Fiona in January

Fiona in January

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Christmas Wrap-Up

Well, here it is, the looming end of 2013 and the post-Christmas season.  We took down our Christmas decorations last night (mostly due to the purchase of a fantastic discounted tree-storage container yesterday) and I have spent the morning cleaning the bathrooms, kitchen and master bedroom after finding homes for all of Baby Knives' new toys.

So can I just say...whew?!

We are incredibly blessed to be able to spend so much time with family over Christmas.  Aaron and I are both blessed in the in-law department, in which we actually get along really well with each others parents and siblings.  I know that can be kind of rare, but there is pretty much zero interpersonal holiday stress when it comes to family get-togethers and I love that!  However, with that much family to juggle it means that we have several "Christmases" and spread the holiday throughout the entire month.

My parents (who now live in Oklahoma) arrived the week before Christmas and spent a few days here on the Eastern Shore with us.  It was so nice to have them here, just part of our daily routine and it gave them a chance to really start bonding with Baby Knives.  My dad often travels East on business, so he sees her more often, but my mom hasn't been able to see her youngest grandbaby since last Christmas!  Those of you who are grandparents know how hard that can be.  We spent some time at the park and just playing, enjoying some low-key family time together.

Using Grandma as her own personal recliner

Swinging with Grandpa & Grandma pushing is SO FUN!

My dad is mostly a kid too - not bad for a Grandpa!

The weekend before Christmas we all caravan-ed up to Baltimore to celebrate our family Christmas at my sister's house.  Baby Knives got to play with her cousins and we got to spend time with family we haven't gotten to see in 9+ months.

We also (unfortunately) discovered that Baby Knives has now hit what we hope is a short-lived phase of getting overwhelmed by lots of people in a different environment than she's used to and throwing giant screaming nearly-inconsolable tantrums.  Any of my parent friends out there commiserating with me right now?

Even with the frustrations of a now-tantrum-throwing toddler, there were a few nice moments...

We managed to get one decent picture of the cousins!

The kids had a great time in the warm weather this year

Baby's first lollipop - kept her quiet and happy at the restaurant!

Our 7-year-old nephew loved his gift from us this year!

Following in her daddy's footsteps with her own guitar

We headed back home and started preparing for our own small family Christmas on Christmas Day.  I made traditional oyster stew for dinner on Christmas Eve night, we wrapped Baby Knives' presents from us and her relatives from out-of-state and settled down to enjoy our evening...until I came down with a violent stomach bug.

Yep.  Sick over Christmas and then my husband got it a few days later!  Thankfully Baby Knives was exempt from all the pukey fun, but it definitely put a damper on our own little Christmas.  It also is the reason you won't see many pictures of me below!

New Christmas jammies are a tradition

Me, on Christmas Eve night before I started getting sick

Opening gifts on Christmas morning

Are you still with me?  I know this is a long post, but hang in there!  Our final Christmas with my husband's family took place the weekend after Christmas at my in-law's house.  Baby Knives has so many cousins, all the kids were there and I loved being able to see them (and my sisters and brothers-in-law too of course!), especially little Layla who is only 2 weeks older than Baby Knives.  I love that she has a cousin so close to her in age, it's been fun so far seeing them grow up!

My husband's family is crazy.  Hilarious, but insane.  So, the photos definitely reflect our shared insane personalities!

My brother-in-law AKA Captain America
Our oldest niece, modeling the tiara she made

Snuggle time with "Mimi"

Exploring the great outdoors

The 2 oldest cousins hanging out

Wrapping paper carnage is heaven for toddlers

Uncle Aaron reading a new book to the kiddos

Christmas is exhausting!

And with that final celebration, I will end my post.  Christmastime this year was eventful, exhausting and stressful at times with sporadic toddler tantrums, but there were some good memories too.  Here's to a hopefully more stable toddler next year!  Hope all of your Christmases were merry and bright and here's to a fantastic new year in 2014!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Christmas Tree Excitement

It is officially the Christmas season in our house, the tree is up!  Last year, Baby Knives was only 6 months old so she really didn't care about the tree.  This year she got super excited when she woke up from her nap and saw it for the first time!

I love that she's old enough this year to get excited about parts of celebrating Christmas. She'll meet Santa for the first time this year too, so we'll see how that goes! Next year she might even be old enough to help with the decorating, but for now she's doing really well not touching the tree, so I'll take it!

Monday, November 18, 2013

In The Moment

It's 70 degrees outside in mid-November, enjoy!
I want to just take a few minutes and list a few things I love about my daughter right now.  As of today she is 17 months old and is sitting next to me on the couch laughing at Cookie Monster as he tries not to eat the letter of the day on Sesame Street.

It's really easy for me to just let the days fly off the calendar (cue time-passing graphic here) without stopping to appreciate the little things she does at this age that make me laugh, smile, groan and sometimes struggle not to swear under my breath!

Lately I've been worried.  I know, as a parent I should get used to worrying about my kid 24/7/365, but this is different.  I've been watching her develop, and everything seems on track except her speech.  Our pediatrician said it's nothing to worry about yet, that different kids develop at different speeds.  I have friends whose siblings or children haven't started really talking until age 2 or 3, but still - how to stop the worry?  My brain is one that can take one simple little concern and skyrocket it into full-blown panic in less than a minute.  It stews in the background and then explodes in a complete freak-out concern that my child will never speak.  I keep asking myself what I could be doing wrong, am I doing enough to interact with her, to make sure she understands, do let her watch too much TV while I'm trying to work, etc. etc.

It's exhausting.

Today I decided to try to let go.  Of course I talk to her all day, read with her, play with her and point out familiar items and what they're called.  But I'm trying to take the pressure off.  To slow down the freak-out so I don't miss out on these everyday moments with her.

Today we took the time to just go outside for a walk to get the mail (takes about 30 minutes with her tiny legs!), play in the damp grass and just enjoy running around and laughing together.  No stress for me because she doesn't form words yet, no pressure to "teach" her something constantly.  Just a fun walk with my daughter...and her teeny little 17-month-old legs.

In the spirit of stopping to enjoy my daughter, here are my top 5 things about her at this age that I want to remember:

1. She LOVES her blankie (always has) and has taken to sniffing it and laying her cheek against it when she's tired or wants a little comfort.

2. Everything is a chase, she thinks its hilarious even when I'm just walking at a normal pace behind her.  She'll turn back, laugh, and attempt to speed up to "run" away so I'll chase her.

3. She has discovered her nose.  And how much of her pointer finger will fit into it.  Of course.

4. When she gets excited or wants to dance, she does this stomping shuffle-dance that looks like river-dancing, it cracks me up and I especially love it when she does it getting out of the bathtub so she gets to add splashing to her river-dancing moves.

5. Stacking is her favorite thing.  She loves her ring-stacking toy and gets really pissed when she puts them on in the wrong order and they won't fit.  It's probably a little wrong how funny I think it is when she gets mad at inanimate objects!

Does this mean I won't worry? Of course not.  It's impossible for me not to worry, but I'm trying to let go at least a little bit and not let the worry make me miss out on the everyday fun with her.  Before too long she'll be all grown-up and walking away from me for real!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

It All Started With Yoga

Starting this past summer, I've really been trying to adapt into a healthier way of life.  I have stayed away from fad diets, have been working on portion control, adding more fruits and veggies into my daily meals and tried my best to keep away from overly processed foods...with the exception of an occasional shameburger (AKA McDonald's $1 cheeseburger).

However, the most important change to me has been putting a workout routine into place.  In the past I have exercised sporadically, due to wanting to drop a few pounds or because I knew I should.  But I always felt the effort was kind of half-assed and barely lasted a month or so because I got so bored with a treadmill.  This time has been different and I'm pretty happy about it!  The big difference is that I discovered yoga.  I never thought I could really do well at yoga and these past 5 months have completely proved me wrong.  Now, I might look slightly ridiculous doing some of the poses (thanks boobs), but I do them nonetheless!

I eased myself into doing yoga just 3 times a week for 20 minutes a day (something most working at home moms can manage!).  After just a month, I really found myself loving it.  I dropped weight (always a plus), felt calmer, noticed my posture improving and even felt more in control of my eating habits.  I started adding on more days and soon I began practicing yoga 5 or even 6 days a week.

It felt great, but I knew I needed to challenge myself more now that I was more used to having a dedicated time to work out every day.  For the past 3 weeks I've added a higher intensity cross-fit-style workout routine 3 days a week and do yoga on the alternating days.  I'm actually enjoying the challenge and find myself speeding up, adding reps and challenging myself without dreading my workouts...something I never would have thought possible back in the beginning of the summer.  My next step, starting in December, will be to add some weight-lifting to my yoga days.

Have I dropped all the weight I want?  Not yet, but I've made a great start and am also now losing inches too, which feels great.  For the first time in my life I feel like I'm in control of my health (to some degree) and am actually making the changes I need to get the results I want.

I've also boosted my own confidence in knowing I can choose a habit and stick with it, so I'm seeing positive results in other areas of my life.  I've decided to set aside 30 minutes a day to work on my second novel, a book that has been sitting with hardly any progress made since before my daughter was born (16 months ago).  This week alone that discipline has resulted in 5 new pages!

I guess what my mom used to tell me was right, that if I could just focus my strong will and stubbornness in the right direction I could accomplish great things.  Thanks mom, once again, you were right!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Disingenuous Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween!

Ok, not really, since Halloween isn't until Thursday...and I don't really feel genuine wishing anyone a happy Halloween because it is my least favorite holiday, but I have a daughter now, so I have to fake my excitement over the holiday!

At least she's still young enough not to be into the creepy/gross/scary/potentially slutty parts of the "holiday", right?  16 months is a little young for me to be worried about these costumes, right?  I think we have a few more years of Disney princess and fairy costumes before we morph into the horrors of those!

One of the parental perks (as I'm sure all you parents of toddlers know) comes at Halloween, where we get to eat our kid's trick-or-treating candy!  Call me crazy but I'm not letting our 16 month old chow down on a bag full of almond joys, sweetarts and bubblegum.  Now, just so you don't think we're horrible people, I'll let you know that we took our supercute kangaroo out for ice cream after trick-or-treating so she wasn't totally robbed of a sugar buzz.

Our local zoo does some cool Halloween events and the one we took Baby Knives to was their "non-scary" Halloween trick-or-treating afternoon.  We got to walk all through the zoo and get candy from different stations set up throughout the park, there were free games and ones you could play using purchased tickets, it was pretty cute!  I think she'll enjoy it a little more next year, since she's a little young for most of the games now, but it was nice to get her out in her little costume and who doesn't love free candy?

And with that, I begrudgingly wish you a happy Halloween!

Patiently waiting for her promised post-trick-or-treating ice cream

Cutest kangaroo EVER!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Happy 30th PA-Style

Well, it's happened...I turned 30 this weekend and the world kept on turning.  Honestly, I wasn't freaking out too much over the whole turning 30 thing, due largely to the fact that half the time I feel like I'm still playing at being an adult.  Also, we planned a long weekend trip up to Lancaster, PA in celebration of my birthday!

For those of you who don't know, I would say about 70% of our friends and a decent chunk of our family lives in the Lancaster area.  It is our home away from home and we hope to make it our actual full-time home within the next few years.  We hadn't been able to make a trip since I was just barely pregnant with Baby Knives (who is now 15 months old), so we were missing a lot of fantastic people.

We were able to shift some work scheduling around and spend Fri-Mon with friends and family.  It was an amazing trip.  Honestly, the perfect blend of relaxation and scheduled stuff to do.  My husband got to play a gig with his brother's band (The Pig Merchants, check them out!), we had a laid back lunchtime celebration with a bunch of our friends and everyone's kids on Saturday and got to spend Sunday evening with one of my favorite families on the planet, my former youth pastor and his family, who are basically an extension of my own family.  It was a great balance of time spent with friends and our family.

Baby Knives got to spend a lot of time with 3 of her cousins (ages 4 1/2, 3 and 15 months) and had a blast running around, chewing on everything and trying to learn how to climb up the stairs.  She was a champ traveling, did really well in the car and even took a snooze on the way there (this is unheard of for her!).  Buying that travel DVD player for the car was by far the best purchase we've ever made!  She napped pretty well and slept all night in a pack n' play, so most of my travel concerns with her were proved to be moot.  Love that :).

It was so hard saying goodbye and heading home yesterday.  Hopefully we can make another similar trip in the spring!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Dance, Dance, YEAH!

For all of my fellow moms of toddlers out here, just had to post this...

Baby Knives loves her some Sesame Street and since she took her first steps about 2 weeks ago, she's a little ways off from dancing on her own, but she tries so hard!

I especially love her raspberry at the end - that's my girl!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Vacation Days

We were missing my husband's brother and his family, but hopefully they can make it next year!
Last week we went on our first family vacation since Baby Knives was born.  To be honest, we  haven't done a lot of vacationing ourselves due to my husband's crazy work schedule in the medical field, so this was a rare treat.

Every summer my in-laws rent a house on the beach for a week and invite their kids and respective families to come for however many days they can.  We were able to make it from Thurs-Sun this year and hopefully can stay longer next year.  This year the house was in Southern Shores, NC and it was absolutely beautiful.  We couldn't have asked for more perfect weather while we we were there.  We got to enjoy each others company, the beach and a few local restaurants.  Next year we hope we can do more sightseeing and introduce Baby Knives to some of our favorite spots in the Kittyhawk area.  Pretty sure she'll be a big kite fan!

Baby Knives had never seen the ocean before and she greeted it with her usual calm demeanor and would have happily sat on her Mimi's lap letting the waves splash their legs all day long.  I credit her sleeping well the entire trip to her cousins and the beach wearing her out each day!  I can't wait to take her next year when she'll be running all over the sand, it'll be insane but a ton of fun.

Below are a few of our favorite snapshots of our mini-vacation (so thankful we bought a portable DVD player for Baby Knives before we left, it made the 4 hour drive bearable!)

The view from our beachhouse

Baby Knives taking a break from the waves with Mimi & Poppy

Family pic!

Taking on the waves for the first time

She could have done this all day long!

Beach towel playtime with her cousin Lilly

Her cousin, Lance, the surfer dude at age 4 1/2

Not too sure about putting her feet down in the sand!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Attack of the Creepy Crawlies

There is a particular level of "ick" that bugs force me to reach that is exclusive only to their squishy, creepy, crawly little selves.  I've never like insects.  Unlike my younger sister who once went through a fascination with crickets as a child that made us occasionally wonder about her sanity, I have always hated bugs.

That being said, it seems that the insect community is out to get me.  They've caught a whiff of my fear and loathing and have decided to use it against me.


I think not.

For the past 3 weeks, every time I have walked into the back lobby of our office, there has been a dead beetle-type bug just laying plop in the middle of a shiny, clean tile hallway.


First of all, where are they coming from?  This leads me to the disturbing answer that they must be dropping from the ceiling.  Currently stifling the urge to wear one of those umbrella hats whenever I need to use the back lobby.

Second of all, if they aren't falling from the ceiling, what is going on?!  Are they attempting to cross the wide expanse of tile, only to have a tiny heart attack and flip over on their backs to face their demise halfway across the room?

Neither option makes me happy.

 At home the ick factor continues.  We are currently being accosted by spiders.  All kinds!  Thankfully, most of them have been confined to outdoor lurking, but every once in awhile one makes it in.  The other night I was giving our 1-year-old daughter a bath in "her" bathroom and, just as I was drying her off, I spotted movement in the corner of the ceiling. 

Unable to help myself, I looked up and saw a gigantic black spider dangling in the corner over the toilet. 

Note: Always check the ceiling before "using" the bathroom!

So I did what any normal person would do.  I grabbed my daughter, ran out of the room and slammed the door; declaring that the bathroom now belonged to the least until my husband got home and blasted the damn thing into its composite parts.

I have no problem with bugs and spiders inhabiting the "great" outdoors.  This is largely why I am an "indoorsy" person, along with a hatred of sleeping on the ground, enduring non-air conditioned surroundings and sweating while sitting still.  However, when bugs decide to inhabit my space?  Bring it on - I am buying anti-spider spray and a gas mask.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Shake it Like a Polaroid Picture

Couldn't resist posting this latest video of Baby Knives!  Any time her daddy busts out his guitar (which is often) she is enthralled by the music.  He was running through an acoustic version of this song for his set this evening and it really tickled her, not to mention it got her dancing!

We were heading to the pool, so she's stylin' in her swimsuit too!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

We Made It: A Celebration of Baby Knives

There were days I never thought I'd make it to post about this...Baby Knives' first birthday.  We did it.  We survived our first year of parenting.  We had a lot of ups and downs, quite a few tears, but so many precious memories.  It's hard to imagine our life without our little bug and we had a blast celebrating her birthday.

On her actual birthday we had a special dinner with just the three of us and she enjoyed (read: smooshed) her very first cupcake.  We opened gifts from family and friends who live out of state and out of the country and laughed at Baby Knives' unabashed love of eating wrapping paper!

We had a party with family and friends this past weekend, mostly to celebrate that we all survived Baby Knives' first year!  She loves Sesame Street so we went with that theme.  Didn't go nuts, I'm not a Pinterest-crazy parent, but had a few decorations and made Elmo and Cookie Monster cupcakes for fun.  The kids played in the pool, with squirtguns, sidewalk chalk and bubbles - all in all it was a great time and wore all of the little ones out so they took great naps in the late afternoon.  As a parent, what more could you ask for?

Thank you to everyone who celebrated with us and helped make Baby Knives' first birthday really special and a lot of's to what the next year brings!