Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Happy Birthday, Charlotte Jean!!!

Our precious angel is is 1 today!

This year has flown by like it was on fast forward. As overstated as it is, it must be said "Has it really been a year since we brought home a floppy, wrinkly, cuddly newborn???"

The changes in a baby from 1 Day Old to 1 Year Old are remarkable.

As I write this post, Lottie is standing at her new play kitchen taking things in and out of the oven and talking to herself. And it definitely makes me a wonderful mixture of sad and happy--the ultimate example of bittersweet. I have a feeling every birthday we celebrate with this beautiful little girl will bring a similar feeling. As sad as I am to say goodbye to the baby stage, I must say we are enjoying the current stage just as much. We love watching her personality reveal itself as she accomplishes new things. We can already see her sense of humor, joyful approach to everything, and streak of independence. She definitely keeps us laughing, and we look forward to learning how her mind works as she learns to talk. 

All that to say, it has been an incredible year! Both Chris and I feel blessed that God has entrusted us with His precious little Charlotte. She brings joy to our lives every moment. 

To our Lottiebell - 

We pray that you continue to see such wonder and happiness in the world around you. That you continue to smile so easily and quickly and to share that smile with those around you. That you will trust God with your life and fulfill His will for you. You a have very sweet spirit, which we hope you will continue to use to brighten the lives of those around you. We love being your Mama & Dada. We are so proud of you and love you more than we could ever have imagined possible. 

Your Blessed Mama & Dada

Thursday, March 26, 2015

TBT: Alicia's Visit

Back in August (Charlotte was 4.5 months old), Alicia came to visit. She had an engagement party in Charleston and decided to fly into Greenville beforehand.

Alicia flew in Thursday night and met Lottie for the first time. We hung out and played Thursday and Friday morning.

Friday afternoon, Alicia, Lottie, and I went to Cowpens, a National Battlefield.

Afterwards, we cooled off and relaxed at RJ Rockers.

We followed that up with dinner at Willy Taco, which is a fun restaurant with fish tacos.

Saturday, we left for Charleston. Alicia had booked a hostel for us. It was in an old house and was pretty cool. We changed and headed to the engagement party. Lottie suited up in her party dress.

It was Lottie's first night away from home. She was awesome. The hostel was in downtown Charleston, so it was pretty loud between late-night party people and sirens, but goose girl slept through it all like a champ. The next morning, we headed out to explore Charleston.

Charleston is a very cool and historic city. Alicia booked us a walking tour with Free Tours by Foot. Before the tour, we grabbed breakfast at Another Broken Egg Cafe. Then, we met up with the tour group. The tour was fantastic. It took us all over downtown Charleston and was full of great information.

Security spikes to protect against robbers and slave uprisings

Pineapple Fountain in Waterfront Park

One of the many beautiful gates made by the famous Philip Simmons

Of course, Lottie spent a portion of the tour like this:

The day was sunny and beautiful and hot of course, but not unbearable. We really had a great time seeing the city. Following the tour, we drove to King's Street and ate lunch at the Black Bean Co, which was nice and light. The highlight of the afternoon was ice cream from Jeni's, a popular ice cream chain. Both Alicia and I have Jeni's cookbook of ice cream recipes, which are amazing. We were pumped to try more flavors. I wish I could remember which ones we tried.

Lottie and I needed to head back, so we dropped Alicia off at the airport to pick up her rental car, and we said farewell. It was an incredible weekend full of exploring with Alicia, just like the old times. Well, except at baby-speed, which is about half of the ol' single traveling speed.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Lottie's Goings On

UPDATE: As of Wednesday, Lottie has 6 teeth. The other eye tooth showed up.

We are 1.5 weeks out from Lottie's first birthday, and she has been busy, busy, busy working on new things. I touched on some of the new things in a past post. I included an update on those things here as well as several new things she is doing.

Lottie cut 5 teeth in a month. She has both front top and bottom teeth and 1 eye tooth. I managed to get a picture of all of them. Not sure what face Lottie is making here, but she is showing off all her pearly whites (you can even tell that the second eye tooth is about to come in).

I finally caught a video of Lottie signing "more."

She is not a big fan of having her diaper changed since it means pausing her playtime, so she has started signing "all done" as soon as I lay her down for a diaper change. It cracks me up.

Lottie now exclusively crawls on all fours, and boy, can she move.

Pulling Up
Lottie pulls up on anything and everything. She can bend down and pick things up and sit down without just letting go and plopping down. She even tries climbing things.

Cruising/Assisted Walking
It was a matter of days before pulling up led to cruising around furniture. She can pretty much get anywhere and into anything by cruising around the living room. She keeps us on our toes. The coffee table has to be kept virtually clear of everything.

Lottie has also started walking with the train, her early birthday gift from Chris and I. She will go up and down the living room over and over again. The first video is from Thursday, the 19th and the second is from today. In just 4 days, she has already improved a lot and gained more confidence!

Sidenote: For whatever reason, Lottie loves this video of herself. She cracks up and does the mouth and tongue stuff with the video.

Lottie has started dancing to music. It includes bouncing up and down and swinging her arms side to side. In a couple years, I hope to get this girl into some dance classes!

Cow's Milk
Lottie is drinking whole milk now in addition to breast milk. She seems to like it though sometimes she just lets it flow down her chin and everywhere. We aren't sure if she is still adjusting to how thick it is or if she thinks it is fun, but she sure looks silly sometimes.

Lottie will eat anything and everything. The only thing she refuses are peas. She devoured corned beef and cabbage on St. Patty's Day. One of her favorite meals is black-eyed peas and cornbread as well as refried beans and taco meat. She also loves green beans, bananas, and cheese. I think she is becoming quite the little foodie. She even makes contented yum noises while eating.

All I think is "What a fascinating and modern age we live in" (Master & Commander). Lottie is already beginning to work our electronics. She knows to swipe my phone to unlock it.

She also will swipe my touchscreen laptop. She recognizes the play symbol on touchscreens. She even figured out what to press on the screen to turn the page on a read-a-loud book. Finally, she understands that the buttons on the PlayStation remote works the TV, so she will get the remote and press the buttons while watching the TV. She can get into crazy places in Netflix.

Like I said, this little girl is busy, busy, busy. It blows Chris and my minds that she is still doing new things every day. It is incredible to watch.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

TBT: Nana & Ganny's Visit

Our Throwback Thursday post is from July when Lottie was 4 months old. Nana (Nay-nay) & Ganny came to visit us at the end of July for a few days. We had a great time sharing Lottie and the beautiful upstate with them. They drove in Thursday morning, picked up Chris and Lottie, and met me in Greenville, so we could go to the zoo. Greenville has a little, but good zoo. Sadly, we arrived too late to feed the elephants, but we did have a great time checking out the rest of the animals and were highly entertained by the orangutans.


In the picture on the left, the front orangutan is drinking his pee as gross as that sounds. We watched him pee in the cup and then drink it. Sorry Darwin, but there are clearly a bjillion, if not infinite, steps between him and me.

Lottie enjoyed walking around and looking at everything.

However, halfway through the experience, she looked like this:

The next day we took Dana & Ganny to Chimney Rock, NC to see the mountains and go shopping. They enjoyed it a lot.

A local fruit stand along the way

Having ice cream in Chimney Rock

When we arrived back home, Nana gave Lottie a beautiful purple crocheted blanket. Lottie loves it—it is her cozy blankie.

The other blanket is the one Dana made Chris when he graduated high school.

The following day, we visited the Walnut Grove Plantation. It is a great example of an upstate plantation, which were very different from the Charleston or Lowcountry plantations. The history is very interesting—they lived a more normal late 1700s log cabin life-style. They actually had some reenactors with muskets. Chris really enjoyed talking with them about their guns.

Afterwards, we took Dana and Ganny to Wade’s, a very fun southern cooking restaurant in Spartanburg.

It was a great visit with a bunch of different activities. A nice end to Chris’ summer. We were so glad Dana and Ganny were able to come!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

This is the Real Life

There are moments in life where you can't help but think "I am so glad no one is here to see this" or "I can never agree to have my life filmed for a reality TV show" or "I am so thankful God is in control because I don't got this." They only multiply when you become a mom. I would like to call these Mommy Moments.

I hope you moms know what I am talking about. You know--you are looking around proudly thinking that your child is fed and happy, and your husband is fed and happy, and then life takes a turn in the blink of an eye. Your daughter who has just started pulling up on things heads to the coffee table to pull up and see what is there, but you aren't worried because you just cleared all the lunch dishes from the lunch your husband and you had in front of the TV while your daughter was napping. Until you watch in horror from across the room as your daughter grabs the top of your husband's almost full (thankfully cooled!) tall coffee mug that you missed and yanks it over. You rush over with towels to clean up the coffee table and rug. You pull your daughter's coffee soaked clothes off and throw them into the washing machine along with the cover to the baby swing, which was also soaked. You hurriedly spot clean the stuffed electronic toy that was splattered. While your daughter clothed only in a diaper plays in eye-sight in the living room, you decide it is the perfect time also to wash the dog bed that your dog threw up on last night. You get the brilliant idea that you should empty the inner cover of the nasty and old foam mix that fills the bed and replace it with cedar. However, as you empty the inner cover into a trash bag, you miss the bag completely and end up with a huge pile of the stuff on the floor. While trying to pour the remaining amount into the bag, you steal a glance at your playing daughter and notice that she is playing with the bottles of acrylic paint that you had yet to put into your newly organized (as of 2 hours before) craft cabinet. You are now covered in nasty, old, possibly throw-up stained dog foam, so you send a silent prayer up that your daughter doesn't learn how to pop open tops at this exact moment, and you quickly go back to the dog foam mess. Some shoveling of foam into the bag and a quick vacuum with the handheld vacuum later, you are finally heading to the shower with your daughter.

You can't make this stuff up. It is Real Life. Our Christmas card may look like this:

but our reality is this:

And in all honesty, our reality suits us. Some moments just require a bit more humor than others, as well as the confidence "that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil 1:6). So, I guess, here is to all my future Mommy Moments--may God always bring us out on the other side laughing.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

TBT: Christmases #5 & #6 & Baby Luke's Timely Arrival

There are several posts I want to write from a few months ago that were not written for some reason or another (most likely due to my working mom schedule). Since I recently learned about the new-fangled acronym TBT (Throw Back Thursday), I figured I would start posting on Thursday about past things.

So, here is my first TBT post about the remainder of our big Texas Christmas trip. I wrote about Christmases #1 & #2 here and Christmases #3 & #4 here.

5) Clyde Christmas

On the 27th, we all headed to Clyde to have Christmas with Dana and Chris' sisters and their families. It was the first time the 3 cousins were going to meet. We were pretty excited. Of course, they were fairly indifferent to each other at the ages of 1.5 years (Chris' older sister, Mary's son Grayson),

9 months (Lottie), and 1 month (Chris' younger sister, Elizabeth's daughter Claire).

Grayson and Lottie did pay enough attention to each other in order to desire whatever toy the other had. Lottie didn't mind sharing when the only toys were Grayson's new toys. However, the tables turned when Lottie opened her gifts and suddenly had toys she didn't want to share.

In the end there were plenty of toys to go around with all the great books, games, baby doll, and such that Lottie received in addition to all the boy things Grayson received.

Chris even showed Lottie how to play with her new baby doll.

Mostly, it was wonderful being with everyone. The house was packed full of family, and the table covered in food. It was cozy, loud, and just as it should be.

Ganny with the Great Grandkids

Mary with Lottie & Grayson

Nana with Lottie

6) Aero Bee Ranch Christmas

We left Clyde Christmas and headed to the ranch to celebrate with Great Gran & Great Papa.

Kisses from Great Gran

They gave her a jumper, which she loves. She loves to bounce and sway and swivel. 

Conversations with Great Papa

Uncle Mike also showed up for a little hunting, so we got to spend more time with him.

With all the family around, Chris and I sneaked in a little date. We went to the Burnet Air Museum. Although small, it was really cool. We were the only ones there at first, so the docent, a very sweet little old man, gave us a tour. He founded the museum, so he knew the story of each artifact and gave the perfect amount of detail. His brother was a crew member on a B-24 (same plane featured in Unbroken) and disappeared on a mission just like the book Unbroken describes as happening to so many B-24's. He was incredibly interesting.

 Sitting in a B-24 gun turret

A C-47

After a couple of days, Chris left to go on his annual boys hunting trip, and Great Gran and Great Papa headed home, leaving Lottie and I with Poppa and Gigi. We relaxed and played--it was a nice change from the first half of the trip where we changed locations every 2 nights.

Walking to the "lake"

 1st time to pull up on anything

 New game with Gigi - being pulled around in a laundry basket

Discovering pots and big spoons

We partied hard on New Year's of course (Lottie went to bed by 9, and we watched a movie and did a puzzle). The next morning we did have mimosas though (Lottie cut her OJ with water--she lives on the wild side).

Meanwhile, Chris was stuck in West Texas due to an intense ice storm, so we ended up behind a day. We decided to load up and drive the 2 hours to Waco, stay with Bros and Sarah, and then leave early the next morning.

However, much to my excitement, Sarah went into labor that night. Chris and I opted to stay another night in order to greet Baby Luke on his first day. We had a fun, relaxing (at least for all but Sarah) day until Bros and Sarah left for the hospital that evening. Luke arrived at 530 am, and Chris, Lottie, and I swung by the hospital on our way out of town to see the precious new family of three. 

Chris, being the master swaddler (a doctor on his peds clinic actually told him he is), gave Sarah and Brian a lesson.

 Luke came on the only day that both Chris, Lottie, Sarah's parents, and me were in town. God's timing sure is perfect!