Saturday, June 29, 2013

Twinkle twinkle

This little girl has started to repeat everything we say, which means we have to be very careful, but it also means we get to hear how Anna perceives her world, and boy is it sweet (most of the time).  She's also started singing on her own quite a bit, favorites are Happy Birthday (to herself or Milo), Twinkle twinkle, Wheels on the Bus, and You are my Sunshine.  She was sweetly singing almost all of the words unassisted, and in tune, until she saw the camera, at which point she instructed me to "say cheese!" : )  This isn't her best work, but still can't resist sharing.  She's definitely my diamond in the sky!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Two heads are better than one

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A serious case of the giggles

Charlotte has really found her voice lately and we just love it!  What we love even more is when she laughs, and you never know when the mood will strike.  Last night as I cleaned-up the kitchen after dinner, it was a free-for-all in the living room (newly converted to mostly a play area) and Daddy had everyone in stitches.  I wasn't able to catch the tandem laughing session between Anna and Charlotte on video, but what I was able to film is pretty dang cute.  You can hear Anna in the background asking her Daddy to "follow me" on a game of chase around the house.  In a perfect world we'd be able to spend most of our days with our sweethearts, but since we can't, we sure do make the most of the time we have - and I love, love, love that they fight for their Daddy's attention!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Don't just take my word for it! (a series)

I can't believe it's been over a year since I posted about the sweet notes Anna's teachers send home as part of her daily activity report.  I'm really kicking myself right about now for the stack of reports I threw away in the middle of an extreme nesting period early in my pregnancy with Charlotte, but such is life when you have mild OCD coupled with pregnancy hormones.  Nonetheless, as I typed these up, I loved thinking back on some of these days; I was so proud to read when she'd been kind and sweet to other children, I love that she has friends at school, I love the curriculum (even at such a young age, they are very structured), and we've really loved all of Anna's teachers.  It takes Anna a while to warm up to new classrooms, new teachers, and new friends, but once you've earned her trust, you'll find yourself in her inner-circle for life.  Each time I do a pick-up, it seems to take longer and longer as her old teachers pop their head out to say "hello," and as soon as Anna sees them, she runs up with open arms and that sweet smile of hers.  She's truly one of a kind!

9/25/12: Anna made friends with the new girl in class today.  She gave her a toy to play with when she first came in!  How sweet!

10/2/12: Anna was very lovey today.  She would fake cry to get a hug and then hop down to the next teacher.  So smart!

10/2/12: Ann was a trickster with the photographers today.  She would only smile when the camera was away.

10/8/12: Anna really likes “Itsy Bitsy Spider.”  She stood beside me with the spider fingers and twisted them up the “water spout.”

10/11/12:  Anna walked up to Ms. Brandy and gave her kisses on the nose!

10/29/12: Anna went around to all of her friends today and gave them a pat on the head saying “awwww.”  It was SO cute!

11/6/12: Anna was so excited when we sang our song of the day!  She started dancing and tapping her feet – adorable!

11/7/12: Anna was hilarious today!  When I asked the class to make monkey sounds, Anna said “Oooooo Ooooo” and pounded her chest.  Cute!

11/8/12:  Anna sat on the floor with a baby in her lap and turned the pages of a book like she was reading.

11/12/12: Anna sat and looked at books for a good while this afternoon.  It was so cute!

11/16/12:  Anna and Audrey were holding hands and dancing this morning, it was so cute!

11/19/12: It took a little while for Anna to warm up to us.  We turned on 60’s music after lunch and she started dancing!  She held Audrey’s hand and danced with her too!  (First day in a new room, where she formed the strongest bond anyone had ever seen with Ms. Danielle)

11/20/12: Anna was looking at books with us.  She will go and get one and then sit on our laps.  Nice and relaxing!

12/10/12: Anna was sitting with a baby on the blue couch and she was saying “rock rock” as she rocked her baby!  : )

1/2/13: Anna was showing off how she knows most animal noises today, but she would do them so quietly.  Love it!

1/4/13: We had a dance party in the gym and Anna loved it!  She was dancing all over and was having a blast spinning around!  We got dizzy!

1/7/13: We were getting ready for lunch and Anna put her baby doll in the chair next to her.  I guess the baby was hungry too!

2/19/13: Instead of picking up one sprinkle at a time, Anna got a big handful and dumped it over the paper.  It looked like it was raining sprinkles!

3/11/13: We sure have missed our Anna!  She’s had a great day back!  We are so excited for your new arrival and can’t wait to meet her.  Anna is going to be a great big sister!

3/12/13: Anna slide down the climber really slowly on her knees, then she stood up and said “ta da!!”  Just love her!

3/13/13:  Anna gave Audrey a high five and then gave her a big hug.  She is just the sweetest girl!

3/14/13: Anna was walking around smiling saying “Mommy Mommy HI!” today.  She was thinking about you today : )

3/28/13: Anna looked adorable sitting on the floor with her knees up and a book resting on them!  Too cute!

6/13/13: Anna had the giggles all day today.  Everything and anything Anna would laugh and smile at.  It was so cute!

6/18/13: Anna really liked seeing the giant turtle today.  She didn’t want to sit with the rest of the class; instead she wanted to follow the turtle around.  Very cute!  (they had an exotic animal show at daycare this day, and I love how they spun "not following directions" into something cute, ha)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Angel face

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Friday, June 14, 2013

Letter to Anna: Month twenty-five

Dear Anna,

You've become such a big girl this month and I think that one of your new favorite phrases exemplifies your life right now, “I do it all by myself!”  You’re learning at lightning speed how to do so many things all by yourself and are growing into your adorable personality.  You thrive on accomplishments and love to try to new things and be just like the big people in your life.  You’re goofy, witty, funny, and snugly, with a dose of sass thrown in, and 100% perfect.

We've kept busy outside of the house while I’m on maternity leave with regular play dates, story time at the library, and a Tumble Bees class at the YMCA.  It’s good for everyone if we’re able to get out of the house in some capacity each day, even if it’s just for a quick walk around the block or to play hopscotch in the driveway.  The organized classes we attend are fun for both of us, but have made me realize just how shy and tentative you are in new or somewhat stressful environments.  Although I know you have a shy streak and really need personal space, I (naively) assumed that because you were in a daycare setting that you’d naturally come out of your shell a bit quicker.  As part of your overall personality, you’re a perfectionist, very deliberate, and extremely thoughtful in all you do and every action.  This was exemplified at Tumble Bees when you’d cling (literally) to me until halfway through class even though I was there every step of the way as all parents were encouraged to participate.  I knew you’d worked on most of the equipment in the room at school, but you became VERY nervous if another child was too close to starting the same activity, or if you felt rushed.  It was SO hard to see your little hands, legs and arms tremble with fear.  We've stayed after each class to work on the activities where you succeeded and needed help, talked to your teacher, and work together on some of the skills at home.  I’m mentally and physically exhausted after each class and it’s heartbreaking and humbling to know that I want you to shine like I know you can, but cannot do it for you.  

With your tentative and shy personality comes a heart of absolute gold.  You are one of the most caring people I’ve ever met and I love when I notice that an action is something you've seen in me.  You routinely pat me, your Dad and your stuffed animals on the back softly and ask “alright?”  You rock your babies so sweetly and gently, give them a kiss, and then cover them “just so” with their blankie before putting them to “night night” in your new toy crib.  You are usually the first at Charlotte’s side if she starts to fuss and will tell her “it’s alright, no cry baby Char, I on my way” and will pat her leg or arm.  I bought you a plastic bowling ball set last weekend and the pins are decorated as caterpillars; the first time your Dad rolled the ball and got a strike, you looked like your Milo had just died, you were so sad.  You ran to them and gave them all hugs, horrified at this new game and I’m pretty sure you thought your Dad had turned into a monster.  And, if I've raised my voice for any reason (usually related to asking you to do something for the 100th time) you have the innate ability to come over, put on your million dollar smile and say “Hi Mommy,”making all of my cares melt away.

You've started talking up a storm this past month.  You’re starting to form sentences and speak very clearly with excellent enunciation; this where you thoughtful and deliberate nature helps you a great deal.  I understand about 95% of what you say on a daily basis.  I almost fell out of my chair when we were waiting to see the doctor and you told me “Mommy is sitting on blue chair” almost clear as day.  Just like most toddlers, you have three volumes: loud and louder, and ear-piercing.  It’s a challenge at times, especially when Charlotte is cat-napping, but there’s no way I could ever  be mad when I hear that true sound of excitement and wonder as you discover something new.  You say so many things that I love, but my favorites this month are “Hi guys (or everybody)” when you enter a room, “Hello down there ...” (to me as you were climbing to the slide at the park or at home on the stairs), “I like ...” (this is used for everything from ice cream and cupcakes to people – today you told me you liked our babysitter who’d just been over), “Brrrrrr, it’s too cold” (imitating something you saw on TV), and “I love you, Mommy” (melts my heart every time), “Hi Daddy Daddy!” (said very quickly and usually multiple times – its a “thing” you guys do), “That tickles” and, “That’s fun”. 

We've had a lot of fun at home with some new toys, new games, and settling into our new routine.  You love to play with your “bouncy balls”, love to be outside playing on your slide, with bubbles or outside chalk (as you call it), ride your bicycle (the tricycle that we push), and generally run around.  It’s a challenge to get both you and Charlotte outside when I’m alone because you’re a bit of a flight risk, but we do a lot of family walks and you love to be outside with your Dad for any reason. 

You love being a big sister and love your little sister so much, it warms my heart each day.  Ironically, though, you’re the imitator at this stage.  Just as Charlotte started rolling over, you immediately wanted to join her on the mat to roll yourself, you’ve commandeered her Bumbo chair, love to sit a spell in her bouncy chair, think her five toys are loads more fun than any of your thousand.  One time and one time only, I noticed that you moved (slid) Charlotte off her activity mat by a few feet; I was in the same room, but had turned away and it was a reminder of just how much you love your sister (you were showing her a toy), and what a watchful eye you both still require. 

Ann Landers said, and your Gigi has told me no fewer than 1,000 times, “It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings” and that may be the hardest lesson in my life that I ever have to learn.  More than anything this past month I’ve wanted to push you outside of your comfort zone and I’ve seen you melt down and tremble with fear the few times I’ve tried.  I want the best for you, of everything in life, but I can’t force it.  I cry at the thought of you not living under my roof, not getting to see you each day or give you a hug.  But if you’ve taught me anything, it’s that you’re full of surprises, and just when I least expect it you’ll be the center of a group of kids and will be running full throttle at your own speed, and I can’t wait to settle in and watch the show. 


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

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

Someone is growing too big, too fast!  No official doctor visit this month, but when we popped in a few weeks ago for a nasty eye infection, she'd put on 9 ounces in a week and a half.  She's still a great eater, clearly, and is getting stronger and stronger each day.  She lights up the room with her smiles and coos and we're all enamored with her in general!

She was smiling at her Daddy here, everytime she grinned, I was too slow, oh well, she's cute regardless : )

Getting loooonnnggg ... these are the same size onesies, clearly getting a little tight : )

And, the comparison, still a little longer than her sister, but just as cute!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Letter to Charlotte: Month three

Dear Charlotte,

You’re a quarter of the way through your first year of life, wow, time is flying!  You are still the sweetest and one of the happiest babies on the block and I just love your gentle personality.  It’s been amazing over the past month to see you start the transformation from newborn to infant and I’d forgotten how quickly some of those milestones are hit during the first year of life.  You've found your tongue and love to blow bubbles while wiggling all about.  You've become a little bit of a drooler and we may need to add bibs to your list of accessories sooner rather than later.  You’re also working on finding that thumb and/or working your entire fist into your mouth.  Apparently a hand makes a decent snack when you’re in between feedings.  I still swaddle you on occasion, but mostly you like to sleep with your hands free and I know it’s only a matter of time before that thumb has a permanent location in your mouth. 

Physically you’re growing and you started rolling over consistently over the past month.  You love activity time as well as tummy time, and some days I swear you think you’re doing the same exercise video I just completed and are mimicking my push-ups, or trying to do squat-thrusts while turning yourself around in circles on your mat.  Nothing is sweeter than spending time as you look around your world.  I wish I could spend every minute with you, but nothing warms my heart more than returning to your side and seeing a big grin.  You love to tell me all about what you've seen and done too and your little coos are simply the sweetest. 

Although you love to be held, and I wish I had more time to sit and do that outside of nursing, you also enjoy your independent time and aren't afraid to let us know when it’s time to chill out with some big wiggles and a little fuss.  You still don’t cry much and have adopted what I like to think of as a warning system for when you need something.  I get one small fuss that indicates you’re either wet, hungry, or overly tired, then a two cry fuss that indicates my time is running out, and finally a small cry that tells me you are 100% serious.  Even if we get to the “three alarm” stage, you’re easy to appease and are always excited when it’s finally your turn. 

You had your first few independent days this month as I had to leave the house for a bit.  One day your Dad stayed with you and you guys had a blast.  The second day you had a baby-sitter and you were a perfect angel.  Your Dad and I went to a wedding and enjoyed our first date night last weekend while you and Anna enjoyed time with your Gigi, again, you were the perfect charge.  You've had a handful of bottles and do wonderfully with them, which comes as no surprise because you love to eat.  We’re still exclusively nursing with no issues, those are often the best parts of my day. 

You’re a great sleeper and although I don’t like to speak of it too often and jinx anything, I will document that you started sleeping 12-hour shifts (about 7am to 7pm) right at 10 weeks.  This is the same time that your sister started sleeping similar stretches and although I was prepared to continue our overnight visits, I was more than happy to get the extra sleep myself.  I still let you cat nap as needed in the mornings and attempt a longer nap that coincides with Anna’s in the afternoon.  You never cry when you wake up and I’m never 100% sure if you’re awake or asleep when I hear you over the monitor. 

Your sister simply adores you, and although I know that the roles will be reversed in a matter of time, right now she wants to be involved in everything you do.  She loves to lay next to you when we’re taking your monthly pictures and when you’re hanging out on your activity mat.  She covers you with a blanket no fewer than 10 times a day.  She asks where you are if you aren't in the room, monitors your status in the car (“Mommy, she’s AWAKE”), and loves to give you hugs, kisses, and attempt to pick you up.  You grin when you see her and I’m so happy that you’re forming a bond so early. 

We’re entering my last full month of maternity leave and I know that my return to work next month will be bittersweet.  On the one hand, I know that I’m a better Mom because I work outside of the home, but on the other hand, I will miss you dearly.  Being a Mom has totally changed the way I think about everything.  Whenever a tragedy strikes our nation or the world, my instinct is to think about how I would protect you if we’d been involved.  I want to shield you from disasters, from harm, from hurt feelings, from boo-boos, and I never want to see you cry.  But, even if that was possible, it’s not my job.  My job is to teach you how to be a strong woman and then let you fly on your own.  

It’s nothing short of amazing to watch a personality grow and develop in a tiny human and I know, without a shadow of doubt, that you’re going to be something special.  I knew that before you were born and watching you grow has only confirmed this.  I absolutely cannot wait to see what you do in the next minute, the next hour, the next day, the next year.  I will NEVER tire of hearing about and celebrating your accomplishments, whether they be rolling over for the first time, getting an A on your spelling test, graduating college, or getting married.  Please always remember that as much as I want you to grow into a strong, confident woman, more than anything, I want you to know that I’m your biggest fan and that my arms and ears are ALWAYS open. 


Monday, June 3, 2013

A cat and his girl (Part IV)

Even if you're not a "cat person," you can't deny that Anna's love for Milo stretches the boundaries of human-pet cuteness and could warm even the coldest heart.  Milo is often the member of the family she's most excited to see when we return from an outing, the first of her "animals" to get a blankie to go night-night, and she loves nothing more than running over to "pet Miwo."  He endures hugs that I know are too tight, pets that are too rough, tail pulls, displaced food and water, and she's recently started attempting to mount and ride him like a horse.  He rarely shows any disdain and shows his returned love with loud purrs whenever she's near; and for that he'll always have a place in our hearts and our home.

One of those "too tight" hugs
View from behind.  This makes me claustrophobic just looking at it : )

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Anatomy of the double frame

I've gotten slim-to-none frame-worthy shots of the girls together and I'm certain this will be a challenge for the rest of my life.  Group shots are hard for adults (especially when you are Mike Kelly and have your eyes closed half the time), so throw in a toddler, and an infant without total neck control or the ability to sit unassisted and you've got a file full of shots that aren't printable, but you can't delete either because you still think your kids are adorable.  Like these ...

Hi Mom!  What's that big black thing you're always shoving in my face?

Anna, the seasoned professional, doesn't flinch when I start shooting.
Literally, no flinching.
Look at that toddler-stare-of-death ... I'm VERY afraid for our teenage years.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Charlotte rolls

I still remember how excited we were when Anna first found her "wings" and started rolling over ... little did I know that it was the start to a life of mobility, and one day I may yearn for the months when she was stationary.  Even though she's the second baby, we were no less thrilled when Charlotte found her own wings, and proved she's just as cute doing it as her big sister!  I do feel bad that it took me longer to capture it on video, but I'd like to think it just gave her time to perfect her sport.  And, of course, Anna had to get in on all of the fun as well!  (Apologies that I wasn't able to merge these into one video ... even if I did have the software, I'm not sure when I'd find the time)

Gettin' loose!

And then big sister decided to show off her skills too : )


One last big roll for Miss C, with a cameo from Milo : )