Spring, is that you?

Warm weather is here! Well, sort of. It has been relatively sunny and most of the snow has melted…we’ll take it!

We’ve had a really fun weekend getting ready for spring and dreaming of warm weather. Thursday afternoon was bright, sunny and warm, so I decided that we should hit up Clare and Don’s for dinner on their patio. Let’s just say we were pretty over-zealous, because by the time dinner time rolled around it was about 50 degrees. We were the only ones brave (read: stupid) enough to sit outside, so we at least had the heat lamp all to ourselves! Norah was ready to warm up in the tub: 



By Friday, it was cold and rainy again so we ate split pea soup for dinner and had a quiet evening in. We spent much of Saturday at home getting ready for our big trip! We are going to Mexico for spring break and we. Could. Not. Be. More. Excited. Norah was pumped to try out some of her warm weather gear:



It was a rainy Saturday, so we spent the bulk of it indoors, and a highlight was having Mike and Ana over to watch Notre Dame win the ACC tournament!

Sunday we decided to run some last minute errands for our trip and Mike figured that we should take some time to walk around Home Depot. Now that the weather is finally shaping up, we are really excited to get to work in our yard! We had a lot of fun looking at various lawn furniture, plants and bird feeders while planning out our lawn plan of attack. 

Once we were home and N went down for her nap, Mike and I headed outside. He washed the cars and raked the leaves while I trimmed the bushes and cleaned up the yard. We can’t wait for the yard to be cleaned up enough for us to do some light landscaping. And-the owners have a little garden plot that I can’t wait to plant in. I’m thinking some squash and lettuce for my first foray into growing food…. We were so happy to finally be out in the warm sun that as soon as Norah woke up, we loaded her into her stroller and hit the trail! We decided to walk for about a mile to an ice cream shop for a fun afternoon snack, but we quickly realized that it’s still a bit too cold and windy (despite the sun) for ice cream. We hit the store and then just turned around and walked back home. Now Mike is going to spread some fertilizer while N and I make Shepard’s Pie for dinner! Hooray for St. Patrick’s Day week! 

We are going to try to spend a bit more time outside this evening before watching a movie on the couch. Happy almost-spring everyone!

DIY Activity Tower Tutorial

Hello! It’s a winter wonderland around these parts:

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Norah is still a little under the weather from her stomach bug, so we are laying low today.  I’m so happy that it’s a snow day!  I would have taken her to work today, but she is definitely benefitting from the extra day of rest.  We’ve done lots of snuggling and reading books (with a towel, in case of any, ahem, accidents…):

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Mike just left to pick up his parents from the airport.  They are coming into town for Kenzie’s baptism this weekend!  We are going to have dinner and watch some Netflix tonight before all of the festivities begin, and we’re looking forward to a fun weekend with family.

I’ve had a lot of questions from mom friends about the step stool that we use in our kitchen for Norah and I thought I would highlight how we made it in case anyone wants to try it, too!

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This step stool (or “activity tower” as it’s called in mom-world) has been a life-saver for us.  It seems like Norah was only so content to sit and play on the kitchen floor.  No matter how many toys I gave her or books she had, she would fuss and cry for attention.  Even handing her spoons, measuring cups, or pans wouldn’t pacify her.  I quickly learned that picking her up so that she could see what I was doing immediately calmed her down.  However, I just as quickly realized that it was hard to cook one-handed, I was always worried about her being on my hip when I was at the stove, and she would cry the minute I had to set her down to chop anything or take things out of the oven.

Awhile ago, I saw a pin on Pinterest about making your own “activity tower” and I finally got around to asking Mike to make one for us.  Once it was finished, Norah had a place to safely stand at counter height, and it’s been a game-changer.  She loves being able to see what I’m doing, and I love that she is out of the way if I need to load or unload the dishwasher or put something in the oven.

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He followed this tutorial and I have to say, our tower turned out great! All you need is an Ikea step-stool ($12), some wood screws ($4), a 1×4 ($2), and a dowel ($2). (Not too shabby, considering the ones you can buy from a store are almost $200!)  You basically add the 1×4 to the top of the stool to create a little “cage”.  This keeps Norah safe, as she is unable to fall backwards or slip off.  It took about two days to put together; one afternoon to build and sand the edges and one afternoon to paint it.  We found some leftover kitchen paint in the attic from the owners, so we decided to paint it the same green to match the walls. (In the above pictures, you can see what it looked like before we painted.)  The paint is high-gloss, so anytime Norah spills on it, it’s a cinch to wipe clean.  It also took a couple of days to teach her how to climb up or down it by herself, but now that she knows how, she quickly goes up or down, which is awesome if she drops something.

Norah is an amazing sous chef!  Like I said, she was extremely interested in what I was doing in the kitchen, so I started giving her little jobs to “help” me with dinner.  She loves to put chopped veggies into a colander for me to rinse, stir ingredients together, or her personal favorite: push the salad spinner!

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Norah also loves helping taste-test dinner.  One night, I was cutting up a pineapple for a salsa to go with pork, and I gave her the top of the pineapple and the core to play with.  (She even has her own little cutting board that I put all of her ingredients on….I need to work on getting her a little apron, too!)  The next thing you know, she had the whole pineapple core in her mouth!  She went to town, and spent a good 20 minutes before dinner gnawing on it.

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The activity tower has been great for other things as well.  Sometimes, I’ll just give her crayons and paper and she’ll happily color while I get chores done around the house, and I think it’s because she can see what I’m doing.  We’ve also loved having her at counter height when we do crafts or make things for our sensory table.  We made her Valentine’s at the kitchen counter and just this week we dyed pasta together for some sensory play.  I love that I don’t have to sit on the floor to make things with her anymore!  Much easier on my knees and the clean-up is infinitely faster!  (And, wow, I sound like my mother…)

We’re thinking of making another one for her bathroom so she can easily wash her hands and brush her teeth.  The possibilities are endless! If you use something like this with your little one, leave a comment, or let me know if you try to make one for yourself at home!

Icy Two Hour Delay!

Monday morning was crazy icy! Once again I woke up early and did chores around the house before heading out to the gym. The roads were awful! If I had had any idea that they were bad outside of my neighborhood, I would have stayed home. But alas, I made it to the gym and was the only one (besides the instructor!) in my spin class! Talk about a private session! As I was setting up my bike, I got a text that school was on a two-hour delay, and felt pretty foolish for heading out in the bad weather. But, I had a great workout! I then headed (cautiously) home and was able to get ready for work at a leisurely rate. I love working out in the morning, but I hate having to rush around afterwards to get to work on time. After I got ready, I drank my coffee and watched the Today show with Mike (the federal government was on a 2-hour delay, too!) before we woke up Norah. We got Norah up at 8:15 and all had breakfast together before we headed out the door at 9. By this time, it was close to 40 degrees and the roads were fine! Crazy the difference that a couple of hours can make. While a snow day is the best, there is something awesome about a two-hour delay! 



We had a wonderful, low-key weekend. (Actually, as I’m typing that, I am remembering how productive we were with housework…)

On Saturday, I had an early gym workout, then Norah and I headed out to run some errands! We went to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods before heading to a friend’s house for a Stella and Dot party. (It was so cold on Saturday that the frozen groceries were still frozen when we got home, even after sitting in the car for two hours!) It was really fun to see co-workers outside of work and have a relaxing lunch with girlfriends. (And Norah loved her first jewelry party!)

While Norah took her nap, I did some food prep for the week, like chopping veggies, then Mike and I tackled some House of Cards episodes. (Love Netflix!)

On Sunday, I did some work at school, then we had lunch with Tom and Rachel and Kenzie. Once they left our house, the weather turned sour. It became very cold and wet, and we hunkered down at home! We did a ton of cleaning and I made a roast chicken dinner, with the help of the cutest sous chef ever:





Norah loved drying the veggies then putting them in a bowl for me! A hearty chicken was the perfect dinner on such a crummy weather day! 

Before we made dinner, Norah and I had a very serious task to attend to: Monday’s Ladybug snack! I bought some watermelon at Trader Joe’s and decided to make muffins to go with it, and Norah had a blast! 



She is obsessed with her Ladybug friends and teachers and laughed non-stop talking about them. (Look at that face, I die.) 



We went to bed nice and early, and the delay on Monday was a nice surprise. 

We are currently home today because Norah is home sick with a stomach bug. Well, we are home now. Norah decided that the best place for the stomach bug to hit would be right as we’re crossing the Key Bridge. With the traffic and one-way streets, it took almost 30 minutes to turn around and get going back home; equaling almost an hour for Norah to be sick and covered in her car seat in the backseat. Poor Norah threw up 5 times between the bridge and home (the fifth and final time just adding insult to injury…we were already home and sitting in the driveway. I was like, “Really, God? You couldn’t let us get inside?”) I’ve delayed going to clean the car long enough, I think it’s time that I go take care of things now that she’s sleeping.  Think good thoughts that she feels better soon! We have big plans this weekend…Kenzie’s baptism! 

Shipping up to Boston…

Mike and I decided that we wanted to visit Shane and Amanda up in Boston, so a few months ago we booked some flights.  It’s an easy trip from DC, and we were really excited to see Shane and Amanda in their new town!  But then, Boston got some ridiculous amounts of snow, and I began to get really worried that we might a: never get to Boston, or b: never make it home.  But, my worries were unfounded.  We had, in every sense of the word, a perfect and seamless trip! The Kapplers were awesome hosts and we had the best time!

We flew into Boston around 5:30 pm on Friday, and Shane was waiting to pick us up from the airport.  We decided to only buy two tickets, so Norah traveled in our laps.  She was pretty cranky because she had to be woken up from her nap in daycare to get to the airport, but she settled down once we took off and we handed her stickers.  Around an hour in to the flight, we broke down and let her watch Finding Nemo on the iPad and It. Was. Amazing.  Even without the sound, she was mesmerized and said, “Fishy, fishy, fishy!” over and over again.  We had our two carry-on suitcases, the diaper bag and Mike’s backpack, and then we gate-checked Norah’s car seat and stroller.  Plus, we both wore heavy jackets and snow boots, so by the time we shuffled to curb side pick up, it looked like we were settling in to stay in Boston for a week!  I think Shane was a bit shocked at the amount of things one needs to travel with a little human, but he quickly loaded up all of our stuff, Mike installed the car seat and we were off!  Shane and Amanda live in an awesome house in Cambridge that’s only about 20 minutes from the airport, but the snow pile ups were insane. The trip took almost 45 minutes because all of the multi-lane roads were down to one or two lanes with snow drifts.  It worked out great though, because once we got home, Amanda had appetizers and bourbon waiting for us.  Norah snacked on appetizers and Cheerios while Amanda and Shane began to prepare an amazing steak dinner with all the trimmings.  (Only after we ate dinner did we realize that it was a Friday during Lent…oops!)  We had Amazon Prime-d a pack and play to their house, so we set Norah up in their office and caught up for awhile with some delicious red wine before heading to bed Friday night.

Saturday morning, we drove around South Boston to look at the water.  (After realizing that it was -11 degrees outside with the wind chill, we scraped our plans of going to the beach to walk around.)  We had a lot of fun seeing the different Boston landmarks from our heated SUV, and then we stopped at Trade for lunch.  Norah had cheese pizza, I had the za’atar sandwich and Mike had an incredible looking egg sandwich.  We all enjoyed some craft beers and then headed home for Norah’s nap.  The best part about the trip were the naps, haha!  The four adults quickly realized that late nights=sleepy days, so we all took a nap with Norah out of solidarity :)  Once Norah woke up, we headed to Newbury Street, where we had a great time shopping at a huge Patagonia sale and we discovered a new-to-us store, Ball and Buck, which was super neat.  During this time, it had started to snow and we were anxious to get home so that we could get ready for dinner, so we decided to make it a quick shopping trip.

Once we got back to their place, a babysitter for Norah arrived.  Shane had the great idea to use care.com to find a sitter for Saturday night, and he was able to find a super sweet, recent ND grad to watch Norah so the four of us could go out to dinner! Such a treat.  We went to Ostra, and had some wonderful seafood.  We enjoyed Manhattans and split oysters, tuna tartare and lobster gnocchi for our starters, then we each had an awesome entree with a bottle of Cabernet.  Mike and I shared the scallops and tile fish, and Shane and Amanda had the salmon and paella.  The girls then had champagne for dessert while the boys had Irish coffees, and then we headed to a fun nearby bar, the name of which escapes me now.  We sat at the bar and had some local Boston brews.  After a couple of beers, Amanda and I were ready to head home, so we left to relieve the babysitter while the boys went on to more bars for BuckHunter and pinball.

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On Sunday morning we had big plans!! We went to Harvard Square to visit the Curious George store! (We don’t know who was more excited, Mike or Norah.)  We spent a bit of time walking around Harvard Square, then Norah went crazy in the store.  She played with every stuffed George there was, and had a blast.  We bought a ton of books (which, in hindsight, were quite difficult to get home…) and then went to brunch.  We had a yummy brunch/early lunch and we then headed back to Shane and Amanda’s for Norah’s nap.  (And the adults again decided to partake!)

After her nap, we headed to the New England Aquarium. It was easily the highlight of the trip.  Norah was MESMERIZED and loved watching the penguins and seals.

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There is an exhibit where you can pet stingrays and while she didn’t want to put her hand in the water, she could have watched them swim by for hours.  She could hardly contain her excitement as she ran around saying, “Wow!” and “fishy, fishy, fishy!” (P.S. Check out the size of that catfish!)

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Shane, Amanda, Mike and I were similarly mesmerized, and had a blast walking around the aquarium and seeing everything through Norah’s eyes.  My favorite parts were the penguins and GIANT sea turtles.  At the end, Norah didn’t want to leave and threw a tantrum when we tried to put her jacket on to go!

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Once we got home from the aquarium, Amanda and I walked to Whole Foods to pick up ingredients for dinner, then Amanda made this for dinner and it was amazing.  It was another late night with lots of talking, bourbon and red wine, and we all pretended that we didn’t have to get up early in the morning on Monday.

But, alas, Monday morning dawned very early as we had to catch a 6:30 am flight!  We got to the airport bright and early, and we were back at work by 9:30, which was a huge reality check.  It was a very long day of work on Monday, and then we picked Annabelle up on the way home.  She had a great weekend with friends (and managed to cozy up in the best seat in the house-oh, Annabelle!)

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It was the perfect weekend! Thanks to Amanda and Shane for such hospitality and to Jen and Will for watching our four-legged baby!  We can’t wait to make it back to Boston!

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!