Saturday, December 27, 2014

thirteen months

dear Sweetpea,

December was such a special month! you love all the Christmas lights and decorations, especially the garland on the stairs and the lights Daddy put up on the house. a few weeks before Christmas, we took you to see Santa and you didn't even flinch! you loved the soft fur trim on his red velvet coat. he talked to you quietly for a few minutes by yourself, and then he talked to all three of us and told us not to blink because it all goes so fast. oh, sweetpea, how true that is! and yet, i can't be too nostalgic, because each new day we see more and more of you, and that makes every day feel like Christmas. 

our next big adventure was flying to Seattle the week before Christmas to visit family and celebrate John and Genesis' wedding on December 22! you occupied yourself on the flight with reading your ladybug book from Grammy Kim, coloring in your new Rudolph coloring book and playing with the stickers, and scrubbing down everything you could reach using baby wipes. you woke several times the night we landed, and the next morning, all four top teeth had popped through! poor baby. on top of that, you came down with a head cold. Grammy and Grandpa gave you some much needed snuggles. the next day, you were in much better spirits. you loved flopping on pillows and blankets in Auntie Krista's room with Uncle James. and you were pretty much obsessed with taking the miniature Potato Heads out of the bucket, putting them back into the bucket, etcetera, etcetera, world without end, amen. 

Gen and John's wedding day was absolutely beautiful. we were so happy to be a part of it! their wedding was held at Belle Chapel in Snohomish. we arrived before the ceremony for family pictures, so we had some time to enjoy the charming church. the decorations evoked the hushed peace of a winter wonderland -- perfect for a December wedding. 

the ceremony itself reflected John and Gen's passion for each other and for Jesus. they exchanged personalized vows, and after they shared Communion, the congregation sang a few of their favourite worship songs. and then ... they were pronounced man and wife! 

you fell asleep in Daddy's arms for a little while after the ceremony, but then you were ready to party (despite our attempt to prolong your nap by taking you for a drive before the reception). whenever we clapped and cheered for Uncle John and Auntie Gen to kiss, you clapped right along with us. and you helped Grandpa Kyle give his toast to the newlyweds. 

you spent some more time coloring with Uncle Colin, ate a gigantic plate of the delicious lasagna and breadsticks, and finished off the night dancing with Auntie Kelli. what a day! 

our flight back home was the next day, but we had just enough time that morning to exchange presents and visit with family (you met your great-aunts Kris and Karla, and second cousins Brinkley, Kerryn, and Karrah on this trip). your favourite gifts were your Rudolph plate, bowl, and cup from Grammy, the gorgeous burgundy hat that Auntie Kelli knitted you, and the super soft stuffed frog from Auntie Kira! we flew back home on December 23, sad to leave our West Coast family behind, but happy to be snug in our own little house on Christmas Eve. after our traditional dinner of clam chowder with Grands biscuits, you opened your new Christmas ornament: a blown glass rocking horse. and you put it on the tree all by yourself! 

on Christmas morning, Daddy played for all three masses. we joined him for the 11:30 mass, where the Schola sang beautiful motets and the whole church was festooned in evergreens. then we drove out to visit Nana, Pappy, Auntie Becca and Uncle Josh. you scored your first box of animal crackers in your stocking, and got lots of practice opening presents! 

you especially loved the Fisher Price milk truck from Grammy and Pappy. and you went nuts for the alphabet train from Auntie Becca and Uncle Josh! 

after all that excitement, we came back home and you (belatedly!) opened your presents from Mommy and Daddy: your first real snowsuit, the Little Blue Truck Christmas book, bunny and puppy stamps, straw sippy cups, apple cinnamon puffs, and a corn popper push toy. you are one lucky little girl! 

this month, you've added a few new words to your vocabulary: "bee" (baby), "beep beep" (from Little Blue Truck), "boom boom" (from Mr. Brown Can Moo -- and you also knock on the page where it says "knock knock", sometimes even before i read it). you "roar" like a tiger, and you point to your tummy, nose, and toes when we ask. you sometimes put your hand on your cheek and tilt your head like a model, and i have no idea where you might have learned that!! your new favourite game is to grab an item of clothing from my clean laundry while i'm in the middle of folding it, and drape it around your neck like a scarf. oh, baby girl, you keep us laughing. 

we love you to the moon and back! 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

one year

our beautiful Greta Kathleen. this past year has been filled to the brim with precious memories. it seems like we've barely blinked for the past twelve months, and yet here you are, one year old, and you keep on growing and changing every day. it shouldn't surprise me. that's what babies do: grow and change, grow and change, and it's thrilling and exciting and a little bit sad, all at once. your sense of humor is growing too, and over the past few months you've become much more smiley and interactive with friends and strangers. here's a look back at the first year we've had the delight of knowing you.

you took your first steps just a week before your birthday, and you do the best walking when we can distract you from the fact that you're not actually holding onto anything. you emphatically sign "please" now for anything you want, and sign "more" and "all done" (usually while saying a singsong "ahh-duh!"). we started to add whole milk to your bottles and have gradually increased the proportion until you were just drinking milk, and then ... voila! made the switch to sippy cups. you didn't protest giving up the bottle, but you love your milk and it's a struggle sometimes to get you to drink water throughout the day. 

we celebrated in style this month, with a cake smash extravaganza; cake and presents on Thanksgiving Day (your actual birthday!) with Nana, Pappy, and the rest of our extended family; and finally, a Dr. Seuss-themed birthday party at our house.

for the cake smash, i made your cake with a Duncan Hines white cake mix, baked it in my two-quart Corningware dish, and frosted it using a technique i found on Pinterest. before we got started, i lined the floor and walls behind you with two plastic tablecloths (which turned out to be a very good thing!). you weren't quite sure what to make of the cake at first, and you were mostly interested in playing with the candle. i naively thought that it would be a great idea to decorate the cake smash "set" with iridescent tinsel, which unfortunately stuck to everything, so you were preoccupied with trying to shake it off your hands.

after a few tentative swipes at the cake, you really started to have fun and managed to smear pink frosting all over yourself. the cake got decimated in about five minutes, even though you didn't eat much of it. you wore your pretty white top from Great-auntie Kim (and the frosting washed out of it without any stains!). 

you weren't too pleased when i took the candle away. then you crawled through the cake, twice, and that was that. bathtime for Greta! 

on Thanksgiving Day, your daddy played for mass in the morning, and then we headed to Martinsburg for the afternoon and evening. we had a lovely dinner with Nana Sabrina, Pappy Joe, Auntie Becca, Uncle Josh, Great-Pap Shaffer and Great-Gram Peggy. your Great-Aunt Becky and Great-Uncle Carl stopped by to visit as well. you had another cake, and this time, you knew just what to do with it. while we were singing "Happy Birthday", you grabbed a big fistful! you did need some help opening your presents, but you had no hesitation playing with your new toys! 

two days later, we had a Dr. Seuss party at our house for family and friends. you were especially excited to see your godparents, Father Aron and Steph, and loved playing with Shannon and James Hoyne. your birthday presents from Mommy and Daddy were your very own rocking chair, and a real typewriter, since you love to press buttons so much. 

you wore your sparkly tutu from our friend Bridget (who used to live across the street from us). we had a photo booth set up with silly props, and Shannon and James played Pin the Hat on the Cat. your guests wrote sweet little messages to you in a copy of Dr. Seuss' book Happy Birthday to You! i had lots of fun with the decorations and food. we ate Sam I Am Sliders (ham & cheese sliders), Poodle's Oodles of Noodles (macaroni and cheese), Truffula Fruit and Truffula Trees (fruit and veggie trays), Green Eggs (deviled eggs with green filling), Oobleck (green Jell-O jigglers), Red Fish Blue Fish (Swedish fish and blue gummy sharks), and Cat's Hats (Oreos topped with red gummy coins and white frosting). and we drank Pink Ink Yink Drink (pink punch), Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can Yoo-Hoo? (Yoo-Hoo chocolate milk boxes), Water from the Pool of the Jungle of Nool (bottled water), and beer.

we held the party from 2 pm to 5 pm, and you were a champ throughout the whole thing. you began to get the hang of opening presents, and went to town on your birthday cupcake (red velvet with turquoise icing). 

Happy First Birthday, sweetheart. you are the sunshine of our hearts, and we are so excited to see what this next year brings! 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

eleven months

dearest Sweetpea,

what a big girl you are! the very day after i announced via your 10-month post that you weren't pulling up to stand by yourself yet, you decided to prove me wrong. while you were playing in our family room (with Nana and Pappy here), you crawled over to the recliner and pulled yourself up like you'd been doing it for years. now you can balance without holding on to something for several seconds at a time -- longer if you're distracted by a toy. my favourite is whenever i have you stand on the changing table while i button your pants. you usually steady yourself against my shoulders for a few seconds. then you let go and stand there with a huge grin on your face, and finally you smile even wider and slooooowly let yourself tip forward until your forehead touches mine. 

you pull a lot of silly faces these days -- the Zoolander "Blue Steel" face, the gruff old man face (you pull your bottom lip up over your upper lip), the cheesy squinting-eyed grin, the concentrating face (you wrinkle your nose and look vaguely disgusted while examining a new toy or texture). and you love to spit -- big sloppy raspberries that make us laugh!

you had an absolutely fantastic time with Nana and Pappy over Columbus Day weekend, when your daddy and i took an overnight trip to Bethlehem, PA, to celebrate our fourth anniversary. on Saturday, you went out to dinner at Hoss's with your great-pap and great-gram (and had your first taste of ice cream -- which i think you would have liked if it wasn't so cold!). you clapped for the children's choir at mass on Sunday morning, had a playdate with your second cousin Aubrey, and explored all of the fun toys Nana brought down from the attic. you especially liked the Fisher Price xylophone. Nana and i were beside ourselves with joy at the stuffed rocking horse she found that neighs, swishes his tail, and makes a clip-clop sound when you press his ear, but you weren't too sure about him. you are so lucky to have such wonderful family close by, and i only wish we were able to see all our other family as often! 

your curiosity is growing by leaps and bounds, and when i pick you up from daycare, i often find you climbing up on the foam mats by the window to watch the older kids. a few weeks ago, you were "helping" me unload the dishwasher, and when i turned around for a few moments to put away the silverware, you quickly took the opportunity to climb in the dishwasher! and after you discovered how much fun it was to pull all my cookbooks off the low bookcase in the kitchen, i moved them and put your own toys and books there so you have your own special place to play. 

you now say "bye-bye" (and wave), "up-up" or "MAH-MAH!" if you want something, "hi", "bay-bay" for baby (your reflection in the mirror, your dolls, and other babies in the nursery), and of course your favourite words, "pup-pup" and "ti-ti" for Kaiser and the cats. if we correct you, you shake your head "no" very solemnly. and yesterday for the first time, you signed "please" when i asked you to say it, before i could model it for you. and i absolutely love when you hum to yourself while you're playing or before i get you out of your crib in the morning.

the blazing leaves and crisp air remind me of this time last year, when we were anxiously awaiting your arrival, wondering what kind of a baby you'd be. and every day, when i kiss your cheeks and lay you down to sleep with your arm curled around your seahorse, i think: you're the best kind of baby. ours. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

follow the star

yeppppp, i went there with the cheesiest title imaginable for this little post about our trip to Bethlehem, PA last weekend to celebrate our fourth anniversary. it was such a good time. i think we probably would have had a phenomenal experience anywhere we had a whole 24 hours to ourselves, but when you throw in Oktoberfest and a bunch of museums? homerun for the Wills! 

my vacation-planning style is equal parts Hardcore Booking Everything In Advance + Let's Leave a Little Free Time to See What Tickles Our Fancy. aka i spend ridiculous amounts of time on Trip Advisor poring over hotel reviews and coming up with a rough framework for activities before we leave, but if we stumble across something more awesome when we're actually there, well then it was Meant To Be. sadly, there weren't any rooms left at the historic Hotel Bethlehem when i started sleuthing last month, since our trip happened to fall over Columbus Day weekend. i'm determined to go back at some point and stay there, because the hotel is built on the site of the first house in the Moravian settlement, where Count Zinzendorf stayed on Christmas Eve in 1741 when he officially named the town Bethlehem. but we had an absolutely lovely experience at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott just ten minutes up the road, whose free hot breakfast consisted of perfectly seasoned scrambled eggs, biscuits & sausage gravy, and waffles (unlike many other free "hot" breakfasts i have grumpily consumed). 

originally we had planned to drive out to Martinsburg on Friday night, drop Greta off with Nick's parents, and then drive the remaining 3 hours to Bethlehem. but as mice and men (and my friends and family) know well, actually getting out the door seems to take five times longer than i think it will. so by the time we got to Martinsburg, we figured we'd just spend the night there and start our actual Anniversary Celebration on Saturday. and i'm glad we did. leaving Greta was harder than i had imagined and i don't think i could have done it for two nights. it wasn't that i was worried about her -- i knew she'd have a great time, and i felt much better leaving her to sleep in a new pack'n'play in an unfamiliar room knowing that she had slept there with me on Friday night and done just fine. but i just missed tickling her little belly, kissing the delicious hollow at the nape of her neck, and melting at her secret little smiles. 

all that aside, it was So. Good. SO. GOOD. to be able to focus just on my handsome husband. to explore the Bethlehem Steelworks, and drink liters of Yuengling Oktoberfest and eat German turnovers and potato pancakes with sour cream and pretzel-wrapped cheesesteaks, and peruse the handmade wooden birdhouses and glass decorations and German-themed t-shirts and hold hands and people-watch like we do best. to participate in a craft beer sampling session, make friends with two guys who were equally disgusted with the yuppie hipsters, and be given paper Oktoberfest flags by one of the women who traveled here from Northern Germany to provide consulting services for the event. to go to mass together. to hold hands while exploring historic downtown Bethlehem, touring the Moravian Museum (Gemein Haus) and walking around the grounds of the Burnside Plantation, where organ-builder David Tannenberg lived in the 1760s. to relax in the gorgeous October sun outside the Bethlehem Brewworks for lunch with a mimosa (for me) and a Diet Coke (for him). to just talk, and be together, and reminisce over our other travels together and dream of what's to come in the next few years. 

and when we made it back to Martinsburg on Sunday evening, the look on Greta's face when we came through the door was about the cutest thing i've ever seen. she was happily sitting in her high chair with her new sippy cup from Nana with the light-up ice cube inside, eating a snack, but when she saw us, she gasped and smiled so brightly i thought she might actually burst into tears of joy. 

so the moral of the story is: go to Bethlehem (or, you know, down the street to your favourite hole-in-the-wall diner). for an evening, for an overnight trip, for a weekend. and all those experts who talk about the importance of spending time together as a couple -- they know their stuff.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

ten months


dearest sweetpea,

you are such a little person now! walking and talking are the only things holding you back from full toddlerhood, and it's amazing (and a little bit terrifying) to watch how quickly you're developing beyond the tabula rasa of babyhood. you're now crawling all over the house, pulling up to your knees, cruising along the furniture if we help you stand up, and somehow, consistently intrigued by the most dangerous or messy things you can find (Kaiser's water dish, the grate under the refrigerator, cupboard doors and the contents therein).

you're still rocking the two-tooth grin, but your mealtimes are beginning to follow a more grown-up routine. you drink a 5 oz bottle as soon as you wake up, followed by a breakfast of pureed fruit or oatmeal, then an hour later or so you'll feed yourself scrambled eggs or more fruit. you get another bottle around 10 or 11 am, then blended veggies, our leftovers, or a jar of a Gerber meat dinner. around 2, you have another bottle followed by a snack of avocado, crunchies, cheerios, or an arrowroot biscuit. dinner is around 6 pm and then you have another bottle to top you off before bed. the biggest adjustment this month (for me at least - you don't seem to be too bothered by it) is that we are no longer nursing regularly. my supply was dwindling and dwindling until i was only pumping a few ounces over the course of the entire work day, and no matter how long you nursed during each session when we were home together, you were still hungry. i feel so much better knowing that you are getting enough nutrition, and we still have snuggle-time before bed. i had wanted to breastfeed you at least until age 1 and then however long you seemed interested in it after that, but i guess my body had other plans! 

i think we can officially say that your first word is "pup-pup". you whisper it very excitedly whenever you see Kaiser, and a few weeks ago, a commercial for dog food came on the TV and you shouted "pup-pup!" when they showed a dog running across the screen. i have to say that you sometimes call the cats "pup-pup" too, but you also say "ti-ti" when you see them, so i think you may be trying to say "kitty". you absolutely love music and will bounce up and down and clap when i sing your favorites ("If You're Happy And You Know It", "My God Is So Great", "Itsy Bitsy Spider"). if we say "yay!" you start clapping, and you play peek-a-boo by yourself now, although sometimes you cover your forehead or your eyebrows instead of your eyes, but you're so proud of yourself when you fling your arms out and we say "peek-a-boo"! we're still working on the signs for "please" and "more". you make the sign for "more" quite a bit, and one time you looked at my plate of food and made the sign for "please". 

the highlight of your entire month was when Father Aron brought you your very own classic car to ride. you love riding fast. as soon as we would take a little break, you'd start rocking back and forth to try to get the car going again. you are your daddy's daughter! 

you got to move into your big-girl convertible car seat this month too. even though you're still our little peanut at 15 lbs 12 oz at your nine-month checkup, you were getting a little heavy to tote around in the infant carrier, so we made the switch. you love that now you can see yourself in the mirror i have attached to the seat back, and every time i buckle you in, you wave and laugh at the baby.

it's Thursday afternoon as i type this (ahead of schedule for once in my life!), and in a few hours, we'll be heading to church for choir rehearsal. you play in the pack'n'play with some quiet toys while we practice, and on Sunday mornings, various friends watch you during mass so i can sing while your daddy plays the organ and conducts the choir. one day, i hope you'll join us in making beautiful music of your own!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

skin to skin

i want to remember always the weight of your head in my palm,
the trusting fullness of your tummy tucked in the crook of my arm;
your little murmurs of satisfaction and your butterfly hands
flittering up to my shoulder, then weightlessly floating back down,
your exquisite earlobe moving back and forth with every swallow.
i want to remember always the way your chest rises and falls
like a little bird and how, when you fall asleep, you turn your head
and purse your perfect lips and stop breathing for an endless moment
and then sigh, and i curl you up to me, cradling all of you,
all you are now and all you are going to be, and then softly
lay you down in your little bed. you stretch into a snow angel. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

labor day

it's a quarter past ten on Monday morning, and instead of reviewing lab results, palpating an abdomen, filling out medical necessity forms for diabetic supplies, or anesthetizing an abscess before performing an I&D, i'm home. greta just finished an entire trayful of scrambled egg bits and i took her upstairs to read Guess How Much I Love You (a baby shower gift from Jon's mom!), laid her in her crib in her t-shirt and FuzziBunz diaper, and tiptoed out of the room with her laundry basket. but instead of throwing her clothes in the wash, i'm writing.

the breeze is barely rustling the leaves on the big tree by the garage and a mourning dove is cooing, a sound that always makes me think of Camano. bertram is perched on the counter like a little orange owl, blinking slowly at the quiet kitchen. kaiser has squashed himself into the corner between the back door and the closet so he can take a snooze, assured that no intruders can sneak up behind him. and a few halfhearted whimpers drift down from greta's crib, even though she was rubbing her eyes before i put her down for her nap. 

no big plans for this Labor Day. my usual monday-wednesday-friday work schedule has shifted to tuesday-wednesday-friday because of the holiday, but Nick still has classes to teach at Franciscan today. it's been threatening to rain all morning, but if it clears up we may go for a walk. i need to pick up a few things at the store too (blue cheese for the buffalo chicken tacos, apple cider for the pierogi & kielbasa casserole, and chocolate for the peanutbutter chocolate cake that i'm making because ... does there ever really need to be a reason for peanutbutter chocolate cake? although it's mostly to celebrate back-to-school for Professor Will). 

greta's whimpers had been approaching a wail, and i was just about to go settle her back down -- poor baby knows how to pull herself up to kneeling in her crib, but sometimes she gets stuck and can't figure out how to let go and lie back. all's been quiet up there for the last few minutes, though. next order of business: workin' on my fitness! i had been focusing on cardio with the elliptical for the past month, but seemed to be losing muscle tone by the day even though i'd work up a promising sweat. so i'm back to my beloved Firm workouts. and i don't even to have to "follow Libby for a modified version of each exercise", as beginners are told to do. poor Libby always gives the camera a pained smile whenever she's introduced, and i always wonder how she got stuck doing the dumbed-down routines.

so! less typing, more lunging, pushup-ing, and tricep kickback-ing. happy Labor Day, y'all!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

nine months

dear Sweetpea,

i think August may have been our most exciting month yet! technically speaking, the action started the last few days of July when your great-grandparents Wayne and Janeen came to visit on their way back to Massachusetts. they brought you a bear that plays peek-a-boo and you were enthralled with Gramps' Donald Duck voice and Janeen's nursery rhymes. you are so lucky to have three sets of great-grandparents still living! 

on the last night of their visit, we discovered that your first tooth had popped through -- at age 8 months and 3 days, to be exact! you celebrated by devouring a few rice rusks ("mum-mums"). your second tooth made its appearance two weeks later. you've had a few fussy days and some night-wakings, and if you're really miserable, some Tylenol calms you down, but you're still generally your happy little self! you love to feed yourself peaches, bananas, cucumbers and plain pasta, and we puree our dinner leftovers for you to eat the next day (chicken pot pie, spinach lasagna, sweet and sour chicken with rice ... whatever's on the menu!). 

our next adventure came on the weekend of August 9, when we flew to LA and drove up the Pacific Coast Highway with Jon for Amelia and Ryan's wedding in Monterey. the scenery was stunningly beautiful, and we were so thrilled to be a part of Amelia and Ryan's special day! you were a great traveler for the first two days, and then a combination of missed naps, that second tooth, and the time difference took its toll. you had a hard time taking daytime naps in the hotel room since you could still see us, although once Daddy had the brilliant idea of moving your crib into an alcove across the room, you settled down a little easier. after a few good hours of sleep on Saturday afternoon, we headed over to Amelia and Ryan's darling little house for their reception. you got to play the piano with Auntie Jeanne (Amelia's mom) and we partied it up with the newlyweds! 

you're now crawling like a champ whenever you see something you want, although you often times will pause and sit back for a few seconds before continuing on your merry way. and the daycare ladies tell me that you don't move very far when you're there, because you don't have to! there are lots of toys right within your reach and you're entertained just by watching the other babies. within the past few days though, you've started to get faster and faster -- which made this monthly photo session a challenge! 

you'll pull up to your knees and you can stand supported, but you haven't quite figured out how to move that foot and get into a standing position by yourself yet. i'm just waiting for the day i walk into your room to get you after a nap and find you standing there! we did lower your crib mattress a couple of weeks ago, which made me a tiny bit sad. you're growing up, baby duck! and as you get older, you have more and more fun with your toys. you got to "swim" for the first time this week and you loved splashing around. you'll "read" books aloud to yourself and tap your index finger on the pages, and your most hilarious hobby is talking to yourself in the mirror of your tambourine. i bet there's a pretty cute baby in there that talks right back to you! 

still no definitive First Word yet, but "bye-bye" is a strong contender. you'll say it while waving, which makes me think you're starting to associate it with meaning, but often times it shows up in a string of other syllables and you don't consistently wave either. you do often screech "ma-ma-ma-ma" when you're hungry or want to be picked up, and it usually works! every once in a while you give us some serious whining, arched back and whimpering and all, but you figure out pretty quickly that we don't play that game! 

oh, Sweetpea, you look like you're about sixteen in that picture. we love watching you grow, but there's no need to rush. you're still our baby girl!