Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Gettin' back to business

I hadn't planned on taking a break from blogging, but life had other plans, apparently.  I'm learning very quickly to never make plans : )  You may remember from reading here what a wonderfully fun and action-packed May we had lined up.  The highlight for me had to be the three days where we had Anna's party, Mother's Day and Anna's actual birthday back-to-back.  Boy did we celebrate!  Then came the wedding, which was perfect and wonderful and made me teary-eyed.  But then came a stomach bug that had me down for almost a week.  I'm still not sure what it was, but it reminded me an awful lot of the parasite I had two years ago.  So much for the three days of fun with my little girl before vacation, rather it was three days of being sick while she was an angel, played quietly and tried to heal me with hugs and smiles.  Regardless, we had a great time on our trip to Florida and Anna had an even better time with her Gigi back home.  I think it's safe to say she was spoiled to the max!  So, it's back to business as usual and we don't have any big plans for the next few weekends.  I can't wait to share all of our recent fun with you!

And, you may notice the new blog design.  We like to shake things up every now and then around here.  I'd been contemplating a re-design for a while, but was too cheap to pay the $100-$200 some shops will charge for a custom design.  I happened to be browsing at Designer Blogs a bit ago and found a $10 template that I loved.  Check them out if you're in the market for a little sprucin' up yourself : )

See, life gets even the cutest of us ... It's all fun, games, flowers and sunshine until life throws you a curve ball and you have to take a #2 in the yard during your impromptu photo shoot on a Friday afternoon : )
(and yes, I realize Anna will HATE me when she's old enough to see this post and picture ... isn't that what being a Mom is all about??)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Letter to Anna: Month Twelve

Dear Anna,

Holy moly, it’s been an entire year since you were born!! I remember when my water broke around midnight on your birthday, I was excited, nervous, and anxious all at the same time. I could NEVER in a million years have imagined how many smiles you would bring me this year, how many laughs we’d share (ok, a lot of them were you laughing at me, but that makes me laugh), how tired I’d be, how worried I’d be that I was doing the right thing for you, but most importantly, I could never have imagined how much love I’d feel for someone I’d known for such a short amount of time. You are truly a blessing to our family and to me! You have changed my world for the better!

Your personality is really shining through and you are such a sweet, and yet funny, little girl. You love to laugh, you love to make others laugh, and you love being around a crowd. You have yet to go through any form of stranger anxiety, although you will occasionally show a preference for me or your Dad, usually only when you’re tired or for the first few minutes in a new situation. You remember your grandparents and aunts and uncles like no time has passed when they visit and are showing off any new skills within minutes. You love to play coy and will often times hold in a laugh until you just can’t bear it anymore when being tickled; it’s really the cutest thing ever. You also love an audience and will make sure all eyes are on you as you practice as new skill; these days it’s walking, either by holding someone’s hands or with your dinosaur. You love to give hugs and kisses, to your Dad and me, to the cats, to your friends at school, and to your stuffed animals. That’s really your first instinct when you meet another child or baby, your pat them on the back and then lean in for a big hug. We shared a few minutes to ourselves on Mother’s Day yesterday before everyone else was awake and you gave me the best and biggest hugs ever. It made my entire day! I love that you are such a lovey-girl and I hope we’ll always be able to snuggle up together.

You love to eat and are eating table food full time now; you’re really a bit of a piggy, but in a great way. We try to feed you whatever we’re eating, with few exceptions, and as long as we can cut it up into small enough bites, you will eat almost anything we put in front of you. I could list all that you’ve eaten, but that would take up this entire letter, so I’ll highlight that your favorites are hot dogs (organic turkey dogs, to be exact), sweet potato bites, Mom’s mac’n’cheese, and peas. You get a veggie and/or fruit with each meal and you generally go for those foods first, I sure hope that love of fresh foods keeps up. You are still nursing once a day, in the morning, and we made the transition to sippy cups this month, so no more bottles. We took the cups to school one day to see how well you’d do with a cup at one feeding and you did so well that we went straight to the cup for all of your feedings that day and there’s been no turning back. Although I shouldn’t have been, I was shocked that we cut out bottles so easily, shocked and also a little sad, as it was another step toward your independence. My favorite time of the day is our morning nursing session, and we’ll go through those motions until you decide you’re too big for that, but until then I’ll cherish every little smile I get as you start your day, the few minutes I where I get to hold your hand, and the last few days of our extra-special bond.

You are a lover of all animals, the neighborhood dogs, Milo and Daisy, your stuffed animals, and you love reading about them. You also love being outside and we spend a decent portion of our time after school and before dinner hanging out with the other kids in the neighborhood, walking around the cul-de-sac, playing in the grass, and if you’re lucky, a few doggies will walk by that you get to pet. If you’re standing at the front door and see another child or a dog walking by, you start squealing with delight until we take you out to greet them; I love that you’re so friendly and can’t wait until you’re running circles through the yard. You’ve also started forming real attachments to some of your stuffed animals. You have a frog that you sleep with each night and if you’re not totally conked out when we put you to bed, you will spend a few minutes talking to him about your day. You also wake up and tell him about your dreams. One day last week I went to get you in the morning and you were talking to your frog, and I lifted you out, apparently prematurely, because you fussed a little and pointed to your crib. I put you back in the crib, you picked up froggy, bounced him on your knee and told him one more story before looking back at me and lifting your arms in the air, letting me know that *now* you were ready to get up.

You are looking and acting so grown up lately. With spring has come warmer temperatures and you’ve been donning shorts on warmer days and now wear walking shoes. The first day we saw you in your “big girl” outfit, your Dad and I almost died simultaneously; you looked so grown-up and we both asked “where did our baby go, and who left us with a toddler?!?” You have now have your two top front teeth and the two teeth on either side are working their way in as well, further proof that we have no control over your transition to being a “big kid”! You were “served papers” last week at school and will be moving up to the older Infant room the week after next. I know you’re ready, and you’ll move up with your two friends, Kaylee and Audrey, but I’m still in shock that you won’t be in the “baby” room any longer.

You haven’t taken any official first steps yet, but you love assisted-walked, either with us or behind your dinosaur and are standing on your own for extended periods of time. You definitely know where you want to go and when, and would walk in circles around the house all day if we’d let you, or if you could figure out the steering on your dinosaur. It’s surreal to see you toddling around the house and we’ve (finally) started to baby-proof for your safety. You weren’t’ a fan of the gate we put up at the bottom of the steps and find it lame that we won’t let you play with electrical cords, but alas, you still find ways to have fun and keep us on our toes.

You had a great first birthday and all of your immediate family was at your party to celebrate your big milestone. You loved the attention, enjoyed playing with the tissue paper that wrapped many of your gifts and were very spoiled. You love the balloons and flowers we had around the house, but loved your birthday cupcake even more. You literally dove in head-first and I’m pretty sure icing may now be your favorite food. I stayed relatively calm the entire the entire day and it wasn’t until I checked on you before I went to bed that the flood of emotions poured over me. My little baby girl is turning one. Where did the time go? Did I savor enough memories? Yes, I assured myself, all good things come to an end, and I truly believe that the best is yet to come!

I could go on and on and on about what a special girl you have blossomed into over the past year, but part of me knows that little girl was in there from the beginning and you’re simply able to express yourself now. You bring joy and happiness to everyone you meet. At school other teachers will come into your room to get a “dose of happy” by playing with your or getting a hug from you. You’ve never met a stranger and I truly believe that your goal in life is to make the world a better place, one person at a time. If that’s the case, then you’ve succeeded so much in the first year that your work is done. That said, I can’t wait to see what a difference you’ll continue to make in every life you touch. You’re special beyond description, your happiness is contagious, and I’m still trying to figure out how I got so lucky. I hope today is as special as you are and I look forward to celebrating your birthday today, and throughout the year. I feel honored and blessed that God chose me to be your Mom and I love you more than I can even begin to express.


** Posted at 6:53pm, the exact time I met my little angel for the first time : ) **

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

This year was a special Mother's Day, my first, and I was spoiled to the max by Mike and Anna (and even the cats)!  And, it was a wonderful coincidence that we had both of our Mothers in town the day before as we celebrated Miss Anna's party.  This being their first Mother's Day as Grandmothers, I wanted to make it special with a gift they would always cherish and remember.  A friend at work gave me the idea a few weeks ago to use Anna's handprints as part of the gift ... I saw a few ideas on a "paint your own" pottery store's web-site and am still shocked I pulled it off.  Thanks to Mike, Anna, and a little of my own creativity, I think we hit a home run!  If Grandmas were flowers, we'd definitely pick you two again and again and again!  Thank you for being the best examples we could ask for in two Mothers, we love you so much! 

"if grandmas were flowers, i'd pick you!"

Friday, May 11, 2012

Access Denied

Ummmm, you realize you've blocked my ability to climb the steps, right??

Let me up there!!  This is NOT cool.

Still here, ehhhh?


Milo, help a sista out, whatdaya say?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Two worlds collide

Monday, May 7, 2012

Don't just take my word for it ...

One of the many, many things I love about Anna's school (The Goddard School) is the daily activity report where we learn a bit about her day, including the basics (naps, how she ate, what they were learning) as well as a personal note from her teacher highlighting anything fun or interesting.  The notes are my favorite part and I've saved my favorites from the past seven months and plan to incorporate them into her one-year book along with the monthly letters and plenty of pictures.  As we're preparing for Anna's party and I'm getting more organized around her keepsakes, old clothing, and toys she's grown out of, I finally sat down to type them up and thought you might like a little dose of Anna's daily sweetness.  This also serves to prove that I'm not making up what a sweet, gentle, fun little girl she is and how she brightens every day : )

10/4/11: Well, what can I say except you were right! What a delightful little girl you have! She was so pleasant, happy, did not cry or fuss one time. We’re gonna have so much fun together! (your first day with Miss Patty!!)

10/25/11: Anna talked so much today! She loved cuddling with Miss Patty and telling me all kinds of stuff today! Of course she was an angel today again!

10/28/11: I love going to get Anna from the crib room because she always gives me the biggest smile ever! People ask me how I take all the crying, spit-up, etc. And I tell them it’s the precious smiles and all the love they show for us all day! 100% worth it!

10/31/11: Anna told me she loves her banana costume because every time I said “Hi Anna Banana” she grinned from ear to ear!

11/3/11: Anna made my day! I came back from my lunch break and she was lying on the floor and I went over to see her and she gave me the biggest smile ever and started kicking her legs wildly. It was so sweet!

11/15/11: I don’t know if it was the cereal, but Anna had so much pep today! She was trying to bounce as I stood her on my lap and then while she was swinging, she was leaning forward and holding on the bar like she was trying to make it go faster! So cute!

11/28/11: Anna made my day today! I picked her up and she gave me a huge smile, touched my face with her hand and leaned forward to my face like she was trying to give me a kiss! Oh, it was so sweet!

11/29/11: Anna and her friend were both in a saucer, well he started bouncing really hard and her eyes got as big as cue balls, her little hands flew up in the air and she started smiling as if she was thinking “one day I’ll be able to do that!” Her expressions are priceless!

12/6/11: So cute! Anna was flirting with her little friend today! She was sitting on the floor and he was laying about 2 feet away. Well, she leans toward him (smiling) and starts yelling at him, she was trying to get his attention. It was adorable!

12/8/11: Anna is always so happy to see me when she wakes up, her hands go flying everywhere and she does her little bicycle motion with her legs. I get so excited over that, she’s such a sweetheart! And, by the way, Anna told me she wanted to keep her jeans on, they make her feel like a big girl!

12/12/11: So Cute! Anna fell asleep in her bed with her legs up in the air! She’s also working on clapping her hands, she was swinging her hands around and it looked like she was trying to clap!

12/14/11: Anna is becoming a little cuddle-bug! I picked her up and smooched on her and she laid her head on my shoulder and cuddled up with me. I love how when you smooch on her, she doesn’t care, she just smiles and smiles, I love it!

12/19/11: I was standing next to Anna while she was saucin’ and I was holding her friend in my arms and her blanket was dangling in front of Anna and Anna thought that was the funniest thing. She started laughing out loud! We’ve never heard her laugh like that, it was so cute!

12/21/11: Anna waved to us today! I don’t know if it was a fluke, but she was sitting next to her friend in the saucer and there were talking and she waved to him and then to Brooke and I! It was kind of a Miss America wave!

1/12/12: I think Anna missed all of us! She was talking so much and smiling all day long! I was playing with this book, a cloth one and it vibrates, well I was putting it on top of her head and she giggled and giggled and had all of us laughing! Super cute!

1/17/12: So cute! Anna was sitting next to the slide when her friend came over, peeked through, like he was playing peek-a-boo with her. She got so excited; she was kicking her legs and anticipating him peeking through it again! So fun to watch!

1/23/12: Anna was full of spunk today! She was so smiley all day and the cutest thing was when I picked her up she would go to grab both the sides of my face and give me kisses! It truly made my day!

1/24/12: We had a visitor today and Anna was showing off and flashing that cute smile of hers! They would talk to her, then she would look away then turn back at them and smile. It was so adorable!

2/8/12: Anna seemed tired today, so I put her in her bed for her afternoon nap. Well, she thought it was party-time back there, so she tries to sit up and starts giggling at her sleeping friends beside her. We had a little talk and she said she would be a good girl and go to sleep, and she did!

2/29/12: Anna is super sweet! Her little baby friend was lying about two feet from Anna when Anna got on her knees, leaned forward and kissed her forehead and then leaned over and gave the toy doggie a kiss on the snout! It was very cute!

3/2/12: Anna and I had so much fun today! We got out new toys, we played peek-a-boo, we practiced crawling (so close!), and we explored new areas of the school. She is perhaps one of the sweetest gentlest babies to come to Goddard! Good job Mom and Dad!

3/12/12: Anna is adorable when she crawls! She looks like a little wind-up doll. She explored every inch of the room, she was especially attracted to the rocking chairs! She liked rocking them back and forth!

3/15/12: Anna thinks she is hot stuff now! All day long she’s been perched on her knees and bouncing without holding on to anything! She’s been sitting at the bottom of the mini-slide thinking about whether or not to go through it. So cute!

3/21/12: Anna did something exciting again today! She pulled herself up to the ball spinner and activated it! She was so proud of herself!

3/22/12: Anna showed empathy today! Her friend got hurt and was crying, so Anna crawled over to her and looked at her face for about 20 seconds and then she put her hand on her back and patted her. It was so sweet!

3/23/12: Anna was doing this new thing today. She was sitting on the floor and she got her happy look, then she starting swinging her arms from side to side, twisting her whole body! It was so cute!

4/25/12: Anna had fun playing in the tree house on the playground today! There’s a little doorbell button that goes “ding dong” and she really loved pushing that button and hearing the noise!

4/27/12: Anna loves to explore all textures and colors and designs. She will just stop when crawling across the room when something catches her eye. She uses that little pointer finger to trace shapes, or feel the ruffles on a friend’s clothing, or to make sure a bright color on something is attached and she can’t pick it up. She’s SO observant and curious!

4/30/12: We were learning the “itsy bitsy spider” song today along with the hand motions and Anna was so quick that she started doing it with her hands right away. It wasn’t accurate, by any means, but she was so cute trying!

5/2/12: Anna is so much fun! She was standing and holding onto the saucer when I got on my hands and knees and started to tickle her belly and she was giggling, but wouldn’t let go because she wanted me to keep doing it! She was so cute!

5/3/12: All day long I was squeezing those little thighs and she would just giggle or try to hold in her laugh like she does! She just looked so cute with those little legs showing!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Inquiring minds ...

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree and this little one is all about knowing what's what in her world.  She's got an inquiring mind and doesn't want to miss a thing!!

Just chillaxin' ...

Uh oh, sounds like trouble's brewing!

There's definitely something going down ...

... I better motor on over to investigate.

Friday, May 4, 2012

What's Cookin': Cook Once, Eat Twice (or more!)

This may not be a new idea to my readers, but since I just thought of cooking this way a few months ago, I figure it's worth a post.  Remember here, here and here where I made these casseroles?  They're all delish, but they make enough to feed an army!  I love leftovers as much as the next person, probably more because of my thrifty nature, but there are only so many days you can eat the same meal for lunch or dinner (or both).  A few months ago a light bulb went off as I was making a baked ziti to take to a friend.  I'd portioned out the ziti into three casserole dishes, one that was just enough for her family, and two for us, one to eat the next day, one to freeze ... so, why not do that with all the larger casseroles I make?  Instead of one ginormous 9x13, I've started making two (or three) smaller 8x8 casseroles ... one to eat right away and one to freeze for a super easy weeknight meal ... or to pull out when a neighbor or friend is in need and your week doesn't allow for an extra meal to be cooked.  Easy peasy! 

The three I've linked above all freeze very well; the rules of thumb you'll want to follow are to double line with foil, label, use within 4-6 months and then thaw overnight or in a cold water bath the day of cooking.  I'd generally recommend you cook the dish covered with foil for half the cooking time and uncovered the other half (generally 40 - 45 minutes) ... or until warmed through and you just can't wait any longer : )

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Hoppy (belated) Easter

Anna neither loved nor hated the Easter Bunny ...
I think she was more confused that we waited in line for 20 minutes to do *this*?!?!

Daddy's girl!

I'd rather give Grandma some kiiiiiiisses!

So sweet in her Easter best!

"Oh, hi there!!  So, ummm, where's this Easter basket everyone keeps telling me about??"

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Ceeeeelebrate good times!! (Come on!)

May is kind of a big deal around here ... it's action packed and full of celebrating, definitely my kind of month!  Here's a run-down:

May 12:  Anna's birthday party
May 13:  Mother's Day (my first!)
May 14:  Anna's first birthday
May 15:  My SIX year remission birthday
May 17:  Aunt Jennifer's birthday
May 19:  Uncle Michael and Aunt Jennifer get married!!
May 23:  Our three year wedding anniversary
May 28:  My 33rd birthday

Throw in a trip for Mom & Dad to Florida and ... *whew* ... it's an official whirlwind of a month, but for all the right reasons!  Bring on the parties and celebrations!!!

Come on!!  We've got a party to get to!