Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy Birthday Aunt Sheila

Today is my younger sister's birthday! Happy Birthday Sheila DeMartino...weird to type that...also known around here as Aunt Sheila or Lala. My sister is an incredible woman who I am proud to know and admire. I can't wait to see her this weekend in one of our joint favoritest locations - Sea Isle City! Happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy BIRTHDAY!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Earthquakes, and Hurricanes, and Tornadoes, oh my!

Completing the trifecta of natural disasters in the Philadelphia and suburban region for the week, in addition to Hurricane Irene, we were also under tornado warnings through the night on Saturday.  This following our brush with am earthquake on Tuesday.  But, as Jeff pointed out, "Ellen had NO trouble sleeping.". And, in fact, I did not.  I did everything I could to prepare for possible power outages and I was exhausted.  Among the preparations:

*Getting all FOUR of our flashlights ready as well as any, and all candles, including the favors still leftover from our wedding...five years ago.

*Running all our electrical appliances, washing dishes, and clothes in case we wouldn't be able to for Mayor Nutter's predicted two weeks

*Charging my phone non-stop.  It has a short battery life, so I figured if the power went out, then I would stop using it except for in an emergency, and it would have a fully charged battery.

*Filling up every possible water bottle, of ours and Cece's just in case clean water stopped running.

*Moving Cece's bed.  First, I pulled it across the room away from the window.  Then, I decided that she could roll out and find herself in any part of the room.  So, I turned her bed so that it was facing the closet and door.  This way, if anything fell in her room, a TREE for example, then it would brace on top of her bed and not strike her.  And, if she rolled out of bed, she would only have the space between her bed and the closet to get into.  Unless she wanted to be the most dangerously defiant child on the east coast and situate herself elsewhere in the room.  Which would be just my luck.  The only reports of deaths at that time were of children (if I understand correctly) being hit by trees in their houses.  It is completely possible that I misconstrued these stories and irrationally set up a feat of engineering genius (if I do say so myself) in my daughter's room.  Here's what I do know.  She made it through the night in one piece and I had peace of mind that she was far safer than her father and I in that daybed structure.  We do have beautiful, sheltering, huge, old trees, and any time there are strong winds, they can appear mugh more menacing.  The first floor worries about flooding, we worry about the trees.

*Bathing Cece, again as if it might be the last time for a while.

*Then deciding a post- Cece sleeping bath would not be a bad idea for myself at all either. So, I did.  When Jeff got home from work... Did I mention that Jeff had to work!?!  When Jeff got home from work, he asked if this was our bathtub full of drinking water.  Noooo.  I did NOT think of that.  But I was feeling relaxed and at peace.  Also, if there was a tornado, I'm pretty sure one of the places you're supposed to go is a bathtub, just probably not filled with water.  Technicalities.

*I also "saved" any activities that I could do just as well IF the power went out, like putting away all the laundry, and....well, that was about it.  Still waiting for the power to go out.

*In the meantime, while we had power, I made a dinner necessitating the oven and stovetop, because I could, and watched TV, because I could.

And, when the time came, I went to bed, because I could.  And slept quite well, because I could.  And when I woke up, the world wasn't all that different than it was the night before.  Some people are angry at this.  At all the hype of the weather reports.  I'm not angry.  I feel lucky that we haven't (yet, anyway) lost power.  That we didn't experience water damage in our home.  That a tree did not fall on our home, or car.  I feel lucky that, upon preliminary check anyway, most people I know can report the same.  Or that damage they have experienced, or power they did lose can be fixed, or will return.

I feel lucky to have felt prepared for the worst and surprised by the best.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Earthquake in the Library

Cross posting from ontheshelf4kids:

Tuesday, August 23rd, sometime around 2:00ish in the Pine Road Library, I find myself perched on a ladder.  With the transfer student meet and greet in the library, I decided to spiff things up a bit and make the place look welcoming and put together, and so commenced, with the help of a nesting Mrs. Abramson, the chores of displaying books, re-affixing any posters or wall decoration that had fallen toward the end of the school year or over the summer, organizing the student's work supplies, and picking up stray pencils and crayons.  So, while hanging a poster on the top step of a ladder next to a wall bookcase that probably is not affixed to the wall, Mrs. A looked at me and asked, "What's that?". To which I replied, "What?". I heard the noise.  There are four pillars in the library which contain, I believe support beams that I can hear jangle around in high wind, so I began to explain this when we heard noise above as if someone was walking in the ceiling.  That was new.  Then I looked outside expecting high winds but not a leaf was out of place on any of the trees.  Then it stopped.  So we got back to work.  I never left the top of the ladder.  It never occurred to me to do so.  A few minutes later, one of the custodians came in and asked, "Did you feel the earthquake?". The what-quake.  We are in Pennsylvania, folks.  No fault lines here.  But he confirmed that he had just gotten off the phone with his daughter who had felt it too.  As it turns out, lots of people did.  From South Carolina all the way North to Canada.  And I was on the top of a ladder.  I'll bet that's not a strategy in any earthquake emergency preparedness literature.

*Additional family info: I called home to Jeff to check in, he had been getting Cece ready to nap.  He reacted as many out here did.  That was an earthquake?  Huh.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Letter Recognition

For a while now, every letter has been 'd' but recently, Cece has added 'b' and 'e' in to the mix. But her default is still 'd.'. When singing the alphabet, you might hear, "d, d, d, d, d, d, d...". Sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. Or, if Cece is watching Super Readers (great show in my opinion) and Wyatt asks the viewer to identify a letter, Cece enthusiastically replies, "D!!!"

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sentence Structure

Cece has begun to string together short, but legitimate sentences, such as but not limited to:

"I goooooooo"
"Bye-bye daddy" (said with enough of a pause between to sound awkward but intentionally strung together)
"No, me" (we hear this a lot)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Big Girl Bed

Cece's bed transformed Sunday evening into a big girl bed. Her crib is convertible in four different fashions and this reincarnation is as a daybed. Since we just love living on the edge around here, we did not utilize a bed rail. The stories that have emerged from this change are fabulous. At least to me. And I'd like to preserve them here. Especially tonight's memory.

The first night, once Cece was well into REM sleep and before I turned in for the night, I wanted to check on her positioning. Cece likes to do veritable cartwheels in her sleep, so there was concern that she would fall out of her bed. It is a mere 1/2 foot or so from the ground, but still, a concern nonetheless. I was also concerned that she would turn the knob, walk right out of her room and do who knows what in the middle of the night. So, the first night I went in to find Cece rotated so that she was perpendicular in the bed with her head by the wall, arms up with her palms clasped behind her head and her feet dangling off the edge of the bed. Since she was in a deep sleep I was able to move her back to a "normal" sleeping position.

Two nights later, when I went in, she looked to be clinging on to the side of the bed closest to the wall so as to stay as far away as possible from the edge.

The first and maybe second morning, upon waking, Cece stayed in her bed as if she was still confined to do so. By the third morning, she was knocking on the inside of her door (very politely) upon morning waking and following naps as well.

Tonight was the night. We didn't hear anything, but when I went to check on her, Cece had rolled off the bed and across the room close to her changing table. She was sprawled on her back, with arms and legs in the position you might see if you imagine a police drawn chalk outline on the sidewalk. Again, she was in a deep sleep and I was able to swiftly pick her up and place her back in bed with only a slight stirring. But as I sat down to write this, wanting to preserve this memory, I just heard a thud. Better to sleep on the floor, or possibly fall again?


When I went in to check on Cece following the ominous thud, she was back in bed. Which indicates to me that she got back up, climbed into bed, and fell back asleep by herself. Sigh. She really is all grown up now....

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Help

Many moons ago, my book club read The Help. It is, simply, an amazing book. It will make you laugh, cry, and open your eyes. I saw this morning that there is some controversy over the portrayal of characters and, particularly, Skeeter's character for standing up for the rights of others. When it comes down to it, this is one story of many from the time of the Civil Rights movement. This is one perspective. And it's a darn good story. But I digress. Our book club had the opportunity to see the movie in a preview this past Tuesday night at The AMC Plymouth Meeting 12 movie theater. One of the book club members had gone to the website for the movie and a 1-800 nu,ber was listed along with information on the showtimes for previews. Once you call the number, you pay over the phone and a ticket is sent via email, which you print and take to the theater. What an awesome experience, to not only get tomsee the movie early, to get to do so with other people who care deeply about the story, and at a discounted rate too!

For other movies in the future that I am planning to see in theaters, I will try to remember to check the website for a special preview. And you should too!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It's All About Meeeee

And by me, I don't mean me, but rather Cece. New word alert. So, shortly after Mommy, as opposed to Mimi, Mama, and the like, came just plain me. Following on the note of h-e-l-p, we often hear, no, meeeeee. I've stopped asking if Cece would like to help me or if I can help her or if I should do just about anything. Even if I am going to do it, I tell her she is going to do it. Amazing what a little semantics can do for you.

Some of the things Cece likes to do herself these days.
1) Pour cereal
2) Pour almond milk
3) Pour a big ole' glass of water
3.5) do you see the puddles all over our house?
4) Get the kitchen towel to soak up wet spots, complete with stepping on the placed towel to really get it all up.
5) Countless other tasks that she is/is not quite ready for at the ripe age of 2 going on 20.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Help - The New Four Letter Word (Having Absolutely Nothing To Do With the Book or Movie)

Help is a word that is off limits to Cece. "Do you want mommy to help?". NO. "Can I help you with..." NO. We're very independent these days.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Say Cheese

Also on the morning following the wedding, in our living room, Cece set up the camera, pressed a button, moved over to the couch, turned to face the camera, smiled, then went to check the picture. She was imitating setting the self-timer on the camera and taking her own picture. She did not once ask me to be in a picture with her. Harrumph.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Batter Up

On the day following Sheila and Chris' wedding, there was a breakfast buffet at the Marriott hotel where most out of town (and a few in town) guests stayed the night following the wedding. I gave Cecelia a choice of two shirts to wear, one of the, being her pink Phillies shirt. She chose the phillies shirt, clasped her hands together and swung them from the front right side of her chest across her body. Then she did it a few more times. Only them did I realize she was swinging a baseball bat. Because she knew that was a baseball shirt. We went on to "throw" a (imaginary) ball to her that she would hit out of the park and the. Go on to run the bases. I don't know how she knows these things, but she does. She constantly amazes me with how much she picks up on. Our little sponge.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Reception

The reception was held at Spring Mill Manor.

Spring Mill has a bridal suite that the bridal party can access before and throughout the wedding. Many brides, grooms, and bridal parties stay there throughout the cocktail party, but we like to mingle...and eat more than our maitre d' could possibly have kept up with, so down to the cocktail hour we went. I was happy to take a sneak peek into the ballroom as well.

Centerpieces included dark pink roses and a lighter pink hydrangea in 6" x 6" glass cubes. Blake's Florists in Rockledge, PA arranged all the centerpieces and bouquets and did an amazing job.

Chairs were covered in white and wrapped with bright green sashes and napkins complemented the colors as well.

The cake was 5 tiers and decorated, including a monogram on the side by Lochel's in Hatboro. The cake topper was a pair of starfish decorated to look like a beachy bridal pair. We got both the starfish and the scrapbooking accents to dress them from Michael's. Add a small bit of tulle and voila, you have a bikini bride and board shorted groom.

Sheila and Chris were planning to sit at a sweetheart table, so the other members of the bridal party were seated around the room at tables with their friends, cousins, or other people they knew. While the bridal party got along very well and had a great time all day, I thought this was a great alternative to the long table at many weddings.

Outside the ballroom, a photo booth was setting up to take pictures throughout the wedding. What a great addition! All through the preceding week, I had pictured a photo booth like the kind you might find on the boardwalk, unmanned where you squeeze in and end up with a strip of four photos. But this photo booth idea was very different. There was a backdrop and chalkboards. Anyone who wanted to could get their picture taken and get a copy of the photo, or two copies for larger groups. This was a great option, especially for groups who could then organize their own shot. Different family groups, college friends, high school friends and the like all gathered for their own photos without taking the main photographer away from the dance floor action. Funny captions accompanied many of the photos via the chalkboards as well. The best part, at the end, Sheila and Chris will get an album of all the photo booth shots. I would definitely suggest this for anyone planning a wedding. While it is not a necessity, it was a lot of fun!

Following the rpcocktail hour, the bridal party, including the bride and groom, made a grand entrance. I'm not sure what everyone did, but there was definitely a wheelbarrow. We entered as a bullfighter and bull, and Sheila and Chris hiked a football pass.

Sheila and Chris danced to Into the Mystic. I cried. Speeches were given by my dad (the Father of the Bride), myself (the Matron of Honor) and Michael (the best man). The food was delicious, and the dance floor was even better. While I'm sure there were a few people who stayed back at the table, it sure didn't seem that way on the dance floor. The DJ did a great job keeping good songs playing so that dancers were motivated to get back up.

When the last song played, Sheila was really surprised that the reception was finished. It was a great night and very memorable for everyone. And it wasn't really over as many of the guests continued on to the Willow Grove Courtyard Marriott Hotel.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Hustle that Bustle

Following pictures taken behind the reception hall in the lush green area behind Spring Mill Manor (there is a water feature, bridge, gazebo, and beautiful flowers), we continued on to the bridal suite. When Sheila and Chris joined us, it was bustle time! The boys were generally flabbergasted as to what a bustle was, except for one. T.J., though I still don't think he was sure what a bustle was, knew that he had broken his wife's on their wedding day. And I don't think he ever gets to forget that. Ever. So part of my job was securing an indestructible bustle. The seamstresses at David's Bridal had created quite an intricate series of buttons, clips, and clasps to ensure that there would be NO bustle breaking on this day. And they were almost totally successful. Jacki and I got to work quickly and Jeff handed me the tweezers I had strategically placed in his tux breast pocket. Like a surgeon asking for a scalpel, we got to work. Why tweezers? Because the seamstress told me too. On the day of Sheila's final fitting, I had an in depth tutorial of the bustle. And it all made perfect sense. On August 13th, I took a look and saw all the hardware and couldn't quite get it. But then I did. Through a top row of buttons, and a bottom row of clips, we used the tweezers to squeeze the clips completely closed so that nothing could slip out. We were secure. On lockdown. Sheila wanted to be able to dance without tripping. Then came the entrance. She heard a pop. Upon closer investigation in the bathroom, one button did pop off, but through some crafty thinking, I hooked the loop onto the next closest button and we were back in business. Sheila's bustle stayed in tact the entire night. And her dancing and that of the guests around her certainly tested its strength.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mr. And Mrs. DeMartino: The Ceremony

My beautiful younger sister, Sheila, is the newest Mrs. DeMartino, joining the ranks of two pretty classy ladies!

Just as it had with the rehearsal, the ceremony went smoothly, without a hitch.  Cece made it up the aisle in daddy's arms and only had to leave during the vows while I was up on the altar.  Like the rehearsal, she could roam freely in the first pew between daddy and I.  I'm told that whenever I went to adjust Sheila's train, Cece would mischievously poke her nose out into the aisle as if she would make a break for it, but (fortunately) never followed through on that.  Father Frank's homily was very pertinent to Chris and Sheila and the foundation of a great life that they are, together, building.  Father also read from letters that both Sheila and Chris had composed telling the story of how they met and came to this point on their wedding day.  It was beautiful to hear their words about each other and the love encapsulated there.

Besides a temporary bubble location snafu, everything went really well.  Sheila was telling me how bummed she was that she couldn't see everyone coming in.  I explained that that is just what the videographer is for.  You can only file so many memories without the benefit of another set of eyes.  So many great, lasting memories were made that day.  More on the reception (or the aftermath coming tomorrow).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wedding Day Preparations

The bridesmaids prepared getting their hair done at Aerodrome, and makeup done by 

Both our hair and makeup artists (and there is no better way to describe them) did an amazing job.  I'm not much of a makeup person, and ... Asked if I would like a more natural look, or a dramatic look.  I asked for a more natural look and was very pleased with the results.  I would highly recommend ... As a makeup artist for friend's weddings in the future,  she came to the house and was well prepared, kind, and fast.  To help the hair/makeup process, Sheila had set up a schedule to keep things moving along.  At the hair salon, one of the hair dressers commented that she had never heard of a bride setting up a schedule before (which, to be  honest, surprised me).  Anyway, the schedule kept things moving in the right direction and by the time the photographer arrived, everyone was dressed and ready, felt prepared and ready to assist Sheila.  

When it came to preparing the flower girl, a big part of that was just trying to get her to rest so that she would not be cranky for all the festivities.  We all wanted to be ready by 12:30 at the latest, so in order to try for a two hour nap, Jeff put Cece in the car at 10:00 and drove around until she fell asleep.  Her normal nap time is 1-3, but on this day that just wasn't going to work out.  Then she got a nap before coming to mom-mom's house to get dressed.  Just like the schedule worked out well for all the bridesmaids to get ready and be "in position," it also worked out well to get Cece ready.  I was last on the makeup docket and Jeff and Cece arrived just as my makeup was getting finished.  I took Cece upstairs, potted her and got her dressed, got dressed myself, and Jeff got dressed as well.  All with time to spare to pose as I was zipping Sheila's dress.  

We took pictures both out front and in the back at my parent's house and the trolley arrived to take us to the wedding.  Cece and Jeff followed in our car and, evidently, Cece loved watching us all in the trolley.  But she also thought she would eventually get to take it out for a spin.  Since Cece still needs a carseat, and we would need a car to get home at the end of the night, we thought this was our best option.  We arrived at the church with time to spare.  More on the ceremony tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wedding Weather

The weather on Saturday could not have been more perfect.  When I went to pick up Sheila a little over a week ago in Arlington, Jeff had checked the ten day weather forecast on and Saturday was clear.  Nine days out, however, that was no longer the case.  Scattered thunderstorms plagued the weather forecast.  We kept reminding ourselves that those were scattered thunderstorms.  That could mean it would be nothing.  Or nothing during the morning.  And,as the day approached, the forecast and the skies cleared.  Making way for a relatively cool, sunny, and at just the right times for perfect pictures, overcast day. The weather held until the trolley left the reception hall. Jeff and I literally closed the door of our car and the skies opened up. We could not have asked for a more beautiful day to set the scene for my sister's wedding. I feel truly blessed that not a drop fell from the sky until it was time for everyone to cool off from all that dancing.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Rehearsal

Sheila and Chris are married! It's official...and sometime tomorrow they will be en route to Costa Rica. Jealous. The weekend could not have gone more perfectly!

Friday, some of the bridesmaids, the bride, and our mom got our nails done (a treat on any day) and some of us went to lunch at Cosi. I hadn't been to a Cosi in a while but after such a yummy meal I'll be sure not to let such a time lapse between visits happen again. Our family (Jeff, Cece, and I) had a pre-rehearsal. As the Matron of Honor, mother of the flower girl, and wife of the ring bearer (yes, you read that right), I was a smudge stressed about the role my family and mostly my daughter would be playing. I knew that no matter what, the show would go on. Whenever we talked about Cece walking down the aisle with daddy, she would interject, "No, mommy.". We tried to explain that that wasn't what would be happening, but we thought some hands on experience inside the church would be good. So, we went early and our organ player was there so we practiced with music. We watched YouTube videos of other flower girls walking down the aisle, and we practiced, practiced, practiced. When it came time to practice with everyone else, Cece was doing a hesitation step march (which was super cute) pacing back and forth in the back of the church. She made it about halfway down walking and then asked daddy to scoop her up for the rest of the walk. During the rehearsal ceremony, she was able to walk freely between daddy and I. We bribed her before, during, and after the rehearsal with Annie's brand fruit snacks. Cece has an addictive personality when she finds something she loves so we had to dose these out. She hadn't had them in a long time so they were an extra special treat. And they worked wonders.

Back to the bride. Sheila was beautiful, calm, cool, and collected. Our parish priest presided over the rehearsal, but Chris' home parish priest would be presiding over the wedding the following day, so we were told things could change based on preferences. Sheila and Chris were both flexible and open to ideas. The wedding party, though somewhat large with eight female attendants and eight male attendants, were all attentive, respectful, and good at following directions. Everything went smoothly and we continued on to dinner at Cafe La Fontana. Sans Cece. Cece went home with Jeff who met up with Nana. Nana stayed home with Cece so that we could both attend the dinner. It was so nice to spend time with friends, family, and new friends, and family as well. Both our family and Chris' family both get along so well, so this union has seemed both natural and seamless. More on the wedding day tomorrow.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Speech

First, I want to thank all of you for being here tonight to honor my sister and Chris as they begin their lives together.

 My sister sometimes reminds me of the main character in the movie 27 Dresses.  For those of you not familiar, Katherine Heigl finds herself a bridesmaid in 27 weddings and the focus of a news article.  She also has a terribly self centered and obnoxious  sister, so clearly that part is different.  This is not some joke about my sister always being a bridesmaid.  In fact, my sister has been to approximately 30 weddings  (she had trouble keeping them all straight).  She wasn't a bridesmaid in all of them, but over the past 5 years or so has collected quite a few dresses.  

The reason I bring this up is because it strikes me as extraordinary, but not at all surprising to me, that so many people found their relationship with Sheila and Chris to be so special that they made them a part of their wedding day.  I think it speaks to the kind of people they are.  Thoughtful, kind, generous, and really, really fun.  They have surrounded themselves with great friends and have maintained friendships that began at work, in college, high school, grade school, and even one or two that can trace roots back to preschool.  These kinds of friendships don't just happen. Like a marriage, they can be a lot of work.  Along the way, there will be tears and laughter, and all of that will serve to bring you closer to each other, to know each other even better, and to  love each other even more.  Know that as you step, and sometimes misstep, you are surrounded by the love you feel tonight in this room, the support of all the people gathered here.

According to my five year old nephew, Nathan, Married is when there is just one person you want to be very friendly with and you don't live with any other people.  Of course, he then went on to explain that he will be marrying his brother since they are best friends.

In each other, you have found a best friend, the one person you want to be very friendly with.  For the rest of your lives.

Please take a moment to raise your glass as we toast Sheila and Chris.  We love you.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Walking in a Wedding Wonderland

Today's the big day! Well, sort of. Today (as you are reading this).IS the big day, but I am writing this on Thursday, as I'm pretty certain I'll be a little busy on that day. So, back to "today."

Today is my sister's wedding. I couldn't be more proud of her and happy for her. I am honored to be a part of her day as the matron of honor and hope that I can do that bustle justice. Through the past few months, I have tried my best to "be there" for my sister in much the same way that she has always been there for me. She is my best and oldest friend. I am happy to see the happiness that she and Chris bring to each other and to others whenever they enter a room. Chris is a lucky guy. And Sheila's lucky too. For one thing, the initial for her last name doesn't change. So any monogrammed items can stay monogrammed. Imagine the ease. I, for one, can speak to the last name loveliness that my sister is entering into. But that's not all. She also, this day, joins with a husband who loves her more than I can say. Which, clearly, is a lot.

Tomorrow, you all get to read my speech, you lucky people, you. And one day, I'll recap today, but for now you can expect some pre-scheduled posts for a bit. Enjoy!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Wedding Central

My sister Sheila chose to DIY a few things for her wedding. And by a few, I mean 500 + chocolate covered pretzels, and the cutest. cake. toppers. ever. You will just have to wait for pictures because I'm not ruining the surprise. There were other items too, like the place cards, hotel bags, bubbles, and programs. All of this, she thought of, planned, and executed. She is, simply, amazing. Her wedding will be the picture of class and style. And I cannot wait. In all our DIY'ing, we made a cake box from an existing gorgeous and perfectly matched box by cutting a hole in the top, hot gluing ribbon around the edges, and hot gluing pearls down around the opening. Sheila called me the next day to report the opening was not the right size to fit...a card. A little ironic, right. But it sure was pretty. And fix-able. It is always fix-able.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Happy Anniversary

My husband, Jeff, and I celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary today. But, we really celebrated Monday night...because we weren't sure today was going to "work out". It turned out to be a PERFECT last minute date night. I called my mom on Monday afternoon, and fortunately she was ready, willing, and able (and understanding of our last minute-ness) to watch Cece that night so we could dine out on the town. Utilizing Open Table always gives me the opportunity to search for an open table (get it?) somewhere we have been before and loved OR discover a new, great place. And that is what we did on this particular occasion. We had thought about going to a Mexican place called Tortuga something (not really something, just can't think of the rest of the name) in Lambertville, or maybe back to Lovin' Oven in Frenchtown, but Tortugas isn't open on Mondays, which made me remember that lots of restaurants choose Monday as their day off. So, to OT I went. I found a place that sounded good to me (beachy), checked the menu (looked amazing), and a nice location (New Hope).

We both had excellent meals with just right portions and, thanks to a Monday night 25% off everything special (every week - I definitely suggest checking them out on a Monday night!) a just right price too. It didn't hurt that, as it turned out, a friend's husband was tending bar. So, where were we? The Sand Bar, residing at 90 South Main Street (former home of the cleverly named 90 Main) in New Hope, PA.

To start, we ordered Spicy Tuna Nachos, which were AWESOME! They weren't what you would normally picture for nachos, but that turned out good since we could actually eat our meals without rolling out the door. Also, they weren't too spicy. I ordered the Avocado, Mango, and Lump Crab Salad, which was presented artfully. I felt like I should have taken a picture, but it looked so good that I dug right in (in a very lady-like manner, of course). Jeff ordered a Cuban Turkey Burger and cleaned his plate. I got a taste of the Chipotle Mayo which was delish. Where can one go about getting/making chipotle mayo? Thoughts? Though the desserts looked amazing, we wanted to try out a place Jeff's mom had mentioned called Blue Penguin.

Blue Penguin is, basically, a Build Your Own Frozen Yogurt Sundae shop. You pay by weight and can choose from an incredible variety of flavors and toppings. For example, I mixed Red Velvet Cake, Cake Batter, and Godiva Chocolate, and added berries, granola, and lots of other (less healthy, so I won't brag about them on the Internet) goodies. Also, if you friend them or like them on Facebook, you get $1 off. I know this because the young gentleman in front of us in line said so. So I (wink, wink) was also a FB friend of the Blue Penguin. Don't worry, I definitely will be soon. And you should too.

To finish off the perfect anniversary date night, we strolled across the Delaware River to Lambertville.

Bonus day date today! Unexpectedly, we were able to go out to family lunch (Cece crashed the party) and went to Lunch at Ted's Montana Grill. This is where we went for our very first post-baby anniversary date lunch in 2009. That time, it was just the two of us, but this was pretty good too. Now, I think I've actually blogged about Ted's before, but just in case, here's a second time. Ted's Montana Grill might sound like a place that is not up my alley. But sometimes beef/bison joints will surprise you by making all their burger options available as a veggie burger, or by having Eco-friendly straws, or natural borax soap, or recycled paper table covers, or corn based to-go cups, or something like that. Sometimes meat eaters will surprise you. It's the little things.

And, speaking of the little's the little things that make for a great marriage. Thank you, Jeff, for all the little things along the way. I love you more today than yesterday and I'll love you a little more tomorrow. Thank you for making this life together with me. I love you.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Carseat Complaints

I'm pretty sure I may have mentioned...a few times...that Cece didn't love her carseat in the manner that most young babies do. At first we thought when she turned around she would be better. And she was, but it is still not her favorite place as my sister learned firsthand this past Friday.

My sister is getting married this coming Saturday. More on that in future posts. She is home all this week and was planning to take the train up last Friday. Which is a perfectly good option, but I knew there would be plenty to transport and offered my transportation services, as opposed to either Sheila or Chris having to rent a car. Cece and I drove to Sheila's work in DC on Thursday during nap and the trip down was rather uneventful. We stayed the night in Arlington and planned to drive again during Cece's nap with the idea being that she would sleep in the car for pretty much the whole trip. Which would have been true were it not for that overturned tractor trailer. We were held up in a traffic jam for approximately an hour and a half. At which point Cecelia woke up. She was rather distressed that we had not yet crossed the border out of Maryland. Throughout the rest of the trip, she worked herself into such a state that she threw up in her carseat. She had never done that before (thank goodness) and hopefully will not again. You don't realize just how many crevices there are in a carseat until you're cleaning it at a rest stop along I-95. After that she was much more pleasant for the remainder of the trip. We all got home safe and sound and that is the important thing. Cecelia still doesn't love the car - noted.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

World Breastfeeding Week

Every year from August 1-7, WBW is celebrated around the world. Locally, the Breastfeeding Resource Center in Abington has events today. Sadly, with a jam packed weekend schedule, we cannot attend this year. This year, in celebration of WBW, I am doing something a little different...weaning. Breastfeeding has been and still is, a most amazing bonding experience for Cecelia and I. I am happy that she has nursed for 2+ years, and honestly we could go longer. Through this journey, some of my ideas have changed.

While I was still pregnant, in about April, a friend told me that going to a La Leche League meeting was really helpful for her, and doing so before she had the baby. I figured I'd check it out. The group of women I found was incredibly helpful, supportive, and just plain nice. I learned, after I had been to several meetings that LLL has historically been viewed as a "militant" bunch, but I can speak from experience that that is not the case with our Montgomery County East group and I attended a PA conference and found likewise. It was nice to talk to others having or who had the same experiences and then later to be able to offer my own help.

Through different reading on the topic of Breastfeeding, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed Cecelia for at least two years. The AAP guideline states exclusive BF for 6 months and until a year or until mutually desired (indicating that if mom is "done" we are done and that mom should not "force" child...- interesting concept, I can say that was never necessary). The World Health Organization indicates that two years is ideal. So that was my goal. Fast forward to the end of this school year. Due, mostly, to my schedule, Cece was down to one, if that, nursing per day. I figured tapering off until two and we'd be in the clear. Then came summer. Mommy was home and Cecelia saw this as an all you can eat buffet opportunity. Which was partially my fault. Because it was easier. But this resulted in the exact opposite and I wasn't sure quite how to terminate our Breastfeeding relationship. But I am determined. A friend told me about her experience with her older daughter and how they substituted a cup in at bedtime. I already knew Cece was not a fan of milk in a cup, but I knew I should figure something out. My concern was that she would just fuh-reak out, as she is sometimes prone to do, and I would just give in, which would reinforce bad behavior. The next day, I decided to try. So, she asked, and I said no. And she gave me a look, but didn't put up a stink. At nap time, she asked and I said no. We sang songs, she put her head down, and she went to sleep. This was going to be easier than I thought!

The next day, she started with a runny nose and a horrible cough and I...blamed myself. Through breastfeeding, I surmised, she had maintained excellent health. And through weaning, I had singlehandedly in one day, gotten her sick. Bad mommy. So, I made a perfectly logical drown her in milk. And I did, and she got better. Which she would have done anyway. And then I got back on track. I made a plan. Because cutting off in one day hurts. So, instead, I made a gradual step down any addict. And I got some cabbage for myself. Because it helps the hurt. And I can say that by 8/31, Cece will be all done. Before school starts. And about a year before any siblings will enter Cece's world and steal mommy and her milk away. So hopefully, she won't remember...or she'll remember that she is a big girl now. How did that happen?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Cup Roundup

When Cece first started drinking from a sippy cup, I blogged about different ones we found. Now that Cece has moved on to bigger cups, I wanted to tell you all about them too. The Foogo cup by Thermos that we used is still great, but it holds what now seems like a very small amount of water, so we have since upgraded to these ones. Of course, Cece has also perfected drinking from just about any cup, including those with no cap or straw...most of the time.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Out of Business

As it turns out, Whitehall Jewelers went out of 2008. Clearly I wasn't paying attention. When the "shank" (just learned this term Wednesday evening - it means the thin part of the ring's band) needs to be repaired on your engagement ring (who knew it could even crack) and the jeweler has gone out of business, a jewelry service plan doesn't mean much. So, as a result I investigated the cost of repair with every jeweler remaining in the Montgomery Mall. It amazed me the difference in cost that was possible. The first jeweler quoted a price at $64. I thought that was a pretty good deal considering the service plan that was now void cost more. But as I researched further, I found some were more and some were less. Some cited the rising cost of gold as accounting for a high price to solder a ring. How does that work exactly? In the end, Belden Jewler won our business for the fine and fair price of $35.99 plus tax. Two weeks from now, my ring will be good as new!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

EC: A Retrospective

For all intents and purposes, Cece is "potty trained" during the day. The night might take a while and I'm ok with that. I used to EC Cece at night when she woke up frequently and seemed to need to go. When she still woke up, but didn't go, I stopped EC at night. As a mom in my Diaper Free Baby group once said, "Sleep trumps pee.". But, back to the potty success story. EC was a practice I learned about from a friend when I was halfway through my pregnancy and as I am apt to do, I read EVERYTHING I could find on the subject. Which, maybe not surprisingly, was not a lot. Hmmm, a book I could write that may have a growing market...but, the book I suggest to inquiring friends is Christine Gross-Loh's "Diaper Free Baby". It is the one that is the most practical, not too loaded with "theory", it makes it all seem very do-able. Which is good. Because it is. Looking back, I don't know that I would have tried this had I not known someone who had done it. It made it so much easier to justify to others. Well, so and so did it, so I am trying it. That was another key, telling people I was trying it sounded very non-committal, though to be honest, I was bound and determined. The first time I held Cece over a potty, she was six days old. Prior to eating solids, we caught mostly pee. Around 7 months, after being introduced to solids, she pooped only in the potty, but still peed in her diaper too. Gradually, over time, she has learned to signal that she has to go. During the time of her terrible teeth, she went on a potty strike, telling us she had to go, but really just washing her hands. But since then, she has been consistent, and dry through the days. She is now sleeping in gdiapers, which means the few disposables we have are reserved for babysitters. She is in underwear at home, and cloth diapers out and about. But they stay dry. Monday, she had a milestone wherein she signaled to the awesome Miss Jamie at our gym's daycare that she had to go, and let Miss Jamie help her go potty. Then she did it again on Tuesday. Cece consistently goes #2 before (or during) barytone, and always in the potty. She still prefers to face backward for #2, but since watching a friend go independently facing front, she has made the switch for pees. She has always wanted to go on the regular toilet. Even though we have a Baby Bjorn little potty, pink IKEA potty, see through little potty, foldable potty insert seat, and the Potette plus, Cece will have nothing to do with any of them. To look on the bright side, I never had to clean out a potty as she went direct to the source...or end...source doesn't make much sense there.

So, while I am still careful to never pat myself on the back, I look at EC as a healthy choice for my daughter, both psychologically (she's happy, proud of herself, and was never cajoled, pressured, or rewarded for using the potty) and physically (she has never had diaper rash or any other related issues). We will not have two kids in diapers because she'll be out of them by the time number two is a glimmer in my eye. Note: not yet folks.

For any friends, or strangers yet to be friends who are wondering, EC is short for Elimination Communication and I would encourage you to give it a chance...the rest of the world does.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Bedtime Story

In her two short years, Cecelia has been both a super sleeper, and a sleep deprivation machine. Her dual personalities can be, at times, frightening. Especially when you've grown accustomed to one and the other rears its ugly head.

To encapsulate Cecelia's sleep, she was NEVER the baby that comes home from the hospital and instantly sleeps all the time, not at night, not in her bassinet pack and play, not in her crib, not even in the specially designed Arms Reach co-sleeper, the one I got specifically to avoid having Cecelia in our bed. Because, you see, no one plans to co-sleep. I shouldn't say no one, but I'd say a whole lot of the people that do end up co-sleeping didn't plan to when they were pregnant. Because haven't you heard, there are blankets, and pillows, and smothering, flailing parents. Well, I can tell you that in our case, there was no flailing or smothering, bur there was functional sleep for everyone. Early on, Cecelia slept ONLY if she was within a breath of another person. And there are reasons for this. It regulates her breathing, calms her, she can hear a heartbeat (also regulating and calming) and she is warmed. This went for daytime sleep too. She slept in a sling. Period. I tried and sometimes did transfer her onto a surface still cuddled in her sling, but for the most part, I found she got her her best rest in the sling. And for any anti-baby wearers, the sling we had was not recalled. The ones that were recalled were designed to look more comfortable, safe and secure, being worn with the baby down at your waist, and they were buckled in, so that must be a good thing, right? Wrong!

So, Cecelia slept with us for at least a portion of the night for 13 months, and during that time she did not sleep through the night. Around 13 months, she started taking more regular naps, but there was also a shift. Even once she shifted to sleeping in her bed, she would fall asleep cuddled with us. Then one day, that changed. She couldn't fall asleep with us there. She needed her own space.

Cecelia developed a good routine. So much so that she got to a point where she would point to her bed, we would lay her down, cover her with a blanket, and she would look up with a huge cheesy grin. We walked out and that was it. Same for naps and night sleep.

Then she turned two. It seemed like that was enough to put her and us over the edge, but the key was in the routine. Our home is listed for sale and with trying to navigate home showing times, and my nasty habit of loading the day up with activity, Cecelia strayed far from her normal routine. And we all paid the price. She stopped napping, gradually. First, she could no longer transfer into the house from the car, or if she fell asleep at all in the car early in the day would not be able to fall asleep at her nor,al nap time. Then one day, I stayed home and tried for normal nap. And it still didn't work. So, I resigned myself to car naps. And that was ok. Until it affected night sleep. One night, Cece fell asleep on me and would not transfer to her bed. I chalked it up to a stuffy nose/cold, and decided she could sleep on me that night. She slept in our bed and slept well. But a two year old is much different than a one year old. She did gymnastics all night long, in a different position all night. But it was nice. Until 4:30 rolled around and she was up and at em. Not cool. We decided that the next day, we would try to get Cece back into a routine. That night, she fell asleep on me again. After an hour and a half of trying to transfer her, I decided she could sleep in our bed. Except she wasn't sleeping anymore. So into her room she went. She had a cage fight with herself and TWO HOURS later fell asleep.

The next day was daddy's routine bootcamp. And it was the kick in the butt/reminder that we all needed. That she did still need to nap. That she could get back to sleeping 10-12 hours at night. And that sacrificing my jam packed days was well worth the healthy, happy child that was returned to our doorstep. And that a little tv time to wind down is ok too.

A friend recently said she has learned not to give herself too much credit when it comes to her kids. I absolutely agree. You do what works for you...until it doesn't work anymore. And then you figure out what does. It might be different for everyone, and the greatest mistake we can make as parents is to judge. When you feel judged, you close the door and don't let others in, and the only way we can learn from one another is by opening that door.

Cecelia has returned to going to bed easily without a fight, without tears, and with a huge, cheesy goodnight grin.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Blueberry (Yaris Edition)

Background. I seem to have a thing for blue cars. Preferably ones with good gas mileage. The first car that I bought independently was a royal blue Kia Rio. This was back before anyone else had heard of Kia. I did my research. Oh, I forgot to mention, I'm also a fan of inexpensive cars. And it was. Jeff dubbed this car the blueberry. When we were pregnant, we had a plan to upgrade Jeff's 2 door, and did so through a Kia trade. My Rio for a new Kia Sportage. Because, at the time, I had a plan to get a Honda Fit (blue). Which would have been great. If we could fit a stroller in the back. But we couldn't. So, I looked some more and decided on the Yaris (also blue).

Yesterday, Jeff told me a story about his day at work. A co-worker's father came into the gym and asked, "Whose Yaris?". To which Jeff responded, "Mine.". "Nice color.". "Thanks, well, it's my wife's, so I'll let her know.". "Great car. I have to run, so Joe (his son), tell him the story."

So, Joe tells Jeff the story.

About how his family is on their third Yaris. And with good reason. The first Yaris they owned was hit, badly, by a drunk driver. The car was completely totaled. But Joe, who was driving, walked away without a scratch. So, his dad got another Yaris. And the next time, his wife, Joe's mom was in a bad accident. Again, the car took the impact, not the person inside. Joe's dad has written letters to the company, including pictures of how the cars were wrecked and the people inside walked away unharmed. He likes to tell any fellow Yaris owners what a good, safe car they own.

Shortly after I purchased my Yaris, there were many, many Toyota recalls. But not for the Yaris. I had recently considered that when the time came, I might return to Kia for another Rio, but this story made me think. Not just about sticking with the Yaris, ut how fortunate I have been when it came to cars as well.

When I was in college, I was in a bad accident where the Dodge Omni I was driving (which seemed to be possessed) hit the guard rail on the turnpike and spun around twice...on the turnpike. I broke my finger, but besides that, was fine. When I was just 17 weeks pregnant, I was in an accident in the two door Honda Civic, and was fine. And, just a few months ago, over spring break, we were rear ended in the Kia Sportage and were all three fine.

So, Joe's story made me feel lucky to own a Yaris, but also lucky. Just plain lucky.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Heh-woah, Bye

Like the Beatles song, Hello Goodbye, Cece has these two down pat. She has been a proficient waver for quite a while now, though early on she would only wave goodbye. This was a strong indication to most people that she wanted them to go away. I don't think that's true, but she does seem to tell it like it is. A while back, we heard the intonation of a greeting, like hello but without the clear articulation of a word. More recently, we have heard heh-woah. Which is super cute. Especially when she's hiding behind something, peeks out, and yells, "HEH-WOOAAAHHH". You'll just have to trust me on that. So, yesterday to add to the cuteness, out of absolutely nowhere... Cece and I were leaving to go to the pool and were at the bottom of our stairs in the foyer. I told her to say goodbye to daddy, which would usually result in a waving hand...maybe...if he's lucky. But yesterday, it resulted in, "Bye.". Just like that. "Bye.". To which I responded, "Did she just say bye?". She had, and now she wants to say bye to everything and everyone. And it's awesome. Girls at the gym playroom...bye. People at the supermarket...bye. People at the Babies R Us...bye. The potty...bye.