Thursday, December 23, 2010

Crafts of Christmas present

Lindsay and I decided to get our kiddos together this week and do some Christmas-y things. These big girls were SO excited.On Tuesday, we commenced at Linds' to make cinnamon salt dough ornaments. Linds still has hers that she made as a child, and it STILL smells divine. Here are the 2 little elves.
Everybody had a spoon to mix.
The girls were overeager with their cookie cutters. Savannah loves stockings, and Addison loves Christmas trees.
Then, during the LONG cooking part, the girls entertained themselves by making snow angels on Lindsay's kitchen floor. (Love those little booties.)

These silly girls thought they could have nap time together in Lindsay and Daniel's bed. Think that would work? Yeah, right!
Where are our babies? Sleeping... Couldn't have been more perfect. In fact, during the afternoon naptime, ALL 4 of our kids were asleep at the same time. We couldn't have asked for a better day.

Cards of Christmases Past

I've been working on our family's Christmas scrapbook and Holiday picture albums, and it's been fun to walk down memory lane thinking about our past Christmases as Crawfords. Here is a recap.2005: our "Just Married" Christmas. This was our first Christmas in our first house, with our first pre-lit tree bought with Wedding Home Depot gift cards. We bought our Pottery Barn stockings, hosted dinner parties and teen parties, and made our own traditions. (This was also our first picture card. I love it because it documents our beautiful wedding, but it makes me sad because Sarah Greer and DB were cut out, and Al Millergren is only halfway in... oh well.)

2006: our Maggie Christmas. We made our sweet bichon a part of our family that July and, of course, ordered her a matching PB stocking. I hosted Christmas Bunco, December lifegroup, and we had more teen and friend parties as well.

2007: our first Tender Tennessee Christmas in our new house. I hosted my annual Christmas gathering with my high school girlfriends at our house. Patrick and I also hosted the Crawford Christmas at our house! (We felt VERY adultish.) I was sick with pneumonia, but we enjoyed a hope-filled celebration with family and friend activities nonetheless.
2008: Addison's first Christmas. Even though she was just shy of 3 months, we made this holiday all about out baby girl--establishing our traditions as a family of 3. We had Christmas morning at our house, went to my parents' for brunch, and traveled to Louisville (P's parents) for Christmas dinner. I grew up doing the same trek as a little girl and am excited to share that tradition with my girls.
2009: Patrick's coming home Christmas. After spending most of 2008 on the road, Patrick had a local project beginning in November, and that afforded him the opportunity to find a job that brought him home for good in January. At 14-15 months old, Addison embraced the holiday, proclaiming, "Ho Ho Ho" to everyone she greeted.

We have already made some fun 2010 Christmas memories, and I look forward to this weekend even more!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My Santa Baby...

This sweet little Santa Baby has decided to be allergic to milk... just like her big sister.

I thought we were in the clear. She made it a week longer than her sis, but at 5.5 weeks old, her diapers started raising my suspicions, and we are back to square 1.

Now, my decision is to nurse... or NOT to nurse.

I did it last time--cut dairy totally and completely from my diet. I grew to like vanilla soy milk, but NEVER vegan cheese or tofutti sour cream. I honestly don't know if I have it in my again to make it as long as I did with Ad, but I am going to try.

The problem: I LOVE milk and cheese. Love it.

What will I eat?
Lots and lots of Pei Wei.
Soy Milk
broth based soups
peanut butter
sigh... vegetables
Earth Balance buttery spread

A friend recently recommended the "So Delicious" coconut milk products.

Looks like Whole Foods and I will become friends again...

For my birthday, we went to Olive Garden. While it tortured my heart to forgo the cheesy entrees, I enjoyed my spaghetti, butterless bread, and cheeseless salad. My sweet mom made me a milkless cake (Duncan Hines Classic Yellow), and those cookies Addison and I made below: milkless!

I have become a reader of labels again and a shopper in the organic section of groceries...

I am going to give this a try.

Addison had totally outgrown her allergy by her first birthday. We put her straight on cow's milk. I wonder how early she outgrew it, and I am hoping that Ansley's is shortlived--even shorter.

Getting through the yummy Christmas food will be the toughest part! Wish me luck, and feel free to share any tips or tricks that you know of.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Addison's Bake Shop and Breakfast with Santa

Friday's activity was making Christmas cookies.

Do you think she enjoyed it? She was a proud little baker.
Saturday we got to meet Santa Claus! And Mrs. Claus too! Addison asked for a train... we've coached her well... (We got her a train set for Christmas in August at IKEA.)
Mommy and Daddy even got to get in the picture!
Some sister love before celebrating Mommy's birthday.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Big Bad Wolf... dipthongs and "L" sounds... and our trip to the speech pathologist

This little girl has been cracking me up...

I'm going to go in reverse order topic-wise.

Just after Addison turned 2, she started stammering and stuttering a little bit. She would repeat the first word or syllable of a sentence--usually when she was really excited or tired. I read and saw that it was usually right before a developmental leap and that it wasn't anything to worry about. I did mention it to our pediatrician at her checkup, and he said not to be concerned unless she started showing frustration.

After Ansley was born, it got more pronounced and began happening with every word in a sentence. When she couldn't get it, she would almost yell it. I called my dear friend and college roommate, who also happens to be a speech pathologist in the school systems in AL, and she reassured me that this could happen with big life changes--like a new sibling--and gave me some tips to help her through it.

I felt so much better until the next week when she started blocking words and struggled to get out "Savannah," "animal cracker," "Christmas tree," and other things that she had said flawlessly hundreds of time before. Addison is a precocious child verbally. She talks ALL the time--in compound/complex sentences, so for her to struggle like this was breaking my heart. She was in tears, and so was I. I called my pediatrician back, and he referred us to a speech pathologist so that she could be evaluated. I second-guessed myself at every step, but I am so glad we went. Of course, she showed absolutely no disfluency when we met with her, but she has given us strategies to help Addison when she gets frustrated. We go back after Christmas for a vocabulary assessment, but already she seems to be phasing out of her repetitions. It overwhelmed me how emotional I felt about this hurdle..

Being a mom is hard stuff.
Language-wise, Addison is obsessed with exaggerating her dipthongs and "L" sounds...

"Ansa-Lee Caro-La-ina Ca-Lawford" Yep, she even wants to assign "l's" to "r's."

"I want my ba-Lue ba-Lanket, puh-Lease."

It's seriously hard NOT to get tickled every time she does it.
The Big Bad Wolf.

I know every kid has their thing that they are afraid of. For Savannah, it is Swiper. For some, it's Mr. Noodle. For others, snakes... Addison's is the Big Bad Wolf. Every night we have to check the closet, the corners of the room, her drawers to make sure the big bad wolf is not there...

Last night, we were laying in bed, and after being quiet for awhile, she said, "You know, MUM... (It seriously almost sounded the way a little British girl would say "Mom," and I always wanted my children to have British accents... especially after I saw the 2 little girls in The Holiday... or maybe that's just because Jude Law was their dad...sigh. Love you, Patrick! :) Anyway, tangent...)

"You know, Mom... You know what I think??? I think that maybe... maybe... the Big Bad Wolf just wants to say "hi" to me... Does that sound fun?"

Bless her!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Stroller Woes

Any mom out there, feel free to weigh in on this. Patrick and I have been knocking around what kind of stroller to buy for 2 children... Addison is not ready to be turned loose, and Ansley will be in her carrier for awhile. I don't want to stay cooped up because I lack the confidence... or the gear... to get out with my children. We have battled it out and discussed the following:

1. Buy nothing. Just make do with the travel system and hand holding, or if I have help, the travel system and umbrella stroller
2. A side by side umbrella stroller
3. A double jogging stroller
4. A Chicco double stroller
5. A sit and stand

We are still knocking around ideas (while trying out all of our options and becoming friends with the UPS man...)

When I was pregnant with Addison, we chose this:

The Chicco Adventure travel system. We have loved it and been super happy with it. Upon having Ansley... and still needing something for Addison, we started researching our options... Actually, we used the research that Lindsay and Daniel had done just a few months before and chose this:

Not the same color. The one we got was all black, but for my blog I though this was pretty. It was inexpensive, durable, fairly light, and it sat in my truck for 2 months. When we finally opened it up, put it together, and decided to use it, we found that the marketed "universal base" did not apply to our Chicco Key Fit Carrier. We were frustrated and we sent it back...

Then, on cyber Monday, we ordered this:
Totally made for our carrier, more than we wanted to spend, but it was Ansley's money anyway from my "Sprinkle" shower anyway, so we decided to try it out...

It weighs 47 pounds. Awkward. No turn radius. No way I could maneuver in Williams-Sonoma... We strolled Addison around our downstairs, and knocked so many things over...

Back to the UPS man.

We researched some more and found this option:

The Joovy Ultralight. Originally more than we wanted to spend, but on sale for almost $100 off. Only weighs 21 pounds. Fits our Chicco Key Fit (We'll see) and still has the sit and stand function for Ad. Who knows, but as of an hour ago, it's on its way here.

So, moms, what kinds of strollers do you use and recommend? Is having a double stroller even worth it? How do you navigate? How often do you use them?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Are Christmas Cards Obsolete?

Are cards obsolete? As a traditionalist and a lover of "real mail," I hope not! In December's issue of Real Simple, the etiquette columnist suggests that in the age of Facebook where everyone has already seen your family's pictures of the year, Christmas cards are no longer necessary. She does adhere to the notion that handwritten notes are still worth sending but claims that money spent on sending Christmas cards would be better spent on a new pair of boots...

Click on the image below to read the whole column. (Click on each image below for it's post and source.)
That article made me sad. I experience pure giddiness when I get cards and notes in the mail throughout the year. I love to examine the stationery, the handwriting, the words. I love to send notes and cards as well. It's one of my love languages. (Patrick actually left a sweet note on my bedside table last night.) So, as soon as the Thanksgiving sun sets, I look forward to checking the mail every day.

Christmas cards are a way of sharing merry-ness. Whether it is including a photo of family, children, pets, travels, writing a letter, or sending a beautiful card with a wish of peace, hope, or love, I cherish each one. I usually make Patrick look at him as he winds down from work, and I always display them in our home.

To think that a tradition like this is on its way out makes me depressed. Not really, but it does hurt my heart. In our virtual age of disconnectedness, Christmas cards help us stay connected. I look forward to receiving cards from my college roommates, sorority sisters, high school friends, family, and other friendships that we've developed on life's journeys.

Am I alone in this? Some things to think about... Do you send Christmas cards? How many? What is your favorite kind of card to receive (photo, winter scene, letter, etc.)? What kind of card do you usually send? How does your list change each year?

As mentioned before, I love displaying them in our home. Collectively Genius's post on different ways to do this was inspiring. Click on the pic below for the link to the entire post.

Yesterday, Haley wrote a post on Christmas decor and included the idea of making a booklet to display cards from years past. I remembered that The Creative Place did a tutorial showing how to make one of these. (Click image below for link to post.)
I'm off to finish making my book and address the next batch of cards to send out.

Merry Christmas Card season!!!

Friday, December 03, 2010

"Children are a gift from the Lord." ~Ps. 127:3

Meet our precious gift:

Here is a draft of Ansley's announcement. We tacked on a "Merry Christmas" so we could get by with sending just one piece of mail out.Happy holiday season!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

2 years, 2 months, 2 days

My sweet Addy-belle:
These are my 2 favorites of her 2-year pics that Aaron Yung took. He is amazingly patient and creative, and you middle Tennesseans should definitely think about using him!

Addison has had a wild start to being a 2-year-old. With a baby sister in the house, she has had to adjust quickly. She is a very sweet big sis, always making sure that Ansley has her pacie, her blanket, her lovey, her monkey... She is very into playing in her kitchen, dressing her Mr. Potato head family, coloring and drawing, baking with her play dough, and taking care of her dolls. Dora is her favorite doll, and it's not uncommon for her to nurse Dora and call her "sweetheart" and scold her "Dora Michelle Meek!" (Her cuz is Savannah Michelle Meek.) She is embracing her holiday season with her elf on the shelf "Bubba" and her Little People nativity scene.

We love our Addy-belle and are thankful for our happy little girl!

Monday, November 29, 2010

1 month already?

Can't believe that Ansley is already 1 month old! This season is flying by. Like we did with her sister, we documented the event last night propped up on her boppy. She was nodding off, so this picture was the best we could do, and she looks so serious. :)

This was literally one second later:
Ansley's first month has been an eventful one. She celebrated her first holiday--Halloween--in the hospital and her second--Thanksgiving--last week at Jaydee's. We went from having an extended hospital stay for jaundice to holding our breaths for a week as she had to be retested for PKU. Getting that letter from the health department saying she had received a questionable result began a week long faith journey of humility--as everything was beyond my control. Thankfully we celebrated good results the following Friday thanks to the resilience of my husband. He called the health department inquiring about her test results so many times he was on a first-name basis with them.

Through those events, we have been intentional about falling in love with our Ansley (even more than we were naturally doing), studying her, soaking in the blessing of her. She is a good eater and eats 6-7 times a day. During the day, I feed her every 3 hours, and at night she gives me 4-6 hour stretches. Patrick and I have dubbed her our "rock star" on those 6.5 hour nights that she's blessed us with.

She LOVES to curl up on our shoulder and sleep. She has found her thumb. She gets really mad when she has too poop--usually about an hour before she eats. She loves the Christmas lights. If her real smile is anything like her gas bubble smile, it's going to be absolutely beautiful!

Her legs are already longer than some of her 3 month pants, and she is filling out everywhere. She was up to 7 pounds and 14 ounces when she was 10 days old, so she's growing like a weed.

All three of us love our Ansley girl more every day, and she has rounded out our family of four!

Monday, November 15, 2010

I missed Halloween...

but thankfully my little Minnie Mouse didn't.

I'm so thankful that we had a Halloween Dress Rehearsal, so I could see my little girl in action. Her practice phrase came out like this: "Trick or Treat. Give me some candles, please!" She got to trick-or-treat with her friends at school thanks to Nana and Pop. Daddy took her to our church's trunk or treat, and she even came up and trick-or-treated at my hospital room.

In this picture, she is "smiling like the pumpkin" next to her. This is one of her favorite faces that she came up with all on her own, and it has also become our ploy for more effectively brushing her teeth!
We also had another sweet little treat, and even though she was being ushered in and out ever-so-quickly, we managed to snap this!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bear's Birthday Party... and the greatest coincidence of my life

Last night we celebrated Bear's birthday. We had a football party, ate football food, sat on football blankets, cheered for our team(s), and it was all super fun. Here is Bear with his grandchildren:Mommy with her girls:
Wardrobe change for the UA game, and Daddy with his girls:
So, now for my coincidence... My dear friend, colleague, literature lover, Conroy-worshipper-fan, Kris, sent me an NPR article about Pat Conroy's new book, My Reading Life. Turns out that his daughter's name is Susanna Ansley... Who knew? I already wrote about her middle name Carolina being chosen for my (and Patrick's) love for the states, the influence and memories that we have from there. Reading Conroy while living there was a big part of that developed love, and now, this! I almost jumped out of my skin with giddiness when I found out. Thanks, Kris!

Friday, November 05, 2010

First few days at home

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Pictures to go with our story below

Last outing as a family of 3. J Alexanders, YUMMY!

Welcome to the world, sweetie!
First photos with Daddy!
Big Sister and Little Sister meeting for the first time and swapping their build-a-bears.
Halloween as they were wheeling her out back to the bilirubin lights... Didn't want to miss her first Halloween without a festive picture--even though we just wish we had been home with her.

Finally... bringing our sweetie home!
SO excited for her sis to be home!

First night home--so relieved! More pics to come soon.