Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Breathing Easier

What's worse than earthquakes and a hurricane in the same week? Walking into your child's room and hearing her gasping for breath.

Last night around 1 am, we all piled into the van to head to the ER at St. Mary's. I can't say enough about how wonderful they were for us and our girls. Moo has a confirmed case of Croup and an ear infection. She had a dose of steroids and wonderful pink medicine to clear up her ear. We got home around 4 am and the girls were sleeping soundly. Today we were all a little off and the girls stayed in their PJ's. Moo was delighted to change once from Thomas PJ's to Buzz Lightyear ones. She asked for and ate Bock Bock Moo twice. We played with trains.  She also had a wonderful surprise waiting for her after nap - which she willing requested to have before 1pm.

When we went to NanaPop's house we took a TON of pictures at the Virginia Museum of Transportation.  Shutterfly was having a promotion for free 8 x 8 hardcover books.  NanaPop and I brainstormed on a Train ABC book of pictures from trains she had actually seen and touched.  Some letters were easier than others. Daddy even helped out some when we returned home. I consulted her Thomas ABC book and found there were still 3 letters that escaped us. We went to the library and found a fabulous book C is for Caboose.  On the 24th of August, I put the final touches on the book and ordered it. It was scheduled to arrive while we are at the beach in a week and a half. I was excited to see it when we returned because I had worked so hard on it.

When I went to get the mail during nap, there was an orange Shutterfly box behind our mailbox. I smiled. Trains always brighten Moo's day when she's well, but this little gift from above was just what we needed today.

Tonight, we are all breathing easier. And we've all read her book more than a few times.

The Cover

Title Page

Her favorite page so far

One of our trickiest letters

Back Cover

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Top Billing

Being the older and more active of my two daughters due to their ages, Moo tends to get top billing. While Roo and I were out running errands and Moo napped at home while Daddy worked, I thought about how amazing it has been to see a child grow from newborn to infant as a second child. The experience has been totally different for me as a Mommy and for Roo as a baby.

Some of her first smiles and her first giggle were not responses to me or Daddy. Moo was the lucky recipent of such heavenly sounds. She watches her sister constantly, in awe of all that she is doing. Her world is much broader than Moo's was because we travel to parks, playdates, bookstores, etc. much more than Moo and I did during her first four months. I do realize that being born in two oppsite seasons has led to some of the differences, but I know being the little sister also has shaped her world tremendously.

While Moo adapts to sharing Mommy and Daddy, Roo knows no world without another little girl in the house. She has already been introduced to all things trains and been in and out of cabooses, diesel engines, and beautiful steam engines. She is am amazing little girl who smiles at everyone she meets, loves to play coy with Daddy while I hold her, and constantly looks for her adored, big sister.  She is a cuddle bug in a way that her sister was not, but has an indepedant streak when you least expect it. She seems to like owls and pink.  She's had nothing but breastmilk where her sister had formula and food by now.  She is much more sensitive than Moo was- she becomes upset when someone else is, reacts sooner to change in her environment, and senses earthquakes before they hit(which is a sense I'm not  excited we were able to experience). She looks like her mother, her father, and her sister. She is charming and sweet. She made my heart grow two sizes.

And she's growing up too fast.

Roo and her 4 Month Old smile!

Monday, August 22, 2011

10 of the things I love about my girls

The girls and I had a rough morning that ended in a complete double meltdown at the library. Once we were home for the day, I read a list of 101 Things to do when you thing you are going to lose it. I printed out the list and it will reside on our fridge.  That list sparked in me the idea to make a list of 10 things I love about my girls and to add to it when I have tough days. I'm not sure that I will always follow through, but forcing myself to see good in difficult situations might be what I need to cope and grow.


1. I love the sheer joy she gets from swinging.
2. I love that she loves to sit in my lap to read books, even if there is a baby in my lap.
3. I love that she is always willing to try new things, activities, food, etc.
4. I love that she loves trains.
5. I love that she tells her sister it's okay when she hears Roo crying.
6. I love that she is independent and declares it often.
7. I love that she has a contagious giggle.
8. I love that she enjoys her food.
9. I love that she blows me kisses even when she is mad.
10. I love that I have seen her grow so much and surprise me each step of the way.

1. I love that she smiles at her sister when she sees her in the morning.
2. I love that she knows how to play shy.
3. I love that she has a huge grin when she sees me.
4. I love that she has taught me that my heart is bigger than I thought it was.
5. I love that she too enjoys her food.
6. I love that she manages to get her sister to talk to her when I can't get her to talk to me.
7. I love that she is totally different from her sister but also so very similar.
8. I love that she loves listening to me read books already.
9. I love that she enjoys spending time with just me at night.
10. I love that I have seen her grow so much and surprise me each step of the way.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

What a Croc!

Nana (of NanaPop) and I are huge Big Lots junkies. We make at least one trip to the local store each time I am home for a visit. I know that it might sound like a ridiculous outing to many, but if I can get a sturdy name brand item for a 1/3 the cost, I'm all in!

Last Fall, Nana, Moo, and I were at Big Lots during one of our visits home. I was early in my pregnancy with Roo and was trying to gather things (socks, tape, wrapping paper, etc.) that I would need in the coming months. In the summer clearance section was a small display of Crocs.  They were stocked in limited supply and limited colors. Moo's foot at the time was still a chubby baby tootsie and measured between a five and a six. There was one pair in her size. Hideous, orange, Mary Jane's.

Let me pause here to say that yes, I do personally own Crocs, as does A. We wear them because they are comfortable, not fashionable, and they are quick to take on and off and to clean. However, we do realize that they are generally AWFUL looking and plastic. Plastic shoes. I am no stranger to plastic shoes being a child of the 80's and I rocked jellies back in my day. But my adolescent jellies were thinner, in style, and glittery. Crocs are not. They are ugly, plastic, and overpriced. (I will now climb down from my hypocritical soapbox.)

I showed the orange Crocs to Moo and she was less than impressed. Glancing down at the tag, I saw that this pair was marked at a fair price for a pair of ugly, plastic shoes. She probably wouldn't even wear the things. Worst case, I thought, she could wear them in the house as house shoes with socks, right? Into the cart they went. Upon returning home, the orange shoes were placed in the shoe rack beside her brown Stride Rites. Much to my surprise the next day, she indicated a desire to wear them. For the next several months, she either wore her black dressy WeeSqueaks or the orange Crocs. We passed into winter and the Crocs grew tighter. By the beginning of March, they were leaving marks on her foot where she has outgrown them.

Great with child, I made the 1 mile trip to SP Town Center and the local shoe store. I found a very reasonable shoe that would work for spring and summer. Moo found more Crocs. She pointed "purpur! purpur!" There were indeed purple Crocs.  I suggested to her that we could buy that pair of full price plastic shoes at a later date. She began to cry. I looked at my watch. 6:07 pm - the school night Witching Hour. I conceded and the PurPur shoes were worn out of the store. 

Why I even bothered purchasing perfectly reasonable shoes is beyond me. The only pair of shoes that she has worn all summer with limited exception of a pair of flip flips has been The Purple Shoes. Her annunciation has improved as has her vocabulary. TPS have a special place in our home. They are worn here, at NanaPops, at the park, ....

While at the park a week ago, I notice that her exuberant running looked a little odd. I asked her if something was wrong. "The Purple Shoes huuuurt."  Ah, yes. I could see very familiar red marks on her heels. I sadly told her that TPS were too small. We later went to REI and purchased a pair of clearance sandals to replace TPS. We traveled to NanaPops for a week and wore the new shoes. All was well, right?

This morning we were heading out to the park. Moo asked for TPS. I reminded her that they were now too small. She repeated herself. I showed her the new sandals. She repeated herself slowly. (Clearly, I am hard of hearing.) With a sigh, I pulled out TPS and off we went.

After an hour of playing, her walk was indicative of pain. As I loaded them in the van, Moo asked me to take TPS  "oft - hurt". The look on her face was that of genuine heartbreak. In need of a few things for Roo for the beach and wielding a Carter's coupon, I decided to make a run to Williamsburg. Much to my surprise, the Croc outlet that I was hoping for was one door down from Carter's. We entered the Croc store as Moo snacked in the stroller and Roo snoozed on my chest.

"OOOOOOHHHHH!! The Purple SHOES!" She turned around to me and grinned.

I pushed her to the kids shoes. There were two pair of Shayna shoes left- each in pink. "Oh, PLEASE Lord" I prayed under my breath. The first pair  - size 12. CRAP. The second pair - size 8!! HOORAY!

Moo, look! Its The Purple Shoes in PINK! What do you think?"

"OOhh! Pintk! Pintk!"

We left the store with Moo happily wearing The Pintk Shoes purchased at a moderate price. And, perhaps, Mommy had on some new plastic shoes as well.

Friday, August 19, 2011

T is for Train...

Moo is obsessed with Trains. For a while, we thought it was just a genuine love for Thomas the Tank Engine. Now we realize she loves trains. Steam engines, diesels, hopper cars, box cars, you name it - she loves it! While in Roanoke visiting NanaPop, we drove each day down Shenandoah Avenue to see the trains as they made their way to and from the Round House. We saw beautiful diesels, tank cars, cabooses, etc. On Sunday, we went to a local park near a train track to play. Once Moo hear the whistle of the train it was all over.

"Oh CHOO-CHOO!! More Choo-Choo?? More Choo-Choo??"

Into the van we piled. Roo snoozed. Pop and Moo discussed the trains we might see. Once downtown, we decided to get as close to the trains as possible. Much in the footsteps of my Grandaddy*, I ignored the signs marking Norfolk and Southern property and pulled into an employee parking lot. We could see the trains, hear them, feel the rumble, smell the diesel. Moo asked to see more. I rolled down my window and hers. I was slightly concerned because I could see the Engineer in the closest engine looking at us closely.

Suddenly, magic happened.

He waved at us! We waved back! He blew his whistle! He pushed his load backwards! He turned on the bells! He pulled his load forward! He waved again! We wave even more excitedly! I had tears of joy- and I do now as I think of the look on Moo's face. He blew the whistle for us again and Moo beamed. I asked her to wave bye bye and she yelled "BYE CHOO-CHOO!" I'd like to think that he heard us.

Later that afternoon we all traveled to the Virginia Museum of Transportation to visit the trains and collect pictures for a book I plan to make for Moo. A train rumbled by as we visited. The Engineer waved to us. Moo was ecstatic and so we were.

Tonight at dinner I thought I'd begin talking with her a little more about Trains with a T rather than Choo-Choo's as we tend to call them. I asked her what starts with the letter T. Clearly the answer should have been Train.

"Tah! Mommy Tah choo-choo!"

Maybe my girl is a tomboy, maybe she's just a toddler with an obsession. Either way, seeing such passion and genuine love for something that she can learn so much from warms my heart.

*One of these nights I'll write about two children, a Circus Train, and a determined Grandaddy!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Over the Rivah and across the state....

To NanaPop's house we've gone! The girls and I are busy wearing Nana and Pop out!! Here are a few pictures to enjoy while we are away. I am also working on a few train related activities for Moo as we have spent a great amount of time chasing and climbing Choo Choo's ! :) 
 First time in the exersaucer.
 I'm SO big now!
 I'll drive....
 Who is this little girl?
Hi Tah!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I've heard there is an old adage that tells you to appreciate the bad days because it makes the good ones even sweeter. I had always believed it but today I lived it. Moo was up around 6:30 and the girls and I were dressed and out of the house by 7:30. We went to the park and played. We saw our little friend and his Mommy from yesterday. Maisie informed me that there were two of them swinging together. My heart soared.

We went on an adventure to Whole Foods around 9:30. Much to Moo's delight, there were plenty of cheese samples. We picked out fruit. We gathered snacks. We talked about colors. Bananas should be yellow and not green, after all.

We loaded our treats in the van and walked to REI. A purple bottle was spotted at Moo level and chosen as a swell companion. We tried out some shoes for her ever growing feet. Roo started to protest and we giggled our way back to the van.

At home, Roo napped. Moo and I played. We ate lunch together. She stole the goat cheese from my salad. (Again, be still my heart!) Around 12:30 we finished our puzzle and decided to start quiet time. Friends visited. We chatted. And chatted.

After nap (at 4:30!!) we played in the water. I cooked dinner. We all ate. Daddy tossed tomatoes in his mouth. Moo erupted in laughter. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat....

Mommy and Roo ran to the store. Daddy and Moo handled bath and bedtime. Mommy came home to humming dryer, a clean kitchen, and a sleeping Moo.

Thank you, God. I have learned my lesson and I appreciate today even more.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Some days are better than others....

Today was a challenge. Both girls were needy and cranky. Moo is teething fiercly.  Naps and meals have suffered as a result. Roo must be in the middle of a growth spurt because she is either sleeping or attached to me. I feel a bit like a vampire victim. We were up early, down to nap super early, and awake much sooner than I'd hoped. We all had a long afternoon that resulted in a clean kitchen but a call for takeout. I've been emotional and sensitive. What I want is ice cream. What I need is a warm bath in a quiet room alone.

I am reminded that I will miss days like today. It will pass too quickly and the house will soon be much too quiet for my liking.  So for now I'll settle for Daddy handling bedtime, a cozily lit family room, a napping baby, soft music on Pandora.  Tomorrow morning will arrive and I'll be up much earlier than I'd choose.  But getting up to be Mommy to two little girls is the hardest job I've ever loved.

Thin Places

The girls and I headed to the park this morning for another dose of Joy. Roo was strapped to me in her carrier and Moo giggled as I pushed her back and forth in the swing. I sipped coffee. It was lovely.

Minutes passed.  More moms and nannies arrived. Children of all ages began playing in various areas of the park. A little fellow and his mommy arrived to swing alongside us. He was wearing a Thomas shirt. Clearly, these were cool people.

The usual "mommy" talk began. We discussed the ages of our children, if two was harder than one, what it was like on Daddies, etc. She shared with me that she wanted another child but recounted how terrible her PPD had been with him. She had stopped nursing. She had been on medication. She was TERRIFIED of that all over again. I could relate. My PPD with Moo was one of the worst experiences of my life. So, I shared with her my experience of placenta encapsulation.

There is a whole other post waiting there, and it will come, but for now what I want to share is the relief that I saw on this mother's face. I could see excitement return to her and a huge weight come off her shoulders. "There is HOPE for me!" she said during our conversation. I gave her my contact information and that of my placenta gal. "Oh, I'm so glad we came to the park today!!"  She graciously thanked me and I told her she was more than welcome - and I meant it. We played for a bit more and we were on our way. As I loaded the girls in the van, she and her little fellow waved and grinned from across the park.

One of the weeks this past year at Women's Group, our leader talked about Thin Places- times when the veil between Heaven and Earth is so thin that you can see God working. There in a parking lot littered with minivans was a Thin Place.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Swings, Sunshine, and Smiles

I grew up in a quasi-rural county. My parent's house sits in the middle of 13 acres at the base of a mountain with a creek. My brother and I spent a lot of time outside. We played in the creek, rode bikes, played all manner of yard games, and we had a swing set.

I cannot properly represent in written word what that swing set meant to me. It was where I played Jem! (for those of you in my generation, I even had a special earring ;)), where I recounted the final scene from Phantom of the Opera over and over again, and where I spent time swinging just to inhale the honeysuckle that grew along our fence line. As the years passed, the role of my swing changed. It was where I went to think about a boyfriend, where I cried when he was gone, where I pondering someday having a family, where I wondered if I ever would. Eventually my single swing was replaced by a two seat wooden one. When I left for college, so did my swing set - finding a home at my brother's house for my niece.

Even though I was all grown up and away at school, I still managed fairly often to find my way to the local park to feed  the ducks and to swing. I'd think about class, or life, or try to escape them both. There was something serene in the simple act of pumping my legs to gain flight. I remember sitting in the swing, feeling the warmth of the sun, and that pure joy made me smile.

Now almost 10 years later, I found myself at a local park at 8:15 in the morning with a cup of coffee, a camera, and two little girls. One blissfully slumbered beside me listening to the giggle of her older sister. The other found a swing, sunshine, and smiled. In that moment, I saw pure joy in her face and felt it creep across mine.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Inspiried by Ani....

I've been trying to get back into the swing of blogging. Now the Mommy of two under two, I really think I feel the need to do so for my sanity. The entries that I had on my previous blog were great, but they represented a static notion of myself. This idea couldn't be further from the truth.

These days I spend my time playing, teaching, cleaning (well sort of), cooking, nursing, and researching. Researching schools, foods, chemicals, parenting, etc. all for the sake of being the best Mommy and wife that I can be. Nothing in my world stands still. Everything is constantly evolving.

A few days ago I introduced Roo to the magic that is Ani DiFranco. She cooed and smiled all the way through 32 Flavors and cried when it ended. I was touched. I continued to listen to that siren of my soul and felt drawn even more than I usually do to the song Evolve. If you have never heard the song, or Ani for that matter, look her up on Pandora. You won't be sorry. The lyrics to the song are as follows:
I walk in stride with people
much taller than me
and partly it's the boots but
mostly it's my chi
and I'm becoming transfixed
with nature and my part in it
which I believe just signifies
I'm finally waking up

and there's this moth outside my kitchen door
she's bonkers for that bare bulb
flying round in circles
bashing in her exoskull
and out in the woods she navigates fine by the moon
but get her around a light bulb and she's doomed

she is trying to evolve
she's just trying to evolve

now let's get talking reefer madness
like some arrogant government can't
by any stretch of the imagination
outlaw a plant
yes, their supposed authority over nature
is a dream
c'mon people
we've got to come clean

cuz they are locking our sons
and our daughters in cages
they are taking by the thousands
our lives from under us
it's a crash course in religious fundamentals
now let's all go to war
get some bang for our buck

I am trying to evolve
I'm just trying to evolve

gunnin for high score in the land of dreams
morbid bluish-white consumers ogling luminous screens
on the trail of forgetting
cruising without a care
the jet set won't abide by that pesky jet lag
and our lives boil down to an hour or two
when someone pulls a camera out of a bag

and I am trying to evolve
I'm just trying to evolve

so I walk like I'm on a mission
cuz that's the way I groove
I got more and more to do
I got less and less to prove
it took me too long to realize
that I don't take good pictures
cuz I have the kind of beauty
that moves

This song has been on repeat in my head since that afternoon. It speaks to my soul. It mirrors my heart.

So here it is. Here is my place of evolution. Here I will talk about whatever is on my mind, from babies, to toddlers, to being crunchy, to homeschooling. I couldn't pick a word or title that defines me because I am still learning who this lady is.