1.16.2017

Eleven Months With Betsy

Eleven Months Official

Likes: 
Chewing on toothbrushes. 
Climbing on stools and the fireplace hearth. 
Riding Dumbo and the Mad Hatter tea cups at Disney World.
The soft dolly and xylophone she got for Christmas.
When Daddy puts her to bed, although Mommy is still preferred.

Dislikes:
Having her first stomach bug.  
That she's not allowed to rummage through the trash and compost bins. 
When her sisters don't let her interfere with their pretend play. 

New Tricks:
Standing on her own.
Blowing kisses.
Playing toy whistles. 
Signing "all done."
Taking several steps in a row. 
Sleeping through the night most nights. 

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Here are some more pictures from the last month:

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For comparison's sake, here are Claire and Maggie at eleven months old. 

1.11.2017

2016: A Year in Review

2016 was full of surprises! Most of our biggest events and decisions we had no idea would happen this time last year.

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Of course, the biggest surprise of all was Betsy's arrival by way of a successful VBAC in early February. Adam took eleven weeks of paternity leave after her birth, so he didn't go back to work full-time until the last week of April. It was amazing!

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He used his three remaining weeks of paternity leave in August, which coincided with my sister's visit back from her orphanage in Honduras. While they were both off, we went to three Canadian provinces in nine days. We visited my grandma in Ottawa, spent a few days sightseeing in Quebec City, and attended my cousin's wedding on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia.

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We had planned to visit Adam's family in Houston for Thanksgiving, because we haven't been back to Texas in more than three years, but when Adam's grandma passed away we changed our tickets to attend her memorial.

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 We spent a week in Florida in December, celebrating her life and going to Disney World. It was my first time ever going to a Disney Park and it absolutely lived up to my very high expectations.

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We had many visits from my parents (and my little brother, Scott, when he wasn't away at college in Pittsburgh). My mom graciously stayed with us for three weeks surrounding Betsy's arrival. She was seriously awesome and it was such a huge relief not to have to worry about the older girls while I was in labor. We visited them in Eastern Washington twice, over Memorial and Independence day weekends. I know how much they miss their glamorous life in Shanghai but I absolutely love having my family in state rather than across the Pacific Ocean.

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Adam's parents came to visit twice, in March and in July. Katie, Adam's little sister and Betsy's godmother, joined them in March for her baptism. Two of Adam's older brothers and their families joined them in July.

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Adam took that whole week off, so it was like a Seattle staycation for us. We went to Pike Place Market, Gas Works Park, Snoqualmie Falls, Bainbridge Island, and Mt. Rainier.

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Outside of that week, we didn't go on a lot of Seattle area day trips. Highlights were seeing the cherry blossoms at the University of Washington, taking my parents to the tulip festival, and hiking Franklin Falls with my sister.

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Despite welcoming a new baby in February, it was a surprisingly great year for dates! We began and ended the year with dates to the symphony and our favorite French restaurant, Le Pichet - in January right before Betsy's arrival and in December to see Handel's Messiah. We saw four movies together - The Big Short, The Jungle Book, Love & Friendship, Sully - and paired each with a new restaurant. For our sixth anniversary, we went to the Olympic Sculpture Park and enjoyed our fanciest meal of the year at Matt's in the Market. We even managed to sneak away for two afternoon dates to the Underground Tour and Theo's Chocolate Factory.

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We threw a party over Labor Day weekend to celebrate St. Theresa of Calcutta's canonization and we became godparents to Eloise, daughter of dear friends the Clarks.

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Claire turned four in March. We celebrated with a Rapunzel themed party at the jumping place and tickets to "Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet." In addition to Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, she started at our town's coop preschool this fall and absolutely loves it. She takes a ballet and gymnastics class in the school year. During the summer, she did vacation bible school, tennis and soccer day camps through the parks department, and swimming lessons. She made big progress on learning to swim! She writes her name and several other letters, cuts with left-handed scissors, and no longer wears pull-ups at night.

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Maggie turned three in October. We celebrated with a Sleeping Beauty themed party at the jumping place and tickets to the circus. She takes a ballet and gymnastics class with Claire and a music class with Betsy while Claire's at preschool. She also did swim lessons during the summer, but is still working on the confidence to put her head underwater. She potty trained, transitioned to a toddler bed, and learned to draw the cutest little people you've ever seen.

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Betsy changed the most over the course of the year! She learned to smile, laugh, roll over, sit up, crawl, eat solid food, drink out of a sippy cup, wave, clap, give kisses, stand, and take a few steps. Her Christmas gift to us was finally reliably sleeping through the night at almost eleven months and it was a very appreciated gift indeed.

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Adam and I pretty much accomplished zero house or yard projects. We actually bought the supplies to make some pelmet box window treatments last December and we're still not quite done with them a year later. I did read twenty-five books, make our yearly photo album, and sew matching sundresses for our three daughters. Adam read five books, which was definitely on the low end for him, because he spent almost all of his free time playing the piano. Claire's preschool schedule meant I stepped down from leading our parish playgroup, but we found new volunteer opportunities at church that we're really enjoying - American Heritage Girls for me and the children's choir for Adam. Together, we read ten chapter books aloud to Claire and Maggie.

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Just like always, we rejoiced with the church at Easter and Christmas and celebrated Halloween with a themed family costume. 2016 was the year we officially became out-numbered by our children. 2017 will be the year we adjust to having to live by a school schedule again!

1.05.2017

Advent & Christmas

Finally getting this up on the eleventh day of Christmas!

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We're going way back to the first Saturday in December, when we went to our town's annual tree lighting. Before bed, Claire and Maggie put their letters to St. Nicholas out by their shoes. 

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The next morning, they found that he'd left some candy and Christmas books! We celebrated St. Nicholas Day a few days early because of our trip to Florida. 

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Sunday evening, I took Claire and Maggie to see the Nutcracker. We went to a special one-hour kids' performance with my friend, Libby, and her daughter, Paige. 

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The girls really love that the dancers come out to meet their fans after the show. They were so excited to meet Clara and the Nutcracker Prince!

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The last weekend of Advent was equally eventful. On Friday night, Adam and I had dinner at our favorite French restaurant, Le Pichet, and went to see Handel's Messiah at the Symphony. We'd seen the PNB Nutcracker two years in a row - the last year of the Maurice Sendak version and the first year of Ian Falconer's - so this was a good change of pace. It was was actually our first time seeing Handel's Messiah and it was even more beautiful than we'd expected. 

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I spent many hours watching The Crown and the Gilmore Girls revival while painting twenty angels for a peg doll nativity swap. I hosted the exchange party on Sunday afternoon while Betsy napped. It was a really fun few hours of chatting and eating delicious holiday treats. During the party, Adam took Claire and Maggie to ride the holiday carousel at the mall, have some hot chocolate, and pick out our tree.




The week before Christmas, our parish had two great events. On Monday, we went to a posada, just like the Tomie dePaola book. The girls' favorite part was the pinata and our favorite part was the tamales! On Tuesday, we went caroling. It was the third year in a row our parish has done this - Claire specifically remembered going last year. Well, she may have really remembered the hot cocoa and cookies in the social hall afterward, but we're glad she thinks of it as an Advent tradition nonetheless.

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My parents and little brother, Scott, arrived early on Christmas Eve. That day, we made gingerbread cookies, trimmed the tree, and decorated our cookies. We had cheese and chocolate fondue for dinner, lighting our Advent wreath for the last time.

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 After dinner, the girls unwrapped the new Christmas pajamas and were immediately forced to pose for pictures by the tree.

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The presents under the tree before bed on Christmas Eve! 

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We actually had to wake the girls up at 7:30 on Christmas morning, so we would have time to open stockings and eat breakfast before Mass. 

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 I made the perfect cinnamon rolls from Mel's Kitchen Cafe for breakfast. They were absolutely gigantic but, of course, very delicious.

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We went to 10:00 Mass, which is always beautiful and, most importantly, not insanely crowded. 

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Claire and Maggie were thrilled with their princess dolls, cash register and tea set. Betsy loved her xylophone and cute little soft dolly. Those were all gifts from both sets of awesome grandparents - we actually just gave them some books that I'd picked out from an Usborne party and the Scholastic book order. We originally ordered a bigger play table for them, but returned it when we decided to go to Disney World. Thankfully, they're not old enough to realize we didn't get them anything exciting. And thankfully they really like books! 

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We had steak, roasted veggies, and twice baked potatoes for dinner. Those paper crowns are from our traditional Christmas crackers. (Scott, I didn't intentionally leave you out of these pictures! Blame Dad for yours being super blurry.) That evening, my parents and I snuck out to see Jackie. I've been a big admirer of Jackie O. since like fifth grade so it was really fun to see the film with the people who know the full extent of my obsession, ha!

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I feel like I've been moderately stressed since the beginning of November with all things Thanksgiving and Christmas. The week after Christmas was soooooo relaxing. At least as relaxing as possible while still caring for three small children. We went out for lunch a lot and had leftovers for dinner. I read The Nightingale in less than twenty-four hours. We went to the aquatic center and tried a couple new indoor playgrounds. On New Year's Eve, we went to the children's museum in Everett with our good friends, the Clarks. On New Year's Day, we had our friend, Linnea, over for dinner and then we left her in charge while we saw the new Star Wars movie. We finally made good on our promise of gingerbread house decorating on Monday, the very last day of Christmas break.

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Now it's back to reality. Winter is so boring once Christmas is over, right? Luckily we've got two winter birthdays to liven things up - one of which requires me making a quilt over the next six weeks. I should probably get started on that...