Second Chance Sunday: London and Natalie

Wow…sometimes you start writing a post and it just never gets published. But it really should have, because it was a gem. This was one of those that I found in my drafts folder.

So I’m having my own version of Throwback Thursday: Second Chance Sunday.

This post featured my “first born”, London, and was originally written back when Natalie was only a few months old:

A lot of people have been asking how the cats are adjusting to the wee princess. Thankfully I can say pretty well on both accounts. London was always a mama’s boy, in my lap at every opportunity. Once my belly got in the way he begrudgingly sought solace in daddy’s lap instead, and still has to for the most part. He does look for every chance to steal the lap or even share it with Natalie. It’s a very competitive relationship.

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Today I snuck into Natalie’s room to take some pictures while she napped, and London decided he couldn’t just let her be the center of attention.

So first he showed off by nailing the high jump into the crib.

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Then he checked to make sure he had good light.

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Shook out his fur.

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And posed.

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As a follow up to this post, at 21 months old, Natalie is extremely good with animals of all kinds, and I attribute that to learning with the cats. From the get go we taught her to be gentle, and nice, and to not play with their faces. I’ve only had to remind her a handful of times about not grabbing the tail. “Kitty” was one of her first words, and she loves her big brothers. London will allow her to pet him as long as she’s slow, but Malcolm will still dart away rather than risk it. Eventually he’ll realize she’s another source of scritches and wise up.

London has a nasty habit of scratching our door jambs, and Natalie has picked up on our reprimands of him. She’s taken to admonishing him with a “London, no!” if she thinks he’s up to no good…which is 75% of the time. The other day she scolded him for knocking a tape measure off the bookshelf, then discovered that he wanted to chase it and began wiggling it like a wand for him. This only furthers London’s disillusion that I gave birth to Natalie only so he could have a devoted playmate and petter.

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Ten Months

Oh my beautiful girl. I don’t know how, but we’re already at ten months together as a family. And each day is interesting.

You’ve sprouted eight teeth, and we have a feeling your one-year molars may make an early appearance. But it makes meal time fun! You’re already eating table food (in a sauceless, saltless form) and you are most definitely a carnivore. You love chicken and pork, and you enjoy broccoli, sweet potatoes, green beans, and carrots. Thanks to you, I’m making healthier meals.

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While you tend to jump from toy to toy with little interest, you are fascinated by books. You’ll sit in my lap and make me read Are You My Mother? or Is Your Mama a Llama? or your alphabet book over and over and over.

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You are into EVERYTHING! While you don’t make many attempts at walking (you will take steps with us holding your hands), you are constantly pulling yourself up, opening cabinets and doors, pulling clothes out of drawers, and dashing about on all fours. Typically you want to get at or into the stuff you shouldn’t have. We’ve been going to play groups, and I’ve got the downstairs set up for my daycare licensing visit, and you love being able to go nuts in those spaces.

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You are definitely pushing your boundaries. You’ll pitch little fits if we take the remote or phone out of your hands, and the biting is back. But unlike last time when you’d fuss when I’d sit you down and tell you “No Biting”, you now give me a sly smile, shake your head and dive right back in. I’m not sure what we’re going to do with you. We’ve also entered a clingy phase. You want nothing to do with playing unless you’re in mama’s lap, and while you’re still very social, you’ll lunge from person to person until you’re back in my arms. Tricky little bugger. This photo session was particularly difficult since you’d fuss and crawl into my lap every time I tried sitting you down.

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You’ve been fighting a cold for the past month or so, ever since the season’s changed. Runny nose, congestion, cough, it hasn’t been pretty. We’ve been doing our best to run the humidifier and air purifier at nights to try and help. But, knock on wood, no ear infections or medications needed yet.

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You are getting such a personality, I love it. Words I’d currently use to describe you are: spunky, mischievous, dramatic, inquisitive and loveable. You love animals, and strangely enough, you are drawn to chickens! You’ve been to a petting zoo a couple of times, and the chickens and turkeys always get you the most excited.

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You’ve got my nose crinkle, and when you smile, your whole face absolutely lights up. Particularly when Daddy or I walk into a room. We’ve had to have family watch you a lot lately since Daddy had to step into a role in my play, and I feel so guilty. But it heals my heart a little when I see you beam at me as soon as I walk in the door.

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New things we’ve learned: kisses, clapping, ‘Mama’ and ‘Dada’ (properly), how to pet the kitties gently, dancing (you do the cutest little bob up and down), and peek a boo.

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You love to point to things so that we tell you what they are, or take you over to them.

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Apparently technology is for the young. You are drawn to our cell phones, and constantly hang up when we’re talking to Daddy on speakerphone. Grandpa showed us an iPhone app that you absolutely adore. Chippy the Chipmunk will react or sing or even toot depending on where you press. He was the first one you made ‘kisses’ at.

It’s hard to believe you’re getting so big by the day. I see less and less baby in you and more toddler. Slow down sweetie! We’ll be celebrating an entire year pretty soon.

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Leaving on a Jetplane

Another first is coming up for Natalie. On Saturday, she will be taking her first plane ride.

This is my beautiful friend, Diana.

We met during our sophomore year of college and before the year was out I was engaged to Sean and she agreed to be one of my bridesmaids. I guess that’s what happens when you bond over Gilmore Girls and Ben and Jerry’s every Tuesday night. I don’t remember how exactly it started, but we call each other double mint twins.

We must have been prophetic, because Ms. D and her husband are expecting twins! Twin boys to be more specific. So Natalie and I fly out bright and early Saturday to go to her baby shower. It’s strange to think that my own shower was almost a year ago. I’m staring at the little person sitting on the floor next to me, babbling merrily into a yellow triangular block and it makes me so excited for Diana that she’ll have double the pleasure and double the fun very very soon.

But in order to get to my double mint twin’s home in Maryland, Natalie and I must make it through a plane ride. I’m probably way over thinking and over planning, but the way I see it, I’d rather not need what I’ve planned than be caught off guard. Luckily, the flight will only be about an hour and a half.

We will be travelling Jet Blue, an airline I have zero experience with, but have heard good things about, especially when it comes to family travel. The price was right, and their website was very parent friendly. They have a page devoted to travel with kids.

As a lap infant, Natalie is allowed a diaper bag, a car seat, and a stroller. However, since I am travelling alone with her, I will be applying a “less is more” approach. I’ve also purchased the Even More Space option which gives us a seat right in the front with more leg space (read, Natalie can stand to get out some fidgets), and allows for early boarding (earlier than the typical family boarding) so I’m settled with her rather than jostling with the rest of those on board.

My Game Plan:

  • Pack Natalie and my clothes along with the twins’ gifts into a carry-on roller bag
  • Pack diapers, snacks, and toys into Natalie’s diaper bag
  • Check Natalie’s car seat (courtesy for a lap infant) and pack and play (my free checked bag allowance)
  • Use the Moby wrap to wear Natalie – I don’t know if they’ll make me unwrap through security, but I’ll find out I guess (anyone have experience with this at Logan?)
  • Nurse or sippy cup through take off and landing

I’ll follow up after our trip with what worked, what didn’t, and what I’ll do differently next time. In the meantime, have you flown with an infant before? Do you have any tips or tricks?

Seven Months

You are growing by leaps and bounds these days.

You’ve become so interactive, and I love your personality. You’re such a happy girl, though the sweetness is currently replaced by a chew-crazy monster. EVERYTHING goes in your mouth, including mama…we’re trying to teach you that people aren’t for chewing. Nobody likes a biter.

You’ve been having a great time at Grammy’s day care, playing with all your friends. When I drop you off you’re ready to have fun, but you always greet me with the biggest smile at the end of the day. Thank you for making me feel so special.

Your new favorite thing to do is pull yourself up to standing. Sitting isn’t enough for you anymore. We’ll be playing on the floor, and you’ll reach for my hands (which, of course, I’ll give you) and up you go!

But pulling yourself up means you’ve had your share of tumbles too, something I’m learning just comes with the territory.

You are into everything you can get your hands on. You aren’t crawling yet, but you’ll get up on all fours and reach as far as possible with your tiny fingers.

I love to listen to you babble. You’ll test out your whole range, from sweet little “singing” to all out shrieks.

And you’re always so proud of yourself.

Eating is progressing as well. We’ve started giving you puffs that will dissolve in your mouth and you love them! At first you’d get pieces stuck in that awkward spot where you couldn’t swallow it, but it wouldn’t come back forward, but now you are chewing like a pro.

You are such a blessing my darling girl, and your dad and I are so happy to be your parents. It’s hard to think that a year ago you were a bloated belly and still “the peanut”. Our lives have changed so much.

Six Months

My darling Natalie,

I cannot tell you all the ways you’ve changed me in the last 6 months. And can I say how awesome it is that you turned 6 months old on Father’s Day? Seeing your Daddy become, well, a dad, has been one of the most incredible experiences as well.

This month was very strange for us. Your great grandma had a fall over Memorial Day weekend, and can’t live by herself anymore. So with two days notice, you and I packed up and headed to Maine for three weeks. You brought such joy to her, smiling and babbling and giggling as she walked about with her cane.

Thanks to that trip, we celebrated many firsts for you, sadly mostly without Daddy. We went on a picnic to a lighthouse, we went to the beach, and you met a lobster!

You have two teeth, bottom center, and you love to show them off. You jut your chin out a little when you grin and it melts me. I call it your bulldog grin. You also delight in licking and chewing everything, including people.

You sit up like a pro now! I’ve started leaving the car seat in the car when we go shopping and you sit in the carriage seat where you can see everything. You smile at everyone who passes by and dance and babble, and we can’t take two steps without someone proclaiming how beautiful you are. Yesterday we were mobbed by five women just stepping in the door to Wegmans!

Sweet potatoes and avocados are your favorite new foods. We tried applesauce, green beans, and homemade carrots to a less than enthusiastic response (you gagged, spit it all out and wiped your tongue with your bib…can you say drama queen? No? Well, we’ll work on it), but OMG!!!! Avocados and sweet potatoes are the AWESOME!!!!! Like, lick your tray awesome, you can’t get enough.

It won’t be long before you’re mobile. You’ve learned that you can go after things you want by lunging  and grabbing, which makes holding you difficult these days. You’re getting the lifting your chest up with your arms, and pushing with your legs to get your butt in the air, but not at the same time. You look like you’re doing cobra pose from yoga, and downward dog, only using your face instead of your arms.

Animals are cool. We’re working on petting, not grabbing. London’s less than pleased with you. One of these days he’ll learn not to dangle his tail where you can get it.

You’re such an inquisitive and and analytic little girl. You take in every new experience or sensation with a slightly furrowed brow, and you can almost see your brain examining and recording every sense.

Then the object goes in your mouth.

You’re starting to identify me as Mama. You’ll get excited when I come in a room, kinda sorta reach for me, and if someone else is holding you, you always keep an eye on me. What can I say? You know how to make a girl feel special.

I’m starting to miss the new baby phases, but I love the new stuff you’re coming out with! When they say that every phase is special they were right. You get more and more beautiful and spunky by the day, and when you “talk” I want to bottle your sweet voice and preserve it forever.

I love you baby girl with all my heart,

Your Mama

PS: This one was too sweet not to share…

#3 Beach Baby | Summer Bucket List 2012

#3 – take Natalie to the beach

My grandma lives right on the beach up in Maine, where Sean and I vacation every year. This year we’ll be vacationing in August, but God brought Natalie and I up a lot sooner than expected. My grandma fell over Memorial Day weekend, and the time has come that she shouldn’t be alone anymore. Whether that means visiting nurses or she moves into an assisted living home in Massachusetts remains to be seen. For the summer, at least, family members will be taking “shifts” staying with her, making her meals and taking her to exercise classes and church. Yours truly has the first shift.

Natalie and I have been up here since May 28, but the weather’s been so crummy that beach time wasn’t an option. Finally, over the weekend, the sun stuck around and while it wasn’t warm enough to break out the swimsuits, we were able to venture down so Natalie could dip her toes in the ocean and dig them into the sand.

…and so mommy could give the camera a workout (of course).

Five Months

 

“If I could make these moments endless
If I could stop the winds of change
If we just keep our eyes wide open
Then everything would stay the same”

 

– Josh Groban “Awake”

I’m trying desperately to capture every moment of you growing, but with each day I forget how little you really used to be. Thank God I’ve been diligent with this monthly update, last night I sat and flipped through every photo I’d taken of you, and my mind couldn’t wrap around how much you’ve changed in these past 5 months.

It seems like every day you’re learning something new. Grandma gave me a calendar to mark all of your firsts, and this week alone I marked 3 things 3 days in a row. On Sunday you rolled back to front for the first time, on Monday you cut your first tooth (bottom center right with its brother not far behind), and on Tuesday you ate your first rice cereal (and LOVED it!).

You are a Daddy’s girl. If he is in the room you have eyes for no one else. I have never seen you give anyone the attention and constant smile that you give him. I think it makes him feel special, so keep it up.

You’re almost sitting up on your own now. We use your boppy for support, and you’ll sit for a minute sometimes before leaning too far one way and flopping.

You have this grin now that is a mixture of pure joy and mischief. Combine that with your new interest in EVERYTHING, and I have a feeling Daddy and I are going to have our hands full with you.

You are starting to know what you want, primarily with your toys, but also food. You’ll become fixated on something and lunge after it, trying to get your hot little hands on it. You’ll scoot (millimeters, but it’s something) after toys.You polish off your bowl of cereal, grabbing at the spoon, and are antsy for more.

Toes. You have discovered your toes. While I’m changing you or you’re playing on your mat, you’ll reach out and grab them. They’ve almost made it to your mouth a couple times, but you haven’t been able to taste them yet.

We made it through your first cold, and you are such a joy, even through that. You’d be playing away, paying no mind to the hunk of snot dripping from your nose. We used up almost all the grape Boogie Wipes that Aunt Stacey gave me at my shower.

You’ve discovered screeching, which you employ when you’re very excited. Also it starts off the few laughs that we can get out of you. I have to kiss you on your cheeks and zerbit your neck to get them, but I love to hear it.

The biggest news is that we opened our show! This weekend is our closing weekend for A Midsummer Night’s Dream and you have gotten nothing but rave reviews. You have been so good, we still have a little work to do on learning our backstage voice, but when you’re on stage you are all business.

First Bites

 Last week Natalie became terribly interested in everything we were eating and drinking. She’s reached the grabby phase, where she’ll lunge for whatever she wants: the TV remote, a pile of mashed potatoes, a coffee cup…

…oh dear.

Time for the next step, it seemed. Rice cereal.

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After a few uncertain bites…

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…she decided it was the awesomest thing since toes and dove after bite after bite, grabbing for the spoon.

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messy baby face cereal

She finished the whole bowl.

messy baby face cereal

And still squealed for more.

messy tray baby fingers cereal

At this rate I won’t need the “starving kids in Africa” bit.

Three Months

Three months. One quarter of a year. And you’re still perfect.

OK, you’ll always be perfect to Daddy and me, but you really are such a good baby.

You’re always happy and excited, unless you’re hungry or tired. There’s a definite difference between your hungry cry and your tired cry, which makes it very easy for me to decipher.

You’re very social, making friends wherever we go. I wear you most of the time, and you love to face out and see the world go by, and charm every stranger within 10 feet. We get stopped by little old ladies in the grocery store all the time. Everyone just gushes how pretty you are.

Don’t let that go to your head.

The most remarkable thing is that you and I are in a play together! You’ll be making your stage debut as the changeling child in Midsummer Night’s Dream in May. You are so good at rehearsals, I’m bursting with pride every time we leave. Ed (our director) praises you for being off book already, hehe.

You adore your daddy. If he walks by your eyes are glued to him. He makes a clicking noise with his tongue that lights up your whole face. More than once you’ve been a bit cranky, and I’d hand you to him for a moment and you’d calm right down. Sometimes a girl just needs her daddy.

Your motor skills are coming along quite nicely. You love gripping the rings on your play gym, you’re able to hold the rattle briefly, and you’re discovering your feet.

You also have started giving kisses. I’ll put my cheek up to your mouth and you’ll tilt your chin forward and touch your lips to it. It melts my heart. You’re also a little chatterbox these days, working yourself up to an “ah-goo” or a “ma” or an excited squeal.

You LOVE music. We took you to see 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Stageloft, and you were transfixed through the whole thing! You didn’t fuss once, I was so proud!

And like I said earlier, you’re quite the charmer. You’ll sit on my hip, smile at someone so big that it wrinkles your nose, and bury your face into my shoulder.

You’ve found your fist and you think it’s the greatest thing since, well, I guess for you it’s the best thing yet. Overall you’ve gotten so strong, sitting in your Bumpo, sitting on my tummy just holding my hands, and sometimes wanting to stand! You love flying like an airplane, but I have to be careful, because you’ll drool on me when flying!

I looked at the past few months of mini photo shoots that I’ve done with you and I’m amazed how much you’ve already grown! Your eyes are still blue, but we’re starting to see a few hazel/light brown streaks. People will argue over who you look like, but the truth is, you’re a perfect mix of Daddy and me. You’re most certainly our daughter, and most importantly: you look like Natalie Rose!

My First Book Signing Rodeo

While it wasn’t official, I ticked off one of the items on my bucket list. I went to a book signing! It’s been one of those things I’ve always wanted to do, and Thursday night I was able to enjoy the experience with my mom and daughter. Three generations of fun!

It was held in Brookline, with a special presentation at the Coolidge Corner Theatre beforehand.

Oh wait…who was the author, you ask? (As well as a million other passersby whose curiosity was peaked by the long line on the sidewalk)

Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, blogger, photographer, cook, TV personality, and ranch wife extraordinaire.

I don’t know what I expected from the experience, but she delivered.

It was like visiting an old friend. An old friend you wait for two hours in line to see and then when you finally get there she doesn’t even recognize you. But you still hand her your baby and squeeze in for a creeper style picture.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

In person she was exactly who she was online and on her cooking show. She told her story, how she started blogging on a whim, and how her site grew to be what we all know and love today.

She joked, she told stories about Fruit Stripe gum wrappers in her nose and paperclips under her toenails, she sang Everlasting Love.

Yes, every part of that last sentence was true. And we had second row seats for it.

Then came The Wait. We waited in a line that ran up and down the length of the Brookline Booksmith and out onto the sidewalk and around the corner. We started on the sidewalk. Luckily the Princess had slept through the presentation and through a good deal of the outside wait. And luckily times two, it was in the 50s, so we weren’t freezing. I did partake in a latte from one of the many swank coffee shops on Harvard Ave. Yum!

Once inside the store, we did some more waiting. But at least we could see/watch/ogle Ree from where we were standing.

A benefit to having an adorable baby at a book signing? A super sweet store employee offers to let you jump in line. And you do it so your baby is in top form when you hand them to the redhead you watch on the Food Network every Saturday morning.

Natalie was working it in her baby Uggs and tutu pants. She smiled and melted Ree’s heart. She was trying so hard to get us that invite to the ranch.

Then she grabbed her hair.

But I don’t blame her. As you can see, Ree loved her. I blew it when I crowded in for a creeper shot.

It’s obvious this is my first rodeo isn’t it?