Sunday, December 31, 2017

a look back on 2017

This was a year of milestone birthdays! Here's a look back on our notable moments from 2017:

Top Row (left to right): Mae wearing her adorable Easter dress; celebrating Dad's 60th birthday with a trip to the lake; celebrating Mae's first birthday; and celebrating Mom's 60th birthday

Middle Row: Celebrating Oliver's first birthday; a summertime visit from Aunt Colleen; a trip to the beach to celebrate GranE's 60th birthday; and a mini weekend getaway to celebrate our 5th anniversary

Bottom Row: Mae learning how to "cheers" during an extended weekend visit from GranE; Mae and Oliver on the little car ride at the amusement park; a busy little bee on Halloween, and whispered secrets with Santa!

We finished out the year with a big snowfall! We braved the nasty roads to drive and visit my high school friends and their kids Friday night, and then took Mae out to play in the snow Saturday morning. It took me a little to realize that "NO!!" meant "SNOW!", and that she wasn't just disagreeing with everything I said. It was bitterly cold (and I stupidly didn't pack her new snow suit and boots), so we bundled her up in random accessories and a borrowed coat! At least she stayed toasty warm... even though she looked pretty silly and could hardly move her limbs!

Looking forward to 2018! Should be pretty busy with a new house and the terrible twos... I've heard those are a blast!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

christmases 2 and 3

The holiday festivities continued at my parents house where we celebrated Christmas 2! Friday evening, we went to the annual Christmas show at the symphony and Mae had her first real babysitter.

Saturday morning, we woke up to more presents and Mae really got the hang of opening her gifts. She was very excited to get a little tricycle and her own doll and stroller!

You can see Oliver had a bit of trouble waking up, and Mae was buzzing with excitement so it was hard to get a good photo. Good thing I have a super cute picture of them eating candy canes while we picked out Christmas trees over Thanksgiving!

Shortly after opening gifts, we packed our bags again and boarded a plane to visit Dan's family for Christmas 3! Mae and I both fell asleep shortly after takeoff and we snuggled and snoozed the whole flight. Probably my favorite airplane experience ever. GranE and Batman picked us up from the airport. Mae now knows her grandparents' names. She knows that GranE is *uses index finger to make popping sound with cheek* and Batman is "Bahmah" spoken in a deep, gravelly Christian Bale voice.

Sunday, we went to Christmas Eve mass at a family friend's house and then on to Aunt Ann and Uncle Ed's house for dinner. Mae stayed up late but woke up right on time for Christmas morning! She opened lots of cute clothes and fun toys including a farm set (E-O! E-O!) and a school bus!

After nap time, we went to Aunt Sheila and Uncle Bob's house for dinner. Mae didn't last quite as long as the night before. She was exhausted from all that play time earlier in the day!

After Christmas, we spent a few more days with Dan's family before flying back. We visited Mae's great grandma the day after Christmas and had a tasty but tiring dinner. Mae couldn't sit still after the long car ride so we took turns chasing her around the restaurant in between bites of shrimp. At least we had a nice little visit with Grandma!

On our last day, we took Mae to the Benjamin Franklin Institute where she had fun climbing through the giant heart and watching the ball machine.
During Mae's afternoon nap, Colleen and I went for a short run to the top of the Art Museum steps to do our best Rocky impressions!

We finished out the day with a visit to Dan's parents' brand new home that they just bought last week. We enjoyed a Wawa picnic dinner on the floor, and Mae had fun running through all the open spaces and empty closets.

Lastly, Dan and I woke up to a very nice gift on Christmas... an offer on our house! After a little back-and-forth we've agreed on a price and a plan to close mid-February! Everything is starting to feel a little more real now!

P.S. Mae has very strong opinions about the 10 little monkeys jumping on the bed. If she hears any mention of monkeys, she will insist, "Mo mo' MON-keeeees!" (No more monkeys!), though sometimes she gets stuck in a loop, saying, "Mo mo' mo' mo' mo' mon-keeees!"

P.P.S. Mae's Disney movie obsession has begun, and the lucky winner is "Moana." She can't see an iPhone or a TV remote without begging, "NANA? NANA??" Then she dances her butt off any time the soundtrack plays.

Monday, December 25, 2017

santa! i know him!

Merry Christmas! We celebrated three different Christmases this year, so here's some photos from the first one!

After work on Wednesday, Dan, Mae, and I went to the mall for some last minute shopping and a visit to Santa (or as she calls him, "DaDEE"). I gave Mae a pep talk while we waited in line to meet the man in the big red suit, and she was pretty excited by the time it was her turn. She ran up to Santa with her arms outstretched. She sat on his lap and babbled away, pointing out Mama and Dada and announcing her own name "Mah-eee." When her time was up I asked if she was ready to go and she said, "No no no no no" and tried to stay in his lap. Successful Santa meeting!

Thursday morning, we woke up to find Santa had visited our house early! He must have known we would be traveling on Christmas Day. Mae got a train set from Santa and a play kitchen from us. She ran to her kitchen right away and started cooking: turning on the burners and opening all the cabinets.

Mae also had fun digging through her stocking for goodies like Play-Doh and snack cups. She immediately wanted to open her box of goldfish crackers but I distracted her with raisins instead. She snacked and played all morning until it was time to nap and then drive to my family's house for Christmas 2!

Friday, December 8, 2017

the busiest week

Monday after Thanksgiving, our realtor came by to take a look at our current home and discuss pricing. He had initially mentioned trying to get our house on the market by December 9th, so we were expecting to have 2 extremely busy weeks of cleaning and organizing as we prepared it to sell. We didn't have anything major to do (thank goodness we replaced the run-down vanity in the second bathroom a few months ago!), but we had a ton of work to make everything show-ready. Everything was going well during our chat (price seemed good, marketing plan seemed sufficient, area competition seemed reasonable), until he dropped the bomb on us... "Do you think you can have the house ready by Friday?" Uh... sure! We weren't counting on every minute of those 2 weeks for prep, right?? We can get it all done in 4 nights?

And so began one of the busiest weeks in recent history. We worked every evening from the time Mae went to sleep until we collapsed into our own beds after midnight. We decluttered, rearranged furniture, took down artwork, patched nail holes, cleaned out closets, replaced light bulbs, scrubbed walls and stairs, and repaired cabinets. Dan came home early on Wednesday and we did a year's worth of yard work in one afternoon (mowing, edging, raking, mulching, weeding, and cleaning out the garage). We rented a storage unit and Dan drove back and forth every evening to hide away our excess furniture and off-season clothing.

Even Mae helped out with the preparations. We put her to work mopping the kitchen floor, decorating the moving boxes, and entertaining Charlie while his table was packed away in storage. As soon as she saw the big cardboard boxes on the floor, she ran to the kitchen to get her crayons. The artist cannot resist when a blank canvas presents itself and inspiration strikes!

Thursday evening, we cleaned everything top-to-bottom. Friday morning, I finished spreading mulch and touched up the bathrooms before dashing off for the inspection on our new place and then rushing back to meet the realtor to take photos. I was absurdly proud of how much we accomplished during the week and how pristine everything looked. It will all be worth it if the house sells quickly!

Friday evening, we packed up and drove to my parents' house. Dan and Mae decided to stay with them for the weekend so that our house could be available for showings and an open house. Then Mom, Kelsey, and I met Aunt Ruthann and Erin in Chicago for our girls' weekend. Apparently each of us had a super busy week and we all felt like we had earned a little shopping/indulgence on Saturday! I bought some Christmas gifts and some treats for myself and we enjoyed a tasty dinner at Grand Luxe. Such a nice end to a crazy week!

Monday, November 27, 2017

black friday

Did you get any good Black Friday deals? We bought a house! Long story short, we've been casually keeping an eye on the real estate market around us for a few months and found a home that will give us a bit more space for Mae's ever-expanding toy collection. As such, this post will be short and sweet since we have A LOT to get done this week! (More details on the new house later.)

We spent Thanksgiving with my side of the family this year. Thursday morning, we participated in the Drumstick Dash race. Kelsey and I ran the 4.6 mile course while the rest of the family walked the shorter version. Mae enjoyed the stroller ride, but she is still learning about how important it is to keep your mittens on. She had little finger-cicles by the time the race was over.

Somehow I only managed to take one photo in the evening but I think it accurately captures the chaos of Thanksgiving with 14 adults and 6 kids all together! The family room is covered in toys, Henry is dashing around the kitchen with a xylophone, adults are at the table decorating Christmas ornaments, and Kate and Mae are establishing the perfect symbiotic relationship: Kate gets to push a real live baby in the doll stroller while Mae gets a free ride all over the house!

Friday afternoon I went shopping with Mom and Kelsey, and on Saturday we all went to pick out the family Christmas tree. We came home Saturday evening and spent Sunday cleaning up the house before going to pick out our own little Christmas tree. We might be putting our house on the market this week, but it's not going to stop me from decorating for Christmas!

P.S. Let me know if you're in the market for an adorable 2 bedroom home. Charming! Natural Light! New AC!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

yarny updates

My Breakwater Sweater, which I knit from Madelinetosh sock yarn a couple years ago, has found a new life! After a few washes, the neckline on the sweater started to lose its shape and I wasn't thrilled with the overall "loose" knit of the sweater. I love this yarn so much, I decided to re-knit it into a crew-neck sweater. Because I knit this version much tighter (size 1 needles!), I didn't have enough of the green yarn to finish. I decided to fade the bottom into a different colorway called "Cousteau." The pattern is a basic raglan shape. I didn't really follow any specific instructions, so I included lots of notes on my Ravelry page. I love how this new sweater turned out. It's warm and snuggly, and I love the unique colors!

I also finished knitting a pair of socks from my Jessica's Creations mystery bag from this year's Kentucky Wool Festival. The glittery bits don't show up great in photos, but this yarn is sparkly and speckly and fun! Details of the pattern are on my Ravelry page.

Lastly, I finished another baby blanket in time for my friend Karen's baby shower over the weekend. The pattern is called Babytæppe med trekanter, which I think is Danish for "Baby Blanket with Triangles." Google did a pretty good job translating the page for me, but I mostly followed the charts for this very simple and easy-to-memorize pattern. The yarn is new-to-me Cascade Yarns Anchor Bay in Dusky Teal, which is a DK wool-cotton blend (my favorite fiber blend for baby blankets). It turned out warm and soft with wonderful drape. Hope it keeps the new baby warm and comfy when he arrives! Details on my Ravelry page.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

chevron bettine dress

I made another dress! This pattern is the Bettine dress by Tilly and the Buttons, and the fabric is a printed rayon challis. I made a size 3 in the top and graded to a size 4 in the waist and hips. I also modified the skirt slightly, drawing the side seams straight down from the hips and adding a lining. I wanted this dress to work with tights so I can wear it through the fall. Lining will prevent the dress from sticking to the tights.

cozy birdhouse | chevron bettine dress

I made a few small modifications to the sleeves. I understitched the dress at the cuff and also rotated the cuff so the seam lined up with the underarm seam. Then I stitched-in-the-ditch to secure the cuff instead of hand stitching (I haaaate hand stitching). I added interfacing to the cuffs and tabs, since this fabric is very flowy and I wanted a bit more structure at the arms. I also added a strip of interfacing to the pocket facing on the skirt to add a bit more reinforcement to that seam. I applied the interfacing to the fabric before cutting to make it easier to deal with the small, shifty pieces. You can sort-of see the cuff tabs in this photo though they are somewhat camouflaged by the crazy print.

cozy birdhouse | chevron bettine dress

I'm not quite as obsessed with dress pockets as the rest of the universe, but they are pretty handy for carrying my phone. Plus, as a mother, I am morally obligated to be carrying a half-used tissue at all times, with which I will indiscriminately wipe any child's nose that comes within a 4 foot radius of me.

cozy birdhouse | chevron bettine dress

So, there it is... a fun new dress! Hopefully it will get lots of wear this holiday season!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

busy bee

Happy Halloween!

Last year Dan got to pick Mae's costume (and she was the cutest little football ever.) This year I got to choose, so I made her this adorable bumblebee costume!

The romper is the Happy Frog Romper by Puperita which I pieced together with strips of black and yellow poly/cotton blend fabric. I finished the closures with my brand new Kam snaps set. I was looking for an excuse to buy plastic snaps and a snap tool, since they are so useful for baby items! The hat is the Purl Soho sunbonnet without the visor. I added little antennae topped with homemade pom poms. Pom poms are super easy and fun to make!

Mae got to wear her costume several times: to the zoo last weekend, to her day care party this week, to a Halloween party with Ollie on Saturday, and of course while trick-or-treating around our neighborhood!

In preparation for Halloween, we've and been practicing bee sounds. I say, "Bee says Bzzz!" and tickle her belly with my index finger. Now if I ask Mae, "What does a bee say?" she doesn't make any noise but tickles her belly with her finger. I guess we're half way there!

Monday, October 30, 2017

divide and conquer

Dan, Mae, and I each had our own social commitments this past weekend, and each of us spent Saturday in a different city!

Thursday afternoon, we all got together at Mae's day care for her toddler Halloween party. She looked super cute sharing her cup of goldfish crackers with the other little girl buzzing around in a bumblebee costume. Then, Mae and I said "bye byeeee" to Dada and drove to visit my family for the weekend. We arrived just in time for Christopher's birthday dinner. Friday morning we went to the Children's Musem with Mom, Emily, and Oliver. The little ones loved playing in the dinosaur caves and train tunnels (and getting completely soaked at the water table).

Saturday was when things got a little crazy. Dan went to see Penn State play at Ohio State. The loss was heartbreaking, but he had a good time visiting with friends and living the college kid party life for one night. I drove to Notre Dame with Mom, Dad, and Kevin to see the game against NC State. We froze our tushies off tailgating in the misty rain, but we witnessed a good game and stayed pretty warm in the stadium. My tickets were in row 6 of the end zone, so we were protected from the wind (and enjoyed an interesting view of the field).

Mom finished chemo a few weeks ago and had her surgery on Monday, so she was moving a little slower than usual. Since she's usually operating at a super-human pace, this just means she's acting like a normal person now and has to take (gasp) breaks during the day. She still managed to prepare tailgate food for 20+ people, hang out in the cold weather for 8 hours, and stay awake with me the whole drive home!

Mae spent Saturday with Christopher, Emily, and Oliver. They had a blast playing with Oliver's cozy coupe and play-kitchen, getting lunch at McDonald's, and going to a Halloween party in the evening! The babies looked suuuuper cute in their costumes. Mae's bee costume even sort-of coordinated with their Pooh, Tigger, and Christopher Robin costumes. (Pooh bear, honey, bees... it's a bit of a stretch but I think it works).

We got home pretty late from the football game, but I stayed up to wait for Christopher and Emily to drop off Mae on their way home from the party. It felt so funny to wait up for my kid to come home from a party, even though my kid is a 17-month-old! I'm so thankful that Christopher and Emily agreed to watch her all day and that she had such a fun time playing with her cousin! She has been asking for "Ah-yee" (Ollie) frequently since the weekend. Sunday afternoon, we drove home where Dada greeted us at the door and received a big, smiley hug from Mae. We are happy to be all back together again!

Friday, October 20, 2017

fall fun

We had a few fun-filled fall days last week! Friday evening we went to dinner at Ben and Jen's house for some baby playtime and a tasty dinner of pot roast and apple crisp (excellent fall food combo). Saturday we went to a local farm for the usual autumn festivities: pumpkin patch, corn maze, and of course donuts and apple butter! First, we had to take the requisite "baby surrounded by pumpkins" photos.

Mae just wasn't herself during the morning, but she perked up while were exploring the corn maze and while riding on my lap in the barrel train. We also played in a sand pit, walked through some tunnels, and checked out the petting zoo. Mae enjoyed grunting at the noisy pigs but was verrrry unsure about the big, strutting turkey.

While we selected a tiny pumpkin for Mae to decorate, she was much more interested in trying out the big rocking chairs and playing hide-and-seek in the pumpkin pricing board. (Holy moley - She's only $16!)

On Sunday, my whole family came to visit for a trip to the amusement park. We alternated between roller coasters and stroller pushing. It threatened to rain the whole day, but the downpour didn't start until later in the afternoon, so we got to do plenty of rides!

Mae and Oliver were able to ride on a little car track all by themselves. Emily and I were pretty nervous, but both babies stayed put in their seats and loved it! Mae excitedly yells "beep beep!" every time we see a car on our walks, so she was absolutely thrilled to be in her own little vehicle.

Everyone came back to our house when the rain started. Mae and Oliver had fun coloring at her little table. Such a fun weekend!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

she never stops talking

... but we have no idea what she's saying!

Here's a quick update on Mae as she approaches 17 months.

She wears her hair in a palm-tree style ponytail most days, and she thinks it's hilarious every time she reaches up and feels it on the top of her head. She says "no?" to everything, usually in a rapid-fire "no? no? no? no? noooooo." She knows lots of animal noises including cat (meow), dog (ff ff), penguin (aa!), lion/tiger/bear (rarrrrr), owl (whoooo), and monkey (ooh-ooh-aah-aah, and sometimes ooh-aah-ooh-aah or aah-ooh-ooh-aah). She says "hi" and "bye" and blows kisses like it's her job. She likes to look at her picture book of family members and knows cousin Ollie (Ah-yee) by name. She loves hiding in her closet and squealing with excitement when she pops out. She brushes her own teeth (not very thoroughly, but these are the practice teeth anyways). She gives hugs generously to her grandmas and her day care teachers.

She tells us that she wants to go outside by yelling "BUBBOOOO" and pointing at the bottle of bubbles. She loves playing in her sandbox, going down slides, and riding her little bike (bi! bi! bi!). She just got her second pair of shoes (shhh's) and has mostly adjusted to walking in the bigger size. She likes to spin around in circles until she gets dizzy and tips over. She was on the receiving and giving end of toddler bite incidents at day care. (I don't know if it was with the same kid; when do babies learn about revenge?) She is obsessed with coloring at her little table and loves to tell Dada about her day when he gets home from work.

She is tall and skinny and rocking this adorable hand-knitted dress from Kathy. I love the ombre effect of the yarn (I think it is a Wonderland Yarns Cheshire Cat mini-skein set).

Mae, you are chatty and adventurous and endlessly silly. We love you, sweet pea!