Happy birthday, dear Beatrice.

My darling girl,

You are such a delightful baby.

I am so happy that you are one now because I feel like you really want to be. You have a big toothy smile, you’re trying out new words, you take shaky steps, and you just can’t wait to do everything that your big sister can.

I still don’t know how this dark-haired, brown-eyed mama produced a blonde, but I love patting your fuzzy yellow head and looking into your big blue eyes. I’m admittedly biased, but I think that you are just plain gorgeous. You live up to your name by making things more beautiful wherever you go.

You’ve had a pretty good first year. It’s been (ahem) a loud one, seeing as you never appreciated the pacifier that I kept trying to shove in your mouth. My goodness, girl, have you got a set of pipes, and you like to use ’em. Happy? Loud. Sad? Loud. Quiet? Better go see what you got into.

You’re a smart girl who’s figured out how get into all sorts of cupboards and drawers, but here are only a few times of day when you like to toodle around by yourself — you much prefer playing with people. Clapping, waving, and the mouth bibbles seem to be pretty fun. And then there’s peekaboo, your all-time favorite game. I know that things are bad when a round of peekaboo won’t cheer you up. You’re not a huge fan of toys except when sister has them. Then, of course, they are to die for. It is rather unfortunate that you settled on Lucia, Camilla’s favorite doll, as your favorite as well. She’s been pretty good about sharing, but we are hoping that Gloria, your new (and very similar) baby will help you to avoid confrontation in the future.

Your birthday was Friday, but seeing as we’ve had a very busy weekend (and that you can’t read), I’m hoping that you’ll forgive me for being late with this post. Daddy’s birthday was yesterday and we’ve been very busy trying to make sure he had a special day too. I love your daddy so much, and the fact that we made you together only makes me appreciate him more.

You are my Sweet Bea and you always will be.

Love,

Mama

Now, for family who like to look at this sort of thing, here are some photos from June 15. We had a delightful day with a very few presents (it works so much better that way) and a yummy dinner with her godmama. I think it is safe to say that Beatrice enjoyed her birthday very much.

Bea's birthday decor.

Camilla and I decorated together the day before.

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I finished my photo project and printed them out! More to come about that.

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We made cupcakes together on Friday morning.

All ready to bake cupcakes.

Camilla is a very good cooking helper.

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Dumping and stirring are her favorites.

Two candles.

A “1” for Bea and a “3” for Camilla. (If was smarter, I would have saved the one afterward to make “31” for Josh.)

Walking with her stroller.

Here comes the birthday girl…

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Birthday girl!

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Now for the presents.

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Gloria, her new doll.

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Two girls, two dollies.

The sisters and their (almost) matching dolls.

Skyping with grandma.

Thank you, grandma!

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Now for the other fun present: tissue paper.

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Peeka…

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Boo!

Tissue paper is fun.

Boo!

It gets her every time.

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Oh wait, there’s something else in the gift bag.

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What can it be?

Another present.

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Hooray! My very own bonker!

The bonker.

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What baby wouldn’t want to hit things with a little wooden mallet?

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Now for the birthday dinner.

Birthday dinner.

Bea’s godmother Laura came to eat with us and practice her baby-feeding skills.

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Yummy ciambotta.

Beatrice is ONE!

Beatrice is one!

Now for the birthday cupcake.

Birthday cupcake.

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Mama helps blow the candle out.

Mommy helped blow it out.

But you get to eat it all by yourself.

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Hey, this is good stuff. You’ve been holding out on me, fellows.

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Yum.

Yum.

We return.

The latter half of Lent, it seems, is not the time for blogging. Nor is Holy Week. But we had our great and glorious Paschal celebration (and the joy continues!) and life is finally slowing down a bit.

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Except for Beatrice, that is. She’s getting faster. She only did the belly scoot for about a week and then decided it was small potatoes ’cause real women get up on all fours. And then she figured out the whole I-can-pull-myself-to-standing-almost-anywhere thing, so basically the entire apartment is her highway. And oh, the happiness that has resulted from this discovery. She went through a little stage where she wanted to be held all the time, but now that there is so much to do on the floor she’s a lot happier about being set down. Regular installments of mama are still needed, but there’s more playing by herself now. And that’s fine by me. Although I have already noticed that long silences are suspicious and ought to be investigated immediately. Currently, her forbidden favorite destinations are Camilla’s potty seat, the big toilet, and the kitchen pantry (mostly for intriguing underside of the ironing board).

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My happy little Beatrice.

Along with new types of locomotion, she’s also making lots of new noises. Da-da-da, buh-buh-buh, phttthhhh, but no ma-ma. Hrumph. The nursery worker at church coaxed her into saying Jesus twice on Holy Friday (pious child!), but she won’t repeat it for me. Camilla is very interested in her role as teacher, so she’s been trying to get Bea to say all sort of other things without much luck. It’s so sweet to hear her try, though.

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That lovely little lip.

Since we’re on the subject of Beatrice, I should also mention that she has two favorite foods at the moment. They are (1) kleenex and (2) anything on the carpet that can be quickly stuffed into your mouth. I don’t think she is ever happier than when she has the opportunity to shred a kleenex into little pieces. I’d let her do it more often, but those little pieces inevitable go in her mouth and she puts up the most ungrateful ruckus when I try to fish them out. Same with leaves, bits of thread, dirt, etc. If I ever suspect that she might be chewing on something, she is. Must remember to vacuum more often.

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Camilla’s up to all sorts of stuff these days and is growing increasingly eloquent. She can give a very passable explanation of what we celebrated at Pascha, Good Friday, and Lazarus Saturday (with some minor confusion as to why exactly Lazarus was in the tomb) and stayed up for the entire Saturday night set of services (something like 11 pm – 2:30 am, with a meal afterward). That, combined with about two hours of jumping on a bouncy castle at the picnic the next afternoon, has jump-started the afternoon nap again. Praise God. I seem to spend the entire time cooking, but cooking by myself seems like such a luxury these days (especially festal cooking!).

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Peekaboo!

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I feel as though I should have lots of new news to report, but really our life has taken place at church so much recently that we haven’t done a lot at home. Husband somehow keeps finding little bits of time to write interesting things — I especially liked this post.

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I’m turning 32 in a little over a week (yikes!) and, in the unlikely event that this suddenly adds a few more hours to my day, I have put together a reading wish list. I want to start with Catching Fire and Mockingjay (I managed to stop for a while after The Hunger Games), and then move on to Nourishing Traditions, An Everlasting Meal, and Babushka’s Beauty Secrets (hey! I am over 30). I do not — ahem — own the last three and they are not available in our library, so if anyone is looking to send me a birthday present, well, there ya go.

I’ll try to be back again soon.

March snippets.

It’s been a while since I posted a general update. And now Bea is 9 months old. NINE. Her checkup was this morning, so I know that my math isn’t off.

I think of this as the “daddy look.” What do you mean, you don’t know who Dante is?

There hasn’t been much posting lately because I inadvertently kissed most of my free time away when we potty-trained the toddler. We did a three day, stay-home-and-do-nothing-but-race-to-the-toilet boot camp and she caught on really fast. Then she started showing up dry in the morning so we decided to quit diapers at night as well. So far, so good! It wasn’t particularly easy or fun, but she was so fast that I don’t think I can credit my mothering skills with the victory. Camilla is just a smart little kid. She also figured out around day 2 that more potty = more candy. We’ve let that one slide for now, but I think we’ll start weaning off the treats in another week or two. Hopefully I can wean myself off of the word “potty” as well. Dang, I hate that word. And I feel like I say it all. the. time.

Anyhow, here are some other snippets about the gang:

Camilla (2.75 yrs)

— She still dances all the time. We really need to get some new ballet scores, since our Nutcracker/Swan Lake Suite CD has lost it’s charm for everyone but Camilla.
— She still loves to draw and can produce a recognizable face with eyes, nose, a mouth, etc.  That started about two weeks ago and I still haven’t put up the photos. Argh.
— She often speaks in full sentences and will pick a favorite if you ask which color, flower, etc. she likes best.
— Some of her favorite books are Freight Train (I make lots of train noises), Harry the Dirty Dog, Dogger, The Selfish Giant, and The Nutcracker. I admit that I groan a bit when she asks for the last one because it has way too much text and I have to work to abbreviate it, but the illustrations are so lovely that it’s not the worst problem ever.

Beatrice (9 mo.)

— She weighs 19 lb 4 oz, which means that the chub has started to plateau. It’s not for lack of eating, so I think she’s just more active.
— She can finally scootch! She gets up on all fours quite nicely but just can’t work out the proper crawling motion. So then she flops on her belly and inches her way laboriously to that tasty-looking speck on the carpet. She sits pretty well if I put her there and can work her way sideways along the sofa. She’s been wanting to be held a lot, though, so there hasn’t been a whole lot of practice.
— She loooooves to eat. If she thinks that something is for her, all her limbs start flapping wildly and she shakes with excitement. Fruity baby foods go down well and I started her on finger foods since her pincer grasp is quite good. Vegetables, bread, cheerios, etc. are very fun and have been a life-saver in the car. An eating baby is a happy baby.
— She is a, um, voracious reader who really loves books. Gnawing on the spine and trying to turn the pages are the main attractions, but I notice her looking at the pictures too.
— She has two little razors teeth now and probably some more right under the surface.  There has been some sadness as a result.
— Either because of the teeth or because of the age, she wants mama a lot. I am so glad I invested in an Ergo. Don’t know what I would do without it.

Me

— Mostly I am just mothering these days, and that’s okay. Laundry and meals always happen, and sometimes bread gets baked and the bathroom gets cleaned. When I draw, it’s usually with crayons. Every once on a while I take on an organizing project and I promised Camilla a homemade felt crown in lieu of the hideous hot pink number she wanted at the thrift store. I am also trying to finish our 2011 photo album, since I don’t think Camilla “remembers” last year as well as 2010 because she looks at our 2010 album all the time. The trick is to make up the album slowly and then sit on it till a good coupon code comes along (I usually use Snapfish). I’ve tried doing a rush job in the past and I always forget something.
— I’ve dropped my diet plans for now because I decided that I don’t want to think about my weight all the time. There are more important things in life than whether I lose 10 more pounds. Lenten fasting and dieting are too close for comfort, and I don’t want to mix the former with the latter.
— My heart is grieving for a family at Josh’s school who just lost their husband/father to a very aggressive brain tumor. I hadn’t seen him for a while, but in my memory he was a very kind man and the family has had so many difficult things happen in the last few years. We pray for them every day.

So, that’s where we are right now. The weather is lovely (March is probably Pensacola’s nicest month), I got my container garden going again, and we just finished three wonderful days with my brother and sister-in-law. Camilla happened to fall asleep (huzzah!) so I am getting a little rest on the sofa before I go finish our dinner prep. Got to have everything ready ready when Community returns tonight!

(All photos are by my awesome friend + photographer Marty Hadding.)

Mostly Milla.

The object of the post is currently taking a little nap for the first time in days (huzzah!) so I’m going to whip out some photos of her 2.5 year old cuteness.

Our property manager gave her a balloon last week. She hasn’t mastered the art of sealing her lips around it and blowing, but she tried and tried.

Oh, she also got her first tootsie roll. What could be more fun than a new balloon and a tootsie roll?

A balloon and a tootsie roll. Unbeatable.

I left my heels out after church and this is what happened. I guess I should do it more.

Trying on mommy's heels.

And here’s Daddy reading one of many rounds of Frances to Camilla. We read a lot of Frances. Every single day. If I wasn’t so fond of that clever badger, I might get a little annoyed. But she holds up pretty well, even if it’s the 10th time that week.

Reading Frances with daddy.

I like to compare them to these photos from October 2010 (she was 16 months old).

Her favorite book.

Both Camilla and daddy’s beard are getting so big.

Oh dear, she doesn’t nap anymore.

Well, I think a certain toddler is ready to be done with naps.

*Sob*

It helps a little that naps haven’t been going particularly well lately. First there was a half hour of winding down, general upsetness, and me sitting outside the door trying to hear if the wailing was moving away from the vicinity of the bed. Then there was a short (45-60 min) nap, which was followed by at least an hour of tremendous crabbiness that required a lot of discipline and walking on eggshells. So, nap wasn’t exactly this glorious break for me anyway.

But still. I know four and five year olds who nap, so I’m trying not to feel gypped. Right now we’re compromising with an hour of books and music in her crib, and (as of day three) it’s going pretty well. I don’t get much done besides essential housework, but I remember feeling that way after she dropped the first nap. So I probably just need a few weeks to adjust as well. She needs to get a little better about doing things on her own, and I need to get a little better at doing things with her. And then it will all work out.

Right?

In unrelated news, our church had its annual Blessing of the Water / Cross Dive a week ago and there’s a nice write-up about it here in the local paper. I also put a few pics (starting here) on my flickr page. Camilla was terribly, terribly excited about getting into her swimsuit and being at the beach and then freaked out a little at the last moment. But I carried her in a little ways and a good time was still had by all. Next year, maybe her feet will actually get wet.

January snippets.

I mentioned to husband that I wanted to blog more so that I don’t forget some of the things our kids do and he told me that I should just write shorter, more frequent posts. Oh. Why didn’t I think of that?

So, some things about Camilla (2.5 yrs):

— She invented her first name: Gobbia. She bestowed the name upon a styrofoam fish bath toy. I think it was very creative of her.
— She also likes the names Corduroy, Chloe, and Miss Suzy. We have lots of Corduroys, Chloes, and Miss Suzies around here.
— Her favorite books are The Shoemaker’s Dream, A Bargain for Frances, and The Year I Didn’t Go to School. She will request each of them to be read ad nauseam.
— She is obsessed with dancing and asks me to play the Nutcracker Suite and “Odette’s Song” (the theme from Swan Lake) every day. She prefers to dance in a “tube-tu” (any poofy skirt), a headband/crown of some sort, and the ballet shoes from Grandma. I always get asked to dance too so that we can hold hands.
— She uses a lot of sentences right now. We work on some things purposefully (pronouns are hard!) but she picks up so many things from conversation and listening to books.

Some things about Beatrice (6 months):

— She wants to scooch quite badly but can really only manage to push herself backward. She can swivel 360 degrees, though, and is very good at rolling in both directions.
— She is the smiliest kid and people just love her because she smiles when she notices you looking at her. Although constantly referred to as a boy (even in pink), she is beloved by other shoppers and clerks when we go out.
— She’s still nice and plump with lots of fantastic rolls in places I can’t show you.
— She is just getting the hang of swallowing food, so I think we’re going to move soon from little tastes to real meals.
— I don’t have to worry that she’ll be the little sister who gets nothing but hand-me-downs because she got some of the cutest clothes for Christmas. I wish I could wear her clothes sometimes.

Some things about me:

— I am already lagging a little on some of my resolutions (um, diet? what diet? and was I supposed to be reading instead of cleaning the closet?) but succeeding in a few others I didn’t mention (like wearing makeup more often and trying to get our household budget under control).
—  Ridiculously warm weather combined with our upcoming house blessing has given me the urge to start some spring cleaning. Er, midwinter cleaning. I also have to figure out where to put all the kids’ new toys…the photo below shows some of their new stash. See the problem?
— Gosh darn it but I just love my girls so much. And my husband. I am so blessed.

Some of their Christmas loot.

My painter.

I let Camilla paint for the very first time last week as part of our now-daily Craft Time.

Painting for the first time.

I had been looking forward to this day for a while and it did not disappoint. She loved it.

Pleased.

I looked around the internet for a little while, trying to find tips for painting with toddlers. But in the end, I just went with my gut and what I had on hand: a nice sturdy brush, some real watercolor paper, and three colors of nice gouache that I mixed with water. (Purple is her favorite, so of course there had to be purple.)

I thought the single color cups would be less distracting to work with than a whole palette of colors, although I did buy one of the classic Crayola watercolor palettes on Saturday and we have used it as well.

The thing that made me so happy about her first paining is that she very naturally started using the brush to make good lines. Now, I thought for a few minutes about being a touch-feely-exploratory art mom but rejected the idea pretty quickly because I don’t want Camilla wrecking the nice tools that I’m letting her use. I don’t mind if she does some finger dipping or paint pouring at the end of the session, but I think I’m doing her a disservice if I don’t teach her as much painting technique as she can handle at this age. For her, that pretty much means (a) only painting on the paper, (b) not scrubbing the brush around and wrecking the bristles, (c) not splashing water everywhere with the cups, and (d) trying not to dip the brush in every single color when using the paint palette. If she can do those things, I am perfectly willing to buy her decent paper and let her use some nice brushes. (If you are letting your child paint for the first time, please please don’t use those horrid floppy little brushes that come with a paint set. Buy a nice fat brush with bristles that come to a good point and which actually holds some paint. I don’t know why kids are supposed to be able to learn to use watercolor with those terrible brushes.)

So far, scrubbing the paper with the brush (which I refer to as “scribbling”) has been the biggest temptation. But she didn’t discover that until her second painting.

For the first one, there was enough fun to be had just dipping the brush into the different colors.

She had this pleased / intensely concentrated look on her face the whole time.

At the very end, I light her pour all the colors into one cup to see what happened. I don’t think she cared much about the color change, but she is obsessed with pouring things right now. Her favorite game of all time is to stand at the kitchen sink with a collection of cups and a trickle of water and some watered down soap. It is referred to as “hands” (because it usually happens after we wash her hands) and she requests it about twenty times a day. Anything involving paint in cups inevitably gets poured into one container, so the paint palette is a nice alternative.

First painting.

I know I’m the proud mom, but really…isn’t this a very nice first painting? I think it has a very pleasant abstract quality. I gave very little direction, other than asking her to try the green instead of the purple and giving her a new sheet of paper when I thought this was done enough. (Remember: less is more when it comes to children’s paintings!)

Second painting.

This is the second painting. It’s a little lighter because she decided to start dipping the brush in the paint and then the water. Also, you can see exactly when she discovered how fun scribbling is. To counteract that, I now specifically suggest that she make either lines or dots, the two kinds of brush strokes in her repertoire.

We’re painting again today, and I hope to get to the store this week to stock the little bit of space I’ve carved out of a kitchen cupboard for Craft Time. I want playdough, a big set of crayons, some tempera paint, and a lot more paper (I just noticed that Joann’s sells long rolls — that might be nice). Eventually we’ll probably try to make playdough and all that, but given that we’re working around an 8 week old baby and her uncertain nap schedule I’m cutting myself some slack.

More masterpieces to come.

Week 8.

Well, we’ve made it through most of Day Two and everybody still seems to be doing okay. My back is pretty tired, though. I really need some muscles somewhere to man up and get stronger instead of just complaining. This baby isn’t getting any lighter, so the only good alternative is to start getting stronger, right? I wonder how long that takes. I want to have arms of steel like my friend Allie, whose firstborn weighs a lot more than Camilla and who has awesome biceps to show for it.

Week 8.

This is my favorite photo from this week. I know I said I’d stop complaining, but the wrinkly fabric is driving me nuts. Anybody have a good, quick suggestion for how to fix it? This time I wrapped one side of the fabric under the rug and put the ottoman on the other and it still got those little ripples everywhere.

I’m also going to sob quietly (again) for my poor departed computer and its Photoshop capabilities. I just cannot get the white balance to be the same each week and some days there are these really strong shadows that I don’t like. And I can do absolutely nothing about it.

For some reason, Camilla wasn’t in the mood to play “next to” today. So this is all I got.

Well, some weeks are just like that I guess.

I have a few posts on the backburner that I just haven’t had time to write. One is about the ring sling I sewed, which has turned out to be awesome. It might be part of the cause of my sore back, unfortunately, but it is so great that I will keep using it anyway. I really really needed a way to nurse Bea while chasing Camilla around the apartment and this is it.

I’ve also been working on an exciting (to me!) new schedule for our family that has been especially helpful at keeping Camilla engaged and me from dreading long blocks of unstructured time. But we haven’t been doing it long enough to have much perspective, so I’ll wait a few weeks on that. I’ll just say for now that part of the schedule includes a daily Craft Time, which has been a big hit. Photos to come…

(Want to see all the weekly photos I’ve taken so far? See this post.)