Aug 4, 2010

18 Months

Cuddling her baby

18 Months has been a really great month for Charlotte.  She is an amazing girl, full of happiness and so intelligent.  As her vocabulary grows exponentially, I can see a great reduction in the number of tantrums.  She can communicate so much more to me, but also understands me so much better.  I also have enjoyed learning some new techniques from "The Happiest Toddler on the Block."  Speaking "Toddler-ese" has been so helpful in helping her know that I understand her frustrations.
In the last month we also made some big changes in our morning routine to get Brian more involved in the start of her day.  It was a rough transition, but after a week she adjusted nicely.  Now it is not unusual for her to choose Brian to put her to bed or to see her dragging him by one finger to her toy room for stories or Play-Doh.  This is such a relief to me because I am now in my third trimester and was getting very concerned about how to balance a newborn with a dependent toddler.
One month has also made a great difference in her eating habits.  We no longer give her a second meal if she refuses the first as I figured she was old enough to now understand the consequences.  She is still picky in comparison to her boy cousins, but eats with much less argument and eats from her high chair (whereas often she would cry for my lap).  What a big girl!
Loves to play dress-up with my jewelry
Charlotte's favorite things:
Play Doh (aka "playooo"), Swings at the park ("whee"), peek-a-boo ("I tee you!!"), graham crackers, bubbles in her bath, Elmo, her stuffed kitty and puppy, Super Why, playing dress up with my necklaces ("pretties"), books and more books (right now Runaway Bunny and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish).  She has started to pick out colors and knows most animal noises.  She points to my belly and says "baby," but was also reported to have done the same to her overweight daycare teacher.  I'm glad I wasn't there for that! 
Playing at Fennville Children's Museum
Amos and Charlotte playing with baby Sol's toys


Charlotte took her first camping trip with us Thursday - Sunday in Silver Lake, MI.  Not only did we go camping, but we stayed in a tent.  We learned quickly the first night that Charlotte was far too excited about the tent to go to sleep on her own.  After 1 1/2 hours of attempting "night night," we resorted to driving her in the car.  That worked like a charm, night after night.  However, expecting her to sleep through the night was impossible.  She was either rolling off her mattress, thrashing on ours, or calling out for Elmo.  Despite that, my favorite part of the day was waking up to her shining face in mine shouting "Hi Momma!"  Then she would tickle Daddy's toes until he woke up too.
This was such a short trip that we had to pack it with activities.  We played at the campground pool, Lake Michigan beach, putt putt golfing, children's museum in Ludington, shopping in Pentwater and more.  I loved the children's museum in Ludington and fully intend to plan our next trip in that town as it is so much more family friendly than Silver Lake.  I also fell in love with their local children's boutique, the Purple Monkey.
Despite the fact that this trip was hard work with little time for relaxation, I am very happy that we pushed ourselves to go.  Camping played a role in most of my valuable childhood memories and I want the same memories with my children.  Not to mention that Michigan is so beautiful, it's a shame to not explore this entire Adventureland!

Silver Lake State Park Beach
Mom, my hands are dirty!

Beautiful Day at Lake Michigan
Is that a baby bump or a beached whale? :)
Cosmic Candy in Pentwater - Charlotte LOVED the gummy fishes

Ludington Children's Museum - My Picasso
Daddy made the best bubbles!
"Home Sweet Home"
Our one and only family photo from the trip.

Jul 12, 2010

C, C and more C!

Brian's new iPhone has an excellent video camera.  So now we get video whenever and wherever!  We can't get enough of Charlotte's antics.  She turned 18 months today and continues to show us signs of what an intelligent and indepent lady she will be.  What a cutie!

My shopping diva.

Charlotte is trying to take care of her baby, but she just can't help but dance!

Working on motorboat at MVP pool

My homemade Oreos

I finally got around to downloading some pictures and realized I never got to share my Oreo cookie success story.  Over a year ago Brian came across this recipe on  After Brian made me an ice cream cake for Mother's Day, I had to follow suit.
Although it was a two day process, it was well worth it.  I highly recommend the recipe. The cookies are a nice understated chocolate with a perfect sugary filling.  They stayed fresh for at least a week.  I will make these over and over again.

After 4 years in this house, Brian and I finally came to terms with the fact that we will never invest the time, sweat and creativity into doing our own landscaping.  Fortunately, I have an HJWL friend who's husband owns Bosch's Landscaping.  So I felt very comfortable going to them for an honest estimate (and also wanted to show them appreciation for their many donations to HJWL).  Today, the work was completed and we LOVE it!  It looks clean, sharp, and most of all, low maintenance. It also helps a bunch with curbside appeal.

Before: Notice the overgrown rose bush, sunk in rock border and (since we didn't take care of it this summer) an abundance of weeds.

After:  The two heights are now one smooth grade.  There are rhododendrons at the picture left, wintergem boxwood to the right, and scattered dianthus carnations which should eventually make a nice groundcover.  The tracklighting was kept but nicely placed and we now have a nice rounded border.  I don't think the picture does it justice really.

Side garden before:

Side garden now:  Stella d'oro daylilies (yellow), "Regal Splendor" Hostas, and Pardon Me daylilies (red).

Close up of garden right:


Thank you for a professional and affordable job Bosch's!

Jun 30, 2010


After 5 days of fever and irritability, but no other symptoms, Charlotte's body finally gave another sign to allow a diagnosis.  Her fever improved yesterday and as I bathed her, I noticed a characteristic rash had appeared.  We took her to the doctor anyway as it was too late to cancel her follow up appointment, where she confirmed that the illness was roseola. (not Charlotte's actual skin pictured below)

Mayo Clinic's website described Charlotte as though she was the textbook case:

  • Fever. Roseola typically starts with a sudden, high fever — often greater than 103 F (39.4 C). Some children may also have a slightly sore throat, runny nose or cough along with or preceding the fever. Your child may also develop swollen lymph nodes in his or her neck along with the fever. The fever lasts for three to five days.
  • Rash. Once the fever subsides, a rash typically appears — but not always. The rash consists of many small pink spots or patches. These spots are generally flat, but some may be raised. There may be a white ring around some of the spots. The rash usually starts on the chest, back and abdomen and then spreads to the neck and arms. It may or may not reach the legs and face. The rash, which isn't itchy or uncomfortable, can last from several hours to several days before fading.
Other signs and symptoms of roseola may include:
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability in infants and children
  • Mild diarrhea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Swollen eyelids
So, one common childhood viral illness down, so many to go!!  Thank goodness we don't have to worry about chickenpox.

Jun 23, 2010

I have 19 weeks left in this pregnancy, give or take a few weeks (take a couple I hope) and need to get into gear with knitting something for this baby boy.  Charlotte was blessed with quite a few baby blankets at the showers and I don't want Patrick to feel left out.  I found this free pattern on Ravelry today, "Little Johnny's Patchwork Blankie" (courtesy of Trudy Barrett).

I think it's going to be a bit high maintenance in color work, but I'm going to challenge myself to move beyond the simple garter and stockinette stitch.  As soon as Charlotte wakes up from her nap, I think we'll head downtown to Lizzie Ann's and pick out the yarn :)  I have a gift certificate that I've been itching to spend.

Jun 17, 2010

Baby Boy

This morning Brian and I had our dreams confirmed, our next baby will be a baby boy.  I had a mother's intuition I was having a boy, I suppose because my heart felt a little different when I saw baby boys in public.  Also, even early on, these belly kicks have some real strength behind them!
I am so excited, yet frightened at the same time.  Having a girl seemed so natural, since I'm a girl (obviously) but also grew up with only sisters.  I understand dance shoes, make-up, and boy drama.  I imagine Brian must've had the same apprehension for Charlotte's birth as I have for Patrick's, coming from a 3 boy family.
Despite my anxieties, I am ready for this.  I can't wait to see the world through a little boy's eyes - to learn to appreciate frogs, worms, and running just about everywhere.  I can't wait to love him and to know that I am the first woman he will ever love.  I hope that he will be fun-loving, adventurous and hopefully have a little less flair for the dramatics then his older sister.  But like his sister, I hope he loves to cuddle, hug me tight, and give Eskimo kisses.
I would love to post some pictures of his beautiful profile from the ultrasound pictures, but I only have a video and printed photos.  Trust me though, it's just about the sweetest profile you will ever see on a grainy ultrasound picture!
And to all of you friends and family with little boys (that's just about everyone) - time to start sorting through your clothes for hand-me-downs :)

Look Grandma!

Sunday night Charlotte had her first taste of Polish food.  Now I won't deny it was only Mrs. T's, but pierogi nonetheless.  It took her a minute to think about it and then she realized that cheese and potatoes are about as yummy as it gets.

Wednesday outings...

Yesterday was one of my perfect mothering days.  Ones of those days where everything goes as I planned. I never expect that anymore, because it didn't take long as a parent to learn that almost nothing ever goes as planned.

Charlotte started the day with a visit to the library.  The children's floor has a great fish and turtle tank.  She likes to put her face up to the tank and just repeat "fishy, fishy, fishy."  But unlike Bert & Ernie, one hasn't jumped into her hand in response.

Next we made our first visit to the Critter Barn, a casual sort of petting zoo.  She was very excited, at least until she realized the animals were real.  I suppose she is really just used to the picture books and didn't know these things could move and make noise.  She had the chance to pet baby chicks, ducklings, bunnies and cats galore.  Instead, she preferred to keep the animals just out of her personal space and hold on to me for security.  Next time she might be a bit more adventurous.

I had to laugh when this cow mooed so loudly that Charlotte just about jumped out of my arms.  He seemed to have something important to tell her.

A few errands rounded out the morning before C blessed me with a 3 hour nap.  I even had time to kick back and do some casual reading.  I figure I better live that up before this next baby comes and quickly erases my free time.

Later in the afternoon I huffed and puffed until Charlotte's new inflatable princess pool was blown up.  Grandma B was so kind to buy it for her and C just couldn't wait for me to fill it up.  She eagerly stripped down to her birthday suit and jumped in.   Luckily it wasn't big enough for the two of us.

Jun 13, 2010

17 Months

Charlotte reached 17 months this weekend.  And sadly, while speaking to a neighbor who inquired how old Maggie is, I realized she turned 3 last Sunday without any celebration from us.  Poor puppy.

We had one of my very favorite weekends, a weekend focused on relaxing and having fun with Charlotte. It was another one of those weekends that reminds me of why I love living in Holland.  We started Saturday morning with a bike trip to the farmer's market for fresh strawberries, veggies, and my favorite eggs.  Charlotte danced to the banjo player and laughed so hard while riding on her daddy's shoulders.  Next we stopped at the park where we met a neighbor who is due with her 3rd child two days before us.  Charlotte had fun climbing up the tunnel slide and shouting from the inside to hear her loud echo.

In the afternoon Brian and C swam at MVP pool while I took Maggie out to pass out flyers for a summer block party.  I am organizing this with one of our neighbors and cross my fingers that some people attend.  After 4 years, it is time to get to know our neighbors a little better.  I would love for Charlotte to have playmates close by and someone to gossip with on a quiet afternoon.

To end Saturday, we tried out a local babysitter.  She was a big hit with Charlotte and somehow, she managed to put her to sleep without her pacifier!  I'll have to ask her how.  Charlotte took to her right away, showing her each and every one of her stuffed animals.  Brian and I took the opportunity for a date night to get some pizza at a local favorite in Saugatuck and people watch during the Waterfront Film Festival.

Sunday started nicely with church and a short, cool, visit to the beach.  I tried to stay warm in a beach towel while Charlotte and Brian played in the sand and dipped their toes in the 62 degree water.

Jun 9, 2010

We have had a busy morning already, grocery shopping, Father's Day shopping and a visit to the Farmer's Market.  Good thing for pesticide free options, because this girl couldn't way to get home to dig into the beautiful juicy strawberries.  And good thing for Oxi-Clean, because her shirt is now proof of their juiciness.

The cheesiest grin.

Jun 7, 2010

Disappearing Act

Horizontal stripes are an amazing optical illusion.  19 weeks now!  I walked into a room today and a patient said - "You look good, you got your flat belly back."  I said "Are you kidding me?!  Look at this from the side."

Now you see it.

Now you don't.

BTW - Charlotte "had" to get in the picture.  She will never take a back seat to this baby.

Jun 2, 2010

Memorial Weekend Picture-rama

We had a very busy weekend, traveling across the state and back again.  I don't deny it was hectic and Charlotte's fussiness from being off schedule had me a little hair-brained, but I do appreciate the fact that we are so close with our families and value the time we share.

Charlotte breaking in the bed at our hotel.

Time for a snack break!  Charlotte enjoyed visiting with the Hoving children (Thomas was absent from the photo - poor guy was a bit under the weather.)

Snuggling with Solomon.

Cousins Charlotte and Amos having a blastie.

The whole family - Kevin included.  It was quite funny, right before the photo Charlotte decided she wanted Aunt Meagan to hold her.  That was the first time she had reached out to her all day.  I guess Charlotte wants Meagan to look like her mommy in my mother's Christmas newsletter this year.

Sporting her swimwear.

Splashing around with Daddy.  Charlotte loved the water, especially when Brian threw her up in the air. She would laugh hysterically, pausing only in her laughter to do the sign language for "more."


I swear this girl is learning something new every day.  Last Thursday Charlotte astounded me and Brian when she repeated "magnet."  The whole "ga" sound in the middle made her sound so intelligent :)
Over the weekend, while visiting Chris's family, she mastered holding onto a swing.  It brought a few tears to my eyes to see her looking so big sitting all by herself.  Of course she still needs a push.

She loves to push her own stroller.  She even pushes the grocery cart around the store for me.  It keeps her out of trouble.  Who cares if she knocks over a display item or two.

She can follow a lot of commands now.  Today she even laid herself down for a diaper change.  I dreamt she was potty-training last night.
And finally, self-feeding is something she's been working on for several months.  But she's starting to understand the spoon works better when she doesn't flip it over.  What a happy girl.

May 26, 2010

Brian and I are taking Friday off so that we can get an early start out to Bay City to visit my family.  Charlotte will still go to daycare for the morning so that we can have a "date morning" before the weekend madness begins.  I am SO looking forward to having a date morning!!  We're going to the Windmill to have hash brown omelettes for breakfast, test driving mini-vans, and maybe we'll hit a garage sale or two.  Can't do that on a Friday night.  Boo yeah.

May 16, 2010

A camping we will go

Brian and I have our fingers crossed that Charlotte will love camping as much as we do.  He doesn't have many vacation days to spare, but we plan to take at least a long weekend to go camping this summer.  We have outgrown our "4 person" tent.  I say "4" because it's really enough for 2, so we upgraded to this bad boy...a Coleman 8-10 person.  Imagine, being able to stand upright when you pull your pants on instead of wriggling around on the ground.  Two things I worry about most: 1) Being able to fold this bear back up to the size of it's bag. 2) Fitting all of the gear in our car now that we can't fold the back seat down. 
I'm looking forward to C's first tent camping experience.

May 15, 2010

We're having so much fun with Charlotte's animal noises. We have no idea why she clucks her tongue for a bird, but she does that to Squishy all the time.

May 8, 2010

This weekend is the perfect time for me to reflect on my experience as a mother.  In thinking back, the memories that stick with me the most are the ones that have brought tears to my eyes, as it takes a lot to make this stone-cold woman cry.
I remember tears when I first met Charlotte and told her "Happy Birthday." More when I looked down on her sleeping in her crib on her first night at home, I told Brian "If we can never have another, we will be okay now."  I remember crying with relief when I could lay my head down for a much needed nap and exhaustion while rocking her in her carseat and waiting for Brian to come home so we could go for a "night out" at Russ'.  Tears of love for both my daughter and Brian come when I see her nestle in with a tight hug and Brian hug her back as though he has never been so deeply in love.  Now when I cry a lot of times it is with Charlotte, because it gets harder and harder to know how to fix her tears.  A hug and sway are so often powerless now, only time seems to heal the wounds of a toddler tantrum. 
I imagine this is only the start of a lifetime of happy, sad and frustrated tears to come.  I have a lot to look forward to and am so lucky to be a mother.  Happy Mother's Day to all of the blessed mothers out there that I share this privilege with.

May 6, 2010

Life's lessons

Of course my job forces me to know a lot about medicine, but I generally find I'm a jack of all trades, master of none, being in primary care.  Many times it takes experiencing something yourself to be forced to learn a bit more.  This month I am getting familiar with basal cell skin cancer.
About two years ago, while pregnant with Charlotte, I noticed an interesting red blotch as it stretched more and more over my growing belly.  My doctor at the time told me not to worry about it.  It never disappeared really.  At a general glance, you would think it was an irritated spot, no bigger than a pencil eraser....I would think it was ring worm or eczema if it hadn't been there for so long.  About one month ago, there were a few pinpoint dots of blood coming from it while toweling off after a shower.  I hit my boss up for a free biopsy, which I finally got around to another month later.  I told him, "Please don't laugh at me for being a hypochondriac, but I swear this is basal cell."  Lo and behold, I was right.
Basal cell carcinoma, BCC, is cancer, yes, but only invasive to local tissues, rarely metastatic.  It can be quite destructive when found in its typical location, the face.  Risk for basal cell is increased with sun exposure.  It is the most common form of skin cancer and approximately 30% of Caucasions will develop BCC.  I was just surprised to develop it at such a "young" age.
I met with the surgeon yesterday and will be postponing surgery until after the baby comes so that my scar will not be grotesquely deformed.  The most common surgery today is Mohs, a microscopically performed surgery.  The doctor takes repeat biopsies over the course of one day until they are able to microscopically confirm that the cancer has been removed in all directions.  Only at that time will they close the wound.  This surgery is most popular as the cure rate is >98%.  Because BCC is slow-growing, it is safe for me to delay the surgery.
This cancer will really be more of an inconvenience than a threat.  I will now need yearly skin evaluations and an extra helping of my spf 30.  Really, for the fear of melanoma, I haven't laid out in the sun for years.
Remember when checking your skin to not only look for the dark and changing lesions, but watch out for any persistent, pearly reddened areas that may bleed or become raised.  We're not as young as we like to think we are anymore.

May 1, 2010


Finally I am posting about knitting :0 Charlotte likes it too.

This week I finished a project that I started for Charlotte on our Hawaii trip.  This is the baby sweater from Knitty Summer 2008.  I used less than 2 balls of Shelridge Farm wool that I picked up at the Fiber Festival in Allegan at least two summers ago (Yeah for finally using up some stash yarn!).  This is a beautiful and soft DK weight wool from Canada.
I debated putting on buttons instead of the little ties in front, but in the end I didn't feel like putting the thought into modifying the pattern.  It's probably for the best because once I double knotted those ties - there was no way Charlotte was busting her way out of that sweater.

I think this was a wonderfully easy pattern to read and follow.  The false picot edging on the sleeve and waistlines is impressive and the detail around the shoulders was a classy touch.