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!, 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 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.


A delayed birthday tradition-to-be

Going into Charlie's first birthday I started getting a bevy of emails from all of the newsletters I subscribe to with all sorts of great ideas about how I should mark my bebe's big day. Good grief. In the middle of all of the useless (to me anyway) ideas, there was one I could actually get behind: put a special shirt on your little one and take a picture. Next year on her birthday and each year to come, put the same shirt on her and snap another picture to really mark her growth. That one I liked!

Fast forward to Charlie's actual birthday, January 25th.

Fast forward again to Charlie's 13-month birthday, February 25th.

Sure, it was a month late, but so what? We went for it! I looked around for a shirt that could be her special look-how-big-I-am-now photo, but I didn't really like any of the ones I saw online. Then I thought, why purchase a kids' shirt for her to grow in to when I could use one of my own... you know, something big enough to really torture her with for YEARS. Enter a very cool Beatles t-shirt that Joe gave me for one of our first Valentine's Days together. Vintage-look, great band that she simply has to adore, and a special meaning and connection to Mom and Dad. Perfect!

Too bad the thing looks enormous on her - but wait, there's always next year!

Let it be? Nope, not me!