Hello, 2015

mummersB loved the Mummers this year…although she actually thought this guy was Santa.

Once again, I am fashionably late with a new year’s post. This year, I’m going to go with the excuse that it the new year didn’t technically start until the end of vacation/return to work. And, since that just happened this past Monday, I was allowed a few extra days to adjust back to reality and get myself together.

Needless to say, I have zero resolutions that involve a commitment to be more timely and/or stop procrastinating.

In fact, I have no resolutions at all.

In 2014, I made a bunch of them. I was going through kind of a big period of adjustment this time last year, embarking on my first full year as a mom, planning a transition between jobs and basically just trying to balance everything in my life. So, making a list of goals was helpful in managing all of the things that were going on in my head and helping me to stay (somewhat) sane.

As this year begins, I’m definitely in a better place in terms of my career path and I’ve managed to carve out some time for the things that are important to me. And, although I am always going to be a bit of a perfectionist, I’ve gotten better about channeling my energy to the things that actually matter (for example, B’s habit of smearing oatmeal and yogurt all over her face and clothes doesn’t even phase me anymore. If it keeps her quiet for five minutes while I try to wash a few of the breakfast dishes, then that’s awesome).

All that to say, I’m happy with the way things are going at the moment. I feel more focused and like I actually know what I’m doing in the areas of my life that matter to me the most. So, I’m just going to sit back and see where the year takes me.

It would be nice to have some kind of measurable goal (like last year’s 12-book goal) or a long-term creative project (I know a lot of people are fans of the photo-a-day projects, which would be great for helping me with my ongoing quest to improve my photography skills but seem like too big of a commitment). But, since I haven’t figured out what either one of those things are going to be yet, I’ll just see what happens along the way.

Wherever things end up, I’ll be happy to have you all along for the ride again in 2015!

Little B: 16 Months

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We had a much easier time with this month’s photo shoot, due in part to her sudden interest in sitting in “big girl” chairs.

I hope everyone is enjoying the first days of 2015!

Chester and I were off from work for two weeks, and had the best time hanging out with B. It was rough going back to reality yesterday–I got used to the extra snuggles and time with my little family. The weekend can’t come soon enough!

A few days before we rang in the new year B celebrated her 16 month birthday. So, here’s what is new in her world:

Doing

B is officially off and running on her own! Chester kept saying that his birthday wish was for her to walk and it seems that she heard him. His birthday was December 3rd and that is pretty much the last day she needed us to hold her by both hands to walk.

Everyone kept telling us that we would regret wishing for her to walk, because then we would have to chase her around all the time. We definitely are putting miles on our running shoes, but are so happy that she has mastered this skill I love walking down the street holding her little hand and she seems a lot happier when she is walking and exploring on her own. But, there have been quite a few meltdowns–in public–when we have had to redirect her or keep her from climbing up and down steps! She definitely doesn’t like being told what to do.

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Her new-found mobility meant she could get up close and personal with the tree this year. 

 

Saying

This month was all about Christmas-related words, including “Tee” (tree) and “Ta” (Santa). She has also learned “hush” as a result of our repeated recitations for Good Night moon, and I love when she chimes in at that part of the story. “All done” seems to be the phrase of the moment. She says it when she has had enough to eat, when she is sleepy or when she just wants us to stop doing something that annoys her (like, brushing her teeth or rinsing shampoo out of her hair).

Relatedly, I have been amazed by how much she seems to remember. For example, Santa dropped off the book Press Here, which we took out of the library awhile back. If you haven’t seen it, it’s kind of an interactive book (press on the dots, shake the book, etc.) and as soon as she opened it, she knew exactly what to do, despite not having seen it for more than a month.

2Putting her new Elmo ornament on the “tee”

Milestones

She cut a bottom molar, which brings her total number of teeth to nine. She loves showing off her teeth, grinning broadly when we ask to see them. I can’t wait until the rest of these molars come in though–I hate to see how much pain they are causing her.

Eating

She has definitely inherited her mother’s sweet tooth, judging from the way she gobbled up Christmas cookies (especially her Grauntie’s butter cookies). Lately, she has been snacking on wheat crackers, spread with hummus. In an effort to get her to eat more fruits and vegetables, I’ve started hiding them in baked goods. Hits so far have included carrot muffins (substituted whole wheat flour and brown sugar; reduced the sugar to 1/4 cup) and breakfast cookies (substituted pears for apples in the first recipe of this post). I am super flattered by the rate at which she gobbles them up. If anyone has any other suggestions to share regarding ways to sneak greens in, I’m all ears (I’m already planning to delve into smoothies this month).

Favorite Things

Now that B can walk, she has been all over the dog. Bascially, there is no safe place for Tracy to hide. B loves to give Tracy hugs and often tries to climb into bed with her. Tracy is so good with B and never shows any sign of wanting to be left alone. It could also have something to do with the fact that B has also discovered the cabinet where we keep the dog treats and is more than happy to dispense way more of them than Tracy is usually allowed.

B Tracy CollageBest buddies

B has really enjoyed the Christmas music during the last few weeks. In particular, anything by Michael Buble, The Jackson Five, Jingle Bell Rock and Holly Jolly Christmas can always perk her up. She also really loves the theme songs to all of her PBS shows. Sometimes, she’ll just say “Ar-ra!” (Arthur) and start swaying back and forth, which is our cue to sing for her.  She actually prefers that little ditty at bedtime, instead of “You Are My Sunshine” which I have been singing to her since she was born.

She got A LOT of new toys for Christmas, and has really been enjoying her kitchen set, Little People train and stuffed Olaf (she hasn’t seen Frozen yet, but this plays into her current infatuation with snowmen). But, she has taken a renewed interest in toys that have been around for awhile like her Poppin’ Park Giraffe and her push walker. Like I said in my Christmas post, it’s almost as if she doesn’t want to hurt their feelings.

Mostly, though, she likes to take things off shelves and put them back. Or, she will move things from the toy box, to the couch to the floor. It doesn’t seem like “play” in the traditional sense, but it keeps her occupied for ten to fifteen minutes sometimes, so I’ll take it!

Books

Now that B is a little more mobile, I sometimes will get ready in the bathroom while she walks back and forth between the upstairs rooms (Not to worry–we have a small house so I can still keep an eye on her and a baby gate blocking the stairs). Sometimes, though, she will go into her room and things will get strangely quiet. I race in, fearing the worst, only to find that she is occupied with a  pile of books that she has pulled from the shelf.

All that to say: books are basically still her favorite. Lately, we have had lots of requests for Click, Clack Moo, Guess How Much I Love You?, Put Me In the Zoo Elmo’s Twelve Days of Christmas, and Olivia Saves the Circus.

Least favorite things

Naps. As I’ve chronicled at length, they have never been her favorite thing, but she fights them now more than ever lately and continues to be completely inconsistent about them. Sometimes, she’ll go down before 11 a.m. and other days, won’t even think about it until 1 or 2 p.m. It takes her forever to settle down and she might only stay asleep for 40 minutes or so.

She has recently taken a real liking to her Glow-worm, and if she is upset about going to bed at night, we just need to tuck it in next to her and she calms down. This technique, unfortunately does not help with the nap situation, but since “Glow” was my constant companion when I was little, so I’m glad she is starting to take an interest in hers!

Fun Experiences

Christmas_2014-6_filteredThis year’s Christmas card image. Concept and photo by Chester; Santa impersonation by Yours Truly.

Preparing for and celebrating Christmas was definitely the highlight of the last month.

B had a great time with her Christmas Countdown. At first, she didn’t know what to make of the calendar, but after a few days, she got the hang of pulling off the tags and turning them around to “read” what was in store for her that day. She loved all of the little presents that the elves left for her and enjoyed taking in the Christmas lights and watching Christmas movies (Frosty the Snowman was her favorite). I’m glad she can’t read yet, though, because a few times, we had to rearrange or substitute activities due to inclement weather or scheduling conflicts. I probably won’t be able to fool her as easily in the coming years!

countdown collageSome of our Christmas Countdown Highlights: Top Row: unwrapping her Little People Christmas Village, enjoying Frosty, while drinking chocolate milk; Center: Choosing the first tag; Bottom row: Gluing cotton balls on Santa’s face to make his beard, writing a letter to Santa.

Of course, no Christmas season in Philly would be complete without a visit to Macy’s. B was entranced by the Dickens’ Village, ambivalent about the light show and not at all happy to sit on Santa’s lap. I quickly placed her request for a giant Elmo, and we all posed for a photo to keep the tears at bay.

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In awe of the prize turkey in the Christmas Carol Village

4Waiting for the light show to start. She lasted about two minutes when it actually did.

Macy's SantaI was so not prepared for a photo shoot on this particular day.

The fun continued after Christmas, starting with a trip to the zoo with Auntie B and Uncle Billy. I had never been to the zoo in the off season. Although we went on an unseasonably warm day, there were no crowds and the animals were much more active than they usually are during the warmer months.

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Then, B and her boyfriend Jack went on a date to the Please Touch Museum. I think that the grown-ups had as much fun as they did (except when I got yelled at–loudly–by a seven year old when I accidentally called the trolley in the transportation exhibit a bus. How embarrassing.)! I hadn’t been to the museum since it moved to Centennial Hall in Fairmount Park and it was quite impressive, with lots to see and do.

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Please_Touch_Dec_2014-6Going down the rabbit hole, with Alice

So, as you can see, we capped up 2014 right! I know there are great things in store for us this year–I hope that the same can be said for you and yours!

Wonderful Christmastime

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My little elf, on Christmas morning

It hasn’t even been a week, but it feels like Christmas was forever ago! We had two full days of celebrations with family, friends and delicious food. And, B looked even more adorable than usual. So, of course, I can’t resist sharing a few photos of the festivities.

We spent Christmas Eve at Big Bridget’s mom’s house. Chester and Bill did all of the hard work of cooking a humongous meal, while the rest of us sat around chatting, eating and drinking.

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B was a lot more social and less overwhelmed by all of the people than she was at Christmas last year. But, she still wasn’t to thrilled about posing for photos!

When we got home later that night, I ruined a cake that I was trying to make for Christmas Day dessert, took one look at the instructions for the B’s play shopping cart, and upon seeing that it involved about 40 steps and a hammer, turned the heavy lifting back over to Santa (i.e.. Chester) and went to bed.

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I brought B downstairs around seven the next morning and her eyes lit up when she saw the pile surrounding the tree. She wasn’t really into tearing the paper off the gifts, like I thought she would be. So, we opened a few things that morning and saved the rest for later (we actually just unwrapped the final box just last night). But, she did have a blast playing with some of her play kitchen, shopping cart and Big Hugs Elmo. She also kept running back and forth between her old toys and the new ones—I guess she didn’t want them to feel left out!

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Christmas_2014-16Serious bed head

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This Elmo is literally her size. She was dumbfounded.

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Love at first sight

Christmas_2014-18We took B to Pet Smart and let her pick out a gift for Tracy. But, judging from the amount of time that poor Tracy has actually spent playing with that ball, it seems like we still have a way to go until B understands the concept of gift giving!

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Yes, we had matching pajamas (even Chester).

After naps for everyone, it was off to my mom’s for more food (including lasagna, meatballs and sausage–no one makes them better than my mom!) and gifts. Spoiled doesn’t even begin to cover what everyone in the family was this year. The floor of my mom’s living room was barely visible amid all of the boxes and bags.

Christmas_2014-35This will forever be my favorite outfit that B has ever worn. She was our Christmas princess.

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This was, by far, her favorite gift, although she kept throwing the poor doll onto the floor.

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Photo books of B’s one year photo shoot for everyone!

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Stealth photo of Uncle Mike. He’ll be thrilled to see this on here.

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Chester’s parents, on their first Christmas as Philadelphia residents.

It is safe to say that this was one of my favorite Christmases ever. Even though B still didn’t totally “get” what all the fuss was about, she was so good and just…happy. Seeing her smile and hearing her laugh are the best gifts ever. All too soon, it was time to say “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!” But, next Christmas is only 359 days away!

 

What I Read: October to December and Wrap-Up

As the year comes to a close, I’m proud to say that I made the reading goal that I set at the beginning of 2014! I haven’t posted one of these updates in awhile, so this is what I read during the last three months:

The Vacationers

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Emma Straub’s book was on all of the summer “must-read” list, but as usual, I was fashionably late to the party and didn’t pick it up until October. The story follows the Post family, as they vacation on Mallorca. Being in close quarters for two weeks brings out the worst in them and exposes a few family secrets along the way. In many ways, the characters and plot devices mimic other dysfunctional family stories, but Straub’s writing is smart and humorous and she managed to make me care about characters that seemed unlikeable at first glance. This would definitely be a good one to put on your list for next summer’s beach bag—or to pick up in the winter when you are craving warmth, sand and sun.

This One Is Mine

 

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Maria Semple’s protagonist, Violet Parry, is a former television producer, turned stay-at-home mom and wife to a legendary music producer, David. She’s bored and unhappy with her life, so she decides to have an affair with Teddy, a struggling musician. Sure, David is a self-absorbed jerk, but Teddy is no better (we learn along the way that he is an alcoholic with violent tendencies, and also has Hepatitis C). There are a few other characters woven into the story, including David’s sister Sally who is on a continuous quest to bag a rich husband. But, none of them really have any redeeming qualities. The plot was unrealistic and I was thoroughly annoyed by all of the characters. Semple’s Where’d You Go Bernadette? is a much better read. Although the plot of that book is equally far-fetched, her characters are far more sympathetic and humorously drawn.

Jim Henson: The Biography

 

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As a lifelong Henson fan, I loved this! Brian Jay Jones traces Henson’s life and career, including his childhood in Mississippi, where he first dreamed of working in television, his efforts to break into the medium as a puppeteer on various local and national shows, his lesser known work making experimental films, and his big break on Sesame Street. Jones did an amazing job of putting together the story of Henson’s all too short life and career, through personal interviews with his family and colleagues, Henson’s personal diaries and company archives, to paint a comprehensive portrait of Henson’s passion for his work, complicated private life and lasting influence.

These three books bring the total to 12 and as the year winds down, here are a few of the highlights (and lowlights) of the past year in books:

Couldn’t Put Down: The Goldfinch 

Pleasant Surprises (aka “I Picked These at Random, Mostly Based on Their Cheap Price, and Ended Up Really Liking Them”): The Perfume Collector and The Rosie Project

Book That I Was Sad to Finish: Jim Henson: The Biography

Biggest Disappointment: Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy

Book That I Forced Myself to Finish, Even Though I Hated It: This One is Mine

Most Helpful (aka “I Wish I Had Read this Sooner):Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

I’m glad that I set this goal, as it made me set aside time to read at least a little bit each day…even if I could only get through a page or two each night before falling asleep (only to be woken up by the Nook falling on my nose. Ouch). Escaping into a good book is a pretty easy way to unwind, when you don’t really have a lot of time or energy at the end of the day!

What did you read in 2014 and who has recommendations for 2015?

Christmas Light Tour

Big, sparkly Christmas light displays are my fave. Luckily, there are no shortage of them in and around the Philadelphia area. And, since taking in the lights is a pretty toddler friendly (and free!) activity, we’ve been doing a lot of it this season. Our first stop was the Franklin Square Electrical Spectacle, with our friends Richard and Louisa and their kids. Every 30 minutes, the park is illuminated by an elaborate light show, set to a soundtrack by the Philly POPS. There is plenty to do at the park keep everyone occupied, including a seasonal craft market, food/beverage tent and of course the carousel and mini golf, so I would definitely recommend adding this to your holiday to-do list (this year, it runs through New Year’s Eve). FS-24 FS-3

She was obsessed with the water in the fountain. She kept spinning in circles and saying “wa-wa”

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She started clapping as soon as the music started

Next, we headed to Peddler’s Village in Bucks County. You can get some of your shopping done while taking in more than one million lights that make up the outdoor display. PV-1

Killing time in the toy store, while we waited for the lights to come on.

PV-6 Our final stop was the Christmas Village in Love Park and new Dilworth Park outside of City Hall. CM-2 CM-6

B had fallen asleep in the car on the way there and was not too happy about being woken up from her nap, or about the crowds in the village

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We didn’t notice until going through the photos that these lights changed color

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She’s on the move, and she loved the big, open space…

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…and the steps. She would have gone up and down them all day. Not pictured: the meltdown that ensued when I picked her up to leave. That’s how I knew it was time to head home.

Where have you all been getting your Christmas light fix this year?

Little B: 15 Months

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This was the most difficult photo shoot to date. She basically refused to sit in the chair, so this was the best we could do!

Another month is in the books, and as usual, we have plenty to report:

Stats

At B’s 15 month doctor’s appointment, she weighed in at 20 pounds, 13 oz (she feels way heavier) and was 29.4 inches long. She is wearing size 12 or 18 month clothes, for the most part. This month, she got two more teeth (one on the bottom front and a molar on the top left) and more seem to be on their way.

Doing

We have made great strides in the walking department and I would say that B has officially taken her first steps. Her balance has definitely improved and she is more confident in her ability to walk unassisted. She seems to do a lot better when she is carrying something, and it is hilarious to see her toddle along dragging her stuffed panda or big pink ball (both of which are roughly half her size) along with her.

Personality

When I think about it now, it really shouldn’t surprise me that B took her sweet time when it came to taking her first real steps. Her dislike of surprises is becoming more evident with each passing month, and I would definitely use the word cautious to describe her personality. The other day, for example, we were sitting in the living room playing, when our Christmas tree (which we have on a timer) lit up. I thought B would be thrilled; instead she broke down in tears. Thankfully, her reaction has improved as the nights go on.

She is also getting more social. Although she is still wary of strangers and people she doesn’t see often at first, she warms up a lot more quickly now. She loves other little kids and one of her favorite people to visit is Big Bridget’s grandmother (Nunnie).

Saying

B continues to talk a mile a minute Her newest words are “Ar-ra” (Arthur, since she has recently become a huge fan of the book and television series), “wa-wa” (water), and “mahn” (man, which usually refers to a snowman) But, her favorite words this month seem to be “mama” and “hi.” She says them all. The Time. More often than not, the sound of her saying them over and over again is what wakes me up in the morning. I continue to be amazed at how much she understands, and we have already had to resort to spelling certain words around her to keep her from figuring out what we are talking about.

Favorite things

The Arthur television show and book series; water—drinking it, playing in it, saying it; snowmen; Crayons. She scribbles with them a bit, but mostly, she just likes to hold them and watch them roll across the floor; her tea set. She loves pretending to serve us a hot beverage; Slamming doors. She has a whole routine of saying “bye” and closing doors in our faces. Then, we spend a few minutes knocking back and forth from our respective sides, before we open the door so she can greet us with an excited “A-boo!”; she is currently enjoying the song Rock-A-Bye Baby and she will cross her arms in front of her and sway back and forth when we sing it.

Least favorite things

Going to bed. She employs all kinds of distractions to delay bedtime, from pulling all of the books off her shelf, to slamming books shut as we try to read them, to squirming off my lap and out the door as we sit in the rocking chair.

Books

We continue to read most of the same books mentioned during prior updates over and over again, but have added a few to our rotation, including Snow (such a beautiful book, both in terms of its story and illustrations) and How Do I Love You? We took Press Here out of the library recently and she loved it and did such a good job following the directions (shaking the books, blowing on the dots, etc.). I think Santa will definitely be dropping that off for her this year!

Foods

We switched from baby to grown up oatmeal this month and she loves it, mixed with a little brown sugar, cinnamon and fruit. Overall, though, her appetite was hit or miss this month, and the only things she would reliably eat were sweet potatoes and meatloaf. I think teething played a huge part in the trend. She seemed to be in quite a bit of pain, particularly as that top molar made it’s way in.

Fun Experiences

At the beginning of November, we finally had B christened. While she might not agree that having water poured over her head was fun, we did have a little celebration with family afterward—with cake!

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Not happy about having a wet head

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Also not happy about having oil put on her forehead. I love the grown-ups facial expressions in this one, especially of the godparents, Uncle Mike and Auntie B

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Napping after the trauma

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Cake makes it all better.

We took her to see Elmo at the Franklin Institute. I wish we had gotten some better photos with him, but he “forgot his inhaler” and couldn’t really stick around for the duration of the event. B was still pretty excited to just be in the same room as him.

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She celebrated Thanksgiving at Granny’s. She napped through most of the Macy’s parade, but loved the balloons and floats that she managed to see. I was surprised that she didn’t seem interested in at least trying things from the dinner table. She was so interested in the food last year that I thought she would be excited to eat this time around. But, she was more interested in riding her zebra and cleaning Granny’s floors with the Swiffer.

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What is this, guys?

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Hoping she won’t mind doing windows, either.

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Now, we have been getting ready for the holidays. She is loving the lights, dancing to Christmas music and her Christmas countdown! She is the star of our Christmas card once again, and I can’t wait to share that photo once we send them out to family and friends!

DIY Christmas Countdown Calendar

One of the first signs that the holiday season was upon us when I was growing up was the appearance of the Christmas countdown calendar in our kitchen. It was this one, from Avon. When I saw it hanging in B’s playroom at my mom’s house on Thanksgiving, it brought back memories of the yearly fight between my brother and me, in regards to who would get to move the mouse first.

This year, I decided to start the Christmas countdown tradition by making a calendar for B. It doesn’t look like the fancy ones that are currently cluttering my Pinterest feed, but it’s fun and whimsical and B’s eyes lit up when she saw it. I’m glad she’s still at an age where she is easy to impress.

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I covered paper tags with card stock, wrote each activity on the back of them, cut the numbers out of glittery paper and displayed them on the chicken wire frame from her first birthday party. Since she is still a little too young for some of the traditional holiday festivities like baking cookies and ice skating, I purchased few little trinkets for her to unwrap (a hair bow and socks, books, jingle bells, to name a few) and alternated them with toddler-friendly activities, like watching Christmas movies and driving around to look at Christmas lights.

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I think it should make for a fun December (which starts tomorrow! What?!)

Giving Thanks.

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Moments like this are why I’m the luckiest girl in the world.

I try to be thankful, every day, for all of the good things that I have in my life. But, when there is so much to do and so little time to do it and the evening news only reports the bad things that happen, it’s easier to become frustrated and pessimistic.

Fortunately, Thanksgiving (and the prospect of spending time with the people that I love most amidst copious amounts of food), has arrived to snap me out of it.

In the spirit of today’s holiday, here is a short list of things that I am grateful for:

My husband. He tolerates all my quirks and moods and makes me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world even when I haven’t washed my hair in three days.

My sweet baby girl. She’s the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I think about at night. She is making me a better person every single day and just seeing her smile makes my life.

My mom, who is always there. My aunt, who will also do just about anything for us, including acting as our own personal post office so our packages don’t get stolen from our front step. My brother, who is the number one fan of this blog (even though he would never admit it) and who finally joined Facebook this year so that I can enjoy his sense of humor on a daily basis.

The world’s best dog. Tracy, our poor first daughter is often overlooked in favor of her baby sister and I feel incredibly guilty and undeserving of the love (and daily protection from the mailman) that she continues to give us.

Friends. Even though we don’t get to see each other as often as we would like, I know that I can pick up the phone and we’ll pick up right where we left off. A special shout-out goes to my BFF of 20 (!) years, Bridget. Sure, I could have come up with Chicago Hope: The Board Game myself, but it would not have been nearly as fun (plus, I’m pretty sure she came up with the idea for the popsicle stick character/game pieces, which will really the be major selling point for the game when we finally bring it to Milton Bradley).

My job. I have always loved my field, but after a couple of years of feeling kind of lost on my career path, I am finally in a position that is a really good fit for me. And, without work I never would have connected with colleagues who have turned into good friends.

Technology. Specifically, smartphones. Right now, I’m stuck with an ancient Blackberry while I wait for a new phone. I have been without instant access to my e-mail, calendar, and Instagram for a few weeks and it’s driving me bananas (#firstworldproblems). Also, Google. It knows everything. I rely on it at least a hundred times a day for the answers to the most obscure questions and the correct spelling of words that I mess up so badly that even Spell Check doesn’t recognize them (such as convenient and necessary. And, yes, I just Googled those).

Philly. While I was walking though Center City the other day I was reminded of how much I love living here, with access to awesome museums, restaurants and shopping.

Coffee. Without it, I would be even crankier than I usually am and would probably be asleep at my desk by 9 a.m. Relatedly: under eye concealer.

Cake. Because there is nothing better with coffee.

Yoga pants and their universally flattering nature. Although I would be even more grateful if it were acceptable to wear them to work.

Good books. Crap television (i.e. Teen Mom, reality shows on TLC, etc.).

A hot shower, pajamas and a comfy bed. There’s nothing better at the end of the day.

Every single day of the week, that I get to wake up and take on new challenges. Be a mother. Do creative things. Except when those days are Tuesdays. I will never be thankful for Tuesdays.

Yep. I guess I’m pretty darn lucky. I hope you can say the same. Now, go get your food coma on.

 

Charleston (Day Four)

All too soon, our last day in Charleston rolled around. Luckily, there were pastries from WildFlour Pastry and doughnuts from Glazed to dull the pain and carb us up for a final day of exploring.

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Someone got caught with their hand in the donut box!

After three and a half days of sightseeing, we wanted to make sure we built in time for B to do something that she would actually enjoy. Sure, she loved seeing the animals on the plantations and just being out and about in general, but I could tell that she was getting a little antsy from mostly being in her stroller all day. Fortunately, the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry was the perfect place for her to get some playtime in.

When we first set her down on the floor in the toddler area, she just sat in the middle of the floor and looked around in awe, as though she couldn’t believe that she was allowed to touch and climb on everything without getting into trouble. Soon, she was off and running.

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All this, for me?!

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The museum also features eight other adorable, interactive exhibits, like a castle, grocery store, pirate ship and water table. We ended up spending the better part of the day there, and I think Chester and I had as much fun as B.

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She loved filling up her shopping cart with onions, which she called apples.

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Stocking up on Cheerios, of course!

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Ready to check-out!

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Captain of the pirate ship

After working up an appetite, we headed to lunch at Jestine’s Kitchen, which is known for its no-frills Southern food. In contrast to Husk, Jestine’s features just the basics—fried chicken, meatloaf, fried green tomatoes, and simple salads. Even at around 3 p.m., there was still a decent lunch crowd, so there was a bit of a wait for a fried chicken platter. But, it was totally worth it.

The rest of the day was just spent walking around town, taking in all the charm.

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Rainbow Row

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The Old Exchange

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Catching the breeze on the waterfront.

Whether you are planning a solo vacation or traveling with kids, Charleston is definitely worth considering. If you fall into the latter category, I would say that the city is definitely family friendly. We saw plenty of families traveling with small children (some even younger than B) and only one of the restaurants we visited lacked a high chair. Be aware that the streets are very narrow (it is an old city, after all) so you would do best to bring a small umbrella stroller and/or baby wearing device. The only bummer for me was that the plantation houses we visited were only accessible by guided tour, so we didn’t get to see the interiors because B just doesn’t have the attention span at this point. But, that just means we’ll have to go back again!

Little B: 14 Months

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As usual, we have had a busy month! Here are a few of the highlights:

Doing

We have made only the tiniest bit of progress on the walking front. When B is cruising along on the furniture, she will let go and fling herself to the closest item (this happens frequently between our couch and the coffee table, which are situated pretty close together). If we can convince her to let go of our hands, she will do so for very brief periods of time.

All told, I think she has taken approximately four steps unassisted. So, I know she can walk, but she just seems scared to do it alone. She gets quite upset when we encourage her to go on her own, so I am just trying to be patient and wait for her to be ready. But, it is frustrating that she won’t just get going already!

She loves to imitate what the grown-ups are doing, such as putting shoes on, brushing hair, or gesturing “come here” to the dogs in the family.

Saying

I have kind of lost track of the new words that she has said. It seems they are coming at a rapid rate, although she will sometimes say something once and then I will never hear it again (this has occurred with the words “butter” and “out,” most recently). She also will respond when we ask her what the cat says, although is sounds more like “woah” than “meow.” Other than that, she seems to just love the sound of her own voice in general, based on the fact that she yells…a lot.

Personality

We have had some teething issues, as she is getting a new tooth on the bottom, but generally, she has been pretty happy. When she isn’t though, she makes sure that we know about it. At times, she is downright demanding. As previously mentioned, she hates when we encourage her to walk on her own. There have been many tantrums on the floor when we let go of her hands or refuse to hand her an item that she has spotted from across the room.

She has been pretty social lately and while she still has her favorite people and loves a routine, she is doing much better around strangers and friends/family that she doesn’t see often.

Milestones

As of October 21st, our household is now a bottle-free zone!

Although B would willingly drink from a straw cup at meals, she seemed to be clinging to her morning and late afternoon bottles. And, by clinging, I mean she would throw a screaming fit if we tried to offer her a drink in a cup at those times. So, I was gearing up for a long battle to break the bottle habit.

But, one morning I decided to try putting her milk in a cup again just to see what happened. My expectations were low as I set it on her tray. She picked it up, sucked it down in five minutes and hasn’t looked back since.

While I am glad she gave up the bottle willingly (and that I don’t have to tote them around when we go out anymore), I do kind of miss the quiet, still moments that those feedings used to give us. And, I wish I had known that the last bottle that I gave B was going to be the final one. I would have savored those little moments more.

Favorite Books

We took our first trip to the library this month and B was pretty proud to receive her very own library card and choose three books from the shelves.

There were several books that B has requested that we read over and over again during the last few weeks. As soon as I close the cover of these new favorites, she does this adorable thing where she grabs the book and places it in my hand as a signal that she wanted me to read it again. I have now memorized Arthur’s Halloween, Where the Wild Things Are, Pippa the Pumpkin Fairy, Edgar Gets Ready for Bed and The Watermelon Seed. It is adorable to see B participating in some of the stories, shaking her head “No” like Max does when the wild things ask him to stay and saying “Boo” when the author describes the faces on Pippa’s pumpkins.

Favorite Foods

Meatloaf with cheese melted on top; Granny’s meatballs; mini penne pasta (I’m glad she has identified another pasta shape that is acceptable); peanut butter toast; pumpkin muffins.

Favorite Things

Elmo, Elmo, Elmo. She wakes up asking for him and can spot him three feet away on the packages of baby food and toothpaste on the shelves at Target. She is completely and utterly obsessed, just like every other kid I’ve ever met.

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At lunch in Charleston with her BFF

She has also been slightly less crazed when we give her a bath and brush her teeth. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that these are her favorite activities, but there are definitely fewer tears associated with these things lately!

Least Favorite Things

Now that it’s colder, B has made her hatred of socks and long sleeved shirts known. She is taking after both me and her Uncle Mike, respectively, on these fronts.

We still aren’t doing to well on the green vegetable front, with the exception of the occasional pea. I’ve tried to sneak broccoli into other foods that she likes (like eggs), but she knows when they are hiding in there.

Fun Experiences

Our trip to Charleston was one of the main highlights of the month. I have been sharing all the details over the course of several posts (here, here and here, with one more to come), but I think you can tell from the photos that B had a great time exploring and eating. She is an excellent travel buddy and we can’t wait for our next adventure.

The rest of the month was filled with all of the typical fall festivities, including a visit to Linvilla Orchards and a trip outside the city to take in the fall foliage in Bucks County.

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Loving the wind in her hair, as we took in the fall foliage from Bowman’s Hill Tower

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What a View!

The weekend before Halloween, we tried to do a Halloween photo shoot with B and Tracy and it was not a success. Although Tracy, made a adorable carrot, B was the most miserable bunny anyone had ever seen.

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The headpiece conceals the tears.

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 Our other baby is such a good sport!

We still celebrated the occasion by going to “Boo at the Zoo.” It was a really adorable event complete with trick-or-treating, a costume parade and other kid-friendly activities. We didn’t torture B by putting her in costume, so she fully enjoyed the experience of collecting treats, peeping at the polar bears and giraffes and chasing the ducks.


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Other than that, our Halloween celebrations were pretty low-key. We skipped trick-or-treating in favor of watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and repeated recitations of Pippa, the Pumpkin Fairy. 

I am so looking forward to all of the festivities of the upcoming holiday season, including B’s first taste of Thanksgiving dinner later this month. Crazy to think that she wasn’t even eating solid foods this time last year!