August 2014
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And Then She Was Two…

What a difference a year makes!

Two Years!

The evolution of eating chocolate cake.

I almost can’t believe that my baby is two-years-old today. I almost can’t believe that my baby isn’t really a baby anymore! We have definitely reached toddler-hood, and we are starting to see flashes of the Terrible Twos. Lilian’s new favorite phrase is “no mine!” But, she remains sunny, warm, full of sweetness and joy. Mothering her just keeps getting more and more fun.

Lilian’s second favorite phrase these days is “I like it!” which is usually accompanied by a respectful pat of whatever shirt/skirt/dress/pants I happen to be wearing that she thinks is pretty. She loves kisses and hugs. She kisses my boo-boos when she sees them (she also thinks my moles are boo-boos, but I’m ok with the extra kisses). She spontaneously yells “Yuuuuv youuuuuu” to us when the fancy strikes her. She also yells “yuuuuv youuuuu, sawheeeee” when we call her out for hitting. I think daycare taught her that one.

(The love you/sorry bit, not the hitting bit).

She sings to herself all day long. She randomly starts counting things, usually skipping a number or two, and mostly continuing to yell out numbers long after she’s run out of things to count. She loves to sing her ABCs.

She doesn’t particularly enjoy sitting still, but she will sit with me and snuggle if she’s starting to get sleepy. Otherwise, it’s go-go-go! She runs with her arms flailing. She jumps and makes it about a millimeter off the ground. She likes to tell us to run and jump. She likes to tell people where to sit. Basically, she likes telling people what to do. She tries to order the dog around, but the dog pretty much ignores her.

She wants to do everything herself, from cutting up her food to washing her hands, to climbing up the stairs. She sometimes asks for help with things she’s having difficulty with, but she mostly just keeps trying. I am so proud of her independent spirit and ability to keep trying. But I sometimes help her with the stairs because I want a chance to hold her close to me and ask for kisses.

Happy birthday, Lily-Bug. You make all of us so very, very happy.

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LJ’s Second Birthday Party

Lilian’s 2nd birthday party was on Saturday, and we managed to have a lovely little afternoon. Life’s been a little crazy the past few weeks, so the party kinda snuck up on us. I remembered to put together a Facebook event a few weeks ago, but that was about the extent of our pre-planning. Whoops.

We all got up bright and early on Saturday morning, and Lilian and I headed off to do some errands. Kristian stayed behind to rid our backyard of dog poop, mow the lawn, and basically make it look like we don’t normally live in total squalor. He did a bang up job!

[Insert picture of freshly mowed lawn here]

Me? Well, there were the aforementioned errands. Plus the whole, getting Lilian out of the house so she stays away from the lawn mower, thing. But, yeah, I’m not embarrassed to admit it… My husband really pulled this birthday party together. But, hey, Lilian and I bought all the food together! Plus, we got cake. It’s automatically a party if there is cake.

The weather ended up being absolutely perfect, a great day for hanging out outside. Lots of sunshine, not too hot. Everyone said how much they loved just hanging out on the lawn.

We had a few kids and a bunch of grownups. Just enough people that it felt festive… not so many people that it was too overwhelming. Well, Lilian did do a bit of a barnacle impression on my shoulder when we first got downstairs. But you’d cling to your mom too if you woke up from a nap, went downstairs, and discovered that your house was full of people. She perked up pretty quickly when she realized it was most of her favorite people.

Like all of her grandpas!

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Plus, she was a big fan of birthday presents.

 

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She got a lot of new books. Which is great for her (she loves to read). And great for me (I love to not read the same books over and over and over again.)

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Did I mention that there was cake?

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Things that are smart: taking your daughter’s white dress off before she eats chocolate cake. Things that are not smart: putting said dress down on an open stretch of counter space without looking to see if it’s totally clean. Things that suck: discovering that, in your quest to keep said dress clean, you have gently placed it in a big ol’ pile of ketchup . :Facepalm.:

(It all came out in the wash.)

As usual, there are pretty much no pictures of me from the party. But here’s a selfie we took with her new stethoscope. She got an awesome doctor kit and has been wandering around the house poking at people and pets and declaring them to be “all better.”

 

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Why, yes, that is one of the shirts from my Stitch Fix.  Their customer service was able to track down a smaller size of the one shirt that was too big. So I bought everything. Because, I kinda painted myself into a corner with that one. “Hi customer service! You don’t have this shirt in a smaller size do you? Because then I might keep everything. Oh, you do? Well, isn’t that something…”

But, hey, my daughter loves Duplo! Even if we took out the little dog that came with it and she said “Cow! Moooo!”

(In her defense, it is white with little black spots on it.)

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The hammock was a big hit at the party. Mostly among small children who tried unsuccessfully to get up onto it. What they don’t realize? It’s easier to stay on it without falling off if you pile the whole family onto it. Bonus points for wearing dad down completely.

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You know it’s a good party when it ends with a half-naked game of hockey.

(Lilian is still a little unclear on the rules, but she sure does love to shout “gooooal!”)

(Even if the ball goes nowhere near the goal.)

(We’re working on it.)

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In this day of Pinterest and whatnot, it can be tempting to go all crazy with stuff like your kids’ birthday parties. I know I went a little overboard with crafting for last year. (What can I say? I needed a creative outlet after spending a year not doing any DIY projects for 10-12 months.) This year was a refreshing change from that. Because, really, all you need for a party is good friends, good food, and some cake.

I can’t guarantee that I’ll stay away from Pinterest for next year’s party, but I certainly will try to remember how much fun this year’s party was!

Stitch Fix Numero Tres

I ordered a Stitch Fix * about a month ago to celebrate another 5 pounds of weight loss. Why has it taken a month to get my fix? They’ve apparently gotten crazy popular and there was a wait. I just spent way too much money on a sewing machine (that’s a post for another day), so I’m not really supposed to be buying clothes right now. But my Stitch Fix box was a pleasant little surprise when I got home today. And, because my stylist did such a good job, I’m going to be naughty and keep some of it.

What is a Stitch Fix? It’s a service where you fill out a style profile, give them links to stuff like your pinterest account, and let them know what kind of clothes you’re interested in purchasing. You also tell them price ranges for what you’re willing to spend, and what kinds of clothes you’re looking for. A “stylist” puts together five items of clothing and you get a pretty box in the mail, along with a nice little note and some suggestions about how to style everything. You have 3 business days to decide what you want to keep. There is a $20 styling fee for getting a fix, but if you buy any of the clothes it will go towards your purchase.

I have until Saturday to decide what I want to keep and what I want to send back. I will tell you what I’m leaning towards, but I’m not going to tell you prices. I want to know what you think of everything on its own merits. I will tell you that the most expensive item was $88. So, we’re not talking crazy amounts of money here. But, definitely enough money that I am not going to keep everything.

My fix contained two shirts, a pair of skinny jeans, and two dresses.

What do you guys think? Besides, “OMG Hope, you need to clean your mirror. And make some new curtains. Hey, wait a minute, I thought you bought a sewing machine. Shouldn’t you use that to make new curtains…?” Because all of that goes without saying.

(I asked my stylist for some stuff that I can wear on the weekend and not look like a soccer mom.)

I am ambivalent about this top. It looks good in the pictures, but I think it might be a little too billowy in person? I like the darts below the buttons a lot. This is definitely a good shirt to wear if I’m feeling bloated. The jeans I will likely keep. They’re really comfortable, Kristian liked them, and I haven’t bought a single pair of non-maternity jeans in probably three years.

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This top would likely have been a keeper, but it’s too big. It’s supposed to be kinda billowy like the other top (I’m pretty sure this is what happens when your Stitch Fix notes mention that you are still losing postpartum weight). But it’s also a size too big. Too bad, because the back is pretty cool.

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This is my “sexy-librarian-awkward-armed-selfie” face. In case you were wondering.

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This one I think I am also keeping. It looks better in person. Although I think I need a different bra for it. I like that I can dress it up for work if I want to, or dress it down for the weekend. Or make it look non-work dressy and wear to some sort of non-work special occasion. Because I go to non-work special occasions? Well, I could wear it when I take Lilian to Target and I want to feel all fancy.

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I texted a picture of this one to my sister… and she was not a fan. I think because it’s not so flattering when you take a picture of it head on.

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But from the side? Va-va-va-voom! This one is also crazy soft. I am very torn about this one.

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What do you guys think? I’m leaning towards the jeans, the navy blue dress, and maybe the orange shirt. I get a 25% discount if I purchase all 5 items, but I am not going to buy all of them. At the very least, that 2nd shirt is too big. Of course, if you get 4 items, you might as well get the 5th, because it’s basically free at that point. So, I should probably just stick to 2-3 things from this fix.

If you want to do a Stitch Fix of your own, click here.  I’ve been really happy with the clothes I’ve received in my three fixes so far. They definitely get better as you get more fixes and give them feedback about what you liked.

*All Stitch Fix links on this post are referral links. Please to be clicking so that I can get free credit and buy more pretty outfits. Thanks!!!

Catskill Camping

This past weekend, I took a solo trip (as in… no toddler, no husband) with a bunch of good friends to go camping in the Catskills.

I felt bad about ditching my family to go have fun with our friends. But, well, not quite so bad that I didn’t enjoy the hell out of putting my feet up in front of the campfire.

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There was a bit of a mix-up when it came to our campground. Through a combination of bad google results and highways that have to route around mountains, we ended up camping in part of the region that involved a rather, errr, lengthy drive. As in, Yogurt and I left my house bright and early Saturday morning and didn’t get to the campsite until six hours later.

(Traffic was the sucks .)

(To be fair, there was a stop for lunch in there.)

(And ice cream. There was totally a stop for ice cream.)

The drive itself wasn’t bad at all. The Catskills are beautiful, so even when we got off the highway and had to wind our way through little back roads, we still had beautiful vistas to keep us entertained. We also used the drive as a chance to catch up with each other, and to talk through some stuff that’s been weighing on each of us.

Basically, what I’m saying is… you know somebody is a damn good friend when you can spend 6 hours in transit with them and emerge on the other end thinking “wow, that was nice” and not “Oh my god, if I ever hear him say another word it will be too damn soon.”

(I won’t speak for Yogurt, but I was definitely in the “wow, that was nice” camp.)

Plus, then we got to the campground and there were cheese balls, and good friends, and fresh mountain air, and the car ride pretty much melted away.

(There was also absolutely no cellphone reception, but we all agreed that this was a net positive.)

My brain was feeling pretty good after our car ride, but my leg muscles were an entirely different story. Besides, nothing says “I am so excited to spend the rest of the weekend with you guys,” than strapping on your running shoes and going on a solo jog up the side of the mountain. Good friends, they totally understand when you need to get your legs moving.

Did I mention the side of the mountain? Because the elevation profile of my run was freaking insane . I only did four miles, but I got back to the campsite drenched like I’d just run an entire half marathon. I will totally cop to stopping to walk a few times… mostly because I was thinking that maybe it’s not such a good thing to be able to feel your heart beating in your ears.

Did I also mention that we thought our campground didn’t have any showers? Because we totally thought our campground didn’t have any showers. It is another testament to my friends that their response to my “oh shit, I probably shouldn’t go running if I can’t take a shower afterwards” with “Camping means getting dirty. Go for your run… we’re all going to stink by the end of the weekend.”

I thought about taking a hobo shower in the bathroom, but Pepper and I ended up jumping into an ice-cold river instead. I have to say, frolicking in the river was worth the price of admission. It took a couple of hours warming up next to the fire to really start feeling my extremities, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.

We spent the rest of the night eating an amazing dinner that everybody helped cook over the campfire.

(Ok, my contribution was more of the eating and complimenting variety, but we all have our roles to play.)

The fire burned down to coals and we roasted marshmallows, made s’mores, and kept talking. Then it burned down to embers, and we decided that getting some sleep might not be such a bad idea. I wasn’t sure how I was going to survive a night in a tent without Kristian to glom onto and steal his heat succubus-style, but lucky for me it never got all that cold.

We stumbled out of our tents the next morning and managed to put together coffee, oatmeal, eggs, and glorious, glorious bacon. I am normally 100% not in favor of food photography, but for campfire bacon I made an exception. I mean look at this.

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If that doesn’t say “best weekend ever,” then what does?

We packed our stuff up, but we weren’t ready to head home, so we decided to do a day hike together. My sister had suggested that we check out Kaaterskill Falls , so we made plans to drive to that part of the region and then take a little hike. It ended up being a decent drive away, but it was mostly in the correct direction. A direction that took us past some stunning views. I mean, there’s a reason that the Hudson River School folks liked to paint around there. You can’t shake a paint brush without bumping into some amazing vista that looks out across a crystal clear mountain lake.

The only problem with Kaaterskill Falls? It offers an effort to payoff ratio that approaches one. The trail is only 0.4 miles, and the falls are amazing. Translation? The trail is covered with goobers. And the trash that they leave behind. I’m pretty sure we talked our way out of a nasty ticket (we were parked on the shoulder and hadn’t noticed the no parking sign) because the cop was just happy to see that there were some people out and about wearing proper footwear. “The area isn’t big enough to support all these people,” he complained, “and none of them come prepared. Look at that guy – he’s barefoot !”

(Sadly, a woman died there last week because she was hiking where the signs clearly say you are not supposed to hike. And she was wearing flip-flops.)

(After we saw the makeshift memorial at the trail head, it made a lot more sense why the cop we met seemed so stressed out.)

The trail might be crowded, but it’s a fun little scramble up to the falls. And, once you get up there, the view is amazing .

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Like I said, the effort to reward ratio is just too good . They need to demolish the current parking lots, and then start a new trailhead about 2-3 miles down the road. If they make the trail long enough, I can pretty much guarantee that the crowds will thin out automagically. And most people will be too exhausted at the end of the hike to ignore the caution signs, scramble up to the top of the falls in their flip-flops, and then fall to their deaths. As it stands, the trail is just long enough to get you into the rhythm of it, but not long enough to tire you out. I’m not surprised that so many people want to keep going.

We stayed out of the danger zone, but we still managed to have some fun.

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We dilly-dallied by the side of the road for a bit, but then it was time to say goodbye. Our Brooklyn friends headed back to the city, and Pepper, Yogurt, and I got ready to head back to Boston.

But wait! There was more!

“Uh…. guys? Uh…. bear?”

I’m surprised that Yogurt was able to get that many words out. I would have been too busy squeaking and flapping my arms. But, there it was, maybe 150 feet from our car. A little black bear, scampering across the road. We didn’t wait to find out if his mom was hanging out somewhere. We threw our bags into the trunk and quickly drove off. Did I mention quickly? Because it was damn quick.

I have seen many animals in the wild, but I had never seen a wild bear before. Until this weekend. He was just close enough to be amazing, just far enough away that nobody pooped themselves in the literal sense. Black bears be shiny, yo. I had no idea.

We headed for the highway, and luck was on our side this time. We made great time. We stopped in Connecticut just long enough to bring my sister some cheer and some pizza. Did I mention how awesome my friends are? Because, seriously, nothing says “awesome friends” like a 2-hour pitstop in Connecticut to cheer up somebody else’s sister.

We finally rolled into Boston around 10:30pm, exhausted but happy. We all agreed that we needed a weekend from our weekend, but we  also agreed that it had been well worth it. I took one of the greatest showers of my life, and then I expressed my love and appreciation for my bed by melting into it.

(There was also some love and appreciation for my husband who took on solo parenting duty for a weekend so that I could go play in the woods.)

We used to go hiking and camping all the time, but we haven’t done anything more serious than some day hikes since Lilian showed up. This weekend definitely inspired me to make more of an effort to get out into nature. We just got an awesome Deuter hiking child-carrier/backpack as a hand-me-down, so now we have no excuse not to haul Lilian up a mountain or two.

I promise, nobody will be wearing flip-flops.

Basement Cat is Watching You Cry

Wednesday night, we went to Cafe Barada for the fundraiser that I helped organize for my sister Allison’s Pan Mass Challenge team. Cafe Barada kindly donated 5% of all of their proceeds for the day, plus an extra 5% from the bill of anyone who said they were there for the fundraiser. I was working downtown for the day, so Kristian picked Lilian up at daycare and we all met up at the restaurant. Pepper and Yogurt met us there, and we had a nice little dinner together.

Lilian was mostly a good sport (although the table of twenty-something girls next to us on the patio didn’t seem to think so). But, even the most well behaved almost-tw0-year-olds have their limits, and she reached hers just about the time when we’d normally be getting her ready for bed.

(Crazy coincidence, right ?)

Kristian volunteered to take her home so that I could get a little extra time with our friends. They headed off and we continued our dinner. Everything was going great… until my phone rang.

Kristian: “So, uh Tabitha [our cat]  is trapped somewhere in the house and I can’t get her out.”

Hope: “#$%!@#@!$!!”

We payed the bill quickly, and Yogurt agreed to come home with me and help us out.

(Because that’s what good friends do, right? They help you free small household pets from where said pets have somehow managed to trap themselves in your house.)

It took a lot of running around yelling “Tabitha! Tabitha!” and the three of us to triangulate where the angry meows were coming from… but we finally figured out that she was stuck between our first and second floors, running back and forth under the bathroom and Kristian’s office.

We’re still not entirely sure how she got down there (we thought she crawled under the bathtub when we pulled a side panel off to try and fix the damn thing again… but then she managed to get stuck again the next day when the panel was very much back in place). More importantly, we had no idea how to get her out.

Well, no idea how to get her out that wasn’t going to involve cutting large holes in places where large holes were not meant to go.

Eventually, Tabitha figured out that she could stick her head up through the hole in the floor of Kristian’s office where a steam pipe used to go…. Unfortunately, it was only her head that fit. So, she just stood there staring at us, crying, and desperately trying to wiggle her way through an opening that was never going to be open enough for her. It was sad, pathetic… and kinda comical. I mean, once you got past that whole “OMG my cat is trapped and we have no idea how to get her out” business.

I would show you a picture, but I was too busy scratching her behind the ears and telling her it was all going to be ok to take one. Let’s just say, I could have made a basement cat photochop of her and it just might have gone viral.

So, we had Proof of Life, but how were we going to get her out of there? The answer, apparently, was a circular saw and a crowbar. Did I wield these tools? No, I cowered in the other room and tried to think “don’t accidentally cut our cat in half” thoughts while my husband attacked a couple of floorboards with a vengeance.

(Did I mention that he just refinished those floors last year?)

(Pets are the reason we can’t have nice things.)

Tabitha ran to the other end of the sub-floor while the sawing and hacking was going on (she might have managed to get herself stuck between the floors, but she’s not a complete and total idiot). She had no interest in returning to the vicinity of all those scary noises, so we decided to let her come out on her own. Kristian gave Yogurt a ride home, and I passed out on the couch.

About a half hour later, I heard a nonchalant meow, and Tabitha jumped up onto the couch next to me. “What’s up,” her meow seemed to say, “did I miss anything?” It took me a moment to realize oh hey my cat is totally ok now. What can I say? It was late. I was just happy that she was ok.

She might be a bit of an asshole… but she’s our asshole.

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