Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Riley Elayne is ONE!

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My baby is one. ONE! How in the world did that happen? Just as my cousin said, it is just like God to place a celebration in our lives just at a time that we need it. While our hearts were breaking early last week, there was a constant band-aid on them, pulling them back together. It was knowing that we had a big reason to smile and to celebrate - our baby girl was about to have a monumental birthday and we were going to party as if our hearts were fine. Sure, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to fake happiness and that behind a weak smile and bright eyes would be a quivering lip and welled up tears. That was just the reason that I requested from all in attendance that we focus only on Riley - and that we not talk about the week's earlier events. This was HER day. No tears allowed.

The birthday girl made quite the impression on all of her guests. Riley LOVES attention. She thrives on it. From the moment she woke up Saturday morning and saw the beautiful decorations that her daddy put up the night before, she knew this was her day. After opening up a couple early morning presents from Daddy and I, she sprung into action, helping us prepare for the guests who were to arrive at noon. Her first task? Placing the balloon bouquets!

The day went perfectly, from the decorations, to Riley's first experience with cake, to opening presents and thanking guests for coming. Our princess was treated as royalty and left everyone with wonderful memories and cheeks that ached from smiling so much. Seeing our 36 guests was just another reminder of how loved and blessed we are. Riley Elayne is one. Incredible.

It's Just Like God ...

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It's December. Time for a fresh start. We've boxed up the memories and sadness that November brought and are storing them away now, looking at our future with anticipation. Sure, I am certainly not emotionally over the grief that came along with the miscarriage, but I am optimistic. I am healing. I am looking forward instead of backwards. It is my choice and my choice alone, whether I want to heal or if I want to be bitter. I choose to heal. I just continue to thank God for Riley and Kevin and the support of our extended family and friends - healing would be so much more difficult without the extra prayers and words of encouragement that we have received over the past week.

My cousin made a great point - "It's just like God to place a celebration in our lives just at a time that we need it". She was referring to the wonderful celebration this past weekend ... which leads me to my next post ...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Please, December, be a fresh start

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I know I've not written lately - in nearly a month, in fact.  I've wanted to ... I've thought about it many, many times.  But I knew that in order to post something, I'd have to come face to face with my last post about Oliver, and I still wasn't prepared for that.

We've been slowly healing, but we'll always have scars that remind us of him.  His death on November 1st kicked the month off in the most horrible way.  The only good way of looking at it was that it could only get better.  Until today.

Rewind back to the wee morning hours of Sunday, October 11th.  Riley had a yucky diaper that required a very early morning bath.  While Kevin was bathing her, I needed to use the restroom.  I was feeling a little queasy so I thought I'd take a pregnancy test - one that I just had lying around - never imagining what I would see three minutes later.  Two precious pink lines stared back at me - and I shook.  I smiled.  I screamed with joy inside.  Being the impatient person I am, I threw all creativity out the window for how I could share the news with Kevin and instead ran straight into the bathroom and blurted out ... "So ... um ... I'm PREGNANT!!".  We were elated - and shocked.  What a wonderful, wonderful day.

Flash forward to November 1st when Oliver passed away.  The reason we were on the way to Columbus that day - in the opposite direction of where our little guy was being treated - was for a family lunch in celebration of my mom's birthday.  We felt this was the perfect opportunity to share our exciting news, as I was adament to tell them in person.  I made Riley a onesie that proudly boasted "I am the Big Sister".  Our joyous news was quickly overshadowed by the terrible phone call we had received about Oliver, just as we pulled into the parking lot in Columbus.  We still shared our news, but it was quick and amongst tears about our first baby's fate.  It was bittersweet, but it was still a blessing nonetheless.

One week later I had reason to be a little concerned, as I was having symptoms I hadn't experienced with Riley.  It could be normal, but it could be cause for concern, according to my pregnancy books.  Being one who would always rather err on the side of caution, I called my doctor and went in the next day for an ultrasound.  It was on this day - November 9th - that we heard the glorious sound of that heartbeat - 158 bpm - and saw our little bean.  "Everything is perfectly fine," said Dr. Brzozowski.  If he said it, I trusted it.  "And with that strong of a heartbeat at this point, your chance of miscarriage drops below 1%.  We're not out of the woods yet, but your chances are very, very good.  Go home and don't worry any more", he said. 

So I went home and I didn't worry any more.  I thanked God for the miracle that was still in me and let my mind rest.  I was pregnant and all was well.

Today.  November 30th.  Oddly enough, the last day of what started off as the worst month.  I had a routine OB appointment scheduled for 1:45pm.  I couldn't wait to hear that heartbeat again.  "I'll try with the doppler, but if we don't hear anything, don't be worried - sometimes this is still too early to detect and then I'll have the doctor try", said the nurse.  I wasn't worried and actually didn't plan on hearing it, considering I was just 10w 1d along.  Sure thing - she couldn't detect it.  Riley sat on Kevin's lap, munching away on her goldfish and giving me some kind of advice, I am sure, through her babbling as we waited for Dr. Brzozowski to give it a go.  Still nothing.  "Let's go do a quick ultrasound", he said.  For some reason I was still calm.  Normally one to jump to the worst conclusion possible, I hadn't.  Everything was going to be fine.

Except it wasn't.  I watched the ultrasound tech take a few different pictures and watched her facial expressions.  Things weren't fine - things were very, very wrong.  As Dr. Brzozowski put his hand on my arm, I knew.  No words were necessary.  I had miscarried. 

I went numb, just as I had 29 days earlier.  I felt like I was having an out of body experience, just as I had 29 days earlier.  And here I sit as I write, a tad drained of emotion, wondering why I am not bawling my eyes out this very moment.  But if history repeats itself from 29 days ago, tomorrow will be the worst pain of all.  The numbness will wear off and all that will be left is just pure pain.  Writing is therapy to me.  I knew I had to write to begin to let emotion out of my body. 

I am not mad at God.  How can I be?  He had a reason to do this.  For some reason, I was not meant to carry that baby, and God took that baby home to be with Him.  And with Oliver.  Oliver couldn't lie his head on my pregnant belly this time around, so I'd like to think he'll be lying it next to our precious baby whom we will never have the joy to meet, until we're reunited in Heaven one day.

So tonight, after my parents arrive to town to be with us in our days of sorrow, I'll go to bed.  I'll fear what my dreams will bring the entire time I drift to sleep, and tomorrow I will face incredible pain.  But I will get through this.  'And this too shall pass". 

Please, December ... be a fresh start.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."  -John 16:33

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Oliver, My Hero

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November 1, 2009 will forever be remembered as one of the worst days of my life. Have you ever had to hold the paw of the one you love most, and kiss their nose just before they peacefully drift off to sleep forever?  I hadn't had to ever in my life ... until this past Sunday.

Oliver was our miracle baby from the beginning. A puppy with all odds against him, he fought through a horrible case of pneumonia and stunned all doctors by not only surviving, but thriving - all the while, winning over their hearts. He loved children. He loved his brother, Wendell, and would bathe him each night before snuggling up tight to him to sleep. He would run so fast that his little moustache would blow in the wind and remind me of Falcor from "the neverending story"; thus his middle name.

He just turned 4 on Wednesday. Since he was I'll, we promised him a full celebration as soon as he was healthy again. We bought him a monster sized loofa dog on Saturday - his favorite toy - to have on hand for his homecoming this coming Tuesday, the day that the vet told us to expect him back home.

We breathed a sigh of relief when we received the update call at 6am this morning from the emergency vet. He had a stellar night and was even up walking around and would be offered some water. Things were looking up and we were on cloud nine.  That Oliver - he always pulls through.

Then just over 4 hours later a call came in. We were on the road to Columbus for a 60th birthday lunch for my mom .  "Oliver is showing trends we don't like .... More x-rays needed .... More bloodwork ...".

At noon another call. "Weak ... Potential liver failure ... Septic shock ... Potential we will lose him".  A follow up call. "30% chance of survival with second surgery. 0% without it ... $5000 to try ... In pain".

Decision time. Gut wrenching, rip your heart out of your chest, cause you to vomit, decision. Take the chance? Or let him go peacefully?  It was awful.  Worse than awful.  So much to consider.  People waiting for an answer.  Being three hours away.

With prayers to God and a temporary sense of peace, we made the decision. With a wavering voice, I told my husband, "Oliver needs to be Jesus' puppy now".  The decision was one that, given his past health history, the vet thought was best. Then it was time to get to him. The vet thought they could keep him comfortable until we arrived, so we could hold him and tell him once more how incredibly much we loved him. Waiting in that stale room was so painful, but nothing compared to the pain to come. The doors opened and Oliver was wheeled into the room for his last encounter with us. He laid so quietly in his familiar bed, unable to lift his head to look at us. But we talked to him. And pet him. And kissed him. And reminded him of how much we loved him and how we would miss him terribly and never let him be forgotten. We told him it was going to be okay. We apologized for what he had to go through and that we couldn't save him. We cried. We shook. We felt more lost than we ever have in our life.

Holding on to him as he took his last breath is so foggy to me now. I felt as though I was having an out of body experience. I saw him take his last breath - I felt it - yet I still keep waiting for him to walk down the hall. I keep waiting for him to scratch the front door to ask to go outside. I keep waiting to hear him make noises as he dreams through the night. I can't wrap my head around the fact that none of that is ever, ever going to happen again.

This is the most pain I have ever experienced. And it is double painful because I have to watch Kevin go through the pain as well - and I want to protect him. While I hate that Oliver died at such a young age - and feel that he was cheated out of life - I am thankful that Riley was young enough to not have a clue what was going on and that I could protect her from pain as well.  Sunday was painful, but we were numb.  Monday was the hardest - the numbness had worn off, but the pain was still there.  The house felt 'wrong'.  It was still.  It was quiet.  And that was the oddest part of all - Oliver didn't bark.  He didn't make noise.  The fact that quiet and stillness felt weird shouldn't have.  But his presence was gone.  We knew he wasn't there.

I asked my mom how I will ever survive losing a person in my life if I am enduring this much pain from a pet. Her answer was so right.  I am experiencing the same amount of pain for my pet as I will for a person because he WAS a person to me. He was a family member. He was my first baby. I will miss him every single day of my life. God Bless Oliver.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

First Steps!

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We've hit a huge milestone over the past few days!  Riley has officially been taking steps on her own!!  Her personal best is currently 4 consecutive steps.  And I must be honest and say that when I watch her achieve this, all I can think of is how Frakenstein walks: stiff legs that don't bend at the knee and arms straight out in front.  It's hilarious.  And adorable.  And it reminds me that my baby is growing up. 

The best part of it is the look on her face after her steps have ended.  She knows what she is doing and she is SO proud of herself.  The amazing smile proves it.

I was lucky enough to have my mom at the house last night to capture video as Riley demonstrated her new skill to Daddy for the first time (video to be posted soon!).  I witnessed her true "first steps" alone at the house this past Saturday and it was breaking Kevin's heart that she hadn't shown off for him.  Last night after we got home from work she was ready to go ... and I could barely contain myself when I saw tears well up in Kevin's eyes once she took those steps.  These are the memories that last a lifetime.

In other news, Riley is freshly 10 months old!  Monday marked 10 months - I say it every month, but I cannot believe another has passed.  Her 10 month old check list looks like this:

  • She says "mama", "dada" and "baba".  We swear we've heard "bye bye" a couple of times, but I am not convinced enough to put it in ink in the baby book yet
  • She still eats some purees, but is moving along quickly to some more "solid" solids such as chicken breast and sliced carrots.  The slow-movement of this is mommy's fault due to fear of choking.  If it were up to me, I'd probably send her off to college with a suitcase full of purees.  She takes 4 bottles a day and insists on holding them herself.
  • She sleeps about 11 hours a night.  She takes a solid morning nap but seems to only need/want about 45 minutes of shut-eye in the afternoon.
  • She is a speed crawler, furniture surfer, and step-taker.
  • She loves, loves, loves her toys.
  • She adores her two puppies and gets so excited each morning when they come into her room to greet her.
  • Bathtime is a treat for her and she loves to dip her face in the water and show off her "bubble bath moustache".

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Memories, Milestones and More

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Last week we took our first ever family vacation since becoming a "family of three".  We ventured down to our ultimate favorite vacation spot - the Outerbanks in North Carolina.  We specifically stayed in Nags Head.  This was our fourth trip down there - the first being back in August 2004 when Kevin proposed to me on the beach at sunset.  The proposal was in the same spot that he sat on the beach as a child during annual vacations to OBX.  And Riley sat in that same spot last week, which, as you can imagine, brought along with it a flurry of emotions. 

We returned for our second trip in June of 2006.  This was our first trip to OBX as a married couple - another nice memory.  Our third trip was in August 2008.  I was 23 weeks pregnant with Riley.  This year Riley was 9 1/2 months old at the time of our visit.  I couldn't help but dig up a picture from last year's vacation.  It was taken of Kevin and I standing out on the Nags Head Pier.  We took another picture this year in the same spot.  What a difference a year makes ...

We vacationed with two friends of ours - Kelly and Frank - and their daughter, Addison, who is just 6 weeks younger than Riley.  It was a fun-filled week for everyone and jam packed with memories that will last a lifetime.  Riley even hit some milestones while we were down there; clapping, waving bye bye, and saying "dada".  What a perfect, perfect week.

Enjoy some pictures from our week full of firsts, laughter, happy tears and hugs. 

Riley and daddy on the beach.  One of my favorite pictures.

Shoulder rides for Addison and Riley at the Sand Dunes.

Watching the love of our lives.

I had the ultimate pleasure of showing Riley the ocean and the sand for the first time in her life.  Her squeals and belly laughs for the waves told me she loved it.

It wouldn't be vacation without a walk to get some yummy ice cream!

 Riley and I, playing in the water.

"Riley 2009". 

Exploring the sand.  She loved to dig and quickly learned - after a handful to the mouth - that it tastes yucky.

She loves her shoulder rides from Daddy.

Precious, precious, precious.

Getting lots of laughs and smiles on the beach.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I Survived!

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I survived my first night away from Riley!  I had a great time away with Kevin - and it was a very nice treat for both of us - but I was SO excited to get home this afternoon and grab my little miss right up!  And Kevin was just as excited.

We left yesterday morning around 6:30am.  Thank God, Riley woke up just about 5 minutes before we left.  I could have had something to do with those few extra cabinet doors I accidentally slammed.  But I was just so happy to get to see her and hug her and kiss her before leaving for Cedar Point and leaving her with my mom and dad.  I did great through the day - we were so busy at the park that the hours flew, although we were busy the whole time talking about Riley and winning her prizes at the game booth!  (Picture of Riley with HUGE monkey that daddy won her, coming soon ...). 

But last night was hard.  We had early entrance into the park, so that allowed us to get on things really fast and we were done with our day about 3:00pm.  We checked into our hotel around 3:30 and decided to take naps before dinner.  Kevin fell asleep - I didn't.  Instead, I laid on the bed, softly crying, just wishing the hours would fly by so I could be back with Riley.  I missed her SO badly.

Thankfully, the time moved at the perfect pace.  We enjoyed our evening, had a fun time this morning being lazy and enjoying breakfast, then got 9 holes of golf in on the way home.  But boy were we excited to run through the front door and see that beautiful smile from our Rye Pie!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I never want to leave!

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All I keep thinking about this morning is how stinkin' adorable Riley is.  This does not make for a very productive work day.  I am so mad at myself for not taking a picture of her this morning.  I'll have to snap a quick one tonight.  She was in a new skirt and teeshirt and had a hoodie sweater on and Babylegs for the ride to Grandma and Grandpa's since there was quite a chill in the air - and she was SO happy this morning!  I think she is over the aches and pains of her cold, and now we're just constantly wiping that drippy nose.  She had a great night of sleep last night and woke up all smiles, ready to tackle the world, one toy at a time.

I've quickly realized (and honestly knew it all along) that it is NEVER easy to leave her.  On the days when she doesn't feel well, I don't want to leave her.  I just want to hold her and make the yuckies go away.  On the days when she couldn't be any happier, I don't want to leave her.  I just want to sit with her and play all day, taking in those smiles and laughs.  On the days when she is a moody mess, while rare, I don't want to leave her.  I just want to sing to her and play peek-a-boo until that bright smile returns between those pudgy cheeks.  I just never, ever want to leave her!

Yes - you can slap me now since I am basically complaining that I only have a 3-day work week each week ... but it is all relative, right?

And if I hate leaving her, how will I EVER survive this weekend?  My parents are arriving late Friday night and Kevin and I are leaving early Saturday morning for a weekend at Cedar Point.  Just a little getaway for the two of us for our 4-year anniversary (today, in fact!) before we head to the beach as a family of three the following week.  This will be my first time EVER away from Riley overnight.  And my first time ever away from her for more than a typical 8-hour workday.  I am praying that I am able to hold it together.  At least Kevin and I will have plenty to talk about during a 2-hour wait for a roller coaster.  The topic of conversation will absolutely be on our Rye Pie!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Toy Recommendations Needed!

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As we prepare for our upcoming beach trip, we want to buy Riley a surprise toy for the beach house that will be "new" and therefore capture her interest for a while.  I would LOVE to hear what toys you'd recommend ... and of course, I do have some requirements that must be fulfilled with whatever toy this is!

  • Must light up
  • Must play music or sounds
  • Must be a toy in which she can stand at and cruise around - sitting is no longer in her daily plans!
So ... what do you recommend?  Please comment below!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

It's Time for a Facelift

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I am ready for this blog to undergo some cosmetic changes. Over the next couple of days you'll notice things starting to look a bit different - and hopefully better! I hope you like what you see - definitely let me know!

But what about "The Lasts"?

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A girlfriend and I had lunch yesterday. Well, it was more like this: we went to a dining establishment (Cheesecake Factory ... yummo!), ordered wonderful lunches, then spent the time that they were warm feeding bottles and sliced up bananas to our wonderful, precious daughters.

And then when our food was still a little warm, we spent that time retrieving shoes and toys for one another as they flew under the table just out of arm's reach. Lettuce wraps don't box up that well ... but cheesecake does! And that's what matters!

So during this lunch/playdate, we had an interesting discussion - something I hadn't ever really thought about before, but have thought about since. As mothers, we have eagle eyes for all of these "firsts". First time rolling over. First solid night of sleep. First tooth. First laugh. The list goes on and on. But what about "The Lasts"?

It is actually a sad thought, so I apologize if I put a dark cloud over anyone today ... but what about the huge milestone of the LAST time something happens? You celebrate the first night your baby sleeps in her crib in her own room. But that also means that the night before was the last night that she slept alongside you in her bassinette or co-sleeper. You celebrate the first tooth that breaks through. But that means the last time that you saw that adorable gummy smile has come and gone.

Being the optimistic person that I am, I can 'turn my frown upside down' by reminding myself that with the 'last' of one thing comes a 'first' of something even better. Two weeks ago Riley started doing this adorable thing with her arms and her head when it got close to a nap or bedtime. She'd raise her arms above her head real tight, then squeeze her head through them. Picture a needle being threaded - that is what I thought of when I saw it. It was adorable! But now it's over. I haven't seen that for a week now, and I don't know if it will ever return. A 'last'. That makes me a little sad. But then again, she is now making a cute new noise when she laughs ... so a 'first'.

What do you think about "the lasts"?

Monday, August 31, 2009

FREE Hairclip giveaway!

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I am hosting a giveaway on my Little Miss Designs blog! It runs through Friday and YOU could be the winner! There are lots of ways to enter, so make sure to check it out!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hey Moms! You GOTTA see this!

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Okay, okay - so I know that it is rare that I post more than once a day, but I felt my recent find warranted it. I assume you saw my earlier post about the $100 PF Chang gift card giveaway. Well, since finding it (and doing everything in my power to gain more entries!), I had a great time digging a little deeper into this treasure trove of a blog.
Guess what I found?
It's what I consider to be the Mother-Load of all giveaways! The ladies over at 5 Minutes for Mom are hosting a Back to School Giveaway! But HURRY - the giveaways end TOMORROW! They have a LOT of stuff to give away from an Epson printer to Famous Footwear giftcards to LandsEnd backpacks and lunch bags (they are eco friendly, to boot!).

Soooo ... what are you still doing here on my blog? Go! Hurry! Enter! WIN!

Have 5 Minutes?

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I've come across a fun new giveaway blog, tailored to moms, that I just MUST share with you all! The blog is 5 Minutes for Moms - Giveaways and it is so much fun! The stories are adorable and the giveaways are awesome!
I just took a few minutes to enter for a $100 PF Changs giftcard - wouldn't that just be the perfect date night out? It is as though I can taste the yummy lettuce wraps as I write this! I highly suggest heading out the the blog and taking a peek around - you will probably LOVE what you see!
Want more than just giveaways? They have amazing 'sister blogs' - I am sure that one fits the bill for your blog-reading-needs!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I'm on the hunt ...

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... for another diaper bag, perhaps! With our upcoming beach vacation, and just assuming how much 'stuff' we're going to be packing into our car, I really am not looking forward to stocking at least two diaper bags with stuff for Riley, simply because neither of them hold very much. Don't get me wrong - I L-O-V-E my Coach diaper bag. It is absolutely perfect for our daily trips out to the store or to carry over to Grandma and Grandpa's for a day's stay.

But when it comes to longer trips out - trips for a full day where I'll practically live out of that bag, I need something more. Something with more pockets, more room, and more versatility. So this is where YOU come in. I need help! The two bags that I absolutely love are not available in stores - just online! I am very much a person who has to see and feel anything like this that I buy before buying it - so I hope that someone out there has one of these and can give me a review on it.

1. Vera Bradley - OH BABY! Diaper Bag
  • It's retired as of 2008, thus why I cannot find it in a store.
  • eBay is my only hope, and I have found a few of them, new with tags (NWT)

2. Skip hop Studio Designer Tote

  • All of the reviews are GLOWING - even a mother of triplets commented on all the stuff she gets in there for all three babies - something that really impressed me.
  • Love the color choices - slate, black, chocolate, champagne. Picking a color may be harder than picking the actual bag!!

So there they are. Can anyone weigh in and help me out here?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Riley's Baptism Weekend!

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What a busy, busy weekend it has been! Today was Riley's baptism and if the stress and preparation necessary for today's event is anything in comparison to what I will endure when preparing for her first birthday, I may have to rethink things! Nah ... it was worth every second!

It all began on Friday when we had Riley's professional baptism pictures taken:

All day yesterday was spent with my mom and grandma in the kitchen, preparing food for today's brunch. And I mean ALL day. I literally slept in my clothes last night. But the food was amazing, thanks to my mom's amazing talent for cooking and baking.

This morning was show time! Riley was baptised during the 9:00am service. It was so nice to see all of our family and friends come out to witness this beautiful event! Riley was a champ, too. Her naptime is normally right around 9am, so I was curious as to how this was going to work out. She did fabulously and went right down for her nap when we walked through the door at 10:30! Here are a few pictures from today:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Baptism Weekend!

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Riley's getting baptised on Sunday! I am so excited for this event - it means so much to Kevin and I and to our families. But wow - what an event! I can't even imagine what a planning/stressing/cleaning/decorating machine I'll turn into for her first birthday party after seeing myself right now! I even took off work today and had Kevin's parents still babysit Riley so I could spend the day cleaning, getting the house ready, and shopping.

The minute Kevin walked out the door with Riley this morning, I took off. Here is what I accomplished today - all in eight hours, from 8am to 4pm!

  • Grocery shopped for party on Sunday
  • Bought mulch at nursery
  • Pulled weeds, laid mulch
  • Mixed up cookie dough, to bake later in the day
  • Cleaned bathrooms, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room, entire basement
  • Did 3 loads of laundry
  • Target trip
  • Lowes trip
  • Babies R Us trip
  • Christian Bookstore trip
  • Joann Fabrics trip
  • Stopped at post office to ship package
  • Showered

I'm exhausted just from reading that! And to think that yesterday I smiled, thinking about the nice nap I'd take halfway through the day. Yeah right! Now I'm just thankful for my mom and mother-in-law who will be helping with food on Saturday!

I can't wait to post pictures following the event!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Playdate with Addison!

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I feel like a very bad mommy in the sense that I haven't been planning many playdates for Riley. I have several friends within an hour of me with babies right around her age, so there really is no excuse. She sees her young cousins a lot, but I want to make sure she is socializing with babies her own age.

In less than a month we'll be leaving for a week in the Outerbanks with our friends Kelly and Frank and baby Addison (6 weeks younger than Riley - see this post). Riley and Addison haven't seen each other since Riley was about 3 or 4 months old, I believe. Unacceptable, right?! Now, Kelly and I have tried to get together here and there, but something has always seemed to come up. Yesterday was almost hijacked too, due to me waiting for the bee exterminator (see this post). However we perservered and still succeeded at a playdate, albeit a short one.

The girls were hilarious! Riley made some high pitched squeals and sounds that I have never heard before and that she hasn't done since. They appeared to want to attack one another's faces, but it was all in good fun!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What can I say ... I'm a planner!

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I know, I know - mid-August hasn't even arrived yet and I already have Halloween on the brain. What can I say, I'm a planner! It is one holiday that I have never really gotten into. We live on a street that just doesn't attract many trick-or-treaters, which makes me sad. So without trick-or-treaters, I've never wanted to go all out and decorate.

But now that Riley is in our lives, I want to take every opportunity I have to make events such as Halloween rich with tradition, so this year I am taking it much more seriously.

When Riley and I arrived home last night, I quickly stripped her down to her diaper and I threw on a big, warm baby Halloween costume that a co-worker and friend had brought me earlier that day to try. I was prepared for a good fight from Riley, but received just the opposite! She was laughing and playing and loudly sucking on the sleeves. The BEST moment was when daddy arrived home from work. Riley and I were perfectly hidden at the end of the couch furthest from the door. With perfect timing, as Kevin opened the door, Riley walked out from the couch holding on to her walker and taking steps with those adorable, wobbly knees ... all while dressed up like a !!!

** At Kevin's request, we are not saying what she was dressed up as, as we want it to be a surprise should we indeed make this her first ever Halloween costume.

The look on Kevin's face and his laugh made the moment priceless. I cannot WAIT to post pictures!

What are your little ones going to be for Halloween this year? And what do you do for the spooktacular day? I know I'll be posting more on this topic, but why not start today?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Promoting ... ME!

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Ha - I am apparently very easily amused nowadays, because I am laughing at my own post title right now.

I have yet another blog that I want to promote. It's mine. Just another one of mine. You're probably tired of my talk about Little Miss Designs, and yes - this blog is titled just that (find it
here), but wait a second ... it isn't about ME. And it isn't about Little Miss Designs (at least not the majority of the time).

It is about other artists - other fun items that I think my readers would have interest in. It's about FREE tutorials for how to make fun things for your kids. It's about a lot of things, but mostly, it's about FUN. So come have fun with me, okay? Pretty please?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Memorable Moment Mondays

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Which Is More Important?

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I am curious to hear your thoughts on this one:

Which is more important: your pediatrician him/herself or the office/hospital in which your pediatrician practices in?

If you've been following this blog for a while you already know that we have loved Riley's pediatrician - Dr. K- since the first day I interviewed him, when I was just 30 weeks pregnant. He is an amazing doctor - named one of Ohio's top doctors in 2008. Even more important to me is that he is a parent himself, so he can relate to your concerns and questions. He is never quick to just answer us - he always provides background to his medical decisions or my silly questions. I love it. And he loves kids. Done deal.

When Riley was born, Dr. K was practicing at Cleveland Clinic. I love their pediatrics department. It is amazingly clean, upbeat, and tailored for kids, as it should be, in my opinion. Heck - if I were a kid, I may just like going to the doctor since I'd get to visit an enormous waiting room with beautiful murals painted on the wall, a gigantic (CLEAN) fish tank, and toys and books galore! (All of which are sanitized by an outside company after anyone as much as touches them, by the way!). And the rooms are sparkling and everything just looks NEW. Plus, maybe it is because of my IT background, but I love that everything is electronic at the clinic. They have this wonderful online feature called "MyChart" that allows me to have all the information from every single one of Riley's doctor visits at my fingertips wherever internet access is available, plus I can request appointments and talk to nurses electronically as well!

So do I have you all sold on moving to take advantage of the Clinic?

So back to the initial question. At the end of June, Dr. K left Cleveland Clinic for another very well respected hospital in the area. We were thrilled to see that he was going to a hospital where our insurance is accepted because the last thing we wanted was to lose Dr. K as Riley's pediatrician.

Today was my first visit to him in his new office (nothing major - Riley has a rash that they just wanted to take a look at). The minute I walked in I was disappointed. Where were the bright colors? And the fun toys? And what about a fish tank? When is the last time this place had a fresh coat of paint? And the rooms themselves - very drab and lacking anything to keep an 8-month old busy while waiting for the doctor. Where the heck is the computer? You're not telling me that they actually keep your child's health record (gasp!!) by hand, are you!? Sure they do.

Of course, a lot of the things I've mentioned are "nice to haves", but some are very important to me. I felt better once Dr. K walked in and gave us the amazing care he always has, but I walked out wondering if he is happy with the choice he has made.

Which should be more important to me - being with the pediatrician we've grown to love or being in a setting that we love and that Riley will enjoy, when not feeling her best?

What do you all think? Which is more important to you?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Very Exciting News!

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Ohhh, I am so excited right now that I just had to post! I am pretty sure that you all know that I sell hairclips and accessories for children on Etsy (if not, check out my store, or click on my Facebook badge to the right to look at my fan page!). About a month ago, Little Miss Designs (the name of my store) became an official LLC. It was just one step in the right direction of making my dream become a reality and maybe - just maybe - starting up my own business one day. Sure, I received a little piece of paper that basically declares me an official Business Owner, but I didn't feel any different. However, having this piece of paper did make me feel official enough to suck up all my fear and anxiety and head out to a local store in my hometown of Marietta, Ohio and pitch my product to them. I so badly wanted to get into a retail store!

The owner (one of three) was amazingly sweet and wonderful to work with and seemed to be overly excited about my items. "We are definitely placing an order!", she said with such excitement as I shook her hand and headed out the door. She had to talk colors and options over with the other two owners of the store, but I left with my head held high. And then I made the mistake I've made before (in different situations, however). I called friends. I texted friends. I made an announcement on my Facebook Fan Page. Little Miss Designs was going to be sold in a retail store!

One ... two ... three weeks later, not a word. How embarrassed was I? I had told people that my dream was coming true, but I hadn't received an official order. I wanted to crawl in a hole when friends would ask me how my business was coming. I sucked up my pride and admitted that it didn't seem to be going anywhere - and I was heartbroken!

But then - today - I received a glorious email! It was an official order from the storeowner. I am in business! WOOHOO!! Their order is a fabulous size - big enough to stock their store with a good variety of what I make, but manageable enough to complete in my '2-week lead time' that I stated in my wholesale terms to them. I cannot wait to get to work this weekend. I can't wait until a few weeks from now when my mom walks in that store and calls me to tell me all about my display!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A ghost story, perhaps?

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Do I believe in ghosts? Does my answer change when I call them 'spirits', instead? If you have a bit of time to spare and want to grab something to eat, I could talk on this topic for quite some time.

My Grandma and Grandpa Nichols had purchased their burial plots long before a hotel was built right next to the cemetary. When my Grandma Nichols was ill with colon cancer, she would joke with us that after she passed she was going to haunt visitors at the hotel. Ever since that day - over 17 years ago - I pledged that I would stay at that hotel and see if my Grandma really did pay me a visit. I never have, but I'd still like to.

But then I had the experience at my first college apartment in Kent, Ohio. I lived in a two-story townhouse with my girlfriends Michelle and Christina. We had cats and you know what they say - supposedly cats have a sixth sense about them and can even sense things we cannot. It was the night that I returned home from a spring break cruise. We had won some cocktail glasses on the cruise and I had just set them on the kitchen counter to hang in the overhead wine glass holder. One of the cats was lying on a stool next to me. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the cat jerk its head up to the wine glass holder with an extreme jerk. I looked to see what she was looking at - and then I saw it - along with my boyfriend at the time - two wine glasses that had been untouched, swing in towards one another and 'clang', then return to their original hanging position with minimal swinging. I just remember my boyfriend - "Get upstairs. Go!". We had no idea what had just happened, but it was scary. Never an explanation, but better yet - never another incident. Until I moved.

Holly Park Apartments. My second college apartment. I lived there with my girlfriend Kate. My closet was your typical closet - bi-fold doors and a wire shelf overhead. I had some Rubbermaid organizing bins on the wire shelf holding extra clothes and what not. For this story, you must understand that the bins weren't too big for the shelf, meaning that they did not overhang, giving them the potential to be top heavy and fall. The depth of the shelf an the depth of the bins was practically the same.

I was sitting in my bedroom one night studying, alone at my apartment. All of a sudden, I heard this big crash in my closet and it caused one of the bi-fold doors to jut out. I walked over the closet, opened the doors, and found one of those bins spilled on to the floor. At the time I didn't think much of it, other than thinking that maybe I hadn't pushed the bin all the way back onto the shelf after its last use and that if got top heavy and tumbled forward. I put everything back in it, put it back up on the shelf, and made a conscious effort to push on each bin to make sure they all were pushed all the way back on the shelf. I shut the doors.

About 30 minutes later, my studying silence was interrupted once again. CRASH. I remember the paralyzing jolt of fear that spread across me. I could see that the door was jutted out again. I knew what had happened. But I had no idea how it had happened. I knew that those boxes were tight and secure on the shelf. What in the world? I remember walking - no running - backwards out of my room so I could keep an eye on the closet. Running down my hallway. Running out the door. Running over to my neighbor's, Chuck. Thank goodness he was home. I had him come over and stand with me as I gathered up my stuff, replaced it in the closet as I did the first time, and then had Chuck double check everything to make sure I wasn't losing my mind. Studying could do that to you. The bins were secure. There is no way they could fall off on their own.

We went out to the living room and watched some TV. I was too nervous for him to leave just yet and I needed to get my mind on something else. About 45 minutes later - CRASH. Chuck got to see if with his own eyes. No explanation. I slept on the couch that night.

This continued to happen with the bins from time to time, but sadly I started to get used to it and even tried to talk to whomever it was. Was it my Grandma or Grandpa? I told myself it was, just to make me more comfortable. A friend brought me a book on spirits. I couldn't read it all, as it scared me too much, but one explanation for what could be happening was bookmarked by him - spirits have no spatial understanding and therefore they can simply knock and tumble things over by running in to them. Even stranger? During this same exact time period, very odd things were happening to my mom at her house. You see, my mom and I always seem to experience things at the same time. We both catch the flu, we both have a backache, etc etc. So it was only fitting that we both assumed we had a ghost.

Ever see "The Sixth Sense"? Remember the scene that was so simple, yet bone chilling when the mother walks into the kitchen and all cupboards and drawers are open? That happened to my Mom. Or the night that she was lying in bed with their dog. Her door was cracked and she could see the glow of the nightlight in the hallway. My dad was working a midnight shift at the time, and she saw the shadow of someone or something walk past her door. SCARY. She bravely searched the house and turned every single light on, only to find absolutely nothing.

I lived in two apartments after Holly Park - none of which gave me any experiences as the first two. It was over and the spirit(s) had no use for my new locales.

Fast-forward to my final apartment before getting married. (Yes, I moved a LOT prior to getting married). Tamarac. Bins would fall, lights would be on after I'd turned them off, bathroom fans would turn on. At this point Kevin and I were engaged and I was thankful that he was there to rationalize each experience. But I still knew something was odd.

Now our current house. This used to be Kevin's grandmother's house. In fact, his grandfather passed away in the house - a fact I didn't realize until the past year sometime. We've had our share of odd experiences here. "Grandma liked the house very warm", Kevin tells me. Could this explain the time we came home to find the heater turned up to EIGHTY degrees? Clearly something neither of us would ever do. But that's just about been it. Until a couple days ago.

LeapFrog Music Table has played on its own a few times. It isn't one of those that is supposed to randomly play on its own, either. I noticed a pattern the times it has happened. We're always in the kitchen - away from the living room. It never happens when we are sitting in the same room or when Riley is anywhere near it. Maybe this should be comforting?

So I don't know - my personal experiences have been great enough to convince me that something is here. Grandma or Grandpa? I'll never know - but I sure hope it is.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

"Bubble Babies"

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Last night I picked up one of the many Readers Digests that we have stockpiled in our bathroom. I happened to just flip straight to a specific story without even knowing it was in there - it was titled Bubble Babies. You should take a few minutes to read it, but here is the gist: The author describes some 'extreme' products out there that parents are buying in to to protect their children from life's littlest bumps and bruises. My opinion was mixed - some did seem like extremes, but others seemed like common sense and even necessary in my eyes.

As I was reading the article I started to cower a little bit. I was actually a little embarrassed because the $19.95 kneepads that the author discusses early on - and makes fun of - were spread across my laptop screen just one day earlier after having looked at Riley's poor little red knees - her badge of honor of crawling like a maniac. I didn't order them, but I did think about it for a little bit. But making light of something like baby moisturizer (read: baby lotion)? I've skipped putting lotion on Riley some nights after her bath, but the result has been eczema-like spots on her arms. Sure, babies are soft already, but just like any other human being, I think they need extra moisture. This article may make me roll my eyes about some of the extremes, but it won't shame me out of using my (incredible Aveeno) baby lotion!

Sure. I ate dirt when I was a child. And my brother and I literally fried eggs on a hot sidewalk one summer and ingested our fair share of gravel and dirt and bird poop while eating them. And there was the time that I couldn't wait for my mom to get off the phone and pour me a glass of water that I drank directly from the watering can ... without knowing it was loaded up with MiracleGro (cue frantic phone call to poison control). And there is the disgusting story that my brother seems to love to tell when I actually ate a small piece of ... I can't even say it. And how about all of those imported toys from China that we put in our mouths time and time again and - so far - I haven't had any lasting effects from lead poisoning.

But still - my pledge and responsibility to protect my daughter as best I can is at the forefront of my mind. If that means spending a little bit more money to give her a little more safety or protection, I'll do it. And yes - even before she was born I had a cart cover sitting in her closet, just waiting for her first day sitting in a shopping cart or public high chair. You won't find me buying gLovies, or slapping a Thudguard helmet on her noggin' the minute she starts toddling around (however a helmet for tricycle and bike riding is a completely different story), but I will continue using my cart cover ... and wiping her hands and feet down with HandiWipes after she comes in contact with gross, public surfaces (or people ... another post for another time). Heck - maybe one day I'll get crazy and sit beside her as she fries an egg on the sidewalk. But only after I sweep it and wash it down first. ;)

What are your thoughts? What extremes (or lack of) have you gone to to protect your child?

Monday, July 27, 2009

One Step Ahead

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I have fallen in love with a children's website and I don't feel like I'd be a good mommy if I didn't share it with fellow mommies!

It's called One Step Ahead. It carries so many baby items - and a lot of fun, innovative items that you won't find at your local Babies R Us or Target. So far I've only ordered one item from here - a baby neck rest for Riley - but I was very happy with how quickly the item arrived and I felt the shipping charge was fair. I knew I needed something to keep her chin up when she sleeps in the car - the sight of her head flopping all the way to the side or forward made my own neck hurt - but I wasn't sure where to find it. I saw a picture of a friend's daughter with one on and she introduced me to One Step Ahead.

We have a beach trip coming up in early September and I went to the site today to just browse around at their summer sale items to see if there is anything out there that I "need". Maybe 'need' isn't the right word, but I did find some items that I felt would make the trip a lot easier!
  • Adjustable swim diaper - At the $6.48 sale price, it's cheaper than a pack of Little Swimmers - and much more Earth-friendly!
  • Auto Litter Bag and Organizer - Baby or no baby, I need this! I am a freak about having a clean car, so anything that helps accomplish that is meant for me!
They also have weekly specials that change each Friday - it's like a grab bag on a website and I love checking it out to see what they've put on sale each week.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Current Top Five ...

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I swore that I made a list of the Top Five (or ten, or fifteen ...) baby items that I felt I couldn't live without. However I can't find it now, so maybe I imagined that back in my days of extreme sleep deprivation. So glad I am finally coming out of that fog ...

Anyhow, regardless of the past list (wherever it may be), I have a recent one to make. These are the Top Five baby items that I am using at this point, in no particular order. Without them my life would certainly be more difficult.
  1. Sassy Teething Feeder - This is my 'go-to' item when Riley starts to get a little fussy in between feedings or when she is extra bothered by an incoming tooth. A second one is always tucked in my diaper bag for when we're out and about and I am need of a distraction for her. The mesh bag on the feeder allows you to let your baby gnaw on whole foods that he/she wouldn't otherwise be able to due to choking hazards. I've used it with a frozen piece of banana, carrots, and canteloupe. Riley's current favorite is a good ol' ice cube. The handle has a "chill feature" that allows you to freeze it before use so that whatever you chose to put in the bag will remain cold for a bit. It all locks into place with a childproof lock so you don't have to spend extra time worrying that your baby has gotten it open - we all know that mommies don't have extra time for anything!
  2. Fisher Price Remote Control Video Monitor - Please do not let the '2 star rating' fool you - this is an exceptional product and if you know me very well, you know that I have an extremely high expectation of anything I spend this amount of money on! Kevin actually suggested that we register for a video monitor, but I poo-poo'd it, justifying that while living in a ranch with Riley's room right next to ours, a video was not necessary. I was so wrong. I didn't buy this until Riley was about 6 months old, but have thought at least once a day since how I wish I'd had it from birth on. I no longer risk waking her to take a peek at her - I simply turn on the monitor. With it's night vision, I have no problems seeing her. And the remote control option is incredible. With the push of a button, I can turn on a soothing heartbeat sound, nature sounds, or lullabies. I can even turn on a night light that is on the top of the video camera. When I hear a cry in the night I can see if she is simply crying in her sleep as she shifts positions (as she often does), or if it is the real thing. And especially at this point in the game, I can see if she has decided to stand in her crib but is confused how to get back down. The only thing in the reviews that I will agree with is that the battery life is pretty short, but what do you expect when you have all that power at your fingertips? That is why it comes with a power cord!
  3. LeapFrog Learn and Groove Musical Table - Hands down, Riley's favorite toy at the moment. It has a music mode and an alphabet mode. Two volume settings and not-so-annoying music makes it the perfect toy for me as well. Legs can be removed for floor play or easy transportation in the car. Love, love, love this and am so thankful that my triplet nieces agreed to hand it down to Riley!
  4. Triple Paste - Thanks to my best friend Meagen for sharing this little gem with me. As many of you probably know, teething has the potential to make for some nasty diaper rash. Riley didn't have a single trace of any diaper rash at one diaper change, and at the next one I even felt in pain just by seeing it. I remembered when Meagen's little man Max was teething and she had mentioned some 'miracle cream' to me. This is it. Sure, it is quite a bit more expensive than your typical Desitin ... and comes in a much smaller tube (don't you love how that works?) ... but this time you really do get what you pay for. I'd highly suggest having some on hand.
  5. Chicco Caddy Hook-On Chair - This is why above I said "In no particular order", because this doozy would put up a great fight for the #1 spot. I definitely do not use this every day, but on the occassions when I do use it I am SO thankful for it. I remember opening this at my shower. It wasn't an item on my registry, but from my friend Xanath who is mother to twin 2-year olds (God bless her soul). She swore by this and I must admit - in my mind I thought "I don't think I'll ever use that". Boy was I wrong. I actually keep it in my car. It folds flat, which is perfect for storage. Having it in the car ensures that we have it with us when we decide to head out to eat. I've also used it at my parent's and my friend's houses when we've been there for a meal. It hooks on to any table more securely than you could imagine. And the kicker is that the seat is machine washable - what could be better than that? Seriously. Stop reading. Go buy one of these ... now!!

So there you go - my personal Top Five at the moment. I'd be really curious to hear what YOUR favorite items are right now - care to share?

Mommy Necklaces

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It's ironic that the first time in my life that I am actually growing my hair out is also the first time in my life that I have a 7-month old trying with all her might to pull it all out. If I wasn't so headstrong about finally getting that ponytail I've wanted for years, I'd chop it all off to avoid the tug-of-war sessions Riley has with my head. This happens throughout the day, but most often when rocking her before naps and bedtime.

And then I came across the solution ... Mommy Necklaces.

Several friends had suggested that I become a fan of Mommy Necklaces on Facebook. I didn't know much about them at the time, but obliged. I am thrilled that I did. While I am not a proud owner of a Mommy Necklace yet, I am going to be placing my order very soon. What I love most about these necklaces is that they are made from a home-run business by a stay at home mom who has children's safety at the forefront of her mind when making these. They are made from non-toxic beads and have a clasp on them that allows the child to tug at the necklace and it simply releases at a certain point as opposed to the child pulling so hard that the necklace breaks and beads spray across the room and, potentially, into the mouth of your baby.

So what does this have to do with getting Riley to stop pulling my hair? These necklaces provide the perfect distraction to babies and at no safety risk! Plus they are extremely fashionable! I know that I'd be drawn to them even without a baby! Most of my jewelry has been retired or is only worn on the days that I work, when Riley can't tug or pull at it. Mommy Necklaces are my new-found best friend!

Here is the one I am going to be ordering:
Oh - and the icing on top is the shipping! $0.99 cent shipping regardless of the size of your order! I highly suggest becoming a fan on Facebook - every so often contests are run for fans and you can save, save, save!! Not on Facebook? Check out the Mommy Necklace Blog!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Amazing children's shoes - And a way to win a FREE pair!

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Who doesn't?!

A friend of mine - an AMAZINGLY gifted writer with a wonderful blog, "Life Happens During Naptime" - is having a children's shoe giveaway! The shoes are from See Kai Run. She has done her homework on this one. She has scoured the internet for cute, practical, well-made shoes that would allow for proper foot development - things that are important to ALL of us! The shoes are definitely adorable - my personal favorite pair is "Clara":

You want in on the action, don't you? You can read more details about this giveaway and enter for some chances to win (yes! more than one chance!) by going here! Good luck!