Wednesday, December 30, 2009


'Gether = together
Used in a sentence: Duckie and Piggie ride stwoller 'gether!
Parent hack: Can convince Nugget to do an unfavorable activity by suggesting Mommy/Daddy/stuffed friend and Nugget do it 'gether.

Nogurt = Yogurt
Used in a sentence: I eat nogurt breakfast please.

Fwell = Smell
Used in a sentence: My turn fwell it please. (It is usually chapstick)

Klect = Collect
Used in a sentence: I klect pinecones in gween bucket!

P.S. Speech therapist sis-in-law, don't worry, when we speak to the Nugget, we do in fact give him the correct pronunciations.
The Nugget, when awake, is talking. He likes to repeat the same sentence until one of the parental units acknowledges his token of wisdom. If said parental unit does not respond with the exact words he's expecting in the appropriate time frame, there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. If parental unit is unable to come up with the proper phrase in T-10 seconds, the wailing escalates to full-on tantrum until the correct phrase is uttered or the parental unit gives up and leaves the area for the Nugget to continue his tantrum solo. It's as if the Nugget has scripted the conversation yet his minions failed to provide the parental units with a copy. Is this what they meant by the terrible twos? I find it somewhat amusing, although the 14th instance in a day is somewhat less amusing.

An example...
N: A doggie - woof woof!
PU: Yes! That's right!
N: No!!! A doggie - woof woof! A doggie - woof woof! (escalating to yelling)
PU: Yes a doggie. A nice brown doggie.
N: (Throws self on floor. Face turning red.)
PU: The doggie says woof woof?
N: (Regaining composure, wiping tears and snot off face) Yeah.

Now, because these conversations have become so taxing and often do not yield Nugget-desired results, the Nugget has recently taken to prompting us with our correct lines.
An example...

PU: (Rubbing Nugget with lotion, which he despises)
N: No wike lotion! All better now! All better now!
PU: (Finished with lotion service) All better now!
N: Yeah!

Or, the more embarrassing scenario where the toddler's manners are better than ours...
PU: Nugget, come here.
N: Come here PWEASE.
PU: Oh you're right, I forgot to say please. Nugget, come here please!
The Nugget likes a toy to "watch" him eat meals. Lately it's been either the camel from his nativity set or a wooden fried egg from his kitchen. The watching toy is expected to cheer the Nugget on when he buckles his highchair strap and pretend to munch foods from his plate. This sounds like a pain for the parents, but the watcher can frequently cajole him into tasting unfamiliar foods, so it's kind of a wash. I believe this habit started with his pumpkin friend in October. We just accept it as part of the mealtime routine now, but I recently realized that a mealtime watcher is an uncommon practice in most households.
The Nugget does not use the words "am" or "is" yet, and I can't fully describe how adorable his sentences sound without these verbs. Some examples:

"I poopin'!"

"I counting, Mommy!"

He'll learn soon enough.

Christmas on the go

We have come to realize that with our bicoastal family, we will never be home on Christmas Day, at least not in the forseeable future. Of course, family is the most important thing to us, which is why we do all the travel in the first place. But in a way, it makes me a little sad that Nugget and Lil Sib won't have the kind of Christmas that Hubby and I had. Their Christmases will not be early mornings at home waking up to a lit tree, my mom's strata in the oven, a big beautiful children's Mass, the church aglow with twinkle lights. Their Christmases will involve packing, removing their shoes for the metal detector, nasty food at roadside pit stops, the free Continental breakfast at the hotel. Santa will either deliver their gifts at home either early or late, because he knows we'll have limited trunk and luggage space to tote presents home. We'll always have to take down our tree early. Asking our active toddler to sit and be quiet for a 2 hour Mass after traveling cross-country is something we skipped this year. Forgoing some traditions is a sacrifice I'm willing to make to give them more time with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. But I do want some traditions that can stick, no matter our travel itinerary.

We wanted to build some happy memories at home for the Nugget. St. Nicholas came on St. Nick's day (Dec 6) to fill our stockings. We lit Advent candles each night at dinner and had our Nativity set out for the Nugget to play with all month (the camel often left the Creche to take meals with the Nugget). We took our annual embarrassing pajama picture.

We did our little family Christmas with Santa's gifts the Saturday before we left. We took the Nugget for pony rides. We got Chik-fil-A for lunch and ordered pizza for dinner, so I wouldn't be stuck in the kitchen all day. Santa hid a couple gifts in my carry-on for the Nugget to open on the plane. I know it's not the same, but I hope that the Nugget and Lil Sib will have just as many happy memories of Christmas. They are just a little more spread out over the course of December I suppose. I hope that extends the fun instead of diluting it. I suppose they won't know anything different until their classmates tell them that Santa is supposed to come to YOUR house on the 25th!

Do you have ideas for Christmas traditions for a traveling family?

Christmas Trip 2009

We just returned from a lovely 5-day Christmas trip to see our West Coast family. Our August trip felt so rushed that we decided to make this trip very uneventful and family-only. We spent our days bopping between Hubby's parent's home and the hotel and even managed to keep the Nugget on a fairly regular nap/bed routine. Hence, no big extravagant things to post, but here's a quick list of our favorite little moments.

10. The Nugget, upon disembarking from our 5 hour flight (the second flight of the day), spotted a purple and gold airplane on the tarmac and insists that "We ride purple plane now." He has a tantrum on the jetway upon hearing that we will not be riding the purple plane.

9. The Nugget tells each grandparent, aunt, uncle, and cousin who will listen, "Ride purple plane" about a zillion times. We have to start a countdown of days until we'll get back on a return flight.

8. The Nugget rips open his Christmas presents with gusto, exclaiming, "Ooooo!" Usually after opening it, he then asks, "Whazzat?", knowing only that it was ooo-worthy! (At home, when he opened a gift from Santa, he said, "Ooo, a box!" Oh the money we could have saved!)

7. The Nugget can now correctly identify his West Coast family by name and can approximate his own pronunciations of each name. I think some hearts were melted to hear his little voice calling for them.

6. Not to be left out, the Nugget also requested his Midwest family members often and was confused to find out that his entire extended families do not live in the same place.

5. The Nugget discovered a love for Grandma's fancy organic nitrate-free ham. He cleaned his plate of ham then polished off mine as well. The bite I got was delicious!

4. The Nugget tasted sparkling cider and was appalled by the carbonation. He made a really funny face (wish I had captured it on camera) and sputtered it out. When Uncle A encouraged him to try it again, he shouted "No!" and pushed it away. Whew, at least I won't have a pop junkie anytime soon. (He also doesn't like chocolate milk, which probably bodes well for his waistline.)

3. Our niece generously babysat for us one night so we could go out with the other young adults for dinner. She and her boyfriend entertained the Nugget for several hours and reported that he was angelic. The minute they left, he yanked off his halo and had a proper fit. This makes me both hopeful for preschool yet terrified for the daily aftermath!

2. We took the Nugget to the zoo for a quick bout of exercise and fresh air. While he loved the carousel, laughed at the goats nibbling food from his hand, and tried the slide, his absolute undisputed favorite part of the zoo was the automated paper towel dispenser.

1. Despite being a cautious soul, the Nugget remembered each and every family member right away and was so generous with his hugs and high fives. That was my favorite part of Christmas.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


The Nugget likes to make his own contractions. Here are just a few.

Cay'roll: carry the roll (a small changing pad)
Bob'mato: Bob the Tomato (a character on VeggieTales)
Gr'ish: Go Irish!
Other tidbits of funny business:

1. I told Hubby that he might want to change his shirt after shoveling snow, since it was starting to smell a little locker room-ish. The Nugget looked him straight in the eye and added, "Yeah."

2. We've been attending church regularly for several months now. It is always a challenge. The Nugget just doesn't have the temperment or the maturity to sit still and quiet for an hour, but he tries his best. He does love going and asks if we can go on most weekdays as well. His very favorite part is the Sign of Peace. He walks up and down the pews, proffering handshakes like a politician on the campaign trail. Once he's shaken every hand in reaching distance, he starts over again. The kind souls behind us today got about 10 hearty handshakes!

3. When the Nugget gets ahold of any credit-card sized object (he has a beloved book of customer loyalty cards and expired train passes), he knows to swipe it and look for a pin pad. I realize this may not be funny to anyone else since we normally use our debit card and he's just mimicking us. But when I was little money = bills and coins with dead presidents. The fact that our 2 year old is swiping plastic just blows my mind! I mocked the new Monopoly Electronic Banking edition, but maybe it IS more appropriate for today's kids; I guess they should be practicing with the type of money they are going to carry. The downside to this particular behavior is that he "swiped" a paper parking ticket into the car's cd player and I think it's stuck.

4. The Nugget has recently informed us that all of his stuffed animals are "girls" and their names all happen to be "Church".

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What happened to the village?

You know, the one it takes to raise a child? Read this article! I sure do miss the OMP - any chance of resurrecting it?! I think it's still possible, but I think we have to work harder at building our own supportive communities nowadays. They're not just there for the taking, you have to find and create your own.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


This is our second year here in our home, and we are starting to carve out our own traditions. Our downtown has a lovely free Christmas celebration and yesterday was the perfect winter day. Crisp and sunny, cold enough to bundle, but without the painful bite that so often accompanies winter days here.

Pictured above, the Nugget receives a special treat from the chocolate company. I usually dislike milk chocolate, but they make the best - creamy and rich, not much sugar. The Nugget approved.

The Nugget and his T-Rex (who accompanies him everywhere these days) gave Santa a big hug. When asked what he wanted for Christmas, he replied, "A hug." Even the bitterest Scrooge is no match for the Nugget.

And best of all, the Nugget and T-Rex got a free ride on a special downtown trolley. The Nugget is well-acquainted with trolleys. He and I try to hop on the campus trolley about once a month, to help sate his craving for rides in exotic vehicles, especially now that the zoo train is closed for the winter. This ride was much shorter than the campus sweep, but he received a ticket to hold and enjoyed looking at the tinseled and lit city through fingerprinted windows.

There was also a Santa's Workshop in a local museum, but so we'll save that for next year. Little feet and big eyes just can't be rushed, and our free parking spot was only good for 2 hours.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

An alternate storyline

I'm not sure which version of the Nativity story you subscribe to, but here, the Nugget re-enacts the classic, in which...

1. A wayward Triceratops attempts to pay its respects to the newborn Savior, but frightens the camels, who threaten to knock over the manger...

2. ...And the troublemaker is thusly removed by a giant toddler bearing tongs.

Verily, I say to you, it came to pass. So say we all. Amen, Alleluia.

Adoption Updates

It's been 9 months since we entered the pool, so we have started working on some updates for our profile. We were so lucky to not have to do any updates prior to the Nugget's adoption. We got the lucky blessing of waiting only 9 months in the pool for him, so this is our first update.

When we got the request for updates, I decided I could choose to feel angry and bitter about having to jump through more hoops OR I could choose to gladly complete my tasks and consider it a labor of love for Lil Sib. Why cry when I can choose to smile? It actually felt pretty good to have some work to do for Lil Sib instead of just waiting. So we very lovingly updated our Dear Birthparent letter, we signed 350 copies by hand for a personal touch, I gave them a kiss and we prayed over them before we sent them Priority Mail, that one letter from this batch might fall into the hands of the special angel who will choose us to be parents again.

We also decided to join another waiting pool, through an adoption attorney in Ohio who is also a close family friend. About 6 months ago, we were also asked to join a backup list for an agency in MO, meaning that if a birthmom doesn't like any of the families in their pool, they will present families from this backup list.

For the curious, no, we do not know how many times our profile has been presented and rejected. We can find out, but we choose not to, because I personally would find it too depressing. However, it doesn't really matter how many times you are "not-chosen", because it only takes one! Sometimes, I find it all very magical, like falling in love. There is a chemistry, a spark of trust and love when a birthmom sees the family she wants for her child, a seed that blossoms into a lifetime and a family for an unborn baby, the one that God has already chosen for us. I can't ask for that to be rushed or to meet a specific deadline in my mind.

The Nugget has done his part by making life challenging and amazing at the same time. I try to savor every day of "our time" together, because I never know when he's going to morph from our "only" to "big brother". It was actually really fun to update our photo collage - I got to see reminders of how he's grown so much over the past year.

My favorite things

I love these mini takeout boxes! I found them back when I was in the gift basket biz, and you can do so many things with them. Here, I filled each box with 3 hand-dipped Oreos (recipe below - so simple!), decorated them with a strip of scrapbook paper, a ribbon, and a mini ornament (purchased 2 boxes at Target post-Christmas last year for mere pennies).

Dipped Oreos - these are SO decadent!
1. Melt 1 bag of chocolate chips (semisweet, milk, dark, or white) as directed on package.
2. Dip an Oreo half-way to coat. Gently shake off excess chocolate.
3. Dip one side into crushed peppermint candies. I bought mine pre-crunched, but to save money, you can buy a 99 cent box of candy canes and either take out your aggressions manually or crush them in the food processor.
4. Lay on a Silpat- or wax paper-covered baking sheet with the peppermint side up. Cool on the counter (not in the fridge, it will make the chocolate bloom).

Monday, December 7, 2009

A dose of perspective

Stephanie Nielson's story has been everywhere lately. You might have caught her on Oprah or the Today show. I have never met her, but I continue to follow her story and pray for her. I first came across her blog about 6 months ago. She is such an inspiring example of motherhood and faith. Here is the first installment of her story. I dare you to read it and not be touched, to not feel blessed, to not be more aware of each breath.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Filling the stockings

Don't forget the stockings when you're doing your Christmas shopping!

1. Baby Gap socks - they really stay on! This set is on sale, and the red stripes are so festive!
2. Bibs - Carter's makes the ubiquitous "my first Christmas" or go for the luxurious Bumkins organic cotton bibs that will last through a jillion washings.
3. Wood teether - Little Alouette makes beautiful hand-crafted options.

1. Her very own enamelware cup! Shatterproof, durable, adorable. Holds just enough liquid to satisfy, yet not enough to cause a full table flood when spilled.
2. Gummi vitamins - in lieu of candy canes, give something that will taste great and keep your kid healthy. They can vary widely in taste and texture, but Nordic Naturals makes a delicious tangerine gummi that melts in your mouth, but also packs omega-3s! Better keep it in a locked cupboard!
3. Mittens, because toddlers lose them. Here's the Nugget's most recent mitten acquisition - how cute are they?! Add mitten clips from the Target dollar spot.

1. Smencils are made from recycled newspaper, sharpen and write smoothly, and hold a scent! Your kid will be the envy of his classmates! Along the same lines, consider other art supplies like play-doh, rubber stamps, stickers, watercolors, or pastels.
2. Kitchen utensils - pair them with a kids' cookbook, a bag of baking mix, and a handmade apron for a bigger gift.
3. A Broadway Kids' cd for your aspiring singer. If you like showtunes, you'll be rocking out with your kids too.