Saturday, December 25, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree

"The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree 
is the presence of a happy family 
all wrapped up in each other."

Saturday, December 18, 2010

where was i?

After typing this title, I have to kind of chuckle ... because, really, it's a valid question in regards to my much-neglected blog ... but I will save all of that for another time. 

Right now, I need to hear from you ... so I am dusting off ...

Two times in the past week, Natalie has asked me, "Where was I?"  And both times, I struggled to answer this question.  Both conversations went something like this ...

"Mommy, when did you and daddy get married?"

"Oh, that was a long time ago, honey.  Twelve years ago."

"How old was I when you got married? Was I a little baby?"

"You weren't even born yet, Natalie."

Big - long- pause - thoughtful expression ...

"Well, where was I, mommy?" 

Big - long-pause-totally, fa-reakin' stumped expression ...

"Ummm, well,  ... "

"Was I in your belly when you got married?"

"No, honey, you weren't growing in my belly yet.  I guess you were growing in my heart."

This sparked a string of giggles, and then this response, "Mommy, you silly!  Babies no grow in hearts.  Babies grow in bellies!"

HOW do I answer that question?   

Where was I (before I was born, before I was growing in your belly)?

Please help!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Meal Plan ...

I really suck at this ... but I am trying!

Here's what the Vs x 4 will be dining on this week ... if all goes well ... 

Sunday - Marvelous Mini Meatloaves, Mashed Tators, and Corn

Monday - Pizza (possibly frozen or take-and-bake)
Going with a no-fuss dinner on a Monday night because ... I have plans to attend an MNI/Cookie Exchange!

Tuesday - Updated Chicken Pot Pie
Making two: one for my family and one for my bed-resting with a preschooler friend Kelly.  This has long been my go-to recipe for taking to new mamas or bed-resting mamas.  It's easy and delicious and the younger crowd (aka the big brother/sister) usually gobbles it up, too!  Side note: I modify this recipe to exclude the Velveeta (I am not a fan) and substitute cream cheese instead.

Wednesday - Pecan-encrusted Salmon, Rice, and Veggies

Thursday - Sloppy Joes & Sweet Potato Fries
Going to give Chitown Momma's recipe a try ...
  • Brown 1 lb beef, season as you like (s&p, garlic powder)
  • 1/2 c ketchup
  • onion - as much or as little as you like or omit if you don't have one
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp mustard
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar
It can be ready to eat as soon as you feel the ingredients are pretty mixed up (if you are in a hurry), but it does taste a bit better if it sits and simmers on low heat for a while (30-60min on stove or hours in a crock pot)

Friday -  Grilled Cheese & Soup
It's date night (finally) and I want to save room for whatever yumminess our hostess is serving!

Saturday - White Chili - a recipe from my Aunt Sheila
  • 1 T. oil
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast havles, cubed
  • 3/4 C. onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz) chichken broth, divided
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 3 cans (15 oz) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans (4.5 oz) green chiles
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 pkg. shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
  • 1 sm. container sour cream (optional)
  • 1 bag of tortilla chips (optional)
  1. Heat oil in a heavy 4 qt sauce pan over med high heat.
  2. Add chicken; cook for 2 or 3 minutes. add onion and garlic;
  3. Cook for 2 minutes. in sm. bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the broth with corn starch. add to chicken mixture along with remaining broth, beans, chilies,and seasonings. cover and bring to boil.
    Uncover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Ladle into serving bowls. Top with cheese and sour cream.
  5. Serve with tortillias chips.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

hard at play, hard at work

While I was putting CJV down for her afternoon nap, I encouraged Natalie to find something to play by herself until I was able to read her story and put her down for a nap.  Assuming she would entertain herself for all of about 5 minutes ... 

Boy, was I surprised {and very entertained} when my three year old spent the next 45 minutes ...
  • Loading every piece of play food into her {super cute REI} backpack.
  • Announcing she was hiking into the Highlands.
  • Emptying our "cuddling" bin to find two baby dolls.
  • Introducing me to her new babies - one is a boy and the other is a girl.
  • Telling me the baby's names: Tim & Buddah.
  • Finding another baby doll and naming her Charlotte.
  • Lining up a bunch of small pillows and blankets with great determination and focus - chatting to herself and her babies all the while :)
  • Putting each baby down for a nap - with a story and a song.
  • Finding a fourth and fifth baby doll - named Sign-eey and Part-dee.
  • Solving a pillow shortage dilemma by having the babies share.
  • Scurrying around the downstairs picking up toys (without being asked!)
  • Deciding - in her words, "Being a mommy is really hard work!"

So true, my little love.  But it is also very rewarding!

lunch & fruit

I included a smattering of raisins on Natalie's plate for lunch today.  (God forbid.)  She noticed right away and said, "No, mommy, I didn't ask for RAY-sins for yuunch!  Yuk!"  I calmly explained that we eat some fruit with lunch because fruit is good for you and helps your body grow.  (Now whether or  not raisins are the best option for a "fruit" is debatable, but really, I am struggling to get any fruit into her body!)  She nodded her agreement (imagine that) and then told me, "I will eat three raisins because I am three years old. I will not eat all of these raisins. Yuk!"  (Okay, fine!)

Our lunch conversation continued, and we chatted about our favorite parts of the movie Tangled and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.  Then, out of nowhere, Natalie stops talking, looks right at my plate, and says, "Mommy, where is YOUR fruit?"  Busted!  And she was right!  Darn, observant three year old!

I grabbed a handful of raspberries from the fridge and offered one to Natalie.  She reacted with much disgust and even agreed to eat all of her raisins as long as she didn't have to eat a berry!  

Monday, December 6, 2010

Santa and his Reindeer

The day after Charlotte's 1st Birthday we made the trip to the local zoo for their Reindeer Festival.   All the animal sculptures are "decked" with garland.  Each animal exhibit includes a creative explanation of how the animal helps Santa - the lemurs are his sentinels, the wallaby are mail carriers, ... Best of all, a team of reindeer are on display just outside the cutest little house where Santa greets little boys and girls.

I am hopeful this will become our tradition.

Mainly because this is where we were the day before Charlotte was born last year. I found out about the induction and insisted Natalie see Santa because I wasn't sure when we'd be able to venture out of the house again ... it was a good call because December included recovery and a NICU stay and very cold temperatures and round the clock pumping/feeding ... it was such a blur!

I contracted the entire time, but I am so glad we went! 
My tiny baby bump {aka Charlotte} is tucked beneath my red peacoat.

This year, that baby bump is a little elf  in my arms!

We've had Natalie's Santa photo taken at the zoo for the past three years.  There's never a crowd or a wait.  Santa is in his own little house, just a short walk up a hill and past his team of reindeer.  It's magical, if you ask me :)   I cannot believe how much she has changed, and I cannot wait to add to this collage next year!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

the birthday girl

you are my sweet, sweet girl
you are my tiny little peanut

your first year has been amazing

happy birthday, charlotte jane

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

meeting dr. fancy pants

After much anticipation Charlotte and I met with Dr. Fancy Pants, a pediatric endocrinologist. I did not share my affectionate nickname with him - at least not just yet - but I was impressed by him and his nurse.  Dr. FP was personable, knowledgeable, and thorough.  Pretty much everything I'm looking for in a man who is now tasked with diagnosing the cause (if there is one) of my baby's "failure to thrive."

First of all, that is a tough description to swallow, "failure to thrive."  I mean, the "f word" seems like a big, long finger pointing blame ... you failed ... and then there's the whole idea of not succeeding.  Whatever happened to failure is not an option?!    I was not surprised by this terminology, but as a mom, it was a blow to the gut to hear those words used to describe my beautiful, happy baby girl.

So little pity party aside, we spent about an hour and 45 minutes with Dr. Fancy Pants - like I said, the guy is thorough.  First Charlotte was weighed and measured.  Just as my scale here at home indicates, Charlotte weighs a whopping 13 pounds 8 ounces - that long-awaited milestone of 13 and a half pounds.  She is 26 inches long. Both of which are far below the "charts" for her age.   However, it is worth noting that she has tripled her birth weight and gained 10 inches in length, and those are standards for the first year of life.  I cannot remember her head circumference, but I do know that it actually makes the charts; a great sign for brain development!

A majority of the appointment was spent discussing my pregnancy, Charlotte's birth (and the decision to induce), and her development. Dr. Fancy Pants also asked a lot of questions to establish a family history - heights of parents, siblings, grandparents, onset of puberty in mother and grandmothers (as if I know when my mom - or Chad's mom - started her period!), ... that sort of thing.  Essentially, he is looking for indicators of Constitutional Growth Delay, which is a common diagnosis and could indicate that Charlotte is simply a "late bloomer."  

To support that possible diagnosis, we had an x-ray taken of Charlotte's left hand to determine her bone age.  It was no surprise and actually good news that her bone age is between 3 and 6 months - probably closer to 3 months.  There is a pattern of typical bone growth, and Charlotte's appears like that of a 3 month old.  That is good news because there is potential for growth; once the bones fuse together, growth is ending.  If her bone age was closer to her actual age, it would indicate that her body has less growing to do.  But the deviation actually indicates that her body is not done growing ... it's more likely delayed - for some reason. (A young bone age could also attribute to her developmental delays - like the fact that she isn't crawling yet or pulling into a seated position - young bones mean lower muscle tone.)

So, we know she has more growing to do ... hooray!  But we also need to determine why her growth is so delayed.  Dr. Fancy Pants did a thorough physical exam and ruled out most syndromes based on lack of indicators and symptoms.  I took that to mean there are no obvious signs of a major issue ... and breathed a sign of relief.

We left the office with a stack of orders for blood work and urine analysis, the next step in this process.  I have to collect a urine sample using a plastic bag that adheres to Charlotte's nether regions, which I am really looking forward to ... not!  And then we'll survive the dreaded blood draw.  And then we'll wait to hear from Dr. Fancy Pants.  Based on how long it took to get an appointment, I am guessing results will probably take a while.  Not expecting to know anything until after the new year.

In the meantime, we just keep doing what we're doing ... and, yes, that includes feeding through the night because Dr. FP agrees that Charlotte needs those calories. {Super great!}  I was also reminded that Charlotte should be treated her age not her size, and perhaps that shift in mentality and how I interact with her will help with hitting some developmental milestones like crawling.  But there's still time for that ...

I will leave you with one final thought ... Dr. Fancy Pants really did not live up to his nickname.  His pants were actually quite plain.  Light gray.  Pleated.  I believe Dockers.

Thank you for all the good thoughts ... and stalking ... sorry this post was delayed ... I chose sleep over blogging last night :)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A New Thanksgiving Tradition

This Thanksgiving we decided to head for the mountains!  We loaded the car with everything needed to keep two young girls entertained, fed, and happy.  The two hour trek from our home to Mt. Rainier National Park  was so peaceful; CJV took her morning nap while NHV enjoyed the novelty of watching a DVD in the car.  Chad and I chatted and took in the scenery ... until I got carsick, which is standard-operating-procedure anytime I am in a moving vehicle for more than an hour.  We stopped and had lunch at the cutest little family-owned restaurant.  I couldn't believe it was open on Thanksgiving, and the owner was beyond gracious!  

After arriving at the lodge, all four of us - CJV in my awesome Pikkolo carrier - donned our best winter gear and headed out for a snowy adventure.  Chad pulled the girls in a sled.  Natalie marched through the deepest snow she could find and plopped down to make snow angels ... and just be silly ... a girl after her own mama's heart!  Amongst trees heavy with snow - and branches dropping mini-avalanches all around us - Chad built a snowman out of very powdery snow.  The girls supervised from the sidelines and made design suggestions.

Charlotte and I headed back to our two-room suite (and that's a term used loosely because the inn was very rustic ... but charming) and took an awesome afternoon nap together.   Chad and Natalie played some more and checked out the game room inside.

We met back up to get dressed for dinner and headed downstairs to the dining room. The lodge served a Thanksgiving dinner ... buffet-style.  It was most definitely mediocre but served its purpose (and kept me from having to cook).  There was another family there with a little one in a high chair, so naturally we chatted.  Come to find out the grandparents were born and raised near my own hometown - small world!  She also shared with me that this was their 25th Thanksgiving spent at Mt. Rainier.  I just love the thought of a tradition that lasts a quarter of a century!   Thus begins our own "new" tradition of taking a little Thanksgiving trip with the girls!

Monday, November 22, 2010

No Ice{skating}, Just lots of SNOW

Today was suppose to be the day I took Natalie ice skating for the first time. We were both very excited! Natalie couldn't wait to touch and smell the ice, and she kept saying, "Dat ice will be veeeerrry sippery!" I was curious to see how my ice skating skills would fare after a three year hiatus. I took lessons in my twenties and learned to jump, spin, and arabesque (my favorite!).  It was the most graceful (and best shape) I've ever felt; how I wish I could get those buns back again ... but that's another story all together ...

A gently snow was falling when all four of us headed for the rink.  CPV doesn't work on Mondays, and I convinced him to come along, mostly so he could take picture.  Within 15 minutes of  leaving our house, the conditions were getting treacherous and other drivers just can't be trusted.  We made the decision to turn back.  Natalie was so devastated by our change of plans that we had to come up with, well, another option.

Here's Natalie in front of our Plan B ...

We followed up lunch with a walk through the Home Depot Christmas department.  It doesn't get much better than that ... especially if you're three years old.  Thankfully Unfortunately some of the singing dogs, cats, reindeer, ... on display have run out of batteries already.

When we got home, the snow had slowed again, but I grabbed the camera, handed it to Chad, and ...he captured Charlotte's first experience with snow!

I know I am totally biased, but I think my husband is just about the cutest thing going ... and Natalie, well, her tolerance for picture-taking is about a maximum of three shots ...

It continued to snow (and snow hard) right on through the afternoon - while the girls napped.  I woke Natalie around 4:00 and suggested she look out the window.  Her face lit up, and she said, "Oh my goodness, Mommy, all the grass is gone!"

And now I have officially become a mama-who-turns-her-child-into-the-Stay-Puff-Marshmallow-Man-in-the-hopes-of-keeping-her-warm-while-she-plays-in-the-snow.  First layer of pajamas.  Second layer footsie pajamas minus the feet. Socks. Bib overall snow pants. Jacket with hood.  Hat. Gloves.  Boots, which were nearly impossible to get on because she was so puffy and clumsy.

Natalie and Chad had a great time trying out the new sled I bought on super (ridiculous) clearance at the end of last winter.  Charlotte and I stayed inside to play and prep a delicious dinner.

Snow Day ... Hooray!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Shutterfly for Holiday Cards

Today I am revealing a secret. I have a hard time sending holiday cards on time.  I know I am not the only one who procrastinates and feels the pressure of that December 25th deadline pressing down.  But I do think my approach is a bit unique.  Rather than simply not sending a card at all.  Or sending it late.  I try to play it off like I meant to send it after everyone else's card has already arrived, been on display, and been packed or thrown away.   This works out really well for me because A) I can send my cards late without feeling guilty about it being late.  B)  My card doesn't get lost in the shuffle of all those "other" holidays cards.  I feel certain my card gets a place of honor on most refrigerators because it shows up after you've taken down your seasonal display.

There's one other thing you should know ... I don't see the point to sending a holiday card (on time or not) that doesn't include at least one photo of you and/or your kids.  I mean, really ... store-bought cards are so last decade!

Two years ago, I sent this adorable and clever (if I do say so myself) NEW YEAR's card ... including four photos of NHV during different seasons of the previous year:

Winter, spring, summer, and fall …
We have honestly loved it all!

During a whirlwind 2008 … 
(and then a quick description of what we did during the past year)

Wishing you the very best
at this special time of year and
through all the seasons of 2009!

Last year's I sent BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS instead of holiday cards.  And I sent them when I was good and ready ... with the excuse of sleep deprivation and caring for a newborn and toddler.

Here's what I am getting at ... 
No matter what kind of "holiday" card I send.  
Regardless if I send them "on time" or purposely late. 
I use Shutterfly!  (They have the best photo books, too!)

This year I am even more excited to make and send holiday cards (perhaps even on time) using Shutterfly because bloggers (like me) have been offered 50 free cards in exchange for spreading the word about their awesome holiday collection.  Which means I shopped the Shutterfly card selection with reckless abandon - choosing all of my favorites!  First I sorted by number of photos - there's no way I can create a holiday card with less than three photos. I mean, if you know me at all, you know I adore a good collage!  And since I take a ba-zillion pictures, I always have plenty to choose from!

Oh, this square card has room for 8 photos!  And it really is a wonderful life!  Love it!

I have a thing for this shade of blue and snowflakes ...

The combination of brown, red, and blue makes this a top contender!

Again, lots of room for photos and I think a big "V" would look so cute in the middle!

Did you notice these are all very "holiday-ish"?  Well,  as a personal challenge, I am going to try to send an actual holiday card this year ... since I get 50 free cards, I felt like it was good motivation to make it happen!  Not to worry ... I am certain my card won't get "lost in the shuffle" of all the other cards you receive ... because I am ordering from Shutterfly and you just can't find a better looking, higher-quality card!  

Oh, wait, you're ordering from Shutterfly, too?  There's goes that plan ... 

Oh well ... Happy Holiday-card Making!

Bloggers get 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly… sign up:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

cjv & the orange chair

This is the {new} orange chair on the deck behind my parents' house. The house where I grew up. The house my girls and I recently visited. The orange chair wasn't around when I lived there. But the deck and the gorgeous trees beyond hold plenty of memories for me.  And the adorable baby in that orange chair - that's Charlotte in her ballerina pajamas.  Teething with a finger in her mouth. Curious about her surrounds.  Showing just how flexible she can be.  Looking so adorable!

nhv & the orange chair

This is the {new} orange chair on the deck behind my parents' house. The house where I grew up. The house my girls and I recently visited. The orange chair wasn't around when I lived there. But the deck and the gorgeous trees beyond hold plenty of memories for me. On this particular morning, Natalie was doing what she does everyday. She climbs out of bed and out of her {Ariel} nightgown and into her princess dress of choice. This one is her new Tiana dress - a purchase made by Grammy during our one trip to Target. Her "accessories" are two Care Bears and a plastic hammer.  It was warm enough {in November} for bare feet and no sleeves. And her hair is all-natural aside from the bow I managed to wrangle into her bangs. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

moving on up ...

 ... to the big{ger} tub!

Up until just an hour ago, 
my 11-month old was being bathed in her infant tub.  

This is Charlotte in August - the last time I took bathtub photos.

And this is Charlotte earlier tonight.  In the inflatable bathtub.

She was so excited with her new splash pool!  I am just glad to have all that splashing contained in the tub rather than all over the vanity and mirror.  Isn't she just about the tiniest, cutest little naked baby ... ever?!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

11 months, 11 days

It is just a matter of days {about 19 of them, to be exact} until my baby turns one.  Charlotte Jane is just shy for 365 days old.  This time last year I was still pregnant ... and dealing with lots of contractions, weekly ultrasounds, and twice weekly non-stress tests ... and all the emotions that went along with such an "interesting" gestation.  The past 11 months have been filled with much joy, very little sleep, some worry, and plenty of fun!  This is Charlotte Jane - just in the past month!

  1. One thing is for certain, my little baby {born at just 4 pounds 9 ounces} is destined to be a little one year old.  Less than three weeks before her birthday, Charlotte weighs 13 pounds 5.5 ounces.  She is tiny.  Everything about her is tiny ... her hands and feet, her waist, her ears, ... except her smile!  That grin takes up her whole face!
  2. Charlotte is wearing mainly size 6-month clothing and size 1-2 diapers.
  3. She's a good eater.  Haven't come across a flavor of "mush" that she won't eat.  However, in the past few weeks I have definitely noticed a preference for feeding herself.  With every bite, she grabs the spoon - almost as if to say, "I can do it myself."  And she eats finger foods with great enthusiasm and determination.  While she still eats puffs and mum-mums, she especially loves Veggie Sticks and Garden Tomato Crunchies.
  4. I am still nursing about 6 times in 24 hours.  Two or three of those feedings are at night - when I would rather be sleeping.  I am not willing to end those nighttime feedings because she needs all the calories she can get.  However, I am looking forward to weaning in the next few months ... and sleeping through the night soon!
  5. Bedtime is around 7:30 pm.  She usually sleeps until midnight, eats, and goes right back down.  Then I hear from her again around 3:00 am and sometimes again before 6:00 am.  Then she sleeps until about 7:00 am.
  6. Naps are from 9:00 am - 10:30 am and again from 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm.  Sometimes Charlotte has a tough time settling down for naps - tough to spend a lot of time transitioning her with a routine because Natalie needs my attention/supervision. A light swaddle usually does the trick, though.
  7. Aside from "tiny,"  I would describe Charlotte as happy and easy-going.  She smiles all the time and waits patiently - for the most part.   However, she is very sensitive to changes in her environment - like sleeping in a new place. 
  8. To communicate Charlotte does her fair share of vocalizing, signs milk and responds to the signs for more and all done, and is clearly opinionated when appropriate - like when her big sister takes away her toy or I try to get the spoon back for another bite.  Also, her giggle is just about the most adorable sound ever!
  9. Charlotte loves playing with balls, cups, and straps.  As soon as I put her in the carseat, stroller, high chair ... she is reaching for the strap and trying to pull it to her mouth.  She is also still very interested in her feet ... and pulls off her shoes {little leather Robeez} to chew on them, too!
  10. This little girl can ROLL just about anywhere she wants to go.  However, she is not crawling and is still very wobbly when sitting up - she topples over very easily.  I have noticed her trying to push into a seated position in the past week but no success just yet.  I don't anticipate her walking anytime soon.
  11. People often comment about Charlotte's size, her beautiful blue eyes, her cute cheeks, and the constant motion of her feet.  I also hear a Cindy Lou Who comparison quite often.
We have an appointment with Dr. Fancy-Pants at the end of this month - just three days before her birthday.  I am very anxious to hear what an expert has to saw about Charlotte's small size.  There are times when I worry and imagine the worst.  I really hope my seemingly happy, healthy baby is "just small" and that's okay.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

sleepless in ... chicago

Apparently I have to leave Seattle and fly four hours in order to have a truly sleepless night. 

Who would've thought?!

For the next 10 days I am traveling with my two girls - by myself - with a stop first in Chicago to see my girl Chitown Momma and her two adorable nuggets and then onto Alton to spend time with my family.

So the trip through the airport and security (where the new rule is babies must be out of carriers, btw)  and onboard the flight for 4+ hours ... all of that was uneventful.  Natalie was so cooperative.  Charlotte took a good snooze.  The DVD player battery lasted through all of Curious George and about 30 minutes into Tinkerbell.  Even the pick-up - despite a temporarily lost vehicle (those parking garages can be so confusing!) and a very hungry 11-month old - went well.  The trip was off to a great start.

To make the experience even more enjoyable (and deceptively easy), both girls went right to sleep - NHV in the same room with her buddy Benjamin and CJV in "my" room.  AND Chitown Momma and I got to enjoy two uninterrupted hours of red-wine-sipping and catching up.   Good stuff, right?

I climbed into bed at 11:30 and listened to the plethora of city sounds outside the windows.  Cars zooming past, buses screeching to a stop, conversations of the people walking by, the wind off the lake rattling the windows, ... all of this on the third floor, mind you.  Eventually it lulled me to sleep until Charlotte woke me up at 2:30 ready for some milk.  I snuggled her and nursed her in bed.  Out of nowhere I got this weird mommy-tuition that Natalie needed me.  To confirm this feeling, I heard her voice call out. 

I carried a now sleeping (and full-bellied) Charlotte down the hall with me, opened the door where Natalie was sleeping and saw her sitting up in bed with this very confused look on her face.  A look like, "Where in the world am I?"  Waking up in a strange place is disorienting enough for an adult, and I could tell she was feeling upset.  I quietly calmed her and climbed in next to her on the futon.  The three of us - me and my girls - laid there for a while; I rubbed Natalie's back and waked a peaceful Charlotte sleeping.  And then Natalie starting chatting - loudly, which woke up her baby sister and I feared would do the same to Benjamin. The three of us made the trek back down the hallway and got into my bed. 

There was NO sleep after that point.  From 2:30 am - when Charlotte woke to nurse and Natalie woke to be soothed - until almost 7:00 am, the three of us did not sleep.  Bless Chitown Momma who helped out from about 4:00 on ... putting Natalie in bed with her, and then singing and rocking Charlotte - when Natalie refused to cooperate.  None of our efforts payed off.  I tried everything I could think of. 

At 6:00 am - as the sun began peeking over the horizon - we climbed into Chitown Momma's bed.  Natalie tried for an hour to fall asleep but finally gave up and went to play with Laurie and her two kiddos - who were awake for the day after a restful night's sleep.  Charlotte and I slept until 9:00 and then joined the party.

Both girls are napping now - thankfully.  Here's hoping that our second night in Chicago is not sleepless!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

buckle up - every time

I keep replaying the scene in my mind ... over and over again.  I wish I had that split second back. 
Charlotte fell off the changing table this evening.  Yes, I am a terrible mom.  Or at least I feel like a terrible mom.  I feel awful knowing that something I did - without even thinking - caused my baby pain.  Caused her to cry out, to be scared, to fall ... but not in that order.

I normally strap her in, but this time - for some reason - I didn't.  I had only managed to take off her pants when Natalie began swinging the baby monitor over her head like a lasso.  It whacked against the crib and the wall and nearly knocked her in the head.  I issued a warning.  It was not heeded. I turned my back and took three steps toward my misbehaving three year old and heard a thug :(  Within a split second it registered.  The next minute is a blur.  I turned around to see Charlotte on the floor on her belly, and she was crying, which apparently is a good sign.  

I very carefully turned her over and checked to see that she wasn't broken.  And then I scooped her up and began calming her - while simultaneously instructing Natalie to go to her room and stay there.  I called Chad and spoke through sobs.  I pulled myself together and called our pediatrician's office and talked to a nurse.  She ran me through a triage checklist and felt confident that Charlotte was probably okay just shaken up.  While she was still on the phone, I put Charlotte in her crib and tried to finish what I started - changing her diaper.  She cried out in pain several times when I moved her right leg.  

My gut said, "Better safe than sorry."  The nurse agreed, especially since I am leaving with the girls tomorrow for a 10-day trip to Illinois.  So we visited the ER just to make sure ... thankfully Chad met us there and entertained Natalie with a book.  My compliments - once again - to our ER; fast, friendly, thorough, ... 

Charlotte checked out fine.  No signs of head trauma, no bruises, normal responsiveness, generally happy, ... but, boy was I freaked out!  I've been whispering, "I'm sorry," against her little head all evening.  As penance, I rocked her to sleep - something I don't usually do. Of course, she's awake now chatting with her bunny ...

What I know now - that I already knew but temporarily had a lapse ... 
Do not leave children unattended on raised surfaces!
Buckle up - every time!

Monday, November 1, 2010

trick-or-treat 2010

As if it were a complete surprise, Natalie walked away from each door, 
gave her bucket a quick glance, and proclaimed,  
"I got a treat!"  
before hurrying off to the next house. 
I honestly think she was expecting some tricks!

Natalie's costume was a gift from Grammy.  It has been worn just about every day since September.  She calls it her "Frog Princess dress" and answers to "Tiana" when wearing it.   There's even a stuffed animal frog tucked under her arm.  To up the princess-ness, I painted her nails {for the first time} and put on some blue eye shadow and roll-on sparkles.  She insisted on a pony tail "in the back of my head" just like Tiana, which was no simple feat because of the length of her hair.  I talked her into two ponies - one on top, one in the back - with a couple barrettes to hold back the sides and a tiara, of course!

The pea costume worked out great!  {Thanks to my neighbor Laura for handing it down to us!}  While this costume does fit my PEAnut, the bunting-style is meant for a much younger baby so I cut it all along the back seam.  I found a green sleeper to keep her covered and warm.   Charlotte is forward-facing in my new {awesome} Pikkolo carrier with her arms through the sleeves.  And the Cindy Lou Who hat, just makes the outfit!

Of course, the little sister, my little PEAnut,
already has her sights set on ... 
being the princess!

Friday, October 29, 2010

who's that girl?

I believe my three year old - princess - is going through a bit of an identity crisis. 

Either that or I am losing my mind.

Or a combination of both.  Or perhaps one is a result of the other ... yeah, that's probably it!

I never know what to call my daughter.
I never know which name she will answer to. 

I make a simple request like, "Natalie, please put on your shoes."

And in reply I hear, "No, mommy, I'm not Natalie.  I'm Tiana." It takes great restraint on my part not to say, "What does that have to do with your shoes?!"

Or I make a suggestion like, "Natalie, let's play a game," and she says, "I'm not Natalie.  I'm Ariel.  Ariel likes to play CandyLand, mommy."  Okay, great!

At least for now ...
  • she is sticking to princesses, which narrows my pool of name choices to some degree!
  • she is answering me ... it's better to be corrected than to be ignored, right?!

 When you're this cute, you can be whoever 
you want to be, my little princess!

These photos are from a playdate we went to way back in August.  
Love the sunshine and the combination of trampoline jumping and dressing up!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

pets and wet sleeves

Breakfast conversation is always interesting with a three year old.  Between shoveling spoonfuls of mush in CJV's mouth, pouring a sippy cup of milk, adding cream cheese and sprinkles to NHV's "princess" waffle, and doing my best not to trip over my (annoyingly) needy cat ... Natalie entertains me with some pretty interesting thoughts.

This morning she said to me, "We have a cat, right, mommy."  "Yes, that's right."  In my head: He's kind of hard to forget when he's rubbing all 16 pounds of feline neediness against my shins and calves!  

"Do you know anyone else who has a cat?"

"Uh-huh, aunt Missy has a cat.  Grammy and Grampy have a cat - he's not very nice.  Sebastian Paul has a cat."  Pause.

"And, mommy, some people - they have a dog at their house."   "Yep."  Trying to figure out where this is going ... not having any luck.

"Cee-Cee.  She doesn't have a cat or a dog.  Why Cee-Cee not have a cat or a dog at her house?"

"Well, Cee-Cee has a fish tank.  She has fish as her pets."  Natalie nods in agreement but seems still to have something on her mind.

"Mommy, people cannot PET fish."  Why's that?

"Because you would get your sleeves all wet!"

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

good news, bad news ... it's been too long!

Good News: NHV is still sleeping at 8:20 am.

Not-so-great News: CJV has been awake since 6:30 am, which in turns means I have been awake since 6:30 am.

Bad News:  I didn't go to bed until 1:00 am.  It's my own fault, but still ... this mama is tired!

Back to the Good News: I've already showered, made scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast, played with and fed CJV, caught up on Facebook, cleaned two (out of three) toilets, took out all the trash, and folded a load of laundry.

More Good News: The SUN is actually shining today!  It's been too many days since I've seen those pretty rays!

Really Good News: Only 2 more days until Halloween weekend!  And that deserves a sneak peak of the girls in their costumes ... 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

mornings with my girls

I took these photos at 7:30 in the morning on Wednesday.  

Charlotte still in her adorable pink footsie pajamas and wearing a baby mohawk, a result of a bath the night before and me rubbing her head while she nursed before bed.

Natalie already out of her {Ariel} nightgown - the only pair of pajamas she will even think about wearing - and into her {Tiana aka the Frog Princess} dress-up outfit: hot pink leotard, fabulous skirt made by my friend CrazyCraftyCarrie, and ... socks as gloves - that's her new thing this week :)  Look closely and you'll even see a stuffed frog in her lap.

Charlotte can't take her eyes off me.  She wants her big sister's attention. She wants to play and sing songs and be smothered with kisses.

Natalie is quick to give me a smile when she first wakes up, and she usually chats a bit about her dreams. Some mornings I can talk her into a quick snuggle. After transforming herself into the princess-of-the-day, she usually plops down (in the W sitting position) and reads a stack of books.  Looking at the camera before she's had her breakfast, well, that's not going to happen :)

I love the time I spend with my girls in the morning.

Friday, October 15, 2010


BJ_Mama recently made a comment about my new-found obsession with muffins.  To which I replied, "Didn't I tell you I am starting a third blog ... MuffinBrain?"  The funny thing, I think she actually believed me ... and even more hilarious, I seriously considered it for a minute or two :)

Anyhoo ... I am at it again; baking muffins - from scratch, and this time PUMPKIN is the main ingredient.  *Note from CPV - He is not a big fan of pumpkin-based baked goods.  Sorry to hear that ... more for me :)


2 medium eggs (Not sure how that translates to large eggs ... but that's what I used)
3 cups flour (1 cup wheat, 2 cups white)
1 cup brown sugar (I used light but would suggest dark.)
1 cup milk (Almost forgot this and the batter was nearly impossible to mix!)
1 cup pureed cooked pumpkin (For me, it was canned ... )
½ cup unsweetened applesauce (Just enough left in the jar - phew!)
2 tablespoons white sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
¼ teaspoon cloves (*Didn't have any - skipped it.)
¼ teaspoon allspice (*Didn't have any - skipped it.)
¼ teaspoon ginger (*Didn't have any - skipped it.)
* Note to self:  Must update my spice collection; it's currently quite pathetic!

I also threw in about 3/4 cup of chopped pecans and tossed a few milk chocolate chips on top - because, really, anything is better with chocolate ... right?


1. Preheat oven to 325°F.

2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; mix until smooth. (I adore directions like this!)

3. Fill sprayed muffin tins with mixture until ¾ full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in a muffin comes out clean.  *Note to those thinking of trying this muffin recipe:  It makes A LOT of muffins!   I made 12 regular-sized muffins and 24 mini-muffins.  The minis took about 14 minutes.

Original recipe found at

Will try to add a photo if I find a spare minute ... HA!

Friday, October 1, 2010

10 Things I Love About You, CJV ...

Charlotte Jane is 10 months old today!
Hard to believe?  For me, too!

10 Things I Love About You, CJV ...
  1. Your adorable (and almost constant) full-face grin - the two bottom teeth just add to the appeal.
  2. The way you giggle when I pretend to sneeze ... and you never tire of the "Where's Charlotte?" game!
  3. Your infinite patience and go-with-the-flow attitude.
  4. How you roll from one side of the room to the other.
  5. When you clap your hands and then "throw your hands in the air ... "
  6. The way you absolutely light up when your big sister pays attention to you :)
  7. How you curl up against me and knead with your tiny hands when you're nursing.
  8. That you've started sleeping (better and) on your tummy - just like your daddy
  9. Your feet are in constant motion ... kicking, pedaling, ... and often in your mouth.
  10. The sound of your sweet voice; you are a baby of few words, but when you do talk, I can't get enough!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mission Peanut

I just looked through the photos I've taken in the past month ... and I was on a mission ... to find pictures that show Charlotte's relative tininess.  At nine months old, she weighs just 13 pounds.

 Inflatable bathtub, baby Big Bird, and Fisher Price Puppy.

 Playground swing

 In the Bjorn

Mommy, Natalie and a Gator

 Uncle Tyler

Louie (our cat)

Please believe me when I tell you, 
Charlotte Jane is quite the little peanut!

On a related side note: Dr. Fancy Pants - the pediatric endocrinologist - has reviewed Charlotte's case and decided to see her ... however we have to wait another two months before that appointment.  Literally, the receptionist from his office called and said, "Dr. Fancy Pants will see you on November 29th at 3:30 in the afternoon."  There was no, "which day or time of day works best for you?"  All I can say is this guy has already lived up to his nickname ... now he better live up to his reputation as an amazing specialist!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

NHV - September 2010

Getting so tall and as cute as ever (in my biased opinion)

Your hair is finally one length and has this great wave
I love the way the left side is always a bit unruly

You have the cutest habit of pushing your bangs to the side 
and out of your face.

It strikes me as a very grown up thing to do.

You are still the best sleeper I know; 
your three hour nap is truly a delight!

You only want to wear your Ariel nightgown ...
I have to bargain with you just to get it washed!

You get out of bed asking, "What are we doing today?"
and with princess dress-up on your mind.

You race to put on your "briding" dress and 
whatever accessories you deem appropriate for the day.

You can spend an entire hour building with blocks,
lining up Little People, or reading a stack of books.

Sharing is not your favorite thing to do, and
sometimes I see you really dig in your heels ...
and you still refuse to eat almost all fruit!
But I think that's just part of being three.

It seems you need a lovey right now ....
You've started carrying around baby Big Bird
and sleeping with him, too.

Ah, yes, you are still my little girl ...

I love you, my sweet Natalie.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Great Question - Fog

The mind of a three year old is such a wonder!

This morning - on our way out the door - doing my best to load both girls plus all of our necessary crap into the car without losing my mind - Natalie made an awesome observation and asked,

"Hey, mommy, why is da 'ky touch-ing d-ose t'ees?"

Such a question gave me pause and caused me to follow her gaze to the tall trees across the street ... the tops of which were covered with a morning fog.  It did, indeed, look the clouds (aka the sky) was touching the trees.

Of course, I then did my very best impersonation of an elementary science teacher and tried to explain the phenomenon of fog ... how it is kind of like a cloud ... and why it happens closer to the ground/trees.

Based on the complete look of confusion on her face, I think she drew a much better (and simpler) conclusion,

"Mommy, it's v-ery cloudy today, huh?"

The Bite Fight

Well, it wasn't much of a fight - per say - but there was most certainly a bizarre bite involved.  Reminiscent of the Tyson vs. Holyfield rematch of long ago.  As if I know a damn thing about boxing ... I had a vague memory of the event and had to ask Chad, "Hey wasn't there some boxer that bit off another boxer's ear."  He gave me the names and then I Googled to fill-in-the-blanks.  But I still think it's a viable comparison to what has now happened TWICE in our house ...

My darling, sweet three year old has bitten her baby sister's index finger ... on two separate occasions.  The biting was completely unprovoked and came out of nowhere.  Both incident happened on daddy's watch - but I am not pointing fingers here.

The first time Charlotte was playing in her Jumperoo.  About a week later, the second time all three of them - NHV, CJV, and Daddy - were playing on the floor.  Both times Charlotte let out a howl of pain that had my heart racing and her mama hurrying to scoop her up and make it better.

Biting is not okay.  I guess it's not completely unheard of for a preschool-aged child to give their chompers a try on some flesh.  But it's still definitely not okay.   And is it just me or does the index finger seem like a strange place to bite?

Well, Charlotte is still such a lightweight (oh, the wrestling metaphor continues) and her fingers are TINY ... I mean, tiny enough that people comment about how small size of her hands and feet ... all the time.  You know how some baby's fingers look like little sausages?  Well, not Charlotte's; her hands look like a doll's.

If this biting continues, I fear that Natalie may just bite her sister's finger .... off ... or break it.

Last night's bite caused Charlotte's finger - from the base to the first knuckle - to swell up badly enough that I called our family doctor. The course of treatment was a cold compress and then wait-and-see.

Thankfully, that adorable little index finger was fully functional this morning!  And I am hopeful - after a good chat with the defending champion - that there will not be a rematch!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Butt Load of Baby Wipes

I believe I have written about my husband's historic difficulties when shopping at Costco.  There was one incident involving a case of canned green beans which resulted in his Costco privileges being revoked ... by me ... because we don't even eat canned green beans and my pantry at the time was the size of a shoe box!

Anyhoo ... my husband if frugal beyond belief.  But he also cannot refuse any deal of any kind. You wave a coupon in front of that man, and he's buying!  You offer him 15% off at REI, and he's maxing out his purchase potential. 

Case in point ... on this weekend's trip to Costco, Chad noticed a coupon for wipes.  I think you saved $4 and there was a limit of two, which is all fine and good - it's also $8 worth of savings as my husband pointed out.  And perhaps even a reason to get a bit excited ... IF you need wipes.  I suggested that we probably don't need THAT many wipes but Chad balked and then explained - in his most practical tone of voice - that Costco hardly ever has coupons for wipes.  And so, we brought home - the limit of TWO boxes of wipes. 

Upon returning home, I inventoried our existing baby wipe supply and found THREE boxes.  Granted one of those boxes only had three packages, but still ...

I had to do the math ...

Inside each box is 900 wipes!  900.  We have 4 full boxes - two boxes in each of the girls' closets - plus additional random packages scattered throughout the house - but I am just going to forget those for the sake of calculation - and not having to break out the calculator. 

Each box holds 900 wipes.
We have  4 boxes.
That's 3600 wipes.  
About 10 wipes per day for an entire year!

Now, tomorrow, I will be counting wipes ...
because, honestly, I don't have any idea 
whether or not I use 10 wipes per day.

What do you think?   How many wipes do you use in one day?
Does your husband have a similar shopping mentality?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

First and Final Day of Preschool

Ah, my gut.  Why is it always right?  Especially when it comes to my little girl?

Today was the big day.  Natalie wore her new owl dress from Grammy. She picked out the barrette she wanted to wear. She carried her new school bag packed with all the paperwork I filled out.

We took pictures on the porch with Grammy and baby sister. 

I was excited and nervous ... I bet she was feeling the same way.

During the ten minute drive, Natalie talked about her first school experience.  She mentioned hitting other kids and how that wasn't nice.  She yawned.  She talked about her two teachers, Ms. S and Ms. A.  She yawned.  She talked about going potty at school.  She complained of being "so tired."   I was not feeling very optimistic, but I continued to show excitement.

We pulled into the circular drive, and I reviewed the procedure with Natalie.  I wanted to make sure she understood that I would not be getting out of the car with her.  She seemed fine with that idea.  As the teacher opened the door to help her from the carseat, I told her to have fun at school.

She took the teacher's hand and started walking away ... and then ... I snapped this photo ...

... wiped the tears from my eyes and drove myself back home.

An hour and a half later - only half way through the "school day" - I got a call from the director.

Yeah, that's NOT a good sign, by the way.

It seems Natalie has three incidents involving other students.  And she was complaining of being "so tired."

Big fa-reakin' surprise.  Right?

The director was so nice about the whole thing, but she also asked that I come pick up Natalie now - rather than risk anymore incidents, which could cause Natalie "to start feeling badly about herself." 

Her first school experience - at least from my point-of-view - was not a good one.  And that made me so sad ... in all honesty, I was feeling sad for both of us.

So, I drove back to the school.  Spoke to the director and told her the afternoon class just wasn't going to work out for Natalie.  She suggested some things we could try to ease the transition, but I was only half-listening.  I know what is best for my child, and afternoon preschool just isn't good for her.

I want her to be able to listen to her body when it's telling her to lie down and rest. 
I want her to be able to control her emotions and have positive interactions with her classmates. 
I want her to be mentally and physically able to deal with the challenges of a new learning environment.

I do not want to set her up for a negative school experience. 
I do not want bullying behavior to become habit - for her sake and her classmates. 

On the drive home, Natalie was very quiet.  I didn't push her to talk about it because I wasn't really sure what to say. I wasn't angry - at all - except maybe at myself because it was my fault she was in an afternoon class to begin with.  My fault she had been pushed beyond her limits.

As soon as we got home, she asked for a nap and fell right to sleep.  I had to wake her at 5:00, and she didn't climb out of bed until 5:45.  She was exhausted.  Poor thing! 

I made the call.  After just two days, I am pulling Natalie out of preschool. It just wasn't the right fit for her because of the timing.  The director and her teacher were fantastic and supportive of my decision.  It was hard for me to let go of the expectations associated with sending my first off to preschool ... but I know it is the right decision for her right now.
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