Friday, December 28, 2012

One Year

My dear baby girl, I can't believe you are going to be One Year Old on Sunday. Where did the time go? This time last year I was anxiously awaiting your arrival. The holidays were abnormally anticlimactic. Santa arrived as expected; leaving us slightly disappointed he wasn't the stork. We checked into the hospital on the 29th. As I labored through the night, your dad snoozed. Don't let him tell you otherwise. He was snoring as I was laboring. Bubby was there when we checked in, left to get some shut-eye at aunt Biscuit's, and returned early in the morning to lend support. You arrived at 1:58 PM on the 30th. What an amazing day that was. Everyone was there waiting to meet the new baby girl: Bubby, Grandpa, Uncle Meg, Quinn, Aunt Biscuit, Nana, Grandpa, Mema, and Aunt Jenna and eventually Uncle Gil. We all cried with joy at how beautiful and healthy you were. I remember feeling I couldn't imagine loving you more than that day. Boy was I wrong.


When I look back at the past year, the first three months of your life were really more about your Dad and I learning to be parents, scared of everything and only wanting to protect you. Despite our hovering and mistakes along the way, you grew fast and furiously. You event tolerated our antics, mustaches, sunglasses and all.


It took a while for you to let loose your first giggle. I have no idea why it took so long considering how hil-ar-ious Mom and Dad are. Nevertheless, that sound might be the best in the world.


After six months, you must have decided you were done with the world telling you about things and instead you started exhibiting a desire to explore for yourself.


Then, in a blink of an eye, you are one.


We always knew you were a beautiful baby, but you are showing us every day how observant and smart you are. It is amazing. It only encourages your Dad and I to find more ways to foster that curiosity. I'm so excited about all the things to come, but today and this weekend I want to reflect, holding close all the joy the last year has brought us.

Happy Birthday Caroline!





Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Christmas Story

I recently went on my annual Chicago shopping trip with Momma T. Of course we had a great time. As usual, we did very little purchasing of Christmas presents and spent the most amount of time and money eating, drinking and chatting.

Being one of three daughters, I cherish the one-on-one time and attention with my parents. It is hard to come by, making it a very valuable thing. The time my mom and I spent chatting was my favorite aspect of the trip. We do a lot of storytelling in my family, so imagine my surprise as Momma T and I sat in a dark pub one afternoon and she told me a story I had never heard before. It was about how a tradition of hers got started.

Every year Momma T buys herself that year’s Swarovski Chrystal snowflake ornament. Each year is different and unique. If I recall, the earliest year she has is 1994. This is the story of where she got her first ornament and how the collection started…

In 1994, our family suffered a tragic loss. My cousin, out late one night during her freshman year of college was brutally assaulted and murdered. It’s a hard picture to paint, but it is important to understand the struggle our family was going through, individually struggling to find meaning and purpose.

Mom was grief-stricken and heartsick while also worried about the future of our family. As is the way with these types of events, life didn’t stop and wait for her grief. She had to plug forward despite the sadness that surrounded her.

It was the holidays and Momma T was at the time pursuing her Bachelors in Nursing degree. On one exceptionally tough day, she was meeting with her schoolmates on a group project. She had a breakdown. She told the group about the struggles the family and she herself was going through, how particularly hard the holidays seemed.

Now I’m assuming those schoolmates knew what I have come to learn about my Mom, how compassionate and warm hearted she is, how much she does for others while rarely asking for the same compassion in return. Knowing this, they recognized the opportunity to do something for the women that is so supportive. The all chipped in and purchased her a Swarovski ornament.

That ornament warmed her heart. It meant so much to Momma T, that she has continued to purchase a new one every year since, honoring her niece and the loving support of her peers during a particularly tough time.

Growing up I’ve always admired these ornaments, even purchased one for her, but I never knew the value and meaning behind them. She now has almost 20 beautiful, unique ornaments that she proudly displays year-round on what she’s named the Stephanie tree.

Thank you Mom for sharing that story.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A sneak peak at this year's Christmas card

I won't show the winning photo, instead the blooper reel accompanied by Caroline's commentary.

"Hmm, what's all this?"

 "Is this my cousin?"

"Am I done yet Mom?"


"Oh, something shiny."

"I'm going to GET YOU"

"Who ARE all these people anyway Mom???"

"This one!"

Thursday, November 29, 2012


You all, I'm a little freaked out about EVERYTHING going on in the next month. I'm throwing a baby shower for Mo this weekend (so excited). I'm going to Chi-town with Momma T next weekend. Then there are two weekends before Christmas. That means shopping, decorating and enjoying the FIRST CHRISTMAS we have with our baby girl. I JUST started crocheting her stocking last night - you'd better believe my fingers were flying.

And if that isn't enough, 5 days after Christmas we are squeezing the whole family into our teeny-tiny house for Caroline's 1st birthday. That means after the hurricane of wrapping paper, food, travel and general merriment, I have to jump on major cleaning and party organizing.

Think I'm crazy yet? No? Well how about two days after her birthday, Husband and I leave for a 5 day vacation. That means we need to get the baby girl packed and ready to stay with my family. I haven't even thought about what a mess I'm going to be leaving her for that many days for the first time!!!

At this rate, I'm going to be lucky to remember to put my pants on in the morning. I want to post many things in the next month, but they might have to wait until January.

I want to show some of my recent crochet projects - including on special baby shower gift.
I want to post a couple pics of my baby girl through the year - she's grown so much.
I want to wish you all Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Just in case I forget any of the above, just pacify me and pretend I did it all with grace and style. Thanks!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

So tired.

6 AM has become my new 8 AM. You  know, the time your body wakes you up on the weekends because you are so used to getting up. The time that if you didn't have a baby, you'd ignore and snuggle back into bed.

That's 6 AM for me now , with the exception that I don't have the choice to ignore it on the weekends or on days off. That thought really made me sad as I was driving to work this morning. I really shouldn't have been thinking about anything though because I was too tired to drive AND think about something other than driving.

How many years before I can sleep in again? 5? 10!!!?

It shouldn't be a big deal to be introduced to a new wake up time. I get a lot done in the early morning hours, and Caroline is at her happiest. BUT a new wake up time means a new bed time, even on the weekends. We can get a sitter and go out with our friends, but alas, my eyes are drooping by 10:00 PM.

All of this is a plea to my friends, please don't leave me! I know, I know, my schedule is reminiscent of a 80 year old man. But I'm still here and ready to play. Let's just do it in the daytime, K?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Letter to my baby girl

Dear Caroline,

From the day I found out I was pregnant, everyone has been warning me how fast you would grow. For the first six months of your life, you did grow like a weed.  (Advice to my new mom or mom-to-be friends, don’t wait for a special occasion to put those cute clothes on them. They’ll only fit in them once or twice, or not at all if you wait). While the growth was fast, the changes and developments were at a suitible pace. A pace that felt like we had time to celebrate and document each milestone. 

From 6-10 months, you are still growing like we’re feeding you fertilizer (we are not, I promise). But what is AH-MAZING to me is how much you’ve developed and are learning. The first six months you started to interact, babble, and crawl. But when did you change from baby to toddler? You went from rolling over only with encouragement to cruising along the furniture, tackling the stairs, opening cabinets, chasing the cat, dancing with dad and telling us “bye, bye”.

In spite of your new found mobility, you still are happy on my hip. I’ve gotten pretty good at doing most things one-handed so you can watch intently and approve with a gentle pat on my shoulder when I’m making a bottle, lean back suddenly when you are ready to play ‘upside-down baby’ or smile knowingly as we climb the stairs to surprise a sleepy dad.

While you do get up at a ridiculous hour every morning, you are so happy I hardly mind. Sometimes you’ll even cuddle with me and go back to sleep.

You are a very good sleeper. I told Uncle Meg that sometimes your dad and I will sneak into your room at night and pick you up to snuggle with you. It’s better than chocolate. Uncle Meg thought I was CRAZY, because your cousin is not as sound a sleeper as you are.

We are fast approaching your first birthday and I can’t believe it. I’m incredibly sad that you are growing up, but at the same time I can’t wait to see what you’ll learn next. I remember when I was pregnant, I was worried that I would lose myself in parenting. The thing is, I don’t know why I was so worried because I did lose myself to you, and I’m loving every minute of it.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Woodland Creature?

What is that in the path up ahead?

Is it a gift from the forest fairies?



If so, those forest fairies just gave us the Cutest. Baby. Ever.

Friday, October 12, 2012


So a couple of weekends ago we spent the afternoon at the park. I kept saying, why haven't we been doing this all summer???

Then I remember that I'm a working Mom and most weekends are spent full of family events, grocery shopping, laundry and other homemaker obligations.

We had a great time at the park. I got a chance to snapped some pics with my new hand-me-down camera, or as my photography benfactor would say, Ca-mah-rah.

Please note the hat. This hat was the FIRST baby gift we recieved. It is for a newborn. We had not yet purchased appropriatly sized winter accesories and it was chilly. In lui of her being cold, we shoved her into a newborn hat. Once we had the hat on securely, we both assesed that she looked like the cutest little burgler.

This photo is evidence that our burgler had a partner in crime

Friday, October 5, 2012

Birthday Cake - Rainbow edition

One thing I love to do for birthdays is make a just-what-the-birthday-girl/boy-wants cake. Biscuit reminded me that this all started three years ago.  She sent me this a link to a Martha Stewart crepe cake and said she wanted it for her birthday. Well I know a challenge when I hear one. You can read all about that messy attempt here.

From then on, I took it as my responsibility, no obligation to ensure my family members had the birthday cake of their desires. For example when I asked Momma T (AKA Bubby) what she wanted last year, she told me “LEMON”. It was up to me to make the delicious and oh so moist cake that I can't find one single mention or picture of. It must have been too good to document.
The second year Biscuit told me she wanted something rich, decadent and salty. A little internet searching and I found this beauty. I’m not sure which sold me on this recipe, the ingredients or the write up from the author. I think it was the words on the page that sold me. I do love this blog now, the combination of words and food – swoon.

The resulting cake has made several repeat appearances, including the recent birthdays celebrated on the lake, because my family has dubbed it THE MOST AWESOME!

This year’s challenge biscuit actually sent me long ago, maybe even right after her birthday last year. As a diligent sister I bookmarked the link to be sure I remembered come September. So last week I dove into making this:

rainbow cake

I was actually surprised at how simple it was. The most difficult part was only baking two of the cakes at a time, because I only have two cake pans. I used all the food coloring in my cabinet. The orange and purple layers took more time because the food coloring had to be mixed. Purple started out a little brown, more blue helped. The orange was more red until I added enough yellow to balance it out.

I made the cakes ahead of time and wrapped them for fridge storage. I am a busy Mom too, remember?

When it came time to do the icing, the author, Whisk Kid, had some AWESOME tips on problem solving and best practices for buttercream icing. These tips INCLUDED PICTURES. What did people DO before the internet???


One step I always thought was dumb and a waste of time is the crumb coating. Many recipes call for this step of a think layer of icing to catch all the crumbs and seal the cake prior to frosting. Well I decided this time with all these strong colors, I need to follow the directions like a good girl. Wouldn’t you know, it actually helped the finished product turn out smooth, crisp and white.

Crumb coating


Finished product



I showed up for desert at the restaurant to present this year’s answer to the birthday cake challenge.
CAVEAT: Sorry for the bad pictures. I had my baking hat on that day which means I left my photographer hat at home.

The big reveal



One of biscuits friends said “Who’s six years old today?” Biscuit proudly raised her hand.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Boating with Babies

The first family vacation officially took place in early September. Bubby and Grandpa graciously rented a large house on the lake for a week so the kids and grandkids could come and stay as schedules permitted.

We missed the first half of the week.Hubs was working hard to bring home the bacon. We left on Wed. night after C’s bedtime to ensure she would sleep through the entire 6 hour drive. She did and we arrived in the wee hours on Thursday morning. On Thursday, the only people at the house were Bubby, Grandpa and Quinn. The others had come, left and would show up again later in the week.

Before I digress into the details, please note my key learnings from vacationing with a baby. 
• It takes longer to do EVERYTHING
• All activities attention is centered around babies.
• Babies do not observe the lazy sleep-in schedule on vacations that we adults are accustomed to.
• Late night drinking and tom-foolery no longer extends into the wee hours like it used to. This is directly driven by the point above.

C and Quinn were on completely opposite schedules. Each day, they were probably both awake at the same time for 3 or 4 hours. We had so much fun watching the two of them interact, dissecting the plethora of ways they are different.


As we went for C’s first trip on the boat, we had to strap/zip/stuff her into the infant life jacket prior to even WALKING on the dock. Safety first people, this is my baby girl we’re talking about. It is hard to gauge if C liked the boat or not because she DID NOT like the life jacket! In all honesty, I could see why. It is big, cumbersome and has a flotation piece that supports her head.

The uncomfortable but super SAFE life jacket. I swear there is a baby under there!

Once the boat was beached, the girls had a little freedom from the life jackets. They floated in the water, slept and enjoyed life.



We only got out for a couple trips on the boat during the trip, mostly because of baby schedules. I think it was a learning experience for the whole family. We learned how different things are now and how we have to shift our idea of a vacation on the lake to fit our new reality. My guess is that in the future, we’ll try to be right on the water so we don’t loose so much time shuffling back and forth, and more people can take smaller trips out to ski and relax.

I also need to mention the strong sense of nostalgia I felt through out this trip. Our boat, Mellow Yellow, is… how do I say this? Vintage. The boat is old, but thanks to Grandpas diligent and expensive upkeep, we still get to vacation on the same boat on which we grew up. There were several times on the trip it felt strange to see the next generation on Mellow Yellow. Case in point is the picture below. That cubby was home to many a tired, cold, worn out kid. There is C, taking a nap in that same spot.



It was an awesome trip. And as a new mom, each new experience illuminates the ways my life is different now, in the best way of course.


FYI, this picture is to illustrate the importance of swimmy diapers. It looks like someone used a pump to inflate her booty.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Who is afraid of a little ole comma?

I guess it's me. I often find myself reading through my posts after I've published them. There are numerous grammar mistakes (INSERT COMMA) but it seems like my most egregious offense is omitting commas.

At least there aren't a bunch of run on sentences who could read that mess all jumbled together without any punctuation not me besides how could you understand tone without punctuation?

Thank you everyone who reads my blog. Please don't hold my lack of editing against me.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New Mom

I know I haven't posted in a while. The intention is there, but the time isn't. I'll just use my standby excuse, "I have a baby". I don't know how long I can use that excuse because it doesn't seem to stop some of my more organized friends from getting it all done.

Anyways, the past month has been very eventful for our house. Caroline got sick for the first time. Hubs had a birthday. And we went to the lake and took the babies on their very first vacation! If that wasn't enough, we come back from vacation and Caroline gets sick again right as I have to leave for a business trip.

If I've learned one thing in the past month, it is that I am the baby in this scenario, the newborn mom. As Caroline is leaning to crawl, I'm learning to let her fall. As she is learning new people, I'm trying to learn not to hover. As she is experiencing new things, I'm discovering new levels of worry.

All my mom-friends probably tried to prepare me for this, but I tell you now it must be learned through experience. I now know how worthless you feel when your baby is screaming and crying looking to you to fix it and there is nothing you can do. Baby tears are heartbreaking. On the flip side of that coin is laughter. I have NEVER heard a sound so sweet. It fills me with joy. I am doing anything I can think of to encourage her giggles. She is a tough sell!

So all this to say that almost 9 months later, I'm probably less confident than ever. Let's hope this trend doesn't continue or my daughter will end up raising me.

As soon as I can I'll fill you in on Caroline's first vacation. In the meantime, I'll leave you with the best shot Hubs took with his phone on vacation - Bubby and the Babies.
Bubby and Babies

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Picture Pages

Pictures of the lovely Caroline from Biscuit's wedding.


This is her "I'm going to get you" expression


And some other pics from this past weekend.

Stealing Kisses.

Checking out Brutus