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Friday, December 11, 2009

Quick Takes

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First, an update on last week's quick take in which I mentioned how much I am loving Josh Groban's Christmas album. I have one small annoyance - with his incredible reverent voice he changes two little words of "What Child Is This?" What is with artists thinking different words to traditional, classic songs sound better? Was it all that hard to sing "the Virgin" instead of "His mother?" Now that I'm done griping about yet another unimportant minute detail, I will reaffirm that I still love the album.

~

We had SNOW! A solid 4 inches which provided fun and entertainment and childhood bliss this past weekend! Bella absolutely loved it; she climbed mountains, slid down the sides, made a snow angel, and helped Daddy shovel. The only way Patrick got her back inside after an hour was old fashioned bribery. What child can resist hot chocolate???

~

Anastasia is really walking! It's a early, unstable, little toddle and involves a lot of falling, but she has discovered a new mobility and is on the move. Sunday was her first long walk across the floor, and since then she's stood up by herself from the middle of the floor, changed direction, and stopped to pick something up and kept going. It certainly doesn't take kids long, *sigh*.

~

How's your Advent preparation going? I have read all across the blogosphere people talking about feeling unprepared or slacking in their Advent goals. Well, this year I am.... right there with them, as usual. I did manage to get our purple tablecloth and Advent wreath. I set up our Nativity set with the pregnant traveling Mary and Joseph in the center, and have enjoyed listening to Bella tell them how they have to ride a long way to have the Baby sleeping on the hay. Since we are leaving in LESS THAN A WEEK (!) for California our decorations have been minimal, and instead we're just reading about the Christmas story and enjoying the little moments of joyful anticipation. Funny, not being able to do much Christmas preparation has allowed a lot more Advent focus around here. *ssshhhhh* Don't tell my husband I said that.

~

3 days ago we got rain/sleet mixture that washed away most of our snow. Today it's 29 degrees and windy with no precipitation. Our weather here drives me crazy.

~

I need ideas on quick, convenient protein-based breakfast foods. But no egg or yogurt. Lately I can't stomach the idea of carbs first thing in the morning, I NEED protein, otherwise I end up feeling blech all day. I ate those microwavable sausage sandwiches the other day at my brother's house and they were great for my tummy, but not so great for either the food or calorie budgets. Any suggestions???

~

WE ARE FLYING TO CALIFORNIA IN 6 DAYS!!!!! We are more than a little excited about seeing family and spending Christmas with them for the first time in several years! I will most likely NOT be doing Quick Takes next week, unless they are "7 Ways I (presumably) Survived the Plane Ride." The following week is Christmas. Hopefully I will be posting other things before then!

~~~

As always, JEN @ CONVERSION DIARY has wonderful thoughts to share at a whole list of people's Quick Takes, so go check them out!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday




Well child of mine, if you would just sleep in your bed...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Quick Takes

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Dear Mr. Children's Clothing Manufacturer; Why does cotton children's play clothing stain? There are certain substances with which kids regularly come in contact such as, but by no means limited to: mulch, food, grass, nasal mucus, rubber, and sand, often at the same time. These substances are part of normal childhood development, and can be found on toddlers everywhere. What really really confuses me, though, is that these aforementioned outfits were matching, came home with the same residue, and yet ONLY ONE IS STILL STAINED. Please work on that.

Dear Mr. Clorox Manufacturer; Thank You for getting the stains out of almost everything.

~

Unfortunately, both girls are sick. Last night Bella quite suddenly announced that the inside of her ear hurt. A trip to the doc earned her an antibiotic for her double ear infection and albuterol neb for her bronchiolitis. This seems to be par for the course with Bella, who manages to start wheezing every time we're around someone with a cold. Anastasia earned herself a trip to the doc this morning which revealed a single ear infection and minor bronchiolitis, so more of the pink stuff for her, too - this one's just 3 weeks after her last ear infection! It's going to be a long winter...

~

Anastasia celebrated her birthday (besides being sick) with cake, giggles, and MANY toddler renditions of "Happy Birthday" which earned us smiles every time. Yeah, that girl does love attention!

~

I love Josh Groban's voice. I just opened his Christmas album and instantly fell in love with his rich, classic sound. I love that he makes each song signature without altering the original melody.

~

Anastasia is a crazy child. I spend way too much of my day chasing behind her while she, for example, tries to plug the space heater into the toilet. We have a decorative fountain in our dining area that survived an active, curious Bella just fine; Anastasia pulled it over yesterday... from her seat at the table! But my favorite of the week was my own ice-capades demo courtesy of that little Sneak. While I was brushing my teeth, (a task done in record time when she's hanging with me), she was apparently playing with a bottle of bubble bath unbeknown to moi. Later in the day the unsuspecting Mama walked into the bathroom, only to display a most ungraceful rendition of "Bambi on Ice" but with more arm flailing.

~~~

Check out Jen's Quick Takes, hosted every Friday at Conversion Diary.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Happy 1st Birthday, Anastasia


Little Baby Anastasia is ONE YEAR OLD. I guess it's about time I admit she is not a tiny baby anymore... perhaps. She has really changed quite suddenly over the past 2 weeks, turning into quite the playful, mischievous little girl.

She is definitely a climber - something new for us! Her world goes mostly UP - on the sofa, on a chair, up the stairs, a stack of boxes, anything.

She loves Bella's singing and play-songs. She recently started trying out the hand motions to "The Wheels on the Bus", "Shake My Sillies Out", "Happy and You Know it." My favorite of all, though, was as I was telling my cousin about Bella's favorite song "gonna wash that man right outta my hair" and Anastasia started rubbing her head with both hands!!!

Miss Social just loves attention from anyone and everyone. The sound of her own name brings a smile to her face, and her attitude very much displays that she knows the world is full of adoring fans. She's right, of course.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Giving Thanks

I have SO MUCH for which to be thankful that when I stop to really reflect on it all I get overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by God's amazing generosity and His grace. Overwhelmed by the love that surrounds me every day. Overwhelmed by the beauty in every day life.

A few specific Thanks today:

~ For my girls. Obviously. Some days it's easy to get wrapped up in the challenges of parenthood, and if I'm not careful I lose sight of the Gifts that they are to me in Everything. When I see them as opened presents from God, perfect and Good, I can't help but let my heart sing and shout from the rooftops what precious Loves they are. Bella's singing. Anastasia's smiles. Bella's silly games. Anastasia's mischief. Bella's inquisitiveness. Anastasia's exploration. Every. Little. Thing. that is my girls is something for which to be thankful.

~ For my Amazing Husband. Patrick is truly my complementary half. He balances the insanity that is my brain and lack of logic. He is the perfect match to me and an amazing father. Yup, he's certainly worth being VERY thankful.

~ For surviving 4 1/2 days without Patrick while he was in California. I am so used to having his help and the consolation of him being home early every evening that I was a little nervous. I'm also thankful for the help and company of my favorite neighbors, my brother and his family. Angela came and helped me clean up one day, and invited me to dinner almost every night! I think I was almost spoiled...

~ For our trip to New Orleans! Finally seeing cousins after 10 years and catching up with lots of laughter and love. For Po' Boys, Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice, Gumbo, The French Quarter, Hurricanes, Drive-Thru Daiquiri shops (more for Pat than me...), Dixieland Jazz, Jackson Square, mandarin trees in the backyard, great parks, and good friends.

~ For celebrating the lives of 2 great men. My cousin Walthen passed away at age 88, quietly with his wife of 65 years at his side right after receiving Last Rites and the Eucharist. His life was celebrated with his whole family around, lots of singing and laughing and eating, just the way he would have loved. Patrick's Uncle Steve died suddenly last week, unexpectedly but with his wife at his side. Pat was able to fly out for the funeral, and his life was celebrated with his children and grandkids around. There was lots of love, which, along with joy and laughter, is what Uncle Steve will best be remembered for by us! Bella took to him immediately, with his winning smile and contagious laugh. May the Souls of the Faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

~ For welcoming another gift of Life! Baby #3 is due in early June!\


So my Gratitude List, although certainly not exhaustive, did a decent job of updating the goings-on in our lives right now. We've been busy! Happy Thanksgiving! Now on to the preparation for Advent...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Quotable Quotes

Yes, I realize this is avoiding actually talking about everything that's been going on lately, but hey! At least it's something, and all things that brought a smile to my face :)

At the restaurant -
Bella: "Mama, I need to go to the restroom. "
Then, leaning over in a whisper, "I need to go pee."



After a long car ride during which Anastasia screamed the entire time, despite Bella's persistent attempts to make her happy with songs and games -
Bella: "Mama, I have a problem. I need your help."
Me: "What's the matter, sweetheart?"
Bella, with a pathetic little voice: "I have a problem. Anastasia won't stop screamin' and I'm gonna scream back at her!"



During a visit with my cousin, apparently Bella felt neglected -
Bella: "Mama, I need something."
Me: "What do you need?"
Bella: "I need attention."



While we were staying with my cousin in New Orleans (about which I will post about eventually) we were quite spread out in our sleeping arrangements. My folks in the spare bedroom, Bella in the other extra room, Patrick and I in the den, and Anastasia in the laundry room. (she needed a good cry-it-out before we all went crazy.) When more family unexpectedly came into town my mom was explaining that we were taking up more room than we needed to and could happily condense.
Mom: "I feel terrible about taking up 3 rooms, it's not hard for us to condense, really!"
cousin Leslie (in a rich southern drawl): Well honey, no one's fightin' over the laundry room!"

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Quick Takes

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I keep telling my husband that the reason I'm not writing anymore is because I'm just not funny anymore. Well, that's presuming I was at least a little witty or borderline amusing before... Life is hilarious, yes, but I seem to have lost any ability to capture that humor in words. I guess I'd have to say "Words fail me" which could very possibly be the first time in my life. The good news is that Bella does keep me laughing regularly, and I have a lot of other funny people in my life so I am sure that one day that useless brain cell reserved for being funny will wake up and I'll be back on track. In the meantime, I will let life be funny all by itself.

~
Speaking of funny, there's Bella. Oh goodness, this child...
Me: Good morning, Bella.
Bella: "Hi Mommy, I slept very well and had good dreams about ____(fill in the blank with something new each day). Daddy at work?I not want to call him now, maybe later. Now I want to go play with naked baby(doll) and Anastasia." Can we say motormouth?

~
Halloween was a BIG hit here. We spent about 2 weeks parading around in different costumes "pwetendin" trick-or-treating, which I had encouraged thinking it might help her on the actual night. Bella can be very shy and reserved and I did not want her to freak out the minute we stepped out in the dark, so we read books and played. Well, I shouldn't have worried. We had big cousins with us, which is always a confidence booster, and then we started with 3 houses we know well. It took ONE house to figure out that this meant REAL CANDY. CHOCOLATE. That child ran up to each house (as fast as her tiny legs can carry her, which was way behind the rest of the pack) and confidently announced "Trick or Treat!" and a big "Thank You!" afterward. She tired quickly, which is all the better since now she believes she should eat as much candy as she wants each day. The supply is dwindling which is a good thing for all of us.

~
Anastasia loved Halloween, too, but she doesn't know what she's missing in the bright orange pumpkin bucket. No, she was more interested in being outside with a lot of people walking around cooing over her. Miss Social broke into an irresistible smile everytime I called her "My Baby Bumblebee!" Who wouldn't be charmed?

~
I was just checking out a new clothing line at Target.com that was featured at one of my favorite freebie/giveaway sites. Given this is a new designer I decided to click the "sizing chart" button to determine how much fabric they count on using. I was directed to a list of sizing options, including "Tent Buying Information." Enough said.

~
Okay, another Bella story because it just happened and it's been the highlight of my day thus far. She was pulling her panties back up "all by mysewf" and was reminding herself how they go. "The ruffles in the back, the ruffles in the back, hi-ho the dairy-O the ruffles in the back." (I have never sang that.) She also was "brushing that dirt right off of that seat" (her favorite South Pacific tune) earlier, too. She is forever making up lyrics to whatever tune is running through her head at that moment. She's kinda liker her Daddy in that respect, although she knows the right words...

~
WE ARE GOING TO NEW ORLEANS!!!!! I am SO excited! A little nervous about traveling without Daddy, but I will have my mom. Bella will have her Mimi, is there anything else we need? My mom and I have been talking about going to see her relatives for a few years now, and had tried to plan something last year and it just never happened. This week she calls me up and says "let's go now." Well by Tuesday afternoon we had decided to fly instead of drive, had talked to all the relatives, and bought tickets Wednesday. Oh-oh-oh, I can taste the Po' Boys now! And catfish. And Beignets. mmmmm.
The best part of course is the chance to see the friendliest relatives anyone could ever ask for. I haven't been there in 13 years (!) and have a lot of catching up to do. Pray the travel goes well; once we're there it's like being home.

~~~

Now, go visit Jen @ Conversion Diary for more great Quick Takes from other great bloggers.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dave Barry Describes My Life

" The biggest problem with children's songs is that many of them call for actions on the part of the listeners. My Daughter, who is very strict, expects everybody to perform these actions. So if we're listening to "I'm a Little Teapot" and she notices I'm using my arms for some frivolous activity such as steering the car, she will repeat "Daddy do it! Daddy do it!" until I let go of the wheel and form my teapot handle and my teapot spout. I have discovered that I can, in fact, steer with my forehead, but visibility is a problem. "

Friday, October 23, 2009

Quick Takes

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We LOVED Gram's visit! As if they don't always seem too short, this time we all managed to get sick while she was here, too. However, despite our little bout with head colds we did venture to the zoo (a Bella favorite), the park, a yummy German dinner, a walk along the Potomac River in Point of Rocks, VA., baked muffins, daily Mass, Adoration once, and introduced painting with paintbrushes. A very good time was had by all, and we all miss her greatly. This is the first time that her leaving has caused such trauma, and Bella cried when Gram walked away into the airport. We're better now, but Bella does constantly dream and talk about when she will see Gram again.

~

Anastasia used Gram's visit to show off. She started walking behind a walker, and pushing Bella around on a riding toy. There's no going back now; she has given up any activity that limits mobility and is intent on trying everything now.

~

My favorite Bella story of late: Bella sings all the time, and all different kinds of songs. Her latest favorite is "I'm gonna wash that man right out of my hair" from South Pacific. She really gets into it, with great inflection and even ending the song in a crescendo. We sing that while I wash her hair, and then when I started listening to Broadway music again it came on and she stopped dead in her tracks and started singing along! TOO cute, and now she bursts into it whenever the mood strikes her right. OR when it comes on the radio. Or when prompted to perform for Mimi's friends because it's just too cute not to share.

~

Word of advice - one should be careful when praying for increase in virtue. Welcome Home, Humility. For a few weeks I was doing pretty well around the house and with the girls, settling into a rhythm and routine. Please don't confuse that with the house being clean or my kids behaving perfectly, but I was just doing my best. Wouldn't you know that went down the tubes right before my mother-in-law arrived, and on a day when my uncle and his family came for a visit for the first time ever. Then of course there's the kids' behavior at Mass - I start to think to myself "yeah, we can do this. Bella is just so good in Mass, I must be doing something right." And then we have so many bad days in a row that I think the only one smiling is Jesus. *sigh* Yes, that's me sneaking out the back with my head down.

~

I LOVE warm fall days; they are as close to perfection we have around here. There is nothing like taking the kids outside on a day that's cool enough to run and jump and play and bring out the rosy in their sweet little cheeks. Today was the girls' first experience with leaves this year (it didn't leave much of an impression with Bella last year) and they loved it! We raked a pile for jumping, and Bella and her cousins ran and jumped and buried themselves and did everything kids should do in the perfection of crunchy leaves on a warm day. Of course my camera was left behind, sorry.

~

We celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary this week!!! You know, a LOT can change in 4 years. Nothing will bring this home as fast as watching your kids play. Happy Anniversary to my beloved Patrick - here's to 60 more!This is an oil painting by Patrick's mom.

~

I recently revisited the National Toy Hall of Fame website and enjoyed. We are following that great example in our living room right now - you would have to maneuver around a large cardboard box/ tunnel, but OH the hours of amusement!!! Thanks to Maria AND Jen for reminding us that Christmas is only 9 weeks away!

~~~

Go visit Jen at Conversion Diary for more great Quick Takes!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Who's Watching the Baby?

It's an important question. Let's suppose, for a moment, that it was her cousin's 2nd birthday, and we were celebrating with an ice-cream cake outside. And let's say I was holding the newborn baby nephew, and there are 2 toddlers and 1 preschooler running around like wild banshees. And the quiet, happy, easy Baby is sitting in the grass.


What happens?


Oh, yes.



My MY that was good!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sometimes I stand in another room and listen. It's like eavesdropping on heaven, listening to that sweet Angel laughter. My whole heart swells with indescribable joy at the squeals of happiness emanating from the hidden picture of childhood bliss.

Sometimes I peek through the crack in the door and watch. From my hiding place I witness small acts with great love. I am privy to the secret world of gentleness and kindness. Virtue in its purest form.

You do not need to remind me that it does not last. Please don't jar me back to the harsher side of life with multiple children. I am not so naive as to believe that this is the full truth. I know that any moment this serenity will be shattered and my intervention will once more be required to maintain health and well-being. For right now, though, in this moment, I am simply breathing in the glory of heaven, the very peace of God.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

In the Kitchen with Kate

Bring your fire extinguisher. Haha, just kidding, I haven't set anything on fire since I ignited a microwave trying to pop popcorn as a college student. Ironic, huh? Oh wait, there was the time my brother made it clear I was the only person he knew who could ruin a grilled cheese. And... oh, never mind. I'd like to think I've come a long way since Ramen! In fact, I can boil water for pasta with the pros! :)

Which is what I was thinking about the other night - pasta. YUM. We eat a lot of it around here; it's cheap, easy, healthy, easy, flavorful, easy... are you noting the theme here? The point is that Italian cooking is a dream for the inept chef like myself. Italians have it all right when it comes to food - they emphasize fresh ingredients and then use a few simple ones that come together with the passion of a hot summer night. MMMmmmm.... okay, back to the kitchen.

1) I love my garden. As I mentioned in the last post, I have not exactly been super attentive to my tomato plants this year. I can only worry about so many living things and the two-legged kind have to come first, even if they are more demanding and exhausting. But God is good to me, either that or He has a funny sense of humor because we are overflowing from the bounty of a rich harvest... jungle-style. SO, the FRESH ingredients make the world, or at least the kitchen, a better place. Oh sure, it's a heck of a lot of work cutting up all those ^$*&# Roma tomatoes, but OH the flavor with which they come packin'! We also have fresh Basil, Thyme, Parsley, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers (because you know I like it spicy!) and apparently zucchini. The latter is totally a spite plant, having been planted by my husband late in the season to unprepared soil and I declared I was not going to have anything to do with it. Of course. Anyways, my point is having a few fresh ingredients on hand makes cooking more pleasurable and the result tastier.

2) Prepping those fresh ingredients takes a little time, so I recommend you start now. You will have everything set and ready for a nice home cooked meal right before you send the kids off the college. Planning earlier in the day, during their naps for example, can really help too, but removes the excitement of having toddler hands helping you. Do you know what you're missing if you're not cleaning your hands every 45 seconds to fish something else out of the baby's mouth or redirect the toddler away from the knife?

3) Speaking of kids, I LOVE letting Bella watch me. I pull the step stool over to the counter and let her watch the process. I tell her that next year it will be her job, and she's young enough to like the idea. She's fascinated with the process and we have lots of talking time while I work. Plus, I at least know where she is.

4) Shapes are not just for toddlers. The shape of the pasta is responsible for how well the sauce adheres, and therefore how much goodness you can get in one bite. If there's a particular shape recommended for a dish, it's probably with good reason. Of course, I have my own preferences and I definitely vary depending on what I have on hand, but we stay pretty well-stocked on penne, rotini, and spaghetti/capellini. Also, "rigate" means "with little ridges" which also grabs hold of more sauce. Think similar concepts if you change it up. Kids might love bowtie (farfalle) but it just won't hold that bacon, onion, and tomato sauce. ( Amattriciana)

5) If you've passed first grade, read the whole way through the recipe before you start. Now, this might not be a big deal for the majority of the adult population who have been cooking from recipes since they were old enough to be trusted around a stove, but as I mentioned that happened a lot later for me. After a few times of not starting the pasta water boiling or using all the oil at the beginning and ending up with a slippery mess I figured it out. I might be a slow learner, but I am still hoping to spare another my husband's fate.

6) Oh, another note about the cooking of the pasta - don't add oil to the water! A touch of salt, YES (it's about osmosis and pulling water into the starch) but NO OIL. Stir your pasta to keep it from sticking. If you add oil the pasta will soak it up like sunbathers catching the rays, preventing it from soaking up the good stuff at the end. It can only hold so much, and you want it to marry the sauce over which you are laboring. "And the two shall become one." Definitely God's design, here.

Anything else? Probably. I am a simple cook, who likes a variety of flavors and LOVES simplicity. If anyone is interested I'll even share a few standard recipes we have a lot around here. But trust me, they're worth it. Oh, and take down the smoke detectors, I'm about to brown chicken.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wordless Wednesday



Man, look at the size of that zucchini!!!



Brought to you by My Garden. Proof that God can bring forth food from the earth despite my neglect.

So, not totally Wordless... you can forgive me, right?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Quick Takes

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Anastasia had her 9 month check-up today, and our Happy Little Hippo, the Chubby Cherub, is actually .... not all that heavy! Weighing in at 18lbs 3 ozs puts her in the 30th % !!! Her length is still 40th %, and her head circumference... well, that's the 95th %. Okay, so she has a fat head. But she is growing well, and is pretty much right on par for a healthy 9 month old, every parent's hope. She is clapping her hands a lot, which is SO cute - Bella loves to make her so happy that she'll clap, or sing a song that provokes it. All through the day the strains of "If you're happy and you know it" and "patty-cake, patty-cake" can be heard setting the soundtrack of my life.

~

I actually followed a menu plan for 2 weeks in a row! Can you believe it? I can't. I spaced out cooking a few meals, used left-overs wisely, and only bought pizza on Monday because the Raven's played well enough to get us free yummy toppings. Does your Papa John's have a football deal? It's such a fun, affordable treat; it might be the only reason I really care about pro-football.

~

Potty-Training is moving along quite well. We have fewer and fewer accidents, and greater milestone successes. Take early n the week when Bella insisted on wearing panties to the park. Yeah, you know, that big activity crazy place that causes kids' awareness to be limited solely to what they can climb and slide down or how fast they can run and NOT at all the normal bodily functions or the sound of Mama's voice? Not to mention the only potty was the portable type that's 1/4 mile away. Well, I figured that if she had an accident I had wipes and diapers and she would simply change; however, she stayed dry the WHOLE time including on the ride home! She did great. Let's follow up that story with a confirmation of my own brilliance the day that I put her to bed for her nap so quickly that I forgot she was wearing panties...

~

My my mother-in-law is coming in less than 3 weeks! I am so excited, I LOVE her visits. I think one of my favorite aspects of her visits is how easy it is to make daily Mass. When I have someone helping me get the kids dressed and fed and then someone to help hold/corral during Mass, it makes it a snap. I rely heavily upon others' help when it comes to Mass, although the more we go the better Bella behaves, and recently she's been really good and quiet. Any tips for teaching a 2 year old? We talk ahead of time about sitting quietly and whispering, and how we only talk to Jesus during Mass and how happy it makes Him to see us there. Sometimes she gets treats afterward, but not often enough for her to expect it. She recently learned to genuflect! Between that, and loudly announcing "bye-bye Jesus" as we leave, well, she's about as cute as can be.

~

My hubby just installed a setup that plays music from my computer through a tuner connected to actual speakers. Crazy - it's like having a, what was that thing called, a stereo??? He explained this way I could load all my CDs, one by one, on to my computer and that all my music would be stored here and I would never have to go looking for a CD again. One at a time. ... The other problem is I still take them for car rides in his car with its CD player so I'll still have to have them stored somewhere within reach. Here's the thing, though - he showed me a website, called Pandora.com that's an online radio almost like satellite with variety you make up entirely yourself with suggestions from them based on the type of songs/artists you have selected. Sounds complicated, but it really isn't. The HUGE benefit is that I'm listening to great music, mostly hand-picked by me! I've been belting out Broadway, crooning to country, and serenading with Sinatra. Of course, there is the little detail of the ginormous speakers now a fixture in my living room... hey, the price of entertainment!

~

That same thoughtful, caring hubby just brought both girls for a walk, letting me have a few minutes to write the blog post in peace and quiet. Or with the music in the background...

~

I'm grasping at straws trying to come up with the last Quick Take. With so much to talk about I simply can't come up with anything right now. I'm tired, it's been a very long and emotionally exhausting week, and I'm going to climb into my PJs and watch a movie with my hubby. And that's it. Here's wishing you all a great weekend, and pray that the weekend brings more energy and patience. Maybe my sense of humor might even return. :)


Visit JEN @ Conversion Diary for more (and much funnier) Quick Takes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Seriously?????

Monday, September 14, 2009

Triumph of the Cross


"...with their patience worn out by the journey,
the people complained against God and Moses, "Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!"
In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of them died."


~from today's first reading, Numbers 21:4-9


Seriously, remind me to stop complaining! It's too risky.


Visitors, Anyone?

I was absentmindedly walking through the kitchen just now when I spotted it: a solitary piece of sweet potato, undoubtedly dropped by Anastasia during lunch. What had one time been a source of nutritious yumminess had morphed into a wriggling mass of scurrying black dots. My nemeses the ants were in full force thanks to the coordination of a brand-new self-feeder. I do not understand their role in this world(the ants, that is, not the self-feeder) - I'm sure someone on the food chain is thankful for his daily bread, but as for me... I mean, if St. Francis lived in modern suburbia his Canticle would surely say something like "Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Bastard Ant"... right? Sorry St. Francis, no offense meant.

So anyways, in a moment I transformed from your average housewife left to her own devices for 10 minutes alone to a maniacal deranged ant-killing machine. My favorite home remedy is plain old soapy water - it kills them on impact and is of course totally kid friendly, which is especially beneficial since the baby likes to eat whatever is dropped there for round 2 of each meal. I poured a glass of soapy water under the table and immediately discovered an important fact: one does NOT need as much soap as I used. Oh sure the ants were obliterated on impact, but my kitchen floor turned into a skating rink, as I discovered when my knees slid across the floor without the rest of me. Once that mess was cleaned up I realized, "hey! So this is what a really clean kitchen floor looks like!" And to think, it was easy (minus the hyper-extended knees). So I found myself extending my scrub area further and further and... well, before you know it I was scraping spots off the floor with my thumbnail and scrubbing the whole darn floor with hot soapy water. Out Out Damn Spots... and bacteria, and ants, and everything else!

There really was no point to this story, except that if you are considering visiting us I would recommend now - the kitchen floor is immaculate and I would hate for you to miss it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11th



Irving Berlin wrote this song for Kate Smith in 1938. This video clip is from its theatrical debut, "This is the Army"




Still gives me goosebumps. Eternal Rest grant unto them O Lord, and bring comfort and peace to those left behind.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

And Life Is Never the Same

This is parenthood, now isn't it - one minute I'm sitting here, minding my own business, basking in the delight that is a calm rhythm of life, and the next minute I look up and WHAT ARE YOU DOING ANASTASIA??? SIT DOWN. Who told that child I was ready for her to become mobile? Because they lied. I am NOT ready for her to be cruising along furniture and stretching out to transfer that little body on its toes from one object to another. I know what happens after this and I'm telling you I'm not ready.

Don't misread this and think she's on the verge of walking tomorrow; she isn't. But first you blink and think "Awww, that's cute that she's crawling a little bit and can now chase her toys. She's so happy to be able to do that, and it's nice and SLOW . Yup, that's really cute to watch." Then suddenly one day you're loading the dishwasher, or even better you're *ahem* indisposed and you hear a crash from the other room and the toddler says "No Anastasia!" and so you defy nature and stop what you're doing to run into the room and THE BABY ISN'T IN VIEW. And you look around the toy stroller... and under the table... and the potty seat... and under the laundry basket... Just as you see the open gate at the top of the stairs and your heart is starting to stammer you find the Baby behind the front door. WHAT??? BEHIND the DOOR? It takes only a quick glance at the toddler to realize that this is not, in fact, her fault. And that stammering heart just stops and your chin hits the floor because that means she maneuvered her way around enough obstacles to qualify for military training, including climbing over a box and under a chair and has pulled the door open, blocking her face which then peeks out because she knows she has just played the greatest game of peek-a-boo ever.

Sign me up for the funny farm now.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Quotable Quotes

Bella was singing (surprise, surprise) while playing, engaged in a lively rendition of "Twinkle Twinkle." She stops suddenly, and places her pointer finger to her chin for a moment. Then she turns to me with that same little finger and says very thoughtfully, "Mommy, YOU sing 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' and I will sing 'ABCs'." (Go ahead, sing them both to yourself - they're the same tune!) She recognized the tune, although she was not able to actually sing a different song at the same time. Very cute, though!


While driving down one of our normal back roads we went over a hill at a speed that produces that free-fall feeling in the pit of your stomach. Apparently Bella does not like that feeling.
Bella: "Too high, Mama!"
It took me a moment to figure out she meant "too fast!"
Me: "ok, sweetie, I slowed down. We'll go gently over the hills."
Now, whenever we are on that road my backseat driver calls out loudly, "SLOW DOWN, MOMMY!" (why yes, Officer, my 2-year-old just told me the same thing...) (just kidding)


Usual Morning around here: "Mama, drink your coffee. It make you feel better."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Quick Takes

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My brother and sister-in-law welcome their 3rd child, and first little BOY, Scott Brian Jr.! He's just SO sweet, cute, and tiny! Of course, at 7lbs, 5 ozs he's a good healthy size. It's just that next to my 8 month old... well, we moms are quick to forget just how tiny they enter the world. He's precious and we are proud to have the cutest newborn as our nephew and neighbor.

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Wednesday evening I had a wonderful ladies' night out with some dear friends. We saw Julie and Julia which was really cute. I recommend it, as it was lighthearted and fun with a sweet storyline. I will admit it would never have been my choice, and I am happy we saw it. One thing I really liked was the old-fashioned "fade-out" scenes - a very much in-love husband and wife start kissing and cuddling and the the light turns off. No offensive graphics, just the suggestion of marital love. I appreciate that simple choice that just contributed to this movie's sweetness. Looking for a refreshingly uplifting story? I'll give it a few stars :)

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Bella is turning into an incredibly observant child and sometimes responds with a sensitivity that shocks me. I was having a *cough* rough day earlier this week and sat down and covered my face for a quick moment. Bella runs over to me, throws her arms around me and says "Don't worry, Mommy. I'm here, it's ok." Talk about an attitude 180 degree attitude change.

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A friend from college with whom I keep in touch via Facebook is considering signing out, citing her lack of housework and participation with her children as her reason. I understand. It has been a huge distraction many days to "just check in for a few minutes" when I really should be giving the kids full attention. There have been times when say, the baby is carefully, painstakingly removing all wipes from the tub and the toddler is, say, using all of them to wipe her own bottom. I am not going to quit Facebook because having friends all over the country is it an easy way to keep in touch. I am interested how others time-manage their computer. I've settled into a better pattern which seems to work for me and my kids, but I'm still open to suggestions.

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As I mentioned last week, I have been trying to do a better job at taking care of myself first thing in the morning. Life has improved dramatically. One day this week I was having a miserable, emotional, impatient day and it hit me - I had not eaten a well-balanced breakfast. I had eaten a granola bar and did not feel hungry, but my mood was out of control. Lesson learned, I hope.

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Potty-training successes: 1 day completely dry, including nap! The very next day found me doing a lot of carpet cleaning. *sigh* oh well. It's coming along and she's doing great consistently getting better, but it is not a 24-48 hr process. I'll get over it.

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Anastasia is sleeping great, eating great, growing well, and developing quite a temper. I'm shocked. I have no idea where she gets that. When Bella hit the separation awareness and screamed for me whenever I set her down or walked away, I worked on it gradually like is generally recommended - talk to her, show her you're still there, but don't actually pick her up again. It worked beautifully and she learned she could chase after me to find me again. Anastasia starts screaming and immediately Bella runs to make her happy. It warms my heart and works beautifully, and Anastasia is no closer to entertaining herself or falling asleep for naps than she was a few months ago. I guess that's the beauty of siblings!

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Happy weekend!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Quick Takes

Yes, we're back in short story mode. But hey, at least I'm writing something!

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We are back on track with potty-training, thankfully! Bella has been doing amazing, but then we had a few frustrating days. I'm not on a time-schedule, so I shouldn't care, but it's challenging when you think there is at least one thing in life moving along smoothly and... But now we're back to gross consumption of chocolate. Bella is getting rewards, too, don't worry.

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Speaking of chocolate, I have found my new favorite guilty indulgence. Hershey Kisses dipped in peanut butter. Yup, right out of the jar.
Gee, I don't understand why I've stopped losing weight. I mean, it's low-fat peanut butter!

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I love sandboxes! I consider them one of the necessary toys of childhood. They are great for exploring texture, non-structured play, coordination, and imagination.

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I have discovered a simple way to set my day up for success - are you ready for this earth-shattering discovery? Take care of myself first thing in the morning. You never saw that coming, now did you? Most days I was barely managing to get my own teeth brushed let alone eat before 9am. I have 3 things I MUST do within an hour of waking, and they surprised me. 1) Drink 12-24 ozs of water. 2) Eat a real breakfast - not a granola bar, not a handful of cheerios. Eat a normal breakfast. 3) Drink my cup of coffee. I feel all comforted and ready after my Cup O' Joe. Since I have made these 3 things my morning priority I have felt SO much better throughout the rest of our morning routine.

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This is a little girl NOT showing me her 2 bottom teeth. They are the source of much drama around here the past 2 days. At least, that's what I'm blaming.

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We have been swimming a lot lately which is great. It probably has a lot to do with the great membership program at our pool - show up whenever we want and stay as late as we want, bring as many friends as we can, free usage of the grill and margarita machine, playmates for the girls, and more often than not the hosts cook dinner for us. That's what we get when my folks have the pool! Yay!

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I have 40 lbs of chicken breasts in my freezer. That's what happens when a good friend lets you know of a $1.49/lb sale. I also have 15 lbs of super-lean ground beef in that same freezer, thanks to the $1.99/lb reason. When you are planning around a budget you simply can't ignore that kind of opportunity. So, anyone who has great recipes for chicken breasts or ground beef, please feel free to let me know. I think we're set for the winter at this rate. This downside to this is that I can't find a darn thing thanks to how stuffed my freezer is. If you read a headline about a woman bludgeoned to death by a cascade of frozen meat, I was simply looking for dinner.

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We've been getting a lot more sleep in this household as of late! We started the Ferber Method with Anastasia at the beginning of the week, and she responded great. I love it because I get to sleep with earplugs until the pre-agreed upon time when Patrick wakes me to feed her. She's been over-shooting our expectations each night, up to this morning when I slept until 5:45!!! Then I pull her into bed and we fall asleep together while she nurses. I am one happy woman. What was that? Could it be a brain cell waking up?

~~~

Go visit JEN @ Conversion Diary for her weekly Quick Takes.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Girl on the Move

These were all taken within a few minutes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Eternal Fruit

"Lord, give our bodies restful sleep and let the work we have done today bear fruit in eternal life."
~Liturgy of the Hours, Night Prayer


This really struck a chord with me the other night after a particularly exhausting day. There are days when it seems my whole life is nothing more than diapers and cleaning up toys and washing the dishes. It can easily become frustrating if I lose sight, even for a moment, that this is the blessed vocation to which I have been called. I am raising saints. That's really what this is all about, and if I can perform the daily tasks with the joy of realizing this is the gift with which God has blessed me, it certainly goes easier.

The flip side to this is the challenge to make my days count. Am I living my life as a prayer to glorify God? Are my daily happenings working to build the kingdom of heaven?

I think I will edit this quote slightly and post it by my sink and let it become a morning offering, too.
"Lord, let the work I do today bear fruit in eternal life."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Time Marches On - but not for everyone

Last week we visited my Nana for the first time *shame* since Anastasia was born. Over the winter was never a good time due to the cold-flu season and weak little immune systems for the both of them. As warm weather came around life became full of excuses, but the truth is - it's hard. It's heart-wrenching to look at a face once full of strength and command and see a vacant gaze of someone living in world outside of time. It's challenging to converse almost completely one-sided about happy memories that she no longer has.

What is not difficult is the immeasurable joy that the little ones bring just by being there. Nana does not recognize us until we address her in familiar terms, and she certainly does not know who these sweet babies are, but she knows they make her happy. This aged face which just a moment ago had no expression is suddenly filled with the radiance of motherhood as she holds the baby and sings a familiar tune with the toddler. She does not walk anymore, she needs help feeding herself, but she knows to rock a baby and gently shush a cry. She doesn't know where she lives or who comes to see her, but she knows she is a mother and responds with the same gentleness and affection of her young mothering days.

I am resolved to see her more often. It is not about if she remembers me or my visit - it's about allowing my daughters to bring her those moments of joy. I am simply a witness to a bond of Love and an experience of Joy that surpasses the human tongue.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Goings-On Around These Parts

Life is in fast-forward in our home these days! It started when someone had the nerve to tell Anastasia that she was 8 months old. Until then we were both under the impression that she was just a tiny (but not-so-tiny, really) baby - a little infant that only needed to be held and snuggled and pampered. And then, someone told her that she was getting bigger.


This is her standing. By herself, no help needed.


Bella, in the meantime, has decided that diapers are no longer a fashion statement, and that M&Ms are proof that God loves us. Between 10-15 times a day I hear the elated, proud, LOUD statement "I going peeing!" It's a good sound, unless it's followed by "I going peeing all over." We're at a pretty high success rate given the newness of it all. We're already on our second bag of M&Ms! Of course, just as many times a day I have to remind myself that full grown adults do not get treats for the toddler going pee in the potty.
Funny Story: I bought, a while ago, a regular, nondescript potty chair. Bella liked it until this past weekend, when we had a visit from our dear friends with their twin 3-year-old boys. Smart people that they are, they came armed with their boys' own potty seat, which happened to be a little more exciting than ours. "LOOK!!!! *gasp* LOOOOOK Mama! I have new FROGGY potty!!! *laughter*" All weekend that was the only potty she would use. When John tried to sneak it out of the house the morning of their departure Bella ran after him exclaiming "Where you going with my froggy potty???" That evening found us at Walmart.


Anastasia is crawling with gusto, pulling herself to standing, reaching out for everything, and bruising up her face often. She loves the newfound mobility and freedom, and squeals with delight as she "chases" after Bella. Big Sister in turn loves this attention and continues to do her best to make Anastasia giggle. When Anastasia falls, which happens a lot, Bella can be seen running to comfort her and tell her "I know, it's alright baby." Of course before I have a chance to swoon over this beautiful affection I end up having to say things like "get your foot out of your sister's mouth" and "I asked you not to put toys on her head" and "I'm proud that you know that color but you still can't take it away from her."


Sweet, Precious, Quiet Anastasia is... not so quiet these days. Or nights, rather. So we've moved her crib into Bella's room and are starting the "one of us needs to sleep through the night and it will help if you decide to, also" process. I was really resistant at first thinking she really hasn't found anything to self-soothe other than, well, ME - but then I had forgotten that she sings herself to sleep. Seriously - she will settle into this monotone hum until she falls asleep. We'll see how long Bella thinks this is cute of her new roommate. Once Anastasia gets words I have a feeling the new phrase of the day will be "stop singing and go to sleep, you two!"



So what do you think - is a haircut in order? I'll keep the polls open for a few days before posting the new pictures. Of course, it will take me that long to correct the imperfections that come from trying to cut a toddler's hair at home.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Beach Days

We're home after a wonderful week at the Outer Banks, NC!


The annual Stanley Family vacation was chaotic and busy in typical fashion, and Bella LOVED being around the aunts, uncles, and cousins all week! She relished the opportunity to play all day with friends from waking moment to collapsing in bed, and learned a few new songs, too.












Unlike last year, Bella was not a fan of the ocean, but preferred to run around and play in the sand.













Anastasia loved the sand, too - in a different, messier sort of way.












Right behind our house was a pond inhabited by hundreds of turtles! All of the kids enjoyed feeding them our scraps of bread. They'll walk right out of the water and take it from your hand if you let them! Bella was fascinated watching them fight over the pieces she threw into the water. She volunteered the sign for turtle to show everyone what we had seen.

The biggest surprise of the week was Thursday evening on the beach when we turned to see Daddy walking toward us!




As usual, the week flew by and we had a great time. It was a sad Monday morning when Bella awoke to the normal quiet of our house!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thought for the Day



Every child needs a younger one around to learn patience and gentleness. Every child also needs an older one around to challenge them to bigger things.


I couldn't just leave the post about a messy diaper on the top!


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Don't Ignore the Toddler

subtitled: There Goes My Quiet Time

I put Bella in bed early for her nap because we have a doctor's appointment for her arm today. She had told me she was tired, so I chose to ignore the sound of her calling to me. That is, until, I heard...

"Mommy! I took off my diaper!"

Not only did that end nap time, but it started laundry time.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Amanda's Giveaway

Well, I am taking the bait and entering Amanda's Jumpstart Giveaway! She writes an enticing review of this online learning game designed for kids ages 3 and up. Patrick has mentioned the idea of introducing Bella to some computer-based learning, and this looks like and interesting possibility. Besides, if I win the 3-month-membership then it fits the budget, too.

Check out www.jumpstart.com for more information about this learning game. And go visit Amanda! Even if you don't win the giveaway at least you can see some pictures and stories about her adorable little Philomena!

Teething Mood Swings


How can a little girl who is so darn fussy at night be this positively adorably happy during the day?

You wouldn't believe me from these pictures, but you know better.

Tylenol, Motrin, Orajel, OH MY!

Oh, and I do love these homeopathic teething drops. They really do seem to help but they don't last as long as the Orajel.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Terrific Two!



Happy Birthday, Isabella Marie! Two years ago I discovered how infinitely I could love another human being. My heart swelled even bigger than my ankles at the sight of your beautiful, precious, perfect little face. As I rocked you yesterday, relishing a few extra snuggle minutes before nap time, I recalled what it was like to hold you for the first time. I could not have imagined life being any better, and yet with each passing day you make it so.

As for the "little" bit: you are a tiny treasure by the growth charts. The doctor's visit revealed that your 23 lbs 4 ozs and 33 inches keeps you solidly in the 10% for growth. No worries here, you've been on the same steady curve almost since you were born, and you are healthy!

What you lack in size you more than make up for in personality and Joi de Vive. You make me smile and laugh so often during the days with your silliness and antics. One minute you are shushing your baby doll, the next you are singing a song, and before I can turn around you have decided it's time to play zoo. I love to hear your silly voice, see your "pouty face," and kiss you sweet soft cheeks. Multiple times a day I have the strong desire to capture the moment forever, and I beg God to never let me forget just how wonderful you are right now.

You light up a room with your giggling and singing often! I am both amazed and amused by all the songs you know. I stop even trying to keep track, because just when I'm sure of what you know you shock me with busting out another one. Daddy and I were laughing the other day because you had "The Hole in the Bottom of the Sea" stuck in your head; not conventional for a toddler, but you've been singing it since you heard it on VeggieTales. As I write this right now you are singing a made-up song about "I see Anastasia" and "playing in the morning."

Isabella, you warm my heart with the way you help take care of your baby sister. No one can make Anastasia laugh as much as you do, and you're a big helper with getting toys and "need go make Anastasia happy." You are full of kisses and tickles for her; you are still learning what "gentle" means, but you are trying very hard. Anastasia breaks into a huge smile when you come close to her, and often squeals with delight when you shower her with kisses.

I am proud of how well you behave in Mass... sometimes. Although whispering isn't your strongest talent yet, you can often be seen folding your hands like the rest of us or heard singing along with the Memorial Acclimation. How about when you say, loudly, "Bye Jesus!" as we leave? You love to make the sign of the Cross and are learning the Our Father and Hail Mary.

I thank God for you every day, for the joy you are to all of our family. Hy heart just bursts watching you play, amazed at the incredible Gift you are to us. You capture everything that is wonderful an beautiful in life. I Love You.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Quotable Quotes

Me, to Patrick: There's a beer in the fridge for dinner"
Bella: "I like a beer, please."


While cleaning the kitchen I paused,
Me: "What should we do next?"
Bella: "Pick up my Bella!"


Bella asked to get in the playpen with Anastasia, and a moment later I heard this unhappy grunt from Anastasia. I turned to find that she was on her tummy pushing up with both hands and one leg drawn under her, and Bella straddling her back. "Bella! Get off your sister, what are you doing?"
Bella, with big round innocent eyes, "I just getting a horsey ride!"


Putting her down for a nap, for which she asked, she started to lay down and then popped immediately back up and exclaimed "oops! I forget da milk!"

Monday, June 29, 2009

Neglected Little Blog

A "Quick Takes" sort of post just to catch you up on the goings-on around here. I am never going to hold anyone's attention if I maintain 2 weeks between posts.

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Father's Day was SO much fun! After a lazy breakfast at home, Daddy's choice, we went to the National Zoo in D.C.! (also Daddy's brilliant idea!) Bella loved it, which we knew she would, which is why Patrick chose it. She was thrilled to see all the different animals, especially her zebras, elephants, tigers, and iguanas. Who would have guessed she'd love the reptile house so much? It was not beastly hot, so the animals were all pretty active which is a perfect time to watch them all. Well, except for the lions of course because they lie around all day except for eating and mating. We didn't stick around to watch either of those activities.
Later in the week Bella was pushing babydoll around in the stroller telling her she was going to the zoo and she had to sit in the stroller so she could go really fast. Hhhmmm, she may have heard that line during our own excursion.

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Jen @ Conversion Diary linked to a guest post she wrote about building reader traffic to your blog. The suggestions were wonderful and helpful, and I plan to go back there sometime and read the other insights from an actual writer/editor. Of course, not mentioned was the obvious "write more than once a month, and keep it interesting not just stories about your kids." HA! Stories about MY kids ARE interesting, thank you very much. Or maybe that's just all I can muster these days.

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At 16lbs 4oz with thunder thighs, Anastasia is the picture of a perfectly kissable baby. She sits up well on her own, or at least until Bella comes around to make her laugh so hard she falls over. I consider this to be one of the perfect stages (of course, I say that about each one so far.) She sits up, reaches for toys, and remains upright happily chewing on whatever she managed to grasp. If we could just get her to stop screaming in the car then I would know for sure she was the most perfect baby ever. I mean, of course she is! It's just that if I roll down my windows people would think there's a fire truck around. Bella tries to sing to her, and gets louder as Anastasia gets louder. When I arrive somewhere looking a little disheveled now you know why.

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Yes, I made these. And yes, Bella recognized who they are. We really enjoyed having friends over to my parents' pool, and had cupcakes for Bella's birthday; she was so happy. If you ask her how old she is, answers "I'll be 2" while trying desperately to hold up just 2 fingers. The fine control eludes her thus far, but she keeps trying! I'll be 2 "after my birfday!"

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The girls both LOVE the swimming pool! Bella asks almost every day "please we go Mimi's house, I go swimming?" Anastasia kicks her feet and babbles the entire time we're in the water, and Bella loves everything about playing games, squirting water, splashing, jumping in, kicking her feet, everything!

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Summer here also brings lightening bugs/fireflies.
Due largely in part to delay tactics she spent a while the other night outside watching them, repeatedly exclaiming "wow! d'you see that Mommy?" They are a fun part of my childhood summer memories and it is fun sharing that time with my daughter, recapturing the childhood wonderment at the little joys of God's creation.

Ok, now I've at least caught up a few highlights of summer thus far. Hopefully I'll regain some creative energy and time management simultaneously sometime soon.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

California Dreamin' so far

What can I say? We've had an amazing time in California so far! The plane ride went better than I dared hope, with plenty of room for Isabella to stretch out and sleep for 3 of the 5 hours! Being greeted by her beloveds Gram and Papa-Joe was the most exciting thing the little sweetie could have imagined... even if it was in the middle of the night?

We have played with cousins, snuggled Aunts and Uncles, been to the zoo (ask her about the Elephant!) seen horses at the park, charmed relatives with her singing and smiles. She has truly been a gracious, if not rambunctious guest. Her sweet playful little voice gives way in an instant to a loud, demanding “GRAM! Come play with Bella!” Gram is more than happy to acquiesce to her request, and she loves walking through the garden with her Papa-Joe.

Anastasia is being absolutely true to fashion with her award-winning smiles, delighted playful coos, and ear-piercing screams in the car. She is delighted to have so many pairs of hands willing to hold her, and is just lapping up the attention. (like we ignore her at home or something)

We have much more planned for the rest of the week, so I suggest you check in with my photo album for pictures that tell the stories much better than my words ever could.