My Baby is One!

A year ago right now, Sidney was already born, but just barely.  I was recovering from my third c-section, my dad was getting Riley and Adrian ready for school, and Shawn was in the nursery with our beautiful baby girl.

She still doesn’t have much hair, but she is even more beautiful now.

Now, in looking back on the past year, I am amazed by all that she has learned, all the many ways she melts my heart.  Now, at one, she is almost running, climbing up on couches, saying a few words like “diaper” and “bye, bye,” giving hugs and kisses, and trying, in so many ways, to be a big kid like her older brother and sister.

For me, maybe because she is the third, I feel like I have been able to just sit back and enjoy this year, watching her hit milestones, watching the three littles play and watch each other, watching her bright eyes take in the wide, wide world around her.  We’ve done a lot of cuddling, Sidney and I.  We’ve done a lot of roaring.  The girl doesn’t seem to know a food she doesn’t like, but she will be happy to scatter leftovers on the floor when she is done with dinner.  She’ll run away if she senses a clothing or diaper change on the horizon, and then come racing over to me as soon as I sit on the floor to crank out a sit-up or two.  She’s fiercely possessive of my lap at the moment.  She loves books and trucks and balls and blocks.  She’ll let you know when she wants more pretzels or when she wants to be held.  Sure, she still gets me up occasionally in the middle of the night, but honestly I don’t mind.  I like that time with her.  I like being around her, period.  She is lovable, playful, fierce, and brave.  Yes, of course, I am still in awe of her.  I think I will always be.

So today, we’ll have a Funfetti cake, we’ll sing happy birthday, and we’ll cover her in hugs and kisses.  Today is a good day.

Happy birthday, my sweet, sweet Sidney.

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Hello December!

…oh what fun it is to take pictures of three children in tie-dye holiday shirts and red pants, romping around our yard and our neighbor’s driveway on a beautiful Saturday morning.  This is how we kicked off the month.

With two papers still to finish, I am about texted out right now.  But the semester end is in sight.  Then it is on to more holiday baking, crafts, gift buying, and a couple birthdays to plan.  Shawn’s get older and Sidney’s growing up fast.  My baby’s going to be a year-old in less than two weeks.  She running around, giving kisses, and saying “Go, dawgs, go!” these days.  A whole year has passed and I cannot get over how adorable she is.

Riley and Adrian, too.

And Shawn.

Enjoy the pictures!

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Sheet Walls, Listening Ears, and Church Change

Halloween pictures and three quick stories…

Sidney is walking all over.  A couple nights ago, we rigged a “secret base” in the playroom by arranging a sheet over the couch and the chair.  Sidney saw the sheet edge that was hanging down and went after it like it was a wall.  Down she went, laughing all the way.  On her next pass by the secret base, she did it again.  Sheet, lunge, forward fall, laugh.

Adrian has been struggling a bit with listening recently.  He’s even missed his evening show a couple of times as a result.  We’ve been working with his teachers to help him work on his listening skills.  At school, they started this thing with listening ears.  Adrian reaches up to both ears and makes a clucking noise to turn them on.  They still turn themselves off sometimes (maybe they are solar-powered?), but it is adorable watching him turn them back on and get focused on listening and making better decisions.  Of course, he’s also been really sweet recently.  He hugs Sidney all the time and helps unpack her bottles at daycare.  He gives me kisses and holds my hand.  He helps set the table and clean up the playroom.

When my parents were here this past weekend for the UGA football game (and to visit us!), my dad gave Riley a pocket full of change for the collection plate at Sunday School.  She is so happy to be jiggling her change all morning.  The plate comes closer to her, and then the tears start to flow.  She does want to give up the change.  First we get her to get a coin out.  Then one for her brother.  Mind you, this is all under duress, and now she’s crying even harder.

Through sobs: “I don’t want to give it all.”

Same girl who the day before made a collage for a teacher at her school who gave her a pack of Skittles the other day.  Exact same girl.  It was awful.

Finally, pocket empty, face red and wet, Riley calms down, and the ordeal is over.  Apparently generosity has an on and off button, too.

We used this as an opportunity to talk about giving to others.  And we laughed about it.

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10 and 10: How to de-clutter daily

The semester is winding down.  Three weeks of classes.  Just three weeks.  And while the work and projects and page counts soar, so, too, does the clutter around our house.  Some days, it just overwhelms me, how much stuff we have as a family of five.  So I’ve decided to do something about it.  I call it 10 and 10.

10: Every day, I get rid of 10 items in our home.  Items so far have ranged from an old, rusty necklace to a shirt I no longer wear to a kid’s meal toy to part of a kid’s meal toy.  Getting rid of it entails tossing or donating.  I have a diapers box in my closet where I have been collecting my donation items, and our garbage can is already full for the week!

What went this week?  Here are a few of the things I can remember:

  • dried out nail polish containers
  • expired make-up
  • worn-out and unworn shoes
  • worn water toys
  • old plastic organizers
  • a couple of t-shirts

Each day, I started in a different room.  First the back bedroom.  Then my room.  The kitchen.  The laundry room.  The front bathroom, etc.  Usually, the first item or two make me pause a little bit, but by nine and ten (or while I am chatting with Caroline), tossing becomes so much easier.

And here’s the best part: I feel so much lighter afterward.  Like I can physically feel clutter retreating.  Definitely a domestic rush.

Now for the second half…

And 10: This phase, I just came up with the other night, but I haven’t implemented it yet.  I plan to start tomorrow night.  This ten refers to ten minutes.  Before I get ready for bed, I am going to start spending ten minutes straightening up and putting things away around the house.  Who knows?  Maybe I will even throw a few more items away.  At the very least, I will get to wake up to a house that is a little bit tidier.  Which means I will wake up a little bit more content.

I am starting to believe that there is a definite correlation between clutter and my productivity levels.  Sometimes I can ignore the clutter, especially when I am in full throttle survival mode.  But sometimes I can’t.  10 and 10, I think, will help me manage the clutter with a daily dose of working to manage and cut down on it.

I’m pretty pumped about this plan!  By Christmas, I’m hoping for some clear shelves and unstuffed drawers.  I’m hoping to make this a habit I can maintain.

Less clutter = more productivity and less stress

I like that equation a lot.

More ways to celebrate fall…

Tonight or tomorrow or the next day, I plan to do a kid update.  The little ones been busy making us laugh and ticking milestones off their lists.  I’ve even got some videos.  For now, I wanted to add to my list of autumnal affairs.  I have been so into fall this time around, and I thought I would share all the big and little ways we’ve been making the most of the season.

1.  Two ingredient pumpkin cake.  Cake mix and pumpkin.  That’s it.  It was so good that Riley wants to make some for her teachers.

2.  Pumpkin dump cake.  I found this recipe on Pinterest (from Cookies and Cups) , and I decided we had to try it.  My mom ended up making it to for her and Alli and CE.  Rave reviews across the board – except from Riley and Adrian.  The pumpkin part was too pumpkiny for their tastes.  But that worked out for the best.  More for Shawn and me.

3.  Pumpkin swirl coffee from Dunkin Donuts.  Yes, I know I mentioned this last time but it needs to be brought up again.

3.  Sweet potato pie from McDonald’s.

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4.  Crockpot corn chowder.  I consulted my mom for a recipe she had used recently, but then I ended up just going with what we had on hand.  Two cans of corn, lots of potato chunks, two yellow squash cut into chunks and slices, milk, water, one packet of onion soup mix, some flour, salt, and pepper.  In the crockpot all day.  The note was just right for fall.

5.  S’mores campfire nights in the backyard.  I am so, so glad I splurged on our fire pit back in August.  We have spent the past two Saturday nights on the back porch with our new fire pit.  This past Saturday, Adrian and Sidney played in the pack and play (well, Adrian dove in, threw all the toys out, threw the toys back in, then dove in again, then repeat) while Riley chilled in a lounge chair, Shawn started up the fire, and I prepared s’more stuff.  And because we were thinking about camp, I asked everyone to share something they were thankful for.  Shawn was thankful his long week of conferences was over.  Riley and I were really thankful, for everything from golden brown marshmallows to Adrian not breaking his neck to winning a poster at book fair night.  I love that we get to have nights like these, the five of us, singing the bear song and licking sticky marshmallow gobs off our fingers.

6.  Acorn sweeping afternoons.  Shawn has swept our driveway completely clean every weekend.  By the next weekend, the acorn field is continuous, devastating.  He sweeps again.  Adrian, with a mini push-broom, helps.

7.  Scarves.

8.  Slippers and hooded sweatshirts at home.  

9.  Fleece sleepers for the baby.

10.  Glitter top pumpkins.  Riley has been obsessed with glitter, so using some Pinspiration, we set out a tarp and glittered the pumpkins the kids got with grandpa and grandma.  They look amazing.  And the project was so much easier than carving.

(Idea and image from

11.  Cookie butter from Trader Joe’s.

How To Be an Aunt

I have wonderful aunts.  My kids have wonderful aunts.  And now I get the chance to be an aunt.  I am still reeling from this realization, especially after my trip to Virginia to meet my niece and nephew and spend time with the proud new parents.  It was nice for a change to take a back seat in terms of child care and newborn anxiety, to not be the one in the hospital bed recovering from a c-section and waiting for milk to come in.  This time around, I got to be the one changing diapers, tracking feedings, and holding the little ones, whispering promises to them of future shopping trips and spoiling and second and third helpings of sugary treats.  Caroline, I wonder where I got all those ideas from?

Unfortunately, I probably won’t see the twins again until Christmas, so my aunty duties are long-distance for now.  But I already have Christmas presents bought for them.  I’m already planning nicknames and future play dates when all of the cousins can get together.  I can’t wait to hold them again.

So in the meantime, here’s my stab at what I think being an aunt means, lessons I’ve learned from Aunt Barb, Aunt Lynne, Alli, Claire, and Caroline, as well as my experience thus far.

1.  Don’t buy “mom” gifts.  This might be hard for me, but I’m going to work at it.  Basically, this means not being quite so practical.

2.  Keep in touch and inquire often.  Right now, I am completely invested in the bowel movements of my niece and nephew.  I long for updates throughout the day.

3. Plan fun activities that involve shopping, sugar, and play-dough.  This is all from Caroline.  She’s got this step down and Riley and Adrian love her for it.

4.  Don’t worry about sugar intake or making messes or spoiling.  At the end of the day, the kids go home to their parents.  Hehehehe.  Yes.

5.  Cuddle, cuddle, cuddle.

6.  Find special ways to get involved.  Aunt Barb and Aunt Lynne used to take Allison and I school shopping in Ohio.  I remember those outings well.  Aunt Barb and I found my senior prom dress on a clearance rack for thirty dollars.  I loved the way it shimmered.

7.  Support the parents without parenting.  In other words, I get to be the good cop for once.  Okay, so maybe I am usually in good cop mode even with my own kids…

8.  Start traditions.

9.  Have fun.  It seems like aunting really is all about having fun with the kids.  No baths or bedtimes or vegetables to fuss about, for instance.  Get ’em dirty.  Stuff ’em with snacks.  Laugh ’em up.  C-squared (both of their names start with C), that’s what I’m talking about!

10.  Be there.  For the kids.  For the mom.  For the dad.  Help create a network of love and support.

Did I mention I’m excited about this aunt business?