Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010

I've been a terrible blogger, but I'm not apologizing for it. Life the last four weeks has been a wonderful whirlwind of traveling, working, celebrating, and resting. Life has kept me too busy living it to have time to blog about it. But here we are, the last day of 2010, and I feel like I owed something. So I'll try and give a quick recap, a brief update while Ali naps, before we are up and off again to celebrate the new year with our friends.

To say that 2010 was a great year would be so woefully understated. I've done a lot during my adult life: years filled with international travel and weddings and degrees and triathlons and home purchases. Big stuff. Exciting stuff. And I started off this year with a post about how we finally, for once, didn't have anything big going on. A year of just being a mom. Of just being a family. And somehow that "just" turned into more laughter and joy than anything "big" thing that's ever preceded it. To watch our daughter grow and learn and discover, to witness her moving from rolling to sitting to crawling to standing to walking and talking and laughing and playing games, has been the most fulfilling, incredible experience I've ever had. What an adventure it is to be a parent.

Our lives have moved from "big" events like international trips and ironmans to "big" events like my first weekend away from my daughter, visiting Santa, and feeling our son kick and move inside me. What a paradigm shift.

So yes, I've been remiss. But life keeps us busy.

And next year? Oh, next year. What an adventure that will be.

Of course I'd never dream of leaving you without a picture. Some of my blog friends have done fabulous posts showcasing their favorite picture from each of the twelve months. I had grand plans to follow suit, but honestly, who am I kidding? Not only would that take way more time than I have to sort through the thousands of pictures I took this year trying to eke out my favorites, but it would be an exercise in futility. I could never pick just twelve. So I'll leave you with one, of Alina on Christmas, enjoying the cold winter air and laughing at the falling leaves and generally just being a toddler, being the thing that has so fulfilled and delighted me this year.

My cup overfloweth. Thanks, 2010.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: It's a . . .

(You'll forgive the lack of a proper apostrophe for "it's." Children's blocks apparently lack advanced punctuation marks, though I say you can't start them early enough. The set also lacked an exclamation point, though to do the sentiment justice, we would have needed about ten!)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Newest Little Family Member

On November 12, our family welcomed its newest little member: baby Chandler! My brother Brian and his wife, Ragan, welcomed their first daughter into the world, and she is a BEAUT! Katie and I get to go visit baby Chandler in North Carolina next weekend (which will also be Alex's first time alone with Ali!), and I can't wait!

Here are some pics of the cutie patootie. *sigh* I just love sleepy little newborns.

Check out the feet on this gal! She's going to be a tall one for sure.
How on Earth does any new mother look this fantastic and put together???
She caught right on to the Thanksgiving family tradition. Eat, then nap.

Brian with his baby girl. Love.

Welcome to our family, sweet Chandler!!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Play Time

Thanksgiving was wonderful, marred only by the fact that Alex was once again in Germany for a trade show (don't those Germans care about our family holidays???). Ali and I flew to Dallas Wednesday night, choosing the busiest travel day of the year for our first solo flight. Brilliant. We arrived to the airport expecting chaos and mayhem, only to find not a single line in sight. Seriously, the place was practically deserted. Our flight wasn't even full. Sweet! Ali did great on the short flight--whew!

Because I was traveling solo--and therefore light--I didn't bring my camera with me, so no pics of the holiday yet. I have to wait for my family to email me some favs from their cameras! (hint, hint)

We flew home on Friday to meet Alex at the Austin airport. Ali saw him, said, "Dada?" and then yelled "DAAAAAAA!!!!" while running to him as fast as her little feet would carry her. Even if I weren't pregnant I probably would have teared up at that. Add my pregnancy hormones to the mix, and well, the way I was crying and the way Alex dropped to his knees and wrapped her in a huge hug, onlookers probably thought he was coming home from a 9-month deployment.

Saturday, our little reunited family took some time to play. Ali got to play at our neighborhood playground, and I got to play on my camera. I've been remiss in taking pictures lately . . . toddlers are a lot harder to photograph than sweet little babies who just sit there and smile.

Here are a few shots from our play time. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

Busy girl exploring the rocks.
Loving the rake!
My sweet angel.
She loves climbing up and down stairs.
Check out the lashes. :::swoon:::
This one just makes me smile. The cheeks. The inquisitive expression. The checking to make sure her belly button is still there.
Hard at work.
So glad these two were reunited.
Hiya, gorgeous.
She was totally fascinated by the basketball players. That's my girl!
Goodness I love this one. Slightly out of focus, but what a jolly little swagger she has going on!
Now that she's walking, she's always on the move! Kinda makes it hard to get those nicely posed shots.
Walking, drinking, and looking adorable enough to charm the socks off of anyone around. Multitasking at its finest.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Very Own Elves

Have you ever thought about how sweet Santa has it? I mean, all he has to do to get ready for the biggest night of his year is sit at his desk and check a list a couple of times. Probably roasting his toes by a fire while the Mrs. brings him hot chocolate (perhaps with a dash of Bailey's?). Meanwhile, in the workshop, it's the elves who slave away, day after day, frantically getting all of the toys ready for the children. And Santa gets all the credit. He's the famous one, the figurehead for the holiday.

I'm not gonna lie. I kind of admire his arrangement.

I needed to take some notes. Many of my friends have time at home with their kids, time to plan their holidays down to the smallest detail, time to make gifts, time to . . . well, to approach the holidays without the breathless panting our family will slide into them with. As a working mom, I lack that time. I needed to find some elves, some helpers to do the work while I get all the credit.

Cue angels singing and lights from heaven. Cue Shutterfly.

Over the years, I've used Shutterfly for a TON of photo sharing. We've listed albums from our travels around the world (see the list on the right side of this blog!). I've made photo books. We've given wall calendars as gifts that were a HUGE hit. Their quality has always been high and their convenience even better.

(Added bonus: did you know that their cards are sustainably forested? That's a check in my living-green column!)

This year, I am relying on their super awesome holiday cards to make me cool like Santa--all of the points with with none of the work. Not only do they have some gorgeous cards, (um, hello beautiful), but they have classy cards, whimsical cards, even cards that will showcase the world's CUTEST toddler (I'm talking about Ali, not that girl in the card. Though she is certainly lovely.) And let's be honest. That's whom everyone really wants to see, anyway.

But that's not all. Are you ready for the coup de grace? They will even address, stamp, and SEND the cards for you.

I'll pause for you to recover from your disbelief.

Can you hear the angels singing?

This momma can.

I'm not going to spoil the surprise of which card I've picked out. You'll just have to wait and see. But here's a hint . . . it will contain some big, exciting news!!

Now, onto warming my feet by the fire and sipping a nice, non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverage. Ahhhh.

*Disclaimer: If this sounded like a promotion, that's 'cause it is! Even Santa is cost-conscious these days. Bloggers get 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly… sign up:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dallas Arboretum

We took a trip to Dallas last weekend to celebrate G-Mommy and Bubbie's birthdays. What a wonderful time we had visiting with family! We spent all day Saturday with Bubbie having a wonderful birthday celebration, and all day Sunday with G-Mommy and Granddaddy. Unfortunately, this was the only day our camera was charged, so this is the only day (actually, the only couple of hours) that we got pictures. :-((

We took advantage of the gorgeous fall weather to visit the Dallas Arboretum and catch the last few days of the fall decor.

Ali was slightly more impressed with the pumpkins this time.

She and her Aunt Katie had a wonderful time hanging out together!

A rare whole-family shot. We lucked out and had cousin Lisa visiting us from Connecticut! What a treat!

Ali and her G-Mommy and Granddaddy. She's so in love with them . . . and it's clear the feeling is mutual!

In other news, I am officially in the 2nd trimester. Yay! We had a wonderful doctor's appointment and got to see Dos, all stretched out and lounging around. In 3.5 short weeks, we'll be finding out if he's a he or if she's a she. So exciting!!! Any bets???

Happy Fall!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


We had a wonderful Halloween! Baby girl had FOUR dress-up parties to go to over the course of a week . . . I can only imagine what her social calendar will be like as a teen.

Our plans for a basketball player ("Ali-Oop") went out the window when a friend convinced me that she was simply too pretty to dress as a basketball player. I, of course, could not disagree with that! So our cute Russian princess went as a picture-perfect China doll!

Another benefit of this costume was that it was essentially pajamas, so she was comfortable enough in it to wear it all day long!

That, and it made a family theme really easy. 

By the third party, however, both Ali and I were looking for something new. That's when "Halloween Punk" came to be. I think I might like this outfit even more than the China doll!

Halloween itself rolled around, and we finally got a chance to carve our first family pumpkin. I was all excited about getting pictures of Ali playing in pumpkin guts, but she wanted NOTHING to do with the guts. Or the pumpkin itself for that matter.

"Uh, Mom? What the heck is this thing you just put by me?"

She did work up the courage to touch the guts...

But she didn't really like it. (Can you see her worried little face here? Precious girl!!)

Once it had a face, she was a little more comfortable.

Yay! Smiles at last!

Then it was time to Trick-or-Treat! We didn't take Ali to any houses this year. She's too young for candy and Alex and I didn't feel like taking candy that could go to some other kids. But we did walk over to our friends' house to visit them and their 6-week-old.

Check out Ali walking! She's getting better and better every day!

This one is just 'cause I love it. These two adore each other so much!

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

1. Busy, busy, busy! That describes our family's last six weeks. In that time frame, we've had one emergency trip to Dallas, two first birthday parties, one positive home pregnancy test, one family vacation to Florida, one doctor's visit where we saw a beautiful little heartbeat, one big job change, one trip to California, and one week of G-Mommy and Munna visiting because Alex was in Zurich on business. Whew! We've neglected our cats, our home, our cars, our blogs, our friends, and our laundry trying to keep up with our schedule. But we survived and are looking forward to the next two weeks at home, to getting a little downtime to reconnect with our friends, catch up on our chores, assure our cats that we still love them, and maybe even have a little Halloween fun before the travel starts up again.

2. What? What's that? Oh, that little detail stuck in there about a positive home pregnancy test? You noticed that? Well, it's true! Ali is going to be a big sister!! We are thrilled to be expecting our second child in May of 2011. Life was getting just a little too calm. (No. I'm not saying that with a straight face. Don't worry.) Ali and "Dos" will be about 20 months apart, just like my brother and me. We are so excited for our kids to be able to grow up so close in age!! We had our first doctor's appointment a couple of weeks ago and saw a beautiful little heartbeat. And even though we've been through all this once before, it is just as amazing the second time around.

3. On pregnancy #2: going through the first trimester exhaustion is soooooooooooo different (should I add a few more "oooo's"? when chasing around a toddler than it was when we had nothing better to do with our time in the evenings than read for pleasure and maintain hobbies. Oh, and that "busy six weeks" we've had? Yeah . . . that struck right about the time when all I wanted to do was sleep and eat Pringles all day. Alex has really stepped up in the last two months, making sure that I have every opportunity possible to relax and sleep. I am such a lucky girl!

4. Toddling. Yes, I said "chasing around a toddler." Ali is officially a toddler! She has been taking 2-3 falling steps between Alex and me for about a month now, but seemed to have kind of plateau out there (apparently she was focusing on other skills this month . . . like language. More on that to come!). But over this last weekend, she decided she wanted to stretch those 2-3 steps into more like 6-7! Check her out:

5. Language. This is what she's been really focusing on this month and it is a-MAZ-ing! She went from speaking about 5 words on her first birthday to nearly 40 words now. FORTY! It seems like every day she picks up one or two new words. She now says book, ball, more, duck, go, out, no, blue, green, dada, mama, baby, kitty, dog, bus, please, boo, bye-bye, night-night, boat, hi, cracker, there, bottle, hot (she says hot and then blows and shakes her hand for this one . . . SO cute!), eye, mouth, car, socks, Munna, and bubble, and can make the animal noises (we're counting these as "words") for a dog, cat, snake, lion, monkey, elephant, cow, bird, and rooster. She also picked up several new signs this month, and is now signing more, all done, please, milk, hat, diaper, thank you, and book. She can also point to and identify her feet, belly/belly button, chin, teeth, mouth, nose, eyes, ears, hair, and head. I told you. AMAZING! What an incredible age, and how freaking awesome to watch her learning things at lightening speed.

6. Here's Ali saying "hot" and blowing on her food to cool it down. You're welcome, Aunt Katie.

7. I know I've been awful about keeping you all updated with pictures. Here are a few from our recent family trip to Florida. Ali did GREAT on 7 out of 8 flights we had in a three-week time frame. The 8th flight was not as great. Note: don't schedule the last flight of the day and assume she'll just fall asleep. Anyway, back to Florida pics. Enjoy!

Checking out the planes at the Houston airport.

 Enjoying the sea breeze.
Feeling safe and secure in Daddy's arms.
Smooches for Mom!
Too cool for school.
Checking out the dolphin show at the aquarium.
Hey Ali, what does a monkey say?
Happy family!

8. Halloween. Our original plan was for Ali to be an "Ali-gator." Unfortunately, our sweet pumpkin is going through a stage where she HATES for anything to be on her head. No hats. No bows. Nada. And the only alligator costume I could find had a giant hood with a big ol' alligator snout on it. Yeah . . . not gonna work. So we brainstormed other Ali-___ ideas, and here's what we settled on: basketball shorts, a tank top, sneakers, and a tiny basketball to carry around. Anyone? Anyone? She's going as . . . Ali-Oop! (ba-dum-bum-CH!) Alex is going to be a coach, and I'm going as a referee. Pictures forthcoming (I promise).

9. We spent a lovely afternoon with G-Mommy and Munna at the pumpkin patch last weekend. Ali was a little too distracted by all the people, babies, and bright orange pumpkins to give us many of her signature grins, but we got some cute pictures nonetheless!

Catching a ride in.
Ali and G-Mommy
Ali with her G-Mommy and Munna!
What am I supposed to do with this thing?

10. I can't believe with all we've had going on, I'm having a hard time coming up with ten things. I blame the baby. (Baby brain is a real and terribly challenging thing.) So I'll end with some shout-outs: Congrats to Dmitry and Angela, who just got married! Your wedding was beautiful, and you make a gorgeous family. Congrats to Camy and Chad, who just moved to their new home in Brooklyn! Sorry moving sucks. Yay Brian and Ragan, whose baby girl should be here in a few short weeks! I can't wait to come and visit! And congrats to my Horns, who pulled off a big win against Nebraska and looked relatively decent while doing it. Hook 'em!