Friday, December 1, 2017

November Challenge Day 21 - 30

Day 21:  This was the day I had marked in my planner that we would drive to Pennsylvania after Adam finished classes to get started on our Thanksgiving Break.  However, Dad asked us to push back our trip home due to Mom not feeling well.  We obliged and decided to make the trip home the next morning.  Due to our being in town tonight unexpectedly, Charlotte Annie and I were able to go ahead and join some friends at Light Up Night in the downtown area.  What a sight it was!!  The nutcrackers were out in full display complete with fireworks over the river!  I'm thankful for the local traditions and fun our town is working to continue or establish.  Charlotte and I enjoyed our time with some girlfriends as we watched the dazzling lights and immersed ourselves in holiday hustle and bustle.  We then had a delicious dinner at one of our favorite restaurants:  Texas Roadhouse.  Marita, Charlotte, and I were able to meet up with Adam and chat over dinner.  Such a lovely night!

Day 22:  I'm thankful for a husband who will drive the whole way to my parents' house (it's about a 5 hour drive with no stops) so that I can work on Christmas cards and schoolwork from the front passenger seat. 

Day 23:  Today is Thanksgiving and is my all time favorite holiday.  I love being together with family, the day long prep of food, snuggling on the couch, and watching the children play together as family reunites.  I'm thankful for days like these that allow us to reflect on all we're grateful for and to gather together counting our blessings.  I'm also thankful for pumpkin pie and extra whipped cream on top that I may have had multiple servings of today....ahem.

Day 24:  Today was extra special since I met my new nephew and godson!  Daniel Mark was born two weeks and one day ago on 11/09 and I finally got to hold and meet him!!  He was so tiny and small and so itty bitty cute!  Charlotte loved meeting her newest cousin and excitedly exclaimed, "Baby!  Baby!" which was adorable.  I'm grateful for babies and children who remind us grown ups to slow down and live in the present.  What precious gifts they are!

Day 25:  Adam and I were able to steal away for an hour or so to do some clothes shopping for him during the first part of today.  He will be working in the area schools next semester and given that he had worked from home for so long, his "professional" clothes are limited.  We were able to take advantage of some Black Friday deals a few days late and get him some nice shirts to wear come January.  It was nice to be out and about with just him while Charlotte played with her cousins at her grandparents' house.  Then, this evening, my parents, Adam, Charlotte, and I went to mass and out to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in the Harrisburg area.  It has been probably 8 or 9 years since I last went to Your Place restaurant but my baked supreme chicken nachos were just as good as I remembered!  It was nice to have this one on one time with my parents after having shared them with so many other family members before driving back to Ohio.  Reflecting on how much I enjoy this time with my parents makes me hope that Charlotte Annie feels that way about hanging out with Adam and me as she gets older.  Although a part of me thinks I relish these moments with my parents because as one of many, we all share our parents and it's only human to want to squeeze all the time you can get especially as we all get older and live apart from one another.  Yet, for our Charlotte, she most likely will not have to compete for her Dad's and my attention and will always have it makes me wonder if she will take it for granted or if she will not enjoy it as much as I do being one of four.  In any event, I'm happy to be here for her as her mother and to serve in that capacity the best I can to meet her needs as long as possible.  So, this one ended up being a bit of a rambling reflection but I guess what it all boils down to is that I'm thankful for new chances.  Chances for Adam to start a new career.  The chance for the two of us to spend alone time together.  A chance to try to meet Charlotte's needs to the best of our ability as her parents and to Adam's and my parents for being such terrific role models for us.

Day 26:  This will seem minor but today I'm thankful for our Christmas decorations/traditions especially those grounded in our faith.  I say this as I spent today decorating the tree and putting out the Christmas decorations.  I am also excitedly awaiting the Sacred Sunday mass journal that I will be getting in the mail any day now.  It starts on the first day of Advent and I look forward to this period of preparation and waiting.  I am hopeful that I can work on my prayer life and go a bit deeper with the masses during the upcoming Sundays / Holy Days as we embark on traditions, both new and old, of the upcoming holiday season.

Day 27:  As I oversaw the work meeting with some of the student leaders for Students Serving Moms this afternoon at work, I was overcome by gratitude for them.  Together, as a team, we prepped materials for this week's helper social to be held on campus.  These girls have stepped up all throughout the semester and put their heart and soul into the ministry not only as helpers but as student leaders through representing Students Serving Moms at the Ministry Fair in August, by answering questions/emails and spreading the word about the group on campus, creating crafts and leading volunteer activities at a local nursing home and helping out with the Infant Class at a local Montessori school, and by holding informational sessions and two helper socials this semester.  These student leaders have done so much out of the kindness of their hearts and I'm hopeful they will continue their service through the spring semester!

Day 28:  To be frank, today was super challenging and at times, I found it hard to be grateful.  It was a very very very trying day with Charlotte as many of them have been lately...she has been getting into everything, has tantrums, and has been a force to reckon with (just today alone, I had to vacuum three times to clean messes) all throughout the day.  However, it is in these messy moments of cleaning up the paper shredder contents for the second time or picking up the scattered contents of my planner or finding coffee Keurig pods in the bathtub, that I have the chance to allow God to pour out His graces to help me to make the choice to embrace the chaos rather than to get angry and frustrated.  I am glad Charlotte is learning more about her world in such a hands-on way and know that these days are fleeting.  Yet, when I'm emotionally, mentally, and physically drained it's easy to lose sight of this.  That night, as I walked the neighborhood with a friend for a much needed reprieve, I made the analogy of God pouring out His graces on us when we looked up at the constellation of the Big (or Little?) Dipper.  I'm grateful for the chance to get out in the crisp cool air to look up at the clear night sky with the bright stars and the twinkling festive Christmas lights and decorations that adorn the houses in our neighborhood.  Getting out from these four walls of our home reminded me there is a great big world out there with others facing different (or similar) challenges in their own homes as me yet the world keeps turning.  I am thankful for patience, even when it is nearly nonexistent, and inquisitiveness that emerges in the form of one precious little 20 month old.

Day 29:  Today was SUCH an exciting day!  After a semester of working on Big Books, the students in Content Area Reading put on two Big Book Showcases at the same time!  Four of my students presented at the local Catholic junior high school to 110 7th and 8th graders while 11 plus two students from last year presented their Big Books to local families and small children at the local library.  My advisor from undergrad and professor of some of my classes made the hour's drive to come see us at the library.  It was so wonderful seeing Dr. Klein again especially given that the Big Book project was actually her brainchild!  I learned so much from her as her advisee and student (gulp!) 15 to 17 years ago and it was so surreal to have her there supporting my students and me in this way.  I hope I made her proud as I owe a lot of what I do as a professor to her (and to my other long time mentor:  Dr. Compton down in NC).  Anyhow, I had made a Big Book as a student in one of Dr. Klein's classes, and with my Dad's help one Thanksgiving Break, that I wound up using in so many educational settings beyond graduation!  When I started working at my current job, I leapt at the chance to incorporate this project in one of my classes with some additional components to the project.  Today, however, was a first in that we had the Big Book Showcases off campus.  For years, I had hoped for some kind of way to allow children access to these Big Books as they are just too good to "only" display them during in-class presentations at the end of the semester.  So, last year, I implemented an off campus portion of the assignment in that students had to interact with children or students for an hour in a location of their choosing.  This semester, however, I added the Big Book Showcase as a requirement to the assignment and from the reactions, feedback, and what I observed at both locations, it was a smashing success!  I'm thankful for a community that allows the pre-service teachers to reach out to the children and to showcase all their hard work.  Seeing familiar faces from the past and present at these events was just icing on the cake and I can hardly wait for the in-class presentations next week to see the Big Books in more detail!! ---  Check out this link for some pictures and video of some of the Big Books!

Day 30:  One playdate fell through but another happened unexpectedly today.  I feel really fortunate to live in a community that has such a strong supportive network for families and mothers in particular.  Just look at this precious picture of Charlotte and her friend playing today!

As painful as it is to be surrounded by non only child families and constantly pregnant mamas, I'm trying really hard to embrace the joy and to see the beauty in others' growing families as ours stays the same size.  Daily, I try to figure out the reason why Adam and I would be led here to this corner of the world where we thought we were going to lay some roots and have many children with other like minded practicing Catholic families only to have it not happen the way we had prayed and envisioned it would.  What is the lesson here?  I don't have the answer yet but have come to realize that comparison is the thief of joy as a friend so eloquently said when she dropped off a meal for us in the days following Charlotte's birth.  I will never forget that conversation over the warm roast she had prepared for us in my kitchen.  As I think back on Amy's kind words during those first raw hurting days, I'm (trying to anyway) focusing on all I do have rather than what I perceive that I lack.  So, I'm grateful for the friendship and support of all kinds of folks who help us on the journey whether it be a friend who holds me accountable in getting out of the house and engaging in self-care through walking our neighborhood, a colleague at work who takes the time to help me with a silly dining room table project while working at her second job amidst her own family worries, or a fellow mom who invites me to come meet her at the local park on a whim as her car is in the shop.  I'm so grateful for this village that Adam and I have around us to celebrate with us and to cry with us.  I hope that we can act as supports to others much like they have for us.

And just like that the 30 day Thankful Challenge is over as the clock has struck midnight and it is now December 1st.  I have really appreciated the chance to take the time to thoughtfully go back over each day and to list things/people/objects/events I'm grateful for and to pray more intentionally in thanksgiving and gratitude. I would much rather do this than to to dwell on things I would like to change or improve I think that this calls for more time in reflection and solitude on my part.  As I stated earlier I am really looking forward to experiencing Advent in a whole new way this year.  Therefore, I will be fasting from Facebook over the next couple weeks as I prepare for Christmas with Charlotte, Adam, and other loved ones.  I will probably allow myself some time on Sundays to log in and check the various group pages I'm on but welcome the chance to reclaim some lost time to social media and redirect it to prayer, journaling/blogging (I hope), and being more present.  However, if you have any prayer requests over the upcoming holy Advent season, please comment on this blog post or message me and I'll be sure to add them to my list of prayer intentions.  Pax!!

Monday, November 20, 2017

November Challenge Day 11 - 20

Day 11:  This will sound silly but today I'm happy to have blankets especially the created with love quilts I recently was reunited with that my aunt made for me as a baby.  I had accidentally left the two quilts behind in North Carolina and feared that they were lost forever.  Fortunately, my sister-in-law had packed them up and brought them to PA when they moved into their new home where they were waiting for me when I visited this past September.  I'm thankful for the warmth the quilts provide as the days grow colder and also for the meaning behind them.  Tonight, I went to a surprise baby shower where each person created a quilt square that will be put together in one big quilt to welcome baby Thomas to the world.  What a sentimental gift!!  We also received a couple baby blankets for Charlotte before she was born that we have placed throughout the house.  When I see these blankets made with love, I feel all warm inside as well as outside as they bring heat and warmth.  I'm thankful for those who share their gifts and talents in this way!

Day 12:  My puppies make me smile every day.  Dusty is about to turn 11 next month and it pains me to see his back legs failing him the way they have been lately but he's still the same four month old pup in my mind.  Hershey knows no limits to his boundless energy!  They are always excited to greet us when we come home and lovingly tolerate Charlotte's antics as she is more mobile and loves to throw herself down on them.

Day 13:  After a particularly long day, I could barely stay awake in the chapel during my semi-monthly Adoration hour.  Our little town has three perpetual adoration chapels (that I'm aware of) and it's amazing the number of people who go to holy hour on a regular basis.  These folks challenge me to keep striving to grow in my faith and prayer life and for that I'm grateful.

Day 14: I loooove my Tuesdays and Thursdays away from campus during the school year.  Having this time with the baby is so needed.  I'm so grateful for the kind of job that allows me to make a difference through my job and to be there for my family the way it does.
Isn't my office so cozy?! 

Day 15:  This morning, I participated in an exciting meeting at work.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to be a part of something new and big at work and am excited for the future students that this change will affect (both at the higher ed. level and school-aged children)!!

Day 16:  I'm thankful for my hard working and studious husband.  He is working so hard to meet his goal of becoming a high school history teacher and has had his head buried in the books as he writes end of the semester papers and works on projects.  I look forward to his being able to enjoy some down time over Christmas Break!

Day 17:  Tonight, on a whim, a friend and I were able to take in a musical, "Merry Christmas George Bailey!", that was being performed at work.  Through the kindness and generosity of a colleague, my friend and I were able to obtain tickets to the sold-out show at no cost!  This play is a radio play and the coolest thing about the performance is that it will be broadcast on EWTN over the upcoming holiday season!!

Day 18:  Charlotte and I joined a friend at our local junior high school's production of Mulan, Jr. - a musical adaptation of the Disney film.  Charlotte was fascinated by the singing, props, and action on stage for the first 45 minutes of the show.  Sitting in the auditorium brought back the many long hours of play rehearsal as a student.  How lovely it is to have the arts to escape to when a breather from life and crazy schedules is needed!
Day 19:  This afternoon we held this month's Good Godly Grub.  The gathering of women is different each month as is the theme of the food we bring but I'm thankful for the community and relationship building that occurs with these friends.  Even with life being so busy, we take the time to visit with one another during this monthly potluck and share inspirational stories and events.  I'm thankful for the gift of friendship and food through this monthly get together!
Charlotte Annie fell asleep in mid gesture on Ann's lap! 
Nothing like cuddling on a snowy Sunday afternoon with a sweet friend! 

Day 20:  The dogs woke me early this morning.  At first, I was irritable and grouchy that Dusty Shamrock just had to get me up so early but then when I walked out to the living room and got a peek of the beautiful orange sun that was peeking over the horizon, all of the irritability melted away...I was glad that my little pooch had needed to go outside so that I could sit in the silence and brilliance of that rising sun.  What beauty and splendor surrounds us but how often do we miss it by keeping our eyes shut or downward...may we all embrace our surroundings and look up more often as the holiday seasons approaches!

Friday, November 10, 2017

November Challenge - Days 5 - 10

Day 5:  A few minutes before leaving for work, I grew ill and couldn't leave the house for a few hours.  I'm thankful for a supportive secretary at work who took care of loose ends at work on account of my late start that day.  Wonderful coworkers and, better yet, co-friends are blessings!!

Day 6:  I'm thankful for the sunshine that so brilliantly highlights the beautiful fall foliage!

Day 7:  Today was hard as all the 7ths of the month are anymore.  I'm so thankful for our baby girl and love marking her growth on the monthiversary of her birthday but find that in the late night hours of the 7th, I get a burst of energy and my mind is in overdrive.  In the first several months after Charlotte was born, each Monday night I would be sucked into the memory of how the Monday Charlotte was born ended.  As the 7pm hour approached, I would recall the exam that was so physically painful that then led to the exploratory surgery that would change everything and crush a million hopes and dreams I had for our future family at 10pm.  This day marked 20 months since Charlotte's birthday.  I tried to focus on all the good and Charlotte's growth and milestone moments but as the darkness fell, so did my joy.  Feelings of despair and melancholy began to creep into my mind as I went into overdrive with grading and schoolwork.  At one point during the late night hours, I had a a way I was working so hard, burning the candle at both ends, as if I was trying to avoid the feelings of when I was forced to lie still waiting for the anesthesia to take me away and forget what was about to happen as the start of the hysterectomy surgery began.  I don't intentionally plan on it but it seems on the 7th of each month, I'm busier than ever getting things done and checking off my to-do lists, keep too busy to stop...keep moving so the memories can't catch up...but they're always there and most likely always will be.  I'm grateful for Charlotte Annie today in spite of the polar opposite feelings to the joy I feel when I think of her that also accompany those thoughts.  She's the good that comes with the bad and I'm so glad it isn't all just bad but that we have her in addition to all the pain that I wish I could work/pray/deny/forget away at times.

Day 8:  I'm appreciative of heat.  The days are getting colder and it's feeling a lot like winter with these frosty mornings we're experiencing.  I need to dig out our gloves, hats, and scarves this weekend but as I feel the warm air blowing out of the vents in our cozy little home, I'm thankful for warmth.

Day 9:  My new nephew, Daniel Mark, was born tonight!  I'm thankful my sister-in-law and nephew are healthy!  I can't wait to cuddle and love on that precious baby boy!

Day 10:  Today I'm thankful for our helpers!  From the middle of the day through bedtime, Charlotte was in terrific hands thanks to Students Serving Moms!  She had an early start to the day by going to her last Montessori Baby Class with Adam.  Then she came home and was able to play from 11:30 - 2:30pm with our first helper of the day, Caitlin.  Caitlin is from York and her mother works where I used to work!!  Fridays are my early days which allow me to finish by 2:15pm.  I was able to bring home Gianna and one of her friends who wanted to see what Students Serving Moms was all about which allowed me to get a head start on my to-do list for the weekend.  While the two girls kept Charlotte occupied the next three hours, I was able to pick up three weeks' worth of poop in the yard (as flurries was the first day I saw snow!), take out the trash and recyclables, unload and refill the dishwasher, sweep and mop the dining room, kitchen, and bathroom, dust the furniture, have the laundry folded and sorted, and vacuum!  Adam and I were even able to walk to the local pizzeria and pick up dinner while Gianna and Catherine played with Charlotte in the downstairs living room.  After dinner, it was time to take the girls back to campus and pick up Rachel, a helper who had requested to work with another family while she waits for her assigned family to need her services!  Thanks to Rachel's availability, Adam and I were able to steal away and go to a church downtown for a Latin mass.  That makes two Fridays in a row of having a mini date night with my hubby!  We came home to a coffee table covered with sorted clothes that Charlotte had outgrown ready for me to pack them up by size thanks to Rachel's help!  Yes, I'm so very thankful for the helpers who give of their time and energy to help us tired mamas and kiddos who love playing with new friends!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

November Challenge Days 1 - 4

A few years ago I completed the November Challenge of listing something I was grateful for each day.  I did this a couple years in a row and really appreciated the way it forced me to slow down and count my blessings rather than focus on what I was lacking.  I think we can all, at times, use this as a reminder to be more positive so here comes the 2017 edition!

Day 1:  My parents had come for a visit over the last few days and departed during Trick or Treating last night.  Today I'm thankful for them!  Even though Mom felt like she hadn't been able to help out as much due to a sore arm, they both are such a help just by being there.  Case in point, I had to step out on Halloween Day to go to a meeting at school that afternoon but I was able to do so since they were able to stay home with Charlotte and the three month old baby girl I watch sometimes.  I wish that we didn't have to live so far from either of our families but it makes the visits and time we do have together all the more special!

Day 2:  Since I'm fighting a nagging cough and wheezing I've had since mid-October, on this day I'm thankful for my inhaler and medicine.  Here's to hoping that I'm back to my non-coughing self sooner than later!

Day 3: This is going to sound silly but I'm thankful for new directions.  Today was an extremely busy day, as most of the last two weeks have been, since we're in the throes of advising season at work.  Every minute of each day has been jam packed with advising sessions, meetings, and teaching.  I think that is why I didn't realize the date until pretty late last night.  On this day a decade ago my heart was crushed into a million pieces when a boyfriend I thought I was going to marry broke up with me.  For a couple years, each time November 3rd rolled around, I would feel sad and mourn over what could have been but today, I wrote the date so many times on paperwork and in my students' files without so much as batting an eye since I had completely forgotten the significance that this date used to hold for me.  Life and God have taken me in a completely different and new direction and for that I'm so thankful!

Day 4:  Adam and I went on a date last night!  A friend from church graciously watched Charlotte for a few hours as he and I snuck out to the local Catholic High School where three Christian artists were performing a concert.  I had not heard of any of the three performers but walked away from the event with a new song from each of them.  This morning I'm thankful for praise and worship music that helps me to pray through it all especially when the words won't come...I can still praise God through the lyrics of those who are able to pen such beautiful prayers through their music.  Here are some of my favorite stories and songs from last night:

If I had to pick one from last night, this one would be it.  Enjoy!!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Fall in Love

Tomorrow is the day I thought I would get married.  You see four years ago, on a sunny autumn afternoon much like the ones we have been experiencing lately, Adam and I laid eyes on each other's Catholic Match profiles for the first time. It was lunchtime for me down in North Carolina and he was just getting started with his work day out on the West Coast. By the end of the day, multiple messages had been exchanged and a couple of nights later, we found ourselves face to face via Skype as we began the first of many long from the heart conversations.

As our relationship grew and love began to fill in all the spaces, I remember taking note of that fateful October 21st date. At one point, as we discerned marriage and family plans, I flipped through my phone calendar to see when 10/21 would next fall on a Saturday as a potential wedding date. "Oh my, 2017...I don't know if I can wait that long!" I thought to myself before shrugging it off seeing as we weren't even engaged yet.

Fast forward to the summer that followed that beautiful fall of falling in love with Adam and we were much to my complete surprise engaged!! I had always dreamt of a fall wedding but with having plans to move and start a new job that fall, needing to complete our pre-Cana wedding prep, and our living on opposite ends of the country at the time, it didn't seem prudent to marry within a few months of being engaged yet we didn't want to have a 1.5 year engagement.

So we opted for an early summer wedding in late May. It was a beautiful day and a blessed beginning to our new vocation even if it looked completely different from my dreams of how I had envisioned my wedding to be. However, the truth is - - - it isn't about me. Or the weather or the backdrop of changing colors atop the trees. It is about following God's timing and letting go of how you thought it would all go. If we had done it my way, we would not have had the last 2.5 years of being husband and wife and would not be enjoying our rambunctious toddler of a daughter right now.

Yeah, God knew what He was doing when He threw us together four years ago and led us to be married within 1.5 years.

Marriage is hard. It is humbling. It is redemptive and allows you to forgive and be forgiven. Four short years ago, I was full of hope and optimism for what could be. Now, on the other side, amidst pain and brokenness, I find myself feeling so thankful for my husband all over again for his humor, care, and strength as I work to put myself back together again. Marriage requires sacrifice and patience but is altogether beautiful and committing to make the choice to love each and every day.

May 23rd is our wedding anniversary but I still get my fall "anniversary" with my honey because we celebrate our meeting date each October 21st! This year, we will have to delay that celebration by a day though because one of my best friends from right after college is actually getting married in Pennsylvania tomorrow (!!!) and Adam had to  stay behind in Ohio to do schoolwork. How fun for my mom and me though to be at a wedding on 10/21/17 after all!!

Yes, October 21, 2013 will forever hold a special place in my heart. I can't believe all that has happened over the last four years and pray I can get back to the happy, hopeful, optimistic girl Adam fell in love with in 2013.

I close now with a prayer I stumbled upon from Fr. Arrupe, a Jesuit priest, called "Fall in Love" -

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.
From Finding God in All Things: A Marquette Prayer Book © 2009 Marquette University Press. Used with permission.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Charlotte Ann is 1.5!!

Charlotte Annie turned 18 months old today!!

She is not quite walking independently yet but a few days ago took a few freestanding steps.  I started clapping and cheering as she did this which startled her and ended in her falling down but she got right back up and tried again!  She also has some push toys that help her to work her legs and practice standing and walking. She is really into music and books as well as shape sorters. Traveling-wise, we haven’t officially transferred her out of the carrier but are pretty close to it. She is still scooting and looks like a little hurdler on the ground due to not crawling as of yet. She loves getting into cabinets, closets, and cupboards now (sigh) and turning over the smaller trash cans. When the dishwasher is open, she tries to climb on the door of the dishwasher..! She has also been trying to open toilets too. Just tonight I caught her with her hands in the toilet merrily splashing the water.  It's a good thing that it was bath night! 

She is down to just a bottle in the morning (that she doesn’t always finish) and a nighttime bottle (sometimes requiring a second one). During the day she eats a combination of table food supplemented with the baby food. Recent favorites are grapes, pork, and asparagus (!!!).  We are still working on getting her to drink water and from a sippy cup. She hasn’t shown any interest in juice yet. She usually eats the following: 

breakfast: baby cereal and/or leftovers from the night before if there are any and morning bottle, lunch: fruit, 
afternoon snack: veggies, 
dinner: meat and veggies, 
night time snack: bottle. 

Sometimes we have to “trick” her to eat by giving her Cheerios between bites or mum mum crackers between bites. We’re not really on any sort of schedule with the feeding as we just feed her when she seems hungry. The other day, for instance, she slept in really late because of a late night of teething. So in that case, her breakfast was more like her lunch and then we just go on from there. 😉

Food-wise, she's starting to be more open to eating things that are cold vs. room temperature.  She will eat them once she gets over the temperature if needed. Her bottles don’t have to be totally warm anymore either. I have noticed on play dates and such that she might willingly eat others’ snacks (the other day she happily enjoyed munching on some puffs and almost had a graham cracker from one of the other children) so she may try to “borrow” food from the other kiddos when out and about..hey, sharing is caring!

So far, we’ve not seen any food allergy reactions in her. She says, “yum yum” or “neeyum” for food and milk (we think it’s because we said, “Mmm, it’s yummy, yummy in your tummy! Yum yum yum!” one too many times and now that is what she says for all food). Hehe. She has let us know she is hungry by doing that, whining, or just being fussy in general. If she sees others eating, that sometimes triggers her to want to eat too. She definitely lets us know when she’s done eating by saying no and turning her head away from the food. She is also in the messy eating stage. 😉   

Charlotte LOVES music and books. She sometimes likes being read to (she is growing in this area) but definitely likes flipping through them. She has already gotten her hands on some of the grown up books and torn them (oopsie).   She has become quite the expert at pulling things out of bags, off desks, out of boxes, stuffing things where they don't belong, flipping over the dog water bowl, sneaking bites of dog food, rummaging through the recyclable bins, climbing on chairs and changing beds, and loves to snuggle with a pile of pillows.  At the end of the summer, she started showing an interest in her dolls and likes to twirl them in the air and make them dance.  

In Adam's words, "she mostly faceplants", when she can no longer stay awake! I have tried to put her down in her crib during the day, or the pack and play, but she cries and fusses so will usually just play until she drops. She is somewhat unpredictable with the napping...the other day she squeezed out a half hour nap (again face first on the floor of the office after falling asleep on Adam) but yesterday didn't nap at all. So, really, it's anyone's guess what she will do regarding napping on a daily basis. She loves to be around people and at times will sit and just take things in observing her surroundings before starting to play with others or experiment with the toys.  🙂 However, when she's ready to conk out, sometimes she will come over and stand between our knees, put her head down on our lap, and say, "Marmie" or "Mayme"....I thought that was her word for me but then I noticed she says it to Adam too. He thinks she is saying, "Me, Me, it's about Me" when she does that. Who knows?! 

She hasn’t been doing real well with using the spoon (so at this point, I let her “feed” herself with the spoon on bath nights) since she usually ends up “decorating the dining room and herself” with her food. She sometimes eats more if I put the food on the tray of the high chair and she eats with her fingers/hands or if I sit on the floor with her and the pups and feed her that way.

On some days, she eats a lot with a full cup being eaten during a meal then other days, the same cup is spaced out over a couple sittings. She really loves eating the snacky types of food that we try to limit or use to “trick” her to eat the other food too (e.g., cheerios, teether wafers, puffs) but if she sees those items at the same time as the other food, she sometimes gets a one track mind and will only take the snack type of food. Just the other evening, she was more interested in eating my salad and then dipping her lettuce and tomato pieces into her baby food as if it were a type of sauce. As for the sippy cups…she occasionally will drink from them. I’ve tried different kinds of juice, pedialyte, water, and even milk in them but she doesn’t really show an interest. Yet, she loves sharing smoothies with us. The other morning, she drank a spinach, kale, tomato, fruit medley, and almond milk blend out of my glass during breakfast….go figure!!! 

She is able to independently feed herself using the baby food pouches but sometimes, toward the end, she starts “playing” with the pouch and might squirt the food out on the floor!!! She also sometimes grows frustrated when she’s about halfway or ¾ of the way through the pouch and needs another squeeze for the remainder of the food to come out…so she is semi-independent in eating those pouches of food I suppose!  

A recent highlight for Charlotte this past summer was that she saw the Pacific Ocean (for the first time), the Atlantic Ocean, and Lake Erie (for the first time) in the span of three weeks!  That girl has got quite the impressive log of miles in terms of travel!  

Charlotte talks up a storm with her dad and me yet can be quiet and a bit reserved when she is with others.  She loves to wave byebye and says, "Hi-low" for "Hello".  It's the cutest thing!!  She also blows kisses and is very expressive with her feelings.  All of them.  I do love hearing her little voice and watching her facial expressions as she continues to communicate with us and bits and pieces of her personality emerge daily. 
She loves playing in the living room with her toys, reading her books in the St. Francis room, and loves to dance to music (especially when Dada is playing his piano downstairs).  Charlotte loves to pretend she is on the phone (she consistently turns the "phone" backwards as she holds it up to her ear though), is starting to get into her stuffed animals/dolls (especially the dolly from Dan & Sue and the ballerina from another family friend).  She is usually gentle with the pups and loves to pat, kiss, lay on, and hug Hershey & Dusty Shamrock.  She recently started saying, "Baby", but I don't know if she has made the connection to that word when she sees a live baby!  Doggies are definitely one of her favorite things as she is always pointing them out (even on TV) and even calls the cat across the street puppy.  She still loves bath time and enjoys going to the playground. 

Charlotte usually sleeps well during the night unless she is teething.  She usually goes to bed between 8:30 and 9pm and wakes between 9 and 10am when we don't have to go to school.  The last couple of nights have been pretty rough due to teething with being up with her from 2:30 - 4am.  In spite of these late night adventures, she is pretty even keeled and adaptable.  It's hard to believe it's been half a year since Charlotte turned 1!  What an adventure it's been on this parenting journey with Charlotte Annie.  We're so glad that we are walking this path with her!!

You are always searching and watching what's going on around you sweet girl.  Keep being filled with wonder and awed by the beauty that surrounds you for it is all such a precious gift as you are to those who love you Charlotte Annie!


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

All Wrapped Up....with a bow on top too!

A year's worth of work was realized last night when I logged in to my school email last night. Yesterday was a crazy hectic busy day (in spite of it being Labor Day) that involved teaching three of my classes, working with six or seven students throughout the day, and making a quick trip to Aunt Marie and Uncle Bill's for a cookout after work.

By the time Charlotte was bathed, fed, and put down for the night upon our return to Ohio, I tiredly logged in to my school account before heading to bed myself.  I was pleasantly surprised to receive the news that a project I had worked on over the last academic year had been completed. Here is the link to my latest endeavor!

Many thanks to those who contributed to the chapter and also for the support! The PhD student inside is totally geeking out over being listed in the same resource as one of my research rock stars! ;}  Happy reading!

Reister, M.  (2017). Career development and adult life. In S. Lenihan (Ed.), Preparing to teach, committing to learn: An introduction to educating children who are deaf/hard of hearing (14). EHDI Learning Center. Retrieved from