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Beach Day | nextlifechapter.comYesterday was a great day and worthy of note. We decided to spend the day at the beach and Tim insisted we drive a little further to the “real Florida beach” at St. George Island. I’m not sure it was worth the extra 45-minute drive, but the sand dunes were lovely and the beach accommodations were better than those at Bald Point.

We bought boiled peanuts along the side of the road on our way out (a true Southern treat…salty and soft like beans, not crunchy like roasted peanuts). We did get some rain and even had to eat our lunch in the van due to a passing storm, but in true Florida style, the bad weather passed quickly. It was a fun afternoon of jumping in the waves with Adelaide, playing in the sand, and resting in the shade of the beach umbrella while June napped on my belly.

On the way home, we hoped for good seafood and chance found us at the Seineyard Seafood Restaurant where we had a delicious meal and super-friendly service. (Tim can convince me to go to St. George Island any time if we can stop there on the way back.)

But what made the day truly remarkable was what happened the night before we went to the beach. For the second night in a row, June slept seven hours straight, in her crib in the room she and Adelaide share. It may not sound like much, but we haven’t had many nights like that since moving to Florida.

And–this is the biggie–Adelaide went to bed and slept the entire night without her pacifier. Aside from perhaps a few weeks of infanthood, this was the first night of her four years of life without a paci. This is a big, big deal in our house and for Adelaide. We have attempted to wean her from the paci several times in the past. “But I love it,” she once told me, such a sincere, yet sad plea.

When June was born, we decided to pick our battles and let it go. She only used the paci when she slept at night and it brought her such comfort that my post-partum self couldn’t emotionally handle the fight. I figured (hoped? prayed?) that she would give it up when she was ready. We did hang the carrot of “an awesome prize” over her head, telling her that she could choose something awesome at the store when she decided to give up her paci forever.

Well, tonight makes the third night in a row that she has gone without. I’m so proud of this young lady before me. I swear she seems to have grown an inch in the last month, and while it’s probably just coincidence, she’s been particularly pout and whine free this last week. My baby is growing up. And maybe, just maybe (knock on wood), I may once again get to regularly have a good night’s sleep.

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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  |


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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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 |

First birthday party smash cake.

2nd birthday |

Second birthday party at the spray park.

3rd birthday |

Yesterday’s third birthday party at the spray park.

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Last week Adelaide and I flew to Texas for a vacation and family reunion. She was super excited to fly in an airplane and see Papa Eugene, Grandma Ruth, Aunt Gina and her cousins. Although this was technically her third trip via plane, she doesn’t remember the other two. So, on Wednesday we flew to Dallas-Fort Worth to see cousins I haven’t seen in over 10 years.

My dad’s brother, his wife and their three kids (and their kids), as well as my dad’s sister and her four kids (and their kids) all live in the DFW area. My sister flew in from L.A.  We flew in from Philly, and my parents and grandpa flew in from Central Illinois. The whole group of us hadn’t been together since my grandma’s funeral in 2003. Even then I remember thinking how much Grandma would have loved to have seen us all together and how it was too bad that it took her death for us all to be willing to make the trip. Since then, there have been several weddings, but it was only death that brought every single one of us together. Until now.

Around Christmas my sister and I were talking about getting together at the end of March when the school she works at was on Spring Break. She wanted to get together somewhere other than where we live–somewhere in between that wasn’t at our parents house in Illinois. She thought, wouldn’t it be fun to fly to Dallas and see our Texas cousins. Mom and Dad and Grandpa could fly down too. Gina thinks it’s pretty wild that we took her crazy idea seriously.

My grandpa got to see all three of his kids, all nine of his grandchildren and all eight of his great-grandchildren in one place. It was a wonderful afternoon with lots of food, good conversation and beautiful weather.

My aunt Debbie brought old photo albums with her, and my cousin Kelly had another crazy idea that we all took seriously. Inspired by Buzzfeed’s 21 Family Photos: Then and Yikes (and others like it), we somehow roped everyone into reenacting several old photos. Some were more successful than others, but they were all a lot of fun. At one point, I looked to my cousins’ spouses lining the back wall, varying degrees of mortified.

“What were you guys thinking?” I asked. “You married into this family–you chose to be part of this. We were just born into it.”

My cousin Natalie’s husband just shook his head and said, “We didn’t know what we were getting into.”


Reenacting family photos  |

This photo was the inspiration for the series. Saturday was my Aunt Debbie’s birthday. This photo was taken on Debbie’s 29th birthday, some XX years earlier.


Reenacting family photos  |

The eight cousins (sorry Jenny, you weren’t born yet). I’m the second from the right.


Reenacting family photos  |

The oldest cousins with their respective siblings on their laps. This one just turned out super weird.


Reenacting family photos  |

Kelly, Natalie and Gina. The ones with the “crazy” ideas.


Everyone was such a good sport (it wouldn’t have worked otherwise). I highly recommend getting out old photo albums and giving it a shot at your next family reunion. It’s a great way to break the ice for people who haven’t seen each other in a long time.

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Last year, on October 1, Adelaide moved out of the infant room at her daycare and into the young toddler’s room, and I blogged about it here.

This year, on Monday, August 26, Adelaide moved out of that young toddler’s room and up to the two-year-old room. I don’t know what she’s going to do without her Kiki and Saddie. (Kiki was her teacher and Saddie is her friend who is a few months younger and not yet moving up). Adelaide talks about “Kiki Saddie” all the time. As if they are one entity. Kiki Saddie. Kiki Saddie.

Adelaide even has a “Saddie shirt.” (It’s actually the t-shirt with the daycare’s logo on it, but Saddie has one too so she calls it her “Saddie shirt.”)  Adelaide also has a Saddie cup. I’m not sure where that even came from because I’ve talked to Saddie’s parents and while Saddie does have sippie cups (don’t they all?) she doesn’t have one like Adelaide’s “Saddie cup.”

I don’t know if Saddie is just an easy name for a toddler to say, or whether this girl has really made that much of an impact on our daughter. All I know is she seems to have Rock Star status at our house.

It’s not as if Adelaide doesn’t know the kids in the two-year-old room. She’s been going to our daycare three-days-a-week since she was 12 weeks old. Most of the other kids in her class were in her toddler room or even her infant room at one point. Our daycare is so small that Adelaide will still see Kiki and Saddie regularly. They all play together in the morning and during pick-up, and they sometimes do other activities together throughout the day. And, with a late October birthday, Saddie will likely be moving up to the two-year-old room later this year.

Although today was day three of being in her new room, Adelaide walked straight into Kiki’s room when she got to school today. Old habits are hard to break, and I don’t think Adelaide quite understands that she’s not in Kiki’s room anymore. While getting dressed this morning and talking about school, it was all “Kiki Saddie.”

To keep the tradition going, here is the new “first day of school” photo from Monday in addition to the photos from the previous two years. It’s so fun to see how much she has grown and changed (and how long her hair has gotten).

First Day of School |

First day of school in the two-year-old room – August 26, 2013

First day of school in the young toddler room - October 1, 2012

First day of school in the young toddler room – October 1, 2012

First Day of School |

First day of school in the infant room – October 20, 2011

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18 months

Two posts in one day? Unthinkable!

I just couldn’t let today pass without noting this sweet lady’s half birthday. I can hardly believe it.

18 months

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I decided to spend the last five days of November recapping the highlights of our fall. (Day 1 and Day 2 if you missed them.) Day 3: Adelaide’s 15-month update. I like having a record of her current milestones, so I can reflect on them later.

Today, Adelaide turns 16 months. I remember several years ago thinking it was strange when parents recited their child’s age in months. Why say “16 months” and not just “a year old”?  Well, it’s now clear that this became the standard because so much happens every month at this age.

At Adelaide’s 15-month doctor’s appointment, she weighed in at 23 lbs, 3.2 oz (75-80th percentile) and was 31.25 in tall (50-75th percentile). She has six teeth (four on top, two on bottom), and has been walking since the week before her 13-month birthday.

At 16 months, Adelaide still takes two naps when she’s at home, but only one at school. I think it’s too loud and there’s just too much going on at school, but she does fine with two naps when home with Tim and when home on the weekends. I think she really still needs two naps because she’s always so cranky and tired when we pick her up from daycare.

Adelaide babbles all day. I wish I had a translator because she seems to speak an entire language. I just can’t understand her. Still, Adelaide doesn’t have many actual English words. She’s developing quickly on this front though. She got two new words in the last week and sometimes she’ll say a word, but I’m not so sure if she understands the meaning. Her first word was dog (dig), but she said it for cat too and just about any animal. She knows “Dada” and “Mom” (still not 100% sure about that one). Her new ones this week are “hi” and “Elmo” (melmo). She says “melmo” for pretty much any cartoonish character, and I’m beginning to think she’s just replaced “dig” with “melmo” since she called Hugo “melmo” this morning. (As a side note, Adelaide has seen a few episodes of Sesame Street, but it kind of freaks me out that she knows that word – I swear we don’t let her watch much TV!).

There are many other words I know she understands, but that she doesn’t say yet. Like when we say, “Where’s your ball?” Adelaide will walk across the room and go get it. I love that it seems to be something new almost every day.

Adelaide has an obsession with paper and tissue. And her new thing last week was to walk around with paper and a pen or pencil. It doesn’t matter if the cap is on the pen, she’ll just sit in her little Cookie Monster chair and pretend to scribble. It cracks me up how much she loves holding a writing utensil and playing with paper. With a dad who’s an artist and a mom who’s a writer, it’s almost as if writing and drawing are in her DNA.

Another developmental stage that isn’t quite as exciting is that Adelaide is totally a Mamma’s girl right now. If I’m home, she wants to be near me. While some days her desire to see me and happiness to be in my arms fills me with warm fuzzies, it can also be exhausting. Some mornings Adelaide cries when I go to work, and although I know she’s fine within minutes after I leave, it doesn’t make getting out of the house any easier. I know it’s just a stage and that one day, it will probably be the opposite; she’ll be a Daddy’s girl who wants nothing to do with Mamma.

Still, I miss the days when she could easily be passed to anyone and be perfectly content. I worry that over the holidays her grandparents and aunts and uncles won’t be able to take advantage of her squishability because she won’t let them hold or hug her. On Christmas Adelaide will be nearly 17 months, so who knows what she’ll be doing or saying by then.

Adelaide has been using the sign for “more” for months. Rather than “more” it usually means “I want.”


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In my previous post, I mentioned the article 10 Great Ways to Be An Unhappy Mom.  Number two on the list is “Compare yourself to other mothers.”  It’s hard not to compare myself to all the mommy bloggers I see online.  So, I’m trying to keep this in mind when I consider Adelaide turns 15 months old today, and I have yet to publish my post for her first birthday. To my credit, I started the post just days after Adelaide’s birthday on July 28, but it took a while to get all the photos together and it’s been sitting in my “draft” box ever since.

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I started brainstorming ideas for Adelaide’s first birthday several months before the event. I knew I wanted to have a party — more for us than for her — but I also knew that with a late-July birthday, it was likely to be hot and humid. My parents were planning to visit Philly and help us celebrate the day, but we don’t have a lot of space at our place. We don’t have central air either. If we wanted to invite a size-able group of people for a party, our house was out. An outdoor party at a park was an option, but not very appealing in the heat and with the possibility of rain.

I asked around and searched online for an inexpensive room we could rent for a few hours. I didn’t have much luck. Places were either more than I wanted to pay or couldn’t have us until “after hours”–not appropriate timing for a one-year-old whose bedtime is 7:30pm. Fortunately, my friend lives in a condo building that has a fantastic community room on the second floor. It was exactly what I needed. A large air-conditioned space easily accessible to public transportation, and it was only $50 for 5 hours. I’m not sure the space is usually open to the public, but since my friend booked the room, it wasn’t a problem at all.

Several weeks later on Facebook I stumbled upon a photo a friend from college posted. It was from a formal party, but he and his wife were hamming it up and holding moustaches on a stick. “I could make those,” I thought to myself as I immediately started Googling “moustache on a stick tutorial” and “moustache party.” Soon, I had a new board on Pinterest dedicated to all the cute party ideas I was finding.  Apparently, moustache’s are really in right now.

Tim was on board with the party theme, and as the designer in the family, he volunteered to create our party invitation.

I used this moustache-on-a-stick tutorial from the blog Simply Modern Mom, and I found this fun recipe for a moustache cake on the blog Paisley Jade. It’s a circle cake that’s cut in half with a swirl, like a yin and yang symbol. Then, one side is flipped upside down to create a somewhat even moustache shape. I iced it in chocolate frosting. Also featured on this table were the party favors, Adelaide’s special individualized cake and the moustache cookies my friend Kathy made for the event.


Along with the moustache-on-a-sticks I made, I bought several packs of stick-on moustaches. I thought they would be easier for the kids, but the adults liked them, too.

Adelaide’s friend Genevieve came in the “facial hair spirit” by wearing the beard her mom crocheted for her. Her orange beard matched her dad.


 I also bought a couple of fancy bendable moustache’s like these especially for Tim and me. I thought they looked quite natural.

I’ve been taking monthly photos of Adelaide so I wanted to print out one from each month and display them at the party. This banner was perhaps my most favorite party decoration.

When it came time for Adelaide’s cake, she wasn’t so sure about it at first. But once we cut into it for her, she got the hang of it. I love the mischievousness in her eyes of this first photo.

At the end of the party, Adelaide and I opened presents together. She got many generous gifts from friends and family, but as is true for most kids her age, she was more interested in the paper, bows, boxes and ribbons. Happy 1st Birthday, baby girl. We are so happy to celebrate you, and your first year of life in this world. Whether they could be here to celebrate with you in person or not, always know there are so many who love you.

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Last year, when Adelaide was 12 weeks old, I went back to work and Adelaide went to daycare for her first full day of “school.” That was October 20th. Today, just shy of a year later, Adelaide has “graduated” from an infant and moved up to the young toddler room. I knew I had taken a photo on her first day of school last year, so I couldn’t resist recording this year’s milestone as well. She doesn’t look particularly happy in this morning’s photo, but I continue to be blown away by how much she has grown. I see the little girl in her emerging and my little baby fading away.

Adelaide’s first day of school – October 20, 2011


First day of school in the young toddler room – October 1, 2012

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Baby steps

Wednesdays are Adelaide’s day home with Dad, and when I got home from work on August 22 he told me she had taken steps. I had flashes of movies and tv shows–the nightmare of moms who work outside the home. What? I missed my daughter’s first steps?

I wasn’t really upset about it, but I did want to see it for myself immediately. Tim positioned her in front of me, but she didn’t feel like performing.

A few minutes later Tim was in the kitchen making dinner, and Adelaide let go of whatever piece of furniture she had used to pull herself up. She got in maybe two or three steps before falling, but I clapped loudly and she seemed very proud of herself. I thought it would be weeks before I would capture any steps on video, but I was amazed by how fast her walking progressed.

Monday, just five days after her first unassisted steps, we captured this video. The little lady who had no teeth at 11 months now has six. She knows the baby sign for “more,” can wave, high five and put her open palm to her mouth to “blow kisses.” She has one word, and says “dig” for dogs, cats, really any type of animal, muppet or cartoon person. I am amazed every time she learns something new, and I know this is just the beginning.


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