Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Now act crazy!

Every year, I drive myself and Sean crazy trying to get the perfect family picture for our Christmas cards. For Hadley's first Christmas, we took picture after picture of the three of us in our living room only to decide that an outdoor picture would look better. Then, once we found a suitable outdoor location, we spent over an hour in the cold trying to get a picture in which Hadley was either 1) not sleeping, or 2) not crying. I ended up sending out cards with Hadley crying in the picture. I thought they were pretty cute.

Last year, we got some great fall pictures at our local botanic gardens and decided to use those for our Christmas cards. I realized as we were designing our Christmas cards that although we had some great family pictures, all of the pictures of just Hadley were of her running. Sigh. We tried taking more pics of Hadley, but you guessed it, more running. So, if you got our Christmas card last year, that's why Hadley was a little blurry.

This year, I've decided to embrace the craziness. Instead of trying to get the perfect family photo for my holiday photo cards, I'm going to use the silliest pictures I have. Like this one from our recent trip to the Ozarks for Thanksgiving:

Or this one from Hadley's birthday party:

The best part is that the pictures are a little kooky and whimsical and goofy. And I love that. Isn't life a little kooky and goofy anyway?

Now, for the really hard part: picking the perfect holiday card design. Luckily, Shutterfly is giving bloggers 50 free cards this year-- and there are a ton of gorgeous cards to choose from. Score! Right now, I'm loving these designs:

Aren't these Christmas photo cards delicious? I'm loving the red and chocolate styles this year.

So as not to spoil the surprise for those of you who might be receiving a card from me in the mail, I won't tell you which style I chose. But, rest assured, there will (likely) be no crying or running children in the photos this year. I hope.

** For the record, I am receiving compensation in the form of 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly for this post. Score:-). To get your own free cards, go here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

This is kinda how I feel about the long weekend ending, too

Somebody found her piggy face (and just in time for Thanksgiving, too)! Brynn makes this face ALL THE TIME, and it is usually precipitated by much snorting and giggling. I'm in love.

And, just a little more cuteness...

More Thanksgiving info coming up soon! Oh, and sorry for the radio silence these last few weeks. Who knew that working, parenting, and preparing for an out-of-town holiday could consume every waking minute of the day? Hopefully, things will slow down just a smidge so I can catch back up on posting. We'll see about that one:-).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My AHA moment (alternate title: DUH!)

So, maybe I mentioned Brynn's little sleep issues of late. She went from sleeping 9 glorious hours every night to waking up 3 and 4 (or more) times each night. It was brutal. This non-sleeping thing started around the beginning of October. At first, she would just wake up once or twice at night. Then, she would sleep through the night for a night or two and start waking up again. By last week, she would only sleep in her bed for about 30 minutes at a time, then she would wake up flailing and crying. The only way we could get her to sleep was to put her in bed with us. Then, amazingly, she slept all night long without budging.

We tried everything to make her comfortable. First, we thought she was hungry. So, I nursed her every time she woke up. This, of course, soothed her back to sleep. When that didn't keep her asleep, we thought that maybe she had a tummy ache or wasn't satisfied with just milk. So, we spent the days adjusting her solid food intake to see if that helped. It didn't. Then, we noticed she had teeth. Maybe that was doing it? Maybe, but we saw no measurable relief after a few days.

Finally, FINALLY last week it dawned on me that she was comfortable when she was (1) nursing, or (2) sleeping in our bed. And, she started this whole non-sleeping thing right around the time that it started to get cooler here. That's when it hit me: she's freaking COLD!!!! I could not be dumber, you guys. I haven't mentioned this on here, but Brynn is notoriously cold-natured. She spent the majority of the sweltering summer months bundled up in long-sleeved footie pajamas. While everyone else was sweating outside, she was content in her winter clothing. And, the only times she has ever, ever been inconsolable was when she was cold. I can count those instances on one hand. Why I didn't think of this utterly simple, and very common sense solution, sooner, I have no idea. For some reason, even though it's the most likely culprit, I always consider "cold" last. Another strike for Mama.

Since my AHA moment, I have been dressing Brynn for bed like she is going out to play in the snow-- on the North Pole. She looks like the kid in A Christmas Story who can't move his arms because he is so bundled up. She wears footie, long-sleeved pajamas, a hat, and a fleece, long-sleeved sleep sack. I get hot just looking at her. But, it's working. She has slept through the night for the past three nights. She doesn't make a peep for 9 straight, glorious hours.

So, next time I complain that Brynn won't sleep, smack me! She's probably just cold and I'm too busy adjusting her fruit intake to notice. Sometimes I just need a quick reminder that some things really are that simple.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Good thing I bought that costume...

The weather was perfect for Halloween-- cool and crisp with the faint smell of smoke in the air. Last night, we gathered with our neighbors in the cove and munched on chili, hot dogs, and brownies. Little ghosts, ballerinas, and ninjas ran, played, and squealed. It was glorious. Then, when dusk set in and the street lights popped on, we took to the streets and begged treats from each house with a light burning on the porch. Haddy did good. The candy jar is stocked and I've had a hard time keeping little (and big) hands out.

This is the first Halloween that Hadley actually understood that when she went to someone's door, she would get NANDY!! I fully anticipate that she will expect candy the next time we go to our neighbor's house to play. She was such a big girl. She marched right up to every door and waited patiently for her candy. She only occasionally said "Trick or Treat," but she told each person we met "Thank You!" big and loud. My sweet, polite girl. I really expected her to be shy given that we were going to strange houses and talking to people she barely knows. Not so much. Apparently, the prospect of sugar totally outweighs caution. Go figure.

Then, when we were tired and had collected way too much sugar, we hiked back up the hill to our house where we relaxed and passed out candy to trick-or-treaters. I roasted the pumpkin seeds we scooped out of our pumpkins earlier in the day and we munched while the girls played. It was perfect.

Here's my little Princess Skeleton, aka, the Princess Bag Lady. We had several costume options for Hadley, including an Olivia costume with homemade piggie ears, a fairy dress with wings, and a flower costume. Hadley wanted nothing to do with any of them. Seriously. Much crying ensued as we tried to dress her. You would think we were trying to send her off to boot camp instead of a night of partying and candy collecting. Hello teen years, you're a little early.

This little outfit is one she picked out herself and is the ONLY THING she would agree to wear. She has on every single one of her favorite items of clothing: her glow-in-the dark pink skeleton pj's, four tutus, pumpkin socks, and ruby slippers (originally planned for the Dorothy costume she refused to wear days before Halloween). It's a mish-mash hodge-podge collection, but it turned out so cute. And, it's so Hadley. My baby is true to herself, that's for sure.

And, my little Brynn was a ferocious lion. She, on the other hand, is so go-with-the-flow, easy peasy. At least this year. I anticipate that next year, we'll be fighting with her over what she wants to wear, too. I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

And another one bites the dust

Let's do bullet points today... that's all my brain can handle after Brynn's attempts last night to break the record on least sleep in one night. That'll teach me to praise her sleeping habits. Point taken, Universe.

* When Brynn finally did fall asleep last night, she was snuggled against me in our bed. Not the best sleep practice, but 1) we all finally got to sleep, and 2) she was snuggled against me. Sigh.

* Right now, I'm feeding Brynn 2 oz of white grape juice (the watered-down baby stuff) to help move some stuff through her little digestive system-- if you know what I mean. Apparently, carrots don't please her tummy.

* Not only is Brynn's tummy bothering her, but she also just cut her second bottom tooth. Yea and boo at the same time! By the way, if it is possible, that second, little tooth is even cuter than the first.

* Just recently, Brynn has started giving kisses when we ask for them. Big, open-mouthed, slobbery jobs that melt my heart every time. I've caught her trying to kiss the dog a few times in passing.

* When we put Hadley to bed at night, we hold Brynn up to Hadley, and Brynn gives Hadley the biggest, slobberiest kisses ever. Hadley then says, "She touches you!" and wipes her face off with her shirt.

* I bought Hadley "ruby slippers" to go with her Dorothy costume for Halloween. Since I tried them on her two days ago, she has only taken them off to sleep.

* Brynn is going to be a lion for Halloween. She's psyched about this choice.

* Hadley may refuse to wear any part of her Halloween costume except for the shoes. So, we may be trick-or-treating as "The Girl in the Red Shoes."

* Hadley just pointed to her banana and said she wanted more bacon. You and me both, kid.

* Last night, Hadley sang "Lullaby and Good Night" to my mom. We sing this song to Hadley at naptime and bedtime but had no idea she could sing it.

* In the car on the way to Target yesterday, Hadley sang, "I want playground" over and over and over again. Intermittently, she would stop and clap for herself and say, "Yea!!" We're headed to the playground now.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sticker Shock

Sweet, chubby cheeks are definitely more fun to decorate than plain, old construction paper. Life lesson learned!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Picture Perfect

The five o'clock hour comes much too early in this house. That time of day usually finds me rushing around trying to get dinner ready and straighten up the chaos from the day, all while trying to tame the little monkeys who are doing their best to break the sound barrier with their screeching. It's hectic, mad, and loud. It means that Daddy will soon be home, which is fun. But it also means a chaotic bout of trying to chop, measure, and stir while simultaneously entertaining the kiddos, which is so not fun.

Yesterday afternoon, just as Sean's car slid into the driveway at the end of the day, I looked down and realized that I was still wearing the hole-y yoga pants and old t-shirt I threw on when I jumped out of bed at 7 o'clock that morning. My hair was hastily tied up a in a messy bun, I had at some point amassed a giant spit-up stain on my shirt, and I was wearing no make-up and even less deodarant.

It was at that moment, when Sean was about to walk in the door, that I remembered an old newspaper clipping my grandmother used to keep on her refrigerator. My grandmother was raised in the Midwest and went to college in Iowa, where she graduated with a degree in home economics. She was a sorority rose queen and after graduation, she married my grandfather and became the consummate homemaker. My grandmother cooked homemade, delicious meals, including the best beef brisket and chocolate sheet cake I have ever tasted. She was a member of a sewing club and an ardent member of her church. She hand-made individualized Christmas stockings for everyone in the family and she catalogued and labeled the history of everything in her house. She was like Martha Stewart on steroids.

This newspaper article, which I remember my mom talking about, apparently provided tips for busy homemakers. One of those was that no matter how hard the day was, a good homemaker should always put a bow in her hair, apply lipstick, dress the kids in neat clothes, and greet her husband with a smile upon his arrival at the end of the day. Because his day was hard and he would wants to be greeted with a picture-perfect family when he came home. Umm, yeah.

Let's just say that I am about as far from that homemaker as I can possibly be. I'm even farther from the type of homemaker my grandmother was. I am lucky most days to get a shower, I don't do laundry until it threatens to bury me alive, and I can't remember the last time I tried to bake an actual cake from scratch. And you know what, I'm mostly okay with that.

I'd love to be Martha with the perfect house and coiffed hair, but I'm not. Even still, my kids are well-loved, happy children. We live in a happy house that is mostly neat and sometimes clean. And even though my husband doesn't come home to a picture-perfect house or family, he comes home to us, just as we are. Honestly, that's better than any fantasy you can create with lipstick and a bow.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mexican Eggs

So, I promised to tell you how we use our leftover enchilada sauce, right? Okay, hold onto your hats 'cause this ones a little crazy. We made this recipe up one night on the fly when we needed a fast, easy, tasty dinner that would satisfy both the adults and the little one at our table. And, did it ever. This meal is so tasty and satisfying.

We call this meal "Mexican Eggs," and essentially it is eggs fried with salsa and enchilada sauce and served with creamy refried beans or black beans and warm, fluffy tortillas. I also top mine with baby spinach or broccoli slaw for some veggie power. This is my all-time favorite easy meal. Try it. You won't be disappointed!

Mexican Eggs
by Sean
serves 2-3

4-5 eggs
1 cup salsa
leftover enchilada sauce (about 1/2 cup)
1 can refried beans or 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or pepper jack works well)
4-5 warm flour tortillas

optional toppings:
baby spinach
broccoli slaw
black olives
chopped green onions

Heat refried beans or black beans. Spray a skillet with nonstick spray. Break eggs into the skillet and cook over medium heat until set. Flip the eggs and immediately pour salsa over the top (we like Herdez salsa for this). Then, drizzle enchilada sauce over the salsa. Put a lid over the eggs and cook eggs to your preference. Serve the eggs over the refried beans (or plate the eggs and serve black beans on top). Sprinkle on cheese and optional toppings of choice. Serve with warm tortillas.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

NEWS FLASH: Poopy on da Poddy!!!

We have poopy on the potty! Whoo hoo!!! And since we rewarded this behavior with (lots of) chocolate chips, Hadley has since insisted every 20 minutes that she has to go "poopy on da poddy." I fell for it the first three times and plopped her up there. She loves it. She sits, sings, plays with the shower curtain, and of course, tears up toilet paper to drop into the toilet. Hooray for new games!

Actually, I have very little idea where to go from here with the whole potty training thing. Unlike every other milestone and baby/ toddler issue, I haven't stressed/obsessed/ overly researched this one. I think it's my subconscious way of trying to ignore the fact that very soon, a little person is going to be running around my house sans diaper with the ability and likely desire to pee and poop on everything in sight. Things I like to not have pee and poop on them. Maybe I should invest in some plastic tarps to cover everything in until we have mastered this little lesson?? Yeah, that'll match the decor.

En-chee-ladas, Baby!

Okay, so I've posted about enchiladas before. And I just posted about tacos. I'm pretty sure I have a problem with Mexican food. If given the choice, I would gladly eat Mexican food every day for the rest of my life. That's normal, though, right?

I recently discovered this enchilada sauce recipe and it is now my forever go-to sauce. I really love the sauce I posted about before, but it can be a little heavy and gravy-esque. That's fine sometimes, but sometimes I crave a lighter, more tomato-y sauce. This is it. It's an Emeril recipe, and since discovering it, I make it ALL THE TIME. It contains ingredients I always have on hand and the process could not be simpler. I usually whip up cheese enchiladas with this sacue, but it is equally good with shredded beef, chicken, pork, or ground beef. Gotta love a little versatility in life, huh? And, the recipe makes a ton. We usually have at least a cup leftover. I'll show you what I do with that next time.

Try this sauce for me, please. You will be so glad you did! (Note: I substitute 8 oz tomato sauce for tomato paste.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Finally: Fall!

It's finally cooling off a little bit here-- as in, the weatherman is no longer estimating the high for the day by frying eggs on the sidewalk outside the news station. Ahhh, fall in the South. I love the smell, feel, and sounds of fall: football games in the distance, cool air, chimney smoke, cinnamon, apple cider, and mums and pumpkins in every yard. It's exhilirating and makes me want to curl up under a comfy cableknit throw, sip hot tea, and nibble on pumpkin bread. Oh, and eat chili. Lots and lots of chili. We've been doing that lately.

Last weekend, I was inspired to pull out all of my fall decor. You know, since the temps only spiked in the 80's. I love how cozy and warm our house feels right now. And, as an added bonus: Hadley loves (LOVES) "Haddoeeeen" and "punkins" right now. Yesterday, we had to make a trip to Lowe's specifically so that Hadley could pet the punkins. She would have it no other way.

Here's a little peek at our fall living this year:

My little skeleton helper. We baked chocolate chip blondies yesterday and decorated them with halloween sprinkles for Daddy.

Yummy-- and so festive, too! (Don't you love my fork marks?)

This year, I pulled out our creepy tree, raven, and black feathers to "spookify" the foyer. Hadley loves it and constantly runs into the foyer to say "hi" to the birdie.

Hi birdie!

For a fun, little craft project for Hadley, I cut out some ghost and bats for her to decorate with her glitter markers. She also likes to say "hi" to the bats at least three times an hour.

Our dining room table dolled up for the season.

I also warmed up the library a little with a touch of red. Love red this time of year!

Do you guys decorate for Fall/ Halloween???

Friday, October 15, 2010

Six Months!

My littlest pea,

I am having the hardest time coming to terms with the fact that you are six months old already. Seriously, I just gave birth to you yesterday. And already you are babbling away, almost sitting up, and trying to army crawl (!). At your six month checkup, you weighed in at 14.8 pounds (40th percentile). I guess all of those feedings are working, huh? Our appointment pretty much epitomized your sweet personality. We saw a new doctor in the group this time, and you immediately made friends with him. You squealed when he came in the room, played with his hands and stethoscope, and gave him a giant hug when he picked you up. So far, you haven't met a stranger. As we were leaving, the doctor even joked that if we were giving you away, he'd gladly take you. Um, I said "no."

Good, thing, too. He would have surely regretted that decision. You see, apparently, you were teething pretty hard this week. Daddy and I just didn't get the memo. You tried to tell us with all of the screaming, crying, kicking, refusing to sleep, and, oh yeah, the fever for two days, but we still didn't get it. Then, last night, when your fever had finally broken and you were back to your usual happy self, I noticed the tiniest, little sliver of a tooth had popped through your bottom gums. Oh, the inhumanity! That tooth nearly killed us all, kid. I can only imagine how fun the next few teeth are going to be. Let's hope we get a little breather before they come in, okay?

Despite the pain that little tooth caused, it is the cutest, tiniest, little tooth I have ever seen. Daddy and I had to exclaim over it for most of the night. You know what else is the cutest? The way you stroke my face and hold my hands when you eat. You get settled in, close your eyes, sigh, and reach for my hands. If you aren't holding my hands, you reach up and place your tiny hands on my face. I love it. Most mornings, as soon as you wake up, I scoop you out of your bed and we settle into mine for your first feeding. We get all comfy, pull the covers up around us, and stay cocooned and warm until your little tummy is full. I'll miss those mornings when you are no longer nursing.

For the record, you should know that you are the easiest baby I have ever met. You rarely cry or pitch a fit, you sleep through the night (and have since you were 1 1/2 months old), you smile at everyone, and you eat like a champ. We couldn't have asked for a better complement to our family. And your sister, oh how she loves you. You two are going to be thick as thieves one day. Hadley still calls you "Minnie" (as do Mommy and Daddy) and she loves to give you kisses and hugs. You crack up when she is playing with you and even as Daddy and I are saying, "gentle, Hadley!" you just laugh and laugh. That doesn't really help, kiddo:-)!

Recently, you started eating solid foods. We started with rice cereal, which you like, and have since moved on to sweet potatoes, squash, green peas, and green beans. You love it all! You open your mouth wide and wait for the next bite like you haven't eaten in weeks. And you gobble up every bit we make for you. I have a feeling that you will be a little foodie like your mama.

I want you to know how very much you mean to me and your Daddy, Brynn. You have added so much happiness, light, and love to our lives. I can't wait to see what the next six months will bring-- more teeth (ouch), crawling, talking, and walking. It's sure to be an adventure. And one I can't wait to take with you.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Five Things

Five things I can't live without this week:

1) tissues;
2) gallons of orange juice (I'd take some rum or vodka, too, if I thought Brynn would appreciate it);
3) my all-time favorite chicken soup (Mexican-style, natch), loaded up with jack cheese, avocados, and broccoli slaw;
4) my favorite pillow and down blankie;
5) the girls' nap times.

If you haven't guessed, I'm siiiiiiick. I was just fine Monday when I took Brynn to the doctor for her six month well-baby checkup (she's doing great!!). At the appointment, I asked for a flu shot so I could avoid having to come back to get one. Our doctor agreed but only had the flu mist available. That's what I got and since Tuesday night, I've felt like I have the flu. Coincidence?? Supposedly, the flu mist isn't supposed to give you the flu but can have side effects like a runny nose and fever. Hmmm. I've never had any side effects from the flu shot, and if this is what the flu mist is like, I'm not a fan!!

Apparently, bambinos can sense weakness. The kiddos have been so cranky the past two days. Either they aren't feeling well or they are purposefully trying to torture me while I'm down. This morning, Brynn cried the entire time Hadley and I ate breakfast. Hadley, in a move that is all her, decided she would rather paint with her oatmeal than eat it. While I was trying to soothe Brynn and control the never-ending flow of snot coming out of my nose, Hadley managed to smear oatmeal from her head to her toes. Literally. It took me half an hour to scrape dried oatmeal off of the table and floor. Live and learn, people. You can't turn your back to even blow your nose!

I'll write about Brynn's stats in my next post
when I'm not thinking through a fog.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Toddler Speak: Episode Two

Me: Good morning, Haddy! Can I have a hug?

Hadley: I want Daddy. I want Daddy Nowwwww (pronounced: neowwwwww).

Me: Oh, sweetie, he had to leave early for work. We'll see him for lunch later, though.

Hadley: I want Daddy. I want Daddy Nowwwww.

Me: How about some breakfast? Do you want a smoothie or some yogurt?

Hadley: I want nana. I want nana Nowwwww.

Me: Okay, let's go get you a banana.

Hadley: No want nana.

Me: Okay, no nana. How about a peach?

Hadley: No want.

Me: How about a strawberry smoothie?

Hadley: Yeah, Yeah, want shake. Want shake Nowwwwww.

Me: A shake it is.

Hadley: I want Daddy. I want Daddy Nowwwwwww.

Long live the toddler mantra. If only adding "Nowwwww" to every sentence ensured that you get what you want!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Clean it up

A couple of weeks before Hadley started school, her teacher sent me a large packet of paperwork in the mail. Included in the packet were lots papers that I was instructed to "keep on hand." Soon thereafter, I started gathering all of the stuff Hadley would need each day for school: a backpack, lunchbox, change of clothes, blanket, sheet, diapers, and lovie. Then, being type A and all, I had a major panic attack and freaked out about where I was going to store all of this STUFF! And it wasn't just school stuff giving me nightmares. We routinely have shoes, bags, purses, hats, and other assorted stuff that ends up hanging out in our kitchen until I can filter it all to its rightful home. Enter my newly-organized laundry room/ mud room/ command center. It's the brains of this operation.

This is it. It's small, but it's the first room you come to when you enter our house from the garage. That makes it the logical spot to store things you either want to drop off when coming home or grab when running out the door. It's the "landing pad" for all of our junk.

Our laundry room was also the first room in the entire house that I decorated. I stole the design wholly and shamelessly from an issue of the now-defunct Domino and love it. I painted the back wall a pretty robins' egg blue and searched high and low for the black and white ironing board cover. I ended up ordering it from a little shop in New York because I couldn't find it anywhere near where I live.

It was worth the trouble.

So here's how I've organized my life, literally, in our teeny, tiny laundry room. That basket on top of the dryer works overtime. It generally holds odds and ends, like clothes that need to be ironed (since I generally try to avoid ironing at all costs), the giant pack of D batteries for Brynn's swing, and a couple of things I need to return to Target. The basket neatly keeps things out of sight while also keeping them close at hand for when I need them. The blanket in the basket was there because I was planning to take it with us on a picnic the next day.

One thing that was driving me crazy every winter was the inevitable pile-up of jackets in our kitchen. Since we come and go from our house through our garage door, which opens into our kitchen, we naturally dropped our jackets off on kitchen chairs instead of walking them to the coat closet on the other side of the house. Enter our makeshift coat closet in the laundry room. Last winter, we hung this set of hooks. Right now, the hooks hold Hadley's backpack and my diaper bag. Once cool weather sets in and we start wearing jackets again, these hooks will hold jackets, and the bags will be moved to the little shelf between the washer and dryer. I'm thinking ahead:-). It's that Type A thing.

We also recently hung the dry-erase whiteboard next to the coat hooks. I'm using the board to keep me sane. It holds school paperwork, school calendars, and other fliers that I need to reference often. I also snagged a set of 3M sticky folders at Target, and so far, they've made organizing assorted paperwork, coupons, and fliers easy. This system has worked wonders on my organizational anxiety!

Luckily, out tiny laundry room also has a closet, which I have stuffed full of everything from canned goods to shoes. Wanna little peek inside? On the inside of the door, we hung another set of hooks. This one is dedicated to our hats and umbrellas during summer months and to the girls' jackets and hats in the winter months.

Inside the closet, I added two baskets, one to hold Hadley's crafts, like sidewalk chalk, Play-Doh, bubbles, water guns, and paints, and one to hold her shoes. It's so simple to have Hadley's shoes handy by the garage door when we are ready to head out. It's one more thing I don't have to remember to get from her room when I'm trying to wrangle the kids out the door. On the remainder of that shelf, we store Hadley's lunch box and small insulated bags. The shelf above holds craft paper and coloring books in an office sorter, Hadley's markers in a clear, plastic cup (love the simplicity of this!), Hadley's watering can, and my recipe box and cookbooks. The shelf below the baskets holds our emergency canned goods supply and Brynn's baby food.

Below that shelf is one that holds the Bumbo (a small chair that Brynn sits in when we feed her) and below that is a small shelving unit we snagged at Target that holds our frequently-worn shoes. This gets the shoes off of the kitchen and laundry room floors but makes them so convenient for slipping on as we are running out the door. I love organization that makes life simpler!

Whew! That's our laundry room! I'm loving my organizational system and the fact that I was able to squeeze so much function into such a teeny, tiny room. Now, when we come home, we can easily drop off our shoes, bags, jackets, and hats as soon as we walk into the house. This keeps everything from piling up in the kitchen and ultimately, keeps me from going c-razy trying to keep everything put away. I'm all about simplicity and ease of design and this little room fits the bill!

Do you guys have "organizational hubs" in your house where you keep all of the things you use on a day-to-day basis? Or, am I the only one who worries about these things???

Home Sick

Remember staying home sick from school, holed up on the couch with your favorite pillow and blanket, watching the Price is Right? Okay, maybe that was just me, but seeing my sick baby lounging on a little nest Sean made her on the couch reminded me of those days. I was a little heartsick for Sprite and chicken-noodle soup. Hadley got an episode of Dora and a few chocolate chips.

I'm pretty sure she approved.

Putting the "O" in OMG

Life is kicking my butt this week. What started as a pretty laid-back week quickly devovled into a pit of snot, constipation, and sleepless nights. Want to come over, don't you??

We started Brynn on solid foods (squash and green beans) last weekend and while she LOVED eating them, her tummy didn't so much like processing or digesting them. This then led to a cranky, uncomfortable baby who refused to sleep for more than two hours at night. That was fun.

Luckily, Hadley's two-year well child checkup was scheduled for Tuesday, so I made Sean take off work so we could drag both kids to the doctor's office. Let's just say that it wasn't the best of ideas. I'm glad both kids got looked at, but trying to entertain two kids for two hours in a 6 x 6 exam room wasn't my idea of fun. I think the doc was a little bemused when she saw the pile of tongue depressers we had commandeered as drumsticks to keep Hadley busy. And then, not even 24-hours after the appointment, Hadley started sneezing and sniffling. As if that wasn't bad enough, Hadley hasn't yet mastered covering her nose when she sneezes. So she doesn't just sneeze, she EXPLODES all over everything and all of us, including Brynn. It's like Hadley waits until right before she has to sneeze to run over and stand next to Brynn and then aims right for Brynn's face. Hey, at least she's sharing-- even if it's just her germs!! Then, Hadley runs off to wipe snot on the furniture or just recently, a rattle. I'm constantly shouting, "Cover your nose and mouth!" and "Wait! Let me get a tissue!!" I might as well live in a barn, people.

I think we have fixed Brynn's little tummy troubles. The doc advised that we lay off the solids for a few days to let her tummy adjust. It seems to be working-- slowly. I'm thinking we'll start the solids back a little more slowly next week.

Here's to a nice, relaxing, sleep-filled weekend. I could use it!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cow, Dobby, Nanda

Since Hadley is fascinated by animals, we spent her actual birthday day at the zoo. Or, as she refers to it, DA ZOOOOOO!!!! Naturally, we spent a lot of time at the petting zoo portion, where we could get up close and personal with an actual cow, some ducks, some pigs, and a few, adorable sheep. Hadley was brave enough to touch and feed a goat and some sheep. And, I could have easily pocketed a few of the lambs and brought them home to live in my bathtub. Until that one took an explosive poop right beside me. That's when I realized that owning wildlife would not be so different than owning baby humans.

Lamb poop aside, we had a fabulous day with our newly-minted two year old. It was the absolute perfect way to spend her birthday. We leisurely strolled about, stopping in to see Hadley's favorite animals, and when we were all pooped (no pun intended), we stopped to eat a little picnic that we topped off with more brownie cupcakes. I'm addicted to those things now.

Here are a few highlights from our day:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Labor of love

Dear Hadley:

This past weekend, you turned two years old. TWO! Or, as you say, "one-two-one." And TWO you definitely are:-)! You are so incredibly adorable. You repeat everything we say, you sing and dance, you are exuberant about everything, and you feel everything so BIG! You wear your emotions like giant beacons on your face and they range from extreme giddiness one second to the depths of despair the next. It's really laughable-- or would be anyway if it didn't involve you melting into a puddle on the floor when things don't go as you wish.

Honestly, you rarely have tantrums. Now that you can communicate with us, we can act almost civilized. We can ask you to stop doing something and tell you why you should stop and amazingly, you listen. I know! I never thought that day would come, either. Speaking of communication, you have made leaps and bounds in speech just in the past month. You are speaking in sentences, singing whole songs (row, row, row your boat is your favorite), learning the alphabet and colors, and learning new words at lightning fast speeds. Your all-time favorite phrase is, "Uh oh, oh no!"

When you are asked what color something is, you automatically answer "LELLOW!" Then, we remind you that it is, in fact, pink or green or blue or red, and you agree. Your favorite thing to say is "I want ______," as in "I want cheese," or "I want mou (her stuffed mouse)." Yesterday, you melted my heart by saying "I want my Minnie (Brynn)" as we were packing up to go to the store. You also routinely want everything you see. Last week at the store, you wanted (in no particular order) a cow, a dobby (doggie), a nanda (panda), a bed, juice, and shoes (men's shoes, in fact).

Recently, much to my surprise and delight, you have decided that you want to wear bows in your hair. You now ask us repeatedly for a bow and frequently request that we "bow Minnie," too. You also love to play dress up and often wear three or four tutus at once while playing in your playroom. One day recently, you refused to take off your tutus, so we compromised and you wore one to Target. The check-out clerk almost fell over fawning over you.

You are the best big sister ever. You love, love, love your little sister and dote on her constantly. As soon as you wake up, you ask for "Minnie" and if Brynn is sleeping, you tell everyone "shhhhh." Lately, when Brynn cries, you say, "Minnie's crying" and you tell her, "It's ok, Minnie," and "I know, Minnie." You have such a big heart and are even learning to share your toys with Brynn. Yesterday, while we were playing, you hugged your giant Pooh Bear and then walked over and placed him right on top of Brynn. Then you casually walked away. Pooh is easily three times bigger than Brynn, but I was still proud of you for sharing! Baby steps.

You recently started preschool and so far, you are loving it. You still have moments where you get lonely for me, Daddy, and Brynn, but otherwise, you are having so much fun. You are learning new songs, painting, coloring, playing outside, and making friends. I love that you are getting the social experience that school provides, and I'm so proud of you for adjusting to something so new.

For your birthday, we had a delightful, little family party at the local botanic gardens. There is a children's "backyard" area there with treehouses, miniature playhouses, a rainstorm area, gardens, a hedge maze, and fountains. You love the gardens and I knew that a party there would make you so happy.

And it did! You had a blast in your pink tutu, headband, and bow. You even wore the sunglasses I brought as party favors. After we played for a while, we took a break to eat some brownie cupcakes that I made. You surprised all of us by blowing out your birthday candle with no prompting at all. I have no idea where you learned that!
It was an amazing day that I will never forget. I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

I love you, my Sweet Pea. My life is so much brighter and happier with you in it.

Love and happy, happy Birthday!!!

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