Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Year in Review: 2013

Last year I wrote that it was a quiet year. This year was...not quiet. Not one bit.

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

Quit my job and became a stay-at-home mom. Bought a house. Gave birth to a baby without drugs. Had a child go through heart surgery.

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

I didn't do a great job of keeping my resolutions. Let's start with the last one - "Eat Less and Exercise More." I mentioned in my post on New Year's resolutions that I had started counting calories. I have no recollection of doing this. It ended up being a moo point anyway (hee), because I became pregnant with Christopher in January. So much for eating less and exercising more!

Resolution No. 3 was to organize my recipes. Nope.

Resolution No. 2: Get up when the alarm goes off instead of snoozing. Well, I don't wake up to an alarm anymore, and there is only one day a week that we have to be somewhere early.

Resolution No. 1. The biggie. Less screen time. I utterly failed at this. In November, though I did decide to stop looking at Facebook. I find I don't miss it at all! I went on again a week or so ago because I posted a picture via Instagram. The first post I saw was a former high school classmate bragging about her infant daughter (who is younger than Christopher) sleeping through the night. I promptly signed off again.

I don't have any specific resolutions in mind for this year, other than continuing my quest to be happy in my own life, without worrying about what everyone and their mother thinks about what I should or shouldn't be doing. Because, like a cow's opinion, most of their opinions don't matter.

(Okay, now I feel compelled to explain that the opinions of my family and friends do matter to me. I value their advice. See, I am out of control. I was worrying that people would be offended that I wrote that other people's opinions don't matter. Because they do. Except when they don't. Oh my God I am stopping now.)

3. Did anyone close to you have a child?

Yes. Chelsea had Blake. Katie had Ruby. Amanda had Maisy. Liz had Maggie. Jessica had Heidi. Am I forgetting someone? I feel like I am.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes, my grandpa passed away in April.

5. Where did you travel?

Nowhere, really. Unless you count driving between the Twin Cities and Evansville. Edited to add: I forgot about our trip to the Gunflint Trail and Grand Marais! That was fun.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

I would like to say that I want something fun, like more family outings or more time to read and cook. But really all I want is more sleep. Lots and lots of sleep.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory?

October 4, the day Christopher was born. October 25, the day Christopher had heart surgery.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Christopher. He is a joy. Also, starting to find my groove as a stay-at-home mom. Of course, that was all thrown out the window when Christopher was born, but aside from the aforementioned lack of sleep, we are still managing to do many of the things we did before. It is just more challenging to get out of the house, especially in winter.

9. Did you suffer illness or injury?


10. What was the best thing you bought?

Our house. It is not perfect, but I love the neighborhood. It is a great place to be a stay-at-home mom, and our neighbors are wonderful. I can see us staying in this house forever. Or, at least until we are ready to move into a retirement community.

11. Whose behavior merited celebration?

The wonderful, wonderful staff at Children's Hospital in Minneapolis. My very supportive family and friends.

12. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Politicians who don't seem to realize that their job is to help people, and not just to please their big donors.

13. Where did most of your money go?

Mortgage and diapers. Does it ever end?

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

Finding out I was pregnant and Christopher's birth. I was also pretty excited when we found our house.

15. What song will always remind you of 2013?

Bah. More Sesame Street songs. Also, the "Free to Be You and Me" album. (Have you heard it? It is a great album for kids.) Also: "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

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

Sadder, fatter and poorer. Wow, that sounds depressing, but it's all true.

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

Had date nights with Ben when it was still easy to hire a babysitter. We haven't found a non-family member babysitter here, and with Christopher being so young it is hard to get away. Someday we will have date night again. I hope.

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

Felt sorry for myself.

19. How did you spend Christmas?

See here.

20. What was your favorite TV program?

Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, Sleepy Hollow, Orange is the New Black, Justified, Gavin and Stacey (repeats), and, I'll admit it, Hart of Dixie. I know. I am super excited for the return of Downton Abbey and Sherlock this January.

22. What was the best book you read?

I came nowhere near my goal of reading 40 books this year, although in my defense when I set that goal I had no idea that I'd be moving and having another baby. Here is my top five from this year:

1. "The Forgotten Garden" by Kate Morton
2. "In the Woods" by Tana French
3. "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese
4. "The Girl You Left Behind" by JoJo Moyes
5. "Divergent" by Veronica Roth

23. What was your greatest musical discovery

Nothing really. Although Ben did buy me the new Arcade Fire and Avett Brothers albums for Christmas.

24. What did you want and get?

A new house and a new baby!

25. What did you want and not get?

Sleep. (Not to beat a dead horse.)

26. What was your favorite film of this year?

Well, I hardly saw any, so I guess I'll go with Gravity. That was freakin' awesome. And not just because I was out without my children.

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

Katie and Andrew made me macaroni and cheese and Ben and Clare made cupcakes. Christopher was only 12 days old, and we had just found out about his heart defect, so it wasn't the happiest of birthdays, but I will remember my failed attempts to blow out the candles. For some reason I just could not do it. Everyone found this to be hilarious. Oh, and I turned 34.

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

More time with friends. Even though I am back in the Cities, I don't see my friends nearly often enough. It is hard to coordinate around everyone and their children's schedules. I hope that as our kids get older, we'll find more time for get-togethers with and without the children.

29. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

Maternity wear for most of the year, and the last 2 plus months it has been anything with the least amount of spit up on it. I am very glamorous right now.

30. What kept you sane?

I don't know that I have kept sane, to be honest.

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

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. I want to be their BFF.

32. What political issue stirred you the most?

I was very happy when Minnesota legalized gay marriage. I was very unhappy that the government shutdown.

33. Who did you miss?

My SNB girls in Madison, And you too, Misty! (I was actually talking to Misty on Facebook in the middle of the night when I was in labor with Christopher.)

34. Who was the best new person you met?

My new stay-at-home mom friend Heather. Oh, and Christopher, of course.

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.

I am so much happier when I remember that I have a good life. Duh, right? But it is so easy to get caught up in comparing what I have or do to what everyone else has or does. I still compare, but I have gotten much better at focusing on what I have and not worrying about everyone else. This is something I am going to continue to work on this year.

Happy New Year, all!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Holiday Snapshots

We celebrated Christmas with my family a few weeks early. At breakfast, my brother was making Christopher smile and laugh. When Robby looked away, Christopher got so. sad. I wish I had it on video - his lower lip was jutting out, trembling. As soon as Robby looked back, he started grinning again.


Clare got a basketball hoop from Aunt Katie and Uncle Andrew. She and Uncle Robby developed a trick shot, which involved throwing a ball from the top of the stairs over the balcony. Robby nearly broke several of my Mom's Christmas decorations. Clare did not break anything.


Clare has absolutely no interest in Santa Claus. I have stocking hanging over the fireplace, but I decided not to tell her that Santa comes down the chimney to fill them. I think it would just scare her. She keeps talking about us being "nice and safe" in our house, and the thought of an old man with a huge beard coming down the chimney would probably not fit into her definition of being nice and safe.


I had big plans to make all sorts of Christmas cookies this year, following in my grandmother's footsteps. It didn't happen. Katie and I did decorate sugar cookies with Clare, though. She took a minimalist approach: maybe five sprinkles on each cookie she decorated. "That's enough," she said. Okay then.


I did manage to keep my tradition of watching Love Actually. Priorities.


We had several other Christmas celebrations besides the one in Evansville: The Exley Christmas on the 21st, Christmas Eve brunch with Ben's side, Christmas Eve dinner with my sister and brother-in-law, and Christmas day with my parents, sister and brother-in-law, and grandmother. I was hoping to minimize Clare's expectations for presents from the get-go, but with four-plus Christmas celebrations I am afraid I have not been successful. I did buy her presents from garage sales this year, so at least there's that. It was a really lovely Christmas, though. Good food, good conversation, spending time with most of our immediate family members. Christmas morning with Clare was a blast - it was fun to see her so excited. She especially loved her doll stroller. She knew what it was right away, and started shrieking with joy. We also did a Google Hangout with my brother, who is in England, and Clare and Robby played basketball again over the computer. Since I was actually shooting the ball for my brother, he missed a few more times than he might have otherwise.


I remember when I would stress about plans for New Year's Eve. It was almost never as fun as I thought it should be. That is one great thing about having kids - it is an excuse to not to make plans. Especially when you have an infant. Come to think of it, I probably will be up around midnight, but hopefully I'll have slept for a few hours beforehand. And maybe I'll even sneak in a glass of champagne. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas, and maybe even do something cool and fun on New Year's Eve. (Anything will be more cool and fun than what I am doing.)

Every time she cut out a cookie, she said "Makin' cookies..."

Christopher and Grandpa Steve on Christmas Eve.

This, sadly, is the only shot I have of her in her Christmas dress. Notice the mouthful of food.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care - and Santa came!

And left presents, too. Including a baby.
Clare on Christmas morning.
I had to get a shot of Christopher in this outfit. (He was being changed due to a diaper incident.) Clare wore it at her first Christmas, too, when she was six months old. It fit Christopher this year, at two and a half months.

Clare "helping" Christopher open his presents.

Christopher meeting his Great Grandma Jean.

We've adopted the English tradition of Christmas crackers, which come with these lovely crowns. It looked cute on Clare, I am not sure about the rest of us. Although I have to say, my 86-year-old grandma pulled it off.

Christopher with his grandparents, the day after Christmas.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

2 and a half

Likes: Elmo, bubbles, school (ECFE), mango, cereal, carrot sticks with ranch dressing, cookies, blocks, the little shopping carts at Lunds, books, helping with anything (but especially helping Daddy make eggs on Sunday morning), dancing, "doing work" on her computer or her workbench at the Cuckoo House, Christopher, her grandparents and aunts and uncles, except when Mommy and Aunt Katie start laughing (then she yells "Stop it!"). She is in for it if she can't handle our loud laughing, because it happens a lot.

Dislikes: Jeans, peppers, dogs, loud noises (except her own screaming), onions, spicy food, when the hood on her jacket gets "bunched up."

She is just such a funny, smart, spunky little girl. She is shy around people she doesn't know, or doesn't know well, but when she gets comfortable and opens up, she is very entertaining. She makes me laugh every day. I wish I could capture in a bottle how she is right now, at this age, to open up and revisit when she is 14 and thinks I don't get it.  (Except the times when she is whining or throwing a tantrum. Those times do not need to be saved for the future.)

She is starting to say some hilarious things, too. This gem made me feel especially good:

Ben: "Why were the other kids in class crying?"
Clare: "They were sad that their Mommies had left."
Ben: "Were you sad that your Mommy left?"
Clare: "No, I was really happy."

And earlier, I tried to move her hot chocolate (which she drank for the first time today), and she told me in no uncertain terms that what I was doing was unacceptable. "That's my hot chocolate. You leave it alone!" she commanded.

Seriously though. How is she 2 and a half? Some days I want time to speed up and other days I just want to say, "Stop it!"

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Two Months

Does the fact that I sobbed like a baby while watching the Charlie Brown Christmas special mean I am still hormonal? I hope so.

Christopher is two months old. When Clare was two months old, I wrote, "How did two months go by already??" I feel like Christopher has been here for two years. I also wrote this: "Clare slept through the night for the first time on July 27. She has since done that one other time, so it is hardly routine. Still, she generally only gets up once a night." Ha. Ha ha ha. Ha. I didn't know how good I had it. Christopher is not doing this. I thought bigger babies were supposed to sleep better, but apparently Christopher is a bigger baby because he eats all the damn time. He is the opposite of his sister - instead of being long and lean he is short and husky. (The doctor is predicting he'll make it to at least 6 feet, though.) He is currently 14 pounds.

Christopher celebrated his first Thanksgiving at Ben's parents' house, and then we traveled to Evansville to see my family, including my sister-in-law's parents who were visiting from England. The travel messed with Christopher's sleep "schedule," and I have not slept for more than two hours in a row since then. But enough about sleep. It is all I think or talk about and I am sick of it. Let's talk about wine instead! I got to have two full glasses of wine on Friday night. It was heavenly. Also heavenly: the fact that there were 10 adults to 2 kids, so I got lots of breaks, except when my services as the dairy bar were requested. We also visited my grandparents in La Crosse. I am so happy they got to meet Christopher, and I know they were happy to meet him. (And to see Clare, and she didn't disappoint - she was as entertaining as ever.)

Christopher is turning into quite the cutey pie, if I do say so myself. He holds his head up, except when he forgets and smashes his face into my shoulder. Then he cries. He is smiling a lot more, and becoming more and more alert every day. His sister can entertain him by laying with him under his floor gym and shaking the toys around. He loves it.

There is not much else to say about him right now: he eats, poops (sometimes, but that is an issue I am sure no one really wants to read about), sleeps (sometimes) and cries.

I have, of course, taken thousands of pictures this month. Here are a few of the holiday, and Christopher meeting and greeting with various family members.

On Thanksgiving Day.
With Uncle Robby. How much does Christopher look like Ben in this picture?

Cuddling with Meema Jo.

Meeting Ruth for the first time.
Decorating Meema Jo's tree.
Getting ready to take some family photos. Clare was wearing dress up clothes, and did not want to take them off. Christopher is in his second outfit of the day, after he destroyed the one I'd carefully selected for the pictures with one epic bowel movement.

Meeting Great Grandpa Bob.
With Great Grandma Clara.


Brother and sister.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I wake up to a crying, hungry baby and a whining 2-year-old. I have slept sporadically, waking every 2 to 3 hours to feed the baby. I change the 2-year-old and try to get her dressed, but she throws a fit, refusing to take off her pajama shirt. Fine. Whatever.

We eat breakfast. This helps the 2-year-old's mood. I finally go upstairs to wash up and get dressed. The baby is crying again. The 2-year-old is underfoot in the bathroom, watching me do everything, trying to "help" me wash my face and get dressed.

We get ready to leave. We are going to the library. It is a battle to get the 2-year-old out the door. Why is it so hard to put on your shoes? It is not that hard. I wonder why I am bothering, because I am only going the library so the 2-year-old has something fun to do, and it just seems to lead to me yelling at her about her gosh darn shoes. Then I think about the alternative, not going anywhere, staying home with both of them all day, and I decide it's worth it.

We come home. We eat lunch. The baby is sleeping.

After lunch, the 2-year-old goes down for her nap. The baby wakes up. Of course.

The 2-year-old wakes up from her nap way too early. I count the minutes until the husband comes home. It is never soon enough.


I have been on an emotional roller coaster lately. I am either really high or really low. I have moments throughout the day of just being so happy! Clare is so funny! My neighborhood is so nice! Christmas is coming!

And then, the bottom falls out. I am not talking to other adults. Christopher is still sleeping intermittently at night. I'll never feel rested again. I want a glass of wine and I can't have one. I am bored. I have no time to myself. I just feel so blah. So so blah. I want to cry.


I know it is temporary. I know it is temporary. I know it is temporary. It doesn't feel temporary.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Four Weeks

Yesterday marked four weeks since Christopher's surgery, and the end of his recovery period. He has recovered beautifully - no infection, no problems with the incision site, no other serious illness. He will still be following up with a cardiologist once a month or so for the next year, but to say I am relieved that we made it through this four week period without incident would be an understatement. We were restricted from picking him up under the arms for the past four weeks so that we wouldn't disturb the incision site, which is on his left side. Based on how he has been sleeping lately, I don't think it is bothering him one bit:

Now I am just hoping and praying that things continue to go well, that his aorta doesn't narrow again, that he can come off his blood pressure medication in a few weeks, and that he continues to be the alert, (mostly) happy boy he is starting to be. And I might ease my hand sanitizer policy a bit. Just a bit.

Social smiles!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Clare Update

I was really worried about how Clare would adjust to her new sibling. And it has been a challenge in some ways. She just loves her brother, though. She is so sweet with him: talking to him, trying to soothe him, showing him how to do things. He calms down if she talks to him when he is crying. She has also been a great helper to me - getting out diapers, bringing me baby wipes, grabbing a blanket from another room. Each morning when I go in to get her out of bed, the first thing out of her mouth is "Where's Christopher?"

It has not all been smooth sailing, however. She is definitely more quick to throw a tantrum. She is very clingy to me. She gets very nervous if I go anywhere without her. (This is probably stemming from my two hospital stays last month - I was away from home much more frequently than I've ever been before.) I can tell she misses having my undivided attention.  And the other day we got the first definitively negative comment about Christopher, in the form of a request for him to "go bye-bye."

I think all of the reading we did prebaby actually helped. She will quote things from this book by Fred Rogers in particular. (I highly, HIGHLY recommend it for anyone who is expecting a second or third child, it is a bit old school, but you can just hear Mr. Rogers' voice on each page.) I am sure there will be many bumps in the road, but for now I can say that Clare is adjusting very well. I underestimated her once again.

In other Clare news, the two things she wants to know lately are where various family members' houses are, and what is the first, middle and last name of just about everybody she sees. (Including people on Sesame Street and in books.) She knows her first and middle name, but sometimes struggles to remember her last name. As for the directions, that conversation always goes the same way:

Clare: "Where is Meemaw's house?"
Me: "Shorewood."
Clare: "Where's Shorewood?"
Me: "West of here."
Clare: "Where's west of here?"
Me, pointing: "That way."
Clare, pointing in a different direction: "That way?"

She can count to 11 and can point out several letters by sight. Her speech is great. She has been doing a lot of imaginative play. She loves ECFE, especially the art projects. I am going to get her some more art supplies for Christmas. She still loves music: she sings and dances and plays the piano every chance she gets. Oh, and she informed me the other day, unprompted, that she likes the Packers AND the Vikings. Fine, I GUESS.

Her next challenge: potty training! Dun, Dun, DUN! Oh, and finally giving up that Nuk. But the less said about that the better.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Faces of Christopher




Sad, otherwise known as "Why am I not eating?"


Coming up next: The Sounds of Christopher: Is He Actually Part Exotic Bird?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Christopher's Heart

When the pediatrician heard a murmur while listening to Christopher's heart right after he was born, I wasn't particularly concerned. Clare had one, too, and it was nothing serious. Then, his own pediatrician suggested we see a pediatric cardiologist, just in case. So we went, Christopher and I. He had an extensive exam, including an Echo. When the doctor came into the room to discuss the results, I fully expected her to say everything was fine, so when she unceremoniously announced that there was a problem with his heart that would require surgery, my own heart sank all the way to my feet.

The defect is called coarctation of the aorta, which is a small narrowing in the aorta. In terms of heart defects, it is a relatively minor one, but no heart surgery is minor. The doctor assured me that he would recover fully, and go on to have a normal life. I sobbed the whole way home.

This was on October 14. The surgery was scheduled for October 25. The eleven days in between were tough, although the more I talked to people about the surgery and the situation, the more success stories I heard, the better I felt. I still didn't feel good about the situation, but hearing those stories helped ease the worry a bit. It also helped that I have such a supportive family (my mom, mother-in-law, and Ben's aunt Sally were indispensable throughout this ordeal) and a wonderful group of friends - all of the emails, texts, and phone calls really helped. And the food.

The morning of the surgery was awful. I barely slept the night before. While we were waiting for the surgeon, I had a strong urge to just leave the hospital. The nurse warned me that the hardest part would be when they took Christopher away. She was right. I was holding him in my arms, and when they reached for him I almost didn't let him go.

While we were waiting, we received updates from the operating room. Everything was going fine. I tried hard to distract myself, to not think about the fact that my baby was lying on an operating table while a surgeon repaired his heart. Ben and I talked about home improvement projects. The procedure itself only took about 15 minutes, but it was about 3 hours from the time they took Christopher away to the time the surgeon came to see us in the waiting room. When he walked into the room, I was immediately looking at his face, trying to read his body language, irrationally thinking he was going to deliver bad news. In fact, it was the opposite: he was thrilled with how the procedure went. He was confident that Christopher would be completely fine. I was incredibly relieved.

Then, we went to the ICU, and saw this:

It was so sad, seeing him laying there, tubes everywhere, machines beeping. I didn't know what to do, really. Finally, the nurse told me I could touch him. I spent some time just rubbing his head. Soon, though, his breathing tube was removed, and he started waking up. I couldn't nurse him, but he took breast milk through a bottle. That Friday night, I actually got a good night sleep thanks to the Ronald McDonald House. (The House in Children's Hospital is like a hotel.) And things just started getting better. The doctors were pleased with his recovery, and he was obviously one of the healthiest babies on the floor. (I tried not to look too closely into the other rooms - it was too heartbreaking.)

Finally, more than 30 hours after his surgery, I got to hold him.

By Saturday night, a few more of his tubes were removed, and he got comfy on the bed.

I was finally able to nurse him on Sunday. We were both very happy about that. It was hard at first, since he was still connected to various monitors and had a central line, but we still managed to snuggle.

Clare was not allowed to visit her brother in the hospital (children under 5 are not allowed on the patient floors), but she did have dinner with me in the cafeteria a few times. She was always happy to see me, and always asked where her brother was. She had a great time with both of her grandmas ("Two meemaws!" she said), but she was pretty happy when Christopher and I were finally home and things were back to normal, at least for her. 

Christopher was released from the hospital the Monday following his surgery. This was a very short hospital stay for a heart patient.  I can't say enough about how great the staff was at Minneapolis Children's Hospital, especially the nurses. And they were pretty thrilled with Christopher, too. They kept telling me how cute he is, and one of them told me they never get them "this healthy." The next four weeks are his recovery period - we just need to watch for infection and keep an eye on the incision site. He will also be on blood pressure medication for at least another month, but will hopefully be weaned after that.

We had a follow up appointment this past Monday. He had a chest x-ray and another Echo. This time, I was nervous while waiting for the doctor to come into the room to tell me the results of his Echo.

"Everything looks great," she said. "He's perfect." We think so, too.

Monday, November 4, 2013

One Month

We are in the thick of it here. House: trashed. Me: unshowered, covered in milk, spit up, etc. All of us: exhausted. Except Christopher, who sleeps whenever he feels like it, which is definitely not between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.

I hope we can figure out this day/night reversal thing soon, but I also want him to sleep as much as possible, since he is still recovering from surgery. The poor guy also has problems with gas and reflux. So he is a bit grumpy. He has been grumpy since he was born, and am I not sure if this is due to the gas, the reflux, the surgery, or if it is just his disposition. And God forbid you move him when he is settled. You will be at the receiving end of all of his rage. His lungs work fine.

He is a big boy. He is already well over 11 pounds; in the 96th percentile for height and weight, and quite the little piggy. He eats about 30 ounces a day. Luckily, I can keep up, for now.

He is becoming more alert every day. It is fun to see him start to take in the world. He reacts to the sound of his sister's voice - spinning his head around to look for her. Clare told my mom the other day that she needed to be careful with Christopher, because he is fragile and has a floppy head. In reality, though, his head is not that floppy. The boy is strong, and already heaves himself back and forth and can very nearly hold up his head on his own. I am not that worried that he hates tummy time as much as Clare did at his age.

Having a newborn is both harder and easier this time. Easier, because I am not as worried about every little thing (although that kind of went out the window with the heart situation), but much harder because I have to take care of Clare at the same time. I so wish she was in daycare during the day. We are managing, but I really don't like this newborn stage. I know it is temporary, but I am just so tired, it is hard to remember how fast it goes. I feel so out of touch with the outside world and myself. I am just the local dairy bar, snack-giver, and butt wiper. Nothing more. When I am feeling especially stressed, though, I just breath in his new baby smell. And eat chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bits and Pieces: October

This month has been, well, insane. It feels like a year has past since Christopher was born. I am planning to write about the whole baby having heart surgery thing, but frankly I haven't had the energy to write about it the way I want to. Instead: random fall fun! Yes, we had at least one fun day this month.

The day before we found out about Christopher's heart defect, we took a trip down Highway 35 in Wisconsin. It was beautiful. The colors were vibrant, the sun was shining, the views were breath taking, and the Packer game was on the radio. A perfect fall day. I want to do the drive again sometime with my mom, who, unlike Ben, would be willing to stop at all the cutesy-pie shops along the route. We did stop at a pumpkin patch, though. Clare enjoyed herself.

Clare was super excited to ride this "train." I thought it looked extremely unsafe, but my better judgement was overturned by Clare's excitement. She loved it, and she did not get hurt.

Christopher was thrilled.

The top of the sign was cut off in my haste to take this photo before Clare ran away. All well, if we do go back next year we'll still be able to see how much she's grown.

Tarzan! Kind of.
My little family.
We ended the day at Nelson's Creamery in Nelson, Wisconsin. The sandwiches were delicious, and we want to go back for the ice cream sometime when the line isn't 50 people deep.


Last weekend Ben took Clare to a pumpkin carving party at a friend's house. I am a sucker for pictures of kids in pumpkin patches, so I couldn't resist these photos he took of Clare picking out her pumpkin.


Clare went trick or treating tonight, but she didn't really like it. I am not surprised - she is fairly shy and reserved around people she doesn't know. She did, however, like getting candy. She's no fool.

Do you like her costume? It was the only one left in her size. Luckily she liked it, and it was only $5. Win! (Oh, and in case you can't tell, it is a parrot.) Happy Halloween!