Friday, October 22, 2010

Dear Violet,

This morning your dad didn't have to go into work until 11, and I'm running a half marathon tomorrow morning, so these are 2 good reasons we decided to make pancakes for breakfast!  You love pancakes as much as we do.  It's the only non-dramatic way I can get you to come inside after our morning "outside time."  All I had to do was say "Let's go make some pancakes!"  And you just hopped right up those steps and came inside!

Nana B got you an apron and oven mitts for your birthday and you look SO CUTE in that apron.  You love to "help" me cook.  You're my little sous chef.  When you were helping me stir, you were getting it everywhere and trying to eat the flour mix, so I took the spoon away from you, and you weren't very happy about it...

You feel (and LOOK) like such a big girl when you get to stand up on a chair and help me flip the pancakes (You should use this photo on the back of your first cookbook- haha)!

Not yet!  Not yet!  You don't understand the concept of waiting until the sides get dry and bubbly before flipping them yet...

Oh, you love the reward of cooking as much as me!  I don't know if I've ever offered you a pancake without your face lighting up!  

Hmmmm, I guess it's time to start working on table manners...

My guess is that you'll be cooking on your own at about 3 years old!  I cherish the time we spend cooking together.  I love that you love it... and I love YOU!


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dear Violet,

It's only 1 in the afternoon, and already today you've eaten:

honey greek yogurt
baked apples and pears
1 hard boiled egg

freeze dried mango
another hard boiled egg!
a few bites of fat-free chocolate ice cream

sliced ham
roasted butternut squash
baked apples and pears

Sheesh!  And even after your lunch, you were eating the sun-dried tomatoes out of my soup!  It's a good thing you like healthy food, because you're a bottomless pit!!

Snacking on a boiled egg (you let Emma eat the yolk):

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dear Violet,

Your Mimi and Pawpaw are in town so Pawpaw, your dad and Uncle B can go deer hunting (this past weekend was opening weekend for bow season).  You and I went to Uncle B's house to hang out with Mimi and Fisher while the guys were away, and you had quite the fun time!  You don't get to spend NEAR as much time with Mimi and Pawpaw as any of us would like, so time with them is special.  Uncle B has a cute little playhouse outside for Addie, and you were so hooked on that thing.  I have to find... I mean... I have to make sure Santa knows you like those things!!  You would go inside, shut the door, then giggle while you opened it to "peekaboo" with Mimi.  I know that meant a lot to her that you were having so much fun with her, and it meant a lot to me too!

I also took some portraits of Fisher for Uncle B, and you wanted to push him around in our photo prop (with your pretty necklace on that you demanded to wear all day).  You guys look alike in this photo...  everyone in our family makes some pretty cute babies (on both sides)!

Here's you with your sweet cousin Caleb, who you've always adored!  You've always been comfortable with him, and he's so good with you!  We were outside looking at his fancy new moped here...

I'm so glad that you're surrounded by all our family members who love you!  It makes life so much more interesting...


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dear Violet,

You woke up sick yesterday morning, and you're still snotty and coughing and puffy-eyed, but that doesn't stop you from being your spunky little self!  It's slowed you down a bit (and you haven't enjoyed me chasing you with kleenex), but that smile is still shining on your pretty face.  I caught this shot with a new camera app on my phone while we had our "morning outside time".  It was a beautiful FALL day today, finally!  You did NOT want to come back inside!  We opened all the windows though, so we've been enjoying this weather all day.
You usually take one hand and lift your shirt up almost all the way over your head, holding it up with your chin, and you just poke at that button with your pointer finger.  Too funny!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dear Violet,

You gave me a good ab workout today with the laughs you were giving me!  This had been going on for long enough for me to get out my camera too...  You are too much!

Dear Violet,

I bought you a new doll the other day, and it's your first "real-looking" doll that came with a bottle and pacifier, and you've been so sweet with your new "baby."

Feeding her a bottle...

Taking a sample to make sure it's warm enough, i'm sure...

Giving her kisses- I wish I would've gotten a better angle, your mouth is wide open (which is how you insist of giving kisses)...

You're going to be such a good mommy someday...

Well, okay, you still have a little bit to learn about taking care of a child...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dear Violet,

I've been needing to post about our trip to California for a while, but I've just recently been able to go through the 1,000+ photos I took (and no, I'm not exaggerating)!

It was just as I suspected it would be: a fantastic adventure.  I knew you'd do well, and you proved me right.  I was really, really nervous about the flight though.  I didn't know how you'd behave in my lap for that long, with no room to play and nothing really to do!  On the way there, you were amazing.  You slept the first 1 1/2 hours, then played quietly or snuggled with me the rest of the time.  On the way HOME, however, it was a much different story.  You freaked out almost the entire way.  You couldn't get your ears to pop, poor thing.  I felt so bad!  I was thinking that I would be so embarrassed if you had a meltdown on the plane, yet I didn't care WHATSOEVER what anyone thought about my situation, I just felt bad for you and wanted to comfort you!  It was so incredibly frustrating not to be able to help you out.  Finally the flight attendant brought some apple juice with a straw (sucking through a straw apparently helps), and that helped enough to get you to sleep the last hour.  Why she didn't bring that out about 20 minutes into the flight, I have no idea!  I'll know what to do next time, though.

Your first flight!

The trip was amazing (aside from a few sad incidents).  We met Kristie and her kids at Nana B's for 8 days.  Kristie was teaching marine biology to Alex and Nathan, and wanted to teach them up close and personal about everything, so she planned a trip to the San Francisco Bay Area, and graciously invited us along!  I was so excited, and it was such a surprise, we only had a few weeks notice!  We flew into Oakland, and Uncle Jim picked us up.  We met Nana B, Kristie and the kids, and Matt (Jim's son- my cousin) at a really good Chinese restaurant near Nana B's house.  We went back to her house and settled in, then went to the park to get you better acquainted with your cousins, and had a great, relaxing time.

You and Nathan playing in the sand at the park:

You remind me of a British rock star in this photo for some reason...

You and Katherine played so well together!


The next day we woke up and drove to Santa Cruz to go to the beach.  I made us a beach picnic lunch for us all, and we packed all 5 kids in the van and we were off!  I was so excited because this was your first ocean experience!  I just LOVE to experience firsts with you.  It's fascinating and emotional and exhilarating and lets me relive the "newness" and excitement of everything with you.  You had a lot of fun, although it was really windy and you didn't understand why I wouldn't let you just run around all over the place.  You did enjoy yourself... for the first half of the day.  I have to tangent for a moment and explain that I didn't pack any diapers for you (besides a few in the diaper bag) so I could fit everything in 2 bags (I didn't want to pay $50 for extra luggage for diapers!), so I went to the Safeway in Nana B's neighborhood when we arrived to pick some up for you.  They were out of regular Pampers diapers, which is what we use (you've either leaked out of everything else or they've felt like sandpaper), so I bought the new, "fancy" "dry max" Pampers.  I don't know what the difference even is and they're more expensive, but I didn't think anything of it.  Okay, back to the beach.  You started getting really fussy, and I just assumed it was a mix of the wind, sleepiness, 2-hour-difference-jet-lag, and being in a new place.  However, it got increasingly worse, where I actually thought that maybe you were allergic to shellfish and the seaweed you put in your mouth was going to send you to the hospital!  It was bad!  I felt so bad for you because I had NO idea what was wrong!  Well, I went to change your diaper, and you had dark red blisters on your poor butt!  You've never even had diaper rash, but this didn't even look like diaper rash.  The sand was irritating it, and you were clearly in a lot of pain.  My heart sank for you.  You finally cried yourself to sleep while I cuddled you close.  I was scrambling for reasons you'd have diaper rash.  I also bought food for you at Safeway so I could cook for you the same way I do at home, so there was no diet change.  I was so confused!  I hoped it would clear up by the next day.  I gave you a good, long, soapy bath and let you "air dry" as long as possible, and put you to bed.

Getting acquainted with the sand...

our yummy picnic lunch!

You didn't quite know what the "crunch" was, but you thought it was tasty, nonetheless!

you gave me a sweet little snuggle right before Kristie took this photo...

You and Katherine.  She didn't want to be bundled up, but it was pretty chilly!

"rocking" Abbie to sleep...  well, actually you rocked her AWAKE!

You poor thing.  You'd finally cried yourself to sleep.

We woke up the next day and went to Tom and Dorrine's house, where the older boys swam, and we played on the trampoline (another first), and played with the dogs.

Playing on the trampoline with Katherine...

You adore dogs.  I love that about you.

Hanging out with Nana B... for a second.

Catching some rays.  You're so funny!

You were happy and didn't seem in pain, but every time I had to change your diaper, you'd cry like I've never heard before, and the rash seemed to be getting worse.  They looked like blisters at this point.  I felt terrible.  Dorrine had some medicated ointment for burns, so I put that on you, hoping it would finally take care of it!  We had a wonderful lunch, and you ate grapes for the first time, by the handful!  You loved their dog and the neighbors' dog (who was there).  After that we went to Jim and Terri's house to visit.  We enjoyed ourselves at Jim's- we saw his falcon and his chickens and his pigeons, and they had 2 dogs that you were (of course) interested in playing with.

You hadn't had a decent nap yet, so I took you outside to try to settle you down to go to sleep, and you started getting extremely upset and fussy again, like the previous day at the beach.  I changed your diaper again, and at this point the "rash" was starting to become open sores!  It was absolutely awful and scary and I felt so terribly hopeless.  I wanted to fix it, but I had no idea what was causing it!  I just lathered about 10 ounces of diaper rash cream on you, and hoped for the best.  You really were in a great mood 90% of the time, but that other 10% was just heartbreaking.  You were in so much pain when I changed your diaper... Oh, I feel it in my gut even now, weeks later!  On top of that, you couldn't get yourself calmed down enough for a nap (even with Tylenol).  You get clumsy when you get sleepy, and this was sleepiness at its peak!  I took you back inside because the whole "nap" thing was NOT working out, and you wanted to run around with one of the dogs.  You were chasing her around their table and somehow tripped, falling into one of the chairs.  You started screaming!  You're usually tough as nails, but I assumed it was because you'd had a pretty "tender" afternoon with no nap and your diaper rash, so I scooped you up... and saw that your left eyebrow was cut and dark purple and GROWING... and growing quickly!  It swelled up more than I could've imagined, and because I had also had a tender afternoon trying to deal with your situation, I FREAKED OUT.  I pretty immediately demanded to go to the emergency room, and just walked out of the house, crying.  You'd never been banged up that bad before.  Jim was so very calming and gentle and took us to an after hours clinic, and didn't give me a hard time about freaking out... until we knew you were okay.  (You look like you've got purple eye shadow on in the rest of the pictures due to this lovely event).  Kristie said I should ask about the diaper rash, but the doctor sort of acted like I was a "silly mom" for freaking out about her eye (um, the last time I checked, that's a pretty sensitive and MUCH NEEDED part of the body, but what do I know), so I felt like he would've just told me to keep using ointment and it'd go away.  So, we knocked out your first ER visit on our trip.  I told you it was an adventure, didn't I?  We finished off the day having dinner together (with Kristie and the kids, Jim, Terri, Matt, Lisa and Nana B) at a place near Jim's house, and it was SUCH a fun time.  You slept the entire time we were there, but you desperately needed it, so I was grateful you could be comfortable enough to do so.  It was such wonderful company, and it was just a really great time.  It was a much needed relaxing meal that ended a very stressful afternoon.

After we got back from the ER, Terri brought out some necklaces for you to play with, and you had a BALL with them!

The next day we had planned to go to Napa Valley, which I was SO EXCITED about.  I was nervous about how you'd act with your poor bum issues, but I really thought it was getting better.  You slept like a champ the whole drive up there.  We got to Gott's for lunch, and I was looking forward to eating this delicious food I'd heard so much about!  You seemed in a good mood, so I was feeling optimistic.  I got you out your tortellini that I'd brought you for your lunch, and within a few minutes, you were in complete meltdown mode (I realized it was when you were pooping that you had these moments of agony).  I went to change you as soon as I knew you were done, and I ended up in tears as I changed you.  I have NEVER heard cries out of you like I heard that afternoon.  Your face was just excruciatingly sad, and I honestly felt helpless to the point of completely losing my appetite for a good 30 minutes (and my fish tacos were already sitting on the table... that's a big deal that I couldn't eat them!).  After a while, you cheered up and we had a nice lunch.  I had to actively decide not to let this affect our trip and make it awful.  When you were in a good mood, I didn't dwell on it.  I thought I was doing everything I could for you.

My fish tacos and locally brewed Napa Wheat Beer... it was delicious when I finally got to eat it!

Kristie with her baby girls...

We went to Sattui Winery, which is one of Jim and Terri's favorite wineries.  They are cellar members, so we got to go in a different tasting room than the "can't even move your shoulders" tasting room and gift shop that was open to the public.  It was so lovely!  You behaved yourself so well while we tasted the wine.  I had so much fun, and the wine was delicious.  It was great to spend time with Uncle Jim, Aunt Lisa and Nana B that afternoon.  Terri, Kristie and her kids went up to a winery that had a castle (I can't remember the name of the winery) so the boys could enjoy a tour of a "real castle" while we were there (there's not much to do for kids in Napa, but they LOVED that place).  We also stopped at an olive oil manufacturer and got some Napa Valley olive oil, and then visited Michael Chiarello's "NapaStyle" store (he's one of my favorite chefs).  On our way back to Nana B's, I was googling on my phone, trying to find out what I could do about your diaper rash.  I typed in "stress related diaper rash," thinking that maybe all the new places and new people and chaos of a bunch of kids was causing it.  A link came up about Pampers dry max causing diaper rash, and my face got hot.  I hadn't even thought about that as a possibility for a single second.  Looking back, I'm ashamed I didn't consider it.  I began to type in "Pampers Dry Max" in google, and where it gives you the dropdown box of suggestions of popular search topics, "Pampers Dry Max Chemical Burns" was the SECOND choice!  There were pages and pages and pages of forums and articles about some chemical they're using in these evil diapers that are causing open sore burns on babies.  This nearly RUINED our vacation.  If you weren't such a perfect and laid back baby, we would've had to just come home or something.  It was a real stress for both of us.  I read aloud some of the things I was seeing, and we stopped at the very next exit and got new diapers.  I changed you back to your old Pampers (which I hate doing, because I despise the entire company, I just need to find a new brand that works for you), and I'm NOT KIDDING, after a SINGLE DIAPER CHANGE it was 85% better.  It was unbelievable.  Absolutely unbelievable.  I have no idea why they're still on the market.  Ugh, it was so awful, but at the same time I felt victorious in finding the cause of your suffering, and we were quickly on the mend, and able to REALLY enjoy the vacation!

In the tasting room with me, Jim, Lisa and Nana B.

The red barrel behind holds the Madiera, which is what we brought home for daddy as his souvenir (a bottle, not the barrel!).

Hanging out outside on the beautiful winery grounds, waiting for the wine everyone had ordered.

The next day, we slept in and relaxed until the afternoon, and then left for Santa Cruz again, but this time it was to visit the Redwoods.  You had such a fun time with your cousins, playing with them and running around trying to keep up.  It was almost sunset by the time we got there, which was beautiful.  There was a 1/2 mile loop trail, which was perfect for our group... although we didn't even do the whole thing.  Kristie read a sign aloud that mentioned that mountain lions had been spotted before in that area, and to keep your children close.  It scared me enough to decide to turn around pretty soon after that!  It was still fun, though.  I'm glad you got to see the Redwoods.  I love to admire them.  Photos don't do them justice!

This is me with all you kiddos, goofing off in front of a huge and beautiful Redwood.

Exploring with the other kids...

After the Redwoods, we ate dinner at a fun place on the pier at Santa Cruz (it was our second choice- the first restaurant told us they "couldn't seat a party of more than 4 at that time," with an empty restaurant behind her.  Pretty sure all you restless kiddos were a repellent.  If I'd been in a bad mood, I would've had a few words for her!)  Afterward we slept at a quaint little hotel, and then drove to Monterey the next morning, where we visited the aquarium.

Alex and Nathan enjoying their clam chowder at the restaurant...

You enjoyed some clam chowder-soaked bread!

You and Katherine snuggled up in the hotel bed together for just a short time, but it was adorable!

The aquarium was a whole lot of fun.  You really enjoyed yourself.  I hated that we got to the kiddy section just as you passed out for your nap though!  We did a "behind the scenes" tour, and I was so proud of how you just got right in there with everyone and tried to participate.  I'm constantly blown away at how "mature" you are for being a 1 year old!  You're so observant and social and, well, "cool."  It was fun to watch you grow so much during this vacation.  Your "laid-back-ness" is such a wonderful gift, and I'm so grateful for it!

Trying to feel the seaweed with the older kids...

Pushing buttons to hear about sea animals...

The next day we just relaxed at Nana B's house.  It felt like we had gone nonstop (which wasn't far from the truth!), and relaxing seemed like the thing to do... for ALL of us.  We looked at Nana B's wedding album and just hung out around the house.  I loved that every morning you woke us up about 2 hours before everyone else, and we had a nice, quiet time, just me and you.  I'd make coffee and feed us breakfast, then we'd either head out on a cool walk up the hill (Nana B's neighborhood is gorgeous), or we'd hang out on her balcony in the lawn chairs that you loved.  You and Katherine played really well together too.  Kristie got you a cute little barn toy to cheer you up when you got home from the ER, and you two played with that and then got to take a bath together.  It was your first bath with a playmate, and you weren't too sure about sharing the attention or bath toys!  You did well though.

Playing so nicely with Katherine...

Walking in the morning...

Looking at Nana B's wedding album...

We woke up the next day and decided to try the beach one more time, with your booty feeling better.  I didn't want you to associate the ocean with a blistered butt!  Alex and Nathan really wanted to see the low tide at Natural Bridges Park in Santa Cruz, but because I figured you'd get restless doing that, I decided we should just walk along the trail that followed the coastline.  We watched the waves crash against the beautiful cliffs and admired the lush greenery everywhere.  It was SO NICE to share that afternoon with you.  You were in such a content mood, just talking and watching everything happening around you.  After a few hours, we met Kristie and the kids at Natural Bridges, and it was high tide at that point (well, they missed low tide, so it'd been high tide pretty much the whole time).  I dragged your stroller down the sand to the water (strollers and sand don't mix, I learned quickly).  We really enjoyed ourselves there too- you played with Katherine, and we watched Alex and Nathan chase the waves.  We even chased the waves a little too.  You LOVED LOVED LOVED chasing the waves.  The water was freezing, and you let out a breathless delightful shreak every time the waves hit our feet.  The tide was actually pretty strong, so I had to be careful- it seemed like every wave that came in carried a lot more force than the next.  I felt like we "bonded" a lot that day.  It was just lovely.  It was one of those days that made me so proud and grateful to be a mother.  We finished off the day with dinner on the pier again.  It was a gorgeous full moon.

On our relaxing walk...

Kristie and Katherine...

Alex chasing the waves at Natural Bridges Park...

You and Katherine having fun in the sand...

Loving the feel of the waves on your toes...

Enjoying the full moon on the pier...

For our last night, we all went to dinner at Cheesecake Factory.  Nana B, Lisa, Jim and Terri, Mike, Robert and Elizabeth, Matt, Kristie and the kids and us all had a great dinner, although Kristie and I were tending to you restless and hungry kiddos so much that we didn't get to visit as much as I would've liked.

Everyone was so gracious and nice and thoughtful the whole time we were there.  It had been a long while since I've spent so much time with my aunts and uncles and Nana, and it was so great to get that quality time with them.  I'm glad you got to get to know Nana B, we were there long enough for you to warm up to her.

Jim took us to the airport the next morning, and I realized that I left the bag of snacks and toys and your sippy cup (the "airplane survival kit" if you will) at Nana B's.  I ended up spending something like $14 at the airport trying to get snacks and things to keep you entertained.  That plane ride was another time where I felt helpless to your pain, but then after we got you that apple juice, you had a short nap, then woke up happy.  I'm glad that you got to redeem yourself to the other passengers- they were all smitten with you by the time we landed.  Eight days was by far the longest you've ever been away from your dad, and he missed you so much!  I texted him pictures of you throughout the trip, and it always made his day.  We got off the plane and when he approached us, you took about 1/2 a second to process that it was, in fact, your dad, and you LUNGED out of your stroller with a force!  You were so excited and gave him the longest, tightest hug.  I'm pretty sure his heart was a melted pile of mush at that point.  He was so glad we were home, and we were glad to be home too!  It was a perfect trip, but it's always a nice feeling to be "HOME," in your own bed, with your own things.  The 2 hour time difference had an effect on your sleep schedule, but we managed, and we're back to normal now.  You did, however, bring home a souvenir of your own- the Banchi scream you learned from Katherine!  We're working on fixing that...

On the plane, after waking up happy...

I'm so grateful to your aunt Kristie for inviting us on this awesome trip, and I'm so glad you got to spend time with your family, and learn and experience all the new things you did.  I love that I got to share the experience with you.

I look forward to all our future adventures together as well.