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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Elaina, the Arteest'




Just a quick picture that I forgot to post.


It's funny how Mommy set up all of the waterpaint pages taped onto newspaper, scrounged up the paint brush my dad had given to me for Elaina and pulled out the suction cup bowl for water and Daddy is the one who gets all of the glory being in front of the camera?


He did offer a warm lap and some encouragement to Elaina, keeping her busy while mommy cooked dinner. I guess that was a pretty fair trade afterall.

Kissy Face

S.W.A.K.
Lately, Elaina has been showing a great deal of affection for her mommy and daddy. She is quick to offer hugs and kisses to us, her toys and even inanimate objects. For instance, when we were flying to Florida we spent plenty of time talking to Elaina about airplanes and how she was taking a ride inside of one. She must have thought alot of her sky-high ride because she began to hug the airplane window and tried to give it a kiss. (Germ-a-phobe mommy had to intercept that immediately!) She was playing with her diaper pail yesterday (thank God it was emptied only the morning before!) and when the lid popped back up on her after she tried to close it, she said, "Oops. Saw-wee." She then proceeded to kiss the diaper pail lid. Gross!

I guess I don't feel quite as special when my competition is a diaper pail!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Knock, Knock!

Brace yourselves for what you about to see....

IT”S A DOOR! A DOOR on my bedroom! A real, solid, oak door!
Hooray for ME!

At this point, you may find yourself thinking that Elaina’s mom may have finally lost it. Maybe, Daddy should be caring for Elaina exclusively until mommy can pull herself together a little bit.

NO…

Here’s a short story to help explain my excitement for the door. Imagine yourself as a newlywed buying a fabulous, spacious 19th century house loaded with beautiful woodwork and potential everywhere you look. Now, think about how you would feel if every single door in your dream house was destroyed by a neglected dog that was locked up in your rooms and had no other choice but to claw and scratch at the door just so someone would let him out. (Judging from the old carpet, being let out to do “business” outside hardly happened.) So, every one of our bedroom doors had been completely destroyed by too-deep-to-repair claw marks.

Since we gutted and remodeled our entire upstairs many years ago, we had yet to get around to ordering and being able to afford new doors. The time has finally come. The doors have arrived and Eric has hired a retired carpenter to drill out the hinges and lock sets for us. He came to our house while we were at work today and had two hung by the time we got home. It’s so exciting to see doors on our rooms after so long without them. Eventually, Eric will have to take them down to stain the wood color and then re-hang them. But in the meantime… we have doors. We’ll finally have more than a divider screen for privacy for our guests and a completely finished upstairs.

Only 7 more doors to go!

Side Show

Elaina's performance bank is brimming over with talent as of late.

What I mean by that is that she is an absolute performer. (This is her mother talking, of course.) I've decided that since she'll never be the greatest 19 month-old ever again (she'll be the greatest 20 month-old on Friday!) I really should compile a resume of her outstanding talent now for the sake of remembering.

Her talent roster goes something like this:

She knows all of the obvious sounds made by a dog, cat, cow, duck, bird, lion, tiger, horse, pig, sheep, monkey, mouse and wolf.

She launches her creativity when asked how an elephant goes?
She stretches her arm in front of her nose and blows air through her tightly, pressed lips, thus making a "pppbbttt" sound from her "trunk"

How does a baby go?
"Didder-didder-didder."

How does an alligator go?
With her arms outstretched, she says "chomp-chomp" as she claps one atop the other.

How does a pirate go?
"Arrr." (Sometimes her Dad can coax her into following her gruff "Arrr" with "Matey.")

What does a butterfly do?
She flaps her arms, I mean, wings gently at her sides and a soft expression covers her face.

What about a goose?
She pinches your nose and says "Honk!" (we get "goosed" several times a night as she takes great pleasure in seeing our twisted face reactions)

She knows how to march while chanting "march. march. march." She's almost rolling solo on a somersault and she's still working out the kinks in her intentional sad face. (it comes across as a head-tilted, distorted smile)

She is quick to point out a mess and loves to try to jump on her own.

Whew!! Good thing I got that all down now, it took me awhile to remember all of her sideshow tricks at one time.

In short, she continues to be our incredible little girl and every bit of our joy and reason to smile every day!

Now, if we could just get her to eat!!

Monday, February 26, 2007

"IT" Happens

According to the little age ticker shown above, Elaina is 1 year, 7 months, 3 weeks and 3 days old.

Within this period of time, I would guess that Elaina has had approximately 300 successful baths.

That all came to a screeching halt tonight.

"IT" Happened. In short, she made her own floaters in her tub. It's permissible that you quit reading now if you please. However, I promise I won't go into any more detail than that. I don't think there is really more to say on the subject.

The way it all began was with an impromptu statement from Stinkerbell herself, stopping her play, looking at me and saying, "poop." We never really got around to making up a pretty little code word depicting this act of nature, so it is what it is. I asked Elaina if she wanted to go poop on the potty. With a nod of her head, I excitedly hurried her upstairs and prepped her for the potty. She looked proud to be on her cold, plastic throne and smiled with delight. After all of 45 seconds she tells me "no."
"No potty, Elaina? Can't you go poopoo on the potty like a big girl?"

"No."

And before I know it she is hustling off, tugging her pants up without a diaper. It was already close to her bath time so I chased her naked butt down and popped her into the tub. She left me with no indication that I should have still been on alert from her previous hint of going #2, so I had a notion that I would be safe for all of the 5 minutes this bath was going to last.

WRONG.

I had to learn the hard way. The stinky way.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Weekend Work and Play!

You know how vacations are the absolute greatest?
Unpacking and getting your home back on track after vacation absolutely stinks!

I think that we have finally crossed the hurdle of having all of the suitcases put up, laundry put away and we're back in the swing of our ordinary life. Ultimately, vacation was well worth all of this putting-back-together ordeal. We're all good and I promise to be more timely with my beloved Elaina stories from here on.

Since I've also taken a little vacation from blogging for the time being, there are so many short snips of our daily life that keep us both laughing and that are definitely worthy of sharing. You guessed it-- they all revolve around Elaina.

Since these have all come about in the past few weeks and in no particular order, I'll just save myself the creative imagination of trying to piece them together as a congruent storyline and use my favorite of all time; *stars*! (For the technically sound, *asterisks*)

* Lately, Elaina has been asking for a "hand" to hold as she leads her subject to retrieve something for her or show her something. She most often will come up to me, reaching for my hand and say "hand," and leads me to her goal. I love being lead around by my favorite little guide.

** I've discovered that when I leave Eric and Elaina alone for any length of time, she is bound to learn something new and I don't necessarily mean a good "new" all of the time. Elaina has loved to jump from the top of the cedar chest we have at the foot of our bed over the sleigh bed frame at the end of our bed. She thinks that this is the greatest thing since a binky and performs her stunt daily. Eric decided to kick it up a notch. He has volunteered his assistance with Elaina's jump and launches her regular jump to about three feet in the air and yells "Superfly" to which Elaina hollers, "Snooka!" Apparently, "Superfly Snooka" was a WWE wrestler in the '90's and his jumps rival the skills of our precious baby girl. I'm so glad that she picks things up so fast.

*** We were heavily reliant upon the binky for most of vacation to ensure that a good time was had by all minus any fussy requests of her prized possession. Additionally, we encouraged her binky on the flight so that she wouldn't be subject to any discomfort by her ears popping. Since we've been home, she will often put her binky aside while she's playing and even when we're reading books. She definitely knows that when the binky drops to the floor, it's going to have "uckies" on it. If such an instance occurs, she picks her binky up, hands it to me, saying, "Uckies. Waash it." She won't accept it back until it has gone under running water and will do without for a short time before needing a fix again.

**** Elaina is having yet another vocabulary explosion. She comes up with more and more words out of the blue on a daily basis. Eric was hanging a new picture for me tonight and Elaina spied the hammer and pointing her finger, said "hammer." Who taught her this? There are so many other times that she throw our random words in proper context which just blows me away.

***** The other night, Elaina was rolling around and being silly on the floor before she went to bed. She has been great about bedtimes so I offered to wind her up a little more by helping her to learn to do a somersault. When I asked her if she wanted to do a somersault, she nodded as if she knew what I was talking about. (Who knows, maybe she did.) I asked her to kneel next to me and touch her nose to her knees. Umm... this is the part where her watched her IQ points drop before my eyes. She looked at me as if she was going to mimic my position and instead, touched her nose to the floor and lay her body flat out; arms and legs as long as they could be, flat on the floor. I did my best to put her in a ball and toppled her over. Her first somersault! She loved it. She nodded that she wanted to do it again and quickly got into her pancake pose once again. Nose to the ground and all. After three days of putting the somersault trick on the back burner, I assisted her tonight with the same feat. Incredibly, she kneeled with her legs in the air and her head touching the ground and I tumbled her over as smoothly as could be expected. Now I'm seeing some promise!

On a different note, my subject line would suggest that I did some work this weekend too. It's true! We had a family date night on Friday followed by some solo shopping time which helped me to be able to commit myself to projects all weekend at home. Somehow, my obsessive-compulsive behavior kicked into overdrive this weekend and once Elaina was in bed, I tore into random, necessary, cleaning projects into the wee hours of the night on Saturday. Today, was a different story. We all took a family nap after a wonderful meal. (Oh yeah, Elaina refused to eat much of the day. Luckily, she lay down anyway.) And I ordered 210 pictures from our online photo albums of Elaina. Some were clear back from late 2005! As if I hadn't spent enough money already, I ordered two leaning book shelves for our living room. Finally. The same ones that I've had my eye on for over a year and the same ones I'm tired of waiting on Eric to find time to build for me. They'll be here in 3-4 business days! Yeah!! Do you see how my two purchases worked hand in hand tonight? Since I ordered so many pictures, I need a place to display them, so why not order book shelves? My reasoning exactly!! I can't wait! I'll post pictures of the pictures soon!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Filling Space

Since I haven't had so much time to post anything new lately, I figured I'd provide some new reading material to keep you busy until I come up with some more fun Elaina stories.

I received this e-mail from a friend of mine and have seen other bloggers post it to their sites just for kicks, so here you go:

2007 Version of Getting to Know Your Friends:

1. What time did you get up this morning? Finally peeled out of bed after 3 alarms at 7:08

2. Diamonds or Pearls? I feel that they make a lovely pendant together

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? a cinema? what's that?

4. What's your favorite t.v. show? Desperate Housewives

5. What did you have for breakfast? Cappuccino

6. What is your middle name? Rose

7. What is your favorite cuisine? hello, do I look like I'm picky?

8. What foods do you dislike? mushrooms, tomatoes, squash

9. Your favorite Potato chip? wavy chips with chip dip

10. Favorite CD you've been listening to lately? Sarah McLaughlin, "Mirrorball"

11. What kind of car do you drive? Yukon

12. Favorite sandwich? Again, the size of my jeans would suggest that I like all sandwiches!

13. What characteristics do you despise? Liars and crazy people

14. What are your favorite clothes? anything that makes me look like a size "4" - obviously haven't found any "favorite" clothes in a long, long time!

15. If you could go anywhere in on vacation where would it be? pretty much anywhere with Eric and Elaina would suit me just fine!

16. What brand of clothes is your favorite brand? the brand that is marked 50% off!

17. Where would you want to retire? don't know "where" but I know "when"... SOON!

18. Favorite time of day? anytime I'm with Elaina!!

19. Where were you born? in the delivery room, duh.

20. What is your favorite sport to watch? Supermarket Sweep! God, I'm jealous of them!

21. Who do you think will not send this back? A better question would be, Who is still reading this rambling nonsense?
.
22. Person you expect to send it back first? A better question would be, Will anyone ever comment on my blog?

23. Pepsi or Coke? Pepsi

24. Beavers or Ducks? who really needs to know this? They're both a little freaky.

25. Are you a morning person or a night owl? night owl for sure! Hoot!Hoot!

26. Pedicure or Manicure? Pedicure- it's a beautiful thing

27. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share? I devoured a half box of Lemonade Girl Scout cookies in 10 minutes yesterday. Beat that!

28. What did you want to be when you were little? big

29. What is your best childhood memory? Finally a loaded question- family vacations, camping, kick ball games in the street, sledding on snow days, followed by a million other best memories....

30. Ever been toilet papering? YES! Have you ever been syrupping, corn-stalking, egging, shaving creaming or saran wrapping? Me too.

31. Been in a car accident? no thank you

33. Favorite restaurant? anyone that serves hot food hot and cold food cold, oh, and I don't have to pay the bill

34. Favorite flower? tulips

35. Favorite ice cream? chocolate/ peanut butter, yummola!

36. Favorite fast food restaurant? different ones strike me on different days

37. How many times did you fail your drivers test? one embarrassing one!

38. From whom did you get your last e-mail.. ? my friend, Charity

39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? EXPO Design Center!!

40. Who are you most curious about their responses to this? anyone caring to delurk!

41. Last person you went to dinner with? Eric, Elaina, grandma and grandpa

42.How many tattoos do you have? on which arm? my left or right?

43. How many people are you sending this to? it looks like all of cyberspace!

44. What time did you finish this e-mail? is it relevant since I'm posting this now?

45. Favorite magazine? Women's World, exciting, huh? Oh am I old....?

46. If you could meet any famous person, who would it be? Oprah - I'll bet she gives good gift to her close friends

47. If you could choose another first name, what would it be? Queen

48. If you could change your profession right now, what would it be? Oh seriously... full time mom of 3 with a built in nanny to clean up our mess of fun throughout the day!


So, if you've gotten this far.... Congratulations! It would be fun to read responses from my other blogger friends if your up to it!

I Promise... new material coming soon!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

VACATION !!

We're home from our very first official family vacation! I really can't say enough good things about the wonderful time we spent with my grandparents and the fabulous days that we shared together. Elaina was an absolute doll and made our trip so enjoyable.

Our vacation was somewhat brief by design. I am a firm believer that a guest should always leave before they wear out their welcome. As this was the first time that we were traveling such a great distance with Elaina and staying so busy every single day, we figured that a 5 day, 4 night stay was appropriate for all of us. In total, we had 3 very full days in Florida and a great flight schedule that suited everyone perfectly. This was Elaina's first airplane ride and she did great. I have to believe that she was somewhat surprised that Mommy was so accommodating with her attached binky onto her sweater. She sucked her binky and enjoyed watching Elmo on a portable DVD player the entire flight and never even thought about fussing. Once we had arrived in Florida with my grandparents, we were a little discouraged that the weather wasn't nicer. You know how Florida has like an entire week of winter? Oh yeah... we managed to be there during the very same week. Nice. While it would have been nice to break out the sandals and capris for a cozy 80 degree day, we managed just fine. We saw sunshine and palm trees and flowers in the crisp 60 degree days and didn't once miss the salt covered cars and snowdrifts in 5 degree weather of home. Besides, we didn't go for the weather, we went to visit my grandparents. So... onto the good stuff!!!

I wasn't really sure where to begin to try to catch up so many days away from blogging so I figured the best way would be by narrating beneath my favorite pictures. If you see a picture that you like, be sure to double click on it and make it big. Enjoy!

We spent our first day in Florida at Blue Springs Park looking in on some manatees and burning off some energy at the playground. Yes folks, it really was this cold to warrant a sweater, coat and hat! This is a picture of Kylie (4) and Elaina at the park. Kylie and my grandparents have sort of adopted each other in a way. They are a good fit for each other since neither of them have any grandparents/grandchildren close by. Kylie is incredibly sweet and treated Elaina like her little sister for the day. She wanted to hold her hand, push her stroller and share her lunch with her new little friend. For a girl who has been spoiled by the best, she seemed only a little bit jealous of her grandma and grandpa's "other" granddaughter, Elaina. Of course, Elaina believed that she was much too big for the baby-bucket seat that she persuaded grandma into trying out the big kid swing. Kylie did great on her own. We went to church services on Sunday morning followed by a ride in the golf cart with grandma and grandpa. Grandpa gave Elaina the keys and she found exactly where to put them and was ready for take off. Elaina was so well-behaved at during the church service that all 24 people in attendance (also friends of g-ma & g-pa) came up to meet the youngest guest and compliment her behavior. Elaina sat still for her whole 15 minute tour around the park. Grandpa wisely took control of the wheel! My grandpa has played the harmonica ever since I can remember. This day, he shared some of his musical talent with Elaina and passed along one of his harmonica's from his collection to her. Ummm..... Happy Dwarf = Puzzled Toddler. Elaina quickly pointed out her insistence of getting closer to see this big eared character. Once I waited in line for a quick snapshot, she clung to her dad and was more than ready to move on. ( at Epcot)

We decided on a day at Epcot in DisneyWorld. We didn't rush out early in the morning, rather waiting to leave after Elaina got a good nap in for the day. She held up fairly well with the exception of her two greatest fascinations being the train in China and stair steps. Anywhere stairs. She was there to check out the stairs. In this picture, she is barely able to peel her attention away from the train running in front of us.
We left Epcot after a long day of putting on and peeling off layers of clothing, lots of walking and unforgettable memories. A day well spent!
Speaking of spent.... after leaving Epcot, we headed out to a quiet sit down dinner rather late in the evening followed by all of us crashing into our beds, or cradle-nests as Elaina would have it.
In all, we had an incredible trip and the best visit ever with grandma and grandpa. They spoiled us through and through and delighted in Elaina's sweet smiles. I personally ate enough fresh Florida strawberries that I could be growing strawberry plants within my belly at this very minute!
Thank you grandma and grandpa for a wonderful vacation! I don't know if I can wait a whole other year to come down again- we'll be looking forward to it!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Back in the saddle again...

We're back....!!!

After a wonderful, fantastic, lovely, grand vacation visiting my grandparents in Florida, the three of us have arrived home safe and sound (and a little bit tired.)

Please be patient as I'll be happy to post some pictures and stories soon! So much to share, so little time to write.....

Stop back soon!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Credit Where Credit is Due

A snow day! No work! Staying home! My little munchkin! Kisses, smiles and hugs!

All glorious things to make my Valentine's Day special!

The "special" factor was going strong most of the morning until it was getting close to Elaina's nap time and she was restless and nothing held her attention for longer that a minute. All except for the great thrill that she got by giving every blessed block, babydoll, book and sippy cup a ride down her slide. She slid her little pull-out sofa bed to the bottom of her slide and launched the contents of her toybox to sudden impact upon her landing pad. Goofball. Amazing how she decided that she would be tired before she could lend mommy a hand in the clean-up/ put away efforts. It took everything in me to resist taking a nap with her today. Warm and snuggly next to my girl, melting away into the sunny dreamland of clean houses and foot massages? Mmmm-mmm, my favorite of all time! The practical, sensible mother in me, pushed my hind end out of her room and let her sleep on her own while I tended to the maid's duties. About that maid.... I haven't seen hide nor hair of her in my house in years!! I may have to consider firing her.

As I'm busy unloading the dishwasher, cleaning off the table, and shuffling laundry through and through, I begin to think that this is a lot of work. Disciplined, calculating work that doesn't end until you're so passed out from the day's exhaustion that you're practically unconscious, but still can't go to bed until midnight when the laundry is finished and put away because you know it won't happen with a toddler on your heels the next day. Could I really do this everyday? Congratulations and best wishes and job well-done to every stay at home mom that exists. (With the exception of those who beat their children and really do tie them to chairs. Please never stumble upon my blog. Freaks.)

When we had planned on having Ava at home, I actually did quit my job (just short of my resignation letter) and had every intention on staying home. There wasn't anyone who I could be willing to trust, nor saddle with the responsibilities of her specialized care. It had to be me. When our big, beautiful, healthy Elaina blessed our lives, I entertained the thought of staying home with her too. For us, being a stay at home mom meant sacrificing a second paycheck and the equivalent of the little "extras" which I have grown very fond of. One paycheck means eating in more than out, shopping a little less, and trading in my SUV for a more practical vehicle requiring a more practical monthly payment. None of this would break us. Not one of these things was too much to ask in exchange for raising our daughter whom I love more than the world itself.

On the other hand, choosing to be a working mom meant 8 hours of adult conversations, mandatory dress code, and a second paycheck to continue to splurge on the little extras that make our life so comfortable. Additionally, the fact that we don't have family anywhere close by, I welcomed a secondary caregiver to provide love and attention to Elaina as a "grandparent" figure. We hit the babysitter jackpot when we met Nancy and her family. Nancy provides care for several other kids throughout the week and the interaction and social skills that Elaina is gaining from the whole experience is a great bonus. She loves playing with her daycare friends and looks forward to going to "Nanna's" each morning. If she put up a fight or clung to me crying each time I walked out the door, I might be singing a different tune. I appreciate that her whole world isn't centered around her mommy and she is learning independence at the same time.

Sometimes I like to think about trading all of this in if I had the courage to be a stay at home mom. You know what? I've got it easier now. I'm ashamed to admit that working is easier than caring for my own daughter full time, but I have to believe that it's true. In the days that I'm homebound and without Eric, the little luxury known as "down-time" is non existent. By leaving the house for my other work, I am actually guaranteed approximately an hour of peace and quiet as I commute. I feel like I can give my best to my child and my work place when I'm not feeling overwhelmed and have some time alone to re-group and not wonder if Elaina is in the den coloring on the computer screen again as her mommy is vegging out in the next room. Of course, by Wednesday I am looking forward to the weekends, and swear that I could just hold her and squeeze her tight, giving her kisses until Monday morning rolls around.

With either decision, the bottom line is that moms work hard. In the grand scheme of things, being Elaina's mom part-time or full-time, however you want to look at it, is the greatest promotion I have ever been granted. Ultimately, I'd like to re-think my decision to stay at home full time when Elaina gets more involved at school and with extra-curricular activities. She'll already have established a great basis of independence and may look forward to sharing her full time world with her full time mom.

Does anyone else think that the term "working mom" is somewhat redundant? Kids are work. The best kind, admittedly so, but work and dedication and responsibility no matter how you look at it. Are there any other moms that have the same feelings?

To the stay at home moms... you're number one! Now put in a vacation request and get yourself that massage that you deserve!! Working moms... might as well do the same!!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Freezy Fun

And the snow has come....
And it keeps coming and coming and coming.....
What else is there to say? It snowed!!
This just in.... Seriously, as I am sitting here dreading another snowy day driving into work tomorrow, the phone rings. Okay, it's 10:45pm and although we're always up this late, we don't usually get phone calls from friends who just want to chat this late. This is the time frame for phone calls that can quickly excite worry and panic and fear. As Eric picks up the phone and reads the caller I.D., it's my boss to tell me that we don't have to work tomorrow! I'm so excited that I'm just about jumping out of my seat! Can I just tell you the number of times that the county government offices close for a snow day? Rarely to say the least. Yeah, we get every major holiday off; short of Groundhog Day, but closing due to inclimate weather is just about unheard of. Let my vacation begin!!
And since I realize that probably not more that one of you really cares if I work tomorrow or not, here is a sweet little Elaina story I can pass along tonight.
In the past few weeks, after we finish reading books together in her room I announce that it's time to say our prayers. We begin by saying the Lord's Prayer followed by the traditional, "Now I lay me down to sleep..." bedtime prayer. Tonight, after we read our last book, I told Elaina that Mommy just wanted to hold her and rock her just a little while longer. As I turned off the light and hugged my girl, Elaina turned to me and asked, "Pray-as?" She was reminding me that we hadn't yet said our prayers before bed. Ummm.... hello? Is this girl like a 7 year old in a 19 month-old body or what? I was impressed!
Since I'm bragging unconditionally, let me do just a little more. I have discovered that Elaina and I seem to make our relationship work for us much better when I tell her in advance what we (or I) am going to do. For example, after her bath water runs down the drain, I turn on the faucet to splash out the remaining bubbles from the tub. Elaina loves to grab her little plastic bowl and hold it under the running water as if she has just struck gold. Tonight I told her that I was turning off the water when I counted to three. I kept my promise and there was no fit, no fuss and no tears about getting out of the bathtub. Elaina watched the rest of the water go down the drain and she began to count to ten. Flawlessly and unprompted. Every time she does this, I prep myself for the likely chance that she may mess up and I then I begin to think that the times she has made it to ten have been just a fluke. Not a fluke-- she can do it. By herself!
There's enough bragging in this post for tonight. And now, here is the end....

Monday, February 12, 2007

Go Ahead and CARE!

Since there's nothing particularly blog-worthy on this freezing cold winter evening, I wanted to take just a moment to pass along something worthwhile.

You should know that Kohl's is one of my favorite stores ever. (That's only worthwhile if you'd like to send me gift cards!) But, seriously, have you ever passed by the giant kiosks in the entrance of the store which promote an assortment of books and plush animals for only $5.00 each?

Yeah, it's the one that advertises their program, "Kohl's Cares for Kids."
http://www.kohls.com/main/brand_subcategory.jsp?FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=11748493
(Too bad I don't know how to "link" with special words to click on and match websites!)

On your next trip to Kohl's, I'd like to encourage you to take a minute and check out the latest promo. In my opinion, you can get some of the greatest finds for dirt cheap prices. Most recently, I have found a CD/book set of great songs by one of my favorite children's authors, Sandra Boynton. For $5!! I bought two! I have also seen Dr. Seuss hard cover books and the matching plush characters offered as well. Again... only $5!! Seriously, could you find a better deal than that? It gets even better with 100% of their sale profits on these items going directly to programs benefiting children's health and educational opportunities.

The reason I'm on my bandwagon tonight is because one of our local radio stations just wrapped up their weekend radio-thon raising money for the Children's Hospital. This is the same hospital that provided amazing, wonderful care to Ava throughout her life. During the same radio-thon two years ago, Ava had already been in the NICU for nearly a month and we were still trying to find our comfort zone within the giant hospital and our new life in general. Each and every day that this radio-thon was held, a new plush animal was delivered to Ava's room, courtesy of the Kohl's Cares for Kids program. I'm not talking cheapy, little beanie babies here, I'm talking about bright, colorful, fabulous characters that were incredibly soft to the touch and extra lovable for little hands to hold onto. Now, I realize that while Ava really wasn't overly impressed with her new gifts, I was touched beyond words that this incredible program included even the smallest of babies, signifying their importance not only in the hospital bed that night, but in the world. Kohl's Cares for Kids had made that same special delivery to each and every child that had an overnight stay in the hospital at the end of each day to ease the discomfort of them being away from home. How special is that?

So, the next time your out shopping for a gift or your own little beloved, remember to check out the latest that Kohl's has to offer and know that you are doing your part in helping to provide comfort for local children and the littlest of babies.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

My Lovely Little Weirdo...

And I use that term affectionately.

There isn't a day that goes by that Elaina's authentic, little personality fails to comes shining through in ordinary tasks. That's what I love about her; expect the unexpected.

Eric has been out of town for the weekend and Elaina and I have stayed indoors all weekend enjoying each other's company and trying to get over our germs. Yesterday, I felt the absolute worst and Elaina was an absolute doll. She woke around 7:30 and was happy to come into mommy's bed to snuggle and watch Noggin. In the meantime, I had managed to get downstairs to let Keegan out and prepared her snacktrap with dry cereal and a sippy cup of milk before taking refuge back in the warmth of my shared bed. Elaina was thrilled about having snacks in bed and quietly cuddled in her nest beside me and watched Noggin until 11:00. Did you hear that? 11:00!!! Apparently she wasn't feeling quite herself either to laze around for so long, not wanting to get up and run around. As miserable as I felt, I was thanking my lucky stars that she was content laying at my side. Once the cold medicine began to kick in for both of us, our day evolved into fun and playtime before a 3 hour mid-afternoon nap. Seriously, when it comes to not feeling well, misery loves company and we were best friends. God I love that girl!

Words can't express what a good girl Elaina was all of yesterday. It's important to recall specifically that she was the best- girl- ever yesterday, because today was a different story. We were vertical and moving before 9:00 this morning as we're both beginning to feel better. Her nap got interrupted today and her refusal to go back to sleep brought out the worst in the same sweet girl I was praising only 24 hours ago. All of the sudden, she thought that throwing things was a much better way to play with her toys and when mommy attempted to interact and join her play, she ruined it with brat behavior. Too many long hours later, she asked for medicine and wanted to go to sleep. Why couldn't we have come up with that idea before the 7 times I wanted to tie her to a chair ? Okay, so I am over-exaggerating, she just wasn't particularly pleasant until after the rest of her nap.

Throughout her day of split-personalities, she brought light to her own little weirdo within. For instance:

** At dinnertime, I made yet another effort to introduce her to a peanut buttter sandwich. She wasn't all that into it until I dipped her binky into the peanut butter and let her have a taste. That was met with a "Mmm, yummy!" and she began to dig within the bread for more "yummy." She wouldn't, of course, eat the bread and peanut butter together until I smashed it all up in a ball and asked her if she wanted to eat a "peanutbutterball." Of course. That's all it took. Flat bread and peanut butter --no way-- not when there are peanutbutterballs to be eaten.

** Elaina has taken great interest in a tennis ball as of late. It's the first thing she looks for when she comes into her room. (Said tennis ball does not come downstairs as our ball-dog Keegan is fanatic over tennis balls.) Upstairs, Elaina and I enjoyed a nice game of rolling the ball back and forth until she began giving it kisses and hugged against her face with more kisses. Looks like we have two fanatics in the house. I'll begin to worry if Elaina begins to carry it in her mouth too.

*** Finally, out of all of the delicious food that she will flat out deny, my child tries to drink her bath water and eats soap bubbles from her bath. All the while, she has a smile on her face saying "Mmm, yummy!"

**** This afternoon found me trying to suit up Elaina in some of her lighter summer clothes, anticipating warmer vacation weather. As I put on the cutest short sleeved sweater-vest shirt on her, she began to tug and pull down on the length of the sleeve. This child absolutely has issues wth her sleeves being above her elbows. I hope amongst hope that she gets this out of her system when the temperature begins to soar above 80 degrees this summer!

Oh yes I love my little weirdo. She keeps me guessing and is always full of surprises. And this is just the beginning...

Friday, February 09, 2007

Hanging in Here

I've decided not to "cheat" and backdate lots and lots of blogging simply because my creativity has hit an all time low and the fact that my warm bed and soft jammies are beginning to call my name. Besides, do you really need to hear about snot and fevers and how I've been coughing so hard that I think I can taste my esophagus? I can pretty much hear the resounding "NO" through my monitor, thank you very much. (And, you're welcome.)

I'm guessing that my last post gives you an idea of what joy this week held for all of us. Although none of us have really felt our best, it wasn't all pure yuck.
(Elaina and her Daddy are feeling well enough to share a cookie together !)

Remember Elaina's recent protests over bedtime? It seems as though they have come to an end just as quickly as they started. A phase, would you say? Even her evening tantrum sessions have come to a halt. (Near some wood? Would everyone please knock?!) Once again, there is peace in the home and we're settling in with a slightly altered bedtime routine. Before Elaina goes down for the night, we pick out books to read and cuddle close in the rocking chair before we say our prayers and give hugs goodnight. On Tuesday evening, Elaina climbed into the rocking chair by herself and began paging through her books. I asked her if she could sit on Mommy's lap to read? "Noooo." I asked her if Mommy could read books to Elaina? "Noooo." I asked if Elaina would read to Mommy? Nod of her head. ( Still not sure why she won't just say yes. Goofball.)

As I sat at her side as a captive audience awaiting my bedtime story, Elaina begins to jabber out loud the story of "Go Dog, Go." (Dr. Seuss) Although I didn't really understand what language she was "reading" she was certain to throw in a "woof, woof" every once in a while for good measure. When this story concluded 5 pages later, I asked Elaina to read Mommy "Goodnight Moon" since that is one of the books I have memorized and still one of her favorites. She happily complied and peeled herself from the rocker in search of my request. Once she had her prize in hand, she climbed back up and began turning the pages, starring at me for narration. She was absolutely adorable when she turned to me in anticipation to whisper in her ear when the "quiet, old lady whispering "Hush.'" With that, she leaned her head to the side of the chair, toward my mouth for me to whisper in her ear. So cute. She continued to turn the pages and look at me smiling for the rest of the story. Once she had enough, she handed her books over to me and I asked if she was ready for bed. Nod of the head. Now this was some kind of bedtime!!

Aside from sweet bedtimes and cold medicine, Elaina and I joined Eric for dinner at the bowling alley on his bowling night. Although Eric didn't break any records at the alley, he broke his fever of 103 at some point the next day. Since I tend to have some sort of sinus/ throat illness plaguing me 50 weeks out of the year, I have concluded that the culprit could be the filthy air that blows from a ceiling vent directly above my desk at work. On Thursday, my co-workers helped me to re-arrange my desk to be 4 feet further from the source and I talked with less-than-helpful maintenance men about blocking it or having it cleaned. That was a waste of my already precious breath. This week has also brought me to a visit to an ENT and CT scan of my sinuses ordered by the same doctor. Allergy testing for myself is scheduled for next week. I am determined to get to the root of the problem and want to put an end to my revolving door of illness once and for all. Fortunately, Elaina's sickness has been much more mild. Her cold symptoms have been limited to a slight case of the snotsies.

Very soon, we hope to all feel better and look forward to better days to come. IN FLORIDA!!!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

In 5 Minutes.

To my faithful readers:

Consider this my 5 minute project for the evening. I'm finally posting.

Let me explain...

Twas the week before vacation and all through the house, not a body was healthy, not even a mouse. (We took him out in the trap last week!) We're all filling tissues from the left and the right and we look forward to sleep even before it's night.

The baby has snot, mommy's throat is on fire and Daddy lies shaking; freezing beside her. Even the dog, with his brown ears flopping, needs medicine for the ache he has brewing inside 'em.

The week has been rough with the temperatures so low, we can't wait 'til Florida to get out of the snow!! There are germs all around, I wish somebody would clean- no one will come visit, with our tissues all green.

We want get better, we want to be well - the past few days has been a living @#%% !

This is the reason that I have not written, Elaina's still cute and we're still frostbitten!

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Countess

No joke. My girl can count to ten! Seriously!

(Okay, at this point, I realize that every single time I post about my girl, I really should be using the pronoun our girl since Eric has an equal share in loving Elaina as well.)

So, back to the counting. This evening, I asked Elaina if we could count together. With a nod of her head, (remember she doesn't prefer to answer "yes") I began with a slow, drawn out, "one..."

Elaina proceeded with "two." I repeated her response and she then moved onto "three." After each number she said in proper order, I confirmed her number by repeating it each time. To my shock and amazement, she spit out each consecutive number, one after another! Effortlessly! With each passing number, I mentally prepared myself to accept that the next number could be the one she would stumble on - but no, she went all the way to nine and then screamed, "ten!"

I am totally impressed! Again, there's not a day that goes by that she will cease to astound me. Whether it be in her words, her actions or her 19 month-old self just acting on her feelings, she is incredible!

Now, to give credit where credit is due.... Eric had everything to do with teaching Elaina her numbers. (Props to my husband too -Sweet!) Every morning, he is the one to feed Elaina breakfast and they practice their numbers together. Most often it starts with him offering her a "one" for her to follow with, "two" and him, "three," and so on and so forth. She gets it! She really gets it!!

In the meantime, I have been the alphabet- song- tutor to our child. We never really talked about establishing learning roles for ourselves, but I'd have to guess that I took on the alphabet song since I am so musically inclined. (Eric is probably wetting himself over this humor about now.) Maybe? Maybe, it's just because since Elaina was a baby, I would sing the alphabet song to her in the bathtub to keep her attention and hopefully soothe her. From there, I took it a step further, knowing that I could belt out 2 repeats of the song in the time it took to drive to the babysitter's house and still have time to tell her how much I love her and wish her a good day playing with her friends. If you were Eric, would you mess with the system? Good thing he focused on the numbers. By the way, she's loves the alphabet tune and pulls random strands of letters out occasionally to sing along with.

At this point, I have just been reduced to a proud, gushing river of sentiment and feeling so much joy in being Elaina's mom. Pretty much sets the tone of all of my days with our girl.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Out & About in the Arctic

If you are able to recall all of the excitement contained in my posts over the past 2 weekends, you'll know that Elaina and myself have lived like hermits in the warmth and seclusion of our home. For the third weekend in a row, it's terribly cold outside and I can't take it anymore! I have to get out!

Even though today's temperature reached an all-out record of 7 degrees, I set out for some much needed shopping therapy. Donning multiple layers of clothes, my new favorite courderoy, short billed hat and my comfy boots, I was ready to do some damage at the stores. I had been mentally preparing Eric to be ready for a "Daddy Day" with Elaina and not even question when I might be coming home. As I was trying to get myself out of the house, Elaina ran to me at least 7 times, asking for her hat to be able to come along and hugging and clinging to me. It's not that she was opposed to spending time with her dad, it's just that she is used to mommy staying home with her and taking her places when I do leave. She has grown accustom to daddy leaving certain nights of the week for bowling and fire meetings and being away from home on some weekends to work his second job at gun shows. She gives him great squeezy hugs and kisses and says, "bye-bye Dadda" and gives him her friendly wave. The flip side is when mommy decides to leave the house without her and she feels betrayed. It hurt my heart a little to finally sneak out the door without a final good-bye, but I couldn't draw more attention to my departure. All in all, it was a good thing for all of us to mix up our routine a little bit.

As for my shopping trip, I rocked! I covered a lot of territory in about 5 hours and found some great deals along the way for all of us. I put my mom guilt aside and tried my best to enjoy my day out on the town. Bundled up. In 7 degree weather.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

See Ya!




See you later, Alligator!
When Elaina discovered that Eric was working outside without her, she immediately asked for her hat and coat so that she could join him. Much to her disappointment, I banned her from going outside since it was only about 8 degrees and her fleecy jammies and backwards vest wouldn't cut it.
Eric came in a short while later and made everything better. It's funny how when the weekend is here, Elaina is sure to keep a close eye on what the both of us are doing. She' like our mini playground supervisor that makes up new rules as she goes, but never lets you in on what they are and keeps track of your every move.
Despite the fact that all of Ohio has been hit with freezing cold temperatures, we actually decided to peel ourselves out of our stay-at-home-comfy-clothes and go to our friends' house for dinner. They had invited over another couple who have a 2 year-old and a 4 month-old behemoth child. (Seriously, their kid is all of 4 months and weighs 24 pounds. And looks like an 8 month old.) Between all of us, we brought 3 little girls together (all approximately the same age) and enjoyed our very own 3 ring circus that we had created. We had planned on playing some games after the kids went to bed, but the 4 month-old cried nearly all night and 2/3 girls had a hard time winding down. I was very impressed with Elaina's behavior throughout the evening and the fact that she actually did get herself to sleep amidst loud conversations and laughter.
It seems that we all needed an evening out to play and break up some of the monotony of being home. This was a great time to catch up with some old friends as well as make some new ones. When my eardrums stop bleeding from the screaming, crying baby, I'll remember this for the great time for which it was.

Let the excitement begin!

Since February is finally here, I've allowed myself to begin to get excited about going on vacation! WooHoo!
Just say it with me, v a c a t i o n ! Yes! Yes! Yes!

Okay. A calm, relaxing breath. Aahh. Let me just tell you that I am so ready for vacation. In only a few short weeks, the three of us will be leaving our snow covered iceland and flying to Florida to visit with my Grandparents. It's been years since Eric have been down to visit and this will mark Elaina's first trip to Florida as well as her first flight.

There are so many reasons to be looking forward to our trip. First and foremost is getting to spend some time with my grandma and grandpa (whom we will be staying with)and my Aunt Sandie. Obviously, they are the whole reason for the trip, but the perks that go with their company are pretty great too. With our outdoor temperature reading a high of 12 degrees all day long, the sunshine and warm weather is definately something to look forward to. I am ready to be reminded what warm air feels like on my bare arms and shoes without wool socks. I can't wait to trade in my 5 layers of winter clothes for capris and sandals! Yes!

Another great point of our trip is being able to share our 19 month old, Elaina with her great-grandparents. They were in Ohio for the majority of the summer, but since they have seen her last, she has grown and changed in so many ways- she is truly remarkable. This trip is about making memories for all of us and I just want for Elaina to know how much her great-grandparents love her and want to be a part of her life. Creating memories together will be a lasting part of our trip and Elaina will have stories and pictures to cherish when she's older.

Grandma and Grandpa - put the breakables up high and stock up the Cheetos - Elaina is coming to town! I've already started my packing list and I'm digging out my flip-flops. We can't wait to see you!!

Friday, February 02, 2007

"Got Me" in Print!

Finally, pictures of our free photo shoot at Babies "R Us! Yeah, our girl is pretty cute, she was just a little too tuckered out to be in the mood to pose. Regardless, they're priceless in my opinion!



Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Fit

Only 5 more months until Elaina turns the magical age of 2. Only 5 more months and she'll be a full-blown 2 year-old. Can you believe it?

As the saying goes, "practice makes perfect" and Elaina is working on her fit-throwing-technique of a typical 2 year-old. As of late, my sweet, beautiful angel child has been creeping over the line of flat out bratty behavior. Oh, the joy.

Rarely does Elaina have reason to throw a fit, but in the past few days she's been throwing herself to the ground over the silliest, little things that don't happen to go her way. She's been somewhat of a crybaby when she decides to protest her displeasure in our parenting abilities. Oh, the joy.

When the mood strikes her and she dramatically plummets to the ground, Eric and I simply ignore her and walk away without a word. No matter what's going on, her tantrum will be ignored. Screaming and yelling haven't yet found their way into the routine fit, but the fake cry is always a must. It's no wonder that Eric has taken to calling her D.Q. as in "Drama Queen."

Like any other naive, wishful-thinking mother, I want to blame it on the fact that she is growing and just seems to be getting more tired earlier in the evening. Of course, Eric and I try to stay pretty consistent on our evening routine and regular bedtime schedule for her, but on the occasion that she just can't even sit up any more or keep her eyes open, we easily go along with her early bedtime request. Fortunately, there have been no more bedtime battles and no more attempts to go AWOL from her crib.

So this behavior has only recently begun and I hope and pray that it disappears just as quickly as it came about. I'm trying to savor the final months of my precious one year-old in all her splendor. In the meantime, I'm trying to keep my floors just a little bit cleaner for the occasional melt-down.

N.Y.R. : 2/12

Welcome to the second month of my attempt at changing and improving my lifestyle and striving for personal growth.

Okay. Whatever.

Bottom line : There's always room for improvement and I'm starting with myself!

New Year's Resolution; Month 2 of 12 !!
For the month of February, my aim is to tackle chores around the house in accordance with the 5 minute rule. In case your not familiar with the "5 minute rule," it basically entails doing a whole bunch of crap that you've putting off in five minutes or less.

For instance, the mountains of laundry (both clean and dirty), the stacks of junk mail and dirty dishes that seem to accumulate by the hour, I vow to spend just an extra 5 minutes dealing with these irritations to get them over with. Someone once offered some good advice to me which was to do what you have to do, when you have to do it. So, that basket of clean clothes that hasn't yet jumped into my dressser drawers, I'm going to put away in under 5 minutes. Then we have the dirty clothes that are beginning to grow legs and crawl out of the hamper, I'm going to throw in the washer in under 5 minutes. And finally, the stacks of junk mail offering me 700 return address labels with my kind donation to their organization, I'm going to sort thru it all in under 5 minutes.

This month I plan to focus on doing what I have to do, when I have to do it. The reality is that most of these little hassles really do require only 5 minutes or less. I'm just going to push myself and get them out of the way sooner than later.

Just so you know, I did okay with my January goal of trying to be a better friend. I made some contacts with old friends and gave a shout out to some current ones. From here on, I just need to continue my self awareness and reaching out to others. This standard isn't over since it's February, just a stepping stone on which to move forward and build upon.

Is there anyone out there who is willing to partner up with me and join my challenge in my monthly agenda ?