Sunday, December 30, 2007

End of the year wrap-up

I did this last year, and thought I'd keep the tradition alive.

1. What did you do in 2007 that you'd never done before? Got a graduate degree.

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I think my vague resolution was to lose my baby weight, which I'm working on. My resolution for next year is to stay in shape, keep running, and work on building up my academic resume.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes! Several Athens friends and a Pella friend had babies.
4. Did anyone close to you die? My grandpa Deur died in April.
5. What places did you visit? Iowa and Michigan, mostly, same as last year.
6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007? An idea of where I'll be doing my Ph.D. A potty-trained daughter.

7. What dates from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? April 21, the day my grandpa died. June 23, Charlotte's first birthday. November 8, my 30th.
8. What was your biggest achievement(s) of the year? Getting my master's degree. Starting and sticking with a running regimen.
9. What was your biggest failure? I can't think of any, which is pretty good.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I stubbed my toe really hard today, and think it might be broken. Other than that, no.
11. What was the best thing you bought? Our "new" (2001) Subaru Forester.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Again, Jeff's. He's a rad dad.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Charlotte, when she wouldn't sleep. Thankfully, this is mostly resolved.

14. Where did most of your money go? Ph.D. applications. Also, see #11.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Real Food by Nina Planck. Everything Charlotte does. Losing weight and fitting into my old clothes again.
16. What song will always remind you of 2007? Most of the songs I run to. Kids' songs I sing to Charlotte (ABC, Itsy-Bitsy Spider, Twinkle Twinkle, etc.)

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? Definitely happier, since I'm getting more sleep.

b) thinner or fatter? Thinner. Hurrah!
c) richer or poorer? A little poorer.
18. What do you wish you'd done more of? Spent more time outside when the weather was nice. Worked more on my Ph.D. applications.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of? Grading papers, but I'm afraid that's a necessity in my line of work.
20. How did you spend Christmas last year? On the road between Iowa and Michigan.
21. Did you fall in love in 2007? With butter, perhaps. Oh, and a little someone named Charlotte.

22. What was your favorite TV program? We got rid of our TV in 2007, but Arrested Development episodes in the internet continue to entertain.
23. What did you do for your birthday in 2007? Taught my class in the morning. Had dinner with Jeff, followed by dessert with my friends. Then drove to Columbus to pick my parents up from the airport.
24. What was the best book you read? Real Food by Nina Planck. Re-read The Brothers K by David James Duncan.

25. Who was the best new person you met? Hmmm. I had met Kristen before, but we didn't really become friends until this year, so I'll go with her.
26. What was your greatest musical discovery? Elizabeth Mitchell's kid's music was a good one. The Decemberists and Beirut, too.
27. What did you want and get? An iPod. A new car.

28. What did you want and not get? New camera equipment (flash, lens). We'll save that for after the Ph.D. apps are in.
29. What was your favorite film of this year? I loved Waitress, Across the Universe, and The Darjeeling Limited.

30. Did you make some new friends this year? Yes.
31.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Not having had to take Spanish this summer.
32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007? Revisiting The Pre-Pregnancy Wardrobe.
33. What kept you sane? Running, surprisingly. Playing with Charlotte. Hanging out with my friends.
34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Fancy? That seems like an inappropriate question for a married woman to answer.
35. What political issue stirred you the most? The war.
36. Who did you miss? My family. My grad school pals who left.
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007. Take care of your body.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Just a quick update to say we're having a nice time in Iowa. Charlotte can't believe her luck: a week with Papa and Nana Tig, with Uncles Steve and Mark and their respective Katy/ies followed by a week with Papa and Nana Deur, with Uncle Awesome!? How lucky can one girl be?

I'm writing this in Smokey Row Coffee Shop in Pella. When I came into town this morning to do some work I complete forgot that Fred Thompson was going to be at Smokey Row this morning too. It was pretty crazy in here. I guess Huckabee was at Pizza Ranch this morning. Clinton (Hillary) was here earlier this week. Romney is here Saturday. I had forgotten what things were like in Iowa during a nomination year. Political ads by the dozens on TV. Phone calls from candidates left and right. Blegh. Give me Ohio.

Friday, December 21, 2007

How did the visit with Santa go? I'm glad you asked!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

One of the advantages of being in a relatively large metropolitan area is the sheer number of indoor places to go with Charlotte. In Athens we're pretty much limited to our steady rotation of the library, uptown (to get coffee for mama and a muffin ["mussin"] for Charlotte), or mama's office. Maybe the grocery store. Or the bakery. That's about it.

In our five days in Grand Rapids, we've managed to hit up two major museums: Frederik Meijer Gardens and the Children's Museum. Both were big hits.

At the Gardens, Charlotte was most impressed by the tiny little partridges running around the tropical room. A close second was the Holiday Express Train, which I found even more fascinating. It was awesome! A gorgeous, elevated cedar-clad track ran through several rooms in the Gardens. The display also featured miniature replicas of downtown Grand Rapids buildings.

Ostensibly we went to check out the international Christmas tree show. Charlotte liked the little shoes filled with nuts under the Brazil tree.

We posed for the obligatory blonde-haired, blue-eyed Dutch girl photos next to the Netherlands tree.

And we revisited (well, revisit for Jeff and I, first visit for Charlotte) the gorgeous Chihuly in the ballroom, laying down on the floor so as to best view it. I have no idea what's going on in Charlotte's diaper region. I swear it didn't look this bulgy when we were there.

But the Children's Museum was the big hit. Charlotte was so overwhelmed with the awesomeness that most of the time she just stood motionless, staring and taking it all in. Tuesday at the museum they offer toddler time crafts. This week's craft was building a play-doh snowman. Since Charlotte has a minor obsession with snowmen (thanks, in part, to the classic P.D. Eastman book Snow), we had a lot of fun decking out her own triple-tier doughman with buttons and a fabric scarf.

The bubbles were another big attraction, although she prefered to watch Dada make the big bubbles.
On tomorrow's agenda: get Charlotte out to the festive Santa-wonderland at the mall for a meet-and-greet with the big man himself. We'll see how that goes.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

One Year
Above: Charlotte, December 2006. Below: Charlotte, December 2007

One year ago I typed up my first official entry for this blog. Now, a year later, I've written/posted nearly 120 entries, including photos and videos, and of course many, many gripes about sleeping issues. Which, incidentally, seem to be resolved. I hesitate to say anything, but for almost two weeks now Charlotte has slept through the night. That's more nights in a row of sleeping through than we previously had in total. And that is all the Christmas I require!

For Tig Web's one-year anniversary, I'd like to do a roll-call. Who's reading? How often do you check in? What would you like to see more of on this blog? Leave a comment and let me know. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

This post is really just an excuse to:

1. Post the above picture of Charlotte, taken today at Emeriti Park on the OU campus. It was nearly 70 degrees today! Sorry all you more northern midwesterners who are experiencing snow and ice and misery. Charlotte and I were enjoying mud and warmth.

2. Wish Jeff's dad a happy birthday! Or, as Charlotte would say, "Happy papa!"

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Okay, I think we've convinced Jeff to write about his trip, in some way, shape, or form. The form is to be decided, though. Perhaps his own blog?

A few things in brief:

We have a fisher-price nativity set that she's been really into playing with lately. Her favorite figurine is baby Jesus. She says that so preciously you can't even believe it. I'll have to get it on tape. She also has a tendency to transport the figurines from place to place. A couple days ago, baby Jesus went missing. This was a bit distressing for Charlotte, who would ask to play with baby Jesus, and then say: "Baby Jesus...where go?"

Don't worry, the story has a happy ending. I came downstairs yesterday and told Jeff: "I found Jesus. He was in the dirty laundry." Didn't realize what I said until he laughed.

Continuing our religious theme, Charlotte is learning to pray. She knows to fold her hands and say "Amen" at the end. Usually her prayer is "Sank oo, God. More God. Amen." Pretty theologically deep, if you think about it. The other day, she sang a little song that went like this: "Turtle, bi-ig turtle. Amen!" I guess we do try to be thankful for everything.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Almost There...

Jeff's plane is about to take off from Honduras, so it seems a suitable time to say "whew. We made it." He won't really arrive back here until sometime after midnight, but the last leg of the journey is underway at least.

I learned some surprising things this week. First, the house stays much, much cleaner when Jeff's not around. This surprised me because I expected that two people around to clean things up would be better than one. But, no. I have come to the conclusion that Jeff messes faster than I can tidy. Interesting.

Secondly, I have discovered that I really relied on my morning sleep-ins Jeff would give me almost every day. Being up in the middle of the night with an insomniac baby is a little easier when you know you'll be able to catch another couple uninterrupted hours of sleep in the morning. Jeff's getting up with Charlotte in the mornings totally absolves his messiness.

Finally, I learned how much fun it can be to hang out with Charlotte. I mean, I knew it before, but I figured that eight straight days of all Charlotte, all the time would become a bit boring or monotonous. But actually she's quite entertaining. Despite the toddler-style tantrums she's starting to throw. I heard the "terrible twos" actually start at 18 months. If so, here we come!

I'm thinking I'd like to get Jeff to write a post on here about his experience in Honduras. Whaddya think? Would you like to read that here? Post a comment to let me know.

Monday, December 03, 2007

You know, sometimes I'm really amazed at how much Charlotte is absorbing. We were just over in the apartment complex office visiting with Ruth. When we walked in, Ruth called out "Good morning, sunshine!" to Charlotte. Charlotte gave her this look, like "what are you talking about?" No response, really.

Ten minutes later we're back in our apartment. Charlotte's coloring and I'm checking my email. Suddenly she's there by my side. It takes me a second to figure out what she's saying, but it's this: "More 'morning sunshine?' More Ruth?" I said "good morning, sunshine" to her and she laughed at me.

Now she's singing and spinning in circles, chanting "morning sunshine morning sunshine" over and over.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

You might not know it be reading my complain-y posts lately about Charlotte's wretched sleep habits, but I am having a really good time with her these days. Yes, it's hard to do this alone, and I miss Jeff (whom Charlotte thinks is still "dada...airplane," apparently on a perpetual round-the-world flight), but spending almost every hour of the day (and many of the night, too) with Charlotte is really a privilege and a joy.

She's learning so much. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: the girl talks up a storm. She's incredibly verbal. She's stringing together sentences, asking questions, making up songs. She picks up on things so quickly, it amazes me. I wish my mind were as receptive to new knowledge as her's.

Some recent gems:

Charlotte got a fisher-price nativity set from my parents last Christmas. I got it out for her yesterday, and she's really into it. Especially "baby Jesus," whom she'll talk about and ask for constantly. She also requests "Angel macon," which means she wants to hear the music the set plays when you press down on the rooftop angel. "Macon" is her word for music.

She can sing familiar songs well enough that I can recognize them. One favorite follows; see if you can guess the song based on Charlotte's rendition: "Raining, poh-ing. Old man. Bumbahead. Abed. Morning."

Her favorite song these days is "Baby Mine," from Dumbo. She requests "cuddle? Baby Mine?" which means she wants to sit cuddled on my lap while I sing her the song. These moments are by far the highlight of my day.

Tonight in the bath she took all her duckies out of her bath toy crate and lined them up on the edge. Pointing to them randomly, she said "one...two...three...six...nine...six...five! Yay!" Then she said "mama count," obviously wanting me to double-check her math. I counted to seven and she laughed at me. I guess she was confident in her solution. Perhaps she knows I scored below the 50th percentile on the math portion of the GRE. She's right to question my math skills.

I'll try to be better about posting more of these little anecdotes, because I know they paint a better picture of Charlotte than just the complaints. But I also want to thank each of you for your great advice and words of comfort about the sleeping issues. It really means a lot to me.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

As difficult as it is normally to deal with Charlotte's erratic sleep habits, it's exponentially worse when handling it alone. No matter how frustrated I'm getting listening to her "cry it out" (ha!) or bending over her crib soothing her, I know that if I get too wiped out I can pass the baton to Jeff. It was very hard this morning after the third round of crying and soothing and waking up again to go back to our bedroom and see Jeff's side of the bed, neatly made. I was all alone with an unreasonable child.

Charlotte had three great nights of fairly difficult bedtimes but then sleeping through the night. That streak was broken Monday night, the last night Jeff was home before leaving for Honduras. Tuesday she woke up at 2:30 and went to sleep at 4. Last night she was up at 1:30 and finally dropped off at 5.

When I look at that time span (3 1/2 hours!) I'm amazed I held it together as well as I did. I freaked out at one point, yelled at her ("go to sleep!") and then left the room and called my parents. My dad, for the record, sounds very lucid on the phone at 2:30 a.m. central time. Even though I still had an hour and a half of work ahead of me after I got off the phone with him, I felt better--comforted, less alone.

And this morning, after my piddly two and a half hours of sleep, my friend Wendy was kind enough to come over and watch Charlotte while I took a nap. I woke up feeling refreshed, even though I'm pretty sure I was dreaming about my new career as a car thief.

What will I do if she does this every single night? Just keep working, crying, and calling when need be, I guess. It's all I can do.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

This is not an auspicious beginning.

It is 3:43 a.m. I am up folding laundry. It's one way to pass the time while I let my baby scream herself hoarse for the third round of crying. She's been awake since 2:30 a.m.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Today at 4:30 p.m., I dropped Jeff off at our church. From there he drove with a group of other parishoners to Columbus, where they'll spend the night before flying out to Honduras early tomorrow morning.

Jeff and the group of volunteers from church will be working for a week at Montana de Luz, an orphanage for HIV positive kids south of Tegucigulpa. He'll be back home December 5.

I'm really excited for Jeff. I had the opportunity to go on two international mission trips when I was in college (Honduras in 1997, the Philippines in 1999), but Jeff never did. When calls for volunteers to go on this year's trip came up this past summer, I nudged Jeff. "You should do that. You should go," I said. I knew I'd be done with school for the quarter by then, and that if there was any good time for me to single parent, that would be it.

His wheels started turning, and a few months later he signed on. Thanks to the generous donations of our friends and family in addition to church fundraising he was able to come up with all the money he needed to take the trip. And he managed at the last minute to get his (apparently lost) passport renewed and expedited. On the way to church today he did mention he forgot to pack a towel, but those of us who know Jeff know his penchant for not showering should make that not too much of an issue.

I really hope he has an amazing, transformative experience there. And I hope Charlotte and I are able to hold it all together here. I have a network of friends from school and church who have gone out of their way to let me know they're available to watch Charlotte for an hour or two here or there so I can maybe get a run in or go out for a cup of coffee. My biggest concern is the nights. After three great nights of sleep, Charlotte was back up to her old tricks last night, waking up at 2:30 and finally drifting off again around 4 a.m. Boo. Let's hope that's not a sign of things to come.

I'll keep you all posted about Jeff as I hear from him/the group. Check out that link above; it's a pretty amazing place.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Charlotte turned 17 months old on Jeff's birthday, November 23.

She nursed for the last time on November 22.

I never expected to be one of those people, one of those moms who is still nursing past the first birthday. I wanted to nurse up until her first birthday, sure (as recommended by many doctors and the World Health Organization, among others), but I guess I imagined a scene like this: Charlotte's first birthday party. The cupcake with single lit candle is produced. The crowd sings to the smiling little cherub. She destroys the cupcake in artistic fashion. Then she turns to me and says, in complete sentences, "Now that I'm one, mother, I disdain the breast. Thank you for your services, but from now on I will drink only from a cup and will also endeavor to do my own laundry."

Everything I wrote about happened, except for that last part. In fact, when Charlotte turned one, she showed no signs of slowing down in the nursing department. Quite the opposite, actually. She had learned to say "nurse," and now demanded nursing morning, noon, and night. I was upset about it for a while. I felt like I was ready to quit, to reclaim my body as my own.

But a number of friends and sources and, most importantly, Jeff, made me realize that this summer was probably not the best time to force weaning on Charlotte. "It'll probably happen more naturally when she's ready," one friend said. "You'll just know when that is."

I definitely knew when she was ready, but boy did it happen suddenly. I wasn't even planning on weaning last week. I just got too busy. Wednesday morning Jeff woke up with Charlotte and I slept a little longer, so we missed the morning nursing session. Then I was so busy Wednesday evening with the rebaking of burnt pies and other Thanksgiving preparations that Jeff whisked Charlotte off to bed without the aid of my mammaries. Same thing Thursday morning--too busy, and Charlotte was too distracted by Uncle Scott (a.k.a. Uncle Awesome, a distinct improvement over Uncle Caca) to care.

So one thing led to another and then it was Saturday and I was buying cabbage to shove in my bra and now it's Monday and I haven't nursed in four full days. So I guess we're weaning.

In quite possibly related news, Charlotte slept through the night the last two nights. We've made some changes, which I'll write more about later, but needless to say this is a vast improvement over the kind of sleep we were getting before. Hallelujah. Thanks for all your advice and well-wishes and concern. It really helped.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy birthday, Jeff. Your figure's changed a bit since we first met (11 years ago!) but I love you just the same.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Last night, Charlotte went to bed (after the normal three rounds of crying and comforting) around 8:30 p.m. She slept until almost 2 a.m., when I heard her crying and saying "Mama" over the monitor. I waited ten minutes, then went in to the dark room. Jeff had turned the nightlight off. I kept it off and didn't get her out of her crib--just lay her back down and comforted her for a few minutes. It was hard to see in the darkened room, but I could tell by her breathing that she was asleep. I snuck out.

Then I woke up at 8 a.m. What? Wait, huh? I peeked in her room just to make sure she still had a pulse. Yep, still breathing. She woke up a half-hour later, totally refreshed and cheerful. She's now reading books with uncle ca-ca, who arrived last night.

If it could have been this easy all along, I'm going to feel really stupid.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No, I really burned the pie.

Let's get that depressing post off the top, shall we? How about an amusing anecdote instead!

This year I'm hosting Thanksgiving for a mishmash of friends and family. I've never done the whole turkey-stuffing-pie fest myself, so I wanted to be prepared. Today was prep day, where I spent time assembling casseroles, peeling and soaking potatoes, and baking pies. I finished one pie this afternoon, a sour cream apple. It was a thing of beauty. I set it on the stovetop to cool.

A couple hours later, Jeff asked me if I wanted a cup of tea. He put the kettle on to boil. A minute later, I smelled something distinctly smoky. Then, from my vantage point on the couch, I spotted the reflection of something in our stainless steel canisters...something that looked a lot like fire.

"Do you smell something?" Jeff asked.

"Uh, I think there's a fire in the kitchen. Like, an actual fire," I responded.

Jeff checked it out. Later he told me that he stood in the entrance of the kitchen and lightly blew on the inferno, which at this point was sending two-foot flames shooting into the air. Then he called for me.

I grabbed the fire extinguisher, urged Jeff to take the baby outside, and assumed my macho stance as I hosed down the fire.

Somehow Jeff had turned on the front burner, directly under the pie, instead of the back burner, under the teakettle. Oops. The pie was a total loss, I'm sorry to say. I also got to give my kitchen that deep-cleaning I'd been longing to give it for some time. Man, that stuff inside the extinguisher really gets everywhere.

Let's hope tomorrow's celebrations are a lot less fiery. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Friday, November 16, 2007

More Video!

Charlotte's been busy. This is a long one, so make sure to take a bathroom break before you start it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

New Video!

Charlotte's Halloween 2007.

More video coming soon!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

News Brief: Uncle Scott is now "uncle ca-ca."

That's an improvement over "uncle cocks," which is what Charlotte was calling him a few days ago.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

This morning, as I was getting ready for school, Jeff and Charlotte were reading books in Charlotte's room. I heard lots of chatter from Charlotte, so I went to check it out.

The morning light was soft and pale, that November light that signals the beginning of winter. Jeff sat in the old white rocking chair with Charlotte, still in her pink footie pajamas, on his lap. They were reading "Caps for Sale," and Charlotte was telling Jeff about the "monkeys...peekaboo! Tss tss tss!"

It's not available in stores, but that's the best gift I could have gotten for my 30th birthday.


On a more humorous note:

If you ask Charlotte how old she is, she'll say "one!" and hold up her finger. I've been trying to teach her how old Jeff and I are. "How old is mama, Charlotte?" I'd ask. "One!" she'd reply enthusiastically. "No, mama is thirty, Charlotte. Can you say thirty?"

She thought about it for a second, then said, "FORTY!"

Let's go back to "one," how about.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A week late for Halloween, but:

Ghost Swing!

A real post, about Charlotte, coming as soon as I finish grading these papers.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Happy Halloween

Last night's trick-or-treating extravaganza went well, although Charlotte flubbed her lines. We'd been rehearsing the event for some days now. First we'd knock on something to simulate knocking on people's doors. "What do you say when they open the door?" I'd ask Charlotte. By yesterday she had it down. "Turkey teat!" she'd cry out. I'd mime putting candy in her bag, prompt her to say thanks ("Sank oo") and then wish the givers a happy Halloween.

Something happened when we got out into the neighborhood among the other costumed kids. Charlotte took one look at the bowls full of shiny, colorful candy and lost all her inhibitions and training. "What do you say, Charlotte?" I prompted her. But instead of turkey teat, she said something I had never heard her say before. "MORE CANDY!"

She varied her request through the night, sometimes requesting "more num-nums" or just "more," but we didn't once get her to say trick-or-treat. She was saying thank you, however, by halfway through the night. And I think I heard a couple "halloween"s in there as well. But somewhere between our back door and that first house, she channelled a normal, candy-grubbing beggar instead of the polite little urchin we were hoping for. Oh, well.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Last weekend, Jeff, Charlotte and I joined a group of people from our church in making a series of three short movies to help promote the new Saturday night service our church will be adding in January. Jeff wrote and had a brief cameo in video one. Charlotte and I were among the talent for videos one through three. The films will be posted on the website for your viewing pleasure.

See them here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Happy 16-month birthday, Charlotte!

I listed some things you could say just a few days ago. I can now add to that list "I yuv you," which you can probably guess just melts my heart entirely. She'll say it to Jeff or I, usually after we say it first. She's a Rules kinda girl, I guess. Also, she's saying a few things that sound like "trick or treat" as we prepare her for the costumed festivities next week. Yesterday I coached her to say "trick or treat" and she responded with "turtle church," which I think is even better.

Some things Charlotte eats: carrots, peas, tomatoes, peaches, bananas (girlfriend ate two entire bananas today), thinly-sliced apple, grapes, cheese, ham (LOVES ham), other meat we call ham (like turkey meatballs and baked salmon, for example), smoothies (when I make my morning smoothie I always prepare extra to share), yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, crackers, mac and cheese (I healthy it up by mixing a puree of green veggies in), eggs.

She's not a huge fan of: pears (considers them fake peaches and throws them to the floor), green beans (unless I trick her by pureeing them and mixing with other things), potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, milk.
She loves to: go for walks, read books, play with her kitties and other stuffed animals, play with mama's necklaces, play in the leaves, listen to music and dance, take things out of "her" drawers in the kitchen, take baths, talk on her fake phone (almost always to "papa"), snuggle with her kitties in "a-bed," hug mama and dada, point out other babies, see and greet people, hear mama and dada sing to her (she's requested "happy birthday" several times today), sit on the potty (although not necessarily using it), see bugs and make bug sounds, take her clothes out of the drawers, play peek-a-boo, say "bye-bye, dada" or "bye-bye, mama" when one of us leaves, be tickled, laugh (often if you say the word "funny" Charlotte will laugh loudly).

She's not a fan of: closing her eyes and going to sleep at night, loud sudden noises, getting too close to unfamiliar people or strangers in giant animal costumes (which, really, who isn't?), naps (sensing a theme here), diaper changes, wardrobe changes.

She's wearing some 18-24 month clothing now, and although we don't have an official weight from the doctor, I'm guessing she's still hovering around 22-23 pounds. She usually goes to bed (not without a fight!) around 8:30 p.m. and wakes up between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. She's much better about napping these days, and almost always goes down for at least an hour (sometimes up to 2 hours) between 12-2 p.m. She is still nursing, but only once or twice a day and not for very long.
I look back at Charlotte one year ago--a chubby, floppy baby who still seemed like a relative mystery (what is she thinking? what does she want?)--and compare her to the bright, cheerful little girl (still a baby but glimpses of girlhood are clearer every day) of today. I love babies, but I would often mention that the baby-baby stage wasn't my favorite. I think that this age, right now, is my favorite. At least, so far it's my favorite. I hope to be saying the same thing about two and a half next October.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

One year ago today, my cousin Amy and her husband John tied the knot. Happy anniversary, guys! I've been waiting for this day for quite some time, not just so I could wish you well, but so I could have an excuse to link to the video of the wedding dance on you tube:

What I love about this video is not just that it captures the fun we had doing this surprise dance, but that it sums up one of the things I really love about my cousin. Amy is a great planner, and having something so well-coordinated and thought out at her wedding is just par for the course. I like to think of this dance as the culmination of our years of fake music videos and commercials we cousins would put together.

Happy anniversary, John & Amy! Keep on dancin'.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Two years ago yesterday

I had a break between the morning class I taught and my Teaching College English pedagogy course, an hour window during which I walked up Court Street to the CVS pharmacy. It took me awhile to find the aisle I needed ("Eight, next to the contraceptives," the pharmacist replied when I asked, apparently not getting the irony). I bought the two-pack, because even in times of potential crisis I try to be the frugal Nederlander my husband wants me to be. The brand was First Response.

I walked back to Ellis Hall, went straight to the roomy handicapped stall in the ground-floor restroom, opened the package and awkwardly peed on one of the tiny sticks. There were people in the other stalls when I went in, but by the time I had counted to 180-mississippi, I was alone in the bathroom. Or, I thought I was alone. When I picked the test up from the top of the toilet paper dispenser where I had laid it down three minutes previously, I saw that I wasn't alone, and wouldn't be for the next nine months.

My life didn't change when I saw those two pink lines in the window of the pregnancy test. It didn't change when I got the small sheet of paper back from my blood test at Hudson Health just a few hours later, a sheet containing some medical gibberish I didn't understand, but one word, "positive," scrawled on the center of the sheet, that I immediately understood. It didn't change when I told Jeff that night on a bench overlooking the Hocking River that I was pregnant, that he was going to be a father.

The change happened gradually, coming on slowly over the following weeks and months. It's still happening now. I'm becoming someone new with every day I spend in the presence of this amazing little person, every day I get to spend with the man I married who became her father. This new person I'm becoming is like a better version of myself, closer to the me God sees when he looks at me.

Charlotte, thank you for being that little pink line, that unexpected news, that life-changing gift.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Here are some new things Charlotte says:

"shake a butt" -- this is a command statement. She wants to see me dance.

"halloween" and sometimes "happy halloween" -- thanks to Kristen who coached her while reading the Charlie Brown Great Pumpkin book to her.

"yellow yeeves" -- her obsession with autumn continues in her constant quest to play with and in the leaves, which she describes as yellow no matter what color they are.

"pile" -- again thanks to Kristen, who assembled a meager stack of about seven leaves and called it a "pile." Charlotte was impressed...but babies are easily impressed, I guess.

"pumpkin" -- this is usually followed by "hug," as Charlotte expresses her desire to embrace this vine-growing squash.

"hank ooo" -- baby-speak for thank you. Used when prompted, joining "peees" in Charlotte's lexicon of parentally influenced polite words she now employs.

"dada bath" -- Jeff takes a bath with Charlotte one time and now she always wants to bathe with him.

"more..." -- followed by almost any word Charlotte knows. More doggies? More kitties? More cuwull (squirrel)? More wawa? More ham? More cheese?

"bug" -- followed by "bizzzzzzzz" and "zip!"

"flowers" -- it's impossible to replicate the adorable way Charlotte says this word. She loves flowers. She'll sniff every single bud on my mum plant if given enough time, although her sniffs are exhales.

"puzzle" -- when she's playing with her animal puzzle from Nana and Papa Tig; sounds like "puddle"

"almost" -- when she's playing with her shape-sorter toy from Nana and Papa Deur and she almost gets a block through the appropriate hole; sounds like "ah-mohs."

"necklace" and "earrings" -- I don't wear jewelry alot, so when I do, Charlotte finds it worthy of commenting. Necklace sounds like "nekeeece" and earrings is "oi-ings."

According to my handy baby development chart, a fifteen-month-old "may say 5-10 words." Charlotte has a very extensive vocabulary for a child of her age. She learns a few new words almost every day. She repeats a lot of what Jeff and I say, making this the important stage in our parenting career where we start to say things like "gee willikers" and "fiddlesticks" instead of our normal string of expletives*.

I love that she's so verbal. She rarely cries or freaks out and I attribute that to her ability to communicate her desires to us. It is a wonderful gift.

*Just kidding! We never swear. Never, mom and dad.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Autumn in Athens

This past Monday the temperature topped out at 94 degrees. Thursday it didn't make 60. Fall is truly here...truly and suddenly. It happened so quickly that I was caught without a coat, wandering around campus in my three-quarter-sleeve shirt, teeth chattering.

Today was a little bit warmer, but still cool enough to warrant sweatshirts, plus a hat and a blanket for Charlotte, as we walked into town to watch the homecoming parade. To be completely accurate, we sprinted into town as the parade started at 9 a.m., and we all woke up sometime between 8:45 and 9:15 a.m. Fortunately we managed to beat the band (literally! Ha!) and saw the whole parade. We even ran ahead again so we could see the Marching 110 for a second, fabulous time.

Charlotte loves the marching band. She loved the floats (and may I just say that Pella's fabulous volksparade has obviously spoiled me for other parades; the floats are inevitable disappointing to someone who was weaned on Vermeer and Pella Corp.'s amazing offerings). She loved all the people. She especially loved the people who had doggies.

We took the opportunity for a little family photo shoot after the parade on a leaf-covered hillside. Charlotte played in the leaves (yeeves, she calls them) and shrieked "people! people!" as the crowds dispersed. It was a beautiful day.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Right now Jeff is on the phone with a customer representative from some energy drink company. He called to let them know about a spelling error in their nutritional facts.

When did my husband become a curmudgeonly old man? "Why don't you kids get your stuff off my lawn!"

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Warning: Poop Post Ahead

Well, the big news around these parts is that Charlotte pooped in the potty last night. Or "hatched a turtle" if you will.

It was a half-hour long ordeal of Charlotte wandering naked around the bathroom and hallway farting and saying "p.u." while I encouraged her to "make a turtle in the potty!" When she'd wander close enough to me I'd nab her and set her on the potty and give her some good pooping grunts of encouragement. She'd imitate me, laugh, and then get up again and wander out into the hallway to toot. At one point she peed on the bathmat.

Then the mood changed and I could tell she was serious about it. Her stomach clenched and she got that middle-distance stare. I plopped her on the potty and held her hand. In just a few seconds she was up again, but this time she left something behind.

When I drew her attention to the lovely deposit she had made, she appeared a little weirded out. But I heaped praise upon her, applauding and saying "yay! Poopy in the potty!" I felt like an idiot, but it worked. She was very excited about her achievement.

Jeff wasn't home, so I took a few pictures to share. I certainly wasn't going to leave the poop in the potty because GOOD GRIEF did it stink. That's what a steady diet of cheese, eggs and ham will do to you. I told Jeff to check out the pictures on the camera this morning, and he apparently shared them with Charlotte, too. Now she demands "more potty" whenever I use the camera, and I have to present to her the slide show of her fecal triumphs while she watches intently.

It's certainly not one of those Kodak moments I envisioned when I was pregnant, but it'll do.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Sometimes I worry about having a daughter, a little girl who potentially will have to face all the crap regarding body image and size and weight and beauty standards that I did, but tenfold due to the even greater prevalence of media today. These two short films from Dove made me cry, because they encapsulate that.


A good morning starts off as this one did, with Charlotte sleeping until nearly 9 a.m., and, when she finally woke up, talking to herself cheerfully until I came to get her. The sounds of her sweet little voice over the baby monitor make mornings a treat. This morning, we heard:

"Kitty! Kitty!" followed by laughter. She sleeps with her little stuffed orange tiger kitty in the corner of her crib. She likes to give Kitty hugs in the morning.

"Girl! Hi, girl!" said to the picture of a girl on the little pillow in her crib. It's made from vintage alphabet fabric, and she likes to identify and greet the different objects represented on the pillow. She also said hi to the ball on the pillow this morning.

Then, a sing-song chorus of "Mama, Dada. Mama, Dada. Dada, Dada. Papa! Nana, Papa. Nana, Papa. Papa, Dada," and so forth.

When I went into her room, she stood up, still clutching Kitty, and said, "Mama! Mow-ning!"

I don't hate mornings anymore.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


It felt wrong to be wearing shorts and sweating at the pumpkin patch yesterday, but it was ninety degrees and it would have been wrong to costume ourselves in jeans and sweatshirts simply for the photo opportunities. Despite the steaming, sun-scorching heat, we had fun at the patch. Charlotte hugged the pumpkins, ran amok, and waved at everyone she saw. Even inanimate objects, like corn and balloons, warranted a greeting.

After our time at the patch we continued up to Columbus. Our friends Kurt and Kristen were along for the fall-themed fun, and we were meeting our friend Erin in German Village for eine gute Zeit (a good time). By the time the sun was low in the sky, it was much more comfortable. We hit up Katz's Deli, walked to the park, and had dinner at Schmidt's Sausage Haus. Charlotte enjoyed her genuine Deutsch mac and cheese, but even more so she enjoyed the Bavarian-styled oompah band who did great Donald Duck impressions. Don't ask.

All in all, a fine fall day, despite the Saharan temps.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Feeling Better...

"If possible, a woman should nurse exclusively for at least one year, or, ideally, until the baby loses modern hunter-gatherer societies, nursing for three years is typical and four to six years is not unheard of. UNICEF and the World Health Organization advise breast-feeding for 'two years and beyond."

From Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

It has been a rough few days for me, time-wise. I've been really busy grading student papers, which means little to no time for posting. I can't tell you, though, how many times throughout the day Charlotte says or does something funny or remarkable and I think "I have to blog about that." I'm exhausted tonight. I finally finished paper grading last night, and accordingly my body has sacked me with a cold. I will go to bed soon. But first a few of Charlotte's funnies, in random bullet-point style.

  • Yesterday she had a dirty diaper. Jeff was changing it. The turd was small, round, slightly flattened, greenish. Charlotte pointed to it and said "turtle?" Now she frequently wants us to check her "dipah" for a "turtle."
  • Not only is she using words to identify things, but she's telling stories now too (albeit in a very abbreviated style). Today Charlotte and I spent a half-hour chasing squirrels around the College Green. She loved to watch them run up the trees. On the walk home, she would occasionally tell me about it: "Cuwull! Up! Twee!" And then, inevitiably: "More! More cuwull!"
  • Jeff, Charlotte and I went to the OU football game on Saturday. Charlotte's favorite part of the game was the giant mascot, Rufus the Bobcat. She called him "big kitty." I have video of her talking about him that I'll try to post soon.
  • Jeff is encouraging flights of fancy and imagination. One of their favorite things to do while I'm at school is lay on the big bed and pretend they're under the night sky. Charlotte now calls the smoke detector "moom" (that's "moon" to the rest of us).

More soon, I hope!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


A new Charlotte video. Apologies in advance for my singing.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Coming Soon to a YouTube Near You...

Our video camera has returned home, and Charlotte has been making with the cute quite a bit lately. I'll do my best to post some live Charlotte action...just as soon as I can finish grading these forty student papers!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Fifteen Months

Yesterday was Charlotte's fifteen-month birthday. We celebrated with some time outdoors at Ash Cave with Grandpa and Grandma Tig, ending the day with a trip to Dairy Queen. Strangely, Charlotte was more interested in her carrots and bananas at home than the whipped topping and ice cream at the DQ. Is this child related to me? I don't believe it.

More to come, but here, at least, is a new picture to tide you over.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Briefly (no pun intended)

The smell from Charlotte's just-dirtied diaper could strip paint off the walls. Thank goodness Jeff loves diaper-changing time!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Happy Anniversary!

Today is Jeff's and my seventh wedding anniversary. Here we are seven years ago today:

And here we are (about) seven years after that, getting ready to go out for a date (!) Friday night:

The past seven years have included some of the lowest lows of my life. I lost my Aunt Grace and my Grandpa Deur. I was fired from my very first job. I was rejected from several of the graduate programs to which I applied. Through each of these awful, stressful, mournful times Jeff proved what an amazing guy he was: supportive, thoughtful, listening and loving.

The past seven years have also included some the highest highs of my life. We took trips to the Smoky Mountians, the west coast, Ireland, and New York City, as well as random road trips around the midwest. We bought and sold our first house. We uprooted and moved to a new community and I started and finished my master's program. And, of course, the big one...we made this person:

Having a baby, and especially welcoming an unexpected baby, can, I think, be a real relationship litmus test. Charlotte proved that Jeff and I can work together under remarkable circumstances. After nearly fifteen months of parenting her, we've formed a parental team that makes me really proud. And that's probably the biggest achievement of our marriage.

Happy anniversary, Jeff!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Happy Birthday, Oma!

Today is my grandma Deur's 89th birthday! Perhaps because Charlotte is named after her, they have taken to each other quite well:

Here they are in August, 2006, when Charlotte was just two months old.

And here they are a year later, reading together.

Oma is also one of the people Charlotte can now reliably pick out in pictures. Any photo with Oma in it warrants an "Amaaah!" Closely followed by "bike," which is what Charlotte thinks Oma's walker is. :)

Happy birthday, Grandma!

Monday, September 10, 2007

It's hard to describe the adorableness that Charlotte brings to the table these days. I could tell you how she's become a little parrot, repeating (or trying to repeat) things Jeff and I say. She'll often say "okay!" and "sure!" and "yeah!" with about the same intonation that I say these words. "Charlotte, let's go get ready for your bath, okay?" I'll say. "Okay!" she'll respond. And she tries out other words, too: peaches, cheese, bat, water, Olivia (the book), play, toys, shoes, shirt...the list of new words added to her lexicon grows almost daily. Of course, many of these words only Jeff and I understand. Requests for another reading of Olivia, her current favorite, come out sounding like "Yaya." Water is "wawa" and shirt sounds like a certain four-letter expletive.

That same expletive was also the way Charlotte had decided her first name was pronounced for a while. And since her pronunciation for our last name is still "caca," we were a bit concerned. Fortunately, she's now adopted "Char-char" as her moniker of choice.

And her mobility! It's amazing. She's walking, really walking, with confidence. She only appears a little bit drunk when she's strolling up and down the halls, which is quite an improvement over a few weeks ago. In fact, when I think about it, I can't remember the last time I saw her crawl. Walking is the way to go, Charlotte has decided.

But I think the best, and most indescribable, development is this crazy, kooky sense of humor she's developed. She makes jokes! Like pointing to a picture of a chicken wearing a chef's hat in a magazine and saying "dada." Then looking at me with a wry little grin, waiting for me to laugh. And when she laughs, she really gets into it--head back, eyes squinting, nose wrinkling, "ha ha ha!" I mean, it's not high comedy or anything, but when I think back to where we were a year ago, all diapers and sleep deprivation and spit-up, this kind of interaction is very rewarding.

Friday, September 07, 2007

A new post coming soon about my first week of school and Charlotte's general awesomeness. But for now I give you this: Tig Blob.

Yes, it's another blog. And it's totally boring, just to warn you in advance. I'm trying to get back in shape, and I write about really mind-numbingly dull stuff like what I eat and how far I run. But if you find that interesting and want to check it out, there you go. Or, perhaps you want to place bets on how long until I quit (seriously, people. I'm running! If you know me and my history with running, you'll realize how ludicrous that is).

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Noise Toys

Just now, Jeff was getting ready to take out the kitchen trash. As he removed the can from under the sink (that's where the Dutch keep their kitchen garbage, you know), the edge hit the cabinet. Suddenly we both heard the tinny melodic chimes of one of Charlotte's electronic toys.

Upon further examination, it appears Miss C threw her new cell phone toy away. I had noticed her subversively opening the cabinets while I was making her dinner earlier tonight...hmm. I guess it's time to get those child-proof latches up.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Potty Time!

Now, I realize this may totally be a fluke, a one-time thing, but it's exciting nonetheless.

Charlotte's been showing an interest in the toilet and what the adult members of her family do on the toilet. Early on I encouraged her to consider a relationship between herself and said bathroom appliance. "Big girls go pee-pee on the potty!" I would say encouragingly while she watched me do just that, transfixed. Soon she showed an interest in helping me flush, shutting the lid, and washing her hands along with me after the task was completed.

Earlier this week I picked up a training potty on a whim. I thought we'd set it up next to the big toilet and give her some time to get used to it. Perhaps even encourage her to sit on it, if for nothing else but to keep her from hanging all over me while I use the bathroom.

She was nearly ecstatic when she saw what we had gotten for her. "Look, Charlotte's potty!" I said. She caught on immediately: "Pahhh-tay! Pahtay!" We let her sit on it, diaperless and fancy free, a few times.

Then, today, as she sat next to me, poking me in the thigh and giggling, I heard the telltale sound of...pee-pee! In the potty! From Charlotte! She seemed to know what she'd done, too. I heaped praise upon her, clapping and saying "Yay! Potty!" Then we got Jeff to share the joy with dada. That was a moment I think will be captured in my memory forever: the little tableau of our family, crouching on the bathroom floor and pointing at plastic bowl full of my daughter's urine, cheering and clapping.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

We're Back...

And we're toasty. Our air conditioning is STILL STILL STILLLLLLL broken. Fonts and italics cannot contain my dismay. When we got home last night/this morning at 3 a.m. from the airport, it was 90 degrees in our apartment. On the first floor. I have no idea how warm it was upstairs. Where we slept. I mean, where we "slept," by which you should read "sweated and tossed and turned for a few hours."

But we're home. And our trip to Iowa was very nice. I even got to experience a tornado warning again! Very exciting. My mom and I and Charlotte crouched on a blanket in the basement for a half-hour, listening to crackly reports of funnel sightings over a radio. I love tornado warnings. Nothing came of it, which I also love.

More info and pictures later. For now, the one above will have to do.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Come Fly With Me

Just a quick post from the dismal subterranean room into which they herd the low-paying SkyBus patrons at the Columbus airport. We're flying out to visit my family in Iowa this week. Here's hoping Charlotte does well in the air...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Setting: Dining Room. Charlotte is in her highchair, eating a graham cracker. I am sitting at the table next to her.

Charlotte: Mama! Mama. Mama! Mama. Mama? Mama?

Me: Yes, baby. What is it?

Charlotte: Cahcuh (cracker).

Me: Yeah, a cracker! You're eating a cracker.


Charlotte: Mama! Mama. Mama! Mama. Mama! Mama. Mama?

Me: What is it, honey?

Charlotte: Mama! Moh cahcuh?

Me: You want more? Okay, just a sec.

I get her another graham cracker from the package. There is a short pause.

Charlotte: Mama! Mama! Mama!

Me: Yes, honey?

Charlotte: CAHCUH! (She hurls the cracker to the ground.) MOH! Moh, mama!

Me: I don't think so. Your mama's not that dumb.

End scene.

Right now, she's busy transporting her shoes from one room to another. Sometimes she takes them one at a time. The next trip they'll travel as a pair. She's narrating the whole thing in baby gibberish like she's the host of her own show, some HGTV do-it-yourself thing about shoe moving.

She's spent the whole day searching for Jeff, who is out of town doing this. Every room we go into, she'll look around, saying "Dada? Dada?" Having exhausted all the other options, she opened the cabinet under the bathroom sink a little while ago, stuck her head in, and said "dada?"

Friday, August 17, 2007

This is ridiculous...

I was just checking my class lists for the fall. Every quarter I hope against hope that I won't have any duplicate names in my roster. I think I've had at least one pair in every class...two Rachels, two Megans, two Ryans, two Jasons...

This time takes the cake. In my two sections of 151, I have 5 (FIVE!) Chelseas.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Couch naps RULE!

Right now, because Charlotte's doing this:

I'm able to post this:

Charlotte's first bike ride!

Yesterday, following an afternoon spent purchasing, and then struggling to assemble and install Charlotte's new bike seat, my friend Kristin and I took her out for her first ride. Although she wasn't too excited about her helmet ("Hat...NO!" she said), she eventually got used to it and spent the ride saying "wheee!" and "whoa! whoa!", the latter when I was no doubt cornering too fast.

I've missed riding my bike, and now I look forward to being able to do so more often, particularly with the bike path just a block from our apartment.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I apologize about the dearth of posts around here lately. I got the great news yesterday that my master's essay was accepted and I'll be able to graduate this summer. This frees me up to work on a number of other things that I've been putting off for...well, for months, to be honest. Including a one-year video montage of Charlotte's first year that I hope to post here before the week's out.

In Charlotte news, she's back on her feet, walking like she'd never even heard of stairs. Speaking of stairs, she's kind of obsessed with them these days. I taught her how to back down the stairs today in the hopes that we won't always have to trail her up the steps only to bring her back down to start over again.

In Jeff and Jana news, we had our first date in about seven months Friday night, thanks to my friend Kristen who generously volunteered to babysit. Jeff and I headed out to a restaurant we'd been wanting to check out, and afterward even got to go get fancypants drinks at Casa. Like real grown-ups! Things went well at home, too. The only meltdown was when Kristen didn't understand Charlotte's request for "cahcah." Cahcah=cracker. And also our last name, interestingly.

So, look for more entries (with photos!) and even a video later this week.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


I just emailed my master's essay draft off to my director. Although I thoroughly expect to receive several pages of suggested changes in return, I am celebrating nonetheless.

Final tally: 31 pages (in Times New Roman), 42 pages (Courier New). My works cited list is almost three pages.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Tumble in the Bronx

I'm happy to report that Charlotte seems a bit better today...more confident on her feet and walking a little closer to normal. I called the doctor and she said to take it day by day. If Charlotte's not back to normal within two weeks, we should follow up.

One thing that this spill has brought about is hearing everyone's stories about their own or their kids' tumbles. It is amazing what kids can bounce back from! It seems like everybody and their brother has fallen down stairs, off porches, out of car seats, etc. at one point or another, and all of them are walking without the assistance of canes or crutches at this point! Good thing babies are 90% cartilage.*

*not an actual percentage

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Yes! Michigan

We spent our long weekend in Michigan visiting Jeff's family and some friends. Overall we had a great time. In truly un-Grand Rapidian fashion, the weather was full-on sunny almost every day and actually hot. We spent a lot of time outside with Charlotte, playing in Grandpa and Grandma's yard.

I wanted to write a post about Charlotte's lakeshore adventures, and how much she loved the water, how she strained against my grip, trying to run into the waves. I wanted to write about how she learned so many new words this weekend (uncle, walk, and Mindi among them). I wanted to write about how she now requests to "walk" everywhere, holding the hands of one or two people as she barrels ahead.

But I have to admit to being totally preoccupied with my concerns about Charlotte's recent injury, too much so to take the time to do any of those topics justice. In brief, Charlotte and Jeff took a tumble down the stairs yesterday. Charlotte is mysteriously injured, or uninjured and just traumatized...we can't tell. She seemed to have hurt her left foot. She didn't want to walk, and would scream and cry when she put weight on her feet. She briefly had a bruise on the sole of her foot. Now there's no bruise, no swelling, no visible evidence of injury, but she's not walking normally. She doesn't want to stand up. She kind of drags her feet.

We went to the doctor today, but didn't really get any answers. We can go for an x-ray if we want. I don' t know. I really hope we wake up tomorrow and she's back to normal again.

One of my greatest fears as a parent is that something will happen to my daughter. I try not to think too much about all the terrible things that could go wrong on a daily basis, of the bugs she could catch or the tumbles she could take or the bad people lurking, waiting to hurt her. To have something like this happen makes it more difficult for me to keep these fears at bay.

It's hard to think about much else when my mind is preoccupied with (probably needless) worrying. I hope it's needless. I really do.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

This One's Broken!

Charlotte loves to play on our bed. She'll flop around, lean back on the pillows, smile and laugh. Yesterday when I was at school, Jeff was letting Charlotte crawl around our bed (closely supervised, of course...our bed's really high off the floor).

She crawled over to the foot of the bed, where she was sitting up, smacking the mattress and saying, "Nuh! Nuh!"

When Charlotte wants to nurse, she taps my chest and says "Nuh!"

As she continued to hit the bed and shout, Jeff leaned over to see what was going on. Lying on top of the covers was one of my bras.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Lucky Thirteen

Today is Charlotte's 13-month birthday, as well as my friend Mindi's 348-month birthday. (Happy birthday, Min!) I have to say that this last month has been TOTALLY AWESOME and I am not in any way exaggerating. Carla on the television show Scrubs said about having a baby: "Dr. Cox says it's like having a dog that slowly learns how to talk." And that's true, except that Charlotte would never jump up on you and hardly sheds. But the talking! It's amazing!

For example: when I get up in the morning in response to Charlotte's groaning siren call over the baby monitor, I'm usually pretty tired still. Sometimes I am a bit, shall we say, crabby? Not terribly chipper at any rate. But when I walk into her room these days, she usually greets me with a high-pitched, breathy "Hiiiii!" Lately she's also been saying "Morning!" in response to my good morning greetings. It sounds a bit like "Mooooheee," but I get the picture.

In addition to Charlotte's effusive greetings, her repertoire of animal sounds, her exclamations (uh-oh, oh dada, ooooh wow, among them) and her attempts to repeat what Jeff and I say. But she's more than just mimicking--she's actually learning that words mean things. "Haaa-tuh" she'll utter whenever she catches sight of one of the dozens of baseball caps Jeff has scattered around the house. "Aapuh" is her word for any vaguely apple-ish fruit. And an "ehbuh" is found in the middle of your arm while "neeeeee"s take up residence mid-leg. We're still working on "aaah-pituh," the less polite name for underarm.

When Charlotte isn't body parts, she's calling out the gender of the various children we meet. Whether you're a "guhl" or a "boooiuh," Charlotte will make a determination and announce it when ready.

She loves music. She loves to dance. She reads books to herself in her crazy, sing-songy baby language. She plays with her toys. She plays! Just a year ago we were applauding her first real smile. Now I see that wide, toothy grin every day as she expresses her general excitement over this amazing world she has to discover.

Happy 13-month birthday, Charlotte!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Should I be concerned?

For the last few quarters, I've closed out whatever course I was teaching with a pizza party for my students. The last couple of times, I've also invited Jeff and Charlotte to attend. And by "invited," I mean, "strongly encouraged." Okay, "forced." I enjoyed allowing my students to see my non-academic side, and, of course, to meet my adorable daughter and almost as cute husband. (Sorry Jeff).

Today was the last day of class for the summer session I taught. Charlotte really turned on the charm, happily demonstrating all of her animal sounds (which include monkey, crocodile, elephant, and a very gentle tiger) and she even ate a little pizza. While my students were writing their final journal entry, I was helping Charlotte walk through the room. She took a circuitous course, wanting to visit each and every student. As we wove our way back to the front, she paused by one student's desk, looked directly at him, and said, "Hiii, baby!"

Monday, July 16, 2007

Double-Video Monday!

Two new Charlotte videos up at youtube. The first one features Charlotte rocking out. The second is all about walking.


Monday, July 09, 2007

Summer Fun

I'm taking a brief break from my Spanish homework (which takes, on average, three hours every night). So I thought I'd share a recent photo of Charlotte enjoying the baby pool and her Swimways luxury baby liner (not its real name). We've gotten to the pool at least once a week since summer began, and she really loves it. I think it's appropriate that her first word was "duck" because she's taken to the pool like a duck to...well, to water.

Today the temperature topped out at 95 degrees. The air conditioning in Ellis Hall (where my office and classroom are) was on the fritz, so my classroom was also approximately 95 degrees. Not too conducive to persuading juniors to discuss rhetorical strategies. A trip to the pool was just what the doctor ordered.

Relaxing in the shallow end of the baby pool while Charlotte motored around, bumping her little boat up against random strangers (she's very social), I realized that my summer is almost halfway over. I'd better enjoy this summer fun while it lasts.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Simpselaars
Our family as Simpsons characters. Why are my arms so short? I don't know. I also don't know why I'm wearing mom jeans.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

And another...

Charlotte goes for a walk. Watch it here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Charlotte's Birthday: Cupcake Destruction!

Watch it here.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Charlotte's Birthday

Charlotte's first birthday party yesterday was a big success. I'll upload video later, but here are a few pictures of the festivities:

Saturday, June 23, 2007

One Year

June 23, 2006

June 23, 2007
Happy birthday, baby girl.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

She walks!

Yesterday, while I was in school, Charlotte stood up in the middle of the floor and took two steps toward Jeff.

We've entered a whole new world of mobility here. Be very afraid.

(Oh, and the photo has nothing to do with walking...I just couldn't resist posting it. It's one of her new favorite things to do.)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

To all the dads, grandpas and great-grandpas out there!

Monday, June 11, 2007


I've received a few requests for pictures of the newly-shorn Jeff. The photo above is Charlotte admiring her dada's smooth noggin. Fun fact: Jeff has a remarkably well-shaped head!

I've just handed in my final paper for my master's program...well, final except for my thesis, that is. It's a bit anticlimactic in the sense I have a whole summer of Spanish and teaching and thesis-writing to look forward to. But my graduate course-work is done. Woo!

Some people have asked whether Charlotte has a birthday list. I posted a button link to her Amazon wishlist in the sidebar to the right. If you click on it, you'll be brought right to her list.

Also, happy anniversary, Mom and Dad! Today they celebrate 31 years of bliss. :)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

At Long Last!

A new Charlotte video! She dances! She speaks! She signs! She's wonderbaby!

Friday, May 25, 2007


The above picture features Charlotte's favorite new thing: buhbuh! That's bubbles, for those of you who don't speak baby. She's so into bubbles that she belts out "buhbuh" anytime we walk within sight of the bright yellow or green bubble containers.

We celebrated Charlotte's 11-month-birthday this week. She seems like such a little girl suddenly--no longer the little round helpless baby. I love how she's exploring her world. And she's learning so many new things, absorbing information like a fat little sponge. She's starting to do some of the baby signs we've been showing her for months. Her favorite is the sign for "hat," which involves patting the top of your head. Every time she sees Jeff wearing a hat, or a baseball cap hanging on a doorknob, or a character in one of her books wearing a hat, she makes the sign. Do I even need to say how adorable that is?

She now does the signs for duck, hat, bird, sleep, cat, ball, more, and her own version of dog. Bird, hat and sleep are new this week. It hardly takes any time for her to pick up something new...again, the little sponge.

Some friends of ours here in Athens had a baby last week. I ran into them today out for a walk with their new daughter. She's just a sweet, brand-new little bundle, much like Charlotte was 11 months ago. When I got home, Charlotte suddenly looked so...huge. Mobile. Competent. I was amazed. I am, every day.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

One Year Ago

I was sorting through some of my image files on my computer tonight, and I came across this photo, which was taken one year ago today.

My, how things have changed.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


...birthday to my dad, who turns 51 today. Last year, for his 50th, I was enormously pregnant and unable to make the trip to Iowa to help celebrate. This year, too, we couldn't get to Iowa, but I was happy to spend the day with Charlotte instead of with my bulging belly. I love my dad, and I love seeing how he's fitting well into his new role as grandpa.

...Mother's Day to all the mothers in my life: my mom, my mother-in-law, my grandma, and Jeff's grandma. We were happy to promote you all to the next tier up in mother-ness (grandma, grandma, oma and great-grandma, respectively). Charlotte has been making some leaps and bounds lately. She's started climbing the stairs (gulp) making necessary the quick scramble to improvise a baby gate. She's saying quite a few more words ("buhbuh" for bubbles, "boh" for book, "bah" for ball, "gleen" for green, "lalalow" for yellow, "boo" for blue). She's starting to give kisses, which usually means puckering up or humming and pressing her head onto your face. what you will be when I post a new video of Charlotte later this week!

Friday, May 04, 2007

For your reading pleasure, a poem by Jeff:

Baby’s First Booger
- for Charlotte, 10 months

I showed it to her, as proof
that my brutal raid on her nose –
all that effort in the face of her screaming,
her twisting and flailing –
hadn’t been for nothing.

“See?” I said, holding it up for her. “This
is what I was after. That thing
was in your nose!”
She looked. She stared. She reached. She took. It stuck.
She tried to take it off
with a finger from the other hand,
but it stuck to that one too, of course.

Eventually she got sick of it all,
shook her fists in frustration,
then lost interest.
It was time for a nap.

An hour later, she’d produced another.
Same routine, same struggle, opposite nostril.
After the liberation, I again presented the bounty, the evidence
to show that some things don’t make sense at the time,
but are really for the best.
“I’ll bet you can breathe a bit better now,” I said.
But she wasn’t messing around. This time
she grabbed it right away
and put it in her mouth.

Monday, April 30, 2007

All Back Home

We've returned home to Athens after a week-long trip to Iowa for my grandpa's funeral. The trip was exhausting, both physically and emotionally, but I'm very glad for how smoothly everything went. Planning a 24-hour round-trip roadtrip at the 11th hour, scrambling to find people to cover my teaching for the week (thanks, Erin, Kristin and Kurt!), packing and loading up the car after a day of teaching and grad classes...I'm really surprised there weren't more glitches and disasters.

The relative smoothness of the trip allowed me to devote my mental and emotional energy to joining my family in mourning the loss and celebrating the life of my grandpa.

The picture above is of Charlotte enjoying the tulips in Scholte Gardens like a good little Dutch girl.

For more on my grandpa's death, you can read my dad's blog on the last three weeks.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Goodbye, Opa

Melvin Ernest Deur

June 1, 1921 - April 21, 2007

Friday, April 20, 2007

More Congrats!

Congratulations are due to Jeff's brother Mark and his fiancee, Katie. I hear the story of their engagement is one for the books! (Something involving Fifth Third'll have to ask Mark). Congratulations, you crazy kids!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Duh! (Duck)

It seems Charlotte has said her first word (other than mama and dada): Duh! Which, naturally, means duck.

There are many ducks in Charlotte's life. There's her rubber ducky that she bathes with. There's the duck on her plush yellow Little Einstein block. There's all the pictures of ducks in her various books, including fluffy feathered ducks in her touch-and-feel farm animal book. There's her stuffed purple duck with the crazy eyes that Grandpa and Grandma Deur gave her for Easter. The purple duck quacks and has fuzzy white hair on top of his head; it's her favorite. When she sees purple duck, she says "Duh!" It happens enough that I don't think it's coincidence.

So it's only appropriate that we got to introduce Charlotte to the real thing yesterday. We all took a walk into town, and as we were walking past one of the frat houses on campus, I noticed something strange. A few guys were sitting out front and they appeared to have little creatures perching on their shoulders. I peered more carefully, and saw...Duh! Yes, baby ducks. I asked if we could come see the ducks, and they were obliging.

Charlotte appeared less enthusiastic about the real thing than she is about pictures of ducks or even the plush purple example. But she did try to squeeze the little baby duck, perhaps to hear him quack. As I removed her little hand from around the poor ducky's neck, I realized I was probably more excited about the baby duckies than she was. But who could blame me? They're adorable! Duh, indeed!

Monday, April 16, 2007


We've spent all evening watching the terrible news from Virginia Tech.

I certainly can't imagine what the students at VTech went through today.

While I was scanning GoogleNews, I came across this article: major school shootings.

The stress faced by students is well documented. In my almost-six quarters of graduate studies, I've seen two students drop out for various reasons. I've also witnessed countless freak-outs by my friends in grad school, ranging in severity from compulsive M&M eating to excessive partying. And I too have felt the intense pressure of making the grade. (Confession: the compulsive M&M eating was me).

My point isn't necessarily related to today's events. I was just thinking about the kind of pressure students face, whether self-motivated or not.

Today as I was walking to my car after class, I was thinking about what it would be like to have the idyllic spring afternoon broken by gunshots, to have my classroom invaded by an armed man. What would I do? How would I react?

I was hurrying home to see my baby and I didn't even notice that my backpack was unzipped. As I swung my bag off my shoulder, my laptop fell out and clattered to the ground. Any other day, I would have been devasted. I probably would have said words I wouldn't repeat in polite company. I might have hunted down some M&Ms.

Today, however, I just picked up my Dell (which is working fine, by the way) and got into my car. There were more important things going on.

I guess my point is that it comes down to perspective, and your ability to put things into perspective. I'm glad I've been able to do that.

Friday, April 13, 2007


The last time I wrote a real post on here was just after spring break, and as I've just wrapped up the third week of spring quarter, I feel a little ashamed to have taken so long to write. But this quarter is shaping up to be much busier than I had anticipated. Although I'm teaching the same course I taught last quarter, the daily work and minor adjustments to the syllabus take up a good amount of time. And I'm only taking one grad course, but the reading load for that class is pretty heavy.

But besides all that, the biggest thing that has kept me from updating is that I've just been busy spending time with Charlotte. Right now I hear her waking up from her nap, which means I'll have to pick this update up later. But rest assured that Miss Charlotte is doing well, growing by leaps and bounds, and amazing us every day with her growth and change both mentally and physically.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Monday, March 26, 2007

What happened to spring break??

I knew I would feel like this...but where did my break go?

I started spring quarter today. My class seems like a good bunch, and since I'm teaching almost the same syllabus as last quarter, I think it should be fairly smooth sailing. My grad class (my last grad class during my MA!) seems pretty cool. Debunking the Victorians! Woo!

I don't have time to write now, but I owe this blog a video and a nine-month-birthday post. So check back!