Toddler

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When I first started this blog, I named it “Next Life Chapter” because I was starting the new chapter of motherhood. Plus, I liked that the blog could grow with me. There will always be a next chapter.

I started a new chapter in January with the birth of Juniper, our second daughter. However, that chapter will be titled “The fourth trimester,” and it will be superseded by another exciting new chapter that’s about to begin.

Philly LOVE necklace  |  nextlifechapter.com

I gifted myself this special “LOVE” necklace as we prepare to leave the City of Brotherly Love.

Tim and I have been thinking about moving to Tallahassee, Florida for a while now. Tim’s parents are there, and with the arrival of Juniper we’ve dreamed of being closer to family. It’s a huge decision, but we are officially moving! I have accepted a Communications Coordinator position at Florida State University, and Tim is interviewing as well.

We told Adelaide last week, and she seems excited. Since I’ve accepted a new position, things are happening fast! The idea of moving to Florida has always been just that, an idea. It’s all happening much more quickly than I imagined. I’ll be starting my new job on May 8, so we’ll be leaving Philly on May 2. I’ll still be returning from maternity leave next Monday and working for two weeks. My official last day at work is Friday, April 24. Then, we’ll have a final week at home before heading out. (I’m flying down with the girls this time. We drove down when we went to Tallahassee to interview, and I don’t want to make that road trip again anytime soon.)

There’s so much to do and sort and pack. I go back and forth between feeling excited and feeling overwhelmed and sad about leaving. I’m going to miss my Philly friends immensely, and I feel dumb/scared/crazy for quitting a job that’s been good to me for the last seven and a half years. I know part of it is just the fear of the unknown. I’m comfortable in my job here and at a time when I’m trying to navigate the waters of being a new mom of two, starting from scratch somewhere else is a lot to bite off all at once. I’ll miss being so close to NYC (although we don’t take advantage of it as much as I’d like), and I’ll miss all the culture and opportunity that comes with living in a large city. Tallahassee does have a better cost of living, but it’s not THAT much better.

It’s all so bittersweet. I have to remind myself why we’re doing all this, and there are a lot of factors. One being that Adelaide will start Kindergarten next year–what!?!–and the Philly public schools (at least in the neighborhoods we can afford) are struggling. Plus, putting two kids in daycare is ridiculous. Tim’s parents are going to watch June this summer and then there’s the possibility they will continue to watch her two days a week into the fall and winter. It’s also going to be nice to have a free babysitter once in a while when Tim and I just need a date night. I think this will be really good for our marriage as well as our girls growing up near some of their extended family. Hopefully not having to travel to Tallahassee will allow us to visit my side of the family in Illinois more often–or *gasp* dare I say, take a vacation that doesn’t involve visiting family.

Overall, I know it’s a good move for our new family of four to be closer to Tim’s parents (they’re newly retired and ready to help), and the sunshine won’t hurt either.

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Adelaide says…

“Mom, why you not happy?” Adelaide asked as we ate lunch and listened to her new Frozen soundtrack.

I wasn’t not happy, but I was feeling exhausted and just trying to make it through the next 30 minutes until her nap. “I’m not unhappy,” I said. “I’m just not smiling right now.”

“You need to smile when I’m talking to you.” she said.

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As promised in yesterday’s gender reveal post, here is the video of us telling Adelaide she’s going to be a big sister. As a child in the two-year-old room at school, Adelaide started to notice that all of her friends were “getting babies.” I had noticed it too. One-by-one nearly all the moms in Adelaide’s class started showing increasingly big bellies. One-by-one they started bringing babies home from the hospital.

“I want a baby Silas like Gwen,” Adelaide told us one day. She called her baby doll Silas when playing with him. At this point we were already trying, and I told her, “We’ll have to talk to Daddy about it.”

Then, a several weeks later when Colin’s mom delivered a baby girl, she told us she wanted a girl baby like Colin. We already knew we were pregnant by this point, but we didn’t yet know the sex and we hadn’t shared any of the news with her (although I did make her pose for pictures holding up my positive pregnancy tests–she had no idea).

“When you get a baby you don’t get to pick whether it’s a girl baby or a boy baby,” I explained to her while walking home from school one day. “Having a boy baby would be fun too.”

“No. I want a girl baby like Colin,” she said.

“Well, Silas is a boy baby and Gwen loves her baby brother. If we get a baby we will love the baby if it’s a girl or it’s a boy.”

I don’t think I convinced her. We decided to wait and tell Adelaide our good news until after we saw and heard the heartbeat, after the genetics testing came back okay. We told her just a couple of days before our wedding anniversary where we opened the card that revealed the baby’s sex. We tried to control Adelaide’s expectations and since she has no concept of time, we told her the baby wasn’t going to come for a long time. The baby still had a lot of growing to do, and it wouldn’t come until after Christmas, when it got cold.

Big Sister Announcement from nextlifechapter on Vimeo.

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instagramI just finished a fun “Bloggers Get Social” Instagram challenge. (Find me on Instagram @nextlifechapter.) It was a lot of fun trying to create or find a photo to represent the daily prompt. They’re doing another one for November, but I’ve decided to sit this one out. Instead, I’m going to try a blogging challenge.

The goal is to post every day this month, but I’m realistic enough to realize  that may be a little too ambitious. However, we have a new baby coming soon, Adelaide is now 3.25 years old and there are SO many things I’ve been meaning to write about–so many things I want to record before moving into our next life chapter. So, please consider subscribing to the blog, or follow me on Facebook or Twitter for new post updates. I’d like for this to be a place of conversation, so please feel free to comment, ask questions etc… I read every single comment and appreciate them all.

Happy November!

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3rd birthday_cake_wm

Since Adelaide’s 2nd birthday party was such a success last year, we decided to host a similar party this year. Again we had it at Herron Spray Park in South Philly. Again we had it in the morning and promised fruit and cake. Again we invited her friends from school and our friends with kids around the same age.

However, I wanted to mix it up a little bit and not have the exact same party as last year. Adelaide still adores Elmo and the Sesame Street characters, but we were looking for something new as far as balloons, cake, plates, napkins and party favors. Last year we got our cake at BJs, so I went there and looked through their book of cake specialty designs looking for inspiration. I thought maybe we could do a generic zoo theme since Adelaide likes animals and we have a zoo membership. I showed the cake to Adelaide and she seemed more interested in the farm cake. Call me crazy, but as a girl who lives in the concrete jungle of South Philadelphia, I thought a farm theme at the spray park would be a little difficult to pull off. Or maybe the Central Illinois girl in me, the one who grew up in surrounded by real farmers (although my parents weren’t farmers themselves), just couldn’t take the idea seriously.

Adelaide watches two TV shows other than Sesame Street, so I thought it would be fun to do Daniel Tiger or Curious George as themes. I searched online and only found party supplies for Curious George. I mentioned the idea to Adelaide and she seemed really excited about it, so the decision was made. When I finally got around to visiting Party City to get said party supplies (which I saw on the website), I was told they had been discontinued and were only available online. Still, Adelaide was pretty set on having a “George party,” so I thought I could still scrape something together with limited time and my Amazon Prime account. I visited Pinterest, but decided I didn’t want to put in the work of doing too many DIY craft projects. My parents were driving in from Illinois, and I wanted to spend time with them and feel as relaxed as possible. I didn’t want to stay up late the night before putting finishing touches on the goodie bags (like I did last year). Plus, I was just coming out of the first trimester of my current pregnancy and I just didn’t have the energy.

The morning of the party, the sky looked like it could rain, but the local weather guy said it wouldn’t rain until afternoon (I’m looking at you Tedd Florendo.) Of course, shortly after we got our tent set up at the park, it started to pour. My cell phone immediately lit up with text messages. “Are we still meeting at the park?”  “What’s the plan B?”

I started to have a panic attack. Yes, we’re meeting at the park. We’re already here and set up. I don’t have a plan B! I could blame it on pregnancy hormones, but it took all my strength to not break into tears. I I tried to hold it together for Adelaide’s sake. I didn’t want to cry in front of her and have her get upset too. My brain raced for a plan B. Where else could we go? What else could we do?

Our house was a mess. My parents were in town from Illinois and staying with us for the week. Their suitcases were strewn throughout the living room and the kitchen was a mess. I thought we could go back to the house and throw all their stuff in the basement and have the party at our place. But our place was too small to house so many people–that’s one of the reasons we decided to have it at the Spray Park in the first place.

I thought about postponing it. We couldn’t do it the following day because Tim was supposed to be in a craft fair. He needed the tent and I wouldn’t want him to miss the party. Maybe we could do it the following weekend? But my parents would miss it and the cake and all the fruit wouldn’t last that long. My dad checked the Doppler radar on his phone. The party went so smoothly last year, and I had visions of no one coming to Adelaide’s party. Not one kid.

But, it looked like the rain was passing. It started to let up and I sent out text messages and emails saying we were still a go. That we were at the park and and it looked as if the rain was passing. I told everyone that we had a tent if it started to rain again. I mean, we were at a spray park–the kids were coming to get wet, so it should be fine, right?

I got texts that people were on their way, that a little rain never stopped them. Then, they slowly started to arrive and I realized that people really were coming (I was seriously worried that we’d have a party with no guests and I was feeling so sad for Adelaide.) Then, another friend appeared.

After the scare and early shower, it ended up being a nice morning. I think there was only one family that decided not to venture out. The kids had a great time and Adelaide had a blast playing with all her friends in the water. I mean, playing in water, eating fruit, drinking juice (a rarity in our house) and eating cake all while surrounded by her best friends–sounds like a pretty great 3rd birthday to me. Thanks to everyone who braved the weather and helped make her day special.

Curious George Birthday  | nextlifechapter.com

Under the tent checking the weather report and waiting for the rain to stop.

Curious George Birthday  |  nextlifechapter.com

Table set up with strawberries, blueberries, melon and of course, cake. Coolers with small water bottles and Honest Kids juice “boxes.” We’re ready for a party!

Curious George Birthday  |  nextlifechapter.com

Party favors (in the blue bowl) are Safari Rubber Duckies. Each child was allowed to pick one to take home. Worked well as a toy to play with in the sprinklers too.

Curious George Birthday  |  nextlifechapter.com

Invitation designed by my husband Tim.

Adelaide says…

A few weeks ago Adelaide refused to give Tim a hug and kiss before bedtime. It was my night to read to her and before going upstairs, she usually says goodnight to Dad and gives him a big hug and kiss. For whatever reason she didn’t want to do it that night, so I took her upstairs to brush her teeth. Afterwards, we were getting dressed for bed when she started whining that she didn’t give Daddy a hug and kiss and that she needed to go back downstairs to do so.

“Why didn’t you give Daddy a hug when we were just down there?” I asked. “He asked you for a hug and you said no.”

“Because I’m a bad guy,” she said without hesitation. “I’m a stranger.”

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end of summer 2014_watermarkSummer is coming to a close. Can you believe it? Back in early June, when I was in early pregnancy, I wished the summer away. I felt nauseated all day every day and looked forward to the second trimester of more energy and just all around feeling better. We don’t have central air conditioning, and I dreamed of the cooler fall days.

Fortunately, this summer hasn’t been extremely oppressive. That’s not to say we didn’t have our fair share of hot days. Still, thinking back to the awful heat waves of last summer, where we holed up in our bedroom in the cool of the window unit, this summer was no comparison.

I guess I got my wish because June, July and August have flown by. It was filled with a lot of family fun–a visit from my in-laws in early June, my parents visited for Adelaide’s birthday in late July, and my sister was here to help celebrate my birthday two weeks ago.

I’m now 21-weeks pregnant, over half-way through my pregnancy, and returning to the “real world” of 5-day work weeks and a “normal” schedule.

From a blogging perspective, I have several things I’d like to share here. I want to write about Adelaide’s 3rd birthday party, her first trip to Sesame Place, our new baby’s gender reveal (!), Adelaide’s potty training in one very long week back in April, and my feelings coping with this new pregnancy after two miscarriages. I want to write about my over-night birthday trip to NYC to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch staring Neil Patrick Harris, and our beautiful experience at Diner en Blanc Philadelphia. I want to write about my experiences at Blogger Bash–an amazing conference I attended in NYC in June where I learned about new toys coming out this fall, won an amazing Joovy double stroller and got to meet other blogging moms.

I don’t know that September will necessarily bring more writing time in my schedule (I’m scheduled to teach a Continuing Education creative non-fiction course starting at the end of the month), but it may bring more structure that will hopefully be more conducive to writing. Stay tuned!

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Last year Maryam from the blog Hi and Hello surveyed daughter Margaux on a series of questions right around the time of her 2nd birthday. I thought it was cute and wanted to steal the idea for myself last year. But, at age 2, I knew Adelaide wouldn’t be able to answer most of the questions. I figured I would get blank stares, and it wouldn’t make for a very interesting blog post. Fast-forward a year and I dug up the list of questions again. Adelaide is incredibly verbal now, so I knew she’d be able to do it. I thought it would be a fun thing to do each year at her birthday to see how her answers change over the years.

15 questions to ask kids on their birthday  |  nextlifechapter.com

 

Here are Adelaide’s Birthday Questions & Answers at age 3:

  1. What’s your favorite toy?  “Baby” (When I followed up with “which baby?” she replied, “Annie,” as in Raggedy Ann.)
  2. What’s your favorite thing to eat for lunch? “At school?” she asked. “Sandwich–peanut jelly sandwich.” (When I prompted her to follow-up with her favorite thing to eat at home, she said, “For dinner? When I wake up? Banana.”)
  3. What’s your favorite TV show?  “Frozen” (She doesn’t really distinguish between tv and movies at this point, and she just got Frozen for her birthday and saw if for the first time this week.)
  4. Who’s your best friend?  “The reindeer” (meaning Sven, the reindeer from Frozen) When I prompted, “Whose your best friend in real life?” she said, “Sadie” (a friend from school).
  5. What’s your favorite thing to play outside?  “The slide. And the balls.”
  6. What’s your favorite thing at bedtime?  “The book. The doggie one.” (When I asked which doggie one she said, “Go Dogs Go.”)
  7. What’s your favorite food?  “At school, Mommy?” she asked. “Anywhere,” I said. “Orange.”
  8. What’s your favorite song?  “Twinkle Little Star”
  9. What’s your favorite movie?  “George” (meaning the Curious George tv show–see above about not differentiating between tv and movies)
  10. What’s your favorite color?  “Green” (holding up the green crayon that happened to be in her hand at the time)
  11. What’s your favorite fruit?  “Pineapple” (which if funny because up until about 2 weeks ago pineapple was about the only fruit she wouldn’t eat)
  12. What’s your favorite snack?  “Goldfish” (crackers, obviously)
  13. What’s your favorite drink?  “Nilk and water,” she said immediately. “And juice!” (I asked her what kind of juice and she said “fruit juice.” Then she added, “I like grape juice.”)
  14. What’s your favorite holiday?  “Princess”
  15. What do you want to be when you grow up?  “A singer”

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new baby announcement  |  nextlifechapter.comIf you follow me on Instagram or Twitter (or have seen me recently) you’ve already heard the news, but our family is very excited to announce we are expecting a baby in early January, 2015. Adelaide is especially enthusiastic to be a big sister. I don’t think she quite understands how long it is until “after Christmas,” but she knows that baby still has a lot of growing to do inside Mommy’s belly.

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Today is my baby girl’s last day of being two years old. She will never be two years old again and this makes me a little sad. I’m excited for her to be three and all that being a three-year-old brings, but it’s been such a fun age. Adelaide’s language and personality really exploded this year. This girl is a talker! From the moment she wakes up in the morning she is all-go Chatty McChatterson. She loves to put on shows, or put a blanket over head and play “wedding” or “princess” or “superman.” She likes singing the ABCs song, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Baa Baa Black Sheep. She makes up her own songs, too.

She likes to take food orders and go pretend grocery shopping (real grocery shopping isn’t quite as fun, but she’s pretty good at that too, as long as we bring a box of raisins or some other snack). She knows her colors and most of her letters and can count to 15 pretty consistently. Sometimes she can count higher, but the numbers start to get mixed up and repeated (eleventeen is my favorite).

She loves the water and although we don’t get to the beach or the pool very often, she takes advantage whenever she can get the chance. Spraypark is definitely part of her vocabulary.

She often gets phone calls (using our remote controls) from Shrek or Princess Ona (Fiona), or from Mom, Dad or her grandparents. Her favorite shows are Sesame Street, Daniel Tiger and Curious George. Dad sometimes lets her watch Adventure Time although much of it is (thankfully) above her head. She loves books and having us read to her. She likes dancing and twirling and playing catch.

Coloring and drawing in her notepad are other favorite pastimes. She’s recently started drawing people with real faces, complete with two eyes, a nose, mouth, even eyebrows! She is very nurturing and often rocks her baby dolls, Grover etc… in her arms, puts them to bed, plays doctor and gives them medicine and shushes them when they’re crying.

Three years ago at this time I was about to go to bed, having no idea this was “the night.” (You can read Adelaide’s birth story here.) She’s the one who made me a mama, and she’s made me smile each and every day since. I love you, my sweet girl. Happy Birthday!

1st birthday | nextlifechapter.com

First birthday party smash cake.

2nd birthday |  nextlifechapter.com

Second birthday party at the spray park.

3rd birthday | nextlifechapter.com

Yesterday’s third birthday party at the spray park.

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