Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Hype

For several years in a row, I've been missing the thrill of what should be so exciting about the ball dropping in Times Square or (for those of us from Ohio) the gigantic walleye fish streaming down the pole near Lake Erie marking the official beginning of a new year. Am I really getting that old ? Does anyone else feel the same way ? I've determined that the most memorable and magical New Year's celebrations were when I was a kid and my parents had friends over to the house and we ate junk food all night long and didn't get told that it was bedtime even once. Next to that were my high school years when I was deemed "cool" enough to get an invitation to the hottest New Year's party in town. Two years in a row I partied well into the night, waiting to see who would end up kissing who when the ball finally dropped. In other words, who would be planting their lips on mine !

Now that I've reached what feels like my senior citizen days rather than my senior year, I am fortunate that I can rely on the fact that only my husband's lips will be kissing mine at the stroke of midnight and throughout the new year. For this, I am happy. The cherry on top my delicious evening is that I have the sweetest baby girl to smooch as well. For this, I am doubly blessed.

Indeed, 2006 has been an incredible year. Just think - 365 days of sweet baby smiles, morning hugs and cuddly bedtimes. This could quite possibly be my best year ever ! An entire year of Elaina ! Consumed in this precious little package of our daughter is everything I have always hoped my daughter would be. Actually, Elaina is everything I have always prayed for and more. How do we get the bonus "more," I'll never know. One thing that I am certain of is that there hasn't been a sigle day that has passed when I haven't thought myself to be the luckiest mom alive. I know I have said it before but it remains true an entire year later. Every mom should absolutely feel this way about their child and never take a single day for granted. Both Eric and I have learned this lesson well; not to take a single thing for granted. Life is too precious and life is too short.

With the finale of 2006, here is a recap of some of the most precious moments I will hold dear to my heart as I look back.

January - adoption finalization hearing with both sets of grandparents and close friends attending

February- Elaina learns to crawl

March - birth of "Elaina's Story" blog and Elaina's first word

April - 1st Easter

May - Elaina's baptism, my first "real" Mother's day

June - Walking !

July - Incredible first birthday party at Grandma and Grandpa W.'s house

August - more solid foods

September - Colin's baptism, we are chosen as Colin's godparents

October - Walk for the Angels walk-a-thon in honor of Elaina's sisters, Ella and Ava

November - learned ring-around-the rosey song and dance

December- wonderful, happy Christmas

With this, I look forward to another amazing year with everyone we love !

Goodbye to 2006 !

With this, I bid a fond farewell to the year formerly known as "2006." So long old friend, you have been good to us !

To welcome in the new year, we had some friends over to help us celebrate the arrival of 2007. In all, we had 8 adults and 2 little ones us at our house this evening. Earlier in the day, I was determined to have Elaina lay down for 2 naps which she did willingly. When our friends brought over their daughter, Maddie, I knew that was the right decision. I was as excited as Elaina that she would have a playmate for the evening. Maddie must have felt like the luckiest girl in town today as she celebrates her 2nd birthday today also. She had a birthday party earlier in the day and an evening celebration at her friend, Elaina's house too.

Maddie and Elaina were best pals tonight. They played well together and were so busy keeping up with what the other one was doing. I almost dared to take pictures of my living room, before and after "Hurricane Toddler" blasted through, but I was too embarrassed for anyone (even lurkers) to see the aftermath of the destruction which took place in my own home. Nothing got broken, everyone had fun and that's all I really had hoped for. (The multiple spills, however, are nothing I want to remember - and that was from the grown-ups !) Around 10:30, Elaina began to show signs of wearing down. I took her upstairs to get her jammies on and as I hugged her in the peace and quiet of her bedroom, I asked her if she wanted to go night-night and when she didn't make a peep, I lay in her in her crib, turned her Glo-E bear on and stroked her hair. She apparently had her share of the party. She was down for the count.

After the ball dropped and 2007 was made official, we sat down for a midnight feast of pork roast, mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. After pizza, chicken and potato wedges for dinner, appetizers, dips, junk food and dessert all evening, everyone of us was full enough to just want to burst. In fact, "bursting" would have probably been a good feeling after the load of junk I consumed throughout the evening. Our final guests left around 2:00 and (if I didn't mention it before) my neurotic self began a cleaning spree to take care of the majority of the mess. By 3 a.m., the dishes were done, the food was put away, the toys were picked up and the house looked about 200 pounds lighter without the clutter of what had been our party.
Although this evening was enjoyable, I'm fairly uncertain that we'll have a 3rd year revival, making our new year's party a tradition at our house next year. Any offers of wanting to host 2008 ?

Friday, December 29, 2006

Dim to Light

A day off for me. Yeah ! I firmly believe that we should be given more 3 day weekends. Yes, 3 day weekends and 4 day work weeks. Or maybe I should be wishing for it to be the other way around. Now we're talking !

The bad mom that I am, I took Elaina to the babysitter's house while I enjoyed some down time. I feel bad admitting that I consider my "down time" time without Elaina, but I know when I desperately need some time alone. I spent the rest of the morning cleaning my house before I rewarded myself with some guilt-free shopping. I finally hit some after Christmas sales and found some great buys. The best part was that I was able to take my time browsing and actually was able to give much thought and consideration to making my purchases. Although Elaina is a good shopper, I sometimes feel like I'm caught in a juggling act as Elaina wants a particular book from my bag while I'm trying to make sure I know where her binky, sippy or snack trap is located at all times and I try to be fair to her in how much time I spend in a particular store. Today was pure selfish.

I did remember to go home at a decent hour and get ready to go to calling hours. Since we live so close to the funeral home, we decided to go a few minutes before it began and take Elaina, thinking that we would be in and out in no time at all. WRONG. We arrived at 5:55 for visitation that began at 6:00. We waited in line for at least 30 minutes before we were able to pay our respects to the family. Thank God we had the sense to take the snack trap loaded with Goldfish and the binky. I felt a little bit bad bringing Elaina along with us, but then again, I intended to be in and out much sooner than we were. No one seemed to mind as we got compliments on how well behaved she was and cute she is. Our sweet girl was quiet and charming the entire time.
Once we arrived home, we were ready to change into our sittin'-around-the-house-clothes. Elaina decided this would be an opportune time for her ring-around-the-rosey dance in her diaper. She was so funny and ready to burn off some energy. We all danced around and sang songs before rolling on the floor in a tickle fest. Elaina was so wound and having so much fun, she let a big 'ol slobber roll out of her mouth in the midst of her laughter, which landed (of course) directly into my mouth ! Nice.

That's our Dancing Queen !

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Pushing Our Buttons

Stinker-Rotten !

That's the first name that comes to mind when Elaina pulls her newest little stunt. For quite some time, Elaina has been able to identify where her belly button is at and can point out where mommy and daddy's buttons are too. In the past few days however, she has been poking her skinny, narrow finger directly into mommy and daddy's buttons and squealing with laughter as mommy and daddy are left howling, with both laughter and pain ! Ouch ! She thinks this is incredibly funny and is relentless in her attempt to get her finger in there. I'm certain that she doesn't know exactly how much it hurts and her response only mimics ours in the form of a yelp.

Just like I said ... Stinker-Rotten !

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Fitting In

This is the activity desk that Elaina's Grandma and Grandpa W. had gotten her for Christmas ! Elaina loves it ! She loves her little seat, she loves that she has a place to scribble and color on her papers and it even has a place for her sippy ! What could be better ? Since she's gotten her new desk, she hasn't been dragging her coloring pages around the house, trying to color on any and every flat, solid surface. She's been fairly good about not coloring on walls, furniture, etc. but now, she has her very own little space to be creative and keep her art supplies. No matter that she dumps her crayons on the floor at least 4 times each night. Apparently, she can find the color she wants more easily that way.

Last night, after Elaina was in bed, Eric and I spent the bulk of our evening making our new Christmas gifts a part of our home. We filled toys with batteries, hooked up electronics, hung some wall decorations, made room in bookcases and found homes for all things old and new. I'm anxious to see how our house comes together when all the Christmas decorations come down. It's pretty for a month, but I like to see it put away just as well !

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Just along for the ride !

You know what's great about Chirstmas being over ? After Christmas sales ! Do you know who got out to the stores to do some shopping ? Elaina ! Not her dear, old mom holding down her desk at work. Nope. Elaina spent the day shopping with Nancy (her babysitter) and her two adult daughters who know that Elaina is treated and considered like their step-sister. Lucky for her, they love her too.

All I know is that when I arrived home at 5:00, Eric was taking a nap on the sofa and Elaina was no where to be found. Before I got too panic-stricken, Eric told me that Elaina was still out shopping and Jessica would be bringing her home soon. Jessica is one of Nancy's daughters whom I've gotten to know well and become great friends with. I absolutely trust her and know that Elaina was in good hands. About 5:30, Jessica delivers Elaina home to us and tells us about their day out. As Jessica relays how well-behaved Elaina was all day, Elaina, in the meantime was clinging onto me with big smiles and even bigger squeezy hugs. Jessica told us that they ate lunch at Chik-Fil-A, stopped at Wendy's to get her some yogurt, bought some goldfish crackers for a snack and shopped all over in between. Her older sister with two kids, one of which is one month older than Elaina, reportedly said that if her kids were as well behaved as Elaina while shopping, she would never be able to leave the mall and she'd be broke. I guess they don't know that Elaina has been a good shopper all of her life. Although not by genetics, Elaina is so much my girl ! I was glad to have her home and glad to hear that she had such a great day !! Her squeezy hugs were better for me than any sale at any store !

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas : Then and Now

Since I wasn't a "blogger" last Christmas, I just thought it would be fun to share and compare some pictures of Elaina from last year and this year.
I am still amazed what a difference a year can make in someone's life. When your not even 2 years old, it's half of your lifetime !

2005-------------------------------------- 2006

Christmas Day is Here !

Aren't you glad I didn't refer to this as Christmas : Part 4 ? (I promised that was over.)

Today is Christmas day and everyone (except for Elaina) has opened all of their gifts and gotten their fill of Christmas goodies (except for Elaina). We saved a few small presents for underneath the Christmas tree for Elaina to open this morning. Although, she doesn't know this day from the next or why she had a surge of gifts within a short period of time, I wanted her to experience a little Christmas magic with presents under the tree on Christmas morning. With 2 days of unwrapping under her belt, she is now a veteran present opener and breezed through her 3rd round of paper ripping.

"Does Mom know that Santa brought me markers ?"

"I love my new washable markers so much, I can't even set them down !"

After breakfast, we all got ourselves together to get on about our day. Gathering all of our loot from around the house, along with the previous days' gifts, I was a little uncertain that we would be able to fit everything into the truck and still have room for Keegan ! With one of the back seats laid down, and items piled to the celing, we were able to squeeze every single thing, including Keegan, into our Yukon. Our truck seems large any other time, but it's amazing how fast it fills up with a long weekend away.

We had only one stop to make before heading for home. My best friend since kindergarten, Kristin, lives in Florida and was in town visiting her family. It's been nearly 2 years since I had seen her and she hadn't ever met Elaina. We arrived to her parents' home and it was like I was 15 again. They are so incredibly welcoming and have always treated me like family. This time, my husband and daughter were treated like family too. Elaina ate her share of cut out cookies and was shy, but entertained herself by watching Noggin by herself in the rocking chair. We spent almost 2 hours visiting before we needed to get on the road. I'm so glad we were able to make the time see Kristin and her family.

Our drive home seemed to take forever. Maybe it's because we knew we had so much unloading and unpacking to do or maybe it's because it rained so hard much of the way. So much for a " white Christmas." The temperature for much of the weekend hovered near 40 degrees and we drove there and back in the rain. Lucky for us, the rain had ended by the time we pulled into the driveway where Eric made at least 10 trips from the truck into the house.

In summary, Christmas 2006 was excellent for all of us ! We just want to thank all of our family and friends for sharing this special time of year with us and we're thankful to have you in our lives !

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas : Part 3

My apologies that my post titles are so lame, but this is the best way to cover all of our holiday celebrating. And, I can assure you that this is the final part of the trilogy.

This morning, we joined my mom for church services about the same time that Elaina usually naps. She was fairly well behaved, but still found a way to grab everyone's attention. Her babysitter (also) spoiled her with great Christmas gifts, one of which was an animal picture book. In an effort to keep Elaina occupied, Eric begins to flip through the pages with Elaina. Obviously, she recognizes nearly half of the animals and announces the sound each animal makes loud and clear for everyone around us to hear. It was plenty funny and I would have to guess that everyone around us was laughing at her as well. (Eric found another book very soon after.)

From church, we went to my parents' house to load up our goods and head for Eric's mom and dad's house. They were expecting around 30 family members over for Christmas dinner. Luckily, Elaina was able to put herself to sleep for a good long nap before dinnertime. Everyone was thrilled to see how big our sweet girl has gotten and she did her best to show off her good behavior. She is definately getting used to so many people doting on her that she just smiles and goes about her cuteness. ( notice how mom sorta sparks a little "doting" of her own :-))

We enjoyed yet another fabulous meal and I ate so much it was hard to feel good about myself . I should have asked for bigger sized pants this year the way I've been enjoying all of these great dinners and desserts. Once the extended family members left for the evening, it was time to get down to business. The business of opening presents !!

Santa was good to everyone once again ! In my professional opinion, (if shopping were a profession) I think everyone got some great stuff this year. Elaina got 2 of the most unique teddy bears ever from each of her aunts and uncles. One of the bears is a "Glo-e Bear" which is an incredibly soft, snuggly teddy that glows different colors from within by pushing a button on his hand. Elaina loves it and loves that she can make it light up on her very own. The coolest part about this bear is that he glows and changes colors for 15 minutes and then he shuts himself off. What a great idea for a bedtime companion ! The other bear that she received is a "Buddy Bear" which is filled with lavender scented buckwheat hulls. You can warm "Buddy" in the microwave to snuggle with and keep your baby warm or put "Buddy" in the freezer to comfort a child with a fever. Are these excellent bears or what ? Just another fine example of, "Why didn't I think of that ?"

Amongst other things, we got Elaina a dollhouse
since she is the "doll" of our house !

Elaina's Grandma and Grandpa W. got her an activity desk with her very own chair. It is really a cool desk that she'll get plenty of use from for years to come. Since she likes to color and read so much, I thought this could be as good of year as any to recommend it for her. They just happened to get her the super-duper-ultimate-toddler-desk that has loads of storage and growing room ! What kid wouldn't love that ?

By the time all of us finished unwrapping our gifts, and the the little ones were content playing with their new toys, we were ready to brave the unspeakable. The Chinese gift exchange, of course !! After many laughs and much, much stealing, I ended up with a green table runner and although I'm not entirely sure what Eric's final gift ended up being, his nephew comp'ed him an autographed picture of Steeler's quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. I didn't hear any complaints from my Steelers fan.
All in all, we had another great fun filled day which everyone was able to enjoy ! Can you believe that tomorrow is Christmas already ?
I wish I could pack up all of the great memories just this easily ...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas : Part 2

For years now, it's become a tradition that we celebrate our huge family Christmas at my aunt and uncle's house. This is the aunt and uncle who have 7 grown children by the way ! Now that all of my cousins are grown, with the exception of one, they have started families of their own and we don't see one another as often as we'd like due to busy schedules, etc. With this said, it's our family Christmas that we all look forward to celebrating together each year that everyone can be a part of. We're all thankful that my cousin Andy is back from Iraq this year to be with us !

Knowing the crowd that gathers here, we can pretty much expect a good time and lots of chaos and laughter. I'm happy to report that this year was no different ! As always, we enjoyed a great dinner and the much anticipated Chinese gift exchange. Just in case you call it something different, it's an anonymous gift exchange where numbers are drawn and you choose a random gift. "Stealing" for a better gift is encouraged and you never really know what you'll take home by the end of the evening. This must have been Eric's lucky year for the best gift. The gift he unwrapped turned out to be a Victorian style porcelain ladies shoe filled with candy and a framed picture of another uncle (who wasn't even there to defend himself) whose head was cut and pasted onto a Mardi Gras partier who was covered in white body paint, wearing a diaper and swinging from a carousel horse ! Can you believe he ditched that gift for something better ?
I almost ended up with a lifetime supply of Trojan condoms. Ummm... I don't know, about 8 family sized boxes maybe ? I had my 5 year old cousin pass them onto another cousin who just delivered her son 2 weeks ago ! Can you believe no one wanted to steal them from me ? My Aunt Pat and Uncle Pete were so kind to play Santa for all of the little ones, bringing perfect, age-appropriate gifts for each child. Elaina took home a singing Minnie Mouse donning a red and white Christmas dress. She loved it ! That was incredibly kind and thoughtful of my dear aunt and uncle I must say !

And so, another year passes and we all had a great and memorable time celebrating Christmas. The rest of our story is better told in pictures and captions. Enjoy !

2006 Family Christmas picture with our cross-armed Indian Chief in the middle. ( She just started doing the cross-arms bit which looks so darn cute and funny !)
** a double click should enable a larger picture

Sweetness : Cute and Tired

You try posing 6 kids ! All second cousins to one another, the 4 to the right are all within a year of each other. So fun !

Elaina has discovered her musical talent lies in playing the harmonica (no handed to boot !) while she claps her hands ! Her cousin, Aidan, however, relies on his fingers with little chance for sound !

We loved every minute of it !!

Christmas : Part 1

Let the gift giving commence !

Today, we spent the bulk of the daytime celebrating Christmas with my mom, dad, brother, and sister-in-law and my cutie-munchkin-nephew, Colin.

Greg, Kate and Colin arrived shortly before lunchtime and we all stuffed ourselves with delicious ham and all the sides, courtesy of Mom. Yummola ! I'm happy to report that each child, Elaina and Colin, ate happily without incident, such as Elaina's Thanksgiving Day Meltdown '06 as you may recall. Hooray ! Just for the record, Picky Pickerson liked ham today. She has liked it in the past, yet forgets from time to time that she likes it. Goofball.

After we were all able to roll ourselves away from the table, it was time for opening presents. Again, another "Hooray !" I was incredibly impressed that neither Elaina nor Colin tried to smuggle each other's wrapped or unwrapped gifts and both played quite well with their new toys and not just the boxes and gift wrap. They were so cute together ! I love it ! Elaina got some awesome gifts ranging from an AquaDoodle (which is like the coolest non-messy gift ever !) to some great jammies and loads of great new books to keep us all happy. I've been looking forward to some new reading material and Elaina's love for books has not yet waivered, which in itself, is a great thing. Eric and I made out pretty well ourselves with some great new gifts to enjoy. THANKS MOM AND DAD !

Given all the excitement of the day up to this point, we still had one more Christmas planned for the evening. Pretty much all of us went down for a nap in some fashion. Elaina isn't quite used to 2 naps a day, but I was sure to cuddle with her and let her soak in some quiet time to recoup and recharge knowing what her evening held in store for her. I'm not postive that she really, truly went to sleep, but the peace and quiet was beneficial to her anyhow.

Next, we all loaded up and headed to my Aunt and Uncle's house for the second half of our family celebration. Read on ... this requires it's own post !

Friday, December 22, 2006

Destination : Christmas Time

I've been trying my best to savor and enjoy the Christmas season to the fullest, however, I've been busting my hump to do just that ! Whew ... Christmas is exhausting !

This has been a whirlwind kind of week. Between Eric, myself and several 1 a.m. bedtimes, we've knocked everything off of this week's to-do list. (Next week will be a different story as we prepare for our New Year's Eve party !) In fact, we really had to have all of our preparations finished by last night in order to leave town today. I had a friend take me to work so that Eric, Elaina and a truck full of fancy wrapped boxes could pick me up at work and jump right onto the highway. Always trying to plan ahead. Honestly, this really saves us about an hour of driving time in total.

Our first destination was to my parents' house. When my parents left our house last weekend, they had taken Keegan with them to spoil for a week, so when we arrived, Elaina was so excited to see Keegan, Pop-Pop and Ma-Maw all in the same place. We sat around visiting and enjoying our little Stinkerbell-show-off. Elaina was pure comedy this evening. She was plenty entertaining and all smiles. I am excited to see how much she'll get to enjoy Christmas this year. Stay tuned !!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Santa's Workshop

I'm just going to be brief ...

Eric wrapped a million presents last night while I did Christmas cards ! Let's hear it for team effort !! Whoo- hoo !!

I prepped each box with tissue paper and a label and Eric did all of the wrapping. Lucky for him, he finished just in time to help me seal and stamp our- way- overdue-almost-embarrassed-to-send-Christmas cards. Bedtime : 1:15 a.m. Now, I just have to hope that one of Santa's elves will be along to fancy these gifts up with some sparkly bows and ribbons !

See for yourself -

(It's not quite obvious from these pictures how deep these stacks actually are. Like mountains !)

Whew ... what a relief. I just hope everyone enjoys their gifts. Ultimately, that's what makes it worth every bit of effort and being able to deal with the maxed out Visa card and blistered feet. ( Maybe I should have picked up a new pair of shoes for myself. Santa ? Do you happen to read my blog ? )

Monday, December 18, 2006

Crunch Time

So many things I'd love to be crunching on right about now ... a fresh bag of Doritos, a sugary sweet bowl of cereal or even a bland, unflavored rice cake ... anything would be better than the last minute rush of getting ready for the holidays ! We're exactly one week away from Christmas.

There are at least 7 million and 8 things that need to be done at our house within the next 2 weeks, I feel like I'm running in circles trying to figure out where to begin. It seems as though we held a pretty successful New Year's Eve party last year that our previous guests have been inquiring as to if we are having another this year. I love having company over and it's been soooo long since we've had even a casual Saturday-night-kinda-hang-out-night with our friends. After a short discussion, we decided that we could juggle another commitment before the end of this year. Sure - why not ? Let's just see if we can get a handle on this whole Christmas thing first.

Being my neurotic, anal, plan-o-holic self, I was in the middle of outlining all of the necessary things we needed to accomplish this week before leaving for the weekend. Just as I was reeling him in, our friend, Ryan comes over to shoot a few games of pool with Eric. Ryan is a good friend of ours and we hadn't even seen so much as a glimpse of him in the past several months. There goes tonight's agenda. Funny as it seems, he wasn't all about helping us to wrap our own Christmas gifts since he hasn't even begun his shopping. We'll just throw tonight's line-up onto another day. Who needs to sleep anyhow ?

Just for getting this far in my pathetic whine, here's a sweet picture of Stinkerbell to have made it worth your while.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Capturing Christmas

Smile Pretty ....

Okay ... please tell me how people are able to get such cute Christmas pictures of their adorable little lovelies so easily ? I'm baffled. Maybe they are just offering better bribes to their children. After suiting up said "lovely" in their best Christmas- picture- clothes, fixing hair, wiping food from their cheeks and dried snot from their nose and still having the nerve to expect them to sit still for a casual pose for the camera ? Tell me please !!
Elaina and I have enjoyed a great weekend visiting with Grandma and Grandpa H. We had lots of fun and Elaina soaked in her share of warm hugs and kisses. There was one condition that grandma and grandpa were going to be able to leave our house - I had recruited them to help out with Elaina's Christmas picture. Go ahead and say it ... " she doesn't have her cards out yet ? What is she waiting on ?" Oh, I can just hear it said out loud... that's because those were Eric's exact words too ! Well - my intention was 2 weeks ago, until Elaina had the throw up flu. She's a beautiful baby, I must say, but she was a cling machine for the majority of the weekend and when she was feeling well, she wasn't into just sitting calmly for any posing. The past week, Eric and I have been passing like ships in the night and I can't even recall a conversation between us that has lasted more than 3 minutes. Trust me when I tell you that it's a team effort when it comes to picture taking anymore. Elaina would much rather be behind the camera viewing herself in the little magic box on the back of the camera. Anytime I pull out the camera, she runs toward me to see herself. Aacck ! No, no, no .... go over there and put that cute smile on your face again. She doesn't get that part !

So, back to this Christmas picture. I am feeling more embarrassed with each and every incoming Christmas card from our friends and family. And then... there's me. A super-mom-wannabe who tries her best to be on top of things like this. Yet, a sweet-smiling-Elaina-Christmas card does not yet exist. Sorry. How does everyone feel about Happy New Year's cards ? A new trend ? Of course I wish a merry Christmas to everyone I know, but that's just a wish for one day. Wouldn't it be something if we sent our best regards for a whole year of good wishes ? Think about that one ! Bottom line : we're getting there.
Here are just some examples of why it takes three people to pose a 17 month-old :

Cute, but not exceptionally clear. Care to re-enact the same pose ? Not on your life !

Umm ... hello ? We were taking pictures you know ?

Since Elaina likes "mecey" (medicine) so much, my mom brilliantly filled her dropper with apple juice and fed her like a bird. Nice bribe.

A strong contender to make the cut... alas, it's off center so wouldn't do. Brat Face.

My recruits: the Bribe Captain and Christmas Jester. (a.k.a. Grammy and Pop-Pop)

And for the grand finale ... the winning entry... the best Christmas pose of 2006... featuring Miss Elaina Rose... Bup-ba-da-dah :

You can expect your Christmas cards in the mail by the second week of March. Happy New Year !

Friday, December 15, 2006

Lucky Granddaughter

What a lucky girl Elaina is ... both sets of grandparents have come to visit two weekends in a row. Sounds like she's a pretty special granddaughter if you ask me !

My parents arrived last night to visit for the weekend. Eric is out of town for yet, another gun show and I definately enjoy the company and a few spare hands offering help. Grandma and Grandpa H. got to our house shortly after 8 p.m. Although that's approximately the time I aim to have Elaina settling in for bedtime, we obviously made an exception for her to wait up for Grammy and Pop-Pop. She yelled out immediately for Pop-Pop and welcomed him with at least a 5 minute long melty-hug. ( a melty hug is the best, when she just melts against you ! ) Around 9:00 she must have gotten her second wind because she was showing off and performing like a monkey on speed. She spun in circles to an imaginary tune so many times that I was nearly nauseated-dizzy from watching her. She climbed up and down her slide for the better part of a half hour and, with each trip down, she held her arms in the air in a "Dah !" ( Which is Elaina's version of "Tah-Dah !") All of us were tired, yet so entertained we couldn't help but to crack up at our little clown performer. I finally bribed her with a binky ( I knew it was good for something ) to sit on my lap for some down-time until she finally wound herself down long enough to sit still and fall asleep. Sounds like she has plenty of entertainment in store for her grandparents this weekend with a great show opener like that one !

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Practice Makes Perfect

So what if I'm a present-pushover ? It's always been a problem of mine ... I don't like the look of wrapped presents, unless I know what's in them ! And I don't really love surprises either, unless I know it's coming. Go ahead and say I'm no fun. I just like to plan my fun in a particular order. It's a disorder I was born with.

Back in my day, (I'll have to remember to delete this post before Elaina learns to read) Santa would bring presents before Christmas and lay them beneath the tree. Almost every Christmas, I would enlist a friend to spend the night, thus having my slumber party in the same room as the Christmas tree. After everyone was asleep, we would take the sharpest knife from the kitchen and slice the tape from my presents to see what was inside. My friend had the all important task of measuring the length of the tape to piece exactly onto where the presents' incision was made. I can just about hear the Mission Impossible theme song as I recollect. I would plan my reaction the night before as my present to my folks. On Christmas morning, I always knew what order I wanted my gifts... I always reached in for the king-supreme gift first ! Surprise ! I love it !!

So that leads me to today. My Aunt Jan and Uncle Stan, (who I love) would alway and I mean always, send a box loaded with Christmas gifts in the mail like 2 weeks before Christmas. It killed me that my parents wouldn't open that box until Christmas morning ! Aghh !! No cheating ! They were always great gifts and I was always surprised, believe it or not. Now that we are so much older, it's entirely more fun to buy for Elaina and Great- Aunt Jan and Uncle Stan have continued the tradition of sending Christmas gifts in the mail for baby girl. Since no one is around to tell me otherwise and they didn't send instructions to wait until Christmas, I sorta let Elaina open one of her presents early. Hey, Christmas is just around the corner and she'll need to keep up as the youngest one on both sides of the family.

For the record, she loved her barnyard Little People and it's really nobody's business if the tape was sliced open on her other presents or not. No one will ever know for sure and Elaina isn't about to tell.

Thanks Aunt Jan and Uncle Stan - we'll be looking forward to opening the rest soon. (Trust me on the soon part ! )

Baby Insomnia ?

Yes, this has been a l o n g week. And amazingly, it just gets longer each day. All of Wednesday, I really thought, "I can't believe it's only Wednesday. We should really be onto Thursday by now." And so, last night I got my wish. Wednesday just melted right into Thursday. Here's what I mean:

Wednesday :
4:30 - leave work and hit the stores for a shopping marathon to complete Christmas list
7:30 - experience "Mom Guilt" of being away from Elaina and not getting to see her before bedtime
9:00 - arrive home and proudly show off my buys to Eric
11:00 - announce that the both of us are about to drop from being so tired and decide to go to bed
11:10 - check on Elaina and see that her eyes are open as she stands up and reaches for me
11:11 - I am naive to believe that she was waiting up for me and gladly pick her up and begin to rock and cuddle
11:40 - tired of rocking by now, Elaina has not shut her eyes and is not more tired than when we began
11:41 - put her in her crib and pray that she puts herself to sleep

*** this is when the fun begins***

Elaina shouts out, "Mommy ! Mom-meee !" across the hallway. Eric and I both lay perfectly still and think to ourselves that she'll tire soon. Our bodies shudder with each demanding scream which shatters the momentary peace and quiet. The love of my life turns to me and says, "You're going to have to get her to sleep, I have a 16 hour work day tomorrow." AGHH ! Did he somehow forget how long my days last ? Surprisingly, I will have to defend his statement due to the fact that he was headed out to do another gun show after his regular workday to face an 8 hour drive. Lucky him.

So, I proceed to do everything I have the capacity to do to make both of my loves happy. Elaina wasn't crying and didn't seem to be sick or in pain. She just didn't want to sleep or be alone in her crib. I tried to snuggle with her in the spare bedroom, only to be kicked in the face, throat and chest as she expressed how discontented she was. We rocked, played her favorite lullabies on CD, tried her crib (again) and still ended up with the war cry of YellyPants with an adamant "Mom-meee !"

By this time, it's getting closer to 3:00 a.m. and I am fighting back my tears, dreading my tomorrow without sleep and no husband and wondering what in the world is going on with her. Resentment is building and I am at a total loss of what to do next for my B.R.A.T.S. ( baby -refusing - adequate- time to -sleep. Does that even make sense ? I thought of it at approximately 2:45 a.m. Delirium.) I was finished. I put Elaina in her bed, let her yell while I got some medicine and some water for her and made a last stitch effort at rocking her. Magic. I can't believe that Tylenol put her to sleep within 10 minutes, as it rarely makes her sleepy. The weirdo fell asleep, clutching her cold sippy cup and there was finally peace in the house. At 3:30 a.m.

Surviving Thursday

As I dropped Elaina off this morning, I shared a re-cap of our night with Nancy and cautioned her that she may be a crankbutt sooner than later because she's only had 4 hours of sleep. I dragged myself into work to do as little as I could which required full brain function. I turned in my sick slip and left at lunch time. I felt that it would be in my best interest to split the day so I didn't have to use too much of my sick time and I would still be able to pick up Elaina at 4:00 like Eric usually does.

Eric still hadn't left for his show when I arrived at home. We enjoyed some down time together as I ate a quick lunch and briefly discussed our nocturnal child. I headed up to bed for a couple hours of catch-up sleep and Eric got on the road. In case you were wondering, he did manage to squeeze in a couple of hours of sleep after Elaina and I left this morning.

I picked Elaina up a little bit before 4:00 and was informed that Stinkerbell had only taken her usual 90 minute nap today. When we got home, she was obviously tired and was even stumbling and falling down in her misery. Mean 'ol Mommy seemed to lack sympathy for her beloved tonight. I snuggled with her for a while but had no intention of letting her take a nap before bedtime tonight. She ate a good dinner, took a bath and fell asleep after only 3 books. 8:00 - Now that's more like it !

Let's hope she never gets a bout of insomnia again under my roof ! That was really no fun.

How did I forget about Monday ?

As my loyal readers may have noticed, I've been a little inconsistent and tardy with my blogging lately. My apologies to all 5 of you.

So how about Monday you ask ? Oh yeah, I'll tell you about Monday. It stunk. After a long weekend of trying to get Elaina on the road to recovery, I just really wanted the upcoming week to go smoothly and sit back and enjoy my healthy family. Apparently, Eric's name was missing from the "healthy family" list for this week. My dear, sweet husband who had been working out of town all weekend long, finally arrives home at 11p.m. and announces that he doesn't feel very well. Uh oh. I knew exactly what he was in for. He assured me that it was probably something that he ate and he would just "sleep it off." ( In the back of my mind, I gave him a big "Yeah, Right! " )

That brings us to the next morning, thee "Monday morning." Eric gets up and drags himself through the shower still saying he's not feeling well. I kick myself into high gear, knowing that I'll be the one to ultimately get Elaina fed and dressed. In the meantime, Eric gets out of the shower and crashes back onto the foot of the bed, unable to move. He can only moan. He has the flu. Whoa, I must be psychic !

Obviously, he took the day off work and didn't even make an appearance downstairs until 6:00 that evening. Would somebody please get some wood and begin to knock ? Am I going to be next to be plagued with this debilitating crud, called the "flu ?"

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

God Bless You !

Do my posts seem a little bit redundant ? Specifically, how Elaina blows mucho-snotto from her nasal passages with every blessed sneeze ? Oh, yeah - I'm sure you haven't quite erased that from your mind just yet. She's been a steady performer of this pattern for too long. Glad I brought it up again ? NOT.

So, being back at work over the past two days, I've come to realize that the same flu virus that Elaina had contracted has been rampant in just about every household in every corner of the world this weekend. I couldn't begin to count the number of stories I heard of employees being sick or their family members, or the little deliquents scheduled to appear in court today. Unbelievable.

Herein, lies my problem. There are so many people sick that everytime I hear a sneeze, I have to fight my instinct to grab a tissue and run to "catch" that persons latest delivery via their sinus passages. Get it ? I'm Elaina's snot catcher and I have begun to react like Pavlov's dog at the ringing of a bell. Oh, do I have issues .... I mean tissues. Both really. Just say "Bless You !"

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Road to Recovery

Elaina didn't quite sleep through the night again last night. Apparently she's still having a hard time dealing with her congestion and just not feeling well. Around 2:30 this morning, she was sitting up in her crib calling out, " Mommy !" in a pathetic tone, letting me know that she wasn't about to go to sleep alone. Not wanting to disturb grandma and grandpa who were sleeping just down the hall, I popped Elaina into bed with me and allowed for her to flop around as she arranged herself in a little nest beside me. Again, her pajamas were covered in slimy mucous, evidence of a recent sneeze which I managed to find in the dark, not once or twice, but oh yeah - three times. Gross. In a war of all-things-gross-to-come-from-your-baby, I can deal with snot over vomit or anything else smelly anyday. Just in case you wanted to know.

Moving on ... (glad aren't you ? )
Judging from Elaina's cling factor reaching an all out 10 this morning, I was bracing myself for a pajama day and a lot of sitting. Luckily, I had enough sense to get some Tylenol in her first thing this morning, and by 11:30, she was cheerfully showing off for grandma and grandpa. She must have gone down her slide a dozen times, crashing into her sofabed and walking in a circle this time as we sang Ring Around the Rosey. She was happy, giggly and loving the attention. The rest of us were just pleased that she was feeling so well, like a new girl after a mopey-clingy morning. We enjoyed the happy Elaina immensely !

Once we said our goodbyes to Grandma and Grandpa W., Elaina and I went upstairs for some snuggle-down time together. In other words, a nap. We were both wiped out. She wore out all of her "happy" phase shortly after and I'm convinced that I've gotten another blasted sinus infection.

All in all, we had a great visit with "MawMaw and PawPaw" despite the mood swings and snot. (from Elaina that is) I was glad that they were able to enjoy spending some quality time with Elaina despite her not feeling so well. Just two more people to hold and love on her and Elaina was perfectly fine with that ! What a roller coaster of a weekend. Grandma and Grandpa, we're glad you came for the weekend, we just hope that you didn't take any germ-remnants home with you !

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Comforting Company

Last night was yet another battle with Elaina's new nemesis, the flu.

She had a much less severe bout of throwing up, again. Surprisingly, she didn't make much of a fuss and put herself back to sleep. It wasn't until about midnight, when I checked on her before heading to bed that I noticed her bedding was soiled. Fortunately for me, I had been covering her crib sheet with a soft, fleecy blanket to keep her warmer during the night. Nothing says WAKE UP AND SCREAM like a cold crib sheet when you've just fallen asleep. Add that to the Smart Mom Tip #2. I gently scooted sleeping beauty to one end of her crib and exchanged a fresh blanket for her to cuddle against.

At this point, she has surpassed the 24 hour mark and her nose is once again shooting like an active volcano with each and every sneeze. I made an appointment with the doctor to come to to find out that she has another ear infection and a plain, old fashioned cold to accompany her digestional distress. With two prescriptions later, we arrived home for Elaina to finish out her car-nap for another hour. In the meantime, Grandma and Grandpa W. arrived for a weekend visit. Prior to them making the 3 hour trip , I had called them to forewarn them of the circumstances they were about to encounter. A sick child and the potential of their daughter-in-law who may be bedridden the following day if I've contracted Elaina's germs. How welcoming !
Lucky for us, they weren't scared and were anxious to spend some time with both of us, no matter how germ-infested our house was.

When Elaina woke from her nap, she was greeted with a happy grandma ready to wrap her arms around her in a warm hug. We did pretty much next to nothing for the rest of the day. The three of us took turns cuddling our sickly sweetie and tried to keep her well hydrated. Elaina had plenty of ups and downs throughout the day when she'd be ready to play and have fun, only to crash only a short time later from wearing herself out.

So, I wonder who will fall victim next to this demon flu ?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Sickness Strikes !

It's hit the White House ... the notorious, dreaded, draining stomach flu. Elaina has been the first to fall prey to this heinous flu bug that spreads faster than wild fire yet, is every bit as devastating in it's own special way.

Elaina had a typical evening last night. Minimal dinner. Books. Playtime. Kisses, cuddles, jammies and bedtime. I had just gotten to bed after midnight and was still warming my feet on Eric's legs when I heard Elaina begin to whimper and then begin to cough and cry. This wasn't a cry like I had ever heard from my baby before and it sent me throwing off my covers and running in to check on her. She was sitting in her crib, crying with her arms outstretched. To my dismay, I saw evidence of what she had coughed up all over her sheets. And her pajamas. And her blankets. My baby was sick !

I peeled Elaina out of her jammies and held her tight to comfort her before I snuggled her up with Eric in our bed while I stripped her stenchy, soiled bedding. I was pleased that I had the foresight, 17 months ago to register for two mattress pad covers for her crib. Smart Mom Tip #1 : always have spare bedding for occasions such as this. Heading into the 1:00 hour, I had her sheets in the laundry, crib bedding fully remade, new pajamas on baby girl and was attempting to comfort her with a damp, warm washcloth on her face in the bathroom. I foolishly believed that this was an isolated incident and that she'd gotten it out of her system. I must have had a blast of stupid, not remembering from every year prior that once you are a victim of the flu, it holds you in it's tortuous clutches and tries to wring your insides out, quite literally, for at least 24 hours. Elaina was only one hour in and 23 miserable hours to go.

For the remainder of the night, Elaina lay in our bed at my side. (With the occasional jolt into the bathroom. ) She continued to ride the puke cycle well into the morning hours. Around 5 a.m. Eric was due to get out of bed and hit the road for a weekend gun show. I'm guessing that he was able to squeeze in about 4 hours of restful sleep amongst the mayhem of which we called our night. How's that for a 6 hour drive ahead of him followed by a solid 4 hours of set up time ? Welcome to parenthood.

Obviously, I took the day off from work and Elaina and I managed to get in a few naps here and there. I'm happy to report that the remainder of the day, Elaina was vomit-free and we spent the afternoon curled up with one another. Here's hoping that she is well on her way to feeling better soon !

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Deck the Halls !

And we've finished ...

The tree is lit, the stockings have been hung and there's a little hint of Christmas all through the house. Let the holiday season begin !

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Okay ?

It's fun to learn a little lesson from your toddler every now and then. Elaina has brought to my attention that I tend to overuse the word "okay?" Okay.

It's just that Elaina has a mom who really wants everything to be okay all of the time. I want her to feel okay and look okay and listen to me, okay ? I don't think that's unreasonable at any stretch of the imagination, do you ? And isn't it okay that I want things to go okay and that I ask Elaina to be patient for just one minute, okay ?

Okay .... I get it already ! Hello Mommy - wake up call from your 17 month-old. Things are OKAY ! Elaina has taken up the habit of walking around with her toy phone pressed to her ear in a thoughtful conversation jabbering a random "Mmhmmm. Okay. Okay, mmhmm. Jabber, jabber, okay ? " She'll pile her books on the floor and thumb through each one muttering, "okay. okay. okay."

Okay, I'm a little bit embarassed and I am trying to work through my overuse of that particular word that I dare not mention one more time, alright ?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

New Record

My personal best record yet ... 32 years and still counting. Today I turn the big 3-2.

You know how people say that they "forget" how old they are ? I didn't put much merit into that being factual, as if it could really happen. Well, that was until I learned that I was about to turn 32. You see, when I called to wish my brother a happy birthday, back in October, he told me that he was now 34. What ? 34 did you say ? Well... then... that makes ME 31 already ! No chance of that happening twice now is there ?

Okay people, when you say that you forget how old you are sometimes, I'll just have to say that I believe you now ! I can't say that I am unhappy about being older. It's another year that I survived. It's another milestone in which to mature, grow and learn. It's a celebration that God has allowed me 32 years on this earth that I am able to continue to seek out my life's purpose.

So, how does a 32 year old celebrate ? Minimally.

My mom took time out of her work day to call and wish me a happy birthday while I trudged through my stack 'o work at my desk. I welcomed a that break in my morning and loved the surprise phone call at work. I treated myself to using the remainder of my personal time to leave work early and do some shopping before a follow up doctor visit and then dinner with Eric and Elaina. I chose to go to a Chinese buffet that we have liked very well in the past. Tonight's meal was enough to deter us from ever going back. The food that was supposed to be hot didn't quite feel hot enough and the colds, weren't especially cold. Not so appealing. The thought of stomach cramps and food poisoning for my birthday was enough to send me away still hungry. I thought a buffet would allow us to get in and out quickly and offer plenty of options for Elaina to try. Not to mention that I love Chinese food. Elaina wasn't particular hungry and ate graham crackers, chocolate pudding and some of Dadda's ice cream. Now that's one girl who knows how to celebrate a birthday dinner !

Monday, December 04, 2006

Scream at You Next Year !

Suffice to say that Elaina isn't a big fan of Mr. Claus this year.

Our little town was lucky enough to host a visit from Santa during his busy holiday schedule so he could catch up with all of his favorite good little boys and girls. He arrived at the firehouse at 7:30 sharp, ready to see his friends. Santa was especially anxious to see Elaina since last year's visit and let her know that her name has been at the top of his "nice" list. Prior to meeting with Santa Claus, we spent a fair amount of time viewing pictures of Santa holding "Baby Elaina" last year. Elaina and I talked about what he would look like, how his suit and hat were red and that he had a white beard, and that Mommy loves Elaina, Dadda and Santa. I really did my best to spark some excitement into our little PipSqueak. After our final talk before heading out the door, I asked Elaina if she was ready to see Santa to which she clearly replied, "NO !" and buried her head into my chest. Oh great.

After a long wait in line to see the Big Guy, it was finally our turn. This picture is evidence of Round 1 - with daddy's assistance.

( Do you love the expression on Santa's face ? :- ))) He really was very patient, despite the rolled eyes. )

So .......... she didn't really care for the man in red, regardless that he had belly that shook like a bowl full of jelly. We took a break to visit with some friends and enjoy some cookies and punch (Santa's favorite ! ) and when there was no one in line, we started in for a closer look. He must have looked larger than life sitting upon his metal office chair thrown accented with a sheer, white plastic-with-the-folds-still-in-it-table-covering backdrop. Elaina wasn't having any of it. Apparently, she was willing to forfeit her wish list to escape any direct contact with Santa. Santa willingly offered me a seat on his lap to help to ease Elaina's anxiety. ( Funny - he didn't make the same offer to Eric ? ) Still a no go. I wish I had gotten a picture of her little, dirt footprints across my khaki cords. She was fighting like an elf tied to the end of a ping- pong paddle. We moved on. Round 2 - unsuccessful.
The rest of our time at the firehouse, I mean, "Santa's Magical Winter Wonderland Kingdom", we spent munching on more cookies and punch and graciously accepting kind compliments of our little beauty.

Elaina, of course, was most happy in her daddy's arms. Lucky for her, this daddy is wrapped around her little finger and will make sure that Santa brings plenty of great loot for underneath our Christmas tree this year.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The World is My Stage

My child the clown. Oh yes, Elaina is developing the most fun and silly sense of humor.

We giggle together over peek-a-boo ( what kid doesn't love that game ? ) She laughs at jokes, not even knowing what a joke is. She does her little deep, throaty- little laughter when something on TV strikes her as funny. Like on Jack's Big Music Show when Jack's dog, Mel began to meow like a cat. Pure comedy ! I love her her squealy laughter and that she interacts so appropriately. (with the exception of sharing crayons and some other minor details)

With this said, I shouldn't be surprised that she is able to entertain herself just fine in her 17 month old world. One of her favorite games continues to be what I call, "Path of Destruction."

Seriously, WHY is this game fun ? She loves to unload her pajamas from her dresser drawer and take them for an evening walk. Sometimes she'll drag them across her bedroom to her beanbag chair for them to "rest." Other times, they make their way down the hallway into the spare bedroom. What gives ? She usually complies with my request for her to gather up her jammies and put them back into her drawer which pleases my Type A personality immensely. I've gotten to the point that I don't even bother to fold her jammies any more. I never, ever thought I could deal with clothes not lying in a neat stack until my little Sugarplum devised her own system for her clothes. I conceded. Elaina is welcome to walk her clothes anytime if that's what it takes to make her happy. She does, however, know that she is limited to that one and only drawer to scatter. My "Type A" does have limitations !

As I mentioned previously, she is really into spinning around in circles as in, Ring Around the Rosey. Tonight, she was able to take her spinning talent to a whole new level. Atop The Wrapping Paper Tote ! ( please allow me to be the first to point out all of the dust and attic debris on the lid that I'm allowing my child to prance upon. ) In the process of Eric bringing down all of our Christmas decorations, Elaina found a "stage." She's been tapping her feet on the lid and spinning in circles, with her stepping feet playing the rhythm. I do love that in order for her to make an all out spin, she puts her little arms out in front of her, Frankenstein style, and turns around. So cute ! She's really going to bummed when we actually make it through the process of unloading all-things-Christmas and the wrapping paper tote is forced back into the attic to gather more dust.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Movie Buff

Thanks Dora ! Thanks Polar Express ! We love you ! Come back anytime !

With the help of the Dora the Explorer movie and The Polar Express movies that we had previously recorded, I was able to do some holiday decorating all by myself. This was an incredible task as Elaina sat happily tuned into Dora the Explorer, helping Dora to return friendship bracelets to have friendship day around the world.

Impressive ! She generally likes all of the programs on Noggin, but hardly ever sits, quietly tuned into a show for the duration. Yet, today, maybe I was just a bore or she was especially sleepy, but regardless, the Dora movie captivated her attention for about 30 uninterrupted minutes. Just for the record, that hasn't happened before. (Her very first movie she ever "watched" was Jaws III when she was a day old in the hospital room ! Limited selection to say the least.) I had previously rented the Curious George movie for her when she was sick and we lay in bed together to watch it, but I think I was more entertained while she was feeling miserable. (Great movie by the way !! ) I'd have to say that she liked it just well enough not to fall asleep. Perhaps my timing was off. Other than that, she is usually happier to sit and enjoy a good book with a willing reader. That's fine by me !

We concluded our evening by watching our pre-recorded Polar Express movie. She was dog-tired, but she was absolutely glued to the action before her. We watched the first hour together, wrapped in a blanket, snuggled in the recliner until I realized that she really needed to go to sleep. I switched out Polar Express for the DVR'd, Two & a Half Men and that was plenty to bore her to sleep. ( God love DVR !! )

I think that Elaina is getting to the point where her attention span is getting longer and she is able to soak in action and entertainment much easier. She's been enjoying some new shows and I enjoyed some chase -free time to decorate. Good little tip to have on hand for the busy days ahead !

Friday, December 01, 2006

So Grown

Tonight was just one of those nights ... nothing too eventful, but plenty of playtime ! My favorite kind of night !
There isn't much of a story to accompany this post - just plenty of pictures to share of our big girl having enjoying her evening !