My Valentine’s Day Tribute (February 16, 2012)

So in something that is totally unlike me I am going to dedicate this post. I have never been a Valentine’s day girl and I’m not one to be mushy or really expose the soul. But I do believe that we all should be treated special every day of the year and not just on one day. With all the commercialization of the holiday it really takes away from the true message. Instead of saying “I love you” with overpriced flowers, an expensive card and dinner (which most likely was premade to some degree due to the high volumes of people in the restaurants), and the always popular box of chocolates, take some time to think what your significant other would value the most.

Carmella’s first haircut – February 2012.

As I sit here writing, I think in our 13 years together we may have celebrated Valentine’s day a few times in the beginning. More out of obligation to the “holiday” then anything else. I finally broke the ice how I truly felt about Valentine’s day and he admittedly felt the same way! Why spend so much money on one day when there are other things we wanted to put our money towards.

During the past 13 years we have shared so many experiences! Numerous concerts (and memorable events at each one!), vacations all over the country – again each with their special story, including that time in Vegas that someone never checked out of our room and we walked in on them, well, no need for details but you get the idea-we got a free upgrade for that one!, and just enjoying the time with each other. Vacations were a huge part of who we were and what we wanted to do. We knew we wanted to do something big, and started saving, because as you know a college students salary is not exactly 6 figures. After graduating college we set off on our first cross country trip which was more eye opening than anything I could have imagined! Sure there are pleny of pictures of National Parks and special places we wanted to visit but until you are there in person you can never truly understand the full amazement of standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon or being captivated by the Grand Tetons. We met and fell in love with California, which we continued to visit twice a year for two weeks at a time until 2009. Funny how kids change things and yet you wouldn’t want anything else.

The next big trip was our cross country honeymoon trip. Over two months of just us, the car and the open road. We saw the places that we missed the first time around, and of course visited the places that we fell in love with the first time. Some family and friends thought we were crazy for choosing this kind of trip instead of visiting a tropical island and lazing on the beach for two weeks. But in fairness to us we did make it to Key West which is tropical enough for me!

The third big trip was our 1/2 cross country trip which came about by mistake. Who ends up mistakenly driving home cross country you may ask? People that buy too much wine in Napa and realize that to pack and ship the wine back will cost four times more that renting a car and driving back. We had already done it 2 times, what’s another :). Although it wasn’t a trip for sightseeing, we made it home in 3 1/2 days and lost only one bottle of wine!

Sure I miss those times and the fact that vacation is now considered either a 3 day weekend at home or a few days in Vermont is very different than what we were used to. But while we are both anxiously awaiting the day our girls are old enough to fly (or even go for a road trip) to California, we are enjoying the memories we are creating now. Of course most of our memorable events now are based on Carmella’s reaction or what she says instead of things happening to us, like when someone stole the air conditioner from the B & B we were staying at the night before. And concerts have taken a back seat for me now, just due to being pregnant and needing to be home to babysit. But soon enough both of them will be old enough to be left and off we will go!

This past year has been challenging based on my new job and the hours of a CPA along with being married to someone that has co-founded a website and has been working on it for over 6 months now. There are days we are ships passing in the night – me getting up at 4:15am and not getting home until 6:30pm and him shifting gears to work during the day on his business and starting to work on the website at 6:30pm and not getting to bed until 4am. It’s not ideal but its what works for us for now considering we have two college funds to save up for. But we also know that it won’t be forever and we would rather make these sacrifices now while they are young so we can enjoy more carefree time when they are older.

Carmella in a blanket when she was first born at a few weeks old.

None of these are things that I would change if I could. And having someone who understands that these are the things that truly matter – not one day, but every day events is hard to come by. It’s also why in my mind Valentine’s day is a fake “holiday” if you would like to call it that. Sure you can buy flowers and chocolates and go out to dinner, but is that what truly matters? To some people, sure. For me it just doesn’t cut it – you need to have something truly personal and not have it limited to one day during the year. I would rather have a year of happiness than a single day of commercialized happiness.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all, however you may celebrate it. And to Bill, thanks for another amazing year. You are truly and incredible dad and husband and we love you! And yes, I know you are waiting for me to gift you a post for www.zujava.com . Stay tuned – its in the works, my Valentine’s gift to you!

10 Months Pregnant and Counting… (February 12, 2012)

Well here it is. A week and a 1/2 after my due date and no Baby Girl #2 yet. I’m sure there will be days that I will long for the ease (well maybe not so much at 8/9 months) of just carrying her around inside, protecting from all of the outside world. But right now I am just dying to meet her, have her meet her Daddy and big sister and move on with all of the fun plans we have!

Since I am almost 42 weeks now – yes pure craziness, but I was born almost 3 1/2 weeks late and my brother was 2 1/2 weeks late, so maybe I can blame genetics? It’s so hard too because Carmella doesn’t understand why mommy can’t do certain things, and also because Daddy has had to pick up my slack. Like laundry for example. And while I love (and need) the help I will be glad when things can go back to normal and walking up a flight of stairs won’t be a challenge of the day.

Carmella on her way out of Toys R Us after buying some new toys.

In getting ready for Baby Nihill, Carmella has seen me drag out all of the toys and clothes. And nothing has caught her interest more than the Nap Nanny. A lifesaver with Carmella, its really a must have for any parent. First of all I should start by saying that almost any adult that saw it, including myself has wondered where you can buy an adult version. Unfortunately they don’t have one yet, but maybe soon……. So out came the Nap Nanny, and while the first day it may have sat in the corner alone and waiting for Baby Nihill #2, on day 2 Carmella must have started having flashbacks. I came into her room and not only had she dragged it in front of her TV to watch her movie, but she was laying down and asked me to put her “seat belt” (aka safety harness) on. She then proceeded to tell me how “comfy” it was and couldn’t wait to show daddy her new toy. Now I’m wondering if we will have to buy a second one!

The Nap Nanny was a life saver for so many reasons. The largest being that after eating Carmella would have to stay in an upright position after eating for a good 20 minutes so she wouldn’t get sick. While that sounds simple enough, in the early days when sleep is a much wanted/needed commodity every minute helps. Especially when you are nursing because there really is no way that Daddy can get up and help with that. To be able to put her down in the Nap Nanny at an angle and strap her in was reassuring to me as I know that she would be ok until the next feeding 2 hours later.

It was also easy to take with us when visiting other people as there is no set up! Throw it in the car and you are good to go. It was also a nice alternative to her bouncer seat when we were at home. We could leave one upstairs and one downstairs and it helped me get so much done! Now they even make travel bags, which I will definitely be investing for that future trip to California, whenever the girls are ready for a big trip and Daddy can be convinced it will be more fun than work :) It also has a zip off cover which makes it super easy to clean – because lets face it, all babies have accidents and if its not washable then it likely will end up in the trash.

I should note that proper precautions (common sense) should be used when using a Nap Nanny. For example it is a stand alone item when using  – it SHOULD NOT be placed in a crib.

As other “old” toys start to make appearances I am sure that I will have plenty of stories.  Until then I am keeping my fingers crossed that we get to meet this girl by the end of the week!

Proper Etiquette (January 31, 2012)

How to Act (and not to act!) Around Pregnant Women and After the Baby is Born

First of all, I want to put a disclaimer on this blog post. None of this is directed at our family or friends, which is a first for one of my posts. (And yes, this may include some of your stories here, too! Don’t worry – no names!). This actually goes out to all of the people that you randomly come in contact with when you are pregnant, and anyone searching for a bit of advice. And, if you are pregnant and ever have been, you know who most of these people are.

These are the people that would have walked right by you if you hadn’t been pregnant, but feel that since you are, they have the right to make comments, offer what they feel are “helpful” tips, and some bold ones might even go for the belly! Why strangers are comfortable with this I will never know.

Your reaction to them will drive how the interaction goes. One of my personal favorites is being 8 1/2 months pregnant and having someone (again, not family or friends) you see on a regular basis, or even a stranger, ask if you are pregnant. Thank you, Captain Obvious. The best response for this is to ask what they are talking about, and act surprised. The stranger will be so uncomfortable, they will likely fumble over their words and walk away (and if they don’t after that interaction, you should probably run away from them!).

Is This Your First?

Next up are the people that ask if it’s your “first,” and if you know what you are having. Again, a question okay for family and friends; creepy/nosy for anyone else, like the guy in the elevator you don’t even know. As always, you can ignore them and walk away, respond and walk away, or give them something to really think about. Try this: Tell them you are having triplets (while you know you are almost full term), then share the good news that you now are at the 3 month mark (maybe while rubbing your belly).

Are You Trying for a Boy Next?

Hopefully this will stop the next question from even arising – and Abby I give you credit for also talking about how frustrating it is. When non-family and friends find out you are having a girl or a boy, their first instinct is not to say congrats when they learn you will have two or more boys, or two or more girls, but to immediately ask, “oh, are you going to try for a boy next (if you have two girls)?”

First of all, hello, I’m eight months pregnant, let’s get through this one first. Personally, I find it very insulting that someone would imply that having a third girl or a third boy is not something anyone would choose. I am not a person who believes in choosing a boy or girl though genetic options.

I experienced this question once we found out it was a second girl. Some people were saying, “it’s okay to have two girls,” as if we needed consoling? Others said “you can try for a boy next time.” Both of which were equally insulting and frustrating. Once we found out the baby was healthy, boy or girl didn’t matter. Except for my planning and our name searching, of course!

What Really Matters

Instead of having another baby because you want a boy or a girl, you have to remember you still have a 50/50 chance. You should have another baby because you are financially stable to support them not only through the first 18 years, but helping with college and other life events that can occur. Kids are expensive and setting them up to surpass you in success is not an easy challenge. It shouldn’t be based on desire to have a boy or girl, but on your current situation and the ability to contribute to the betterment of society down the road.

Now don’t get me wrong, some mommies and mommies-to-be love the attention from friends, family, and non-friends/family alike! And for anyone that falls into that category, good for you! You can disregard this post, but feel free to leave comments!

Now that we’ve seen how things can go wrong, we’ll head off on a positive note!

Proper Etiquette Around Moms and Moms-to-Be

These are some tips that I would recommend when interacting with new mommies and mommies-to-be. Again, this is not anything against any of our family and friends, and these positive tips have come from our actions! The following tips have been consolidated from personal experiences, as well as some of the stories from my family and friends.

Talking About Positive Birthing Experiences

Do you have a positive birthing experience to share? Feel free too! All people like to share their horror stories about what went wrong and how awful it was. This especially doesn’t help anyone who is about to go through labor for the first time! I went in on a Tuesday afternoon and didn’t have Carmella until Friday, and it wasn’t that bad. Oh, and I didn’t get an epidural.

Hospital Visits

Check in with the mom and dad directly and see what their visiting “wants” are. Some people like to spend that time alone bonding with their new bundle of joy, while others can’t wait to introduce them! If they have other children be mindful of the family bonding. Instead of rushing up the minute you hear the news, have a plan for when the parents will be expecting you. With the unlimited amount of technology we have, you can call, text, or Facebook message to see when they would like visitors to come by.

Home Visits

So the new addition is home and you want to go visit! Keep in mind the parents are probably going to be exhausted and it’s tough to be the hostess with two hours of sleep. One of the most helpful things that people did for us was to bring food! If visiting around lunchtime, offer to pick up lunch. It doesn’t matter what you pick up, just anything to make it easy. A special thanks to my mom, Linda, and Julie – the food you guys made life so much easier those days!

While you are visiting, it’s nice to offer to watch the baby. Might as well let mom and dad nap, rest, shower, or any other small luxury.

Not Everyone is as Excited as You Are

Understand that while your baby means everything to you, it may not have that effect on everyone you know. For example, no names mentioned, but I do have a family member that did not attend the shower (or RSVP until called for that matter), send a congratulations card when she was born, acknowledge her at Christmas (and yes, to this point I had acknowledged their kids!), or sent a birthday card. Now this has nothing to do with money, because yes, they could afford it. It has to do with the fact that they couldn’t even take the time to send a .99 cent card in the mail. Be prepared for these people, just in case, and don’t let it affect your happiness with your new addition!

Share Your Story!

Well, it’s a good start to a list anyway! Feel free to leave your comments and share your stories below.

The Perfect Snack for the Self Feeder (January 21, 2012)

Carmella getting ready to munch on some finger foods in her high chair.

Let me start off by saying that Carmella is not the typical kid when it comes to getting messy and playing – at least not yet anyways. For example, at her first birthday party, when most kids would be diving into the frosting, eating cake and making the biggest mess possible, she gently poked the cake, and after realizing she had frosting on her finger said “yuck,” and waved around her hand until it was cleaned. It also comes in handy as she will help clean up the house! Random things that end up on the floor she will throw away. She will unpack groceries and best of all, she even helps do the dishes and fold laundry, and will even put hers away in her bureau drawers!

Along with developing a sense of wanting to help everyone else no matter what they are doing, she also wants to help herself more. This is challenging when you have a toddler desperate to feed themselves while not getting dirty (she calls it “self” when she feeds herself). Luckily, some finger foods she will take a few bites and then needs to wipe her hands on the napkins — like pizza. Yogurt she has mastered (for the most part) eating with a spoon. Fruits and veggies she will eat as finger foods as most of them aren’t messy.

However, when we are out somewhere or need a fast snack pack, smoothie pouches have become her favorite. We always used them with her, but now the best part is that she can “self” and there is no mess! Now if only she would branch out with the flavors she liked…

Here are some of Carmella’s current favorites that I order on Amazon:

Ella’s Strawberry Smoothie Pouches

She really loves strawberries, so it’s no wonder she loves this one. It smells really good and authentic, not filled with juice or sugars. This can be kept in the fridge or served at room temperature. I usually choose room temp, and she seems to prefer it that way. Ella’s also makes a larger size of the strawberry flavor smoothie pouch that has apples and other fruits added into the mix.

Plum Organic Pumpkin Banana

This is an all time favorite of hers. She sometimes eats it room temperature now, but she used to love this heated for 15 seconds in the microwave with some rice cereal added for extra texture. Smells great, and it has one veggie I know I could never get her to eat otherwise: pumpkin! These also have a high volume of ounces compared to other brands, and have great reviews from other parents. Plum Organic also makes another variety she used to like called purple carrot blueberry, but that fell out favor now that she’s older.

Revolution Foods Organic Fruit Squeeze Tropical Blend

“Tropical” as Carmella calls it, takes the cake as the current favorite. She prefers this more than any other smoothie pouch. It’s smaller in size than some of the other pouches, but since she is preferring solid foods more and more, this is the perfect size for her age (21 months). I bought it in bulk because she was sucking these things down faster than I could keep in stock!

A little hint with these items: if you sign up for the Amazon subscribe and save option, you can save 15%, but you aren’t necessarily obligated to buy again. You just have to make sure to log into your account to change the ship date, or you can delete the item if you don’t want it again.

Glucose Tests and Christmas 2011 (January 20, 2012)

Two months! I thought maybe a couple of weeks I might fall behind here, but where has the time gone? Has it really been two months since my last post? This definitely shows I need more “me” time – but for mommies that won’t happen for at least another 18+ years.

Looking back on the past two months so much has happened. I got the dreaded call no pregnant woman wants to hear. The call where the nurse says your glucose numbers were a little high.

Carmella talking on her new phone, Christmas 2011.

A little? As in enough to be concerned? And of course, just enough to be tortured by the 3 hour test, which is started after a 12 hour fast. How can that be healthy for a pregnant woman? Clearly a pregnant woman did not design that test… I suffered through the test armed with the advice from friends: dress comfortably, bring snacks to eat before you drive home, and work – well they said magazines, but a CPA going into tax season working during the 3 hours was a necessity.

They were kind enough to serve me a bottle of the glucola drink they typically serve at the start of the session, whose orangey-metallic-sweet taste brought me back to the days of Teeni drinks. At the end of the test, I was so woozy I could barely stand. Note to self: if there is a next time, schedule someone to pick you up!

We also have been playing the name game over the past few months, which is finally down to the final two. We now have our first choice and a backup in case of a last minute change. The big question now is how much will she look like her big sister? The ultrasound pics have them looking pretty alike, but you never know!

Her new favorite pals, just in time for Christmas: Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

This past Christmas we had the fun of introducing Carmella to the guy in the big red suit – Santa Claus!! And while he was very intimidating when seen in person, she was in love with the idea that someone was bringing her presents if she left him milk and cookies (and pizza — her all time favorite food!). Though, one concept she didn’t seem to understand or even want to understand was that she needed to be good in order to receive presents.

Christmas was a bit overwhelming for her and after a few presents, she said “all done.” At least she liked handing presents out to everyone else. Christmas Eve after getting home late from a family Christmas party and falling asleep in the car, she woke herself up to insist on leaving Santa milk and cookies before bed. The best part of Christmas morning for her was waking up and seeing that Santa had left a half bitten cookie on the plate. She promptly finished it off and then surveyed the gifts under the tree while still chewing.

One of her favorite gifts this year was her pretend kitchen. She loves to cook for her baby dolls and stuffed animals. Last night she “made” coffee for her sister in the pretend kitchen and poured it on my belly – I guess we have to work on that… though she heats up her baby’s food in her microwave and yells “hot, hot!” when she take it out and blows on it to cool it down for them.

Wrapped in a towel, this 21 month old still likes to be treated like a baby!

The next big change is starting to set up for the baby — I figure with 5 weeks to go, we should probably start soon! Packing my bag and Carmella’s is on the top of the list, just in case someone decides to make an early appearance.

baby reading
Carmella with jaw agape at the sight of her new gingerbread man.

The Perfect Pants (November 14, 2011)

Everyone loves a pair of perfect pants, whether it be our favorite pair of jeans, sweats, or pajama pants. Some of us love them much more than others. Carmella, as luck would have it, is in the “much more than others” category. She also already has a shoe obsession and loves to try to put on mommy’s 4 inch heels. After getting frustrated she will take the shoe and put it “away” wherever she decides it goes. But pants, well, apparently this is a whole seperate category.

Carmella wearing her organic pajamas (rifling into the Trick or Treat bucket — don’t worry we hid the candy!)

It started last week with these adorable swishy, comfy cargo Carter’s pants. As soon as her little legs were in them, she started thrashing like a newly caught fish, yelling “no! shorts! no no no!”

Carmella wearing her organic pajamas (rifling into the Trick or Treat bucket — don’t worry we hid the candy!)

I eventually ended the battle by giving in and changing her into some soft cotton pants. Who wants to be in uncomfortable pants all day? Jeans are something that I can’t get her to wear yet – and she has so many cute pairs! Though, I started putting her in jeggings – and as long as they are slightly loose, there is no complaining or trying to break free. She lets us know when they are too tight by saying “stuck, off! What a big personality she is growing…

The next incident was with some cute stretch pants I had bought. Again, the commentary started right away. “No! Mommy, stuck! Stuck! Help! Help!” Again after trying to convince her how cute they were, she kept yelling “Stuck! Help!” on the verge of tears. I changed her this time into her Juicy Couture track suit pants. Immediate happiness washed over her and she started touching the pants saying “yes, nice, nice,” and nodding her head.

I started to think back to last year. I got an amazing deal on baby Juicy Couture tracksuits and she lived in them all fall and winter. And while she does have a few toddler sizes, the deals just haven’t been as good since. Maybe it’s just Mommy being frugal? Those suits add up fast when you have one for each day of the week! Though I will admit they are super comfy, and they lasted the entire season still looking practically brand new. I think that she liked that they weren’t too tight or thick, yet still kept her nice and warm.

Well, last night we had a new issue with pants – not day pants, but this time PJ pants. The pajamas that she seemed most comfortable in were Ecoland organic pajamas. Not only were they super soft and durable (Baby Nihill #2 has a whole collection waiting for her!), they were a great fit. Sometimes I think Carmella thought she was a Kung-Fu warrior with her karate suit on with the way she would kick around in them.

Now that it’s getting chillier here in New England, I made the executive decision it was time for warmer pajamas. Last night was the first cold night to try on her warmer pajamas. I had tried a toddler sleep sack a few weeks back and she did everything in her power to escape, so I knew it would have to be soft and comfortable PJ’s that we migrated to. And what fits better than footed fleece PJ’s? (yes, they do have adult sizes, too!). After tubby time, it was time to test drive the new pajamas. How could she not love the girly gray and pink leopard print fuzziness that she was about to surround her body with?

She obliged at putting on the footed pajamas at first, putting in her arms and cautiously putting in her legs. But as soon as the zipper started to come up, it was like wrestling a wild animal. I put her down on the ground where she tried to just rip it off her body. Then she sat down, trying desperately to rip off the feet. All the while yelling “Help, help, help! Out! Zip! Stuck! Help!” She then started rolling around trying to wiggle out of this nice cozy set of footed pajamas.

Considering she doesn’t sleep well anyway, we didn’t want her getting this worked up before bed. After 30 minutes or so, I helped her unzip and step out of them. She breathed a huge sigh of relief, said thank you, and pointed to her regular pajamas. After they were on, she snuggled over to me and closed her eyes and rested after her tiring battle with the evil footed pajamas.

I can only wonder what this means for Daddy and I during the teenage years.

P.S.: I also reviewed some of my favorite organic pajamas for my daughter when she was baby here:

The Best Organic Baby Pajamas

Completely Different the Second Time Around… (November 1, 2011)

After deciding we were ready to start trying for number 2, Bill and I thought, “how different could it be?” We had heard it all: Your life will change forever, no more going out, no more sleep (which then turns into she will sleep better once she is eating more solids, once she is napping, once she is walking, etc. – so far no one has been right!), and all of the other bad things they can think of. After 4 days of labor, nothing else is really that bad. Lack of sleep is a bit tough, but I have become quite efficient after just five hours of sleep.

My first pregnancy was great! No sickness, and no feeling pregnant until the last month really. I looked around at other pregnant friends, not understanding their pain — thinking of how easy it was. Well, round two has been a completely different story! Sick from the beginning, seven days a week. At 4 1/2 months it finally dropped to 3-4 times per week and that is a good week. It definitely makes me appreciate how good I had it the first time around.

The other challenge we are running into is names. With Carmella, we had her name within an hour of learning it was a girl. Again, this time around compleltely different! Sure, there are names that I love and ones that Bill loves, but none of these names fall on both lists. The challenge of finding something unique, yet not weird or too plain has been tough to overcome. I could never understand people that used baby name books — how hard could it be? Yet last week I bought this one! And no, it hasn’t made the process any easier. Of course, everyone wants to know the baby’s name right now. When they find out you are still thinking, they have a whole list of names to share with you. And while that’s helpful we still don’t have a name. So the search continues. Perhaps baby name book #2 is in the near future?

16 Months Going on 17! (October 19, 2011)

Our baby girl is growing up so fast! When we found out were having a girl, we briefly thought about the future (dating, wedding, grandkids), but that quickly vanished from our minds as one of those “I’ll deal with it when it comes” type of things. We were so excited for our daughter to arrive, and planning for the big day! Sitting here now, I reflect back on these past months and all the big steps she has taken so far: sitting up, rolling over, laughing at funny things (sometimes when she was younger I wasn’t sure how she knew certain dry things were funny — but she laughed!), laughing at inappropriate times (always funny looking back on it), talking, eating “big girl food,” drinking cow’s milk, and finally, walking! Last night she was running around the house calling herself “big girl” — in case anyone didn’t know. :)

She’s always been a happy girl, with the exception of bed time and naptime. Over the past few weeks, we have noticed a change in her… a change I wasn’t expecting to see until teenage years! A sudden interest in… boys?? Whenever she spots a boy, she will look at me with a happy glow and big smile, “oooh, a boy!” She’ll then wave furiously calling out “hi” and doing everything in her power to get to him. She even has a first words book with a picture of a little boy, which she kisses at every opportunity. Where did she pick up on this boy craziness? Along with the boy, she also showers her kisses and mwahs on all of her stuffed animals, animal pictures, Mommy, Daddy, Nonna, Grandpa, her cousins, and other family members.

It makes me sad to think my baby girl is growing up so fast, but happy to know she is caring and understands when someone needs a hug. She will be a great big sister. Now we just have to find out if she will be having a little brother or little sister!

(P.S. – you can read the answer here).

Big News! (October 19, 2011)

This is a little bit delayed, but it deserves its own post. Carmella is going to have a baby sister! We are all so excited, and I for one am already thinking about the cute matching Easter dresses! Now comes the hard part of picking the name…

A Smart Baby – Tougher Than You Think, Especially When She’s Sick (October 15, 2011)

Bill and I had always wondered, “Do you think she undertstands us?” Not necessarily the actual words, but the meaning of the words.

We learned soon enough after a quick shopping trip for a rug whether she did or not. Rug in hand, we headed to the register, but not before passing by an enormous Chrsitmas display (yes, it was the end of September!). All of a sudden, Carmella starts going crazy yelling about a snowman. Mind you, the only snowman she would have seen would have been in one of her books we read to her last winter, when she would have been about one. We were both shocked and took her into the winter wonderland to see if she truly knew what a snowman was. I picked up a moose decorated in a winter sweater and she says, “no, snowman!”

I tried a teddy bear with a winter hat. She handed him backing saying “Bear. No. Snowman.”

I handed her a plush snowman and her eyes lit up. She gave hima big hug and kiss, and grasped him with everything she had. A quick look to Bill and we both knew he was coming home. For those of you that know me I am the biggest Christmas fan, it’s my favorite holiday! But a snowman in September, well.. that’s even a bit early for me.

Snowman quickly was integrated into the nightly routine. She tells us when he’s tired, when he needs a pillow, and when he needs to go to “sleeping.”  I think he has the same bad sleeping patterns as her — two minutes after he goes to “sleeping,” he is back up. This happens at least 4-5 times. This sounds way too familiar to Bill and I…

That was the start of us understanding she could understand us, the day she got sick for the first time. We are lucky as it is the first time she has gotten sick in the 17 months of her life. And it was more of a cold with a fever than anything else. But baby girl was hit hard. Sneezes, which normally she laughs at (and was the first thing she did when she was born), became horrible experiences. Out came the tylenol and benadryl, and she was on the mend. Benadryl: why is the only flavor you sell around here cherry? Anything grape she’ll take no problem. Cherry, on the other hand, well that leads to a medicine battle. During this battle, Carmella has learned to negotiate. Yes, negotiate with a 17 month old. Where did she get these skills? I have no idea.

She hears the words “medicine time” and instantly becomes an ostrich. She will bury her head into anything – a bed, couch, mommy, or daddy. She occasionally lifts her head and clamps both hands over her mouth.

Last night was different. Daddy came in with the medicine and she instantly hid. Though after a minute, she said “ice cream.” Without thinking, I instantly said “if you take your medicine like a big girl, you can have some ice cream.”I got a dirty look from daddy, but she slowly sat up, hands over her mouth. She thought about it for a a second (or at least it looked like she did), uncovers her mouth, and says “ok.”  I repeated it and said you take your medicine you get some ice cream. She said okay, and opened her mouth taking the medicine with no fight. Immediately after taking it, she says “ok, ice cream.” We were both amazed that not only did she understand what we said, but by the fact that she seemed to understand you do this, you get something in return. Let’s hope tonight is as easy! Perhaps we should try negotiating to get her to sleep better…