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!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Stones, Angelina, and Walter

After sleeping in (all of us) and having a big breakfast, we decided to celebrate Father's Day at one of our favorite local attractions, the zoo!  We braved the clouds, loaded up the wagon, and had an interesting visit!

At the end of March, we purchased personalized paving stones as a fundraiser for the purchase of a new cougar.  And today we were pleasantly surprised to find our bricks had been installed just the day before!  I loved seeing the girls' names carved into the stone and nestled next to each other.  Natalie pointed to and named each letter.  Charlotte stuck her finger in the heart shape and proceeded to crawl around.
The stones were placed in an area that overlooks another part of the zoo.  It's directly above an exhibit of rather large birds called Emus.  If I knew what I was talking about or thought it would even help, I would compare emus to an ostrich.  Large.  Flightless.  Small head.  Large body.

As you can see from the photos above, Natalie is clutching a small animal in a dress.  Well, that's a newly-acquired (during yard sales yesterday) Angelina Ballerina doll - sporting a delightful yellow tutu.

We aren't entirely sure of all the details, but that well-dressed mouse took a nice, long fall into the emu enclosure.  Natalie screamed out and started crying immediately - fairly certain she was fearing for Angelina's life.  The crowds down below all turned to look. A nearby zoo intern radioed for back-up and tried to distract the emus.  Despite her efforts, several of the large birds trotted over for a closer look. And I grabbed the camera ...

Walter, in particular, was quite smitten with Angelina.  Thankfully, the zoo keeper was able to retrieve the dancing mouse!  She was returned ... dirty but all in one piece with yellow tutu still in tact!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

another Saturday night

Honestly, I barely remember what I used to do on a Saturday night before kids.  Okay, that's a lie.  I do remember ... sort of ... but I choose not to think about the details of that carefree time of my life ... lest I get all depressed and stuff!  No, I am only kidding!  I won't trade this time of my life for anything!

After a rainy, dreary day, CPV rallied the troops and took all three of his girls on a date.  Or maybe we took him since it is Father's Eve.  Either way, we were all presentable and left the house in a semi-not-chaotic state - always a good thing ... on both counts!

Daddy got to choose the restaurant, and no surprise ... he wanted to go to Stan's BBQ.

 Charlotte loves food with a little "kick" ... she gobbled up smoked meatballs and baked beans!

 Natalie tends to be drastically less adventuresome with her palate.  She opted for mac-n-cheese and whatever bread she could get her hands on!

Dinner was followed by ... drum roll, please ... dessert!  At our favorite local cupcakery, which just happens to be walking distance from the barbecue place.  Trust me, Chad's choice was most definitely not a coincidence!  We ordered two cupcakes: banana with whipped chocolate frosting and chocolate with cookies-n-cream frosting ... both were delicious!

I am super bummed that I didn't take a photo of the cupcake eating!  That would've been so much cuter than a bowl of processed cheese-covered noodles!  We did, however, have a delightful conversation with an older couple, who were there when we arrived.  They have 9 grandchildren living in three different states, which explains why they were so entertained by Natalie's journalistic sense of question-asking and story-telling!

We finished off our date night with a walk down the railroad tracks.  The rain had finally stopped, and despite a heavy layer of clouds, it was actually a very nice evening.  I especially love that I was able to get four good photos ... with my point-n-shoot!

Perhaps the best part, we were home and in our jammies by 9:00!  Now, that's my kind of Saturday night!

Monday, June 13, 2011

another fever

My sweet baby has been running a fever since Friday.  We made a trip to the doctor's office on Saturday, but didn't get any answers.  We both got wet and a little cranky but no diagnosis.

Low grade fever with no other complaints.  No runny nose or cough.  No vomiting.  Doctor mentioned that both of her ears are red, but not infected.  We attempted to get a urine sample.  Charlotte was cooperative and peed within 10 minutes of being "bagged."  However, the nurse put it on wrong, and I ended up with a very wet lap.  The chair didn't fair so well, either.

I am fairly certain this is another UTI.  Charlotte's second.  Her first was at the end of February.  Interestingly, Natalie was just treated for a UTI last week.  Not sure what is going on here.

Just know that fever is hanging on.  8 hours after ibuprofen, it rears it's ugliness once again.  Which is why I am typing this at almost 3:00 am.  Charlotte just woke up and cried out this pathetic, I-feel-lousy cry.  I picked her up, felt her forehead, grabbed the thermometer, and confirmed ... the fever is back.

Poor little thing.  I could barely see her - with nothing more than the dim light from the stairway lighting her room.  She was frantically signing "binky."  Once she had that, I asked her if she wanted some milk.  She started signing "drink" and then "milk."  I walked her down to the kitchen, grabbed the cup, and then headed back up to snuggle and rock while she drank.

I hate that she is sick.  But I love that she is so much more confident in her ability to communicate.  Something that brings us both relief.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

sweet sliding

CJV is officially hooked on sliding!

I love the anticipation at the top ... she holds onto both sides of the slide and carefully scoots forward, gives me her signature big grin, and let's go!

At the bottom, her face says, "Hey, look what I just did!"  She is so proud of herself!

And ready to do it again and again and again!

Glad to see our garage sale find from two years ago is going to get some more good use!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

signs and chatter

Within a week of CJV's developmental evaluation, in which it was determined that she is delayed in both receptive and expressive language skills, she has gained a bunch of new signs and has been vocalizing like crazy!

Why is that always the case?  Not that I am complaining.  But, seriously, how do you explain that?

She is answering yes and no questions with nods and shakes.  She signs swing as soon as we get to the park.  I taught her the sign for cheese at lunch today.  She also signs please and thank you, does a one-handed sign for play, and rubs her belly at bath time!  Bird continues to be her favorite sign, and she uses it all the time ... even when there's no bird in sight.  I love seeing her little index finger and thumb press together and her chin lifts up toward the tree or sky ... so precious!

Just sharing a little victory on the language front!

Monday, June 6, 2011

hair clippie

neither of my girls were born with a lot of hair.
heck, i've never had a lot of hair.
and their hair grows slowly ... just like mine.

natalie rocked a mullet for a good long while.
charlotte has a similar style with a bit more length in the front.

which explains why i feel the need
to put adorable little clippies in her "bangs.

if you are in the market for super adorable,
custom-made hair accessories ...
and if you have a daughter (or two)
you really should be in that market ... 
please check out Millie's Bows,
a local mama with the cutest bows around!

funny story, i actually ordered six new bows for natalie,
and this little flower clippie was included as a little thank you.
natalie loves her bows, and so do I ...
but she refuses to let me take a picture of her wearing them!

Friday, June 3, 2011

second visit with dr. fancy pants

It had been six months since our introduction to Dr. Fancy Pants.  We've had several blood draws and result reports since then, but this week was our second time seeing Dr. Fancy Pants for an in-office appointment.

After lots of weight-checks and needle sticks, Charlotte has developed a bit of a dislike for doctor's offices, nurses, scales, white coats, ... pretty much anything to do with the healthcare industry.  Of course she also has a healthy case of stranger anxiety, which certainly does not help the situation.

Thankfully, the waiting room had some bright-colored toys and big windows for bird-watching, which created the perfect distraction scenario.  As soon as the nurse called for us, Charlotte started clinging to me as if her life depended on it.  She cried while being weighed and measured.  I hated to see her upset but know that those procedures are not even remotely invasive in the big scheme of things.  She weighed 15 pounds 12 ounces, which is a gain of over two pounds in six months.  She measured just over 28 inches long.

Our time with Dr. Fancy Pants involved more clinging and crying, which made understanding his accent all that more challenging.  I'd catch like every third word and about every sixth word I didn't recognize as English.  I did a lot of nodding and pretending to understand, especially when he talked about extrapolating data and statistical analysis ... heck, I was lucky to stay awake through that!  He did a thorough examination, asked about sleeping, eating, and pooping (not his word, I am sure), and measured her hands and feet.  All of her measurements - although tiny and still  no where near a chart - are proportional and maintaining their own (pathetic) growth trajectory.  Her growth hormone levels are in the low-normal range, which means we won't have to make the dreaded hormone treatment decision.

Diagnosis is still failure to thrive, which I most definitely hate ... but there are much worse things you can hear from a doctor's mouth.   Essentially (and no surprise here), Charlotte is tiny but growing at her own pace.

And, yes, that is a sigh of relief you just heard.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

the latest with CJV

My tiny peanut had a big week.

We had our developmental evaluation, and I am happy to report it was a really great experience.  It was both fascinating and helpful to see my baby through someone else's eyes.  Through the eyes of trained professionals.  Eyes that see lots and lots of babies at all different developmental stages.  Several times the occupational therapists mentioned things about her movements - like the fact that she supported herself on one hand while climbing out of the rice bin and used alternating hands/feet when climbing the stairs.  The speech therapist also mentioned that Charlotte is very quiet.  Twenty minutes into the evaluation, she had not made a sound.  It was reassuring to know that it wasn't just me thinking she's not babbling enough. 

I spent the hour talking, observing, answering questions, asking questions, and learning even more than I expected.  Charlotte spent the hour playing, getting to know new faces, having a snack, showing off her cognitive prowess, being adorable and cooperative.

And, in the end, we discovered that Charlotte demonstrated age-appropriate cognitive, fine motor, and social-emotional skills.  However, she has delays in gross motor and language skills.  The OT left me with several suggestions for motivating CJV to walk and scheduled a re-evaluation in six weeks.  We'll meet with a speech therapist to start some intervention in the next few weeks.

As predicted, I feel good about my ability to advocate for Charlotte and empowered by the knowledge of her delays and what we can do to support her development in those areas.
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