Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Baby Doll

She loves her baby doll these days...

Hi, Baby.

We put a bib on baby and put her in the highchair, and Natalie high-tails it over to play "Mommy".  Gives baby a bite....
And a bite for herself, while she's at it - 'cause she is also loving practicing using the spoon like a big girl.
I could eat that pudgy little baby arm right up.  Yum.
I'm the boss around here, Baby.

 Hey, Baby, let me help you with that bib.
She so carefully puts baby back in the highchair....
Well, kinda.  It's the thought that counts. :)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

12 Months Old

Baby girl, you are 12 months old!  A whole year has flown by, and you are more sweet, more funny, more entertaining, more ornery....smarter, cuter, busier....than you've ever been!

Natalie, you are learning so quickly these days.  I feel as if you are always doing something new!  You've been trying to repeat what we say, like "that", "yes", "hi", or "eyes" (while pointing at a baby doll's or stuffed animals eyes).  Along with mama and dada, those are the only words that come out clearly.  A combination of "ba", "dee", and "ah?" name everything else.

You have taken off walking!  It took you a week or two to get comfortable on your feet - but now you are off and moving!  The other day, daddy and I were in the kitchen you you came right around the corner, walking, holding your baby doll.  You looked so big!

You love to laugh.  Head thrown back, mouth wide open.  You love to be tickled, chased, and teased.  You giggle when we sing, you laugh out loud when you play peek-a-boo.  Funny faces send you over the edge.  You like to smile and flirt with strangers at stores and restaurants.  Such a happy little bug!  You make us laugh, too.  You are entertaining and cute every single day.  I can't wait to get home and see you at the end of the work day.

You are busier than ever.  Seems like you are everywhere at once.  Cabinet locks have keep you out of most places, but you are so curious these days, we just can't keep up.  The other day you pulled over your entire nightstand, lamp, nightlight, and baby monitor.  When I heard the crash, of course I went running in - there you were, tangled up in table legs.  A scared look on your face, of course, but you had gotten what you were going after - your pacifier.  You are determined!  You want to touch everything.  And when you get what you want, you are elated!

You are eating everything these days....lately you've been loving waffles (with a little syrup), macaroni, any kind of meat (chicken, beef, sausage, pork chops), ANY fruit.  You reach for anything on my plate, even if you have just eaten.  Your favorite veggies are carrots and green beans.  You are getting better at chewing up bigger bites, so I don't have to cut everything into such tiny pieces these days.  I'm trying to teach you sign language for "more", but you prefer to point at what you want and yell loudly.  Sassy girl.  We are in the process of weaning you from formula to whole milk.  You don't seem to mind drinking it in a sippy cup....we haven't tried it in a bottle yet.

You are attached to a few things.  Paci and blankie are the favorites.  When you get these two items at once, you are entranced and calm - and look of relief washes over you and your whole body relaxes.  I'm glad you have something to make you feel that way.
You are also attached to Mommy & Daddy.  When we are around family and friends, you prefer to be close to us (although you love your Mimi!).  You like for us to be within your vision so you can keep tabs on us if we are somewhere new.  Sometimes I wish that you were more willing to go to others (they so want to get their hands on you!), but I realize we have made you this way.  We are homebodies, and you are too. 

You hug your stuffed animals and baby dolls.  I can see that you are starting to get interested in imaginary play.  Last week you used a plastic spoon to "feed" your baby doll while it sat in the highchair.  You also put your baby dolls in your blankie and hug them.  You "pour" your teapot to "fill" up your teacups.  You are growing up - and it is exciting to see you playing differently. 

You still sleep great at night - 12 or 13 hours usually.  Two decent naps a day - usually one around an hour, one around two hours.  You continue to be very scheduled, a little creature of habit.  Morning bottle, bedtime bottle, and three bottles/sippy cups with your meals.  When we went to the doctor last week, you had grown only a little.  You've gained about a pound, so your percentile has dropped down to 35th %ile.  You are still tall (65th%ile).  I think you are going to be built like your daddy.

Natalie, I hope you know how much joy you have brought to use in the past twelve months.  We will be eternally grateful for you, little girl.  We are blessed beyond belief, and are looking forward to the next year with you!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Letter to Natalie

Dear sweet Natalie,

At this very moment, 365 days ago, I was laboring.  Hard.  Couldn't move, couldn't breathe, could barely keep my eyes open.  The waiting seemed endless.  Three failed epidurals, 9 1/2 centimeters dialated...then came the words c-section.  And I couldn't really think of anything except for the pain being over and finally holding you in my arms, baby girl.
Finally, at 9:21p.m., you arrived.

I vividly remember looking at you for the very first time.  Studying your features, comparing them to mine, or to your Daddy's.  Counting your long, slender fingers.  Kissing your wrinkly little feet.  Rubbing my hands over your soft fuzzy head.  Kissing the most perfect little rosebud mouth that I have ever seen.  You were absolutely perfect.  I will not ever forget your smell, the sound of your cry, and way you looked at me.  It was as if you were saying Oh, Mommy, there you are
Bringing you home and settling into life as a family of three was joyous and exhausting.  You were a good baby from the beginning, sleeping and nursing well.  I cherished each day with you, spent countless hours holding you, swaddling you, rocking you, snuggling you, kissing you, singing to you, and adoring you.

The next few months were filled with so many milestones.  Watching you hold up your head, roll over, smile, coo, sleep through the night, cut teeth, sit up, scoot, crawl, pull up, walk.  First holidays, first outings, first words, first days at daycare.  Watching you learn and grow has been the most incredible experience of my life.  I am filled with pride each time I see you do something new.  Now, when you make a discovery, your eyes light up and your squeal with delight.  Your joy is absolutely infectious!  Nothing in this world makes me smile the way you do.

This past year with you has been so fun, so sweet, so challenging, so busy, so exhausting, so beautiful, so perfect.  I cannot believe how quickly time has gone by.  Before my eyes, my little baby has grown and grown.  As we heads towards the toddler stage, I marvel at you little girl.

You are beautiful, smart, funny, talented, bossy, sassy, sweet, cuddly, happy, inquisitive, determined, impatient, loving, and simply one-of-a-kind.  Each day you make me laugh.  How lucky I am to have you!

My love for you is endless.  It is bigger than you'll ever know.  God gave me a special and precious gift on the day you were born.  I will be forever thankful for you, Natalie.
Happy Birthday!

Love & Kisses,

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What I'm LOVING...

In honor of Valentine's Day....what I'm lovin' right now...
My littlest Valentine. :)
Yes, she's still recovering from a nasty cold virus and two teeth coming in - so she's a little crabby.

But we can get a smile out of her if we catch her in the right mood. (Notice the conversation heart earrings??  Yep, that's what you wear on Valentine's Day when you teach second grade...)

I'm also loving that I'll finally be getting my hair done this weekend.  'Cause this hot mess growin' on my head has  I'm thinking change will be more dark roots, blond ends, grown-out bangs and shaggy used-to-be layers.  Thank goodness! 

I'm lovin' this little monkey buns.  I got a little sad this morning thinking that this was her last "first" holiday.  It's almost been one whole year, and she has now experienced every holiday at least once.  All week, I've been having flashbacks to this time last year - preparing for her arrival, the emotions of the waiting-game, the anxiousness and worry.  On this day last year, I started my maternity leave a week before she came.

I'm really loving the bookshelves that hubby installed yesterday...

These are Natalie's birthday present from Mommy & Daddy.  I just love how they turned out! 
So does she....

We can hardly keep her out of her room these days.  She books it down the hall as fast as she can and makes a beeline straight for the shelves.  I thought she'd just clear them as fast as she could (she's very into taking things out or off these days), but no -- she carefully looks for just the right one, reaches up for it, then sits on the floor to look at it.  A girl after her own teacher-momma's heart - I hope she will always love books. :)
 Yes - I see the unprotected outlet behind her.  I unplugged her fan to take some pictures..I don't let my busy baby play near electrical outlets. :)

(They look so great below her alphabet flashcards!)

I'm loving the countdown to her birthday this week.  We are in full party mode.  Trying to keep the house meticulously clean this week in anticipation of her weekend party.  Can't wait to celebrate with her and the rest of our family.

Here's her invite:

LOVE me a vintage themed first birthday party!

Lastly....what I am loving like CRAZY these days??

That's right - the bestie and I have started up a sweet little business!
Check it out!!!

Happy Valentine's Day! <3

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Having it all?

Took the day off today to "catch-up".  Various errands and appointments consumed my day, but the whole time I had sweet baby girl on my hip and hubby holding my hand....the perfect, busy day.  Why is it that it's so easy to be super-productive on a week-day away from work, than a weekend day?  It's a crazy amount of preparation to be gone from school for a day and have a sub in my place, but it is SO worth it to have a day to get things done.  It was a sharp reminder, however, that I long to be home with my girl each day. 

Right when I went back to work, I remember that constant pain of being away from her.  So tiny and helpless.  Being away from her felt like leaving a part of myself behind.  I didn't think it would ever get easier.  Friends and co-workers encouraged me that someday I would come to work and not cry when I dropped her at daycare.  That day came before I thought it would....I was able to leave my precious girl and go about my day without tears.  And now, it is just a part of our routine - load the car, load the baby, drive to daycare, carry her in, kisses and hugs and "I love yous", rush out (as I am usually running late), a distinct shift from mommy to teacher.  Spend the rest of the day loving on others' kiddos until it's time to rush back to the sitter's house - where I am greeted with a baby who will cross the room with incredible speed and the HUGEST smile when she sees me each day.  What hasn't changed, is that I think about her all day.  I wonder what she is doing, what/who she is playing with.  I worry about if she's napping well, or refusing her bottle (a phase we are going through right now!).  I wonder if she is getting plenty of hugs and kisses (when I know she is), and I wish that I was the one to give them.

Don't get me wrong - I enjoy my job, have wonderful friends as co-workers, and find great purpose and satisfaction in my career.  I remember the loneliness of the long days of maternity leave - counting the minutes until my hubby would be home, just to have another adult to talk to.  Days of feeling like I had lost myself in this new land of mommyhood, then the feelings of guilt that washed over me for wanting a "break" from 24 hours a day of caring for her. 

I question often - is it just a matter of wanting what I don't have?  If I stayed home, would I wish each day to be back in the classroom?  If I continue working, will I constantly have the thoughts in the back of my mind that I should be at home?

Right now, it's not a financial option for me to stay home.  Even if I wanted to - you know we are working on becoming debt-free this year....and that WON'T happen if momma ain't workin'!  But I find that a huge motivation for me when it comes to getting our finances in order, is the thought of being able to stay home with Natalie, with future babies... 

Can I have it all?  Right now, I STILL feel that I am not as good of a teacher as I was pre-baby, when I had more time to commit.  And I also feel that I could be a better mommy if I had more time to give to Natalie - I could be a better wife if I had more time to give to Mark.

There's no answer tonight - just thoughts of a mommy/wife/teacher who is really looking forward to SUMMER! :)