Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Yes, please.

Alternate title: Why My Child Screaming "LOWWWWWD!" While You Try to Eat Your Dinner is Actually Polite (And Why Did You Sit So Close to Us When There Are Plenty of Tables Open?*)

So, wee lil' Charlie had a handful of signs that she used before she could talk. Adorable little pudgy-fingered signs for things like more and milk and please.

Here's evidence from early April (over seven months ago!) of the unprompted "please," followed by evidence of why Charlie thinks she can have whatever she wants whenever she wants it. Good parenting in full effect, ya'll!

Yes, very practical and helpful and did I mention adorable? But she can say words now, and does. A lot. Except for please. That one's been a challenge.

If you prompt her to say please, she'll quickly rub her chest like any good little ASL student should. Great, but perhaps it's time to try saying things without our hands? No? Well, would you like Mommy to teach you some new sign language? Just pay attention in the car, Sweetheart, and you'll learn some new vocabulary words, too!

And thus began my brilliant quest to get my toddler to speak in three easy steps:
  1. I started with asking Charlie each time she signed please, to say it with her mouth instead. Genius! Except, what does my kiddo do? She's just moved her hand up from her chest and started rubbing her lips instead. (I'm not gonna lie, I actually think that's pretty smart. Again, the adorable... it's overflowing I tell you!)
  2. Though the mouth signing was cute, it wasn't exactly what I was going for. Up next, each time she signed, I'd respond with, "Say it out loud." To which she'd respond with "Loud." OK. Well, at least she's saying something, right?
  3. And the final phase: I tricked her! Ha, take that, Toddler! I got her to repeat after me by saying PLEASE! really, really loudly, and then please! really, really softly. And it worked! Sort of... I can get her to say it now, but it takes much cajoling, and I have to say it in a really exaggerated way first. Good thing I like speaking like a Muppet.
So, there you have it: How to almost get your toddler to say "please" in a way that everyone around them will understand. Almost.

Enter dinner last night and another proud parenting moment. After negotiating with Charlie to let us have something other than beans and rice, she agreed that a 'tato would be good. Off we went, happy to be one day into a short work week. Food was ordered, food was delivered to our table, Elmo was offered bites of potato. (This is the first time in a couple of weeks that Elmo has been invited to join us for an outing thanks to Charlie's on-going love of all things pig. He was really hungry.)

As we were winding down, Charlie decided she'd like some ice from Daddy's cup for dessert. (I know, we're spoiling her.) I, of course, prompted her to say please.

And then I watched her start to sign. But, but, BUT! She stopped mid-sign.

I could see the wheels turning in her brilliant little mind. Charlie knew that she was supposed to say please. She opened her mouth, I braced myself for a pride swell, and she said as clearly as she possibly could, with as much volume as she could muster:


Ah, manners.

*A woman came in toward the end of our meal and chose to seat herself at the booth right behind us. She even sat down in the seat that backed up to the seat Charlie and I were sharing. Huh? I didn't even try to keep the kid quiet because really? You picked your poison, lady.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


What’s this? A Blog post? From me?

I could go through the motions of trying to condense the last missing six months worth of life into one lil’ old update, but let’s be realistic here: it ain’t happening. I can’t. I won’t. Let’s not.

Instead, let’s jump right into how we’re Kopp-ing these days. PIG!

At some point in the last couple of weeks, Charlie dug up an old VHS copy of “Babe” at Gramma Kate’s house. Yes, much to Joe’s chagrin, I let Charlie watch TV. I try to make sure it’s moderately educational, or at least not full of quick edits and strobe lights, but I work from home in the afternoon. I either get an assist from a televised playmate, or I have to teach Charlie how to place media buys and edit e-newsletters, and frankly, her spelling is just terrible. (This would be the part where Joe would say that if I didn’t let her watch so much TV, that she’d be able to spell. Don’t be stoopid, Daddy.)

So, “Babe.” She loves that movie. I mean, she loves it. She goes to bed requesting “Pig,” and wakes up asking for it again. If you make the mistake of mentioning one of the animals in the movie, like say, a sheep (you’d be surprised how often sheep come up in conversation with a toddler), then she asks for it again. That poor old tape has been rewound so many times in the last week that I’m surprised it still plays at all.

But Grandma Vickie is here this week for a visit, and guess what she found at Target? Well, that would be “Babe” on DVD, of course! Charlie’s very own copy to keep at our house, where she now not only requests “Pig,” but will specify “Pig… DVD.”

And you know what makes watching “Babe” on DVD even better? Watching it with Babe! I’m sure that we’ll eventually have to add a tuft of hair to the top of this little guy’s head, but for now she loves him whole-heartedly. Thank you, Grandma Vickie for both the DVD and the softest little piggy friend ever!

Confession: On one (or five) of our viewings, I may have been overheard whispering to her that while some people eat pigs, Mommy and Charlie do not. See, I can do my own brainwashing, television or no.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Making a Mother’s Day

Alternate title: For Amity  See, it’s a pun! Amity is my friend and “amity” means friendship! You should all have a friend whose name means friendship. It just makes life better.

This year marked my second Mother’s Day. Well, it marked my second Mother’s Day as a mom. I’ve actually acknowledged my own mother for years now. Probably for as long as I’ve known her. (I’m guessing.) And Mother’s Day is great – if you’re a mom. If you’re not, it’s more likely a day that you remember with just enough time to join the throng of Hallmark shoppers, jammed shoulder-to-shoulder in the tiny aisles, searching for the right card… one that mixes humor with love, thankfulness with poop jokes. (You know you’ve seen them.)

Yep, I love Mother’s Day. And I’ll have photos up from my MD fun soon, but this post? Well, this post is actually about my wonderful, beautiful, giving “mother” of a friend, Amity.

Seven years ago, Am became the first of my close friends to become a mommy, and almost five years ago she added a second love to her fabulous family. It was a role that just came so naturally to her, and I really don’t think I’ve ever seen her happier than she is when she’s with her kiddos. She’s nurturing and patient and makes me pause sometimes to think, hmmm... maybe I could handle more than one. Then I glance over to see Charlie dancing on the storage trunk that she’s just managed to scale, and I come to my senses.

Amity though? Well, she was meant to be a mom.

It’s funny, within just a few months of giving birth the first time, I remember Am saying that she could see herself being a surrogate one day. I, of course, attributed that to a rush of some sort of superwoman hormones, but it stuck with me.

Then, early last year, I became a mom. And when Charlie was about one month old, I received a beautiful email from Amity, who probably doesn’t know that I saved it. (Point of clarification: emails aren’t necessarily an impersonal way of communicating for us – especially when one of us is hard to get in touch with due to, oh say, a newborn being in charge of everything. Everything.)

Am’s message explained that something had been weighing heavily on her heart, and that she had begun the very slow process of becoming a gestational surrogate. 

In her own beautiful words:
     I literally woke up one morning and felt like the wool had been removed from my eyes. I saw my kids and my life with fresh eyes. I saw how wonderful my family is and was overwhelmed by this feeling of my family being complete. Every day since then I have woken up with this feeling of peace and contentment. 

     I think that seeing you with your daughter has just reinforced this notion I have, that so many people are meant to be mothers. Life hands people all kinds of things, and I feel like not all women were meant to carry or grow babies, but that doesn't mean they aren't meant to be mothers.

     To be able to give someone the same amazing life with children that I have would be amazing.  I have my children, I relish them and love every bit of them.  I want that for everyone I know.  And if I can help someone to get that, it doesn't take much thought. In the end I get to see a family completed. 

Amazing, right? You know what’s more amazing, though? She did it. My dear, sweet friend made a family for someone else. And just in time for Mother’s Day.


It was decided pretty early on that, wanting to maintain some sense of normalcy, it made more sense for Amity’s husband to stay with their kids when the big day came. And that, my friends, meant that I was able to be Amity’s “person” in the delivery room, and I joked for weeks that I was going to doula the hell out of her.

At first I was a little lost. The last time I did this, I was in the other seat and all that I really remember "needing" was to get that baby out. But I figured it out. Boo-yah, doula on! Before the epidural was called for, I was actually helpful, providing counter-pressure to Amity's hip during contractions. (That was funny, really. Amity couldn't see what I was doing, but it took all of my might, leaning as hard as I could into her with my feet planted in what I can only imagine was some sort of strange wrestler-like lunge. But hey, it worked!)

Once the epidural was in, well... I didn't have much to do other than break out the camera.

Note: This begins the not-too-graphic photo part of the post.

Here, an incredibly uncomfortable Amity waits as patiently as possible while the epidural is being prepped. One of her goals going into the birth was to go into labor on her own and see if she could make it epidural-free. At about six centimeters she decided that natural labor - especially when it feels like your hips are being ripped out of their sockets! - is just fine. For someone else.

Well, that's just much better! We learned that you're allowed to have whatever clear foods and beverages you want during labor, including coffee, but not with cream. Who knew? (I wasn't offered anything during Charlie's birth, probably because I was too busy puking in the corner.)

I stayed by Amity's side - or rather, her head - during the actual birth, and it was perfect. The baby's parents stood on either side of her, helping bring their little girl into the world. (In response to the look on most faces when it gets to this part of the story, Amity normally clarifies that both parents are trained medical professionals. So just relax! Geeze, you'd think no one's ever watched their baby being born out of someone else's body before...)

The baby was (and is!) beautiful. A full head of hair, totally kissable cheeks, and oh, did I mention HUGE?

Daddy was the first to kiss his precious girl. To see the joy on M&J's faces really was priceless. I'd get up in the middle of the night (or, in this case, at 5:15 in the morning) everyday if it meant seeing a family completed.

I kept Amity's hubby updated all morning on the progress she was making via text message. (Technology, I love you sometimes. Mwah!) And just like magic, he and the kids happened to be around the corner when Baby A arrived. They were able to make it to the hospital to see their mommy and meet the baby she'd been growing for another mommy "whose tummy was broken" before the rest of the visitors arrived. Look at those faces! They're as beautiful as their mom.

And here's Baby A with the woman, my friend, who helped bring her to her family. I know I've already over-used these words in this post, but come on! Beautiful. Amazing. Wonderful.


Amity, you made a family. Happy Mother's Day.

(And yes, I know I'm late on this one, too. But really, it wouldn't be me if I'd written this on Mother's Day, would it?)

By the way, in case any of my two readers were wondering, Amity has a blog, too. (Click on the word "blog" to find your way there.) She does a much better job of explaining everything that went into the surrogacy, which makes sense since it’s her story!

My own Mother's Day photos will follow soon enough, but for now, I want to celebrate Amity: friendship and my friend.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It's not too late for Easter, is it?

I figure at this rate, I should have a nice, complete Mother's Day update by the time Father's Day rolls around. And a Father's Day post by Labor Day. And a Labor Day post by... well, you get the idea.

So without further ado, here is one slightly stale "How we spent our Easter" post.

Alternate blog title: Are you happy now, Amity and Catey?
(That's right. I called you out for calling me out being supportive and encouraging and urging me to write more. That'll teach you thanks!)

Up first, a Thurb-Bunny. I can only assume that he was downstairs keeping a lookout for a more traditional Easter mascot. I repaid his dedication to protecting the family and his food dish by hiring someone to shave him. No, really, I did. Photos to come on that one later. Maybe by Christmas.

And this? Well, this is Charlie with her very first Easter basket. No, it's not her first Easter, but I am a terrible mother hell-bent on ruining every holiday with lack of festivities and late blog posts didn't think a three month old (last year) would appreciate a basket full of sugar quite as much as a 15-month-old (this year). That, and a year ago I was much better about what I ate since the kid was nursing, like, every half hour. This year? Bah! Sure, she still wanders up to me asking for milk, but it's a lot easier to distract her with a Cadbury Creme Egg these days.

(Embarrassing admission: I had to look up whether it was "creme" or "cream." If we had any of them left, I'm pretty sure I'd have to give one up as punishment.)

Oh, and by the way, the basket clenched in Charlie's lil' hands was once clenched in my lil' hands, but I find it hard to believe that mine were ever as cute as hers.

In addition to candy, the Easter Bunny also tried to make my kid smarter. 

Stupid Bunny.

(Tweety Bird basket from Grandma Vickie & Grandpa Joe!)
The magic of the aforementioned Cadbury Creme Eggs is seen below. (Don't worry Charlie, you're not the first person to display a double chin in the presence of a Cadbury Egg.)

If you ask Charlie, however, the real magic of the Easter basket was not the candy (though it was good), and it certainly wasn't the flashcards (pfft!).

It was the pink "grass" that somehow got spread all over the living room. 

If only we knew how that happened...

Skip ahead a few hours. Have some time to kill? You should probably just follow someone around taking their picture. People love that. Especially toddlers.

The real point of these pictures is to point out that after much hemming and hawing, I cut Charlie's hair. OK, that sounds more impressive than the reality of me grabbing a flap of her long, born-with-it hair and snipping it to be the same length as her grew-in-later, thicker hair. But still, first haircut!

And it happened just before Easter, so it belongs in this post, right?

Charlie is clearly delighted with her new 'do.
Easter basket? Check!
Educational toy? Check! (And eye roll.)
Haircut? Check!

It must be time for a bit of egg hunting at Gramma Kate and Grampa Greg's house.

Yes, yes, it is.

Charlie's buddy (and surrogate big sister) Jordyn helped teach Charlie the ropes. For the record, Jordyn is a very patient teacher. Charlie is a less receptive student.

Unless you count her dedication to mastering a surly, "Don't tell me to pick up these eggs, I didn't drop them out here!" demeanor, in which case, A+!

So, Easter eggs? Blah.

Big, rubber ball? Suh-weet! And also worthy of some very deep, introspective thinking.

And then there was the obligatory Easter family photo. Obligatory because I SAID SO! Nah, everyone was delighted with my suggestion that we pose for a family shot. Charlie couldn't get enough. She just wanted us to keep asking her to stay still and look at the camera. She was nothing but smiles and joy.

Or not.

Is it just me, or does she look like she's really contemplating the merits of spitting on my head?
But, BUT! We got one. Sure, Joe might be the only one facing the camera, but thanks to the angle on my girl and me, my friend Sue pointed out that Charlie's nose wrinkles like mine when she smiles. And that, family and friends, is worth her thinking about spitting on me.

What a difference a year makes!

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter. And Mother's Day. And, well, have a Happy Thanksgiving, too, in case I don't get to tell you that until next February.

(OK, one more embarrassing admission: I totally airbrushed the bags out from under my eyes in the "Last Year" photo. True, I couldn't erase the dead-tired look in my gaze, but at least my skin looks fresh!)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Adventures in teething

I'll be honest with you. I don't remember what it feels like to have teeth coming in. I also don't really remember what a contraction feels like, what it feels like to push a baby out of my lady parts, or what it feels like to live with a newborn, but I do remember that those last three sucked were life-changing.

And based on what Charlie tells me, so it is with molars.

Sure, she'll have a beautiful smile and the ability to chew carrots, but for now, it bites.

And thus we officially begin our... DUN-DUN-DUH-DUN (read that like a superhero intro, please)... Adventures in Teething!

I think I've made it fairly clear to anyone willing to listen to me (or read this) that I border on obstinate when it comes to medication. OK, I am obstinate. I border on belligerent. I don't like it. I will try all things homeopathic, herbal, and otherwise natural first. We've been big fans of Hyland's Teething Tablets, which are homeopathic, but there's one small problem: there's been a temporary halt in their availability while Hyland's revises their production methods. We have one partial bottle left, and I dole the tiny pellets out to my fussy toddler as often as I can. They seem to help her a bit, so hurray for temporary relief!

These molars, though? This is heavyweight teething we're dealing with now.

So, some Googling and blog-reading and instinct-following later, we are now the proud owners of one Baltic Amber Teething Necklace, shipped straight from Lithuania.

According to my frantic scanning of poorly-translated copy copious online research, these necklaces are what every good mommy in Eastern Europe uses to soothe their grumbling babies. And even if that's not true, who cares? It's pretty!

Seriously, though, here's what it's supposed to do:
     Amber is associated with sunlight and warmth and reputed to boost the immune system, reduce inflammation and accelerate healing: perfect help for babies and toddlers who wear it when they are teething.

     When a baby is wearing an amber teething necklace, the skin's warmth releases healing oils from the amber (a resin) which are absorbed. Amber is known to reduce inflammation of the throat, ear and stomach and to fight inflammation, infections and respiratory disease. A natural analgesic, amber will help calm a baby without resorting to drugs. Its anti-inflammatory and therapeutic properties are even recognized by allopathic medicine.

Does that make me sound crazy? Is it a bunch of hooey? Does this blog make my butt look big?

Last week, before it arrived, I was lamenting the fact that I hadn't ordered one earlier. I really wanted to give it a try before I resorted to other methods. Worst case scenario? It did nothing but look nice, and we'd end up with a new accessory. Either way, I felt like a mean mom watching Charlie shove her hands in her mouth, gnawing on dirty fingertips, whining and whimpering through her day. 

But Saturday the necklace arrived and Operation Got Nuthin' to Lose began. I slipped that thing on her as fast as I could get the envelop open, and after a few seconds of distracting her from the fact that it was on, we went on with our day. She's worn it every day since, taking it off just for bedtime, and I have to say that I think it's working. There hasn't been a single incident of the hands-in-mouth, woe-is-me, these-teeth-are-trying-to-ruin-my-life since.

That's the screw clasp in the front. The individual beads have knots tied between them, so in the event that a little hand gave it a hard enough yank to break it, the whole thing isn't going to fall apart into candy-sized bites.
If the necklace was around my neck, you could say it was the placebo effect. It's not my neck, though, and I find it hard to believe that you could convince a 15-month-old that her gums don't hurt anymore just because you've put a necklace on her. It doesn't work that way. (At least not in my experience... if you know otherwise, please tell me how to work your magic!)

Sure, it's been less than a week, which means I guess we'll have to wait and see if anything changes as these big, bad molars pop through. (Based on the way Charlie had been complaining, I'm pretty sure she's going to have bicuspids the size of my fist.) In the meantime, though, we have a pretty necklace and a contented toddler.

And now we wait...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Grandma and Grandpa come to visit!

Rule of blogging #1: Write new posts.


You see, I actually started working on this particular update a couple of weeks ago, but things like, oh say, the birth of a baby to my dear friend who was serving as a surrogate (a separate post to come on that one!) and taking care of my own monkey ate up a lot of my free time. That, and TV. "16 and Pregnant" isn't going to watch itself, you know.

But I'm back! And wow, do I have a lot to share. OK, let me amend that to say I have a lot OF PHOTOS to share. Really, if you're here, I know you just want the pictures anyway. Words, shmords, right?

So without further ado, photo collage time!

Eariler this month Grandma Vickie and Grandpa Joe came to visit us all the way from Nebraska!

And we took pictures!

This is not Grandma Vickie. This is Grandma Vickie's sister Aunt Pattie. She and Cousin Caroline (in the room, but not in the picture) live in North Carolina, but we don't see them nearly enough. We should do something about that! Also, that is Charlie's tummy.

This is also not Grandma Vickie, nor is it Grandpa Joe. This is Gramma Kate and Grampa Greg and the two suckers Charlie calls parents. Among Charlie's favorite things is time spent on the swing, and she's an expert at conning you into standing there far longer than you want to. One little pouty lip and a quick sign for "more, please" and we're stuck standing in mulch, swinging our little dictator. That's love.

My parents (Gramma Kate and Grampa Greg) love to entertain. Or maybe it's not so much that they love to entertain as they think Joe and I are terrible entertainers. (To be fair, they haven't seen the gymnastics routine we've been working on.) In any case, they (Gramma Kate & Grampa Greg) love to see Grandma Vickie and Grandpa Joe, too, so we spent an afternoon at their place letting Charlie show her Nebraska Grandparents how she likes to spend her weekdays. But this time we added bubbles! 

Yep, we added bubbles AND balls.

This is Grandma Vickie and Grandpa Joe! (The other guy is Dad.) We took a trip to the Science Center where we saw meerkats, lemurs, tigers, wolves, and dinosaurs. And we wrestled a toddler.

Hey, it's me with my boss! We're working on getting her to carry me sometimes, too.

Yeah, you're not supposed to feed the animals, but look at how sweet that is!

Grandma Vickie sighting on the right! (Mommy lurking on the left.)

Elmo! G&G brought Charlie her very first balloon while they were in town, and it was nothing less than a total hit. He's still floating around the living room, deflated but buoyant. Good thing our new decorating scheme is to use as much brightly colored plastic as possible. He practically blends in.

And do you know what's hard to do? Get four people to look at the camera at the same time. But, BUT! How sweet is the kiss Grandma is stealing in that picture? It makes my heart melt.

We love you Grandma Vickie and Grandpa Joe!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Portrait of a sleeping baby

I remember trying to capture pictures of Charlie in the very beginning, ones we would proudly attach to emails sent to faraway family with notes about how big she was (huge!), how often she cried (never!), and when her next "well check" was (seemed like every damn day!). In the hospital, I even have the memory of Joe trying to capture a shot of her eyes just so that we could send Grandma and Grandpa Kopp in Nebraska proof that she did, in fact, have 'em.

But now she's a big 14-month-old who hardly sleeps. OK, that's not entirely true. She's actually a pretty good napper, BUT we don't bother trying to get pictures of her sleeping anymore.

Until this afternoon. 

For the first time in a long time, she fell asleep on the way home from Gramma Kate's. I opened the windows when we got home so that we could both savor the breeze blowing outside, and I settled in on the couch to get some work done. But then I looked at my baby (or toddler, if you want to really get into semantics) sleeping in the carrier that she's almost too tall for, and I grabbed the camera.

Her hands are just too perfect.

Her toes are just too kissable.

Her cheeks are just too soft.

Her lashes are just too long.

And these moments are just too fleeting.

But I could never love her too much.

Friday, April 1, 2011

When in Doubt

Yesterday evening Charlie was uncharacteristically cranky. Really, she's such a happy kiddo most of the time that when she is a little off her game I just don't know what to do to help. She was walking around whining and whimpering, which made me want to walk around and do a little whining myself.

Then I had a light bulb moment. After origami-ing myself into the Moby Wrap, I scooped her up and bundled her like I used to when she was itty-bitty. We turned on her favorite song, danced two and a half times through it, and she was out.

I had no idea that there was a whole "attachment parenting" movement before I had Charlie, but I cannot recommend enough that every new parent invest in some sort of sling or carrier. For me, it's instinctive: you want to soothe, you want them close, but frankly, you also wouldn't mind having your hands free to do very important things. Like blog. And push buttons on the zapper.

And really, how sweet is this? I swear I can smell her sweet baby breath through the computer.

And that last one? I love that matter-of-fact, just-woke-up, let-me-see-what-you're-doing-before-I-decide-whether-or-not-I-want-to-go-back-to-sleep face.

It's not as cute on me, though.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

New routines (or the lack thereof)

Just about every email I've ever received from all of the parenting newsletters I've subscribed to have mentioned how important routine is to lil' ones. That's fine and dandy, but we're hardly a family of routine followers. The only ones in the house who truly seem to stick to a schedule are the cats, but even they have to sometimes just give up and wait a bit longer for breakfast. Or dinner. Or treats. Huh. I may have just figured out why they're so fat.

So, yes, routines are nice, but we're not good at them.

Enter last week and the beginning of a big ol' new routine: the morning trek to Gramma and Grandpa's house.

Since Charlie's birth, we'd been very lucky to have Gramma come to our house to take care of her. Except for a few days when Gramma's broken ankle complicated her driving across town to get to us, Charlie was able to sleep in, spend the morning in her jammies, and generally just relax. It was time to start dropping her off at G&G's, though, so that meant that we needed a plan. Preparation. And God forbid, a new routine.

This, of course, is not a big deal for all of the parents out there who have long managed to drop their babes at daycare and still get to work on time, but for us this was like a major life change. Perhaps even more so than the actual addition of a child to our home. There was grumbling from both parents. There was negotiation of who would drop of (Daddy) and who would pick up (Mommy). There were lists of take-with-Charlie items to be scratched out. There was the laying-out of the clothes she would wear in the morning. There was diaper bag stocking. (We still haven't managed the transition of cloth dipes to Gramma's house, but it's a'comin!) There was figuring out how to get the dishes done and the trash out in the middle of the new morning hustle. There was mapping out a morning schedule that would time everything just-so and get Daddy and Charlie out the door. And, while I'm at it, there was prepping Mommy's work bags, milk pump, and water bottle so that she could be on time, too.

Again, so not a big deal for most, but good grief! We are clearly not most.

One thing I hadn't really prepared for, though, was Charlie's reaction. Most mornings we've had to wake her up to get her ready to go, and each morning I've thought to myself, "Well, this isn't going to go well." But each morning she's stretched and popped up with a smile. She's laughed and kicked her feet while I wedge her socks and shoes on. She's grinned and whispered, "Bampa," after I ask her if she's ready to go see Gramma and Grandpa. She's dutifully grabbed a toy to take with her, happily reached for Daddy who loads her into his car, and even waved as they drive away.

She's been wonderful.

And you know whose house is trashed at the end of the day? Not mine! (Sorry, Gramma.)

Friday, March 25, 2011

14 months

Charlie is 14 months old today... or one year, two months, but at this age it's still easier to just count the total in months, isn't it? (Let's see, that would make me 399 months old. Ooh, that means a big celebration in April!)

Anyway, 14 months old, and she's just amazing. I'm sure I'm not supposed to think anything less than that, but really, I'm just awed by her. And there have been so many times since I started this little bloggy thing that I've thought to myself, wow, I should write a post about that, but then I don't have appropriate photos to go with my story, or the video includes a gratuitous crotch-shot of Daddy's khakis, so I forgo it, and suddenly I don't have any memories written down to share with Charlie later. Boo.

So, with that in mind, here's a list of wonderful 14-month-old things that she does that I simply don't want to forget:

  • She loves pink. I don't know where she got it, but she's shown me on several shopping trips that it's her preferred color. She'll walk up to a display of something like, say, backpacks, and reach around the blue and yellow ones to get to the pink one. I deliberately tried to avoid over-pinking her when she was itty-bitty. Her wardrobe is my coloring book. But pink, bright pink: she digs it. (Oh, and she also likes green.)
  • She's funny. I mean intentionally funny. She'll go out of her way to include herself in the laughter if Joe and I get going, but she'll also do silly things, giggling all the while just waiting for us to start laughing, too... enter the mixing bowl.
  • We have a big, plastic mixing bowl that she's fond of digging out of the cupboard. It's white with black rubber on the bottom to keep it from slipping, and it has a pleasant weight to it. And apparently it feels good on your head. Charlie will pick it up and put over her face like a helmet - completely obscuring her sight - and walk around with her arms out like Frankenstein, laughing hysterically. The rubber absorbs most of the impact when she walks into things. Which she does. A lot. And we all laugh, so she does it again.
  • She signs. Really, she has two main signs, more and milk, though she uses "more" (we say "more, please," in case you were wondering) as "all done" as well. I call it her ALOHA of signs because you really have to pay attention to context to figure out what she's saying. In reality, the sign involves tapping your closed fingers together, but we've seen kids do it with their fists, too. Charlie has her own version: one open hand, one fist, tapped together in a sort of circle, which I think evolves from pat-a-cake's "roll it" motion. It's fabulous, and she uses it liberally.
  • She'll tell you (if she's in the mood) what a duck says, what an owl says, and most recently, what a horse says, but instead of neighing, she goes for a more realistic whinny. (Thanks, Grandpa.)
  • She says Mama, Daddy, kitty, cat, kitty-cat (yeah, that's her favorite), duck, bath, and Grandpa. (That last one is much to Gramma Kate's chagrin.)
  • She'll also repeat a lot of words if you ask her to, but the one that she's really latched on to - and uses on her own - is pretty. She'll now grab hold of my necklace and whisper, "Pretty."
And I think she is.

(See? No new photos.)
Charlotte, Mommy loves you.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Yes, delightful because you get to hear six uninterrupted seconds of giggles and squeals at the end of this clip along with the cutest QUACK-ing you've ever heard. But it's also a bit horrifying because you get to see the chaos in our living room. (And then there's that "Blair Witch" cinematography thanks to budding filmmaker, Charlie. Sorry, you've been warned.) 

Oh well, the laugh is worth it!

And for the record, I try to clean up and keep the floors clear of tripping hazards, but there's this almost-14-month-old who keeps going behind me quite literally undoing everything I've tidied. She's very efficient. And a bit of a daredevil. 

Also, the television is OFF! I failed to mention in that NickJr post that we read too. I dare say she has more favorite books than TV shows, so at least there's that.

OK, I'm gonna go watch while she destroys the kitchen now.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Adventures in art... sort of

It was an incredibly beautiful weekend, so what better way to celebrate than by christening our sidewalk with a brand new box of 20 fresh Crayola chalk crayons? Charlie's first, I might add. I was super excited, just waiting and watching that box on top of the fridge. She couldn't have cared less, but she also didn't know the magic that a pretty day was going to bring us. (She's also around two and a half feet tall, so it's really hard to see the top of anything.)

Anyway, pretty day... freshly napped... Daddy ready for a break from organizing the office... the perfect time to get our graffiti on!

Or not.

The way I wanted it to go:

The way it actually went:

But who cares! How cute is this?

Seriously, those overalls? Those leg-warmers? I think they're worth a post in and of themselves. (And I kind of want them in my size.) 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

We watch a LOT of NickJr.

Sure, we try to squeeze in "Sesame Street" and even some "Mickey Mouse Playhouse" from time to time. (I've also heard rumors of Barney rearing his ugly, purple head, but that doesn't happen on my watch.) NickJr, however, is king of the TV in our house.

Moose, a slightly-animated yellow guy, and his friend Zee act as hosts between the shows, and Charlie has long loved them. I mean, she really loves them. She knows when shows are wrapping up and will get excited because Moose is coming on. Seriously. She doesn't even watch most of the programs; they're just background noise to her playing. Queue the closing credits, though, and she'll pay attention. And that's fine because Moose actually teaches things like numbers and letters and manners and how to approach strange dogs. All very important things, clearly.

We like him so much that we even made him the top of Charlie's first birthday cake:

So there's Moose, but more recently, there's also "The Fresh Beat Band." Oh, dear God, The Fresh Beat Band. I am not exaggerating a single bit when I say that EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. I wake up with one Fresh Beat song or another stuck in my head. They are the soundtrack to my sleep. My head will be humming about friends giving friends a hand, or how I suddenly have loco legs. I used dream about faraway places. Now I dream about a fictional smoothie stand and all of its flavors - sung in my head, of course. (Wiggly, giggly watermelon, anyone?)

But I don't mind. Why? Because of how much she adores their closing number. They always end with the same song and the same dance, and Charlie will come running over to me any time she hears those opening bars, begging to be scooped up for our own dance. I'm getting pretty good at these moves, too, even with only one arm free. (The other has to hold a spellbound baby, of course.)

Here's The Fresh Beat Band performing her favorite song live. I guess we should commend them for not lip-synching?

And here's Charlie tuning in to the fact that the TV show is ending and her song is near. Look at that build-up! (I especially like the here-I'll-just-sit-and-wait-for-it pause.)

Really, wouldn't you like (OK, tolerate) them, too, just to see that face?

She is her mother's daughter: give her a song and dance number and we're good-to-go! I sense some elaborately choreographed afternoons in our future. Oh, "Annie," she's gonna love you!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Let's go on a picnik!

Picnik.com, that is.

Some of my favorite mommy-blogs are as much about the photos as they are about the actual text. I feel like I've not only watched these children grow up, but thanks to the richness of the photos their mommies have included on their blogs, I feel like I know them. These are more than just little snapshots - these are rich, deep photos that are so "alive" that you feel like you're there with them. I feel like I've been to Utah. I feel like I've spent days at the Isle of Capri. I haven't, of course, but I have enjoyed images of those savory spots, and I feel like I've felt the warmth of sweet baby cheeks coming through the computer screen.

And that brings us to Picnik.com. Joe sent me a link to yet another blog written my yet another mommy with yet another camera. I wasn't especially sucked in by this mommy's writing (am I a blog snob?), but I did appreciate the note from Joe that she uses the same camera we have and that she edits most of her photos with Picnik.

Oh, okay.

Neither of us were familiar with the site, but last week that changed.

Enter the wonderful world of super-easy photo editing:

Original cropped shot by Daddy

Picnik edit one... yummy, yummy color!

Retro Picnik edit two... how very '60s!

Yes, I'm trying not to punch my computer to learn Photoshop, but in the meantime, you can expect some way over-edited, picnik-ed images to grace this clunky ol' blog page!*

*Joe doesn't like my clunky ol' blog page, so maybe once I master Photoshop, I'll do something cooler.