Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Three Years Old

Um, never mind that Will turns three and a half next month. Gradually getting caught up on my kiddo posts. Luckily I made pretty good notes... this one is from August 2013.

William George (August 2013)

Dear Will,

Three. Years. Old.

I can hardly believe it. I know it sounds incredibly corny and cliche, but it literally feels like we just brought you home from the hospital. That we just marveled at your first words. That we just cheered you on as you took your first tentative steps. 

When you're a new parent, everyone tells you that the time will fly by. It's hard to hear when you're in the newborn haze, but you know what?

They're right.

At three years old, there isn't an ounce of "baby-ness" left in you. You've outgrown the clumsy toddler stage, running your lean little body and long, strong legs triumphantly into little boyhood. You are an incredibly bright, sweet and sensitive little guy. You regularly impress me with your independence and confidence. You introduce yourself to people you don't know. You use your manners. You ask other children to play at the park. You ask interesting questions and make thoughtful observations about the world around you.

Just when I think my heart may burst from you being too grown up, you crawl into my lap or reach for my hand or snuggle up next to me. You check-in, even briefly, for reassurance, for comfort, for the steady reminder that I am never too far away. That I am here, cheering you on as you make a new friend, work out a problem, or head out into the world. Throughout your life, I will challenge you to step outside your comfort zone and try new things, but I will always be your safe haven.

You spent three mornings a week at the YMCA this summer, taking enrichment classes in music, art, cooking and gardening. You are wholly disinterested in any artistic pursuits, but will slap some paint on a piece of paper to appease your teacher. You love tactile projects, and will help with any task-oriented activity. For this reason, you loved your cooking and gardening classes. When I picked you up, you'd chatter non-stop about the ingredients that you used, the snack you ate, the seeds that you planted, the vegetables you harvested, the watering can you used, and your favorite color flowers. You are methodical, process-oriented, and meticulous. You definitely have your father's brain, my little engineer-in-training.

You start Montessori preschool in a few weeks, and I'm so excited to see you learn and grow. Your own Montessori-educated Mama knows that the value of a Montessori education is in exploration and self-discovery. In developing independence and autonomy. In learning how to love learning. Knowing you, I know you're going to thrive in that environment.

At three years old, you know all of your letters (A-Z), numbers (1-20), and most of the consonant sounds. You can spell your name and recognize it when written. The other day, you found your name in our street sign ("Will"ow Hill Drive). You like to count and categorize objects, assemble puzzles and build things. You memorize (and repeat) nearly everything you hear. Your ability to draw connections and demonstrate comprehension is astounding to me. You don't forget a darn thing. You use words and phrases as an adult would in conversation. My favorites lately is "Hmmm.... indeed" or "Ohhhhhh, I guess so" when you agree with something someone else says.

Your favorite toys right now are trains, trucks, helicopters and construction vehicles. You narrate story lines for each truck as you play, modeling cooperation, team work and problem-solving. When you're not playing with vehicles, you love pretending to be animals. Bunny, horse, frog, dog, bee, and lion are among your favorites. While pretending, you're always a baby and always a female. If I call you Will, you'll reply, "Actually, Mama. I'm a baby [fill in the animal]." And you'll insist that I call you "Baby [Animal]" and refer to you as "she" for the rest of the day.

We had a very active summer. You love to be outdoors, so we spent most of our time at the park or in the backyard. You enjoy playing with trucks in your sand box, kicking the soccer ball, throwing the frisbee, splashing in the Slip 'n' Slide, and launching the stomp rocket.

You potty trained very easily this summer. Stickers and cotton underwear proved to be great motivators, and you got the hang of it after just a few days (and a couple accidents). Although we taught you to pee sitting down, you've recently decided that you like standing up better. "I want to do it like Daddy," you told me. Good thing you're tall enough to reach!

At bedtime, you insist on having all your favorite stuffed animals in bed with you. It's quite a comic arrangement, but somehow we manage to tuck you in surrounded by Barkley, Mama Teddy Bear, Mama Zebra, Piggy Bo Biggy, Hungry Caterpillar, Bunny Buddy, Tortuga, and more. You call it your "nest" and insist that you need each one to be "nice and cozy warm".

Of all you've achieved this past year, I'm most proud of what a sweet, kind and loving big brother you are. While I was pregnant, I feared animosity and jealousy, but you have shown nothing but love and patience for your sister. You understand that Charlotte's needs are often more immediate, even if it means you need to wait for bit. You are gentle and kind. You love when she smiles at you, and you ask to hold her often (though it only lasts for about 30 seconds).

Occasionally you'll ask me to give Charlotte to Daddy so you and I can have some "Mama time". We typically read books and snuggle. I love these quiet moments, my arms wrapped around you, holding a book and sharing a story together. Your favorites right now are "Digger Man," "Owl Babies," "The Friendly Lion," "Otis and the Tornado," and anything from the "Thomas and Friends Complete Collection."

I love the person you are. I love your gentle soul, your goofy humor, your kind heart, and your free spirit. You brighten my soul and light up my life. I love you so much, sweet boy.



Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Broccoli "Souffle"

Remember that time I had a blog? Snort.

A friend recently shared that she misses me blogging at all posting recipes. This one was a hit at our kids ornament exchange last weekend, so I wanted to pass it on.

My friend Maggie first made this at one of our sleepovers. I've made some minor tweaks from the original, but man, is it good. It's not truly a soufflé (note the quotation marks), but it has a yummy, custardy finish that reminds me of one. It's a favorite in our house and sure to be a show-stopper at your next brunch.

Broccoli "Souffle"
Adapted from The Splendid Table

1 large loaf of white French bread
1 large head of broccoli
8 large eggs
2/3 cup milk
8 tablespoons butter, melted
3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. Tear the soft, white insides of the French bread into bite-size pieces (feed the crusts to your three year old, toast into croutons, or toss outside for the birds). Cover the bottom of the baking dish generously with the torn bread. Chop the broccoli florets into bite-size pieces and sprinkle over the bread.

Whisk together eggs, milk, melted butter, salt, pepper and sugar. Mix in one cup of shredded cheese. Pour over broccoli and bread, making sure to coat evenly. Top with remaining shredded cheese (we like lots of cheese, but you can use less if you don't live in Wisconsin).

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes to brown the cheese. Remove and let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving. Delish!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

School Pictures

Photos courtesy of a very talented mom at Will's school.
She captured him perfectly!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Radio Silence

Hello, out there! We're alive. Just busy. Here's life in six short snippets...
  1. Will loves his preschool. He tells me all the time about his friends and his teacher and what they had for snack that day. Melts my heart. However, he also says his best friend at school is Lucy, but there is no Lucy. So I'm not sure if we've entered imaginary friend territory, or if he's decided our friends' dog is his best friend. Stay tuned.
  2. People keep commending me for doing EBF (exclusive breastfeeding) with Charlotte for the first six months. I think breast milk is awesome, and I'm thrilled that we hit that milestone. But the truth is, it wasn't a conscious choice so much as I forgot she could start food already. The plight of the second child.
  3. I freaking love my new job. Wait, did I ever tell you that I got a new job? I started a new position at our local public four-year university in September. I'm 20 hours a week on a nine month contract, which has been about perfect balance for me. I've learned that I'm not well-suited to being at home full-time, but I don't want to be away from the kids five days a week either. So I'm working three days a week and I'll have my summers off. Awesome!
  4. We hired a cleaning person last month. Best money ever spent. I had no idea where to start, but we found her on recommendation from a friend. She visits every other week and does an amazing job. It's so great to have someone come in to do the big stuff (floors, sinks, toilets, etc), so we can spend less time cleaning and more time hanging out as a family. On her first day here, she took out the vacuum and Will exclaimed, "What's that?!?" Nice. In sum, why we have a cleaning lady.
  5. I started doing yoga two mornings a week with a friend. It's really early (like waking up at 5:30 AM to be to the studio by 6:00 AM), but so worth it. The days I do yoga are so good. I'm more present, more patient, more positive. Although it's early, there's something so calming about being up before anyone else. Like the world in the sub-6:00 AM darkness exists only for me. Before the kids are awake, before we're scrambling to get ready, even before I've had my first cup of coffee. I get to do something just for me. It's like I'm sweeping away the cobwebs and shining myself up for the day. Om.
  6. We recently debated Charley vs. Charlie for Charlotte's nickname. I adore the spelling Charley, but Ben figures she'll just have to explain how to spell it her whole life. So Charlie it is.
I forgot how hard it is to blog when I'm working! My new goal is once a week, but we'll see...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Back To School

Will on the First Day of Preschool: Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013



Guess who got a tattoo?!?

The idea came to me a few weeks ago as I was cleaning out my bedroom closet. I found a note from my dad, which was signed with his customary "Who Loves Ya" (he's said this to my sister and I since we were little girls). I snapped a photo of the note and sent a text to my sister... "This would make an awesome tattoo."

She was on board immediately, and we decided to get it done when she was in town for Charlotte's baptism. So this past Saturday, we grabbed our guys and headed to the tattoo parlor. Our tattoo artist was awesome. He made a transfer of the note in my dad's handwriting and went to work. I was super nervous, but it wasn't bad at all. Granted, it was a fairly simple tat. But two natural child births have probably skewed my pain threshold.  :)

It's still a bit surreal to see something permanently written on my arm, but I absolutely love it. It makes me smile every time I see it. I love that I share this piece of me with my sister, and I love that we were able to do something to honor our dad.

Cross that one off the list!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Four Months Old

Charlotte Louise (August 2013)

Dear Charlotte,

Sweet girl, what a big month it's been! Shortly after my last post you began sleeping through the night. At three months old. It was glorious.

It was also relatively short-lived (about 8 consecutive days), but it was awesome. You are quite young to be sleeping through the night on a consistent basis, so I took it as a beautiful (and restful) gift.

Even when you're not sleeping through the night, you're a relatively good sleeper. Daddy gives you a bottle before he goes to bed (around 11:00 PM) and then you usually only wake up once in the middle of the night to nurse. You eat very quickly and go right back to sleep (up for about 25 minutes max). Part of me really enjoys our middle of the night cuddles, and I know that extra feeding helps keep my milk supply up. So it's totally worth it, even if I need an extra cup of coffee in the morning.

In the past month you also started rolling from your belly to your back. It seemed to really startle you at first, but now you roll with a purpose, giving me a triumphant smile when you succeed. You still dislike tummy time when you're tired or close to nap time, but for the most part, you don't mind being on your stomach. You hold your head up high and look around the room for your brother, who remains your absolute favorite person.

You've started reaching for and batting at toys. You are almost able to grab them, but your coordination needs a little work yet. Still, it's awesome to see you interact with your surroundings a bit more. I can't believe how fast you're growing!

Bedtime continues to be a hard time of day for you. We've found that you get very upset if we try and put you to bed before you're ready. You regularly scream at Daddy when he puts you to bed alone. While you're a little fussy for me, I can usually keep you content until you're drowsy enough to fall asleep. Before bedtime, we spend a lot of time walking around the house or watching Will play. You also like to go outside... something about the fresh air seems to soothe you.

You continue to nurse like a champ, although we're encountering some new nursing troubles now that you're more active and alert. You recently whipped your head around while you were latched, creating a gnarly crack on my nipple (ouch!). It hurts a bit to nurse you on that side right now, but we're pushing through it.

Your absolute favorite activity right now is standing. Not by yourself of course, but standing on someone's lap while they support you under your arms. You lock your legs and hold yourself up forever. You love to look out and take in your surroundings while you do it. You're quite alert and interested in the world around you.

You are such a sweet, smiley girl. You love to look at people and make eye contact. You gave us your first giggles in the past month, and your smiles absolutely light up the room (and our lives).

We love you so much, baby bug.



Thursday, August 8, 2013