Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cecilia's First Birthday!!

Cecilia turned one today!! And doesn't she just look thrilled about it? We celebrated her birthday on Saturday so that extended family could come. All of Cecilia's grandparents came, and her Uncle Mike and Aunt Crystal were also here. The birthday girl was in good spirits with all the entertainment of so many people in her home! She's been going through a rough patch lately, probably developmental stuff with so many changes and learning going on in her body, but you couldn't have told from seeing her on Saturday!

Here is Cecilia with her Grampa. Babies seem to have a thing for my dad... babies and cats both. They just like him for some reason. They can pick him out as somebody they want to hang around with. Cecilia even reached out for him a couple times while I was holding her.

Here is the birthday girl opening presents. Well, Caroline really opened them, because Cecilia didn't seem vry interested in tearing paper or looking in gift bags. She got this new animal book from Gran and Grandad and has been enjoying feeling the textures on each page! She also got new pajamas, a bib with sleeves, another book, and a stuffed animal. Oh, and college fund money and diapers - two things that are much appreciated, although I bet Cecilia doesn't really care about them one way or another right now! ;)

Here she is smiling about her stuffed Tigger.

And here are all of Cecilia's guests, hanging out after eating lunch and before having cake. For lunch, I made roast beef for sandwiches in the crock pot. My mom brought bread from TJ's to make the sandwiches. We also had sunflower pineapple slaw, veggies with dill dip, hummus with pita chips and bell peppers, fruit salad, and Ro-tel dip with tortilla chips as an appetizer (my husband didn't believe his health-nut wife that she was actually going to make the dip!).

We made her a carrot cake - Chris did most of the mixing and baked the cake, and I made the frosting Saturday morning with help from Caroline. My new food processor did an incredible job on the carrots.

Here we have the decorations... I didn't get as fancy as I did for Caroline's first birthday... oh well, at least I had some balloons! I also put out the pictures of Cecilia in the new frame that you can see on the china cabinet.

And now for the cake...Cecilia did her typical serious stare as we surrounded her and sang "Happy Birthday." I think she truly thought we were all nuts. She enjoyed picking up her slice of cake and eating pretty much the whole thing! She was pretty gaceful about it... but she still got a bit messy!

She is wearing the second of her two new bibs... I needed to start using this one ASAP and so I only wrapped one of them for her as a gift!

Yummy!! I hink she has a sweet tooth... or eight!
Happy birthday, sweet baby!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Chris turns 30!

My husband turned 30 last week! Caroline and I made him a cake from my new cookbook... it is a chocolate zucchini cake! Caroline was very helpful by "cleaning up" the chocolate glaze that ran down onto the cake plate... and then I had to clean her up!

The recipe said the cake could stand on its own without the glaze, but I beg to differ. I think it really made the cake. And how could I leave out a chocolate part?

While Daddy opened gifts, Cecilia preferred to catch up on some independent reading... that is, until she noticed wrapping paper falling to the floor.

Caroline was interested in the gifts, though... she helped me pick out two shirts for Daddy, and I also had picked up this container of natural vanilla wafers from Trader Joe's... he like store-bought vanilla wafers a lot, so I got him this slightly healthier version. It seems that I mention TJ's a lot on my blog...

I just included this photo because I thought the smoke looked cool... Cecilia thought so, too. She was pretty fascinated for a minute there.

And in case you didn't believe me that I put zucchini in the cake, there is proof in this picture if you look closely! And I must say, my new food processor is awesome!! I put two of my new Christmas gifts to work in the making of this cake!

Hope you had a fun day, Chris!!! Love you!

Nearly Full...

I think this was the "biggest" full moon of the year - but this is the day before it was officially a full moon. The next night was terribly cloudy, so the moon wasn't visible. It caught my eye here on the Jan. 9th while I was out in the back yard while Caroline played.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

She Stands!!!

We're oh-so-impressed, and yet her expression remains the same serious one as usual: "Uh, okay... why are you guys staring and clapping at me?"

This was taken on the 7th... I just hadn't offloaded pictures for several days. She's been standing unsupported for a second or two for awhile now, here and there... but she is now doing it for longer stretches and more frequently. No real interest in trying to walk, but this is a step closer (no pun intended).

Monday, January 12, 2009

In honor of Cecilia's upcoming first birthday...

I came across this post on the benefits of extended breastfeeding and thought I'd share. It is nice to see all the benefits listed together in one spot! The lists hits so many of the reasons I nursed Caroline for years and why I will continue to nurse Cecilia until she naturally self-weans. Some of the reasons to continue nursing a baby past 12 months of age are:

  • At one year of age, a baby’s immune system is functioning only at 60 percent of the adult levels. A child’s immune system is not fully functioning at adult levels until six years of age. Nursing toddlers grow better and have better resistance to infection.
  • In particular, secretory IgA, an immunoglobin, appears to remain low for the first 18 months of a child’s life, so breastfeeding is an important source of this immunoglobin. Breastmilk contains IgA, IgG and IgM to augment a child’s immune system until it is functioning at optimal levels. Human milk still contains nutrients, growth hormone factors and immunoglobins after the infant is one year of age.
  • From the wonderful site “Human milk expressed by mothers who have been lactating for >1 year has significantly increased fat and energy contents, compared with milk expressed by women who have been lactating for shorter periods. During prolonged lactation, the fat energy contribution of breast milk to the infant diet might be significant.”
    – Mandel 2005
Read more here!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Definitions by Caroline

Galaxy: a whole bunch of something
"Did you see that whole galaxy of birds flying by?"

Dose: a portion of something
"Mommy, may I have another dose of cereal?"

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Celebrating Epiphany

Soon after waking on the 6th, Caroline was eager to move our wise men into the nativity. They had traveled from the china cabinet to the radio to the curio cabinet over the course of the 12 days, and Caroline had them take their place in admiration of the Christ Child (note that Caroline has all the nativity figures encircling Jesus, as they are so amazed... even the sheep are about a quarter inch away from his face).

The night before, we made the Gifts of the Magi Bread to have for breakfast the next morning. Well, okay, my husband made the bread after I handed him the recipe while I gave him guidance as I worked on the Epiphany gifts alongside him in the kitchen. I gave him a few alterations: Sucanat instead of sugar, half whole wheat flour instead of all white, and no marishino cherries (have you seen the ingredients on those things???)... and we only made one loaf (half the recipe). It is full of "treasures" (chocolate chips, coconut, mandarin oranges, raisins, almonds) to represent the gifts given to the infant Jesus by the wise men. It turned out very yummy... between the three of us, it was nearly gone by the end of the day!! I will definitely be filing it away as a "do this again" recipe!

I decided kind of last-minute to do three gifts... representing the three gifts given to Jesus by the three wise men. We had only given Caroline three gifts on Christmas anyway, and I made these gifts as things that were more practical anyway. We had been talking about replacing the rocking chair in Caroline's room with a "big girl" chair so we could move the rocker into our bedroom so I'd have a place to sit while nursing Cecilia to sleep in there (ha! she prefers the stand-and-sway-while-nursing method). We found this purple saucer chairat Wal-Mart and thought it would look great in her room! The color goes wel with her bedspread and curtains.

Second, I made Caroline a new "work activity," as we call them (various manipulative-type fine motor activities... I should do a post about them sometime!)... I had not made anew one for her in ages. This one I cannot take credit for - I found it online somewhere. I glued a strip of paint chip to several clothespins. Put together with corresponding paint chips, they make a matching game. The finger work required to open the clothespins is good for fine motor development.

And finally, another homemade gift: a bow storage device. They had been jumbled in a bathroom drawer, and now we have a place to keep them organized. We plan to hang it in the bathroom on the wall.

Caroline and I made a king cake by pouring th batter into a tube pan to make a crown shape. I had planned to make the points of the crown with graham crackers, but somebody had eaten them all! So we made paper points (which Caroline drew "jewels" on) instead.

The recipe we used was for a chocolate pumpkin bundt cake, which was okay, but not incredible, so I won't link to the recipe unless somebody is just dying for it. I baked a bean inside the cake (tradition is that the person who finds the bean - or almond, or tiny baby doll - is "king for the day" and gets to host the Candlemas party). Nobody found the bean that evening... having only three people to eat a bundt cake does have its drawbacks!

Happy Epiphany, everyone!

The Twelve Days of Christmas

We have had a nice, relatively peaceful 12 days of Christmas. After all the excitement of the extended family celebrations, we spent some peaceful time at home, enjoying our decorations. We rang in the new year quietly, and then we attended Mass on the first for the feast of Mary, the Mother of God. Of course, our church was still decorated beautifully for Christmas - they really do it up well in there! I love that we can continue singing Christmas hymns in church even when the rest of the world stopped playing Christmas music after the 25th.

Caroline spent some time enjoying her new gifts. We have such generous family - she got several nice things and has been enjoying them. One of our activities during the Christmas season was to write thank-you notes for all of Caroline's gifts. I decided to start that tradition this year to begin to instill the importance of gratitude in my girls. Caroline is now old enough to really grasp the fact that other people are doing something special for her by giving her gifts... and she can sort of sign her name now, too! So I made up a template and we filled in the blanks and then added photos of her enjoying the gifts, then mailed them out to the givers of the gifts.

The family fun of the season continued for another 24 hours with a trip to my brother's new house on the 1st. We had not been there yet, and they invited us for dinner and to stay overnight since they live about an hour away from us. Caroline and Cecilia enjoyed playing in a new place, and Chris and I enjoyed the fun of spending time with my brothers and sister-in-law! We played Phase 10 after the girls were sleeping. The next day, we went out to lunch at Cracker Barrel (and Tim, we should have paid for you too - I owe you ten bucks!). It was fun to hang out together and get to see their beautiful house! And that piano... I grew up with it in my family's living room, so it looked weird to be in another house! But Mike was the one who took piano lessons, so he got the piano.

Cecilia was thrilled to have another opportunity to chase the puppy around!

Cecilia also continued to enjoy our tree throughout the twelve days... the ornaments were a source of great entertainment and interest. We took the tree down after the girls were sleeping on the 6th.

I hope to incorporate more traditions into these twelve days... if anybody has any to share about how you continue celebrating Christmas through Epiphany, I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Christmas Outtakes

Thought this would be fun... I realized I had some pretty funny photos from Christmas!

My dad, for some unknown reason, decided to give us all "gag gifts" this year. My mom's wasn't actually a gag, although she thought it was at first and nearly tossed aside the box of Airbourne that she unwrapped from my dad. At his urging, she opened the box to find a pair of earrings she'd been wanting.

Here's my gag gift - the past six weeks of the Sunday comics from the AJC. Look at the foresight he had to have in order to pull this off - either than, or they forgot to take out the recycling for six weeks... This is actually also useful, as I will read these (Chris and I have gotten through about three weeks' worth). I guess it's become a joke because my dad knows that if a visit from me includes a Sunday, my firts question to him that morning will be, "Have you seen the comics?" Too bad they aren't really funny... I guess it's just a habit for me!

Okay, I know this is really lazy of me, but I forgot to rotate this photo and uploading is painfully slow, so I am going to leave this picture sideways. This is Tim with his gag gift - his was the most useless of all. Since he is in the seminary studying for the priesthood, my dad's gift was this very old puzzle of Pope JPII - it has been in their basement for at least 20 years. I don't know where it came from, but how random is that? A 500 piece puzzle of the Pope? We did this puzzle once in my childhood - that white background is a killer!! I wonder if Tim plans to take this back to school to do with his fellow seminarians in their free time?

My dad gave my other brothers rolls of deoderant - ha ha.

"What happened??? My cake doesn't look like the one in the picture!" Tim convinced my mom to make this fancy cake with Lindt chocolate and chocolate ganache and whipped cream and peppermint marshmallow topping... it had several "issues," including overflowing, sticking to the cake pans, missing some layers of whipped cream, and the marshmallow topping didn't quite turn out (this picture was taken before the topping ran down all over the cake plate and stovetop). As my mom said, "I like to COOK, not bake!" We affectionately dubbed it "toothpaste cake," and I very much enjoyed indulging in 3 or 4 pieces during our stay, plus bowls of crumbs from the failed cake topped with extra peppermint whipped cream - mmmmmmm.

A baby, a cat, and some dog food. Although Cecilia thought the cat was "Utch" too.

And "Utch" thinks this is a cat.

Can you spot the baby?

"Bungee cords - just what I wanted!!!"

How pitiful, opening Christmas gifts in a 13 year old t-shirt with a barf bucket at her side...

Clearly, we all need a little of this!!!
(It's a strawberry daquiri mix if you can't tell)

Our Christmas Celebrations

Well, I know I am way behind in posting this, but here goes! We had a wonderful, family-filled time celebrating Christmas. Our Christmas morning at home celebration gave way to our celebration in Atlanta with my family later that afternoon. Unfortunately, Caroline threw up before we left our house. After waiting a couple hours, we decided to go ahead and make the trip since she'd held down water and crackers. We were hoping maybe it was an isolated incidence brought on by to much excitement combined with more sugar than normal Christmas Eve and a pretty rich breakfast casserole. But that was not to be the case. She threw up again on the way there and continued to do so once at my parents' house.

Here she is, in the position she remained in much of the 25th and 26th. Daddy helped her open gifts from my parents and brothers. We could tell she was really sick since she was basically motionless as we exchanged gifts!

Uncle Tim gave her these books, which Daddy read a bit to her. At some points, she was even too pitiful to want to be read to and just wanted to lie there on the couch!

Poor thing...

This one, on the other hand, was in good health and pretty decent spirits. Cecilia enjoyed the gift-giving and mostly the wrapping paper. Uncle Stephen read her a book, which she obviously thought was a real treat! He also gave her an extremely noisy toy, and she very much appreciated it.

The next day, we had more celebrating when my brother Mike and his wife Crystal joined the fun. They came over for an afternoon of more gifts and more food!

I love the messiness of Christmas - the wrapping paper everywhere, the gifts piled up on the coffee table, lots of people... uhh, dogs...

Uncle Mike and Aunt Crystal gave Caroline a Jan Brett book. Caroline had gone to even more pitiful, as she was still unable to hold anything down and hadn't been able to for more than 24 hours when this picture was taken. She didn't want me to read to her - just wanted to lie there and stare at "kid TV" - but she let Aunt Crystal read the new book to her!

And here's my mom in her element... I realized I didn't have any pictures of my mom cooking. She loves to cook and does it quite well for a crowd! We had our big Christmas dinner this day, so that all my brothers could be there. We had beef tenderloin, roasted brussels sprouts, and shrimp and grits (made with the grits that Stephen gave her from Charleston). The night before, we'd had a turkey, stuffing, potatoes, green beans... yum!!!

Here is Caroline in one of her slightly energetic moments. Notice her t-shirt is one of Mike's old shirts (by "old," I mean that he wore it when he was about ten, and now he is 23). She'd already puked on a few of her own shirts, so we decided to not waste any more and just put her in the old shirt.

Cecilia found an old friend - Dutch. He also became her first real word. She has said "ba" for baby and "mama" for Mommy, but it has been very inconsistent and not definitely deliberate. But it was quite clear what she meant as she crawled after Dutch yelling, "Utch! Utch!! Utch!!!" I got some good video of her sying his name. She enjoyed a repeat of getting licked in the face repeatedly and was fascinated by Dutch's stumpy, waggly tail.

I should've put her in a Christmas outfit for this picture - ooops. Caroline sat in this sleigh for pictures by the tree when she was a baby, too. Cecilia is holding a non-breakable ornament in this shot. I did not take pictures of her eating the paint off a glass ball ornament - yikes!!! It probably had lead in it!

What a cute Christmas present - the best one of all! Cecilia and Gramma had fun with this bow for quite awhile. She kept trying to put it back on her own head after it fell off.

Where'd it go?

When we got back home on Sunday after an extended stay to ensure the puking had passed, we came back to celebrate with Chris's parents. In retrospect, I am so glad we ended up in Atlanta for the puking sickness... nobody else got it, and we had help and distractions to get us through it! Caroline is looking a bit better here, but she was still so weak from not having much to eat.

Cecilia hugs her new baby doll that Gran and Grandad brought from Chris's grandfather. She enjoyed another round of gifts and wrapping paper although the timing was such that she had to take a nap in the middle of the fun. She didn't seem to mind!

Caroline got bride and groom dolls that she'd seen at a friend's house. Notice she was interested enough now that she sat up instead of lying down pitifully on the couch!

And, more food, of course! I did a bunch of heavy appetizers for our dinner. Okay, so Trader Joe's did a bunch of appetizers due to our extended stay in Atlanta... three-later hummus and pita chips, Mexican fiesta dip and tortilla chips, mushroom popover thingies, veggies and dill dip, cheese and crackers... and we set it all up on my pretty new red tablecloth that my mom gave me for Christmas. We used our Christmas dishes and lit our Advent candles and the white Christ candle in the middle (I wonder - am I supposed to keep lighting the Advent candles along w/ the Christ candle throughout the Christmas season? Hmmm...).

We had a wonderful time celebrating with family! What a great start to the Christmas season!