Thursday, April 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Sweet C!

Dear C,

Today you're ushering in your first hours as a newly minted one-year-old.  One year ago today, you were placed gently in my arms and I marveled at how small you were, (you really weren't that little compared to everyone else, but compared to your 28 pound sister, you were a peanut).  The stress I had been feeling over whether I'd love you anywhere near as much as I loved Bean melted away as you blinked your big eyes and stared at me every time I said so much as a single word.

We all figured that since I talked so much while you were in utero, you knew little else in the way of sound.  Judging by what a chatterbox you've become, it's abundantly clear that we share those genes.

Your first year was joyous in many ways and challenging in many others.  You were bound and determined to prove off the bat that you were very much unlike your older sister.  For the first few weeks, your bed of choice was a little nest made in a small down pillow while tucked neatly in the crook of my arm.  You always turned your face towards mine and I'd often wake to the sweet smell of your baby head as it rooted around, half-awake.

You slept a lot, then you didn't sleep at all.  You love being carried no matter the method though you will always prefer to ride around on my left hip, burrowing your head in my shoulder when you're uncertain.

 Thankfully, you're back to sleeping, and well.  Long ago, you shunned the pacifier for your first two fingers, and when you're particularly cranky or tired, you'll pop them in your mouth, search for your fuzzy blanket and crawl over to me for a snuggle.

You're starting to communicate in a bunch of different ways and get ridiculously persistent when you want me to acknowledge what you're trying to say.  The other day, you were pointing and waving over towards the sun room saying the same thing over and over again.  I was trying to have another conversation and in the lulls, I repeated your sound without really looking at what you were looking at and probably would have continued had you not tried to dive out of my arms.  When I looked at where you were trying to go, I saw your giant purple playground ball and I put you down.  You immediately crawled over to the ball, patted it, smiled, and said, "BAAAALL!"  So that's what you were trying to say.  Who knew?

In addition, you're regularly saying "Mama," "Dada," "Hi," "Bye," "Hello" (which means phone), "Dog," "Uh-oh," "I-want-down" or "Down," and "All-Done".  I'm sure it won't be long before you're chattering as much as Bean does.  Your poor little brother doesn't stand a chance.

 Your legs are apparently trying to keep with your vocabulary and you're starting to take your first steps.  We're most successful in getting you to toddle to us when Bean is in one of our laps.  She's by far the greatest motivation as she cheers louder than both of us.  And even if she didn't, I'm sure you'd be more about her approval than ours.  May she always give you a good example to follow

You are jolly, happy, and genuinely friendly.  You're not interested in letting anyone else get their hands on you if I'm around, but you'll happily grin and wave and charm the heck out of everyone who stops for even a moment to engage you.  And occasionally, you're the one to initiate and draw people in effortlessly with a grin or a drawn out, "Hiiii"

May this birthday be your happiest so far and may they only get happier from this year forward.

You are so very, very loved,


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hard to Believe

This face is going to be one in a couple of days.

ONE!  Can you believe it?!  Sheesh.  I will be celebrating one year of being a mother of two munchkins.

One year of having survived sleepless nights due to each kid alternating when they needed me.  (Because coordinating their sleepless nights was obviously out of the question).

I survived a bit over three straight years of diaper changing.

I've made it through juggling the schedules of two kids, neither of whom enjoy being predictable when I need them to be.

I've celebrated milestones that I celebrated once before and found them to be just as delightful the second time around.

I've had a year to watch Bean grow and change into a pretty awesome big sister.

For over three years, a big piece of my heart has belonged to one or two little people who own it but don't know it.

I've had a year of double snuggles and hugs.

A year got me started on the long road of trying to do anything productive while trying to meet the needs of the kids walking around.

A year of being the mother of two daughters.

And to celebrate?  We're doing it all over again.  We four becomes we five.

Excuse me while I go rest up for the next two and a half months.  Something tells me I'm going to need it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Things I Wonder

1.  Why food totally tastes better when you're not in your high chair. 

2.  Why dirt is more preferrable to food on any given day.

3.  Where baby socks go when they disappear in the wash machine.  (From a laundry bag, no less!)

4.  Why the inevitable priceless picture moment happens directly after you put the camera down.

5.  Why sweet sister play sessions always turn into wrestling matches.

Just some thoughts.  :)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

And Nobody Cried!

Taking portraits is an interesting little thing.  It's one thing to take pictures of your friends or kids or family when they're in the midst of doing something they find interesting.  Generally, that's fairly easy.  Then you get into trying to put 2 or more people in a picture together... and somewhat have to pose them.  Then it starts to get harder.

Imagine trying to get 15 people ranging from 10 months to well, older, looking at the camera, looking happy, or at least not screaming. 

Mmmm hmmm. 

That's why I swore I'd never do it for my own bunch again, (barring possible sessions when everyone would be older than 10). 

But we found some people crazy brave enough to take us on and attempt to get some good shots. 

And good shots they got. We were tickled. 

Check out some highlights from our awesome photography session with Andrea Jae Photography.  And check out this hilarious pic of Miss Beanie

Drea and Renata are awesome!  We knew them before they got started in this whole photography gig and when they delved in, we had to take part.  If you have any needs for a photo session, check them out.  They won't disappoint. 

Here's my favorites from some of the sessions they've done:

An awesome engagement shoot.  (Check out the shot from the metro!  Amazing!)

And one of my favorite weddings that they've shot and shared.  They capture the fun of the moments.  I LOVE that.  :)

Thanks Drea and Renata!  We're already scanning for a re-book for after the little man arrives.  You guys are GREAT!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Sick kids will break your heart.  (They will also break your back after hauling them around for hours).  We've been in survival mode lately because Miss Bean has been quite sick with her usual lower respiratory infection. 

In tandem with being sick, (and perhaps because of, mostly), Bean's been a bit of an emotional mess.  I feel a little sorry for Shaun.  He's dealing with a cranky, moody, teething baby...  a sick, cranky, frustrated toddler... and a thoroughly insane, tired, hormonal and pregnant wife. 

He should FEAR the coming of puberty in this household.  At least he'll have Baby Boy to chill with. 

Anyway, Bean came out about 15 minutes after she had initially gone to bed.  She apparently got a paper cut on her finger and needed a band aid.  (Because band aids cure everything, as every mother of a toddler knows). 

When she came over to get it from me, she looked up and suddenly started crying.  A confused expression came over her face and she looked at me for a second before saying, "Mommy!  I didn't know I was going to cry!"

She got a big hug to go with that band aid.  

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sharing Stories

Bean's been a sick little munchkin the past few days.  Shortly before she ended up with the germs, we had gone to the library and picked up an audio copy of Charlotte's Web

Bean loves when I read to her.  She wraps herself up in the story.  If I can pull my eyes away from the page to watch her face, I'm always utterly charmed with how engrossed she gets with the story line. 

While in the car, I can't read while driving and don't always have the endless creativity necessary to weave complicated story lines through the course of some of our longer trips.  I figure she's old enough to start listening to some of the classics I've known and loved for years. 

As we started listening to the story, the two of us were captivated in our own ways.  She, with the newness of a new story.  I, with the utter familiarity of words that captured my heart years before. 

Today, we listened through one of my favorite sections that I'll quote below.  The two characters are discussing the strangeness of seeing words appear in the spider's web.

"Do you understand how there could be any writing in a spider's web?"
"Oh, no," said Dr Dorian. "I don't understand it. But for that matter I don't understand how a spider learned to spin a web in the first place. When the words appeared, everyone said they were a miracle. But nobody pointed out that the web itself is a miracle."
Sharing stories has brought a sense of wonder to each of us.  She's delving into the wondrous world of master story-tellers and I'm experiencing the magic of watching her.  

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Week in Preview

So this week I have lofty goals.  Call it spring, call it nesting, call it completely overambitious, but whatever.  I'm rolling with it.

I'll have posts on car seat safety and great picks if you're expecting, (or just need to upgrade).

I'll have a few hilarious stories of what a three year old's mind can come up with if give the right words.

I'll have some before and after pictures of our scary basement.  (Scary only because it's such an unholy mess).  I figure that'll keep me accountable to clean it up.

I'll also post a picture or two of what a pile of 300+ middle school kids can get into when let loose with a few cans of shaving cream a piece and an open stretch of land on a beautiful day. 

And last but not least, I'll post a picture or two of the project that's currently being constructed in our backyard. 

Ok, that's ambitious enough for here...  I also intend to clean the house again, plant some flowers, and take some naps.  (Because that HAS to be scheduled).

Happy Sunday!

Friday, April 17, 2009

I'll Let Her Slide This Time

At rest time yesterday, Bean was so quiet that I was sure she was taking a nap.  Slowly, I cracked the door open to peek into her room and caught sight of a very perky little girl, decked out in a Minnie Mouse dress, (complete with seperate crinoline).  She was sitting up in bed and as soon as she heard me open the door, she stage whispered, "Oh Mommy!  I don't think today is a good nap day.  Let's play!"

With the weather being a lovely 68 degrees and C being fast asleep, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to take advantage of some Mommy-Bean time and head outside.  

Fully decked out in Minnie gear, of course. 

 Welcome, Spring :)

Cheerios Helping Hearts Winners

Here's the winners for the Cheerios Helping Hearts contest! 

Thanks for playing everyone!  I'll contact alternates if I don't hear from the winners.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


The last few days have been kind of all over the place.  I was sick, felt better, felt worse... now I feel better.  Shaun got sick and is still fighting it off. 

It rained. And rained. And rained.

C has been acting VERY strange.  I know she's getting two more top teeth and they're almost out, (you can practically see the edges about to poke through).  She's been ridiculously cranky and irritable while awake, not eating well and taking really long naps.  And get this:

She's sleeping 12+ hours straight at night.  I have to wake her in the morning.

No fever, no runny nose, nothing.  Just incoming teeth and a newfound appreciation for sleep.  And crankiness out her ears. 

So part of me is a bit concerned, but she seems to be coming out of the cranky, so I'm not worrying too much.  I'm getting sleep!  Woot!  Now if Shaun would get better and stop tossing and turning, I'd be set. 

Anyone else experience this?

Anyway, I've been taking pictures and have a few stories to post, so hopefully nap time will offer me some time to do that.  For now, off to the library and out to enjoy the SUN!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


It appears that germs have invaded again.  Except this time, they're all up in my grill instead of the kids', (though I suspect that might be coming also.  Trying to stave it off).  I suppose that's a good thing but oy, they have a lot of energy.

Anyway, I might not be blogging much today (and didn't yesterday), but if you'd like to follow my mundane thoughts throughout the next day or two, (and beyond), follow me on twitter.

And really, it's mundane.  And probably boring.  Because brevity is not my middle name, (ask any person who's ever gotten a voice mail from me), and well... 140 characters?  Not a whole of room for wit from this girl.

Anyway, monsterchew, that's me :)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Taste of Summer

I really wish I could have captured the colors of this salad in the daytime.  I was craving melon way too much to wait til morning to make it, and at that time, half eaten, it wasn't nearly as exciting looking. 

I bought a honeydew, a cantelope and a watermelon from a local grocery store and decided to combine them together for a little melon salad. 

That honeydew was the sweetest thing I've ever tasted.  Not kidding.

Shaun's not the biggest fan of watermelon or honeydew, so I added some blackberries, strawberries and blueberries to his bowl.  Summer, anyone?  Produce is tasting sweeter and sweeter so it's only a matter of time.  Yum.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Accent on the Crazy

I married a Texan.  A Texan with a cute accent.  And though that accent is fading the longer he lives in Maryland, there are some things he says that will forever be odd. 

For instance, there's this weird homonym-esque pronounciation of certain words that perpetually confuses me.

"Hey Jen!  Can you go get me a pen?"  (Pen pronounced "Pee-in")

"A Pin?"

"No, a PEN!" (pee-in) "Not a PEN!" (pee-in)

And on and on it goes until one of us starts describing the function of said requested item.

"Do you need something to WRITE with or something to poke someone with?!"

"Nevermind!  I'll get the pen myself!"

So when we decided to settle in Maryland and raise our kids here, I silently thanked God that I would never have to deal with the weird homonym mix-ups that make my dear Texan husband and I want to throw things. 

(Granted, I know that we'll have our own struggles with the kids saying things like, "Aw, we're goin' down ta Bawlmore, hon!"  You Baltimoreans know exactly the accent I'm talking about).

Imagine my shock yesterday to hear this from my oldest,

"Mom!  That's grass!  A big old "hee-ool" of grass!"  

Contextually, I knew exactly what she meant.  But the pronounciation of "hill" was scarily the same as "heel".  It won't be long before I'm asking whether Bean wants to make a DEAL or put some DILL on something.  (They're both "Dee-ool").  Because I'm already at a complete loss.

Apparently Texan roots are stronger than I thought.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cheerios Circle of Helping Hearts (and GIVEAWAY!)

When was your last physical?  This year?  Two years ago?  Five years ago?  So many years ago that you need your fingers and your toes to calculate?

When you had that physical, did they check your cholesterol?  Most people know that high cholesterol is a bad thing, but most people don't pay enough attention to their numbers until it becomes an obvious problem, often requiring medicine or stronger interventions. 

With heart disease being the number one cause of death for women today, it would benefit all of us if we paid attention to that little number more closely than perhaps we have in the past. 

Sadly, there are many without the means to provide themselves with adequate health care, and thus, necessary tests pass by the wayside and the opportunity for early prevention is lost, particularly in the area of cholesterol screenings.

Cheerios has stepped up to the plate to raise awareness for heart disease prevention and to provide free cholesterol screenings for women in need.  For every code from a specially marked Cheerio box entered at, Cheerios will donate a dollar to these causes, through their partnership with WomenHeart. 

What can you do?  Encourage women (and men!) you know to get regular screenings.  Eat a healthy diet.  Look for specially marked boxes of Cheerios and enter your code at the website!  What costs but a minute or two of time for you could potentially save someone else's life. 

Also, you can enter to win a beautiful freshwater pearl bracelet from Charity Charms.  Each bracelet has a pretty little silver heart charm near the clasp.  Wear yours to spread the word of heart health awareness! 

Comment on this post and if you wish, tell me what you do to take care of your ticker!  I will randomly choose THREE winners from the comments and send a bracelet to each of them!

(These things are SUPER cute and definitely high quality... I wear mine all the time and get tons of comments on it)

Giveaway closes next Tuesday at midnight.  One entry per person UNLESS you post about the giveaway on your own blog.  In that case, comment again with a link to your post and you'll be entered again.

Good luck and happy heart health!

If You've Ever Wondered Why My House Can Be A Mess

Bathroom Cleaning: Pre-Kids
  • Put miscellaneous counter items away.
  • Wipe down counter and sink
  • Empty Trash
  • Clean toilet
  • Scrub down bathtub
Done.  Sparkling!  Estimated time?  20 minutes.

Bathroom Cleaning: Post-Kids
  •  Try to put miscellaneous counter items away.  Realize that with each kid, miscellaneous items multiply by 10.  Attempt to shove them in places they don't fit.  Give up.  Artfully arrange them on the counter.
  • Wipe down said counter.
  • Fend off curious baby while scrubbing the toilet.
  • Finish the toilet to remarkable silence.  Turn to see baby emptying trash.  Freak out, disinfect baby, empty trash.
  • Stand on tub to reach high items in preparation for a scrub down.
  • Remove baby from cabinet under the sink.  Replace all strewn items as quickly as possible.
  • Give baby and toddler crackers.  Sit them in front of little used toy.  
  • Answer "Mommy, what's that?" 15 times about bathroom paraphernalia 
  • Attempt to wrangle tub toys in an orderly pile.  Give up and chuck them into baby bathtub for permanent temporary storage.  
  • Redirect toddler from playing with wet pile of bath toys.  
  • Rescue baby from falling headfirst into the bathtub.
  • Give kids raisins, plop them in the back corner of the bedroom, bolt for the bathroom and hope for the best.
  • Spray down shower.  Turn to grab cleaning rag and catch sight of baby with three Q-tips hanging out of her mouth.  Be thankful they're clean.
  • Go towards baby and try not to giggle as she grins with the q-tips in place and runs away.
  • Take advantage of lull to finish shower.  
  • Block the entry to the bathroom with your body as toddler tries to come in to wash her animals.  Ban all bath sessions for non-tub toys for the foreseeable future. 
  • Debate refusing bathroom access altogether.  Decide that the mess on the floor would be worse.
  • Chase kids out of the bathroom and shut the door.  
Clean!  Well, almost.   Estimated time?  1 hour and 11 minutes.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Dinner Hour: Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

The recipe for tonight's dinner originally called for red peppers instead of acorn squash, but the store was flat out of 'em and well?  I was hungry.  

To prepare the squash, cut a little off the top and bottom and scoop the middle out, turn upside down in a baking dish with an inch of water, and microwave for 8 minutes.  (You can bake them, too, but it takes FOREVER).   When they're done in the microwave, drain the water, flip the squash right side up, and place the liquid from the cans of tomatoes on the bottom of the baking dish and you're ready to stuff 'em.

The filling starts with about a half an onion sauteed in olive oil.  When they get soft, add a couple tablespoons of ground cumin and a couple of crushed cloves of garlic.  Sautee those for a minute and then add about a bag of thawed and drained spinach and two cans of drained, diced tomatoes.  Cook until the liquid is mostly gone.  At that point, add about 3 shredded carrots, a can of rinsed, drained black beans and 3/4ths a cup of quinoa.  Add two cups of water and bring to a boil.  When the quinoa is tender, add a cup of pepper jack cheese and spoon the mixture into the precooked acorn squash, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. 

Take out, uncover, and add a smidge more cheese to the top of each one and bake for another 10 minutes.  Serve hot and enjoy!

Verdict over here?  We'd all eat it again in a heartbeat.  Shaun would prefer that it be spicier, which I would agree with, but considering that Bean ate three helpings of the filling, I might just leave it as is and individually season each with crushed red pepper.  Robin said that she didn't think she would have ever tried something like this a few months ago but loved it and has since said that she's becoming less and less afraid to try new things.  That?  That's a success in my book.  Niiiiice. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

C - Eleven Month Update

Dear Mini-Shaun,

As you get older, you look more and more like your Daddy.  He's cute, so this isn't bad at all.  Funnier still is watching your personality change to be more like his too.  Mainly in how you two always manage to find mischief.  Your sister isn't exactly keen on this new development as mischief with you usually means tormenting her.  But she's adjusting.

You are absolutely in love with music.  I don't have a remote idea where you get your dancing skills since I'm most certainly rhythmically challenged and your Daddy isn't much better.  (He'd argue that... but really, we're not much on the dance floor).  I'll put on music and you'll immediately drop what you're doing, crawl to the radio and start dancing.  First, you wave your arms in a sort of "raise-the-roof" motion.  Then your head starts bopping.  And if they song is upbeat enough for you, you stand up, hold on, and go crazy. 

You're sleeping MUCH better lately.  Most nights you wake up once, and lately, it's been all the way around 5:30 or 6am.  That's a full night's sleep, kid.  That?  That's a nice little gift to give to your mother, even if it is a little late. 

You've started standing on your own for a few seconds at a time, which delights us and freaks you the heck out.  You definitely need to feel like you know what you're doing before you actually take a chance and do it.  That should make for some interesting years to come.

You're stubborn beyond belief sometimes, and you definitely know what you want.  Lately, you've been squawking your frustrations when your sister gets something for lunch that you think you didn't get on your tray.  I'm working on a solutions to lessen the crazy that happens at meals and so far, it's going alright.

You're finally getting the hang of the sippy cup, but you don't drink much.  I'm trying not to let that drive me crazy.

Bean is your best friend.  You love me more than life, but when it comes to playmates, Bean's your buddy.  Bean's starting to warm up to the idea of playing WITH you instead of trying to protect her playthings FROM you.  I love when she goes out of her way to make you laugh and even more, I love hearing your laughter bubble up and out of you and hear her laugh along.  One of my greatest hopes is that you both will realize how much of a gift you have in each other. 

We're going to toss a brother into the mix soon, and in so many ways, I can't imagine a better situation.  You'll always have your big sister for your girl bonding and now?  A little brother so close in age that you guys will feel like twins one day.  Just make sure he grows up knowing how to treat a lady, ok?  You and Bean make sure of that. 

I can't get over the whole reality that you're going to be one next month.  You're still such a peanut of a kid.  But you're fast entering the splendid world of toddlerhood and knowing you?  You'll continue full steam ahead and never look back.

Love always,

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