Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Again

Each year we make the trip back to Iowa to celebrate Christmas with Oma and Grandma. And each year we find ourselves juggling work schedules to make the most of our days back there. This year though, was different for a couple of reasons. First, I'm on maternity leave still which means one less schedule to coordinate. Huge help. The other difference is that we made it a point of staying home on Christmas day. Charlotte is nearly 3 years old and it's time that this little family started building some traditions of our own. For one, waking up in our own beds on Christmas day. After all, we needed to make it easy for Santa to find us.

And so a couple days after Christmas we made the drive back. We had a fantastic time celebrating with Oma and Grandma. Charlotte loves going back because it means walking on floors with princess shoes (without worrying about making too much noise for the people living downstairs), playing with Julie's beads, and sitting in Grandma's chair. Grace loves going back because it means not being put down for one second. Troy and I love going back because it means watching these two with our girls...and maybe a bit of relaxation if we're lucky. It's the little things.

We opened stockings at Oma's house and the rest of our presents at Grandmas. Those two know how to spoil. We ate potato soup with dumplings and Grandma put olive loaf on a plate...because what Christmas is complete without that. (smile).

Building memories here.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


One of our best friends gave Charlotte this dress roughly six months ago.

Since then it has been in mud, rain, and now snow.
It has been stepped on, dropped in the toilet, and spit up on (thank you little sister).
She takes naps in it, and if we let her she would sleep in it....but saying no every night doesn't stop her from asking.

This dress has been to Iowa and Wisconsin with us. Its the first thing she wants to put on in the morning and the last thing she takes off. It's been sewn, patched, and hemmed (thanks Oma) and its still her most cherished item by a landslide.

Most recently it made the trip to Iowa with us and the following happened: Charlotte asked to go outside. Normally she does this, steps outside, and turns right back around. This time though I didn't hear her come back in right away. I peaked out the window to find her halfway to the barn wearing "glass slippers", the dress, a baby, and a the snow. When I asked her where she was going she replied: "the castle". Naturally.

I let her play a bit more until she informed me that the castle was now in the house. I guess even princesses get cold. Even with leopard print pajamas underneath.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The 25th Day

I can confidently say that I was more excited for Christmas than anyone in our house. Before bed last night I wasn't sure I would be able to sleep...giddy with the excitement of Christmas morning and watching Charlotte as she experienced pure joy. That feeling gets harder to come by as you get older and I cherish seeing her in the midst of it.

Grace and I started the morning together. We stretched out on the couch, her in my lap a position she's soon to outgrow, and a morning coffee in my hand. The house was quiet. Soon though I heard through the monitor: Mama, Dada, I'm done sleeping. We stalled her for a bit while we woke up Oma and got the video camera out.

As Charlotte came down the stairs she peeked over the banister and her eyes grew while she whispered "A doll house. Santa brought me a doll house", and a smile spread across her face. Pure joy. The magic of Christmas in one simple look.

We opened presents in the morning, enjoyed Mr. H's famous pecan rolls for brunch and then just took it all in. We played, cooked, ate, and played some more.

Merry Christmas to you and yours from all of us. What a wonderful day it has been. Not even an overcooked tenderloin could have ruined it. Meat thermometers are overrated.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Twas the Night Before Christmas

The cookies are set out for Santa (M&M as requested). 

The milk has been poured (Dada was voting for beer but we reminded him that Santa still had a lot of driving to do)

Christmas Eve gifts of new pajamas have been opened and put on.

And just a bit of Santa Claus tracking before we turn in for the night. 

Thankful for such a special time of year spent with very special people.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Brinker's Birthday

Brinker turned 8 today which means close to 8 years ago Troy and I brought home a puppy, vacationed in Mexico, got engaged, and Troy started a new job all in the span of a week. It was one of the busiest weeks that I can remember. We lived in a different state, had 2 dogs, and no kids. Life has changed.

Happy birthday to the most patient dog in the world. We love you Bubba!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


We went to see the real Santa Clause (because everyone else is just dressed up like Santa) at Lincoln Park Zoo. The best part? He's in the lion house which means that the tigers and lions hang out with you while you wait in line. And if you're Charlotte you're more excited about that than the bearded guy. 

Santa was extremely patient with us. Refreshing when the norm is to shuffle you through the line. The whole family sat with Santa to start because Charlotte needed a bit of coaxing. Eventually though she came around telling Santa what she wanted (a crown and a phone) and even asking him what his favorite cookie is. His response: "my favorite cookie is your favorite cookie". So we'll be making M&M cookies Christmas eve. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013


A perfect winter morning.
Huge snowflakes fell all around us as we ventured out.
We went to the local church for an impromptu trip to decorate cookies and visit Santa. It turns out though that it was just "someone dressed up like Santa" according to Charlotte.
It's a good thing the real one visits the Lincoln Park Zoo....

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Its Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

The stockings are hung. The fireplace is in full gear.
The tree is lit (and without any arguments of white vs. colored because we found lights that toggle between both. Where have you been the last 14 years?).
The Christmas records are playing and the ginger bread house has been decorated.

Beautiful time of year.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Farm Fun

A week at Oma"s house:

When a princess needs a crown and one isn't available - we make one. And it turns out even more fantastic than the real thing.

After playing outside hot chocolate with marshmallows is the law.

Lots of couch time, lots of love.

Salt dough Christmas ornaments.

Digging out my old toys to rediscover 30 year old dust and watching them entertain a new generation. A very big thank you to Oma for saving all of my old stuff.

And another thank you for a wonderfully perfect week on the farm.

Monday, December 2, 2013

That Smile

This one. This smile.
It simply melts my heart into a giant puddle at my feet.

It starts at the corner of her eyes then moves in. It takes over her cheeks, then her nose and then finally the corners of her mouth turn up. It doesn't stop until the corners are no longer corners and her eyes have all but closed.

Pure happiness. And drool.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Oh So Thankful

So many things to be thankful for this and every day.

We celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday in Iowa with Oma and Grandma. Troy and I cooked, and of course made enough food to feed us for a week. Which it did. I'm sick of ham. I'm not sick of green bean casserole.

And no holiday would be complete without traditions. Making noodles, and watching football to name a couple.

So very thankful for all that we have.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Charlotte and Mama's Date

Before we could put up the Christmas tree we needed our new ornament for 2013. Charlotte and I bundled up and went in search of one downtown. 

We made a day of it: ornament and coat sopping at Macy's, a stop (read 1 hour) into American Girl Place to check out the dolls (where Charlotte politely asked me to take down every single doll so she could hug and inspect), lunch, petting the horses at water tower place, and riding the train home. 

But the highlight: running into the "giant cow" outside Chic-fil-A on the way to the train. It really is the little things.....or big thing in this case.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Getting Aquainted

We all have our quirks.
The challenge is figuring out the bigger ones and learning how to deal with them.

Just a few of our precious Grace's:

Dirty diapers can not be left on for any longer than 5 seconds before a fit ensues
She doesn't eat well when she needs to go to the bathroom. 
Sitting upright is strongly preferred to laying down
She gets overly tired. If the window of sleepiness is missed she'll make you work to get her calmed down

Like I said, its just a matter of figuring each other out.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


This one...this one with the bright eyes, and the contagious smile. This one with the angry hour and short temper. She's two month already. Two months.  Our hearts are full.

Grace had her 2 month appointment today. Her measurements:
Weight: 11lb 1oz (50th percentile)
Length: 23 1/4 (90th percentile)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Visit From Oma

We talked Oma into making the drive here to hang out for a few wasn't hard. We didn't do much. Just relaxed, spent a lot of time in pajamas, and made time for a movie night. Great visit!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Staying Close

Where there's one, there's usually the other. Charlotte can't get enough kisses, hugs and holds from her little sister.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Once upon a time in the Kingdom of Chicago there lived a girl named Charlotte. She was born, discovered princesses. End of story. 

And as much as her Dad tried to teach her the ins and outs of superhero-dom...she had no interest. So before her little sister could follow in her footsteps her Dad made sure to get at least one superhero Halloween. 

We asked Charlotte back in August what she wanted to be for Halloween. Without a moments hesitation she answered: Cinderella. And not once did she waiver from her decision.

I present you Cinderella and her superhero sister: