Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Visit from Uncle Ty

My youngest brother and Natalie's Uncle Ty has been here all week.
He's a senior at the University of Illinois - on spring break.
Ridiculously smart. Adorable. Funny. Goofy.
And he apparently likes to do all of Natalie's favorite things ...
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Whether he wants to be or not, he's a really fabulous uncle. Not because he tries hard, but because he's a bit of a kid magnet. He makes the silliest faces, uses funny voices, and it probably doesn't hurt that he's tall - there's something about freakishly tall that kids find delightful. All the nuggets in my family love Uncle Ty, and Natalie absolutely adores him. I have a feeling she'll be asking for him for a good long while after he leaves.

Oh! No!

Quick story ... and two photos. I was trying to get out the door this morning. One of those times when it seems like we are moving in slow motion ... every time I thought we were making progress something else would happen to delay us.
Natalie needed juice. I forgot the wipes upstairs. Natalie made number twos. Good thing I grabbed those wipes. Natalie wanted a bow in her hair; back upstairs I went.
I decided to give my new "diaper bag/purse" a try, which required transferring everything from the old bag. Natalie noticed mommy's new snazzy bag, bolted out of the room in a very determined fashion, chanting something I couldn't quite understand. Found my baby girl digging through our "pretending" bin with all the hats, scarves, and purses for playing dress-up. After emptying almost all of the contents of said bin, she found what she was looking for, and I figured out what she was chanting, "puwse, puwse, puwse."

Too cute, right? Cute enough to further delay our outing and grab the camera? Sure why not.

Except grabbing the camera off the mantle - with its strap stuck on the leg-dodad of the candle holder - resulted in this ...

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Scroll back up and take a look at Natalie's expression 'cause it really says it all, "Oh! No!"

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dock, Ducks, ... such a Delight!

There's a lake near our house that is the home to a fairly large flock (?) of ducks. And those ducks love stale carbs ... bread, crackers, ... you get the idea. We haven't been to see the ducks in quite some time because the weather here has been awful typical. But last Sunday, we found ourselves with a surplus of "duck" bread and somewhat bearable weather conditions. That combination led us to the dock where we fed the ducks and took lots of photos ... here are a few of my favorites.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

FFF: Unique ... Nursery

I've been looking for an excuse to share these photos and tell this story ... without seeming ridiculously, blatantly random. A big thanks to this week's FFF theme for giving me the opportunity!

Natalie's ABC Nursery
Not knowing your baby’s gender, in my opinion, simply heightens the anticipation. Of course it can also complicate matters, especially when it comes time to decorate the nursery. I was bound and determined to avoid pastels and the gimmicky, themed nursery - neither suits my style or, more importantly, my personality! And that's why creating a fun, interesting space for my new little bundle of joy required 26 willing participants from 8 different states: Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, Virginia, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, and Washington.
I mean, why “Do It Yourself” when you can get your family and friends to do it for you, right? That’s exactly what I set out to do, and I must tell you the result is a nursery unlike any other, a true one-of-a-kind. It's, well, UNIQUE!

The idea came to me in a dream - a fairly common source of inspiration. I saw letters of the alphabet in an art gallery; each letter designed by a different artist. So I ordered 8” x 8” square canvases and mailed one to each of my 26 dearest and willing family members and friends. Along with the canvas, I sent a set of directions (aka a task card - because I'm a teacher and that's how I roll!) and a list of colors that would give me the bright, colorful results I was hoping for. Some of the artists were a little reluctant, but each one is a work of art and a labor of love. I can't tell you how often I've pointed to a letter and told Natalie about the person who painted it for her, how we know that person, and what I love about that person.

Here's a closer look at each letter. I think you'll agree, the art in Natalie's nursery is without a doubt ... UNIQUE. Each of the 26 letters was created by someone who loved her before she was even born.

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Another little part of this story worth mentioning ... my friend, ChitownMomma, was pregnant at the same time, and she borrowed my idea; also creating a unique nursery for her little guy. She only used three colors: off-white, light blue, and medium blue - and got very different but equally adorable results. She designed my "T" and I did the "V" for her alphabet. She's due with her second nugget at the end of May and she's asking family/friends to make letters again ... this time in shades more appropriate for a girl :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Goodbye to a bathtub

About a year ago, we transitioned Natalie from her infant bathtub to an inflatable tub. Yes, my daughter took her baths in a Fischer Price infant tub - on the counter in my bathroom - until she was almost 9 months old. I admit it; I was having a hard time letting go. And now, almost a year to the day later, I am feeling conflicted about taking the next step ... from the comfort and safety of the inflatable to the actual bathtub with it's hard, slippery surfaces. But it's time. I know this. Just look at the photos. The top one shows Natalie - in the "big" tub having a great time. Just below that is a photo taken a few weeks ago; she looks huge in that inflatable tub. It was this picture - shot from above - that made it so clear to me that it was time - once again - to say good bye, to let do. And I couldn't resist including a photo of Natalie when she first started bathing in the inflatable tub, my form of tribute to a tub that served us well: conserving water and keeping Natalie safe and not needing to be reinflated for an entire year.

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For those of you comtemplating the transition from the infant tub, I highly recommend the inflatable tub. Natalie played in hers for about a month before we put it in the tub and used it for baths. It was a great place for her to sit propped up with a handful of toys in reach. We've gotten a year's worth of use out of it beyond that, and I have a feeling she'll probably still play in it now - I left it upstairs in her room.

I think ours is made by Safety 1st, and I paid about $12 for it at BabiesRUs. I can't seem to find it on their website, but here's a link to
one at Sears for that same price - but it's a different pattern.

As a replacement - and to keep her safe - I bought
this bathmat. NHV is super excited to take her bath with the fishy now.

Tongue Rolling

There's much debate about whether or not tongue rolling is hereditary. Google it. You'll see. I was researching for a genetics lesson and never did find a definitive answer. Because I find useless, random bits of information delightful ...
One website claims it is a myth and says this: "Some people can roll their tongue into a tube, and some people can't. The proportion of people who can roll their tongue ranges from 65 to 81 percent, with a slightly higher proportion of tongue-rollers in females than in males. Tongue rolling is one of the human traits most commonly used to demonstrate simple Mendelian genetics. It is said to be a simple two-allele character, with the allele for rolling (usually given the symbol T or R) being dominant over the allele for non-rolling (t or r)."
Regardless, tongue rolling sure is cute ...
and apparently best done in the bathtub :)
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These photos were taken almost exactly one year apart.
If you click to enlarge, you can clearly see that Natalie
has (or has not) inherited the tongue rolling trait.

For the record (if there is one), although Chad and I can both roll our tongues, his is much more impressive than mine, and he gets all the credit for showing Natalie this little trick.

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition, ...

Understandably, being 20-months old must be frustrating ... on so many levels. Being the mama on the receiving end of much verbal repetition from said 20-month is equally frustrating and dare I say a little annoying. I'd use the "broken record" analogy, but ... well, that would just make me seem ancient!

Anyway, it seems NHV can't say anything just once. And in most cases, she is definitely holding out for a reaction, response, acknowledgement ... of some sort. Here's a little sampling of the thoughts I imagine in her cute little head and the onslaught of repetitions I endure:
  • I'm bored. Don't want to read another book or pretend cook or color on scraps of paper. "Elmo. Elmo. Elmo. Elmo." (The appropriate response on my part would be to push play on the DVD player. The girl is addicted to that furry little red monster!)
  • I'm feeling kind of lazy and/or a little neglected, and I'm not really sure what I want, I just know I don't have "it" yet, "Uh. Uh. Uh. Uh." (I've gotta dig deep to find patience for this one.)
    Hey, I bet I could see some cool stuff up there; the view down here is so two minutes ago, "Up. Up. Up. Up."
  • It's so nice to be outside, taking a walk, just hanging out in my stroller while mom does all the work ... oh, hey there's a, "Bus. Bus. Bus. Bus. Bus. Bus." (No kidding. She said, "bus" at least 50 times today. And if I didn't reply, "Yes, Natalie, you're right. That is a bus," she would just keep repeating it!)
  • Let's see, it's been like 20 minutes since lunch ... and I could eat Puffs all day long, "Hunree. Hunree. Hunree."
  • Zzzzzzzz. Hmmmm. It sure is quiet around here. I bet mom is sleeping, but she'd much rather be hanging out with me, "Rawk-me. Rawk-me. Rawk-me." (For the most part she's right, I'd give up a good night's sleep for a few minutes of rocking anytime ... especially when I remind myself that there will come a day when she won't ask ... and I'll miss it.)

Friday, March 20, 2009

FFF: Green ... Flashback

Understandably, this week's FFF theme is "green." Unfortunately, baby girl doesn't own a single green article of clothing. Pink, you betcha. Purple, sure. Red, yep. But really no green. As I was pondering this little quandary, I considered taking a photo of something other than NHV ... but well, that's no fun at all. And I thought about buying something new just for a green photo shot ... but that just didn't happen. Then I remembered that my awesome friend Missy, aka Emmett's mommy, sent Natalie the cutest green striped sweater for Christmas last year. Now, that sweater certainly doesn't still fit my little weed, but I did take some pretty cute photos of her wearing it. As I was browsing through the "month 9" folder from last March, I also stumbled upon this crazy pic of 7 babies all lined up on a couch - back when we could put our babies in one spot and they would all stay put long enough to snap a few shots.

My somewhat modified FFF theme for this week is Green Flashback!
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If you haven't "read me" singing the praises of Picasa from Google, let me take a moment to do just that. The newest version is so much fun ... and it's free ... which is why I haven't bothered to learn PhotoShop. You can do basic photo editing like cropping and removing red-eye and messing around with the color a little. But I really love that you can make these adorable collages in about three clicks and add text, too. Did you notice the green spacing between the photos? Fun, fun, fun!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

WIFATL: Baby Love Lullaby

Check out ... What I Found At the Library!

After a recent CD Swap Playdate I hosted at my house, I've been into children's music. In particular, I've made it my personal mission to find children's music that makes us - Natalie, me, hubby - all happy. No sense listening to songs that make me want to grab my iPod and fling it with wild abandon out the car window. Who am I kidding, I don't have an iPod jack in my car - I bought my Volvo the year before that became a standard feature - and I am a little bitter about it - but hey, a girl can dream, can't I? So, anyway, in reality, it would be a shiny CD I would be tossing out the window ... a thought that has crossed my mind after listening to the KinderMusik CD for the 100th time!

Ummmm ... did I mention this post has something to do with the library? Perhaps I should focus ... the Elmo video in the background is very distracting! I write "best" under pressure ... we've got 15 minutes people, let's kick into high gear ...

I was at the library the other day (look at me getting to the point!) and came across this CD, the first thing I noticed was the nice use of white space - because a) I am a nerd and notice stuff like that and b) I am a big fan of white space. The text was simple and the baby in the cowboy hat and boots ... well, pretty darn cute, dontcha think? In comparison to the other discs in the library's selection - all day-glo and obnoxious - this one definitely caught my eye.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I don't l-o-v-e country music, however there are a few country artists I enjoy listening to ... namely the Dixie Chicks, Tim McGraw, maybe a little Carrie Underwood - so mainstream, I know. Honestly, I would totally listen to country music - without a problem - if someone else turned it on, but it's unlikely that I would make that genre selection. On a side not: I really can't stand Garth Brooks; it's nothing personal against the guy, but I had a roommate in college that played his CD quite often and cried even more often ... 'nuff said?

Anyhoo, this adorable CD is called Baby Love Lullaby, lullaby versions of Tim McGraw, and I couldn't resist giving it a try. I would classify it as soothing. Definitely not something NHV and I will rock out to during our afternoon jam session, but it was perfect as background while I made dinner and Natalie colored pictures for Mimi and Papa :)

Okay, ready for the best part ... I googled this whole "baby-love-lullaby" deal ... secretly hoping to find a version of Nelly's songs. No luck. But I did find ... now get this ... a 50 Cent version! Gangsta lullaby ... nearly speechless, I am. This is a CD after my own heart! Check out the little thug baby on the cover ... oddly precious, no?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Visit with Friends ... and Some Inspiration!

A good friend of mine brought her two adorable boys over for a visit today. We had such a great time ... great conversation, sharing of good tips, fun for the kiddos, a yummy lunch, and no stress ... everything a playdate should be and more!
Janelle is the mom of two - under the age of two - and she makes it look easy ... or at least not nearly as hard as the idea of it seems to this mom-of-one. I've never really stopped to wonder why our paths crossed (in the big scheme of things), but after the conversation Janelle and I had about writing, I think the reason has been revealed. I am really hoping she's the inspiration I need to get much more serious about publishing someday! Perhaps I'll write more about that in another post ...
But my real reason for posting was this adorable photo ...
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Natalie really likes her buddy, Brody; in fact, she's been asking for him since he left! In typical mommybrain fashion, just as they were leaving, I remembered my camera and grabbed a few quick shots. This is the cutest ... notice the addition of text ... I am a little obsessed with this Picasa feature right now!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nothing Flat About This Smile :)

Aside from the fact that today is my Friday ... and I am really looking forward to spending the day with a healthy and happy Natalie ... something else made me genuinely smile today, and I thought I'd share it with you :)

First of all, I start most of my Tuesdays with a smile because I talk to my dear friend Laurie, aka chitownmommy, on my way to school. She let's me vent about school. We share stories about our little nuggets. And I get to hear the details of her second pregnancy, with a tinge of envy and many memories of sharing our first pregnancies. So, it's only natural that I would be smiling while chatting with Laurie ... but in addition, something happened that put a very funny visual image in my mind.

It was warm and breezy in Chicago today (verses snowy and rainy here in the NW), and Laurie and Benjamin were taking advantage of the chance to be outside. They were taking a walk - with a Flat Stanley sent from Laurie's nephew. All of the sudden, I heard Laurie say, "Oh sh*t!" Never a good expression, especially coming from the mouth of an 8-month pregnant lady!

My first - slightly alarmed and amused - thought was ... perhaps her water broke; you were thinking the same thing, weren't you?

No, nothing quite so wet or dramatic. One of those warm breezes had picked up Flat Stanley and he was blowing and tumbling across the grass. Laurie, with her almost 20-month old, his stroller, and a cute little baby girl bump in tow, took off "running" after him ... all while talking on the phone with me. Hee-hee-hee-larious! The Adventures of Flat Stanley, indeed! That should make quite a story for a 1st grade classroom ... and a mommy blog, too :)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Almost 2!?

Went to BabiesRUs today ... picked up a new umbrella stroller and a few new bibs, joined their rewards program ... all-in-all a successful trip and an excuse to get out of the house, despite snow this morning and then lots of rain.

Checking out, Natalie did her usual, "Hi ... Na-ta-yee," introduction for the cashier. The lady replied, "Oh, she's so cute. How old is she?" (If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me that ... or I asked someone else, for that matter ... I'd buy a big ol' Starbucks card.) Anyway ...
I pondered for just a second, trying to remember today's date, and replied, "Oh, it's the 15th; Natalie is 20 months old today." To which the nice lady said, "So almost 2, then," with this sweet smile on her face. I am sure my expression didn't look quite as sweet in return ... as these thoughts were running through my mommybrain ...

Internal dialogue: I was like, what? I said 20-months, didn't I? I didn't say almost 2! How dare you age my sweet baby girl! As if she isn't already growing up so much faster than I would really like. As if the past 8 months since her first birthday haven't flown by in such a blur it makes me a little woosie just to think about it! Wait, two years is 24 months, and she's 20 months old today. (Yes, I did this little word problem in my head!) So ... Oh-my-gosh ... she really is almost 2!

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Spelling Bee

Okay, I have a little contest for you. A contest I think is perfectly suited for mommies of toddlers and/or teachers ... which is the majority of my blog audience, so this should work out just fine.

A little background: Natalie continues to point out letters and shapes wherever we go. It's super exciting, but it also really keeps me on my toes. I just can't help but be thrilled by her little discoveries. The way her brain is just soaking it all in. The way she is starting to make sense of her world. So exciting and often times funny :)

So, back to the contest ... we were out-and-about the other day, and Natalie pointed and said, "O." I looked around to find the source of her letter-naming; sure enough there was an "o" sort of. So I prompted her to tell me the next letter and the next letter and the next letter ... until this is what she had "spelled" ...

And, so if you want in on the contest, leave a comment to explain what Natalie had spelled and where we were.

I'll mention the prize in my next post. Don't get too excited, but see if you can figure this out. I can't wait to see your ideas!

Shark Skeptic

Is anyone out there really a big fan of a shark? What about the Shark? I'm a fan of neither.

Watched an infomercial yesterday. Ran out to Target to buy the Shark Steam Mop. Just used it, not floored by its performance.

Let me back up and say that I hate mopping. Anyone out there a big fan of mopping? I am guessing not. Not only do I hate the time and work involved in the whole process but I also hate the fact that I am spreading chemicals all over a surface that NHV interacts with constantly. That can't be a good thing, right? I mean, I use the "tough stuff" to clean the toilets without much of a second thought, but Natalie isn't playing in the toilets ... well, okay, on a very rare occasion. But I don't want my wood floors covered in a harsh, mega-chemical cleaner. I want clean, germ-free floors that maybe shine just the tiniest bit. Everything I've tried smells really strong and leaves a film. And the floor takes forever to dry - one major bonus about the steam mop is that your floors are dry almost instantly. But their "proof is in the pad" claim left me a little disappointed. After pushing that darn thing all over my kitchen, breakfast nook, and dining room, I turned it over expecting to see an impressive amount of dirt on the pad, but not so much. I mean it's dirty, but not like filthy ... perhaps that is a good thing; that means my floors weren't as disgusting as I thought they were to begin with? I don't know, I'm just not feeling it. And it was just as much work as mopping - minus filling/dumping the bucket of water/cleaner - I still had to sweep, move chairs and rugs and toys, fill up the little water tank that makes the steam, push and pull that thing all over the place - it didn't glide like on the infomercial. For the money, I expected to be wowed and not so winded.

And so, I am a Shark skeptic, and I am looking for floor cleaning alternatives. I'd love to be looking for a house cleaner, too ... but that's not going to happen :)

Pillow for Toddler?

Last night was the first time in a week that Natalie slept through the night. I had to go in once because she lost her binky, but otherwise she didn't need me.

Between this virus-deal and a ridiculous amount of teeth coming through - including molars on the top and bottom - we have been spending A LOT of time together in the wee hours of the night/morning, and well, it hasn't been all that delightful. Most times I would hear her crying, go to her room, and find her sitting up clutching her lovey and chanting "Rak me, rak me." Can't really deny that request, right? I rocked and soothed and put her back in her crib. Sometimes that worked, other times she changed her chant to "Bed. Bed. Bed," and she was referring to the bed in the guest room. I took her in there Monday night when her fever was really high because we keep the vent closed and it's cooler in there than any other room. We even slept in there for a few hours. She slept on her belly with about half of her body on the pillow beside me. This happened a few times this week because she was so insistent about sleeping in the guest bed, and I was so completely exhausted. But this isn't a habit I want her to get into. She does great sleeping in her own bed - always has - until this recent bout with illness/teeth.

Anyway, seeing her so peacefully sleeping with her head elevated on a pillow got me to thinking perhaps she is ready for a toddler pillow. Perhaps that will help her sleep better. I remember reading something about increased pressure in the ears and jaw when a baby lies flat in a crib.

And so here's my question, Does your toddler sleep with a pillow? Would you recommend it? Do you know of a reason that it's not a good idea? Where did you get your toddler pillow? Any other suggestions for making sure she's comfortable while sleeping? Insights, please :)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Indoor Playgrounds: Safe or Germ Fest?

I did something this evening that I never thought I'd do. I did something tonight out of desperation. I did something tonight that probably exposed NHV to a gazillion different kinds of yuckiness. Yes, dear friends, I took my child to an indoor playground at McDonalds.

Now, if you've ever visited - or hey, are even a big fan of - these types of establishments, please don't let the first few sentences of this post seem like a judgement. I am totally not judging. It's just that I was naive enough to think that I would be able to avoid such a place. But the truth of the matter is that after a week of being on "Natalie-has-some-random-virus-lockdown," I needed to get out. She needed to get out. We needed to be in the company of other people ... like before I lost my mind completely. And so we headed out to Costo - on a Saturday night - only to find that it closes at 6:00. This totally baffles me; I know that place would be packed with people - desperate moms and dads, little kids, you name it - until at least 8:00 pm (the weeknight closing time) if not 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But whatever, we arrived, it was closed, and we found ourselves sitting an empty parking lot, staring through our rain-soaked windshield in disbelief.

This was our "outing" for the day, and now that plan was foiled. That hour of entertainment had been taken away from me, and I was not happy about it. Chad suggested that we just head back home, but I wouldn't hear of it. I started driving aimlessly, kiddie music playing through the radio. A few miles and a turn or two later, and I spotted our oasis from both boredom and dismal weather. The golden arches ... not just any McDonald's but one with the huge indoor playground protruding from the bowels of it's fast-food producing innards. Ah, quite the visual, no?!

I made a snap decision and turned into the parking lot. I turned to Chad and said, "Do you have any really strong feelings about indoor playgrounds?" He uttered, what I believe to be, a pretty typical male response, "Ummm, no, should I?" My mind raced remembering some scary article I had read once about the traces of fecal matter and hypodermic needles and myriad of other disgusting stuff found at indoor fast-food playgrounds. I thought about mentioning all of this to Chad ... to see if perhaps an opinion would form in that oblivious male mind of his. But I knew that if I said those things out loud, I wouldn't be able to go through with it. So instead, I said, "Well, I was thinking that Natalie could play for a few minutes and you could get a sundae." His eyes lit up. He had his car door open and was walking around to get Natalie from her carseat, in a matter of seconds. My sweet husband is not one to walk away from a hot fudge sundae.

Once inside, Natalie was so happy to see other "kids and babies." (Bigger than her, she points and says, "Kid." Smaller or the same size, she calls out, "Baby.") And I was relieved to know that I wouldn't have to be her source of entertainment for the next 20 minutes. I reluctantly pulled off her pink knock-off Uggs and turned her loose on the giant plastic - not entirely clean-looking - structure. She had a blast. I couldn't help but notice how gray the bottom of her white socks looked as she came zooming down the slide. Chad, of course, remained oblivious to my uneasiness as he savored every last bite of his sundae!

But it was my sundae-eating, sensible hubby that ultimately made me feel better about the whole ordeal. After commenting to him about it seeming so dirty and disgusting in "here," he shared his little insight ... he did have an opinion after all ... It's really no different than an outdoor playground. It's all the same dirt and grime no matter if it's in a McDonalds or at the park. At least here the kids take their shoes off and someone probably wipes down this stuff every once in a while. Now, that last part is probably a little wishful, but I can see his point. I don't have any qualms about letting Natalie play at our neighborhood parks; somehow outdoor play areas seem cleaner to me ... the wind blows the germs around and the rain washes them away. The indoor places just seem so stagnant, and don't germs like stagnant?

Okay, I need your help ... Am I being irrational about my feelings toward the indoor playgrounds at fast food restaurants? Do you have similar feelings? Is this a warranted concern or just some misplaced germ phobia?

Friday, March 13, 2009

FFF: Then ... and Now :)

This week's Favorite Foto Friday theme is Then ...
and I took the liberty of adding the Now part.
The top photos were taken ... then ... last March.

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And these were taken this month ... now.

Amazing how much she's changed.
But the ridiculous amount of pink in her wardrobe,
that has stayed the same :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sleeping Beauty

After a visit to the doctor's office - I've been assured that it's viral and the rash will go away (big help that was) - and a strawberry milkshake - 'cause that's what my mommy did to make me feel better when I was a sick little one - and this is what Natalie has been doing for the past FOUR hours!
Doesn't she look so sweet and peaceful? I hope she wakes up the same way, and I hope she sleeps tonight ... something tells me it may be another late one! But I just can't bear to wake her ...
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... of course, that didn't stop me from taking photos of her while she's sleeping ... but I did turn off the "beep" function.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Fever, Grouchies, & a Late Night Party

Poor little NHV started running a high fever just before naptime on Monday; at least that's when daddy noticed :) No other symptoms, just a high fever. So we dosed her with "fever reducer," made sure she drank plenty of fluids, and did lots and lots of cuddling.

This is my sweet NHV on Tuesday evening. Running a fever of about 104 and feeling pretty miserable. We stripped her down to her diaper, armed her with binky, kitty, and blanky, and left it up to Elmo to entertain/soothe her for a few minutes while we ate a meager dinner. If you flashback to about 15 minutes earlier, it was a big cuddle-fest, and my little darling only wanted her mommy. I was happy to provide some comfort and wished I could be sick instead of her :(

This is my not-so-sweet NHV on Wednesday afternoon. The fever was down to about 100, but the grouchies were at an all-time-high! No exaggeration, she had at least four code "red" meltdowns between waking up and going back down for a nap. It was a very trying day, and my patience was spread pretty thin. The insatiable need to cuddle was interrupted with fits of tears, writhing on the floor, and the likes. And then we'd cuddle again, and the cycle continued; now that I think about it, it was like spending the day with a miniature Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde! This photo totally captures her sour mood. Once again, she's sitting in front of the TV watching Elmo because that's the only thing that was making her happy. And I was all about the "happy" ...

Speaking of happy, this is Natalie at 10:23 pm tonight ... check the clock :) Yes, she was awake. And, much more importantly, she was her usual happy, energetic, silly self. Such a relief! So why was she awake at that crazy hour? We did our usual bedtime routine, and NHV was in her crib by 8:30. Hubby and I raced for the couch to watch an episode of Friday Night Lights, Season 1 on Netflix. Seriously, peeps, it's an addiction. We just can't stop. We've been watching an average of 2 episodes per evening for the past 5 nights! But I digress ... and I'll save that for another post. Through the monitor, I could hear Natalie in her crib chatting, singing, just hanging out ... content but obviously not tired. I went up three times to "remind her" it was bedtime and even rocked her again. But just as the Panthers were taking the field, I could just tell it wasn't going to happen; she wasn't going to fall asleep. So went back up. Found her standing in her crib. Greeted by a huge smile and an enthusiastic, "Up!" I was completely bamboozled (not sure if that's the right word, but I like it) and brought her back downstairs to catch the final minutes of the show. She sat quietly and read books. For the next hour and a half, we stacked blocks, sang songs, colored pictures, and read books ... and enjoyed each other's company. Daddy didn't hang out with us the entire time - he does have to get up early to bring home the bacon, but he read a few stories and I snapped a few shots ... precious :)

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I especially like this shot of CPV yawning as he reads!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Favorite Foto Friday

I've been a fan of FFF since I stumbled upon Life in the Woods. The photos she posts of her little guy - about the same age as NHV - just make me smile :) Anyway, I found my way to the FFF through her blog, and I've been perusing some of the FFF links for several months now, but I've yet to jump on board with this weekly challenge. But, hey, it's Fun, it involves Fotos, which I have bazillions of, and what else do I have to do on a Friday?
As the report card procrastination continues, I decided this would be the week, and guess what, there wasn't really a theme this week. Just pick a favorite photo from February, and maybe post it in black and white. Well, I upped the challenge for myself. I took a photo - from February - that I wasn't especially crazy about and used Picasa to crop and tune it until it was one of my favorites :) From the moment I snapped it, I loved Natalie's expression in this photo, but it was taken from a distance and had a lot of background (white walls, toys, shelves) to take away from her cute little face.
I really love that it was a totally random shot of her playing - so contentedly - outside her bedroom. And that drool-covered chin is evidence of the four bottom teeth she is trying desperately to break through ... poor thing ... my poor, happy, smiling-through-the pain little lovebug!

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Animals on Parade

The craftiness continues here in the NW. Obviously inspired by my own craft success, CPV bought a book about making wooden toys and set out to make this adorable set of wooden animals. There's a Hippo, Giraffe, Bear, Elephant, Lion, and Camel; NHV can name them all. Each painted a different color, my contribution to the project - Natalie can name all those, too. Each with wooden wheels and tiny hooks, so they can be pushed or pulled individually or connected in a little parade. My favorite is the Elephant. But, honestly, I love them all because they were made with love :)

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P.S. Yes, I know these would make wonderful gifts, but I can't make any promises; CPV is very talented but not exactly speedy :)

Elmo will have to wait!

As I hurried down the hall to relieve my much neglected bladder, NHV chanted, "Elmo? Elmo? Elmo?" Notice the punctuation. This was not a chant of glee; it was a repeated question. NHV wanted to watch Elmo on YouTube, a recent addition to our nightly entertainment regime. The realization that I was heading to the powder room and not for the laptop, caused some aggravation and invigorated repetition.

To her frustrated request, I replied, "Honey, mommy has to go potty, and when mommy has to go potty, Elmo will have to wait."

Definitely words I never thought I'd utter :)

Anyway, here are two of our favorite Elmo YouTube videos.

Elmo's Potty Time

Andrea Bocelli's sings Elmo to sleep

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What's in your diaper bag?

I was in the mood to organize today. That's really not unusual. I like to organize. I especially like to organize as a productive way to procrastinate, and well, it's report card time again, so ... I emptied the contents of Natalie's diaper bag, and this is what I found:

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  1. 3 NutriGrain bars, one of each flavor (strawberry, apple/cinnamon, and blueberry) - I buy these things at Costco, in the variety pack, obviously. It's fruit. It's grain. It's somewhat nutritious when compared to say ... a Snickers bar. One problem: they are no longer bars; I think I just invented NutriGrain crumbles :)
  2. 2 diapers, also from Costco ... what can I say, we are a buy-in-bulk kind-of-family!
  3. 1/2 of a package of wipes without a lid, which explains why they are "conveniently" engulfed in a gallon size ziploc baggie.
  4. Another baggie - this one sandwich size - with folded sheets of paper and 4 chunky, triangular crayons. This is NHV's latest form of restaurant distraction/entertainment, and I am loving it ... except I desperately need a super cute, super clever crayon roll, like this one.
  5. Beneath the crayon baggie is a little book that NHV adores. It's a Mary Engelbreit called, What Kids Do. I find the illustrations precious; Natalie finds them hilarious ... go figure!
  6. A Bumpkin bib - the purple garden design - and it smells a little funky. Probably time to toss it in the laundry ... ewww, gross!
  7. A tiny container of band-aids and some kind of ointment. Feeling-oh-so-prepared for just about any emergency.
  8. A tube-thingy of spray anti-biotic hand sanitizer.
  9. Plastic keys and a tiny hot pink bracelets - things no grown woman should ever leave the house without ...
  10. A sippy cup leash - to keep the sippy cup from running away. Beside the leash laws here in the NW are really strict :)
  11. In case of a rare meltdown, a Soothie, stored ever-so-germ-free (yeah, right) in a take-and-toss container.
  12. And just as I am walking out the door, I throw in my cell phone, wallet, and keys!

Now, my loyal blog reading audience, what's in your diaper bag?

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