Archive for December, 2011

Too Many Toys

We ushered Christmas out of the house yesterday, hoisting it back into the attic in black garbage bags and erasing its memory with the vacuum.  The house has reclaimed its square footage, the spaces previously occupied by trees now hold Nellie’s toys, and it honestly looks a little bit… empty.  I mentioned to G that perhaps we could now buy Nellie more toys since we clearly have the space.  He, however, thinks our living room looks like a kindergarten.

That’s the funny thing about perspective, I guess.

At any rate, I checked with Nellie, and she is pretty sure she doesn’t have too many toys.

She’s discovering the world of independent play, and it’s glorious.  She can entertain herself in the Pack N Play, the exersaucer, and the jumperoo, and if she could only reach the penguin toy on her exersaucer by herself, life would be golden.

In other news, after a disappointing stint at the wireless store yesterday, I sadly walked out without my sleek new top-of-the-line phone.  After stewing over it all day, however (some might say I’m not good at letting go of an idea once it’s stuck on my mind), I called AT&T Wireless to see if they could work with me on the terms of my upgrade (since our family has been AT&T customers since the beginning of time), and as it turns out, they could and they did.  And it was awesome.  Now my shiny new LG Nitro 4G LTE is zooming over magic Fedex rainbows to make its way here, and my first generation, plan-so-old-they-didn’t-know-what-to-do, 2G iPhone will finally be replaced.

I’m feeling all puffy-hearted for AT&T Wireless today.

It’s hard to believe how quickly this break has passed, though it’s the shortest period of time we’ve had off since I started due to how the holidays fell this year.  We’ve got just two more days till Nellie’s first (half) day at daycare, and I’ve still got a lot of things to prepare before then.  In the meantime, we’re just spending as much time as possible playing with the little monkey and taking her on fun outings.

And if that means putting her in a disposable diaper so I can squeeze her little butt into my favorite corduroy pants just one last time, well then…


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I’ve been dreading today for a week.  It’s been building itself up as an insurmountable snowball of hassle, growing larger and larger with every mail delivery. 

And it didn’t disappoint; in fact, it was an avalanche of irritation.

I’ve been stockpiling paperwork for about two weeks now — things that needed focus, attention, and (most importantly) time I didn’t have.  With companies closed for the holidays, mail deliveries stopped for the holidays, and a strong desire for a day off, I was almost guilt-free as I pushed everything into one towering pile by my purse and vowed to do it once all of our holiday festivities had ended and there was nothing to do but eat leftover food and play with new toys.

Today was that day.  Fraud paperwork for the credit card companies.  An hour on the phone with the insurance company that for the second time denied Nellie’s hospital claims.  Thank you notes for precious little hats and mittens and beautiful books for Nell.  Homeowners bills for the chalet.  Registration renewal for the Element (which is seriously — and unreasonably, in my opinion — higher than the toaster’s).  Oh and, yanno, normal things like mortgage payments and cable bills.

But it’s over now.  My towering pile of intimidating paperwork has been whittled down into four small piles: fraud paperwork that I don’t really know what to do with, but I suspect I should keep for some amount of time; stamped bills and cards that will go out in tomorrow’s mail; super important things like Banana Republic coupons; and one giant yellow envelope full of daycare paperwork that I didn’t have the energy to start today.

But I’m past it.  Paperwork Day is over.  Tomorrow I might do something crazy to celebrate like buy a new phone for the first time since 2005.  The sad day has come when I can no longer load NFL.com (or any other website) on my iPhone without the phone crashing and rebooting with only a fraction of my battery left.  Therefore, it must go.  Also, I thoroughly enjoy the looks of surprise/disgust on the faces of the folks at the wireless stores when they discover my phone is a first gen and that it is only 2G.  As someone famous once wrote,

The horror.

Paperwork and cell phones aside, I’m overdue on posting pics from G’s birthday, though not as overdue as you might think since I maybe played calendar god and pushed his birthday celebration to the 27th when we were able to include the uncles and Gma in the celebration.  (I can do that, right?)  We had a fabulous belated birthday/Christmas celebration.  G came up with a delicious menu: smoked sausage, fennel, and apple rosemary skewers to start; butternut squash (and rutabaga) soup; stuffed pork loin with apples, cranberries, orange zest, and a whole host of other things escaping my mind right now; salad and crescent rolls.  And of course, a peanut butter and chocolate ice cream cake with as many candles as I could cram on to its tiny frozen surface.

Here are some pics from the evening, including Nellie in one of her party dresses that Gma made for her.  Please excuse the fact that she fell asleep at the table.  Apparently we’re not exciting enough for her!


After our guests left, Nellie put on her candy cane jammies and snuggled with the birthday boy.

Although I am totally aware that these pics are all basically identical, I’m posting one more because baby feet are awesome.

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Nell’s First Christmas

We had a beautiful holiday. 

We spent Christmas morning at home with hot chocolate and coffee, a fire, our stockings, some presents under the tree, and three puppies still working on their giant peanut butter bones.

Since we were hosting dinners all around the holiday week, we took Christmas off, and G took us out to Carroll’s Creek on the waterfront in Eastport (Annapolis) for their holiday brunch.  Lamb, roast beef, turkey, salmon, shrimp cocktail, stuffings, veggies, cakes, cookies, and more.  (Yanno, totally what I would have made if we had stayed home.)  We toasted our first family Christmas in Maryland with champagne on the water.

After brunch we took Nellie on a stroller tour of Annapolis.  We had the town to ourselves, with the exception of a few holiday walkers with their dogs.  It was brisk and beautiful out.  Annapolis was decked out in lights and elegant wreaths.  We toured side streets and uneven brick walkways, historic homes, the Naval Academy. And then we ended up right where our walk had started — at the Annapolis Marriott where we had a room on the water for the night.

We took glorious, glorious, uninterrupted-by-dogs naps to sleep off our lunch and our walk, and by the time we woke up, Christmas lights were shining on the water from boats and condos. 

It should be said that Nellie loves hotels.  Everything about hotels.  Big beds, big baths.  Big smiles.

We took another walk around Main Street and ended up in an Irish pub for our ‘light fare’ Christmas dinner.  It was actually the only place open that wasn’t doing a buffet or prix fixe menu, but it turned out to be terrific and Nellie was all smiles all night long.  She seemed quite pleased to be out and about in her jammies.

The following morning, Nellie and I slept in while G went and retrieved breakfast from the Starbucks on the marina.  It was, by then, of course, G’s bday.  But that is for another post.

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Christmas Eve

I adore Christmas Eve.  And not only because one of my favorite stories is finally (albeit briefly) timely.

We had our neighbors and their kids over for dinner tonight, and the magic of Christmas is contagious.  As the twins dodged back and forth between the dinner table and their wrapped Christmas presents, we caught up over the most kid-friendly dinner I could come up with — a ham, baked and breaded mac n cheese, roasted asparagus, and a big red velvet cake that (for the first time EVER) did not turn the cream cheese icing pink.  Then we moved into the living room for presents, coffee, a fire, and Santa tracking with NORAD (he was in Italy).

Now it’s just our little family.  Dishes are washed, food is put away, and even the dogs are too tired to touch their Christmas bones.  (In fact, the chubby dog retreated to the guest bedroom thirty minutes ago and is unlikely to emerge anytime soon.)  Santa has already dropped his presents off at our house, so we won’t be leaving carrots or oatmeal outside for reindeer, and we won’t be putting a plate of cookies by the fireplace.  But even without all those little touches — there are plenty of years ahead to bring Santa to life — it still seems a little magical.

And it’s one of the happiest nights I can remember.

Puppies and their holiday bones:

Doggy bone hangover:

Christmas Eve in CBeach:

It’s important to record when I make cakes. Because it only happens about as often as reindeer fly.

And…they presented unto him with gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:11







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Above Water

Holiday spirit and reindeer magic dust are flying through the air around here. 

G and I are both off work, and I can finally breathe.  It’s always true during this time of the year that there aren’t enough hours in the day and that there are some things that simply can’t get done, but I always forget that, and each December I set out once again to do all things.  And I think one December I will do it all — I’ll get cards out and cookies made and the house clean and everything will hum along like Santa’s workshop — but this is definitely not that December.  The last couple of weeks have been totally draining, mentally and physically.  I’m got a lot more on the ‘hanging over my head like a cloud’ list — things like paperwork, more fraud reports, and calls to the insurance company that again denied Nellie’s insurance claims for no reason other than their system is ‘not smart’ — but the important thing is that I’m on break.  And G is on break.  And Nellie really only knows breaks.  We’re hurtling into our first Christmas as three and our first Christmas in Maryland, and we’ve got so many things to look forward to.

But before I launch into Christmas Eve dinner with friends, and Christmas in Annapolis, and G’s birthday, and post-Christmas dinner with W & M and Gma, I need to rewind back to days 21-23.

G had Nellie all week, of course, and everything went perfectly, though I’m not sure he’s ready to jump into the role of stay-at-home Dad.  And while I don’t want to be at all critical of his childcare services, it must be noted that her outfits were not exactly ‘coordinated’.  Daddies Dressing Daughters could probably be its own support group.

But in addition to keeping her happy and healthy, he sent me pics of her happenings each day.  Is there a cuter picture than this?

I’m thrilled that G got to be home with her last week and that we’re both home with her this week, because she’s learning by leaps and bounds these days, and it is SO much fun to watch.  She’s learning to operate the toys on her exersaucer, she can bounce herself in the jumperoo if she has a booster step under her feet, she can pull all the rings off her towers (and kinda sorta can put them back on), and she’s even discovering the trick to playing her piano.

Today was a day of errands — battling crowds at the grocery store and Kmart and the wine store and the pet store.  But all that is out of the way.  Christmas dinner ingredients are purchased, daycare supply list is complete, wine is lined up on the counter (waiting for someone who can have more than one glass a night), and giant bones with even larger red bows are taunting the puppies from the counters.  G has a holiday beer, I have my glass of red wine, the puppies are snoring, Nellie is asleep in her Pack n Play, and someone from ESPN is on the television in an elf suit.

It’s finally time to celebrate.

For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. Matthew 2:2

And, lo, the star…went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. Matthew 2:9

And when they were come into the house, they…fell down, and worshipped him. Matthew 2:11

I’m going to close with this picture. Nellie enjoys being naked and has not lost her love for soft fabrics.  Crying baby?  Remove clothes, add sheepskin.  I realize this has nothing to do with her 25 days of Christmas.  I’m totally okay with that.

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I can’t believe we’re in the final countdown to Christmas, and I’m immensely relieved I’ve only got three days of work left.  As Nellie’s reverse schedule becomes more and more routine, my ability to function is becoming less and less apparent.  It’s a recipe for non-success: two parts blurry red eyes, one heaping spoonful of holiday stress, and a bowl of credit card fraud, and well…I feel like a bit of a disaster these days.

But G is taking charge this week where I cannot. He stepped into his new role with the expected amounts of enthusiasm and trepidation (exact ratio fluctuates hourly, I think), and he is rocking Mr. Mom.  He and Nellie survived their first day of Daddy Daycare, dirty diapers and all.  It involved lots of smiles, a few tears, a little milk, and a long walk around the neighborhood.

I’d venture a guess that her walk was the best part of her day, but if someone wrapped me up in a puffer jacket and a bundle me, I’d probably be pretty pleased as well.  It would be particularly stellar if someone could push me from my parking garage to my office every morning. 

Cutest winter baby ever, no?

I came home to find her fast asleep, which is exactly how I left her (though it seems there was not much of that in between).  As you can see, she has no concept of when she needs to be awake to operate heavy machinery, as her jumperoo requires way more focus than she is displaying here.

Only a few windows left on Nellie’s Advent calendar.  I’m sad that Nellie’s 25 days of Christmas are almost over — I’ve had fun celebrating in some small way every day — but it’s probably for the best because I’m crap at finding the little numbers on the Advent calendar boxes. I wonder whether the folks at Hallmark ever considered ink in a contrasting color?


And 20:

Where is he that is born King of the Jews? Matthew 2:2

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The Gift of Childcare

G is watching Nellie today on her 19th day of Christmas.  And for the record, he will be watching her on days 20, 21, and 22 also.  While I’d like to think I know exactly how their day is going, it’s hard for me to imagine.  Because Nellie has changed SO much since I was on mat leave.  The games we used to play and the toys we used to carry around don’t interest her anymore.  On one hand, she’s easier to entertain because things hold her interest for longer periods of time; on the other hand, it’s not just a matter of carrying her around and singing to her anymore.  Now she’s got to be bounced, spun, rocked, read to, puppet show-ed to, piano play-ed to.  She doesn’t just look at toys dangling above her; now she tries to rip them down (and succeeds far more often than I feel like she should be able to…).

G has a full arsenal of toys at his disposal: her piano, color ball, and baby tunes; her playmat and her playpen; her exersaucer and her jumperoo; and a stack of books that puts my dusty reading collection to shame.

I never thought we’d be those folks who had every baby toy on the market.

But then she discovers a new trick and gasps with a grin of accomplishment on her face, and I know we’re doomed.  Her smile is addictive, and we’ll do anything to keep it coming.

Pony, anyone?

Here she is with her new favorite toys ever.

Bouncing with G.

There’s a parrot above her head that she will rip down, one way or another, and she’s got a grip of steel on her little bug. Determination is fierce with this one.

Fascinated by the snowflake chase.  She has already learned to push all the beads from side to side, and gets rewarded each time with a push of the penguin spinner.

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem…there came wise men from the east. Matthew 2:1

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