A (Snow)Day in the Life

Happy Snow Day! There is nothing better than a snow day.  Especially one that kind of came out of nowhere.  I love reading these types of posts on other blogs, and thought it could be a fun way to document a lazy day around our house!

5:00 am: Wake up with alarm, get dressed in gym clothes, and make the bed.  Head downstairs and unload the dishwasher and pack breakfasts/lunches for Norah and I. Let the dog out and realize that it’s snowing.  Like, actually snowing.  Check my phone and see that the federal government and DC Public Schools have a delay and realize that it’s probably not worth driving in the snow to get to the gym for a run and 6am BodyPump class.  I take the clothes out of the wash from last night and put in the dryer.

5:30 am: Put food back in fridge, take contacts out, put pajamas back on, un-make the bed and get back into bed. Mike is definitely on board.

7:30 am: Alarm #2 goes off and I hop in the shower.  While I was dozing, I got a text message saying that River was on a two-hour delay, so I need to be ready to go by 8 to wake Norah up in time to leave for work by 9.  With snowy conditions, I give myself an hour to get to work, and N’s daycare starts at 10.  As I head to the bathroom, we hear Norah stir, which is unusual.  Normally on days that we don’t have to get up for school, she’ll sleep until 8 or 8:30.  Mike goes to play with her and read books while I get ready.

8:00 am: I am ready for work and take Norah from Mike so that he can shower. Norah and I eat breakfast: a big bowl of oatmeal with almond milk, blueberries and peanut butter for me, and a scoop of my oatmeal and a scrambled egg for Norah.  We wash the breakfast dishes and prep food for dinner in the crockpot.  I put a spaghetti squash, a lb of frozen turkey meatballs, and a jar of marinara sauce in the crockpot to cook on low all day, then I load up the car with my work bag and our food.  I take the dry clothes out of the dryer and throw them in my room to fold/sort later.

8:45 am: We head upstairs to get Norah dressed and Mike is ready for work, too.  We decide that it’s best that I give him a ride to the Rosslyn Metro since he left his car at work last night (he went to the Caps/Penguins game with some friends).  I put Norah in an adorable German dress from Nana and Papa and Mike yells, “The River School is closed?!?”  As he was loading his things in the car, he checked his phone (mine was already in the car) and he saw that school had been cancelled.  Woo hoo!! I take Norah out of her pretty dress and into some comfy clothes and Mike heads to work in the Jeep. (P.S. I love how Annabelle is curled up in the rocker behind Mike in Norah’s room!)

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9:00 am: Norah spends some time reading her books in her room while I read in the rocker next to her.  I’m currently reading How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm: And Other Adventures in Parenting and it’s really interesting.  It’s basically just a bunch of snippets about differing parenting styles from around the world, but an easy book to pick up here or there.  After awhile she gets tired of books so Norah and I go to my room, where I put away some laundry.  She helps by pulling all of the shoes off of my shelf.  We have our first “break” of the day.  Basically, if she gets too silly or has trouble listening, she needs to “take a break” until she’s calmed down and ready to listen.  When I asked her to help clean up the pile of shoes, she giggled and ran away, and was not compliant, so we had to take a break until she was ready to follow directions.  It actually doesn’t take that long (max 1-2 minutes) until she’s ready as long as Mike and I are consistent and nip any misbehaviors right in the bud.  If we lag or give her leeway for anything, she keeps pushing and I swear those breaks take 10 minutes.  I put a new load of laundry in.

10:00 am: We eat snack: apple slices and almond butter.  Norah loves dipping her food into things (hummus, guacamole, ketchup) and she had fun trying to dip her apples into the stiff almond butter.  She eventually gave up and started eating the apple butter with her hands (and got it everywhere in the process!)

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We head into the playroom and Norah plays with trains and puzzles while I cuddle with Annabelle and thumb through catalougs on the couch.  Norah can crawl on and off the couch now so she had a lot of fun climbing up and down over and over again.  She started to lay down in the playroom and get increasingly cranky, so I decided to put her down for a morning nap.  We had a busy weekend in Boston, and she didn’t get much sleep Sunday night, so I was wondering if lack of sleep had caught up with her.  I put the laundry in the dryer (thrilling, right?).  As I take out the clothes, I find this in the dryer:  a sticker from the Boston Aquarium and our trip to see Shane and Amanda!

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11:00 am: After a fresh diaper, we read Quiet Bunny and Little Owl’s Night and I put Norah down.  I head outside to shovel the driveway, where it becomes immediately clear to me that having a corner lot stinks.  While we only got 2-3 inches last night, there was a layer of thick ice all over our driveway and sidewalks from the weekend snow storm.  Because we were out of town, we were unable to clear our driveway on Saturday.  Then, a warm sunny day on Sunday lead a lot of the snow to melt before an extreme cold front came through, which left a horrible icy mess in our driveway and on our sidewalks.  After about an hour and a half, I’ve cleared the sidewalks and most of the driveway and I’m ready to call it quits.  It’s REALLY hard to break up ice like that.

12:30 pm: I take an Advil and settle in to watch some TV.  Annabelle was watching my progress on the driveway from the window the whole time, and as soon as I came in, she practically sighed to say, “Finally, now we can relax!” and jumped onto the couch.  Right on cue, Norah wakes up!

1:00 pm: Norah and I eat lunch: leftovers from last night’s dinner of pork carnitas, sliced avocado and roasted broccoli.  We talked about what she would be bringing in for snack on Monday and settled on zucchini bread and watermelon :)  We did the dishes (which basically consisted of rinsing out the containers from the lunches I packed this morning) and I decided we should get out of the house for a walk.

1:42 pm: I put a harness, snow coat and leash on Annabelle.  I put snow pants, snow boots and an Ergo on myself.  I put a snow bib, snow boots, jacket, hat, and mittens on Norah, then snap her into the Ergo.  I put on my jacket, a hat, gloves and a scarf, and we’re off!

2:00 pm:  The above process took 18 minutes. Literally.  But it’s beautiful out! And we’re immediately hot in all of our layers. I take one of the first selfies of us ever.

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2:30 pm: We’re back home and we shake off all of our clothes.  Annabelle immediately retreats to a pillow on the couch and I put Norah down for her afternoon nap.  I’m not convinced she’ll actually take a second nap today, but I figure it can’t hurt to try.  She chatters for a good 30 minutes before falling asleep.

2:45 pm: I head back outside to finish clearing the driveway, and I remember that it still stinks to have a corner lot.  I decide that we’ll always be hiring some teenager to clear our driveway if we ever go out of town again when it snows.

3:30 pm: Back inside and ready to relax!  I settle on the couch with Annabelle and another book, HIIT It!, by Gina Harney.  I doze on and off for about an hour, then I wake up and start to work on this blog post and watch a little bit of The Bachelor from Monday night.  So obsessed.

5:30 pm: Mike’s home!!  He got to leave work early due to the snow.  He immediately heads outside to “finish” my snow shoveling job.  Hrumph. Norah begins to stir.  (That’s right…she took a THREE HOUR afternoon nap.  I guess she was pretty tired!)  I get her out of her crib and we start baking!

6:00 pm: There’s not much to do for dinner because we made everything in the crock pot this morning, so I decide to make a simple gingerbread cake with Norah.  It takes less than 5 minutes to put together, but Norah has fun stirring the batter for at least 10 minutes.

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6:30 pm: We have dinner, which is really yummy. The slow cooker makes the spaghetti squash really tender as the meatballs and marinara sauce cook, so it’s a simple job to scrape out the flesh of the squash and mix with the sauce and meatballs.  We then each have a piece of gingerbread, which Norah proclaims, “Yum, yum, yummy!”  Norah is beginning to learn to drink from an open cup but is still spilling a lot.  Check out that shirt!

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Mike plays with Norah with our kitchen magnets while we clean up and then we all head to the playroom together.

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7:30 pm: Mike takes Norah upstairs for her bedtime routine and I begin to get ready for tomorrow’s work day.  I pack lunches and breakfast and finish tidying up.

8:15 pm: Mike and I are on the couch catching up on some DVR.  We just finished Downton Abbey (the scandal!) and I’m angling to get him to finish The Bachelor with me before we watch Modern Family and Rehab Addict.  I think we’ll be in bed around 10, ready to do it all again tomorrow!

That was a really long post…thanks for hanging in there! Next day in the life will be a typical work day…so much less details!

Miss Independent

Wow.  It’s been…what, 4 months since my last blog post? I believe the last time we chatted was in October.  And before then, I only had sporadic check ins, even after my valiant attempts to write more over the summer and to make time for blogging during the school year.

Well this morning I had quite the reality check.  My loving, sweet, easy-going newborn has turned into a spirited, verbose, and happy toddler.  Norah is 18 months old and not a minute goes by that she doesn’t state her opinion on something or demand that a whim be met.  She’s forever begging “more?” at the dinner table, “Annabelle play!” with the dog, and “singing, singing, singing!!!” from the second we get into the car.  You see, Norah HATES her car seat, and I began singing to her months ago in an effort to help her take her mind off of the car seat and to help her “enjoy the ride”, if you will.  But if you don’t know, toddlers are extreme creatures of habit, and once Norah began to expect songs in the car, then by God she was going to have songs in the car.  As her requests of “more singing please” turned into shrieks of “singing, singing, singing!!!!” I would sing the entire commute to and from work until I was hoarse.  The worst part is that she was not pacified by any old song on the radio.  If I tried to sing along to, say, Zac Brown Band or Dave Matthews, she would yell, “No!” and wave her arms until I stopped (the only exception being any Taylor Swift song…mama’s girl!)  So, every morning at 7:25 I would slowly drive myself insane as I sang “The Wheels on the Bus” for the millionth time.  I began to truly hate the car.  Not because I didn’t want to interact and engage with Norah (and trust me, her bopping along to music is the cutest thing in the world)…but because my voice hurt and I’m really sick of nursery rhymes.

Fast forward to today, when Norah spotted a toy as Michael is going to load her into the car seat.  He tells her that she can have it once she’s strapped in, and she is eagerly pacified because this toy is super fun.  It’s a toy remote with flashing lights and it plays songs every time a button is pushed.  Norah is thrilled to have a toy in the car, and I backed out of the driveway to *silence* instead of shrieks for singing.

We drive all the way to the Chain Bridge, and I’m so pumped the entire way.  I slowly start to turn up my talk radio louder and louder as we go and I can’t quite believe that I’m “getting away” with driving without needing to entertain Norah.  I almost pat myself on the back for thinking of a good distraction tool for car times, and think to myself, “This is wonderful! She doesn’t need me anymore in the car!”

And that’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks.  My little baby, who it seems it was only seconds ago used to rely completely on her momma for food, comfort, and warmth, and now she was happily entertaining herself in the car by herself thank.you.very.much.  Norah not only didn’t need me this morning…she didn’t even want my singing!  My heart caught in my throat as I thought of all of the other “doesn’t need me” milestones in her life, like putting herself back to sleep after a bad dream, or walking by herself to her kindergarten classroom.  The next thing you know, I’m envisioning her asking me to drop her off at the mall from around the corner and taking her to college her freshmen year.  I spent a few quiet minutes in the garage at work sniffling and snuggling with (a very confused) Norah thinking about how fast these 18 months have gone.  I am so proud and thrilled about the learning she’s done and the growth and strides that she’s made in the last few months…but man, can time slow down?!?!

I don’t want to forget the little things from this time, as each phase of our life as a family of 3 (4-sorry, Annabelle!) has been so different, fun, and unexpected from the one before.  I want to use this blog as a way to record big changes, as well as the little every day miracles.

They say that February 24th is on average the day that most people have dropped their New Year’s Resolutions.  But, better late than never, my 2015 resolution:  to blog more, 1-2 times a week.  No major posts (unless I feel like it!) but just enough to pop in, say hi, and discuss the every day, beautiful and ever-changing ways that our Little Miss is coming into her own.  Our little Miss Independent.

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Salamander Spa Weekend

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My mom and sister treated me to a fantastic girl’s weekend for my 30th (gulp!) birthday. We celebrate milestone birthdays with a trip, and it was hard to believe that we could top the cruise we took for my mom’s 60th birthday a couple of years ago, but they outdid themselves! They spent months and months planning the trip, and we had such a fun time.  My mom and sister made sure that we went somewhere close to the east coast for me to be near Norah and my mom did a ton of research on a new resort that opened up in Middleburg, VA called the Salamander.  During the third weekend in September, they flew in from Austin and Colorado and we drove together out to Middleburg on Thursday night.

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We ate a fun dinner at the resort and watched a movie in our room before calling it an early night.  We had a 7:00 am yoga appointment Friday morning!  Middleburg is horse country, and we were able to take a sunrise yoga class in the horse stables.  It was so cool!  Getting up that early was painful, but we had a really neat time.  After our class we ate breakfast and then got ready for a morning of shopping in downtown Middleburg.  We went into antique stores and clothing boutiques before having lunch in a cafe.

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The Salamander offers a complimentary shuttle from the resort to nearby wineries.  Which meant that our plan for Friday afternoon was to visit some wineries!  We had so much fun during our wine tastings, and we split bottles of wine on the porch while chatting and catching up.

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Once we made it back to the resort, we got ready for dinner at the Red Fox Inn in downtown Middleburg and we spent the entire evening on Friday sitting around the fire pit on the back lawn of the Salamander.  We had more wine, and chatted with other guests while enjoying a perfect fall evening.  There were even s’mores! It was awesome.

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On Saturday, we checked out the spa and we took a cooking class! The resort offers a cooking class every weekend, and the theme of our class was “Game Day” foods.  It was so neat to listen to the head chef of the resort describe his methods for cooking buffalo wings, jalapeño crab poppers, and pimento cheese dip.  The resort is partnered with the Lost Rhino brewing company, so all of the recipes featured Lost Rhino beer.

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The highlight of the trip for me was Saturday evening.  We started by having a bottle of champagne on the balcony of our room, overlooking the horse trails on the grounds.  We were hoping to catch the horses return from the pastures to the stables at sundown, but we missed them.  After sundown, we went to the French Hound for dinner, which was phenomenal.  We split the lobster mac and cheese and roast chicken entrees, and they were so delicious!  We decided to forgo the fire pits and spent the evening in the game room playing Scrabble together (which of course my mom won…she’s never lost a game of Scrabble, ever!)

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On Sunday morning we took a hike around the resort before it was time to take my mom and sister back to the airport. All in all it was the perfect girls trip! Lots of wine, yummy food, and my mom and Stacey thought of everything!

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Thanks for the perfect weekend!

That time it was 38 and raining and we stood outside for 12 hours…

Greetings!

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We just returned from Norah’s first trip to Notre Dame, and it was everything that one would expect from South Bend, Indiana: fun times, beautiful campus, good football…and awful weather.  Six months ago, we all decided to trek to Notre Dame for a reunion weekend during the game against Stanford, and we had a huge group! Seventeen of us descended on South Bend on Friday and we had a fabulous weekend.  Norah was an angel baby on the flight from DC to Chicago, despite our flight being delayed 2 hours! (It didn’t hurt that the man next to us was very sweet and smiled and talked to Norah the whole flight.)

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Once we got to Chicago at 7 pm, we rented a car and drove to South Bend.  We arrived around 9 pm and borrowed a pack and play from JP (thanks, JP and Katy!) and set Norah up in our room.  We were worried that she would have trouble falling back asleep after sleeping in the car seat, but she did great!  We put her to bed and played some card games until much too late Friday night.  P.S. The house we rented was AMAZING.  Van found a house that ended up being 8 separate little suites within one huge house, which was perfect for our group. We were each able to have our own space and bathroom, and Norah had her own little wing.  Van and Tony scoped out the house before we got there, and made sure our room was the quietest for Norah.  We were on the very top floor above the garage, and Norah was able to sleep soundly both nights!

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Saturday morning, everyone got up early to pack up the car and head to campus.  Mike and I decided let Norah sleep in, eat a good breakfast, and take a good nap before we started to tailgate.  She managed to sleep through all of the beautiful weather!

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We headed to campus around 11 am and joined JP, Katy and Mary at the ACE tailgate.  It was so nice to meet Mary (20 months!) and see JP and Katy again!  Then we walked around campus for the Notre Dame brainwashing to begin!

South Quad!

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The Basilica, Golden Dome and Stadium.  It’s approximately 40 degrees and windy.  Norah was snug as a bug in a rug in our Ergo.  She zonked out for a nap after lunch for almost two hours while we walked around campus!

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While Norah slept on Dad’s back, we joined our group at our tailgate and hung out with everyone. By this point, it had started to rain, so we all huddled together under the tent.

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Once Norah woke up, she had to experience all that tailgating had to offer, so we fed her some fried chicken for her afternoon snack. By this point, the rain was coming down, and we had A LOT of people under the tent.

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The highlight of the tailgate was hanging out with Animal, and raising the Matterhorn flag.

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Then it was finally game time! By this point, we had been outside with Norah for close to 5 hours, and it was only getting colder.  Even though we were both warm and cozy, I decided to take Norah home before the game started while everyone else went inside. Kara and Katie and I walked back with Norah and we were sooooo happy with our decision.  While we were walking home, the “real feel” temperature was 28 degrees and the rain had turned into freezing rain.  When we walked in the door we all took hot showers and started the fire.  We watched the game from the family room in the house while Norah played on the floor and our friends almost caught hypothermia.  During half time, Amanda walked home as well, and the four of us planned dinner for the group.  While we were home, everyone showed their devotion to ND by standing in this weather for 4 hours:

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After the game, everyone walked home (Norah was already in bed) and we all ate BBQ and pizza.  We watched the Nats blow a tied ball game at home by playing the longest game EVER. Seriously, we watched a baseball game that went to 18 innings.  We all went to bed early (you know, if 1 am is early) and headed back to Chicago to fly home Sunday morning.

Once we got home, Mike and I were ready to hit the road and get home, but thankfully O’Neill was traveling with us.  We sped off the plane and waited for him in at the gate at DCA because he was seated about 4 rows behind us.  We waited and waited…then he finally walked off the plane…with our carseat! We had gate checked Norah’s carseat in Chicago, and then completely forgot to wait to pick it up on the jet bridge.  Luckily, he saw it as he walked by and grabbed it for us!  Thank god for Mike O’Neill!

While we were gone, Annabelle was taken care of by our friends who also own a daschund. The two of them became fast friends andAnnabelle made herself at home right away!

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What a great weekend! Excited to go to another game…in September.

12 Months!

Norah, August 9, 2013:

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Norah, August 9, 2014:

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It’s hard to believe that an entire year has passed since Norah Grace entered our lives!  She’s been surprising us since day 1 (with a due date of August 21 and a scheduled c-section date of August 13, arriving on August 9 threw us for a loop!), and she never fails to put a smile on our faces. Every one who meets her comments on how happy she is and she rolls with the punches so easily.  That’s not to say that we haven’t had some crazy hard nights and days in the last year, but we are so lucky to have such a happy, easy going girl.

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There have been some big milestones in her development since our 11-month update, and they’ve mostly been related to Mike and I!  I started weaning Norah at the 11-month mark, and she was fully weaned by her 1st birthday.  We had a celebratory nursing session the morning of her birthday and that was that!  I still pumped for a day or two to help my body adjust but now we’re all done with that! It was a huge emotional milestone for me, and was something that I dreaded for weeks (“Will she be ok without nursing? Will she adjust to cow’s milk?  Will she be able to be soothed without her mother?!?”) and of course my fears were unfounded.  Norah did great switching from nursing to bottle-feeding until her first birthday.  Once her first birthday hit, we transitioned her from bottles to straw cups (no sippy cups here!) and she drinks a cup of cow’s milk and water with every meal and snack, and she will take some milk after her afternoon nap and before bedtime.  I’ve also discovered that I LOVE not living my life in three hour increments based around when Norah will need to nurse next.  There are some benefits to growing up!

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On the eating front, Norah is getting much better with chewing her food, so we’re becoming more comfortable giving her larger bites of food.  And breaking news…she’s using a spoon to feed herself consistently! We’ve always pre-loaded spoons for her to feed herself hummus or yogurt, but daycare has started putting her food in bowls and handing her spoons, and they report that she is able to feed herself!  We’ve not noticed that as much at home, but I’m excited that she’s doing so well at daycare.  Speaking of which…I’m back at work for the school year, so Norah is back at her old stomping grounds in the Ladybug class at school.  Now she’s officially one of the “big” kids, and it’s crazy to think of how far she’s come.  In the mornings, I’ve taken to sitting her down at the breakfast table, and walking out!  Last year, it was a big production where I would change her diaper, nurse her, get her breakfast warmed up, then give her teachers detailed instructions for the day.  It’s definitely a little bittersweet seeing her settle into her day so quickly, but I’m trying to roll with it!

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Mike and I also had a big milestone in that we left her with her grandparents to go to Maine.  Again, leading up to the trip I was a nervous wreck worried about whether or not Norah would be ok (“Will she drink cow’s milk? Will she be too much of a handful for Oma and Grandpa? Will she cry every minute of every day missing me?”)  Once we kissed Norah good bye at the airport, Mike and I found that we had a great trip, and we didn’t even miss, or think, about Norah all that often!  It was so good to get away the two of us, and Norah (and Annabelle!) had a great time with Amanda’s parents.

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Norah still isn’t walking yet, but she is getting more comfortable with cruising around the edges of furniture and she has a little walking push-toy that she loves pushing around our house.  She’s still wearing her little “baby” shoes with soft bottoms, but we just bought her a pair of real shoes to use once she is actually walking/running around!

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She is still a social butterfly and a chatterbox, and her vocabulary is growing every day!  The other day for the first ND game, Mike taught her to say, “Irish!” and she will point to ducks and say “Quack quack”.  Her favorite word is still “more” and she consistently says, “dada”, “hi”, “mama”, “doggie”, and “Norah”.  Every morning, Mike will walk her to the light switch to turn on the light in her nursery, and she will always point to a picture we have hanging above the light switch and say, “Nona, Nona!”  It’s pretty cute.  No new teeth, but she appears to have her fist in her mouth at all times, so I think her one-year molars must be coming in soon.

She’s still a champ in the sleeping department, and daycare has started to transition her from two daily naps (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) to one afternoon nap.  There are some days that she does really well, and other days where she will fall asleep in the stroller at daycare or in the car on the way home. She has also transitioned from sleeping in a crib at daycare to sleeping on a mat on the ground :(  When did our baby get so big!?!

We love our little Norah Grace so much and we can’t believe how quickly and completely she has captured our hearts and entered our family so seamlessly.  I love looking at the pictures below to see how much she’s grown and how far we’ve come!

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What a wonderful year!

 

Our Maine Adventure!

August in DC can be pretty miserable, so Mike and I decided to take a trip to Portland, Maine to escape the heat and humidity. We left Norah with her grandparents and enjoyed a wonderful week sans baby! It was the first time the two of us had been away from Norah overnight since she was born, which was over a year ago!

Our afternoon flight had us landing in Portland in around 2 pm, so we rented a car and headed to Whole Foods to stock up on provisions (read: lots of Maine microbrews!) before heading to an apartment we found in the West End on airbnb.  Deciding to rent an apartment for the week was the best decision ever.  We loved having places to sit and relax, and having a kitchen to eat breakfast and make appetizers before dinner was perfect for us.

Our first night in town we headed to Portland Lobster Company for dinner on the water in the downtown harbor.  The first of many lobster rolls:

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After dinner, we went to my first Minor League Baseball game! The Portland Sea Dogs hosted the Akron Rubber Ducks, and we had a blast.  We also got ridiculous seats behind home plate and the mascot (Slugger the Sea Dog) was on the dugout for much of the game.  I kept trying to get my picture taken with him, but he kept giving me the cold shoulder.  The Sea Dogs won!

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Wednesday morning was a cold, dreary, rainy day.  So we scrapped our plans of going to Kennebunkport and beachin’ and decided to go on a DIY driving lighthouse tour instead.  Our first stop was Bug Light on the breakwaters outside of Portland.  It was a really cute, small lighthouse, and we loved learning about the history of the area.  The docks and shipyards of Maine were utilized to build a ton of ships during WWII, which I hadn’t known before our trip.

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Then our drive took us to Spring Point Ledge Light, which was right near Southern Maine College.  It doesn’t look too menacing from the picture, but the granite walkway from the beach to the base of the lighthouse was crazy!  It was slippery from the rain and SUPER windy.  I thought we were going to blow away during the entire 200 yard walk.  (In the picture below, you’ll see a family with four kids just frolicking and leaping from rock to rock.  Mike and I were a bit more cautious. Once we got to the lighthouse, I almost cried thinking about having to walk back across the walkway to the car.  We were soaked!)

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Yikes!  I was super happy to just be back on solid ground when we finished with the Spring Point lighthouse, and there was a bit of a drive to the next lighthouse, which was the Portland Head Light lighthouse near Fort Williams.  We spent some time walking on the hiking trail around Fort Williams, and enjoyed some sunshine that broke through the clouds while we were there.  It was beautiful!

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By this point, it was lunch time!  We drove to our last stop (due to the weather, we crossed a couple of lighthouses off of our list) which was in Cape Elizabeth.  We had been told by a couple of people that The Lobster Shack at Two Lights Point in Cape Elizabeth was pretty awesome, so we had to stop.  We think that The Lobster Shack must be pretty amazing when it’s sunny!  We were really bummed that the weather deterred us from enjoying the views and deck.  We sat inside, but we still had a great time.  We ordered two lobster rolls and a cup of the hottest clam chowder we’d ever had!  We were still cold and wet and we ate it all, but we both burned our tongues! I wish I could tell you if it was good or not. While we were there, we saw two more lighthouses, both of which are no longer open to the public.  One is a private residence (it was turned into an apartment…how cool!)

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After we decided to skip the rest of our lighthouse tour, we figured that we should head indoors.  We drove about 30 miles northwest of Portland to Freeport, Maine to the headquarters of LL Bean.  We had heard that the flagship shop of LL Bean was HUGE and near some outlet stores.  We thought we’d spend a fun afternoon walking around the outlets.  Well.  By the time we GOT to Freeport in the traffic on 95 (somehow we were still plagued by traffic on 95 even though we were in Maine!!) and then found a parking spot in what could only be described as “Disney for Hikers” we descended on LL Bean Land.  We walked through LL Bean Home, Hunting and Fishing, Boat & Ski, Shoes, an entire store devoted to duffel bags, becoming more dazed with each turn of an aisle.  Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was really cool, and there were many things I thought I would need.  But, by the end of the LL Bean venture, Mike and I were ready to call it quits (which is saying something…we love shopping.) We were still damp, and feeling tired, despite a mid-afternoon Ben and Jerry’s stop.  We called it quits, and headed back to the apartment.  (Somehow we were at LL Bean for 2.5 hours and didn’t take one picture of the monstrosity.)

Once we were finally home after sitting in traffic again, we both changed into pajamas and cranked the heat in our apartment.  We made it home in the nick of time; as we walked in the door, the wind picked up and the rain started coming down in buckets.  Renting an apartment again proved to be the best idea, because we took advantage of the owner’s Netflix and AppleTV account and watched a bunch of movies while the rain came down.  We ate chips and salsa and drank beers and had a wonderful afternoon.  (The pictures do NOT do the rain justice-the news stations reported the next day that between 6 and 9.5 inches of rain fell.  There were reports of parked cars floating away!) Once we got hungry, we decided to run down the block to a pizza joint called Bonobo and had a great dinner.  We were the only ones in the restaurant and had some delicious crispy pizza. Totally worth getting soaked again!

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The next morning dawned bright and beautiful so we decided to drive to Kennebunkport to enjoy the beaches and hiking trails around the town.  Unfortunately, the heavy rains the day before caused some pretty high seas so our lobster boat tour was cancelled! Which was a huge bummer, because we were pretty stoked to haul lobster pots, Deadliest Catch style.  We didn’t find out until after we had gotten up early to catch the boat, so we got some coffee to keep us going.  Coffee By Design=delicious.

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We headed to an AMAZING beach outside of Kennebunkport called Goose Rocks Beach, and had so much fun walking up and down the shoreline.  By the way: the ocean in Maine is really cold.  We only got our ankles wet, but had a lot of fun watching kids splash around like it was 102 degrees in Daytona. Note to self: we’re totally coming back to Goose Rocks Beach.  We spent the majority of the morning discussing the merits of becoming “summer people” in Maine. And we tried to take a selfie, but we’re just bad at them.

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We drove around Kennebunkport before heading to lunch and saw the Bush compound!  We went to lunch at The Clam Shack and were pretty excited because it was voted best lobster roll for 2011, 2012 and 2013.  We went into it thinking, “How good can they be?”  We had already had a ton of delicious lobster but we went into with an open mind and Oh.My.God. were the lobster rolls delicious.  It was a literally the best thing I’ve ever eaten.  Each lobster roll came with over a pound of meat on it (two claws and three tails) and no dressing, just a cup of melted butter to pour over the bread and sweet lobster before you ate it.  We split a lobster roll and a basket of full belly clams (and didn’t take a picture before we started!)  One of the reasons people say The Clam Shack is the best is that the lobster is so fresh.  We can attest to that, as we saw a delivery of lobster right as we ate!  As the fisherman was walking out, he called to the hostess, “Pick you up at 4:30!”  Talk about local products!  Love.

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We had to forgo our reservations at Mabel’s Lobster Claw in Kennebunkport because we had dinner at Fore Street that night! Easily the highlight of our trip, we made reservations the minute we decided on Portland.  Even with 4 weeks notice, the only time we could get for dinner the entire week was 9:30 pm on Thursday.  We decided to get appetizers at Eventide based on Van’s recommendation, and had some delicious cocktails and 2 dozen oysters.  We had 4 Komomuto oysters, and asked the waitress to select 20 of her favorite Maine specialties, and she didn’t disappoint!  They were delicious, and my Manhattan and Mike’s Allagash Tripel were amazing as well.

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After we polished off some oysters at Eventide, we headed to Fore Street (based on Ana’s recommendation) and waited at the bar with a bottle of wine before we sat for dinner.  We had pretty ridiculous food for dinner, and started with a trio of mushrooms salad.  I had hangar steak for dinner, and Mike had duck.  Both were incredible and we polished off our plates! Easily one of the most fun times we’ve had in awhile.  We contemplated getting dessert, but we were so stuffed that we declined.

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On Friday morning, we woke up bright and early (much too bright and early given the cocktails and wine from the night before) to catch the ferry to Peaks Island.  We had booked a kayak tour and I was so excited!

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Once we arrived on Peaks Island, we met our kayak tour guide and met with the rest of our group.  We decided to take a tour of various Civil War forts around Casco Bay and set off for a three-hour tour.  As we reviewed the safety information, our tour guide mentioned the possibility of capsizing.  “Don’t worry, ” he said, “No one capsizes, it’s very rare.  But if you do, you’ll be back in your boat in one minute.”  He also mentioned that the water temperature is normally 66 degrees in August, but due to the recent rain, the water was 60 degrees.  “Trust me,” he said, “You don’t want to feel the water.” Well.  In the middle of our trip, one of the kayaks had mechanical difficulties and lost its rudder.  By the time our guide noticed, the kayak was 100 yards behind us.  Our guide took off like a rocket to the broken kayak, and I turned sharply around in my kayak to see what was going on.  Well. My weight shifted, and somehow I rolled out of my kayak.  Yep.  One second I was floating along all happy, then the next second I was In.The.Atlantic.Ocean.  Thankfully, I was within 10 feet of Mike.  I was freaking out because I was having trouble breathing.  The water was so cold that I lost my breath and it took me awhile to calm down.  Mike paddled over to me and I hung onto his kayak while I calmed down and he called to our guide to come help.  The guide got to us really quickly and turned my kayak over then he helped talk me through rolling back into the boat.  Overall, a stressful experience! But by the time we finished the tour, we were all laughing about it and I figured I had earned a beer for lunch at The Inn on Peaks.

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That afternoon we toured Allagash Brewery and enjoyed a tasting in the Wild Barrel room, where our favorite barrel was called “The Password is Taco” (The League, anyone?!?).

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On our last night we decided to walk to a nearby sushi restaurant and watch some more Netflix movies.  We had an early flight Saturday morning so that we could get home to our baby before breakfast.  We so loved Maine and are itching to get back! Our weather was less than stellar for much it, and we felt like we spent the entire trip saying, “Next time we should…”  That being said, it was an amazing first getaway since Norah’s birth and we had so much fun.  Now that we are back home we can’t wait to get back!

Life Lately

Heeeeeey!

Happy almost end of July! A coworker asked me yesterday if I’ve enjoyed the first half of the summer, and my first thought was, “Only half of the summer has passed? Yes!” I feel like our summer has been a constant whirlwind between the Oliver east coast trip, our KY Houseboat adventure and my mom’s trip to DC. We were able to spend last week slowly catching up with things (like laundry and cleaning) but we also crossed some things off my summer to-do list.

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(Norah tried to be helpful during our cleaning spree, but not so much…)

We’ve been loving lots of hiking lately, with and without Annabelle. Sometimes we take the Kelty hiking baby carrier and sometimes I just use the Ergo. We hiked around a park in N Arlington last week (the name of which escapes me) and this morning we went to River Bend Park (one of my all-time favorites and definitely DC’s best kept secret!)

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After a hike up and down the river bank we had a picnic lunch on the deck. (And N’s booster even fits into an adirondack!)

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We enjoyed another Mommy and Me matinee yesterday morning at the Mosaic district and saw Magic in the Moonlight. I’ve never really been a Woody Allen fan, but it was fun to get out to a movie nonetheless!!

We’ve also been to lunches with friends and book time at the local library, which was super fun. Norah showed all the other babies how to most effectively pull all the books off of a shelf…

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Mike and I have been enjoying summer as well! We went to an O.A.R. Concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion (which was his birthday present from me back in April), and last weekend I hung out with Katie and Caitlin on their roof deck to list to Jason Aldean and FGL play at Nats Stadium. (I don’t know who was more embarrassed by my belting along of every word of every country song-me or them!)

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This morning we had a follow-up appointment with the ENT to check on the fluid in Norah’s ears that was persistent for much of the spring. Good news: the fluid is gone, hooray! And we can stop administering the Zyrtec (given to decrease inflammation in her ears and drain the fluid away), yay!!
Bad News: the doc wants me to continue to hold off on giving Norah dairy until she can get another hearing test administered to compare to the one we did in June. In June, she showed a mild (20-30 dB) loss in both ears, which we all attributed to the present fluid. Now that the fluid is gone, the ENT would like a second hearing assessment done to make sure that her loss was secondary to the fluid and that nothing else is going on. Because we all know that dairy increases congestion, so the thought process is that if Norah were to start eating dairy, her congestion would increase, which could cause a mild hearing loss…so we’d be worrying ourselves over something small. (Which, I get, totally. But c’mon…does he have any idea how hard it is to wrangle a baby into a sound booth? And how long it takes? And how I really, really don’t want to go to our pediatrician for another referral? And how I just want to give her dairy already?!?!?!) Gah. Oh well. Everyone is being cautious, and I so appreciate it, I do. So, we’ll just focus on the positive and celebrate that there’s no more fluid!!

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I hear Little Miss has woken up from her nap, so I’m off. Here’s to the second half of summer!!