Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Best Part of Winter

My husband loves to talk about the seasons and which ones are his favorites and where we'll retire to someday. For a long time he was all for moving somewhere warm, namely Florida. He loves the summer and thought the idea of warm weather all year round sounded great. I wasn't so sure. I'm a fall kind of girl and I don't want hot all the time.
Fast forward a couple of years and a couple of horrifically hot and humid New York summers.  All of a sudden, my warm weather guy wasn't so sure he wanted heat all the time. So then it was North Carolina--warm and pleasant and generally mild, with a touch of each season.
Then Gia came along and we started our yearly fall traditions like apple picking, making apple pie and apple sauce, visiting the farm, and going pumpkin picking.  And suddenly he was all about fall. I love the fall, so I was right there with him.
And then, you guessed it, winter came and now he loves winter. Before we had this awful cold spell (hello, 10 degrees!) he was even talking about moving to Vermont! Over my dead body, honey. "I like winter," he said. "It's cozy in the house and the snow looks nice outside. AND, we go on warm weather vacations!"
So wait, you like the winter because it's warm inside and we get to go on Caribbean beach vacations? I nearly peed my pants from laughing so hard. That's not really great criteria for liking winter, now is it? What about sleigh rides, making snowmen with Gia, hot chocolate, nights by the fireplace, and all those yummy winter dinner recipes you love so much...?  Nope. He picks all the things that have to do with being warm.
So later in the week we're off to St. Thomas with my family. 
For my husband's favorite part of winter.
This is actually a picture of St. John from our babymoon in 2010. It's Trunk Bay -- supposedly where the Corona commercials are filmed. St. John is just a ferry ride away, so my husband and I will be visiting there alone, as our early Valentine's celebration.
I have a few great posts planned while we're away, so check back for those. And, of course there will be one, or maybe two or three, amazingly cute beach pictures of my little water baby. She can't wait to "go on the big airplane to the warm beach". Neither can I Gia, neither can I.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Happy Half Birthday, Gia!

January 27, 2013
I can't believe my little girl is half way to 3!
Gia, you are an absolute delight. You are the happiest kid around and you just love life. Your dad and I marvel at how much fun you are and how much fun we have together.
You are also hilarious.  You say the funniest things. I started keeping a log of them so we never forget how clever you are. We call them "Gia's Greatest Hits".  
You are so smart. You observe the world around you and then report to us about what you see. You love to comment on the weather. "It's a boo-tee-ful day!" Or, "It's windy, Mommy!" You understand everything and you remember everything. Mommy likes to quiz you when you watch tv to see what you understand, and you really get it. You've been asking for ice cream and we told you we'd go on Saturday. On Saturday morning you woke up and said, "It's Saturday. On Saturday we get ice cream!"
You know all the colors (including odd ones like gray and peach--thanks to Daddy), can count to 25, can recognize numbers 1-10, know most of the ABCs and can recognize a few letters, and you know how to show numbers using your fingers. If we say, show us 3, you hold up 3 fingers.
You certainly have a mind of your own and when you want to do something without help you say "Me do!"  And then, "Mommy, stop!" Or, "Mommy, leave!"  
You love all animals and we frequently visit Petco just to check them out. You love the mice, frogs, birds, hamsters and fish. When you're with Yadi & Joepa they take you to see the "baby horsey". You love when he comes to the fence to see you. Anytime we go visit a family member with a pet, you include the pet in our visit. "We're going to see Nanny, Papa AND Boomer" you say.  You love Abby, our cat. Sometimes you smack her or step on her tail, just because finally there's someone smaller than you. After you hit her, you take yourself right to the naughty step because you know you're not supposed to hit her.
You're a very active kid and love to jump at Bounce! the trampoline place. You love to play in the snow and will stay out there for hours, making snowmen with daddy. You also love to jump in puddles. It's only January and you're already on your second pair of boots. You ruined the first pair by playing in dirty puddles.
You love to sing. Your favorite songs right now are "5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed" and the "Monkey & Alligator" song. You know all the words and the hand motions too. You also love to sing the Doc McStuffins song, Twinkle Twinkle, Old MacDonlad, Diamonds (by Rihanna), and Row Row Row Your Boat. You made up your own song (we think) and you sing that all the time too.
You love puzzles, books (which you memorize and then "read" to yourself) and you love the story mommy made up, about Muffin the cat and the little girl Molly. You love to play with your Innotab, and you love to watch videos of yourself on my iPhone. You've been stuck on Cinder-lella for a few weeks now. We watch it all.the.time.  
You're an excellent eater. You love every fruit and vegetable. Strawberries and bananas are high on your list of favorites. You try new things more often now. 
Gia, you are such a little wonder. I could go on forever. We love you more than anything. You are perfect!
1 year ago:
2 years ago:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Homemade Coffee Creamer

I love coffee. I like the ritual of making coffee, the way the house smells when you've brewed a fresh pot, and the creamy warm goodness that is my coffee. I like those flavored coffee creamers and I'm so worried I'll run out, as soon as they're on sale, I buy a bunch and stock pile them in my fridge.  They stay "fresh" for a long while.
Once I found a recipe for homemade creamers, I started to think about the fact that the store-bought kinds last for so long. Obviously it's a bunch of chemicals that keep them from going bad. In all areas of my life I'm a pretty moderate person...and that includes the whole organic thing. I buy organic as often as I can but I don't make myself crazy about every little thing. But, it did sort of gross me out that I'm putting chemicals in my precious coffee. And we all know I love anything homemade.
When I found a recipe for homemade coffee creamers, I knew it was something I wanted to try. But, the recipes called for milk and heavy cream and I'm lactose intolerant.  So I found a recipe for dairy free, no sugar added, Paleo creamer. But they wanted me to make a date paste to sweeten them, and I wasn't about to start pureeing dates. So -- you guessed it-- I combined the recipes and came up with my own.
Vanilla Cinnamon Coffee Creamer (Dairy Free)
1 can of coconut milk (13.5 oz can)
4 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract*
 In a medium saucepan, whisk together all 4 ingredients. 
Over medium heat, bring mixture to a simmer & let simmer for a few minutes--until it starts to thicken slightly.
Remove from heat. Let it cool & then store in the fridge. 
Shake or stir before using. (It will keep for up to one week.)

Note-- I used light coconut milk which is quite a bit thinner than full fat coconut milk so my creamer came out much thinner.  It does thicken up a tiny bit in the fridge, but it's still on the thin side, which means I had to use a bit more in my coffee.  Also note that this will not turn your coffee light colored like store bought creamers and heavy cream do. It will still be dark looking, even though it's sweet.
*I used Vanilla Bean paste rather than extract because it was all I had.

Monday, January 21, 2013

An Update: Life

Life is about to get really crazy over here. I have a million different things on my mind so here's a little update on all of them.
As you know, Gia started preschool a few weeks ago. She is going two days a week and is loving it. There haven't be any tears--just tons of adorable moments.  
From the moment she wakes up on a "school morning" she's so excited. We eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, style that crazy curly hair and then we get going. The entire car ride to school, she talks and talks--and it's all about school. "We're going to schoooooool" she yells from the backseat. 
As soon as she's out of the car she flies up the walkway and in the door and then promptly....stops. Stops dead. For two seconds she's unsure of herself and it she really really wants to go in. Miss Mary usually draws her in with promises of fun toys and songs. And she's off again, barely even turning around to say goodbye.  When I come to pick her up, she cannot get enough of me. She usually says "Mommy's home!"  We had to work on the Mommy's here vs Mommy's home thing. Either way, it's adorable and there is nothing better than tight squeezes and tons of kisses from your daughter.

So for the past few weeks I've been enjoying my two free mornings a week. My poor wallet is not happy, but it's been very nice to be able to wander through a store rather than run through and grab stuff while trying to entertain a 2.5 year old.

But all of this is coming to an end later this week, as the spring semester starts, and that means I'm back to work. (Cue the music: back to life, back to reality) No more leisurely strolls through Target. Now it's grading papers and lesson planning.

I teach developmental English at the local community college and I absolutely love it. A very good friend and former colleague is now one of my bosses and that makes an awesome job even awesomer.

Final Exam time -- Fall 2012

So, what is developmental English? Well, before matriculation, all students are required to take a placement test to be sure they are ready for college level classes. If their reading and writing scores are not above a certain number, they fall into the developmental category because they need to continue to develop their skills. (The students are usually native English speakers. There is a whole separate ESL department.)

People are usually surprised when I tell them that, yes, these students have high school diplomas but no, they are not ready for college level classes. In my experience sometimes they blow off their placement tests and thus land in my class, and sometimes they truly don't have the skills. 
Just like with being a mom, teaching is definitely one of the things that I'm meant to do in this life. I love the content of what I teach. Reading and writing are my things. I'm a grammar nerd and yes, I find it fun to teach fragments and run-ons and misplaced modifiers. I get giddy up there, carrying on about grammar rules and I'm pretty sure my enthusiasm is entertaining for my students. Even if the subject matter bores them, I know they think I'm crazy to get excited over a fixing a comma splice. I tell stupid "jokes" and they cringe, but then they remember the "rules"-- so, ha! My corniness works. 
Wanna hear one of my faves? Run-on sentences usually occur because my students use a comma to separate two complete sentences, which is a no-no. So I always tell them that in a boxing match, the comma always loses. A period is stronger and so is a semi-colon. So if they aren't sure what to do, just remember: the comma is kind of a wimp. When it doubt, separate those sentences with something much stronger. Told you I was corny. And now you believe me.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Pinterest Test Kitchen: Pancake Bites

The other day I went on a pinning rampage and found a pin for pancake bites. It wasn't so much a recipe as it was a sentence. It said: Pancake Bites. Use your favorite pancake mix, pour into muffin tins, add fruit, nuts, sausage, bacon, chocolate chips, etc. Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes.
Even though I love to cook and I'm pretty good at it, I was still a little confused. Should I make the pancake batter according to the directions on the box? How full should I fill the muffin cups? How would I know when they were done?
So this morning I tested them & they were fabulous! They are SO easy to make (so much less of a pain than actual pancakes) and yet, they still taste exactly like pancakes. Gia had fun helping and she ate them up as soon as they were ready.
Here's what I did:
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Grease muffin tins.
3. Prepare pancake batter according to the box. (I did 1 cup of pancake mix and 3/4 cup of water. This made 7 pancake bites. Well, 6 and one 'reject' --aka a very small one that really shouldn't have been it's own.)

4. Immediately pour the batter into muffin tin. Fill about 3/4 of the way. (They don't rise as much as you'd think they do.)
5. Sprinkle on the toppings of your choice. 
Find a cute little helper if you can!

6. Bake for 13 minutes or until the top is just shy of golden brown. I pulled mine out after 12 minutes and they were good but one minue more would have been even better.

Serve warm!

And, keep an eye on your coffee, lest a little person comes along and hijacks it....

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

I fancy myself a novice photographer and because of that, I used to hate Instagram. I'd see all these cool looking pictures on Facebook and I'd be angry that such awesome photos came from a freakin cell phone. I could sit in front of Photoshop for hours and never get a picture to look that great, yet with a few taps of the finger, now everyone's a photographer? 
Once I got over my anger and actually joined Instagram (thanks Steph!) I love, love, love it. It makes cell phone pictures look really cool. And it doesn't take anything away from "real" photography. (I imagine this is how photographers felt when we shifted from film to digital. But that's neither here nor there.)
As a new Instagram-er I'm totally in love with every.single.picture I take and wanted a way to display them all on the blog. So, after an hour fiddling with this free photoshop collage template, I finally figured it out.
I'd like to say I'll do this every week and show my 4 favorite Instagram pictures, but every time I promise to do something on a regular basis, I poop out and never quite make the goal. But this time I'm gonna try--really hard.
Ok so it's not exactly wordless Wednesday, but it's close.
ps. If you want the link to this awesome free collage, leave me a comment on the Quinntessential Mommy's Facebook page!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mommy Guilt

On occasion I get the Mommy guilts. It doesn't happen too often -- but every once in a while I feel like maybe I'm not doing so great with this mothering thing.  I think it's a pretty common thing to second guess yourself as a parent and to feel guilty if you violate the mommy standard you hold yourself to. Chances are that standard is crazy high and nearly impossible for anyone to meet. But, it's there. I know it stems from me wanting to do the very best I can with Gia and give her every opportunity possible. But, I'm only human and there are definitely days when I'm not at my best.

There are two things that are repeatedly on my "list".

Number 1 on that list is tv. Gia loves TV and frankly, so do I. Before the holidays Gia was watching way more tv than I wanted her to watch. I was sick and it was just plain easier to turn on the tv than play a matching game with her or set her up with some paints. So, the tv stayed on a lot. When I felt bad about the fact that she spent too much time with the tv on, I'd rationalize it by telling myself that she's very verbal, loves to be active, and loves to play outside. It's not like she's withdrawn and will only watch tv.

But still, deep down, I knew better. At 2, she should barely be watching any tv at all.  I also noticed that the more the tv was on, the less she truly watched it. Although it became just "background noise," she wouldn't let me turn it off. Yet, she wouldn't really engage in any real playing while it was on either. And, she ate like crazy when the tv was on. She'd ask for snacks all day long.

In the grand scheme of things, I knew that Gia would be just fine. She'd grow up and learn to read and write and type on a computer--it's not like tv was going to suck her brain right out of her head, but that didn't mean I didn't want to change our habits.

Let me stop here for a second and say that in no way am I judging how much other kids watch tv. If it works for your family, I'm all for it. My only point is that all the tv was not working for my family.

So, we started Project Play With All The Toys We Have. Now, when we come downstairs in the morning, we have breakfast and then we play in the playroom--and the tv stays completely off for hours.  The result has been awesome. Gia hasn't missed all that tv one bit. She has rediscovered toys that she forgot she had and she's becoming a lot better at independent play. I can set her up with a toy and she'll amuse herself for 20-30 minutes. All she needs is occasional encouragement from me and she plays, plays, plays.

Gia playing with her new magnetic dress up Princess toy.

She still asks to watch Mickey or Doc (McStuffins) every once in a while, and of course we let her, but overall, we're doing great.

The other thing I feel guilty about most often is what Gia is eating. I'm constantly worrying about her diet. Is she eating a wide enough variety of foods? Is she eating too much junk?  Like most kids she loves sweets. Back in November, while I was taking a shower, Gia found her Halloween candy, which I had high up on the hutch. Jon had moved the dining room chairs so our electrician could install our new chandelier and in doing so, he pushed the chairs right up against the hutch. Gia rarely gets into trouble when I shower, except that sometimes she does. That day I came downstairs and she'd eaten 1/2 a bag of skittles, 3 Hershey's kisses, 1 peanut butter cup and a pack of smarties--all before 9 am! Whoops! I had to laugh...and snap this hilarious picture of her showing me the rest of the Skittles (which I promptly took away from her).

Luckily, Gia also loves every single fruit and vegetable known to man. She's a great eater and, as she gets older, she's willing to try so more things. She loves chicken, lentils, yogurt, natural applesauce and plenty of other nutritious foods. She also really enjoys chocolate, ice cream, cupcakes and cookies. But, this one's actually an easy fix. Usually if she's asking for junk, I can offer her blueberries or strawberries or one of those fruit pouches (all 3 of these things are her all-time faves) and that gets her mind off the junk. And then, on occasion, I give in and let her have a little treat. Life's too short to eat fruit all the time.

 If you're a mom, what do you feel guilty about?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Potty Training Update

6 weeks ago I posted here about potty training Gia. We did the 3 day method and had very very quick success. But, I was scared about the next steps. Here's what I said then:

"I wasn't really sure what to do after Day 3 was over. How was I supposed to get her into underwear? The method says bare bottomed for 3 months and only loose clothes when we go out. (The theory is that underwear feel too much like diapers, thus causing them to have more accidents.) I wasn't sure that was realistic for us though. Would she have accidents? What would I do when we went out for long periods of time?"

The day I wrote that post we had a few of my favorite girlfriends over--with their husbands and their kids, who are all Gia's age. I didn't know what to put Gia in that day. I knew I should keep her bare bottomed as long as possible while we were at home, but I didn't want her running around half naked with guests. So, we settled on a dress with no underwear on. There were a few 'Britney Spears flashing the papparazzi' moments that day, but my friends had a good laugh about it.

The next day we went to a baptism over an hour away and I broke down and put a pull up on Gia. The long car ride and the excitement and a bunch of other kids around for her to play with was just going to be too much. I encouraged Gia to tell us if she had to go potty. And while we were at the baptism we tried sitting on the potty, but she didn't go. She did use her diaper though.

So the next day we were back to bare-bottomed at home but with a more realistic plan to our day. (This was day 6 of training.)  I'd get everything all ready and then right after Gia went on the potty, we'd literally run out of the house and do whatever errands we needed to do. We did this the next 3 or 4 days and Gia did not have an accident. I was always prepared with underwear and new pants in my bag, but we never needed them. 

And after that we were "over the hump" so to speak. We kept up with the same schedule for another week or so--as soon as Gia went on the potty we'd leave the house. Eventually Gia learned to pee on command and now we can tell her to go potty before we go out, rather than waiting till she has to go. She doesn't always want to go, but that's a different story.

All of this is not to say that we didn't have our fair share of accidents. Bowel movements were an issue for a little bit. No matter what we did, Gia kept pooping in her underwear. We watched her like a hawk and she'd still find two seconds to sneak off and go and then tell us about it. We'd clean her up and calmly remind her that poopy went in the potty and she'd repeat it. I know she understood because the peeing was not an issue. But, it kept happening.

So, for a little while, we went back to the bare bottom method in the mornings, until she pooped on the potty. Then her clothes went back on and all was well. We had a few days of success with this method and Gia was SO proud of herself. And that helped us turn the corner. She learned the feeling of having to do that kind of bodily function, and now she's got it. She'll run to us and say "I have to do pee pee" or "I have to do poo poo".

Being in new situations is still a little tricky. She's not too fond of public bathrooms and I can't blame her. They're dirty and I'm constantly telling at her "don't touch ANYTHING". The toilets are huge and they flush on their own which scares her.  It's tough to get her to pee while we're out, even when she tells me she has to go. But thanks to a few pieces of candy, we're getting over that too. And, when we're at someone's house, she's often having too much fun to stop and use the potty. On New Year's Eve we were at a friend's house and she peed and pooped on their floor. I don't think mortified is a strong enough word for how I was feeling. But, since then we've gone to other friends' houses and she's peed on their potty. So, we'll get over that too.

Potty training is a work in progress. At this point, 6 weeks out, I'd say Gia is 95% trained. Every day we encounter new situations and the more success Gia has with each new moment, the more she truly understands being trained.  The 3 day method was a great way to jump start the process and I encourage you all to try it. The best part about it for us is that it gave Gia bunch of successes and that set her up for these next few months of trial and a few errors.

 And here's some cuteness because it's Flashback Friday. This was taken nearly 2 years ago at Gia's 6 month old photoshoot. It's one of my most favorite pictures of her, like, ever.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bath Time

Gia loves the water and that fact alone is enough to convince me she's not actually my kid -- because I hate water. I don't like to swim, I hate the rain, I hate to wash my hands, and I don't even really love the shower. No fear, I do the last 2 things all the time. Even though I hate them, I know what good hygiene is :) 

 So, my little water baby just amazes me. She loves everything to do with the water--pools, the ocean, bath time, water tables, and she even loves to wash her hands. I frequently find her in our bathroom, standing on the tiny garbage can, washing her hands. And, on her first day of school, the director of her preschool had to shut off the water supply in her classroom because Gia couldn't stay away from the child-height sink they have in there. She washed her hands 2 times before I even left!

A few months ago I was in Babies R Us buying a gift and I bought Gia a pack of Bath Fizzies. They color the bath water and I knew she'd get a huge kick out of that. But the package said "not for consumtion". They also contain something that makes them taste bitter to discourage consumption. So in the garbage they went. There is no way I can completely keep Gia from putting the bath water in her mouth and who knows what chemicals are in these things if they aren't supposed to be consumed.  (Yes, I know it's gross. We're working on it.)
 So I thought, why not use food coloring?
And the Green Bath was born.
Gia had so much fun. I put three drops of food coloring and some water in one of those little cups that come with liquid medicine and let her dump it in the water. I didn't make the water too dark because I didn't want to turn her skin green.
A few days later I got even more creative. I made blue food colored ice cubes. And now we put a few of those in the with the green bath water. INSTANT bath time fun. The best part is these are way cheaper than buying the special fizzy things and you don't have to order them or go to a baby store to get them. You probably have food coloring around the house.
Here are some other awesome bath time fun ideas:
1. Give your kids shaving cream to play with.

2. Give them different sized spoons and a variety of containers. Gia loves to stir her bathwater. It keeps her very busy.
3. Get them a cheap strainer and let them make it rain. 

4. Change up the toys. Let your kids bring in things that aren't "bath toys" but can still get wet. 

What are your favorite bath time things to do?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Spoiled. Spoiled?

With the holidays just passed, I've been thinking (and talking--hi mom!) about the word spoiled. I've seen many pictures on Facebook of Christmas trees with so many presents around them there's no room for anything else in the room. In fact, for a split second it made me feel bad about the presents we got Gia. Did we get her enough? In comparison to many people we know, we barely got her anything.  But, I'm not in the habit of keeping up with the Jones, so I quickly dismissed that worry.

So when a friend asked me how badly we spoiled Gia this Christmas, I had to take a breath before I answered her.

See, the thing is, I hate the word spoiled. I'm an only child and I've been hearing it my whole life. People often assume that because I have no siblings, I must have been spoiled. Not the case. It's true that I didn't want for much as kid, but my parents absolutely taught me that I had to work to get what I wanted. They also taught me to respect others and to respect my belongings. If I trashed a toy or a pair of jeans, there wasn't a brand new one waiting for me.

So, when someone calls my kid spoiled, I bristle a little. Spoiled means ruined. It means "to diminish or destroy the value or quality of".  Surely a few toys are not going to ruin my child. Especially if I'm teaching her to value the things she has and to realize that there's much much more to life than the stuff we have.

But, there's also something else going on here and took me a little while to figure it out--to figure out exactly why the word spoiled gets me so riled up. It's because the word reeks of judgment. And no one likes to feel judged.

So then I wondered if maybe there's another word that we could use that wouldn't feel so judgey. The best I could come up with? Overindulged. Which is only marginally better. It stillsmacks of judgment. It's not up to me to decide if someone else's kid is overindulged. Because what looks like overindulgence to the outside may not be. We aren't a part of that family. We don't truly know. And so we shouldn't judge.

Easier said than done. I'll be the first to admit that I struggle with judgement. I try not to judge others, but it's not easy. I think it's human nature. First we compare ourselves to others and then, when we're different or our choices are different, we judge to make ourselves feel better.  It's not fair or right, but it happens.

So, back to the friend who basically called Gia spoiled. I wish I could say I had some really enlightened response for her. But honestly, it took me two days of good thinking time (I think best when I'm blow drying my hair) to figure out why all this irked me so much. So my response was something along the lines of "Actually we didn't spoil her. She got a few new toys and some clothes, but that was it."

Not a day goes by that I'm not thankful for all that we can give Gia. But that goes way beyond the stuff we can provide. It's about the love and the happy home and the time and attention. Maybe next time that will be my response.


For now I'll leave you with a few awesome pictures of my daughter in pigtails for the first time. When did she get old enough for pigtails?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

1st Day of Preschool!

When Gia went for her 2 year old check up this past summer, our pediatrician asked about our preschool plans. I told him I planned to send her in the fall, right after she turned 3. He suggested we think about sending her at 2.5 to avoid her getting bored (and thus getting into trouble) at home.
My husband and I completely trust our pediatrician. In fact, we love him. He hasn't led us astray yet. Through getting rid of pacifiers and bottles to potty training, he's been full of excellent advice that not only works, but also meshes well with our parenting style.
The moment we got in the car, we looked at each other and said, "School? Already?"  Over the past few months we discussed the idea and really, truly thought about whether or not Gia was ready. And in early December (once I got my spring work schedule) we made the decision to send her.
 Today was her first day!
Gia does well in most new settings as long as we've adequately prepared her. She loves to know whats coming next. Whether it's after her nap, tomorrow, or in a few days, she is happiest when she's prepared. (Aren't we all?)  So for the past few weeks we've been talking about school all the time. About teachers and friends and art projects and new toys and snack time. And she's been so excited.
Of course this morning Gia slept an hour later than usual. I finally saw her stirring on the monitor and I went right in to get her. We had Rice Krispies and then I let her pick out her outfit for the day. We put on her  new shoes (thanks Yadi!) and took a few pictures. 
Blurry, but still priceless!

Then we put on her coat and her backpack. 
And took a few pictures.

On our way to school, Gia was all smiles. She was excited, and she reminded me  I wasn't going to be staying at school with her. Clearly she was fine with it.
When we pulled up, reality set in for both of us. As I walked around the car to her side, I started to get choked up. Was I ready to leave my baby? Was she really ready for this? I put on a happy face and got her out of the car. She clung to me and said "Mommy, don't leave me."  It was an arrow straight to my heart. I nearly turned right around and got back in the car with her. I can homeschool her forever, right?
But, we were brave and we continued on. I carried her into school and put her down in the hallway. Gia saw her classroom and ran right in. Her teacher, Miss Mary, helped her out of her coat and together they hung it up. Then she ran right over to the sinks and washed her hands. I watched her look around the brightly colored room for a minute.  Then Miss Jean led her over the easels and set her up with some purple paint, next to her new friend Brooke. I said goodbye to her -- she barely paid me any attention -- and then I left. I actually walked out of the school and left my baby inside. 
Driving away was surreal. I was overwhelmed with emotions: excitement, amazement, sadness, and pride, to name just a few. I called Jon and we talked about Gia and how well she did and it made the moment bearable for me. No tears for this Mama!
2 1/2 hours is not really a long time but today it felt like an eternity. I meandered through Wal-mart, checking my phone every 5 minutes, just to make sure no one from school called.  They didn't.
When it was time to pick her up, I arrived a few minutes early and I peeked through the window. Gia was happily putting her coat and backpack on. A moment later the teacher opened the door and said, "Let me see who's here. I see Gia's mommy!" And with that, she spotted me and came flying through the door. She hugged me so tight and she smiled so big.
On the way home she excitedly told me she all the day's events: she played instruments (she banged a drum, she said), and she sat on the rug, sang songs, had animal crackers and juice, painted with purple, and got a sticker. She wanted to call daddy and so we did and she told him all about school too--with heavy emphasis on that sticker. To hear the pride and joy in her voice made this all so worth it.
And one more thing: when I was little my mom made me chocolate chip cookies on the first day of school and it quickly became a tradition. Every year, on the first day of school, there's always chocolate chip cookies. So, after Gia's nap today, we made cookies together, just me and my little girl.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Resolutions? Nah!

By now we all know that the majority of people who make resolutions break them before the end of January. You know how the gym is packed for a few days after January 1st? By the end of the month there is no one there. Everyone's already given up on their resolutions.
So rather than resoltions, I'm going to make some goals for myself in 2013: things that I want to accomplish. I'll put them up here for everyone to see and then you can hold me accountable at the end of the year, k?
1. Continue to blog at least 2x a week. I'm surprised at how much I love blogging. It's an awesome creative outlet for me and it's a lot of fun. Added bonus: I'm documenting our lives!
2. Continue to hone my photography skills. I don't have any upcoming classes scheduled, but I'm going to continue to snap away and practice my editing in Photoshop. 
3. Patience. I don't have a ton of it. I have enough. But I want more. This is something I'm always working on though, and 2013 will not be any different.
4. Make progress on my novel. There, I said it. I wrote a novel. I finished it in 2011 and I barely looked at it in 2012. I know it needs a complete overhaul in the editing department and finding the time to do that is not easy. But in 2013 I'm going to make progress. I don't want to make a grand statement like "I'll finish editing my novel in 2013," because that might not happen. I have some other big projects on the horizon and I may not get there 100%. But I'm definitely going to work on it!
5. Get this house organized! Now that the big project is done (the kitchen) it's time to tackle the smaller things, like our office -- aka the land of the misfit stuff. If it doesn't have a home, it ends up in our office. Same with the basement. Time to clean out & organize!
Last, but most certainly NOT least...
6. Continue to make my family my priority. Gia is only going to be little once and I cherish every moment with her. I love making the mundane fancy or special. I make a big deal out of things because, ya know what, life is a big deal. We only get to do this once and I want to do it the best and most fun way I can.
  What are your goals for 2013?