Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Charlotte turned ONE...Six weeks ago...

For eleven months, I dutifully blogged Charlotte's milestones each month...with recaps on all of her new tricks and latest pictures.  And then her birthday approached and it sent me into a tizzy and we survived the party and the invitations and tons of driving by myself all over the eastern seaboard...and I just never blogged her final recap.

Big, fat, frowny face.

And it's been bugging me ever since... Months go by FAST, and I can't lie...I don't mind a little break from these deadline'd posts.  I still plan on updating on Charlotte {duh}, just not every month!

Anywho...let's pretend it's January 25th again aaaaaaand GO.

Charlotte-- you are TWELVE MONTHS OLD.  We made it!

Today, at the doctor, you weighed 20 lbs {50th percentile} and were thirty inches long {97th percentile}!  You had to get three shots AND get your finger pricked to check for lead and anemia.  You were a hot mess but I didn't manage to get any cute crying pictures, since you were kicking and flailing and all... You did take an awesome nap that afternoon though!

Other details...you have six teeth-- four on top, two on bottom, and another one is on its way on the bottom.  You wear size three diapers and 18 mo pants, despise diaper changes, and have the craziest hair in the mornings-- I can't believe how long your hair has gotten.

Big things...

You are a walking machine!  You are almost running...you think it's hilarious to be chased and you squeal and giggle in simple anticipation of getting caught.

You are also a climber... You know just how to hoist your knee up and pull yourself up onto or into every possible object.  Climbing up and down and up and down and up and down off the sofa is your gig.

{Exhibit A}

You give hugs.  Big, fat, arms open wide hugs...sometimes when I pick you up from Kids Club at the gym, you run across the room with your arms outstretched.  The other times, you burst into tears when you remember I abandoned you in the fun house.

That's another thing...serious separation anxiety.  You are pitiful when I drop you off at Mrs. Cora's in the morning, or at Kids Club at the gym {church nursery you've been okay with...}.  Purple in the face crying.  But you calm down quickly, everyone assures me, with distractions...like food.

You started saying "mommy" and "daddy" last week.  Be still my heart.  You've abandoned your baby talk "mama mama" for a distinct, purposeful "Mommy."  I need to get it on video to keep for always... You also say, or have words for, hi, buh-bye, baby {all humans are babies}, dog {"guh!" is any animal}, woof {Go Dawgs!}, and you shake your head "no" when it's said to you.

You are starting to pretend play more...you carry your baby doll around and pat her on the back, you try to put your paci in her mouth.  You know what to do with certain objects-- you try to brush your hair, you put every object up to your ear and say, "hi!," you try really, really hard to put lids back on tupperware...

Foods...you could eat your body weight in veggie straws.  You pulverize some green beans and cheese and deli meat and pretty much any weird thing I give you...like olives, pickles, hummus... But you won't eat peanut butter and jelly!  I believe I may have overcorrected the whole picky eating thing.  You also take a sippy cup now, but you still get a bottle at night because who's in a rush?

Sleep...I think you have my sleeping habits.  You'd stay up until midnight if we let you, but you go to bed at 7:30 every night and sleep until at least 8:00 every morning.  We watch you in the monitor as you wake up and stretch and then grab a paci and lay back down.  You toss for a good thirty minutes before you decide you're ready to be up.

{Big girl playing in the snow...you have gotten MUCH better at loving the snow, if for nothing else than to eat it.}

Sometimes you are cranky and fussy and I wonder if you notice that daddy's gone, or if you're just cutting another tooth.  You are definitely a toddler and make it clear when you're upset about something.  That said, you are starting to obey when told not do something and we can tell you understand us because you follow simple directions, like bringing us a toy or closing a door.  You also bring us things when you need help, which I think is the cutest thing ever.  You couldn't get the lid off of a container of toys tonight, so you picked it up and carried it over to me for help.

{Lots of snow pictures because that's just how it's been since Christmas...I'm in heaven!}

Ugh-- you can reach EVERYTHING.  Nothing on a table or night stand is safe-- last week I found one of my big, fake pearl earrings in your mouth.  I accidentally left my cell phone at home when we went out of town last weekend because I shoved it under a pillow out of your reach, and I can NEVER remember where I hid the remote from you... #Toddlerproblems.

We have traveled a lot lately-- you are my road tripping buddy and even flying this last trip was easier than last time.  I was encouraged to keep trying in hopes that you get better and better.  We've had good time with family this last month-- Atlanta for your birthday, North Georgia mountains for a girl's weekend, and Nebraska to visit family and celebrate your birthday a little late.  You are a ham and love being with your cousins-- I think coming home alone with me must be the biggest disappointment ever.  Too bad-- you're stuck with me!

{"Hugging" baby Chapman...sometimes you hug with your arms, sometimes you just lay your head on the huggee...}

Baby Charlotte...which we still call you... You are such a joy in our life.  Daddy notices every new thing you do and develop while he's gone, and he eats up every second he gets with you.  You are my playmate and my snuggle bug on cold nights at home.  You are my snow bunny, my travel buddy, and always make me laugh.  It is so hard to believe how big and smart and cute you keep getting.  I keep saying it, but it's true-- I'm nostalgic to when you were little, but I'm not a speck of sad about you getting older.  You just keep getting more fun and I love every little piece of you.  Thanks for keeping me company-- I can't wait to see what the next year brings to our little family!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

I Can't Make My Kid Like the Snow...

I have tried SO hard.

I LOVE the snow.  I love checking the forecast and finding those little cartoon snowflakes dropping from the little cartoon clouds.  I love checking the highs and lows and seeing sub-freezing numbers. I love the closings coming in and running across the bottom of the news screen.

I just love snow days.  I lived through the blizzard season of 2009-2010 and every winter since has been a huge disappointment.  Last winter, I daydreamed about being trapped in my little snow globe and snuggling my newborn my whole maternity leave.  But did it snow?  Barely.

This winter though has revived my spirits and reminded me why I own all these snow boots.

And everything's better now that there's a toddler to share it with!

Christmas?  Yep-- better with a toddler.  Snow?  You got it-- even more magical.

So leave it to me to hang my hopes on my poor one year old to increase the magic of snow.  She barely has any idea what's going on and here I am running around buying snow bibs at Target and whipping up homemade pancakes to appropriately ring in the snow day.

But she hates it.

She hates the bleeping snow.

Do you know how long it takes, how much work it is to get a squirming 12 month old into ski bibs and three pairs of socks and zip up a puffy coat and PLEASE STOP PULLING OFF YOUR HAT!!

For the love, will someone please make a hat with snaps? Has no one figured out velcro is worthless?

{It takes approximately three hundred minutes to get two people appropriately dressed to play in the snow.} 

But first I'm all, "Well, let's have a PB & J so you're properly nourished to play as looong as you want!"  Because who doesn't want to play in the snow all day?

But she wants nothing to do with PB&J.

{Olives?  Hummus?  Peppers?  Sausage?  Cheese?  She'll eat all of the weird stuff.  And not a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Go figure.}

Anyway, by the time we finally make it outside, it's sleeting and miserable and she's whining out of frustration and can barely walk in her puffy garb, so I jam a paci in her mouth, tell her to suck it up, and throw her out the door because Dammit, we're going to have fun!

I am the Clark Griswold of snow days.

And we get outside and she keeps falling over because the snow is too deep, and when she falls over, her hands sink in the snow and when her hands sink in the snow her gloves fall off and when her gloves fall off her hands get cold and...


My one moment.  This kid loves cold stuff on her hands.  I have no idea why but it is virtually impossible to hold her on your hip and have a drink in your other hand- she dives her little fist in there and fishes around for your ice cubes faster than you can say germs.

So when she shoves her little hand in the snow, she sits still for an entire ten seconds, nay twenty!  Enough for a picture-- with her looking at the camera!  And brings three little fistfuls of fresh, clean snow up to her mouth.

And I think I've won her heart.  She's finally going to see it.  She's going to love the snow.

But then she still hates it and tries to stand up to walk away but she falls over, so she tries to crawl, and when she crawls her boot falls off and her puffy coat slips up past her nose and her hat falls past her eyes and she makes a mad, whiny dash for the front door with me chasing her so she doesn't crash into a sidewalk light.

I can't imagine why she doesn't have fun.




And then we get inside and I'm tired and annoyed because it took three hundred minutes for us to get ready for her to last only ten minutes outside-- and ten was pushing it, me optimistically keeping her out there just a little bit longer in hopes she'll eventually see my wisdom that playing in the snow really IS fun.  And all she did was shriek and whine and fuss the whole time, and the neighbors think I tortured her, so FINE.

Have it your way, Charlotte.  Be done.

But you're sleeping in those snow pants because darn it if I'm not going to try again and darn it if I'm going to wrestle you in to things twice in one day.


So....You wanna build a snowman?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Our New Normal...from a better perspective.

So...I wrote this a few months ago.  Nothing has changed in our day to day life-- as the primary gets closer, things only get busier for Tyler, limiting his time and attention at home.  And I know he's pulled in a million directions, so I try to be as supportive as can, while still making sure to snap him out of his little political bubble when he needs it.

And by he, I mean I.

But when I wrote that blog, I think I was having a particularly hard week.  I don't remember the circumstances, but just reading it, I can tell how frustrated and tired I was.  So I wanted to write a little update.  Or at least a more balanced view of things.  Because even though it IS hard, there are good things to come from this season of our life...

So here's what I'm learning to appreciate about this whole semi-single, working mom scenario!

I believe that you only get better from a challenge.  This is hard and there are days Tyler and I don't talk.  There are days we do talk and I tell him, "I've been really mad at you all day."  But there are days when everything gets done-- Charlotte miraculously is fed, I work, I make it to the gym, groceries are bought, toilet paper is on the roll.  It is hard doing this alone, but you learn what you're made of and I can't lie...I'm proud of myself most days.  Ten hour road trips?  I can do it!  Navigating flights and airports?  Done it!  Doctors appointments and shots and planning birthday parties?  I can do that too.  And when you get used to doing it alone, it's just that much better and easier when Tyler is home.  Two parents, one kid?  A breeze!  Enduring hardship only makes the normal days that much easier, and that much more of a blessing.

{This one's for the girls!}

Yes, I have to put Charlotte to bed every night... But I get to put Charlotte to bed every night!  I could complain about having to do it all every night, or I could relish the time I get her all to myself.  I get to watch her splash in the bath.  I get to snuggle her every night at bedtime.  I get to see her big smile waiting for me in the crib each morning. I get to play in the snow with her.  A year ago, it was so bittersweet that I had to start sharing her with the world... and now, here we are.  Charlotte and Mommy.  Our little duo, my little sidekick.  I don't say that callously to Tyler because I know he HATES to miss it.  But it's my consolation prize...me and my little buddy are not at a loss for bonding time.

It's official...I love my job!  If you would have told me eight months ago that I would actually look forward to going to work, I would have laughed in your face and called you a meanie.  And while I haven't, by any stretch, hated my job since May, it was still a hard decision to go back to work.  But the last few months have confirmed that I made the right decision to keep working.  The days that I work are crazy and long and sometimes too much, but Charlotte is SO busy and this winter has been particularly cold and snowy and man...it's just good to have a reason to get out of the house and let someone else put the measuring cups back in the kitchen drawer for the 19th time today.  And beyond Charlotte, my job is just fun and I love my families and my co-workers are so supportive and...yay!

{Nineteen times a day.  For. the. love.}

You learn who your village is.  Our neighbors regularly invite Charlotte and I over for dinner-- our kids are running around and they're stealing pacis, and they're apologizing for not having salad, and I'm just so grateful for a few hours to be occupied and have grown ups to talk to.  My friend Ashley has too had us over for dinner; and texts me when it snows to see if we need any help.  Cora {my right hand} has Charlotte fed and ready to go, so we can go to the gym as soon as I get home from work.  Amy goes to church with me so I don't have to sit alone and walks around the restaurant with Charlotte so I can eat for five minutes.  Sarah just announced she was coming home with me after work one night so she could play with Charlotte and I could have a few minutes to myself {I sat on my bed and ate peanut butter out of the jar}.  I could keep going...  My friends are the greatest.  My "village" has never been so real as in the last three months.

So there is GOOD here.  I miss Tyler and I miss Charlotte for him.  I still hate the time we miss as a family, and there are plenty of days that I'm bitter for having to juggle this all alone.  But there are moms who do this all the time...I don't get a cookie.  And for me, there is an end in sight.  For now, I am sustained through prayer, supported by friends, and looking forward to the future!  The hard stuff only makes you appreciate the good stuff.

{Now, ask me how I feel on Wednesday night... When I've worked a long day, and have an early morning in front of me, and the trash needs to go out, and the recycling, and Charlotte is teething, and STOP PULLING ALL THE MEASURING CUPS OUT OF THE DRAWER!!}

Friday, February 7, 2014

Charlotte Turned ONE!

We had so much fun recently celebrating Charlotte’s 365th day on this earth!  We were in Atlanta with a mix of family and friends who helped us properly mark the occasion and indulge us while we paraded our cute kid around.  I really didn't want to make a big deal of it-- one reason we stuck with a family only shindig-- but of course, we to do something.  Something cute.  And something with good food.  And balloons...yes, balloons...
The day started properly with pink pancakes and sprinkles!

After THREE grown-up sized pancakes, she went into a little pink pancake coma…

We followed it up with a turquoise bath—cousin Halley taught Charlotte the right combo of colored bath tablets to drop in for the perfect shade of blue-green.

After that, she took a nice long nap in preparation for the day’s events while I headed to my aunt’s house to start setting up.

I really didn’t feel like I did much, but by the time I joined forces with my mom, aunt, and grandmother, we had a full blown party on our hands!

I took full advantage of fruit bowls, veggie trays, and dips from Costco, and made sandwhiches.  Mom did flowers, my grandmother ordered the beautiful cake, my aunt did balloons and cupcakes and let us all invade her beautiful house… Birthday parties are easy when you can delegate to women with great taste.

I loved designing Charlotte’s birthday chalkboard—I made it on Photoshop, printed it a Kinkos, and glued it to some foam core.  Definitely the right decision, after thirty minutes of trying to draw it out by hand, only to realize I’d spelled her NAME wrong.  Womp womp.

Because it’s not a birthday party without cake dip…
Uncle Charles, a new daddy to a daughter, sat down with Halley for lunch, which is apparently the worst kind of 4-year old torture…

After lunch we opened presents which was almost more fun than the cake smashing because she was so into it.  I think ripping paper is her love language.

Appropriately loving her first Bulldawg! {Yes, you capitalize Bulldawg.}

Cake time!

You never know how a kid is going to respond with twenty pairs of eyes on them, all singing to you for the first time ever but apparently she’s okay with the whole center of attention thing.

{NOT her mother’s daughter.}

She was slow to get started…very delicately peeling off the polka dots, but she eventually got into the birthday spirit.  You can see her in full smashing mode in that bottom left picture!  She was not quite sure what to do with all of that sticky icing and kept trying to shake it off her fingers—she eventually figured out it was just as tasty as it was fun.

I didn’t want to go overboard with the whole party thing since she’s so little, but it truly was so fun to put together her first birthday party and watch her open presents and play with the cake, and do all of those little things we’ve spent so much time looking forward to… We’re so blessed to have shared the day with friends and family that love her like we do and helped us properly celebrate!  And we look forward to celebrating more with our family in Nebraska soon!  I’m sure Charlotte will have this cake smashing thing down by then…

Until then, we say, “Dear Jesus, thank you for a year with Charlotte…”