Saturday, December 10, 2011

Caroline 8 months

A couple of days ago Caroline hit 8 months. Here's what she's up to:
  • Caroline has 4 teeth: two on top and two on bottom. She loves to gnaw on things, but still gags on her solids unless they are pureed really well. Solids are slow going for this reason. She still hasn't tried most foods and is nowhere near puffy snacks or regular table food. She's just taking her time. Her favorite is yogurt. She never gags on that. :)
  • Caroline slept 8 hours the past two nights. She is finally healthy again, besides a mild morning cough, so hopefully this trend continues. I am loving not having a 2 or 4 or 5 am feeding! She is still not a predictable nap schedule, which can be tricky, but I'm hoping now that she is healthy, things will settle in. Of course then there is Christmas travel...
  • Caroline's favorite toys: #1 is definitely HAIR. She grabs at everybody's! She has caused more than one child to burst into tears. And I think I might be going slightly bald. (not really, just exaggerating). #2 She also loves toes in socks. And probably the third is the Leap Frog Alphabet Caterpillar (funny, I just tried to write 'callerpittar' because that is what Gwen calls him and it took me a minute to figure out why spell check didn't accept it) that my folks gave Gwen a couple years ago for Christmas. Caroline LOVES to push his buttons and get music, pull the string and get more songs, and gnaw on the nubby antennae things. It always surprises me how much she wants to wrestle this thing considering the fact that it is hard plastic not plush. but she will roll all over the floor with it clutched to her. Her other favorite love is the baby in the mirror! She gets so excited and tries to turn the mirror over to see behind...where IS that baby?!?
  • Caroline still doesn't take a bottle, but we offer her one every night. Three times she has drunk between 1 and 3 ounces, but mostly she just gnaws on the nipple.
  • Caroline crawls, but is still slow. She hasn't achieved the forward momentum thing to really cruise, she just takes lil steps.
  • Caroline makes lots of sing-song and cooing noises to herself and her toys when she is in a good mood. It is really cute. Eric is always trying to get her to say "da-da".
  • Caroline is very cuddly and snuggly. She loves to burrow into you with her whole body when you pick her up. and then if you are carrying her on one side she will clutch the shirt on back of your shoulder with one hand and twist her body to look out. She is very content to cuddle. We love it.
Well, that's it. And for your viewing pleasure, a video of Caroline from yesterday's Cosi excursion. Thank you Erica for inviting us to tag along on your pass! We had a great time! (but that's another post). Here Caroline is, surprised by the air stream blowing up at her:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas goodies... and the guilty dilemma

Since Christmas gift goodies tend to be sweet, we opted for something different this year. Wanted to "spice it up"... LOL, literally! I got this idea for potpourri satchels that you can simmer on the stove during the entire holiday season from my MIL last year. Thought it was so fabulous, that we started saving and dehydrating our orange peels as soon as 2011 began. They definitely piled up on us, but it was worth it. Because the cost and work for these was greatly diminished. :) and they still look and smell amazing!
After I made a treat for the gals I visit, the gals the visit me, my companion, the families Eric visits, his companion, the families that visit us, the members of Eric's presidency (Eric's calling), the members of the choir (my calling), and the people I see on a regular basis for play dates with Gwen... seriously like 75% of our ward congregation is getting a Christmas gift! Um, that only leaves me a lil worried about the remaining 25%... I mean, it isn't like they aren't my friends too, I just had to draw the line some where, right? Should I even be worried about this? (and when I say worried, please understand that I'm not losing sleep or overwhelmed with stress, I just keep thinking about it. I'm still happy, just concerned at the same time). I just don't want to hurt anybody's feelings or miss out on an opportunity to make someone feel included who might not otherwise... that would REALLY make me feel bad. If you are reading this and you DIDN'T get a treat, PLEASE KNOW THAT I STILL LOVE YOU AND VALUE OUR FRIENDSHIP! Whew. There. Hopefully all friendships remain intact. :) Anybody else relate to this dilemma?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Nativity Line Up

Gwen lined up the Nativity participants for a little procession on the desk. With an unusual guest...

Anybody else find this unexpected guest at the birth of our Savior a little... amusing? :)

All living things worship him, so why not extinct things too, eh? LOL.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Decorating

We decorated a couple of days ago, taking advantage of Eric being home (he had the graveyard shift that night).
Gwen found this nativity immediately... maybe she remembered from last year?
Baby Jesus is her favorite.
But everyone got to play in the small Aurora house.
Gwen has decided that this Santa hat is "Daddy's hat". If anyone else wears it, she gets upset. And if he isn't wearing it, she brings it to him and insists that he put it on. He's a good sport about it. Guess little cute daughters can get dads to do crazy things. But when she isn't looking, he "loses" it. :)
Gwen posing by our countdown to Christmas blocks (made last year with Relief Society friends).
You wouldn't believe how many pictures we took to get this 'okay' one of the girls together.
I love that she is cradling the lil blue one so gently in her hands. It belonged to my Grandma Quella, a testament to her eternal frugality (notice the wire twisted around to be the loop, held on with duct tape. Yeah, I LOVE that). Gwen loves it because she can see her reflection in it. She takes it off the tree and I find it later amongst her tiny dolls 'sleeping'.
Gwen was so tired that she took a late nap...right by her favorite new friend: the Christmas tree.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Big Surprise-- check out this video!

Thankful. and this is not just a Thanksgiving post.

But I guess it is that too.
notice the lil Gwen hand in the bottom right corner... stealing a roll! What a character!

Gwen has been struggling with praying lately. So after much thought and prayers of my own, this is what I've come up with. Our fridge is covered with images of things she loves or that we do regularly. Every day before bed, we select applicable pictures and carry them upstairs on her prayer cookie sheet so she can be specific about thanking Heavenly Father for daily blessings. It has helped immensely to make prayers more meaningful, more from her (rather than us just telling her what to say), and I think it helps her to be grateful. I'm grateful for the Spirit's guidance.
What I'm really grateful for, though, was a couple of nights ago, just before bedtime. I was doing dishes and prepping the kitchen for nighttime, when I heard delightful laughing coming from BOTH my girls at the same time. By the time I got my camera out, the laughing had pretty much stopped, but there are still happy noises. I am delighted that they love each other so much. My heart took a picture and I just felt so content and happy. Truly this was a moment that makes motherhood worth it.
oh, and guess what? these 4 crawling steps are Caroline's VERY FIRST crawls! How random and wonderful is it that I was lucky enough to be filming? She is still mostly army crawling, but for Gwen, she pulls out the big guns! :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Delicious and Daunting

The prospect of returning home to our own space and schedule is both delicious and daunting.

(I neglected to bring my journal with me to Idaho. Well, I guess 'neglected' is misleading. My suitcase was crammed and I purposefully selected my journal to stay in Ohio. I figured my blog could be my journal. That is why you are getting more "Elisa's thoughts" posts than usual. Hope you don't mind too much.)

How delicious it will be to return to our own beds and rooms, our own daily plans. As usual, the leisurely days have given me the break I needed and motivated me to get right back in there with learning activities for Gwen, exercising at the gym, cleaning, cooking, studying, and completing other organization or crafty projects. I am eager to get back into a routine of productivity. I am looking forward to a quiet Thanksgiving just us. I'm looking forward to the culinary preparation that goes along with it, especially the hours of poring over recipes to decide which new ones I'll try this year and add to our traditional favorites. That is really going to be fun! I'm looking forward to play dates with friends, chatting with my gal friends whom I've missed so much. I'm looking forward to driving with 2 girls in the back seat, on our way to the gym or the store or wherever--just in control once again (I guess I'm a control freak because a month of being passenger has started to bug me). I'm looking forward to reintegrating myself in my ward, which will have so many faces I barely know and some I've never seen. It will be delicious to serve again, to contribute. I'm looking forward to preparing Christmas offerings for friends, Christmas gifts and packages, and even the obligatory cards. I am looking forward to the rotation of seasonal decorations that are just 'ours' and already so full of memory. It will be delicious to tidy our home, make it beautiful, and count each little blessing.

All the while, I am daunted by the prospect of weaning Gwen off of her 'shows', her new toys (which I think she thinks are hers), and her adoring fans. I'm also daunted by the prospect of weaning Caroline off of those same adoring fans. The girls are going to be going through attention-deficit-shock. I've really enjoyed the time with family, the opportunity to get to know my in-laws better, to spend one-on-one time with Elise in a Rasputin dance off on the Wii, to be tutored by my oh-so-talented MIL on a sewing project, to teasingly remind my FIL that Caroline cannot have cake and ice cream yet. It has been wonderful. The best part, though, was actually seeing how content and happy Eric is every night has we cuddle and whisper in bed. He has really enjoyed this break and I've loved seeing him so relaxed and at ease with the world. No worries to furrow his brow. Such will not be the case when he is in a rotation AND doing interviews AND preparing for boards AND serving in his calling AND trying to maximize his time with us. No, it will be a rough coming month for Eric, and I am going to miss the peace in his handsome hazel eyes. I am definitely daunted by the return to responsibility.

But, ready or not, here we come. Tomorrow will be a day of laundry, packing, putting away things we've gotten out, and walking through again and again to pick up any last item we may have missed hiding behind pillows or stacks of books or toys. (I'm sure we'll forget something. Isn't that to be expected?)

We'll be home in Ohio on Wednesday. How deliciously daunting. (hopefully I don't get a tummy ache like this guy is bound to get...)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

She has Achieved Forward Motion!

Caroline is army crawling!

and she's pretty proud of herself. You can just see the wheels turning in her head as she considers the world of toys this opens up to her. I don't think Gwen appreciates the progress. That's the latest achievement, but why stop there?

She also finally went from 'liquid' solids to solid solids (that improvement has occurred over the past 3 weeks) and as of yesterday has even added chicken to her repertoire! She has 2 bottom teeth to display with those big grins too. She sits up tons better and has transitioned to the high chair for meals. And, as Eric will argue, she has said her first word. "Thda-thda". You can take a guess as to why he considers that her first 'word'. I still have my doubts. :)

since the blog is serving as a journal of sorts, I wanted to be sure to document these developments. She is 7 months now, for the record. :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Have a 3-year old

Today is Gwen's 3rd birthday. I can't believe it. Well, sometimes I can because she seems so much more grown up these days.

Today was the second installment of birthday festivities. We actually celebrated the cake portion of her birthday a couple of days ago before her cousins left. We wanted to do that part with friends and it was a big hit! Well, actually, it was pretty funny because Gwen asked Edward repeatedly the day before if he wanted to come to her birthday party... and each time without any hesitation he said "no". I think she was starting to get pretty sad about that. I guess his parents had to train him a lil bit, because when she asked him again on the day of, he said yes. and she was finally happy and said "yay!"

Gwen was excited today to see her Thomas cake come out. I spent about 6 hours making the cake. Made possible by so many helping hands tending lil kiddos. Gwen helped 'roll' one homemade marshmallow fondant rock, but after that she only wanted to eat them. I loved how the cake turned out: both delicious and beautiful! Definitely there are errors, but they aren't big deals and it was really perfect for the girl. She loved her Thomas and her Island of Sodor. And I was proud. :)

She knew what birthday cakes were all about this time and when she saw me put on the candles, she said, "but mom, it needs the yellow stuff on there so I can blow!" Yes, you're right Gwen. Blow out those candles!
She looks almost meditative here, don't you think? Planning a candle-blowing strategy, perhaps?

When I told her she could have first dibs on a part off the cake, she didn't hesitate. "I wanna eat Thomas" she told me. So that's what she did. :)

lol, her teeth were blue from the food coloring in the fondant!

Edward and Frederick enjoyed some Thomas cake.

and Caroline was happy too!

Then today, on her birthday birthday, she opened presents.
she was surprisingly timid about unwrapping. It was a very 'delicate' process.

She loved the pink fluffy purse with the frog that holds blocks spelling her name. He has his own lil blanket, which she thought was pretty cool!

Eric and I gave her some cheapo jewelry... and we probably should have saved it for later, because she didn't want to open any other presents. She told us "no thank you. I just play with my jewelries". Lol.

so we compromised by putting the jewelries in her new lil (used) back pack so she'd open this beautiful book about Jesus Christ from her G-gma. I love Simon Dewey paintings!

My MIL went all out and made this gorgeous quilt for Gwen. These fabric 'dolls' have clothes so she can dress them.

Gwen was in love as soon as it finally dawned on her what she could do with all this picture, I think she was still at the 'overwhelmed' stage. :)

She is such a lil girl now, not so much a toddler. She is smart, independent and generous. She loves to take care of people, especially Caroline. Drama is definitely her friend. She actually enjoys being sad, I think, and will put herself into solitary saying "I just need to go be sad" on the stairs or in the corner...or at the very least, she'll bury her face in her hands and say, "I'm so sad" with big alligator tears.

I love our beautiful daughter, her enthusiasm for life, her tenderness, and her desire to learn. Happy Birthday, Gwen. We are so blessed you have you in our family, in our lives, in our hearts.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Trick or Treating

Eric, Elise and I took Gwen out for her first 'real' trick-or-treating this year. It was really fun to see how excited she was for Halloween. She actually understood what was coming and kept asking every day for a week "are we going trick or treating today?" She told anyone who asked that she was going to be a princess for Halloween. and she was a lovely one. Nothing creative here, we just put her in her favorite princess dress up. She couldn't have been happier. She tried out all her poses:
Caroline stayed home with Grandma and Grandpa because she was in desperate need of a nap. She was really grouchy and since putting on clothes is one of those things she really detests, we didn't push our luck to attempt getting her in her bumblebee costume for pictures. (Don't worry, we'll get her in it for some pics later, even if it wasn't technically worn for Halloween.) Plus, it was cold outside and we didn't really want to take her out with her cold. We all decided it would be more fun for everyone if she sat this one out. So we took Gwen alone. She kept asking what our costumes were... I don't think she was impressed with my "turquoise coat" costume or Eric's "plaid shirt and hat" costume. Apparently, next year we're going to have to dress up to take her out.

She was so cute at each house. She'd yell "TRICK OR TREAT" as soon as we approached the door... and then would just stand there shyly when the door was finally opened. Then once her candy was in the bag, she'd yell "THANK YOU" and take off running for the next house, often dropping her bag and not even noticing. She wasn't as excited about the candy as she was about the knocking and 'trick or treat'-ing. Then when we got home, she wanted to share her suckers with everyone. It was really cute.

Eric and the Apples

Eric helped out his folks by harvesting their apples... I suspect we'll see these apples turned into sauce while we're here.

Eric is such a ham... I just like these pics because he can't resist performing and making some goofy faces at the camera.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Littlest Pumpkin

Most of you, like me, probably remember trying to find the BIGGEST pumpkin to carve when you were little, or at the very least, the one with the most personality. Well, Grandma wanted Gwen to get a chance at choosing her own pumpkin for carving. So she took us down to a cute lil pumpkin store. The patch was across the street, supplying all the pumpkins for the store. But that meant the store was cute and child-friendly, just the perfect size for wandering unattached without fear of losing anybody. Gwen loved the freedom to explore.
She was excited about this maze until she realized they had put some plywood down over the hay bales to create a 'tunnel'. Then she was done.
After that distraction officially behind her, the real process of choosing her own pumpkin began. Grandma said she could pick out any she wanted.
We pointed out the huge carving pumpkins. "Oh," she said, "they're Daddy ones. But where are the baby ones?". Hmmm.
So we pointed out the pumpkins with personality. "Oh", she said, "it's squished. But where is my baby one?". Hmmm.

So we pointed out the eggshaped ones. "Oh," she said, "but where's my lil pumpkin for me?"

....Apparently, she was not interested in pie pumpkins either, calling them Mommy pumpkins. Or gourds, because they didn't look like pumpkins.
But when she found the smallest pumpkins in the whole place-- these tiny lil ghost pumpkins--it was love at first sight. She picked out the very smallest one she could find, cradled it in her hands, and cooed "Oh, here's my lil baby pumpkin! I love you so much!"
Caroline and Aunt Elise

and, no, we didn't attempt to carve it. Gwen loved her littlest pumpkin so much!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Caroline's Personality

I love how Caroline is beginning to assert herself. What I mean is, she is expressing preferences, likes and dislikes.

She loves jumping.
She loves clapping her feet if she is wearing shoes.
and she loves 'singing'...and actually, she really loves smacking things with one arm.
and I love to see how happy she is when she is doing something she loves. I can't help but smile!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Feeling Rich

There is something incredibly satisfying to me about storing up food. And it isn't because I have 'peace of mind' or feel prepared for an emergency. No, for me it feels more satisfying in the same way it is satisfying to put quarters in a piggy bank or make a deposit in the bank. Like I'm rich. Yeah, that sums it up. When I see all the jars lined up so prettily, I feel like a million bucks.

4 different varieties of salsa: 7 quarts and 7 pints
(had the 4 different kinds--chipotle roasted veggie, zesty lots of bell peppers, fiesta with cucumber, and jalapeno with lots of cilantro-- in 4 separate bowls on the table to try to keep them all straight). All of the spicy peppers (not the bell) the cilantro and the cucumber were from our garden.
applesauce from Melrose apples: 9 quarts

apple picking

It was surprisingly cold. So our photos aren't necessarily picturesque. More like brusque. Because we were trying to get our stash and get out before Gwen could say "Ina go home" for the umpteenth time. All these came from before she decided she was cold. She is playing with apples that fell on the ground... they were in various stages of decomposition. I know, kinda gross. She didn't seem deterred though. Luckily she was persuaded to eat a new one, rather than one of those. :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cumple anos y butterflies

Our neighbors have a daughter only 2 weeks older than Gwen. These girls are great friends... a love-hate relationship, actually, because they really like each other's favorite toys. :) Well, lil "A" had a birthday party early, and Gwen was invited. I think we were almost the only ones there NOT Spanish speakers. Didn't seem to phase Gwen, though. She jumped right in and got her face painted with a butterfly, then had a balloon made into a butterfly.
funny story: Gwen got to try her hand at a pinata. She was timid and didn't break anything, in fact she hardly managed to hit it. But afterwards, she was talking with her daddy:

Gwen: lightly hitting Eric's shoulder
Eric: "Gwen, what are you doing? Why are you hitting daddy?"
Gwen: "Daddy, I beat the candy out of you!"

LOL, gotta love it!