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Breathe

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Oh, my goodness.  How is it Labor Day already?  For one thing, where has the summer gone?  And for another… sorry I disappeared on y’all last week.  It’s been absolutely crazy around here – crazier than usual.  We wrapped up some work we were having done on our new house, I had three major work deadlines, and – oh, right – we moved.  It wasn’t as nuts as it could have been because we hired people to both pack and move us.  But still – it was nuts, and I wasn’t able to be around or help as much as I wanted to because I was so overwhelmed with big work projects that all came due at the same time.  (I got them all done, but it required an hour-long conference call on the one day of the week that I’d budgeted to be moving all day, and I had to go into work on Friday instead of working from home as I’d planned to because of technical difficulties with my remote access.  Still, it’s all done now and I can finally breathe – at least until the next onslaught.)

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So, we’re in our new house.  And loving it.  Air conditioning!  No sirens!  No garbage in the front lawn!  No bumping into each other if we both try to work in the kitchen at the same time!  It’s amazing.  My standards have really gone down over a year of living in the city, heh.  But we’re so glad to be moved at last.  Not settled – not by a long shot – there’s still a lot of unpacking to be done.  Still, we have time now and it feels great to be in our own space again.  I’m most excited to bake in the kitchen.  So far it’s just been thrown-together meals, but I’m looking forward to whipping up some gourmet treats as soon as I get a chance.  I’m thinking stone fruit compote and peach oat bread before the summer fruits are out of season.

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We’ve been trying to fit some fun in around the craziness.  Peanut got behind the wheel of Grandad’s convertible, so look out, drivers!

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And she had a great time playing “baby sea lion” in our new pool with Nana last weekend after her birthday party.  I’m hoping to get her in the water a few more times before we close the pool for the season.  One of my goals for the summer was to start teaching Peanut to swim.  I considered the best I could do on that front – since I knew we wouldn’t have the pool until August – to be getting her used to the idea in a setting where she could feel safe, so she could jettison any fear and get her little mind in a place where – maybe – winter swim lessons at the family YMCA near our house would be possible.  I think that’s definitely been achieved – Peanut has no fear whatsoever of the water.

So… again… sorry for disappearing.  I had really hoped to have some posts pre-scheduled for last week, but we’ve been so busy I didn’t even have time to do that.  I do have some good posts coming up, though, including a recap of my fourth (!) half marathon, a visit to Letchworth State Park with Zan and Paul (we finally made it!), reflections on raising a reader, and more good stuff.  Stay tuned!

Party Like A Nut

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Look at this big girl!  I still can’t believe that this baby is two years old.  And that we’ve made it through another year of parenthood!  Fist bumps all around!  Obviously, we celebrated with a party.  It was a pretty small affair – just Peanut’s grandparents and one of her friends from Stroller Strides – everyone else was traveling or hosting their own gatherings; such is the plight of a summer baby.  But we had a good time nonetheless!

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We went back and forth over what to do for Peanut’s party – the zoo? aquarium? children’s museum? pool party at the new house? playground near the old house? – and eventually settled on Chestnut Ridge Park, one of our favorite outdoor spaces.  Hubby took charge of booking a shelter and found one right next to a playground.  We knew Peanut would be thrilled with that, so we jumped on the idea.  Peanut had a blast playing on the playground while she waited for her friend to arrive.

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After Peanut’s little buddy arrived and had a chance to do some playing himself, we headed back to the shelter for a picnic and some birthday cake.  Peanut even blew out her own candle!  (Or the wind did it – but we’re giving Peanut the credit.)  We also opened some of her presents gradually throughout the day – she’s incredibly slow about it, I think because she’s still confused about being allowed to rip paper for once.  And because she always gets plenty of books, and whenever she opens a new book she demands that we read it immediately:

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(Having to read every book as soon as it’s opened does gum up the gift-opening works considerably.  But whatever, it’s fun.)

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(Yes, Peanut is wearing two different outfits at her party.  She started out the party in the sweet coral dress and immediately got it soaking wet rolling around in dewy grass.  She’s definitely two!)

Happy birthday again, little lovely!  I hope you had a fantastic time at your party… if the squeals of delight were any indication, I’d say you did. 

Peanut is TWO!

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Woo-hoo!  Guess who’s TWO!?!?!?!

We celebrated Peanut’s second birthday yesterday and wow, how time flies.  In some ways I’m amazed that it’s already been two whole years since we welcomed our tiny preemie princess into the world (two months early).  But in other ways, it feels like she’s been with us forever.

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Peanut at two is packing a ton of personality into a tiny package.  She’s incredibly verbal (well, what do you expect with two lawyers for parents?) and can tell you exactly what she’s thinking and what she wants.  Oh, and she does.  It makes for some pretty hilarious conversations, because she can carry on a conversation now and she’s quite the chatterbox.  And if she tells you what she wants and doesn’t get it… well, we hear about that, too.  Such is life with a two-year-old.

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Really, though, Peanut is an incredibly good kid.  She’s full of energy and fun and sweetness and silliness.  She’s starting to develop a sense of humor, and it’s pretty juvenile… even for a toddler.  Recently, at Stroller Strides, one of the moms was sharing a story about potty-training her little guy.  He was asking to go inside and use the bathroom, but she had her hands full with his little sister, so she told little dude to “pee in the grass.”  Well, Peanut got a huge kick out of the idea of peeing in the grass.  She started laughing hysterically and repeating, “I pee in the grass!  I pee in the grass!”  Twenty minutes into the workout she was still spontaneously bursting into laughter and shouting “I pee in the grass!”  That was weeks ago and she still cracks up every now and again at the idea.  It completely shocked Aunt Grace and Grandma while they were feeding her lunch one day.  (Aunt Grace, sorry we didn’t warn you ahead of time.  And sorry that Grandma blamed you for Peanut’s crude sense of humor.)

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Peanut is very much an outdoor girl and loves her time spent playing in the fresh air.  Most evenings when I come home from work, Nana and Peanut are outside enjoying some water play or tossing a beach ball around in the driveway.  (Another reason I’m so excited to move.  Peanut needs a real backyard!)

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She’s also still Mommy’s Little Bookworm.  She’ll now hand us books and say “Read book, please!”  Melts my heart every time.  And of course she knows that Mommy will always be happy to read a book to her.  Always, little girl.

 

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As far as looks are concerned, we still hear most frequently that she looks just like me.  I take that as a compliment, because I think Peanut is the most beautiful kid on the planet!  I’m honored to resemble her even a little bit.  In reality, Daddy is definitely in there too, as are Auntie Em and Aunt Grace.  I can actually see her aunts come out more and more every day.  But more than anyone else, she looks like herself.

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I still can’t believe she’s a bona fide two-year-old.  She seems so big – walking and talking and having opinions – yet she’s still such a baby.  I’ll always see my tiny little baby girl in her, never more so than when she’s sleeping on her tummy with her thumb in her mouth.  Pure sweetness.  I could watch her snuggle like this for hours.

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Peanut at TWO!

Likes: BOOKS, of course!  Especially Fancy Nancy and anything by Dr. Seuss.  Also enjoys the playground; running around in the park; wearing her bathing suit (“Ballerina!  Dance like ballerina!”); splashing in the bathtub; eating fruit, cheese and olives; watching “Winnie Pooh” videos on YouTube; going to the aquarium to visit the sea lions; seeing her friends at Stroller Strides; bathroom humor; pushing stuffed animals around in her play stroller; singing along with the Sound of Music soundtrack (she can do the entire “Do Re Mi” song – not kidding – even “So Do La Fa Mi Do Re”) and Broadway show tunes (favorites include “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Defying Gravity”); anything to do with Disney’s “Frozen” but especially “Let it Go” and the scenes with Olaf the snowman; when Mommy and Daddy come home from work; and so much more… she’s just such a happy, spirited kid.

Dislikes: Men, with the exception of Daddy and her grandfathers, and our realtor, funnily enough – but all other guys are persona non grata until she gets used to them; sitting in her high chair and eating when she’d rather be running around; going out to eat (same issue); and Mo Willems books, oddly.

Milestones:  So much has happened this year, I don’t know that I can begin to recap all of Peanut’s milestones.  She said her first word at twelve months and is now talking up a storm, in full sentences.  (At her eighteen-month well child visit, the pediatrician said he’d like her to be able to say five or six words.  We pulled out our list of Peanut’s words, which – at the time – was in the seventies and included several sentences.)  She walked a little late but is now running all over the place and climbing on the furniture.  Other fun milestones this year included a move to Buffalo, her first trip to Canada, her first two Adirondack high peaks, and her first time visiting our family’s lake house.

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Quirks:  As I said above, she’s got a pretty crude sense of humor, even for a toddler.  She also loves other people’s cell phones.  I got her a cell phone of her own, but it’s not a real phone – it’s a V-tech toy phone.  So, obviously, she prefers anyone else’s phone to hers… although she will use her phone to take selfies.  That’s right.  She takes selfies.

Mommy and Daddy have NAMES?  When Peanut talks on the phone, more often than not she starts out her “conversation” by announcing, “Hello!  Jaclyn and Steve!”  We think she picked this up during a stretch of a few weeks in which we conducted a lot of speaker-phone conversations with our realtor.  But she doesn’t actually know who “Jaclyn and Steve” are, or even necessarily that they are people.  If we ask her to point to Mommy or Daddy, she points right to the correct parent.  If we ask her to point to Jaclyn or Steve, she stares at us blankly.  We’re pretty sure she thinks “Jaclyn and Steve!” is some kind of telephone greeting.

The Night-Night Posse:  We finally caved in and started letting her take a toy to bed.  It’s a suffocation risk for babies, but when she turned about eighteen months we decided she was old enough and she started taking Pup to bed.  Orange Kitty joined them soon, and was soon followed by Peter Rabbit.  Now the Night-Night Posse, as we call them, has grown to include – in addition to the original three – Diamond the Sea Lion, Zoey the Harbor Seal, Izzie Lizzie Alligator, Goodnight Moon Bunny, Winnie the Pooh, and a bunny lovie that doesn’t have a formal name yet but seems to answer to both “Easter Bunny” and “Steve.”

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Not to sound like a broken record, and I know I’m her mom and all so I’m biased, but this kid. is. amazing.  She’s smart and funny, affectionate, curious, sweet, and so very loving.  Recently she started giving kisses, as if she wasn’t melting our hearts enough just by existing.  Oh, she has her moments – all toddlers do.  We’ve had the occasional tantrum episode (who teaches kids to lay down on the floor and kick? it seems to be some sort of innate toddler instinct) but most of the time she’s pure sunshine.  I think I got pretty much the greatest kid in the world.  And now I’ll stop gushing (even though Nana is probably the only person who made it to the end of this long post, hi Nana!).

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Happy second birthday, little Peanut.  Mommy and Daddy love you more than words can say.

Erie County Fair 2014

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I’m getting behind on these summer family fun activities.  Here’s one from a couple of weeks ago: the Erie County Fair!

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We got to the fair early and spent most of our time with the animals.  We headed first to see the cows, and in a corner of the cow barn was an incubator with a dozen or so adorable chicks.  They were standing in their food and proving that chicks and toddlers are not so different.

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Peanut desperately wanted to pet the cows, but she couldn’t reach from her perch in the kid carrier.  Poor Peanut.

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At one point, the family – including the in-laws, who joined us for the fair – wandered into the rabbit barn.  I couldn’t stand the smell so I made a hasty exit, and stumbled upon the Shetland Ponies!  I may or may not have immediately Instagrammed them and then wandered around humming “bye bye L’il Sebastian…” #5000candlesinthewind.

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Then we found our way to the llama show!  We saw one llama win a blue ribbon for… llama-ing, or whatever llamas do.  I wanted to hang around and find out if it was a competitive thing or if all the llamas got blue ribbons for participation like in kindergarten, but the rest of the family was moving on.

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Oh.  Hello there.

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Peanut has a book called The Littlest Llama, which has been a favorite of hers since forever, so of course we walked around the llama barn trying to find the littlest one.  I thought this guy might be, but hubby and Peanut spotted a couple who were even smaller.

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Of course, the fair wouldn’t be the fair without fair food.  I was starving and had a dish of curly fries and some smoked turkey with bbq sauce.  (It was supposed to be a sandwich, but I didn’t want the bread so I ordered it without.  The guy in the bbq truck said, incredulously, “just a dish of meat?”  I’m pretty sure he would have asked me out had I not had a ring on my finger.)  We also hit up the tiger show and the kettle corn stand, but sadly I’m out of pictures.

Until next year, Erie County Fair!

Have you ever been to the county fair where you live?  This is the second time I’ve been to the Erie County Fair, but I’ve never been to any other.

The Color Run Buffalo 2014

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Well, that was a different kind of experience!

This year, I finally got the chance to participate in The Color Run.  I’ve been wanting to do one of these 5K events – either The Color Run or Color Me Rad – for what felt like ages, and was so excited to see The Color Run come to Buffalo.  For those not acquainted with the concept, it’s basically an untimed 5K that you run while volunteers throw colored corn starch at you.  I realize that sounds nuts, but there are plenty of us out there who think it seems like a rocking good time.

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The starting line was a whiteout.  Everyone wears white to the run, the better to show off their colors at the finish line.  I briefly considered wearing one of my white workout shirts but decided to wear the race shirt instead.  Normally I would never wear the race shirt to the race – I think it’s nerdy, bad luck, and you haven’t really earned the shirt until you cross the finish line – but this time I broke my usual rule because the white race shirt seemed intended as a color palette.  I wasn’t the only one – it seemed that at least 80% of the participants had the race tee on.  I was in good company.

We started out in waves every few minutes.  I left my watch at home, so I don’t know what time I finally crossed the start line, but the first part of the race took us along Buffalo’s beautiful waterfront area.  I enjoyed checking out the harbor and the boats, and at one point they had a giant bubble machine going, which was pretty hilarious.

At some point after a mile or so, I heard people start wondering aloud when the color would come up.  There was no color at the start line and we hadn’t hit a color station yet, so we were all still immaculate.  I had seen two of the color stations on my way to the start line, but didn’t know how much longer the course would wind around before it took us there.

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We did finally make it into the color!  Blue was the first color station, and it was also where my spectators – hubby, Peanut and Nana – were waiting to see me run through.  I was so excited to be getting color that I ran through shouting “Woo-hooooooooo!” and ended up with blue teeth.  Live and learn.

After blue, we had a quick water stop and then made our way through yellow, purple, and pink.  For a little while, I ran with a sweet woman and her daughter-in-law.  The daughter-in-law was pregnant with her first baby, so we chatted about all things pregnancy and parenting.  I rarely talk to people during races, but this wasn’t really a race, I wasn’t looking to set any records, and it was impossible to run fast anyway – there were legions of walkers.

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I lost my running buddies somewhere after the pink color and decided to head for the finish line instead of hanging around on the course any longer.  I spotted hubby and Peanut at the finish line before they saw me; hubby later told me they weren’t expecting me for another ten minutes or so.  I guess I was ready for the finish line party!

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I’ve been attacked by a rainbow!

The Color Run was a fantastic experience.  I had so much fun taking my time around the course, chatting with other runners, and dancing through the color stations while the volunteers sprayed color at us all.  (There were a few “serious” runners who were complaining about all the walkers but I say, who cares?  There were no timing chips and this isn’t exactly the Olympic trials.  What does it matter if the walkers don’t stay to the right?  We’re all just out to have fun with this silly run.)

Peanut was adorably concerned about me after the run.  She couldn’t understand why Regular Mommy had turned into Rainbow Mommy and thought there must be something wrong with me.  As we walked back to the car she stared at me with a worried expression and kept reassuring me, “It’s okay, Mommy.  It’s okay.”  Even later that day, when I went to get her from her nap, she told me “It’s okay, Mommy got colorful.”  So cute.  I have a feeling she’s going to remember The Color Run… but maybe not quite as fondly as I do.

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Final time: AWESOME.  Two blue thumbs up.

Have you ever done a color run?  Did you also forget to close your mouth and end up with blue teeth?

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This post has been a long time in the works, and I can’t even tell you how happy I am to share the news that I am going home.  No, not to Old Dominion.  To a new home!  After months of searching, countless houses visited, four rejected offers, and umpteen sleepless nights, we’ve finally bought a house.  We closed on Wednesday, we’re having some work done this week and next, and we plan to move in by the end of the month.

The house is outside the city, which makes us very happy.  Our experiment in urban living over the past year has taught us that we are not city people.  True, I loved living in Foggy Bottom for my first two years of law school, and we lived in some fairly urban parts of Arlington (although, as a hilarious rule, Arlington thinks it’s more urban than it actually is) but for where we are in our lives now, the city just doesn’t work.  We hoped that our walkable urban Buffalo neighborhood would be kid-friendly, but it hasn’t been – even with the playground just a few blocks away, the constant noise and the confined spaces have been tough on little Peanut.  As they have on all of us.  I’ve been getting progressively more down on our house, our neighborhood, and our urban environment in general, and I’m ready for wide-open spaces and friendly neighbors.

So we’re moving to the country.  I won’t say exactly where, but I will say that we lucked into finding a house in a lovely rural area that somehow also manages a decent commute.  We won’t have to spend much more time in the car than we do now, fighting city traffic.  And we’ll have several acres for Peanut to explore, a pool where she can learn to swim, a fabulous kitchen where I can enjoy baking again, and a big, rambling house with great bones that’s just waiting for our updates and personal touches.

I can’t wait.  I can’t wait to wake up to birdsong instead of sirens.  To run down country roads and stargaze in our backyard under velvety skies unmarred by city lights.  To float in the pool in our private backyard all summer, and snowshoe around the nearby town park all winter.  To plant an herb garden and grow tomatoes in the abundant light.  To drink my tea in the mornings on the cozy back porch (maybe we’ll get a swing!).  To experience “years of painterly skies at dawn,” a line from The Cloister Walk – a book I recently finished – that perfectly sums up the gifts I hope country life will give our family.

I’ve never lived in a rural area before.  I grew up a suburban kid and have bounced back and forth from suburb to city to suburb to city.  This is a new departure for us and we think it’s going to be great.

I can’t wait to go home!

Happy new week, all!  Just a quick little post to get you over any Monday morning slump you may be feeling.  This video is everything.

See you Wednesday!

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