Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Mash-Up: Ham Casserole

Has your friend ever offered you a big hunk of yummy baked ham?
Yeah, well, it was a first for me, too.

That ham made me think of another friend (the one, the only Chitown Momma) who shared a meal plan one time that involved a baked ham and a great leftover recipe.

Have you ever made up your own recipe?
That's not really my thing either, however ...

While I was digging up that recipe from Chitown Momma, I was listening to the Glee Soundtrack, which made me think of BJ Mama over at For What It's Worth (but I digress) ... but, more importantly, those ubber-talented, oh-so-cute high school kids reminded me of the power of the Mash-Up!

Creamy Ham Casserole meet Easy Ham Bake:

  • 2 cups chopped ham
  • 2 cups of broccoli florets
  • 1 cup of chopped carrots
  • 8 ounces of onion and chive cream cheese
  • 10 ounce can of cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 cups Bisquick
  • 1.5 cups milk (whatever you have on hand)  
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a 9 x 13 dish with non-stick stuff.
  2. Prep the veggies and stick them in the microwave for about four minutes.
  3. Mix together all of the "filling" ingredients.  Pour it all into the baking dish.
  4. Mix the two crust ingredients together and pour it over the top of the filling.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

gettin' her bounce on!

Look what grammy and grampy sent for CJV's 2nd Birthday!

It was confusion at first sight ...

And love at first bounce!

The box arrived the day before Thanksgiving, more than a week before the "big" day.  But we (the grown ups) couldn't wait!  Mainly because the reviews indicated that it was really hard to put together; a few couples even mentioned divorce ... so we were very curious!  Chad didn't have any trouble, and I just stayed out of his way!

Despite the fact that it is somewhat large and brightly colored and sitting in the middle of our living room, the girls LOVE it!  And I love that they can burn some {it's-wet-and-cold-so-we-can't-be-at-the-park} energy!
The best part is ... the trampoline is a toy the girls can share!  While they typically take turns, I've caught them bouncing {and giggling} together a few times, too ...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

it's just a walk in the park

it's officially fall in the NW
is it rainy?  yep.
chilly?  of course.
beautiful?  that, too!

Those hours between end of nap and dinnertime are perfect for walks to our neighborhood park!

CJV is happiest when walking sprinting down the sidewalk with reckless abandon. She giggles non-stop ... except when she does stop to pick up a berry or a rock-y or just to examine a crack in the sidewalk.  In that regard, my little peanut is such a typical toddler!

She also loves to chase after her big sister ... and crunch the leaves with her {fake} Ugg boots!

My sweet daredevil will attempt to CLIMB anything in her path.  She is fearless and dangerous and just so cute!

On the rare occasion I catch her sitting still, her bright blue eyes and sweet smile just melt my heart!

And then there's my crazy, silly Natalie.  It seems I take a lot less pictures of her these days.  Mainly because she is so aware of the camera.  I love this shot because it is so her ... wild tufts of hair, bright blue eyes, and mouth open because she is saying something ... probably telling me a story or asking me a question (or 12).

While the girls played, I occupied myself with a little project ... using leaves to form the first letters of their names ... and now my goal is to do something like this for each season!

There is nothing like watching my girls grow up together!

Monday, October 31, 2011

under the sea halloween

Thursday, October 27, 2011

the good, the bad, and the ugly

I am two weeks and four days post-op.  I will start by saying that lower jaw surgery is not fun.  Recovery is tough.  Recovery with two young children is really tough.  But two weeks really does make a huge difference!

the good
My family and friends have been amazing.  Beyond my expectations supportive.  Humbling.  Amazing.  So very appreciated.

My mom flew out from IL and took care of us for an entire week.  She was with the girls the day of my surgery.  She cooked and cleaned and shopped and made sure that I didn't have to worry about anything.  She also kept me company in the evenings and took me for my first outing - for a smoothie at Starbucks.  The girls had a great week and loved all the attention they got from Grammy.  I was able to focus on getting better and resting as much as possible.  It was wonderful!  I don't know what we would've done without her.

Chad has been incredible!  No surprise here.  He is amazing!  He took time off work to be with me at the hospital and get me back to the surgeon for a post-op appointment.  He dosed me with pain meds around the clock those first few days. He has done more dishes than I can count and made sure the house is not falling apart.  He has played with the girls tirelessly and patiently.  He has read every one of Natalie's bedtime stories.  He has gently reminded me not to over do it and makes sure I rest.

We've had meals delivered every other day.  When you can't eat, pretty much the last thing you want to do is cook a meal for other people.  But I have two growing girls and a husband who deserve to eat three meals a day plus snacks.  Finding the energy to shop and prep meals ... well, that simply wasn't going to happen.  Having meals provided has been such a tremendous help; I cannot even tell you!  While my main concern was feeding my family, I've also enjoyed some yummy meals, too.  My friends have been so creative and gracious, they've even managed to find recipes for things I can eat!  I've had smoothies and soups and pudding ... all of it wonderful and important for keeping me strong and healthy while my body heals.

Friends have taken the girls so I can rest.  When my mom left, I was still very swollen, taking pain meds around the clock, and barely able to talk.  Taking care of my girls all day really wasn't an option, and thankfully, I didn't have to because, once again, my friends offered to help.  Leanne took Charlotte to music class.  Deann had Natalie over to play all day, and entertained her with crafting and cooking. And then took her to run errands another day.  Jenny took both girls for me between nap and when Chad got home - she even fed them dinner.  I got the rest I desperately needed and the girls were able to have fun and be well taken care of ... by people who love them.

I also received very sweet care packages from my faraway friends.  Those boxes brightened my days ... and gave me useful things like trashy magazines, more baby food, and a new laptop case!

the bad
  • For the first 24 hours I had to suction blood (lots and lots of blood) out of my mouth, which I could barely open.  The taste of blood is just about my least favorite taste in the world.
  • For the first three days, I "ate" through a syringe.
  • My face was wrapped in ice for five days.  And refilling that stupid ice pack around the clock was a pain in the a$$.
  • The inside of my mouth is a mine field of sutures.  Hygiene is critical but darn near impossible.
  • I've been in quite a bit of pain.  To the point that I told Chad I would rather deliver a baby - 12 times - than go through this again.
  • I had to sleep upright for the first 10 days.  Do you know how uncomfortable it is to sleep in a sitting position?  Needless to say, I am tired.
  • I am still hungry ... all the time ... no matter how much baby food, smoothies, and soup I eat, I am still hungry.  I just want to chew something!
  • My face hurts.  My mouth hurts.  My chin hurts.  My head hurts.  My body aches.
the ugly
I cannot believe I am going to post this photo online.  It's awful.  It's ugly.  This is me one week after surgery.  Yes, that delightful shade of yellow is bruising.  There is still some swelling but nothing compared to the first five days.  At this point, I was still in constant pain.  Not really functioning.  Spending a lot of time in bed.

Let me reiterate that this {ugly} photo was taken ten days ago. Now I have very minimal swelling and no visible bruising. Stay tuned for a "more good" post with an updated photo :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

i'm busted ...

Here's hoping that writing is therapeutic ... because I feel like crap.  Please know that I should feel like crap.  This isn't unexpected.  I am currently recovering from lower jaw surgery, and well, as you can imagine, it sucks.  Because of my severe underbite, both sides of my lower jaw were broken and moved forward about 6 mm.  My underbite caused me pain and headaches for years.  I am so thankful my current orthodontist told me the only way to truly fix this issue (which should've been fixed when I was a teenager) was to do it right.   Of course, doing it right led to the jaw surgery and two other procedures. My already weak chin would've complete disappeared after the jaw surgery, so it was moved forward.  And my tight frenulum (flap of tissue beneath my tongue) was clipped.  I am busted.

I remember almost none of the surgery or night spent in the hospital.

Because of the swelling, my face has been wrapped in ice almost constantly since Monday.  I also have to sleep upright, which means I can't sleep for longer than about an hour and a half at a time.  And most of that sleep is drug induced and filled with crazy nightmares and sleep falling.

I can't eat anything but I am increasing my repertoire of liquid delights ... Carnation Instant Breakfast, chicken broth, mashed potato soup, smoothies, and baby food!

I am still taking pain killers, anti-inflammatory, and nausea medication around the clock.  The inside of my mouth feels like "ground beef" to borrow phrasing from a friend - referring to her girl parts - after she gave birth to an almost 10 pound baby.  The cheeks, chin, and neck are swollen and very bruised.  I cannot open my mouth more than about the width of my index finger, which makes talking nearly impossible - yawning, coughing, or sneezing are excruciating!   I am busted.

Having my mom here for the past week has been such a blessing.  There is no way I can care for the girls right now ... not being able to talk, the risk of their love hitting me in the face, and having just enough energy to make myself a smoothie before I have to rest.  I am busted.

The full recovery time is about six months - but swelling should reduce significantly in the first two weeks and I hope to be eating soft pasta in the same amount of time.  I also have plans to fly with both girls (by myself) in less than a month.  I am trying to stay positive and hope that I will feel better every day. 

Thank you to all my mama friends who are taking such good care of me and my family!

Friday, October 7, 2011

i don't wanna go to school ...

Typically Natalie jumps out of bed enthusiastically and greets us with smiles and hugs and questions of "What did you dream about, mommy?"  or "Did you sleep well, daddy?"

This morning I heard her before I saw her.  When I got to the doorway, I found her still in bed whimpering and saying, "I don't wanna go to school today."

My first thought was, "Crap, she's sick!  I knew this would happen with all the new germs she is exposed to at preschool."

When I asked, "Why?" her reply just about broke my heart.  She said, "Because I will miss you soooo much, mommy!"

I did my best to distract her and remind her of the fun things we had planned for the afternoon.  She thought that was all fine and dandy but she still was NOT going to school. 

I talked to her about the new friends she's made at school.  Again, everything seemed fine on the friend-front.  But she was still NOT going to school.

I told her a funny story from when I was a teacher {about a parent-teacher conference involving oatmeal}, which distracted her enough to get dressed and downstairs for breakfast - only about five minutes behind schedule.

Then I made the mistake of cutting her pancakes into bite-size pieces, as I do every time she eats pancakes, and she completely lost it ... all over the floor.  This can't be happening.  Her little world was ending.  Lost it.  And punctuated that tantrum by screaming, "And I am NOT going to school today."

Delightful.  At this point I did what all good parents in the midst of a dilemma do ... I posted to Facebook, "NHV woke up saying she doesn't want to go to school. Any advice?"  Within minutes {love social media}, I had insights and suggestions from several mommy friends!

Anyway, I don't remember how I solved the breakfast crisis but we got to the point where it was time to leave ... she was dressed, hair was combed, teeth were brushed, ... in my mind, we ARE going to school.

But she dug her heels in one.more.time.

What did I do?  I wanted to lose it.  But somehow I stayed calm.  And I pulled out a photo of myself at preschool.  {My teacher found me on Facebook and sent it to me a few months ago - how awesome is that?}  It's this 8 x 10 black-and-white of me and a few classmates having a tea party with my teacher looking on.  It's darling.  Seriously.

Thankfully, it worked like a charm.  Natalie thought it was funny that her mommy went to preschool, too!  To seal the deal, I told her the story of how I would cry when my mommy dropped me off at preschool (complete with a theatrical reenactment) and then I would cry when she picked me up.  She thought that was so silly.

The next thing I know, we're in the car on our way to SCHOOL ... and she had a great day!

Monday, October 3, 2011

meal planning ... again

it appears meal planning is a weekly endeavor.  however I hate it a little less today because last week was a success!  no five o'clock scramble.  no random trips to the market.  less stress and good meals.

so I am at it again ... whether i like it or not.

Here are the four meals I will make at some point this week ...
  1. Pecan Encrusted Salmon, wild rice, and veggies
  2. Chicken Tortilla Soup - I always add black beans and use the already chopped celery/onion/carrot mix from Trader Joe's.
  3. Fuss-Free Ravioli and Cheese Bake
  4. Sloppy Joes & Sweet Potato Fries (Chitown Momma's recipe)
  • Brown 1 lb beef, season as you like (s&p, garlic powder)
  • 1/2 c ketchup
  • onion - I buy it in the frozen food section!
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp mustard
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar
  • I add grated carrots and red peppers to sneak in some veggies!
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)  

Baking ...
I have bananas to use, so I am trying Banana Muffins with Butterscotch Chips
and because I adore Nutella, I want to try this recipe for Self-frosting Pumpkin Nutella Muffins!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

meal plan - fancy title, huh?

I've got nothing witty to say.  No adorable pics of the girls.

Just me and my meal plan because I am determined to make my late afternoon/early evening less chaotic and more enjoyable.  Wish me luck!

Anyone want to go grocery shopping for me?

Sunday: Salmon with Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze
Monday: Sausage Potato Soup
Tuesday: Chicken, Bacon, Mushroom Pizza
Wednesday: Beef Stroganoff in a Skillet
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Chicken Avocado Wrap
Saturday: Havarti Pigs in a Blanket

Lunch Ideas:
S - Bacon, Egg Salad Flatout Wrap

M - Salmon Leftovers & Broccoli Slaw
T - Sausage Potato Soup Leftovers
W - Joe's Os and Grilled Cheese Halves
Th - Chicken Salad with apples and pecans
F - Peanut Butter and Bananas Sandwiches

Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins
Strawberry Banana Muffins
Super Easy Nutella Croissants (hint: just two ingredients)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

making friends at preschool

Today was NHV's first day of preschool. Despite the fact that we were running a few minutes late this morning, I did take photos ... as if that was even an option!  Of course, I grabbed my camera!

As I was checking my settings, I could see that Natalie had something on her mind.

Once I was ready to shoot, I asked, "What are you thinking about, sweet girl?"

She responded, "Making new friends.  How do you make new friends, mama?"

I said, "Hmmmm, let's think about this ...could you say Hi and tell them your name?"

"Yeah, ... OR I could wink at them!"

"That could work ... but sometimes it's better just to smile."

"Yeah, OR I could make really funny faces ... like this!"

Here's hoping my firstborn has a wonderful preschool experience ... and somehow manages to make some new friends along the way :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

chair confusion

I am a moron.

At the very least ... not smart or easily confused or sleep deprived ...

No, this probably qualifies me as a moron!

After two months of semi-enjoying the girls' new chairs from Pottery Barn Kid ...
I say semi, because something about them just wasn't right ...
I was visiting a friend the other day (shouting out to Terri!) and noticed her kids' chairs looked different than mine, and then it occurred to me ...

I had put the chairs together incorrectly!

I put the back cushion as the seat, and the seat cushion as the back.  While it fit into the slipcover, there were these extra flaps of securing strips that didn't fit ... and the chairs just looked strange ... too low to the ground and slanted forward.

It took me TWO MONTHS to figure this out! 
In about two minutes I was able to undo the mistake ...
and now we really do LOVE our chairs ...
and taking new photos of the girls in their adorable, pink chairs is making its way up my {never ending} To Do List!

I share this not only to illustrate the fact that I am still very much afflicted with a terrible case of MommyBrain but also to save countless others from making the same mistake! 

{For $100 a pop, I am thinking the directions could probably be made a little more clear!  Of course, I don't still have the directions, so maybe it is clear ... and I am just a sleep-deprived mom-of-two.}

Thursday, September 8, 2011

on our way ... to preschool open house

All loaded in the car.  Strapped in and ready to go.  I could sense that NHV was processing the next hour - time we would spend together at her new preschool getting familiar with her teachers, classmates and surroundings.  I didn't push or ask questions.  I just turned on her favorite princess music and drove.

A few minutes into our trip, she opened up, and we had this conversation ...

"Mommy, we're going to school ... just you and me! It's going to be so fun!"

"I know!  It is going to be so much fun!"


"There's a toilet at my school.  So if you need to go, there's a toilet."

"Good to know. And if you have to go, you can use the toilet at school, too."


"Mommy, don't yell at me or be naughty to me at school.  My teachers won't like that."

"Okay, I won't yell.  Wait, do I yell a lot?"

"No, mommy, but I will be on good behavior ... like a smiley face!"

"I'm glad to hear that.  I am sure your teacher will like that, too."

"Yeah, and I'm going to look at my teacher in her face!"

Monday, September 5, 2011

21 months old ... almost two

There.  I said it.  
My baby is almost two.  
I don't like it.  Not one bit.  
But it's the truth.

coming soon ... 21 things I love about my CJV

Sunday, August 21, 2011

my little night owl

So yesterday I posted about my sweet sleeping little angels.
And tonight CJV was awake until after midnight.
(Note to self: In the future, do not even mention the fact that your children sleep.)

She spent two hours in her crib ... chatting and singing and hanging out.

And then we played for an hour.  I loved every minute of that hour.  It is so rare that we get to spend time - just the two of us - on the floor with a bin of toys. 

She chatting some more and tried to repeat words that I said.  She chased after a tiny princess ball (big sister never lets her play with it!) and her best buddy, Louie.  She stacked blocks and treated me to many belly laughs as I entertained her with an egg shaker! 

I even managed to take a few photos :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

sleep, sleep so sweetly

Is there anything as peaceful as a sleeping child?  Every night before I put myself to bed (and it's usually much later than I should be staying up), I go into each of my girl's rooms to check on them.  What I am really doing is trying to soak up their angelic appearance.  Trying to memorize their faces.  Trying to imagine what their dreams are filled with.  Trying to remember the babies they once were. Trying to etch into my mind the beautiful little people they are right now.

A friend of mine, who also happens to be a fabulous photographer, encouraged me to shoot in manual mode, bump up the ISO, and capture this nightly ritual of mine ... and I am so glad that I did!

Most nights the blankets are in a big pile and binky is on the floor. 
If she's not on her side like this, she is on her tummy 
with knees under her and bottom up in the air.

NHV is a wild and noisy sleeper.  
I never know what position I will find her in.

Just look at this face!  Those sweet lips and tiny eyelashes!
CJV fell asleep in the car on the way home from a birthday party.

There's a song by Danielle Sansone that I absolutely love
... and sing to my girls sometimes.

This is the chorus ... 

Sleep, sleep so sweetly
You know I love you deeply
Know that when you wake
We’ll celebrate the day

Thursday, August 18, 2011

the happy - sad game

CJV is a toddler of few words.
I mean it, she says very little ... and even less that we can actually understand.

The same cannot be said for her repertoire of expressions! Which is, largely, why we don't have a problem communicating!

I especially love when we play a little game I like to call "the happy-sad game" ... I know, clever, right?

I did this with NHV, too. I say, "Happy!" And make this exaggerated happy face. Then I say, "Sad!" and drop my face into a pout. Everybody laughs (including Chad).

Charlotte is so good at this game! She cracks me up everytime!

And ... much to my delight, she has started to say "happy and sad" before she makes the different faces!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Crawling. Climbing. Walking.

I know.  I know. I know.  All babies develop at their own pace.  All in good time.  When they're ready.

Believe me, I know.  And I've done my best to be patient.  I've tried not to worry.  After a developmental evaluation in June, I felt somewhat reassured. 

It's just really hard not to focus on milestones.  Especially when every other baby - even much younger - around you is hitting them.  And you have a firstborn who reached milestones like she wrote the darn textbook herself!

I have just found it kind of hard to deal with ... there are some complicated emotions (and head games) wrapped up in how your baby develops!

And so this is really just for me to look back on and think, "See, it did happen ... why were you so worried?"

Just after her first birthday, CJV started a very cute army crawl.

At 15 months, CJV graduated from inch-worming to knee crawling.

At just shy of 19 months, we finally experienced another breakthrough, and CJV starting cruising and taking a few steps.  However those steps have been few and very wobbly ...

 At the zoo trying to keep herself from falling backward. 
Oh, how I love that look on her face!

And here she is later that same day at an outdoor concert.
The music and dancing with her big sister was a great motivator.
She took a lot of single steps and a fair share of spills.

But each time she got back up with a look of determination on her face!

In the past month, we've also seen her climb just about anything in her path ... she would spend all day going up and down the stairs, scaling the bookshelves, and getting onto the couch.

She also enjoys building her upper body strength with pull ups ...

 I love the discarded kitchen towel on the floor!

Most recently, Daddy allowed her to climb onto the bench and then the top of a picnic table at the pool.  And I just had to capture her holding onto that umbrella pole - not to worry daddy was right there to catch her!

Drum Roll, please ...

Almost six weeks later at the age of 20 months, I think today we can officially say that CJV is walking!  Apparently, she read my email last night because I was commiserating with another mom whose 20-month old is using a walker.  I was feeling very discouraged and wondering if Charlotte needs more support/therapy to get her walking.  And so, what does my little peanut do?  Of course, she starts walking.  I swear, it's like she knew!

And tomorrow I am determined to capture that delightfulness on camera!

Monday, August 8, 2011

book nook

The girls are enjoying their new sunny book nook!

The new chairs - pink and personalized - were birthday gifts from Mimi.
I love them and so do the girls.
The girls sit in them. Climb on them. Make forts out of them.

I love spending an hour in the late afternoon
with both girls in our new book nook ...

Natalie "reads" one book after another
While Charlotte practices taking steps

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

sisterly love

hanging out in their new {super cute, pink pbk} chairs
playing in the sandbox and coloring pictures
visiting our local zoo and hanging out in the hammock

no matter what they are doing ...
they love each other ... at least for the most part

nhv can have a tough time sharing 
and demands time to play by herself - 
by hurrying to close her bedroom door
as cjv excitedly crawls toward it

but she also looks out for her and takes care of her
and makes her laugh like no one else can!

cjv absolutely lights up when she sees her big sister
she says naaaa-yeeee as soon as she wakes up
she is happiest when she's doing whatever
natalie is doing :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

check ups

I took both girls to see our family doctor today.

It was Natalie's four year check up and Charlotte's 18-month check up (purposely two months late because she's seen plenty of white coats recently).  Overall, both are healthy.  Charlotte, my little peanut, is still an enigma but "continued monitoring" is the current prognosis ... and one I will gladly take over bad news.  Natalie is going to participate in a sleep study to rule out sleep apnea, but otherwise passed her physical  with flying colors!

Natalie is 42 inches tall and weighs 37 pounds.
Charlotte is 29 inches tall and weighs 17 pounds.

I've never done back-to-back check-ups, but it went surprisingly well.  Each girl took a turn.  I got all of my questions/concerns answered.  And both girls handled their shots like true rock stars!

As is tradition, we walked across the street to see the fountain ... to ponder life, fade the memory of those shots, and celebrate!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

popsicles at the park

I took the girls to the park for a concert this evening.  The weather is finally amazing - as it should be!

And treated them both to rainbow popsicles!  I initially bought just one, and the lady even asked me if I wanted another.  I said, "Oh no, my little one won't even notice."  Ha!  I opened Natalie's and handed it to her.  We turned to walk away and got about 10 steps before Charlotte was practically diving out of my arms to get to that rainbow of goodness!  So I returned to the booth with a big grin.  Said, "I should really know better" and spent another $1.

Best $2 I've spent in a good, long while!
you want some of this?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Snapshot: Favorites of a Four Year Old

A few weeks ago, Natalie turned four years old ... insert disbelief and sniffles here! Today while we enjoyed a relaxing morning at home (no appointments or classes to rush off to) and played blocks on the family room floor, I asked her about her Favorite things and kept a piece of paper handy to record her answers.  I did this last year, too, and must thank Chitown Momma for reminding me to do it again!
  1. Color: "PINK" no hesitation.  no pause to think about.  most definitely ... PINK!
  2. Cartoon Character: "Buddy!  He's a very silly dinosaur."
  3. Book: "Critter and Rapunzel" - that anthology of Little Critter stories has remained a favorite through the years.  She also loves to read princess books, especially a Tangled chapter book.
  4. Letters: "M and T ... because moon starts with M and tiger starts with T, and I really like the moon and tigers."  Seems like a rational explanation to me :)
  5. Number: "Four.  Because I am four years old!"
  6. Treasure: "Dress-up clothes and Balloons!"  The first answer I was expecting, but I was surprised to hear mention of balloons.
  7. Snack(s): "Veggie Booty, apples & cinnamon, and cheese crackers from Trader Joes."
  8. Movie: "The Little Mermaid" Grammy introduced Natalie to Ariel just before her third birthday last year, and it has been her favorite since then.  Interestingly, she doesn't ask to watch it very often anymore but still considers it her favorite.
  9. Princess: "Ariel because her dress is pink and her hair is red."
  10. Place to Go: KidsQuest (our indoor kids' museum), Cougar Mountain Zoo (fantastic local zoo), and Cee-Cee's House (her best friend)
  11. Store: "Target and Ikea" - Target we frequent, Ikea we've been to maybe three times!
  12. Restaurant: "Old McDonald's and Chipotle!"  Natalie is such a sucker for those darn Happy Meals, and loves the cheese quesadillas at Chipotle.
  13. Song to Sing: "A-B-C-D, Down by the Station, and All You Funky Monkeys"
  14. Song to Listen to: "Caspar Babypants!" Once again!   We also love the Glee versions of Baby! Baby!, Forget You, Ice Ice Baby, and I Want to be a Billionaire!
  15. Thing to do at the park: "Make mulch cakes and meet new friends."
  16. Thing about Charlotte: "Playing blocks with her and making her laugh."
  17. Thing about Mommy: "Her pretty eyes." I did not bribe her in anyway!
  18. Thing about Daddy: "His Grumpy shirt."  Which just so happens to be the gift she picked out for him for his birthday!  They both think it's hilarious!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

happy birthday, nhv

Thursday, June 30, 2011

nhv at scenic beach

It took NHV a few minutes to warm up to the idea of the beach. She even pouted a bit. However, she still looked adorable in her new polka dot bathing suit and floppy sun hat!  And I thought the driftwood was so cool!

Eventually daddy convinced her to give the water a try ...

And then the good times began ...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

cjv at scenic beach

Between the amazing backdrop and the vivid red and blue of Charlotte's bathing suit, I could not take enough pictures!  Of course, Charlotte wanted pretty much nothing to do with looking at the camera, and who can blame her considering the alternatives ... rocks, shells, and water!

Finally, she at least looked up - not at me, but up enough to see her cute face and blue eyes!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Camping Trip

Camping.  If I'm being honest is something I only really enjoy because Chad loves it so much.  If the decision were all mine, I am not sure I would actually choose to go camping.  I would probably choose a cozy bed-n-breakfast in a beautiful setting, but I can certainly do without roughing it and sleeping on the ground and worrying about possible bear attacks.  Just being honest.  But Chad loves it and envisions a lifetime of family memories created around the campfire, which I must admit is a lovely sentiment.

I also know that camping is a great option for family vacationing.  If nothing else, it's fairly inexpensive - although if you consider the amount of "gear" Chad has purchased, I am fairly certain we could've gone to an all-inclusive resort in a tropical locale ... at least once if not twice :)  But the gear is an investment and can be used over and over again.  I totally get it.

As much as I love blogging and Facebook and all the rest, I really do like the idea of unplugging and spending time without technology ... making up games with sticks and singing ridiculous songs and focusing on the simple things in life.

And so, we went camping.  For one night.  It was a lot of preparation and then unpacking, but so worth it!

The trip started with our first ever ferry ride.  I am almost embarrassed to admit, we have lived here for five years and haven't taken a ferry until now!  It was a blast, and the weather was absolutely gorgeous - what are the chances!

 Our destination was Scenic Beach, and it definitely lived up to it's name.  I took a ton of photos during our hour on the beach and will try to post more soon!  But this gives you some idea of just how beautiful it was ...

 The rock-and-shell beach and chilly water did not seem to bother Charlotte one bit.  She wanted down and modified her crawl to a hands-and-feet variation.  She picked up rocks and clumps of seaweed and splashed in the water.  Charlotte appears to be an outdoorsy kind of girl! 

Natalie was drawn to the water but didn't really like walking on the rocks and shells.  There was also a pirate birthday party going on down the beach, which distracted her and made her feel left out. She pouted for awhile and then finally decided to enjoy herself.  She tossed rocks from the shore, walked in the water up to her knees, bent over to dunk her head in the water, and splashed with the reckless abandon of an almost four year old!

At the campsite ...
While Chad grilled dinner, I attempted to keep Charlotte entertained and somewhat confined.  She even played in the back of the car for a little while.

 But, ultimately, I had to give in a let Charlotte crawl around in the dirt.  She was beyond happy and filthy!

 Natalie entertained herself with stick collecting and looking for fairies in the surrounding woods.  And, yes, she wore a skirt and accessories ... while camping.  What can I say?!

After another walk to the beach and some time at the playground, we settled in for my favorite part of camping ... the campfire!
 Natalie enjoyed roasting the marshmallows, but did not enjoy getting her hands sticky and messy in order to eat the s'more ... so guess who got to feed her?

Around 8:00, both girls were showing signs of bedtime, so we followed our usual routine ... and then put them both in the tent.  C in her pack-n-play.  Natalie in a sleeping bag.  The next 30 minutes were filled with giggles and chatter as Natalie reassured Charlotte about sleeping in a tent.  There were also many calls for mommy and daddy followed by unzips and zips to check on them.  At one point, I found Natalie in the pack-n-play with Charlotte ... squealing and wrestling!  At that point, it became clear that falling asleep together was not an option. 

Poor Charlotte didn't get a nap, and both girls were so tired.  I strapped on the carrier and walked her to sleep - I toured the entire campground, saw a family of five deer, and ended up at the beach, which was quiet and serene and just showing signs of sunset.  All the while, Charlotte snoozed in the carrier.  I could feel her warmth and hear her soft breathing and sense the relief of finally sleeping.

Back at camp, Chad read books and chatted with Natalie.  She was ready to sleep by the time I got back.  The rest of the night went even better than expected.  Chad and I hung out by the campfire for another hour or so.  And then we all got a decent night's sleep.  We woke up around 7:30 and Charlotte slept another 20 minutes or so!

We enjoyed a leisurely morning at the playground, did a little more exploring, took a family photo, and then packed up and headed home.  And I can honestly say that I am looking forward to our next camping adventure ... as long as things go just as smoothly as this time!
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