Christmas '09

I'm having a hard time believing Christmas is over. It came and went so fast this year. I fully enjoyed everything about it this year: the anticipation, the present hunting, the baking, the festivities. Annie is at an age where she doesn't fully understand what's going on, but she loved all of the get-togethers and present exchanges. And of course the toys that hung around after everything was over.

Annie had a wonderful Christmas. We had Christmas with Paul's Mom and Harvey on the 23rd, Christmas Eve with my family at our house, and then Christmas Day at my Mom & Dad's. She loved every minute of it. She needed a little help learning how to open the presents, but caught on pretty quickly that toys came out of that wrapping paper.

More Presents? 12.25.09 from porkchop on Vimeo.

She got some wonderful gifts. Favorites include a tea set, a dollhouse, a cool Scanimation book, a Magnadoodle, and a set of bristle blocks (that she loves to pour over her head for some reason). Oh, and several new DVDs, which make Mommy & Daddy happy for something a bit different after watching the same things over and over!

Best of all, she got some great quality playtime in with her all of her grandparents, aunts, and uncles over the past week or so, which is pretty much her favorite thing right now. I love seeing her get so excited about family time. We're going to enjoy that as long as possible!
Right now we're nursing a post-Christmas cold (Annie & Paul) and enjoying my 2-week vacation to the fullest by holing up in our cozy living room during our coldest snowstorm of the year so far. We're reading lots of books, playing with our new toys, and watching our new movies. Paul's finishing up his last hour at work before coming home for the rest of the week. Yup, life's pretty great. It can stay this way a bit longer if it would like (well, except for the cold, of course!) :)


Taking the Christmas Pics

I gotta say, taking the Christmas card pictures is one of my favorite things to do all year. These guys are so much fun together, and I am really loving watching their relationship develop as she gets older. I love my babies so much!


Working with Mommy

Puzzles 12.12.09 from porkchop on Vimeo.

At the Kitchen Table

I got the booster seat out for the first time today, and Annie was in heaven. She loved sitting at the table with Mommy, doing our work together! She sat and colored, played puzzles, and read books for 2 hours. The perfect way to spend a morning.


18 Months

Annie is officially a year and a half and her personality is just spilling out of her now. She's happy, stubborn, curious, bossy, adventurous, and focused. Her latest obsessions (in no particular order): puppies ("poppies"), mini marshmallows, Elmo, books, shoes, and cleaning. She runs, jumps, climbs, and plays peek-a-boo. She loves pointing to eyes, noses, ears, arms, hands, legs, feet, cheeks, hair, and bellies, whether they are hers, yours, or her stuffed animals.

Lately her vocabulary has been picking up speed, and she's starting to string a few words together. Her babbling has changed from one or two "words" at a time to full-on babbled sentences. We have no idea what she's saying, but she's definitely saying something, and she's very emphatic about it. She runs in the room to tap on our legs and furrows her brow, points her finger to the other room, and launches into a full monologue about something of particular interest that we must attend to immediately. It's adorable.
We really tried to limit her TV time as much as possible up until now, but she is obsessed with Elmo lately and is constantly asking for it. She points to the box where we keep her dvds and makes the sign for "more," says more out loud ("moe"), says "Annie," and nods her head vigorously. It is really, really hard to say no. I'm currently employing several methods of distraction to keep it from becoming all TV, all the time. And yes, that includes mini marshmallows.
watching Elmo
My mom also tells me that the obsession at her house is with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. She asks for that all the time and when it's on she is way too excited to sit down. She stands with her thumb in her mouth, completely engrossed. The other day they were giving Pluto a bath and Annie ran out to the kitchen yelling about the puppy getting a bath, trying to get Grandma to come with her to see the cute puppy get his bath. "Poppy, poppy, mommy, mommy, mom, mom!!" (She calls everyone Mom when she wants something.)

She is extremely particular about things too. You pick out a movie or book for her because it seems like she's randomly selecting things herself up until then, but oh no, that particular book or movie just will not do, it has to be "this" book or movie. And man, she will tell you in no uncertain terms that is the way it's going to be. Her babysitter reports this is how she is with the other kids at daycare too. I'm loving her independence though. She'll be able to take care of herself, that's for sure!
Yesterday I told her it was nap time and as I was putting her in her crib she looked at me and said, clear as day, "Mommy, no night-night." A sentence! I was amazed and so excited. But it was still nap time. Mommy's no push-over you know.

We are working on our manners, and she's doing pretty well with it. She'll say "please" and "thank you" ("peas" & "dink dee") when we ask her to, and she is now saying "peas, peas, peas" when she wants something. Every once in a while she'll say thank you when we haven't asked her too yet. The cutest example of this: yesterday at Target, the cashier put our bag in our cart for us, and Annie turned to her and said thank you. The cashier was highly impressed: "that's a big word for such a little baby!" She also says "hi" and "bye-bye" frequently too, and it never fails to charm people. :)
The cleaning thing is so funny. She's been doing that for months and months now, but lately she's really taking it seriously. She'll grab the dust cloth from the cupboard and will wipe down all of the floors, all of the tables and shelves she can reach, the TV. It's quite funny and also quite helpful! She will spend an hour just walking around wiping things down. She also loves to put the groceries away. To her this means taking them out of the bags one by one and lining them up in neat rows on the stairs. She takes this work very seriously. When she finishes, she sighs loudly and wipes her hands together. Hilarious.
I mentioned her obsession with puppies. She has several stuffed dogs and talks about them constantly. She grabs them and gives them kisses and hugs and then shoves them in your face so you can do the same. If a puppy comes on TV she screams and then laughs and laughs. We watched the dog show on Thanksgiving Day and she was in heaven. She was kissing the TV every time a new puppy came on (good thing she dusts it several times a day), and when it went to a commercial she would wail "POPPY, POPPY!!" Thank goodness there were several dog food and pet store commercials to tide her over until it came back on.

Today we had to run by the vet to pick up Gussy's prescription, and there was an adorable 7-week-old German Shepard puppy sitting on a woman's lap, all wrapped up in a blanket. Silly me thought it would be fun to walk over and show Annie the puppy, since she didn't notice him all wrapped up. Well, when she saw that puppy she started giggling hysterically, pointing and kicking to get down to see the puppy. The lady had to go in to see the vet though, so we left, and woo boy. There were tears. Tears and wailing for "poppy, poppyyyyy..." It was funny and sad at the same time!

Feeling the most puppy lately are Gus and George. With George, she alternates between love and annoyance. She loves to sit on him and also snuggle up to him when he's lying on the floor and she's feeling sleepy. But she also gets annoyed when he's in her way, or when he's trying to get some of her food. She'll stiff-arm him and calls him naughty ("nah-hee geor-hee"). But with Gus she has nothing but love and kisses. She'll be about 10 feet away from him and will bend down and penguin-walk her way over to him with her lips puckered up, ready to plant one on his muzzle. And of course Gus is the skittish, bratty one, so he really doesn't want any of it. To his credit though, he is much more tolerant of it than he was at first. She's charming herself right into his inner circle, I think.

So that's the news! Having a toddler is seriously so much fun.



Among the many, many things I am grateful for:

Our warm and cozy little house.

A happy and healthy family (swine flu has come and gone, we've conquered that!)

Cups of tea on overcast fall days.

Time to read and make homemade gifts.

A sweet baby girl who loves reading, skipping, laughing, and snuggling.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Things I Will Want to Remember When I Am Living With A Surly Teenager: Installment 5

The way you'll spend hours snuggled up with us on the couch reading story after story, and then every once in a while look up and give us kisses to thank us for reading to you.


First Words

So Annie's having a bit of a language explosion lately. Over the past few weeks she's picked up several words, and has been babbling like crazy. She listens to us talking to her and then every once in a while she'll hear a word she'd like to try and goes for it. It's super fun to see and her little voice just melts me.

Here is a list of her words, somewhat in order of appearance:

Da, Daddy
Mama, Mommy
all done
(this is her most frequently used expression)
Hi Da (she says this to both of us when we enter a room)
Hi (this is usually whispered for some reason)
(started off sounding like "tia", but now sounds like "ti ti")
what's that?

(just said this one today!)

She also says "vroom vroom" when she plays with toy cars, which I attribute directly to all of the little boys at her day care. My favorite though is the way she always says "OHHH!!!!" when someone drops something or trips. Then she laughs hysterically. People at the grocery store always like that one. ;)

She understands way more than she can say, of course. She follows directions (like picking up her toys, bringing us a book, sitting down, etc.) and she can answer a bunch of yes or no questions by nodding and shaking her head. Makes getting ready for the day and mealtimes much easier, let me tell you! She's been learning her body parts and animal noises, and has been "singing" a bit now and then. Lately she's also been carefully placing her puzzle pieces in the right spot. It's really amazing watching her learn all of this stuff. Sometimes you can really see the light bulb going off.

Enough babbling. Here are some illustrations by Miss Annie herself:

Talking 9.24.09 from porkchop on Vimeo.

She's Got Skills 10.2.09 from porkchop on Vimeo.

A Genius I'm Telling You! 10.2.09 from porkchop on Vimeo.


6th Anniversary

Last week for our 6th anniversary we took a short trip to the Adirondacks. The mountains are our favorite place. We try to go every year, but missed last year. We knew we couldn't go another year without seeing them, at least for a short while. We went back and forth on tent camping or cabin renting, but when we saw that the nights were going down to the 30's, that made our decision for us. We drove up to Old Forge Saturday after Paul got out of work, found a cute little cabin at the Old Forge Camping Resort, and cozied up for the night. The weather was perfect for outside eating and a campfire. And marshmallows. Lots of yummy marshmallows.Annie fell asleep on my lap for about an hour during the campfire, but was wide awake when we got to bed. We forgot the pack and play and she was oh so excited to share a bed with Mommy & Daddy. (The dogs slept on the set of bunk beds, they seemed to like having their own bed to snuggle up on!) It took her a while to settle down. I read her some books and then turned out the lights. She bounced around for a while. She finally was still for about 20 minutes or so, but then she popped up, got reaaaalll close to my face, and whispered, "hi." Seriously hilarious, it was all I could do not to laugh. But I managed to not move a muscle, so she laid back down and finally fell asleep, her feet up on my belly. Apparently I make a good footrest.
In the morning I rustled up some microwaved breakfast at the main lodge and we ate out of the rain on our cozy little porch, complete with wooden porch swing. After check-out we drove up through the mountains, stopping at our usual spot, Long Lake & Lake Eaton. The drive through the park was gorgeous. The leaves were at their peak and it was all gray and wet. Just a perfect fall day. Another great way to celebrate the anniversary of our little family!


Things I Will Want to Remember When I Am Living With A Surly Teenager: Installment 4

How you watch me carefully when I'm singing "I'm Yours" (by Jason Mraz) and then try to sing a bit before getting all giggly and giving me big kisses. You sure do love that song. And I sure do love singing it to you.


Summer's End

Fall is coming and I'm getting that old "longing for apples, soups, pretty leaves, and pumpkins" feeling back. It's my very favorite time of year and I'm really looking forward to it. We've also been really enjoying summertime this past week or so. We crammed a lot in over a few days, but it really all felt very slow and relaxed and fun, exactly how summer should feel.

The Fair

Powers Farm Market

The Zoo

The Pier

Garage Sale Finds
A Cookout and Campfire

All in all, the perfect close to summer. Now on to September!


10 Good Things

1. The hydrangeas finally bloomed, big time.

2. Annie's sudden love for the doll we bought before she was born. Lots of hugs and snuggling and carrying her around the house.

3. A fun family day at the State Fair.

4. Concord grapes. Yum.

5. Annie's delight when Uncle Kev showed up in her room after her nap.

6. Powers farm market: cute animals, fall mums, fresh corn, yummy cookies.

7. Scoring adorable clothes and bunches of classic kids books at the thrift store. (Oh, and a Bills helmet for Kevin for 1.99. He was thrilled.)

8. Long weekends!

9. Frequent trips to playgrounds, and Annie's daredevilry climbing all over them to get to the slides.

10. Dancing to awesome ukele cover songs on YouTube.


Making Some Calls

Important work to do you know...


Wild Girl

This summer is flying by now, and our baby is just sprouting right up into a little girl. For the past month or so, all she wants to do is read books. She'll sit and read by herself, but she especially loves sitting in someone's lap to hear it from them. Or, I should say, hear one word from each page because she loses interest pretty quickly, turns through the pages with lightening-fast speed, and then goes to grab another book for the next round. Her obsession with books is such that even I encouraged her to put down her books and play with some toys instead the other day. I know, crazy. Her current favorites are "Goodnight Gorilla," "Clifford Barks," and "Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb." These are all fun to read, which helps. I could seriously sit for hours and read to her though (and I have). It's so great to see her enjoy something so much, and we love that she's so willing to snuggle up to us right now. We're definitely enjoying that for as long as we can!

She's running a lot lately, and does this thing we call "the happy dance," a cute little stomping jig that she does when she finds a good book that she wants to read, a fun new toy to play with (usually something she's not supposed to have), or if someone gives her something yummy to eat. It's adorable. She's way more interested in playing with the "big boys" than she is with little girls her own age. They're more wild, which suits her personality just perfect.

This past month we've done lots of fun summer things, like swimming, camping, trips to the playground, playing in the backyard. She has so much fun everywhere, she is quite the adventurer. At the playground she wants to walk up all of the steps just like the big kids, and loves the slide the most. When we take her swimming she goes back and forth between the two of us, but she really just wants to take off on her own, she kicks her legs and tries to jump right out of our arms. She loved camping, especially jumping all over the air mattress, doing her happy dance. Now that we have a weekend test run out of the way, we can't wait to take her on a longer trip!

She is definitely a wild girl, loves running, climbing, and jumping, and is fearless. We love what a strong, assertive, but also sweet little girl she is. We can't wait to see what comes next!


Things I Will Want to Remember When I Am Living With A Surly Teenager: Installment 3

The way you bring me a book and then walk backwards towards me until you are snuggled into my lap so we can read it together.

Reading 7.10.09 from porkchop on Vimeo.



This summer has been slow to start. The weather has been beautiful by my standards (not too hot, lots of rainy days), but most people have been complaining about too much rain and not enough sunny heat. Yesterday we finally got one of those sunny, really hot days. Annie and I took a long walk around town, first to the bank to take care of our banking business, then to the pet store to take care of our looking-at-cute-puppies business, then back through town towards the playground. Then I remembered one of our time-honored town traditions: the spraypool. We stopped to cool off, and after I showed her how to splash in the puddles, Annie really enjoyed herself. I'm finding myself hoping for more hot days so we can make more spraypool trips this summer!


Fourth of July

This year's 4th of July was:
Awesome weather: not too hot, not too cold, no rain!

Family & poker buddies.

A new hammock hideaway.
Delicious daiquiris & shamrock shakes.

A chef's triumph: pork butts & ribs ("and hardly any side dishes, because I want them to eat the meat!!")

Catch in the side yard, bocce in the back.
Baby friends. (Griffin still asks to visit Annie even though she was a bit rude to him when he sat in her camp chair. ;) )

Fireworks in the distance.
A perfect summer day.

Annie at 12 Months

Annie just hit 13 months this past week. Here are the notes I took during her 12th month:

She walks way more than crawls.

She loves stepping up steps (with help, of course).

She loves her bathtime.

Finally learned how to nod rather than shake her head, but she has to concentrate really hard to remember to nod rather than shake her head when she means yes. You can see the wheels turning, it's pretty funny.

She has to be holding a stick when she walks outside.

She loves wiping things with cloths, baby wipes, wash cloths, and paper towels. Future clean freak maybe? I hope so, it would mean less cleaning for me!

She is constantly pointing at things she either wants or thinks are interesting, and says, "eh?" We call it her Griffin phase, since our godson went through the same thing.

She loves apple juice and animal crackers.

She is trying to say "dog." She hears a dog barking, sometimes really far away, we don't even notice it until she starts saying "duh" over and over again, pointing outside. She doesn't have the ending "g" sound yet.

She says mama a lot and we think she might actually mean it. She says "da" when I ask her where her daddy is, or tell her he's coming.

She gets all excited when she sees pictures of Elmo now. She hasn't actually seen him on tv yet, just on her diapers and in books. Seeing him on tv might blow her mind, we'll have to try that!

She went to Strong Museum for her birthday. She loved the pictures of all of the Sesame Street characters, "driving" a taxi with Elmo & Cookie Monster, riding the train with mama, and playing in the stone pit with the other kids. She was enthralled by the giant in story book land. The whole experience pooped her out, she was exhausted afterwards! It was a really fun day though.

We had a big birthday party in the backyard with our family and our closest friends. It was a beautiful day and everything went great. Annie skipped her nap, which was extremely unusual for her. She takes her naps like clockwork, and I planned the party around naptime and everything. She must have gathered that something was going on because she flat out refused to sleep. I was worried, but she was a trooper and made it through the party and then some. She looked exhausted when she was eating her cake, but she was still in a good mood! I can't believe she's one. That really flew.