Friday, May 31, 2013

Baby's got belly

I'm totally going to lose my Mom of the Year trophy when Charlotte is old enough to realize I posted these pictures online ... but, until then, please enjoy, because nothings cuter than a healthy baby : )

Curves are in!

Oops ... she caught me mid-upload and gave me a warning sign!

Thursday, May 23, 2013


It seems like just yesterday, but at the same time much longer than four years since Mike and I tied the knot on a spring day in Lexington.  After all, we've crammed a household move, two kids, two rotten cats, and countless adventures into less than 1,500 days; I'm exhausted just thinking about it!

To Mike ... Thank you for being my rock, a shoulder to cry on, the person that can always make me laugh, the best impersonator of our girls and their crazy antics, the best Father I could ask for to our girls, and my best friend.  I'm so glad we're on this journey together and that you chose me as your partner-in-crime; here's to many, many, many more years of fun and crazy adventures!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

You don't have to find out you're dying to start living

During a nursing session the other day, I saw an article about Zach Sobiech's passing on my CNN app.  I immediately looked up his Clouds video and then looked up the video where celebrities sing along.  And then I promptly started bawling like a baby.  I love his outlook on life!  And I needed to hear his story, to see his message of hope, to appreciate all that can be good and great in life, especially on a day when tragedy seemed to be so fresh for so many in Oklahoma.  I wanted to share this here in case you needed the same message today.

Click HERE to read the CNN story.

Then watch Zach's "Clouds" video here:

And then check out the celebrity version:

And see if, after all of this, you don't want to embrace every day and every happy moment just a little more.

Because I sure do!

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Grandma and Pap Pap's Girls

Anna always has a ball when Grandma (aka MeeMa, but we're not sure if that will stick) and Pap Pap visit from Pittsburgh, and Charlotte is learning quickly that life turns into a party when they're in town. Both Mike and I had special bonds with our grandparents as we grew-up, and although neither side of the family lives in the same town, I'm SO glad that we're able to cultivate the same relationships with regular trips and lots of fun during visits.

Someone was SOOOOOOO excited to see Grandma!

This little one was pretty happy too!

Anna was too cool for school when we were trying to take a group shot ...

Our people talked to her people and she was able to pose for one picture ... reluctantly

Then it was time for a bicycle ride around the block, or 12

And, of course reading!

Grandma and Pap Pap are the best readers ... and the best Grandparents!

Friday, May 17, 2013


I can do this all day!

You may remember a similar post from a few years ago with Charlotte's big sister, it's still one of my favorites!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The best itch to have

Today I celebrate seven years in remission from Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), and this is one seven year itch that’s more than welcome in my world!! (You can read more about "my story" here) There’s no cure for CLL, so although today is a reminder to celebrate, it’s also a reminder to keep fighting. This reminder also comes every 3-months when I see my oncologist for a check-up, and the many times I've wondered if a bruise, bump, or any “off” feeling means I’m gearing up for another fight with this horrible disease. I've been lucky, unlike so many others, and I hope I've used my story to help and/or inspire some folks along the way. THANK YOU to my wonderful support network of friends and family who've been there for everything, listened when I needed an ear, provided a shoulder to cry on, and most importantly, have helped me to celebrate all the good there is in life!

Cancer doesn't discriminate against gender, age, race, or social status. If you’re able to do so, please consider making donations to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society a regular event in your charitable giving; research funded by this organization is why I was treated with the latest and greatest in chemo “cocktails” and why I’m in remission today. Please also consider adding your name to the Bone Marrow Registry through Be the Match, a swab of your cheek is all it takes to be added to the list of potential lifesavers.

Nurse Liz and Doctor Komrojki, my faithful friends for 6 months of chemo and many check-ups before and after my treatments, aka my lifesavers!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Letter to Anna: Month twenty-four

Dear Anna,

Today you turn two!  Wow.  Just wow!  Several people were surprised when I kept your letters up after the first year, and I wasn't sure how it would go, but I can’t imagine not writing to you each month.  Over the past year is when you've really blossomed into your own person and shown so much more of your wonderful personality.  You've developed a sense of adventure and curiosity that can’t be contained and have learned more than I ever imagined possible.  You’re a pure joy to be around, your family craves spending time with you, and I absolutely cannot wait to see what the next year has in store.  

You've become VERY independent this month.  Wanting to do so many things by yourself and you love to tell me, “no Mommy, I do.”  Walking down the stairs became a “thing” this month.  Not crawling backwards, walking like grown-ups walk.  That trend started when some friends came over to meet Charlotte and you saw their 4-year-old walk down holding the railing.  Because you worship anything an older child can do, and because you think you’re hot stuff, that was next on your list of things to accomplish.  And you did, very quickly!  You still test your limits and I still watch you take each step, but you’re physically learning more and more each day.  Related to your independence is your curiosity.  I hear “what’s that?” about 1,000 times a day and hear my answer repeated back immediately.  You’re mind is a steel trap that needs more information and you can’t wait to fill it with all you can learn about the world around you. 

You continue to love animals.  The cats are a given, but you've also learned to love outdoor animals as well and follow in my footsteps of loving most living things.  A week or so ago, you wanted to know where Milo was, so your Dad called for him and then whistled because that usually brings him running.  That started the way you call for the cats, which goes “Milo (or Daisy) who who.”  We die each time you do that and although I’m sure it will be equally as cute when you learn to whistle, I’ll always cherish the “who who.”  Since we've been spending more time outside, you've learned about a whole world of new creatures.  Roly polys, worms, ants and caterpillars to name a few.  You love to get right down to their level and follow them as closely as you can.  I think if you could figure out how to give them a hug, you would.  Last week when your Dad went to pick you up at school, your class was outside.  He saw that the entire class was huddled around you on the playground and realized quickly that you were studying a caterpillar when he saw your little hands cupped around it.  As soon as you saw your Dad you squealed with delight.  But then you started jumping.  One jump, two jumps, and the caterpillar was squashed.  You didn't even realize what you’d done as you ran for your Daddy, but the other kids did and comments included “why did she step on him like that?” and “why isn't it moving anymore?”  Considering you cried when your first roly poly friend literally rolled away, I know you didn't do it on purpose, but I fear there will be many an insect burial in our future. 

You’re favorite animated animals right now are Mickey Mouse and his Clubhouse friends.  That was the theme of your birthday party this past weekend and I had such a fun time showing you pieces of the decor throughout the week and hearing you exclaim “Mickey Mouse!!!”  Although I hate to sit you in front of the TV, you need downtime in your day and seeing you interact with the show and also learning does make me feel better.  And, speaking of learning, you’re picking up on so much, so quickly.  You can count to 10, know your colors, are working on your ABCs and your vocabulary is growing each day.  You’re starting to put two and three words together routinely and you can repeat most words back when spoken.  You love to sing and dance.  It wasn't but a few weeks ago that I was upstairs and heard the stereo turn on downstairs.  As soon we could boogy down there, we saw you and your Dad dancing away to one of his CDs, it was hilarious, and so much fun all at the same time.  Five years ago you couldn't have convinced me that I’d be shaking my groove thing to old-school Michael Jackson in the basement in the ‘burbs on a Friday night; but now there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing. 

Physically you’re growing as well and although I don’t have your “stats” just yet, I can tell by the fact that many an outfit are already too small that you've shot up and filled out quite a bit this past year.  You had your first official haircut last week and did great, and we’re also pulling it up into a pony tail to keep it out of your eyes most days.  You fuss a bit when it’s time to “do you hair” after brushing your teeth each morning, but then beam with pride when you see your that little piece of spunk on top of your head. 

I have absolutely loved spending extra time with you while on maternity leave and I love seeing you interact with Charlotte.  You really love your sister and are always ready to make sure she has her pacifier, is covered with a blankie, or has a toy close by.  You’re equally as sweet, caring, and gentle with your stuffed animals and baby dolls and it’s nothing short of adorable to watch you Mother to them as you rock them, feed them, burp them, and then put them to bed, making sure to get the blanket situated “just right.”  

I saw a video related to Mother’s Day this past weekend that showed what life with a Mother is like through a child’s eyes and notes that we want to be just like you; we wake up when you wake up, we play when you play, we hurt when you hurt.  As the video finished, I was in tears because in a roundabout way I DO want to be just like you.  No, I don’t necessarily want to be up before the sun and no, I don’t look forward to doing homework all over again in a few years.  But, I do want to have your enthusiasm for life, I want to literally take the time to smell the flowers, I want to be gentle and sweet with all living things, I want a sense of adventure that’s never satisfied, I want to be known as the best-hug-giver around, I want to light up a room when I enter, I want to ask questions with a genuine interest, but most of all, I want to love like there’s no tomorrow.  You make every day so special; you make the people you come into contact with feel special and loved just by being yourself.  These are character traits that can’t be taught and I’m so proud to be the Mother to someone as special as you each day.  Thank you for showing me what’s really important in this life every day, I’m a better person because of you and I’ll always be your number one fan, supporter, encourager, hugger, and, listener.  But most importantly, I’ll always be here for you as your Mother. 


Monday, May 13, 2013

Sister love

It's always a nice surprise to download pictures and find a string of shots you forgot about ... such is the case with these gems that Mike captured while I was cooking dinner one evening.  Anna loves spending time with Charlotte and asks to hold her every chance to she gets.  During the times she can't hold her, she loves to pat her little head or ensure she's covered with a blanket.  To her credit, Charlotte loves the attention and already looks up to her big sister.  And, I promise Charlotte's not receiving noogies from her big sis, rather those are love pats : )

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Master chef

Anna loves to pull a stool up to the kitchen island and "watch Mommy cook" and it melts my heart almost every time.  The times it doesn't are the times when I'm not actually cooking or planning to cook and then I have to divert her energy to another task.  She's quick to pick up on my technique and is already incorporating it into her own meal preparation.

Blueberry pancakes ... YUM!

Giving Charlotte a taste test!  (can you tell that someone already adores her big sister?)

Friday, May 10, 2013

The shirt says it all

Thursday, May 9, 2013

She works hard(er) for the money

You may remember that Anna took a liking to the newly decorated study here.  She continues to favor this room over the 1,000+ toys she has in the house for a variety of "reasons" that seem perfectly sane to a toddler, but make no sense to her parents.  What more could you ask for with doors to open and close, a jade plant to inspect, a cat in a basket, and a swivel chair?  I suppose I could give her the benefit of doubt and assume she's concerned that I haven't gone into work in months and thinks she may need to contribute to her own college fund? Nah, just a toddler being a toddler : )

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Growin' like a weed (again!): Month two

Someone keeps growin', growin', growin'!  Charlotte had a great two-month appointment today, wow'ing our pediatrician with her calm demeanor, great sleep patterns, ability to nurse like a champ, and strong neck muscles.  Basically she got an A++ at being a baby, a grade I don't dispute one bit.  

As you may recall, and as I assume most parents do, Mike and I wager each visit on our children's height and weight.  I think we're about 50/50 for being correct and although there's no real prize, bragging rights are worth quite a bit to both of us.  Mike took home both categories last month, but I redeemed myself by being dead-on with Charlotte's weight this month, score one big point for Mama!

-- 10lbs, 10oz, 50th %, gaining 2 pounds from last month and a little over 4 pounds total since birth
-- 22 1/2 inches, 50th %, growing 1 1/2 inches from last month and almost 3 inches total since birth

So happy to be two months old!!
Lengthening out and chunkin' up
Anna and Charlotte at two months:  a full pound heavier than Anna and a quarter inch longer, both 100% adorable!
(click here for Anna's letter and stats at two months) 

And, speaking of Anna ... she was more than happy to help out at this month's shoot : )

Monday, May 6, 2013

Letter to Charlotte: Month two

Dear Charlotte,

I thought time was put into fast forward a couple of years ago, but had no clue how quickly things move when you’ve got two little angels under your roof.  How is it that you’re already two months old?  I have a hard time believing it in my head, but when I look at you, there’s absolutely no doubt.  You are growing, quite literally, like a weed!  You’re loooooong, you’re filling out sideways, and in general you just don’t look like a newborn any longer.  Although I wish I could freeze time some days, I can’t tell you how excited I am to watch you grow and to see what you have in store for all of us!

You’ve really started to come into your own this month and we’re seeing more of your sweet personality each day.  You started smiling a couple of weeks ago and it absolutely melts my heart to know that you not only recognize me, but are happy to see me.  You’ve started giving your Dad some really big grins over the last few days and I’m pretty sure if you could verbalize that you wanted a pony he'd have one in the driveway in two seconds flat.  You’ve also started to babble quite a bit.  I told you last month how you are a big grunter, and you still are, but you’ve added several new noises to your repertoire and a few sound like you’re actually talking with us; on the days we’re alone I talk to you quite a bit and it’s nice to know you appreciate the conversation. 

You’re giving your sister a run for her money as one of the happiest babies I've ever seen.  You hardly ever cry and when you do it’s usually because you’re hungry or overly tired, both of which can be remedied fairly quickly.  More than you are happy, you are patient.  It’s much different mothering to two little girls and I’m afraid that means you occasionally have to wait your turn, especially when you’re up against a fairly strong-willed and vocal toddler.  It doesn't seem to phase you, though, and you just give me a big grin when it’s finally your turn. 

You are a big time mover and shaker, which is probably why you do so well with independent time; you've got those hands and feet to keep you busy and new dance moves to perfect.  You still love being held, but no longer lay around “like a baby”; rather you've got dancin’ to do and things to see, and the best way to do both is to move as much as you can.  We give you plenty of time on your activity mat and you’re getting close to rolling over and are a master at supporting your head; it’s only a matter of time until you’re in a tumbling class with your sister. 

You moved to your own room this past month and seem to really enjoy your freedom and ability to stretch out.  Over the past week we've been putting you to bed around the same time as your sister and you've done very well, only waking to eat once and sometimes twice over a twelve hour stretch.  When you do wake, you rarely cry, rather you wiggle and shake as much as you can in your swaddle.  A few times I've checked on you to see a rogue hand popping out, occasionally an entire arm has been freed and once or twice I've wondered if I even closed your sleep sack before I left the last time because both arms were free to move as they pleased. 

You’re still a great eater, nursing like a champion every 2 – 3 hours during the day.  What you’re even better at is burping.  You let out some belches that I swear should belong to 40-year-old men with beer bellies.  It’s pretty unbelievable, but much better than the alternative of dealing with a gassy tummy, so we’ll take it.  I love the fact that you're nursing so well and love that those times are the dedicated parts of my day that we spend together, no matter what.  I love seeing how strong you’re getting as we burp after each feeding, I love looking into your eyes as you eat, I cherish the time we have right after a feeding when we play for a few minutes, and I love the times that you fall asleep in my arms, smiling as you doze off. 

Physically you seem sooooo big.  We only have your sister to compare you to, and as we pull out her old clothing and realize that some of it is too short, or too small (especially hats), and note that she was wearing it at 3 or 4 months, we know you’re growing on your own terms.  I can’t tell for sure, but I’m fairly positive you’ll have blue eyes and although you haven’t lost any hair, the hair you have growing in looks to be the same light brown.  You have beautiful eyelashes and your lovely eyes are more expressive each day.  You’re a true beauty, and I say that knowing I’m just a *little* biased. 

It’s amazing how much you’re growing and changing each day.  I’ll talk about your physical beauty as you grow older, I’ll make sure you hear how pretty you over the years, but what I’m most proud of already, and what’s more important, is your inner beauty.  Your patience, your sweetness, your gentle heart.  I hope these character traits, the ones I can already see today at your young age, are the building blocks for the person you will become and will stay with you forever.  I’ll always be here to encourage you, I’ll be your biggest cheerleader, whether it be rolling over for the first time or graduating college.  I’m here through thick and thin, remembering the good times and helping you rise above the bad.  But most importantly, I’ll be here to help you remember that you’ve always been, and always will be, amazing to me.