Month: July 2012

Baby Shower Season

It seems as though just about every week there is a new baby announcement amongst friends and acquaintances.  For every month between now and February, I know of a baby due within my circle.  How exciting!  This season of life has to be one of my favorites: I love the anticipation of the gender, the stats, the name (quite possibly my favorite part), the hair or no hair, the guess to determine who he/she resembles, and all of the shared love and joy that goes into welcoming new life.
In the next four weeks, I have four baby showers (!)  Two out of the four, I am heavily involved in.
Yesterday was one of those two.
We met in Chicago to celebrate Baby P (coming in about six weeks, give or take).
(Baby K coming in October!)
Seeing as Baby P’s name has not yet been revealed, and that in the meantime, her nickname has been dubbed “Little Pea”, we concluded that a Sweet Pea Garden theme was only appropriate.
Baby Wishes from each guest were written for Baby P to one day read.
(free printable found here from unitednotions)
And what would a baby shower be without a little friendly competition??
(Don’t worry, Baby P, we all know you will be a lot cuter 🙂 )
(for the record, I was off.  Way off.  I guess you could consider it payback??)
(mildly inappropriate jokes were made at the expense of pregnant women all around the world.  it IS a baby shower afterall 😉 )
And of course the best part of the party–the presents!
After signing the guest book,
(carrying on tradition, we framed a beautiful pregnancy picture of Mrs. P and signed our names to it.  I still have the one I was given at my shower for MG and it sits in her room next to the rocker.  I often would read and reread my friends’ wishes as I would feed her late at night.  So special.)
and then guests were given a “dirt cup” and, fittingly, sweet pea seeds to take home.
This shower was a wonderful celebration of new life and a reminder of what a fun and joyous season this is.  Baby Shower Season is officially open! Hurray!

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Highlight Reel

Some recent highlights:

 1) We have a fat McAlister’s gift-card, so we’ve been eating there A LOT lately (not that I’m complaining).  MG is now using a fork.  Milestone!
2) But these still get first place in her heart
 1) Anniversary meant eating at restaurants that put signs and decorations on your table.  i.e. NOT McAlister’s.
2) Anniversary dinner.  With a side of Orange Leaf Birthday Cake (not pictured)
3) Anniversary gifts: new watch and dress.  Love!
 1) Zoo!  Someone tell me, are we crazy bringing such a high kid-to-adult ratio? 
2) She’d much rather walk than ride.  That’s my girl!
3) Fearless leader
4) Hugs from Miss Shelby (we miss you!) and C too!
 1)  jailbird
2) Zoo Verdict: She’s enamored!  Me- Thinking about paying another $250 for another hospital-grade thermos.  Love it.
3)  sweet mother and baby (aww)…wait, don’t even say that is MG and I
 1) playing “office”…sigh….she is a little me.
2) concert in the park.  best of both worlds.
3)  I have an obsession with miniature things.  Nanas included.
 1) (daddy’s) outfit of choice
2)  she’s discovered shoes (Lord, have mercy!)
3) having more fun together everyday.  I love my little sidekick!

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My Little Me

We’ve quickly rounded into 20 months of life.  And Little One’s personality has really started to shine.  
Often, it feels as if I’ve been given a second childhood.  I get to watch myself grow up.  I get to raise myself (oh joy!) and I get to rediscover things about myself through mature eyes.  Mostly because she and I have eerily similar personalities (so far, at least)
She is, afterall, our first-born and that alone gives her and I a huge thing in common.  One of the many things we share.  
When I took the following video of her, I loved it for two reasons.  One, because it is so her.  Being the eldest often comes with a longing to do bigger things and have more responsibility.  I, myself, was no exception to that and so I secretly love/fear that trait in one of my own.  She loves to copy in vivid detail the things she sees grown-ups doing.   Never mind that her end result may be a little flawed 🙂
And two, this video showcases a little piece of MG and Daddy’s relationship.  A relationship that has really taken off since he has been ever-present in the last six weeks.  She has gone from being a fierce Mama’s girl to it-depends-on-the-day-girl.  I secretly love/fear that too.  Just as long as she doesn’t completely edge me out, I think I can handle it.  Right?

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Six Years

Today, July 22, 2012, marks six years of marriage.

Six years!

Which, in theory, still kinda sounds like we’re newlyweds, but we’re only a year out from the not-so-newlywed-sounding year number seven.

In some ways, this year has been the fastest on record.  This time last year we were basking on the beaches of Mexico and the time in between that and now has been like a snap of the fingers.

On the other hand, this year has been one of the most challenging years to date.  Not because of newness and changes but due to the lack thereof.  Even though we have tried to move out of some circumstances and beyond old things, God continues to place us back where we began.  It feels as though the so-called seven-year-itch came a bit early.  Not so much the yearning to be with different people, but the yearning to be in different circumstances.  We’ve begged God for certain changes, challenges, and outcomes and yet, here we are with a life nearly identical to the one we had one year ago. And that in itself has been the greatest challenge.  I think we will look back on this time as one of the most trying times in our life.  There are many thoughts and stories to go behind these challenges and they are forthcoming.

But for now, we are just reveling in our accomplishment of making it this far.

 One year.  So young and naive.  We were just glad that we had survived the first year that everyone warns you about.  We think we came out mostly unscathed 🙂
 Two years. Walking at night on the beach in Florida.  We went to see The Dark Knight on that trip also, making it all the more fitting to go see the final Batman movie last night.
 Three years.  We were blissfully happy with 2 great jobs, 1 low-maintenance pet, and zero responsibility. Little did we know there was a major game-changer coming our way soon. 
 Four years.  We went to the Melting Pot and talked about all the changes coming our way.  (that is an MG belly I spy, NOT a post-melting pot indulgence belly 🙂 )

five years.  we marveled over all the changes God has brought us through in being new parents. we celebrated by stuffing our faces with Mexican food.  Hey, when in Mexico!

six years.  a lot has changed.  happy to be with each other and our much-loved baby girl.  Even though things haven’t much changed, there is no doubt that God has truly blessed us.  We have 1 fulfilling job, a charming little house, and a sweet girl that we love more each day.  Really, what more could we ask for?

on to year seven.

With hopefully another ten times that more to go.

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Gators, Jellyfish, and Cockroaches, Oh My! (Part IV)

In our eyes, our week at the beach was a huge success.  MG received a “Montessori education” as Daddy would say, going back and forth between land and water.  Building, discovering, playing, imagining, creating, and all of the wonderful things that can be done there by a one-and-a-half-year-old..  And even though she doesn’t understand it yet, one day she will.  All of this wonderful sand and water was put there for her to enjoy.  By Someone who loves her so very much.  Isn’t that a wonderful thing to think about?  It suddenly becomes  especially evident when you are in such a beautiful setting.
Oh, and for the record, we did have an easy and thankfully much cooler ride home thanks to our car being fixed while we were away.  Whew.
{the end}

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Gators, Jellyfish, and Cockroahs, Oh My! {Part III}

An air conditioned car, coupled with toys and a Granny meant instant success for the second leg of our trip.  I was afraid that MG would instantly rebel at the sight of her car seat and the thought of being strapped in for another day on the road, but surprisingly she willingly climbed in.  I guess after a good night’s sleep the previous day’s experiences had already worn off.

Thankfully, that trip was a breeze and before we knew it, we were driving over the bridge onto Hilton Head Island.

We oohed and awed over the Southern plantation style homes and the nicely manicured landscaping.  Who would have thought that South Carolina would roll out the red carpet for us?

Sister and BIL were only a few hours behind us and as soon as they arrived, we started making plans for the week:

-Swim in the ocean (the water was warm and calm, a perfect debut for our toddler)

-Lay out on the beach (the sand was white and super-fine. the kind where you feel like you got a pedicure after walking in it and it never gets hot enough to burn your feet. perfect)

-Swim in the pool (a given)

-See the fireworks on the fourth (verdict: MG loved them.  She pointed and said “Yay” every time one exploded.  precious.)

-Play a rousing round of couples’ Jeopardy every night (and for the record, N and I won!!!!)

-Attend church on Sunday (despite an ultimately traumatic nursery drop-off {“children, this is Neee-veee, she’s visiting us from out of town”}, we were able to enjoy the entire service without getting page.  [p.s. we’ve never knock-on-wood been paged.  not sure if this is due to the child or the fab workers?])

-eat ‘shrimp and grits’ at least once (I might have indulged more than that)

-figure out what “lowcountry” meant and why it was on e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g anytime you turn around

-outlets (this was a W family vacation, of course!)

 (hmm…designer jeggings for MG…to  buy or not to buy?)

-visit Harbour Town (lighthouse=overrated)

Plans we did not make, but still somehow found us:

-See a real, live alligator (thankfully it was contained in a residential retention pond.  and I viewed carefully from the safety of the car)

-Get stung by a jellyfish (=granny.  she was swimming at dusk in water over her head.  so out of all the horrible ocean scenarios that come to my mind, I guess that one is low on my list)

-Kill two cockroaches (=granny again.  you should see the fire that comes into her eye at the mention of the C-word)

-Encounter live crabs, starfish and sand dollars in the ocean (N was ecstatic.  “Seeing 5 sand dollars in one day…this is a dream come true!!” What?)

-Continuously running into Felix’s dad (Friend: “It looks like someone took some scissors to your swimsuit”  Felix’s dad: “I did!” Yes, Felix’s dad was the one running around in 3, count ’em THREE pairs of hand-cut swim shorts.  It literally looked like he had put the shorts on, took a pair of scissors and cut all the way around each leg with the suit still on. Cuts did not discriminate against: an even hemline, guy-thigh, pockets.)

-A near-death experience in the car: we swerved to miss a car that swerved into our lane.  Thankfully about 2 other cars swerved to miss us and we escaped unscathed.  Unfortunately, the guy behind us did not have such luck and ended up with a totaled vehicle.

Hilton Head, you sure do know the way to my heart.

Until next time,
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P.S. I still have a “few” more pictures to share.  HHI video next post!

Today was a good day

I woke up after six hours of sleep (my fault, not MG’s).
Ran in 80+ degree temps.
Went to the bank.
Went to Grocery Store Number 1 (for milk and yogurt).
Went to the post office.
Went to the BMV (just so happened to be closed on Mondays…who knew?)
Went to Grocery Store Number 2 (for everything else)
Came home and prepped dinner for company.
Why, oh why, was this such a good day?  Filled with all of my *favorite* places to run errands?  Because I had my manny with me.
(manny=male nanny)
And I mean that in the most respectful of terms.  When Daddy is around, life looks so much different.  Two parents to one child is a pretty decent ratio.  
And the best part?  He’ll be with us all week.  
We’ve I’ve been spoiled rotten by his presence lately and it will be a sad day when he goes back to working 40+ hours a week.
So please excuse me while I read a book, tend to the yard, cook a decent meal, take a nap, and Internet shop my heart out.
In the meantime, anyone want to sponsor us to be stay-at-home parents?

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Gators, Jellyfish, and Cockroaches, Oh my! {part II}

Well like I said in Part I, we were packed and ready for the trip of our lives.

We had food, entertainment, and a plan.  What could possibly go wrong?

The day started off with an unexpected two hour delay.  Not a terrible set-back, but a set-back nonetheless.

The fun boxes and DVD player, however, proved to be worthwhile distractions. Out of all the contents inside, the stickers were the most fun.  I would gently bend the paper so MG could peel them off herself and then we “decorated” the lids of her boxes with them.  45 minutes of bliss.  I’ll take it.  And I wish I could shake the hand of whomever invented Elmo’s World. Praise Baby too.  They were a lifesaver.  Plus, it was priceless to hear MG randomly giggling or pointing to the screen and “Moooo” when a cow or other animal would appear.  However, I do hope it’s a long time before I hear of a certain Mr. Noodle again.   And Baby Einstein? Meh.  We both found it a little boring.  But that’s just my two cents.

So we’re rolling along, making good time, everyone’s in good spirits, everything’s going smoothly…until…..until we start to notice that we were just not able to cool off.  The air conditioning was not keeping up with demand, instead it was fading in and out, alternating cool air with outside air.  Mind you, this was taking place on the hottest day of the yearIn the hottest year of the past century.  And we were headed South. Every single state we were passing through was hitting record highs. This was not looking good.  N had just recharged the freon last week, so we could rule that out…but we had our suspicions that it was a problem with the air compressor. Not something we could necessarily pull over for a few hours to fix and be back on the road again.  So we made do the best we could.

Around lunchtime. we stopped at a truck-stop and N purchased a makeshift fan that plugged into the cigarette jack. We blasted MG with air.  She and I were in the backseat for the remainder of the trip and it did a pretty good job of keeping it bearable for a few more hours at least.

In the next portion of the trip, we were attempting to make it to Nashville.  Originally, we had planned to stop there for lunch but our two-hour delay had already upset that.  We thought we’d still let MG stop and play on the playground located behind sister and BIL’s house.  If, however, she fell asleep, we were going to just keep driving, hoping that she would sleep for the remainder of our trip, until we reached our final destination for that day: my grandparents’ house.

So we were about 2 hours from Nashville, sweaty and disheveled, when N suddenly says, “You know what we forgot?”  No good conversation ever begins that way.  “The Pack ‘N Play“.  Noooooooo.  It hadn’t been on our to-pack list because the house we were renting in Hilton Head provided one, but we would definitely need one for our stop that evening and on the night we would return.

I called ahead to my sister.  (who stopped in the middle of her workout to help us track one down).  We called all of her resources with young children to see if we could borrow one for the week.  It just so happened to be a holiday weekend.  Everyone was traveling with theirs.

Since we were headed to my grandparent’s house, we called their church to see if they would have one or if any of their members would.  At the drop of my grandpa’s name, the very genteel receptionist promised that she would help us track one down.  While we waited for her return phone call, we made a Plan B. We would stop at this fabulous store, Essex, in Nashville (you must, must go there if you are ever in the area.  It deserves a whole post in and of itself) if we didn’t hear from her by the time we reached the city limits.  We reasoned that if worse-case scenario meant that we had to buy one, we could just leave it at my grandparents’ house and it could service us or any of the great-grandchildren that are constantly rotating through it’s doors.

Conveniently (not), MG fell asleep about 20 minutes before we reached the city limits.  It was then determined that we must keep driving.

She was able to drift off for about 45 minutes (notice the fan hair).  But it was just so hot, she tossed and turned and didn’t get much more than that.  Seeing as how all of our moods are determined by the minutes of nap she gets, things were not looking up.

About this time, the secretary called back and gave us the name and phone number of a promising contact.   Our baby had a bed!  At least that was one thing we could count on.

By the middle of the afternoon, we were still about an hour and a half out.  I begged N to make a stop so we could cool off.  At this point, the air conditioner had completely sputtered and only gave us about a minute of cool air before blasting us with record heat.

We dragged our sweaty selves into a Cracker Barrel and we were instantly swarmed by Southern grandmas. “Oh poor baby, has she been in the sun?”  (I’m sure this was deduced by MG’s flushed face and sweaty hair.)  “No, our air conditioner has died”  “Oh you poor things, well bless your hearts!!” And before we could turn around, we had ice water (for the adults) and chilled apple juice (for the child).  It was MG’s first apple juice experience, but she barely had time to bat an eye at it as she was enraptured by a wooden kitchen set and would only be removed from it by sheer force.  After twenty minutes, we had cooled off enough to buoy our spirits for the remainder of the car trip.

About half an hour later, we hit stop and go traffic on 24.  This is normally a frustrating situation, but when you have a hot, cranky child and little to no air conditioning, it is a nightmare.  We chose instead to try our hand at some back roads and wove through town (read: ghetto), finally, finally arriving at our destination.  Hot, hungry, and only about three hours later than we originally planned.  Phew.

After that, we knew that no matter what happened, tomorrow’s trip could only get better from there.  Right?

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Gators, Jellyfish, and Cockroaches, oh my! {part 1}

Well we just got back from a week-long family trip to Hilton Head Island….and I am already ready to go back.  This will definitely go down as one of my favorite, if not very favorite, family vacation ever.  Maybe because this trip saw the addition of two new family members: MG and my newly minted brother-in-law.  Each added their own fun and memories to our ever-increasing family circle.

Taking a long car trip with a 19 month old definitely earns you a medal of valor in my book.  This trip should earn us at least three.  We had two 7 hour legs to get to the Island and two more to return home….making this the longest car trip MG has ever taken.  At quite possibly her busiest time of life.  To prepare for the trip, I gathered some essentials from our last long car trip,  filled a bag with enough toddler friendly snacks to keep a 20-pound child alive for 3 days, borrowed a DVD player (thanks, neighbs!!) and DVD’s (thanks, SW!) and made three “fun boxes” for some additional playtime on the road.

 

Both the boxes and the contents inside all came from the dollar store (don’t you just love that place?).  I think I spent around $20, although you could definitely do it for more or less, it’s completely up to you.

 

 

Each box contained small toys, objects, books, and stickers to keep busy hands busy.  The pink box contained more artistic endeavors with crayons, a coloring book, and hundreds of stickers.   Some of the content found in the other two boxes were: whistles, Easter eggs (with hidden treasures inside), dolls (with detachable accessories…including heads), poms, mini puzzle boxes, soft balls, bathtub squirt toys, small boxes/containers that could be filled up and poured out, etc.  It is important to note that not all of the objects are considered safe for children under three, but MG only played with them under careful adult supervision.  


These Fun Boxes will remain stored in the closet, along with the rest of the car toys, and can be retrieved at a moment’s notice.  Each one was carefully rationed out over the trip and provided anywhere from 5-30 minutes of fun, depending on mood.  As she grows, these Fun Boxes will only become more fun, as I will be able to add more “exciting” toys to them, explore things like magnets and legos, and give her specific Fun Box tasks (such as “put all the yellow objects in this cup”, “find all of the objects that start with the letter M”, etc.).

Also, while the Fun Boxes hold a certain measure of fun with Mom and Dad, I highly recommend adding a Granny to the mix.  Their entertainment value is higher than anyone can estimate!

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When people asked us how MG would do in the car for fourteen hours {Fun Boxes, DVD’s, Grannys, notwithstanding} N would like to quip, “Well, we’ll probably survive…..but just barely“.  Little did we know just how true that statement would come to be.

 

 

But I can’t give all my secrets away now, you’ll just have to wait till part II.

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I’m Back….

                        ….after a refreshing little break.

And boy do I have the stories to tell:

This picture basically sums it up….

-Last week was a family vacay to HHI.   Working on typing that as we speak.  It’s a doozy 🙂

-I made a new watermark.  I like it a lot better.

-We upgraded our camera…………squee!!!

-And with the $ we make from selling the old one, I’ll have just enough to finish off the serger fund.  Intimidating purchase, but I’m starting to get really excited about all of the projects that I will cross-my-fingers be able to create with it.

That’s all for now, but more, much more, tomorrow!

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