maplethorpe had even arrived, I was ready to push, but the nurses kept telling me to breath through it ... an answer that I didn't particularly like to hear, but I did my best to do what they said. Soon after the doctor arrived and the pushing began ... a lot of pushing, like an hour and a half of it! My biggest complaint was the stupid IV line stuck in my hand; it flopped all over the place and got caught and just bugged me!
And at

At 12:36am on July 15, 2007, we got a wonderful surprise, our beautiful baby GIRL was born! Both Chad and I had strong "boy" feelings - we didn't find out the baby's gender via ultrasound, so it really was a surprise! We had lists of names for either scenario, but the other girl names were quickly forgotten when I saw her. Without hesitation, I called her Natalie Helen, a name that suits her perfectly. The next minutes, hours, and days, after Natalie was born are kind of a blur for me. I look back at the pictures, and I am so glad to have them.

When I think back over this past year, I can't help but feel like that one evening was such a teeny tiny slice of a much bigger story. I mean, it was an amazing experience, one I thought about and worried about for a very long time. But it was just a single event that set in motion an amazing new chapter in our lives. It has been a good year. A year of challenges, sleep deprivation, uncertainty, ... and a year of celebration, happiness, and much love.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Birthday Luau

Most everything I do requires a theme, and Natalie's birthday party was no exception. But I didn't do anything too over-the-top creative; instead I just went with a classic ... a luau! And boy, did we have fun. Fun that Natalie won't even remember, as Chad likes to remind me, but fun nonetheless, and there's plenty of photographic evidence, so it's all good!

Here's the text from the Evite:

A birthday Hawaiian style, doesn't that sound great?
NATALIE is turning ONE so we've got to celebrate!
Wear a crazy Hawaiian shirt or grass skirt if you dare,
it's sure to be a blast and we hope to see you there!
That's right, our baby girl is turning one!
Let's get together and have some fun!
Join us for a yummy lunch followed by cake and ice cream.
Expect colorful leis, a kiddy pool, and a hula contest.

And here's a glimpse at the fun (16 of the 120 photos):



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Highlights of Natalie's Luau Birthday Party:
10. Having Natalie's Mimi here to help us celebrate
9. Sharing the day with good friends
8. Plenty of beverages, Chad's main luau responsibility
7. Chad decorated with leis ... all over and in random places
6.
5.
4.
3.
2.
1.

Luau Recipes

This is one of the few times you’ll see me post a recipe; I’m just not that “into” cooking … but these three recipes are from my SIL by way of my MIL. They are simple crowd-pleasers, a combination for which I can muster up some kitchen enthusiasm!

Black Bean & Corn Salsa
1 can organic black beans, well drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon dried cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (I used one lime)
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon salt

Put it all in a bowl and mix it. Chill for a bit before serving with Tostito Scoops.

North Carolina Pulled Pork sandwiches
~3 lbs. boneless Pork Shoulder
1 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup ketchup
½ teaspoon Worshire sauce
1 ounce honey
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/3 teaspoon pepper
Squeeze of lemon juice

Put it all in the crock pot on high for 6 hours.
Shred pork, save sauce/juice and return to crock pot for serving.

Napa Slaw Salad
1 pound coleslaw
1 package Ramen noodles - Oriental flavor
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
½ cup sliced almonds
3 tablespoons butter

Melt butter in saucepan. Add crushed ramen noodles, the season packet, sesame seeds, and almonds. Sautee until light brown. Set aside.

Dressing:
½ cup oil
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Combine and chill until ready to serve.

Put cabbage in large bowl. Just before serving, add ramen mix and toss with chilled dressing.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Birthday Playdate

We kicked off Natalie's Birthday Celebration the way any fun-loving one year old should ... with a playdate! On Thursday afternoon, we had five babies and their mommies over for a little fun in the sun! And thankfully it was a beautiful and warm day here in the NW. The babies played in the backyard with beach balls and assorted toys (included our Chicco activity table, which is always a big hit!). The mommies chatted and took lots of photos. Natalie looked so cute in her Birthday Princess shirt (a gift from Grandma Sarah in VA) and making hot pink shorts. Refreshments included mini funfetti cupcakes for the one-and-under-crowd and a funfetti cake - baked in a Bundt pan and topped with my new "special" icing recipe* - for those of us with a higher tolerance for sugar :) Tammy, Owen's mom, provided impromptu entertainment that had all the babies laughing ... she used her finger and mouth to making a popping noise, and the crowd went wild!
I just loved watching Natalie playing with her buddies. And I couldn't help reminiscing about our first, of many, playdates ... Natalie wasn't even 4 months old yet, and if I am being honest, playdates back then were more for the mommies than the babies. In 8 short months, we have both made some really good friends. I am so thankful to have such supportive and fun mommy friends :)

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My "special" icing recipe is ridiculously simply but also really delicious. Use a mixer to blend together one container of Pillsbury white icing with half a container of Cool Whip. The result if lighter and fluffy and not quite so sweet; the outcome I was hoping for :)

Bumkins Messiest Eater Contest

I've been in love with Bumkins Bibs since Natalie ate her first spoonful of rice cereal! And now, I love them even more ... especially now that she's self-feeding all sorts of delicacies and since I recently won a Bumkins Bib (the third in our collection) and because today I got a very exciting email! The message was from Ashley, who is a Marketing Assistant with Bumkins Finer Baby Products, and here's what she had to say, "Natalie has been selected as a winner of our Messiest Eater Contest! She just looked adorable in the photo in her SuperBib with all that cottage cheese on her face! We could not resist picking her as a winner!"

You want to see the photo, right? Of course you do! Well, the truth of the matter is, I am not 100% sure which shot I submitted. You see, I took more than 30 pictures of Natalie eating cottage cheese ... over the course of like two days ... yes, I know that's ridiculous, but I just couldn't help myself! But I am fairly certain it was one of these; regardless you get the point ...

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she's cute,
she's messy,
she's eating cottage cheese,
she's wearing a Bumkins Bib, ...
and she's been named a winner in the
Bumkins Messiest Eater Contest!
Woo Hoo!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Snapshot in Time

In one week ... just seven short days ... my baby girl will turn one year old. I am in complete awe of how much my life has changed in the past 358 days. I want so much to hold onto the baby that she is right now, and at the same time, I can't wait to see who she'll be tomorrow!

At this snapshot in time, Natalie ...
  1. is officially weaned and drinking from a both a bottle and a sippy cup
  2. double-fists her binkies, when given the chance; sucking on one, clutching the other in her hand, and then switching
  3. greets me with a big smile whenever she sees me and hurries to be in my arms; she does the same for her daddy :)
  4. turns the pages of her books with tremendous concentration and delight
  5. puts her hands up over her head in reply to my question, "How big is Natalie?"
  6. is obsessed with eebee; when she's feeling "out-of-sorts" just the sight of the DVD case makes everything right in her world, and she must hold the case while she watches
  7. eats pieces of turkey meatballs, string cheese, strawberries, and Veggie Booty ... all with true enthusiasm and mmmmmms
  8. is very attached to her "lovey" - an orange, striped kitty cat
  9. still lets me rock her and sing to her; she snuggles right up against my neck and tickles me!
  10. cruises around furniture and lets go - a little more bravely than I would like - and insists on climbing the stairs with mommy right behind her, of course

Oh, she is so amazing and wonderful. My heart is so full it aches ... in a very good way!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Fourth of July, Ten Years Worth

Today, along with every other American on the planet, we will celebrate the Fourth of July. We will also celebrate our wedding anniversary. Hubby and I were married on July 4, 1998. Are you doing the math? That's right, this year is our 10-year anniversary! After nine years of celebrating this holiday and our anniversary as a couple, today the three of us will be celebrating as a family.

As our lives are marked by another exciting first, I wanted to take a look back at those nine pre-Natalie Fourths ... knowing and loving the fact that from now on our celebrations will always include our sweet baby girl.

1998: Although we were living in FL at the time, we were married in my hometown in IL. Our reception was at this darling lodge called Pere Marquette, and we could see fireworks over the Mississippi River. Chad remembers pulling 189 bobby pins from my hair ... what can I say, an updo was all the rage then.

1999: We had just moved to Northern Virginia. To commemorate our first anniversary, we bought a large, rustic armoire now in our dining room. And we rode the Metro to downtown Washington, DC to watch the fireworks ... I will long remember the sight of the Washington Monument in silhouette against the exploding sky

2000: We traveled - with flight privileges - to Europe and spent 12 days touring various countries. Our friends Missy and Joe hosted us at their home in Austria.

2001: After just moving into our first home, we watch the DC fireworks again, this time from the Pentagon ... only a few months before 9/11.

2002: Our fourth on the 4th included a trip to Austin, TX to hang out with high school friends and a surprise gift of diamond earrings!

2003: We celebrated with friends and watched fireworks - roadside - in Virginia.

2004: I made the trip back to my hometown and watched fireworks over the Mississippi River with my family. From there, Chad and I traveled to Hawaii and then Montana.

2005: Chad took my brother Tyler on a "man journey" while I relaxed on the beach in Hawaii with my friend Heather.

2006: We had just moved to the NW and drove to nearby Bellevue to watch several different displays from a dock on Lake Washington.

2007: This time last year, I was big and pregnant and mildly uncomfortable. My brother, Tyler, was living with us. And the three of us celebrated with neighbors at the annual cul-de-sac party.

2008: This year we'll hang with some of my mommy friends and then be back at the cul-de-sac party, juggling Natalie while we visit and eat. And hopefully she'll sleep through what promises to be a very loud fireworks show - just a few houses down from ours. The true celebration will take place in February at a tropical location.

Happy Anniversary, Chad Patrick.
And Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Playground Plea

As we near the park, Natalie leans forward in her stroller and squeals with delight. Just the thought of swinging and seeing all the other kiddos gets her all kinds of excited. I'm fairly new to the playground scene. But based on frequency of visits, I feel like I have the right to make an observation/plea.

There are only two "baby" swings at our neighborhood "big" park. This presents quite a problem when there are more than two little ones at the park, which is pretty much always the case. Now the likelihood of our HOA installing more baby swings is slim to none, and so I must rely on my fellow mommies (and daddies) to approach this problem with a bit of etiquette. We have to share those darn swings. You cannot plop your baby/toddler in the swing for a 30-minute ride. Let your kid have his/her jollies for an appropriate 5 minutes, and then step aside so those of us waiting patiently can have a turn. Otherwise, you can expect an occasional evil eye pointed in your direction. If you are looking for serious disdain from your fellow park-goers, hog the swing and CHAT ON YOUR CELL PHONE while completely ignoring your child ... yeah, that's always a crowd-pleaser!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Running Away From Home

That's me. Running away from home. Not sure whose dog that is following me, but whatever.

Today has been a very trying day. A day when I really don't feel like being a mom* - as if that's an option. And well, that seems like a good enough reason to run away.

I can remember threatening to run away when I was all of about 6 years old. Putting a pair of dainties, a deck of cards, and a handful of crackers in a bandanna, and heading out the front door ... this kind of running away was really a cry for attention. (And why is the bandanna and stick "the luggage of choice" in this situation?) I didn't get far - never really intended to - and wasn't gone long - it was a summer month, hot and humid, and I hadn't packed anything to drink ... besides, I figured I had made my point just by walking out the door. So back I went. Forgotten was the injustice that spurred me into runaway action in the first place.

This scenario replays in my childhood memories about a handful of times, and I always found it empowering to pack that little bag and walk out the door ... only to return again. I also remember that my own mom would sometimes runaway from home. With four kids, I am fairly certain she had good reason. But, here's the kicker, her running away usually went unnoticed, which infuriated her even more. After a few hours to defuse, she'd come back expecting fanfare - at the very least a hug or two - and questions like, "Where were you?" Instead she found that life continued without her as the center of our universe. A notion that should've inspired relief but was a hard pill to swallow. That is not to say that we could've survived long without her. A few hours is one thing, but much longer than that, and our world pretty much did fall apart.

Back to the monstrosity that was today. *First I should say that I am racked with guilt for admitting that I don't feel like being a mommy today. What an awful thing to think/say/blog. But it's the honest truth, so there it is. Clearly, Natalie was not herself; she is typically - with very few exceptions - a delightful, sweet baby girl. I am guessing she woke up on the wrong side of the crib (Is that even possible considering her crib is against the wall?) - about an hour and a half earlier than usual , and the day just plummeted downhill from there. My day was a constant onslaught of fussiness, mini-tantrums, and her terribly annoying cough-cry. She refused to take a bottle or eat anything besides strawberries and Veggie Booty. Any tiny glimmers of contentment lasted all of about three seconds ... except when I played the eebee DVD, a 10-minute slice of heaven in an otherwise hellish day, and Natalie got two doses. I tried, people, I really did. My mommy bag o' tricks was apparently out of commission because absolutely nothing worked. (And what's up with the freakin' kitchen sink? I swear someone keeps dumping dirty dishes in there, and I've had it!)

And so at the end of this very long day, I don't particularly care for a bubble bath, so Calgon won't be taking me away; I'll be taking myself away ... to Agrestic, where Nancy's life is so much more complicated and interesting and awful than my own! Weeds, Season 3, here I come ... thanks to Tammy for loaning me the discs and to Scott for bringing them to me - now that's service!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Another of my Favorite Things: Baby Says Peekaboo

So I'm going to try to add a little structure to the chaos that is my blog ... and the first bit of "organization," if you will ... is to give you A Few of My Favorite Things at the beginning of each month. Hope you enjoy ... and hope I remember next month :)

Baby Says PeekaBoo
I would not be exaggerating in the least to say that NHV loves this book. And, well, for that reason, I love it, too! Her faces absolutely lights up at just the sight of it. Once the pages are turned and the flaps are lifted ... to reveal some very cute babies ... Natalie just grins and squeals, a combination I can't live a single day without! She started being able to lift the flaps herself more than a month ago, which just added to the excitement. The book asks, "Where's the baby? Is she behind the beach ball?" When you lift the flap you find the adorable baby featured on the cover of the book ... the hat tipped to the side and the lips puckered. Natalie's favorite is the baby boy hiding behind the washcloth. He as curly blond hair, a toothy grin, and a rubber ducky in his hand; a combination that my daughter simply can't resist. The photographed babies make this book so charming and fun. There are tons of other books in this series. We also own Bedtime Peekaboo, but the Baby version continues to be our favorite.


I will try to get a little video clip of Natalie "reading" this book ...
Happy July 1st :)

TCB: Taking Care of Business

It's just one of those days. Lots of "business" to attend to. Huge To Do List. Cross things off and moving on to the next item. Running around like a chicken with its head cut off ... eww, that saying is just disgusting! Nonetheless (love that word!) feeling productive and still going strong:
So far, I've ...
  • loaded, ran, and unloaded the dishwasher
  • folded and put away two loads of laundry
  • cleaned my bathroom - it was waaaay over due!
  • made my bed - tucked sheet and all
  • emptied garbage on the top floor

All while entertaining NHV with ...

  • songs and dancing - including Sexy Can I ... going out to Sarah K in honor of her PCCC
  • three books, read with much enthusiasm, of course
  • about 10 minutes of Sesame Street
  • and hubby's old cell phone - she still prefers MY cell phone ... aaargh!
  • an hour and half long nap ... saweet!

Natalie is calling from her crib, and we have errands to run ... busy, busy!

Peace out :)

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