Friday, December 29, 2006


Despite the poor lighting, and the toy explosion in our family room I could not resist posting this video of Claire.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

9 months old!

Yes, we're still just as far behind as ever. At least I have good intentions.

C'mon, Mom - enough with the excuses already. Get the blog caught up. Everyone just wants to see more pictures of me! I mean just look at me, wouldn't you want more of this adorableness?

And this month shall henceforth be known as the month of many pumpkins.

We had not one, not two, but three trips to pumpkin patches. Mostly just to keep your big sister's sanity intact. We went to pick out our own pumpkins first, then we had a visit with friends to play on the slides, climb hay bales, drink cider, and take more pictures of you looking as cute as can be next to the giant orange pumpkins. Lastly we went with Claire's school on an extremely cold and bitter day. There were lots of things to do, but it was so dang cold we wound up leaving early. But Claire got a free pumpkin! And that's all that really matters.

In between all of our pumpkin patch visits we managed to fit in a few other things. Like Aunt Renita's surprise birthday party at the lake. Or as Claire would say, "LAAAAAAAAAAAKE!" You got a chance to visit with aunts, uncles, and cousins galore. The weather was a little colder than expected, but everyone had a great time. Lili and Claire spent a lot of time playing, following each other around, and just generally having fun. She thought you were pretty cool, too. Especially now that you can sit up on your own. Much more exciting than at camp when you kept toppling over.

Look, we even managed to get a picture where Nonni was looking at the camera, and not at the adorable grandkids in her lap. And everyone is smiling, too!

We also went to another football game. Hokie football is always a good time, and despite having a rather horrific cold, you were a real trooper. Look, you couldn't even take your eyes off the game to look at the camera - it was just that much fun

You are learning so much, so quickly now. You will eat almost anything that you are given (though the baby food with spinach in it is not a big hit). You love to roll all over the floor to get to what you want. I'm not sure that you will crawl since you have become quite adept at scooching and rolling to move everywhere that you really want to go.

One of my favorite things right now happens when I am nursing you. If I look down at you while you are eating, you are almost always looking at my face. You will give me the biggest smile, and raise your eyebrows. It never fails to bring a matching smile to my face. I think that this is your very own silent version of the Joey Tribbiani, "How you doin'?" - watch out ladies! The charm is irresistible.

In the last nine months you have brought us so many moments of indescribable joy. You are the perfect addition to our family. We love you so very much, Ben!


Christmas in Review

Christmas was wonderful. The weekend went by much too quickly, and we were trying to spend time with a lot of different people. We survived, despite Ben being sickish. The doctor says a stomach virus combined with a new molar coming in. It meant not a lot of sleep for him or me, and a fairly clingy baby, but he still had many moments full of smiles and joy.

Despite the fact that I was too frazzled to remember my camera (no camera on Ben's first Christmas - BAD mommy), lots of other family members took pictures, so once I get ahold of more of those I will post some here.

We spent Saturday afternoon/evening with Brian's extended family. Ben got to meet one of his great-aunts and cousins for the first time, which was fun. Both kids had a lot of fun being spoiled. From there we headed to my parents' house where the rest of my siblings had already gathered. Since Claire was still very hyper we let her stay up for a little while. When it was time for bed she was willing to give hugs and kisses to everyone except Uncle Jon. But when it was time to say prayers he was the only one who got a special mention in the prayers.

Sunday we had a very yummy breakfast, followed by much loafing. The highlight of the weekend? My mom told Claire to ask Uncle David to go down to the basement and get the nativity so we could put it out. I didn't hear what Claire said to David, or what his smartass reply was, but then she turned to me and said, "Mommy, Uncle David doesn't like Baby Jesus." That one got a lot of laughs from everyone. And he promptly headed to the basement to get the box. Claire tried to fit everyone - camels, kings, shepherds - everyone in the stable. She said it was very windy outside. After the Redskins game and the kids' naps we opened piles of presents, and then had a delicious dinner and dessert.

Christmas morning meant Santa!!! The stockings were full of all kinds of treats. Apparently Santa thought I needed to be cleaner as I got three different kinds of nice-smelling soap in my stocking. We had another scrumptious breakfast, and then it was time to pack up and head to our next (and final stop). As soon as we arrived at Don and Cindy's house Brian took over the cooking, much to Cindy's relief. We ate a tasty dinner, and then opened even more presents! After presents we had dessert and coffee and chit-chatted. After Ben had a "diaper explosion" and then fell asleep on Cindy we decided it was time to head for home. Home sweet home. It only took Brian 13 trips to unload all of the goodies in the car.

Our kids made out like the little bandits that they are. We came home with 43 new books! Actually, two are repeats of books that we already have, but those will just become ones for traveling or that we will keep in a different location in the house. Now I have a lot of organizing to do. How to divide the books between the basement, main floor, and bedrooms, how to organize them in those spaces, where to keep the toys that Claire got that are best played with when Ben is not helping, and which old toys to weed out to make room for the new ones. Any advice?

I hope that everyone else had as wonderful and blessed a Christmas as we did!

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Claire is currently playing with her Little People - which includes the Little People Nativity set.

"let's go, guys"
"let's go to the punkin patch - see the punkins"
as one of the three kings drives the elephant away in the zookeepers truck

Other notable and cute things observed while she plays with these toys:

1. She thinks because Jesus' mom is named Mary, and the nativity set comes with lambs, that it is about the Mary from Mary had a Little Lamb, so she sings that a lot

2. She had the sheepdog pulling her Diego sled, and the camel from the three kings riding on the sled. Apparently Diego found him lost in the snow and was taking him home.

3. She likes to make all of the animals (including some of her stuffed animals) drink out of her "wishing well with WATER in it".

4. I love watching her imagination and trying to follow her logic. The mind of a child is really amazing.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Happy Birthday!

Yesterday was Brian's birthday. We had a weekend filled with festivities to celebrate. Dinner out on Friday, decorating for Christmas on Saturday and a visit from friends, brunch with my family on Sunday, followed by dinner with his family. All in all it was a good time.

Nearly ten years ago I talked Brian into coming to visit me at college in Maine by promising him home-cooked food. Several days into our visit I think that both of us knew. Knew that we would eventually get married, and build a family together.

We've come a long way in the last 9 plus years. We've had our highs and lows. We have accomplished so much more together than we ever could have separately, including being blessed with two beautiful children. I hope that this year brings many more wonderful things.

Happy Birthday, Brian - I love you!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Claire loves to help. I hope that this lasts for another...16 or so years.

Last night when I finished feeding Ben I stacked his empty plastic babyfood containers, put the spoon in the top one, and got up to clear some other things off of the table. Claire hopped up into my chair so that she could "help feed Ben, Mommy". She stuck some puffs in his mouth, and then came running into the kitchen carrying the empty plastic containers. Brian was blocking the trash can, so she loudly said, "Scuse me, Daddy. Scuse me! SCUSE ME!" until he moved out of the way. She went back to the dining room, fetched Ben's cup which had fallen on the floor "oh no, Ben!" Then she came trotting back in with Ben's spoon. She stood in front of the dishwasher and started chanting, "help, help, HELP" until Brian opened the dishwasher so that she could put the spoon in the silverware basket. Then she hopped back up on the chair to feed Ben more puffs, and keep picking his cup up ("oh, no, BEN!") off the floor where he threw it everytime she handed it to him. (I like to call him Sir Isaac Newton, as he appears to be doing an in-depth study of the effects of gravity on food and drink.)

It is amazing to watch her grow. She brings us so much joy.

Eight Months

(I am determined to get caught up on these, so expect several in the next week.)

Dear Ben,

You are getting so big! But of course I think that every month. You love spending time in your exersaucer, as it gives you the freedom to move around, and explore whatever you like. You want so badly to be independent, and you will be, soon enough (or too soon if you ask me).

You enjoy watching Claire play outside. You happily hang out in the swing - content with an occasional push when Claire isn't demanding our attention. And when she's feeling really generous she allows you to take a turn in her special pink chair. You are an easy-going little guy, and it makes my life so much easier that watching Claire run, jump, and slide seems to be an endless source of amusement to you. We've also discovered that when you are upset and crying you can frequently be soothed by my singing "Five Little Spotted Frogs". Claire likes to chime in with the "yum, yum" and "ribbit, ribbit" portions of the song. Sometimes I am so busy trying to do something while I sing that I lose count of how many frogs are left on the log - fortunately for me you can't count yet!

You don't often fall asleep in my arms anymore, but the sight of you sleeping warms my heart. On the occasions that you do fall asleep while nursing I tend to hold you close, and resist carrying you upstairs to your crib. I don't want to give up those moments of closeness any sooner than I must.

In the last month you have had the opportunity to watch a lot of football with Daddy (which should be no surprise to anyone). You've even been to a Hokie football game, and seemed to enjoy it. When things got loud you just burrowed closer to Mommy and closed your eyes. What a trooper!

As usual we've spent lots of time with family. Labor day weekend, after the football game we headed to Nonno and Nonni's house on the lake, and the next day Aunt Cindy, Uncle Don, and Ryan came down to hang out with us. It was nice to spend some time relaxing with them.

Grandma and Grandpa came up to babysit one night so that Mommy and Daddy could go out and feel like grown-ups. You enjoyed hanging out with Grandpa while Claire got her first haircut!
I love that now, when I pick you up, you sometimes wrap your little arms around my neck. Those innocent hugs are the sweetest. Your smile, and your dimples, are just irresistible. Almost anyone who greets you gets a big grin, and they like to comment on what a friendly baby you are. I love the way that your eyes light up when you look at me. Even though you can't say it with words, your eyes tell me how much you love me.

Happy eight months, baby boy. I love you so much!


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

We have much to be thankful for - our family, friends, and health would be at the top of the list. Our family is very blessed.

Wishing all of you a very happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


The cutest little pirates you ever did see...

Thanks for the t-shirts, Uncle David!!

Overheard today during Claire's "rest" time:

Mommy, where are you? Where are you? I'm stuck. I'm stuck. Where's my Mommy? Mommy, open the door? MOMMY? Where are you?

Lately Claire seems to be having some trouble discerning between me and Brian. When both of us are in the same room she will sometimes call him "Moddy", or me "Dommy".

Look, Aunt Jen - Claire wouldn't wear it, but I look pretty darn cute!

He crawls! Ben has really and truly mastered forward motion - look out world!

And the expression on Claire's face in this picture or our holiday photo shoot is just priceless.

Friday, November 17, 2006


I have a lot of posts floating around in my head waiting for me to have the time to type them up, and put them here.

But right now I can't. I spent much of this morning trying to keep myself busy, so that I wouldn't have time to think. You know how sometimes when you are hurting (in mind or body) if you keep busy enough the pain doesn't overwhelm you? This morning when I checked Atomic Tumor's website the news was grim. So I kept busy, and I could keep the hurt at bay. Now it is worse. And that empty feeling inside is taking over. And my heart hurts for him and his two little boys, and for their families and their friends. From everything that I've read, our world is losing a wonderful woman, friend, and mother.

I am so lucky. I look around and Claire is watching Wonder Pets and waiting for her pizza to finish cooking for lunch. Ben is busy on the floor emptying one of the toy bins - carefully examining each thing he pulls out. I am blessed. Please, take time today to celebrate the people that you love, and to appreciate what you have. We never know how much longer we'll have to enjoy it.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

And we're off...

We are headed to Asheville, NC for the weekend to spend time with family. Claire is so excited she could hardly wait for it to be tomorrow already.

"Wanna see Papa NOW, no momorrow!"

The horses are also a big draw. She can't wait to see the horses. I am looking forward to visiting a new part of North Carolina, and having time to just relax and enjoy our time together.

Pictures and fun stories will follow I'm sure!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Tonight I was directed to Atomic Tumor. I do not know these people, and never read their site before tonight. But please, take a moment to say a prayer for this family. The 29 year old mother is fighting for her life, and they don't know why. She has a husband whose incredible love is evident in his words, and two little boys. Please say a prayer for GAC and her family.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

for those keeping score at home

This morning? 3 AM and 6 AM.

But right now? Both kids napping. Bliss.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Ben is going to have a tough couple of months ahead from what we've seen so far. When he gets a cold it seems to last two to three times as long as it takes Claire to get over it. We have been fighting the current cold/cough since last Saturday morning (and when I say morning I mean about 1 AM - so really morning). Claire got it Sunday, and was over it by Wednesday.

The biggest problem is that these colds wreak havoc on Ben's sleeping habits. In a nice, healthy world he will go to sleep around 8:30 and sleep until 5 or 6 AM, wake up to eat, and then sleep for another two hours or so. When he's sick it's anyone's guess. Friday night I stayed up late to spend time with Brian in front of the fire. Ben woke up at midnight. Just enough awake to moan dismally every 45 seconds or so, not enough for me to go get him, but enough to keep me awake. Thanks. Then he was up at 3:30, and again at 5:45, and that was it for sleep for me. We were up for the day. Saturday night was 1:30, then 4:30, then 6. So I was not anticipating good things last night. And of course I stayed up too late to watch the Patriots/Colts game. Of course the outcome wasn't what I wanted, but it was a good game to watch. (Obviously Vinatieri was cursed - haha, serves him right!) So I was pleasantly surprised when Ben slept until 5 AM. Yes, you read that right. Though he is still all congested, he somehow managed to sleep peacefully for eight hours. Woke up and ate, and then back to sleep until just past 7. Hallelujah!

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Day We Thought Would Never Come

Claire's first pigtails! Isn't she adorable?

I've actually been meaning to write a post with an update on Claire, and today was the perfect opportunity. She was just so adorable with her little pigtails before we got ready for school this morning. She kept asking, or rather demanding, "more mirror, Mommy!" so she could look at her hair over and over. Then she insisted that I take more pictures.

Claire absolutely loves preschool. When we pull onto the road that her school is on she almost always says, "yay, school!" She seems to have made a pretty close friend of a new student in her class. The teachers tell me that they spend a lot of time together, and one morning last week her friend ran up and gave her a kiss on the cheek when she came into the classroom. It was very sweet.

One thing that Montessori schools try to do is to help the kids become independent. Which is all well and good, but it is leading to me hearing a lot of, "No mommy do it, Claire do it!" She has successfully learned to put on her own pants (sometimes backwards), shoes (frequently on the wrong feet), and socks. She insists on holding the book and turning the pages when we read stories. She gets very upset if she is not allowed to press the start button when we are microwaving something, or if I try to close the freezer door by myself. When leaving school she will refuse to go through the door if someone is holding it open for her. She must push the door open by herself. She even tries to fasten her carseat on her own.

I can totally climb this tree!

Playing with Ben

Claire is a good big sister. Whenever she hears Ben crying she will tell me, "Ben sad, Mommy." Though that does not translate to wanting to leave whatever she is doing so we can comfort him. She will sometimes decide to bring him every toy from his basket one at a time. Each time she sets a toy in his lap she will say in a cute little voice, "here you go, Ben" and give him a big smile. Her antics can always illicit a laugh from him. In fact he laughs more while watching Claire run around and be silly than at any other time.

At the pumpkin patch with playgroup

Although Claire's playgroup generally meets in the mornings about once a month we try to gather people in the afternoon so that Claire can see her old friends. She gets excited whenever we talk about who will be there, and always has a good time playing with her friends. They are all pretty used to each other now, and we see a lot less fighting over the same toys. They chase each other around, and delight in being silly with one another.

Sitting at the "kids" table, eating cake.

Claire and her cousin, (well, really my cousin, so her first cousin once removed, but that's a little much for a two year old to understand) Lily get along really well. Lily is four, and loves that Claire is now old enough to play with. When she found out that she would see Claire again (for the third time since July!) in October she told her parents that Claire was her "bestest buddy". From what I understand that title is typically reserved for the family dog, so Claire is very honored. At Aunt Renita's party they were inseperable. They ran around together, collected acorns, ate and drank, and then when it was bedtime, both crawled into Claire's inflatable Dora bed to read and do puzzles together. It was not easy to get them separated long enough for them to fall asleep.

Claire is a delight. She certainly tries our patience as she is learning to assert herself. And it can be wearying to have to repeat the same response over and over, "yes, Claire, the door is open" "door open, Mommy". But her high energy and bright smile, can make that all melt away. And when she gives a tackle hug? "I got you, Mommy!" It's all worth it. Watching her grow up has been so rewarding. It is hard to reconcile this active little girl with the baby that she was not so long ago. Our lives have changed so much in the last 29 months, and for that we are very, very thankful!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Halloween Pictures

Fall Festival on Saturday at Claire's Nursery School:

Ben happily examines his "treat" as he waits for Claire to finish decorating her goodie bag.

Super Claire shows off her cape.

Claire balances the head on the spoon to earn a prize. Or maybe she just holds it in place. Either way, she got a treat!

All in all, a very successful day!

Pumpkin Carving!

Claire supervises Daddy's efforts.

Hooray, it's Halloween!

Two little cuties, after their trick-or-treating!

Up, up, and AWAY!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween Sneak-Peek

There are apparently too many other people with cute Halloween photos to share, so blogger is having some difficulties letting me upload the pictures I have. I managed to sneak this one in before the technical problems, so enjoy a little look at Ben. He has a cold, and this was the biggest smile we were able to muster last night, but he's still adorable!

More photos forthcoming, as blogger allows.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


This is what I had the pleasure of listening to while Claire was supposed to be "napping" today. Warning, she starts out pretty loud.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Seven Months

(OK, so I'm two months behind, but I have good intentions - honest!)

Wow! Seven months old! You are becoming such a big boy, Ben. This month was not nearly as busy as the last one, but we had a lot of fun.

We spent a nice weekend down at Nonno and Nonni's lake house. Saturday we went to the Louisa County Fair - you seemed fairly unimpressed, but Claire loved running around despite the heat. She pet some adorable puppies, spent a long time watching the baby ducks, and even got her face painted! Sadly, by the time we sent Daddy to get ice cream it was all gone. :(

The next day Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Brandon, Gigi, Uncle Don, and Ryan all came to the lake to see the house and spend time with us. We went out on the boat - you weren't thrilled about it at first - especially wearing your life jacket when it was already so hot, but you wound up falling asleep on the ride over to Doug and Ellen's house, and on the way back.

We had a nice dinner on the big picnic table on the deck - everyone was impressed by how much and how well you ate. Later, while Ryan and Claire fought over who would play with which toy you and Uncle Brandon hung out on the floor. He was slightly tired from driving all night from Texas, but we were awfully glad that he came! You are not, however, going to start that silly wearing-two-different-color-socks thing. Uncle Brandon is sure to grow out of that eventually.

Speaking of you eating, you have tried all of your different fruits and veggies now. You seem to like all of the fruits, and you love sweet potatoes. You prefer the orange veggies to the green ones, but you'll eat them all. You usually have oatmeal and fruit in the morning and then a fruit and a veggie at dinner time. Yum!

This month you finally mastered sitting up on your own. You still get tired and fall over after a while, but you are officially sitting up! Yet another sign that you're not such a baby anymore.

In August we headed up to the woods of Pennsylvania for your first experience at Camp Little Run. Camp Little Run is a hunting camp that is jointly owned by a group of men. Mommy's uncles are both part of that group, and for several years we've been reserving it for a weekend in the summer to try to get as much of the family as possible together. This year neither Aunt Jen and Uncle Jon, Aunt Sarah and Pete, or Uncle David could come, but your great-aunts and your great-uncles were there along with Nonno and Nonni. You met your first cousins once removed, Kelsey, Lily, and Jordyn. Lily was thrilled that Claire was old enough to play with this year, and all of them adored sitting with you and handing you new toys to explore. One of my favorite parts of the weekend was watching you sit in your Bumbo seat next to Uncle Paul's radio, and you were just dancing away to Hang on Sloopy. I guess you like oldies.

Saturday it rained almost all day, but you got to go shopping with the ladies while all of the other kids stayed home with the men. Then in the afternoon Daddy organized the great washer-toss tournament. Mommy and Uncle Barry were the only undefeated team! Hooray! As usual we had lots of good food and conversation. Even though we had to toast the marshmallows in the microwave to make s'mores.

Lying down: Montana
Seated L-R: Nonni, Jordyn, Lily, Mitchell, Kelsey, Mommy and Claire

Standing L-R: Nonno, Uncle Paul, Sherryl, Uncle Barry, Aunt Valerie, Aunt Renita, Daddy, and you

Your smile brightens every day, Ben. You have the cutest dimples, and such long, dark eyelashes. Look out, ladies! It is so much fun to watch you explore the world around you. You carefully investigate your toys, turning them over and over in your hands. Maybe you'll be a scientist when you grow up. I love watching you grow, and change - though a part of me is also sad that you are growing up. I think that happens to every mother. We can't wait for you to get older and do new things, but at the same time we want you to stay little forever.


Saturday, October 21, 2006

Tales of an Imperfect Mother

Recently I was part of a discussion about the "perfect mother", and why so many moms nowadays feel like they need to try to be perfect, which is, of course, an impossibility. Yet we feel this incredible pressure to live up to certain ideals. And so we do our best to appear "perfect" to the average observer, while typically feeling frustrated and upset about how far from perfect we really are. Heaven forbid we let anyone see that we are just as flawed as the next mom.

Why is there this constant drive to achieve the impossible? To not let anyone see our faults? Why are we so afraid of seeming lacking in any respect?

I think that some of it has to do with the fact that many mothers are also highly educated women. Some of us have made the choice to leave a career in order to stay home with our children. And so we feel like we have to prove ourselves. Some of us are working, and feel like we need to be perfect in order to make up for the time that we have to spend away from our children during the day. All of us do the best that we can. All the time feeling like that is not good enough, that we could be - should be - doing better.

So what's the solution? Is there a solution? I think it starts by admitting that we are not perfect. We do the absolute best that we can. I believe that of every mother that I know. We make mistakes, we make different choices from each other, but overall? We love our kids. We do everything that we do because we love them so much, and want only the best for them.

So here it is - out in the open. I am not perfect. Far from it. I have made mistakes. I will make more. But I love my kids more than anything else.

Some evidence:

The other day I took Ben out without any socks on. We were running late, we had to pick up Claire, and I didn't have time to search for a matching pair, because I hadn't folded the laundry yet.

Also, last week I didn't have the energy to argue with Claire so her lunch? Dora fruit snacks, a handful of goldfish, and some of the Cheerios that Ben was eating. That's nutrition at its best, folks.

And the worst? Ben was only 4 or 5 weeks old, and the cat's litter box was in desperate need of cleaning. This was when Ben was very colicky. He was fussing, and I set him down in his bouncy seat, but didn't latch him in. While I was in the next room cleaning the litter box I could hear him crying, but figured it was his usual fussiness. Then when I came back out, he was lying on the floor in front of the bouncy seat. He had wiggled himself down and off the front of the seat. I felt so guilty. But he was ok. Thank God. I felt so guilty for just assuming he was being his usual colicky self, and instead he was trying to tell me, "Hey! In here! On the floor! Pick me up, woman!"

One of the things the group I was talking with decided, is that we're lucky that our kids are too little to remember the mistakes that we have made, and will continue to make. And when they grow up? They'll probably think that we were perfect. Right? RIGHT???

So c'mon moms, and grandmas, and heck, dads, too. Confession time. Share. Make everyone feel better by telling us your slip-ups or mishaps. I know people are out there reading. Time to chime in!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Pumpkin Patch!!!!

One of the benefits of Brian's new job is that he gets all government holidays. So he had Columbus Day off. We took advantage of the day off, and the nice weather, and took Claire to the pumpkin patch. (However, this has not prevented her from asking to go to the pumpkin patch approximately 293 times over the last week.)

Yay - hay!

The kids seemed to enjoy themselves. Claire crawled through one of the tunnels that they had going under the hay bales. They got to play in the hay, and Claire helped pick out some great pumpkins. Plus, she got a free apple, and some apple cider! Woo!

Ben being silly

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Rain, rain, go away

It has been a rainy few days. It started Thursday evening, and is just now letting up. Sadly this meant that Claire's school fieldtrip to Pumpkinville had to be rescheduled for October 23rd. And if any of you know a 2 year old who is ok with "we can't go today, but we'll go in only 17 more days!" I'd love to meet that droid child. Needless to say we have had a lot of requests for the "punkin patch!" and Brian and I told her we would go together when things dry out.

It made me think back on our Halloweens since Claire had been born.

Her first Halloween I had visions of taking her to pick out a pumpkin. I was going to take adorable pictures of her surrounded by giant orange jack-o-lanterns. She would be enthusiastic, and curious. The reality? The day we had set aside for getting a pumpkin? It rained. We went to one of the many places around here that setup in the corner of a grocery store parking lot - I dashed out of the car in the rain, found the first one that looked reasonable, quickly paid, and jumped back in the car. Claire did get to enjoy feeling the mushy insides when we scooped out the pumpkin. But then Brian carved it with his college's emblem - no wide-eyed gap-toothed grin for us. However, Claire was of course, adorable.

The next year? We were in our current house, in a big neighborhood where we were virtually guaranteed lots of trick-or-treaters. Hooray! We again waited a long time to buy our pumpkin, and had to go to two nurseries before finding one with a reasonable selection. It took all of my coaxing to get Claire to go down the fun slide at the nursery. She did, however, enjoy the free hot cider. I had purchased Claire an adorable frog costume, and planned to let her walk to the nearby neighbor's homes early in the evening to visit the families we knew, and then we would man our door - handing out mini-Snickers to all of the neighborhood kids. The plan was great until I contracted a horrendous stomach virus the night before Halloween. I spent all of that day in bed, and when I wasn't in bed I suffered for it. Who knew that the smell of Snickers on your daughter's breath would make you have to run for the bathroom - or make your husband laugh far too long. Since Brian was also starting to feel sick, there was no costume, no trick-or-treating, and he simply put all of the candy in a big bowl with a sign on it asking them to only take two, and set it on the porch. Whee!

Here's to hoping things go more smoothly this year.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Indomitable Twos

Yes, that's today's word of the day. And, I think, a better fit than "terrible". At least from where I'm sitting.

In typical toddler fashion, Claire is a joy to be around provided she is not hungry or tired. So imagine the fun car ride home from pre-school everyday when she is:
a) starving
b) ready for a nap

On a typical day I try to remember a snack and a drink for her. Well, now I know well enough to keep a stash of snacks in the car - peanut butter crackers, graham crackers, and Dora snacks. As long as I remember her cup all is well. Except, of course, that she is then not hungry for lunch when we get home. And she frequently decides that she doesn't want to go home. ("no Claire's house, mommy. go this-a-way!")

Today was interesting. One of her classmates had a birthday, and so his mom brought in a star shaped balloon for each child, and attached to the end of the string was a small bag with two cans of play-doh. The whole ride home I heard "pay-doh, Mommy. Open pay-doh. Wanna pay-doh, Mommy." She was surprisingly unphased by being told she needed to wait until we were home. Then we pull into the garage, and I open her car door. "no inside, Mommy. Stay here." So I told her she could stay in the car, but as soon as I started to close the door, the tears began. "No stay, Mommy! Inside, INSIDE!" Well alright then. I get her out, and she can't decide whether I should carry the ballon, or she should. We finally settle on me carrying the play-doh bag while she held onto the string. We walked past the snack bins (mental note: don't buy clear plastic bins unless you want a request for "Dora Boots snacks" every time you're in the garage). "Mommy, want Dora snacks. Dora Boots snacks." To which I replied that I would get her some, but she had to eat lunch first. "No munch, Mommy. Dora Boots snacks. Pay-doh, Mommy." After about five minutes of tears, reasoning, and one threat that it was naptime I managed to convince her to tell me she would be willing to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. So I free the play-doh, open the tubs, "help" her take the play-doh out of the containers ("help, Mommy. NO Mommy, I do it!! Mommy - heeeeeeeeeelp!", and work on her peanut butter and jelly. Soon the play-doh is forgotten as she eats her sandwich ("Tank oo, Mommy. Tank oo, Mommy, good sammich"). Then she eats her Dora snacks while staring hypnotically at Little Bear and friends on the television. After her diaper change she heads up to bed telling me "wanna say May-men, Mommy. Star light, Mommy." - her way of telling me it is time to say her prayers, recite Star Light, Star Bright, and then climb into bed.

And now? Both children are sleeping. Ahhh, bliss.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Mmmm, good!

This is my first time trying to share video. Let me know if it works!

This is from April of this year. Claire grabbed a nearly empty bottle that I'd left on the endtable when I walked into the kitchen. I heard her, and saw what she was doing, and grabbed the camera. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Six months

Long overdue, I know.


I can't believe that you've already been with us for half a year. It seems like such a short time, and yet our family would not be complete without you.

At the start of this month I had to spend an entire week away from you every day. It was hard for me to leave you each morning, but you seemed to flourish, and it allowed me to see that when I wasn't dragging you all over town to run errands everyday that you had a schedule for eating and napping that suited you just fine. Unfortunately it means that you want to nap everytime Claire is awake, and be awake when she naps. Not so helpful for me getting anything done that requires leaving the house.

We celebrated the fourth of July surrounded by family. Papa, Grandma Laurel, Uncle Dave, Uncle Calvin, and Uncle Nigel all came up to visit, and we had a really fun weekend spending time with them. You were very popular, as usual. We spent one day down at the lake relaxing and swimming, and on the fourth enjoyed a cookout at Kathy and Karl's and all of the illegal fireworks that Papa had brought north with him. Claire loved the fireworks, wasn't scared a bit, and the whole ride home kept asking for "more stars!"

We had a big party the next weekend to celebrate all of the July birthdays - Cousin Ryan, Aunt Cindy, Grandpa, and Uncle Adam. We went to the Reston Petting Zoo first, and then had everyone back to the house for yummy food and a really cool Bob the Builder cake.

Mommy and Daddy celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary, and managed to go out to dinner at the Melting Pot, as usual. Grandma came up to babysit which is always fun for you and Claire.

We had another visit from family at the end of this month. Papa Jim and Grandma Norma flew all the way from Texas to come and see us. They loved holding you and talking to Claire. It was a nice few days for us, and I know it was a special time for them.

While they were here you tried your very first solid food - baby oatmeal. It was quite an event because Claire decided she needed to help and grabbed a spoon that she would stick in your mouth whenever she had the chance. Despite that you seemed to enjoy the oatmeal, and you managed to swallow quite a bit of it.

This month you discovered your tongue, and you love to stick it out of your mouth and smile at us. It makes us smile everytime you do that. We're having so much fun with you, Ben, and we love you very very much.