6 Months

On Wednesday (4/20), the same day that my mom and stepdad arrived in sunny Florida, our Little Missy turned 6 months old!
That’s right, half a year old. I know I say this every single month but…”Where in the world has the time gone????”
She was officially deemed a “Butterball” by my mom:) She may have possibly packed on a few vacation pounds. But hey, vacation Rule #1 “Calories Don’t Count!” (hence the myriad of ice cream cones that we demolished:)
She has changed a lot in the past couple of weeks, especially since she recovered from her bizarre gastro-rash-mysterious illness.
She has learned/is learning to:
*Sit up! She’s getting stronger everyday and learning not to cry when we practice;) We have to “remind” her to prop herself up with her hands but I know soon she’ll be a pro!

*New babbling sounds like “Ba, Da, Ga, Eee, Yee”
*To shriek, although it’s decreased a bit thankfully. She’s got some lungs when she wants to!
*Change toys from hand to hand
*Drop toys. On purpose. An oldie but goodie that every baby seems to delight in!
*Shake rattles:) Started out as a sophisticated wrist move and has progressed to waving the arm and/or banging on nearby surfaces
*Love cereal. We took a little hiatus during vacation but tried again tonight and she still loves it! She has gotten better with the spoon, too and spent many happy minutes grabbing it from me. We played a rousing game of who-has-control-of-the-spoon;)
*Grab her dainty feet! She likes to chew on her socks, too.
*Sleep on her tummy sometimes. She’s gotten so good at rolling back-to-stomach that in the past couple of days she has slept on her tummy 3 times. Wasn’t so sure about it the first time but she is getting used to it. Of course after 5 hours of it last night, she did wake up crying…Gotta work on her stomach-to-back skills!
*Reach for my face and play with my hair. She also gnaws on my chin occasionally:)
*Earned a new mostly likely temporary but cute nickname: Ellie Belly:)
She had her 6 month check-up today and her official stats are: 15 lbs 4.5 oz and 26 inches long! A.K.A. Short and Fat! Just perfect for a baby:) Her cheeks are often declared kissable by admirers (although we are the only ones with the rights to actual kissing!)
I can definitely tell she has grown, as she finally has grown out of her 0-3 month clothes in the past couple of weeks (sniff). She’s got lots of cute dresses to wear now!
Eliana, you are SUCH a joy to us in every way. So sweet and lovable and such a happy, content little girl. You bring a breath of fresh air into our home and we are delighting in watching you grow and change and carve your own little niche into our family. Happy 6 months old!

Day 6

 I just took the (unfortunate) time to add up vacation expenses. Let’s just say with the prices of things such as gas and food being so high (ex. Chicago’s gas? $4.55)….the vacation expenses fell somewhere between “Ouch!” and “Boooiiinnngg!” (Name that movie and you get special mention!!!) Yuck.
It was worth it. I must say, I am going through Grandma/Grandpa withdrawal:( It was so nice to spend time being refreshed, loved, and filled up after a painful season. We love you, Gma and Gpa!
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The weather got super hot right after we arrived~it was over 90 degrees and really humid for a couple of days.  We ventured down to one of the Town Squares and checked out a few shops, let the baby get admired by many people and got to see something very cool.

 One minute he was this small…. (cue Jaws music~nevermind that it’s not a shark…)

 And the next thing we knew…..Cool, right?! Of course, Note to the Man dangling food for the alligator: “Did you see the sign that says ‘Do Not Feed the Alligators?’ “

 Before we melted away in the hot sun, we decided to get some delicious ice-cream cones (the first of many:) at Haagen-Dazs!

” I’m hot, too, Mommy! Ice Cream for me??”

 “I know you’re up there somewhere in the bright sun, mommy…”

 And we followed up our busy day with some more pool-time!! This time Eliana loved the water:)

 See look, I was in Florida, too!:)

 Beautiful boy enjoying the sun!

 Samuel making one of his notorious goofy faces at me instead of smiling:) This kid has a great sense of humor!

But no matter how much I pleaded for a nice smile…this was the best I could get;)

More smiles to come!!

Days 1-5

Well. How do I choose from 111 pictures? Looks like you’ll be getting Florida pics for a good week or so! Some are so-so but some turned out really great!
So, let’s see….want to hear about our trip down? We left immediately after picking up Samuel from school and had good plans to travel almost 7 hours before stopping at a hotel for the night around 9pm. The nice neat plan was quickly altered by heavy rains and severe thunderstorms! Little did we know that we were following a nasty storm system that ended up in tornadoes everywhere!
At one point the lightening struck SO close to our van that the whole van shook. It was scary to drive in. We rolled into our hotel parking lot 9 hours later…at 11pm. We were exhausted. Zakkai asked the whole way if we were in Florida yet. Samuel didn’t want to stay at a hotel and Eliana did great…until the last 45 minutes of the trip, when she cried hard because she was so tired.
It took awhile to get everyone settled down to sleep but finally the boys gave up around 12:15am or so….

 We got ready and headed out by 7:30am for what was supposed to be another 7 hour trip into Georgia to stop and stay with some good friends of ours…..

Right. TEN hours later……after Samuel threw up all over due to carsickness and we had to stop and take care of that and getting stuck in horrible dead-stop traffic for a solid 2 hours….we rolled into GA.

 We had a really great night with our friends! Here are our kiddos with their buddies Luca and Winnie:) They have a beautiful home in a gorgeous neighborhood and it was so relaxing to spend some time with them, albeit too short.

 My friend Sarah is a very gracious, wonderful hostess! She fed us delicious food and it was so good to spend time catching up. Sunday morning we packed up the Thomas Train and departed around 8:15 for hopefully the last 7 hour stretch of our journey.

After a few wrong turns (including one where we got off at an exit to have bathroom-breaks and get Ben some coffee, realized 15 min later we had passed our exit, only to turn around and realize the exit we’d passed was the one where we had just gone to the bathroom! Go figure..), and more traffic, a hysterical baby (again…great til the last 30-40 min), 8 1/2 hours later we arrived in wonderful, beautiful, sunny Florida!!

All in all, it took 27 1/2 hours to make it there. We were exhausted!!

 The cure for travel-exhaustion? Swimming! Sun! Relaxation! Did I mention that Ben actually left his computer at home? Gasp!

 Grandma-Great (my grandma) got the boys some goggles for the pool which they loved!

 Ben took the boys over to the pool the first day in the golf cart and I followed a bit later with Miss E for her first introduction to the pool.

 I think she was still tired from the trip and overwhelmed by the experience because she started crying and didn’t want to be in the pool. So she and daddy hung out in some chairs while the boys and I played in the pool:)

 She looked awfully cute in a bathing suit!!

 And we spend a lot of time hanging out on my grandparent’s lanai, which is the greatest thing ever created! We would just sit out there and chat, read books, doze off, watch birds…it was wonderful!

My grandparents absolutely fell in love with Eliana and she soaked up every bit of attention that they gave her! She would smile so big at them anytime they talk to her:) Girl knows a good thing when she sees it!!

We finally started feeling the effects of driving wearing off until the warm sun and sweet love of Grandma-Great and Grandpa-Great:)

Stay tuned for more pics….

Back in Town

Did you think we were ever coming back??? We considered not coming back but…..:)

We traveled 19 hours in the past 2 days to get back to Chicago on a trip that went much smoother than the one down (stories to come) and arrived home safely about 4 hours ago.

In that time we:

*Unloaded the van so thoroughly that all that is left inside is a few carseats, a stroller and probably a lot of crumbs underneath the carseats:)

*Unpacked food bags/cooler and a few other things

*Sorted through mail

*Ran to the store for a few necessities. And came back home only to discover that we are out of toilet paper…oops!

*Ate a homecooked dinner that was far better than the nasty slop served to us at the Cracker Barrel last night (for which we didn’t have to pay, thanks to our complaints to the manager) but not as good as the fantastic food we feasted on in Florida, thanks to my wonderful grandparents and their culinary skills!!

*Bathed 3 travel-weary kiddos and tucked them in their respective beds

*Searched the house/van high and low looking for supposed missing library books…only to realize I hadn’t left them in Florida after all…..(a.k.a. Travel-Brain)

*Packed a school lunch

*Checked our very happily neglected emails/FB:)

*Paid a bill.

*Took a shower and got all ready for bed in our sweet/wonderful/awesome couch-bed! Yea!

*Am now preparing to catch up on an Office episode and go to Dreamland.

Great Florida Pics to come!!!

11000

Woohoo! I just got on to post and saw that my blog counter is at 11,000 hits!!! So thank you so much friends, family (and lurkers!) for faithfully reading my silly blog!

I’d like to thank 3 special people for making this all possible…haha, just kidding! But really, there are 3 special people…..

I am going to recap my day today more for my own amusement than yours. It will help me appreciate our vacation even more when I look back someday:)

*7:45am~  *Dropped off boys at school

*8-9:45am ~ *Dropped off stuff at Salvation Army
                     *Went to the produce market
                     *Got bagels at Panera and had strange encounter with two workers…
                     *Bought sunscreen at Target (probably the cheapest purchase I have ever made
                      there!)

9:45-10:15am~ *Rushed home and got E fed and settled in for a nap.
                          *Began gathering boys clothes for packing

10:15-10:45am~ *Returned movie at store and barely escaped being accosted by crazy person in
                            parking lot. Consider myself lucky…
                            *Picked up Z from school

10:45-11:45am~ *Fed E and Z lunch and settled both down for naps.
                            *Managed to feed myself, too:)

11:45-12:45pm~ *Went to library to get books/book on tape for trip

12:45-1:30pm~ *Rushed home to feed Miss E again and start packing for her..

1:35-1:55~  *Went to pick up Samuel from school

2pm-4pm~ *Baked cookies for potluck at school
                  *Performed Mommy duties
                  *Gave boys a bath
                  *Washed and cut up produce for trip
                   *Organized snacks for trip
                   *Attempted brief sporatic bursts of packing

4pm-6pm~ *Family attended Spring Potluck at school

6:15pm~ *Rushed home to get many small offspring to bed as quickly as possible

7pm-10pm~ *Much packing ensued.

10-10:30pm~ *Quick computer catch-up and blogging!

BEDTIME!!!!

Anyone else tired???

I won’t be blogging very much in the next week because I will be soaking up as much family time as possible (and a little sun, too:) but be sure to catch up with me in a week!!!

Mr Stick

Miss E and I went to our favorite place today: The Laundromat. Oh yeah. As I said to a friend today: try not to be jealous, okay?
There were actually some nice people at the laundromat today who didn’t stare at me like I am a freak-show with my 32 bags of laundry piled high on a cart, a couple more bags over my shoulder, my purse/diaper bag and the baby in her carseat on the other arm. There were some sweet ladies who helped me wheel my cart over to the machines I wanted and another set of sweet ladies who helped me get out to my car later! They probably felt bad for me when they saw my bags start to fall off and my clean laundry scatter all over the nasty floor…
But alas, we have clean clothes for our trip and a home that smells like clean laundry. That’s one thing off my checklist! It will be a couple of full days as I scramble around here…
We did take some time to enjoy the beautiful weather today and headed out to a nearby park. Eliana enjoyed watching the boys play with sticks. Samuel found a stick on the way home from school today (he walked with Daddy) that was shaped exactly like a stick-figure drawing (minus the head and one arm) and he named it “Mr. Stick.”
Before I knew it, the boys had a collection of sticks. Mr Stick had quite a large family, including “The Cousin” which was a large triangle slab of stone:) They wanted to hide their collection before we left so no one would “steal” them. Love these boys!
Getting sleepy after all the entertainment:)
 Hey, Zakkai! Can I take your picture? Just one little smile? Please? Fine, don’t smile for me!
 Oh, there you are! So gracious of you to grant me a smile:) (which I adore, by the way!) He looks so big in this picture..sniff.

The eldest of the crew, holding what appears to be “Mr Stick.” He is very excited for Picture Day tomorrow, mostly because he doesn’t have to wear his uniform:)

Oh and good news: Zakkai is barely limping today so that is one less worry! And Eliana’s rash hasn’t flared up worse again today so I am thankful!

Especially now that I can eat that cheese and milk that I have been craving. Mmmm.. Although the coconut milk wasn’t too bad with cereal.

I guess.

Scatter Brain.

Thank you so much for the “virtual” hugs and love you sent to me:) I definitely accept all hugs and encouragement!
*Eliana’s rash looks much better today and didn’t worsen by the end of the day like it has been. We will see…
*She officially turned into a screetcher/screamer today:P She started whining like a puppy a few days ago and now thinks it’s pretty cool to use her voice that way. Me thinks someone is spoiled.
But don’t tell her I said that.
*Zakkai is still limping but we are keeping an eye on him. His sweet teachers had the school nurse check him out and they iced it:) He said if it doesn’t improve in the next few days to take him in. To my favorite place. As if I have time to go to the dr’s every week!
Bring back housecalls, I say!
*I snuck over to Target while Miss Personality was napping this morning to get a few things for our trip and to my wonderful luck, not only did M.P. wake up like 5 minutes later, but Target’s networking system was down so I stood in a return line for 15 precious, wasted minutes before finding it out and then had to just leave because I was going to be late picking up Z from school.
*So then I tried to make a return trip tonight (trying to fit everything in before we leave!!) and who do you think decided she did NOT want to go to bed? Oh yes. Missy Pants screetched her head off the entire time I was gone. I felt a little frustrated that she seems to have this 6th sense about when I am going to leave her….
Doesn’t she realize that even mommies need a little down time?
*And while I was at Target, the cashier (a very interesting man, shall we say..) had me hold up my Target RedCard/debit card to show to the people behind me. It was a little embarassing. He was trying to get me to sell it to the lady who looked a little taken aback.
On a sidenote: if you do spend as much time at Target as I do (I do almost all my grocery shopping/household needs shopping there), I highly recommend the Target Debit Card! No fees at all, it just comes straight out of your checking account and you get 5% off your total every single time. Works for me!
*Unfortunately Target isn’t sponsoring me to make that last statement. Although they really should….
*We have a misc portion to our monthly budget which is for things like laundry, Ben’s medicine, vitamins, a treat, etc. The past couple of months I have used a tiny portion to buy a cheap used book on Amazon as a treat:) (sshhhh! don’t tell!)
This month I got “Organized Simplicity” by Tsh Oxenreider. I cannot tell you how much I am enjoying it! Some people, as I have said before, have the knack for just being organized and thrifty and simple and non-pack rat-ish. I do not. I felt the need to have something in front of me to look at with guidelines for getting organized, purging, etc as sometimes it feels overwhelming.
The whole first half of the book is about examining your life and seeing where all of your extra time/energy/money is going and evaluating your priorities. It is filled with thought-provoking questions, shocking statistics (ex: The average American spends 112 hours a MONTH watching t.v. or 2 whole months annually. TWO MONTHS of straight tv watching!) and guidelines for making a family purpose statement about how you want to live.
The second half is “Ten Days to a Simpler, More Organized Home” and takes you through the rooms of your house with checklists, tips, projects, etc. I’m looking forward to that part!
Anyways, so far I highly recommend the book! At least, if you want to have a little less chaos (um, check!), a little less clutter (please?), a little more time for hobbies that you neglect (again…like me!) or a more organized home so you can feel peace when you walk in the door and have more time to enjoy your spouse and/or family (me, me, me!).
I suppose it’s a little ironic that I am adding a book to my collection while trying to get rid of things…haha! But really, it helps me to have this in front of me.
Since I am completely scatterbrained. As a matter of fact, I could probably write a book on it. I think I would call it….”The Life of Noodle-Brain.”
It would be a best-seller, I’m sure…