Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year In Review

Normally, I look back on the year and I think, "Wow, another year over - what the heck did I do?" Well, this year was a bit different, so I decided to borrow once again from other blogs and fill out this end of year questionnaire.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

Gave birth to my lovely Clare.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

If I made them, I have no idea what they were. I will probably make some again this year, and promptly forget them. (I did tell my coworker that my New Year’s resolution was to stay away from the vending machine. So there’s that.) Actually, I do have one goal. I want to be cleaner and more organized at home. My house has kind of gotten away from me since Clare was born.

3. Did anyone close to you have a child?

Yes! Oh my. Several of my closest friends had babies, and Clare now has future BFFs/boyfriends Will, Archer, Alice, and Carter.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No. Thank God.

5. Where did you travel?

We took several trips to the Twin Cities, visited grandparents (Clare's great-grandparents) in La Crosse and Oostburg, and went to a wedding in the U.P. of Michigan.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?


7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory?

June 7. Everything else is kind of a blur.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Well, I guess I have to say giving birth to a baby! Also, I am proud of the way Ben and I are handling having a child in our lives. We are still mostly sane.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Ugh. I don't know. I feel like I failed in lots of little ways, but it doesn't seem healthy to dwell on them too much.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Does giving birth count as illness or injury?

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Clare's butterfly mobile from an Etsy shop. It was the first thing she really focused on, and still loves it to this day. Also, our new car.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Our families have been wonderfully supportive and helpful with Clare, but I have to single out Ben. Having a new baby is stressful, and he has been very patient with me throughout this transition. Also, he was a saint in the delivery room.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Scott. Walker.

14. Where did most of your money go?

New crib, new bookshelf, new baby clothes, sheets, towels, shampoo, toys, nuks, bottles, breast pump, books....I could go on. Oh, and daycare. And a new car. Wow, we spent a lot of money this year.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Clare. ALSO: my sister getting married! Her wedding was beautiful, and I adore her new husband. He is a wonderful addition to our family. Even though I think he might sometimes wonder what he got himself into. Don't worry, Andrew. It is worth it!

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?

Mumford & Son's "Roll Your Stone Away." Anything by the ubiquitous Adele.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

Happier. I am not pregnant anymore, but I feel fatter. Definitely poorer with my reduced work schedule, but that is by choice so I am okay with it.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Talked to and spent time with friends, especially pre-baby. Spent time outside. Slept. Can you tell I am tired?

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Wasting time worrying about things I can't control. That is something I always do, though. I don't think it will change.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

We ate our way through Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at my parents' house. I ate my weight in Christmas cookies at visits to both sets of grandparents. We all sat around watching Clare try to eat wrapping paper - it is funny how adults forget how to have a conversation when there is a baby in the room. Their little cheeks are just so distracting!

21. What was your favorite TV program?

Parks and Recreation. Hands down. I also loved 30 Rock, Modern Family, Community, Castle, Justified, and the New Girl. I quit watching Glee. The Office didn't make the list because I miss Steve Carell too much.

22. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No.....I think I hated all the same people in 2010, too.

23. What was the best book you read?

The best book I read was "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand. "Bossypants" by Tina Fey was a close second. The two books are so different you can't compare them, but I enjoyed them equally for very different reasons. Rounding out the top 5:  "City of Light" by Lauren Belfer, "Moon Over Manifest" by Clare Vanderpool, and "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott (I know! I had never read this before. I am way late to the party.)

24. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I don't know if I discovered anything particularly new, but I love Mumford & Sons and She and Him.

25. What did you want and get?

Most importantly, a healthy baby. Earrings for Christmas. A new car.

26. What did you want and not get?

Oh, there are lots of toys I want and didn't get. I'll go with the new iPhone.

27. What was your favorite film of this year?

I didn't see many movies this year, but I adored Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. What a finish. I'll miss you, Harry.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I honestly have no recollection of what I did on my birthday. I know I turned 32. Seriously, what did I do? OH. I do remember. Ben and Clare baked me a chocolate chip date cake. It was delicious. They lit the candles in the garage and came in singing to me. It was very sweet.

29. What one [or three] thing[s] would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Dare I say more sleep yet again? Of course, more money would always help. Overall, though, it was a fairly satisfying year.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

Anything clean, or at least mostly clean.

31. What kept you sane?

Carving out little moments for myself here and there. Even just an extra long shower when I can get it.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Hmmmm....there wasn't anyone in particular this year but I almost fainted when I saw Ryan Gosling without his shirt in Crazy, Stupid, Love. That man's abs are no joke.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

Where to start? Actually, I don't think I will list anything because then this post will turn into a rant rather than a review of the year.

34. Who did you miss?

My friends who live far away. Sometimes I miss my pre-baby self. Is that weird? 

35. Who was the best new person you met?

Clare, of course!

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.

I don't have anything particularly deep or insightful to say here, but I guess I learned that I can handle a lot more than I thought I could. My priorities changed a lot this year, and that is okay. Some things that seemed so important before, well, I learned that they just aren't. I have a whole new person to worry about, and she comes before anything else in the world. I simply can't imagine my life without her. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Baby's First Christmas

After Christmas Eve Mass. Clare did pretty well - not that it mattered. It was so crowded, we were in the lobby.

Clare opening one of her first presents on Christmas morning. She loved the wrapping paper.

Clare and Mommy on Christmas morning. Please ignore the burp rag.

I can haz plz?

Yay, gift bag! (I didn't realize it at the time, but that present was not yet open. So she slobbered all over Aunt Andri's present. Oops!)
We had a lovely first Christmas with Clare. She was thrilled to be around her aunts, uncles and grandparents. I hope she is not too bored when everyone goes home.  She has been laughing constantly, and maybe is even waving at people. We can't quite tell if she is intentionally waving, or just wildly flapping her arm.

One of the best parts of the holidays, aside from seeing family and friends, is the FOOD. And boy, did we have lots of it. My sister-in-law cooked a traditional English Christmas dinner. It was delicious.

This week and last have been so busy - I love the holidays, but is anyone else a little relieved when they are over?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Statistics and Weekend Things

Clare had her 6-month well-baby check on Friday. She is not in as high a percentile for height or weight as she has been (which could just be the measurement - it is not very accurate.) She is in the 86th percentile for length and 51st for weight. The doctor said she is the size of a 9-month-old. She was very busy at the appointment, and destroyed the paper they put down on the table by trying to EAT IT. Because paper is SO GOOD.

Also, Clare does not like apples. And they do not like her, apparently, because she was up all last night with stomach issues. On to the next food - rice cereal, anyone?

Oh, and since we are updating numbers here, I will mention that Clare has 5 teeth now, with a 6th one coming in. Also: the girl is a biter.


Ben took Clare shopping on Saturday - the mall wore her out. While they were busy doing that, I was at the Nutcracker in Milwaukee with my mom, sister-in-law, aunt, grandma and cousins. We had a lovely time. Whenever I see a performance like that, I always come away jealous of the talent of the performers - I wish I had that kind of skill.

Shopping is hard.
Clare got some early Christmas presents - a few lovely knitted things from her family in England. Isn't that bonnet the cutest thing ever?

I will chew on anything, even sweaters.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Six Months

"Hi, Mom! I see you've got that camera out again."

"I am sorry, this dinosaur is way more interesting than you."

"Wait. What's going on back here?"

Last weekend, Clare was playing in her floor activity gym while I prepared bottles for daycare. Suddenly, I heard WAILING coming from the living room (which is really the same room as the kitchen – it is all one big room). I went running over, and found she had managed to roll herself at least three feet away from the gym, and was underneath the coffee table. I don’t think she was hurt, just scared, but apparently the days of setting her on the floor to do chores are over. She is not staying put. She has also been rolling herself onto her stomach at night, which of course has me running in there every so often to turn her over – because you know, BACK IS BEST and if she sleeps on her stomach I fail at motherhood.

We gave her solid food for the first time last weekend – organic pureed butternut squash. She didn’t love it.

She did, however, love the spoon.

Her sleep schedule has been screwed up for the past 5 days or so – she seems extra gassy and fussy, and I don’t know if it is the squash, or something I ate (Taco dip? Lasagna? Steak?), or if it is yet another tooth…..yeah, it can be a tad overwhelming figuring out what is bothering baby.

Clare is finally sleeping in her own room, a transition that was a lot harder for me than it was for her. In fact, aside from the past few days, I admit she is sleeping better in her crib than she did in the bassinet. She has plenty of room to roll around and turn over. The first few nights she was in there, I had a lot of trouble falling asleep. I am used to it now, although I still check on her right before I go to bed to make sure she is okay.

She discovered the cat last month, and now she just lights up every time she sees her. She loves petting her. I think I’ve made my feelings on the cat known, but it is cute to watch Clare get excited about her.

Back to this solid food thing -  I am really stressed out about it for some reason. How do you know what to give her? How much to give her? What if she is allergic to something? (Given my food allergies, this is not an unreasonable concern.) I know I’ll figure it out like I’ve figured out everything else, but right now I am obsessing.

But enough worrying, it is Christmas time! Clare is loving all the Christmas decorations, especially anything with lights – and I am looking forward to all the fun holiday events coming up this month. Mom and Dad are even going to two holiday parties (thanks to my parents and lovely friend Christina.) Now, if only I can get Clare to sleep a little better, I will be ready to enjoy the season. Which will likely include eating a lot more taco dip.

Monday, December 5, 2011

For Sale

Does anyone want a 16-year-old cat? No? Are you sure? She is deaf and mostly blind. She meows at the top of her voice each morning at 4 a.m. - and really, who doesn't want that? I know I enjoy hearing her beautiful meows between Clare's 3 a.m. feeding and my 5:30 a.m. alarm. What, you want to sleep through the night? No, you don't. You want this lovely cat. Here is a picture to help convince you.

I am cute. And not loud at all.
That didn't make you change your mind? Okay, what if I give you the cat and $100?

Seriously. $100. Any takers?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Random November Pictures

Whew, where did that month go? I hope December goes by a little more slowly. I want some time to enjoy my Christmas decorations, if  I ever find time to put them out.

We had a fun month - Clare celebrated her first Thanksgiving. I think she was especially excited about the fact that the Packers beat the Lions. I guess the Packers are having a pretty good season. I think I heard something about them being 11-0. (I am sorry, Vikings fans, I can't help it. It really isn't as fun with the Vikings having the season they are having, though. Win some games so I can taunt you!)

Enough about football...on to pictures!

Daddy styled Clare's hair after a bath. I think a mohawk is a good look for her, don't you?

Relaxing in Grandpa Steve's chair.

The whole family on Thanksgiving.

She is okay with not eating turkey - she has frog legs!

Bundled up for a walk in the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

Apparently Daddy should not be left alone with Clare. I was assured that she was not actually shot in the face with the Nerf Dart, but it sure looks suspicious, doesn't it? I think it is Brian's bad influence. Of course, I wasn't there because I was drinking adult beverages before seeing the latest Twilight movie, so I guess I shouldn't talk. Do you think this caption could be any longer? Okay, I'll stop now.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thursday Night Fever

Last Thursday, Clare came home from daycare with a temperature of 100.3. Not that high, really, but she promptly passed the fever, along with the accompanying cough, on to me. We have both been fighting the crud since, and it is tiring. The worst part about having a cough is you just want to sleep it off, but you are constantly awakened by, well, coughing. And when your baby is also coughing, it makes for some very long nights.

I feel bad when Clare coughs. She is just so little, and the cough seems to take over her whole body. She, however, is proving to be just as laid back when sick as she is the rest of the time. I hope I am not speaking too soon here, but look at this face.

Granted, this is a minor illness. And I know it is the first of many that will be brought home from the petri dish that is daycare.  I can't think about those future illnesses right now, though. I just want this one to run its course and get out of here.

Hey, I guess at least one of us is resting. I wish I was a baby sometimes. Or at least, I wish I could sleep like one.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Five Months

This has been a big month for our little Clare. I already posted about some of it it here, so I'll recap: Teeth. Rolling over. She rolls over all the time now, but once she is on her stomach, she can't seem to roll back over. She gets kind of mad about that, and I have to go rescue her.  She also noticed our ancient, deaf, nearly blind cat the other day. I was sitting with her in our recliner, and the cat was on the arm of the couch. The cat moved, and Clare did a double take. "What?!?! That thing is alive??" (Sometimes I am surprised she is still alive, too.) Now Clare will "pet" the cat, which basically consists of beating the cat with one of her toys. The cat tolerates it. Clare has also recognized anything shaped like a cylinder with liquid in it as "something to eat." If whoever is holding her is taking a drink out of a water glass or beer bottle or whatever, she reaches for it and tries to pull it towards her mouth. She is also showing a lot of interest in food, and was thrilled the other day when my Dad ate a pork chop with his hand, and she got to gnaw on his fingers afterward.

My favorite part of the day on my days off is when Ben gets home from work. Clare is always THRILLED to see him, which is adorable. Also, the two of them have a conversation about their day. Clare squeaks, and Ben squeaks back. This can go on for quite some time.  I love watching them "talk." Clare is quite the verbal little baby. Oh, and did I mention she took her SATs and scored a 1530?

Ready for college.
 Clare's Minnesota grandparents came to visit last weekend. We had a nice visit - she was very happy and charming with them. Clare is happy most of the time, except when shopping. She is a very serious shopper, and refuses to smile at any of the old ladies or Piggly Wiggly cashiers who coo at her and try to coax a smile out of her. Not happening ladies. Sorry.

We went on a hike in the Janesville School Forest with Grandpa Steve and Grandma Mary Theresa - I am trying to soak up as much nice weather as I can before winter gets here. It was a beautiful day, and Clare fell asleep in her carrier. I wish I could be carried around like that.

We are looking forward to the upcoming holidays. I am sure Clare will be after that turkey on Thanksgiving. Sadly, she will have to settle for having it secondhand.

Hiking in the Janesville School Forest.

Friday, November 4, 2011

I Love

The other day I was thinking about how I used to spend Sundays in the fall before Clare was born. I'd start something cooking on the stove, and then settle onto the couch with a huge stack of magazines in my lap and the Packer game on TV. Now the Packer game might be on TV, but I am constantly up and down, changing diapers, entertaining Clare. I started thinking about all the things I used to do before Clare, and how I really don't do most of them anymore. And I wouldn't trade it for the world, but sometimes I miss those things, you know? Then my friend A. posted a list of things she loves on her blog, and I decided to copy her and do that here. I think it will be good to touch base with those things I love that are separate from Clare and Ben.

And since it is fall, I think I'll start there: I love fall. I love the crunch of the leaves under my feet. I love pumpkins. I love squash and apple crisp. And apples. I love cooking. I love my Le Creuset dutch oven. I love the sound onions make when I toss them into melted butter. I love wine, both red and white. I love the sound of wine being poured into a glass. I love my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. I love baking. I love the smell of chocolate chip cookies in the oven. I love eating that first cookie, still warm. I love food. I love going out for long, luxurious dinners, including dessert. I love books. I love libraries and bookstores, big and small. I love how my mom and sister and I can spend hours talking on the phone about nothing. I love that I still have all four of my grandparents. I love tailgating before Brewers games, especially if my brother is there to eat chips off his shirt.  I love that I love my brothers and sister-in-law. I love the Argylian Goddesses and all the friends I've made through them. I love the Lillie Crew. I love the Packers. I love it that the Packers are 7-0. I love the feel of grass on my bare feet. I love the ocean. I love New York and Paris and London and Minneapolis. I love driving in the country at dusk during summer. I love hot air balloons. I love holiday decorations. I love Christmas. I love sleeping in, especially on a cold winter day. I love Parks and Recreation and Chuck. I love Harry Potter. I love seeing movies in the theater. I love Adele and Arcade Fire. I love the Boundary Waters. I love chocolate.  I love Happy Hour. I love french fries. And beer. Lots of beer.

Monday, October 31, 2011


When I was a kid, I loved Halloween. We always ate homemade macaroni and cheese for dinner, and then went out trick or treating. It was always cold, but that crisp, cool air just added to the excitement of running around the neighborhood getting candy. The best part was when we came home, and my sister and I would bargain with my brother - we're both allergic to nuts, so we traded our nut-filled goodies for something we could eat.

Clare is obviously too young to care about Halloween. However, that didn't stop me from buying her a costume at our local consignment shop. We took her trick or treating at my parents' house. She (we) got four candy bars. In my effort to document every second of Clare's life, we actually took a video of her trick or treating, so I don't have any pictures. However, we took many pictures of her in her adorable cow costume:

Clare the cow with all of her animal friends.
Ready to go with her pumpkin candy bag.
Daddy always makes her laugh.

She was so cuddly in this costume.

They made crafts at daycare! I was so excited to have Clare's first art project, even if she didn't do any of it herself. (The ghost is her footprint, in case it is not obvious in the photo.)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Random October Pictures

Elephant good.

Clare before heading out to the Dane County Farmer's Market. Please ignore the messy, unmade bed in the background.

Ben and Clare at the Dane County Farmer's Market in downtown Madison.

Clare and Grandma Jo during Clare's first Holiday Decoration Dinner Tour. (We get together to look at each other's Halloween decorations. What. It is not weird. We do it for Christmas, too. Oh, and did I mention there is lots of wine and food involved?) 

Something is amiss. Can you get that camera out of my face?

Foot good.

If you watch Parks and Recreation, you'll know why these cupcakes that Rob and Andri sent me for my birthday are hilarious.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ode to Infiniti

You carried me to my first job. And my second job. And my third and fourth.
Even though you sat outside for several winters, you always started.
You carried me to Madison from the Twin Cities hundreds of times, so I could visit my boyfriend.
When that boyfriend became my husband, you brought me to my wedding.
I drove you into a ditch, you were unscathed. Even after we were both plowed in.
You carried a canoe over a pothole-filled dirt road near the Boundary Waters with no problem.
You drove to parties, visits with family and friends, restaurants, plays, movies.
You helped me move to four different apartments in three different cities.
You sat waiting at the airport while we flew to Florida, England, Hawaii.
You carried me and the precious cargo I was carrying to each appointment.
You didn’t bring me to the hospital, but I know you would have.
We had one last summer of taking baby to visit family and to doctors appointments. And to Target. Many times.
Comfortable leather seats. Sunroof.
Crappy cup holders. A rusted out undercarriage. Dim headlights. A trunk that won’t latch properly unless you close it just so.
230,000 miles.

I know you are just a car, but I am sad to let you go. Thanks for each of those 230,000 miles.


Well, hello there…

Get ready for the next 230,000 miles. We intend to drive the heck out of you.

Friday, October 14, 2011


She has one coming in. Maybe two. We had her 4-month check-up on Wednesday, and the doctor was surprised to hear Clare is teething. According to the doctor, most babies don't get teeth until they are at least 6 months old. But hey, she is the size of a 6 month old, so she might as well act like one too. (Stats: 14.4 pounds, 26 inches long - that's the 97th percentile for height and 62nd percentile for weight.)

She has been a bit cranky, but not too bad, all things considered. (Knock on wood.) She is drooling A LOT, and gumming down on everything, including Mommy. Last night, we tried the frozen wet washcloth, and she loved chewing/sucking on that. What a cheap, easy solution! I have no idea how teething works, but I assume she'll get a little break once these teeth come in?

Ben dropped our camera on the ground and it is busted, so until I get a new one - crappy phone photos!

Hmmm...why is Mommy hovering over me and Sophie with her phone?

Open up, Clare! Show the world that tooth!

Ta da! (Now, lets learn to chew on something OTHER than Mommy. How about Sophie? That's what she's for, after all.)