Thursday, March 31, 2011

March in Memorium

As the month of march comes to a close, I have to admit: it was a pretty awesome month. 

Although I was totally flipped out by the thought of having a one-year-old, I now know better.  One is fun!  There are about a million things I love about having a one year old, just a few of which include:

Exploring a wide veriety of finger foods, such as lasagne, ravioli, sausage, and toast
Ordering off the menu at restaurants
Actual conversations with my daughter
Her wonderful, tentative first steps
Going to the pool
Watching her interact with the world in new ways every day

...and so, sooo many more!  It's a whole world of possibilities now, where as last year - magical as it was - there were a great many limitations.  Somehow I have this gut feeling that Leah's second year on the planet might be even better, more fun, delightful and more exciting than her first. 

Is that possible?!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Things I Love: Spring Break Edition

Things I love: Spring Break Edition

1. Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt.  How have I been missing out on this until now?  It's a shame when I buy the good stuff for Leah instead of myself.  At least she's expanding my horizons!  The best part?  Leah loves it as much as I do!  Especially with fresh strawberries.  Which leads us to...

2. Fresh strawberries!  For me, strawberries will forever be associated with summer.  Imagine my delight, then, that these are back.  Another of our lunch staples.

3. Planning, planning, planning for a best friend's baby shower.  I get to use my in-my-next-life event planner skills.  I am sooooooo excited!!!!!!!

4. Brightly colored, adorable springtime clothes!

LOVE pink and white!

5. Baby's first steps.  Yep.  She's not walking yet, but we've seen a few, sporatic solo-steps sprinkled in here and there.  She is so cautious, and she absolutely hates to fall, so she isn't really "in" to practicing her steps.  But, in the mean time, there is always her dino-walker, which is almost as fun. 

6. An entire week off - with my husband!  That's practically unprecedented since Leah's birth, and I couldn't be more excited!!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Being sick kills braincells

Oooh, betcha thought I was talking about me on this one, yes? 

For once, in reference to having no braincells, I am officially not talking about myself.

In fact... I'm talking about Leah.  Because I'm convinced that being sick has stunted her vocabulary (at least for now). 

Here's my total geek-out minute.  Are you ready?

In times of stress, trauma, or - I'm guessing - illness, the language center of the brain is one of the first things to shut down in children.  Well, adults too, which is why when you get really, really angry, you probably aren't very articulate.  It's really clear in kids.  Take a toddler who normally commands a lot of language, get him upset, and he will probably shout something simple like "NO!" while stamping his feet and hitting, biting or throwing things.  Yep.  That's because the rational side of the brain - the one that also controls language - gets taken over by the more primative, emotional side. 

(Turns out I was actually paying attention during my childhood development classes in grad school!)

So back to my point...

Since Leah has been sick, all her amazing language skills have reverted back three months, and everything has once again become "dada." 

Me: "Leah, do you like cheese?"
Leah: "Dada."
Me: "Leah, do you see the doggie?"
Leah: "Da. Dada"
Me: "Would you like a banana for lunch?"
Leah: "Daaaadadada." 
Me: "I love you, Leah."
Leah: "Da."

It's a very interesting process, to watch it in action.  I certainly hope she'll start feeling better soon.  I was loving the newfound conversations we've been able to have recently, and calling everything "dada" wasn't exactly what I had in mind!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

It's so nice to be a person again

The title of this post really should have read: Congratulations to our wonderful friends, Nick and Ashley, on your marriage!  We loved celebrating with you!

Yes, they're a perfect couple.  Yes, they have a beautiful love story.  Yes, he was handsome and she was radiant at the wedding.  Yes, they are absurdly happy, in love, and hopped up on wedded bliss... blah, blah, blah. 

What I'm going to selfishly write about instead is how ridiculously happy Casey and I were that we had an excuse opportunity to call a babysitter and have a night with the other adults!  (I know - but, it's my blog, so it shall be filled with my memories!)

We had a chance to have a whole, entire, uninterrupted dinner by ourselves.  We went to Maggianos, one of my absolute favorite restaurants.  It was nice to get dressed up and enjoy each other's company!  I love my husband, and one of our biggest adjustments over the last year has been the lack of one-on-one time having a baby brings.

Then, it was on to the wedding.  Our little camera takes terrible pictures sometimes, so you'll have to forgive the horrible photography.

A very pregnant Jessica coming down the isle

The beautiful bride!

Aren't they adorable?!

Casey and John - we tried to keep the heckling from the audience to a minimum.  We're not very good at keeping our mouths shut.
It was a lovely ceremony, and then it was on to the party!  I must admit (and Leah, when you read this years later please remember that Mommy always, always tries to do the right thing.  But honey, there is a time and a place for everything, and this was one of those times!) that I was pretty excited to enjoy some grown-up fun!

It has been nearly two years since I've had a drink (May of '08 was the last time), and it is very possible that I was the happiest person at that wedding to get to have first a beer, then some wine, then a few other choice alcoholic beverages (including something green called an "Alien" something-or-other, put together when I asked the bartender to surprise me!). 

I've never been much of a party girl, but oooooooh is it fun to let my hair down once every two years! I danced, hung out in the bathroom (Don't ask. I assume it was because that's what all the cool kids do!), and laughed. A LOT.

Auntie Jessica and her Shirly Temple.  I was SO glad I got to have something with more of a kick!
The girls!

The bride and her cake.  Even brides need a little sugar!

We had a ball.  It was a wonderful opportunity that Casey and I don't take advantage of very often.  I very rarely regret the decision to maximize our time as a family - we don't have much of it to begin with.  But, being out does make me realize that it is important to have balance.  That means time as a family, time with my husband, and time with our friends. 

I think and hope it will be easier to do with a one year old than a brand new baby.

And, of course... Congratulations to a perfect pair on a beautiful day!  We love you both, and couldn't be more blessed than to share in your love story!

Friday, March 25, 2011

1 Year Stats

Little Miss Leah had her 1 year doctor's appointment today.  My, my, how much that girl has changed in just one little year!

Stats at Birth                                           Stats at 1 Year
Weight: 7.12  lbs                                     18.4 lbs (9th%)
Height: 20 inches                                     28 1/2 inc (25th%)
Head:  15 inches                                     18 3/4 in. (97th%  YOWZA!)

The doctor was a bit concerned about her weight.  I got the official okay to give her butter and high-calorie foods to help her pack on the pounds.  I'm torn between worrying about my daughter's weight, and being completely jealous that someone who came out of me would ever be worrying about being too light.

I also wanted to ask: any chance there is a genetic component to her weight?  That girl honestly eats like a horse!  Casey and I often ask her if she has a hollow leg; we can't figure out where she is packing away all her food!!  Not to mention... well, have you seen her father?!

Otherwise, her development is completely normal.  The doctor was impressed by her vocabulary (yay!), and said that all her motor skills look great. 

We'll have to go back to the doctor in a week, because I didn't get her shots since my sweet little pumpkin has been sick.  We'll also have to have an x-ray done to check her hips since she was a breech baby.  Other than that, a great report from the doc! 

And, as an added bonus, we ran into Auntie Jessica completely at random!  Auntie Jess was there getting her own baby check-up, while I was checking Leah in to the pediatrician.  It is going to be so much fun to go back to the hospital Leah was born in to visit Jess and her own sweet bundle of joy!  That day will be here in just two short months... I can't wait!

All in all, a lot to be thankful for.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

How much Harry Potter can a person watch in one weekend?

In Leah's first year of life, I've been sick three times.

Time 1: Leah, Casey and I got sick, and I had to suck it up and baby them both.

Time 2: I had the flu, my hubby was gone, and I had to call my mom because I couldn't drag my butt outta bed for baby wrangling.

Time 3: Also known as a continuation of said flu.  First it was flu, then it was a sinus infection, and now it's... I don't even know.  Something icky in my lungs.  Something I'm absolutely terrified my sweet little one will get. 

So this time, I've let my husband do all the heavy lifting.  In other words, it's the first full two days he's ever spent with Leah without intervention in her whole little life.  They're getting along quite swimmingly, if I do say so!  It has been really good for the two of them to have some uninterrupted bonding time.  It's something I know that they've been missing. 

I, meanwhile, have been hiding staying in my room, keeping the germs far, far away from any prying one-year-olds who might contract them. 

I'd love to tell you that I've passed the time reading something delightful and elevating.  That's what I wish I had been doing.  Sadly, there is not a single book in this house I haven't read at least 3 times. 

Instead, I've been contenting myself with Harry Potter.  A LOT of Harry Potter, since it's been on TV literally all.weekend.long.  Worse?  Somehow I'm not sick of it yet. 

I'm not really sure what that says about me...

Whispering sweet nothings

My mother tells stories of how I spoke in full sentences before my 2nd birthday.  And not just things like "I'm hungry."  According to my mother, I knowingly advised someone at the store not to buy too many bananas, 'cause they go bad real quick.  Supposedly I was like 20 months old.

I've always secretly doubted these stories, because... well, really, who does that?

And then I watch my daughter.  At a year old, she can't speak clearly in the sense that she can enunciate words.  But boy, can she say a lot.

Here's the list:

"Go!" (as in, what we say to the dogs when we want them out of the room or out from under the kitchen table)
"Night night"
"Banana" (nanna)
"Cheese" (chssss!)
"I love you" (my favorite! It comes out as "I yahyoo")

It's such a joy to watch her figure out the world around her.  I'm always amazed when I ask her a question and she responds appropriately.  She understands SO much, even though she can't always "say" it. 

We can't wait to see what she'll learn next!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Some days I'm just grateful

Some days are just that way.  It hits me.  All over again.

That smell of her hair after a bath.
The big-girl look of her in her new jammies.
The tiny fingers that wrap around mine, using me for balance.
Her wobbly steps.
The grin that says, "I'm so proud of myself!"
The way she shovels food, double fisted, into her mouth.
Little hands asking for more.
Her enthusiasm when she repeats words.
The joy when I play along after she growls.  "Ahhh!  A scary lion!" I exclaim, and she grins.
That face when she sleeps.
Those open mouth kisses. 

The future.  The swim lessons.  The backpacks.  The sharpened colored pencils, labled with LMS.  The trips to Water World.  The Halloween costumes.  The track meets or dance recitals or softball games or marching band competitions.  The prom dresses. 

The fact that she is here at all.

My joy.  My heart.  My treasure.  My undeserved blessing.  My answer to prayer.  My reason for being.  For being good.  For working hard.  For being better tomorrow than I was today.  For trying harder. 

My healthy, happy baby. 

Sorry.  I meant, Big Girl.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Let her eat (cup)cake

I'd been picturing the moment in my mind for a while.  The reality of it, though...


I loved the questioning, unsure look.  Am I really supposed to have this?

The looking around to see if anyone was going to stop her.

The digging in and getting a little taste.

And finally, the pure, unadulterated joy when she discovered it really was just for her. 

And, let me tell you what.  My sweet, petite little girl can certainly shovel in the cupcake!

And she was pretty darn happy about it!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

He knows me better than I know myself

A conversation before Leah's birthday:

Casey: "Come on.  Admit it.  You've been planning this party longer than she's been alive."

Me: "I have not!  I couldn't even think about having a newborn, let alone a 1 year old.  I've only been planning for like... 6 months!"

Casey: "Sure you have."

I really felt adamantly about the fact that I'm not totally crazy, and I don't get totally ahead of myself for big events.  I know I always start things too early, but I honestly couldn't comprehend having a one year old before she was born. 

I felt that way until we brought out the candles for her birthday cake...

...when it hit me: Casey was absolutely right. 

When we had our gender party, these sweet little ducky candles were on the cake, and I made a mental note: I wanted to use them on her first birthday cake.

As I began to make the very first preparations for her party, I remembered those candles.  I knew that I didn't want a rubber ducky theme, but I still wanted to work them in and have them make sense.  Six months ago, I started dreaming up the yellow and white theme.  Everything else kind of snowballed from there.

So, as it turns out, Leah's entire party was born out of candles that I've had for like 18 months. 

I guess that husband of mine knows me pretty well.

P is for Presents

I don't know what it is about baby birthdays, but all the mommies I know always write about how their little sweethearts didn't nap well on party day. 

That was definitely true for Leah.  Even though I did my best to plan her party around her nap schedule, she decided to take a 30 minute (if that!) nap, throwing off my entire schedule.  Suffice it to say, by the time party rolled around, she was exhausted. 

We were lucky that she kept it together most of the party.  Although she was definitely very clingy and wanted me, she also had a LOT of good interaction with other attendees:
Like Auntie Jessica

And Miss Ella Grace, now 7 months old.  It'll be her turn to party before too long!

And of course, Grandma.  I mean, when someone makes you a banner, they deserve a little love! 

I had a great time opening presents!  On a first birthday, presents are almost more for the parents anyway!
Really.  Who looks happier about presents?

Leah enjoyed it too.  Although I think the wrapping paper was her favorite part. 
Notice what's in her hand?
Playing with my new... gift bag!!!
A few of the toys captured her attention.
But mostly that girl was all about the paper.

 Casey and I just tried to enjoy the moment, and really soak it all in.  It is so wonderful to be in a room full of people who love your child.  There is honestly nothing better.  And we are fortunate to have some truly amazing people in our lives. 

And, after all that work, guess what I completely forgot in the heat of the moment???
Yep.  Sadly, no one ever got to witness the awesomeness of Leah's first birthday hat.  Oh well... I got it on her eventually, even if most of the guests had left by this point. 

As an added bonus, Leah slept until 8:00 this morning (which was actually 9 after daylight savings time).  I was stunned - that girl is usually up at 6 like clockwork; I finally had to go in and check on her.  All in all, I'd say she had a pretty good time!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Bring on the sappy sentimentals

Let's be honest, I'm a pretty cheesey person.  I'm very sentimental, and I'm also very type-A.  Combine those two, and you get projects like the one I'm about to show you, which I proposed to Casey about four months ago.  Casey very graciously put this together, with much direction and over-shoulder-leaning/commenting from me.  I do love that man...

One of the things I most appreciate about us as a couple is how well we compliment each other.  I've got the ideas and he's got the skills and know-how to actually make it happen.  We're a pretty good team, and I am extremely pleased with the results.

And so, without futher ado...

Here is the video we made celebrating Leah's first year.  Enjoy!  We certainly did. 

She puts the happy in happy birthday

For Leah's first birthday, we decided to throw her a "my little sunshine"-themed shindig.  It was inspired by... well, actually that's kind of a long story.  I'll have to explain that a little more later. 

After weeks of hard work, and many months of anticipation, Casey and I were excited that this day had finally arrived.  We spent the morning cleaning, baking and preparing all the projects I have been working on for several weeks. 

The color scheme was yellow and white for our little sunshine.  My mom was awesome and helped me by sewing the birthday banner, seeing as I can't sew.  The menu was a simple and sweet one - sweet, literally.  It included: Deviled eggs, spinach and artichoke dip, vanilla bread, sugar cookies, fruit dip, lemonade and of course, cupcakes.  Everything turned out wonderfully!

I was so happy with the way these cupcakes turned out!  I'm not the world's best baker, so the fact that they looked nice and were yummy meant a lot!

Not quite finished setting up...
Getting closer...

I was so pleased with how well everything came together.  One of my favorite parts of any party is that moment before the storm - when everything is set up and ready to go, and looks pristine.  I love the anticipation before the guests actually arrive and the celebrations actually begin. 

From the outside...

To the inside...

Every last detail fell into place.

And, even though I know that she won't remember this birthday, I certainly will.  It was given with much love and care to a little girl who has given us so much without even knowing it. 

I changed my font at