Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ever Growing, Ever Changing

Once you pop that little Bun from your oven time moves amazingly fast. Even when Zoey was a newborn and the sleep, eat, poop, sleep routine was the same for 6 weeks, the days were over in a flash. It only got busier too, because the naps got less-frequent. She is evolving just as she should, and we're just trying to keep up.

 Some morning tea with her Princess tea set.

 Mommy's lazy babies. (Look at that mess! Eh, I stopped caring a long time ago)

 That black blob on the couch is Durbin. Seriously, sometimes I'll forget he's there.

 Durby and Zoey, napping buddies.

 Introducing her first Mr. Potato Head!! She loves to play with him and all of his pieces and, and just says, "'tato-head" over and over again.

 She still loves being the gourmet cook of the house.

Zoey is growing up so fast and - let's be honest - we have no clue what the fuck we're doing. We pretty much rely on her to tell us what to do. Now she's in the parroting phase where she copies everything we do and repeats the last sentence we say, doesn't even necessarily have to be directed at her. With this in mind, even though potty training is a bit early, we decided that if she's going to copy everything we do, it couldn't hurt anything to copy us going to the bathroom. So we got her her very own training Princess potty. It has a crown on the back of the seat, and when she does business it plays congratulatory songs! We haven't heard it yet but we're all very excited. She loves "using her potty," which isn't really anything at the moment besides something she mimics mommy or daddy doing, but with something that is just the right size and shape for her cute little mushy, tushy. DISCLAIMER: DADDY OKED THE POSTING OF THE FOLLOWING PICTURES, JUST SO EVERYONE IS AWARE:

In need of her security accouterments. 

 Discovering the art of reading on the toilet.

 She loves her "moo" and Dora pj's.

 SOOO hard to get a toddler to snuggle with you for longer than a millisecond.

 So sometimes I just steal my snuggles.

 The boys proving how tough they are to each other.

 We spent a couple of hours outside one Sunday cleaning up the backyard. Zoey loved being outside and didn't seem to get tired of running around. She loved that ball and, unfortunately, the dogs did too so Mom ended up having to take it away. And she didn't mind getting dirty in the slightest. Of course it meant her favorite pastime ever would follow - bath!

Daddy's the only one working. ;-)

 When I'm cooking I like to bring her into the kitchen so she can cook with me. One morning, as I made breakfast - all decked out in Dora the Explorer - I asked, "What are you making, Zoey?" And I swear she said, "breakfast."

 Zoey loves rocking on her horse who, unfortunately, lives in her room; she'd prefer he live in the living room so she'll sometimes go to her room and carry him all by herself to the living room. One afternoon this was as far as she felt like going.

She discovered today that she's just a wee bit too big to play inside of the laundry basket, but she still found a way to have fun with it. This morning she sat like this and watched an entire episode of Yo Gabba Gabba.

 Such a big girl, eating her grilled cheese sandwich with some more Yo Gabba Gabba.

 Even more grown up than her parents, who sat next to her and ate ice cream; who then offered it to Zoey, who said, "no," and continued munching her sandwich.

 Zoey is allowed to play with the kitchen towel drawer and she just discovered the oven mitts while Jacob and I were making dinner (tater tot casserole, invented by Jacob: macaroni and cheese, sausage - we used Polish sausage - peas, all prepared separately, thrown together, then topped with frozen tater tots and baked for however long it takes the tater tots to cook. It was yummy, a very home-style meal.). She loved them and loved saying, "mitts!"

I then made a pumpkin bread which tastes nothing like pumpkin but is still good. Jacob said it was like a sweet bread. I'll take it!

 Singing and chanting about how much she loves the "mitts!"

And yes, we still put our child in Christmas clothing. It still fits so there is really no excuse not to. Plus, we have yet to take down the Christmas wreath from outside the front of the house.

I can't believe this week will be the end of February, and there's even an extra day. Come March, Zoey will be a year and a half and probably applying to college. The birds have been out so I think Spring might be here sooner than we think. It's been a very dry winter, I'm sad we have yet to get more snow, if only for the fact that my lips are dry and cracked. It's my mom's most hated expression, but we really do need the moisture! Just look at the pictures of our backyard!

Once Spring rolls around then it feels like the year is really off and running. We're already off and running, and only going faster and more places. I seriously think people should have to pass a physical in order to have children.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Happy Blogiversary!

About a year and 6 months ago I began toying with the idea of doing a family blog. Of people's opinions that I asked, they were all encouraging, even though I thought it was just a step above the family newsletter. Well, I thought, at least it won't be written in the third-drifting-every-few-sentences-into-the-first person; I just happen to switch tenses every so often.

First and foremost, this is a blog about Zoey and the impact she has had/does have on our lives. After Zoey was born, it was my habit to just send e-mails with pictures to my family and friends to let everyone know how we were doing. Naturally, laziness being the mother of invention, the blog (short for weblog) was created. But I was also - and I know you'll find this shocking - getting flack about my Facebook because I wasn't crazy about the super-public, say-anything-you-want-with-no-tact atmosphere that tends to creep to the surface every so often. It's also the source of gossip when the information is sporadic at best, so I decided to over-share, and Montana Roadtrippin' was born!

Two thousand and ten views later and I feel special, even if my number one audience is my mom and spam-bots in Russia. Writing about our lives has made me appreciate them that much more. We do a lot of traveling, and see a lot of neato things, and have a lot of great experiences. We may have tough times, but - with a wave - you never remember those.

We'll continue to love, laugh, and grow, and document it here, so thanks for stopping by! :-)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Elmo's Kisses

It was the weekend so that means we ran errands. And by run errands I mean either went to Target or Wal-Mart. How have I been functioning this long without a Swiffer Wet-Jet?! I also needed some new underwear because, let's face it, I'm not getting any bigger. Their magnitude of Valentine's leftover was on clearance so Jacob got me a pair of slippers (neither of us noticed until we got home they were for size 11/12), we got some candy, and this Hug and Kiss Elmo. Seriously, you squeeze his tummy and he blows you kisses and tells you he loves you.

We let her take it with her to bed on Saturday and we could hear Elmo through the baby monitor. He really gets her in the kissing mood, before you know it she's kissing all of her toys and the dogs' tummy's. Of course, nothing trumps "baby, baby?!"

Kisses to you on this Monday!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Non-Lady's V-Day

Just so you think I'm not a complete dunce in the Valentine's department when it comes to my husband, I thought I'd share how I made him feel special. Plus, I thought I'd toot my own horn since I'm just a teency bit proud of myself. :-D

Ok, I suck in that I waited until the day after Valentine's. Or procrastinated would be more appropriate. With primarily only using 1 car, it makes surprises a wee bit difficult. But if intentions mean anything, I knew exactly what I wanted to get him.

I got him a gift card to the auto-parts store he frequents, which, I realize - when you think about it - really isn't that special because it's the equivalent of him using our bank card to buy a car-part. But now this x-amount of dollars is irreversibly earmarked specifically for something car-related. And he can use it to knock the price down of something else, or buy x-amount of dollars worth of stuff; either way, the money is going to a car. 

Getting the gift card was a bit of a challenge, the elderly men behind the counter rarely doing them. It took two of them and two computers to ring it up after spending 15 minutes discussing how neither of them knows how to do it. Then I spotted some Chilton's manuals and knew Jacob would really love one for our Jeep. Of course, our model year wasn't on display so the elderly gentleman were again off on a search into the unknown. I did end up getting everything I wanted, and Jacob was very happy; it was the first time he had his nose buried in a book while I made dinner (instead of the other way around).

Speaking of dinner, I decided to make something special, but didn't necessarily want it to be something I'd made before. I've only made parts of this meal before - the salad, dressing, and potatoes, only with red potatoes.

 Otherwise, I punted putting this together: Cornish game hens stuffed with mushroom rice, oven-roasted potatoes, spinach salad with homemade Dijon mustard. It was pretty amazing, and I was able to determine which side of the bird was supposed to be placed up in the oven.

In all, Jacob and I are very pleased by how our Valentine's turned out, and we each got to feel special. I am just giddy for the day when Zoey brings home school-made Valentines for her Mommy and Daddy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

V-Day and I have not been the greatest of friends, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that way (Monica: "You're working on Valentine's Day?" Fireman: "Oh yeah, it's our busiest night of the year.") I think schools had it right when they made you give a Valentine to every kid in the class regardless of your feelings for them, a subliminal message that even people you don't care for deserve to be nice to. And it makes you feel good inside to brighten someones day (ha! And you all thought I didn't have a soul, especially when I drink wine).

Last year, Jacob and I didn't do anything even remotely related to celebrating Valentine's Day. We got home from work, made some chicken strips and french fries, let our then-five-month-old baby roll around naked on her Winnie the Pooh blanket and, most likely, fell asleep in front of the television. Valentine's Day is what you make of it. It can be some sort of validation of your relationship, or it could be a day to not really take yourself too seriously, to do fun, heart-warming (PUN!) things for your friends. For example, my friend, Mer, sent me this video even though she makes relentless fun of me for watching The Bachelor (seriously if you're not watching, then reading, you're not really living). "Bring me my girlfriend and a bottle of wine." We decided this would be our song.

Duh. Sorry, I was talking about my husband.......So, last year we didn't do anything. But I suggested that since we didn't get each other anything for this-last Christmas that we should go all-out with Valentine's Day; by which I mean silly Valentine's, flowers, candy, maybe some ridiculous pair of underwear, whatever. Being the most awesome person there is, he got me this:

It's a Flip video camera. It's looks like a camera, and that is often what people think when you point it at them. My friend, Derek, had one during Session one year and most of his videos were of people standing there, arms around each other, smiling (I think he later used it to film Jacob and I's wedding video). It is the best thing ever. Jacob always worries so much about getting me something I'll like but he always gets something extraordinary. He knows I get frustrated easily with a lot of buttons; I'm constantly overwhelmed by all of the different buttons and switches in the car, and when he installed a super-digital car stereo, I about ripped all of my hair out. The Flip has a left, right, up, down, record, play, delete, and power button. I'm in heaven. It takes nothing to whip it out and record Zoey doing something awesome, and it's easy to hide since....well, you'll see......(I've shot just over 30 videos of Zoey with the camera and they all end the same way)

He gave it to me last Wednesday as soon as the mailman dropped it off. We're horrible at getting presents for each other, always resisting the urge to give it to the other as soon as we have it. Then, like this evening, we like to tell the story of how we obtained our respective presents.

I wasn't really expecting anything from him today since he got me the camera, and it's not something that is necessary to work into our budget (that's my fancy way of saying we're poor). And when my coworker, Sunny, came up to me and asked that I come with her to her desk in the front I was convinced I was in trouble about something and just trying to not be nervous. And there Jacob stood! And he was holding this:

The shoe is a ring holder! He saw it in the shop where he got the flowers and decided I must have it. Even better, he delivered it in person. He told me he thought about having it delivered but decided he'd rather see me and knew I'd be happy to see him. Unfortunately, since he had the car, I had to have his Valentine delivered:

Heart-shaped 3-cheese pizza. He later told me that when he went to the receptionist to get the pizza she joked, "Wouldn't it be funny if the pizza was in the shape of a heart?" And Jacob said, "Yeah, that would be pretty cool."And Ta-dah!

Although we've spent the majority of this evening like any other evening - Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune-watching, playing and snuggling with Zoey in between her asking for a cracker (I swear the kid runs on Saltines), and generally not doing anything special - it's been one of the better Valentine's Days. 

Tomorrow I want to get a couple of things for Jacob, then - thanks to buying bananas at Costco - I have a few banana loaves to make. I hope everyone felt loved, if even in the smallest of ways, and ultimately had a happy Valentine's Day (or just a good day for the sake of having a good day).

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Baby Merlin's Magic Sleepsuit Lives!

I discovered something interesting awhile back: when people google Baby Merlin's Magic Sleepsuit, one of my posts about the famed pajama/blanket/snow-suit hybrid is on page one (on a some-what related note, my post about our Elkhorn girls weekend is also on page one of google if you search for how to plan a girls gone wild weekend). I fear it might be misleading, though, since the title is "So Long Mr. Sleepsuit," and we've done anything but say so long. Would you believe, the story of the Sleepsuit continues....

I learned about the Magic Sleepsuit on my birth-board when Zoey was starting to out-grow being swaddled. For awhile the suit worked exactly as it should. As she got bigger, we tried to then wean her from the Sleepsuit because, apparently, it's not designed to be used when baby can roll over. Well, try telling this to Zoey who absolutely refused to sleep without putting on her suit.

She refused to sleep without it but was getting too hot wearing it - especially as summer approached - and would soon require double joints in order to even get into the thing. Baby Merlin suggests wearing two pairs of pajamas in order to wean from the Sleepsuit so we put Zoey in a onesie and jammies and - drumroll please - put the suit in the crib with her so she could snuggle with it. And that was that.

Zoey is so attached to her Baby Merlin's Magic Sleepsuit she still can't sleep without it. If she happens to drop it out of her crib, she'll stand there and cry like her ship is going down. When she's upset, her Sleepsuit is one of the things that will always instantly calm her (stuffed doggy and blankie run a close second), and oftentimes she will be playing and suddenly remember her suit isn't near her. She'll stop what she's doing as if a light bulb went on, run to wherever she thought she left it, yelling, "Schute!" We can't go anywhere without Suit, and God forbid she get put to bed without it; we need to schedule when it gets washed and make her very aware of the process so she doesn't have a complete mental breakdown.

Suit has had some dark days, though. In my anger-laden haste with the stupid Food Festival grocery store in farm-country Wisconsin, I accidentally left Suit in the shopping cart. Boy did I feel like the worst mommy in the world! Since we were staying with my uncle in Wisconsin, I think there was too much going on for Zoey to notice Suit was missing. As luck would have it, though, Suit wound up on his own vacation to the Lost-And-Found Bin Resort. Jacob suggested someone might have taken it but I said, "No one would have known what it was," then we joked about what must have happened when someone found it. On our way out of town, we decided it couldn't hurt to see if Suit was still at the store. So a big thank you to whomever took Suit to the Customer Service Desk!! Bonus, it was fun when the girl behind the counter gave me a puzzling look and said, "What is this?"

Maybe Zoey did know he was missing and that is why she is so in-tune to his whereabouts today. And, wow, Suit has seem some better days. There is a giant rip up the back but she refuses to let Daddy have it long enough to sew it up (yes, that's right, Daddy. Daddy knows how to sew, Mommy doesn't). We have to distract her so she doesn't notice Suit, Foofy (stuffed dog), and "Bank (blankie)" going in the washer and dryer otherwise she'll bang on the laundry room door, crying, "SCHUTE! SCHUTE!" And she looks at it a little funny when it comes out of the dryer.

Aside from being totally adorable, it's incredibly heart-warming to see her love something so much. We're happy Baby Merlin's Magic Sleepsuit has long surpassed it's expectations, is totally worth the $45 (no, seriously, worth every last cent), came to a good home, and is getting lots of hugs and cuddles. So, no so long, Magic Sleepsuit; Sleepsuit lives!

A New Kind of Normal

I played it off like the transition from last year to this year was no big deal, that it was just another day. Boy, what a misjudgment that was.

Auntie Rachael (Jacob's sister) watched Zoey while we were at work for the last time the very beginning of January. Now she's taking it as easy as she can with a 4-year old, concentrating on baking that new niece of ours. It seems like her pregnancy has gone by really fast, although I'm sure she won't say the same thing. It's fun to be pregnant when you start to look pregnant, but then the reality of the baby hits around  month 8 and you spend every waking and sleeping moment in sheer panic. It really is a beautiful time.

Zoey's daycare wasn't allowed to take her more than one day a week until February so DUN DA DUH DUN! Super Grandma to the rescue! While my dad and (primarily) my uncle were eating the food and drinking the water in South America, and subsequently winding up in the hospital for 5 days (uncle), my mom was babysitting Zoey. It worked out even better because I was able to work a full week helping pack up the office. At the end of January my mom said, in discussing her return to Tucson, "It will be nice to get back to your normal routine again." But I thought, it won't be our normal routine; it will just be a new kind of normal. "Gamma's" visit was fun, though, and here's some proof:

 Rock star baby.

 Rock star baby who has a fascination with viewing her own paparazzi photos.

 Oh, what do you know, Simon Cowell!

 Just arriving home from shopping with Grandma.

 Grandma got her a Gourmet Cooking Set, which she LOVES. More than anything, she loves the noise the whatever-it's-made-out-of-to-resemble-metal sounds like against the coffee table.

Learning some tricks of the trade from gourmet chef, "Gamma."

 Floppin' around in some of Gamma's flip-flops.

 Showing Gamma how she uses a colander.

 You'd never believe how skinny I am if you knew how much I baked. I'm throwing a banana bread together.....


What it exploded to after. I may have used just a touch, or two, or three more bananas than necessary. I like banana-y bread but this resulted in a big ball of raw dough in the middle.

 She LOVES bath time. You'll never see her face light up more than when you ask her if she wants to take a bath.

 Gettin' scrubbed down by scrubber-ducky.

 Jacob keeping the peace with a little Kumbaya. Just kidding. :-) Jacob plays guitar very well, but not as well as he would like but that's just because he doesn't play enough. He is self-taught - which is extraordinary - and no doubt has the capacity to learn more. I couldn't play a musical instrument if my life depended on it.

 Here I am, the stick insect with no soul, doing some more baking, this time chocolate chip cookies. (I eat, I swear. Even my mother, who would be first to harp on me if I wasn't eating enough said, "I've seen you eat! You eat a lot!")

It was high-time I put the cookie spatula my mom gave me for Christmas to good use.

 Finished product. If I may toot my own horn - TOOT TOOT!

 Zoey loves to play around and snuggle on the super-cushy blanket her other Grandma - Jacob's mom - made her. We're in the process of trying to commission her to make us all one. :-)

 Hmm...there are no more toys in here, I don't understand how that could possibly be.

 Building one of her famous block towers with Mommy.

 "See the baby??" is what she says every time you take a picture of her and she happens to notice the camera. Now we move in stealth mode and keep it hidden until the very last second in order to get a picture of her doing something other than pointing at the camera from 2 inches away.

 Figuring out other ways to ride her horsey.

 "Gamma," Zoey, and I went shopping at one of our favorite places, Ross. We didn't have the time and energy for much else which was fine because Ross pretty much has everything you could ever want to buy that doesn't include food. Well, they do have a specialty candy aisle which I only avoided because Zoey was tugging me to the kids section.

 When I was younger, I swore I'd never put my kid on a leash. Well, Younger Self, they are a GOD-SEND! Being the investigative toddler she is, Zoey always has to run off and check out everything, as you can see. And if I hold her on my hip too long she starts to freak out. Case in point: I was holding her to flip through the dresses and she kept saying, "books, books." Finally - according to her - I had looked at the dresses long enough and she started crying for the "books!" So she led the way, found a book and plopped herself in the middle of the aisle to flip through it. We settled on a Thomas and Friends book.

She also loves chairs, running across a store and announcing "chair!" Although she loves "Bob Bob," once she got the chair situated, she really didn't want to have anything to do with it. She is partial to small chairs for small bottoms that look like big chairs for bigger bottoms.

January brought a steady schedule, but it still had it's erratic moments, and it was only a month long. February came with a brand new schedule: daycare 3 days a week, and me working in a new office, causing a slight ripple through the rest of our time-tables. It's nothing but good, though, nothing that won't benefit us in some fashion or another.

With the holidays over and my mom back in Arizona, things are a lot quieter around the house. But each new change brings things to be thankful for, and better prepares us for the next time we have a new kind of normal.