Thursday, July 28, 2011

Greetings from NC!

This is going to be a quick post as the games are about to begin! But I did want to pop in and say that we're having a fantastic time in the Outer Banks!  Our house is stunning and has a marvelous view of the ocean. The kids are having a great time playing in the sand and surf all day and us adults are loving all the good times, good food, and general relaxation. Today we went to the Currituck light house and hiked all the way to the top! We've had perfect weather and the water has been clear and warm. Perfect! I'm trying not to think about our return to reality in just a few days. 

Well, time for fun and games with the grown ups! Look for more pics after the weekend.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer Vacation

Remember my brief mention of our summer vacation a few posts back? Well as it is fast approaching (yet not close enough for me to begin actual preparations) I decided to gush all about it for you here on my blog!

I'll start by telling you that this vacation has been in the works since January 2009! Way back then my sister was trying to plan a big vacation for our siblings and parents in the Outer Banks, NC. Unfortunately, her husband's work schedule is such that in the summer time his vacation dates are non-negotiable. He is told when his vacation time is and that's when they have to schedule their trips. Also unfortunately, I was still in grad school and had a class going on the week that they could go away. Needless to say the big family trip didn't happen, but we all said that we were in for next time it worked out. Summer 2010 my baby was super tiny so we didn't travel.  Now it's summer 2011 and we've got us a great big house on the beach for July 24-31st.

In my family we are beach-loving people so this is an ideal vacation for us. Our place is on a beautiful un-crowded beach and we'll all be there together. There will be 8 adults and five kids ages 12 and under so it should be a riot. My intention is to spend the morning on the beach with my Bebe, take her in for lunch and her nap, spend nap time on the beach reading or something, and then have a little more beach time in the afternoon with the Bebe before dinner. Heaven! And after the munchkins are all in bed, the liquor comes out.

Each couple is taking turns cooking dinner one night and then there are two nights we'll do a fancier dinner that we're all going in on, and the last night we'll order out for simplicity. We're planning to head out of here in the wee hours of Sunday morning to get there mid-day. Check in isn't until 4 pm, but hello, the beach will be waiting to welcome us at any time! Thinking about it, I haven't laid eyes on the ocean in at least 2 years and I think that was just a long weekend. There's just something about the ocean for me. I doubt I can accurately put words to it, so I won't attempt.

I'm also taking my camera equipment to hopefully get some nice photos of our giant family on our first big vacation ever. Prior to '06 the hubs and I weren't even together, and since then there hasn't been a trip that we were all able to make it for. But you've all seen how the group shots of our 5 little rascals turned out two weekends ago, so I make no promises on the photos except that I'm sure they'll be priceless no matter what.

I will be taking my computer as I anticipate needing to unload my camera at least once, and in this digital age who wants the limitations on their picture-taking? So I also intend to blog a few times while we're there, though I won't promise. I think I'll definitely be anxious to share everything, and I know I will feel overwhelmed if I come home with 1,000 pictures to edit and upload. So hopefully I'll be able to at least share some previews and highlights while we're there.

We are leaving a week from this Sunday, so that means we need to spend this weekend getting some of our logistical plans in gear. My Type-A self is off to work on the spreadsheets to ensure that we get there without a hiccup! Go ahead, wish you were me :)  J/K of course!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mysteries of the Toddler Diet

Looks pretty appetizing, doesn't it? Guess whose baby won't eat mac n cheese? That's right - mine. Have you ever heard of a toddler that won't eat mac n cheese? How about a toddler that won't eat bananas? I have - mine, again.

I give you: Mysteries of the Toddler Diet (or at least my toddler's diet)

If it's not weird enough that she won't eat bananas or mac n cheese, she also dislikes other noodles and pasta. She does not like mashed potatoes. She will eat carrots in baby food form, but not cooked soft and diced. Once she ate nearly half of my sweet potato at dinner, so when I made one for her with lunch the next day you can imagine my shock when she wouldn't touch it. She once ate bites of my ham and cheese sandwich but when I cut one up and gave it to her in her high chair she wouldn't eat it. In fact, she won't eat any lunch meat or sliced cheese (unless it's in a grilled cheese). She loves chicken, beef, and pork. She likes peas, broccoli, and lots of fruits. She eats mini wheats. Why won't she eat rice? Tonight for dinner she pushed her spaghetti aside and ate only the ground turkey from the sauce. I swear if I only fed her multi-grain cheerios, she would be happy to live on them. One habit I'm very happy about is that she LOVES water. Granted, we've never given her juice, but she still drinks it like it's a big treat.

I know that there are a lot of toddlers that only eat like 3 foods so it could be much worse. I just have to laugh that at just over 1 year old she's already telling me/insisting what she likes and doesn't like. Guess I might as well get used to it! But we'll continue to try new foods. I always just give her whatever we're having for dinner. I'd say lunch is our biggest challenge in terms of variety. I don't want to feed her grilled cheese every day - and as history has proven leftover dinners can be hit or miss! Have you had good luck with any particular foods or meals? I'm always up for suggestions :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Verdict is In

And everyone is spouting their opinions. Most of the opinions I have heard and read are shock and disappointment at either the jury or the justice system. So here's my take on the Casey Anthony verdict.

First, I believe she is guilty. There was enough circumstantial evidence to convince me - the computer searches, chloroform in her trunk, failure to report the child missing among other questionable behavior, the lies she told the police... I could go on. I think, much like the OJ Simpson case years ago, it seems plain to many on the outside of the trial that she looks and acts guilty of this crime. However, instead of blaming the jury or the justice system in this case, I think the prosecution is more responsible for the outcome than anyone else. It was their burden to prove guilt and they weren't able to do it. Some of that was in their power and some of it wasn't. No one could do anything about the fact that cause of death couldn't be determined. I feel like that was a big obstacle for the prosecution. Additionally, there were no witnesses, no finger prints, no blood, no weapons, and nothing to identify Casey as the person who committed the crime.

However, as guilty as she looked and acted, if I were on a jury deciding a case in which a guilty verdict could result in a death sentence, I'm not sure I could have brought myself to find her guilty without any hard evidence pointing to her OR that she had committed murder. All of the circumstantial evidence, as much of it as there is, doesn't prove she is a killer. Computer searches don't prove you committed a crime. Duct tape on the remains certainly makes it seem that the death wasn't an accident, but doesn't indicate WHO put it there. Cause of death couldn't even be determined so as hard evidence is concerned it couldn't even be proven that this was a murder at all, even if it looked a lot like one.

It's a very sad case. This girl has essentially gotten away with murdering her own baby. She can't be tried for the crime again and since she is more than likely the murderer, the crime will probably go unsolved. It's easy to blame the jury for making a bad decision, or the justice system because justice will never be served in this case, but if you take emotion out of it that jury did the right thing. I'm glad that we are innocent until proven guilty and that when someone's life is on the line the jury truly based their decision on facts and evidence rather than emotions. There are a lot of people who believe strongly in the death penalty, and even more who simply want to feel like the killer was caught. But the death penalty is extremely serious and shouldn't be taken lightly. It's not acceptable to sentence someone to death because  they "probably" committed a crime. That person is someone's child, parent, sibling, spouse, friend, etc. also, and that kind of conviction should absolutely be beyond the shadow of a doubt.

I do find it sickening that she is going to walk away from this, but take comfort in knowing that it's not over for her. One day she will have to answer for what she's done, and the sentencing on that judgment day will be far worse than anything any other judge or jury could have handed down.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

4th of July Weekend

Well it was a success after all! Once the workers went home things really smoothed out and we had a magnificent holiday weekend. Sunday we had a big cookout at my mom's house. All 4 of my siblings and their significants and kids were all there. It's a big crowd, but we love it that way :)

There's not much else to say about my great big family and our get-togethers. They're the best. There really is no where else I'd rather be than with all of them. We always have amazing food and spend the whole time laughing and talking. And not only do I love being with my family, but I love that my baby (and future children) will grow up surrounded by a great big loving family that prioritizes spending time together and has a bond so tight that it simply can't be broken. My own cousins are at least 10 years older than I am and we only saw them a few times a year on occasions. So I'm really glad my kids will get to spend lots of time with their cousins and will hopefully be close with each other as they grow up. There's nothing like the support of your family, and the bigger and tighter that network is, the better if you ask me.

On the Fourth, we had plans to just relax, be at home, take care of some things that needed to be done around the house, and maybe see fireworks. We didn't want to be busy or away from home all day only to return exhausted and have to start the week feeling like we never rested.

After breakfast we decided to go over to the park to let Bebe girl toddle around. There wasn't a lot she could do on her own since she's barely walking, but we went down the slides with her a few times and let her walk around. She was totally fascinated by the bigger kids running around and ended up having a lot of fun.

While she napped we did some household things that needed to be done, and talked about a few upcoming things that we needed to chat about - one being vacation! More on that later though. We went out to the store when the baby woke up and finally at the last minute decided we would brave the fireworks. We met my sister at the same place both my family and my husband's used to go back when we were high schoolers. It's kind of a spot for us.

She was a little startled by the first couple of fireworks but then snuggled up to me and watched the rest of the show without making a peep. We had a great time celebrating such a special day in our nation's history (and really world history). I can't help but feel a bit sentimental about Independence day, knowing all the things we take for granted every single day in our luxuriously free lifestyle. I also think about all the lives that have been lost or forever changed preserving that very freedom. For most people it's a cookout and fireworks, but it truly is a big deal. I can't even put words to how blessed we are to live here, and how thankful I am to be raising my kids here in the greatest nation on earth.

Happy 235th birthday, America, land that I love!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

What the what

It's one of those days that I'm asking - "What the what?!" Liz Lemon-style. This is not how I wanted to start my holiday weekend.

We came home from running errands this morning and found that a turtle had been run over in our parking lot! Of course it was directly in front of our parking space. I don't want to look at that poor crushed turtle every time I leave my house :(  We tried to contact the county about picking it up, but you know how that is on a holiday weekend. No luck.

Then we get the baby upstairs in bed for her nap and realize that the next door neighbors are having the tree in their front yard cut down. This sucks partly because we just put the baby in bed, but also because the tree provides cover for a window over our front door. Without it all the houses across the street can basically see all the way through our main level. I'm not excited to lose that privacy. I guess I can rig some kind of curtain, but the window is not square it's a semi-circle. Plus, beyond the privacy there was an inhabited bird's nest in that tree. The top of it was right outside Carsen's window and any time you would ask her about birdies or say "tweet tweet tweet" she would look right out the window to that tree. Makes me sad. I just hope the birdies were gone when their branch was cut down.

It's hard to tell from this photo, but what remains of the tree at this point is covering the left half of the window. It used to cover the whole thing. 

And if cutting down a tree wasn't loud enough, then the workers turn on a stereo to listen to music while they work. I can hear it through my house and through the baby monitor. They were nice about it when I asked them to turn it off. Now they're power-washing the siding. Guess they showed me.

Hopefully the rest of the weekend will prove to be peachy perfect! We're looking forward to getting some stuff done at home this afternoon/evening and a big family cookout at my parents' house tomorrow. Monday we wanted to keep things low key so we're just hanging out with a few friends. I can't decide if we're going to see fireworks or not. For me personally I feel like I've missed 4th of July if I don't, but I wonder how our Bebe will feel about them this year. I'll let ya know!

Happy 4th of July weekend to everyone!!

Friday, July 1, 2011

My Cute 1 Year Old

I really can't believe that my tiny baby is a year old - 14 months at this point - but I am loving this age so much. She is so bright and happy, and has so much personality, it's like getting to know more of her every single day. So here are some of the things she is up to these days in her busy little toddler life...

She is eating a variety of foods, though some are still a challenge to get in her. Her favorites are scrambled eggs and toast, yogurt, multigrain Cheerios, grilled cheese, and just about any meat. She's not much for pasta or rice, and I have a tough time getting her to eat vegetables. She has figured out that the inside of a pea is better than it's shell, so she bites them and sucks the insides out. It's pretty impressive. She also loves peaches, pears, and mandarin oranges.

She has lots of hair and we sometimes have trouble keeping it under control. The hair that's on top of her head includes the stuff that never fell out, so it is very long and falls right into her face. It's actually long enough to swoop across her forehead and tuck behind her ear. Most of the time I pull it up in a little pony tail on top of her head - sometimes piggy tails. It's pretty cute :)

Like most kids her age, she is totally into anything with buttons - except baby toys, of course. She loves the remotes and knows where we stash them. She still snags one from time to time and suddenly the channel will change or the volume will go way up. She also loves our cell phones, naturally. We've given her an old one to toss around and play with, but she still knows which ones work.

She also really loves our dog, Shep. Luckily he's super-tolerant and she's very gentle. She has noticed other dogs though and even started saying doggy - well in her own way. She says, "gaga" but points to any dogs we see.

Like her mommy, she has developed a taste for chocolate. She recognizes Oreos, cupcakes, and even wrapped Dove chocolates if she sees them and has no problem demanding a bite :)

She is beginning to realize that books are for reading and not eating so we're encouraging that. She's still not super patient with the reading part and mostly wants to turn the pages herself to look at the pictures she likes. This is fine with me, it's a start. Magazines on the other hand....

She doesn't really watch TV, but there are some kid-show theme songs she likes. Angelina Ballerina is one of them. She will drop anything when she hears that song come on. She actually goes over to the coffee table and stands on one leg with her other leg up in the air behind her, like she is standing at a ballet bar. Kind of cracks me up. I promise she has not watched enough of that show to know. She usually goes to play when the song is over.

This girl is also turning into quite the little sports fan. She loves to clap and cheer and sometimes even yell when we're watching Os games either on TV or at the park. We were driving to a game just last weekend and I said to her, "We're going to see the Orioles! Do you want to see the Orioles?" And when I looked in the rearview mirror, she was pulling the straps of her carseat so she could see the word Orioles on her shirt! I was surprised that she knew without me saying anything prior, that that was her Orioles shirt. Her daddy is proud of that one!

Still a music fan, she definitely favors the toy instruments we have to the other toys. She has two different drums, a piano, two microphones, a guitar, and a xylophone. Sometimes she turns them on just to let them play while she is doing something else!

We've been lucky that we haven't really gotten into tantrums yet. I can tell that she is trying to find ways to express her anger though. A few times she has sprawled on her belly on the floor when she was mad, and I've also seen her swat at things. Once or twice she has even bitten the couch cushions, hopefully that doesn't become people. I expect a full-on tantrum to hit one of these days and I just pray it's not in the middle of church, or a nice restaurant.

Our little goof-ball definitely loves to make other people laugh. She learned when she was very young through peek-a-boo that it's funny to give someone a little startle. That turned into her saying "Boo" back to us, and now to pretty much everyone and everything. She has gotten good at her "Boo" so it's not just cute, she's out to scare. And she will do this to strangers in the store, babies, and me when I catch her doing something she knows she shouldn't be doing.

We took her for her first swim and she loved it! Not to mention, she was irresistible in her little bathing suit. She has several actually and has yet to wear the same one twice! As much fun as she has in the bath tub, I knew she would be a fan of the swimming pool. She was a little more intimidated when we got out into the middle of the water, but still enjoyed it as long as she was holding on to mama :)

As you saw in a recent post, she has started walking unassisted. At first she would only go from one person to another. But now she is going from person to object and sometimes between pieces of furniture. She is getting braver every day. She still doesn't just take off around the house. If she wants to get somewhere quick she will crawl, but I know those days are fast approaching. Just this morning I looked over and she had climbed up onto a speaker we have sitting on the floor... now we have that can of worms open!

She still sucks that thumb, though thankfully only when she's tired or snuggling. Hopefully that will make it an easier habit to break, or one that goes away on its own. She has been such a calm and adaptable child, I think she will grow right out of it without a problem.

We practice our animal sounds with a farm puzzle she got from her aunt and uncle. Sometimes she repeats them, but her favorite animal sound is "Rooooaaaaaaar" and so usually that is what all the animals in the puzzle say.

She's a Cheerio fiend and would probably subsist on them entirely if I let her. I have to hide the box if I don't want her to have them. She also knows there's a stash in the diaper bag and will ask for them non-stop in the car if she sees it. I can't complain, there are far worse things for your toddler to be obsessed with than multigrain Cheerios and your water bottle.

While I could go on and on about her for at least decades, nap time is only so long. I've hit on a lot of the big stuff to summarize her cute little personality well enough for today. My hope is always to keep up with my blogging better so that I don't have to think back over several weeks or months to catch up on what we've been up to. And as always, we'll see how that goes :)  As much as I like guarantees, unpredictability is one of the things I love most about life!